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.

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.

What’s New for the 19th of May: Pickled Eggs, Brideshead Revisited, Maxx and Bad Apple, A Scree on Author Politics and Other Matters

I’m a leftist. I don’t argue with anyone unless they agree with me.— Steven Brust, author of Vallista, the fifteenth and latest novel in the Taltos Cycle whose lead-off novel, Jhereg, is reviewed in our book review section.  We do have conferences held here from … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 14th of April: Joanna Russ, Live Music from Altan, Outlander, Really Great Brownies, Haunted Gotham and Other Neat Stuff

Of all the things a man may do, sleep probably contributes most to keeping him sane. It puts brackets about each day. If you do something foolish or painful today, you get irritated if somebody mentions it, today. If it … Continue reading

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Whats New for the 17th of March: It’s Almost Spring, Or Is It? Aliens, the Irish, Chocolate, Bartók Does Folk, and more

Where I’ve been is places, and what I’ve seen is things, and there’ve been times I’ve run off from seeing them, off to other places and things. I keep moving, me and this guitar with the silver strings slung behind … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 10th of March: American and Nordic Roots Music, Yummy Recipes, Fiction by Roger Zelazny and Other Comforting Matters

Death is the only god that comes when you call. — Roger Zelazny’s 24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai  I’ve been reading a lot of Zelazny this winter as he’s one of the writers I go to when I … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 3rd of March: Bond, Beast, Dr. Who, Hedgehogs and other late winter matters

I’ve always been impulsive. My thinking is usually pretty good, but I always seem to do it after I do my talking—by which time I’ve generally destroyed all basis for further conversation. — Roger Zelazny’s This Immortal, a novel that … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 17th of February: A Bevy of Nordic Recordings, Live Music from Skerryvore, Gaiman’s Books of Magic and Other Wonderful Things

Everyone thinks of them in terms of poisoned apples and glass coffins, and forgets that they represent girls who walked into dark forests and remade them into their own reflections. Seanan McGuire’s Indexing I’ve been reading Haunted England, which is the … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 10th of February: Really Small Libraries, Joni Mitchell does William Butler Yeats, The Dubliners in Concert and Other Fine Matters

Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, William Butler Yeats Ahhhh, cinnamon buns. Yes that’s the heavenly smell coming from … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Danse Macabre

Greetings Anna, You’ll be tickled to know that Jack is putting back together the Medieval music group called Danse Macabre that he had here well over twenty years ago. Of course, there’ll be new musos including my wife, Catherine, joining … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 20th of January: Riverside, Spain, and other interesting things

Let the fairy tale begin on a winter’s morning, then, with one drop of blood newly-fallen on the ivory snow: a drop as bright as a clear-cut ruby, red as a single spot of claret on the lace cuff. ― … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 13th of January: Americana flavoured Jazz, The Three Musketeers, a ‘dorable Thirteenth Doctor, Black-eyed peas and ham hocks, The World’s Most Famous Dinosaur, live music from Altan and other Winter treats

But you must stop playing among his ghosts — it’s stupid and dangerous and completely pointless. He’s trying to lay them to rest here, not stir them up, and you seem eager to drag out all the sad old bones … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 16th of December: A Charles de Lint edition

Have a drink and listen to the music. — Charles de Lint’s Forests Of The Heart I always think of de Lint as being one of those writers fit for reading a cold winter’s night. So when I was looking … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 2nd of December: Live music from Iron Horse, Peter Pan, Swamp Thing, The Beatles, and other comforting things as well

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. ― Edith Sitwell No, it is not Winter yet but … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 25th of November: Doctor Who goes Victorian, cornbread, music from Nightnoise, concert hall staples, color photography, and there’s a bite on the air

The roasting, the feasting and the hours of horseplay helped to create a special warmth on this cold, hard day. Then the fire was stoked and fed to make a warm place where there could be dancing until darkfall. Martin … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 18th of November: A Tull concert, limited edition Ritter chocolate bars, Novels from Ursula le Guin and Patricia McKilillip, German style sausages, ‘Take This Waltz’ by Leonard Cohen and other later Autumn matters

Life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all. — William Goldman, August 12, 1931 – November 16, 2018, author and screenwriter of The Princess Bride I’m sitting in the corner nook of the Estate Kitchen with my iPad resting nearby and a large … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Bonfires

Nothing warms my heart and body as much as a bonfire does. Other than my wife that is. Oh I know that I could be inside with my wife Catherine enjoying the warmth of one of the many fireplaces in … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 28th of October: All Hallow’s Eve Edition

I forbid you maidens all that wear gold in your hair To travel to Carterhaugh for young Tam Lin is there None that go by Carterhaugh but they leave him a pledge Either their mantles of green or else their … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 23rd of September: Earle Stanley Gardner, Concert swag, a China That Never Was, Old Hag tunes, Benjamin Britten, Kedgeree, an Elizabeth Hand novella and other neat stuff

When autumn darkness falls, what we will remember are the small acts of kindness: a cake, a hug, an invitation to talk, and every single rose. These are all expressions of a nation coming together and caring about its people. … Continue reading

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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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All Hallow’s Eve Edition

I forbid you maidens all that wear gold in your hair To travel to Carterhaugh for young Tam Lin is there None that go by Carterhaugh but they leave him a pledge Either their mantles of green or else their … 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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