Sunday, October 01, 2023

The Outlander Bains


Outlander is a Television show that began airing in August of 2014 on the STARZ broadcast network.  It is work of fiction based upon historical events in Scotland in 1743 and the years following. The stories for the show are drawn from novels written by Diana Gabaldon (The Outlander Series).

 The main character is an American woman who served as a battle-field nurse during World War II (1945) - Claire Randall. She is cast back in time from a stone hinge that she stumbles into in the hills of Scotland (Inverness) while on a romantic trip after the war with her husband, Frank Randall.

She appears as a stranger (an Outlander) in Scotland's war-torn past, during the Jacobite uprisings. The Jacobites were a group of Scottish and English rebels during this time frame, who fought to restore James VII of Scotland (James II of England - a Catholic) and his Stuart descendants to the throne of Scotland and England.

Claire falls in with the MacKenzie Clan as they fight and flee the pursuit of British Redcoats - and there she meets a rebel leader named Jamie Fraser. He fights alongside his uncles Colum and Dougal MacKenzie in a fugitive rebel band.

Claire and Jamie marry in an act that saves him from execution, but they fall in love, and the rest of the story is about their romantic and sometimes tragic lives together.

The story and its drama are exceptional, the romance is soupy, the violence and the morality (or rather immorality) that is often portrayed sometimes make the tale difficult for me to watch, but the historical accuracy of the background and foundation is a superb quality of the show.

The places, castles, battles and many of the families, clans and customs are taken right out of the historical records. The actors are even required often to speak the Scottish Gaelic language for effect. Costuming, clothing, furnishings, and weaponry are all 100% authentic-looking.

Though Claire and Jamie were never real people, and time travel is not possible -- the viewer (or reader) is taken back in a very real way to 1743 Scotland.

And though Bains are not mentioned (that I have heard, at least) in the story line, we were joined by marriage in real life to the MacKenzies and the Frasers. (See Outlander: Our Scottish Clan). 

Alexander Bane 2nd Laird (Lord) of Tulloch Castle was married to Agnes Fraser (his second wife), who was the daughter of James Fraser. She was also the niece of Hugh Fraser, 5th Lord Lovat (a family title granted by the King of England).  

Duncan Bane 3rd Laird of Tulloch Castle was married to Isabel MacKenzie (his second wife) who was the daughter of Alexander MacKenzie II of Fairburn. 

John Bane 4th Laird of Tulloch Castle was married to Elizabeth MacKenzie daughter of Roderick MacKenzie I.


 Sir Hugh Fraser 
Lady Agnes Fraser 



Monday, June 05, 2023

The Pulley Bone

 The Pulley Bone

When I was young, I had no idea what a Wishbone was.

I'm pretty sure I never heard that word used in our home - or at my school.

I guess that the first time that I ever heard anybody refer to a Wishbone was when I learned that it was the style of offense that Bear Bryant led the Crimson Tide to run against all of their opponents:  The Wishbone Offense.

It was only later in my life and education (even my Southern education) that I learned that a Wishbone was really what we called the Pulley Bone at the eating table (as opposed to the Dinning Table).

Modern butchers prepare a chicken for cooking and serving in a different way than it was prepared years ago in Southern kitchens. When fried chicken was placed on a platter and onto a country table in the past it was legs, thighs, breasts, a back, a neck, a gizzard, a neck, and a pulley bone. There were other parts to a chicken and other Moms and Grandmas and Aunts cooked different parts and cooked them in different ways - but that was basically a fried chicken plate when I was growing up. 

My Grandma Bain always called dibs on the chicken back - that was her piece of chicken.

Little Mama (my Mother's mother) liked the neck and the gizzard.  We always saved them for her.  I saw NO appeal at all for wanting the back (very little meat) or the neck (same) and the gizzard was like eating a fried shoe-tongue.

And, oh yes - chicken livers.

I had no fondness for them as a child.  They looked and smelled awful.  I don't think that I ever tried them.

I can eat my weight in them now.

 We didn't know at the time that what we called chicken wings actually came from a buffalo.

The pulley bone was a "Y" shaped bone and piece of meat at the base of a chicken's neck, just at the top of the breast bone. It was white meat.

We used to fight over who would get the pulley bone.  Mama would decide, or Little Mama.

Whoever got to eat the pulley bone got to pick someone else to pull it with him (or her).

Once all of the meat was gone from the forked piece - two people at the table would hook their little fingers on a side and both would pull at the same time . . . . while making a wish.  The bone would break and whoever held the smallest part after pulling - would ostensibly get their wish!

It was fun - it is a wonderful memory - but I have never been impressed by wishes and wishing. Whether it was a WISHbone or a just a plain ole pulley bone.

So, it is a matter of consternation to me - that the word "wish," somewhere along the way, has crept into my prayer language.

I tell the Lord that I wish that He would come back.

I tell Him that I wish that I was a better person.

I wish that I had more faith.

I wish that I was stronger.

I wish that He would help me, or help someone that I'm praying about.

I wish that things were different, or better.

I wish that it would rain.

I wish that it would stop raining!

And I know good and well that God pays no attention at all to wishes. Even the wishes of His Children.

I am ashamed that I have found that I wish alot in my prayers. 

I am working very hard to listen to myself to weed out this awful habit. I have confessed and apologized to God, and I'm trying to do better.  I know that it is just a figure of speech and it is one that I use without thinking - but when I talk to God I ought to think and use my words with intent.

I do not have the right nor do I deserve to ask the Lord for anything. There is no petition that I deserve of Him.

But He compels me to ASK . . . He DOESN'T want me to wish . . .

God is smart enough and wise enough not to promise to give me everything that I ask for. He is too Great to even take notice of my wishes.

Our Heavenly Father is not your Grandpa, or Santa Clause, a Genii, or a Pulley Bone.


Thursday, May 25, 2023


Like the back of my hand.
I remember a moment - between me and my Grandmother (Avo Bain) - when I must have only been 5 or 6 years old.
We lived in Old Decatur -- I don't remember the street or exactly where the house was. It was East of 6th Avenue. It was one of two different places that we lived in that area before we moved to Truman Avenue and later on to Hamaker Street in Flint.
Grandma Bain was visiting with us for a while. She spent time with all of her children and grandchildren like that. She would pack a suitcase from her little house in Gardendale and she would go to Howard and Dean's and stay a while (not very far away). She would sometimes go and visit for a few days with her sisters. She would stay with Hack and Ovella, Bill and Marie, and she sometimes went all the way to Michigan to stay for a visit with JP and Carrie.
And she came to visit Walt and Libby Bain and their two boys.
Danny was still just a baby and had his own baby bed in Mom and Dad's room. Grandma and I shared my bed when she came to our house. I was so excited when she came and when I heard that she was coming I could hardly stand still.
One day - after she had been with us a few days - we were on the couch together -- in front of the TV. She was watching a program (I never remember her changing the channels, she just watched whatever was on). She was watching something - and every once in a while she would spit into a vegetable can that was lined with tissue. She enjoyed dipping snuff - and I never say her without her spit can.
I was stretched out as far as a 5 year old could stretch on the couch with her - my head resting in her lap.
She draped her arm over me and held my hand across my chest.
I remember clearly that I was not watching the TV program - I was studying the back of Grandma's hand.
I had never seen a hand like it - or maybe I had just never been this close before to an older person's hand. The skin on her hand was loose and wrinkled. You could move it around (I did), and pinch it up and it would stay pinched into a peak until she move her hand or fingers.
There were spots and moles and other anomalies - I examined them all. Rude behavior from anyone but a child, perhaps. Curiosity and being at ease for a little mind.
I don't know why - but that memory has stayed with me for over 60 years. I have never forgotten it. Isn't that strange?
And you know what? That memory has come to mean something entirely different to me in MY recent years.
I have Grandma hands! (Grandpa hands, I guess).
Have you ever said, "I know that like I know the back of my hand!"
Well, as of late, when I take time to look at the back of my own hands - they are unrecognizable to me.
I couldn't pick them out of a lineup of hands in a picture. I couldn't describe them to someone else so that THEY could pick them out.
They look like a stranger's hands. An OLD stranger.
I don't think that I can say any longer that I know ANYTHING like I know the back of my hand.
It's the same when I see myself in a photo, or a video, or in the mirror. I have become someone old and unrecognizable.
Well, such is life.
I have no more desire to get in shape, lose weight, color my hair, change hair styles, buy new clothes, or pursue surgery to restore my youth. I think I'm coming to terms with growing older. I don't think that I'll ever like it or be willing to accept it.
If God is gracious - I will get older - until I don't.
I know that for sure.
Just like I know the back of my hand.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Every Day Like Today

Christmas Season 2018 is in full swing. Christmas decorations and music began on Thanksgiving Day, however.

I'm already tired of hearing Blue Christmas, but I could still stand to hear Why Can't Every Day Be Like Christmas from the Elvis Christmas Album a few more times. I probably will.

If every day could be just like Christmas, what a wonderful world this would be.

I truly believe that this is the ultimate goal. When I was a little boy the season of Christmas did not really get under way until about two weeks before December 25. With Christmas decorations and Christmas themes coming out at Halloween these days, in ten or twenty years every day will be just like Christmas.

I'm not absolutely sure that the world will automatically become wonderful when that happens. We'll have to wait and see.


Today is Monday, December 3, 2018.

My Dad, John W. Bain, would be 85 years old today if he were still on this side of glory. Me and my wife, our two kids, my Son-in-Law, our two Granddaughters, my brother and his wife would take him out to eat and celebrate tonight if he were here.

We'd probably go to Red Lobster. It was one of his favorite places.

On his 74th Birthday in 2006, before he passed in April of 2007, we all went to Red Lobster. I will never forget it.

He had felt good all day. That was rare. His life had become a string of good days and bad days, and the bad days seemed to be catching up with him. We had no idea.

Friends and family had come to visit him or called him on the phone wishing him a happy day and he had looked forward to going out on the town with his family. I can still see us all there that night at the restaurant.

The waiters seated us all at a string of tables drawn together for our group. We ordered our drinks, began sipping and eating cheese rolls, and then we ordered our food.

As soon as we sent your orders to the kitchen, Daddy raised his tea glass and said, "I wish that every day could be like today!"

We all smiled, our eyes teared, and we raised our glasses in agreement.

We haven't had the opportunity on each of his birthdays since then to gather in his memory -- we won't be able to this year.

But often, when we do get a chance to all be together, for any occasion, I will lead us to toast Daddy.

I do wish that every day could be just like that day.

What a wonderful world this would be.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

Friday, November 23, 2018

If you are related to the Bains

I have worked through some old photos and records this Thanksgiving week.

If you are related to me and the Bain family in some way -- here are a few snaps that I made back in 1984 while in the Memphis Public Library Archives. The 1880 National Census for the State of Tennessee, DeKalb County.

This is Archabald Bain - my Great GrandFather and Cornelius  (Neely) Bain my GrandFather.

Arch was 25 years older than his wife Rachel.

My GrandFather was 12.

Aunt Mary, Uncle Si, and Uncle George all eventually moved to Alabama and were known by my Dad, John Walton Bain, in Limestone County.

 These two entries beside Arch list states of origin and last residence as Virginia and North Carolina.