Scientific Pursuits

A surprise mid-week update for you, my colleagues!  Did you think we’d forgotten about you?  No, we’ve just been busy busy with the never-ending list of last-minute details that come along with making an amazing book for you all to enjoy very soon!  And we here at Mischief Central know you’d never want us to leave out the amazing last-minute details.

To tide you over, I’ve dug back into the trunk that started it all, to share our very own Dr. Erma Melanogaster’s tale of longing and anticipation.  Enjoy!


My Dear Mr. Tesla,

Greetings again, and I hope this letter finds you well.  It was such a delight to chat after your presentation last month, and certainly hope you are still as excited as I am at the prospect of a collaboration.  I’ve just set up the most state-of-the-art laboratory in beautiful Seattle, Washington.  I’m sure you’ll find this coast easily as inspirational as your current one, when you do decide to relocate.  I’ve already begun drawing up some plans for shared equipment spaces, testing chambers, and the like, and am eager for your input.  Please write as soon as your busy schedule allows.

Yours truly,

Dr. Erma Melanogaster


My Dearest Mr. Tesla,

I understand your concern with relocating your current research efforts across the country, but let me assure you, all your supplies and equipment will be treated with the utmost of care.  Need I remind you, I’m no stranger to handling sensitive apparatus.  I’m sure you’ll absolutely love it here, and the work we produce together will more than make up for any lost time.  Besides, I’ve just put up the most gorgeous blue velvet drapes in the small lab space – I do recall you mentioning a fondness for blue, yes?  I’m sure I heard that somewhere.  They’ll be perfect for our mutual experiments requiring a dark environment.  My mind has been in even more of a whirl than usual dreaming up things we might discover together.  So, you may cast your worries aside -all will be well once you join me here.

Patiently (Impatiently) yours,



My darling Nikola,

Might I say, you are quite the tease, sir!  You certainly know how to keep a lady’s… scientific interest piqued.  All this talk of “but I hardly remember you” and “cease and desist” – you really needn’t play coy with me.  We’re both mature, professional adults, in the prime of our life, at the cutting edge of our fields!  Now is the time for bold action!  Let the sad, simple masses worry about common sense, the rules of society and all that nonsense.  Ah, you must know how you inspire me!  Of course, we’ve all heard about your personal moral commitments.  I must commend such a clever ploy to keep the lesser-minded ladies away.  Should have thought of that one myself, as I’m fending off such a deluge of suitors these days.  But rest assured, you are the only one to hold the coveted position in my heart and in my lab.  Enclosed is a portrait of yours truly in the space we will someday share, so you might gaze upon it until that day.

With love,

Your Erma


Nikki Dear,

Theo called on me the other day, and simply can’t wait to meet you!  I went ahead and labeled all your little shelves and cupboards, and got in a new sampling of tea that I can’t wait for you to try.  I do hope you’re able to get on your way soon -I keep having to dust your workspace, and you know I hate dusting.  Oh, but what am I saying?  It’s really not a bother at all, when I have your arrival to look forward to, plenty of time to fit it in while the samples are condensing.  Did you go ahead and contact the post office regarding your new address?  The majority of my letters these past few months appear to be returning undelivered, which I’m taking as a sign of progress!  Well, I must be getting back to it. Just wanted to check in while I had a few minutes.  Making your favorite dessert tonight!

Hugs and kisses,



If you too are a Tesla fan, I highly recommend taking a look at the Tesla Museum Fundraiser.  Fans of Kickstarter, etc will appreciate the amazing prizes still to be had – you can even get your own saucy Tesla photo to gaze at.  Though the funding goal has already been blown out of the water (horray! we know first hand what a great feeling that is), more fundraising will just to go making the museum that much better.  I’m sure Dr. Erma would be thrilled… though she may have to view it from a legally-imposed distance.


An Invitation From Miss Hackworth

Dearest Ladies,

It has come to my attention that a grand gathering concerning our favorite subjects is happening soon. The Steampunk Exhibition Ball will allow us to meet and mingle with the finest minds in Seattle. We have a chance to show off our latest fashions and see the new advances in personal clockworks. I am particularly interested in viewing the spectacular and outlandish headwear contest-and as you know, I have a new headpiece to put on display myself.

I’ve spoken with Theodosia, Alyssa, Johanna and Erma, who are all attending. The night is sure to be filled with excitement and wonder! I do hope that you will consider joining us.



This Is Your Captain Speaking

A lovely, brisk winter day to you, my dear colleagues!  My goodness, things have been busy at Mischief Headquarters these days.  However, I came across two little artifacts that I knew I must take a moment to share.  Our Ladies have much in common – strength, ingenuity, intelligence – but it would be a mistake indeed to assume that means they’re all alike!  The juxtaposition of these two Pre-Flight Checklists, from our intrepid Airship/Dirigible captains Coraline and Anna, simply had me in stitches.  I hope you enjoy them as well!

Lilith Ascending Pre-Flight Checklist

From the desk of
Coraline Hackworth
President, Hackworth Airships International

1 ) Review crew roster
2 ) Compose pre-flight inspirational speech
3 ) Don flying coat, cowl and hat
4 ) Pick up news reports from the International Affairs division
5 ) Pick up latest maps from the Navigation division
6 ) Verify supply of Darjeeling tea (also honey and cream)
7) Check yarn and needle quantities in Yarn Room
8 ) Review stationery supplies
9 ) Complete walkthrough inspection with First Mate Perkins
10 ) Assemble and address crew

Anna’s Pre-Flight Checklist

Right, it’s time to be off again!

1.  Is there enough sharp cheese and sourdough bread on board?  Must double check quantities.
2.  Check stock of Irish Afternoon Tea.  Important! Ran out last time, had to drink that dratted Darjeeling.
3.  Guns.  Need at least four rifles and twelve pistols, among others.  Don’t forget ammunition this time!  Had to buy all new silverware after Egypt.
4.  Remember to bring ALL the sizes of knitting needles this time.  Whittling them out of kindling is entertaining, but not as entertaining as actually knitting.
       4. a.  Check status of yarn cupboard.
5.  Pack a dressing gown this time!  The pirates probably enjoyed the view last time, but that was a damned breezy battle.  Shouldn’t like to repeat it.
6.  Will three tins of shortbread be enough?
7.  Oh, don’t forget the butter just because of the stock of cheese.  Buttered toast is also nice.
8.  Speaking of, make repairs to the stove.  Using the boiler for cooking might have been exhilarating but probably not recommended.
9.  Clean underpants.  DO NOT FORGET AGAIN.

From Paris With Lace, pt 2

Hello my colleagues!  Time to continue with Part 2 of our most interesting exchange between Miss Alyssa Rynne and Miss Julia Sett.  The lovely silk yarn Alyssa sent off (in last weeks installment) made it safely to Julia and served as some ingenious inspiration.  Fortunately, her letter was in excellent condition and able to be scanned, so you can enjoy it in its original format.

As you recall, Miss Sett has been pursuing the idea of automated knitting for some time, so I find it quite exciting to read about her progress; even if it happened over 100 years ago, it feels as though I’m along for the journey!  As I admitted before, I had a hard time following a few of her concepts, but on seeing this lovely little sketch, the idea of “self-similar, self-referential figures” suddenly clicked (sometimes even us brainy folks need a picture).  We’ll see what continued progress Julia made with her wonderful shawl pattern next week!

From Paris With Lace, pt 1

A most lovely day to you, my colleagues!  We’ve all been so hard at work on the book, but I realized I must tear myself away for a moment and give you all a little treat.  I’m thrilled to share with you another lovely exchange between unlikely friends – and most entertaining pen-pals – Miss Alyssa Rynne and Miss Julia Sett.  But when a knitting mathematician and a glamorous international… diplomat put their heads together… well, you’ll have to stay tuned to see what brilliance ensues.

Darling Julia,
It was such a treat to catch up with you and the rest of our Ladies at the symposium. As always your intellect and innovative ideas sparked my own imagination. The samples you brought were stunning! My goodness! To think such fine, delicate pieces were created by an automated machine. You truly must be congratulated on your new invention.
After leaving the symposium I took advantage of being abroad and went home to Shanghai via Paris. It has been too long since I was there. The city has always been a magical place, but this new age of technology has brought new life and vibrancy to it. The recent World’s fair must have been quite something. This new tower of Monsieur Eiffel is a stunning testament to our ability to create inspiring works. I cannot imagine a better way to enter the city than via the dirigible dock they have at the top. I took care of some business while I was there and did manage to dine with that American entrepreneur. His conversation may be trying, but as always we ate well and I did indeed glean the requested information.  After that I did need a bit of fun. My contacts in Paris told me that a place called the Moulin Rouge is quite the place to encounter artists and other freethinkers. They were not wrong. It is indeed in a red mill and the people who frequent it are quite stimulating. I think I danced all night. I was also fortunate enough to be invited to the studios of some of the artists. The art I saw in progress at the Bateau Lavoir was shocking. The subjects are so different that what I’m accustomed to seeing and their way of portraying those subjects… I’m without words. I have no idea if the world is ready for this. Heavens, I’m not sure I’m ready for it, and yet those images haunt my thoughts in ways traditional paintings do not.
Before I forget, I am enclosing some silk yarn I found in Paris. It made me think of your automated knitting machine immediately. Perhaps it would be suitable for a shawl or other large piece.  I just know that the fineness of the yarn and the color reminded me of you. Please do enjoy dear sister and may the time between our meetings be shorter this time.

I will have the next installment along for you shortly!  In the meantime, enjoy these last fleeting days of summer and, if you’re at all like me, dream of Paris.

The Grand Expedition

Hello again my colleagues!  I hope this summer evening finds you well.  We are half way to the Funding Date of our kickstarter project, and couldn’t be happier with the support so far!  Expect an update later this week with some juicy details about the book.

As for today’s LOM update, I have a delightful letter from the mentioned-but-yet-unseen Mrs. Tingley.  If you recall, she was referenced by Miss LaDuke as the intended recipient of the Jungle Sheep and/or their wool.  And, as you will read below, it is easy to see why!  You may also recall a Mr. Charles Tingley, head engineer on Miss Hackwork’s airship.  Though I had guessed the two were married, you’ll soon see there more interesting and touching family ties than that.  Now, let’s head to the countryside!

Mrs. Miriam Tingley
The Farm at the Parting of the Waters
Mystic, Connecticut
14 August 1883

Mr. Charles Tingley
The Hackworth Enterprises Airship Miriam
Somewhere over the Mongolian Steppes

Dearest Brother,
I hope this note finds you in exceptional health and intellectual rigor.  It is most gratifying to hear of your adventures testing the Weightless Airship of Rapid Propulsion.  Have you contemplated the use of an acronym when shouting below to engage the specialized drive mechanism?  I certainly think there would be fewer mishaps differentiating between the two propulsive methods if one kept to a single word.

Last week I received a note from my dear friend Miss Hackworth extolling her delight with the preliminary tests of the Courier-class airship.  I found myself filled with pride on your behalf, and also with profound humility to read you had christened the prototype in my honor.  Thank you, dear boy, for the kind words of your speech.  Coraline was ever so kind to provide a transcription and I was utterly moved beyond words.  I too have been ever thankful I had the raising of you to your majority.

That year I lost both my beloved spouse and my parents was the Most Dreadful of my existence.  Had I not rescued my beloved’s youngest brother from the life of insipid thinking exemplified by the majority of your family, and subsequently had cause to nurture your obvious ingenuity, I might well have fallen to the pits of despair.  All your charming little clockworks from that first year I held your guardianship received an extra polish this morning; I am drinking tea poured by the self-tipping pot as I write.  It was the first of the little gifts you created to cheer me, and to this day remains my favorite.

Our neighbor Mr. Crowley mentioned the vicar overheard my enthusiastic (and indeed boastful) description of your current endeavors at the market Saturday, which means a lecture against “my unseemly propensities of immodest independence, business acumen, and character traits” will once again be incorporated into the sermon Sunday next.  I understand the current odds of the good vicar providing a scathing commentary on the topic of “Conduct Becoming of a Widow” to be 4:1, and on the topic of “Immoderate Boasting is the Bane of Feminine Mind” to be 2:1.  Longest odds (9:1) were on “A Woman’s Place is at the Hearth, Not the Table Head”; so I had Mr. Crowley place a sizable wager in your name on the latter.  I will be announcing my own Exciting Endeavor at the Widows of the Sea Luncheon on Wednesday.  I am certain Mr. Crowley will place your winnings in the farm scholarship account, minus his usual percentage, on Monday next.

I must confess I do miss your genius here on the farm, and I thank you for your regular correspondence.  Your advice to replace the winding mechanism arrived most expeditiously.  At our next reunion I will be sure to amuse you with the Complete tale of the runaway shearing automaton, Mrs. Crowley’s chickens, and your father’s fishing nets.  I must confess the long-standing disagreement between your father and myself as to the advantages of Modernization was not aided by the resultant tangle of fowl, fin, and ferrite.

On the positive side, Mrs. Crowley has asked if you could adapt the small shearing clockwork to her services, as the shearer was surprisingly efficient at getting all but the pin feathers plucked from the poultry.  I must reveal your Mother was not so impressed at the scaling and filleting of your father’s catch, as it resulted in him being home early. She asked I ensure the shearing automatons stay in the barn where they belong as she is not interested in entertaining his company more than is required by decency either.  She sends her congratulations, and her thanks for the Pekoe you sent in honor of her birthday.  I am enclosing, as always, her private correspondence for you within my own envelope.

When next you write your mother, you will need to address your correspondence care of Mrs. Crowley, who has agreed to be the go-between in future.  I will be leaving the Farm and Mystic this very Friday with a starter flock, the large automatons from the Steel Barn, and most of my household.  I am confident in the stewardship of my estate manager, and more so that Mrs. Crowley will keep an eye on the farm laborers on my behalf.

Indeed, this is my great adventure at last!  You will recall I purchased a large estate in the Montana Territory some years ago.  The Ranch is between the Yellowstone River and the Gallatin, a wild difficult country.  I will have to get the barns and greenhouses in before the first snows, and may find myself spending my first winter lodging with my sheep!  I have hired strapping hands local to the Territory, upon the recommendation of my friend Kitty Dexterhaven.

The Dexterhaven Locomotives will get me close by, whereupon the short-haul cargo airships of Hackworth Enterprises will meet me and hoist all my life and livelihood aloft into the mountainous terrain.  It is quite amusing to me how thrilled I am at present to be facing such a Grand Expedition.  My association with the Ladies of Mischief has certainly inspired me to continue to embrace life with exuberance.

I must finish my packing.  I was sorry to hear that your warm mittens were not up to the multitudinous tasks of the engine room aloft.  As I have time to do some spinning and knitting along the way, I will provide you with a pair of hand warming knitted garments that allow use of your digits with ease.  Expect a set in your next mail from me, in which I will detail my travels west.

My best wishes for your continued health and well-being,
Your sister, Miriam

It’s quite heartwarming to read about the loving, unconventional family the Ladies made for each other.  Truly, they were all such wonderful, supportive friends and it seems there’s nothing they couldn’t do when they worked together.  I wish I were around at the time to give the naysayers a piece of my mind!  Though it sounds like Mrs. Tingley made the best of it (and some decent profit to boot).  You’ll notice this letter pre-dates many of our others; I will, of course, look for more recent ones with futher news on the success of her Grand Expedition, and those delightful gloves.  Though now, I must sign off and reflect a bit more on the joy of great friends and what you can create together.

Yours in Mischief,

~The Archivist

The Scent of a Lady, pt 1

Good morning colleagues!  It’s the first of a multi-part treat for you today!  Segueing quite nicely, if I do say so myself, from Miss Alyssa Rynne’s letter last week, I’m very excited to present the first in a series of correspondence between her and our Amazonian Exploress Theodosia LaDuke.  Let’s see what happens when you put those two minds together!


        I hope this package finds you well. After the arrival of your Osmanthus seedlings last spring I am happy to send you these wonderful oils, which I have extracted from not just the stems and leaves as you suggested, but also the fruit. I do believe this to be the first time anyone has used a press to extract Osmanthus oil and I will be sending my report on to the institute for publication on the matter. These oils are simply astounding, as I’m sure you well know; the oil from the fruit is sweet and earthy, as if it were a cross between a fig and an olive. I am sure these will make a most wondrous perfume.


Once I was able to have my torch and glass rods airdropped in, going about setting up a distillation laboratory was surprisingly simple. Here in the Amazon, the natives have never seen such advanced technology and were more than happy to learn. I now have a full staff of laboratory technologists! (I should write to Dr. Erma and see if she can recommend a good seamstress for appropriate laboratory attire.) This of course does not even take into account the lovely garden I have erected outside my hut. The soil composition and tropical air are perfect for growing most any fruit or flower I desire.

        I have also sent along a couple more native oils for you to try out. I am sure the blend of Osmanthus with these oils will produce a spicy/indolic floral scent, though the osmanthus brings out the earthy side, with a musky/sweet blend of woods and spice. Please do be sure to send me a bottle when you have blended it. I will not be able to wear it here in the tropics but would love to have it on hand for my next journey to London.

With much love and affection,

Theodosia LaDuke


Mmmm… I’m sure any perfume Miss Alyssa wore was absolutely divine.  Having botanical experts and scientists as friends certainly has its perks!  And it’s so nice to read what a pleasant time Miss LaDuke was having in the Amazon, all settled in with a nice hut and garden, and see more of her beautiful sketches as well.  As I mentioned before, I have more on this subject to bring you next week (Hint: I have friends who know about perfume too.)  You won’t want to miss it!

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