Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rambles, The Moon in June, (er March) and more WIP.

Last night was a full moon and the first ‘super moon’ in 18 years.

Alas I missed its rise, but I caught it a few minutes later.
I’ve never had much luck photographing the moon before, but I decided to have a go again anyway.

This is the result of my efforts. Not brilliant but my best effort so far, and given the limits of my current camera as good as I can expect.

Speaking of cameras I have actually put a new Canon 60D SLR on lay-by. Normally, a camera like that retails down this way for about AUD$2,400 (including a basic lens).
But the Aussie dollar has been recently equal or slightly better than the US$. This means they are currently retailing for $1,600. A saving I couldn’t miss.
I can’t afford to shell out $1,600 at the moment but lay-by means I can lock the good price in.
I’m going Canon by the way because I like them and my current lenses are compatible.

I’ll go from an 8 megapixel to a 18 megapixel in one jump. And a far more capable camera all round.

I can’t wait!

Today was something of an ordeal. Poor E our eldest woke us in the early hours with terrible tooth ache.
To start, it was just a matter of giving her pain killers and waiting til morning.

Come this morning it was finding a dentist who could/would do something on a Sunday. Deb and I had to take her into the city and then there was a lot of waiting around until the poor dear could be seen. Once she finally got in there was another hour wait.

Unfortunately, the tooth and surrounding area was so inflamed that they couldn’t do anything today. So she has been prescribed heavy duty pain killers, anti-inflammatories and anti-biotics. She has to go back about Wednesday.

The only silver lining was I took my computer and managed to get a little work done on my WIP.

Speaking of my WIP here is another extract. This, unlike the others isn’t quite a first draft. I have struggled with getting this scene something like the way I want it. Bear in mind it is still far from an edited final piece.

To place it in context, in Berlin by 1948 almost no rebuilding had happened. As it was to remain until 1990 Berlin was an occupied city. It was different to later though, the Berlin Wall that forms so much a part of 20th century history was still thirteen years in the future.

The NKVD was the Soviet security service/secret police. It was the forerunner to the KGB. Valentina’s fears are very real, having any more than casual contact with foreigners could literally be deadly to Russians during Stalin’s rule.

For those of you have been following Valentina here is the next episode of her adventures.
Last time she came off second best…

Valentina Meshcova
Berlin 1948
Penelope’s voice screaming as if from far away, ‘Fred enough!’
His weight came off me, I was sure he would kick me as he stood up. I needed to roll aside, had to move, but I simply couldn’t.
I was certain I was lying on the hard floor, but the room was spinning, tilting. I spiralled into blackness.

A cool hand on my cheek. Something to fix on, to hold, an anchor to slow the spinning. Penelope kneeling by my side.
Her voice urgent, frightened, ‘You’ve hurt her! Fred help me!’


Where am I? A terrible feeling of uncertainty.
I sit propped in a corner of an old couch. A long narrow room that looks like a cross between an office and a canteen. It's all old and scruffy, the furniture falling to pieces like so much of Berlin. Maybe it was the room behind the garage? But how had I got there?

Penelope, on her knees peering into my face. ‘Valentina? Can you hear me?’
Her expression one of such anxiety seemingly so concerned that I would almost have believed her lies again.
‘I can hear.’ I wanted to spit in her face, but all the fight had been driven out of me.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was you who was following, or I wouldn’t have run.’
‘You are a dirty liar.’
No response, how does a person respond to raw hatred?

I couldn’t see properly, the room blurred, swam before my eyes. I focused on my anger, something constant. ‘Everything about you is a lie. You told me you were German, pretended to be my friend.’
She held my gaze, 'I am your friend, if you just trust me for a moment.'
‘You must let me go.’
‘Go then,’ frustration in her voice, ‘you’re not a prisoner.’
I lurched to my feet, a single step and I was toppling. My balance was hopeless.

Concussed, I must be concussed.

If Penelope hadn’t caught me I would have fallen. ‘Sit down, you’re in no fit state…’
‘I have to go.’ But in spite of myself I was lowered back into the couch.
‘There’s no rush. We'll get you a doctor.’
‘No! I can’t stay, can’t talk to you. I know what you are, you are death to me.’
Spinning, falling, black.

‘What happened?’
A voice in the dark, Ronnie it was Ronnie. Joy and grief.
I lie still. Penelope answering, ‘She followed me. I didn’t handle it well.’
‘But why this?’
‘She was wild, she had a gun. I was sure for a moment she was going to shoot me.’’
‘So Fred bashed her?’
‘He was protecting me, you shouldn't be hard on him.’
‘Where is he now?’
‘I’ve sent him to find a doctor.’
‘That’s something at least.’
A warm hand on my cheek. ‘Val can you hear me?’
‘Val? Please God, Val can you hear?’
I didn’t want to open my eyes. What would I see? Love? Or the rage I saw when we met at the airport?

With an effort I came back into the room. Two faces: Penelope worried, almost frightened sick; and Ronnie, my Ronnie.

How stupid I had been. How had I not seen straight away? They were peas in a pod.
‘She's your sister.’
She gave me a warm friendly smile, as if she was still my friend. ‘You’re a duffer, too clever for your own good, but not clever enough to work it out.’
Tears from him, he stroked my wounded cheek, 'Oh Val, what have you been through?'
'I'll leave this to the two of you.' Penelope withdrew to the far end of the room. Incongruously she busied herself with the domestic task of filling a kettle and setting it on a kerosene burner .

Ronnie stayed by my side stroking my cheek then my hair.
I swallowed my own tears, I couldn't force more than a whisper, 'Why are you doing this to me?'
'I'm sorry, it wasn't meant to happen like this.'
'You must hate me so much.'
'Why would you say that?'
'The airport and these games you play. You will bring the NKVD to my door.'
'I'm not playing games. The NKVD is why I've had Pen watching you. I needed to make sure you were safe before I tried to contact you.'
'What for, why do you do this?'
He sat open mouthed, as if he was struggling to understand. ‘I love you.’
‘Then leave me alone. Let me be.’

Silence for a moment. He sighed with exasperation. 'I came back you know, to your little bombed out house in Murmansk.'
Choking on tears I forced out the words. 'I waited for you, the NKVD...'
'The NKVD came for you, I know. They picked me up when I came back. A man... he was your friend?'
'That's the one Stepan. He warned me off.'
'Stepan saved me, him and Svetlana's father... but he is dead now, he cannot help me now. When they come for me next time I cannot say “My boyfriend is an ally”. You are the enemy now.'
'I’m not your enemy.'
'That is not how it is. If you are not Russian, you are enemy.'
'Oh tosh. I love you, I lost you once, I'm not going to let you go again.'
'You have to forget me. You must stop with this foolishness. Do you want me dead?'
'Of course not, I love you.’
‘You love me.’
‘Yes damn it! I want to take you home to England. Like I said years ago, I want to marry you.'
'I want to marry you.'

I had dreamt so many times of a moment like this. With him, with Ronnie. But, I felt none of the elation I had imagined.
I was tired and sick, empty, ‘I’m not the sweet girl that you enchanted with stories of Paris and London.’
Apprehension on his face ‘What do you mean?’
‘I was a child then, a romantic child. I have seen so much blood, so much death. I am a broken thing.’
He was quiet for a moment, a muscle twitched in his cheek, ‘Perhaps we are all a bit broken…’
‘I can’t run away with you Ronnie. I spend my time running an orphanage, what would those children do without me?’
‘They would be looked after.’
Penelope piped up, ‘Natasha could come with you. No one would expect you to abandon your little darling.’
I ignored her. ‘And what about me? What would I do? I cannot just sit, just be a hausfrau. I would go mad.’
‘You should do whatever you wish.’
‘No Ronnie, it was a dream a lovely dream, but it’s impossible. I am awake now.’


Alison Stevens said...

Great photo, and the new camera will be so great (love the Canon SLRs).

I live in Berlin, and I cannot image the struggles people went through here during and just after the war.

Old Kitty said...

Lovely moon pic!!! It's really really good and very clear and detailed!

Ooooh Ronnie is back and the mystery of Penelope is solved! Awww poor Ronnie! I'm feeble and I'm all for running off when true love beckons - but Valentina is made of sterner stuff and has been through such a lot!!!! Well I think it's true love between these two! I hope she and Ronnie get to be together eventually - with Natasha of course!

I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's tooth problems - sounds just awful!! :-( Hope she's bearing up ok! Take care

Christine said...

Here I am, puzzling over Oz language again! 'Lay-by' for us means the tarmac pull-in area by the side of the road. :-) Sorry, pedantic moment. We just say that we have put something 'by'.

Oh, poor E! Being a martyr to my teeth I feel deep sympathy for anyone afflicted in the tooth/gum department.

I am pleased for you that you are made merry by the increase in megapixels. I don't understand it, being a few sandwiches short of a picnic in the camera department. Point and click is as much as I understand.

Jai Joshi said...

That's a gorgeous pic of the super moon. Certainly better than anything I could have achieved.


Kathleen Jones said...

Wonderful moon pic Al - you really deserve that new camera!
I only have one of those little Nikon cybershots and they aren't up to super moons. I had to use someone else's photo. But I'm not a good enough photographer to justify having an expensive camera.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

i'm so peeved i didn't even hear about the super moon until the next day. Astronomy Fail

N. R. Williams said...

Hope your daughter recovers soon. I know what a bad tooth feels like.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

Misha said...

Nice pic. Your camera sounds stunning!


Val's newest adventure was beautifully written.

LTM said...

that is a GORGEOUS moon shot! And I love how you're doing the story serial style. Very Dickens~ :o) <3

Al said...

Hi Alison,
Thank you. As I said the new camera will be fab.
It is certainly hard to imagine how people coped through those times.

Hi Jennifer,
Thank you!
Ronnie is back – but perhaps only to be disappointed?
Are you sure it will be true love winning out in the end?
Poor E is still suffering ;-0

Hi Christine,
That is interesting about the lingo, the differences the similarities and all in only a century or two!
For a ‘box-brownie’ user you take some nice snaps!

Hi Jai,
Thank you!

Hi Kathleen,
You take some lovely shots with your Nikon. You have an artist’s eye I think, or at least a poet’s sensibilities!

Hi Sarah,
Indeed fail!
Ah well at least they happen more often than Halley’s comet!

Hi Nancy,
She isn’t in much pain now but the second dentist refused to do anything until it completely settles down.

Hi Misha,
My current camera is OK.
The new one when I get it will be fantabulous!
Thank you so much for the praise about my writing!

Hi Leigh,
Thank you!
Pleased you are enjoying the serial.
Careful, any comparison to Dickens, even this very tangential one could make my head swell dangerously!
I’m not sure what I will do once I finish posting this strand of the novel. I am enjoying these posts but I don’t know about posting some of the ‘main’ strands of the story.