Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Tricky What is it Wednesday?

When my dearly beloved family saw this object they said "Take a photo of that.... it will make a great What is it Wednesday?"

So when the four significant women in my daily life are so much in agreement I do as I am told.

So what on Earth do you think this is?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Piccie of the day: The Blue Pool Bermagui

Today it really felt like spring and my mind began turning to places like this

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hilda IX

Well this week has been hopeless in terms of writing. I have barely completed a paragraph all week.
My usual writing time is in the train during my commute, but work has been insane and I am still a little ill (I had a head cold) so unfortunately I have been dozing on the train more than writing!
This week’s scene from Hilda follows on from last, although as you will see a little more time has passed.

‘They say Lord Shirley’s family is recorded in the Domesday Book as the owners of Ettington.’
As Hilda followed her father up the driveway through the park, she wanted to say ‘I know all that, I’ve heard it a thousand times. Let Lord Shirley keep his precious park!’ But she held her tongue, she knew she would cry if she said anything, leave alone upset her Dad.
Today she would not cry, she was determined of that. Her tears could wait until the evening when she was alone in her own bed. But it wouldn’t be her own bed, it would be a strange bed, a servant’s bed somewhere in an attic or basement room of Ettington Park.
‘We follow the drive around to the servants’ entrance at the back.’ Catching her expression he paused, ‘Cheer up Duck! It won’t be so bad. They’re a nice bunch up at the Park!’
There was no cheering up, not today. Today was the end of her dreams. She was thirteen and putting aside a whole world and donning the garb of a servant.

The Friday before was the end of school. She’d had her thirteenth birthday and her last term had rushed to an end. She remembered how she had lingered on that last afternoon, taking her time, washing the slates with Maggie. In the end, Fred poked his head in through the door, no longer a student of the school next door and daring to stray beyond the girls’ gate. ‘Maggie, are you ready? I’ve got Bob out here, saddled and rearin’ to go!’
Maggie smiled her warm smile, ‘That’s me then.’
Unlike Hilda, she was happy with the end of the year, she was moving back to her parents’ home at Weston. She took Hilda’s hands in hers, ‘You’ll be alright. You’ll make the best of it. Save your money and one day you’ll be twenty-one and make your own choices!’
That left Hilda alone with Miss Wilson, she finished the slates and put them away, taking the broom she swept the floor. Finally there was no longer a reason to linger any longer. Miss Wilson left her desk, ‘Well Miss, that’s it then.’
‘Thank you Hilda, I have something for you to remember me by,’
She held out a package wrapped in a pretty printed blue paper. The size and shape of a large book, but it didn’t have that feel. ‘I won’t open this now.’
‘No,’ Miss Wilson’s eyes were brimming with tears, ‘I’m sorry Hilda, I feel I’ve let you down.’
‘Never!’ Hilda’s eyes flashed, ‘You did your best Miss! This were none of your doing. And Miss, I might not be going to Grammar School, but you showed me a bigger world. I’ll always remember you!’

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jaws? Jaws schmaws!

For those of you who dropped in looking for Wild Flower Watch I must apologise.
Yesterday was rainy and wet and today family business took us up the Yarra Valley.

After our business was concluded we went for a picnic by the Upper Yarra River. The area we were in was not in the National Park so Lilli came with us.
As you know Lilli is a ball retrieving maniac.  Well one of the things she likes more than retrieving a ball is retrieving a ball and getting wet doing it!

So this little photo essay is about Lilli and her imitation of a fearsome aquatic beast.

Lilli standing at the edge of the river beseeching Lu (my youngest) to throw the ball.

Lilly leaping energetically into the current after said ball.

Closing in for a kill! Jaws has nothing on Lilli!

Doing what most Labradors do best: retrieving!

Landing with  her prey.

And finally, sharing the fun!

Now for those of you who didn’t get a wild flower fix

This lovely callistemon was growing on the Yarra river bank.

There are dozens of species of callistemons in all sorts of colours, from this lemon, to purples, pinks and reds. A number of species have the common name of “bottle-brush” and you can see why!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Piccie of the Day: Banksia

A Banksia bloom photographed at Mt Dandenong

Friday, October 26, 2012

What on Earth Was it?

Well this WIIW led to some very creative attempts.
Not one of them was close!

John said: “a stained glass window”
And added, “btw Chris loved Melbourne on his recent visit!”

Nope, not a piece of glass involved in this piccie, the image does seem to glow so I can see how you came at your guess. I suspect you will like the answer.

Btw, I am pleased Chris enjoyed Melbourne, as it goes it is a lovely city.

Christine had help with her guess: “Committee decision here, Al. Our little writers' group thinks that this is a rainy day in Melbourne: grass, a path and some water, maybe with fishes.”

Strictly no water here, although as you will see in a moment there may have been a different source of moisture.

Old Kitty guessed “It looks like colours of a woolly hat!!”
I agree it looks almost exactly like some felted creations of Deb’s

But it isn’t, although as you will see there is some fuzz involved.

Linda G went down a similar path to Christine with: “Looks like a view of a beach from above to me.”

Nope it is very much smaller!

Jai had her analytic hat on … “I'm gonna go totally out on a limb and say it's a guy sideways. The blue is his shirt, the white a belt, the green his trousers. I'm probably totally wrong but the curve of the picture makes me think that it can't be a landscape. At least I don't think so.”

The curve is the clue, and I can see what you are stabbing at, but no.

Finally Marcy said: “Grass, patio or edge of pool, water/pool.”

Much smaller, in fact something very blown up.

It is…

Lilli doing one of her favourite things!

(I suspect her absolute favourite thing is to curl up next to someone on a lounge chair).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Speaking Out

I won't answer my WIIW tonight.
A quick clue, it is two things,  neither is anything like landscape sized. AND I have posted about them recently.

Now I wanted to quickly mention an important post Kathleen Jones has made about speaking out about child abuse.

I was really touched and very impressed by her post. Speaking out is a vital first step toward change.

My Piccie of the Day is a of dawn  I shot a few years ago in western Victoria.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What is it Wednesday?

Well, it is 9:15 pm and I have only just walked in the door from work.

So without further ado here is this week's WIIW.

None of my experimental subjects (aka my family) got this one so I guess this one must be difficult.

So what on Earth do you think this is?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hilda VIII: Church

Well Hilda has languished a little this past week.
As you know I write on the train on my way to and from work. Well this week I have been thinking more about my other WIP Veil of Iron than writing on either.  I say thinking because I have a plot problem I want to sort out and it has me stumped.
The net result is not much writing at all. Although I have done little with Hilda, as I said last week I am somewhat ahead of tonight’s extract.
Anyway, the extract this week follows on immediately from last week. Hilda is still anxiously awaiting her parents’ verdict on whether she can take the scholarship Miss Wilson has arranged for her to go to High School.

‘There’s Miss Wilson,’ Hilda turned to her mother, ‘can I sit with her?’
‘Of course dear.’
Hilda almost skipped toward her teacher, ‘Good morning Miss Wilson.’
Miss Wilson turned at her voice, a warm smile lit her face, ‘Good morning Hilda.’
‘Can I sit with you in church today?’
‘Yes, you may sit with me.’ Just a hint of emphasis on the word “may”.
‘Oh, I’m sorry. May I sit with you today.’
‘Of course.’
Hilda walked beside Miss Wilson into the church. Reverend Jarret, the vicar smiled and nodded, ‘Good morning Miss Wilson, good morning Hilda.’
Hilda liked old Jarret, his sermons always seemed to focus on the nicer parts of the bible. There was never much “Hell fire and damnation” from the old man.
As they settled on the wooden pew Miss Wilson passed Hilda a prayer book. ‘I’d have thought you had enough of me at school?’
‘Miss Wilson, you shouldn’t say that. I love every moment of school!’
‘Even trying to teach Bess Tomlinson her seven time’s table?’
‘Even that!’
‘Well I must say you are more dedicated than I.’ Her teacher paused, ‘Have your parents said anything to you?’
‘Not yet, Mum says they are still talking about it.’
‘We must take it as a good sign, they haven’t given you an outright “no”. We should say a prayer that they’ll make the right decision.’

Now as I say Goodnight a piccie of the day:
 Melbourne at Sunset

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wild Flower Watch VI

Six weeks into my spring wildflower watch and I am still finding new delights in the old Queenstown Cemetery.

Down among the grass stems I found this little thing almost instantly. 
It is tiny, green spears in the background are grass blades.
Once again I have no idea what it is. My nasty suspicious mind wonders if it is a weed, but it is pretty in any case.

As always there are zillions of sundews busy munching small insects.
The bright sunny day lit up this Button Everlasting beautifully, I think this one is Coronidium scorpioides
The bright sun made it a little hard shooting this spray of Spotted Sun Orchids.
But it got their petals glistening beautifully.
Speaking of glisten, the petals of this Twining Fringe Lily look as if a fairy has dusted them.
I also like this piccie as it shows how it gets the name ‘twining’ again it is minute, those are dry grass stems it is twined around.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sunset at Bermagui, NSW

Just a"piccie of the day", A sunset I took on holiday a couple of years ago.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rhinos on our Streets?

Well in a slightly odd move I posted this image for my WIIW on Wednesday. 

It was cropped from a larger poster that is part of a public safety campaign that has been running in Melbourne over recent months.
So is Melbourne really over run by skateboarding rhinos?

Not quite.

But it is full of these things.
Trams are very much a part of the Melbourne street-scape.

Unfortunately a distressing number of jaywalkers have ended up underneath trams.

And unusually in pedestrian fatalities the biggest group was 18-35 year olds.

The problem people was focused on phones and texting walking out in front of the lumbering chunks of steel.

To the credit of Yarra Trams they realised the younger audience needed something other than an authoritarian “be careful crossing roads” message.

They came up with an attention grabbing campaign which was this beasty 
and it appeared on tram stops everywhere.
The multilingual approach is the latest iteration.  
Now that is definitely enough of being serious.

Now to points!

John D said “Its a sign in a special geriatric animal zoo in Belgrade. It warns: Oprez U godinama beo novac koji se kreće na temelju skateboards. It means, in English: Caution - Aged white rhinos moving on skateboards.

John you have me convinced! I will pay that one 85%!

Linda G was a bit literal to qualify as quirky (unusually) with:  “Well, the rhino obviously represents danger. So I'm guessing it means "Beware of Skateboarders." Which is something we all should do. I got mowed down by a skateboarder once, and it was painful.”

I have been mown down by a skateboarder too! Not fun! Sympathy points of 50%!

Jennifer, (AKA Old Kitty) said “Area Reserved for Skateboarding Rhinos.”

Which is clearly nonsense! And therefore exactly the sort of answer I was looking for. That rates 85% as well!

Jai is in the literal camp as well with “I'm wondering if it's maybe a description of skateboarding techniques. The first has the skateboard level and the second has the front wheels slightly lifted. Maybe?”

Alas not 50%.

Christine had a bet either way with: "Beware of something heavy and slow-moving on wheels; it might pick up speed and cause you injury."
Which is pretty close to what the campaign is actually saying so I guess that is worth a good 60%.
Then the icing was Christine’s quirky “On the other hand, it might mean 'love your rhinocerous and take him to the skate park as you will be richly rewarded.' Has WIIW become OTWW (off the wall Wednesday)?”

Yes it has Christine for this week at least, that deserves a bonus 85% which means  Christine’s total score is 145%!!!

Is that even possible? I guess in an OTWW post it is!

Marcy wondered: “Beware skating rhinos? Surely not...”

As your answer is strictly true I guess you get 50%. Alas it is unfortunately not skating rhinos, it is something even more dangerous.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Melbourne and the Yarra

I have come home this evening with a head-cold. So I am putting myself to bed.

I'll give the answer to WIIW (or OTTW (see Christine's comment)) tomorrow

My piccie of the day is of the western part of the Melbourne CBD with the Yarra River in the fore ground

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What the...? What is it wednesday?

Well I am a in a bit of a quirky mood so I thought this would make a good "What is it Wednesday?"

What on Earth do you think this might be?

Extra points for quirky answers!

Points off for stating the painfully obvious!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Storm Clouds Over the Yarra Valley

A long day at work today so, just a "piccie of the day" today.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hilda VII: Miss Wilson

Well I have continued pounding on with my new WIP Hilda.

I’m now a few years ahead of where my posts have reached. Once again I have paused for some research. One of my characters is embroiled in the opening stages of WWI and I need to make sure I have some background details right.

If it was WWII I would probably already know most of the details as I have done so much research on that war for my other works.

The trick with the research is to have enough detail to weave into the narrative without it feeling placed for effect. Thank goodness for the internet, most of the detail I need at the moment is coming from that source. With my work set in WWII I got a lot of colour from talking to people from the generations in question. That is clearly no longer an option with the WWI generation.

For the writers among you, a question? How do you get the details right?

For the readers how important is it that the “history” is right?

Now, this is a longer extract than most, Hilda is coming to a milestone in her life

‘Good afternoon Miss Wilson.’ Said Maggie from the back of Bob.
‘Good afternoon Maggie, good afternoon Fred.’
Fred tipped his cap, ‘Afternoon Miss.’
Unusually, as they were packing up on this afternoon Miss Wilson had taken Hilda aside, ‘Don’t hurry away this afternoon Hilda. I wish to come with you, I need to talk to your mother.’
Hilda stood nervously outside the schoolyard while Miss Wilson put on her hat and locked the school door. What could it be? The only times Hilda knew of that a teacher spoke to a parent was when the child had committed some terrible sin.
Three quarters of the school year had flashed by and Miss Wilson had nothing but praise for Hilda’s work with the younger children. She had also gone on showing her more mathematics well beyond that she taught to the other girls. And she had gone on lending her books on all sorts of maths she had never dreamed existed, why just today she was taking home a book on geometry.
Hilda walked slower and slower as the went along the road toward Wharf Cottage feeling more and more miserable. She must have done something without realizing it, must have crossed some boundary, broken some rule, why else would Miss Wilson want to see her parents? Dolly and Wilf skipping along hand in hand left them in their wake.
‘What is wrong Hilda?’ Miss Wilson addressed her for the first time since they had left the school gate.
‘I’m sorry Miss Wilson, I don’t know what I’ve done.’
‘What you’ve…’, a perplexed look from Miss Wilson, ‘goodness me Hilda you’re not in trouble.’
She paused considering, ‘I hope I have good news. I haven’t wanted to share it with you so you aren’t disappointed if your parents don’t agree with my idea.’
Hilda almost breathed a sight of relief, but now the anticipation was nearly as bad as the anxiety.
‘Now tell me Hilda, I have always wondered, why is your house called “Wharf Cottage”? The river is not very nearby and we must be fifty miles from the sea.’
‘That’s easy Miss, around a hundred years ago there was a horse drawn tram that went past here. Our cottage was built as the wharf at the end of the tramway. Then when the railway came through it were turned into a cottage.’
‘I see, that makes sense.’ Then always the teacher, ‘It should be “it was converted into a cottage”.’
‘I’m sorry Miss Wilson,’ the misery of being rebuked, Hilda hated being wrong.

Elizabeth Attewell set down her cup, ‘Would you like more tea Miss Wilson?’
Miss Wilson cast her eyes around the room, ‘Please.’
Hilda took up the pot from its stand and reached across the walnut surface of the table to pour a steady stream of tea into the cup.
Setting down the pot she glanced around the room trying to see it with her teacher’s eyes. A good sized room, but full to bursting with fine furniture. Most of the work her father did on the estate was simpler country furniture for the people living on the estate. But as the master craftsman he was, he could turn out pieces “fit for a king” as he fondly said. It was with such pieces he filled his home, to the point that it was hard to navigate through many of the rooms of the cottage.
Dolly asked from the other side of the table, ‘Can I have some more please mum?’
Elizabeth looked at her younger daughter, ‘No child, run and play with Wilf.’
Dolly nodded and left the table, Hilda could tell she wanted to stay, wanted to find out what Miss Wilson had come for.
For that matter Hilda ached to know, why had she stuck to pleasantries like the weather? Mum wondered too, she was sure of it, wondered why she had been paid such an honor. Hilda’s Dad walked past the window, he’d come home a bit early. Hilda listened to the front door open and close. ‘Tell your dad we’ve company.’ Elizabeth said.
‘Yes Mum.’
Hilda left her chair and stepped into the hall, Charles was hanging his hat on the hook in the hall, ‘Dad, Miss Wilson’s here.’
‘Miss Wilson?’
‘Our teacher.’
He smoothed down his coat and stepped into the room. Hilda followed him in, ‘Miss Wilson,’ he smiled warmly, ‘what a pleasure to see you.’
The next minutes dragged for Hilda, but finally Miss Wilson set down her cup and began her business, ‘No doubt Mister and Mrs Attewell you wondered why I have called on you today.’
Charles smiled, ‘Well I guessed it might have something to do with one of the girls, you being their teacher and all.’
‘I…’ Miss Wilson paused her eyes meeting Hilda’s.
Charles interjected, ‘Hilda hasn’t been causing mischief has she?’
Miss Wilson smiled with relief, ‘No,quite the opposite in fact. But it is Hilda I have come to talk about.’
‘Yes?’ Her mother’s voice was not exactly icy, but neither was it inviting.
‘You might have realized Hilda has a gift when it comes to mathematics.’
‘She’s always been quick with numbers.’ Charles’ eyes where questioning, ‘What of it?’
Miss Wilson took her time, it was as if she was feeling her way down a path in the dark, ‘In everything you care to name Hilda is the quickest student I have ever had the pleasure to teach. It is in mathematics that she particularly shines though.’
‘You’ve been lending her books.’ Elizabeth’s voice was strained.
‘I have. At the beginning of the summer holiday I lent Hilda a book on algebra. I didn’t really expect her to finish it. But she did, and with no mistakes. It was if I opened a floodgate with that loan. Over the subsequent nine months Hilda has borrowed another book off me almost every week. At first they were my own books, but my paltry collection did not last Hilda long. I have been borrowing maths books from a professor whose acquaintance I have.’
Miss Wilson took a breath, eyes shining at Hilda she went on, ‘In short Hilda’s knowledge of mathematics has surpassed my own.’
Charles’ met his daughter’s eye, doubt on his face, before turning to Miss Wilson. ‘That is all very fine, but of what import is it?’
‘I have been talking to the head mistress of the Cheltenham Ladies’ College, the school I attended. Based on my word she has promised a full scholarship for Hilda.’
‘Cheltenham?’ exclaimed Elizabeth, ‘That must be thirty miles from here!’
Miss Wilson floundered, ‘I’m not sure.’ A breath, more confidant again, ‘It would be a full scholarship, board and uniforms included, and Hilda could come home for holidays.’
Hilda’s head spun, the idea of moving away from home, especially as far as Cheltenham was daunting. On the other hand the prospect of not going into service, of continuing to learn, continuing at school, what a magical prospect. ‘Mum, Dad, please can I?’
Such a mournful expression settled on her father’s face she did not know what to think, ‘But afterward? What would the girl do after another six years of school?’
‘Afterward?’ Miss Wilson was at a loss, ‘Why afterward she might go on to one of the ladies colleges at Oxford, at the worst she might teach.’
‘Oxford?’ Charles was scornful, ‘I knows for a fact that women are not allowed to matriculate at the universities, not allowed to take a degree.’
‘That is true, but they are allowed to attend lectures, tutorials and sit examinations. They have the qualification in all but name.’
Elizabeth interjected, ‘But of what use would it be to a working girl? A few years and she would just get married in any case. She would waste all that time and for what? In those six or eight years she might earn three or four hundred pounds and with full board save two hundred maybe three hundred pounds to contribute to her household when she marries.’
Miss Wilson, shifted, she seemed about to flee. Please, please, please thought Hilda, don’t give up. She caught her teacher’s eye, Miss Wilson, smiled at her before speaking again ‘Mister and Mrs Attewell, I know this has come out of nowhere. Don’t make a decision today, take your time, think about it. Things are just beginning to change for women and with her mind your Hilda can be at the forefront of those changes. Who knows you might have another Marie Curie here!’
Later, as Hilda and Dolly were drying and putting away the tea cups Elizabeth looked up from the table where she was cutting slices of bread for their supper and asked, ‘Who’s Marie Curie?’