Saturday, April 30, 2016

By: Lillabeth B.

            As the Crowned Tawny drew closer to the city of clouds, Lady Hermione Everlark could see the ship was beginning to be noticed. The "cloud people" below her stopped and stared at the vessel for a few seconds, and then, as she watched, chaos ensued. The people began flooding the streets, pushing past one another to find shelter in shops and homes. One cloud woman pulled her small cloud toddler behind her and together they took cover under a cloud awning.
            It was then that Hermy heard a whistle and felt something sharp and deathly cold brush her ear. The pain took a moment to register. "Ah!" The Lady gave a small cry and tenderly touched the nick in her ear, staring down at her assailant; it was a sharp, flat shard of ice that lay briefly on the floor of the Observation Deck before being blown into the open sky.
            More whistling filled the air and the captain of the Tawny pushed down Hermy's head and led her toward the bronze trapdoor that was set into the hardwood. Hermione grasped the golden handle and pulled the door open without any trouble; the captain, however, having unhooked his harness from the railing, was struggling against the wind. Lady Everlark grasped his hand, and she could feel the wind blowing over her hand, wrapping around him and pulling him towards her. Together, they descended into the ship, and the wind blew the door shut behind them.
            Struggling to catch his breath, the captain leaned on Hermy, who stood in the silver spiral staircase gazing at her hand in awe of its newfound abilities. Madeline Hinny looked up in surprise and rushed up the stairway to them.
            "What's going on? I've been worried sick," Maddie stuttered anxiously. "Don was just here; he said the entire ship's on high alert, and the bridge needs you now, captain!"
            "On my way," the captain groaned, grasping the railing and beginning to descend at a snail's pace. "I'm getting too old for this," he said with a sigh.
            "Excuse me, but who's Don?" Hermy inquired as she took the captain's arm and placed it over her shoulders. "Donald Rumpey, my great-nephew and apprentice," the captain answered. Hermy wrapped her arm around his waist and helped to support him as he continued. "His parents passed when he was six months old, and he's been on the Tawny ever since."
            "I've known him all my life! He makes wonderful inventions, and he's fixed the ship four times!" The words bubbled from Maddie's mouth as though from a glass of champagne. "He's learning to drive the ship, too!" Hermy grinned in a most unladylike way.
"You seem to have quite an interest in him," she teased, and Maddie flushed bright red.
            The airship suddenly lurched to the left, tossing the three off their feet. The stairs were steep, and Hermy managed to catch the captain's collar with her left hand and the railing with her right before they both tumbled down; Maddie, however, wasn't so lucky, and tumbled down the stairs, level after level, until she came to a rest on the floor, the loud Bang! That echoed through the corridor.
            As the echoes died away, new footsteps, light and quick, rang out as a pale blond blur sped towards Maddie in a heap on the floor. A new voice as well, clear, crisp, and gentle as a songbird's, broached the words, "Madd! Are you alright?"
"Oh! Yes! Of course! I'm fine." Maddie flushed bright red.
            Hermy laughed as she descended the staircase with the captain. Maddie grasped the boy's hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet. As Hermione reached the floor and the captain took his arm from over her shoulders, the young man elbowed Madeline and teased, "Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?"
"Oh, of course! Don, meet the Lady Hermione Harriet Everlark. Hermy, this is Donald Rumpey." The Lady curtseyed.
"Pleasure, Mr. Rumpey."
The captain let out his signature cackle before getting down to the point. "Alright, kids, let's stop playing around. No small thing can make this vessel shudder like it just did, and the sooner we get to the bridge, the sooner we'll know what happened."
            He walked further down the hall, until it came to a dead end. Maddie and Don were close behind, though Hermy was a bit more wary. "Um, Captain, it seems you've gone in the wrong direction?"
The captain laughed again. "No, my dear, I'm exactly where I want to be." He took a step closer to the wall and spoke in a monotonous voice, "Voice recognition, Captain of the SBAF Crowned Tawny."
A disembodied female voice replied, "Voice recognition positive. Welcome, Captain.” A seam then appeared in the center of the smooth copper wall and grew larger and larger until the wall disappeared entirely. What lay beyond that wall was astonishing.
            At the far end of the long, narrow room was the Tawny's right eye, showing the great cloud fortress and blurs of ice daggers slicing through the cold air and occasionally glancing off of the glass. Hermy saw an intricate wheel similar to the bow of a standard sea ship, but made of beautifully polished brass and covered in switches, levers, buttons, and knobs. The walls were lined with desks and the crew was seated in rickety wooden chairs, speaking into candlestick telephones and scribbling on notepads.
            As the quartet entered the room, a crewmember standing by the wheel ran to the captain. "Sir, we've got a problem."
"So I hear. And why is no one manning the wheel?" There was a tone of annoyance and anger in the captain's voice.
"It's useless, Sir! Look!" The man gestured toward the window.
            Hermione walked to the window and put her hand on the glass. She peered closely through the haze of ice missiles and out at the cloud fortress only to discover that the fortress was no longer in sight! Then slowly and gradually, the castle came into view, along with the rest of the cloud kingdom, moving slowly from the left side to the right, until it disappeared again.
Hermione turned to face the captain. "We're going in circles?"
"Precisely!" the crewmember confirmed. "Apparently, one of those blasted ice missiles has jammed the rudder. We can't move. We're trapped!"
            At that moment, the ice dagger blizzard subsided and then halted entirely. The silence was deafening until a crewmember listening to a telephone turned in her chair. "Sir? We've got a message from the cloud city." She pushed a button on her telephone and a deep, whispering voice was broadcasted over the intercom.
            "Bring us the half-blood, the half-breed, the hybrid. Bring us the daughter of mistress fair. Bring her to us, alone and unguided. Give her to us, or else beware. Bring us the beloved, hidden, and loved. Bring Hermione Harriet Everlark."

For more on Hermione’s adventures stay connected with the Lime Green Giraffe on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr!

Friday, April 1, 2016

By: Lillabeth B.

As Lady Hermione Everlark and Madeline Hinny, daughter of the Crowned Tawny's cook, turned a corner, they saw a gleaming silver spiral staircase that lead up to the ceiling, and to a bronze trapdoor with a golden handle. "That leads up to the Observation Deck?" Lady Everlark asked Maddie.
"That's right," the servant girl responded in her trademark cockney accent. "It's right between your room and the command center. But Hermy," she continued, grabbing the Lady by the hand, "There's a strong wind up there. Be careful, okay?"
"Oh, Maddie," Hermione responded, grasping Maddie's other hand with hers, "I'm always careful." And with that, she released Ms. Hinny's hands, gathered her skirts in her palms, and hurried toward the staircase.
            As she ascended the staircase, she transferred the skirt she held in her right hand to her left, and grasped the iron handle with her now-free hand. She took a deep breath and continued up the staircase, one step at a time, watching Maddie become farther and farther away. At last she reached the trapdoor, and, bracing herself, she pushed it open and walked through.
            It felt as though she had been hit by a two-ton bull. The wind slapped her cheeks, pulled her hair, and pushed her against the frozen black steel railing. Then, as suddenly as it started, it stopped. It was a most curious sensation; it was as though the wind was just outside her reach, stinging her skin with the close proximity, but no matter how far she stretched her arm, she couldn't reach it. It was as if the wind had created a sort of bodysuit around her, though she knew this wasn't possible.
            "How curious," she said to herself.
"You should see it from here!" a voice yelled at her, and it was then that Hermy realized she wasn't alone.
            There was a man on the other side of the Observation Deck. He was strapped into a leather harness, which was in turn hooked onto the railing.
The man was tall, thin, and bony as a twig. His chin was dotted with stubble and the few wisps of white hair that poked out of his brown leather newsboy cap were tossed back and forth by the wind. A thin smile decorated his face, and his small eyes crinkled with pleasure. He wore tall black combat boots, black dress pants with several patches sewn onto them, and a faded, worn dark blue Air Navy uniform jacket with so many badges and awards sewn above his breast pocket that many overlapped.
            "The winds have accepted you, child," he said.
            "You are the captain of this grand, majestic vessel, I assume?" Lady Everlark asked formally, curtseying low, though her hand still wrapped around the railing, just to be safe.
            The captain waved it away. "Oh, cut the small talk. You're not built to be all fancy-schmancy, and you know it."
            This gave Hermione pause. He was right, of course, and she'd known this all her life, but even her father hadn't realized this. So how did the captain know?
            "Your mother was like you, a bird that longed to be free," he began, answering her unspoken question. "Your father met her flying on this ship. She was a wild, spirited beauty, our resident tinkerer and my apprentice. She stole his heart, and he stole hers. They were two lovebirds ready to fly off."
            "But they didn't," Hermy said with dread, sure she could guess what happened next. "Indeed. The Duke's a bit more of groundhog, really," the captain responded, chuckling a little. "He wanted her to settle down in his mansion, have kids, be ladylike and prim and, well, grounded." He shook his head. "It was never going to happen."
            "How did she get away?" Hermione asked. The captain looked out at the sky. "Now this, I don't know," he admitted. "One day she never came back. I heard she was gone by word of mouth. Quite embarrassing for your father, really, but at least he still had her beautiful daughter, Hermione Harriet." He gave Hermy a meaningful look, then turned back to the sky.
            The Lady looked around too, and saw that the Observation Deck was actually quite grand. It was round and about the size of her bedroom. The floor was light birch hardwood, dusted with flakes of ice, and every other post of the railing rose up to twice the captain's height, ending in a point. The black metal gleamed in the light of dawn.
            "The crown of the Crowned Tawny," the captain joked, and Hermy walked over to join him as easily as if she were on solid ground. She looked down and saw the green and brown patchwork quilt of earth whizzing by, and getting smaller and smaller by the second. "We're rising in altitude," he told her. "There's a right speedy wind blowing up there, and we want to catch it so as to get quickly to the palace.”
            From their perch, Hermione could see that the Observation Deck rested right on top of the Tawny's head, and its ears poked up right to the left and right of herself and the captain, perking up and curling as though it were alive. She reached out to feel the ear closest to her, the one on the right, and as she stroked it, the ear curled up and warmed. Hermy gasped.
"It's alive!" The captain raised an eyebrow. "You're the first to discover that since your mother!"
            Hermy suddenly remembered the painting in her room. "Speaking of my mother, did you put that portrait of my mother in my bedroom?" The captain's eyes widened a bit in surprise.
"How did you know it was your mother?"
The daughter stared at the horizon. "I'm not quite sure. I just felt it with a sense deeper than my bones.”
            A look of curiosity passed over Hermione's face. "I don't believe I ever caught your name," she said. The captain let out a cackle.
"My dear Miss Everlark, I don't believe I threw it!" And they both looked back out at the sky with smiles on their faces.
            Lady Everlark didn't believe anyone could persuade her to leave. The sky was a light blue, and the rising sun tinted the clouds pink. She could see the horizon, a bluish-white line in the distance, and she felt as though the entire world was spread about before her. With the sky reflected in her eyes and the wind in her hair, she could sense a change within her, from lady to bird. Oddly, it didn't worry or even surprise her. She wouldn't go back for the world.
            As she stared into the heavens, Hermy spied a large white bird, with bronze-colored wings and a long white tail. "What sort of bird is that?" she asked, pointing. "I didn't know birds flew at this altitude." The captain stared at the bird with wide eyes, and a look of intense worry crossed his face.
"They don't," he whispered. "Hermione... They don't!"
            The bird flew behind a cloud, but though it was gone from their sight, it was not gone from their minds. The captain was on a brainstorming rampage. "Birds die at this altitude! They can't breathe! It must be genetically or mechanically enhanced! Or maybe it's a mechanical bird disguised as a normal one! Or a human disguised as a bird! Or a bird-human hybrid! Or maybe…"
            But the captain was unable to finish, for as they both stared at the sky, the clouds parted before them like gates to a kingdom, and what they saw through these gates would shape the future of humanity itself. A field of white fluff spread out below them, and resting on it were small structures of white fluff, with triangular roofs and walls rising up to meet them, built of small white blocks. There was a little church with a steeple in the center of the little town, and a little ways off light gray clouds formed and a little ways off from that rose a wall of darker clouds; and beyond that, there was a great fortress of storm clouds, with spires twirling through the blue, reaching for the sun. Walking through houses, going about their daily business, were figures of white fluff, doing their jobs in their city in the sky.
            A city of clouds.

What will Hermione and her friends find in the city of clouds? Find out in the part four of The Unexpected Radical Adventures of Lady Hermione Everlark and Her Abnormally Small and Consistently Quirky Crew to be posted at on May 1, 2016.

Monday, March 14, 2016

By: Sydnie C.

Monica Kaufman Pearson is a television journalist, radio personality, and writer for the Southern Seasons Magazine. In 1975, she overcame racial barriers in the media industry when she became the first black woman to be an anchor on the six o’ clock news. I recently was afforded the opportunity to interview Ms. Pearson. We discussed her career, her inspirations, her advice for aspiring journalists and much more.

Lime Green Giraffe: Who or what inspired you to get involved in journalism?
Monica Kaufman Pearson: When I was in high school, I worked on my high school newspaper. I also worked for a newspaper called the Louisville Defender, which was a black newspaper. But, to be honest, I didn’t think about a job in communications because when I looked around at television and listened to radio, there were not many people that looked like me or sounded like me. My bachelor’s degree is in English and philosophy because I decided I was going to be a teacher.
At that time, Diane Sawyer, who used to be on ABC’s nightly news was a weather girl in Louisville, Kentucky, my home. At that point, women had not moved to the anchoring position yet. The best she could do was to be a weather girl. The times were a little different then what they are now.

LGG: Since you were the first African American female on the six o’ clock news, what are some examples of racist and sexist impediments that you had to face?
Pearson: The first was when you come into a newsroom and there were other people of color in the newsroom who felt that they should’ve had the opportunity for the job. There can be some jealousy, and there can be some meanness. Then you have to deal with an audience that is both black and white. There were black people who thought that I wasn’t black enough because I didn’t have a huge fro…that was a surprise. Then white people did not like me because they weren’t used to seeing a woman on the evening news. They weren’t used to seeing a woman of color on that show either. I wondered which was worse: the fact that I was woman or the fact that I was an African American. It was a combination of the two that was an affront to the many white people who watched. I remember one viewer saying that I was not “deferential” enough to men because I had reached over during a story and touched my white co-anchor. What I learned is that you can’t be all things to all people. You have to always be true to yourself, have a sense of value, have ethics that you live by.

LGG: What mistakes do you think you made when you were a novice in journalism?
Pearson: The first mistake I made and I’m glad I made it early in journalism, was never to say anything around a microphone you wouldn’t want your mother to hear. I was working in Louisville, Kentucky, and the weatherman, during a commercial break, made an obscene comment about Dolly Parton. Everyone in Louisville and southern Indiana heard me say the dirty word for feces on television during a commercial break. When we came back from the commercial break, I immediately apologized. After I got off the show, there were two calls. The first was my news director, who was laughing. The second call was my mother, who said, “Monica Rosie Lee Kaufman, why would you put something in your mouth you wouldn’t hold in your hand?” Then she slammed the phone down. That was the biggest and first mistake I ever made on the air. 

LGG: During my research, I read that you grew up in a family with a lot of strong women. How do you think your upbringing led you to develop the resilience you would need for this job?
Pearson: Faith. My mom says that if you really believe in your faith, and if you really believe in God, that if anything happens to you, just turn it over to Him. You do not allow the opinions of others to move you from your faith. My mother used to say to me all the time growing up, “It’s what you do, with what you have, that makes you what you are. That when we’re created, we were created with everything that we need to be successful.” Where we get hung up sometimes is we let other people’s opinions about us change what we know we should be doing.

LGG: How competitive is journalism?
Pearson: I think it’s very competitive now because you’re required to do what I did when I began. That’s being a one-man band. It means you shoot your story  yourself, you edit it yourself, write it, you produce it and you get it on the air. Today, you have to be a multi-platform journalist and that’s exciting because you not only do a piece for radio but you can do a piece for television or the newspaper, Snapchat, or Twitter. Multi-platform journalism is opening up more jobs. As a beginning reporter, you have to be able to do more than one thing.

LGG: What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
Pearson: The first thing would be, research. Whenever you meet people, interview them. You always have to show people that you’re interested in them and that you’ve done your research. I hate when people aren’t prepared because it means that you really didn’t care about the person you’re interviewing. You should have a real love for people, curiosity, and be very good in your research.
In your questions, you should always try to ask things that no one has ever asked. If you’ve done your research, you’ll run up on something that you didn’t know before. There is no such thing as a dumb, stupid, silly, or embarrassing question. As long as it gets you information you didn’t have before, it’s a good question. Now, have your questions, but don’t be tied to them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

By: Lillabeth B.

Duke Everlark's room was twice the size of Lady Hermione's, with high ceilings and an elegant silver chandelier with diamonds embedded into its arms. The walls were barely visible, for before them were shelves and shelves of books, books of every size, shape, and color. Dark oak ladders attached to golden rods that ran around the room, allowing access to the highest shelves. In the far right corner of the room, a cushioned leather chair sat beside a tall lamp. In another corner, a large bed with a carved mahogany headboard and shining tan covers. The gleaming oak floor was clearly visible.
            In the center of the room, with his back to the door, was Duke Francis Everlark. He wore shiny leather shoes under pristine navy blue pants, and a white pinstripe shirt peaked up from behind a slim red velvet vest and stretched along his arms. His light red hair with streaks of white was neatly parted to the right.
            Her skirts gathered in her hands, Lady Everlark walked elegantly into the room, her chin held high, a delicate smile gleaming in her face.
            "Still awake this late?" Duke Everlark said as he turned to face her, revealing crystal blue eyes, a small nose, a light red and white beard, and a warm smile.
            Hermione lowered her head and curtseyed low. "Yes, your Grace. Speeding through the air, the view is amazing. What a sense of bliss and serenity."
            The Duke's smile disappeared and he turned his back once more. "Hermione, I've told you many times before that there's no need to curtsey or use 'your Grace' in my presence. I am your father after all."
            The Duke's daughter rose, her body more relaxed, but her expression was one of indignation. "I was only practicing, Father. I would like my etiquette to be impeccable when I stand before the king."
            "That is not why you curtseyed," he contradicted her, "but I won't waste my time on adolescent quarrels. I called you here on account of a different matter." Expressions of astonishment, anger, great annoyance, and defiance passed over Hermione's face in an infinitely surprisingly short period. Duke Everlark was not, unfortunately for him, looking, and so when he glanced over his shoulder he saw only an expression of intent curiosity plastered on his daughter's face.
             “This is not the first time Ive flown on this airship,” Duke Everlark explained, his back still to Hermione. “I did so many years before, and it was on that flight that you were born.”
“So my mother was on the ship!” Lady Everlarks brow furrowed intensely the gears of her mind beginning to turn.
Indeed,” her father responded, “Ill admit that there are some signs of her presence on board; but I must insist that you not look for them.”
Needless to say, Hermione was more than a little startled.
She rushed toward Duke Everlark. “How do you mean?”
Despite the fact that Lady Everlarks mouth was mere inches from his neck, he did not flinch. “Ive instructed the captain to make sure you dont go beyond the residential area of the Crowned Tawny, and do not stray into the engine room, the airmens or servants quarters, and especially not the Observation Deck.”
            “Not the Observation Deck!” Hermione took another step. “Father, you cant!” She was yelling now, obviously intensely angered. This show of ferocity did cause the Duke to move, turning to face her and backing away, a stubborn glint in his cold blue eyes, once warm and gentle.
“Hermione Harriet Francis Everlark, you will not raise your voice to me and you will respect my personal space!” With that the Lady hiked up her skirts and rushed forward. Duke Everlark made a gesture to his guards, who wore black pants and bright red coats emblazoned with a golden coat of arms.
“Indeed I will! You cant take away my liberty, Father. This has gone on long enough!” Hermione hurried toward her father with raised fist, and was preparing to strike him when his guards reached out, took both of her arms and pulled her back toward the mahogany double doors.
            Most would expect a lady to scream or faint, but Hermione only grunted and attempted to kick the guards, but to no avail, as her short legs could not reach far enough to make contact. But her voice would not be silenced “Father! Stop this madness! I just want to live my…" but she was cut off as the guards opened the doors with their free hands and thrust her out into the hallway.
            Lady Everlark fell on her knees and turned to just in time to see the doors close with a bang. "Whoa there, Hermy," a voice with a cockney accent, and Hermione saw Madeline Hinny, the cook's daughter and Hermy's new friend, running down the hall toward her, a silver tray of lemon cakes teetering dangerously in her hand.
            "Maddie! Just who, I need! Here," the Lady wheezed, short of breath, and her long, delicate fingers reached around to the back of her dress, where she began to undo the bow that held a white rope in place. The rope wound through the fabric of the dress, making it tight, but as she pulled on the bow, the rope loosened just enough to reveal another winding on another piece of fabric wrapped around her stomach. The fabric was obviously suppressing her breathing. "Undo my corset."
            Maddie looked shocked as she set the tray on the ground with a clatter. "Hermy... It's not ladylike."
"Do it!" Hermy commanded on her last breath, and the servant girl hurriedly knelt down and untied the bow, then laced her short, stubby fingers through the rope and pulled the two parts of the fabric away from each other. Lady Everlark reached back and pulled the rope clean out, and then removed the entire corset. She began taking deep breaths.
            "I really don't understand the use of those horrid things," Hermy said as she recovered. "Certainly not the thing for your everyday girl on the town."
"Well, you're no everyday maiden, if I may say so, Hermy," Maddie replied, as confused as her friend was relieved. "You could hear the racket all the way in the kitchens! Did your father just throw you out of his room? What in the name of the sun and the moon is happening?"
            "Well," Hermy began, "It started a long time ago. When I was very young I would be allowed to play in our backyard, which is about an acre in size; but that all changed on my seventh birthday, when my father forbid me to ever leave the house. I now only leave the house when Father goes on a trip and takes me with him, and even then, it's straight into the carriage, straight onto the boat or the train, and not a step outside until we arrive. And now, we're on an airship, the trip I've been waiting for my entire life, and what does he do? He forbids me to leave the residential area! He forbids me to go on the Observation Deck!" With each phrase she threw her hands in the air in frustration. "He stuffs me in a cage for the billionth time. This is not the first time I've lashed out at him before. Sometimes this life just gets unbearable."
            Maddie sat down on the floor next to Hermy. " had no friends?"
"Oh, I had friends, good friends, but I didn't see them often. I'm very good friends with the Cardinal of Southbay's eldest daughter, Rosianne, and the Prince of Netla's sister, Michelangela, and even King Rona's youngest, Helga, but I only see them about once every two years."
            "Well, I don't mean to be rude, but there is another reason I came here," Maddie said gingerly. "I thought you said, when you were yelling, that your father told the captain not to let you on the Observation Deck?" "            Yes," Hermy said, cocking her head in confusion, "Why?"
"Well," the young servent girl said carefully, "the captain said he wanted to talk to you. He said he wanted you to come meet him." She trailed off.
"Meet him where?" Hermy pushed on.
"Well," Maddie began, "He said for you to meet him on the Observation Deck."
            At this, Hermy cracked a most unladylike grin. "He's on my side! He wants me to be able to go outside, and he's willing to disobey Father to do it! Oh, this is brilliant!" And her smile was so contagious that Maddie couldn't have resisted even if she'd wanted to.
            "Here, I'll show you how to get there," she said, grabbing Hermy's hand and pulling her up.
            And off they walked together, two unlikely friends smiling together, leaving behind two objects that marked the life they had and the life they would soon leave behind; a corset and a tray of lemon cakes.

To find out what happens next for Hermy and Maddie, visit for part 3, A Conversation in the Air on April 1, 2016.