Friday Fun Facts - 1/4/2013

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

1) This is an example of an Aubusson rug from the second half of the 18th century.  (Photo is from Christie's, the auction house.) It may not be exactly the same as the one described in OUTLANDER, but I think it's similar.
In the main drawing room of Eldridge Manor, MacRannoch’s home, Hector humped his burden onto the rug before the fire. Seizing one corner of the blanket, he unrolled it carefully, and a limp, naked figure flopped out onto the pink and yellow flowers of Lady Annabelle MacRannoch’s pride and joy.

To do the Lady Annabelle credit, she didn’t seem to notice the blood soaking into her expensive Aubusson rug. A birdlike woman in her early forties, arrayed like a goldfinch in a sunburst of yellow silk dressing gown, she had servants bustling in all directions with a brisk clap of her hands, and blankets, linen, hot water, and whisky appeared at my elbow almost before I had got my cloak off.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 36, "MacRannoch". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.) 
You can see more pictures of Aubusson rugs here.

2) The photo above shows a plant known as water-pepper (Persicaria hydropiper or Polygonum hydropiper).  It was one of the plants included in Nayawenne's amulet, as Claire explained to Bree:
"Bayberry, balsam fir, wild ginger, and Arsesmart,” she said, sniffing like a truffle-hound. “Bit of sage, too, I think.”

“Arsesmart? Is that a comment on what she thought of you?” In spite of her distress, Brianna laughed.

“Ha bloody ha,” her mother replied tartly, dusting the little heap of dried plant matter onto the table with the bones. “Otherwise known as water-pepper. It’s a rather irritating little thing that grows near brooks--gives you blisters and smarts the eyes--or other things, I imagine, if you happen to carelessly sit on it."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 78, "No Small Thing". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)  
You may recall that shortly after they met in OUTLANDER, Claire advised Ian to use water-pepper to treat irritation of his leg-stump. So she's evidently known about it for a very long time.

According to this site,
The leaves are anti-inflammatory, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, stimulant, stomachic, styptic. They contain rutin, which helps strengthen fragile capillaries and thus helps prevent bleeding. Use with caution. The seed is carminative, diuretic and stimulant. The whole plant, either on its own or mixed with other herbs, is decocted and used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments including diarrhoea, dyspepsia, itching skin, excessive menstrual bleeding and haemorrhoids. A poultice of the plant is used in treating swollen and inflamed areas.
For more information about the medicinal properties of water-pepper, look here and here.


3) The photo above shows a beaver (Castor canadensis).  Photo credit: Blackcat Photography, on Flickr.
“He’s no hurt, is he?” Ian asked, frowning at his dog.

She glared at him.

“No, he isn’t. I expect he’s embarrassed. You could ask whether I’m hurt. Do you have any idea what kind of teeth beavers have?”

The light was nearly gone, but she could see his lean shoulders shaking.

“Aye,” he said, sounding rather strangled. “I have. They, um, didna bite ye, did they? I mean--I should think it would be noticeable, if ye’d been gnawed."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 69, "A Stampede of Beavers". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Here's a short video about beavers. You can see more beaver facts and photos here.

4) The photos above show what grapeshot looks like. From Wikipedia:
In artillery, a grapeshot is a type of shot that is not one solid element, but a mass of small metal balls or slugs packed tightly into a canvas bag. It was used both in land and naval warfare. When assembled, the balls resembled a cluster of grapes, hence the name. On firing, the balls spread out from the muzzle, giving an effect similar to a giant shotgun.

Grapeshot was devastatingly effective against massed infantry at short range. It was used to savage massed infantry charges quickly. Cannons would fire solid shot to attack enemy artillery and troops at longer range and switch to grape when they or nearby troops were charged. 
That's how Ian the elder lost his leg, as Jamie recalls:
"God, he could run like the wind.” A tinge of sadness crossed his face, his memory of the fleet-footed friend of his youth clashing with more recent memories of his brother-in-law, hobbling stiffly, if good-naturedly, on the wooden leg a round of grapeshot taken in a foreign battle had left him with.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 7, "Royal Audience". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
It sounds like a very effective weapon!

5) Many of you will remember the song that Ian was so fond of in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES. It's an old Scottish ballad called "Eppie Morrie".
"...And put a pistol to his breest, his breest,” Young Ian chanted, “Marry me, marry me, minister, or else I’ll be your priest, your priest--or else I’ll be your priest!”

“Of course,” Roger said, dropping the song, in which a bold young man named Willie rides with his friends to abduct and forcibly marry a young woman who proves bolder yet, “we’ll hope ye prove a wee bit more capable than Willie upon the night, aye, Joseph?”

Mr. Wemyss, scrubbed, dressed, and fairly vibrating with excitement, gave him a glance of complete incomprehension. Roger grinned, tightening the strap of his saddlebag.

“Young Willie obliges a minister to marry him to the young woman at gunpoint,” he explained to Mr. Wemyss, “but then, when he takes his stolen bride to bed, she’ll have none of him--and his best efforts will not avail to force her.”

“And so return me, Willie, to my hame, as virgin as I came, I came--as virgin as I came!” Ian caroled.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 85, "The Stolen Bride". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The video above features Karan Casey singing "Eppie Morrie". You can see the lyrics here.

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

1 comment

Christiane said...

The 1st FFF of 2013 are great! Love the beavers, so cute and clever animals. You made it once more Karen, thanks and we'll be waiting for more next week. Greetings from France

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