Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (www.suzannearruda.com), and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location: www.suzannearruda.com, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at www.twitter.com/SuzanneArruda *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Monday, December 28, 2009

1920’s THE CHRISTMAS BEE

Last week we investigated some of the Christmas festivities in 1920 Nairobi and, at the end, the reader was promised race week in this blog. But it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to study “the Christmas Bee” and since the race week truly belongs to New Year’s, it will be covered in the first blog of 2010.

Remember that Nairobi sits just south of the equator and that December is actually summer there. Not that summer and winter mean much in an equatorial climate. That’s not to say that there are no seasons but rainy vs dry season has more impact on people and on the animal life.

And so it is that Jade and her friends would be celebrating Christmas and the New Year with a natural set of noisemakers: The Christmas Bee. And just what is this creature? It’s the South African name for the cicada and right now after the November and December rains, it is out in abundance. The reporter for The Standard said that, while he was on safari, he saw every tree and bush completely covered with the insects. The reporter quoted a poem “Happy are the cicadas’ lives – for they all have voiceless wives.” To test this, he collected cicadas with ovipositors (females) and found that they lacked the “two large tympanum-like discs which protect the stridulating organs.”

He advised the readers to visit the Nairobi Museum to see specimens of the different cicadas that were busily making the Christmas season a very noisy one.

Next week: Race Week and New Year’s festivities in old Nairobi.
All quotes and the headline are from The East African Standard, Dec. 25, 1920.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, December 21, 2009

CHRISTMAS IN 1920 NAIROBI

There was a lot to do and see for Christmas in Nairobi in 1920 and below is a glimpse of some of the wonders that the colony's capital city.
For the Children there was a magical display of color and wonder with a visit from Santa Claus, all sponsored by Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co, Ltd., one of Nairobi's large stores.

For the adults, there were opportunities to dance. The Victoria Hotel offered a costume ball on Christmas eve and the Forest Hotel planned a dance on Christmas Day. So enjoy the glimpse in Christmases past and, from myself, Jade del Cameron and all her friends: A very Merry Christmas.



Next Week: New Years and Race Week Galas
All images taken from The East African Standard

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Monday, December 14, 2009

1920’s EARLY AFRICAN MOVIES CONT. : DUGMORE’S ADVICE FOR FILMING WILDLIFE (PART 3)

Pioneer wildlife photographer, Arthur Radclyffe Dugmore, and author of THE WONDERLAND OF BIG GAME (1925) photographed and made cinematic films of African wildlife just before and about the same time as mystery character, Jade del Cameron (Mark of the Lion….Treasure of the Golden Cheetah). And one of the means that Jade used to capture images of wildlife was to use flash photography.

In today’s world, that means a built in electronic flash. In Jade and Dugmore’s time, it was a far more laborious process, one involving a large amount of chemicals, batteries, wiring and a good deal of luck.

Flash photography involves a trip thread. The animal steps on this, completing a circuit to a battery (small dry cells) which simultaneously ignites the flash powder in a pan and opens the shutter. Placing these threads near a water hole is trickier than it may first appear as smaller beasties are capable of taking the picture. “If the thread is placed under water, frogs or turtles may try to do the tight-rope act. . .” The thread leads to a device, generally handmade, that makes use of a magnetic tripping device. Dugmore says that “the flash ignition fuse is of the sort used to fire blasting charges…an electric squib.”

Since the first animals that come to a kill are generally hyena and jackals, flash photography rarely captures a lion. Dugmore tried putting the trip line up higher, but hyena often hold their head as high as a lion’s so, while avoiding jackals, the photographer might find more hyena pictures than desired.

Some care must be given to the flash powder. Dugmore adviced “at no time have your face near the powder when the wires are connected.” He suggests testing your connection before putting the powder in the pan, a strong tray 5-8 inches in length. He advised protecting the powder with waxed paper to prevent dew from caking it.

Next week: Christmas time in old Nairobi.
All quotes are from A. R. Dugmore, Wonderland of Big Game, 1925.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, December 07, 2009

1920’s EARLY AFRICAN MOVIES CONT. : DUGMORE’S ADVICE FOR FILMING WILDLIFE (PART 2)

Last week, pioneer wildlife photographer, Arthur Radclyffe Dugmore, (1925 -THE WONDERLAND OF BIG GAME) left any would-be wildlife photographers absolutely motionless among swarms of biting insects – all just to photograph an elephant or rhino or other exotic wild animal that you were stalking. It’s a situation that Jade del Cameron or Sam Featherstone have encountered in the Jade del Cameron mystery series.

But stalking is not the only method to get animal footage. Working from a blind is another. Dugmore recommends that you choose a spot near a water-hole if you plan to photograph something other than a large predator. (predators require a kill for bait). Build a comfortable blind – one that has “plenty of room in it.” You should cover the bottom with grass and a blanket so that you can “move without making any noise.” All equipment should be concealed with grass or branches, but take care that grass doesn’t blow across the lens.

If you’ve gone to the bother of making a blind either on the ground or in a tree, supply it with at least two cameras set to work simultaneously and without being touched. In other words, by a remote mechanism which in the 1920’s, meant an electrical wire and batteries. “The slightest movement may be fatal, not only to the picture, but to yourself as lion can see at night, and it does not take much to make them come for you.”

He advices being prepared. “Have a rifle handy,” and protect yourself from mosquitoes. His advice in 1925: “Parasitox made by Heppell’s laboratories.” “A good electric-hand torch” (flashlight) is most useful and recommends a strong one attached to one’s hat, like on a miner’s helmet.

Next week: Dugmore’s Flash photography.
All quotes are from A. R. Dugmore, Wonderland of Big Game, 1925.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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