Erin Conrad, Three If By Space’s Outlander voice tells ALL!

How’s that for a headline, eh?

Welcome to the 2nd edition of The LOVELANDER Project. Erin Conrad won’t like me saying this and will ask me to edit it out (I won’t) but, she’s kinda a big deal.

If you already know her, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn something new, if you only know Erin from her Three If By Space life, then sit back and let’s close that gap. Maybe you haven’t heard of her – it’s possible – if that is the case, stick around, meeting new people, even virtually, can be very rewarding.  

I have been following Erin on social media for years. First on Twitter and then I started listening to her TIBS radio show, sometimes live but mostly following a few days later while writing or working on my own things at home. I generally stay away from reviewers as I am the ‘keep things positive’ at all costs type o’ gal. (This is not because rainbows shoot outta my butt – this is because I must maintain my own sanity- it’s a tippy thing) There is something about Erin’s TIBS approach. She has the enjoyment and knowledge of the source material while maintaining a respect for the creators. She never speaks as if her word is the last and always invites discourse and treats other’s opinions with kindness. Her lifetime of experience in journalism may have just a little do to with that but perhaps the diplomacy comes more from being married to the same man for 31 yrs and to raising two sons.

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All the things, together – the perfect puzzle.

The super cool thing is, I don’t have to see eye to eye with Erin on her reviews. I still enjoy reading them as her views are succinct and beautifully explained. She helps me understand why she sees things the way she does and that is important to me. It’s not just “I hated it” or “It was stupid”.  That doesn’t help anyone see what the reviewer struggled with.

The benefit of a well-written review is we are able to respect the viewpoint because we understand it. We are then able to move on with our overall love of the journey.  Kind of like being on holiday together, going out to dinner and one devouring the cake and the other thinking it was too sweet. It was still yummy cake.

Let’s dive in with Erin to see what it is that makes her – the her – that she is. I want those reading to know about ‘everyday’ Erin…give us a glimpse will you?  Erin-“Ummm, okayyy… I’m 60, retired last year after our parents had major health issues that required my time and my father in law died. Kevin and I have two sons, Greg and Andy. Greg is 27, a musician, married, and expecting their first child (awww, CONGRATS Grannie!) and they live in New Zealand. Andy is 24, engaged, living about 20 minutes away with his fiancée. I have a degree in journalism – I’ve always been a writer. I stepped back from fulltime work when Greg was 6 months old and did a lot of freelance stuff, then substitute teaching, and a string of admin kind of jobs, most of which bored me silly, but paid some bills. In addition to writing for TIBS, I started doing fused glass work three years ago, and now my basement is full of glass, kilns, equipment. This year was supposed to be my year to start travelling, but of course, that’s difficult now. We’re just hoping to get to New Zealand over Christmas to meet our new grandchild.”

I’ve seen that glasswork of yours, it’s gorgeous! (Check it out peeps). I imagine it becomes a great outlet, and the pieces you have done for your Outlander groups have been stunning, which swings me back around again, we fans all have the story of when Outlander came into our life, how did your journey start? “I found Dragonfly, I think, in the large print section of the library (not where I usually look for books), in probably 1997 or early 1998, right after we moved to Crystal Lake. I realized quickly that it was part of a series, and ran to find the first book. I’ve been hooked since then. I didn’t realize that, other than Ladies of Lallybroch, which I knew about, that there was a huge following until I started writing about it.”

Which leads us of course to Three if by Space… “TIBS started when the owner, Robert, won a contest to go to the set for the show Falling Skies (the site’s name is a line from the show). He started the website as a fan site for that show, and it quickly became a multi-show review site.  I loved Falling Skies and found TIBS looking for info about it, then found out they were looking for writers. That was in 2013, right as news about a TV series of Outlander was coming out. I asked if it fell in their world – sci-fi – and he said sure. So I’ve been writing for the site since then, and have been senior editor, second in charge, for a few years now.” 

Sounds like perfect timing to me! I am always curious as to what other book lovers thought when they found out Outlander was going to be adapted into a TV program. I almost lost my damn mind.  “I was very excited. I have a copy of one of the older books that says on the back that a major motion picture is coming – of course, I was thrilled to see that, and we know that never happened. A TV series is definitely the better choice. It made me nervous, though – how faithful would they be to the books? I was a little reassured that Diana would be involved, but I have enough experience with the world of adaptations and writing to know that there would be differences. Since the show has come out, I haven’t been thrilled with everything they’ve done, but that’s fine – like I’ve said since the beginning, I don’t have the talent, the money or the contacts to do it myself, so I’m happy that someone with all of those is taking it on. I can live with the differences, even if they make my head hurt sometimes – I’d rather watch what’s there than not watch at all. I would give the series a B+ – some of the casting has been off (and some has been spot-on), and I personally think that the show’s angle is skewed in an uncomfortable direction.”

Since I listen to your radio shows and read your reviews, I get exactly what you are saying and where you are coming from. If those reading haven’t tuned in –CLICKITY CLICK RIGHT HERE– You can listen to past episodes. So, what would you say your vision is for the future of the TV show? “As much as I would like to see the show finish out the entire book series, I don’t really know that they will. I think I can live with it if they don’t. I don’t really want to see 80-year-old Jamie and Claire, except in a flash-forward at the end. I’d rather see the show end on a high, rather than dribble on and on toward an end where it’s cancelled because of low viewership. I LOVE David Barry as Lord John but don’t really need a spin-off. I’d watch it – don’t get me wrong – but I’m not going to live and die over it.”

I’d love to hear your vision of how those books will end?  “Now here, I’d be happy to see an 80-year-old Jamie and Claire. I don’t know that Diana wants to go that far. She’s said one more after Bees, and for the main series, that’s good. I’d love to see Germaine and Jemmy and Mandy as adults, solving crimes and taking names (just kidding).” 

Damn, that would be so awesome. Can you imagine? The Mystery Conestoga *snort* My imagination has been tapped. That is never a good thing.

You’ve attended many Outlander events over the years and this is something that many fans might not get to experience. I, personally, am a serious introvert so I know there are certain events I would be overwhelmed by. There will be certain readers who think “I wanna be like ERIN!” tell them about events you dove into.    “Of course, this year, a lot has been cancelled. One I’m hoping doesn’t get cancelled is Thru the Stones, in Davenport, Iowa, in December. This is a great every-other-year event, and it’s different than others – there’s always one BTS guest and one actor guest (although last time Terry Dresbach, former costume designer, came for her second appearance and brought Ron D. Moore with her). But organizer Deb Ford does classes and a trivia contest, a lot of things that other events don’t do. Last year, I went to Outlandish Vancouver for the first time (even though I’ve been good friends with the organizer since my very first Outlander event in 2014) which was really a lot of fun and where I met YOUUUUUUU. (I mean, that had to be the highlight for all *snort*) That one’s been cancelled for this year, and because of Andy’s wedding next year, I don’t think I’ll make it then either, but I encourage everyone else to look at that one.”

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These women love each other so much. Meet Alyson, Cardboard Bonnet, Erin, Cardboard Jamie, Samantha, Cardboard Young Ian. Pass some Droughtlander hours and go back for a listen. Stay Tuned for new ones!

I’m going to live vicariously through you because I think my only cast experiences will ever happen at Outlandish Vancouver (I’m not complaining, because they have been freaking life-altering– not even kiddin’) Please share your most memorable fan experiences… “My favourite was probably my first – the Random  House MOBY book debut in Seattle in 2014. I met so many wonderful new people, met Diana Gabaldon for the first time, saw the first TV show trailer…

I love being in the position to be able to meet the stars and creators personally when I’m interviewing, or on red carpets, etc. For the S1 Part 2 premiere in NYC, I did my first red carpet. I had a minor role in helping the SoCal group meet Sam at what they thought was just going to be a chance to look at the packaging for the upcoming DVD, and Sam walked into their review session. For my assistance – which was just providing a name – Sony sent me a personalized photo of Sam holding up a sign for me. At that red carpet event, I brought a printed out copy of that picture. Sam saw me holding it, and ran over to say “That was for YOU?? Can I sign it for you?” That was a thrill. Everyone has been wonderful to meet.”

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Erin with Diana Gabaldon (L) – and with Sam Heughan. 

THUD! Yup. Just THUD. I’m that person that says something inappropriate to break the ice and ends up wearing it forever. I’ve seen you on the red carpet while watching live streams and you are always so damn dignified. It’s annoying and why I like hanging around you – you make me look like a grown-up. Just put your cursor right here and click! You can see for yourself how cool she is. I am always grateful for the people that Outlander has brought into my life. What do you feel it has brought to yours? “Outlander has really expanded my personal and semi-professional life (since I don’t get paid for any of this). I’ve met the BEST people, women I never would have met otherwise, and that’s enriched my life to no end. I’ve also done things I couldn’t have conceived of doing – I’ve interviewed not only Outlander stars, but then had the confidence and opportunity to meet stars of many other shows, hone my interviewing skills, and develop a bit of a reputation. I’ve really enjoyed managing Facebook groups, setting up and running an annual Holiday Gift Exchange (6 years and still going), and doing an internet radio show.

Now that Droughtlander is in full swing, have you any advice for fans that are starting to get antsy?Find something else to do in real life. Like I said before, it’s not healthy to be so invested in one book and TV series. I see people, over and over, saying “nothing else lives up to it,” and I don’t get that. There are SO many books, TV series, real-life adventures, children and grandchildren, things that need to be done. And then when it comes back on, you’ll enjoy it even more because you’ll be ready and refreshed, rather than in agony over every little word and delay.” 

That’s some damned good advice, my friend. For those reading, leave any books you have read and enjoyed in the comments or the thread of whatever media you are reading this on. Share and share alike!

This is the ABOotlander finale question.  You have been invited to dinner with us and you have been offered these Albertan delicacies  A) Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails   C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn.  Which would you choose & why? “AHHH. I know what Prairie Oysters are, not having those.  I like most things corn-related, but somehow this feels like a trick question. I hope moose droppings have something to do with chocolate, so I’ll pick that one.” I love you think I would trick you with corn. It speaks so much of what you know of me.

The Outlander fandom started before the TV show was even created due to the popularity of the novels. When the show was announced, the book fans started an online presence that was impressive. Erin was certainly a part of that wave, we are grateful for her dedication. Thank you, my friend for sharing your mind and your heart with so many…especially me!

Sher xo

 

The LOVELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz

ABOotlander L🖤ve – Previous Interviews –  Julia LeBlanc/VideoQueen  Summer & Ginger from Outlander Podcast  CastDr.Joe Abernathy/Wil Johnson  CastAdrienne-Marie/Suzette Beth Wesson/@PixieTwit  Connie Verzak@ConnieBV  Karmen @OutLandAnatomy          Jane @RRankinFans  CastSera-Lys McArthur /Johiehon CastCarmen Moore /Wahkatiiosta CastKikkiFleming/ Lesley

The LOVELANDER Project explained…

Droughtlander became a thing the very first ‘break’ Outlander took between episodes 8 and 9 of the first season.  Each break we experience as a fandom seems longer than the last and we all know, this Droughtlander is bound to be the longest of them all. Through no fault of anyone but this blasted virus that has taken the world to a halt.

Our fandom is like a family in many ways.  It can be a place we go for support and love, we can sometimes feel alienated by it, we can laugh with one another and we can argue…there is disfunction and there is passion.  It becomes what we want it to be, our bubbles become custom made.

This is where I decided, for me, and those who are like-minded, that I felt #TheLOVELANDERProject could help those who wanted to stay connected, do so. Perhaps it will help others in the fandom or new to it – find their people.  It can be a way to encourage us to share our stories with one another.

I have started with interviewing members of our community once again, so we can get to know the people behind the accounts we see. I will also be sharing stories of lives that will hopefully bring you some joy, hope and happiness.

The LOVELANDER Project will also bust into your days with laughter. Sharing giggles and what I hope are unexpected surprises here and there.

I hope you join in. When you find an Outlander story that touches your heart, RT with the hashtag #TheLOVELANDERProject.  I’m excited to learn more about the people in this fandom, expand my circle and hopefully spread a little happiness while I am at it.

💖 Sher xo

Check out my interview with VIDA from Blacklanderz, the kick-off to The LOVELANDER Project.

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The woman who created BLACKLANDERZ™- Meet VIDA.

I would like to welcome you to The #LOVELANDER Project. 

3 years ago, I interviewed different members of the Outlander fandom to spread what I coined as ‘ABOotlander love’.  The time I spent getting to know and sharing those great women with the rest of the fandom was a joy.  (Look for links of the previous interviews at the end of the post).  I chose to resurrect this concept during this 2020 Droughtlander. I feel the world needs some levity, some love and distraction and for my part – I am doing this. The L🖤VELANDER Project.

I like sharing the people behind the fan accounts we see and interact with every day. Perhaps I will introduce you to accounts you may not be aware of.  It is my hope to reach out to those who have made it their mission to add touches of entertainment and share their knowledge with a uniqueness that makes our fan experience better ones.

My first guest with The LOVELANDER Project is the creator behind Blacklanderz.  Vida is from Houston, Texas yet the members of Blacklanderz are from around the globe, let’s talk to her!

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Sit right here, we got stuff to talk about.

Vida’s interest in the world of Outlander started after she watched the first season on STARZ, afterward, she read the books.  When watching the show, the inspiration for Blacklanderz was born.

“When I began watching the show and asked family members, friends, and colleagues if they had heard about it, none of them had. Once I explained what it was about and ensured they would witness one of the best shows (series) ever made for television, more people began to watch.

Then, I wondered why more Blacks were not watching the show. In doing a cursory search, I realized most news outlets that cater to Blacks (e.g., Ebony, Essences, TV One, BET, The Root, and a few Urban News Outlets, etc.) did not cover Outlander. At the time, they mostly covered those shows that highlighted Blacks, such as Black-ish, Power, Empire, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, etc. So, how would most Blacks find out about it if these sources do not cover it?

Now, do not get me wrong. I liked those shows too and were glad they are on, especially when there had never been a time in television history that had as many shows catering to a wider diverse audience. However, Blacks are not a monolithic group and I like diversity in my entertainment on a level that challenges my intellect and provokes discourse on a deeper level! And, if these outlets could cover shows, such as Game of Thrones (another favorite), they could also cover Outlander! Rather than wait for other outlets to do it, I decided to do it myself!!

 

“Then, I searched #Outlander on social media, other Outlander fan groups on social media and did not see any that had Black people in them, yet there were Blacks who watched the show. I also wanted to create a website/blog and decided to focus on Outlander and other entertainment shows/movies. So, I created Blacklanderz™ after S1. By S2, I added more members and decided we would have a conversation (Convo) about the episodes rather than do a recap.”

It was always Vida’s intention that Blacklanderz was not about her but about the community she was building and remaining an entertainment account. She has done a spectacular job staying behind the curtain and pushing others toward the stage. I, however, am a bit of a pain in the ass and begged just a little for a glimpse at the woman who seeks no credit yet is constantly working to create the content we see coming out of the Blacklanderz hub.  Hold onto your britches and your bonnet’s because if I had this resume, I would be running around yelling LOOK AT ME! I am FREAKIN AMAZING!

 

 

Vida is an award-winning author and researcher. She has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Educational Policy Studies.  She has been in the educational field well over 25 years, as a former teacher and adjunct professor she writes grant proposals to fund educational programs. 

When I found out about Vida’s history in education, my brain popped a little because it made so much sense. In the last few years I have followed her pretty closely (not in a creepy stalkerish way but in a ‘man, I have so much I can learn from you’ way). I was right. She educated me all right and I will go on to talk about that later in this interview.   

Vida is also a daughter, sister, aunt to 14 nieces and nephews and 10 grand nieces and nephews, a godmother to four and mother hen to ALL! It is no surprise, Vida is the type of woman that exudes love and inclusion.  She loves to travel with her favourite place being Florence, Italy.  It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that she is an avid reader – nonfiction, fiction, Black history, high fantasy, science fiction, paranormal (but not too spooky) and historical fiction. Oh, and she LUVBS movies and televisions shows of the same genre. 

That love of history and jazz makes her heart sing. Give her a musical like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or the Greatest Showman and you will have her attention.

 

Now because Vida is an Outlander fan just like us, she has had some pretty fantastic fan experiences herself. I love enjoying these through others so I asked her to share her most memorable encounters with us.

“I have had the privilege of two memorable encounters as a fan. First, I secured VIP seating for some of our members who were attending the NYCC and, at the last minute, I decided to go! It was the first time I had ever attended a Comic-Con. I finally met some of our Blacklanderz members, other Outlander fans I had connected with on social media and attended the Outlander Panel. The attendees for the panel included Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Duncan Lacroix, and David Berry, Executive Producers Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis, and Diana Gabaldon. It was great being there for a live panel. I also met and hung out with Sera-Lys McArthur (Johiehon, Outlander S4), who is one of the sweetest people. Thanks to Courtney (OutlanderBTS) for that connection. I was literally there for 24 hours and it was the best decisions I have made in a long time.”

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Vida (bottom left) Cathy Harmon (top left)    Sera-Lys McArthur (right)

“The second memorable encounter was when I attended Wizard Con in New Orleans this year. We thought it was going to just be a panel with Sam Heughan, but they also brought out Maria Dole Kennedy, John Bell, and Ed Speleers. Again, I spent time with some more of our Blacklanderz members, other Outlander fans, and took a picture with Sam. Man, does he have a tight grip!”

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Vida with…hmmm…who is that SAM!? 😘

I’m not jealous, Vida. Nope. Not even a little. I’m just glad everyone knows me well enough I’m lying like a rug. Onto more important things.  I became very interested in Vida when some uncomfortable discussions began happening. I knew they were uncomfortable because… I’m a white broad. *gasp* I KNOW, RIGHT?! But really. I had some work to do and this really intelligent woman was forcing me to look at some things I never had thought of before. I live in a pretty privileged bubble. I know that. I didn’t always know that. My ignorance wasn’t a benefit to anyone, especially me. So…I shut my mouth and opened my ears – just like I used to tell people I was training to do. I learned so much from Vida and the other members of the Blacklanderz group, I feel it has been one of the most valuable connections I have ever made, not just in this fandom but for me as a human.  I am not saying I was a trash-talking racist before, I wasn’t. I would have defended myself with a hat full of clichés to prove how racist I wasn’t. I learned that was just as gross.  I shared this with Vida and asked her if those were maybe some of the things she hoped would happen within this fandom with the creation of Blacklanderz – or perhaps what the importance of having the voices they do, in the Outlander fandom. 

“Wow, that is a dissertation, in and of itself, but let’s see. I want to thank you for saying that and I appreciate it. Yes, that is one reason I wanted us to have a voice in this fandom.

We all know Diana’s books contain heavy topics that are difficult to discuss. However, I knew there would be topics that we, as Blacks, could shed light on that no other group could or would. There are several important topics we were able to speak about such as indentured servitude vs. slavery, slavery, and slaves at River Run.

First, there was a discussion on indentured servitude. When Murtagh and the other prisoners were sent to the colonies as indentured servants, many in the fandom kept labelling it ‘white slavery’ or the same as slavery, and that is incorrect. I, along with other members of Blacklanderz, had several discussions explaining the difference. In that, indentured servants had a timeframe, a period with a contract, a few years they had to serve – usually four to seven. Although a lot of them worked on farms in the South, it was not the same as Blacks who were slaves. Once the indentured servitude contract expired, they were released from their service. Blacks, who were slaves, did not have that luxury. They were taken from their homeland, stripped from their families, their culture, language, identity and dignity. They were perceived as chattel, were forced to work from sunup to sundown, and lived in inhumane conditions. Blacks were slaves for life (not four or seven years) over many generations (almost 10), until they were emancipated, 250 years later. Today, most Blacks cannot trace our ancestry passed four or five generations because of slavery. *Please readers, do not mention AncestryDNA® to me.* *You say anything about it to her…Imma AT you.HARD*

 

“When people repeatedly said indentured servitude was white slavery or the same as slavery, it not only minimized what Blacks went through during that time but also diminishes what, we as a people, dealt with and continuously deal with in this country as a result of slavery (e.g., segregation, Jim Crow Laws, institutional/systemic racism . . . the list goes on and on). So, it really boiled my blood and I (we) had to speak about it.

The second issue that I (we) spoke about was how slavery was handled or eliminated from discussion on the show. Yes, in S4, we saw numerous slaves in the field at River Run and what happened to Rufus, which was hard to watch but necessary. However, as the season progressed, it was as if all the slaves disappeared, except for Ulysses and a few others in the house. There was no more mention of them. They also portrayed Ulysses and the other house slaves as servants, which sanitized the reality in which slaves lived. Speaking of Ulysses, though I love Colin McFarlane’s performance, I also felt a need to speak up when people kept inferring that Ulysses and Jocasta were ‘lovers’ when there was clearly an imbalance of power, regardless of manumission papers not signed by the Assembly or that it was in the book. It is incongruous with the reality of that time and place. These types of issues cannot be shied away from just because it was written that way in the book.

There was the instance when Jocasta signed over her property to Jemmy. Jamie just mentions that River Run has a ‘new master’ and puts a period at the end of the sentence. He did not mention that Jemmy was going to be master of a plantation that housed who knows how many slaves. Coming back from the 60s/70s particularly 1968/1971, Claire (having Dr. Joe as a friend) and Bree (having Gayle as a roommate) would have discussed this quandary and it was simply ignored. I (we) pointed out this discrepancy.

Last, though I will not go into too much detail, there were several other topics we spoke up about such as 1) what the symbolism of a burning cross, Celtic or otherwise, means to some Blacks; 2) Jamie and Claire leaving biracial Bonnie with the Browns, during that time and place; 3) the stealing of land from Native Americans and giving it to immigrants such as Claire/Jamie, regardless of what happened in the book and 4) that Governor Tryon granted Roger and Bree 5,000 acres of land for the ‘accidental’ hanging of Roger. However, when a slave, once emancipated, s/he was to receive 40 acres and a mule yet received zilch for building up people’s largesse, which Forbes almost killed Jocasta over, wealth and the country.

What other groups would bring up these types of issues, let alone discuss them?

She speaks the absolute truth and it’s important that we have these conversations. When it comes to this kind of dialogue, it isn’t about opinion, it’s truly about facts. POC, have those facts, live those facts and those of us who only see from the other side, need to start listening. I speak all the time about seeing the world from our perception, our lens. It is impossible for a white person to see the world from their lives. We must allow them to tell us. When we get uncomfortable, feel like we need to defend ourselves or history – that is when we really need to stop and listen. Those are the biggest indicators we have that we don’t get it. We need to explore their world, through their eyes, their experiences and believe what they say. That is our job, that is how we tap into our empathy and start to understand. That is why I believe this group is so important to our fandom. Vida agreed.

“Because we view events/issues through a different lens, we open a space to have such discussions, as mentioned, regardless of whether they are difficult or in the book. (Note: I keep mentioning the latter because that is the reply from a lot of fans when we have brought up discrepancies or issues.)

Another major importance of our group is that a lot of people in this fandom have never been around Black people or communicated with a Black person before. I have received so many DMs asking me what I (we) thought about a scene, character or event in the show or how I (we) interpreted something that happened in the book or the show, which is a wonderful thing to happen.

Additionally, Blacklanderz™ is a very diverse – culturally and ethnically – group of people, not monolithic; and, that is the beauty of it. Although we all love the books/show, we have a wide range of differences (e.g., professions, backgrounds, upbringings, experiences, and interests), even in age. If you have noticed, we analyze everything in the show, not just what is happening in a scene/episode, but e-v-e-r-y-thing! Certain people focus on certain aspects because that is where their interest lies. We each bring a wealth of knowledge, intellectual wisdom, enthusiasm, something special to the conversation and that is what makes our Convos so rich with discussion. Oh, and we ALL have a keen sense of humor and are funny as hell!”

Yup, that is the thing about reading the Blacklanderz Convos. Each personality is so unique, you are sure to connect with someone and the humour across the board is relaxed and not mean spirited as has been seen elsewhere. Truthfully, if you want to challenge yourself, learn something and have a laugh…you will find your people with the Blacklanderzgroup.

Changing gears … this is an ABOotlander must ask because I’m a bit of a boob, everyone knows it. We have invited Vida for a meal in Alberta, up here in Canada (pretend we opened the border, just for her) and we are giving her a choice of these Albertan delicacies.  a) Moose Droppings b) Beaver Tails c) Prairie Oysters d) Taber Corn       

Which would you choose & why?  That is an easy one, Moose Droppings. I (we) are Blacklanderz after all, and I love chocolate!

 See? So smart! She knew what moose droppings were with no help (I made her promise not to use the google machine and I trust her).

I wanted to tap into Vida’s brain while it was still lit up to see if she could give us some tips on how to get through this Droughtlander. I wasn’t disappointed. 

“Yes, Cathy, runs our sister account, SoulsSisterz , Black women who love and support Deborah Harkness and her The All Souls Trilogy and A Discovery of Witches TV show. Although I have seen S1 of A Discovery of Witches, I have not read the books. I plan to read them before S2 comes out. There are three books and that will take up some time.

Also, fans could reread A Breath of Snow and Ashes. That is what I plan to do so I will be ready for our Convos whenever S6 comes out. The books are a blur and I try to make sure we stick to what is happening currently on the show and not have spoilers from future books.

Another tip is to take the time to learn how to do something or find a hobby that you would enjoy. Droughtlander is too long and life is too short not to appreciate whatever time we have!”

That final line was another reason I asked Vida to be a part of #TheLOVELANDERProject.  She is a delightful human and I hope you feel you were able to get to know the woman behind the account a little more and love her a lot more.  I want to personally thank Vida for agreeing to allow me to interview her. I know she prefers to stay in the background and as much as I respect her for that, I do believe we all are better people for knowing her just that little bit more. 

If you have any questions/comments for Vida you can comment here or on our twitter post or directly to her on her Twitter account HERE.

The LOVELANDER Project will return soon! Thank you so much for taking part.

Sher xo

LOVELANDER

ABOotlander L🖤ve – Previous Interviews –  Julia LeBlanc/VideoQueen  Summer & Ginger from Outlander Podcast  CastDr.Joe Abernathy/Wil Johnson  CastAdrienne-Marie/Suzette Beth Wesson/@PixieTwit  Connie Verzak@ConnieBV  Karmen @OutLandAnatomy          Jane @RRankinFans  CastSera-Lys McArthur /Johiehon CastCarmen Moore /Wahkatiiosta CastKikkiFleming/ Lesley

Fear. My last ‘not a recap’ for Outlander Season 5. Never My Love.

Whether we were captivated or horrified by Outlander’s season finale, Never My Love, I believe we can agree that it had an impact.

I debated whether I would write about this episode, I also had an inner dialogue if I’d go my regular route of running further afield. Should I break my streak and face real talk? I have a rather, let’s say, intimate relationship with sexual assault and rape. I have spoken of it pretty openly.  In my 30’s, I spent time working as a victim services coordinator which gave me an opportunity to sit with, walk beside and rage alongside women in impossible circumstances. Rape should never be brushed away. It happens often in our society now, we know damn well it happened in the past. In fact, it happened so often that it wasn’t even considered rape. It was considered a right by the aggressor and a duty by the victim. I decided not to take a deep dive there, this time. Droughtlander is going to be long, I  do have some things I want to say and I will because I have plenty of time.

The finale was steeped in fear. I know we all have different ideas of what fear is. Motivational speakers like to say fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real”, and hey, I’m not knocking that mindset, hell, I have said it myself BUT when you have a boot being swung at your head that’s fucking scary and real, there is a legitimate reason to fear that.

Fear, like many things in this life – isn’t simple.

The series of events we witnessed were spurned by the deep-seated fears that Lionel Brown had. Before someone thinks I am defending that piece of flaming garbage, I am not. People act with violence ‘because of’ and Lionel was acting through his hate for Claire and everything she was/represented. That hate constructed a fear he felt powerless with. In order to gain some dominance he recruited and included other men. This gave him the impression of strength and control. All the while, his fear and hate continued to build because Claire refused to cower to him.

Sadly, we can see this in ourselves. Naturally, the degree that Brown hits isn’t the norm for most of us🤞🏻 . When we ‘hate’ someone, that is mostly predicated by a perceived threat (or because someone we trust has told us we should).  We may feel inadequate, powerless or somehow ashamed when we are exposed to them. Those feelings can cause us to lash out.

In Lionel’s case, they are exhibited in violent acts and rage. We aren’t complete misogynist slime balls so we react in a less vicious manner. We may be passive-aggressive, withhold kindness, gossip or spread rumours. It is a usual tactic to try and turn others against those who we have had felt threatened by, Lionel did exactly that with his men.

Lionel thought he had power over Claire when all along, she had power over him. Did it matter that Lionel’s wife refused his bed? No. He would beat her and raped her anyway.  Did it matter that Claire made eye contact with him and called him out on shooting a man in the back? Not really, her accusations held no water legally. None of these things truly changed Lionel’s life BUT he invented Claire being a personal threat to him. He created that narrative and brought his friends along for the ride because when we get others to join in our treachery it validates it.

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The big bad girl scared all of them with her big brain.

Let’s face it, spreading hate is especially easy when the one person fighting against it, is bound, gagged, beaten and raped into submission. When this kind of fear/hate finds it target, it becomes emboldened and so do those who follow it. When their target falls they use this as fuel for their hate.

This is something that we see regularly. Those who are oppressed, have to fight harder, be louder and they are still consistently beaten into silence – yet – they don’t give up.  Those who are bullied, beaten, shot, denied work, incarcerated and forced to sit at tables alone…think about it. We see it on Outlander on a dramatic scale, when we travel to the other points on the spectrum, there you will find us. It’s the human condition and not all of it is pleasant to look at.

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No matter what side we are on, it’s embarrassing to be ‘in’ this society sometimes.

The show writers made it easy to despise Lionel. We don’t really give a shit if he was afraid of Claire, do we? That’s his own shrivelled up masculinity, too bad he couldn’t keep it to himself.  All we wanted to see was that he and his buddies were punished.

The reality of that punishment, in this story, is that would also come from fear. I wanted to look at 2 of the characters that truly used their fear as fuel.  This is why being aware of the scope of emotion is so important, why looking at life in black and white can be dangerous.

Marsali and Roger both used their fear as fuel.  Marsali, has become aware of her worth as a women in a world that doesn’t especially find worth in her. This man not only threatened her and the child she carried by assaulting her, he tormented and raped her Ma. Brown was laying in the room with her, threatening to kill everyone on the ridge. Her experience with him tells her that he is not lying. These are not threats, these are promises. Marsali is not willing to live with this fear, she ends it the only way she can. I could hear the cheers across the Outlander fandom.

We have the ability to do the same in our lives. No, I am not advocating jabbing a big ole needle full of poison into someones neck, that’s pushin’ it.

Imagine for a moment, we have that person who is in our life that is constantly forcing toxicity into our life. We listen, take it in, allow it to seep into our days because we fear the fall out if we stop engaging.  I know many of us can relate to this, afraid to hurt feeling. Confrontation is hard. Yet, here we allow ourselves to go through the stress for a harmful relationship out of fear of hurting the feelings of someone we don’t respect or even like. We need to love ourselves more than that.

Roger. Deep down is a pacifist but his fear was clearly build from love. His fear was for Claire and her safety. He used this to push through his natural instinct to be a man of peace, to fight for his family.  We will find this with mothers and fathers regarding their children. It is why I was so happy to see Outlander utilize Roger in this way. His nature is not one of violence, yet, for his family, for the woman who is very much a mother to him, he will do whatever it takes. Even if it means stepping over a line that he will never forget crossing.  We have those moments too, we are so terrified, we don’t know if we can do something, yet we do.  Getting married, having kids, getting on that roller coaster, taking that promotion, buying that house, moving across the country, getting a divorce, getting help for that thing we don’t want anyone to know about.  No matter what it is, if we think it is worth going for, we will push through that fear and do it.

This fear thing, we all live with it. It’s an emotion that we can learn to manage, understand and even embrace.

Now gimme a HUG! We all need it after this season. Let’s try and get through Droughtlander without too many injuries, eh?

Sher xo

I’m not going anywhere during Droughtlander. I have some fun things up my sleeve so staytuned my Twitter account and this blog!

Our REDBUBBLE STORE is open.  You will find some fun #Droughtlander designs there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Reason. A Season. A Lifetime. How Ep11 of Outlander took me back.

It’s been approximately 12 hours since I watched Journeycake for the 5th time. I’m still not completely settled. To be honest, I feel like it beat the shit out of me.

*sssh* I know, self-inflicted. *blah blah blah*

As soon as I felt a little safe with a bit of happiness, laughter or joy BOOM – kick in the face with sadness, despair or pure fear.  It may be partially due to my being in a vulnerable state but jeemziz, it was a doodiddlydoozey!

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Do what ya can to get you through it!

I am diving in because if I don’t I will let my mind start wandering and it may never come back.  All the dynamics of relationships were on display in this episode. Good, bad and deep dark-n-ugly.  The beauty of it all, we can identify with each one and that is why they resonate with us.  I want to throw a mental note at everyone, these blogs (even though I’m a book reader), are written in direct relation to the show and what happens on it.

I have always believed that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Some will fill one of those spaces and that’s kinda the way it’s meant to be. Not everyone we develop relationships with is meant to be in our life forever. Realistically, some who pass through may not have been put there for us, we may have been there for them. A by-product, for lack of a better word, of something they needed, to teach them a lesson of some kind. Meaning the reason may never be known to us.

This thread was so predominant with our characters in this episode.  The opening scene was jarring yet speaks loudly about how people come into our life for a reason. The dying girl, her connection to Roger, lasts mere moments though it will stay with him forever. We will never know who they were but she needed Roger. As she lay there suffering it was his gentle and merciful hands passing by to set her free from the pain. For that reason alone, they were meant to cross paths.

That meeting may have also been a catalyst to Roger’s desire to return to his own time sooner than later. This isn’t something a 20th-century history professor would ever have to worry about stumbling across, is it?

‘Dr. Rawlings’ made his way to Wilmington and everywhere in between, as unintentional as it was, it seems the reason stretched far beyond Claire’s objective. Women were getting medical advice that was unprecedented.  Previous episodes foreshadowed it, where this episode solidified Claire’s life has been put in danger due to her connection with Dr. Rawlings.

Those three minutes on screen with Claire, Rose and Marsali were enough to give the audience a full view of what affects Dr. Rawlings has had. Rose Brown, whose reproductive choices were never her own now had some say, due to the knowledge inadvertently printed in that newspaper.  No doubt saving a child being born to the hands of an abusive father.

We are aware that women have been controlled in many ways over the centuries, reproductively we were on the bottom, which is insane since we are the ONLY ones that have that particular superpower. We can easily assume that Rose was not the only one taking this advice. Whether it was because they were in an abusive relationship, had enough damn kids already or *gasp* simply did not want to have a child. We will need to hold the outcome of Dr. Rawlings as a separate entity from the purpose it may have had for the women who benefited from it.

We have those ‘seasonal’ relationships. You know the ones. They come into our lives and we feel like they are going to last forever, they change who we are at our core and then the relationship ends or changes to something less than it was.

With the MacKenzie’s leaving the ridge, we experienced these heartwrenching but beautiful goodbyes. In the land of the interwebs, we are luckier but we still go through them. A friendship, like Lizzie and Brianna, we feel will last forever. BFFs, we say. Forever is a long time though. We attach ourselves to people in times we have a need, they have a need. When those needs change or we change, often so will the relationship. Sure, sometimes our relationships can grow and change along with us however there are times they disappear with the seasons. We often see this as a bad thing instead of accepting it as a part of moving through life. This doesn’t make them less than, they likely taught us something wonderful about ourselves, pushed us through some harrowing times and created a soft place for us to land.

We often make the mistake of thinking those seasonal relationships of growing apart or ending as bad things. If we accepted it for what it was, we would be grateful for the experiences we shared, thank one another, hope we will cross paths again one day and move forward. Instead, we often end up burning a bridge or two because we aren’t sure how to end a relationship in a healthy way. It seems this is something Ian is struggling with. His desperate need to go back to change things with the woman he speaks of.

Otter-tooth attempted to go back in time to change the fate of his people. What was supposed to be a lifetime relationship became one of the seasons. The connection Otter-tooth ended up having with Claire, saved Roger from the Mowhawk but also become the catalyst of Ian finding a home with them. It was planned Ian would stay with them indefinitely except things happen that we can’t predict. These are the moments when our wishes get blown out like a candle.

Those instances can kick us in the back of the knees, can’t they? We think we have it all figured out. Know exactly what is happening with our life and suddenly something that we have no control over changes the trajectory, instantly. Without warning lifetime people fade into seasonals and the adjustment physically hurts. The ridge was alive with this while the MacKenzie’s said their goodbyes and why there were so many emotional reactions by viewers.

Our characters drove home a crucial point, our lifetime people don’t always have to be in our daily lives. Ulysses comes to mind. He has been a free man since Hector Cameron died yet he stayed as a loyal friend (viewed by all others, as a slave) to Jocasta. Never leaving her side until he was finally forced to. The bond that Ulysses and Jocasta had is not the kind that is lost with time or distance. It will be carried across the sea as it is an attachment that was sealed with trust (and you know, weasel killing).

Jamie may have spoken the words clearest during the scene with Bree. “Though I might not see any of you again, You have made my life whole.” Not all relationships within families are this deep.  With Bree,  Jemmy and yes, Roger, Jamie had been given the full family that he always desired.  Whether he held them in his arms or in his heart, he had them and that mattered the most.

The reason why Jamie’s stalwart nature resonated with me is I had to stop and ask myself why isn’t he breaking? I could feel Claire. She was feeling the grief of her daughter, grandson and son-in-law, being gone from her. Jamie, being bold and yes, moved, missing them but then I saw it. He still held them in the very same spot they were as if he could touch them. Where Claire, like so many of us, have done, when our children leave home, move out of the province or country, saw them as untouchable – he saw them as within.  Not only did it help him with the transition, but it also enabled him to support Claire better through her grief.

We also have those relationships. The ones that never end. Whether the person is gone from this earth or has moved far away. I have friends that I haven’t seen for years, might speak with a couple times a year yet I know, without a doubt, they are my people. The minute we end up in the same room, no time has passed and we are the same two idiots we always were.

Reflecting on the episode Journeycake makes me grateful for the ‘Outlander season’ part of my life.  It has been a hell of a ride thus far. I have no idea how many years we have left on this rollercoaster of a fandom. We can’t even guess who will come into our lives or who will leave over that course of time. I do know that I have met some remarkable people as a result of me sticking my nose in all yer bizznizz and I have a feeling there will be more than a few of you stuck with me for a lifetime.

Don’t worry though, the ones that want to make this seasonal, I am sure you can mute me easy enough. As for the reason I ended up on the other side of your computer screen…that’s all your fault.

Next week lasses and laddies, are ya ready?  I can say loudly – I AM NOT!

Sher xox

Don’t forget to join us for the season finale LIVETWEET event while Canadians tune in on W Network at 7 Pm MT using the hashtags #OutlanderCAN #NeverMyLove

Bendability. The twists-n-turns I took with Ep09 #MonstersandHeroes

Imagine.  Writing a whole blog, over 5 hours of thoughts, feelings and analysis only to say “Nope. Not good enough.” – I didn’t leave it to ponder about but hit delete. Done. Over.  I did that last night.  I spent most of the day Monday, off and on, putting my thoughts about Monsters and Heroes here, on this identical template I am staring at right now. It was complete. All except for those annoying GIFs that I add to drive ya all crazy but they add my boneheaded personality.

I deleted it because I struggled with it. It felt pushed, unnatural and well, obvious. I usually wouldn’t even tell you what I wrote about but I will. I wrote about friendship. See? 🧀 anyone? It felt overdone, it felt sappy and it felt so NOT me.  Not because I don’t have friends (I know, SHOCKIN’, I can count at least 3! ) but friendship is a concept we all understand for the most part. I don’t need to write a whole farkin’ blog about it, and I did. 😨 LAME!

This topic though, bendability, I hope isn’t. I could have taken the path of publishing the blog that everyone would have easily identified with.  That would be the easy way out. Choosing to be a little uncomfortable, to stretch myself in another direction, do something different…that makes more sense to what I try and accomplish with my blogs.  Will it work?

Time to stop blathering and get on with it shall I?

The title of the episode “Monsters and Heroes” can be seen in direct connection to the title of the blog. These don’t have to be two separate entities, they can be the same person, to the same people at different times in their life. We opened with that situation. Claire and Marsali. Marsali, she first saw Claire as a monster. She only knew her from the perspective that she grew up with, shown via her mother and the life experience she had. Marsali is a strong-willed, determined and sass-laced woman.  There was as much likelihood she would have dug her heels in and not accepted Claire or simply ignored her existence. Marsali used her ability to bend to see her own truth. If I were to venture a guess where this trait came from I would say it was the influence of Jamie through Fergus.

Her direct experiences with Jamie likely were clouded by her mother’s perceptions of the relationship. We heard as much from her early discussions with Claire. She and Fergus doubtlessly have had a long relationship. He grew up at Lallybroch, not far from where Marsali did. Fergus is the epitome of adaptable and that virtue, not only admirable, tends to rub off on those closest to them.

We’ve witnessed Marsali view Claire as a monster in her world. When she transforms into being her “Ma”, it’s special. She now sees her as someone she learns from and admires. A heroine. That, my friends, is bendability.

I wonder how many people we have had in our lives that we have written off because of the stories others have told from their perceptions of them, through their experiences, one-sided. We may have labelled as unworthy of our time or bad people simply because someone we knew/cared about, hated them.  Our lack of bendability may have shut out someone that may not have been such a monster after all.

There will be times in our lives that we have no choice but to bend.  The reason being if we don’t – we will break. There is no alternative. Roger and Jamie were placed in this position. Their relationship of tentative tiptoeing around one another with passive-aggressive taps-n-shots wasn’t going to get them through the crisis they found themselves in. Jamie, in need of rescuing and Roger in the position to save him.  The pair were forced to bend to the other’s reality.

Jamie’s snakebite set in motion events that created a bromance we will enjoy for years. Seriously though, the dynamic that mess brought on was instrumental in the Roger/Jamie bond. Not many have seen Jamie so vulnerable. We KNOW no one has ever sucked on his leg like that.

Roger had every reason to resent this red-headed brute of a man. From the first moment Roger laid eyes on him, to that very morning being the cockblocker he was. Yet, there was this man doing everything he could to save his father-in-law and keep his spirits up. Without handing out spoilers, Roger may very well have found his purpose on this dreadful excursion.

We went from two men circling one another warily, wondering where they stood in each other’s life to two people who found a comfortable, mutual respect and even a playful place with one another. Where there was trepidation the day before…a father and son connection was born. It took devastating circumstances forcing them into an uncomfortable space to do it but I am not certain anything less would have forged that relationship these men would need for the future.

How about that not so Young Ian? He has shown us we have the ability to not just bend but sway and twist. In fact, he knowingly steps into situations that will force him to bend.  Being a young lad in he left his small community and made way for adventure. Getting much more than he could have dreamt possible or wished to have. This young man chooses to evolve, with new people and lifestyles, knowing it is him that is going to have to do all the adapting.

In this episode, he set an example for someone who is supposed to be much wiser than he.  What we saw here was Ian saying the hard stuff.  That in itself is bendability. It’s not comfortable, for anyone. These conversations takes us out of our comfort zone of supporting and holding up those we care about. Knowing deep down that those are the words they need to hear takes an extra push, a lot won’t manage due to how difficult it is.  The ones that do get the words out, almost always feel bad.  That’s because they have a heart and they love. It isn’t supposed to feel good to say something severe to people we care for.

When the person is open enough to hear us, yes, bendable themselves, the message will strengthen the bond we have.  When saying the tough things, as hard as they are to say, they are hard to hear.  Jamie took the shaming well.  Had he the energy to fight back, I am not sure he would have. The truth of Ian’s words hung in the air for some time after he left the room.

Not everyone is so receptive to the truth on occasions such as these.  I admittedly am not always a fan. I have had the truth face me down and sometimes the first reflex is to defend. When that is my reaction, it’s often my clue I’m on the wrong side of things. I REALLY hate that. Being defensive indicates I am not confident in what I am arguing about. I use this as one of my life check-points to stop being rigid and look for the place to squeeze in that bendability.  It isn’t comfortable, it isn’t easy but, it’s more often right than it’s not.  That is where Jamie ended up. It took him time and pride but he got to where he needed to be.  He didn’t end up losing his leg, thank goodness.

Brianna is our used car lot balloon lady bendable, physically and emotionally.  You know, she’s having some ale on the porch and in a split second facing a charging 2000 pound buffalo to save her son and BFF. She is questioning if she can use her intelligence in a world where raising babies, making candles and dying day is considered the “life”. The need for Bree is to bend reality. The reality of the world she lives in. She had to stop seeing herself as fitting into the 1700s and just be Bree. Where an opportunity arises to use her engineering background, she will be taking it, as she did with creating the syringe for her mother out of the snake’s fang. I am sure this is only the start of Brianna putting her creative mind to work to make life easier on the ridge. 007

A big “Monsters and Heroes” take away for me was to loosen the hell up. Come on, I literally deleted a whole blog because it wasn’t ‘good enough’. True, it showed some bendability but it also showed I’m kinda an ass.  We are all under extra stress right now, some more than others but that never takes away from what each individual goes through.  It is times like this when we should do our best to let some of our austerity go. When we are feeling anxious, stressed and we add our own rigidity to it, we get so wound up it makes us feel all the more confined. If we bend it, allow it some slack, we allow ourselves some room to breathe.

 

It’s my hope you have the room.

Until next time,

Sher xo

Don’t forget we live tweet with the Canadian airing of Outlander on W Network Sunday nights at 7 pm MT. using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN. We would love it if you would join us. Only 3 more episodes left!