Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy Birthday Sam and Happy Birthday JAMMF!

It is quite remarkable that Sam and JAMMF have birthdays only a day apart.

Sam Heughan

Jamie Fraser
 Sam, of course, is the actor and Jamie is the character he portrays.  They are certainly two different people, aye? 

Sam was born on April 29th, and Jamie on May 1, which is Beltane.

Diana wrote somewhere that she thought perhaps it meant something, the fact that Jamie's birthday is on Beltane, but so far it hasn't seemed to matter.   And of course in some kind of weird, metaphysical, spiritual, pagan kind of way, it seems eerie that Sam - who does such a great job embodying Jamie - has a birthday so close to Jamie's. "Two sides of the Beltane Fire," Diana wrote somewhere.

Another eerie thing? Apparently, Jamie's horoscope for that date is pretty true to his character as written by Diana Gabaldon.  (But I guess that isn't really where I'm meant to be going with this blog post.)

Jamie and Sam, Sam and Jamie.  Sam does such a good job acting the part of Jamie that sometimes it might be easy to forget that Sam is really himself, and not actually Himself, the Laird.

Having read all of the books Diana Gabaldon has written about Jamie - and having read some of them multiple times - I feel like I know Jamie really well.  Diana writes him so clearly, so consistently.  I've followed his life from "Virgins" through to the latest of the Daily Lines that she puts up on her facebook page, so you could say from his youth through his current age - about the same age I am.  The books invite you in to his life with Claire, and often invite you in to his head - his motivations, his loves and fears, his spirit.  That is some good storytelling, right there.  I know Jamie from the inside out, thanks to Diana.

Through stories, we have clearer access to characters than we have to any living human.  You can get right into a character's head and not question the veracity of it.  (Of course this is assuming you can trust that the author is telling the truth; sometimes there is, maybe, a twist at the end where you find that it has all been a lie...)  Generally, though... an author will take you directly into the thoughts of a character.  The author will write, for example, "He looked down at me, and I knew what he was thinking.  He was thinking, as I was, not of the present, but of the future.... " (ABOSA, p. 18)  And, well, you really do KNOW what he is thinking.

This is a great trick.  I wish it worked in real life.  (Or do I?  Hmm.)  I have known my husband for more than 30 years.  When he looks down at me, I know him well enough to have a pretty good idea about what he is thinking.  For example, I may assume he's thinking about the same thing I'm thinking - perhaps, at that moment, something about the future.  But sometimes, when I assume I know what he's thinking, I'm wrong.  He's actually thinking about how hungry he is, and wondering what's for dinner.  He's thinking about some problem he had at work that day.  Or whatever.  The fact is that I can never really KNOW what he is thinking.  (Another fact is that most of the time, my practical husband is thinking something practical, while I, the weirder of the two of us, is often thinking something much weirder.  Like about changing the future.)

If I know exactly what is going through the mind of a character, with no doubt, I know that character pretty well.  Which is how I know Jamie. (And Claire. And Brianna and Roger and Frank... but right now, I'm talking specifically about Jamie.)   I know everything that Diana has written about him, so I really do know him inside and out.  And since he isn't real, there really isn't anything else to know.  He doesn't have any other aspect of his "life" because he isn't alive anywhere but in the book.  So I can know him completely with no problem. 

(After re-reading that paragraph, I feel like it sounds a bit boring, to feel like I have such a complete understanding of the characters.  It really doesn't feel boring.  And I wonder if Diana would agree with me on this, or if she would feel that in fact only SHE can know completely everything about her characters?  Possibly. But I've never gotten the feeling that she has held anything back from the reader, so I'm not sure.)  (Actually, this is something that I would really like to ask her.  I'll write again if I ever find out an answer to that question.)

Now, on the other hand, we have Sam Heughan.  

Sam Heughan is a lovely young man.  He is a very good actor, and when he plays Jamie, I think he becomes Jamie within the show.  And now, his face and voice and body have become the Jamie in my head when I'm reading the books.  (I'm not unhappy about this.  My book Jamie wasn't far off, so it works for me.)

Sam has done a bunch of interviews, he interacts on social media, and I see him interact with Caitriona on videos promoting the show.  I start to feel like I know him. But really, of course I don't.  He has a real life that has nothing to do with acting.  He has thoughts and ideas and motivations that are not the same as what Diana has written for us all to read as Jamie.  I'd guess that they aren't even the same as what he has said on these interviews and things to promote the show.  His private life is different than his public life.

So, my position on Sam, is - we should all let him keep his private life as private as he wants.  Because he IS real, and he is entitled to be whoever he is.  So I'm less likely to put much on this blog, for example, talking in depth about Sam's vacation plans or who he is dating.  If he makes it public, it's fair game.    But mostly, I just want to wish Sam well, and hope he stays happy portraying Jamie!


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Julia LeBlanc's great new video!

I'm putting this here.  So I can find it again.  And watch it whenever I want. 

Add another person to the list

Last night, Brittany borrowed Outlander.
So add another person to the list of people who I am trying to convert. :)

So far, that list includes:
Dad (Ok, just the one book so far, but that is a start)
Frank (also just one book so far)
Now Brit.
Who else can I convince?

The Fiery Cross Ch 93, CHOICES

Last night I read about the hunt,Jamie being bit by the snake, the buffalo, and Claire treating Jamie's snakebite.

It is another intense event.  So much happens to them.  If it's not one thing, it's another.  You really just want the two of them to have a chance to just live their lives in peace with no more problems.  Of course I realize that this would be impossible.  No dramatic tension, aye?  Who ever heard of a book where the main characters had no problems, just lived in peace happily ever after?  And yet I think that if Diana wrote that book - 1000 pages of Jamie and Claire and their bairns, just living quietly, pleasantly, in peace with no drama- I would read it and love it. 

And by saying that, perhaps I sound like I didn't enjoy this passage, or as though I think the story takes overly dramatic turns.  Both would be false.  I loved this passage.  It had all of the longed for beauty, emotion, love, action.  And I never once thought to myself "C'mon, not another trauma."  I believed it straight through.  It rang true.

How can a book I have read three times make me sob each time?

The first time I read this book, I worried that Jamie really would die.  How can Diana make me really fear that her main character will actually die, when I know without a doubt that there are more books after this one?  Good writing, right? I cried for the fear of losing Jamie myself.

The second time I read this book, I truly realized how close it came, and I finally caught the part about him expecting to die.  I cried for his resignation about leaving them all, I cried because he was about to give up the ghost.

This time, when I read the book, I didn't cry at the snake bite itself.  And I didn't cry so much when I could see he was preparing himself to die at peace in his own bed.  This time, I cried at the love of his people surrounding him as Claire works to save him with the penicillin.  Tears are coming into my eyes again thinking about how each of his people are given a minute of acknowledgement of their efforts to do something, anything, to help him heal.  These people ALL love him. "You need me," he said, and he didn't just mean Claire.  Sure, he gave instructions to Rodger, and Brianna took charge with the buffalo, and Claire is strong and would go on loving him - and he her - until they meet again in Heaven.  But it wouldn't be enough, because Jamie is the heart of the whole community.    So this time, I cried when Mr. Wemyss "stroked back the hair from Jamie's forehead, and wiped away the sweat from his face and neck with a towel."

And I cried hardest of all when Claire says, "It will work.  I know it will."  "I know," he said.  He took a deep breath, and at last, began to weep."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Reading: The Fiery Cross, Ch 68 - Execution of Orders - & Ch 69 - A Hideous Emergency

This is the third time I'm reading this book.

When I picked the book up, I knew a bit about what it contained.  And I've been dreading this part the whole time.

Yesterday, I read up to this part, and I put the book down.  I don't want to read it again.

But I need to.  Just keep reading!  That's the mantra.  You have to just keep reading through the bad parts to get to the good parts again.

And even the bad parts are good, because the surge of emotion is so satisfying in some way!  Like when I read "A Fault in Our Stars" - the sobbing ugly crying that book inspired made me feel like I had read one of the best books ever.

Same thing here.  I've read this book three times.  I know what happens.  I know what happens in later books.  And yet, I am still tense, my heart is pounding.  I can't believe what happens.  I am sobbing and tears flow down my face.

Reading it for the third time.

I never re-read books before this series.  And I guess I will stop re-reading this series, eventually.  But probably not while it still evokes such a visceral reaction in me.

Friday, April 22, 2016

I love when the violets start to bloom!

The violets were blooming all over the yard last time I was at the cabin.

If I was Claire, I would have harvested them and used them in medicine.

I want to learn more about the herbal remedies that she uses... so this will be where I explore that.

Right now, it's a bit TMI - I hope to edit it down and add my own notes as I try it.

From Wikipedia:


V. odorata can be distinguished by the following characteristics:
  • the flowers are aromatic,
  • the flowers are normally either dark violet or white,
  • the leaves and flowers are all in a basal rosette,
  • the style is hooked (and does not end with a rounded appendage),
  • the leaf-stalks have hairs which point downwards, and
  • the plant spreads with stolons (above-ground shoots).
These perennial flowers can mature at a height of 4 to 6 inches and a spread of 8 to 24 inches. The species can be found near the edges of forests or in clearings; it is also a common "uninvited guest" in shaded lawns or elsewhere in gardens.


Several cultivars have been selected for garden use, of which V. odorata 'Wellsiana' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
The sweet scent of this flower has proved popular throughout the generations particularly in the late Victorian period, and has consequently been used in the production of many cosmetic fragrances and perfumes. The French are also known for their violet syrup, most commonly made from an extract of violets. In the United States, this French violet syrup is used to make violet scones and marshmallows. The scent of violet flowers is distinctive with only a few other flowers having a remotely similar odour. References to violets and the desirable nature of the fragrance go back to classical sources such as Pliny and Horace when the name ‘Ion’ was in use to describe this flower from which the name of the distinctive chemical constituents of the flower, the ionones – is derived. In 1923 Poucher writes that the flowers are widely cultivated both in Europe and the East for their fragrance, with both the flowers and leaves being separately collected and extracted for fragrance, and flowers also collected for use in confectionery galenica syrup  and in the production of medicine.
There is some doubt as to whether the true extract of the violet flower is still commercially available at all. It certainly was in the early 20th Century, but by the time Steffen Arctander was writing in the late 1950s and early 1960s production had "almost disappeared".
The violet leaf absolute however remains widely used in modern perfumery. The leaves are edible.

Herbal medicine

In herbal medicine, V. odorata has been used for a variety of respiratory ailments, insomnia, and skin disorders. However, there is insufficient evidence to support its effectiveness for any of these uses.

---Parts Used Medicinally---The flowers dried and the leaves and whole plant fresh.
The odour of the flowers is in a great measure destroyed by desiccation and the degree to which they retain their colour depends on the method of collecting and drying them.
The Violet flowers used for Syrup of Violets are not always the ordinary wild V. odorata, the colour of which soon fades, except under special treatment. Other species with deeper-coloured and larger blue flowers, and also deep-coloured garden Violas and Pansies are often substituted for the Sweet Violet, for upon the colour their value depends.

---Constituents---The chief chemical constituents of the flowers are the odorous principle and the blue colouring matter, which may be extracted from the petals by infusion with water and turns green and afterwards yellow with alkalis and red with acids. The flowers yield their odour and slightly bitter taste to boiling water and their properties may be preserved for some time by means of sugar in the form of Syrup of Violets.
A glucoside, Viola-quercitin, is also a constituent found throughout the plant and especially in the rhizome. It may be isolated by exhausting the fresh plant with warm alcohol, removing the alcohol by distillation and treating the residue with warm distilled water, from which it crystallizes in fine yellow needles, which are soluble in water, less so in alcohol and insoluble in ether. On boiling with mineral acids, the glucoside is split up into quercitin and a fermentable sugar. The activity of the plant, according to the British Pharmacopoeia, is probably due to this glucoside and its products of decomposition, or a ferment associated with it.
Salicylic acid has also been obtained from the plant.
The scientist Boullay discovered in the root, leaves, flowers and seeds of this plant an alkaloid resembling the Emetin of Ipecacuanha (which also belongs to the same group of plants), which he termed Violine. The same alkaloid was found by the French physician Orfila (1787-1853) to be an energetic poison, which may be identical with Emetin.
It has been found that the Toulouse Violet, which is without scent when cultivated in the land from which it takes its name, develops a very agreeable and pronounced perfume when raised at Grasse.
The growth of Violet flowers for the extraction of their perfume is not carried out to such an extent as formerly, as the natural perfume is suffering severely from the competition of the artificial product which forms the greater part of the Violet perfume of commerce. The natural perfume is very expensive to extract, an enormous quantity of flowers being required to scent a pomade. The largest Violet plantations are at Nice. The species used are the double Parma Violet and the Victoria Violet. A certain amount of perfume of a distinctive character is also now made from the green leaves of Violet plants, taken just before flowering.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---The Violet is still found in the Pharmacopoeias.
Violet flowers possess slightly laxative properties. The best form of administration is the Syrup of Violets. Syrop Violae of the British Pharmacopoeia directs that it may be given as a laxative to infants in doses of 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful, or more, with an equal volume of oil of Almonds.
Syrup of Violets is also employed as a laxative, and as a colouring agent and flavouring in other neutral or acid medicines.
The older writers had great faith in Syrup of Violets: ague, epilepsy, inflammation of the eyes, sleeplessness, pleurisy, jaundice and quinsy are only a few of the ailments for which it was held potent. Gerard says: 'It has power to ease inflammation, roughness of the throat and comforteth the heart, assuageth the pains of the head and causeth sleep.'
The flowers are crystallized as an attractive sweetmeat, and in the days of Charles II, a favourite conserve, Violet Sugar, named then 'Violet Plate,' prepared from the flowers, was considered of excellent use in consumption and was sold by all apothecaries. The flowers have undoubted expectorant qualities.
The fresh flowers have also been used as an addition to salads; they have a laxative effect.
An infusion of the flowers is employed, especially on the Continent, as a substitute for litmus, as a test of acids and alkalis.
Of the leaves, Gerard tells us that they:
'are used in cooling plasters, oyles and comfortable cataplasms or poultices, and are of greater efficacies amongst other herbs as Mercury, Mallowes and such like in clisters for the purposes aforesaid.'
They are an old popular remedy for bruises.
Culpepper says:
'It is a fine pleasing plant of Venus, of a mild nature and no way hurtful. All the Violets are cold and moist, while they are fresh and green, and are used to cool any heat or distemperature of the body, either inwardly or outwardly, as the inflammation in the eyes, to drink the decoction of the leaves and flowers made with water or wine, or to apply them poultice wise to the grieved places; it likewise easeth pains in the head caused through want of sleep, or any pains arising of heat if applied in the same manner or with oil of Roses. A drachm weight of the dried leaves or flowers of Violets, but the leaves more strongly, doth purge the body of choleric humours and assuageth the heat if taken in a draught of wine or other drink; the powder of the purple leaves of the flowers only picked and dried and drank in water helps the quinsy and the falling sickness in children, especially at the beginning of the disease. It is also good for jaundice. The flowers of the Violets ripen and dissolve swellings. The herbs or flowers while they are fresh or the flowers that are dry are effectual in the pleurisy and all diseases of the lungs. The green leaves are used with other herbs to make plasters and poultices for inflammation and swellings and to ease all pains whatsoever arising of heat and for piles, being fried with yoke of egg and applied thereto.'
The underground stems or rhizomes (the so-called roots) are strongly emetic and purgative. They have occasionally been used as adulterants to more costly drugs, notably to ipecacuanha. A dose of from 40 to 50 grains of the powdered root is said to act violently, inciting nausea and great vomiting and nervous affection, due to the pronounced emetic qualities of the alkaloid contained.The seeds are purgative and diuretic and have been given in urinary complaints, and are considered a good corrective of gravel.
A modern homoeopathic medicinal tincture is made from the whole fresh plant, with proof spirit, and is considered useful for a spasmodic cough with hard breathing, and also for rheumatism of the wrists.
The glucosidal principles contained in the leaves have not yet been fully investigated, but would appear to have distinct antiseptic properties.
Of late years, preparations of fresh Violet leaves have been used both internally and externally in the treatment of cancer, and though the British Pharmacopoeia does not uphold the treatment, it specifies how they are employed. From other sources it is stated that Violet leaves have been used with benefit to allay the pain in cancerous growths, especially in the throat, which no other treatment relieved, and several reputed cures have been recorded.
An infusion of the leaves in boiling water (1 in 5) has been administered in doses of 1 to 2 fluid ounces. A syrup of the petals and a liquid extract of the fresh leaves are also used, the latter taken in teaspoonful doses, or rubbed in locally. The fresh leaves are also prepared as a compress for local application.
The infusion is generally drunk cold and is made as follows: Take 2 1/2 OZ. of Violet leaves, freshly picked. Wash them clean in cold water and place them in a stone jar and pour over them 1 pint of boiling water. Tie the jar down and let it stand for twelve hours, till the water is green. Then strain off the liquid into a well-stoppered bottle and the tea is ready for drinking cold at intervals of every two hours during the day, taking a wineglassful at a time till the whole has been consumed each day. It is essential that the tea should be made fresh every day and kept in a cool place to prevent it turning sour. If any should be left over it should be thrown away.
As a cure for cancer of the tongue, it is recommended to drink half this quantity daily at intervals and apply the rest in hot fomentations.
Injection. - About a couple of wineglassfuls made tepid can be used, if required, as an injection, night and morning, but this infusion should be made separate from the tea and should not be of greater strength than 1 OZ. of leaves to 1/2 pint of water.
As a hot Compress, for external use, dip a piece of lint into the infusion, made the same strength as the tea, of which a sufficient quantity must be made warm for the purpose. Lay the lint round or over the affected part and cover with oilskin or thin mackintosh. Change the lint when dry or cold. Use flannel, not oilskin, for open wounds, and in cold weather it should be made fresh about every alternate day. Should this wet compress cause undue irritation of the skin, remove at once and substitute the following compress or poultice: Chop some fresh-gathered young Violet leaves, without stems, and cover with boiling water. Stand in a warm place for a quarter of an hour and add a little crushed linseed.
concentrated preparation is also recommended, made as follows: Put as many Violet leaves in a saucepan as can boil in the water. Boil for 1/2 hour, then strain, squeezing tightly. Evaporate this decoction to one-fourth its bulk and add alcohol (spirits of wine 1 in 15); 1 1/2 OZ. or 3 tablespoonsful of spirits of wine will keep 24 OZ. for a month. This syrupy product is stated to be extremely efficacious, applied two or three times a day, or more, on cotton-wool about the throat. This will not cause irritation unless applied to the skin with waterproof over for a considerable time, as under such circumstances moisture will cause irritation.
For lubricating the throat, dry and powder Violet leaves and let them stand in olive oil for six hours in a water bath. Make strong. It will keep any time.
A continuous daily supply of fresh leaves is necessary and a considerable quantity is required. It is recorded that during the nine weeks that a nurseryman supplied a patient suffering from cancer in the colon - which was cured at the end of this period - a Violet bed covering six rods of ground was almost entirely stripped of its foliage.
Violet Ointment. - Place 2 OZ. of the best lard in a jar in the oven till it becomes quite clear. Then add about thirty-six fresh Violet leaves. Stew them in the lard for an hour till the leaves are the consistency of cooked cabbage. Strain and when cold put into a covered pot for use. This is a good oldfashioned Herbal remedy which has been allowed to fall into disuse. It is good as an application for superficial tubercles in the glands of the neck, Violet Leaves Tea being drunk at the same time.

I love the woods on the mountain in the spring, before the leaves...