What happened?

I just lost my mojo after attending the Outlander fund raising party in NYC last September, 2017.  Why?  Lots of reasons.  And I do have pics to post.  But for some reason I was both thrilled on the one hand and fed up on the other.  Sorry to seemingly drop off the face of the earth.  Been super busy… teaching university students how to conquer anxieties when in front of an audience or in front of the TV camera. Plus I was asked to teach another course on digital news reporting.  So my plate was full.  But I just couldn’t get in a blogging mood.  I’ll try harder and re-connect.

I’ll be back.  xxx

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Glasgow is Grrreat!

It’s Sunday, Sept. 24th… and 500 of us Outlander fanatics are gathered in a glorious Glasgow icon called Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. We’re in the city ready for a night of magic. This is our entrance. And on both sides it’s loaded with PEAKERS!  Not sure when this pic was taken.  Either earlier in the day or the next day after the gala.  Women and a handful of men from across the globe gathered on the steps. We were all thinking the following:

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I think it’s a sure bet that people from Indonesia, sub-Sahara Africa, Greenland, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Russia might have missed this event.  But just about everyone else was there.  The States, Italy, Germany, Australia, Japan, The Netherlands, London, Sweden, Norway, France and many more, more, more places I failed to mention.  Oh… of course the Scots!

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I’m not going to start this blog in linear fashion.  What’s the point.  The pic below says it all.  It was taken by a NTexas Peaker pal, Martha.  I had no idea it was being taken. Not sure when I left my body… but I know I did!  So when the host of hour saw me… see him… he came over to speak.  And so I spoke back!  ;-D

I know I surprised Sam when said I would see him next week (in NYC on Saturday, Sept. 30th) and he teased me that I’m going to have more frequent flyer miles than he has.  But just before I floated above the room…  I remembered my manners and turned around and introduced him to my new BFF … Erin Gardiner from Northern California.  She was right behind me.  Sam loved that Erin and I only met that very weekend and will undoubtedly be life long buddies.  Our convo was not a short one.  (Or so I’ve been told … *wink)) but this was and he was a highlight to be sure.  (quirky fact… #19 is my birthdate)…

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So… let’s go back in time a wee bit.  I left DFw Friday the Sept. 22nd for a connection in Philly.  My Saturday arrival in Glasgow would be around 7 that morning.   From Philly it was a direct flight to Glasgow.    IMG_0378Then on the Alba!! Here I come!!! My flight was due in at 7:05am.  Registration for the event started at 7:45am. AAAGGGGG! Would I be late?  Would I miss out??? So I walked up with my American Texan attitutde and said ‘gentleman… I need to get to the Glasgow Hilton and I need to get there now.  Who’s up for the challenge?’  They loved it and laughed.  My driver says, ‘yes Miss… I’ll do it!  He was grrrreat!  We laughed and talked the whole trip (although some times I said ‘oh’ when I had no idea what he said with his truly thick Glaswegian accent.  (In other words… my cabbie does NOT sound like Sam).

Whew… we arrive on time.  But wait… there is a line of PEAKERS starting inside the Hilton… down steps and onto the sidewalk outside… and around the building.  Bottom line.  I was not late.  I should have arrived the day before to be early! So we all chatted and tried to make light of the shock over the weight and get to know each other in 40F degrees.  (I left Dallas at 97F)… but I digress.  It took more than an 90 minutes to get inside and pick up registration info.  Once inside… smiles came back to faces and all was forgiven.  Until we got to our tables and realized coffee was not in plentiful supply!   Food on the table… was anything but ‘healthy.’  A bun filled with either odd looking sausage or slices of ham like lunchmeat.  No sauces.  Dry bread and no coffee???? Just look at this room!  The lady below is pouring tea.  The Brits told me it was weak and awful.  *sigh*

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Judy from England is enjoying b-fast sandwich

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Ok from here it was time for our hike.  Mind you I haven’t slept since Dallas 20 hours prior.  And now we’re about to go on a hike in the Highlands. We had options… beginning… intermediate and advanced.  I chose intermediate.  (duh).  We picked up bottled water and fruit to sustain us… I yelled out to my bus mates… ‘wave! you’ll be on my blog!!’

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We bobbed and weaved through country roads for just about an hour.  Mine you I’m still amazed that I’m about to hike and when I only arrived in the country less than 3 hours ago from Texas.  My body was saying one thing… but my mind had other ideas!  wonder.woman.11 Ok… I’m delusional… by now… but I’ve got “yes” on my face!   Which really  helped me conquer that first steep incline on that mountain!!

We were heading toward a peak near Loch Lomond.  One of the most beautiful places on earth.  I’d seen it years ago from the Edinburgh side…but never from the Glasgow side.  Oh wow.  Wowowow!

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My buddies from Australia wanted to give me a “crown!”

John Valbonesi or Coach “Valbo” as we like to call him showed up at the end of our hike just as we reached the summit.  The group was thrilled.  That’s Erin Gardiner with me.  She’s from Northern Cali.  And two other women from our group really got lost in the moment…and did so right at the edge of the peak.  Beautiful.  Crazy?  Yes…but it made for great pics!  The trail was thick with mud… must have rained a few days before… it’ was if horses had torn up the trail.  I was wearing great hiking boots and a walking stick but a few times I nearly lost my boot stuck in the mud.  But eh… who cares.  It was Scotland!

I didn’t stop to take many pics enroute to the summit. I wanted to.  The thick lush super green forest was incredible.  Trust me on this.  It was jaw dropping.  But I feared that if I stopped I’d get too far behind.  Then who would write this blog because they fairies would spirit me away!

When we waited for our bus to return to our pick up site… the MPC photographer took a pic of us at the Loch Lomond shoreline as we all did the plank.  And then the PEAKERS did a burpee wave.  (not me) But I guess those pics are going to be on the website later.

Here’s one of my favorite signs: IMG_0390

So polite.  What does it mean?  Who cares!

After our ride back to the Hilton… I finally got a cab to check into my hotel… The Loren. It was very nice.  I vowed to finally eat a meal and hit the hay.  My hotel room was small, clean and quaint.

My view out my window looked like something out of Charles Dickens.  ‘Cept on Saturday nite… party peeps were pretty noisy coming to and fro the local bars.  But I zonked out anyway.  IMG_0464

So now it’s Sunday.  Before prepping for the gala party… we first needed to go to Valbo’s gym to sweat our make up off.  And boy did we ever.  There were 6 groups at Every Day Athlete.  About 80 folks per group.

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I was I was in the noon group.  The group right before mine were greeted by a special guest…. ! FullSizeRender

The place Sam calls home even though his real home is somewhere else in Scotland!  EDA!  IMG_0473IMG_0483

The workout was intense and thorough. Valbo didn’t give us a break.  Why should he?  Just because there were cameras… just because we all wanted to hit our marks perfectly… just because Sam was taking selfies with some lucky PEAKERS.  The focus was not on him but on our own self improvement.  And I think it was a message that struck home.  Did some folks want to meet “Jamie Fraser” while having great hair and spotless makeup. Sure.  But I dare say Sam was more impressed with our glow and glistening! (ok sweat).  😀

And now coming full circle… it’s par-tay time… The Gala!  Unfortunately… I can’t load up the video on this blog… but I can upload video on my facebook page.  And on IG So please check there too.

The event started at 7p.  Erin and I arrived at 6:25pm ish.  The line up outside the building made us both groan.  Nooo. The weather was iffy and wet sprinkles were dropping down from above.  IMG_0556

Who does not understand the limits of hairspray??? We waited more than an hour outside before getting in.  We’re all in cocktail attire and HEELS!!! WTH??? Some of my PEAKER sisters waited even longer and it was dark by the time they got in.  Not good. Why?  Located too near the front doors… you could check your coat.  That takes time.  Then too near the front door you picked up your creds.  Not good.  And also too near the front area you were asked to stop for a formal photo.  Not good.  Move all that in deeper into the building to let people in… and that would have helped reduce the back up outside.

Once in… and surviving all that delay … we’re served yummy finger foods and free flowing champagne.  It was all very shee shee fru fru!  Very elegant. Very cosmopolitan.  Very red carpet-ish.  But my dogs were screaming by then!  Ouch!!

Time to enter the main gallery with the tables.  I’m reporter.  Doesn’t take much for me to figure out where to rest my feet and get a good seat.  I look for where the reserved tables are… and where the podium and mics are… and THAT’S where we want to sit!  And so we did. Close to the ACTION!

Met Outlander’s Gaelic instructor, Adhamh O’Broin.  Delightful man.  He told me about a recent trip to the states and how a fan payed for his expenses.  He was blown away.

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Next… before the show started… I got a pic with the Queen of MPC… Jordana Brown.  She’s been so generous with me through SM.  I’m grateful.

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Then there’s my new BFF… Erin Gardiner.  She was a joy to spend time with.  I’m really fortunate to have started a great friendship with her.

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When the quiet settled in… Alex Norouzi, the MPC Director…  (missed getting a selfie with him!) introduced us to the best bagpiper in Scotland … and it was none other than Sam-The-Man!

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Sam wowed the crowd of 500.  I took tons of video of his speaking  Again go to my FB or IG… to see.  But it was great.  Sam interviewed the doctor who’s been doing some if not all of the bloodwise research.  It was wonderful to know how well things are going.  I apologize for not remembering the doctor’s name.

When Sam got to sit down… for the most part he was left alone to eat a bit or two of food.

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Now let me just say… this was no rubber chicken gathering.  The chicken was DELISH.  Why?  It was filled with whiskey and haggis mousseline.  YUM!  Who knew?  Chicken and haggis!  Vegetarians had a good time too.

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This was Erin’s meal… Moroccan Spiced Chick Pea and Veggie roast in Herb Crust… Must have been great.  Cause she cleaned her plate!  I loved mine… and didn’t stop to take a pic!

As I said earlier… Sam moved around and stopped at several tables.  He was very generous and very classy.

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The next thing I know the bagpipes were going full blast and a conga line started in and around the tables.  It was high-larious!  And party goers had a blast.

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While lassies are ‘gittin down with their bad self’ … we look up and Sam is in the balcony taking selfie pics with us.  The entire MPC team eventually joined him and people roared their approval.

It was a really grrreat nite. When is that last time I said that?  No clue.  But I’m sure it’s been years.  Hiking, Exhaustion.  Working out, dressing up… gala …. incredible people from around the world… meeting to share a belief in a worthy cause and benefit from the experience at the same time.  And the canopy of trust was help up by none other than Sam Heughan.

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Our fearless MPC leaders show what strength training can do for your stamina!  The party’s over!!!!  Just kidding.  Love them all!

 

 

 

 

Thought I left ya? Nope!

Sorry for the late post.  I’m doing that university professor thing and getting READY TO GO TO SCOTLAND this weekend!

So… I’ll be snapping away to document this weekend’s activities.  This is the 1st time MPC (my peak challenge) folks were invited across the globe to gather in Glasgow for a ‘beat down’ to see just how in shape we are… or are not!  (yikes!)

On Saturday the 23rd… we’ll meet for breakfast.  Probably dry toast and dry oats (just kidding) then head off for a hike in the highlands.  Free time after that.  Then on Sunday the 24th… we meet in the morning at the gym Sam typically frequents and work out with his coach guru John Valbonesi.  Or ‘Valbo’ as we call him.  More pain… I mean more joy!  Then that night we par-tay at some fancy place to eat haggis and drink whisky.  (whisky for sure…not sure about the haggis) but Bag Pipes definitely will be on hand.

I’ll take lots of pics.  No worries.  xxxoo,

Michelle

just remembered this little gem… !

One of the convention participants had an usual ‘question’ for Graham and Cait at their Saturday panel.  She said Outlander has improved her sex life.  And also the between the sheets times for her OL friends as well.  So she was hoping the show would keep things going in that hot direction.  Lots of laughter and gasps followed.  So Cait said something about well.. Outlander is just doing its part to help out My Peak Challenge.  More laughter.

Ya just can’t make this stuff up!

Outlander Starfury Escapades!

Sorry for the delay.  I slept much of Monday from my jet-setting whirlwind weekend from Dallas to Blackpool, UK.  Can I just say, even I can’t believe I did that!  But I did. And had a blast.

Flew from Dallas to Manchester, England.  Then on to a train from Manchester to Blackpool.  And whaaaa??? No cell phone service.  I couldn’t call my hubby and tell him I was ok and arrived safe and sound.  I asked another passenger on the train if she had service.  Yes she said.  Oh boy.  I explained why I was hoping I would have service too.  And then another passenger on the train heard my convo and said, ‘here… use my phone.’  Wow.  Such generosity from a total stranger and to an American.  I’m so grateful.  I texted Allen that all is well with me across the pond.

Love this sign on the train.  It made me smile.

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Got a cab at the train station in Blackpool.  Lovely older gent who I called… ‘a young man’ was a hoot to talk to.  In a VERY thick northern English accent he asked ‘did ya know the Jacksons are here?’  What?  As in Michael Jackson’s brothers?  ‘Yea… for sure. And Will Smith will be here Sunday!’  Huh?!  So that’s how US celebs keep the $$ rolling in their bank accounts.  Trust me on this.  Blackpool is a quaint coastal town with lovely people.  But Vegas it’s not.

Ok… the hotel.  Hmmm.  What comes to mind ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say… then say nothing at all.’  BUT… I shared the ‘penthouse’ with Beth… the cross stitch queen… and Pilar, a TV journalist.   If we had their ‘best’ room… then lord help those living in a garbage dump.  I think my roommates thought we might as well stay where the convention is held because we won’t have a car… and it’ll make things easier.  But… in truth… sleeping on the beach would have been better and cleaner.  😀

Friday was opening day.  Lot’s of activities for registration.  As it turned out this was an international event in a literal sense.  I personally counted people from 12 diffrent countries.  There were probably more…

Scotland.  England. Australia.  USA.  Italy.  Sweden.  Japan.  Austria. Brazil.  Spain. Germany. France.

And from the USA… TEXAS! Was well represented.  WHOOHOO!  My Texas peeps had Texas t-shirts that signified their online group.  But I know Kansas, Arizona, New York, and Philadelphia were represented.  Most likely there were more states for sure.

Here are some pics from opening night. On hand were… Lotte Verbeek… ‘Geillis’… Annette Badland… ‘Mrs. Fitz.’  Rosie Day… ‘Mary.’  Graham McTavis… ‘Dougal.’  Stephen Cree… ‘Ian Murray.’  Grant O’Rourke… Rupert.  Stephen Walters… Angus. Gary Lewis… ‘Colum.’ And Finn Den Hertog… ‘Willie.’  (BTW… Finn was unrecognizable with eyeglasses, dark hair and dark beard.)  MIA was Cait on opening night.  She was not scheduled until Saturday and Sunday.  And of course Sam, The Laird of Lallybroch” was off shooting a movie.

Note: Gary is wearing a Texas t-shirt.  He yelled… ‘who’s from Texas?!’  What!!?? That’s MY cue! “ME!!!” But someone in the middle of the room got his attention first and got a kiss.  To me he said… ‘I’ll see YOU tomorrow!’ And ran backstage.

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Let’s not talk about the super mediocre dinner meal at the hotel.

So Saturday!  The three of us got ready to get our photos taken with the cast.  We’re also gearing up to present to the winner of the charity raffle for Beth Elahmar’s incredible cross stitch portrait of Jamie.  My goal as a seasoned media veteran is to schmooze my way into getting someone to ask Cait would she help present the framed portrait to the winner?

The winner by the way is a lovely English woman… Amanda Dixon who happens to live in London.  She also happens to be a descendent of Lord Lovett… remember him?  In the ep on Outlander… ‘The Fox’s Lair he was a cad and a conniving politician.  Interesting man to be sure.  How perfect is that she’s the winner of this incredible piece of art craft.

When we all got together near the registration table… Amanda handed Beth a gift package.  It was wrapped in red plaid paper.  Beth opens it and it looks like a lovely Scottish plaid scarf with a beautiful pin.

So we ooh and ahhh over this beautiful gift.  Then Amanda says… ‘hold it up.’ That’s when we all realize it’s not a scarf but a kilt purse!  Oh how wonderful!!  Then Amanda says you haven’t seen the best part.  NOTE SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT A SCOT WEARS UNDER HIS KILT… SKIP OVER THIS PART.  

But if you do… you’ll laugh for sure.  So Beth flips the fabric over and lo and behold!!

Yep!  The creator of this little gem included a bag with a photo underneath of her hubby’s buns on the back side (yes pun intended) for a realistic view of what’s under a kilt from a personal point of view!! BHAHAHAHA!!!

As you’ve seen before from my blog posts… Beth’s portrait raised nearly 11K $ for both Sam and Cait’s charities.  Sam never saw the piece framed… but he did see it for the first time completed at SDCC.  Here, Beth is telling him how much money her work has raised for Bloodwise.

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I carried the portrait with us everywhere.  Lots of positive reaction.  And I mean LOTS…!  And lots of super positive reaction from people who might help make Beth’s dream come true to have Cait’s involvement in the presentation.  But still no definite plan or comittment from anyone who could make it happen. .  Lot’s of ‘we’ll try’ or ‘we’ll let you know.’

No worries.  We had fun.  As we waited for certain events… photos or autographs… or panel discussions… we chilled in the lobby before we had to get in line.

What is Beth holding? Oh… that would be ‘The Lady!’  The compliment to ‘The Laird.’ This new piece is of Cait in the famous red dress and will also be raffled off just like the Laird was for charity.  Let’s take a closer look.

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Beth says ‘The Lady’ will also take 150K stitches.  Oh holy haggis! Who does that??? Beth does.  Here’s what the final piece will look like.  There are more than 20 colors in her lips and more than 30 colors in her eyes.

Claire in Red

So we did our photo thang.  Here’s mine with the most gorgeous, classy woman… Ms. Balfe.

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Can you even imagine looking that wonderful with hundreds of people getting a pic with  you over several hours?  Cait is amazing.  And very generous.  Talk about winning the genetic gene pool.  Oh yes.  She did.  Cait exudes radiance.

Later that day we got to our seats for the panel with Graham and Cait.  Still no definite word from the movers and shakers about whether Cait will present Beth’s portrait to the winner to make a bigger deal of the hand off.

Enter ‘Michelle Wonder Woman Redmond.’  I see the convention organizer… Sean Harry and quietly say…  “Oh Sean… just letting you know we’re over here.”  Immediately he holds up his hand… as in ‘just a minute.’  Sean goes off in the opposite direction behind a curtain.  Comes back quickly and says… “after the panel.  We’ll make it happen.” SCORE!

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Graham and Cait had a fun time answering questions and ribbing each other.  I’ve got to say… some folks need to learn what it means to ask a question. And move on.  That’s the broadcast expert in me.  Get to the point quickly.  Do NOT  give your personal biography or backstory and THEN ask a question.  In one instance… Cait said.. ‘so do you have a question?’ High-larious!  (not really cause I was peaved but I’m trying!)

And then it was time for the big exchange between Beth and the raffle winner Amanda.  Oh… wait!  I want to keep you in suspense a moment longer.

We’re sitting at the table.  There were a few empty seats at our table.  When this woman slams unceremoniously into her seat.  And nearly smacks up against the framed art piece I have leaning against the table at my seat.  I say quietly, please be careful, I’ve got a framed piece here.  She says… ‘so move it.’ I say no, I cannot (which was true… Beth was next to the piece. There was no place for this large piece to go except laying flat on the floor. Beth would have had a stroke over that!) She says, “you mean you won’t move it…even though you could.”  WTF??? I say, ‘no, I cannot move it.  I’m sorry but we were here before you.  Sorry.  I just need you to know I need to be careful.’  Her response… “oh, you’re an American!” Clearly, she was disgusted!  And she turns away from me.  So I lightly tap her on the arm and say there’s no need to be hostile…I’m trying to… /// “JUST STOP JUST STOP JUST STOP!”  she yells at me.  WoWowowowowow!

Ohhhhkay.  Deep breath. Deep breathe.  I’m not being an ‘ugly’ American.  She’s being an ‘ugly… wherever she’s from.’  Then Sean the convention guru… announced after the panel wrapped what was coming next.  He looks to me and says ‘hold up’ the art piece so the crowd could see.  Think of the chicks holding up a sign announcing the round in the boxing ring.  That was me!  I’m holding up this piece of work which is more than 4 feet high framed and twirling slowly for the crowd.  Giggle much?

Then I hand it over to Beth and say… ‘good luck’ as she and Amanda head for the stage.

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Let me just talk about the framing for a moment.  It’s done by Beth’s one and only favorite framer, Erin McBride in Tucson.  Here’s a last look at “The Laird” before it goes bye bye to Amanda’s home in London.  9-months of work. 150-thousand stitches.  We got Sam’s autograph at SDCC and the Je Suis Prest crest at the top is created by Erin.  The frame is Celtic inspired.  Just wow. BTW… Beth pays out of pocket for the framing.

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We spent the rest of the evening reveling in what just happened and enjoying the moment. This is the after the presentation look.  Beth is understandably emotional.  While those two bonded…

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Pilar and I went to our hotel room to collect all the packing material to keep ‘The Laird’ safe for his ride to his new home in London.  Already Beth is asking for visitation rights

Then we agreed to have dinner.  Oh boy.  Another blah blah blah dinner at the hotel. And then said goodbye to The Laird and Amanda Saturday night.  I was leaving very early Sunday morning for Texas.  Did I say the crappy hotel had spotty wi fi service and my cell  phone never worked though I bought an international plan?  So… while I was packing… my roommates were cross stitching.  BTW… this is the longest I’ve gone without TV in my life.  Why?  The TV didn’t work. (Neither did the in-house phone).

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This was such a fun weekend. The crappy hotel could NOT take away from the experience.  My roommates were great and the fan girl experience was what I’d hoped for and more.  Keeping my focus on the event and not our accommodations made all the difference.

While these two slept… I was out the door at 3am on Sunday.  I had a cab coming at 4:45a and didn’t want to oversleep.  So…I never went to sleep!  But too funny… the lobby was active with so many folks coming in at that time of the morning or even later from their night on the town.  But best of all was a local guy…drunk out of his mind.  He’d just come back to the hotel from a ‘stag’ party… aka bachelor’s party.  My friend (could not understand his name) figured out I was American.  He wanted me to know he was a good friend of Lincoln.  And in Abe Lincoln.

And with that… I said cherrio mate!  Buh bye Blackpool!  My taxi is here.  😀

 

 

My bag is packed!

Well… time for my next Outlander adventure.  Heading out tomorrow Aug. 24 for England.  The Highlander Starfury Convention.  Just about the entire cast will be there cept Sam (movie work) Sophie and Rik.  But Mrs. Fitz will be there… all the Highlander boys… Cait, Dougal and Colum.  Oh… I don’t think Murtagh will be there.  Darn.  I’d love to watch his eyebrows do their thing!

I saw on FB Beth shared a story about a TSA guy who was annoyed at how well packed her cross stitch portrait of The Laird is for its trip to England.  That should really be something when the raffle winner sees the portrait for the first time.  I really hope Cait will help make the presentation.  That would be awesome.

Anyhoo… I fly out of Dallas to JFK in NYC.  Have a 4-hour layover (ick) and fly out tomorrow night to Manchester.  I’ll arrive Friday morning.  Then it’s off to a train for the trip to Blackpool.  Should be lovely… right on the water.

Saturday night is ‘Tartan’ night.  Ohhhh-kay.  So I had to go buy something plaid because as it turns out I don’t have anything plaid in my closet.  Eh… ! No biggie.  That’s when a consignment store comes in handy!

So I’ll post pics when I can… perhaps even Periscope too.  But you know I’ll have plenty of stories to share.  And soon.

The Laird is ready…

You’ve seen from my SDCC posts my surreal time with pal Beth Elahmar as we met the cast of Outlander at SDCC in San Diego.  Sam and Cait finally got to see for the first time Beth’s incredible work… and learned at that time how much money her work for a charity raffle raised for both of their causes.  Approximately $11-thousand dollars was split between Bloodwise and World Child Cancer.

Next week, I’ll see Beth again in Blackpool, England at the Starfury Convention.  There she’ll present to the raffle winner ‘The Laird.’  Since Sam can’t be there to present with Beth… (film conflict) we’re hoping Cait will help Beth present this beauty to the winner… (I know Grant (Rupert) will because he’s already wowed by Beth’s cross stitch craft.)  So stay tuned for those pics.

So without further adieu… here is the finished, framed The Laird.  The framer is extraordinary.  She even incorporated the Fraser family crest at the top… Je Suis Prest.  And at the bottom is Sam’s autograph that he gave Beth at SDCC.

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Just a reminder… you’re looking at 150K cross stitches.  And it took Beth 9-months to complete.  It’s based on a painting done by Kath Powell.  Beth created the cross stitch pattern.  Paint and cc

Just extraordinary!  Right now, Beth is working on another piece… this one will feature Cait in that va-va-vooom red dress!