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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Paean to Outlander & Diana Gabaldon

Why this giddy sense of anticipation for the Outlander TV mini-series, scheduled to air in 2014 on STARZ? Familiar feelings, yes. I had them as a teen many years ago. We all look forward to events as a part of our pursuit of happiness - vacations, holidays. But this? My husband Jay, who has not read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, just shakes his head in wonder at me.

If you are not already a fan of the novels of the Outlander series - seven so far with the eighth due out in Septermber 2014 - then may I suggest you try the first book in the series, Outlander.

 Then you'll be ready when the series airs on STARZ. As I write it's being filmed in Scotland with fine actors and a lot of money behind the production.

I nearly bought Dragonfly in Amber (book #2) at a library book sale years ago, but a woman looking over my shoulder said, "That's the second in the series . . . don't read it until you've read the first book,  Outlander. They're really wonderful." I put it back on the shelf.  Finally, in the autumn of 2010 I began  Outlander (it was then free on Kindle). And I was hooked. I read the next six, one after the other, each longer and more complicated than the last. I finished them sometime in February, 2011. I can't think of a better way to spend a cold winter.

It all begins shortly after the end of World War II when Claire, a married English nurse, visits some standing stones in Scotland and is flung back to 1743, two years before the Battle of Culloden.

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall

 The fantasy in these novels is butter cream frosting on a superb dessert of historical fiction. Claire's forced marriage to Jamie Fraser, who epitomizes all the attributes you would want in a complicated male protagonist, begins one of the great romances in popular literature.
Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

 Each book is better than the last. Why?  Accurate historical renderings, complicated relationships, a lot of action -- and gentle humor.

Even if you aren't overwhelmed by Outlander, give the second book, Dragonfly in Amber, a chance.

 Claire and Jamie go to Paris in an attempt to stop Bonnie Prince Charlie from raising the highland clans in Scotland against the English crown, a rising that will end on the bloody field of Culloden. Gabaldon really hit her stride in that book - and hasn't stopped since. The series eventually takes Claire and Jamie to North Carolina prior to and during the American Revolution.

And if you become a fan, as I hope you will, you can watch with others as Karen Henry rounds up the latest on this fansite Outlandish Observations.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November Apples

In September and October these three varieties of apples were hard and bitter. I picked from other trees. What a difference a month makes.

Last year we allowed our neighbor Davy to feed his hogs apples from this tree.  Nights of frost, but not hard freezes, have allowed the apples to perfect themselves. The leaves have fallen and the apples ornament the trees like old-fashioned glass Christmas balls.

Even Pepper got involved, running off with an apple and digging a hole. Realizing it wasn't a bone, he walked off without burying it.

We'll see how the apples last during the winter in the garage. I"ll probably plug in a little oil radiator to try to keep them from freezing. As they deteriorate or, if we have a heavy snow, I'll feed them to the many whitetail deer that will come begging.