Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My trip to Scotland (Part 2)

Tuesday, July 5

I woke up to Big News: Diana Gabaldon's announcement of the title of Book 9, GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE. (For more on this title and what it might mean, look here.)

We left Inverness in mid-morning, heading for the Isle of Skye. It was a pretty challenging drive, complicated by the fact that it was raining most of the way there, but the scenery was gorgeous! Here are a few photos we took on the road.







This is the area around Kyle of Lochalsh.  Some of you may recall that Kyle of Lochalsh is mentioned in THE FIERY CROSS as Roger's birthplace, so I was very eager to see it. We stopped for lunch at a little cafe in the town. I bought a guidebook to Skye at a gift shop nearby, which turned out to be pretty useful. Then we drove "over the sea to Skye" <g>, via the Skye Bridge.

We encountered a number of single-track roads for the first time on this drive. They were tricky at first, but before too long, my brother got the hang of driving on them. Even on narrow, winding mountain roads, they have "passing places" every few hundred yards so that you can pull over and let other cars go by.

The scenery in this area is spectacular: high hills, some with little waterfalls coming out of the rocks, and small bodies of water almost everywhere. It's very, very green, even on the mountains, but there are few trees.

Eventually we made our way to the hotel, located near Greshornish. The location is pretty remote, about two miles down a single-track road, and there were sheep grazing by the roadside. After driving much of the day in the rain, we were delighted when the sun came out just as we arrived!

We went out to dinner at a restaurant called the Stein Inn and had a good time. Here I am with my brother by a lovely little loch just across the road from the restaurant.





Wednesday, July 6

We had a good breakfast at the hotel, then drove to Dunvegan Castle, which my friend Judy Lowstuter had recommended as a must-see location on the Isle of Skye.



The castle itself is not very accessible, but I managed, with some help, to climb the staircase to the first floor. I was glad I made the effort to go upstairs! Here we were able to see all the public rooms and many paintings and artifacts belonging to the MacLeod clan.



The photo above, showing the dining room, comes from theskyeguide.com.



We saw the famous Fairy Flag, which dates from 400-700 AD. There are a number of stories and legends surrounding the Fairy Flag. Look here and here, for example.

After we finished touring the castle, we went outside to walk around the gardens, which are magnificent!





My favorite part was the Water Garden, with a stunning waterfall in the middle.



After lunch, we drove to Kilmuir, in the north of Skye, to visit the Skye Museum of Island Life. I thoroughly enjoyed our visit there, despite the fact that it was raining the whole time. What can you do but adopt a Scottish attitude toward the weather? "Oh, well, so it's raining. <shrug> Put the hood of your jacket up and grab an umbrella, and let's go see it anyway!" It certainly didn't slow us down at all.



The Skye Museum of Island Life is a small outdoor museum consisting of half a dozen little thatched-roofed stone cottages, containing exhibits and artifacts about all aspects of traditional life on Skye. It really gives you an appreciation of how difficult their lives were back then (not all that long ago, either; some of the exhibits date back only to the 1920's), and how much time and effort it took just to provide the basic necessities like food and clothing.

Here are a couple of photos of things I thought would be of interest to OUTLANDER fans. First, a display of plant-based dyes in various colors.  (Click on the photo for a bigger view.) I could definitely see the women of Lallybroch and Fraser's Ridge making use of many of these!



Here are some quern stones (the ones shown here are about a foot wide), used for grinding grain when no mill was available.



I would definitely recommend the Skye Museum of Island Life to any OUTLANDER fans who happen to be visiting the area. I thought it was very interesting.

By the time we were done exploring all of the buildings, I was soaked to the skin and freezing cold, but I didn't really mind. We went back to the hotel to change and rest a bit before dinner. All in all, a very successful day!

Look here and here for the previous posts about my trip to Scotland, and please come back soon to see the next installment!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

My trip to Scotland (Part 1)

Sunday, July 3

We left Edinburgh about noon, heading for Inverness in our rented Volvo.

I don't have photos for this first afternoon; I was too exhausted after the ordeal of getting to Scotland to think much about taking pictures, but I will try to supplement with some general impressions.

My brother did all the driving on this trip. It's not easy driving on the left side of the road! Roundabouts, especially, are very tricky, but he did a great job. We were very glad that our car had a good GPS. We depended on it throughout the whole trip!



The gorse was in bloom, and we saw a lot of it along the highways as we traveled around Scotland, but I didn't actually get a close-up look at it during this trip. (Photo credit: VFR_Rider on Flickr.)



We arrived in Inverness after a five-hour drive.  Our hotel turned out to be very close to a restaurant called the Snow Goose. (The photo above is from TripAdvisor.) I remembered the name from my previous trip to Scotland in 2012, because our tour group had eaten there. So we went there for dinner. Getting into the place turned out to be a little tricky, but we managed, and had a good time.

Monday, July 4

This was one of our busiest days on the whole trip. Our plan was to take a boat ride on Loch Ness in the morning, then see Culloden in the afternoon. The morning started out with a bit of an adventure. We had a small problem with the rental car, so my brother Ron stayed behind to deal with it while my sister-in-law Kathy and I took a taxi to the boat dock.




Here's our boat, the Jacobite Queen.



Shortly after we boarded the boat, we got a call from Ron. The issue with the car turned out not to be a big deal, so he was going to try to meet us at the dock. He got a little lost trying to find it, but eventually, with the help of the Jacobite Cruises staff (who really went above and beyond for us!), he was able to rendezvous with us, and we had a very relaxing time on the cruise.



Here's Urquhart Castle. (Click on the photo for a bigger view.) We opted not to visit the castle, because it's not very accessible for someone like me who uses a scooter.



We didn't see Nessie, but we all had a good time on this cruise, and I would certainly recommend Jacobite Cruises to anyone planning to visit Loch Ness!



Driving through Inverness on our way back to the hotel, I glanced out the window and happened to catch a glimpse of this Farm & Household Stores building. I recognized the name instantly from the reference in ECHO:
"Christ, I’m late. I’ll stop at the bank whilst I’m in town--need anything from the Farm and Household?”

“Yes,” she said dryly, “a new pump for the milk separator.”

“Right,” he said, and kissing her hastily, went out, one arm already into his jacket.

She opened her mouth to call after him that she’d been joking, but on second thought closed it. The Farm and Household Stores just might have a pump for a milk separator. A large, bewilderingly crowded building on the edge of Inverness, the Farm and Household supplied just about anything a farm might need, including pitchforks, rubber fire buckets, baling wire, and washing machines, as well as crockery, jars for canning, and not a few mysterious implements whose use she could only guess at.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 7, "An Uncertain Future". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Ron and Kathy both gave me weird looks. "Why on earth do you want a picture of that?" Neither of them has read Diana Gabaldon's books, but they certainly know about my addiction, and they mostly humored me when I spotted OUTLANDER-related things during our trip.

In the afternoon, we visited Culloden. It's a very sobering place, and the Visitors Centre is one of the best museums of its kind that I have ever seen. We were lucky that we had good weather. Here are a few photos I took inside the Visitors Centre:



This was prominently displayed at the front entrance, so you couldn't possibly miss it! Diana Gabaldon will be speaking at Culloden on July 22.



Look at the wickedly sharp blade on that bayonet, and think about how Jamie was wounded at Culloden.





This pair of quotes from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER are on the wall near the end of the exhibits, in a section devoted to references to Culloden in literature, etc.



Flora MacDonald, holding a white rose, symbol of the Jacobites.



The gift shop at Culloden had a whole floor-to-ceiling display of OUTLANDER-related merchandise, including all eight of the OUTLANDER books. (OUTLANDER and DRAGONFLY are not shown here, but they were on the top shelf of this display.)



Here I am at the Clan Fraser stone. Aren't the flowers lovely? They were left by previous visitors.



This is Leanach farmhouse, where Jamie escaped execution after the battle. I was very glad to be able to get a close look at it.



The memorial cairn.



Ron and Kathy at the memorial.

After dinner, we decided to take a walk along the River Ness. It was a beautiful evening, and very peaceful by the river. A lovely way to cap off a very enjoyable day!





I will post more of our Scotland adventures as soon as I can. Check back later for further updates!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Episode 213: "Dragonfly in Amber" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 213 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Dragonfly in Amber". I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, and I thought it was a wonderful way to end the season.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.


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I didn't care for the opening sequence with the scene from "The Avengers". It may have been fun or nostalgic for viewers who remember the 1960's, but it didn't mean anything to me. I was born in 1964, so I've never seen this show and I don't know anything about the characters.

There's Roger (played by Richard Rankin), at long last! I always pictured him from the books as clean-shaven (at least until DRUMS OF AUTUMN), but I don't mind the beard. His eyes are just gorgeous!

Good idea to open with the Rev. Wakefield's funeral. It seems a more plausible reason for Claire and Bree to show up on Roger's doorstep than the rather flimsy excuse of a research project that's given in the book. I was a little disoriented at the first sight of Claire in 1960's hairstyle and makeup, because she looks so different from the Claire we're used to.

And here's our first look at Brianna, played by Sophie Skelton. I loved the way Roger noticed her instantly, and couldn't take his eyes off her.

"Last time I saw you, you were about seven or eight years old." This is exactly right, even though the little boy who played wee Roger in Episode 201 seemed much younger than that.

I love Roger's Scottish accent. I could listen to it all day long. <g>

Good to see they remembered Fiona.

I like the use of the "dancers at the stones" music from Episode 101 when Claire is looking at the artifacts and remembering.

The scene with Roger and Claire in the Reverend's study was well done. The setting reminded me vividly of Claire and Frank in Episode 201, sitting across from one another as Claire told the story of what happened to her.

"How did you do it? Finally say goodbye to that one person you loved most in all the world?" Good line, and it brought tears to my eyes.

I liked Claire's response to this very much: "Whether you want to say goodbye or not, they're gone, and you have to go on living without them, because that's what they would want." She was trying to smile, but it seemed to me that she was holding herself under tight control, to keep the grief from pouring out of her.

Claire watching Brianna sleep, saying, "God, you are so like him," comes straight from the book.

And here's Jamie, at last! I liked the way he wrapped himself in his plaid, indicating how cold it was that day.

"Pressed his fingers where the nails had been" - I shuddered a bit at this, remembering Wentworth, and that horrific scene where BJR nails Jamie's hand to the table. But Charles Stuart talking about Doubting Thomas made me think of this quote from DRAGONFLY:
Roger felt the small shudder that ran through the girl’s body, and without thinking about it, reached up to take her hand. He winced involuntarily as she squeezed it, and suddenly in memory heard one of the Reverend’s texts: “Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed.” And those who must see, in order to believe? The effects of belief wrought by seeing trembled fearful at his side, terrified at what else must now be believed.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 49, "Blessed are Those...". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The shift from Claire and Jamie in 1746 to Bree and Roger in 1968 was a bit jarring, but I liked the music as they drove through the Highlands. The scenery is just stunning!

The Fort William that Roger and Bree visit here is largely fictional. In real life, there's not much left of the original Fort William. Here's a photo that my sister took in 2012.



I like the hat and scarf Brianna is wearing. Her memory of Fort Ticonderoga is intriguing; was Frank possibly looking for evidence of Jamie Fraser there?

"We Randalls are a verra complicated clan, laddie." I laughed at Bree's attempt at a Scottish accent.

The sight of the whipping post in the courtyard made me shudder. I'm glad they made a point of reminding the audience about Jamie's flogging.

So Claire, nearly fifty years old, needs glasses to drive. Nice touch!

It's very sad to see Lallybroch in such a dilapidated state, but I loved the way Claire heard the voices of Jamie, Jenny, and young Rabbie MacNab in her head, remembering happier times. I was delighted that they included Jamie and Claire reciting the words of the Catullus poem that "Da mi basia mille" comes from. It won't mean anything to TV-only viewers, but I very much appreciated the nod to book-readers.

Back in 1746, in the attic of Culloden House, Jamie is shocked at the news that Colum may have taken his own life, but even more so at Claire's suggestion that she could slip the same yellow jasmine into the Prince's tea. I liked the way Jamie's eyes bugged out when he said, "Kill Charles Stuart?!"

And suddenly we're back in 1968, and we see where the bit with the car against the backdrop of the mountains from the opening credit sequence comes from. More gorgeous scenery!

"Grubby doesn't bother me. You should see my bedroom. [pause] That didn't come out right." LOL!

Bree is so young here, no more than nineteen. Watching her, I can't help thinking of how much she will change in the next ten years. I love the way Roger looks at her. Rik Rankin doesn't physically resemble the Roger in my head, but he'll do just fine. <g>

Interesting that Claire, not Roger and Bree, is the one who finds the deed of sassine. I wonder if this means that they won't use the scene in VOYAGER where the discovery of the deed of sassine is the key to locating Jamie in the past?

So Claire thinks Roger has "a lovely physique"? This is a bit of a role reversal from the books, where Roger is the one who is always noticing things about Claire.

Back in 1746, Dougal has been listening to Jamie and Claire discussing the murder of Charles Stuart. "You ungrateful son of a bastard!" is an interesting way to phrase it. I suppose he can't call Jamie a "son of a bitch", because that would be an insult to Dougal's own sister, Ellen. Besides, "son of a bastard" is the literal truth, since Brian Fraser was illegitimate.

I thought this particular transition back to 1968 was very abrupt and jarring. Just when something dramatic is about to happen in 1746, they switch centuries, the music turns upbeat, and we spend a full thirty seconds (an eternity in a show where they routinely cut important bits of dialogue for lack of time) watching Bree walk across a hallway and up a flight of stairs. I thought that sequence should have been cut, or at least shortened considerably.

I recognized Geillis Duncan's voice immediately. This is a neat twist, to have Bree meet Geillis in 1968, and definitely not something I was expecting. Her speech was very good.

Claire's visit to Culloden is loosely based on the scene in DRAGONFLY chapter 4 ("Culloden"), except that in the book, it's Roger and Bree who tour the museum and the battlefield, while Claire understandably doesn't want to go near it.

"They've taken a fool, turned him into a hero."

This is based on a line from much later in the book:
"No, the fault lies with the artists," Claire went on. “The writers, the singers, the tellers of tales. It’s them that take the past and re-create it to their liking. Them that could take a fool and give you back a hero, take a sot and make him a king."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 47, "Loose Ends". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I was startled to see Hugh Munro's gift, the chunk of amber with a dragonfly in it, in the display case -- but possibly not as startled as Claire was!  Again, though, we get another abrupt transition before we can really register Claire's reaction.

The confrontation with Dougal in the attic of Culloden House was really well done, expertly choreographed (it must have been a complicated scene to film!) and very close to the way I've always imagined it, with a few exceptions:

- I laughed out loud when Claire hit Dougal over the head with a stool, remembering the first time she did that, in the corridor at Castle Leoch during the Gathering in Episode 104.
- Claire helping to kill Dougal. This was totally unexpected, but I didn't have a problem with it. I saw it as Jamie and Claire working as a team, in a life-or-death struggle. Claire was acting in self-defense (I have no doubt that Dougal would have tried to kill her as well) and defense of Jamie.
- No last words from Dougal.

When the door creaked open, I thought it was someone coming into the attic at Culloden House just after Dougal's death. Very effective transition back to 1968!

I liked the scene with Bree and Roger and the rat satire very much. Rik Rankin has a beautiful, powerful singing voice, and I had two immediate thoughts, hearing it: a) I can't wait to hear more of his singing in the show, and b) it's going to break my heart all over again when he loses that beautiful voice. (But of course it will be a few years before that happens!)

Nice touch to have Roger pick up the toy airplane that his younger self was playing with in Episode 201.

The scene ends with yet another overly-abrupt transition back to 1746. I wasn't surprised to see Rupert as the witness to Dougal's death (I have suspected this would happen, ever since Angus died in Episode 210), and his reaction was very good and entirely in character, for someone who had been so loyal to Dougal for many years.

"I'd have torn out my one good eye, if it could have stopped me seeing this." Good line, and I also liked Rupert's reaction to Jamie's request for a two hour delay before he tells anyone.

The scene with Claire at the Fraser stone at Culloden was very well done and moving. Caitriona did a terrific job with it. I liked the way she caressed the stone as she said, "I've come with good news."

"She was born at 7:15 on a rainy Boston morning." Well, not to nitpick too much, but that's not quite right:
"I know when Brianna was born, though,” I added, more cheerfully. “She was born at three minutes past three in the morning. There was a huge clock on the wall of the delivery room, and I saw it.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 15, "Noble Savages". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
(Not that it matters or anything, but sometimes I just can't help myself.)

"And that's everything. Everything I can remember. See, no tears. Bet you didn't think I could do that, did you?"  I liked this, both as a reminder of how Claire told Jamie the truth about herself after the witch-trial in Episode 111 ("The Devil's Mark"), and as foreshadowing of their eventual reunion in Season 3, at which point presumably there will be plenty of tears.

"Rest easy, soldier." Nice touch.

The confrontation between Bree and Claire in 1968 was really well-written and well-acted. I think Bree's personality comes through here, vividly, for the first time, and I was impressed with the way Sophie Skelton handled this very dramatic scene.

"The man you were with for three years!" As Claire turned away, I got the distinct impression that she was thinking, "I'm not ready for this."

When Roger caught Bree's arm and said, "You told me you just wanted the truth, no matter what. This is it," I thought of the title of MOHB chapter 4: "Don't Ask Questions You Don't Want to Hear the Answers To". <g>  But also, Roger's reaction, keeping calm while Brianna is on the verge of explosion, is very much in character.

When Claire said, "Jamie loved you," suddenly I had tears in my eyes.

And once again, we're back in 1746. This next part, with Murtagh and Fergus, is pretty close to the book, and I liked the matter-of-fact way Murtagh reacted to the news of Dougal's death.

I liked Jamie's line to Fergus: "No matter what happens here today, it's important someone remembers." This isn't in the book, but I thought it was a good addition.

"My real father is some six-foot-three-inch red-headed guy in a kilt from the 18th century?! What is wrong with you??" I loved this! I think I would have reacted exactly the same way, because the whole idea sounds completely insane.

"Own up to the fact that you f*cked someone else while you were married to Daddy, just like a million other bored housewives!"
"I was not bored, and what Jamie and I had was a hell of a lot more than f*cking! He was the love of my life!"

I liked this exchange very much. Bree's use of the F word is shocking, given what we know from the books about her Catholic-school education, but I thought it was entirely appropriate under the circumstances. She wouldn't use such language except under extreme provocation, and this situation certainly qualifies!

Watching the two of them, furious and yelling into each other's faces, reminded me vividly of the big argument between Jamie and Claire by the roadside in Episode 109, "The Reckoning". And when Claire stopped abruptly, looking stricken, I thought it was very much like the way Jamie reacted in that scene. ("You're tearing my guts out, Claire.")  Very dramatic, and very effective.

"Too bad it wasn't you [who died]." Wow, that's harsh, but I think it's understandable, under the circumstances.

And there's Roger, looking extremely awkward and embarrassed at having witnessed this huge argument, slipping quietly out of the room.

The farewell to Fergus was well done. Very close to the book, but I liked this added bit very much:

"You're a soldier now, mon fils. I love you like a son." Awwww!
"Like our own son." And Claire hugs him in farewell.

Can you say foreshadowing? <g>

Back in 1968, Roger seems very willing to keep an open mind about the possibility that Claire's story might actually be true. I think Mrs. Graham definitely had an effect on him! Who knows how much she might have told him about mysterious disappearances near stone circles?

I liked the way Claire realized that Geillis was there in 1968, by stumbling across the flyer with her picture on it.

The actor who plays Greg Edgars looks and sounds pretty much as I've always imagined him. <g>

"She wrote up a million notebooks with her findings."  So Claire glances at the table, and there they are! In the midst of a scene where much of the dialogue comes almost verbatim from the book, this sentence leapt out at me. I think it's a good addition, because it avoids the need for a lengthy search for the notebooks. No need to burgle the Institute if Gillian leaves her notebooks lying around in plain sight in her home, after all.

What a coincidence that Gillian should turn up in the very same pub where Roger and Bree were, at roughly the same time that Claire is talking to Greg Edgars. I found that very hard to believe, but I suppose it was the only way the writers could think of to convey the information that Gillian planned to go through the stones that very night.

I liked the way Bree said, "My mother's insane."

Watching Claire eagerly studying those notebooks, I couldn't help thinking of the parallel to the scene in ECHO where Roger inadvertently lets the Hitchhiker's Guide fall into the hands of Rob Cameron, who presumably studied it with just as much interest.

"...and gemstones to protect and guide you."  Interesting. Book Claire doesn't learn about the use of gemstones until near the end of VOYAGER.

I liked the scene with Jamie and Murtagh. I thought Sam Heughan played this scene just right. Jamie is grim, as well he should be, but determined to do what must be done. Finally, at long, long last (nearly too late!), Jamie has accepted that the cause is lost, the Highlanders are doomed, and there's nothing left to do but try to save his own people, including Claire. (Why it took him until the morning of the battle to figure this out, I will never understand.)

"No. I said I'll not have ye dying for nothing."
"I won't be. I'll be dying with you."

Awwww, that's sad. I'm really going to miss Murtagh!

Watching Claire try to describe Jamie to Brianna, I couldn't help thinking how completely inadequate her words sounded. How the hell do you sum up who Jamie Fraser is and everything he means to Claire, in a few brief sentences? It would be very hard for me to do it, and I've spent nearly ten years thinking about these books and characters on a daily basis. No wonder Claire couldn't manage to convey more than a few surface impressions!

"It would take too long to tell you everything about him."  There's an understatement if I ever heard one! I was really tempted to tell Bree, "Look, just read the books, you'll find out everything you need to know about him." <g>

"I tried, but I couldn't deny what I felt for him. It was the most powerful thing that I've ever felt in my life." Good line.

I liked the next scene, with Claire and Roger and Bree. In the book, Brianna wasn't involved in the discussion of Roger's ancestry or the decision to search for Geillis/Gillian. I think it works well in the TV version to have Bree there, though, voicing skepticism about the whole thing. ("Roger, you're feeding her delusions!")

"Well, then, maybe we all get to watch her slam her head into a five-ton block of granite." LOL! Great line from Roger.

And here it is, finally, the scene I have been dreading all season long.

"I would have gone to the stake with you!" Jamie says this exactly as I have always heard it in my head.

I'm grateful to the writers for keeping as much of the original dialogue here as they did. Nothing can ever replace the original version, it's burned so indelibly into my brain (and it's one of the few longer passages from the books that I know almost by heart), but I think they did an excellent job in capturing the essence of this moment, the urgency of it, and what it will cost both of them, emotionally, to make this decision.

I didn't like (at all!) being jerked abruptly out of that very pivotal, emotional scene, back to 1968.  My mind was screaming, "No! Not now! Just a few minutes more!"  But the scene with Greg Edgars'  body doused in gasoline and Geillis lighting it on fire was riveting enough to grab my attention anyway.

"It smells like a f*cking barbecue." Great line from Roger! The allusion to Geillis's line from the witch-trial made me smile, despite the situation.

So they all hear the stones, but none of them, not even Claire, seem too bothered by the sensation, let alone ready to pass out.

Back in 1746.  At the sight of the big stone on Craigh na Dun, I started muttering, "No. No. No!!!"  Even knowing how utterly futile it was, I couldn't stop myself.

If you look closely as Jamie and Claire approach the stones, you can see a light dusting of frost on the ground. I think that's realistic, as we know it was very cold on the day of the battle.

Again, I'm glad they used so much of the original dialogue in this scene. Especially, "Tell him I hate him to the very marrow of his bones!"

"Come with me through the stones!"
"No, I can't."

I think it was a good idea to include this, for the benefit of the non-book-readers who may not have understood that Jamie can't time-travel.

I'm deeply grateful that they included all of Jamie's words from the book, words that many of us know so well:
"I will find you,” he whispered in my ear. “I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without you--then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is the one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest.”

His voice dropped, nearly to a whisper, and his arms tightened around me.

“Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Timor Mortis Conturbat Me". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
So heartbreaking, but I wouldn't change a syllable of it, and I'm so glad they kept this bit intact!

I wish they'd had more time for a leisurely farewell sex scene, cutting initials into each other's palms, and all the other unforgettable parts of the farewell scenes in the book. But time is running out, the battle is about to begin, and the cannons are already booming in the distance.

I personally don't think they could possibly have been close enough to Culloden Moor that they could hear the sounds of the battle, let alone that Jamie could get all the way there from Craigh na Dun in time to fight in what turned out to be a fairly brief (but very bloody) battle, but I'll accept that they did it for dramatic purposes.

And now Jamie gives Claire the ring we saw in Episode 201, the ring she was frantically searching for just after she came through the stones.

"I'll name him Brian, after your father." This is a change from the book, where it was Jamie's idea to name the child after his father. But it's a minor point.

Now we see them staring intently into each other's faces, memorizing each other's features,
"Each touch, each moment must be savored, remembered--treasured as a talisman against a future empty of him."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Timor Mortis Conturbat Me". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
It's amazing that they managed to convey this feeling through their body language alone, but to me it comes through very clearly.

Such a heartbreaking moment, but I think they did a wonderful job with it!

Back in 1968, Brianna now believes Claire's story.

"No more lies! From now on I only want the truth between you and me, all right?"
"Oh, you're so like your father."

I'm sure Claire was thinking, as I was, of Jamie asking her for honesty, soon after they wed.

I liked the way they brought in Roger to tell the last part of the story right there at Craigh na Dun.

Claire's face is so expressive, it's fascinating to watch the realization come over her: incredulous joy and relief, followed quickly by the logical conclusion, "I have to go back!"

That last shot, of Claire's face suffused with joy and that glorious sunrise over Craigh na Dun, may have been melodramatic and somewhat over the top, but I loved it. Just as in the book, we're ending with a feeling of hope, and I think that's just the right note on which to end the season.

I hope you've enjoyed this recap. Here are my recaps of the previous Season 2 episodes:

Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly
Episode 202: Not in Scotland Anymore
Episode 203: Useful Occupations and Deceptions
Episode 204: La Dame Blanche
Episode 205: Untimely Resurrection
Episode 206: Best Laid Plans...
Episode 207: Faith
Episode 208: The Fox's Lair
Episode 209: Je Suis Prest
Episode 210: Prestonpans
Episode 211: Vengeance is Mine
Episode 212: The Hail Mary

Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book 9 has a title!

Diana Gabaldon has announced the title of Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series:

GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE

What exactly does that mean? Diana explained it this way on Facebook:
It's a very old Celtic custom (known in other parts of Europe, too) that made it to the Appalachians. You always tell the bees when someone is born, dies, comes or goes--because if you don't keep them informed, they'll fly away.
Look here and here for more information. And here is a very interesting article about the custom of "telling the bees".

I'm delighted to hear that Book 9 has a title at last! <g>  I am sort of noncommittal on this title right now. I'm not in love with it, but I'll get used to it. It certainly gets across the idea that Jamie and Claire are back on Fraser's Ridge, for now, at least. And the "I am gone" is guaranteed to give us plenty to speculate about over the coming months!

I wonder if we'll see a lot of bees, swarming, buzzing, honey, or other bee-related imagery in this book? <g>

Just like ECHO and MOHB, this title has a rhythm to it. Da-DUM Da-DUM Da-DUM Da-DUM, like the beating of drums or a human heart.

Anyway, as the Chief Bumblebee-Herder (a title Diana gave me a few years ago, referring to my role as Section Leader of the Diana Gabaldon folder on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community), the thought of a book with BEES in the title makes me smile, regardless of what may be in it.

In case you're wondering, this is NOT the last book in the series! Diana answered that question specifically on Compuserve the other day:
"Oh, there's a Book Ten, yes."

My trip to Scotland (Prologue)

Here is the Prologue to my Scotland adventure. Bear with me, it's rather a long story!



Friday, July 1

Woke up at 5 am, very excited that The Day was here at last!  Spent an hour and a half doing some month-end reporting for work, then focused on packing. I was just about finished by 10:30 am, for a flight leaving Raleigh at 2:45 pm, when I got an email from United Airlines saying that my flight from RDU to Newark (the first leg of my journey to Scotland) had been cancelled (!)

Massive shot of adrenaline, followed by momentary panic. ("OMG, how will I get to Scotland if my flight to Newark is cancelled?!?")  I called United and they said the only alternative was to re-book on Delta. They attempted to transfer me to a Delta agent, but hung up on me instead. Grrrr! Called United again, repeated the story, this time managed to get booked on a flight leaving RDU at 6:23 pm, connecting in JFK to a flight that would arrive in Edinburgh at 10:50 am the next morning.  OK, I thought. Three hours later than we planned, but no big deal.

(My brother and sister-in-law were already in the UK and planning to meet me in Edinburgh on Saturday morning.)

I arrived at the airport at 4 pm to find massive lines leading to the ticket counter, something I've never seen before in Raleigh. It took the better part of two hours just to get to the head of the line at the ticket counter! It occurred to me later that this must have been because many flights had been cancelled (due to severe weather elsewhere in the country, particularly in the NYC area) and people needed to re-book. By the time I got through the line and made it through security, my 6:23 pm flight had been delayed to 7:32 pm.  Again, no big deal, or so I thought.

Waiting in line at the gate, with 45 minutes to spare before the flight, I called my mom to update her on the situation. While I was speaking to her, I could see that the flight was still scheduled for 7:32 pm, no problem. I hung up, glanced again at the sign over the gate, and blinked in confusion, because it now said 9:07 pm. (!) OK, clearly I'm not going to make an international flight leaving at 10:50 pm from JFK.  So what to do?  The lady standing behind me in line, bless her, gave me some really good advice. She said to call Delta and make a reservation on the same flight to Edinburgh for the next day, just in case.  So I was able to do that, and with the fallback plan in place, I relaxed just a little. Arriving in Scotland on Sunday morning, one day later than planned, wouldn't be so bad; my brother and sister-in-law were already planning to stay in Edinburgh Saturday night, so it wouldn't affect our plans too much.

This was the only alternate plan that had any chance of getting me to Scotland in a reasonable amount of time, since all flights out of Raleigh on Saturday were full. So I grabbed it.

Now, if only I could get myself to JFK! Hours went by, and our flight still wasn't cancelled, just delayed and delayed. At 11:20 pm, the flight I was supposed to be on from JFK to Edinburgh left JFK. I, of course, was still in Raleigh, four miles from my house. Still, it was OK, I had my backup plan.  More time passed. We boarded the plane, waited 30 minutes, then were essentially ordered to get off and wait by the gate instead.  The flight crew seemed determined not to cancel our flight, but they had no idea when we might be able to take off.

Eventually we did, though, landing at JFK about 3 am. <yawn> 

Saturday, July 2

Keep in mind by this time I had been up 22 hours straight, and I was facing the prospect of waiting another 19 hours in the airport for my flight out of JFK at 10:50 pm.  Still, I had, finally, made it to NY, I had a safe place to wait, with access to food and electrical outlets to charge my scooter battery and phone. It could have been worse!

About this time, I got an email from my brother, waiting for me in Edinburgh. He reminded me that my sister was due to arrive from Israel that same day (Saturday), flying into JFK about 5 am, in the same terminal where I was. He suggested that I try to meet up with her if possible. So I went down to the baggage claim area, and did in fact meet her as she came out. (Nearly gave the poor woman a heart attack! She didn't have her phone turned on, and had no way of knowing I was even there in JFK, let alone coming to meet her. What a shock! This is going to be one of those family stories we remember forever. <g>)  I was able to spend a few hours with my sister before she got on her flight to Raleigh, which was really nice.

I passed a quiet day on Saturday. Spent a lot of time exploring the terminal during the day (not that there's all that much to see, but I didn't have much else to do), periodically getting "wish you were here" emails from my brother and sister-in-law in Scotland, who were spending the day sightseeing in Edinburgh. Napped a little bit.

At long, long last, I boarded my flight from JFK to Edinburgh at 10:50 pm.

Sunday, July 3

The flight was uneventful, the luggage came through just fine on the other end, and my brother and sister-in-law were there to meet me at the airport, about noon on July 3. At this point I had had roughly 3 hours sleep in the previous 48 hours, but adrenaline and excitement kept me going. After all that stress and worry and waiting, I was finally, finally, in Scotland, only a little more than a day late, and the trip we'd planned was actually going to happen!

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I promise I'll tell you all about my trip, with photos, but it may be a week or more before I can get all the photos together and post the next installment. Just be patient. Thanks.

Friday, July 1, 2016

I'm going to Scotland!!

I'm leaving for Scotland today!!  I'm going to spend a week touring around the country with my brother and sister-in-law.  (Neither of them are OUTLANDER fans, but they are certainly well aware of my addiction, this blog, and what I do on Compuserve.)

Naturally I'm tremendously excited, as you can imagine! This is my second trip to Scotland.  Some of you may recall that I visited Scotland in 2012 with my mom and my sister on Judy Lowstuter's Celtic Journeys OUTLANDER Tour, and we had a fabulous time.
 
On this trip, we're going to rent a car and explore the country at our own pace. We will certainly visit Culloden, but also some places, like the Isle of Skye, that I didn't get to see on the last trip.

Outlandish Observations will be going on hiatus for a couple of weeks. I promise I'll post a detailed account of our trip (with pictures!) when I get home.

June poll results

Here are the results of the June poll, which asked the question, "What is your favorite opening line from the OUTLANDER books?"
  • 52.14% - "He was dead." (VOYAGER)
  • 17.93% - "It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance." (OUTLANDER)
  • 11.52% - "I woke to the patter of rain on canvas, with the feel of my first husband's kiss on my lips." (THE FIERY CROSS)
  • 2.61% - "Roger Wakefield stood in the center of the room, feeling surrounded." (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER)
  • 7.48% - "I heard the drums long before they came in sight." (DRUMS OF AUTUMN)
  • 1.43% - "The pirate's head had disappeared." (AN ECHO IN THE BONE)
  • 1.07% - "The dog sensed them first." (A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES)
  • 5.23% - "Ian Murray stood with a stone in his hand, eyeing the ground he'd chosen." (WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD)
  • 0.59% - Other
Here are the results for "Other":
  • All of them
  • It was so cold out, he thought his cock might break off in his hand - if he coul
  • ALL OF THEM! Equally.
  • It was so cold out, he thought his cock might break off etc. Scottish Prisoner
  • All of the above. Getting Herself's new book was excellent.
There were 842 votes in this month's poll.  Thanks very much to everyone who participated! Please take a moment to vote in the July poll, which is all about your favorite CLOSING lines in the OUTLANDER books. Thanks!