Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Fun Facts - 2/28/2014



Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.



1) This is Medmenham Abbey, in Buckinghamshire, England, site of the notorious 18th-century Hellfire Club. (Photo credit: Hilofoz, on Flickr.) Click on the photo for a bigger view.



Sir Francis Dashwood (1708-1781) was a real historical figure.  You may remember Lord John's encounter with Dashwood in "Lord John and the Hellfire Club".
Grey squinted against the haze of smoke in the room. The man was heavy-bodied, but betrayed no softness of flesh; the sloping shoulders were thick with muscle, and if waist and calves were thick as well, it was by a natural inclination of form, rather than the result of indulgence.

“I have heard the name,” Grey said. “A political of some minor repute?”

“In the arena of politics, yes,” Lady Lucinda agreed, not taking her eyes from the man. “In others … less minor. In fact, his repute in some circles is nothing short of outright notoriety.”

A reach for a glass stretched the satin of Dashwood’s broidered plum-silk waistcoat tight across a broad chest, and brought into view a face, likewise broad, ruddy in the candle glow and animated with a cynic laughter. He wore no wig, but had a quantity of dark hair, curling low across the brow.

(From "Lord John and the Hellfire Club", in LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS by Diana Gabaldon. Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
For more about the Hellfire Club, look here and here.



2) This illustration, circa 1742, shows a soldier of the 43rd Highlanders regiment (later renumbered the 42nd) who were also known as the Black Watch (Am Freiceidan Dubh in Gaelic). The Redcoats who captured Jamie in OUTLANDER would have worn uniforms similar to this.
“It’s the Watch,” [Jamie] said, nodding back in the direction of the inn. “We’re safe enough, but I thought we’d as soon be a bit further away.”

I had heard of the famous Black Watch, that informal police force that kept order in the Highlands, and heard also that there were other Watches, each patrolling its own area, collecting “subscriptions” from clients for the safeguarding of cattle and property. Clients in arrears might well wake one morning to find their livestock vanished in the night, and none to tell where they had gone--certainly not the men of the Watch. I was seized by a sudden irrational terror.

“They’re not looking for you, are they?"

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16, "One Fine Day". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


This illustration, also from Wikipedia, shows an officer of the Black Watch in 1743. For more about the history of the Black Watch, look here.



3) This is what sangria looks like. (Photo credit: akemiphotos, on Flickr.)
"Have you ever drunk sangria, Mrs. Fraser?”

I opened my mouth to say “Yes,” thought better of it, and said, “No, what is it?” Sangria had been a popular drink in the 1960s, and I had had it many times at faculty parties and hospital social events. But for now, I was sure that it was unknown in England and Scotland; Mrs. Fraser of Edinburgh would never have heard of sangria.

“A mixture of red wine and the juices of orange and lemon,” Lawrence Stern was explaining. “Mulled with spices, and served hot or cold, depending upon the weather. A most comforting and healthful beverage, is it not, Fogden?"

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 50, "I Meet a Priest". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Sangria is a popular drink in Spain and Portugal. According to Wikipedia:
It normally consists of wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, and a small amount of added brandy. Chopped fruit can include orange, lemon, lime, apple, peach, melon, berries, pineapple, grape, kiwifruit and mango. A sweetener such as honey, sugar, syrup, or orange juice is added....The use of the word sangria in labels is now restricted under European law. Only sangria made in Spain and Portugal will be allowed to sold under that name after the European Parliament green-lighted new wine labeling in January 2014.
If you want to try making it yourself, here is a recipe for Mamacita's Sangria, from Outlander Kitchen.



4) The hookworm is a tropical parasite called Necator americanus. (Photo credit: New York Times) You may remember the scene in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES where Claire diagnosed Bobby Higgins with hookworms:
“Hookworms are parasites that burrow through the skin--most often through the soles of the feet--and then migrate through the body until they reach your intestines--your, um, innards,” I amended, seeing incomprehension cross his face. “The adult worms have nasty little hooked bills, like this”--I crooked my index finger in illustration--“and they pierce the intestinal lining and proceed to suck your blood. That’s why, if you have them, you feel very weak, and faint frequently.”

From the suddenly clammy look of him, I rather thought he was about to faint now, and guided him hastily to a stool, pushing his head down between his knees.

“I don’t know for sure that that’s the problem,” I told him, bending down to address him. “I was just looking at the slides of Lizzie’s blood, though, and thinking of parasites, and--well, it came to me suddenly that a diagnosis of hookworms would fit your symptoms rather well.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 11, "Bloodwork". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)



This diagram shows the life cycle of the hookworm. (Click on the photo for a bigger view.)

From the CDC website:
Hookworms live in the small intestine. Hookworm eggs are passed in the feces of an infected person. If the infected person defecates outside (near bushes, in a garden, or field) of if the feces of an infected person are used as fertilizer, eggs are deposited on soil. They can then mature and hatch, releasing larvae (immature worms). The larvae mature into a form that can penetrate the skin of humans. Hookworm infection is mainly acquired by walking barefoot on contaminated soil. One kind of hookworm can also be transmitted through the ingestion of larvae.
Here's an article from the New York Times from July 1, 2008, about hookworms as a possible treatment for allergies -- as unlikely as that sounds!



5) I had never heard of waterhorses (each-uisge in Gaelic) or kelpies before I read Diana Gabaldon's books. (This illustration of a kelpie is by kotorikurama, on DeviantArt.com.)

Remember the story Rupert told in OUTLANDER, about the waterhorse's chimney?
"There’s a spot at the eastern end of Loch Garve, ye ken,” [Rupert] said, rolling his eyes around the gathering to be sure everyone was listening, “that never freezes. It’s always black water there, even when the rest o’ the loch is frozen solid, for that’s the waterhorse’s chimney.”

The waterhorse of Loch Garve, like so many of his kind, had stolen a young girl who came to the loch to draw water, and carried her away to live in the depths of the loch and be his wife. Woe betide any maiden, or any man, for that matter, who met a fine horse by the water’s side and thought to ride upon him, for a rider once mounted could not dismount, and the horse would step into the water, turn into a fish, and swim to his home with the hapless rider still stuck fast to his back.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 18, "Raiders in the Rocks". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
You can see a version of this story here: The Kelpie of Loch Garve

There seems to be some confusion about the difference between a kelpie and a waterhorse. Some people use the terms interchangeably. Others insist that kelpies inhabit streams and rivers, while the each-uisge lives in the sea.



If you're skeptical about tales of kelpies and waterhorses, here's a brief video that might change your mind. <g>

You may have heard about the pair of giant Kelpie sculptures that were recently installed in Falkirk, Scotland. Here's an article about them from the BBC website, dated February 12, 2014.

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please come back next week for more!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Worldwide TV Needs OUTLANDER!



For those of you on Twitter, here's a great opportunity to let the TV networks worldwide know you'd like to see OUTLANDER!

Please tag your tweets TODAY, February 26, from 8-10pm GMT (3-5pm Eastern, 12-2pm Pacific), with #WorldwideTVNeedsOUTLANDER.

Here's a post from Outlander Ambassadors with more information about the Twitter event. From the announcement:
This effort has four goals:
1. To bring Outlander and its large existing fan base to the attention of networks in countries we have not yet targeted, hopefully resulting in the quick sale of broadcasting rights to the series.
2. To demonstrate the amount of fan support broadcasters in the UK and New Zealand can expect from Outlander fans once the series airs, hopefully resulting in the quick sale of the rights there.
3. To demonstrate to Foxtel that fans will indeed support the series when it airs in Australia (and to thank them for being the first non-North American broadcaster to acquire the rights.)
4. To trend our hash-tag in as many countries as possible.
Diana Gabaldon commented recently about international sales:
One of the Sony people explained to me that historically, most foreign countries wait ‘til after a new show has been out for at least one season, before deciding whether to buy it or not. However, this same person also noted that that trend has been changing of late, and that s/he would not be surprised if foreign sales happened more quickly with OUTLANDER, as there’s so much interest in it. (So YES! Definitely keep on agitating with your local TV outlets and keep demonstrating your interest—it does help!)
Even if you already have access to a channel that will broadcast the series, please tag your tweets today with #WorldwideTVNeedsOUTLANDER to show your support for OUTLANDER fans in other countries.  (And even if you're not on Twitter, you can see all the posts here.)

Look here for more information about this Twitter campaign.  I will be at work with very limited access to Twitter during the time this event is scheduled, but I hope as many fans as possible will participate!  Please help spread the word to any other OUTLANDER fans you may know.

For more about the OUTLANDER TV series, see my FAQ page here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Final Frenzy update



Here's the latest update from Diana Gabaldon on her progress with WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (aka MOHB, MOBY, or Book 8):




This is wonderful news for all of us!  Wishing her the best of luck with Section 7!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My Pocket Jamie is here!



My Pocket Jamie (a gift from STARZ) arrived this afternoon! <g>

Here he is, keeping watch over my OUTLANDER book collection.
You could tell from the books whether a library was meant for show or not. Books that were used had an open, interested feel to them, even if closed and neatly lined up on a shelf in strict order with their fellows. You felt as though the book took as much interest in you as you did in it and was willing to help when you reached for it.

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19, "Quagmire". Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Jamie was right about that. By those standards, my OUTLANDER hardcovers are very much interested in me <vbg>, and always willing to help!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Fun Facts - 2/21/2014



Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.



1) This photo shows what homemade hardtack, or ship's biscuit, looks like. (Photo by Jeff Warren, on Flickr.)  These hard, unleavened biscuits -- made from flour, water, and salt -- were a staple food aboard sailing ships for centuries, because they could be stored for long periods of time.



Here's a video from Jas. Townsend & Sons -- a company that sells all kinds of 18th-century items -- showing how to make ship's biscuit. (The demonstration starts at about 1:23 into this video.)
"No, they certainly can’t eat salt beef,” I said firmly. “Nor yet hardtack, though if we soak the biscuit in boiled milk, perhaps we can manage that as they begin to recover. If you knock the weevils out first,” I added, as an afterthought.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "We Meet a Porpoise". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
For more information, look here and here.  If you want to try this at home, there's a recipe here.



2) What exactly is a "phantom limb"?  According to Wikipedia,
A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb (even an organ, like the appendix) is still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts. Approximately 60 to 80% of individuals with an amputation experience phantom sensations in their amputated limb, and the majority of the sensations are painful.
You may recall that Jamie and Ian talked about it in ECHO, shortly before Ian's death.
"Well, the thing is," Ian said, wiggling his sound foot to and fro, "I can still feel my missing foot. Always have been able to, ever since it went. Not all the time, mind," he added, looking up. "But I do feel it. A verra strange thing. Do ye feel your finger?" he asked curiously, raising his chin at Jamie's right hand.

"Well...aye, I do. Not all the time, but now and then--and the nasty thing is that even though it's gone, it still hurts like damnation, which doesna seem really fair."

He could have bitten his tongue at that, for here Ian was dying, and him complaining that the loss of his finger wasn't fair. Ian wheezed with amusement, though, and leaned back, shaking his head.

"If life was fair, then what?"

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 81, "Purgatory II". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's an article from WebMD with more information on phantom limb pain.  Modern treatments include the use of mirrors, and even virtual reality.

When Diana Gabaldon announced the title of AN ECHO IN THE BONE back in 2007, it occurred to me almost at once that this title could refer to the phantom limb effect.  It's a very powerful metaphor for grief, loss, and separation.  Here's a post on Compuserve from 2009 where I explored that idea in some detail.



3) This is an anteater (suborder Vermilingua).  From Wikipedia:
All anteaters have elongated snouts equipped with a thin tongue that can be extended to a length greater than the length of the head; their tube-shaped mouths have lips but no teeth. They use their large, curved foreclaws to tear open ant and termite mounds and for defense, while their dense and long fur protects them from attacks from the insects. All species except the giant anteater have a prehensile tail.
Claire told Jamie about anteaters in VOYAGER:
[Jamie] wrinkled his long nose fastidiously and I laughed.

“You look like an anteater when you do that,” I told him.

The attempt to distract him was successful; the wide mouth curved upward slightly.

“Oh, aye? There’s a beastie eats ants, is there?” He did his best to respond to the teasing, turning his back on the Barbados docks. He leaned against the rail and smiled down at me. “I shouldna think they’d be verra filling.”

“I suppose it must eat a lot of them. They can’t be any worse than haggis, after all."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 53, "Bat Guano". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


Here's another look at an anteater.  (Photo credit: Olaya Garcia, on Flickr.)  According to this site, anteaters can eat up to 30,000 insects a day (!) For more information about anteaters, look here and here.



4) Here's a video of the Corries, singing "My Nut-Brown Maiden". This traditional Scottish folk song is called "Ho rò mo nighean donn bhòidheach" in Gaelic.
"Ho ro," someone behind him said in open approval, "mo nighean donn boidheach!" For one head-spinning instant, [Ian] thought it was his uncle speaking and blinked stupidly, wondering why Uncle Jamie should be making flirtatious remarks to his aunt while she was working--but Auntie Claire wasn't here at all, his slow wits reminded him, so what...

One hand over his eye to keep it from falling out of his head, he turned carefully and saw a man in the opening of the tent.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 63, "Separated Forever From My Friends and Kin". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
You can see the Rankin Family singing the Gaelic version here.  The Gaelic lyrics are here, along with the English translation.



5) This is mountain laurel (scientific name, Kalmia latifolia). (Photo credit: Greer82496, on Flickr.)  Bree and Jamie saw flowers like these on one of their first excursions together on Fraser's Ridge:
They hunted up and down the mountainside, laughing as they dodged the bomber assaults of enraged bumblebees, hunting telltale patches of yellow and white. The bees liked the mountain laurel, but too many of those patches were too high to see over, too dense to pass through.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "Moonlight". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
From Wikipedia:
The plant is naturally found on rocky slopes and mountainous forest areas....The plant often grows in large thickets, covering great areas of forest floor. In North America it can become tree sized on undeveloped mountains of the Carolinas but is a shrub farther north.


Here's another view. (Photo credit: esywlkr, on Flickr.)  The mountain laurel is the state flower of Pennsylvania and Connecticut. They're beautiful to look at, but you may be surprised to learn that all parts of the plant are poisonous.  For more information about mountain laurel, look here.

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please come back next week for more!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An article about the TV series...in Gaelic!



Here's something a bit different:  an article about the OUTLANDER TV series, from the Scottish newspaper, The Scotsman, written in Gaelic!



This was posted on Twitter yesterday by Àdhamh Ó Broin, whom you may know as the Gaelic expert on the "How to Speak OUTLANDER" videos. <g>  (If you haven't seen the videos, look here.)  Click on the photo for a bigger view.

I was fascinated to see this, even though I only know a tiny handful of words in Gaelic.  If anyone out there can read this, I'd be very interested to know what it says!

Monday, February 17, 2014

How do you say Laoghaire and Geillis?

Here's the 4th lesson in the STARZ video series, "How to Speak OUTLANDER". Enjoy!



This one features Laoghaire (played by Nell Hudson) and Geillis Duncan (played by Lotte Verbeek).

The first three lessons are here, in case you missed them:

Speak OUTLANDER: Sassenach

Speak OUTLANDER: Craigh na Dun

Speak OUTLANDER: Mo nighean donn

Saturday, February 15, 2014

OUTLANDER TV series update!



Here are a few updates about the OUTLANDER TV series.



1) First of all, check out this wonderful photo, which was posted yesterday by STARZ as a Valentine's Day gift to the fans. <g>  (Click on the photo for a bigger view.)  This is almost certainly the scene where Claire tends Jamie's shoulder after they arrive at Castle Leoch, where she sees his scars for the first time.

2) Diana Gabaldon posted a long explanation on her Facebook page about international availability of the OUTLANDER TV series, and related topics.  I would really encourage you to take the time to read the whole thing!



3) There has been some speculation that Blackness Castle (shown above; photo by 4652 Paces, on Flickr) may be used as the location for Fort William in the TV series.  Apparently Blackness Castle will be closed to visitors from February 17 - March 14, but I have no further details.  You can see more information about Blackness Castle here. Judging from the photos, it looks just perfect for the scenes at Fort William.

4) The OUTLANDER TV series will be shown on Foxtel's SoHo channel in Australia.  Look here for the official announcement.

5) If you missed Diana Gabaldon's account of her visit to the set last week, look here.

For more information about the OUTLANDER TV series, see my FAQ page here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Fun Facts - 2/14/2014



Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.



1) Foot-binding was practiced in China until the early 20th century.
"I’ve heard of that,” I said, wondering what all the fuss was about. “It’s supposed to make their feet small and graceful.”

Jamie snorted again. “Graceful, aye? D’ye know how it’s done?” And proceeded to tell me.

“They take a tiny lassie--nay more than a year old, aye?--and turn under the toes of her feet until they touch her heel, then tie bandages about the foot to hold it so.”

“Ouch!” I said involuntarily.

“Yes, indeed,” he said dryly. “Her nanny will take the bandages off now and then to clean the foot, but puts them back directly. After some time, her wee toes rot and fall off. And by the time she’s grown, the poor lassie’s little more at the end of her legs than a crumple of bones and skin, smaller than the size o’ my fist.” His closed fist knocked softly against the wood of the rail in illustration. “But she’s considered verra beautiful, then,” he ended. “Graceful, as ye say."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 44, "Forces of Nature". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


This X-ray image, from Wikipedia, shows how foot-binding alters the bone structure.



This brief video from Reuters features a 93-year-old Chinese woman, now living in Malaysia, who had her feet bound as a small child.

Here's an article in the Atlantic about the history of foot-binding.  If you want to learn more about what it felt like, I would recommend Lisa See's novel, SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN.



2) You may recall Lord John Grey's visit to the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, England in "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier". This illustration shows what the Arsenal looked like around 1750. (Image credit: National Maritime Museum, London.) Click on the picture for a bigger view.

Looking at this picture, it's very easy to imagine Lord John wandering around, dressed in his best army uniform.
It was a long gallop from the laboratory, through a maze of smaller outbuildings and sheds, then into what Gormley--shouting to be heard above the noise of rain and hammering--told him was the Royal Brass Foundry, a large, airy stone and brick building, through whose archways Lord John glimpsed strange marvels: casting pits, boring machines, a gigantic beam scale large enough to weigh a horse...and a horse. Two, to be accurate, their wet flanks gleaming as they backed a wagon filled with barrels of clay and burlap bags of sand in through the high vestibule door.

(From "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier", in LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS by Diana Gabaldon. Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


The photo above, from Wikipedia, shows the Royal Brass Foundry, which was established at the Arsenal in 1717 and is one of the few original buildings still standing.

Here are some more photos of the Arsenal buildings.  For more about the history of the Royal Arsenal, look here.  (Fans of UK football may be interested to know that the Arsenal Football Club was founded by workers at the Woolwich Arsenal in 1886.)



3) My friend Betsy Green saw these boar's-tusk bracelets in a shop window in Edinburgh during our trip to Scotland in 2012, and kindly gave me permission to post the photo here. Click on the photo for a bigger view.

Betsy says there were a pair of bracelets, although the one on the right isn't shown completely in this photo. To me, they look just like the ones Jenny gave to Claire in OUTLANDER:
I caught a strange nonmetallic gleam in the depths of the box, and pointed. “What’s that?”

"Oh, those," she said, dipping into the box again. "I've never worn them; they don't suit me. But you could wear them--you're tall and queenly, like my mother was. They were hers, ye ken."

They were a pair of bracelets. Each made from the curving, almost-circular tusk of a wild boar, polished to a deep ivory glow, the ends capped with silver tappets, etched with flowered tracery.

"Lord, they're gorgeous! I've never seen anything so...so wonderfully barbaric."

Jenny was amused. "Aye, that they are. Someone gave them to Mother as a wedding gift, but she never would say who. My father used to tease her now and then about her admirer, but she wouldna tell him, either, just smiled like a cat that's had cream to its supper. Here, try them."

The ivory was cool and heavy on my arm. I couldn't resist stroking the deep yellow surface, grained with age.

"Aye, they suit ye," Jenny declared.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon,chapter 31, "Quarter Day". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


4) This photo, from the Phoenix Herb Company, shows what willow bark looks like.
The willow-bark brew I had left steeping was dark and aromatic; ready to drink. I poured it off carefully into a cup, glancing as I did so at Lord John.“I’d meant this for you,” I said. “But if you could stand to wait...”

“By all means give it to the lad,” he said, with a dismissive wave. “I can wait easily. Can I not assist you, though?”

[....]

I merely shook my head politely, and knelt by the trundle to administer the brew to Ian. He felt well enough to make faces and complain about the taste, which I found reassuring. Still, the headache was obviously very bad; the line between his brows was fixed and sharp as though it had been carved there with a knife.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon,chapter 28, "Heated Conversation". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
From Wikipedia:
The leaves and bark of the willow tree have been mentioned in ancient texts from Assyria, Sumer and Egypt as a remedy for aches and fever, and in Ancient Greece the physician Hippocrates wrote about its medicinal properties in the fifth century BC. Native Americans across the Americas relied on it as a staple of their medical treatments. It provides temporary pain relief. Salicin is metabolized into salicylic acid in the human body, and is a precursor of aspirin.
Want to brew your own willow bark tea?  Look here and here for step-by-step instructions.





5) This is Cittarium pica, a type of whelk found in the Caribbean. (Photo credits: top: Wikipedia; bottom: UCMP, on Flickr.)  Also known as the West Indian top shell, this particular species is one of the most important invertebrate species in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, these whelks have become extinct in some areas due to over-fishing.
We had been gathering whelks from the rocks in a shallow pan. [Annekje] seized this, dumped out the whelks, and filled it with seawater. Then, laying it on the sand, she motioned to me to watch.

She stirred the water carefully, in a circular motion, then lifted her finger out, stained dark with the purple blood of the whelks. The water continued to move, swirling past the tin sides.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 49, "Land Ho!". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


This photo shows a Caribbean hermit crab living inside a Cittarium pica shell. (Photo credit: Alan Cressler, on Flickr.) You can see more photos of whelk shells here. For more information about whelks, look here and here.

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. Wishing you all a wonderful Valentine's Day, and please come back next week for more!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Good news for Australian fans!



Good news for Australian fans! The OUTLANDER TV series will be on Foxtel's SoHo channel in Australia!

The official announcement is here.  I have no further details at this time.

Please help spread the word to any OUTLANDER fans you may know Down Under.  Thanks!

Favorite romantic quotes from the OUTLANDER books

Valentine's Day is coming soon!  Here are some of my all-time favorite romantic quotes from the OUTLANDER series.  It's not a coincidence that these are all "Jamie-isms". <g>  It was hard to pick just one per book! I hope you enjoy them.

"Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone. I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One. I give ye my Spirit, 'til our Life shall be Done."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 14, "A Marriage Takes Place". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"I'm honest enough to say that I dinna care what the right and wrong of it may be, so long as you are here wi' me, Claire," he said softly. "If it was a sin for you to choose me...then I would go to the Devil himself and bless him for tempting ye to it."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "The Royal Stud". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

"I have burned for you for twenty years, Sassenach," he said softly. "Do ye not know that?"

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 25, "House of Joy". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours. Claire--I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16, "The First Law of Thermodynamics". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"When the day shall come, that we do part....if my last words are not 'I love you'--ye'll ken it was because I didna have time."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 111, "And Yet Go Out to Meet It". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"Claire," he said, quite gently, "it was you. It's always been you, and it always will be."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 31, "And So To Bed". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"Ever heard of coup de foudre, Sassenach? It didna take me more than one good look at you."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 68, "Despoiler". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Feel free to suggest your own favorites!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Diana's account of her visit to the set!



As many of you know, Diana Gabaldon spent this week in Scotland, visiting the set of the OUTLANDER TV series -- getting to know the cast and crew, seeing first-hand how the production works, being fitted for an 18th-century costume, and finally, filming her cameo appearance!

Here's Diana's account of her adventures, posted on Facebook.

Part 1

Part 2

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Fun Facts - 2/7/2014



Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.



1) This is Coigach, on the northwest coast of Scotland. (Photo credit: Adam Cunningham, on Flickr.)  Click on the photo for a bigger view.
"When Duncan Kerr said the name Ellen, I kent it was my mother he meant--as a sign that he knew my name and my family, kent who I was; that he wasna raving, no matter how it sounded. And knowin’ that--” He shrugged again. “The Englishman had told me where they found Duncan, near the coast. There are hundreds of bittie isles and rocks all down that coast, but only one place where the silkies live, at the ends of the MacKenzie lands, off Coigach."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 33, "Buried Treasure". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.) 


Here's another view. (Photo credit: John Dera, on Flickr.)  I don't know if there really are silkies (seals) on one of the islands in the area, or whether Diana made that up, but it looks like a beautiful place. Have any of you been there?



2) This photo shows what vanilla beans look like. Vanilla beans are the fruit of a type of orchid called Vanilla planifolia.
I poked my head back through the door, taking care to stand outside.

“Cardamom,” I said firmly. “Nutmeg, whole. Dried this year. Fresh extract of anise.  Ginger root, two large ones, with no blemishes.” I paused. Mr. Murphy had stopped chopping, cleaver poised motionless above the block.

“And,” I added, “half a dozen whole vanilla beans. From Ceylon.”

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "We Set Sail". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Those vanilla beans would have been a rare sight to a sea-cook in the 18th century! Even today, vanilla beans are one of the most expensive spices in the world, second only to saffron.



The photo above, from Wikipedia, shows what a vanilla vine looks like:
The vanilla fruit grows quickly on the vine, but is not ready for harvest until maturity--approximately six months. Harvesting vanilla fruits is as labor-intensive as pollinating the blossoms. Immature dark green pods are not harvested. Pale yellow discoloration that commences at the distal end of the fruits is an indication of the maturity of pods. Each fruit ripens at its own time, requiring a daily harvest. To ensure the finest flavor from every fruit, each individual pod must be picked by hand just as it begins to split on the end. Overmatured fruits are likely to split, causing a reduction in market value. Its commercial value is fixed based on the length and appearance of the pod.
For information about cooking with vanilla beans, look here and here.



3) Here's a video showing what a strathspey (a type of Scottish dance) looks like.
After supper there was dancing, to the accompaniment of the landlord’s fiddle. I had never been much of a dancer, being rather prone to trip over my own feet in times of stress. I scarcely expected that I would do better, attired in long skirts and clumsy footgear. Once I had shed the clogs, though, I was surprised to find that I danced with no difficulty and great enjoyment.

Women being in short supply, the innkeeper’s wife and I tucked up our skirts and danced jigs and reels and strathspeys without ceasing, until I had to stop and lean against the settle, red-faced and gasping for breath.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16, "One Fine Day". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The term "strathspey" (pronounced STRATH-spay) is named after the Strathspey region of Scotland. You can hear some more strathspey music here.



4) This is a vintage-1950's electric fire, recently listed on ebay.co.uk. I imagine that this might have been like the one in the house Roger grew up in.
Brianna hovered now over the sofa where her mother lay, motionless as a tomb figure on a sarcophagus. With a shudder, Roger had avoided the hearth where the banked fire lay sleeping, and had instead pulled up the small electric fire with which the Reverend had warmed his feet on winter nights. Its bars glowed orange and hot, and it made a loud, friendly whirring noise that covered the silence in the study.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 49, "Blessed are Those..." Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's an article about the use of electric fires in the UK in the mid-20th century.



5) This photo shows a handfasting ceremony. (Photo credit: Larissa Cleveland)
[Roger] took her hand in his, palm to palm.

“D’ye know what handfasting is?”

“Not exactly. Sort of a temporary marriage?”

 “A bit. In the Isles and the remoter parts of the Highlands, where folk were a long way from the nearest minister, a man and a woman now would be handfast; vowed to each other for a year and a day. At the end of it, they find a minister and wed more permanently--or they go their own ways.”

Her hand tightened in his.

“I don’t want anything temporary."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "Virgin Sacrifice". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
From Wikipedia:
By the 18th century, the Kirk of Scotland no longer recognised marriages formed by mutual consent and subsequent sexual intercourse, even though the Scottish civil authorities did. To minimise any resulting legal actions, the ceremony was to be performed in public. This situation persisted until 1939, when Scottish marriage laws were reformed by the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1939 and handfasting was no longer recognised.
For more about the history of handfasting, look here and here.  Also, check out Scot Ansgeulaiche's handfasting page.  (For those of you who don't know, Scot and his wife, Samantha MacKenzie, run the Jamie and Claire Tour of Scotland.)

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please come back next week for more!