Friday, September 30, 2016

More to follow!

In the airship cockpit the newest crew-member chatted with the Captain as they headed north by northwest. Clear skies and a light wind made for smooth flying over the central piedmont area of Carolina.

“Somewhere around here is the remains of Cofitachequi what was.” said Captain Willie as he pointed through the windshield to the ground. “Not really sure just where, of course, but somewheres hereabouts.”
“Hasn’t anyone tried to find the remains?” asked Little Red. “To excavate them?”
“Naw” answered the Captain. “No real idea of where to start. It could be just about anywhere round these parts. Then again, I think a lot of Indians don’t want it disturbed either.
She nodded. “Understandable.”
"Tira and Kennia might know some more about it. They've got friends who are Catawba and Kennia's old school-mate is even married to a Catawba fella, but I don't know how interested they are in sharing. At least not with you until they get used to ya."
"Oh, I just kinda grow on folks. Eventually y'all won't wanna say good-bye to me!"

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

North by Northwest

As the Sandflea flew northwestwards at a moderate speed Tira and Kennia continued their conversation about their new crew member.
“She said that Chavous was her mama’s family name, didn’t she? Wonder what happened to her daddy?”
Tira answered “And I wonder if she’s related to those Chavous.”
“Which ones? There’s folks named Chavous and Chaves all over the place in Tuscarora country.”
“You know the ones I mean.  The French ones. She sure ain't no Tuscarora.”
Kennia just shook her head. “Please, just let it be for once. We’re just on a mission together. It ain’t like we’re getting married or nothing. Let’s just focus on our work,”
Tira frowned. “I’m just saying, that’s all.”
“Well, let’s just say something else. What about your mechanics magazines? You bring some of them with you? There must be something interesting in them. That’s what you’re always tellin’ me at least.”
Tira smiled at her friend’s choice of an alternative topic.
“Yeah, we weren’t in port long enough for me to get caught-up with my readin’. I have a whole mess of readin’ to do when I’m not working. I do wish I’d had the time to give her a good look-over before we left Charleston, though.  There’s always somethin’ that needs adjusting, don’t ya know?”
Kennia patter he shoulder. “I know you’ll be busy keepin’ everything running right.” She signed as she looked at her pocket watch. “Now I must relieve our Captain before he gets too cranky from being cooped-up in that little cockpit. Maybe you oughta invent or design a bigger one for tall folks! See ya later in any case.”


Meanwhile, back at the mining camp (for that was what it really was), Springtime had come to stay even in the higher reaches of the Appalachian Mountains.  With the milder temperatures the men were becoming increasingly boisterous. No longer content to huddle around the wood-stove and drink coffee for warmth, a few had made some half-hearted attempts to plant a small kitchen garden as a way of passing the time. No one made any effort to plow and plant a commercial crop. The pair of oxen spent most of their days standing and chewing their cud. For better or for worse, the group had abandoned all pretense of starting a real farm. Some had taken to panning for gold in a nearby mountain stream but without much success. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tinned Peaches

The Sandflea’s interior was always crowded and never more so than at the beginning of a mission.  Extra supplies were crammed into every possible nook and cranny.  The ship was fast and maneuverable but she was built for speed, not luxury.  Even basic comfort could be hard to come by at times! Her crew had long since figured out how to make the most of the available space, of course.  During take-off, the captain and the navigator were in the cockpit and the rest of the crew were strapped into hanging seats just behind the cockpit. Take-off could be a bit of a bumpy ride until they reached their desired altitude and leveled off.

Once they were well underway the captain and navigator remained in the cockpit usually. But since the Sandflea had a splinter new crew-member, Captain Willy thought she should get acquainted with the airship’s layout as well as with the other crew-members.

Kennia and Tira had already headed to the crew area (it was too small to call it crew quarters!) In the back of the airship and were settling in. Tira  climbed over a carton of tinned peaches to get to her usual hammock, pulled her cap over her face, and promptly  started to snooze.  Kennia sat down on the carton and sized-up her new crew-mate.
“I envy her” said Little Red. “I get so wound-up at the beginning of a new mission that I can’t sleep to save my life.” She shook her head. “I just keep thinking over and over about all the mission details and wondering if I’ve missed something.”
“That doesn’t sound like much fun.” answered Kennia.
“No, it isn’t!”
 Kennia shrugged. She pointed to the crate on the floor. “This is the last of last year’s peach harvest. I get on good with the folks in Supply,” she grinned.
“Hope these don’t have too much sugar syrup in the cans. I hate when I taste more sugar than fruit.” Tira spoke from under her hat.
“Same here,” said Little Red. “I haven’t eaten peaches in ages!”
Tira just grunted a reply and pulled her cap further down over her face.
“Good to see that y’all are well-stocked. Who usually has kitchen duty? Or do y’all take turns? I’m not half-bad in the kitchen, even if it is a tiny one.”
“Mostly me,” replied Kennia, “and I am glad that there is someone else onboard who knows the way around an airship galley. Why don’t ya go down there now and see what ya think. We could use some better cookin’ on these trips.”
Little Red grinned and headed down the ladder to the galley quick as a wink.

Tira pulled her cap off of her face and looked around. “She gone?”
Kennia nodded.
“My god, we’ve got us a chatty one this time!”
“Least she’s awake! That’s better than Harry was. I used to wonder if we would even notice if he’d had a heart-attack and died in his chair,” answered Kennia.  “‘Sides, she’s supposed to be some kinda expert. That oughta come in handy if things get heated.”
“You mean when, don’t ya, not if,” replied Tira. “Things always get heated sooner or later.”
“Well, here’s hopin’ for later.  I for one could use some peace and quiet. Boredom even.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Audacity of Robert Smalls

"Michael B. Moore shares the story of escaped slave Robert Smalls, his great-great grandfather. Smalls commandeered a Confederate Naval vessel, freeing his family and two others. But Small's life story doesn't end there. Prepare to hear one of the least well-known, most important stories of the Civil War."

Friday, March 4, 2016

Meta post

Hej y'all!

Just a quick note to say that I have not forgotten about y'all. I even have an entire story chapter written on paper and just needing a bit of editing before I upload it. Unfortunately, I also have had some mental health issues that are (once more) interfering with my productivity. In other words depression makes working on anything to be like wading through molasses. I keep moving forward but veeeeerrrryyyyy slowly. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dec. 25th, 1837

"On Christmas day in 1837, the Africans and Native Americans who formed Florida’s Seminole Nation defeated a vastly superior U.S. invading army bent on cracking this early rainbow coalition and returning the Africans to slavery. The Seminole victory stands as a milestone in the march of American liberty."

(click on the link to learn more about these bad-ass Freedom Fighters!) 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Part the Third (in which we learn more of Kennia's backstory)

Kennia knew that she had only a few minutes to complete her search of the room and then exit the building.  Even if no one knew that the man was in this particular office, some must have seen him enter the building. She quickly tossed the room, no longer trying to be subtle.  She pulled drawers completely out of the cabinets and flung their contents to the floor when they proved to be of no value to her. Finally, there was only the locked cabinet remaining.

Kennia glared at the old man who was still squirming about on the floor. Rifle his pockets or pick the lock? Either way, time was running out! She figured he must have the keys to this office since he seemed used to coming and going there, so she opted for searching him.  The first chain she found held only his watch but the chain held exactly what she needed: keys! His keychain was heavy with keys but only a few were the small sort that would fit into a cabinet door-lock. Kennia quickly tried each in turn with the third one being the one to open the door. Yes! Here were the sorts of plans and schematics that could be the object of her search. Some of the plans were for a new type of boat, one designed to move under the water rather than over it. Fortunately the dossier was only about an inch thick so it wouldn’t be too difficult to pack. She wrapped it in the oilskin she’s brought for just this purpose and slipped it into her bucket under some of the damp cleaning rags.  Now it was time to escape!

She carefully closed and locked the cabinet door; hopefully, anyone who found the old man would think that a scuffle had taken place rather than industrial espionage. If she was really lucky, the man himself would be too embarrassed to admit to the night’s events and would try to keep the entire incident a secret. She turned to where he was still glaring daggers at her from his position on the floor.

Kennia dropped her working-class dialect as she addressed him. “Like I said earlier, it might be awfully hard to explain how you came to be in this position. You might seriously consider keeping your mouth closed on the matter.  Unless you like looking like a fool.” She turned and headed for the door. The entire episode had taken just over an hour. If she tried to leave the building now someone might notice and ask why she was leaving early. On the other hand, she didn’t dare risk that one of the other cleaners might chance upon her captive lying on the floor. Then she had an idea. She went out of the office and into the hallway and grabbed a bucket of water that the cleaning crew used to rinse their dirty rags and mops. She tucked the oilskin package in its covering safely out of the way and then upended the bucket of dirty water over her skirt. Damn it stunk! But now she has an excuse if anyone asked why she was leaving early.

Sure enough, the foreman gave her the stink-eye as she was going out the side door to the building.  “Where ya goin’ gal? It ain’t quittin’ time and I know that you ain’t finished yer cleanin’.”
“Yeah, boss, I spilled dirty water all over myself and now I need to go home and get clean.”
“Ya leave now, then don’t bother comin’ back. And don’t even think about askin’ fer pay. Ya can’t have worked hardly two hours.”
“No suh, I surely ain’t comin’ back.” Kennia shook her head. She felt herself starting to shake from the strain of her act. She breathed deeply to calm herself.
“Don’t ya start cryin’ now, “ warned the foreman. “If yer leavin’ on account of that someone tried to mess wit ya, maybe I can help ya get on someplace else. There’s heaps of these offices that need cleanin’ around here.”
Kennia was touched by the unexpected kindness in his voice. “No suh, I reckon I got to get me some other kinda work is all. But thank you fer askin’ anyways.”
“Suit yerself” he shrugged and turned away. Now that was a lucky break!