This is a busy week in some ways (hence why this post is late) and this weekend is my birthday weekend, the big 50. And how am I celebrating? I’m going to see Heart, Joan Jett, and Elle King in concert. Woohoo! We’ll leave Friday and be back on Sunday. Will this wear me out? Most certainly. Will it cause a flare? Um, that’s a distinct possibility, but I’m trying to ward this off with copious amounts of rest this week. And by rest, I mean legs up and working from my chair, no going to the grocery (others are doing that in my stead), and no housework aside from some laundry for our trip.
Such planning and doings are part of being chronically ill, like it or not.
Happy Wednesday! My Wednesday shares have become shorter and serialized, and for now, they’re coming from my current WIP (work in progress), Striking Balance. You’ll be able to find all the ones that pertain to Striking Balance under the Categories drop down to your right.
Striking Balance is a Queer Historical Paranormal Fantasy story set within my Appalachian Elementals series. It’s a freestanding tale, so you don’t need to have read the other stories within the series to delve into this one.
This is installment twenty-one, “Slab of Cornbread” and it picks up directly where the last installment, “Soulful Eyes” ended. The main character in Striking Balance is Benjamin (Nub) Schnell, the possessor of secrets twice his size and seeming age. He’s been working for nearly a decade on the same small farm as his friend, Conall Baldwin, who acts as the farm’s manager. This story begins during the American Revolutionary War years, 1779 to be precise, in the Nolichucky river basin of Northeast Tennessee.
The setup: Master Gow and his workers have come to the farm to restock the cabin and assist with planting, but they’ve brought along Alexandria, his household manager, someone Nub likes and often thinks on long after she leaves.
Note: Alexandria speaks first here, and the section in orange comes from last week’s Writing Wednesday.
“Master Gow goes on ‘bout th’ hearth so. Will ye show it tae me?” Alexandria follows me back to the cabin where Conall and Master Gow are sitting at the table, deep in conversation. Master Gow’s men are doing the morning chores for us, a welcomed relief to my pounding head.
“Lexy, dear.” Master Gow waves her in. “This is th’ hearth Ah was speakin’ of. German, Ah believe.” He looks at me. “Correct, lad? ‘Tis a German design?”
“Yes, Sir. ‘Tis precisely that. I grew up with this sort. It warms the home and makes cooking easy.” My stomach rumbles. I need tea and a slab of the cornbread I made two days back, perhaps a bit of butter since we still have some, but I don’t because we haven’t enough to share.
“Th’ oven.” Alexandria bends in to examine the iron plate setting over the opening. “Th’ door needs hinges.”
“Yes, miss. It does.” I’ve done the best I can given what we don’t have.
We built this hearth late last fall to replace the open one that was beginning to crumble. We’ve an outside oven too, but I seldom get the chance to use it aside from an occasional bake when time allows and those days I add a bean pot afterward so we have a delicious meal the next day.
The Sabbath means little to us because the work must still be done, but Conall has me read from his Bible whenever the weather prevents us from laboring outside. He can read some, but not well, so I read for us both. The same goes for Conall’s handwriting. It’s childlike, but he can decently sign his name. The rest, however, I do for him whenever I can.
So we have a North Carolina transplant with German roots (Ben), a Virginia transplant with Irish roots (Conall), and lots of Scots heritage in this little scene, all living in what’s to become the State of Franklin and later, Northeast Tennessee. This is widely representative of Southern Appalachia during the time, though we are admittedly missing the African and Native American portions. Those last two are definitely within the Striking Balance as well, alongside some Spanish and, of course, some English influence, but you’ll have to keep following along to see those. Oh, and the German hearth? Look at the fireplace image above. See the raised portion and the recessed firebox? That’s what Master Gow wants to show Alexandria.
Until next week…