My GGGG-Grandfather & the Scottish Referendum…

My GGGG-Grandfather & the Scottish Referendum…

Yesterday was a huge day in Scottish history.  With a fairly close vote, the citizens of Scotland made the historic decision to remain part of the United Kingdom.  No doubt, you were reading about it and following along, as I was, as the votes rolled in.

The McGregor Crest: “Royal is my race”.

My GGGG-Grandfather, Rev. William McGregor, was born about 1732 in Scotland in what our family history legend refers to as “Ossian’s Glen”.  The closest thing that I can find after many years of research is called Glen Coe, supposedly the birthplace of Ossian.  You can read more about the history of it here.  Some of my fellow McGregor descendants believe that our immigrant ancestor William McGregor was born in Perth, but I do not.  At that time in history, the Clan McGregor dwelled in the highlands of Scotland.  They were also a warring clan – defending their rights and property from the likes of the Clan Campbell and others.  The McGregors have a long history of enduring, persevering and overcoming – even to the point of having the use of their name proscribed or prohibited.  It’s a long, involved history and one I am still working on after all these years.

If William McGregor’s father fought in the 1745 to 1746 Jacobite uprising, William would have just been a boy so it’s doubtful that he would have been called upon to fight.   One immigration record indicates that a William McGregor arrived in North Carolina in 1745.  If he had been born in 1732, he would have been just a teenage boy.  Did he accompany his parents?  We know from tracing the ancestors from the present backwards, that our William McGregor became a Baptist preacher who settled in Montgomery County, North Carolina.  I’ve studied the papers from his work as a Baptist preacher which are housed at Wake Forest University.   I’ve been to his home which has been restored because he sold the house and the land to the first physician in North Carolina.  I’ve seen his ancient grave marker as well as the new one which has been placed there.  I want to know more but there are obstacles.  I’ve been to the County Courthouses in North Carolina only to find out that most records burned during the Revolutionary War and/or the Civil War.

As each vote was being cast in answer to the question at the poll:  “Do you want to remain a part of the United Kingdom?”, I wondered what my highland McGregor ancestors would have had to say about it.  Especially after the Battle of Culloden.  Granted, it has been 300+ years and life is calmer in the highlands now.  Still, I wonder.  I have a pretty good idea though!

My goal for the Iowa blizzards this winter is to continue working on this family history…and finally getting the story written!



Above:  Rev. William McGregor’s rebuilt home in Morrow Mountain State Park in Stanly County, North Carolina.


The McGregor Tartan.


I’ve also written about my McGregor ancestor in an earlier post.

If you’re wondering how he could “only” be my GGGG-grandparent with being born circa 1732, it’s because I am the youngest of 4 daughters, born to the youngest of seven children.  Previous grandfathers were also close to being the youngest in each family.



If  you’ve ever lost someone you loved more than life itself, then you know about grief.  Grief feels like a living, breathing thing that consumes you and fills every single part of your being.  Grief keeps you from sleeping or eating.  Grief makes it hard to breathe or even think.  Grief makes you feel that it will never, ever end.  I remember the minutes and hours and days after each of my parents died…after my two sisters died.  I remember when the love of my life for 39 years lost his battle on this earth – far from me.  I remember wishing I could just go over the grief…or around it.  I remember wishing that months had passed already…but it doesn’t work that way.  Grief is a process.  There is only one way to get past grief – and that is through it.




To say that grief hurts is a massive understatement.  Grief hurts like hell.  Right now, my friend Bonnie and her family are spending every single moment by their son Brandon’s bedside.  Ever single day he lingers, means that many more moments with him…but it also means the pain of watching him suffer.

I ask you, once again, dear readers to remember this family in your prayers.  Go back and read the post at the link above.  I know that several of you have given to the fund set up for Brandon’s wife and daughter and I thank you for that.  If you haven’t donated and can, please do so.  There is a link to the fund on the right side of my blog.  But, most especially, please keep them in your prayers…

Edited to add:  Here is the link to Christina’s latest Caring Bridge entry.  Everyone continues to pray for a miracle…



Music and memories…

Music and memories…

When I was growing up, my older sisters (11, 15 and 18 years older) were playing the music of the fifties. I grew up listening to the sounds featured on the first “youtube” video below. My sisters were wonderful dancers. By the time I was ten and Sharon was eight, we could dance. I don’t know…maybe we had watched my sisters enough. I don’t remember that part. Neither Mama nor Daddy ever owned up to where (from which one of them) we all got the rhythm we had, but we could dance.

On the weekends, my sisters would occasionally go dancing. They would get all dressed up in the wonderful 1950’s fashions with high heels and go dancing with their boyfriend/husband/fiance. Sharon and I were, of course, much too young, so we’d get in the hallway of the house on Victor Drive with the polished hardwood floors, turn the music up and “bop” (the swing music or boogie-woogie today). I don’t remember Mama ever complaining that the music was too loud or that we were under foot. Most of the time, she and Daddy would be laughing at us.  Eventually, we would get tired.

I was listening to some great fifties music this afternoon. Those mellow sounds of the wonderful saxophone of Ace Cannon were coming across the built-in speakers all throughout the house. I was dancing to Alley Cat as I cooked supper. I couldn’t help it. The memories were tumbling in and I was a very young teenager again…dancing in the hallway of a little house in Memphis.

Dianne 1963

Of course, the music of the sixties brings back a whole new “set” of memories: high school, college, falling in love, being a young newlywed and, later, having two small children fifteen and a half months apart. Amazing, isn’t it…?

This is a neat “youtube” video.  If you remember this time, you’ll enjoy it.

If you don’t remember it, you should enjoy it anyway!  

After all these years, this is still fun…
I don’t remember doing all the acrobatics (but some). I tried teaching my granddaughters in Montana a few of these steps and they thought it was fun!  Of course, I must admit that I don’t remember being so out of breath in the sixties!  ;-)


Dancing with two of my granddaughters at my younger son’s wedding reception…October 2006.

This post was originally published in my blog, My Southern Heart…the Memories.

Yankee pot roast…

Yankee pot roast…

Yankee Pot Roast is quickly becoming one of our favorite meals.  True, there is some prep work involved but it’s worth it in the end.  It is a delicious meal!  It’s essentially an entire meal in a Pampered Chef stoneware bowl or dutch oven – whatever you have.   Tonight, I’m serving it with a small tossed salad and hot cornbread muffins.

Every time I prepare this, I’m reminded of the time, years ago, that my older son brought home his precious fiance to meet us.  She grew up in upper New York state and I thought it would be a fun idea to surprise her with Yankee Pot Roast.  The funny thing is that she had mentioned to my son that she was hoping for some good Southern cooking!  In the end, I prepared both and we all fell in love with her…and, thankfully, vice versa.  They have been happily married for about 16 years now and have 3 beautiful daughters.


Here they are…the ingredients all assembled and ready to become delicious, tender Yankee Pot Roast.  The only thing missing are 2-3 fresh stalks of celery which I didn’t have.

Yankee Pot Roast

One 3-4 pound beef roast, or larger depending on size of family of course ( this one was a 2 & 1/2 pound eye round roast).  Rump roast is hard to find here but is my preference.

Kosher salt (about 1 tablespoon)

Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper

3-4 fresh carrots (or more if you’re cooking a larger roast)

2-3 fresh stalks of celery (or more for larger roast)

4-5 large Idaho potatoes (or more for a larger family)  (washed, peeled – or not – and cut into quarters)

2 cans Beef Broth or 1 large box of beef broth

1 & 1/2 cups good red wine (This one is a merlot from Columbia-Crest in Washington state.  Reasonably priced and good for this dish.)

1 large onion cut in quarters (the small onions above came from our garden so I used what I had)

4-5 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of Herbs de Provence (if you’re not using fresh herbs also, increase to about 1 & 1/2 or 2 tablespoons)

3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and fresh thyme

2 sprigs of fresh tarragon  (all the fresh herbs came from my garden this morning)

Flour – Just enough to dredge roast really well.

Liberally sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt and Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper all over roast.

Dredge the seasoned roast in flour.

Preheat the Extra Virgin Olive Oil…

Saute’ the veggies in the preheated EVOO until slightly browned…just enough to give them some color.

Remove the vegetables to a separate bowl and brown the roast on all sides on medium-high heat.

Remove the roast and add the beef broth to the hot pan. Stir to “deglaze” the pan or get all the good pan drippings off the bottom of the pan. Add the red wine to the beef broth and stir briefly.

Combine the roast, carrots, onions, minced garlic, celery and herbs in stoneware bowl or dutch oven. Pour the beef broth/wine mixture over it. Cover tightly with lid and tightly wrapped foil on top of lid. Bake at 300 degrees for about 2 & 1/2 hours and then add the potatoes cut into quarters. Bake for another 1 hour or until potatoes are tender.  Enjoy!



A couple of weeks ago, I did some “fine-tuning” on my blog and activated the “powerful” WordPress Spam Shield without testing it afterwards (not something I usually do).  “Spam” is sent by autobots as a way of “advertising” and aggravating the daylights out of blog writers.  Come to find out from a friend in Seattle who has tried to comment several times, I had activated the program that is quite proficient at deleting spam but is even better at insulting my readers who want to leave legitimate comments!  Those insults were not from me – they’re automated!  ;-)

If you’ve tried to leave a comment lately and have been insulted by this little automated trouble-maker, I apologize profusely!  I have deactivated it now, so please try again to leave me your thoughts and comments about whatever I write!  I do love to hear from you!

Also, if you’re having trouble adding me to your blogrolls (being added to blogrolls makes my heart sing), please let me know.  I’ve been told that was a problem recently as well.  Hopefully, that is fixed now.  I’d love some feedback to know if this works now, so if you could email me or comment that would be great!sch_noitems_leaf

Sometimes, it does feel like I’m sending words and thoughts into the stratosphere and maybe I’m the only one reading.  Then I see the little stars pop up on the map and it makes me so happy!  Thank you for following along on this journey of mine…



Rainy day muffins…

Rainy day muffins…

It is 46 degrees and raining (again) this morning.  There are so many beautiful shades of green here in Iowa that I cannot complain about the rain.  Hopefully, all this rain will evolve into the amazing jewel tones of Autumn…my favorite season.  My farmer friends tell me, however, that they need more very warm days and sunshine to mature the crops.  So, we’ll pray for just that and an abundant, successful harvest here in the Heartland!

A couple of nights ago, I made these muffins and, to be honest, they’re even better two days later.  Something about all the flavors and the moisture of the prunes having time to absorb.  I wouldn’t say that they are my favorite muffins ever, but they were very good with a cup of fresh coffee on this rainy morning.

Now, if I’d put Banana-Prune Muffins in the title, you would probably have skipped on by, right?!  They really are good – try them!  

 Banana-Prune Muffins

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup butter (melted)

1 egg

1 cup mashed, ripe banana

1 & 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup finely chopped & pitted prunes (or chopped chunky if you prefer)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C).  Prepare the muffin tins with Pam, grease & flour OR use paper liners as I did.

In one bowl:  Combine and whisk all the dry ingredients together.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, melted butter, vanilla and egg.  Beat until smooth.  Blend in the bananas.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Stir just until moistened.  Gently mix in the prunes.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups.

Bake in preheated oven for about 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Enjoy warm with butter and homemade jam or honey!




The children were in their carseats in the back seat, chatting away.  My daughter and I were talking of plans for the rest of the week.  It was a happy time.  She parked the car in front of the church to take my grandson in for his morning of preschool.  I remained in the car with my granddaughter.

I watched my daughter’s exchange with another young mother who was coming out of the church building.  My daughter greeted the young woman with smiles and laughter and, then, I watched as her expression changed to a look of disbelief and horror.  I couldn’t imagine what had happened.  As she got into the car she had tears in her eyes and told me what had happened.  Neither of us could believe it.  We hurried home and immediately turned on the televison.  We watched as one unbelievable image after the other played across the screen.  Just as the rest of the country was, we were stunned, unable to truly grasp the magnitude of what we were seeing.

During the nineties, I held the position of  physician coordinator for a 350 bed hospital in the Midwest.  I had a fancier title than that for a job I loved.  At that time, there were about 150 physicians on staff…doctors from all over the world.  I set up educational events for them.  I met with their office staff and developed an office managers council.  I traveled through eight surrounding counties and met the physicians serving there.  I provided the necessary OSHA training for them to meet federal regulations.  I recruited other physicians as needed.  I planned special events for the physicians and their families.  Through it all, I came to know the doctors and some of their families.  Doctors from all over the world.  So many different “religions” were represented. 

As a strong Christian and believer, I am tolerant and respectful of others.  I did my best to let the physicians I worked with see my faith in action.  During Ramadan, I would plan the special training events with meals after sundown.  One particular Ramadan, I was invited to the special service on the last day and then to the celebration breakfast at one of the doctor’s homes.  A fellow staff member and I sat in the back of the service and observed quietly, our simple head scarves in place.  I tried the different, but delicious, foods at the breakfast.  They were pleased we had come and thanked us many times.

I TRY to reconcile this only personal knowledge of Muslims that I have with the terrorists – the madmen – who maliciously, in pure dark hatred, sought to destroy America.  I cannot.  I cannot understand jihad.  I cannot, and I will not tolerate the horrendous practice of Muslim Sharia Law.   I cannot begin to comprehend the raw hatred that propels ISIS in their desire to extinguish Christians and other non-Muslims from the face of the earth.  I may be a “non-political” grandmother of nine, but this American will fight this darkness with all that is within me!

It has been 13 years now since so many innocent people lost their lives, but we have not forgotten.  We will not forget.  We will not forget those who had plans that day with their lives stretching out ahead of them – just as you and I do.  Those who were headed home after a long trip and missing their families.  Those who left loved ones behind while on a business trip.  The children who will never grow up.  The pilots and flight attendants working that day – all leaving beloved families and friends behind.  Today, we remember the heroes who fought to save those in the burning structures and lost their lives in the process as well.  We are thankful for the heroes who made it out alive, saving others with their brave actions.  Our hearts are heavy for the families and friends who feel the grief anew each and every September 11th.  Praying today for those who are hurting…and for a measure of peace with each passing day that only God can give.  




Part of this post was originally posted in my blog, My Southern Heart, in 2010.

Sunday morning reflections…

Sunday morning reflections…

It’s was 56 degrees in Iowa this morning with bright sunshine and clear blue skies…reminding me that my favorite season is quickly approaching.  I’m under the weather this morning after several nights of much less than adequate sleep, so I will put the praise music on and enjoy a time of worship here in my porch rocking chair.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend and downstairs neighbor Susan and I ventured out in the beautiful weather for a few hours.  The goal wasn’t necessarily to purchase anything – although I did find a tiered stacking rack for the spices in my pantry and a couple of Autumn dish towels.  The goal was just to enjoy the afternoon.  Apparently, everyone else in West Des Moines had the same idea!

We ended up eating a late mid-afternoon meal at one of my favorite places – Famous Dave’s.  Memphis Barbecue was featured on the menu as well as Georgia Pulled Pork (which I had).  Having grown up in Memphis, I wondered how Dave knew so much about Southern barbecue.  Click the link and read his story!  Believe me, if Famous Dave’s were in Memphis, they would give Corky’s and the Rendezvous a run for their money!  Everything I’ve eaten there is delicious.

To be honest though, barbecue always makes me homesick for the South, since it’s a Southern “comfort food”.  In the featured photo above, I am having Corky’s barbecue at Penny’s house the Friday night after Thanksgiving in Memphis in 2012 with my niece Sharon and her husband Tommy.  I miss them and can’t wait to see them on October 1st when I fly into Memphis!

A difficult journey…

A difficult journey…

Months ago, my dear FaceBook friend, Bonnie Wilkerson Hayslip, sadly shared that her son Brandon was no longer in remission and that his cancer had returned with a vengeance.  Along with thousands of people all over the world, I began to pray for Brandon.  The Lord placed him on my heart all throughout the day and sometimes during the night.  The Holy Spirit would whisper his name and I would pray.

I have a son just about Brandon’s age.  My son is happily married and the father of two beautiful little girls.  Brandon is happily married to Christina and the father of a beautiful baby daughter, Aria, who is about six weeks old.

I tried to imagine a mother’s anguish at losing a child.  Many of you dear readers have lost children and you know the depth of this pain far better than any words I could use to describe it.  Every single time, I would try to imagine how I would feel, the tears would start.  Tears for Brandon.  Tears for Christina and Aria.  Tears for his brother David who has not left his side…and tears for his dear parents, Roger and Bonnie.

Through it all, this young couple has never lost faith.  They have been an inspiration to so many – including me.  Along with everyone else, I have been praying for a miracle.  Praying that this young man – with so much ahead of him to live for – would be totally and completely healed.  Just as I prayed for my two sisters who are in Heaven now, I have prayed for Brandon.  At this point in time, it appears the days on this earth are numbered.  Our Father God is calling Brandon home.    Whatever moments are left, this dear precious family is spending it together…praising God and rejoicing in the life they have shared.

Because Brandon was diagnosed so young, he was denied life insurance.  A fund has been set up to help cover the extensive medical expenses and to help provide for Christina and Aria.  Read more about the fund and Brandon’s story here.

I’d like to ask for your help, dear readers.  Please go to the link here or the link on the right side of my blog and give whatever you can.  Every little bit helps and it all adds up.  Most importantly, would you please pray for this precious family?  Right now, they need rest, strength and the peace that passes all understanding.  Please give and pray.  Thank you!



Here is a link to Brandon’s Caring Bridge journal.

Vladi & Evelyn…

Vladi & Evelyn…

allengirls09From 2004 – 2010, my firstborn and his family lived in Peru.  My son was a missionary doctor seeing patients in a clinic in the Andes Mountains of Peru.  They enjoyed their work there in the rugged, beautiful mountains of the Incas.  They lived among the Quechua people, coming to know and love them.  My granddaughters were 4 and 2 years old when they left for Peru, so they grew up speaking Spanish fluently and playing with their young Quechua friends.  While there, they were blessed to adopt their youngest daughter.

In 2008, I enjoyed spending three weeks in Peru.  During my time there, I visited the historic city of Cusco, the  Sacsayhuaman and other ancient ruins, trekked through amazing Machu Picchu and had an unforgettable visit with my son and his family.



The beautiful Andes Mountains…


view of city

The city of Cusco below…


While there, I also came to know and love two young people that I will forever consider grandchildren:  Vladi and Evelyn.  They are brother and sister and have one other sister whom I did not have the privilege of meeting.  My son and his family met Vladi and Evelyn at their church and took these precious, young Christian people into their hearts and lives.

Vladi and Evelyn’s early lives had been difficult.  I don’t know the whole story but I do know they had not had easy childhoods.  My Spanish was limited and, at the time, they were just learning English, so we communicated the best we could.  I think they knew, however, that this Grandmom loved them.  Vladi lived with my son and his family and enrolled in dental college while they were in Peru.  They have continued to support him in this endeavor.  Vladi graduated from dental college a few weeks ago and is now in his internship in general dentistry.  It would be great if he could come to the states after his internship to continue in a pediatric dentistry program which I believe he is considering.

Evelyn is enrolled in the university there, studying agriculture.  She works part time in an internet cafe.  Although the tuition is free, she has to purchase her school books and supplies.  I know this has not been an easy journey for either of them, but I am proud of each of them for pursuing their dreams.  I am proud of my son for his part in helping a young man to become a dentist there in Peru.

I haven’t seen Vladi and Evelyn for six years now, but this Grandmom would love to see them again!  We keep in touch on Facebook and I pray for them each day and for the journey ahead of them.  


Below:  My sweet daughter-in-love Jeanine and Vladi in Peru earlier this year

when Jeanine flew down to translate for a mission group.


 Above:  I love this photo of Evelyn!  She’s so beautiful.  Here she had traveled by one of the small buses there to take a chicken to someone who needed it!  Evelyn and I laughed together that she was traveling with a chicken but it needed to be done.  She has such a heart of gold.

Below:  Two beautiful granddaughters:  Evelyn and Kate


Below:  Vladi carrying Kate on one of our treks through the ruins…2008




Below:  A recent photo of Vladi (far right), who excels in soccer, and  his teammates.


Below:  Congratulations to Vladi for having finished dental college. 

He is now in his internship in general dentistry. Way to go, Vladi!



A few more photos from my visit to Peru in 2008…

Downtown Cusco, Peru…2008


One of the fresh air markets in Cusco…2008


Taking a break after trekking down into the ruins and realizing I was so out of shape! 2008


I think these were the ruins we had hiked down into. EACH step was about 18″ tall it seemed!


Precious granddaughters in Peru…2008




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