January 16, 2017

January 16, 2017

CHAMPION—January 16, 2017


Dazzle Ship in Leith Harbor

        The red, blue, white, gold and green lights reflected on the wet tarmac were a dazzling sight as Champions recovered from the turbulence that brought them through the clouds Sunday evening.  Those wheels touched the earth again and the g-forces pressed against the seat belted bodies as the brakes slammed on and the engine noise suddenly roared to mark the end of a great adventure.  The industry that makes this kind of mass transportation possible is peopled by hard workers.  There are good and bad stories to be told, but the bottom line is the pilot was not dazzled by those lights and brought us safely to ground again.  During the First World War the British were losing so many ships to the German U-boats that some Scotts and Brits got together with artists to devise a clever camouflage.  Since it was impossible to make the ships invisible to the periscopes of the submarines, the idea was to disguise the intention of the vessel.  They did that with broad swathes of contrasting colors—black and white, green and mauve, orange and blue-in geometric shapes and curves to make it difficult to determine the ship’s actual shape, size and direction.  These were called the Dazzle Ships.  It is remarkable how inventive people can be when working together against a great foe—dazzling—Champion!

        The General kindly reported on the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam of last week and said that, due to the weather, only about thirty people showed up.  Fortunately, he said, “…eleven of them were singers and musicians.”  With so few in attendance he might have been persuaded to play himself, but he is so shy.  It takes some real coaxing to get him out of his shell.  The Edinburgh jam happened on Wednesday in a tiny little kitchen and included violin, guitar, alto recorder and accordion.  Traditional pieces, original works and old standards were on the set list including “Ashoaken Farewell,” “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” and “The Sunny Side of the Street.”  Most every day of the last month found sunny days there with temperatures ranging from high 30s to low 50s, frequently with vigorous cold wind.  In addition to music, that little kitchen turning out one lovely meal after another—hearty satisfying dishes and puddings—great wonderful puddings.

        Jacob Kyle Brixey is in the first grade at Skyline.  He shares his birthday on the 18th with a couple of very nice grown-ups–J.C Owsley, a stalwart gentleman often on a big white mule, and Mary Beth Shannon, whose Facebook profile picture is a thistle flower.  She has a sweet smile that says, “Thistle do nicely.”  Champions gathered around the wood stove in the Meeting Room of the Historic Emporium will celebrate on the 19th just for the fun of it.  The 19th is also the Pack the House ball game at Skyline.  The Buzz is that charming little grandmother Sharon Woods will enjoy her birthday on the 20th.  Kyle Barker is a 4th grade student at Skyline with a day to celebrate on the 21st.  That is also the day of Skyline’s archery meet at Taneyville.  Elizabeth Hinote is a 2nd grade student whose special day is on the 22nd.  Oliver Holden Moses is an accomplished percussionist off in school in Interlochen, Michigan.  He will be celebrating his birthday on the 23rd.  From the 23rd to the 27th the Skyline Boys’ Basketball team will participate in a tournament in Taneyville.  Cody Coonts is a prekindergarten student at Skyline with a birthday on the 25th, shared by Mrs. Coonts who teaches middle school at that fine institution.  Brooke Johnson is a 5th grader there and celebrates on the 26th.  That is also the special day of Cowboy Jack’s favorite special Joyce.  A lovely alumnus of Skyline is Kaye Alexander who will party significantly the 27th.  Prize winning archer Erika Strong is in the 4th grade.  Her birthday is on the 30th.  James Brixey was 40 on the 30th in 2012.  Do the math and congratulate these fine folks for having whirled all the way around the sun again!

        A bill to classify people who protest against actions of corporations as ‘economic terrorists’ is said to be up for a vote in North Dakota.  That would give the corporate owned government officials permission to use the militarized police force against the prayerful, peaceful, water protecting citizens with lethal force if they choose.  Redacted so as to accommodate the current political landscape, a favorite Champion submits the following rendition of that famous document created by the Committee of Five in 1776:  “When in the course of human events, we find these truths to be self-evident; all are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable rights, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we appeal to native justice and magnanimity, conjure the voice of consanguinity, and mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”  It reads like free verse.  If you want to have a voice in matters that are important to you, participate via telephone:  Roy Blunt (202) 224-5721, Claire McCaskill (202) 224-6154, Billy Long (202) 225-6536, and Jason Smith (202)225-4404.  They represent us and are required to act in our best interest.  Encourage them by telling them what you think.

        Home is that notion that is most venerated among beliefs, philosophies and observations of what might be considered to be the truth.  It is said to be that place that when you return to it, they have to let you in.  Travelers returning from distant places at this time in history arrive with mixed emotions, having seen the place from afar through the eyes of others.  Those others do not see the beautiful rolling hills, the woods and streams or the little house nestled on the side of the hill.  They see the nation the way we see France or Argentina, Belgium or Japan.  Many of them seem a little worried for us.  Champions, loose out in the big world, appreciate and understand their concern and will adopt the motto of the city of Leith, “So with our darkest days behind us our ship of hope will steer and when in doubt just keep in mind our motto PERSEVERE.”  The ability to persevere is a hallmark of the settlers who meandered into this part of the country back around the turn of the last century.  Share the stories of your grandparents (at champion@championnews.us or at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717) as they participated in the hard work of preparing this lovely place for you to sing about, “Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home” in Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

One of the five stones in the panoply of platitudes along the Water of Leith.

January 9, 2017

January 9, 2017

EDINBURGH—January 9, 2017


Looking out across The Waters of Leith to Arthur’s Seat in the distance on another sunny day in Scotland.

        Good news comes from Champion’s hub that the New Year has begun well and that the weather is on a warming trend.  Lannie Hinote had great adventures getting back to Mountain Village, Alaska.  It seemed like travel took about half her vacation, but the rest was great.  She posted, “I would like to thank all my friends and family for a great Christmas vacation… all that shared ballgames with me…cooked me some suckers and peach pie…let me help them build a gingerbread train…the card games and Fudge…eating out and the relaxing visits…”  She will be back in the summer ready for more fun, but meanwhile, she is teaching and coaching in a place even more rural and remote than Skyline.  She and our wonderful Skyline teachers and staff are doing some of the hard work in the world.  It takes special people to ride loose heard on our children, to instruct them and to give them the tools they need to become good citizens.  The chance to thank a teacher, board member, administrator, cook, maintenance person, or bus driver is one that few Champions will pass up this year.  They know how far a little recognition and encouragement can go.

        Appreciators of Lonesome Dove and Augustus McCrea will be happy to acknowledge the birthday of the actor Robert Duval.  He has played many sympathetic characters and a few bad villains.  It may be news to some that he is married to a lovely Argentinean woman and is an aficionado of the tango.  His birthday was January 5th.  Elvis’s birthday was the 8th of January.  Mr. Eric Stevenson has been singing at The Royal Oak twice a week for more than 30 years and has written a song about an Irish girl who came from Galloway to be with the king.  She became obsessed with Elvis.  It is lively ballad that The Champion News will endeavor to share.  Mr. Stevenson gives permission, but has not yet shared the lyrics.  Along with Elvis on the 8th of January, thoughts often go to Jimmy Driftwood and The Battle of New Orleans.  It is not a very popular song in Great Britain, though the Scots might like it.  Elizabeth Johnston has some fiddle experience and a birthday on the 9th.  Phillip Moses celebrates that day too, watching his flock of chickens grow.  Tom Van Dyke has visited Champion over the years and will hopefully feel like doing it again this year.  His birthday on the 10th.  Teeter Creek herbalist Bob Liebert celebrates on the 11th and so does Wilburn Hutchison, who lives just a couple of hundred yards from where he was born, but that was some while back.  Elmalyn Masters and her brother, Willis, have both passed away now.  Their birthdays were on the 12th and 14th.  Diane Wilbanks celebrates on the 13th.  She has a sweet smile and a big heart.  Norris Woods was like that too, and the 13th was his birthday.  Father Bert Godkin has the 15th as his day.  Miley Schober shares her birthday with Skyline third grader, Aaliya Irby on the 16th.  Skyline Coach Davault celebrates that day too.  Recently a little girl was born and was given the name Ava.  It turns out that her Great Auntie Brook Quiet Timber is celebrating her birthday on the 17th along with Rese Kutz who was four on his birthday last year, also on the 17th.  Happy birthday all you special people.  Know that you are Champions, loved and remembered.

Good music at Betty’s Bluegrass Jam

        News came across the ocean that the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam was canceled last week on account of the weather.  Generally, if school is canceled, the jam is too.  Here in Edinburgh there is a first Thursday of the month bluegrass jam in a posh pub on the low end of the Royal Mile at #1 High Street.  About 8:30 in the evening musicians started drifting in and by 9:00 there were 4 guitars, 4 mandolins, 2 fiddles, 1 base fiddle, 1 dobro, and one banjo playing in Betty’s Bluegrass session.  There were many familiar songs and many new ones to the foreign ear.  They were all played with the enthusiasm and good humor associated with that genre of music.  Erelong, perhaps as soon as in a couple of weeks, there will be videos of this wonderful jam and of other exciting musical times in Fair Edina up on the website at www.championnews.us.  Look for the announcement here.  Look there for a decade’s worth of The Champion News and examples of our sweet local music.  Across the wide Atlantic, friends are enjoying a video of young Dylan Watts with his banjo singing, “I Traced Her Little Footprints in the Snow.”  He is a credit to his Granddad and a joy to the family.

        With 120 more days of winter ahead in the Northern Plains, water protectors in the Standing Rock Sioux camp were grateful to Henry Red Cloud from the Pine Ridge Reservation when he and others installed eleven solar powered furnaces to help the activists stay warm.  They are outside all day and the temperatures have been brutal.  A pipeline leak discovered by a landowner when the electronic monitoring failed in early December had already let 130,000 gallons of the 176,000 gallon spill flow into Ash Coulee Creek which feeds into the Little Missouri River.  They have been able to catch about 40,000 gallons of it, but they say that it will be spring before it is cleaned up.  A spill in September of 2013, which let go 840,000 gallons of oil is still being cleaned up.  That is all right, though.  The Texas company behind the Black Snake says it is ‘safe’ and the archeologist they paid so well to survey the land probably would not mind if the graves of their own grandparents and great grandparents were bulldozed.

        The Edinburgh Tool Library is the UK’s first tool library, promoting sharing as a way of reducing environmental impact.  They lend tools to members for DIY carpentry projects, for gardening, decorating and machine repair so that they do not need to own all the tools.  It is a collaborative approach that makes sense environmentally and it gives members access to over 500 tools without the need to store them, maintain them, or buy them in the first place.  Membership dues are minimal and the young people running the place are full of good ideas like “borrow-learn-give-teach.”  Most of the tools have been donated and there is an active program to have older people with various skills teaching younger people how to do things.  They had an open house on Friday evening with tours of the workshop and offerings of opportunities to volunteer.  It all sounds like good neighboring in Champion.

        Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and meet your fine neighbors.  If it is sunny, stand out on the wide veranda for gander at one of the world’s truly beautiful places.  If it is cold, sit around the old wood stove and listen to your interesting neighbors spin yarns.  Spin your yarn at champion@championnews.us.  “Can’t you hear the night birds crying far across the deep blue sea?  While of those others you are thinking, won’t you sometimes think of me?  Don’t that road look rough and rocky? Don’t that sea look deep and wide?”  Don’t Champion look just like Heaven over there on the Bright Side?

Ducks out on the river.

December 30, 2016

December 30, 2016

EDINBURGH—December 30, 2016


Fireworks from the Castle on December 30th…the first day of Hogmanay.

        Edinburg, Scotland County, Missouri is up on the northern border of the state, the second county west of the Mississippi River.  There was a post office there from 1841 until 1845.  Named after the ancestral home of a government surveyor, it is now listed as an unincorporated community.  Back in 1838, a man named William Preston Thompson settled in the area that is now Grundy County, just a few counties west of Scotland County, and named his little hamlet Buck Snort.  When the post office came in 1857, the name of the place was changed to Edinburg (again, minus the ‘h’).  That community is thriving still with a population of 92.  There may be no one left who knows why or when the hamlet of Goose Nibble changed its name to Champion.  It would surely be a riveting tale.  Here, Edinburgh has been called Auld Reekie (it smells much better now), the Athens of the North, Robert Burns called it ‘fair Edina,’ and Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “Edinburgh is what Paris ought to be.”  Sojourners find it to be a Champion kind of place.

The talented John Hunt at the Jazz Bar.

        The Venerable General (venerable because he will have gained yet another year of age before 2016 is out!) dutifully and deftly reports, “There was another good turn-out of musicians and singers (seventeen) at the Vanzant Thursday night jam.  Dave and Sue Thompson came again and Sue’s rendition of ‘Lost River’ was superb.  Josiah Strode and Travis Hathaway continued playing an additional 45 minutes after the normal curfew.  They are very talented and their music was greatly appreciated by the few people that stayed.”  He goes on to inquire about the jam east of the pond.  The Sketchy Beats folks were off on holiday with family so the place was closed, but earlier, a visit to the Jazz Bar found John Hunt singing and playing the blues.  He moved seamlessly between old standards and contemporary pieces with original works interspersed.  He plays an electric guitar of his own making that includes a gooseneck microphone that is situated just right to blend his voice with the instrument to be heard well without great volume.  Then it was over to The Royal Oak for another joyful episode of music…all in all a great evening.

        Amid the holiday celebrations this year are birthdays–musician Corinne Leigh Zappler, December 27th, Skyline fifth grader Logan Hull on the 29th, Champion grandson Eli Oglesby, the 30th and then the year ends with The General, himself, and Dr. Kay Talley (River’s Mum) both combining new year’s eve with their birthday bashes.  Dr. Talley’s party will be in Arizona and The General’s in Vanzant at the annual Redneck Armadillo Drop.  New Year’s Day finds Jacob Coon’s dad getting older, and Teeter Creek’s Jan Liebert accumulating another year, but only getting more lovely.  Skyline prekindergarten student, Kabela Clark, was born January 2, 2012.  Guitar master, Leland Isley, celebrates that day also (no year included).  The next day, the third, is Jacob’s own birthday.  It was also the birthday of the lovely Esther Howard, who passed away earlier this year.  The fourth belongs to the Prominent Champion Girlfriend, Sami McCleary.  Others celebrate that day, but she is the Champion favorite.

        The new Bryant Creek State Park is in Douglas County off Highway N about three miles north of Rockbridge.  It is 2,917 acres of thick oak and pine forests and nearly 2 miles of river, hills and bluffs along Bryant Creek.  A friend of The Champion News shared an article that says there will be a ranger guided hike to explore the park on the 8th of January.  Those planning to participate should arrive at the farm house at about 11:45.  To get there, go north of Rockbridge on N Highway to Douglas Count Road 337D, turn right and go less than half a mile to the farmhouse driveway.  Hopes are for good weather and good use of a beautiful new state park.

        There is an ancient Lakota prophecy about a black snake that would slither across the land, desecrating the sacred sites and poisoning the water before destroying the Earth.  The indigenous people gathered at Standing Rock hope to kill the snake with prayer.  Supporters of the cause have come from all around the country and all around the world.  The path of the pipeline would cross twice beneath the Missouri River which supplies drinking water to an estimated 17 million people.  Punishing winter storms have caused many to leave the camp for their own safety, but many remain and will continue to stay until the snake is dead.  Many Veterans have come to shield the prayerful water protectors from heavily militarized police.  It is a great current and continuing struggle under the banner “Water is Life!”

        ”Hey! Is that the Real News or is that just the internet?”  The real news is apparently whatever echo chamber suits you best–in alphabetical order: ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, MSMBC, NBC, PBS, or any others that strike your fancy.  Are any ‘unbiased’?  Does anyone know?  To be informed is a challenge, particularly if one is only willing to hear those things that fit comfortably within preconceptions.  A sage suggests taking a sampling of all and then triangulating to form your personal amalgam of what ‘truth’ might be.  To be sure, there is a perception management campaign that is designed to stifle dissent.  The American Founding Fathers were all dissenters, so keep that in mind when struggling with “post truth” journalism and think of Harry Truman who famously said, “My choice early in life was to either be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there is hardly any difference.”

The perfect coat and bag for Scotland this time of the year.

        Compliments go to the Wright County Crisis Center in Mountain Grove where a traveler found the perfect coat for Scotland this time of the year.  It is a new Pacific Trail (a division of London Fog) purchased for the grand sum of $8.00, and has proven itself to be light weight, warm, and water proof.   It has a hood that pulls up snug and, with the addition of a silk and woolen scarf from a charity shop in Leith, has kept the traveler cozy in all kinds of Scottish weather.  The perfect purse with the trademark “Travelon” came from the Douglas County Crisis Center in Ava for $1.00.  It has a long adjustable strap that allows it to be worn across the body under the wonderful coat.  The next time you donate or shop for bargains in one of these places ask the staff about the charitable services the Crisis Centers provide.  You will be proud to participate.

        Across the country and across the world assessments are being made about the Old Year and expectations are being formed for the New one.  This might be a good time to revisit the Four Agreements.  They are:  “Be impeccable in your word.  Don’t make assumptions.  Don’t take things personally.  Always do your best.”  Look to www.championnews.us for examples of good behavior year around.  Send your thoughts about the year passed or the year ahead or the concept of a strategic sacrifice in the game of checkers to champion@championnews.us.  Keep a song in your heart.  “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, should auld acquaintance be forgot” in Champion?  Nae!  We’re looking on the Bright Side!

Fireworks on Calton Hill on the first night of the three day festival of Hogmanay.

December 24, 2016

December 23, 2016

EDINBURGH—December 23, 2016


Chocolate Marzi-Cherries being prepared for the Solstice Feast.

        The Winter Solstice came with a celebration of darkness and light and with great feasting and merry making.  The shortest day of the year (quite short in Edinburgh–just 6 hours 39 minutes) brought new acquaintances and old friends together with wonderful food, sterling conversation, laughter and music.  Next comes Christmas day….that day that looms as the most important day of the year….the one that has all the memories attached to it and all the hopes for peace and good will to all men (and women).  Hopes from here to there are that all your Champion expectations are well met.  Merry Christmas!

        The Prominent Champion Girlfriend writes to say that the weather will be good for Christmas Day in Champion, “raining but up in the 60s, so I’m happy.”  She reported that the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department Firefighters and their families all got together for a Christmas party at the Pizza Hut and had a great time laughing and eating.  She also said that the Wednesday gathering at the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in downtown Champion was wonderful with lots of Christmas goodies for the 25 or so who attended.  She sent pictures of the beautiful tables of cakes and special snacks.  Champions know how to have a good time.

        The General’s Report of the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam flew the 4258.6 miles to The Champion News Mobile Office in record time:  “There was a super turnout of musical talent tonight, eighteen.  We were glad to have Dave and Sue Thompson back.  And a super pleasant surprise to have banjo player Todd Miller and his wife, singer Crystal, made their first appearance at the Vanzant Thursday night jam.” (The General is proving to be a stellar reporter and his pay envelope will reflect as much.)  What wonderful news!  Dave and Sue have been too long gone and much missed with strains of “Oh, Lost River, now I’m coming back to the potbellied stove, where the fire wood’s all stacked” hanging expectantly in the air, just waiting for the Texan and his Quebec girl to croon them out again.  The jam has been languishing without banjo for a year now since the passing of dear Norris Woods, so barber shop Todd is good news indeed and the lovely Crystal with her great voice is a gift.  Hopes are that Roberta sang “Christmas Time’s A Coming” and that all the regular musicians and their appreciators felt it warm in their hearts.  Sherri Bennett said that singing may even help you live longer, so let that be a lesson to you one and all.

Eli Lowen and Gareth Jones with friends
at Sketchy Beats on Thursday.

        “Sketchy Beats Café is a not-for-profit arts café and event space on Great Junction Street, Leith.  The space is an open platform for creatives of any kind to use and share their ideas with the public.”  That is the mission statement of the café, just on the banks of the Water of Leith, where Thursday is an as open jam that this week featured an excellent array of talented musicians and poets.  The amplification was a little less magnificent this time but still could be felt well within the torso at intervals.  Christmas Eve at The Royal Oak will be sublime with the regular line up and waves of revelers surging in and out from early to early some in Santa hats and lighted Christmas jumpers (sweaters) to dazzle the eye.  In 1697, William Congreve said, “Musick has charms to sooth a savage breast , to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak…”  Aye!

        The internet shows us that Lannie Hinote is home for the holidays and out having a glorious time with family and friends.  Bonnie Brixey Mullens says that both their girls will be with her and Pete on Christmas day and that their son and his wife drove up from Elk City, OK for and early Christmas with them.  Across the country and the world, families are gathering for the joy of it.  It is that time of year.

The Royal Oak welcomes folk.

        A Veteran who has joined with hundreds of others at the Standing Rock Reservation in defense of the Water Protectors said that he was a senior in high school when September 11th happened and he began his enlistment process that day.  He wanted to fight for right and he wanted to fight for justice.  He said that even though he joined to be a soldier he was forced to become a mercenary.  He was fighting for big oil and for the military industrial complex and he felt like his honor was stolen from him and this is his chance to take it back.  His weapons now are his words and his work in protection of an unarmed civilian population from an over-militarized police force willing to perpetrate unconscionable acts at the behest of private industry.  People across the country are divesting from companies that support the DAPL.  This Veteran says that it has been an honor to be welcomed as a nephew and a warrior of the Sioux Tribe.  Now he has a new unit to fight for.

        “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”  Albert Camus said that and the statement was shared by the charming Ms. Brook Quiet-Timber. Apply the thought to the weather, if you like, or to your spirit if it is low and discouraged because the Fat Lady sang her dreary dirge.  Do not criticize the chanteuse, and to be fair, some find hers to be the very seraph song.   “Love is where you find it.  Don’t be blind, it’s all around you everywhere…”  You just have to look carefully.  The Supreme Court may still have a say and it might turn out that the Fox is not really going to be in charge of the Ministry of Hen-house-ery.  Copies of “1984” are flying off book shelves world-wide.  For some the cautionary tale of King Midas plays well this season.  Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

        A distant Champion shares his love of grammar, “’I am the Ghost of Christmas Future Imperfect Conditional,’ said the Spirit.  ‘I bring news of what would have been going to happen if you were not to have been going to change your ways.’”  Look back through the archives at www.championnews.us to see if any ways have been changed in the last ten years.  Send your Christmas stories and hopes for the New Year to champion@championnews.us to have them read as poetry next Thursday at Sketchy Beats.  Give yourself the gift of an easy amble into the Village for a view of one of the word’s beautiful places.  It is at the end of the pavement where country lanes converge at the bottom of several sylvan hills.  Eartha Kitt sang, “Santa, Baby…..I’ve been an awful good girl…so hurry down the chimney tonight…” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

It is four miles from the Ocean Terminal to Arthur’s Seat–that
volcanic mountain in the distance at the end of this street.

December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016

EDINBURGH—December 19, 2016


The great Scott Monument on Princess Street in Edinburgh as seen from the North Bridge
flanked by the Christmas ferris wheel and the amazing Star Flyer.

        The naughty and nice list is getting a lot of attention all around the world at this time of the year.  When asked if a granddaughter had received what she wanted for Christmas one year, she replied, “You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.”  That did not really answer the question but it showed a parenting philosophy that seems sound.  The Prominent Girlfriend can almost be heard across the wide Atlantic complaining about the weather.  She is longing for the beach.  “Baby, its cold outside” in Champion and no one will put her on the naughty list for whining about it.  The forecast looks good for an improvement and Santa should have no problem on his route.  In Edinburgh today it will be gray but will be flirting with 50 degrees.  The festive lights and music of the city make it an exciting Christmas destination.

        The Champion News is pleased to announce the hire of a hometown correspondent.  The General, himself, has agreed (tacitly) to become the neighborhood reporter for the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam.  It is an important position and remuneration is contingent upon performance.  So far so good with the first installment, to wit, “We had 14 players and a good jam here as well.  One young man playing and singing was here for the first time.  Another surprise, Josiah Strode (banjo player) was back for the first time after about 18 months.  And Steve Sloan, a bass singer, was back again.  Most everyone left at the usual time.  A few people did stay around to listen while Josiah, Steve, Herbie and J.R. Johnston, Travis Hathaway, and Kenny Bushong played and sang.  What a super job they done. (did)  They played until a little after 10 PM.  Travis and Josiah are cousins.  So we had a great evening of music.  I drank a few pints….of coffee.”  Good reporting, General.

A cup of tea at The Oak

        Over here in the seaport of Leith, now a mere suburb of Edinburgh, the Thursday jam at Sketchy Beats just on the east side of the Water of Leith (a nice river), was lovely.  A young man with an electric guitar and two drums with pedals was the first on the scene.  His name is Andrew John Cairns and he was magnificently amplified.  He also had a cold and his voice sounded like Cookie Monster, but it was the first thing your foreign correspondent had heard clearly since Philadelphia.  He looked just like a big overgrown Ozarks farm boy in his plaid shirt and blue jeans and railroad hat…about 6’4”…..280 pounds…big smile.  He looks to be in his late 20’s and has a lot of original music…songs like “The Years Have Not Been Kind,” and “This Morning Will Eat Us Alive.”  It might be the climate that makes it all seem so dour.  Maybe it is just the genre.  In any event, he was followed by a bunch of guitar and bass players.  They were just ‘riffing’ off each other and mostly it was great.  Almost always it was loud, much to the satisfaction of this foreign listener.  Father and son strolled into The Royal Oak, a famous folk venue, to hear some authentic bluegrass.  It is a small and a big world.

        The internet had some sterling good birthday wishes for Emogene Sprague on the 15th.  Rita Silverberg used to be Rita Dorr and her birthday is the 17th.  Mary Goolsby, who used to be seen often in the area in the company of Studebaker Bob Berry, celebrates on the 20th.  The 20th is also the birthday of two Skyline School students–4th grader Destiny Surface and prekindergarten student, Rachael Prock.  Archie Dailey’s sweetheart, Chris, will be partying on the 21st.  Pennsylvania Ben Cohen will have the 22nd as his special day.  The 23rd will be a busy day in the neighborhood.  Rowdy’s little great grandmother, one of those charming Stone brothers, Chase Couthran and his dear old Dad will all have their birthday that day.  Christmas Eve was the birthday of Sarah Emaline Putnam Hector, born in 1885.  She set the example for how grannies were supposed to be for 14 cousins who will never forget her.

        Lannie Hinote was posting pictures of herself on facebook asking Santa for a trip to Missouri.  The next thing was “Hello Anchorage and Solid Ground.”  Then she posed with a moose entangled in blue lights, then said, “Hello Denver!”  This morning she is in Kansas being pleased to be away from airport food and into a nice soft bed.  Her family is getting excited to see her.

        Indigenous Rising Media had an update on the water protecting folks up in North Dakota.  The weather is frightfully cold and the people are resolute in their determination to stay in place.  A young lady born and raised there said that the new administration will be aggressive in its approach but had the other side won, it would have been the same only in a more sneaky way.  Across the United Kingdom there is great support for the Native Americans and a wee chuckle associated with the outrage at the idea that Russia may have interfered with the election.  That humor has to do with apparent CIA deeds relating to Eastern European, Central and South American elections over the decades.  It has been a relief to be away from the news even for a short time.  At the same time there is a calling to be more engaged.  “Que´ sera´, sera´,” (whatever will be, will be) is a fine and easy philosophy to have, but if you are paying attention, remember that there in the United States of America a person is free to express his belief without qualification.  Appropriate quotes at this time come from Edmund Burke, George Orwell, and Theodore Roosevelt.  In order:  “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  “The farther a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”  “To announce that there must not be criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile but it is morally treasonable to the American public.”  Today the Fat Lady sings.  Her song will change the world.

        Sherry Bennett shared a post that says singing daily for at least ten minutes reduces stress, clears sinuses, improves posture and can even help you live longer.  It was sweet to hear children from the local elementary school singing all the same Christmas carols that Skyline kids sang at their program back home.  Hank Williams songs were a big hit a The Royal Oak on Saturday night.  Alan Grant treated the crowd to an original song, “The Fool I Am Now Ain’t the Fool I Used to Be.”  Go to www.championnews.us to find music and entertainment for the last decade in one of the world’s truly beautiful places.  Have your email read in Scotland at champion@championnews.us.  Fill it with history, music and queries.  Get down to the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square to get your seasonal postcard before it is too late.  It features a snow picture of the village in days gone by with the message, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Elementry students singing the same sweet song.