Lieutenant Alfred Worthington RN

April 1, 2014

A word of apology to readers. The past month has had its up and downs, the first being an invasion of mallware that robbed me of the use of the Internet and of my computers while they were in quarantine. Since I have long come to mistrust the durability of computers I lost very little of my writing because I keep it in flash drives. So, to skip over everything else, here is the latest post about “Steam and Stratagem” and “Spies and Subterfuge”.

I decided to share a bit of the background of the three bachelors of “Steam and Stratagem”…the first on parade is Alfred Worthington, naval officer and engineer.

In the novels practically nothing is known about him except his rise from the Black Gang to an officer’s rank in the Royal Navy—another part of the plot that is 50 years anachronistic. However, this is Steampunk, and Steampunk makes its own rules. Just what did he do in the Black Gang and how did he get there?

Stokers_in_the_boiler_room_on_board_HMT_STELLA_PEGASI,_Scapa_Flow,_6_June_1943._A17189
Stokers

But even this is not the start of his story—how did he get from the farm to the stoke hold of a ship in the first place? Yes, farm. In the course of the story action he reveals something by his Yorkshire accent—and while Yorkshire had coal mines, in the Regency it was predominantly rural/agricultural. If he started work in the mines, he must have left the farm or the village to get there.

The rule for farms at that time was that the farmers were all tenants of the land, which was owned by someone rich…in all probability a noble family. He would either have had to receive permission to leave the land, or had stolen away in the night to hide himself in one of the new industrial towns. Let’s make him legal. The landlord was sympathetic to the father’s plight—what was he to do with this son who was superfluous to the small farm and becoming a large and restless 15 year old?

He had to have had an older brother, Jack, who had already laid claim to the farm as his father’s firstborn. Young Alf was only a help when they had extra work; the rest of the time he mooned about watching the steam trains go past on the track across the valley. When father heard that the engine man in the nearest coal mine needed a strong lad he sent him off to try his luck. Alf didn’t mind…he was excited to make his way in the world…here is a pic I found when I was looking for images of stokers; he visits the farm whenever he gets leave from the Navy.

Morgan-and-Family
Farm family

I’m worried that the reader has already formed a different image of him, but Worthington had to be a big chap to make his way in the stokehold. Here is a stoker with his mother and father and his Brother Jack, who looks a bit put out at not being the top man in the picture. (Yes, this group is a hundred years anachronistic, but where am I going to find a Regency period family picture like this?)

So Alf became the engine man’s helper, oiling the machinery, stoking the fire, fetching and carrying, and doing all the rough and dirty work that the boss didn’t care to handle. He would have done the same as the young George Stephenson and used some of his meager wages to educate himself—first to read and write and then to learn the mysteries of the new wonder of the age—steam. Within another year he was already restless again, seeing no advancement at the colliery, he heard about another engine man who had taken a contract with the navy to operate the machinery on a naval tugboat, and who needed another stoker.

At the beginning of the Royal Navy’s venture into steam propulsion there were no naval engineers or personnel in the Black Gang—they hired engine men under contract the take care of the despicable smell and grime involved in making the ship go. The engineers were civilians, not even counted as petty officers like the carpenters and other tradesmen aboard ship, they lived in the grime of their coal holes as best they could and no doubt smelled of the foul concoctions they used to lubricate the machinery. The helpers of the despised engine artificer were the lowest of the low.

Royal Navy Stokers in Training
Engineroom

Somewhere along the way Alf must have found his way into one of the first steam frigates where the engineroom staff became indispensable crew members if they had a breakdown hundreds of miles from port. He must have come under the mentorship of an artificer who valued his enthusiasm and reliability enough to make him his head helper. To rise above that he must have benefited from Commander Ripley’s foresightedness in bringing the workers of the steam directorate into the regular rank and file of the navy, as well as his insistence in having the young men admitted to an education that served their duties. (We have met Commander Ripley, an invented character, in the Admiralty offices several times.) Alfred Worthington may not have been the first of those young men to be promoted into officer’s rank, but he must have stood out among them to be appointed an inspector of steamships undergoing assessment by the Admiralty.

So here we may think of him dutifully writing his reports for the information of their Lordships and pining over a young woman who by her position must be forever beyond him.

(For much of my story of steam in the Royal Navy here I am indebted to Prof. Michael Lewis and his book “The Navy in Transition”.)

Napoleon at Home.

February 21, 2014

In line with my blogs about both the fictional and historical figures in my novels I come to the man at the centre of all events in Europe in that age—Napoleon I, Emperor of France. But how do I let him in, that wily schemer, without him taking over the whole show? Well, I fall back on the novel’s identity as Regency romance for this posting—this will be about Napoleon’s loves.

In 1795, The young General Napoleon met the fashionable widow Rose de Beauharnaise through the actions of her young son Eugene. Here is the report given in the Memoirs written by Bourrienne, a school friend of Napoleon’s who became his confidential secretary for five years during the Consulate and into the Empire.

220px-Josephine_by_Appiani

Pic 1 Josephine de Beauharnaise

–["Eugène was not more than fourteen years of age when he ventured

   to introduce himself to General Bonaparte, for the purpose of
   soliciting his father's sword, of which he understood the General
   had become possessed. The countenance, air, and frank manner of
   Eugène pleased Bonaparte, and he immediately granted him the 
   boon he sought. As soon as the sword was placed in the boy's hands
   he burst into tears, and kissed it. This feeling of affection for his
   father's memory, and the natural manner in which it was evinced,
   increased the interest of Bonaparte in his young visitor. Madame de
   Beauharnais, on learning the kind reception which the General had
   given her son, thought it her duty to call and thank him. Bonaparte
   was much pleased with Josephine on this first interview, and he
   returned her visit. The acquaintance thus commenced speedily led to
   their marriage."--Constant]


Napoleon_I_of_France_by_Andrea_AppianiPic 2 The Young Emperor

Alexandre de Beauharnaise, Josėphine’s first husband had been 
Guillotined during the “Terror” and she had been imprisoned and 
had barely escaped the same fate. She and Napoleon became lovers,
 when she switched from the name Rose to please him, and 
they were married within a year. She was six years his senior.  

Bourrienne reports:-

[Madame de Rémusat, who, to paraphrase Thiers' saying on

   Bourrienne himself, is a trustworthy witness, for if she received
   benefits from Napoleon they did not weigh on her, says, "However,
   Napoleon had some affection for his first wife; and, in fact, if he
   has at any time been touched, no doubt it has been only for her and
   by her" (tome i. p. 113). "Bonaparte was young when he first knew
   Madame de Beauharnais. In the circle where he met her she had a
   great superiority by the name she bore and by the extreme elegance
   of her manners. . . . In marrying Madame de Beauharnais,
   Bonaparte believed he was allying himself to a very grand lady; thus
   this was one more conquest" (p. 114). But in speaking of
   Josephine's complaints to Napoleon of his love affairs, Madame de
   Rémusat says, "Her husband sometimes answered by violences, the
   excesses of which I do not dare to detail, until the moment when,
   his new fancy having suddenly passed, he felt his tenderness for his
   wife again renewed. Then he was touched by her sufferings, replaced
   his insults by caresses which were hardly more measured than his
   violences and, as she was gentle and untenacious, she fell back into
   her feeling of security"

Readers who know both of these S&S novels, this last observation 
may remind you of someone. Here is Napoleon writing a letter to his 
wife after the battle at Arcona.

Andrea_Appiani_-_Joséphine_Reine_d'Italie

Pic 3 Josephine as Queen of Italy

VERONA, the 29th, noon.

   At length, my adored Josephine, I live again. Death is no longer
   before me, and glory and honour are still in my breast. The enemy
   is beaten at Arcola. To-morrow we will repair the blunder of
   Vaubois, who abandoned Rivoli. In eight days Mantua will be ours,
   and then thy husband will fold thee in his arms, and give thee a
   thousand proofs of his ardent affection. I shall proceed to Milan
   as soon as I can: I am a little fatigued. I have received letters
   from Eugène and Hortense. I am delighted with the children. I will
   send you their letters as soon as I am joined by my household, which
   is now somewhat dispersed.

   We have made five thousand prisoners, and killed at least six
   thousand of the enemy. Adieu, my adorable Josephine. Think of me
   often. When you cease to love your Achilles, when your heart grows
   cool towards him, you wilt be very cruel, very unjust. But I am
   sure you will always continue my faithful mistress, as I shall ever
   remain your fond lover ('tendre amie'). Death alone can break the
   union which sympathy, love, and sentiment have formed. Let me have
   news of your health. A thousand and a thousand kisses.

424px-1801_Antoine-Jean_Gros_-_Bonaparte_on_the_Bridge_at_Arcole
Pic 4 Napoleon on the Bridge at Arcola.

In this very abbreviated account, I have to go directly to the ending, 
but on the way that both had lovers during their marriage, and that it
was often a stormy passage. 

This next comes from Wikipedia.

220px-Josephine_de_Beauharnais,_Keizerin_der_Fransen
Pic 5 Empress Josephine

When, after a few years, it became clear she could not have a child, Napoléon while he still loved Joséphine, began to think very seriously about the possibility of divorce. The final die was cast when Joséphine’s grandson Napoleon Charles Bonaparte who had been declared Napoléon’s heir, died of croup in 1807. Napoleon began to create lists of eligible princesses. At dinner on November 30, 1809, he let Joséphine know that — in the interest of France — he must find a wife who could produce an heir. From the next room, Napoléon’s secretary heard the screams.[citation needed]

Joséphine agreed to the divorce so the Emperor could remarry in the hope of having an heir. The divorce ceremony took place on January 10,1810 and was a grand but solemn social occasion, and each read a statement of devotion to the other.[citation needed]

On March 11, Napoléon married Marie-Louise of Austria by proxy; the formal ceremony took place at the Louvre in April. Napoléon once remarked after marrying Marie-Louise that "he had married a womb".[citation needed] Even after their separation, Napoleon insisted Josephine retain the title of empress. "It is my will that she retain the rank and title of empress, and especially that she never doubt my sentiments, and that she ever hold me as her best and dearest friend."

The story of Napoleon's wives would not be complete 
without saying something about the “poor Womb” that 
he married for dynastic reasons, Marie-Louise of Austria. 

377px-Jean-Baptiste_Isabey_003
Pic 6  Empress Marie-Louise

Wikipedia again:-
The end of the War of the Fifth Coalition resulted 
in the marriage of Napoleon and Marie Louise in 1810, 
which ushered in a brief period of peace and friendship 
between Austria and the French Empire. Marie Louise 
dutifully agreed to the marriage despite being raised 
to despise France. She was an obedient wife and was 
adored by Napoleon, who had been eager to marry a 
member of one of Europe's leading royal houses to cement 
his relatively young Empire. With Napoleon, she bore 
a son, styled the King of Rome at birth, later Duke of 
Reichstaedt, who briefly succeeded him as Napoleon II. 
As a princess of the royal family of Austria she didn't 
need anyone to cry for her. After Napoleon's abdication 
she returned to Austria, became Duchess of Parma 
and after his death married, morganatically, twice more,
and bore three more children to her second husband. 

Steam and Stratagem has a sister.

February 6, 2014

The big news this time is that we have signed the contract for the sequel “Spies and Subterfuge”. Editing is early in the planning stage now but the novel could be released either early next year, or if Plan A works, it could be out this Fall. Which is good, because I have already had a couple of local purchasers asking when the sequel will appear.

It means I can use some info about the sequel now…as long as I don’t give away any spoilers. While Steam and Stratagem has the start of Lord Bond’s new spying mission to Antwerp, the sequel has a lot more spying and more characters involved. Napoleon’s spy-master Joseph Fouché, le Duc d’Outrante, is in several scenes, trying to terrorize some of the team to make them panic and lead him to everyone else.

fouche-ecole-francaise1-280x335

Fouché

He is an interesting character in history, too. He was first a revolutionary republican and became deputy of a revolutionary département in 1792. In 1793, he and a colleague crushed a royalist uprising in La Vendée with cruel thoroughness and he was soon given the position of Commissioner of the Republic in another department. He later put down another revolt and became known as the “Executioner of Lyons” for his sending about 2000 citizens of the city to their deaths by firing squad and by firing grapeshot from cannons at chained prisoners.

So, that gives you an idea of the man Lord Bond’s spies are up against. He first became Minister for Police in Paris in 1799 under the Directorate. When Napoleon returned from Egypt he switched sides and helped destroy the Directorate, for which Napoleon kept him on as chief of police. But on becoming First Consul in 1802 he decided Fouché was too powerful and had him removed.

Fouché_Joseph_Duke_of_Otranto

Fouchė 2

But Fouché was too good a police chief and spy-master to stay out of power for long. In 1804 when Napoleon became Emperor, Fouché was again made Minister of Police and later given the title of the Duc d’Outrante. I’ll skip more of the detail of his on and off again relationship with Napoleon, who never trusted him, and head to 1814 and 1815 when Napoleon was being advised by his marshals to abdicate as the armies of the 6th Coalition advanced on Paris. Fouché, as a senator, advised the French senate to make peace with the Royalists and send for Louis XVIII to return as King.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, when Napoleon abdicated a second time, after the loss of the Battle of Waterloo, Fouché became the head of the Provisional Government that the now deposed Napoleon had to apply to in order to ask for a passport from the British Government, that would allow him to find sanctuary in America. The Brits refused and one can imagine that Fouché shed no tears over that—a helpless Napoleon on the South Atlantic island of St Helena probably suited him very well. In my novel I have the scene where a British chargė d’affaires visits Fouchė about the request—want to guess which fictional character is the British official?

Louis XVIII appointed Fouché his Chief of Police when he became King of France, although the arrangement did not last long before he was dismissed and given the post of French ambassador to Saxony. In 1816 he was proscribed by the King’s government and exiled. He died in Trieste in 1820, but descendants of his son still live in Sweden.

85dc13c15571e200229782ba7cefa5fd

Magic Portal

I have lately been looking at Pinterest pages about reading….pinned by readers. It is inspirational for a writer to read some of the comments about books that attest to the idea that writing is a service to society even more than an art. And it’s not all about making the best-seller list. I want to connect with people who love books through my own writing…if only they can find me. If you know any dedicated readers you might send them to me.

Steam and Stratagem: Roberta stayed at Number 6 St James Square

January 17, 2014

On her first visit to London Roberta stayed in the rooms her father engaged for business visits to the city. For the purposes of the novel I chose to make those the premises in Number 6 St James because I had found photos of the inside of the house as it looked in 1958 when it was demolished, and used the same surroundings for Roberta’s visit in 1814. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=40550

I have to admit that this was another true story I had fudged. The house of 1814 had also been rebuilt— in 1818-1820 and the pictures are of the new premises. However this merely makes them more representative of the time—the way I time shifted the railways and things. So the pictures I have to show are photos taken as record before the 1958 demolition—that’s why the cars out front in the first picture are there—they weren’t time travellers.Front Num 6

Roberta and her Aunt Nelly stayed in rooms in the back premises…a kind of rear wing located beyond an open court on the ground floor. The rooms would have been above a large formal room on the ground floor. The hallway they used to reach the rest of the house and the stairs they descended are shown next.

Hallway to rear Num 6image num 6 stairs

The main drawing room where they met Lord Bond has a few pictures (as it survived until 1958).

image inside num 6Lounge entry Num 6image number6 st James

You can ignore the broken brickwork in this last picture—I assure you it wasn’t there when Lord Bond stood in 1814 to greet them.

Before I end this I have two things to report. First, the publisher and I are in agreement about publishing the sequel to Steam and Stratagem entitled “Spies and Subterfuge”. I expect to receive the contract docs later this week. SandS 2 will carry Roberta’s story on to the end of the Napoleonic Wars. I’m sure it is not a big spoiler if I tell you she gets to meet Napoleon twice.

My other active blog, Rustic Realizations, will have a new post about the same time as this is posted and I want to mention that I give a link to a new global initiative to end all war that is just starting and looking for members. It is at http://worldbeyondwar.org/ In my blog I draw parallels between the end of the Napoleonic Wars (just a bit past 1814), the beginning of WWI in August 1914 and our world in 2014.

Steam and Stratagem: Roberta and her Father.

January 3, 2014

 

When I started writing the chapters about Roberta Stephenson that became Steam and Stratagem I wanted to ground her in the real world of 19th century Britain even if she herself was a fictional character. I had planned to have her be a steamship engineer, and a few Wikipedia searches of the early engineers soon showed me that George Stephenson had the most interesting background. An illiterate son of an illiterate coalmine pumping-engine fireman, George by his own efforts became the first president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on its formation in 1847. One could hardly find better father for her story.

 

Image George Stephenson

 

He used money from his first job, as an engineman, to educate himself, which in the story is more than enough evidence that had his real daughter Fanny (who had died mere days after her birth) survived she could well have been sent to the fictional Miss Mather’s Acadamy for Girls in place of Roberta. He did educate his real son Robert; early on the two studied engineering together, and when he became prosperous he sent Robert to a private academy to study. He also took care that his son spoke ‘posh’ English to avoid the southern prejudice against northerners with thick accents. I have given Roberta a similar refined voice throughout the novels.

 

The disputes with Sir Humphrey Davy over the invention of the miners’ safety lamp is mentioned in the story and was a result of academic prejudice. Although two investigations came to the conclusion that Stephenson’s invention was independent of Davy’s the educated southern elite preferred to believe that a mere engineman could never have produced the design unaided and Davy went to his grave still believing his design was stolen. In the story I have Roberta’s father letting her go south with their designs to approach the Admiralty—a reflection of the way he made Robert his mouthpiece and manager of his locomotive works.

 

Imagelocomotive

 

While the Trevithick loco of 1802 is considered to be the first practical steam locomotive, George Stephenson’s 1814 travelling locomotive for the Killingworth wagonway is credited with being the first successful flanged wheel adhesion locomotive and the forerunner of all railway locomotives today. The steamship yard in the story is a pure fiction, he never built ships, but the railway planning still used today of following the least resistance to travel by keeping rail grades as flat as possible is a principle he followed for his own railway projects. His careful engineering became somewhat too expensive during his lifetime and he went into semi-retirement, letting his son manage the locomotive works and developing some of the coal seams discovered during the construction of the North Midland Railway as supervisor and investor of the subsequent mines. My stories end before George Stephenson’s retirement, but the end of “Spies and Subterfuge” shows Roberta, and the right man she has finally chosen to marry, are planning to work together in an industry where her Father’s position is that of advisor.

 

I have resumed writing my blog called Rustic Realizations at http://kester2.wordpress.com/ and am following the anniversaries of the first abdication of Napoleon in 1814 and the start of WWI in 1914—from our viewpoint in 2014. The first post, “to end all wars” is up now. This post is later than I promised, but I had both computers down before Christmas.

 

Roberta’s Journey through London.

December 17, 2013

 

In chapter ten of “Steam and Strategem” Roberta rides through London in a Hansom Cab with Lord Bond. The trip takes them from the Bricklayers’ Arms railway terminus on the Old Kent Road to the Admiralty in Whitehall. I doubt many residents of today’s London are familiar with the Bricklayers’ Arms Station because it has been a goods terminus for about a hundred years—ever since the passenger termini were shifted to Cannon Street and Charing Cross on the North side of the Thames where they had better connection to all the other railway termini.

 Image

Here is a Canaletto painting of the Thames with St Pauls dominating the skyline Roberta would see.

 Image

Once in Eastcheap Roberta sees some of the typical street scenes of the seamy side of Regency London.

 Image

They travel via Cannon Street, St Paul’s Churchyard, to Ludgate Hill—I didn’t include a pic of St Pauls because there are so many modern ones. I decided to show Temple Bar because it was demolished in its original site going into Fleet Street, but has been rebuilt in a new site this century. This is the original site.

 Image

Their destination is the Admiralty, and here is the front view with Robert Adam’s screen showing off its formal entry.

 Image

The trip through London would be incomplete without showing St James Square where Roberta stayed in the rooms her father reserves for business trips to London. I picked Number Six St James as the actual house, purely because I found some pictures of the inside that let me use an actual setting. I will show those some other time.

Image

Well and truly Launched

November 23, 2013

This last weekend, 16th and 17th of November, was the book launch for “Steam and Strategem” at the Pure Speculation Festival in Edmonton. I made it up for the weekend and so did Margaret, the submissions (and everything else) editor for Tyche Books.

The driving was not good, but both of us had chosen to go up a day early and return a day later. So that way we both avoided the horrible weekend weather that had Highway 2 closed when all the ditches filled up with abandoned vehicles and there was no room for more. (I’m joking, but on Monday morning there were still over a dozen abandoned vehicles south of Leduc with police tape draped around them.)

The festival had a Steampunk theme, which was why Margaret had chosen to emphasize the steampunk features of my ‘Regency romance and steampunk’ novel and have us dress the steampunk part for the weekend. Well; I got out of them as much as possible once I learned that ‘civvies’ were okay for parts of the program. I had cobbled together some steampunk things (and it showed).

I selected most of my panels to teach me something about the Steampunk ethos, since I knew I was too clueless to pretend to be a steampunk author. The steam in my novel encompassed both ships and trains and as much ship building and pioneering issues as I could slip into the plot without readers expecting to have to write an engineering exam at the end of the novel. I believe I do have the same feelings for the ‘steam age’ as do longtime Steampunk enthusiasts and can claim that five of my seven published novels have important rolés for steam as well.

I also like airships. I have never been in one, but I was in the old airship hangar at Farnborough several times before B-Shed, as it was called, was taken down in the sixties. The frames have since been re-erected at Farnborough to commemorate the establishment’s beginning as the Royal Balloon Factory. If I may attempt another weak connection, my Mother told me she had seen the zeppelins caught in the searchlight beams in London during WWI.

The launch went quite well although my author reading could have been better if I’d remember to slow down. We sold some books and I autographed some—but somewhere shy of a million. Until the official release day, November 30th, information where to find pre-release copies can be found at http://tychebooks.com/book/steam-strategem/ afterwards they will be at all the usual outlets as e-books or POD paper.

Steampunk Ball

Steampunk Ball

I cannot end without a word or two about all those wonderful Steampunk people who made the weekend a fascinating success. The costumes were terrific, with the older men dressed and mannered like Queen Victoria’s parliament or armed forces, and the ladies either swaddled in elaborate finery or much less weighed down with unnecessary covering of their qualifications. I, as usual, gravitated to the ladies if I wanted to ask something and must not fail to thank Melissa and Sarah for their patient answering of my elementary questions. I think I feel a kinship to them all who share some of my contrarian instincts and while coping well with the twenty-first century prefer to celebrate the nostalgia they feel for the nineteenth. I have done my best to produce some fiction that compliments both their feelings and their love of stories of that bygone age.

Steam and Strategem Release

November 7, 2013

 
Well it looks as if I may manage two blog posts within the space of one month…wonders will never cease.

I am looking to keep my head above water now because the first draft of the sequel to “Steam and Strategem”, which is likely to be published as “Spies and Subterfuge”, has gone to the editor and I have an almost clean slate.

First, I had better add the link to my publisher’s site where you can see the book’s page. http://tychebooks.com/book/steam-strategem/  The book will be selling from here toward the end of November but it is available now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as a print book, on Smaswords as a Pre-Release and on Kobo as a Pre-Order e-book.

I like the cover so well I will put it here to show you..
Image

I am in final preparation mode for the novel launch in Edmonton at the Pure Speculation Festival the weekend of 16-17 November. Since my publisher wanted to promote it as Steampunk I have to appear in Steampunk gear (that I am still working on) and will be in a small part of the program at an author reading. I am also going to be dressed up in the Steampunk Ball on the Saturday looking very authorly when they give away copies of my book for door prizes. (Maybe I will win one.) I expect I will get a picture sometime to document how daft I look. My ID is Captain Benchmark, the discoverer of Edmonton and the mapper of the source of Whitemud Creek.     

I will undertake to post to this blog again quite soon to tell readers how I get on in Darkest Edmonton.

The Headstone Express.

October 9, 2013

 

Still no news on the Novel announcement but Wife, I and the two dogs went to Manitoba at the end of September. The project was a very simple one that had been postponed since 1929. I don’t believe the Wall St crash was directly responsible for the delay but it added unnecessary social hardships.

 

My wife’s parents’ first child died in 1929 at the age of 14 months. Poor little fellow was buried at the foot of his grandmother’s grave in the cemetery at Lauder, Manitoba. ( A pretty little cemetery we found when we were there in September 2013. It should make anyone proud to be buried there, if you like those kinds of thing.)

 

Anyway, back to the project. The family would have liked to have marked the grave in 1929, but things didn’t come together until Mother-in-Law began to receive Canada Pension in the 1970s. She had a small stone engraved from her pension money and someone was needed to take it there from Calgary. Father-in-law, who didn’t have good memories of the whole thing…nor the location…begged off. Brother-in-law who might have had some time, always put off the mission whenever my wife suggested their going. So the dogs and I became co-bearers.

 Image

The dogs didn’t have a good time. The elder had lost a fight with a neighbour dog the previous week and had several kinds of medication for inflamed eye, punctures on her cheek, etc. More problematical were the antibiotics prescribed which somewhat upset the dog’s regular constitution. You might imagine that sharing a motel unit with a dog that might have an urgent need to go outside at any time in the night was not the most enjoyable of arrangements.

 

There was only the one night I spent on top of the covers fully dressed and ready for the call to action. Other motel cleaning staffs may have noticed the attempts at wiping the broadloom clean before we checked out. Damn silly to have carpet on a motel unit floor—don’t they know those things are just bacteria incubators? Anyway—eventually it sunk into my exhausted mind that the culprit was not the poor dog but the toxic brew in the little pills that pretended to be helping her, and once I discontinued giving them to her she gradually returned to normal—about two days after we got home.

 

We had two visits to Lauder to chat with the locals, some of whom remembered my wife’s mother who had left in the early 1930s. Lauder is another of the once thriving communities that have been killed by the automobile. If it weren’t for people who live on the farms nearby the whole place would fall to dust. As it is, one of the abandoned houses falls down almost every winter. Any one looking to stock up on hundred year old furnaces, hot water tanks and house bricks should take a drive over there before the basements too crumble away. Say hi the the locals while you’re there, they are as concerned as anyone at the loss of community and a way of life sacrificed on the altar of finance.

 

Late again

September 27, 2013

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I didn’t manage to send the post I planned while on our trip the Manitoba (actually, I cannot find the post I had started) so this is a new one.

The agricultural traction engine was snapped the weekend before we left for Manitoba, when we went to Heritage Acres so I could look at some steampunk things. This was it. We also sat and watched a tractor pull, where a succession of drivers vie for the longest distance they can pull a heavy drag. While it was entertaining so was the discussion from behind us from two farmers as they handicapped the competitors.

“Isn’t that a beautiful tractor?’ was a common comment. I could appreciate their dedication to the machinery even if I don’t find tractors particularly beautiful. But then I do find the big steamer a worthy object of fascination for a steampunker.

I learned something of the technique of driving in a tractor pull from the unofficial commentators behind us. Don’t start off too fast—slow and easy gets you further. Which is true in most things.

On the writing front—no sign of the review copies that were expected in the latter part of September. I had one recruited reviewer emailing today to ask if she had been forgotten. I guess I will have to tactfully ask about the review copies on Monday if they don’t appear sooner. The cover illustration hasn’t arrived on my Tyche page. Things must be busy there.

I will end here. With luck I will have found the article I started by the time i come to post next week.

‘night all.


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