Friday Fun Facts - 3/8/2013

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

1) This is a portrait of Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746-1817), painted by Kazimierz Wojniakowski. You may remember "Kos" from AN ECHO IN THE BONE:
"If ye came for money and girls, man, ye joined the wrong army,” Jamie said dryly, and Kosciuszko laughed.

“I say first money,” he corrected. “I come to Philadelphia, read there La Declaration.” He pronounced it in French, and bared his head in reverence at the name, clasping his sweat-stained hat to his breast. “This thing, this writing… I am ravish.”

So ravished was he by the sentiments expressed in that noble document that he had at once sought out its author. While probably surprised by the sudden advent of a passionate young Pole in his midst, Thomas Jefferson had made him welcome, and the two men had spent most of a day deeply involved in the discussion of philosophy (in French), from which they had emerged fast friends.

“Great man,” Kos assured Jamie solemnly, crossing himself before putting his hat back on. “God keep him safe.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 60, "Deserter Game, Round II". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
This site has a lot more information about Kosciuszko's life and his role in the American Revolution.  Among other things, he oversaw the construction of the garrison defenses at West Point, New York, from 1778-1780.

2) The mangrove trees shown above are located in the Los Haitises National Park in the Dominican Republic, not far from where Claire landed after her escape from the Porpoise.  Click on the photo for a bigger view. I like this photo because it looks just like the scene described in VOYAGER:
The thick bushlike plants must be mangroves. They stretched as far as I could see in either direction; there was no alternative but to clamber through them. Their roots rose out of the mud in big loops like croquet wickets, which I tripped over regularly, and the pale, smooth gray twigs grew in bunches like finger bones, snatching at my hair as I passed.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 50, "I Meet a Priest". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's a short but very informative video about mangroves, filmed in the Dominican Republic.

For more information about mangroves, look here.

3) The photo above shows a deer fly (genus Chrysops).  Photo credit: Bastiaan (Bart) Drees.  According to Wikipedia:
Deer flies are a genus that belongs to the family commonly called horse-flies (Tabanidae). They are smaller than wasps, and they have coloured eyes and dark bands across their wings. While female deer flies feed on blood, males instead collect pollen. When feeding, females use knife-like mandibles and maxillae to make a cross-shaped incision and then lap up the blood. Their bite can be extremely painful, and allergic reaction from the saliva of the fly can result in further discomfort and health concerns.
This scene from DRAGONFLY always makes me laugh.  Poor Jamie!
I sat like a mildly nervous statue, half-hypnotized by the menacing buzz. The heavy winged body, deceptively slow, hummed lazily back and forth between the horse’s ears and my own. The horse’s ears twitched violently, an impulse with which I was in complete sympathy.

“If that thing lands in my ear, Jamie, I’m going to--” I began.

“Shh!” he ordered, leaning forward in anticipation, left hand cupped like a panther about to strike. “Another second, and I’ll have him.”

Just then I saw the dark blob alight on his shoulder. Another deerfly, seeking a basking place. I opened my mouth again.


“Hush!” He clapped his hands together triumphantly on my tormentor, a split second before the deerfly on his collar sank its fangs into his neck.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "The Fox's Lair". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

4) The plants pictured above are called bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). I had never heard of bloodroot before I read the following scene in THE FIERY CROSS:
I finished grating a root and dropped the stub into a jar on the desk. Bloodroot is aptly named; the scientific name is Sanguinaria, and the juice is red, acrid, and sticky. The bowl in my lap was full of oozy, moist shavings, and my hands looked as though I had been disemboweling small animals.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 76, "Blood Money". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
You can see what Claire means, judging by this photo.  (Photo credit: Paul Zahl,

Bloodroot has a number of medicinal uses, as described here and here. But it should be used with caution, as it is toxic in large doses. From Wikipedia:
In 2005, "folk healer" Dan Raber (of Georgia, United States) was arrested and charged with causing severe bodily harm and practicing medicine without a license for dispensing bloodroot paste to nine women with various ailments including breast cancer, causing severe disfiguring destruction of their skin and underlying tissue (as well as failing to successfully excise their tumors).
I'm not quite sure what Claire intended to use her grated bloodroots for, but presumably not as a treatment for cancer!

5) This is a 1969 blue Ford Mustang, like Brianna's car.  Click on the photo for a bigger view.
[Roger] yanked the bell-sleeved shirt over his head, wondering just what level of comfort Brianna was accustomed to. He was no judge of women's clothing--how expensive could blue jeans possibly be?--but he knew a bit about cars. Hers was a brand-new blue Mustang that made him itch to take the wheel.

Plainly her parents had left her enough to live on; he could trust Claire Randall to have seen to that. He only hoped it wasn't so much that she might think him interested on that account.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4, "A Blast from the Past". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's a site with more information about the 1969 Mustang. Since the car is not described in detail in the books, we can only speculate as to which specific model Bree's car might have been. But I like the look of the one shown above, very much! (Well, I might be biased; I drive a blue car myself. <g>)

If you're wondering about the car Roger drove, look 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!


Kare Leonard said...

Oh, my... I love Bree's car!!!

Luneray said...

HI there, I found your site after my book club read Outlander for our January pick and one of the members posted a link to this site. I'd read Outlander back in the mid 1990s (and remember loving it) but I hadn't read any of the others. Well, I've totally been sucked into the Outlander universe and have read all the books (incl. the Lord John books).

I really enjoy the blog and especially the Friday Fun Facts. Thanks for sharing all the tidbits!

Karen Henry said...

Kare - Isn't that a gorgeous car? Even if it's not exactly the model Diana had in mind, I like it a lot.

Luneray - Welcome! I'm glad you found my blog. Tell the person who posted the link that I appreciate it very much! :-) Hope you'll take some time to explore the site and see what else is available here. I try to keep it as up-to-date as possible.


Rhoda said...

Karen, as soon as I downloaded Echo I did a search to see if Kościuszko was mentioned. I have family roots in the town of Kościuszko , Mississipi and surrounding areas. It's also the birthplace of Oprah Winfrey.
I had been reading the town history and the naming of the town before Echo came out and realized that that Jamie would probably meet up with him in some way or other!
Thanks for sharing!
Rhoda Smith

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