Author Archives: Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

About Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

I’m the Librarian for the Kinrowan Estate. I do love fresh brewed teas, curling, English mysteries and will often be playing Scandinavian or Celtic  music here in the Library here in Kinrowan Hall if the Neverending Session is elsewhere.

I’m a violinist too, so you’ll me playing in various contradance band such as Chasing Fireflies and Mouse in the Cupboard as well as backing my wife Catherine up on yearly Christmas season tours in the Nordic countries.

A Kinrowan Estate story: Biscuits

BISCUIT JAM BUTTER  BISCUIT  On a t-shirt worn by an American tourist visiting the Estate Okay, let’s make one thing clear: an American-style biscuit is not the biscuit you find here in Scotland, which is more akin to the thing … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 26th of August: John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Imagine film, Mint juleps, First chapter of an Emma Bull novel, Leonard Bernstein, Aretha Franklin, Peter Beagle on chocolate and other end of summer matters

Traditionally, people are always supposed to feel empty, devastated, when a god leaves them. Nobody seems to wonder how the god might feel. Leaving the only people who almost understood. — Peter Beagle’s Summerlong Yeah that’s Peter Beagle — author … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 12th of August: On Folkloric Matters

“But stories are fragile. Like people’s lives. It only takes a word out of place to change them forever. If you hear a lovely tune, and then you change it, the new tune might be lovely too, but you’ve lost … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 29th of July: Ravens musical and otherwise, Totem Poles, some novels by Charles de Lint, new music and old music, and Other Matters

One flies in to case the joint,  boldly struts around. Two fly in to make it three,  laugh a while and knock each other down. Four flies in with a frowning walk  gains a laugh from out a squawk but … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 15th of July: Robert Hunter’s ‘Brown-Eyed Women’, Music that Defies Classification, Indians from Day One, Patricia A. McKillip’s World-building, Gummi Butterflies, and Other Matters

Brown eyed women and red grenadine the bottle was dusty but the liquor was clean Sound of the thunder with the rain pouring down and it looks like the old man’s getting on Robert Hunter’s ‘Brown-Eyed Women’ It’s a wet … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Palimpsests (A Letter to Justina)

Dear Justina, You asked why it’s so hard to say what the beginning of the Estate was. As you know, the accepted beginnings are a complete fabrication by a Steward some centuries ago who decided we needed a history that made … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 8th of July: Kage on Time Bandits, Olivier Greif’s Sonate de Requiem and Trio avec piano, The Haiku of Basho, Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Ginger gets panned, Charles de Lint in conversation, A History of Ice Cream and other matters…

I sliced strawberries with all my attention. They were particularly fine ones, large and white clear through without a hint of pink. (Wild Borderland strawberries are one of the Border’s little jokes. They form bright red, and fade as they … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Staging Shakespeare

Come in! Glad you got here in time for some theatre tonight. Let’s drop your kit off in the room you’re staying in for the next fortnight before heading out. It shouldn’t surprise you at all that we do theatre … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Our very small art exhibition space

Well it is. Very small that is. And it’s been located here at the Estate for at least several centuries as the endowment that created it goes back that far. One piece of art, be it painting, sculpture or banzai … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 22nd of April: Disposable fountain pens, Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu, two chocolate goodies, Space Opera and other matters

I sipped my own coffee, heavy on the sugar and cream, trying to make up for the late work the night before. Caffeine and sugar, the two basic food groups. — Laurell K. Hamilton’s Cerulean Sins Ahhh that heavenly aroma is coming from … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 8th of April: Arthur Rackham: a life with illustrations, Irish whisky, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, life on Earth, and other neat stuff

You know what English is? The result of the efforts of Norman men-at-arms to make dates with Saxon barmaids.― H. Beam Piper’s  Fuzzy Sapiens That’s ‘Number 37’ which is  James Keelaghan’s homage to a female horse racer playing here in the … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Weavers and Stitchers

There’s been a group of stitchers here according to the Estate Journals for at least four centuries. And there’s certainly been weavers here for as well for at least that long. And certainly that’s why we’ve raised sheep here so … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Cold, Haily Day

If you’ve visited us and been here when it was raining, you know why we put in a modern heating system. Heating with wood was cold, really cold in the winter, and miserably damp when it rained. I mentioned that … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 11th of March: Well, It’s Still Winter I See

I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows.― Corwin in Roger … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Of Bloodied Kings

There are stories of hauntings here at the Kinrowan Estate going back centuries. Of ghostly patrons of our Pub in the Kinrowan Hall who came back again and again at last call to hoist just one more pint of their … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 25th of February: Aaron Copland’s ‘Hoe Down’, Wild China, identity in science fiction, ‘hedgehog highways’ and other neat stuff

He tried to reconstruct the story in his mind, but it kept getting confused, bleeding into itself like watercolors. ― Catherynne M. Valente’s The Orphan’s Tale: In the Night Garden If you like Irish whiskey, I’ve got a definite treat for you as … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 11th of February: ’De Herinacio: On the hedgehog’, Don’t Talk About It by Australian expat Ruby Boot, live Irish Music from De Dannan & Skara Brae, Hobos, Mary-Sues, Live from Here replaces Prairie Home Companion and other matters

Most times we only see things for the way we are. But we’re good at lying to ourselves. Sometimes we need somebody who’s not living in our skin to point out how things really are.  ― Charles de Lint’s The … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: The Sleeper Under The Hill (A Letter to Ceinwen)

Dear Ceinwen, As a fellow librarian interested in all things mythopoeic, you’ll find this interesting. This is the month that I’ve got the Several Annies studying a myth in depth, this one being that of The Sleeper Under the Hill. … Continue reading

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What’s New for 7th of January: a Raga Guide, Elizabeth Hand on Chocolate, Ellen Kushner on Urban Winters, Music from Skerryvore, A Royal Christmas and other things as well…

A wild winter storm rages around a large house that is isolated from the rest of the world. Traditionally, the Wild Hunt appeared around the time of Epiphany—January 6 in the Church Calendar—when winter was at its most severe in … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Mythologist John Campbell

I was watching a New Years Eve gig and it was clear to me how tribal it felt. Good communities are tribes. They have rituals and myths and those kinds of deeper realities that light up everyday reality and give … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Our Mill Pond

About fifty years ago, the Steward authorised spending money to rebuild the dam that had for a very long time been used to create a reservoir for the mill, for grain grinding and so that there was a place to cut … Continue reading

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A Travels Abroad story: A Visit to St. Petersburg (A Letter to Ekaterina)

G’Evening Ekaterina, It’s after four in the morning and I’m wide awake as my leg injury’s keeping me from sleeping long, long after your sister Catherine has turned in for the night. So I’m doing needed correspondence as I’ll get … Continue reading

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Arthurian matters

‘You must remember, there’s always something cleverer than yourself.’ — Merlin to Arthur in the Excalibur film I’m sitting in our Pub with my iPad open to our WordPress site, a pint of Autumn Ale at hand, a cold sleety wing … Continue reading

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Befitting Autumn, A Folkloric Edition

“But stories are fragile. Like people’s lives. It only takes a word out of place to change them forever. If you hear a lovely tune, and then you change it, the new tune might be lovely too, but you’ve lost … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 19th of November: Of Dragons and Other Matters

I am Jomungand, the Last Dinosaur, destroyer, devourer, ravager of kingdoms and epochs, all greed and covetness, brooding loneliness. Once I was Dragon, but in this scientific age that is no longer stylish. The flames I kept for high drama. … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Of Puppets and Their Masters (A Letter to Anna)

Dear Anna, I was lusting after a wee dram of Laphroig very late one night as I wasn’t sleeping well so I got dressed, left my sweet wife sleeping, and made my way to the Pub. As you know, it … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 22nd of October: Some Nordic recordings, a new Brust novel, Bonbons, Crochet History, Got Boobs?, Kage at Christmas, Old Hag tunes and other matters

She looks like the wizened old crone in that painting Jilly did for Geordie when he got into this kick of learning fiddle tunes with the word ‘hag’ in the title: ‘the Hag in the Kiln,’  ‘Old Hag You Have … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 15th of October: Two Fat Ladies, Welsh mythology, a de Lint written video and other matters

There are few joys to compare with the telling of a well-told tale. — Charles de Lint’s Yarrow: An Autumn Tale What am I playing? That’s June Tabor & Oysterband’s Ragged Kingdom which Vonnie saye Very Good Things about: ‘Tabor has reunited with … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 8th of October: Red Clay Ramblers offer up Halloween Music, Black cat awareness month, Philip Glass’ “portraits”, the folklore and folkways of American Indians, Ursula le Guin on Coyote, and her Buffalo Gals fantasy.

Coyote is an anarchist. She can confuse all civilised ideas simply by trotting through. And she always fools the pompous. Just when your ideas begin to get all nicely arranged and squared off, she messes them up. Things are never … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 1st of October: Organic Dark Chocolate Espresso treats, Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, Clannad doing ‘The Two Sisters’, Arthurian and Welsh mythology, a Terri Windling interview and other Autumnal matters

A lot of the old folklore and fairy tales and myths are intensely dark, particularly once you get away from Victorian watered-down versions. Terri Windling in our interview with her Autumn for me arrives really when the middle of October … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 13th of August: Ray Bradbury mysteries, June Tabor’s jazz-folk trio, Béla Bartók, live music by Midnight Oil, Finnish jazz, libraries and Richard Thompson goes acoustic (again)

I decided to return to the library and see what I  could learn there. Besides, I like libraries. It  makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around  me. I always feel better when … Continue reading

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A KInrowan Estate story: Blackberry Wine (A Letter to Catherine)

Dear Catherine,  Our gardens are full of the good things one finds there as summer wanes: small and large pumpkins, the last of the ripe cucumbers, chili peppers ready for drying, plump tomatoes for canning and drying, blackberries, and an infinity … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 9th of July: Reviews of novels by Terri Windling and Charles de Lint, Music from the Clumsy Lovers, seasonal beer, dance historian Alison Thompson and other summery matters

Chicken Scratch music is Mexican-spiced Native American polka. It sounds like a wild, very happy, and slightly drunken wedding party, and it moves you up and down; you can’t keep still. — Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams Music permeates Kinrowan Hall. … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 25th of June: Beer Culture in America, ‘Love Shack’ by the B-52s and other Summery matters

If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says Fifteen miles to the Love Shack, Love Shack yeah I’m headin’ down the Atlanta highway Lookin’ for the love getaway  ‘Love Shack’ by the B-52s Summer’s fully upon … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 18th of June: live music from Franz Liszt , Jennifer Stevenson on Summer:, Stephen Brust novels and other matters

The Palace was more than four hundred years old and had served its purpose; it would be unbecoming to despise it for showing its age. But there was now one spot within it of something new. Turn your thought to … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Our Wild Wood

It’s an unbroken region that we never touch — thousands of acres forested in trees that are many centuries old. Though we enter it from time to time when walking the Estate, we neither harvest anything from it save mushrooms and … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 11th of June: Canadian roots music from Whitehorse, the story of our troll, The Neverending Session and other matters

Since the other members of Fall Down Dancing weren’t available for tonight, Miki had fallen back on the Wednesday night sessions at The Harp to find a couple of other players, enlisting Amy Scanlon on pipes, whistle, and vocals, and … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 4th of June: Some Things India

Memory’s truth, because memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: A Punjabi Meal

Chandra came to the Estate several springs back with the intent of being here for a single growing season. I hired her because she had a deft hand with transplanting seedlings, something harder than it looks to do properly, and … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 28th of May: Italian folklore, music by the Oysterband, Well you get the idea…

I will not go as long as the room / keeps swaying to and fro as long as the band can play / here is where I’m gonna stay I’m gonna stay at the shouting end / the shouting end of life … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 21st of May: a Gothic novel, Sayers on Holmes and other matters

The point is, there is no feasible excuse for what we are, for what we have made of ourselves. We have chosen to put profits before people, money before morality, dividends before decency, fanaticism before fairness, and our own trivial … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 14th of May: music from uilleann piper David Sproule and Americana music!

“We”re all misfits here,” he says, almost proudly. “That’s why I started this squat, after all. For people like us, who don’t fit in anywhere else. Halfies and homos and hopeless romantics, the outcast and outrageous and terminally weird. That’s … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 7th of May: Adam Stemple’s first solo novel, a look at John Denver, The Mythology of Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters, John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, music by Clannad and other matters

At any rate, the tune is not a story, but stories might lie behind the tune. For, as mnemonics, the names summon up a tangled web of circumstances; they not only help to summon the tune into being, but recall … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 30th of April: a tale about a book that doesn’t exist, Sandy Denny live, some British folk rocker bios and just maybe a bit more…

Come all ye rolling minstrels, And together we will try To rouse the spirit of the air And move the rolling sky. ‘Come All Ye’, composed by Sandy Denny So you want to know about the Sandy Denny bio that Reynard was … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 9th of April: choice SF from Elizabeth Bear, live music from Midnight Oil, Ottoman tulips, a history of breakfast and buckdancers choice on other matters

Stars on our door, stars in our eyes, stars exploding in the bits  of our brains where the common sense should have been. — Angela Carter’s Wise Children The tulips such as the one in the vase on my desk here in the … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 2nd of April: Beethoven music from the Alban Berg Quartet, Kinrowan Estate bees, Beatrix Potter, Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups and other goodies are here this edition

I’ve always wanted the string quartet to be vital, and energetic, and alive, and cool, and not afraid to kick ass and be absolutely beautiful and ugly if it has to be. But it has to be expressive of life. … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 26th of March: an Afghanistan music collection, music from Altan, a future Europe and India as well, Tarzan, ‘African traditions’ and other matters as well

I authorised that a model be made of Kinrowan Hall complete with the new Library addition, so that all could see how it would look when built. It will be more than just a bog standard architectural model as it’ll be … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 19th of March: Spring festivals, wise fools, outlaw heroes, an English country house mystery, chocolate!, and more

“I really didn’t mean to steal it.” Mr. Williams shook his head. He scratched at his chin nervously. “Why not? That’s what they’re there for. Tunes belong to everybody. So do stories.” ― Tallis and Mr Williams in Robert Holdstock’s … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 5th of March: Tull live, Nils Økland Band US tour, Cuban music, a fictional travel guide, Tobias Buckell on Tolkien, a graphic novel by Maurice Sendak, a bio of Jim Henson and other neat stuff too

One day I walked the road and crossed a field to go by where the hounds ran hard. And on the master raced: behind the hunters chased to where the path was barred. One fine young lady’s horse refused the … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 26th of February: a concert on steel wheels, fiction Tanya Huff, Hershey chocolate, music by Skara Brae, women horror movie hosts and other neat things as well…

The Endless Rave happens at the edge of Soho proper. Some people say the first humans to return to Bordertown decided to celebrate by dancing there, and the dancing has never stopped. The dancers come and go, of course, and … Continue reading

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