Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Cambric Dracott, a life

My Festival of Remembrance continues today with an excerpt from Thomas Coke's, A History of the West Indies.  The following biographical sketch was recorded by a Methodist missionary, a Brother Turner, who was assigned to the Virgin Islands in the late 1700s.  (All spellings and grammar are as I found them and reflect the tradition of the times.)  This slave woman led no rebellion, gave no speeches and wrote no book but her very life was heroic, a triumph of the human spirit.

"Cambric Dracott, who was born a slave in the Island of Barbadoes about the year 1735 was the offspring of a Mulatto man and a Mestee woman, and was at her birth the property of Henry Evens Holdin, Esq.  As soon as she became capable of labour she was employed in the house as a domestic servant, and was treated by the family with great kindness, so that she felt tolerably happy in her condition.  When very young, she was sent to learn to read and work; but making little proficiency in reading, and afterward having no opportunity of improvement, she intirely forgot the little she had acquired.

About the age of seventeen she received the addresses of a White man, a smith by trade, to whom she was united for about four years in the character of a wife, though without the ceremony of marriage, for matrimony, in this sense, is universally denied to slaves.  They may unite, but only by private contract.  During their union she had two children, and was perfectly satisfied with the man whom she considered to be her husband.  But this state did not last long.  Through those vicissitudes which diversify human life, she fell into the hands of another owner, who soon put an end to the happiness she had enjoyed.  For notwithstanding he was a married man, he used every exertion that fraud and force could suggest, to seduce his slave; and on finding himself disappointed, had recourse to revenge, and determined to sell her off the Island, and thus burst for ever those tender ties which nature had formed.  To effect his purpose he had her seized, put in irons, and closely confined till he could meet with a convenient opportunity to send her off....After remaining six weeks in this state of confinement, and living only on a small portion of the coarsest fare, the morning arrived on which she was to take her final departure from all that could endear her to the continuance of life.

Amidst the pangs of agonizing nature, she solicited the favour of clasping her only child (for at this time only one was living) in a last embrace; but this favour was denied.  She was sternly forbidden to see the child, neither did she ever behold it more.  As to her husband, she was permitted to have with him an interview of about two minutes, but no longer; she was then torn from him by violence, hurried on board the vessel, and never beheld either him or the Island again...

She left Barbadoes under convoy of the fleet, which reduced to Martinico in 1756, and soon found herself in the Island of Tortola, the property of William Dracott, who, together with his lady, treated her remarkably kindly in every respect, which tended greatly to alleviate the anguish of her soul, and to wear off those painful sensations which she felt, on account of leaving her child and all she had, in Barbadoes.  With her new proprietors she was again employed in domestic concerns...  In this station she became the wife of a Dutchman. with whom she lived sixteen years, but had no child after leaving Barbadoes.

The Dutchman dying, she became the wife of another man, an enemy to godliness, with whom she lived, till by hearing the Methodists, she was convinced of sin, and induced to join the society.  Exasperated at her conduct, he immediately became her enemy, stripped her of all she had, and, leaving her much in debt, finally abandoned her.  Though grieved at this unmerited treatment, she rejoiced in being separated from a man to whom she was not lawfully married, and who was so great an enemy to all spiritual things.  in this single state she has devoted her days to God, and bids fair to end her life in peace."

Cambric Dracott, you are remembered.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Remembering the Ancestors!

Slavery was abolished in Britain's colonies on 1st August, 1834 which happened to be a Monday so, since then, the Virgin Islands celebrates emancipation on the first Monday in August.  In the lead up to the big parade on Tortola on August Monday, there are lots of festival activities such as the Calypso Monarch competition and the Miss BVI pageant.  We're going to celebrate on Eugenia Writes!, too... but a little bit differently.  Over here, we're going to have what I'm calling a Festival of Remembrance.  Over the next few days, I'll be posting excerpts from slave narratives and from abolitionist speeches as well as highlighting the lives of a few slave men and women.  Our ancestors led lives of great suffering, yet managed to survive, more than survive, to triumph over the degradation that was slavery.  This Festival of Remembrance is my way of honouring them and of honouring those who fought with them.

First up - an excerpt from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave.  Douglass, one of the most famous of abolitionists, ran away from slavery in 1835 (a year after slaves in British colonies were freed) but was caught and returned to his slave-master in Baltimore.  In 1838, he made another run for freedom and was successful.  Douglass began attending abolitionist meetings and became an advocate for the eradication of slavery.  His Narrative was published in 1845.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, Written by Himself (Bedford Series in History and Culture)"Colonel Lloyd [on whose plantation Douglass was born] kept from three to four hundred slaves on his home plantation, and owned a large number more on the neighboring farms belonging to him...This was the great business place.  It was the seat of government for the whole twenty farms.  All disputes among the overseers were settled here.  If a slave was convicted of any high misdemeanor, became unmanageable, or evinced a determination to run away, he was brought immediately here, severely whipped, put on board the sloop, carried to Baltimore, and sold to Austin Woolfolk, or some other slave-trader, as a warning to the other slaves remaining.
"Here, too, the slaves of all the other farms received their monthly allowance of food, and their yearly clothing.  The men and women slaves received, as their monthly allowance of food, eight pounds of pork, or its equivalent in fish, and one bushel of corn meal.  Their yearly clothing consisted of two coarse linen shirts, one pair of linen trousers, like the shirts, one jacket, one pair of trousers for winter, made of coarse negro cloth, one pair of stockings, and one pair of shoes; the whole of which could not have cost more than seven dollars.  The allowance of the slave children was given to their mothers, or the old women having the care of them.  The children unable to work in the field had neither shoes, stockings, jackets, nor trousers, given to them; their clothing consisted of two coarse linen shirts per year.  When these failed them, they went naked until the next allowance day.  Children from seven to ten years old, of both sexes, almost naked, might be seen at all seasons of the year.
"There were no beds given the slaves, unless one coarse blanket be considered such, and none but the men and women had these.  This, however, is not considered a very great privation.  They find less difficulty from the want of beds, than from the want of time to sleep; for when their day's work in the field is done, the most of them having their washing, mending, and cooking to do, and having few or none of the ordinary facilities for doing either of these, very many of their sleeping hours are consumed in preparing for the field the coming day; and when this is done, old and young, male and female, married and single, drop down side by side, on one common bed, - the cold, damp floor...and here they sleep till they are summoned to the field by the driver's horn.  At the sound of this, all must rise, and be off to the field.  There must be no halting; every one must be at his or her post; and woe betides them who hear not this morning summons to the field; for if they are not awakened by the sense of hearing, they are by the sense of feeling...Mr. Severe, the overseer, used to stand by the door of the quarter, armed with a large hickory stick and heavy cowskin, ready to whip anyone who was so unfortunate as not to hear, or, from any other cause, was prevented from being ready to start for the filed at the sound of the horn.
"Mr. Severe was rightly named: he was a cruel man.  I have seen him whip a woman, causing the blood to run half an hour at the time; and this, too, in the midst of her crying children, pleading for their mother's release."

Frederick Douglass, you are remembered.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Snapshot Saturdays!

And now for a sight city-types don't see every day!  These were taken on a Sunday morning when traffic on Main Street is pretty quiet.

Environmentally friendly transportation!

New and old meet on Main Street, Tortola 

Snapshot Saturday is sponsored by Alyce of At Home With Books! Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

International Giveaway - The Witch of Hebron

Today I'm giving away my copy of The Witch of Hebron by James Howard Kunstler.  More about the book and the giveaway requirements below.

The Witch of Hebron: A World Made by Hand Novel

From Goodreads - "Already a renowned social commentator and a best-selling novelist and nonfiction writer, James Howard Kunstler has recently attained even greater prominence in the global conversation about energy and the environment. In the sequel to his novel, World Made by Hand, Kunstler expands on his vision of a post-oil society with a new novel about an America in which the electricity has flickered off, the Internet is a distant memory, and the government is little more than a rumor. In the tiny hamlet of Union Grove, New York, travel is horse-drawn and farming is back at the center of life. But it’s no pastoral haven. Wars are fought over dwindling resources and illness is a constant presence. Bandits roam the countryside, preying on the weak. And a sinister cult threatens to shatter Union Grove’s fragile stability. 

In a book that is both shocking yet eerily convincing, Kunstler seamlessly weaves hot-button issues such as the decline of oil and the perils of climate change into a compelling narrative of violence, religious hysteria, innocence lost, and love found."

To win, just follow me either on my blog or on twitter and leave a comment with your email below.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Snapshot Saturdays! Birds of the BVI

Today, I'm once again participating in Snapshot Saturday which is sponsored by Alyce of At Home With Books! Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

There's an area where I go walking in the early mornings which is sometimes flooded after heavy rains.  It makes the sandy ground difficult to walk in but the birds love the new ponds!

Laughing Gulls (they make a ha ha sound.
I like how the one on the left looks so dainty)

A Great Egret!
Great Egrets are not very common in the Virgin Islands so I was quite surprised to see this one!

The Great Egrets are quite elegant, aren't they?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Here Comes Trouble Blog Tour and Contest

Today I'm welcoming author Delaney Diamond to my blog as part of her Here Comes Trouble Blog Tour!  Delaney is from the neighbouring USVirgin Islands which I think is just so cool!  She's also a fabulous writer of hot, very hot, romances!  Here Comes Trouble is her latest release and is available at Amazon and all major booksellers.


4 Reasons to Love Matthew Hawthorne

Matthew Hawthorne is the hero in my most recent release, Here Comes Trouble. As the youngest of the Hawthorne brothers, he’s played the field and hasn’t exactly been good boyfriend material. However, he does have some characteristics I find attractive. I’ll tell you a bit about him and pull text from the novel to give you examples of what I mean.

He takes care of himself. I love a well-groomed man! I definitely take notice when a man dresses well and smells good. That’s Matthew. Below is what Lorena’s thinking when she sees him for the first time in months.

He always took great care with his appearance. From his weekly barbershop visits to make sure his Caesar haircut stayed low-cut and finely trimmed, to picking out the right clothes and sending them out to be cleaned and pressed. Almost everything he did was for one purpose: to capture the attention of the opposite sex. 

He’s father material. Not only does his niece adore him and get excited when he comes around, but the boys at the community center look up to him and admire him. Matthew’s not only their coach, he’s their mentor. Here’s a snippet between him and a young man at the center who wants to go to college and speaks to Matthew about his plans.

“Yeah, I’m not getting my hopes up or anything, but we figured we might as well start looking into schools…you know…in case things work out. That way I’ll know which ones to apply to.” He paused. “Did you mean it when you said you’d write me a reference letter if I need it?”

“Absolutely.” Matthew placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder and lowered his head to look him in the eye. “Whenever you’re ready, you let me know. Don’t you dare hesitate. Understand?”

The boy grinned. “Thanks, Coach.”

He’s sexy. Okay, I have a weakness for sexy men, but who doesn’t? Tall and muscular go hand-in-hand, and Matthew is both in spades.

How unfair, he looked amazing—as usual. At a few inches over six feet, he towered over the average woman and was taller than the average man. Because he regularly worked out, his hard, muscular body hadn’t changed since his college days when he played football. 

 She reminded herself she had nothing to fear from him. He was, after all, just a man. A giant of a man with a powerfully muscular physique, a strong jaw, beautifully broad nose, and smooth skin the color of espresso, but still a man. He couldn’t cause her any more pain than he already had. She wouldn’t let him.

He’s a fighter. I’m not interested in men who start fights, but I have a soft spot for men who end them.  Plus you know a man like that will protect you no matter what.

His disheveled appearance shocked her. “What happened to you?” she gasped.

A large reddish bruise marred his forehead over his left eye. His shirt was dirt stained and hanging open. The buttons seemed to have been yanked off with such a level of violence, they left only the loose threads attached. Dark red spots blotted his white, tight-fitting sleeveless undershirt, and in his hand he held a long metal pipe.

“Tell me where to find him, Lorena. We have a score to settle.” His body seemed to vibrate with unspent energy.

Buy it now:  All Romance EbooksAmazon


On Friday, I’m having a big bash on my website with lots of giveaways, but I’m also giving away a prize today! Contest is open to international participants. Prize: an ebook of your choice of any of my books published before Here Comes Trouble.  To enter: In the comments below, tell me what characteristics you love in a man. Are yours the same as mine, or different? Deadline: You must enter no later than 11:59 PM EST today. The winner’s name will be posted in the comments below before 10 am EST tomorrow with instructions on how to claim your prizes.

Winners will be chosen by random.org.

Monday, 16 July 2012

An Interview with Ma Bett - A Caribbean Healer Woman

An Introduction

Ma Bett is a secondary character in Jessamine.  She's a healer, a herbalist wise in the way of plants.  Women turn to her, both when they are barren and when they wish to remain childless.  Arabella meets Ma Bett when she goes to visit the home of a child who has been violently assaulted.  Grace meets her too, though only briefly.  When Grace is drawn into Arabella's world, it is Ma Bett who realizes what is happening and sends Grace back to her own time.  The following is an interview with Ma Bett.

EO: Ma Bett, thank you for agreeing to this interview.  I really appreciate it.  Could you tell my readers how you came to know so much about plants and their medicinal properties?

MB: It is good you want to know more about plants for I can see that your generation prefers to turn to pills first before they make use of the old knowledge.  I learned about plants from both my father and my mother.  They were herbalists, too, and they learned from their parents, all the way back to Africa.

EO: I've heard it said that some of your knowledge also came from the Tainos and the Ciboneys.  Is that true?

MB: Yes, that is true.  When our African ancestors were brought over, they recognized some of the plants but others were new to them and when they mixed with the people who were here first, they learned their uses.  We added their knowledge to ours.

EO:  Can you share some of what they taught your ancestors?

MB: Eeh.  You want to know my secrets.  It is alright.  I will tell you some.  I will not tell you all.  You know the annatto.  They did not just use the dye from the seeds.  The leaves also were used - boil them, put them in your bath and it will help your muscle spasms.  If you've had a heart attack, tea made from the leaves of the custard apple will help prevent further attacks.
EO: What about things like a sprain?  Like if I sprain my ankle?

MB: Well, then you will want to make a poultice from the Touch-Me-Not Balsam and apply it to the sprain for half an hour or so, two or three times a day until the swelling goes down.

EO: And if I have a fever, what do you recommend?
MB:  You could try grinding a half cup of the seeds of the okra and boiling that for about 15 minutes.  When it is cool, you can take it after every meal.

EO: But what about infertility.  Can a plant really cure that?

MB. When a woman comes to me who wishes to be with child, I tell her to boil arrowroot pap and eat it as frequently as she can stand.
EO:  And does it work?
MB:  (laughs) Nobody has ever asked me for their money back but if the problem is a difficult one then I might have to use other measures, other treatments.

EO: Like?
MB: That I will keep to myself for now.
EO:  In Jessamine, you treated a child who had been raped.  What did you use?

MB: I used more than one thing because not only was she bleeding but she had a fever and she was having bad dreams.  First thing I gave her a bath using many plants - ginger root, avocado leaves, carambola leaves, bay leaves, and a few others then afterward I made her drink a tea of plantain leaves mixed with lemongrass for the fever and the bleeding.  At first, she could only take a few sips but after a few days her strength began to build back up.  The poultice, too, that helped to stop the bleeding.  Sometimes, when the hurts are so bad, you can't use one thing alone.

EO:  Thank you for talking to us, today, Ma Bett.  It's been very informative.

MB: You're welcome.  Pass it on.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A Recipe for Stewed Conch

In Jessamine, Grace is at a restaurant eating curried conch when she hears startling news.  In honour of that episode, I thought I'd focus on conch tolday.  Conch, also known as lambi in the French islands, is a popular dish throughout the Caribbean region.
 The pretty conch shell.

Below is a recipe for stewed conch from a book published by the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of the Virgin Islands, Native Recipes.  (Well worth the cost if you like Caribbean food, trust me!)

4 - 6     pounds conch, cleaned
1          medium onion, chopped
1          large green pepper, chopped
2          tablespoons margarine
2 - 3     tablespoons vegetable oil
1          hot pepper (optional)
2          tablespoons flour + 1/4 cup water
1 1/2    cups boiling water
a dash  creole seasoning or salt and pepper

Pound the cleaned conches.  Cover with water, bring to rapid boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender.  Drain and cut into small pieces.

Saute oinion and sweet pepper in oil and margarine until tender.  Pour in 1  1/2 cups boiling water.  Cook for about 2 minutes

Add conchs, seasoning or salt and pepper to taste, hot pepper, a dash of paprika and mace.  Cook for 5 to 10 minues.  Thicken with flour made into a paste with 1/4 cup water.  Cook a few minutes longer.


Makes approximately 13 servings at 281 calories per serving.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Snapshot Saturdays! And, up she goes!

I was in St. Thomas recently waiting for the ferry back to Tortola when I took these.  The view is from The Pump Room, a restaurant above the ferry terminal, in Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the USVI.  The seaplane goes between St. Croix and St. Thomas several times a day and offers a quick alternative to taking a boat which can take hours!  (St. Croix and St. Thomas are both part of the US Virgin Islands - St. Croix was once owned by the Templars for you history fans.)

The haze you see over the hills is actually as a result of the Saharan dust which blows across the Atlantic and hangs around for weeks a time when it has been particularly dry on both sides of the ocean.

Snapshot Saturday is sponsored by Alyce of At Home With Books! Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Junkanoo/John Canoe - Caribbean Festival

Was John Cunnu an African chief?  Did the Junkanoo celebration originate as a festival in his name?  No one is quite sure but what is certain is that the maquerade celebration certainly has African roots.  Pictures of the traditional costumes worn by participants in the Caribbean hark back to those worn in Africa during certain rites.
An old Jamaican postcard

"The leading male street masquerader of a troupe; his costume comprises mainly an elaborate head-dress (horse-head, cow-head with horns, model house, or tall hat with an ugly mask) and a tinselled or jingling, multi-coloured outfit; he dances to the beat of goat-skin drums, cow-bells, whistles, and other folk instruments while rushing at or 'frightening' onlookers and receiving money....[also] the merry festival of street-dancing and parading led by the Junkanoo with a troupe of traditional, costumed characters such as Devil, koo-koo, or, in recent times, related to some particular topic; the festival is now restricted to the Christmas season."  Richard Allsopp, Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage
Set Girls, women dressed in the distinctive colours of their set, often accompanied John Canoe.

Junkanoo was probably celebrated in most of the Caribbean islands but died away (the BVI tradition of Christmas bands is probably a legacy of that tradition) and is now mostly celebrated only in Jamaica, Bahamas and Belize.  The word itself is thought to come from Yoruba jo 'dance' n-n-kon (general word for) 'things, spells, feats'; also jankon-jankon 'noteworthy' (ie. person).  (Allsop)

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Concrete Blonde - A Brief Review

The Concrete Blonde (Harry Bosch, #3)The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Detective Harry Bosch discovers that no good deed goes unpunished when the wife of the serial killer dubbed the Dollmaker sues him. Saddled with a rather green attorney who doesn't appear to be any match for the plaintiff's take-no-prisoners representative, Bosch is almost resigned to losing. But just as the case is about to go to court, a note arrives at Police HQ purporting to be from the Dollmaker. The police are baffled since the Dollmaker killings stopped after the shooting. Is this a copycat or did they get it wrong? Bosch knows it was a "good shooting," but the newly discovered body raises a lot questions that need answering.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read! Excellent plot and great characters!

View all my reviews