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JANUARY 11, 2023


2023-01-11-hawk-Diana-GabaldonWhat do you-all do when a new birthday looms—or stretches out enticingly before you, like a friendly dog wanting a belly-rub? Look back? Look forward? Or just sit quietly and enjoy the moment?

I’m inclined to the last option there. I try to take a few deliberate minutes, to sit in my office in the depths of the night and Just Be. Whatever I am now, I won’t be again. On the other hand, what I am now, and what I’ve been every day since I was conceived, will go on with me in some form.

But it’s worthwhile checking, to see what’s me, and what might be mere baggage that I’m carrying—for myself, or another. Nothing wrong with baggage, but you ought to pack carefully; you don’t know how far you may have to carry it.

And, like Claire—you may have only today in which to prepare.

[Excerpt from UNTITLED BOOK 10, Copyright © 2023 Diana Gabaldon. No spoilers if you’ve read GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, but if you haven’t, then there definitely are…]

I woke with a list in my head. This was by no means unusual, but this list came with a spurt of adrenaline attached. I had—at most—only today in which to prepare not only to leave the Ridge for an unknown stretch of time, but to prepare the Ridge for being left.

I swung my feet out of bed, heart already speeding up, and then sat for a moment, trying to focus on what had to be done first. Well, that was simple… I fished the chamberpot out from under the bed and saw that it was clean and dry. Which meant either that Jamie had risen early and considerately gone out to the privy, or that he’d got up in the night and pissed out the window. While I had personally never felt the lack of a penis, I did admit that it was a handy thing to have along on a picnic…

My own sanitary needs being accomplished, I was clear-headed enough to brush my teeth, splash water over my face and run my wet hands through my hair. The hair was unlikely to be improved by the experience, but my hands were dry enough to pull my stockings on.

List…

Find something like coffee.

Drink coffee-like substance.

Eat whatever was left over from yesterday’s feast, while inspecting pantry, pie-safe, simples closet and large cauldron Compile mental sublist of things to be found, things needing to be collected or dug up, put in cauldron to begin cooking…

Sylvia and her daughters had ceremoniously removed to Bobby’s cabin last night. I was happy for them all, but it did leave me somewhat short-handed. So… summon Fanny, Joanie and Fizzy and give them my list to start working on. Find Bree and run through separate list of people who might give trouble—medical, political or otherwise—over the next… how long?

“God knows,” I muttered. William had been looking for Lord John for three months [ck time]; what if Richardson had decided to take him to London and denounce him to the House of Lords or something?

Find Roger…. no, Jamie would already have found Roger and informed him that he was now, de facto, Himself for the foreseeable future.

Back to the list… By now, I was padding downstairs in my stocking-feet, shoes in hand.

Send Jem or Germain or the girls for Jenny and Rachel. Feed them first, my subconscious chimed in.

I inhaled hopefully. Yes, I could smell porridge and toast. And bacon? Yes, definitely bacon. Likely they were already eating, then. I was ravenous, in spite of everything I’d eaten yesterday.

Would Jenny and Rachel want to come down to the big house while Ian was gone with us? Company and help for Brianna… all those children… but then there were Jenny’s goats to be considered…

I emerged into the kitchen, to find William seated at the table, surrounded by children and closely attended by Fanny, armed with a platter of crispy bacon and a pot of peach jam.

“Mother Claire!” William half-rose to greet me, prevented from pushing back the bench to stand up by the weight of the children sharing said bench. “Er… how are you?”

“Somewhat better than you, probably,” I said, sitting down on a spare stool to put my shoes on. “Did you sleep at all last night?” He was very thin; his cheekbones showed like blades and his skin was an unhealthy sort of grayish-yellow under his tan. This looked still more disagreeable by contrast with his sprouting beard, which was red.

“I don’t remember sleeping, he said, rubbing a hand over his stubble, “but I definitely woke up, so I must have. I feel much better,” he assured me, taking a handful of bacon from Fanny’s platter. “Or I will, as soon as I’ve eaten. Thank you, Frances.”

“You should have milk, too,” she informed him. “To coat the insides of your stomach, after everything you drank last night.”

“Everything I drank?” A look of amusement crossed his face, despite the signs of road-weariness and hangover. “Were you keeping count, Frances? How very thoughtful of you. You’ll make some lucky man an excellent wife one day.”

She blushed crimson, but he smiled at her, and she gulped air and managed a tiny simper in return before tottering off to fetch more toast.

“What did I drink last night?” William asked me, lowering his voice. “I admit that I don’t recall very much about last night. I was… so very much relieved. To—to have…”

“Reached shelter?” I asked, sympathetically. “I imagine so. You’ve been alone for quite a while.”

He paused for moment, spreading jam on a slice of toast, then said quietly, “I have. Thank you. For—” he gestured briefly round the lively kitchen, then cleared his throat. “Do you think—er, that Mister Fraser will be…”

“Back soon? Yes.” He offered me the toast and I took it. I was starving and it was delicious, warm and crunchy and sweet. “Fanny?” I said, swallowing. “Has Mr. Fraser had any breakfast?”

“Yes’m,” she said. “He was just going out when I came down, but he had a piece of fried chicken in his hand.”

“Did he say where he was going?”

“No, ma’am. He wasn’t armed,” she added helpfully. “Except his knife.”

“His dirk, or the little knife?” Her smooth brow crinkled in concentration, then relaxed.

“Both.”

He was leaving the property, then, but not going far.

30 Responses »

  1. Thank you Diana. Do you remember what Claire said to Jamie on their wedding night? Well, Don’t STOP! I ain’t leaving this earth until you finish the whole series and then I am going for a re-read! I am 73 now, I figure I have time.

    Hope you and yours are well and I know you are busy. Like I said ‘Don’t stop!”

    Just thought I would drop in and let you know Arved and I are planning to move to Guatemala in about a year. I can say “Donde es el bano?” which is essential to my traveling experience. Neither of us can stomach Florida much anymore. Though I am amused by the idea that Orlando may become a Expansion town for the NFL
    They can always name the team the “Mouseketeers”.

    Do have fun and I will stay in touch on and off

    Anna

  2. Is it ok to read the entire series for the third time thru? Plus I’ve read a few books 4 or 5 times! You are the most fun, informational, dynamic, endearing writer I have ever encountered in 70 years of compulsive reading! I have learned so much from you! Thank you!

    • Hi I am a newbee to blogs etc (at 84) So you wrote this 2 days before my Birthday. What a wonderful present. I can’t wait ( but i guess i have too) for Book 10. I started reading Outlander late, just a few years ago. I started with the TV shows. When the 5th book (series) came out I decided to buy the DVD. My daughter was in town and seeing what I planned to do said NO WAY, you must read the book(s) So back to B&N returned to DVD and have been reading ever since. The main thing about the DVDs is that I “know” what Jamie and Claire look like.

  3. Happy belated birthday!
    My daughter is a Capricorn as well. I feel like you share many life values and approaches with her. She just turned 40 a few days ago. This description of a Capricorn resonates with both you and my daughter IMO and also from what I read in your books and blogs! —Family, tradition, music, understated status, quality craftsmanship—!
    And in the new book text above again how we embrace family! indeed!

  4. Happy Belated Birthday Diana!

    So sorry for the late response. I had part of my lung removed in December (merry Christmas to me lol) to hopefully help stop the spread of some pesky tumours.

    My last year was a tough one, I’m not going to lie, but my birthday is coming in March and I bought your book when it came out but have simply been too sick to read it. I’ve started at the beginning of the series again to refresh my memory and am enjoying every second.

    I always tell people to read your books and when they ask what they are about I say “amazing history, and the greatest Love story ever told”

    Thanks for all your hard work, it’s so appreciated.

    K

  5. Hello Ms. Gabaldon,
    Just read the excerpt from Jan.11, 2023 (Happy Birthday). I have a question about the presence of Germain on the ridge. Didn’t Bree and Rodger return him to his parents? Have I thrice missed him being taken back to his grandparents?

  6. Happy Birthday Diana and many more!
    I too take stock on my birthday. I try to figure out how I’m doing and how much longer I’m likely to live. I’m 68 years-old now. I wonder if I’ll live long enough to accomplish the goals set for myself. Five years ago I suffered a massive stroke and had to learn to read and walk again. Your books have been life savers for me. I read them over and over again. All nine, plus the Lord John books! And I’m walking about a mile or two every day now. (My Peak Challenge) So I feel mostly recovered.

    Thank you for all you have done for me!

  7. Okay, so I am a bit new to the Outlander world, but I am loving it! I am deep into a Breath of Snow and Ashes, though I have already read all the Lord John books and the mini stories. I am heart broken that the series will end prior to book 10 being available. I have on occasion read how readers somehow believe that Jamie plants those Forget-me-nots. However, has it never occurred to anyone that it would make sense that Claire plants them? If Jamie is a ghost in book one, waiting on Claire the night before she goes though the stones for the first time, then she has to go back to the future in the end. I think that Jamie will pass before Claire, in Scotland, and as a testimony of “no regrets” Claire will plant those flowers and step back into the 20th century. It allows the story to truly come full circle. It is a way for Claire to make a final statement of – “I have lived my life, and I would not change it.” How many of us get to make that choice? Making the entire series not merely a love story between two people, but also a story of one looking back on their own journey. I pray that one day, as I step through to the other side, I will look back on my own journey. Concluding that the tiniest details of a life well lived (as DG always so brilliantly includes) provided a happiness and peace that far outweighed life’s deepest sorrows.

  8. Happy birthday to you…and to me! My husband reminded me on January 11 that we share a birthday and tonight I remembered to check and see how you had spent yours. I turned 70 this year, so am just a bit behind you. I cannot wait for book 10 and have read all of your other books including the big Outlander Companions and all the notes (I love the notes) …watched (and re-watched) the series, and am totally addicted. Wishing you a spectacular year! Happy, happy birthday! And many thanks for your amazing work from a fellow January 11th woman!

  9. Your writing inspires me, Diana – I’m a bibliophile who deeply appreciates vocabulary – I keep a list of “yummy words”, many of which I have discovered through your writing. My birthday is the day after yours (every year!) and many celebration plans have been shelved due to blizzards so I can relate to your birthday stories; I live in Edmonton, AB though! I have just noticed on your “photos” page that you are also owned by dachshunds as am I (mostly serially – I’ve belonged to 4 in all); my current one is named Gidget Bean, or Gigi, if we’re speaking French.

    The Outlander books are a delight for me as they are chock full of the things I love; medical procedures and information (I was an NICU nurse), history, science, nature, and well-developed characters. Oh, and Scottish accents. I’m a lifelong learner, curious about everything from gene technology and immunology, to developmental forensics, to women’s participation in WWII and the Acadian diaspora. I love to write, but my brain goes faster than my hands, plus I use too many apostrophes and commas (according to my thesis committee).
    I’ve been pretty housebound since the arrival of COVID as I have a Primary Immune Disorder (No IgA) but I keep myself busy reading, researching and reclaiming my Acadian heritage by learning to “parle francais” with online conversation classes. And re-reading the Outlander books!

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