26 August 2014

Outlander Episode 1 - Sassenach

***Spoilers ahead - kind of.  If you haven't read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and want to, you might not want to continue reading.  If you've read the books, you know what's going to happen...the show is one interpretation. ***

***Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened.  When she is forced to marry Jamie, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate affair is ignited that tears Claire's heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.*** 

You can watch the first episode for free until June 2015 on Starz play.  Other episodes are only available with a Starz subscription...for now.

On to the review! Which, FYI, is a written "live" while watching the episode.  

I've heard some negative comments about the opening sequence, and while I do agree that it wasn't what I was expecting and it isn't an extremely gripping opening sequence, I do like it.  The singer's voice is very lovely, and the song's words (see below) are nice and fitting to the story.  They took the words to the Skye Boat Song and tweaked it. This version was composed by Bear McCreary and sang by his wife Rava Yarbrough. So overall, I'm pleased.  (YouTube link to the opening sequence.)

Skye Boat Song

"Sing me a song of a lass that is gone,
      Say, could that lass be I?
Merry of soul she sailed on a day
      Over the sea to Skye.
Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
      Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
      All that was me is gone.
Sing me a song of a lass that is gone,
      Say, could that lass be I?
Merry of soul she sailed on a day
      Over the sea to Skye."

I've been wondering how they were going to do all the back-stories - not just Claire, but Jamie's and the other characters too - so far we've seen a lot of flashbacks.  Do you think they will continue that? I think they are good and I did like the scene of Claire in a field hospital. We don't get to "see" that in the book, only her memories being discussed.  

Some of the dialogue between Claire and Frank seems forced. (Robert, who has only seen half a scene so far (between Claire and Frank), thinks that Claire's (Caitriona Balfe) acting is a bit cheesy. But maybe it is supposed to feel forced/cheesy...their relationship is strained and they are attempting to get to know each other again.  We (the readers) know that the connection twixt Claire and Frank isn't the connection we know Claire and Jamie have so we think nothing of it, but his comment made me think.  Claire's narration in the show of how they are trying to find each other helps those that haven't read.

Uncle Lamb!!!  I was hoping they would show him and Claire's childhood! I'm pleasantly surprised to see him so early.  We don't get to meet him in the books and I'm glad he made an appearance in the first episode.

God, Scotland is BEAUTIFUL!

Roger:  There has been some disappointment that we haven't seen Roger yet.  The scene he made his appearance in the book was in the first episode - but no Roger.  And we (the readers) know how important Roger is to the story overall, though he's not important yet, and the scene he should have been in he wasn't that important so I get why it was left out.  We know Roger has been cast though so we will see him soon (as in some time in the first season).

How the show gave the explanation of what Frank did during the war makes me think we'll get to see more of his story line of what he was doing during the war.  And probably what he was doing after Claire's disappearance.

Claire's swearing ("Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ") has always felt awkward to read.  To me anyways, not sure about anyone else.  But hearing Claire say it; it works so much better.

I'm slightly disappointed in the ghost scene.  There didn't seem to be enough wind and the ghost was more clear than I expected.  When I read it, I see mist and wind and driving rain so hard that Frank is having trouble making out who the man looking up at Claire is.  In the show, it's just dumping rain.  No wind. I totally could make him out...not so mysterious.

The druid scene is my favorite!  The lighting on the dancers and the rocks are splendid.  Though the light on Claire and Frank is wrong and annoys the shit out of me.  The costumes! The music! It starts out slow and then takes off. The slow-motion twirls, the amber glow from the sunrise, the shadows and costumes draping and twisting and flowing perfectly.  All the light is amber/gold and then Claire and Frank have white light which is wrong and annoys me.  And then afterwards they are exploring the stone circle and the light has become mid morning instead of sunrise.  Where's the consistency, people?!

After Claire's fall:
The forest reminds me of Oregon forests.  The running scene is great.  The bagpipes are PERFECT! for that scene.

I like how Scots pronounce "whore" - "ah-hoorrrrr".

The CGI on the dislocated should was believable.  But we have another consistency error.  (His arm was all slung up and they handed him his coat and he comes out of the house with his coat on and the arm through the sling, he would have needed help to do that guys.)

I like how Jamie (Sam Heughan) looks at Claire; like he is immediately smitten.

Her flash of her future/past at the end, on approaching Castle Leoch, is excellent.

It's a good ending.  You want more.  You want to find out what happens next.  Yet it's not leaving it on a cliff-hanger where you have to find out more now.

Did you see it? What did you think?

22 August 2014

Outlander reviews/discussions

I'm considering doing reviews/discussions for each episode of Outlander.  Any interest in watching and discussing with me?

17 August 2014

Fields of flowers

The Queen Anne's lace has been very prevalent this year, probably because it's been so dry. I have been admiring fields of them where they have been planted as cover crops and a couple vacant fields that happen to have no trespassing signs (damn).  I tried to figure out whom I could ask for permission to photograph in the fields, and I even called a few businesses.  

I was not able to get permission (blah blah liability blah blahity blah).

AND THEN! I found a public space with a small flower field.  

01 August 2014


Outlander, the TV show adaptation of my favorite book series officially comes out in one week, on August 9th.

The "Outlander" series spans the genres of romance, science-fiction, history and adventure in one epic tale. It follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945, who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743 Scotland. Upon her arrival, she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. But when Claire is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited. Now Claire's heart is torn between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

It feels like I've been waiting forever for this, when it has been a bit more than a year since it was first announced.

It's been fun to follow along online with the casting process, and roll my eyes at the other fans who whined about who was cast or how they weren't going to fit the roll.  I figure let's wait and see how they do before we decide if they're good or not.

Starz is releasing the first episode one week early and for free!

You can see it on Starz Play (click on Outlander and scroll down). (Starz Play will allow you to watch on a computer, or you can download the app for your Android or Iphone or tablet. You have to have a Starz subscription to watch anything but the first episodes of their shows - the first one's free.)

Right now there are several previews/trailers and later tonight/early tomorrow morning (midnight on August 2nd) the first episode, Sassanach, will be available. 

I am thinking I'll probably stay up late to watch it...for the first time.

How about you? Are you going to watch it early or will you wait until August 9th and the official release?

20 July 2014

Carus and Scout

A friend has been giving Carus riding lessons and another friend is allowing her to ride her horse, Scout.

Scout is such a sweet horse! We love him.  Carus was exclaiming the other day "my horse!" when I tried to pet him. She halters him and leads him into the arena.  Then she brushes him and cleans his hooves and helps with saddling and putting the bridle on.  

She is doing really well.  This week she was released from the lead and had to do some exercises where she would stop Scout with his front legs as close to the orange cone as she could - and she did really well with it stopping him at just the right moment several times.  

And it hasn't taken Scout long to figure out that time with Carus means cookies. 

I am so thankful for good GREAT friends!

05 July 2014

Independence Day

We hosted a BBQ yesterday - good food and better company - made me happy.  

But I found a lot of contentment later that day, after the BBQ, watching fireworks with Carus.  Adam didn't want to go and Robert stayed home to keep an eye on Leia who does not like the booms at all.  

Near dusk, we went down to the school. It has a very large field; actually it is more like five very large fields together.  The town's firefighters block off half of it and put on a fireworks show for the town for free -- they do accept donations.  I have no idea how much ordinance they have but they do put on a good show for about 30 minutes.

The streets surrounding the school have cars and trucks parked along them, extending blocks and blocks away. Those closest to the field have people arranged in chairs around them or sitting in the truck's beds.  The houses nearby have their families and their friends arranged on blankets and chairs in their yards, porches, and decks, and in driveways.  These are big fireworks that can be seen for miles, and heard even further.  

The fields of the school start getting visitors around mid day with those wanting to stake out their spots early and continue to fill as the sun sets.  They have a sound system set up with music playing -- a mixture of pop, country, and rock -- and surrounding those speakers are dancers, toddlers and young kids in the charge of older siblings with the occasional adult shaking it up with those half their size.  All are dancing in that way where it doesn't even matter if your rhythm matches the music, all the joy is just in the moving.  

Blankets and chairs are spread out in groups, and there is lively conversation and laughter everywhere.  There are also dancers, one or two, spread throughout the groups here and there.  There is a long line for the one port-a-potty. (The other two are blocked off. I don't think it was done on purpose, just sort of happened).  There doesn't seem to be any negative feelings - no complaints about bugs (because mosquitoes had a smorgasbord to choose from), no complaints about the long privy line, and very minimal childish whines of "when will it start?" There was a line for a food cart with firefighters dishing out refreshments.  I didn't go closer so I don't know what exactly what was available.  The line was long enough for it to appear popular though. 

As the sun started to dip behind the mountains, the excitement built.  The buzz of conversation took on an electrical charge, each person feeding off the other's anticipation.

On the portion of the field that was blocked off, firefighters had been hard at work setting up the cakes of display fireworks and arranging their safety equipment -- just in case.  (One year there was an incident where one bundle tipped over and shot the mortar off along the ground. No injuries or fires, but a reminder of how dangerous explosives can be.)  Their hook and ladder fire truck was next to the field with the ladder suspended and a large flag hanging from the bucket. The flag barely waved, there wasn't much wind.  It wasn't a very hot day - warm, with a light breeze that was dying as the sun went to bed and the humidity was rising.  

Finally, the sun went down, shortly after the predicted start time of 9:30 p.m. and as the Star Spangled Banner started to play over the speakers, the fireworks began, both coming to a crescendo together.

The show continued for about 30 minutes with a lot of the usual suspects and a few pyrotechnic displays I haven't seen before, with the lights of each glitter and flare illuminating the smoke trails of the ones before it, which was lovely itself.

At the end of the show, Carus and I packed up the blankets we brought to sit on and cover with (prior years got a lot cooler than this year) and joined the crowd slowly exiting the field to walk the 5 or 6 blocks back to where I parked the car, and headed home.

(The video below is a teeny bit of the fireworks at the beginning of the show. If you can't get it to play, click here to view it on Instagram. )

27 June 2014


I'm procrastinating going to bed.  I don't want to. Though I'm tired and I'm sure I'll be out like a light the second I actually lay down and close my eyes.

I'm procrastinating a lot lately.

The going-ons around here:

Garden is doing great. I've harvested more lettuce than we could eat and gave some away.  As well as some carrots, kolhrabi, and chives. The radishes are pretty much gone.  Broccoli florets are starting to show up so I'll soon have those to put up.

Green beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers are in.  As well as some herbs, more strawberries, and pumpkin.

(slideshow of Yard and Garden 2014 Flickr album, click arrows on either side of photo)

The kids have been out of school for the summer and rotting their brains with too much TV, video games, and other fun - like mustache straws.

Carus has been learning to ride thanks to some amazing friends (who loan horses and teaching).

Robert and I spent our 13th anniversary at the beach and it was a GLORIOUS weekend.

And of course, there is work and other boring stuff.

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