Friday, March 18, 2011

Searching for your roots

My friend Jeannie and my daughter-in-law Mel have both been tracing their family history on They are, to put it frankly, hooked. Mel suggested a couple of weeks ago I should hurry and do it so I'd have some knowledge before I go to Scotland, but I said I simply don't have time. Today though Jeannie said she could spend a couple of hours helping me search and find out if anyone had done the research before--if so, it would be there. Then tonight, I watched Rosie O'Donnell on "Who Do You Think You Are?" as she traced her roots back to a work house in Ireland during the potato famine. OK, now I want to know too. I have booklets on the MacBains, and I know we're descended from Gillies McBean who fought valiantly--and died--for Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden. Since I'm sort of between projects--two manuscripts off to publishers with more work to come, I know, but for now a breathing space--I guess I'll make that my project. I already know that the McBeans owned land near Inverness (tales vary but I gather it was a good bit of land) but lost it and were land-less or homeless for nearly two centuries. For a clan to be without land is a great disgrace and bans it from recognition by the Society of Clans. In the mid-twentieth century Hughston McBain of Chicago bought a small piece of the old family land, not nearly as much as he would have liked, but he allowed the clan members to once again hold up their heads. The McBain Memorial Park is on my must-see list in Scotland. And I know the homestead--sorry, no castle--is right there too. But I'm anxious to find out more. Jeannie has found she is descended from Robert the Bruce, and I told her that probably made us cousins but realized I was thinking of Gillies McBean, so I have to do some research. I've asked Jeannie to help me get started, but I'll pull out my dad's old files and see what I can find. I think most of the information I have is about the McBains (we spelled it MacBain) after they came to Canada. I'm intrigued. I remember writing a paper in, oh, maybe sixth grade, on how we are descended from MacBeth, a dubious honor that.
Had lunch with Jeannie today in a charming church converted to a bakery/restaurant. It was small but lovely and sort of soothing to eat in that atmosphere. We asked and found it had been a Christian Scientist church.
Spring is definitely here, though I doubt we'll continue to have today's temperatures in the mid-80s. I was actually a bit hot in the car with the top down. But this evening I spent some time planting two new herbs I bought--lavender for its smell and sage because it's pretty and does flavor dishes nicely--and scrubbing the first layer of winter grime off the porch. I'll go after it again tomorrow, in preparation for a porch party Sunday night for Jordan's birthday. Jordan manages to stretch a birthday out for a week, but she is my St. Patrick's baby without, as far as I know, a drop of Irish in her. The redbud is blooming, and the trees have that lovely light green of new growth, though I am still picking dead fall leaves out of the planter boxes. My fig tree hasn't come back but botanist Greg tells me I'm too impatient and it will come back when we have enough warmer weather. He trimmed some of the overgrown herbs and ivy that had survived the winter in pots on the porch, but I need new fountain grass. And a new spray nozzle--somehow winter always kills them, even with the water cut off.
Enjoy spring, everyone, and pray for a mild summer.

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