Friday Fun Facts - 4/25/2014

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

1) This photo, from Wikipedia, shows what elderberries look like.
I drew in my skirts to keep them away from a big elderberry bush, and stooped to look at the fruit. It was dark red, but not yet showing the blackish tinge of true ripeness.

“Two more days,” I said. “If we were going to use them for medicine, we’d pick them now. I want them for wine, though, and to dry like raisins--and for that, you want them to have a lot of sugar, so you wait until they’re nearly ready to drop from their stems."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 45, "Fifty-Fifty". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
If you want to try making elderberry wine at home, here's a recipe.

2) This is Stirling Castle, one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland. (Photo credit: Ruairidh212, on Flickr.)
"Madame!” I turned at the cry, to find Fergus at my elbow, beaming up at me, a square-toothed grin on his sallow face.

“Madame! Is it not wonderful? Milord has received pardon for his men—a messenger came from Stirling this morning, with the order to release them, and we are ordered at once to join milord at Stirling!”

I hugged him, grinning a bit myself. “That is wonderful, Fergus.” A few of the men had noticed me, and were beginning to turn to me, smiling and plucking at each other’s sleeves. An air of exhilaration and excitement filled the small room.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "Reunions". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Most of the present buildings in the castle date from the 16th century. Mary, Queen of Scots, was crowned as an infant in the chapel at Stirling in 1543, and spent her early childhood in the castle. (Look here for more information.)

This is one of the magnificent unicorn tapestries I saw when I visited Stirling Castle on the Celtic Journeys OUTLANDER Tour in 2012.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Stirling Castle, and would definitely recommend it to anyone planning a trip to Scotland! For more about Stirling Castle, look here and here.

3) The Carmina Gadelica is a collection of Celtic prayers, blessings, and charms compiled by Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912; pictured above) in the late 19th century. As Roger explained in ECHO:
[He] went on to tell them about the Reverend Carmichael, who had combed the Highlands and the Isles in the nineteenth century, talking with people, urging them to sing him their songs and tell him their ways, collecting “hymns, charms, and incantations” from the oral tradition wherever he could find them, and had published this great work of scholarship in several volumes, called the Carmina Gadelica.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Ley Lines". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Some of the prayers are really quite beautiful. Here, for example, is a Celtic prayer from the Carmina Gadelica, Volume III, that appears in FIERY CROSS. I like this one a great deal.

Bless to me, O God, the moon that is above me.
Bless to me, O God, the earth that is beneath me,
Bless to me, O God, my wife and my children,
And bless, O God, myself who have care of them;

Bless to me my wife and my children,
And bless, O God, myself who have care of them.
Bless, O God, the thing on which mine eye doth rest.
Bless, O God, the thing on which my hope doth rest,
Bless, O God, my reason and my purpose.
Bless, O bless Thou them. Thou God of life ;
Bless, O God, my reason and my purpose,
Bless, O bless Thou them. Thou God of life.

Bless to me the bed-companion of my love.
Bless to me the handling of my hands.
Bless, O bless Thou to me, O God, the fencing of my defence.
And bless, O bless to me the angeling of my rest ;
Bless, O bless Thou to me, O God, the fencing of my defence.
And bless, O bless to me the angeling of my rest.
"Soul Peace" and "Soul Leading" (prayers that Jamie recommends to young Ian in VOYAGER) are listed in Volume I, as is the blessing Claire recites just before leaving Jamie in DRAGONFLY ("The Battle to Come").

There are a great many other Celtic prayers, charms, and blessings listed in the Carmina Gadelica. Look here for volumes I and II, and here for volume III.

4) Portable writing desks were common in the 18th century. This is Thomas Jefferson's portable writing box (his own design), on which he drafted the Declaration of Independence. (Photo credit: DeepThirteen1967, on Flickr). You may recall that Jamie also had one, in THE FIERY CROSS:
"Can he write, Sassenach?” Jamie had paused by the wagon, and noticed the impasse in progress.

“Write? Write what?” I asked in surprise, but he was already reaching past me, digging out the battered portable writing-desk he carried when traveling.

“Love letters?” Jamie suggested, grinning down at me. “Or sonnets, maybe?” He tossed the lap-desk to Roger, who caught it neatly in his arms, even as I yelped in protest.

“But perhaps before ye compose an epic in William Tryon’s honor, Roger Mac, ye might oblige me wi’ the tale of how our mutual kinsman came to try and murder ye, aye?”

Roger stood stock-still for a moment, clutching the desk, but then gave Jamie a lopsided smile, and nodded slowly.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 75, "Speak My Name". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I saw this portable writing desk on display in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. I could definitely see Lord John using something like this in the field!

For more about the history of portable writing boxes in the 18th century, look here.

5) In honor of Diana Gabaldon's upcoming visit to Disneyland, here's the Mickey Mouse Club theme song, from the 1950's TV show. I can easily imagine Brianna watching this show as a child.
"And there are cartoon characters--I told you about cartoons--walking around. You can go up and shake hands with Mickey Mouse, or--”

“With what?”

“Mickey Mouse.” She laughed. “A big mouse, life-size--human-size, I mean. He wears gloves.”

“A giant rat?” he said, sounding slightly stunned. “And they take the weans to play with it?”

“Not a rat, a mouse,” she corrected him. “And it’s really a person dressed up like a mouse.”

“Oh, aye?” he said, not sounding terribly reassured.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 52, "M-I-C-". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
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 come back next week for more!


Jan Lutz said...

I especially enjoyed the section on Mickey Mouse.... and the old clip from the show, Thanks for sharing !

Karli said...

Mmm, I love elderberry juice, hope to try the wine someday!

Unknown said...

First chance I have had to read FFF in a long time and just as enjoyable as ever. Especially enjoyed the links to Carmena Gadelica. Thanks Karen!

Xwickslady said...

I'm not so sure about drying elderberries to be eaten like raisins. They have very large pits (seeds) that are about 2/3 to 3/4 of the entire berry and they are VERY hard. Now, if you're going to dry them for later use rehydration that would fine. I make elderberry jelly every summer but have never made the wine. Also, although I know the flowers are used medicinally, I just can't bring myself to use them and ruin my berry crop to later in the summer.

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