Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dogs in the Regency

I know, I said I would continue talking about work, and I will, but I have this problem. I need one of my characters to have a dog.

So give him a dog, you say, and move on.

But it can't be just any dog. It needs to be a big dog, and it needs to be appropriate to the Regency. Luckily, I took a workshop on regency dogs.

so I have ploughed through my photos and here are some of my choices:

The first is a lurcher, very ancient breed. The Lurcher was bred in Ireland and Great Britain by the Irish Gypsies and travellers in the 17th century. They were used for poaching rabbits, hares and other small creatures. The name Lurcher is a derived name from the Romani language word lur, which means thief. The travellers considered the short-haired Lurcher the most prized. The Lurcher is rarely seen outside of Ireland or Great Britain, and is still common in its native land.

This next one is a greyhound coursing for hares. These were used extensively in the Penisular to feed the officers, and for some relief from the stresses of war. I can't help that it happened. It is part of history. They are still nice dogs. Historically, these sight hounds were used primarily for hunting in the open where their keen eyesight is valuable. It is believed that they (or at least similarly-named dogs) were introduced to England in the 5th and 6th centuries BC from Celtic mainland Europe.

The name "greyhound" is generally believed to come from the Old English grighund. "Hund" is the antecedent of the modern "hound", but the meaning of "grig" is undetermined, other than in reference to dogs in Old English and Norse.

This last one is an English setter. The English Setter was originally bred to set or point upland game birds. From the best available information, it appears that the English Setter was a trained bird dog in England more than 400 years ago. There is evidence that the English Setter originated in crosses of the Spanish Pointer, large Water Spaniel, and Springer Spaniel, which combined to produce an excellent bird dog with a high degree of proficiency in finding and pointing game in open country.

If you had to choose one of these, which one would you pick? Or do you have another favorite from this era.

Oh and just for fun, here is our pound puppy Teaser. He is mostly Maltese. We don't exactly know how old he is because we rescued him from the local dog shelter. He has settled in very well and is now a very important member of our family.

Until next time -- Happy Rambles.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Regency Work Part II

It is hard to imagine a world without computers and planes and automobiles. What were some of the jobs that the ordinary people did? I talked about tin smelting in my last post, but one of the largest employers, even at this early stage of the industrial revolution was the land. And land requires laborers. These laborers, or workers, provide a backdrop to our stories. We can't ignore that they needed people to provide their food or clothing. (Remember that feast I described a while ago?).

Here are a few pictures of happy land workers. Or at least land workers.

It is not exactly clear to me what they are picking. Mushrooms? The grass is very short, and it clearly not full summer, because of the coats. I must admit that the main reason for having this picture was to show that even the poorest of women wore stays. If you look closely you can see them on the outside of the woman's clothes standing in the background. Apparently this was not uncommon, but hearkens back to an earlier era. Also note the various kinds of head gear, and the split rail fence in the distance. All small useful details that might someday bring a scene to life.

These folks are threshing corn (The English called all forms of grain: wheat, barley, oats, by the generic name of corn). The kind that looks like sweet corn, they call maize and it was not sweet and was used for cattle feed, along with mangel wurzels. Always loved the sound of that particular vegetable (It is a variety of beet and definitely used in our time for cattle feed). I can remember visiting a friend and helping wind the handle to chop up the mangel wurzels for her dad's cows. Ooops, off topic. Anyway to my unversed eye, this looks like barley or perhaps wheat, but the long hairy ends look like barley to me.

You can check what those grains look like on google and tell me what you think. Your turn to do some research. What is most interesting to me about this picture is that here we have men, women and children all working together. We don't feel so bad about those children outdoors doing this kind of thing do we? But it was still hard work and the hours long. I like the demonstration of the threshing sticks, see how they are hinged? And look how they carried the corn to the threshers in big blankets. It looks really heavy. Lots and lots to take away from this picture should I ever need a threshing scene.

Now here is something you don't see every day, at least not today. These women and not gathering teasels, they did that already, they are pushing them onto long sticks for easy transportation. What? Are you asking me why? Or, as I suspect, am I just telling you a whole bunch of stuff you know about. Teasel~~used in textile processing, providing a natural comb for cleaning, aligning and raising the nap on fabrics, particularly wool. It differs from the wild type in having stouter, somewhat recurved spines on the seed heads. The dried flower heads were attached to spindles, wheels, or cylinders, sometimes called teasel frames, to raise the nap on fabrics (that is, to tease the fibers).

What a great place to end, because next time I talk about jobs, I am going to talk about cloth making. Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Author's Update

Help, Monday is almost over and here I am and no blog.

Forgive me please.

There are times in every writer's life when time is not his or hers to control. One of those is when your editor asks for a revision. It happened to me this week.
No complaints mind. If she's asking for revisions, it means she cares about the book and an editor caring about your book is a very good thing. Time consuming, but good.

I lieu of research and in view of the reason for not having anything for you, I thought I would give you a quick update on where things are on the writing front.

Well, No Regrets is at the printers. It is coming out in October. You may have seen the ad in Romantic Times right alongside Georgette Heyer's Cotillion.
Here is the cover, just in case you have forgotten what it looks like. I am also posting it on the sidebar with a link to B & N where it is available for pre-order. Or you can wait for it to arrive in your local bookstore.

Now I am going to let you into a little secret.

Coming out around the same time -- I will have a precise date later -- is the Anthology Mail Order Brides, from Highland Press. Inside you will find my short story Snakeskin and Satin, one of four on this interesting theme. This story is a bit of a departure for me, because it is set in the West. Yep, honey, the wild west, in the Victorian era. I had so much fun writing this story, I hope even you Regency addicts will take a little peek when it comes out.

Here is the cover and a little teaser, just for fun.

Snakeskin and Satin are a bad combination.

Even if the snakeskin comes with longs legs, broad shoulders and eyes as blue as the sky. All bristles and twigs, according to her mother, Tess Johnson never expected her mail order husband to be a living, breathing, handsome cowboy who rejects her on sight.

Jake Granger needs a widow to raise his nephews and cook his dinner, not a satin-clad, as-delicate-as-porcelain, city woman. Even if she is the kind of woman to keep him awake at night. He can't take the risk.

With no reason to stay and a brother to track down, Tess prepares to move on, until trouble strikes the Circle Q. Fighting to save his herd and his sanity, Jake learns there's more to satin than a silky whisper against his skin.

Now, back to those edits. I hear the sound of a whip cracking. And it has nothing to do with cowboys.

Until next time -- Happy rambles.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Work in the Regency

One of our visits in Wales was to Aberdullais Falls near Neath in Wales. I had been there before, but since it had given me an idea for a story, I wanted to visit again. This picture is rather lovely, isn't it? It looks like a place for a picnic or perhaps even a place to fish, but in fact while these falls were a beauty spot, they were also the site of industry. Copper and tin smelting.

Tin mining had always been done in Cornwall, I knew that from school, and on my first visit to Aberdullais, I had thought to move this picturesque waterfall to Cornwall for a story I have had in my head for a while. I will have to think again, for while tin was mined in Cornwall, it was shipped to places like Aberdullais where they had water and coal.

As I walked around the exhibition, I was reminded that while the Regency is full of glitz and glamour, it was also the start of the industrial revolution and long before Dickens was writing about child labor, children were working twelve hour days in places like the Aberdullais copper and tin works, as were ordinary men and women. I took some pictures at this site, but of course much of the place is in ruins. The best impressions of how it might have looked were on the displays.

This is the chimney, required of course because of all the heat required to work the metal. The next picture is an artists impression of what it would be like inside the works. You can see men and boys working in this picture and an inset that shows women. By the way, the foreign language you are seeing there is Welsh. I am sure you knew that.... but just in case.

I didn't intend to do much about describing the work that was done in the mine, but one thing does stick in my mind and that is the need for small boys to scrape out the cinders from the furnace. The reason they used children was the narrowness of the passage. A man would not be able to get in there without getting his shoulders scorched.

It is pretty hard to see from this picture, but I think you can get a sense of the narrowness, and of course the steps (at the top of the channel) led into the basement. The next is a picture of the ruins from above, at the top of the Falls (which by the way were diverted by the use of dynamite , thus ruining the true beauty of the spot in a way which meant it could never be recovered. Here is a picture of the site in 1765. You can see that the Falls went around those large rocks. they were blown up, and now all that is left is the narrower channel to the right of them and of course all the industrial buildings and the waterwheel for power which now runs parallel to the river.

Of course there is a great deal to learn about these people and their lives, and as visitors we can only guess at the misery of long hours on little food. The exhibition tells their story.

As we were leaving, we paused on a bridge used to transport the metal onto the River Neath and watched a grey wagtail. He was a reminder that no matter what we do to our surroundings, nature has a way of reclaiming her own. I did take pictures of him. If you can find the bird in this picture you are better than I am, so I have added a picture of what you are looking for. I haven't seen one before, or not that I recall, so it really was a special treat. His long tale bobbed up and down constantly. This bird spends most of its life and breeds by fast running water.

Lots of food for thought. I am going to continue with a bit more on work in the Regency, since it is a backdrop for many of my stories, even if the main characters are lords and ladies. Until next time. Happy Rambles.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Regency Fashion For July

Boy have I ever missed all of you. I must say I find it hard to believe that the last time I posted was June 18. Where did that month go and the summer half over too. I had hoped to drop by from time to time during my holiday, but found internet access less than easy, and to spend time with the computer instead of friends and relatives seemed...well ...decidedly unfriendly. Mother was well, and the rest of the family were amazingly welcoming.

Our weather in England was wet, and in Italy, hot, and the whole thing an absolute

I am looking forward to sharing my holiday forays with you all, but I thought I would start with our old favorite fashion flavors of the month, before July disappears on me altogether.

So fashions for July

What I noticed most about these 1799 riding habits was how warm they looked. After spending two weeks huddled in a light cotton jacket and not being close to warm, I can understand why. Now when the sun was out, it was lovely, but I can imagine needing these warmer outfits on cloudy days on the back of a horse. I do think that my blood is thinner than it used to be, because some folks were walking around in shorts, I should hasten to add.

These more summery outfits are from The Ladies Monthly Museum
for the same year. This is the description:

First Figure. Muslin round dress, trimmed round the neck with lace; loose, full sleeves, with white or coloured satin bands at the bottom; silver band round the waist. The hair drawn close up behind, and large curls or folds on the top, interwoven with silver bandeau, with two large ostrich feathers. Necklace consisting of three rows of pearls, with a topaz in the middle. Shoes and gloves straw colour.

Second Figure. The same dress, of yellow muslin spotted with silver; with the sleeves drawn up on the arm.

These next two, which I really find quite delightful, are from 1806, from the same magazine:

Walking Dress.
Gown of Cambric Muslin, and Straw-coloured Sarsnet; Spanish Cloak, trimmed with White Lace; Straw Hat.

Full Dress.
A short Dress of alternate Stripes of Pink Crape and Silk Net; an Under-dress of White Sarsnet, ornamented with Lace; Head fashionably dressed with Black Velvet and Silver Foil.

Anyone know what they meant by silver foil? I will try to find out.

I thought I would give you one more from later in the period. This is from La Belle Assemblee 1810

The description is as follows.

Morning Walking Dress.

A round dress of thick fine India muslin, made high in the neck, with long sleeves, which are trimmed at the wrists with a narrow edging of lace; a lace let in round the bottom of the dress between four rows of small tucks. A light sky-blue mantle, lined with pale buff, with elastic collar, which is formed with letting-in-lace, and has the appearance of a full collar, but will, if required, by drawing over the head, form a very pretty and becoming bonnet; a cape of the same materials crosses the back, which is confined at the bottom of the waist, on the inside, with a pale-blue or buff ribband, tied with a bow in the front; it is entirely trimmed round with narrow edging of lace. A bonnet of straw, and pale-blue ribband, with plaiting of lace, worn underneath, tied under the chin; with a yellow rose in the front, and hair in ringlet curls, completes the dress. Gloves of pale-buff. Boots of the same colour, calashed and laced with pale-blue.

I have put up some July Ball Gowns on my website

Until Thursday, when we will do some flora and fauna, while it is all fresh in my mind, Happy Rambles.