The lost islands of Chesapeake Bay in Second Life

Chesapeake Bay; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrChesapeake Bay – click any image for full size

Update: in keeping with Serene and Jade’s approach to having their region designs open for approximately a month, Chesapeake Bay has now closed and the host region is under private holding. SLurls have therefore been removed from this article.

Serene Footman and Jade Koltai have opened their February region design – called Chesapeake Bay – and, given it is by two people who always produce the must stunning vistas in Second Life, it is utterly captivating.

Our latest sim is located in the Chesapeake Bay, an estuary in the US states of Maryland and Virginia.  The Chesapeake Islands are famous for the simple reason that they disappeared. Built on clay and silt, over the course of a century the islands were gradually submerged as a result of erosion exacerbated by sea level rise. They were the islands that sank.

– Serene Footman, introducing Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrChesapeake Bay – click any image for full size

For the build, Jade and Serene have focused on two islands in particular:  Holland Island and Sharps Island, with a particular focus on the former while blending features of both into a unique setting and memorial to both with all of the attention to detail and care in design that make their work among the best to be found in Second Life. As with all of their regions, this design carries within it a story – or rather stories. The first – and primary – story is that of the attempts of a husband and wife team to save Holland Island and the last remaining house standing upon it, all that remained of a place once home to over 400 watermen and farmers, and their families.

Stephen White, a waterman and Methodist Minister, first visited Holland Island when he was a boy. Years later, he was visiting one of the island’s three cemeteries when he saw an inscription on one of them.
The discovery inspired Stephen White to embark on a campaign to stop Holland Island from disappearing into the sea. He purchased the island for $70,000, and set up the Holland Island Preservation Foundation. For fifteen years, Stephen and his wife waged their own battle against the sea. Spending $150,000, they built wooden breakwaters, laid sandbags and carried 23 tons of rocks to the island and dropped them at the shoreline.

– Serene Footman, describing Stephen White’s attempt to save Holland Island

Chesapeake Bay; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrChesapeake Bay – click any image for full size

The waters of the Chesapeake were not to be held back, however, and in 2010 that last house, originally built in 1888, collapsed, forcing the Whites to admit defeat and sell the island. The remnants of  that last house was completely lost to the waters of the bay in 2012.

Hoewever, for this incarnation and in recognition of the Whites’ attempts, the house remains, much as it appeared in 2010 after the initial collapse. It sits on the west side of the island, the carcasses of the vehicles used to try to shore up the land around it slowly drowning under the rising waters, watched over by sea birds and waterfowl.

Chesapeake Bay; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrChesapeake Bay – click any image for full size

North of the Last House is an automated lighthouse sitting on a platform, marking the second story commemorated by the region: that of lighthouse keeper Ulman Owens. The light sits atop a platform once home to the Holland Island Bar Lighthouse, also built in 1888, and manned through until 1960, when the automated tower replaced it on the platform. In 1931, keeper Owens was found dead in the lighthouse kitchen amidst a scene of apparent violence, including a bloodied butcher’s knife close to the body and bloody stains within the room, although the body itself showed no significant wounds.

Initially, his death was ruled the result of a fit, rather than foul play. But subsequent investigations and an autopsy suggested Owens may have been murdered by local rum runners or that, given he had at least two affairs that caused the women involved to leave their husbands, he might have been set upon by an angry husband. However, as the autopsy revealed Owens had heart disease, the ruling of accidental death was held, and the case closed.

Chesapeake Bay; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrChesapeake Bay – click any image for full size

Sharps Island, although some distance from Holland Island in the physical world, is represented in the region by a reproduction of the “leaning tower” of the (deactivated) Sharps Island Light, and the ruins of a second large house. The latter represents the popular (if short-lived, due to the island’s continuing erosion) hotel built by Miller R. Creighton in the late nineteenth century. Sharps Island itself finally vanished under the waves in 1960.

Today, Holland Island is marshlands and sandbars, home to a great many varieties of birds and waterfowl, and Serene and Jade have captured this within their design, which is finished with an atmospheric windlight and superb sound scape.

As with all of Jade and Serene’s builds, Chesapeake Bay won’t be around forever, so do make a point of visiting; you won’t be disappointed. Be sure, as well, to read the excellent piece on the region and its inspiration on the Furillen blog.



The Saint, Indians, agents and love in Second Life

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, February 10th, 13:30: Tea Time with The Saint

Adventure came to him not so much because he sought it as because he brazenly expected it. He believed that life was full of adventure, and he went forward in full blaze and surge of that believe…

So reads The Man Who Was Clever, billed as the first graphic novel about Simon Templar, aka The Saint, aka The Robin Hood of Crime, when describing the man himself. The creation of Leslie Charteris, Templar first arrived in literature in 1928, his career in print spanning almost six decades, with later books and stories being written in collaboration with other writers.

Templar’s career in other media started in 1938 with the release of the motion picture The Saint in New York, and in radio in 1940 – with none other than Vincent Price most famously providing him with a voice from 1947 to 1951, on no fewer than three US radio networks.

However, it is probably as personified by Roger Moore on television between 1962 and 1969 that Simon Templar is familiar to most. This series actually added to the library of The Saint’s literature, with a number of original scripts for the series – with Charteris’ approval – becoming short stories using his name as the author.

The Man Who Was Clever first appeared in 1930 as a part of the first collection of short stories about The Saint published under the title Enter The Saint. In it, Templar, the man who robs from the evil and heartless rich, and gives to the wronged and deserving poor, entered the world of graphic novels thanks to a story adaptation by Mark Ellis with David Bryant serving as illustrator. It marks the start of a new series of Tea Time adventures for Seanchai Library, with David Abbot, Corwyn Allen, Kayden Oconnell, and Caledonia Skytower.

Monday, February 11th 19:00: Hanta Yo: An American Saga

Gyro Muggins reads Ruth Beebe Hill’s extraordinary novel that is either loved or hated – and has certainly proven controversial since its first publication.

Lyrically written, the story is, at its core, a multi-generational saga follows the lives of two Indian families, members of the Mahto band of the Teton Sioux, before and during their first contact with the white man and his “manifest destiny.” Within its sweeping story, Hill attempted to fashion an epic, Native American version of Alex Haley’s Roots.

Allegedly based in part on writings translated from a Lakota Sioux winter account translated by a First Nation Sioux, the story is certainly cohesive and vivid. For those unfamiliar with the lives and rituals of the Plains Indians of North America, it makes for a fascinating and enlightening read.

However, to some in the Lakota, the book is seen as demeaning and misrepresentative – a fact Hill herself finds baffling. Whilst she fully acknowledges the story is a “documented novel” – a fictional story based on actual events – she also notes that she spent some 20 or more years researching Hanta Yo and carrying out hundreds of interviews with representatives of the Sioux, Kiowa, Omaha, Cheyenne, and Navajo tribes, including allowing them access to her manuscript to verify the historical elements from their standpoint.

Event today, in the year of the 40th anniversary since its first publication, Hanta Yo divides opinions. So why not settle down with Gyro to hear the tale first hand?

Tuesday, February 12th 19:00: Love in Music and Poetry

With Ktadhn Vesuvino and Caledonia Skytower, on stream and in voice.

Wednesday, February 13th 19:00: The Jennifer Morgue

Corwyn Allen reads the second volume in the Laundry Files by Charles Stross.

Bob Howard is an IT expert and occasional field agent for the Laundry, the branch of Her Majesty’s Secret Service that deals with occult threats. In this second outing, Bob Howard finds himself dragged into the machinations and conspiracies of megalomaniac multi-billionaire Ellis Billington, The Black Chamber and The Laundry…

Dressed in a tuxedo (what else for a globe-trotting British Secret Agent?) and sent to the Caribbean, Bob must infiltrate Billington’s inner circle via his luxurious yacht. His mission? Prevent the Billington from violating a treaty that will bring down the wrath of an ancient underwater race upon humanity’s head.

Offering a wonderful pastiche on both the world of James Bond and a wonderful mimicking of Ian Fleming’s style of writing, Stross produces a novel that also evokes Lovecraftian overtones that is delightfully entertaining to read. In true Bond style, Bob is (reluctantly) partnered with an American agent – in this case a stunningly beautiful woman who also just happens to be a soul-sucking succubus from another dimension. Which, being the case, marks Bob’s mission somewhat differently to those of Bond: not only must he stop the bad guys and come through this at best shaken, he must totally avoid being stirred towards getting the girl…

Thursday, February 14th:

15:00: Seanchai Library at One Billion Rising

Stories and poems of women in our world – see the Seanchai Blog on the day for the SLurl.

19:00: The midnight Embrace

With Shandon Loring. Also in Kitely