Monday, December 22, 2014

Little Red

The two women gathered at the Charleston Airship Docks promptly at 4 am were both grumpy and half asleep.
“Wonder where the Captain is.” grumbled Tira. She looked around and noticed that someone else was missing. “What about Harry, our beloved navigator?”
“I wonder where the navigator is,” answered Kennia. “Wonder if he fell so soundly asleep that he just plain forgot about us.
Then Captain Willie sauntered up to them with a bit of a grin just waiting to bust out. “I have a little surprise for y’all. We’re gettin’ a new navigator on this trip. And this one is, ahem, different.
“How different?” demanded Tira.
“Just wait and see,” he smirked. “She’ll be along any minute now.”
“She? Ain’t you startin’ to fee1 outnumbered?” teased Kennia. But the Captain just chuckled to himself.
Captain Willie replied evasively, “oh, I talked to headquarters. That’s why we’re gettin’ a new navigator. One that’s better.”
“We can only hope,” muttered Tira.
“Now, now.”
“Sounds like an interesting trip already,” grumbled Tira. “You know how I feel about surprises, especially when I ain’t even all awake.”
“Oh, you’ll like this one. I promise!”
“Now I am gettin’ worried too,” Said Kennia. “Who or what have you dug-up this time?”
“Let’s get some tea and biscuits while we wait” suggested Captain Willie. “It’s on the company’s tab  anyway.
“And they make some damn fine chicken biscuits here. I could use a couple. I didn’t want to wake my sister and her family by messin’ about in the pantry.” said Tira.
“I don’t see how you can even think about food at this hour of the morning,” replied Kennia.
“A little bit hung-over are we?” asked the Captain.

They had just settled down at a small table with their food when the door opened and in walked a tiny little woman.
“Howdy y’all! You must be the crew of the Sandflea, right? My name is Rose Chavous, but everyone calls me Little Red.”
Little Red was skinny with a large quantity of red hair piled up on the top of her head. Her most notable feature, the hair was piled higher than was currently fashionable. A pair of hair sticks did their best to contain the main mass but there was a fringe of small tendrils making a stealthy escape.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

And once more into the breach dear Meta!

The sad fact is that I have written most of the next chapters but haven't had the strength to finalize and post them. Between my thyroid problem, online activism and the Swedish electoral politics, I am strained and exhausted. And now we will have a new national election in March thanks to SD, a racist party (that is similar to the EDL or BNP in the UK). I promise that I have NOT forgotten y'all and more is on the way though!!! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meta post

I have been AWOL* for 3 months now due to the pressures of Swedish politics (our elections were mid-Sept) as well as doing online advocacy. The next few chapters are in rough draft form and one will go up in the next 2-3 days!

Meanwhile, dear readers, why not read about Professor Thaddeus Lowe's real-life 1861 balloon ride? Professor Lowe’s 1861 Balloon Voyage to Union, S.C.

(the above picture has been attributed to several different sources so for the moment I will leave it without attribution. Anyone who has solid evidence please contact me!)

*Absent WithOut Leave

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The South Carolina Low Country

Hunting Island 2

Hunting Island, a barrier island east of Beaufort on the S.C. coast.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In The Kitchen Episode 2 - Ugali na Tomato Gravy

Ugali is one of many names for cornmeal porridge, a coarsely ground mixture of corn (also called  maize) and either water or milk. It is a favorite food in many African countries as well as in the Caribean and many North American food cultures. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hot tin roof on a summer's day

Before Hans could reach the professor’s tent there was a hair-raising shriek emitted from it. “Eureka! I haf found it! I haf found where to dig for the copper!”
Hans began to run up the path. The old man’s timing could not be better! With useful work to do the men should settle down. At least he hoped so since he really didn’t have any intention of shooting at anyone, let alone hitting him. Hans laughed in relief!

“Herr professor! Herr professor! Is it true? We can start with the mining now?”
The professor grunted smugly. “You seemed to be in need of some, shall we say, assistance, so I came to your aid.”
Hans looked puzzled.
“Ja, I put my head out of the tent more often than you think.

“Yes! I am so happy now. The men are more and more unruly. But now there is some useful work to be done. Now they will be busy and not have time for the mischief!”

“Indeed.” He peered over his glasses at the younger man. “Yes, it is high time that we started.” He pointed at the geological survey maps spread over the camp-desk before him. “Here und here. I knew the copper veins must be here. I know for certain now.  Here they shall start the digging. Then we must store the ore until we can send it to a smelter. That will not be easy. Hmmm.” He lapsed into silence.
Hans nodded in assent.
“Hans, soon we must speak with our friends in Virginia.”
“Sir, isn’t this a little bit too soon?”
“It vill take some time to set-up so, no. And we are behind schedule as it iz. They will be expecting some answers soon.
“Yes sir!” Hans nodded.


Meanwhile in Charleston, the Captain and his crew drank their ginger beer and the discussion returned to their original topic. Mike opined that the French must be behind the suspected mining operation but Captain Willie disagreed.
“What good would that do them? It is too far away from their remaining strongholds. They would have to ship it on barges down river to the Mississippi river and then down to New Orleans.”
“Maybe through Shawnee territory?”
“I don’t think so. You know how they feel about folks passing through their lands without permission. And I don’t see them giving permission any time soon.”
“What about shipping the ore upriver to the Great Lakes area?” asked Tira. “There’s ore smelters there already.”
“Pardon me, Miss Tira, for contradictin’ a lady. But what would be the point of running mines this far south?”
“I don’t know,” said the Captain. “And I don’t want to speculate. Let’s just get out there and find-out.” He turned to Kennia, “Be sure and bring lots of the dynamite you cooked-up. I expect we’re gonna need it!”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Prettie Girls

Prettie Girls are a multi-ethnic line of 11.5 inch fashion dolls available at THE PRETTIE GIRLS! DOLLS.

2 interviews with the designer and the owner of the company:

The Prettie Girls Interview on NewsOne Now

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Things are heatin' up

Hans reflected upon the story he’d told the shopkeeper about needing to bake more biscuits.  Indeed, he would have been very pleased to have a batch of freshly baked biscuits, all nice and hot and flakey with big chunks of fresh butter melting into the pastry. Unfortunately the biscuits baked by the camp cook fell far short of this vision. In fact almost everything rustled up on the potbellied stove in what passed for the camp kitchen was rather far from appetizing. Mac could open a tin with the best of them; it was what he did with the contents that was objectionable!

The spring thaw had left the ground muddy. In sheltered places on the mountainside there were even a few patches of snow remaining. Hans swore as he stumbled over the handle to a shovel that was half submerged in the muck. Now that the ground was no longer frozen the time definitely had come for a cleaning detail.

Corbin Cabin

They were a rough and unkept group of men at best. Several scowled at Hans as he gathered them together in front of the cabins.
“Men,” began Hans, “Look here. I know that the winter was damp and unpleasant.” He paused for effect. “But allowing the camp to fall apart will only make matters worse, won’t it? We must all work together and clean this area where we are living.”
Some of the men laughed. One said, “We were hired as miners, not as garbage collectors. So far this expedition has been a total flop.  You spend all your time running back and forth to His Highness there in the tent while we get left to sit and rot.”
The entire group nodded in agreement.
“Yes, yes. Soon there will be mining work. This I promise you! But first we must clean a bit.”
“That’s women’s work! Ya want a maid, who don’t we head-out and grab us a few squaws. They’re hard workers and good for other things too, if ya know what I mean.” The man speaking looked around with a leer. “Am I right, fellas?”
“See here! No one, absolutely no one is to leave this camp without my permission! Do you understand me?” Hans was almost screaming at this point. “No one!”
“You told us we would come out here and stake claims and mine for copper.” chimed in another miner. “All we’re doin’ is sitting around on our backsides. And we are sick of it, do you hear me?”
Hans could feel himself losing control of the situation. “I hear more talk like this, I get gun! I get gun and shoot. Do you hear me?” Hans English was deteriorating as he became increasingly distressed.
“Alright, alright, hold onto your britches. No need to get all mad like. Some of the fellas have just needed to let off some steam so to speak. Now everybody just calm down a mite and we can put this thing to rest.” Nate was the oldest of the miners at 45 years of age and was also the most cool-headed. If shooting broke out, then no one would make any money.
Hans was so angry that he was shaking but he managed to nod agreement at Nate.
Nate turned and addressed Hans, Why don’t you talk with the doc about those survey maps and meantime me and these fellas can tidy-up the place a bit.” He turned back towards the other miners, “Sounds like a good idea, don’t it fellas? Then we can put on a fresh pot of coffee and have a bite to eat.
Hans nodded again. “Ja, um, yes! Is goot! I am going to talk with the doc now.” 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ginger Beer

Spring in Charleston was beautiful, if humid, and not yet so warm as to make folks miserable. There was no shortage of parasols and paper fans in motion and nothing beat the heat like a refreshing ginger beer!

Kennia joined the Captain and Tira at a corner table towards the back of the main room of the saloon. “Hey, y’all. I got your message? Or are we mostly here to drink beer? They serve a mighty refreshin’ ginger beer here but that is about all this place has goin’ for it.”
“Have a seat” answered the Captain and gestured to the empty chair on his right.
“This place has somethin’ else goin’ for it” said Tira. “It is quiet and we won’t be disturbed.”
“Have a beer and let’s get to business” said the Captain.
“Then we can get to the drinkin’ part of the evenin’. I’ve got news from headquarters and it ain’t good.”
Kennia groaned. “Not more rumor and innuendo is it? I want to hear somethin’ concrete for once or I am outa here. She made no move to rise from her seat though.
“Just sit still and listen then. Remember a couple of months ago when we were up in the mountains and we acquired a passenger as well as a courier pouch?”
Both Kennia and Tira nodded. Who could forget whiny, smelly Ole Toby?
“Well headquarters has put two and two together and finally come-up with four. There is some kinda illegal mining operation goin’ on. That’s why they were after the latest geological surveys that were in that courier pouch. We don’t know who is doin’ the mining or how and why they picked these mountains but we need to investigate.”


Mike stepped up to the bar, “Just my usual, thanks.” He leaned against it and gave the room a thorough looking-over. Seeing a few of his mates at a back table, he grabbed his beer, ambled over and pulled up a chair.
“Whatcha doin’ fellas? And lady?” he added as he noticed Tira. “Fancy meetin’ you here, Miss Tira.
Tira smiled in response, “Oh, I do like to step-out once in a while. And this was just too fine an evening to spend sittin’ at home.”
“What are you drinkin’ this fine evening, ma’am?”
“Oh, just a ginger beer. Nothin’ too strong.”
“And may I buy you a fresh one?” inquired Mike.
“You certainly may, sir.”
During this exchange Captain Willie nudged Kennia. “See? What did I tell ya? She definitely likes him” he hissed.
Kennia just rolled her eyes. “You and your match-making! You used to try and match me up with fellas as well, remember?”
“That’s different.”
“No it ain’t! You’ve just got Noah’s Ark syndrome. Think everybody has to go two by two” she hissed back at him.
At this point Mike retured with a fresh ginger beer which he proceeded to ope and pour into a glass.
“Thank you, Mike. You are truely a gentleman” beamed Tira.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The State of Muskogee

existed for only a few years from 1799-1803 in an area in what is now known as Florida.

It was an American Indian nation formed by Seminoles and lower Chattahoochee Creeks along with runaway slaves, white pirates and Spanish deserters. Its founder, William Augustus Bowles  (also known as Estajoca, his Muscogee  or Creek name), had a vision of the state growing to include the Cherokee, Upper and Lower Creeks, Choctaw and Chickasaw. Unfortunately, the Treaty of Amiens in March 1802 led to peace between the British, Spanish and French, allowing them to concentrate on crushing The State of Muskogee. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Up to No Good

Hans reflected as he rode along the trail. This mission was proving more and more not to be the mission that he had signed-on for. Or thought that he was signing-on for. As if that made any difference. He was increasingly tempted to just ride west and simply keep going as long as his horse was willing to carry him. The problem was that he had nowhere to go and the horse he was riding, its tack, and even much of his gear technically did not belong to him. And stealing just somehow did not seem to be a good start to making a new life. Besides, this mission to the Blue Ridge mountains was supposed to be a fresh start for him and look at how it was turning-out!


Back at the Trading Post the usual gang was sitting around the pot-bellied stove, smoking their pipes and drinking coffee from the pot bubbling on the stove-top.
“How ‘bout that foreign feller? What was his name now? Hank? Hinky?”
“Naw, it was Hunky, I’m sure of it.”
“Now you know that ain’t no name, not even for a foreign feller!” The others laughed.
“Are y’all sure now? I coulda sworn it was Hanky or Hunky or sumpthin’ like that.”
“Naw, it was Hans,” said the Trading Post owner from behind the counter. “I’m sure of it.”
“Whatever. He sure is doin’ a powerful lotta bakin’ though!” They all laughed raucously at that comment.
“Wonder how long it’ll take him to figure-out that we’re on to him. He sure ain’t no farmer, ain’t no family man and sure as hell ain’t up to no good.”
“Hell we ain’t up to no good neither!” The old-timers all guffawed at that.


The courier, Mad Man Mike, had earned his nickname fair and square due to his propensity for setting-off on a straight course at top speed and not letting anything hinder him from reaching his destination. Not rivers, not forests and certainly not brick walls were sufficient to slow his progress. Mad Man Mike was the courier the head office called upon for their most urgent, top-secret deliveries. Unfortunately, this meant that he was a regular visitor to the local hospital since he not infrequently developed a few bumps, bruises and other more serious injuries as he went on his way.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Coffee or not coffee, that is the question

Hans couldn’t resist a rueful smile as he headed towards the tent that served the project master as both residence and office. It was heated by a small camp stove that usually had a pot of coffee cooking on its top. A cup of hot coffee struck Hans as a mighty good idea!

The spring day was a bit chill due to the mountain breeze and Hans was not surprised to see his superior’s tent flap was tightly closed. The three log cabins clustered nearby were much warmer inside but this was partly due to them being overly full of people. The engineer insisted that he could not work under such crowded conditions. And that was understandable, Hans admitted to himself. Most of the crew were an uncouth lot and none of them had bathed properly in months, if ever. The combine odour of sweat, cheap whiskey and tobacco was enough to make a man gag. Add in the belching and farting caused by a diet heavy on tinned beans and the atmosphere was positively explosive!

Since there was no proper door upon which to knock, Hans stood outside the canvas flap that served as a door and spoke loudly to announce his presence.
“Sir? May I come in?”
There was no distinct response but Hans chose to interpret the muffled noise that came from inside the tent as assent and pushed aside the tent flap.

“Sir!” Hans greeted his superior. “We could use some of the men to plant crops. I know that they are miners, not farmers, but surely they could put their hands to the job. It would help keep up appearances and also give them something to do besides quarrel amongst themselves. And we could use the extra food.”
“Controlling the men, it is your job. Do what you must. If you need more food then purchase it!”
Hans replied patiently, “The man at the Trading Post is getting more and more suspicious about the amount of supplies I am buying. Soon he will stop believing that I am buying for a small group of farmers altogether.”
“Do not trouble me with your petty problems! I have my own concerns.”
“Is there a problem with the geological survey, sir?”
“There is copper in this rock! I know that there is. Many veins of it in fact. Why cannot vi find it?”
“Perhaps the geological survey records are faulty? Or just plain mistaken?”
“Or maybe it is your men who are stupid! They are too stupid to find the veins of the copper in the rocks.”
Hans glanced wistfully over at the coffee pot. He would really have preferred to discuss the matter over a steaming mug but that didn’t seem to be happening.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fifty Years in Chains

This is the true story of Charles Ball who was born into slavery in Maryland, USA and later sold down south to South Carolina to work on a cotton plantation. The major part of his story tells of his escape from a Georgia farm and his incredible journey north to freedom.

Fifty Years in Chains   is available to download or read online for free at Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Harriet Tubman!

Harriet Tubman Doll Set

The set includes a biography of Ms. Tubman, a satchel for the doll owner and a doll-sized cloak as well as the actual doll.

I think the likeness is quite good!

And I will be asking my boyfriend to get me this doll for my birthday next April.

*****2013-03-13 At present the Girls Explore does not ship to outside North America. *****
So no birthday doll for me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bonus Goodie Post this month

since we didn't have story posts during the previous 2 months.

Robur the Conqueror by Leon Benett,  illustrator to Jules Verne's novels and Steampunk artist  par excellence.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

To bake or not to bake

 Back at the Distribution Office Captain Willie James was once more headed down the interminable corridors leading to the boss’ office. In the main office, Mrs. Jackson, who was not at all pleased at the appellation “Ole Lady” and preferred to be addressed as “ma’am,” was seated at her desk. “Good to see you, Captain. Have a seat.” She gestured vaguely in the direction of a lumpy armchair clad in brown leather.

“Now I know that y’all can’t be meaning to send us out again so soon after we just got back. We ain’t hardly had time to rest-up or nothin’.”
“Nothing of the sort. This is just a chance to relay some news. We have some additional reports from our contacts at the Shawnee Nation. They had no definite news but have seen some suspicious behaviour on the part of so-called farmers.”
The Captain shrugged. “I don’t know nothin’ about farmin’ so I don’t see what I can do here. You got some bad guys that needs shootin’, then I’m your man.”
“No farming is required, thankfully, and we would prefer to avoid the shooting as well. Although I am aware that is not always possible. To get to the matter at hand, though, the Shawnee have discovered a some questionable activities along one of their borders and currently are monitoring the situation. They gave permission to a group of farmers to settle in an empty valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains but now they suspect that these settlers are up to more than they let on. The Shawnee will send more information as they collect it. You and your crew need to be ready to fly at a moment’s notice.”
“We always are!”
Mrs. Jackson nodded “Glad to hear that” as she waved the Captain towards the office door.

“Now that was a big, fat waste of my time” muttered the Captain to himself on the way out of the building. “Just what does she think we do all day?”


Indeed, a few days later in an isolated mountain valley, the young man, Hans, was preparing the wagon so that he could ride back to the Trading Post and fetch the bags of flour. Poor Hans was eager to remedy his earlier nervous mistakes by appearing completely nonchalant as he completed his task. He took the trail slowly since the wagon was none so sturdy and he didn't want to break an axle. This gave him plenty of time for reflection since at his slow pace the journey from the settlement to the Trading Post took almost two hours. He hitched the horses out front and ambled into the Trading Post.

A modern recreation of an old Country Store or Trading Post.