Coffee with Barb & Teagan — Memorable Southern Characters

Originally posted at “Barb Taub — Writing & Coffee. Especially Coffee.”

(If you’re looking for the serial, “Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers” go back one post)

In my “real job” outreach is a buzzword.  I see my blog as a great outreach effort. Through this blog I’ve met so many fascinating people and made great friends.  A newer friend is Barb Taub and she let me visit her blog for coffee and a delightful chat.  I hope you’ll join us to share in the fun.  While you’re there, check out her terrific blog.  Hugs!

  Coffee with Barb & Teagan — Memorable Southern Characters

atonement-video-cover-copyBarb, the coffee smells divine!  Yes thanks – I’d like cream, but no sugar.  I’m so happy to sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee with you.  This really is nice.

Speaking of cream, I’m pleased as a cat with a bowl of cream to tell a little about my novel, Atonement, Tennessee.  Umm that really is good coffee.  “Ralda Lawton,” my heroine, would have appreciated it her first morning in her new home town.  She was inundated with people dropping in, and she was feeling awfully frumpy, since the movers hadn’t arrived with her stuff – or clean clothes!  At least she had a jar of instant coffee with her. Feeling-Frumpy-ad

I’m happy to have this chance to comment on one thing about my characters, particularly the group of women friends who are all neighbors in the town of Atonement, Tennessee.  Certainly I wanted to make them come to life and be memorable.  So I may have said they are “larger than life.”  But the real truth is — they are not.

If you have spent a couple of decades or more living in small towns in the “deep south” of the USA, like the one where I grew up, then you have surely known women similar to Bethany Gwen, Racine Mabry, or Lacey Hampton.  The places I’ve lived and the people I’ve known provide a good deal of the inspiration for my writing.  Even love-to-hate-them Ralph Hampton and Destiny Culver.

So now, I want to reminisce about some other memorable southern characters.  At the top of my personal list is the late Dixie Carter as Julia Sugarbaker of the TV show Designing Women.  Whenever I speak passionately about a subject I apologize for getting up on my “Julia Sugarbaker soapbox.”

Designing Women — The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOllz6eGbXI

Then of course there’s Fannie Flag, who played a number of unique southern ladies as an award winning actress.  However, she also wrote unforgettable southern characters in her best seller, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, which was adapted into the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes.

By the way – her Match Game performance isn’t a quarter of what you’d see in real life in any southern bar.  I’m just saying…

Match Game ’75: Fannie Falls in Love

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdPJlFHhWBM

One memorable character that really was larger than life was played by Polly Holliday (in the TV version) as Florence Jean Castleberry, better known to all as “Flo.”  Flo was a waitress in the movie Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, the subsequent television series, Alice, and that show’s spinoff, Flo.  Yes that character was larger than life and outrageous… but nevertheless, I’ve met more than one outrageos real life Flo.

Alice Flo puts an APB out on Santa Clause

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2F2m0qS9TI

On a more serious note, there’s Kyra Sedgwick as Brenda Leigh Johnson in TV’s The Closer.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking her femininity and accent diminish her intelligence or her ability.  The only thing that bothers me about this character is the double-name.  That’s another stereotype.  I’ve actually known a lot more people from “up north” with double names.  But I’m trying to stay off that Julia Sugarbaker soapbox.  (Winks and grins)

TNT: The Closer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzzX5hni_i8

And yes – we are constantly ridiculed.  Quite frankly, I don’t handle it half as well as “Brenda Lee.”

The Closer – Provenza mimics Brenda

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-F4Gwor1ao

Since she’s my favorite I’ll round this out with one more Julia Sugarbaker moment…

Designing Women – Julia Sugarbaker – Southerners Do NOT Eat Dirt – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaDiT_TpEOk

Barb, thank you so much for the coffee and your lovely hospitality.  It has been a pleasure.  Mega hugs to you and all your readers.

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Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 26

3 Things, 3 Tags, & 777

An Author Spotlight

The steam locomotive to the Victorian Era is on the way, but it has to make an extra stop.  It’s too difficult for me to post more than once a week, so please forgive me for doing a combination today. Before the engine reaches our Steampunk platform it’s going through the 777 Switching Station.

Locomotive at Switching Station

The train is at the switching station because I was triple-tagged for the 777 Writer’s Challenge.  I was tagged by three delightful blogger-authors.  I hope you’ll enjoy their blogs.

The Rules:  Go to page 7 of your work‑in‑progress, scroll down to line 7, and share the next 7 sentences in a blog post. (Rather than tag anyone, I’m opening the challenge to all.  Anyone who wants to take up the challenge is welcome to do so.)

Guitar Mancer Cover 11-28-2014A few times recently I’ve promoted my novel (Atonement, Tennessee), and the sequel that’s in the works. So for this challenge I’ll share a snippet of another work in progress (WIP) that I put aside in favor of finishing Atonement in Bloom(It doesn’t really matter, since I haven’t had time to work on any novel…)  Admittedly, I tried to manipulate the rules, but I still didn’t come up with a snippet that I was satisfied with sharing… Such as it is, here is my “777” from “The Guitar Mancer.”

Set-up:  The Guitar Mancer is a quirky urban fantasy. It opens on New Year’s Eve, 1969 in Nashville, Tennessee.  My 777 comes from the prologue, which centers on the villain, an evil supernatural being who is able to access power through music… (And put Chuck Berry in the back of your mind. I said it’s quirky.)

“I am still weak from countless years underground — obtaining an instrument that is well bonded to a mancer would restore me completely,” the man who called himself Yamata Orochi murmured.

Stepping outside his cell, Orochi bent to touch the incapacitated guard’s face.  “What was the instrument?” he demanded roughly, and the injured guard arched his back in agony as the answer was dredged from his mind.

“A strange concept for an instrument,” Orochi murmured.  “An electrical guitar?  Yet this electrified guitar invoked the power quite well in the music that renewed me.  Now, where do I find this place, Deep-Down Louisiana close to New-Or-Leans… among the evergreens?” quoting from the song, he compelled the poor guard to answer.

Okay… with that bit of blog-keeping out of the way, on to the serial!  The three things that fueled the steam locomotive for this episode are from an author who is a great supporter of this blog — the outstanding Olga Núñez Miret.  She has a newly released Young Adult series called Angelic Business.  For a limited time, book-1 is free!

Angelic Business trilogy

Now, without further ado… All aboard!

From last time…

“Hurry!  Get inside,” Cornelis ordered pointing toward the building that was the laboratory of the version of him that inhabited this world. “Quickly,” he added with a sharp pat to the goat’s rump.  “Hang on tight, Copper!” he called.

The lavender goat bolted toward the laboratory, carrying Copper on her back.

“What was that?” I exclaimed.

Cal Hicks came to himself as we all ran behind the goat.  “I was so sure it was dead,” the amethyst ape said.  “That was the hunting call of the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater!

Lovers Eye Brooch

26.  Glass Eye, Silver Vinaigrette, Sextant

“I feel funny,” Copper said and indeed she looked pale.

The one eyed one horned flying purple people eater roared a terrible screech a moment before, though the creature was not within our sight.  I thought all the excitement must be too much for the girl.  Copper, Corneils, Cal Hicks, and I hurriedly hid from the beast in the huge laboratory that belonged to the amethyst world’s duplicate of Cornelis Drebbel.Copper pensive

Copper got down from the lavender alpine goat that had playfully carried her into the building.  She really did seem unsteady.  Absinthe had been concerned about us consuming the water of this strange place.  I wondered if something she ate or drank at tea disagreed with her.

Frantic cries from outside caused Cal Hicks to dash to the door.  When he opened the door, the violet complected chimpanzee housekeeper rushed inside.  She was in a terrible state, having heard the roar of the flying beast.  She sank to a stool that was nearby.

“Viola!  Whatever brings you out here?  Were you hurt?  Did you see the beast?” Cal Hicks asked in a single breath.

Reading Ape purpleThe housekeeper shook violently.  I stooped down to see if she was hurt or unwell.  That was when I first noticed that she had a glass eye.  (Of course the eye was purple.)  It was also the first time I realized that she must be elderly.  There were broad strands of pale lavender in her reddish purple hair.  It was not until that moment that it occurred to me that those pastel streaks would be the same as gray hair in our world.

Cal Hicks turned to us and described how the purple people eater had attacked the village where Viola grew up.  She had been among the casualties.  He discretely indicated that her eye had been one of her wounds.  It was no wonder just hearing the creature frightened her to such an extent.

The amethyst ape seemed to know his way around the laboratory quite well.  I thought he must have worked closely with the purple version of Cornelis Drebbel.  He went directly to a table that held many intriguing devices.  Cal opened a drawer and removed an intricately designed silver vinaigrette.  An invigorating scent drifted over to me when he took the vinaigrette to Viola.  The aroma seemed to revive her.silver vinaigrette

Smelling salts?” I inquired.

“No, not precisely.  Rather than ammonium, it’s a restorative herb,” Cal explained.

Assured that Viola was only over-excited and not injured, I stood up again.  As I moved I felt suddenly lightheaded.  There was also an odd hollow feeling at my heart.  My ears were ringing.  I closed my eyes, placed my hand to my solar plexus and took deep breaths.  When I looked up I noticed Copper sitting on the floor, the lavender goat nuzzling at her hair affectionately.

I tottered a little as I stood.  Viola handed me the vinaigrette and patted my arm in a grandmotherly way, but I wasn’t experiencing the vapors  as she had.  Whatever I was experiencing it was not from the emotional response that upset the housekeeper.  She nodded, encouraging me to inhale the scent.  I found that it actually did help.  I took it over to Copper, suspecting that whatever had overcome me was also the cause of her discomfort.

“Viola, you must have run to catch up with us,” Cal said.  “Whatever was so important?”

Victorian Ape Couple“It’s the family.  They’ve returned.  I wanted to make sure they got to meet your extraordinary guests, but I wanted it to be a surprise for them.  So I hurried here, only telling them that I was going to fetch you,” Viola explained.  “Then I heard that horrid beast.  I’ll never forget that awful day!” she cried, tears leaking from her good eye.  “So I ran the rest of the way, fearing for your safety — for all of you.”

When Viola uttered the word “family” Cornelis paled.  He looked from me to Copper.  “You’re not feeling well,” he said and it was a statement not a question.  “They are too close,” he muttered worriedly.

“Who do you mean?” I asked unsteadily.  The dizziness was making it hard for me to think.

“Your doppelgängers!  They are too close.  That’s why you feel ill.  A hollow feeling?  Dizzy, ears ringing?  Am I right?” Cornelis demanded and I nodded apprehensively.  “You must not get any closer to your doubles from this world!” he said, including both Copper and me.

At the excitable tones from Cornelis, Absinthe poked his head up from the alchemist’s jacket pocket.  The tiny fairy stretched his wings and then fluttered to a long worktable that was covered with charts, maps, and scientific looking implements.  The Green Fairy inspected the maps and drawings carefully.  He was just as thorough when he began to examine the contrivances scattered across the table. Sextant

He was also remarkably silent.  Though I’d never heard him utter an actual word, the tiny skunk-looking fae usually muttered, chirped, or grunted most of the time — especially if he was intrigued by something.  However, Absinthe seemed quite serious as he investigated the strange implements on the long table.

He stopped abruptly when he came to a gleaming brass sextant.  It was beautifully decorated with amethyst cabochons.  The navigation instrument was supported by two exquisitely formed gold mermen.  The apparatus sat on a wooden base of purple streaked mahogany.

Absinthe checked the sextant closely, finally muttering very quietly.  However, he still didn’t seem to be himself.  For a moment I wondered if he had a doppelgänger nearby as well.  Then the Green Fairy sighed resignedly.  He looked up at Cornelis and chirped something that the alchemist seem to understand.  They exchanged a sad look.

The Dutchman moved to examine the sextant.  He muttered in much the same manner as Absinthe.  Finally he nodded.  “Yes.  This should do the trick,” Cornelis said with a decisive nod.

He turned gravely to Absinthe.  “Can you take care of the err… the Purple Fairy?” Cornelis asked the tiny Green Fairy, and Absinthe nodded, again with that sad resigned attitude.

green skunk palmThen with a sharp pop Absinthe disappeared.

“What Purple Fairy?” I wanted to know.

The amethyst ape seemed to grasp the fact that was eluding my dizzy noggin.  I struggled to catch up to their thinking, but I felt so woozy.  I vaguely remembered the amethyst ape calling the purple people eater a fae — a fairy.

“Oh you don’t mean?” Cal Hicks gasped with a horrified expression.

Viola echoed Cal’s sudden inhalation, putting a hand to her mouth.  “No.  You can’t mean that very small green creature is going out to confront the giant one eyed one horned flying purple people eater!” the violet chimpanzee housekeeper exclaimed.  “Why the poor little thing won’t last a minute.  Please! Can’t you call him back?”

***

Will the doppelgängers of Felicity and Copper come any closer?  What will befall our heroines if they do?  

Absinthe and Cornelis seemed so sad. Could it mean that the tiny Green Fairy means to sacrifice himself?  What will become of Absinthe if he confronts the purple people eater?  And what about that sextant — what might it do?  Or perhaps I should ask, what kind of trouble can it cause?  Be sure to be at the train station next time!

***

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

Guest Post – The Pepper Story by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Lovely and sagacious Sally G. Cronin let me visit and share a story at her extraordinary blog “Smorgasbord, Variety Is the Spice of Life.” Many of you already follow Sally, so this is not news to you. However, if you haven’t seen the post, here’s a bit of mid-week entertainment.
Regardless, check out Sally’s great blog. Hugs, Teagan

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

I was delighted when Teagan sent over a guest post on the subject of peppers as they can be very useful if you are considering losing a few pounds.  Not only does the heat give your body an extra workout but the really hot ones make you jump up and down, sweat buckets and stop you considering eating anything else for at least two days!!

As always a great post from a master storyteller. Over to you Teagan.

The Pepper Story  by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

I grew up in a small southern town. It was a place and time when families got together for dinner, and grandmas still canned food – at least sometimes. Most people seem to think their mothers and grandmothers are great cooks, and you’d best be ready to run if you suggest otherwise. Well… that wasn’t exactly the case in my family.

Whether cooks are incredible…

View original post 1,459 more words

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 25

Thank you!

Christoph FischerMy heartfelt thanks to everyone who checked on me yesterday.  Thanks to those who left three things to drive the plot of this serial. And thanks for coming back after that delay!

Yes, yesterday the steam locomotive to the Victorian Era was stalled in Migraineville.  It was also out of the “things” that fuel the plot of this serial.  Author Christoph Fischer was the first to arrive on the scene with three things to get the train back on track.

Christoph is a writer, blogger, reviewer, as well as the author of many compelling novels.  Check out his blog.  My favorite of his books is The Gamblers. However, Christoph has written an impressive number of wonderful books.  You can see all of them together at his Amazon Author Page.Christoph books

Now that the locomotive is fueled…  All aboard!

From last time

Cal Hicks, the amethyst ape, turned somber eyes to the chapel.  He shook his head slowly.  “When the loud harmonic noise of the misused tuner dissipated, I realized there were no sounds whatsoever coming from the church.  To my horror, I found it empty.  Everyone inside had vanished along with the purple people eater,” he said.

“Cornelis!” I whispered to the alchemist.  “That army of chimpanzees back at the Hixon estate.  What if they weren’t trained,” I said.  “What if instead, they were actually translocated?”

25.  Babylon, Toothpick, Alpine

Lovers Eye Brooch

Victorian Lovers Eye Brooch

Cornelis Drebbel had that look in his eyes — the twinkle-eyed look that never failed to worry me.  That expression would make you think he came from ancient Babylon — powerful, affluent, and downright sinful.  However, he actually wasn’t born until 1572.  I knew that expression meant he thought he was being clever.  While the amethyst ape, Cal Hicks was distracted by Copper’s animated conversation, the alchemist cast a considering gaze his way.

“What are you up to Cornelis Drebbel?” I narrowed my eyes and whispered in a warning tone.

“It’s important that we get back to our own world, don’t you think?” he asked drolly.  “If there was a version of myself here, then that me would have had a laboratory or a workshop of some sort.  I suspect this ape knows where it is.  But how to get him to disclose the information…” the Dutchman pondered.

“Why not just ask him?” I sputtered in exasperation.  “There needn’t be any subterfuge.  He already believes you are, well… you.”

The Dutchman’s mouth twisted to one side.  “Oh, I suppose you’re right.  You do have a way of taking the fun out of things, Felicity,” he said drolly.

“Mr. Hicks,” I began.Reading Ape purple

“Dear one, please do call me Cal,” he said in a fatherly tone and added a little bow.

That felt the tiniest bit creepy to me, but I smiled and nodded agreeably.  “Would it be possible for you to show us to the Lord of Alchemy’s laboratory?  Cornelis doesn’t like to admit to having lost so much of his memory — temporary though it may be.  I think being among his things would help him remember.  Besides, he dotes on this submarine and would love to repair it,” I said.

The amethyst ape was eager to comply.  I gave Cornelis a sidelong look.  “See,” I told him.  “Simple as that.”

Surprisingly, Absinthe seemed to object.  He fluttered around the alchemist’s head, chirping excitedly.  Remembering how impossibly potent one of his poots could be, it made me nervous to see the Green Fairy so agitated.

“Calm down old boy,” Cornelis said soothingly to Absinthe.  “Everything will be fine.  If I so much as sense something a hair out of the ordinary, I’ll come back here right away.”

Green fairy skunkAt the words “out of the ordinary” the tiny skunk-like fairy shrieked.  I had to agree.  Everything in this world was out of the ordinary.

As we exited the submarine, Absinthe followed.  He seemed torn between flying protectively around Copper and Cornelis.  The girl turned back and gasped delightedly.

“Look at the submarine!” Copper cried.  “Isn’t it beginning to turn purple?”

Absinthe zipped through the air and quickly circled the submarine.  He came back, with nervous sounding chirping.  He hovered six inches away from the alchemist’s nose, looking quite excitable.  Cornelis looked from Absinthe to the submarine.

“It’s becoming part of the amethyst world,” Copper said in awe.  “If we stay will we turn purple too?” she asked in a way that made it clear she found the prospect of such a transformation delightful.

“We might at that,” Cornelis answered in a wry voice. Gas mask

I thought he had gone to hide when Absinthe darted back into the submarine.  However, a moment later he emerged with a seabag floating behind him.  The tiny fairy seemed to be handier with levitation than Cornelis.  Absinthe continued to levitate the bag until he reached me.  Then he unceremoniously dropped the bag at my feet.

The seabag came open and out rolled a frightful looking head.  I nearly screamed, but closer inspection showed it to be some kind of hideous mask.  It had two big round goggle eyes and a long snout that ended at a flat circle and a leather strap to hold it to the wearer’s head.

Absinthe levitated the mask over to Copper.  She was quick to understand that he meant her to wear it if needed.  When I saw that the bag also contained several bottles, I thought the Green Fairy was still concerned about this strange environment.  When we first arrived, he had given us bottled water; fearing things of this world would be harmful to us if consumed.

As I returned the bottles to the bag, I discovered a charming silver toothpick holder.  It was shaped like a little gazebo with a domed roof supported by columns.  Within was a crystal bird with wings outstretched.  Tiny holes in the rounded roof held toothpicks.

Portuguese Silver Toothpick Holder“Why ever would he think we’d need toothpicks?” I murmured, bemused.

Cornelis suddenly appeared at my elbow.  He knew it annoyed me when he did that.  It was always disquieting, and it always entertained him to startle me.  He smirked.

“Absinthe isn’t far off the mark,” Cornelis whispered.  “There is a very real danger that we could become trapped here.  However, we would have to be here for a very long time before that potential became a reality.  This is a measuring device,” he explained, pointing at the toothpick holder.  “If the toothpicks begin to turn purple, it is a warning.”

Seeing my widening eyes, he was quick to elaborate.  “Many of the effects can be mitigated,” he waived away my concern.  “For instance, a little lavender hue is of no real concern.  But if all the toothpicks turn purple we are in serious danger of being unable to return home.  Should the bird turn purple,” he added pointing to the crystal ornament in the center of the gazebo.  “Well, then it is too late,” he finished with a wry twist of his mouth, which suggested that was a real possibility.

The Green Fairy was still agitated, but the purplish color of the undersea vessel seemed to have changed the cause of his worry.  Absinthe fluttered over to Cal Hicks and chirped once.  The ape chuckled, still marveling at the tiny fairy.

Copper

Copper

“You are the most delightful shade of green,” he said in a mystified tone.

“He wants you to lead us,” Copper translated.

“Ah!  So he does.  This way then,” directed the purple primate as he adjusted his bowler hat and pointed with his amethyst topped walking stick.

After about fifteen minutes of walking we reached a clearing.  In its center was a sprawling building.  It was only one story tall, except for a broad, towering dome in the center.  Cornelis gazed at the facility in childlike wonder.

The sound of clamoring hooves and the clanking of a bell made everyone turn.  A lavender Alpine goat ran out of the building and barreled into Cornelis.  The Dutchman landed on his back with a thud.  The goat sniffed happily at his face.  She made the oddest warbling behh sound.

Alpine Goats

Alpine Goats

I had become accustomed to the amethyst ape’s warmhearted chuckle.  So I was surprised to hear him laugh uproariously.  He recovered himself somewhat and turned to me to explain.

“The Lord of Alchemy allowed us to keep a herd of milk goats behind his laboratory.  There was something about the grass there that improved their milk greatly.  I’ve always pondered if that was because this grass has a greenish tone,” Cal Hicks told me, but then shook his head.

“But I digress again,” he apologized.  “Cornelis Drebbel made a pet of this particular goat.  However, I always told him that it was she who thought he was the pet.  She’s quite possessive of him.”

Cornelis clamored to his feet.  The lavender goat gently head-butted the Dutchman and nearly knocked him over again.  She nibbled at his coat sleeve and pant legs, ignoring his attempts to brush her away.  From time to time she uttered that strange warbling behh sound.  It really was funny, and I couldn’t help laughing.

Copper had no compunction about offending anyone.  She wrapped her arms around the goat’s neck, hugging the animal.  The girl laughed so hard she toppled over.  Fortunately the goat seemed to take to her.  The next thing I knew, the large goat had maneuvered Copper onto her back.  Copper sat astride the goat as if she was about to take the goat for a gallop.  The oddest part was that it looked perfectly natural.Girl rides goat

All the laughter was abruptly cut short by a trumpeting screech.  I looked to the amethyst sky from which the sound came, but saw nothing.  Cornelis looked apprehensive.  The ape, Cal Hicks, trembled fearfully.

“Get inside,” Cornelis ordered pointing toward the building that was the laboratory of the version of him that inhabited this world. “Quickly,” he added with a sharp pat to the goat’s rump.  “Hang on tight, Copper!” he called.

The lavender goat bolted toward the laboratory, carrying Copper on her back.

“What was that?” I exclaimed.

Cal Hicks came to himself as we all ran behind the goat.  “I was so sure it was dead,” the amethyst ape said.  “That was the hunting call of the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater!

***

What wonders might the laboratory of the alchemist of the amethyst world hold? Will our heroes find a way home? Or will the purple people eater fly in with a savage attack? Come back next time and see what happens to the amethyst ape and the lavender goat — and Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers!

***

I wondered what kind of recipe I could possibly use for the “three things” that drove this episode.  So I searched the Google countryside.  I found the most delightful blog.  Please visit Claire at Eats from the Streets http://eatsfromthestreets.com/

Recipe:  Texas Toothpicks

Texas Toothpicks

http://eatsfromthestreets.com/recipe-texas-toothpicks/

Photo and recipe credit: Claire Williams

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

Bandits Hijack – Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers

Steam Locomotive Wheels

The steam locomotive to the Victorian Era was hijacked!

Dear reader, bandits attacked the steam engine and it is stranded in parts unknown.  All I can see is a dilapidated sign bearing the name Migraineville, USA…

train tracks spooky place

 

However, when they found the train was empty of fuel, with no sets of “3 things” to drive it, at least the bandits left.

Ann Margaret in The Train Robbers (1973)

Ann Margaret in The Train Robbers (1973)

So I’m wandering through the desolation of Migraineville, hoping to find my way back and get the locomotive on the right tracks to the Victoria Era in time to pick up all of you at the platform some time on Sunday, (East Coast USA time).

And yes, that’s me pretending to be Ann Margaret… the migraine has made me delusional.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 24

Choices

Couple boat pug

One of my favorite bloggers, Donna Parker, wrote about choices. Her post got me thinking — as it often does. Eventually my pondering turned to choices about writing. Despite the fact that writers are advised to choose one genre and stick to it, I think most of us like to dabble in various types of storytelling. I continue to dally with different styles, but my stick-to-it choice is fantasy.

I’ve been encouraged to write romances, but I leave that to the experts — like Mary. This time, the three things that fueled the steam locomotive to the Victorian Era were sent by Mary J. McCoy-Dressel.

Mary’s latest book, Of the Cowboy’s Own Accord, took off like a rocket. It reached #1 in Amazon’s ranking of best sellers in Contemporary Western Fiction.  She describes herself as an author of sensual Contemporary Western Romance with strong family ties. I’m fond of calling it her dynasty of cowboys, but it would be more correct to say (as Mary puts it) she specializes in “gentlemen cowboys (with a touch of bad) & their feisty heroines.”

Mary_Double Dutch Ranch Series

Our steam locomotive is rolling ’round the bend. Again, I’ve included some fun informative links in text and images. This time I’m also giving you a menu for a Victorian afternoon tea.  All aboard!

 

As you’ll recall…

Our trio was on the run from three different groups of bad guys, including huge and dangerous trained chimpanzees, one of which gestured in sign language the word daddy.  Felicity recognized the leader of one group by her voice — she was a woman from Copper’s town, but the woman in trousers couldn’t recall which townswoman possessed that voice.

Our heroes hid out at the pavilion of Alastair Wong, where alchemy gone awry gave them a map with a clue to where they might find Copper’s missing father. Still on the run, they boarded Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine where they met Absinthe, the Green Fairy.  Subsequently the submarine ran aground in an amethyst world.

24.  Straitlaced, Queen Anne Style Architecture, Harper’s Bazaar

The suited, bespectacled purple primate was a willing listener for Cornelis Drebbel.  I wouldn’t have expected an ape to speak our language, even if he could talk.  Nor would I have thought we would understand him.  When I was about to ask, a significant look from Cornelis caused me to realize it had to be one of the Dutchman’s tricks at work, allowing us to communicate with one another.

Tea Gown by Charles Frederick Worth as seen in Harper's Bazaar, December 1891

Tea Gown by Charles Frederick Worth as seen in Harper’s Bazaar, December 1891

The alchemist gave the primate a full tour of the submarine.  The amethyst ape soaked up every detail as Cornelis explained how the many inventions onboard were used in the navigation and other workings of the submarine.  The ape seemed to have an astonishing scientific comprehension of what the Dutchman said in describing his inventions.

Cornelis had gone on about doppelgängers and was genuinely concerned about the consequences if one of us met our double in this perplexing purple place.  I remembered Copper’s giggling exclamation comparing the straitlaced ape to her father.  I thought it simply childish fantasy, but then I recalled how the Dutchman reacted to her words.  He curled his lips inward in a rueful grimace and raised his bushy blonde eyebrows.  Then he pursed his lips and inclined his head pointedly toward the purple primate.  At that moment the ape reminded me very much of the portrait of Calvin Hixon.

I studied the primate’s face and tried to imagine a human version.  My eyes grew wide.  The amethyst ape was Calvin Hixon’s doppelgänger!

Cornelis was quite adept at reading facial expressions, no matter how fleeting.  When he glanced my way he raised one eyebrow and gave half a nod to indicate he knew I had caught on to what he had figured out the first moment he saw the ape.  It was no wonder he’d frozen in amazement when Copper and I had gotten out of the submarine.  I finally understood why. I tried not to stare at the ape version of Copper’s daddy.

After Cornelis had shown off his favorite inventions, the ape invited us to tea.  Cornelis wasn’t quick enough to hide his reluctance to disembark the submarine.  The ape tried to encourage him by describing the setting and the Queen Anne style architecture of his charming home.  I couldn’t help wondering if this amethyst world had held a purple primate version of Queen Anne, and suspected that it actually had.  However, Copper was beside herself with excitement.

Carson mansion Queen Annd

The Carson Mansion located in Eureka, California is considered one of the finest examples of American Queen Anne style architecture.

In a very discrete way, the alchemist worked the conversation around to inquire about the ape’s family life and whether he lived alone.  Abruptly the purple primate puckered his face, looking very contrite.  He bumped his palm to his brow and apologized profusely.

“I was so amazed and excited that I forgot to introduce myself.  Can you ever forgive my lacking manners?  Cal Hicks — at your service,” he said with a bow.  “Penny will be devastated not to have met you.  That’s my daughter.  She’s away for the week, visiting her brother Nate and his wife.”

When the ape — or I should say Cal Hicks, mentioned his daughter-in-law he gave me the strangest, quizzical look.  “Something in your manner puts me very much in mind of my delightful daughter-in-law,” he told me with a twinkle in his eye.Jaime Murray-2

I was speechless.  Could there be a purple ape version of me?  And was she married to an ape version of Ignatius Belle?  Surely not, it was incomprehensible!  The ideas were a bit too much and I suddenly had a headache.

The ape didn’t know the reason behind the alchemist’s concern, but what he disclosed about his family reassured Cornelis that it was unlikely for any of us to run into our doppelgängers.  With a little more please-pretty-please urging from Copper, Cronelis finally agreed.  So we set out with Cal Hicks, the primate equivalent of Copper’s daddy, to have tea at his home.

A violet complected chimpanzee housekeeper graciously served tea with all the trimmings.  She seemed delighted to have a chance to show off her skills, and served the perfect pot of tea to complement each course.

(How to Host a Victorian Tea Party)

 

1920s Catering Menu-1Tea Menu

Sandwiches and Savories
Smoked Salmon with Dill Butter on Dark Bread, garnished with Dill (open face half-moon sandwich)

Ham and Chopped Watercress with Basil Butter on Rye Bread (finger sandwich)

Thinly Sliced Cucumber & Chopped Mint with Mint Butter on White Bread (open face round sandwich)
Chopped Egg and Diced Black Olives on Whole Wheat Bread (pinwheel sandwich)

***

Scones and Breads

*********

Enhancers

Devonshire Cream

Flavored Butters (Fruit, Herb & Spice)

Raspberry Preserves and Rose Petal Jam
***

Sweets

Served in a champagne or martini glass:

English Trifle with Heart-Shaped Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

***

Mauve teacup Wileman Co 1893

My cup rattled against its saucer.  I was embarrassed to I spill my tea.  Charming and hospitable as Cal Hicks was, the entire situation was unnerving.  I almost wished I had stayed behind at the submarine with Absinthe.  Cornelis was downright twitchy — probably still worried about doppelgängers.  Copper was the only one who took everything in stride.

Several portraits hung in the hallway.  It seemed that Cal Hicks enjoyed a much happier, devoted family life than had Calvin Hixon.  The son was presumable born out of wedlock, since this place seemed to reflect our own world.  But unlike Ignatius Belle, Nate Hicks agreed to become a true part of the family.  And since Penny was visiting Nate and his wife for a week, I assumed that she did not share Copper’s dislike and mistrust of her half brother.

Victorian Ape CoupleA purple primate version of Harper’s Bazaar magazine lay on a beautifully crafted mahogany table.  The deep color of the wood had dark purple highlights.  On the magazine cover was a woman-ape wearing a fashionable ensemble.  A painting hung above the table.  It was a portrait of Cal Hicks’ son and daughter-in-law.  I had to admit the young ape in the portrait bore a vague resemblance to Ignatius Belle.  However the female looked nothing like me whatsoever.

“Look Felicity!  She looks like you,” Copper enthused.

Looking away, I tried not to let the ape see how aghast I was at the girl’s comment.  With narrowed eyes I watched Corenlis.  His mouth twisted in any number of ways as he tried to stifle his laughter.  I knew it was our host he didn’t want to offend.  He certainly wouldn’t be concerned about my pricked ego.

To hide his mirth, the Dutchman tapped his fist to his breastbone, pretending to stifle a burp.  Then he asked our host if we might stroll around the grounds to help the fine repast he’d provided settle.  The amethyst ape was happy to oblige.

As we toured the property we came upon a church.  “That doesn’t look like it’s been used in quite some time,” I commented about the chapel.

“Ah yes.  That was indeed a tragedy,” Cal Hicks replied sadly, and Copper was quick to push for details on a topic we adults may have deemed too delicate.

Mount Olivet Cemetery Chapel, Nashville, TN

Mount Olivet Cemetery Chapel, Nashville, TN

“It happened during the last confrontation with the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater,” the ape said then turned to Cornelis as if concerned.  “Do you not remember it?”

“Err…” Cornelis hesitated, but a spark in his eyes told me he was about to dissemble.  “I must confess,” he said looking so sad and sincere that I almost rolled my eyes.  “An accident of alchemy brought my submarine back to these shores.  Sadly I have no memory of the events that happened here,” he explained.  “Oh now, there’s no need for concern, I’m sure the memories will return in due time.  Such is the way of alchemy,” he assured our worried looking host.

“Well, perhaps a refresher will help it along then,” Cal Hicks said with a hopeful nod.  “I mentioned that we had thought all of your species,” he said turning to me, but hesitating when he looked at Copper’s wide eyes.  “Well, um, that the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater had, um gotten them,” Cal said and seeing that Copper didn’t look frightened, he continued.  “However, there was one more confrontation with that huge purple fae creature.  You, Cornelis Drebbel, cornered the magical beast, and with your alchemy intended to transfigure it to something harmless.”

“Let me guess,” I said with a wry grin.  “The alchemy went awry.”

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis glared at me, but the ape remained perfectly serious, continuing his narrative.  “The Lord of Alchemy insisted that everyone take refuge in the chapel while he confronted the monster alone.  Meanwhile, I ran to retrieve his harmonic tuner.  It’s a magical device decorated with a carving of a trio in the classic mystic people pose — hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.”

The ape suddenly looked overwhelmed with regret.  He moved his spectacles to wipe a tear.  “In my haste, I tripped.  The harmonic tuner flew from my grasp.  It rang as it flew through the air.  However, you, Cornelis Drebbel, caught it before it fell.  So I thought all would be well, and that my mishap had done no harm,” Cal Hicks told us in an apologetic voice.

The ape dabbed his nose with a silk handkerchief and took a deep breath before continuing.  “The purple people eater vanished, presumably vanquished.  You, Lord of Alchemy popped off, as was your habit, to make sure the beast was gone for good.  But you never returned,” he said, looking like a repentant child caught in mischief.  His expression gladdened as he looked up and added, “Until today that is.”

“And the church?” I prompted.1860s Woman Handkerchief tintipe

Cal Hicks turned somber eyes to the chapel.  He shook his head slowly.  “When the loud harmonic noise of the misused tuner dissipated, I realized there were no sounds whatsoever coming from the church.  To my horror, I found it empty.  Everyone inside had vanished along with the purple people eater,” he said.

I gasped despite myself.  The ape seemed to think I found his telling of the story that shocking, and he seemed gratified to have at least told it well.  Although it was obvious that he blamed himself to a degree for what happened.  So I tried not to let on that the story wasn’t the reason for my gasp.

“Cornelis!” I whispered to the alchemist.  “That army of chimpanzees back at the Hixon estate.  What if they weren’t trained,” I said but paused, looking for the right word.  “What if instead, they were actually translocated?”

***

Felicity has figured out at least part of the mystery of the “trained” chimpanzees, but we still don’t know who was using them.  Can the ape version of Calvin Hixon somehow help our trio reach Copper’s real daddy?  Will seeing the portrait of primate doubles of herself and Ignatius Belle influence Felicity’s capricious feelings about him?  I hope to see you at the platform for the train to the Victorian Era again next time. 

Hot and humid… day after day, night after night – it’s just that time of year here.  So when I saw a beautiful post from Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen for “Nicoise Salad,” it seemed like the perfect recipe to share with this episode.

Recipe:  Nicoise Salad

Nicoise Salad suzanne

Photo and recipe credit:  Suzanne Debrango

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 23

To those of you in the USA…

4th of July Victorian

Happy Independence Day!

 In celebration, rather than taking you to the Victorian Era on our usual steam locomotive, this time we’ll bring all our picnic paraphernalia and get on board a red, white, and blue decorated dirigible and soar into our story.

Steering the airship is Kathryn, aka KR Bigfish from Another Foodie Blogger, who gave us the “three things” for this episode.  As sometimes happens, a comment also made its way into the episode.  Kathryn mentioned a particular purple critter, and I couldn’t resist. But I’ll leave that for a surprise.

Remember to check for fun and informative links in the text and images.

The dirigible is tugging at its ropes — ready to sail through the air, through time and realities.  So… All aboard!

From last time…

“It’s an amethyst world!” Copper exclaimed when she saw the strange place where the magically whirling submarine went aground.

A purple ape wearing a three piece suit with a starched collar and a bowler hat came into view.  It seems strange to say, but the hat and the suit made me think of Ignatius Belle.  However, I was also reminded in an odd way of the portrait of Copper’s father, Calvin Hixon, who turned out to be Belle’s father as well.

The amethyst colored ape moved his hands in sign language.

Copper, the alchemist, and I spoke in chorus.  “Daddy?”

***

23.  Broken Knife, Sea Urchin, Potable Water

Reading Ape purple“Oh! You can speak.  How wondrous!” was the delighted exclamation of the purple ape who wore a man’s suit, hat, and spectacles.  “And what remarkable coloring you have!”

“Of course we can talk.  But it’s amazing that you can!” Copper called out in reply as she clambered down from the submarine hatch, too quick for me to stop her.

The alchemist stood in gaping astonishment.  I pushed past him and hurried after the girl, although I didn’t know how I could protect her from something as strong as the ape.  I had no weapon on me, not so much as a little muff pistol.

Pen knifeAbruptly I remembered my pearl handled pen knife.  It wasn’t much use as a weapon, but I reached quickly into my pocket.  However, the pen knife seemed to have been damaged during the chaos of the spinning submarine.  When I tried to open it, the broken knife fell apart in my hands.

The creature seemed genial enough, but who could say?  I had no idea into what sort of place we had been cast by the accident of alchemy that sent Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine off course with rogue magic.

“Have a care, Felicity,” Cornelis hissed, as though he’d finally come back to himself.

“Of course I’ll be careful.  Why didn’t you stop her?” I said through my teeth, trying to hide my anger with the Dutchman from the strange primate on the shore.

Copper lavenderI turned back toward the quickly moving girl.  “Copper stop right there and wait until I catch up with you,” I demanded and for once she complied.

“But Felicity!  I like him.  He’s funny,” the girl pleaded.  “I’m sure it’s perfectly safe,” Copper added in a rather good imitation of an adult.

“How can you think a purple ape — in a suit no less, is perfectly safe?” I whispered as I caught up to the girl and took her hand.

Cornelis cleared his throat loudly.  “That’s not what I meant.  I wasn’t talking about the ape when I told you to be careful,” the alchemist said urgently.  “Doppelgängers!” he exclaimed, using his trick of casting his voice directly to my ear.

“What’s a doppelgänger?” Copper wanted to know as she looked from Cornelis to me and then back over her shoulder at the very large purple chimpanzee.

“It’s a sort of lookalike,” I told her.

sea urchin violetAs I gazed into the shallows of the sparkling amethyst water I noticed a violet colored sea urchinHere even fishes and such are one color of purple or another, I thought.  The water itself took on the hue of lavender from the sky it reflected.  That alone was enough to make it a stranger place than anything I had ever imagined.

Cornelis seemed to be permanently adhered to his surely uncomfortable position, halfway out of the submarine’s hatch.  I could hear Absinthe inside chirping excitedly, but I couldn’t tell if the Green Fairy was anxious, angry, or simply feeling chatty.  Then a bottle levitated up from within the submarine.  Cornelis snatched it out of the air and thanked the Green Fairy in a droll tone.

“Absinthe thinks you should take this potable water with you, as it might not be safe to drink anything here,” the Dutchman commented.  “I think it’s a bad idea for you to leave this vessel at all.”

Amethyst Walking Stick by Fabergé

Amethyst Walking Stick by Fabergé

At the shore, the chimpanzee shifted his bowler hat and placed his walking stick in front of himself with both hands propped on its crystal top.  Naturally the crystal was an amethyst cabochon.  He looked curious, but quite patient and relaxed.

“Whatever are you talking about, Dutchman?” I looked up at Cornelis and asked while Copper stood staring at the chimp in a suit.

“If you meet your doppelgänger it could be dangerous,” the alchemist said.

“Why on earth would I meet my double?” I asked feeling piqued, with Copper pulling me forward and the alchemist holding me back.

“I think it’s the nature of this world, this place,” Cornelis explained with exaggerated patience.  “It probably has its own versions of all of us.  Purple versions, but still…” he added with a shrug.

“Why is it purple?” Copper interrupted.  “Is there a purple fairy, like Absinthe is the Green Fairy?” she asked, eyes widening in anticipation.

The Green Fairy stuck his tiny nose out of the hatch and bit onto the alchemist’s sleeve, pulling it as if he wanted Cornelis to get back inside.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

“Alright, alright,” he told Absinthe.  “Copper, I suspect there is a good reason for the purple coloring, but the important thing you need to understand is that everything around us could become — well you could say the place may get unstable, just because of our presence.  If any of us met our doubles it could be,” he paused, probably looking for words a young girl would understand.  “Bad.  It could be very bad,” he finished, but looked dissatisfied with his choice of words.

“Cornelis, aren’t you coming with us?” I asked with an uneasy eye on the large, strong chimpanzee, who had moved forward to the very edge of the water.

“No, Felicity.  Were I to meet my doppelgänger it wouldn’t be dangerous,” he replied, and closing his eyes he took a deep breath.  “It would be catastrophic.”

Seldom had I seen the Dutchman so serious.  I don’t pretend that I fully understood his vague explanation, but I knew it had something to do with alchemy.  So I didn’t press.

“Do I have a doppelgänger?” a giggling Copper wanted to know, and I realized she’d found a new favorite word.  “The monkey might be Daddy’s doppelgänger,” she added, giggling even harder.Lady with pigeon

When I looked at Cornelis he curled his lips inward in a rueful grimace and raised his bushy blonde eyebrows.  Then he pursed his lips and inclined his head pointedly toward the purple primate.  The ape shifted his stance.  Suddenly he reminded me very much of the portrait of Calvin Hixon.

The purple primate saw us looking at him and raised his voice to make sure it carried to us.  “I’m sure it’s most unsettling, having your vessel run aground.  And clearly you aren’t from here,” the ape began.  “Or from any place of which I’ve ever heard…” his voice trailed off as he shook his head wonderingly.  “But I assure you it really is perfectly safe, just as the young err… the young lady said.”

Had the ape hesitated to call Copper a young lady?  Could it be that he perceived us as we saw him — as strange animals?  Profound thoughts crowded my mind.

The ape looked remarkably like the portrait of Copper’s father.  With of course the exception him of being an ape.

The suit-wearing creature bumped his palm to his forehead as if something obvious had just occurred to him.  “Oh!  If you are concerned that you don’t see people like yourselves, please don’t fear.  We thought your species was extinct.  I can’t tell you how delighted I am to know that is not the case!  And that extraordinary coloring you have.  This is so exciting!  But pardon me.  I digress,” he said in a gracious apologetic voice.

Green fairy skunk“As I was saying, there’s no need to fear.  The one eyed one horned flying purple people eater is surely dead.  None have been seen for a hundred years!” the ape said, adjusting his spectacles.

At the primate’s comment Absinthe fluttered up and out of the submarine.  He chirped and grunted excitedly.  The Green Fairy hovered around Copper’s head briefly.  Then he darted toward the purple ape.  Absinthe made several passes around the primate to inspect him, grunting the while.

“How delightful!” the very large chimpanzee exclaimed, taking off his spectacles since Absinthe was mere inches from his face.  “What a colorful little chap.  Why you’re like a very tiny, very green version of the purple people eater,” he said and Absinthe gave a disagreeable chirp.  “Well no, I suppose that’s not true at all.  But you seem to be the same sort of fae being.”

I couldn’t sense any animosity from the ape… and judging by the crash landing of the submarine we were going to need some kind of help.  So I allowed Copper to lead me to the shore where he stood.  The suited primate bowed politely to us, doffing his bowler hat.

Absinthe settled in his protective position atop Copper’s head.  However, the ape’s attention wandered to the submarine.  He was so intrigued that he waded out into the shallows for a better look.  “You know,” he said in a self-deprecating tone.  “I’m something of an inventor myself.  What sort of vessel is that?  It looks almost as though it’s meant to sail under the water,” the ape marveled.Drebbel stamp

Cornelis never could resist showing off one of his inventions and the ape was clearly a willing and eager audience.  Abruptly the alchemist appeared at his elbow.  The purple primate jumped with a start.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” the Dutchman said.  “I’m Cornelis Drebbel and I’d be delighted to show you the submarine.”

The ape gasped.  His eyes grew large and his mouth opened silently.  The primate’s eyes narrowed and he looked intently at Cronelis.  “With this outlandish coloring, how could I suspect,” he murmured.  Then he bowed extravagantly to Cornelis.

“Cornelis Drebbel, Lord of Alchemy, I welcome you to these shores.  Please accept my humble apology for not recognizing you.  No one has seen you for over a hundred years.  It was feared that the purple people eater had… well…  But how foolish of us to think you would have been bested by any beast, no matter how fearsome.”

***

Will this newfound status go to the alchemist’s head?  Will a doppelgänger of one of the characters show up and wreak havoc?  How will they get back home so they can find Copper’s daddy?  And what about that one eyed one horned flying purple people eater?  Be at the train station next time to find out what happens to Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers!

Don’t forget this episode’s recipe!  Since the food related thing, or ingredient, was “potable water” I chose one of Kathryn’s seafood recipes.  I really appreciate that she often shares simple recipes made from things I might have on hand.  I know you’ll enjoy this one.

Recipe:  Spicy Canned Tuna Ceviche

Spicy Tuna ceviche

https://anotherfoodieblogger.wordpress.com/2015/06/07/spicy-canned-tuna-ceviche/

Photo and recipe credit: Another Foodie Blogger

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.