Sunday, October 28, 2007

Some memories never die

A blog entry of a writer friend brought back a memory I thought I'd safely buried and the bitterness of it was as bright and new as the day it happened.
It was the at the height of the anti-Vietnam rallies and I was caught in the traffic jam outside Victoria Barracks in Melbourne, my car stopped alongside a tram stop. Standing, waiting for a tram, was a senior ranker, a sergeant I think, and the medal ribbons on his breast included three for personal bravery. I didn't know him personally, but his unit badges proclaimed him a fighting soldier from a battalion that had covered itself in honor in Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The demonstration was proceeding noisily down the other side of the street, one of the major Melbourne thoroughfares, and a group broke away from the main stream and, evading the police cordon, approached the soldier. One young woman, grubby in her frenzied support for a cause she may have barely understood, spat in his face.

Anonymous in my civilian clothing, I eased the car door open, prepared to go to his support, but he dealt with it magnificently, regarding the young woman with quiet contempt while the spittle dribbled down his face. The police intervened at that moment and led the group back into the stream of people.

"Can I give you a lift, Digger?" I asked, shamed by my inaction.

"No, thank you. I'm just going to the station." He waved aside my apologies for the incident. "Some of my friends died to give her the right to do that. I honor their memory."

The tram came and he got on and stood wiping the spittle from his face with a handkerchief as it pulled away.

The next day, the Army issued an order restricting the wearing of uniform to within the precincts of the Barracks.

For myself, and the rest of us with personal experience of Vietnam, we understood the protesters better than they thought and the young woman was just an unfortunate side effect of their frenzy, but turning the Australian uniform into something to be hidden from sight hurt.

Even after all these years, it still does.


Friday, October 26, 2007

A guest has arrived

Our younger daughter's garage is being dismantled and replaced because the structure had become dangerous and this left a gaping hole in their fence so their border collie has come to stay with us until the fence is replaced.
Indigo has spent at least half her life with us, for our daughter and her husband lived here until they could afford their own home, so the house and yard are familiar. She's a typical Border Collie, excitable, full of energy and hasn't an enemy in the world. For ninety percent of the time, she can be controlled by voice, but the other ten percent ranges from embarrassing to hilarious and her daily walks are exciting. She'll run till she drops chasing a thrown stick (she has no interest in balls)

Fortunately, there's lots of bike track, ovals, parks and gardens nearby and at six a.m. (her preferred walk time) not too many people around.

I'm not sure whether I'll be glad or sorry to see her go home next week. Walking a dog like her is much more strenuous than simply walking and we come home afterwards and both collapse for a time.

Life without Indigo will certainly be different.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Sneezing Season

It's a worse than usual year for hay fever and I am a woeful sight, subsisting on antihistamines and still miserable.

It is only the last ten years when it has affected me and I'm not sure whether conditions have worsened or I have deteriorated, but I suspect the latter. (The increasing concoction of medication that comes with age is possibly a factor as well.) I'm quite certain that if I took a family pet to the vet in the state I'm in, they'd take a look at my age and suggest it might be kinder to put me down now rather than let me suffer. We're kinder to our pets than to ourselves. (I am joking...I think)

Oh, to be at sea again, hundreds of miles from the nearest land, in mid Atlantic, like my heroine from The Countess and the Privateers. She's not suffering from sore eyes, running nose and sneezing so often her ears ache.

The progress has picked up a little since I realized I had to involve Talleyrand and Fouche` to justify the efforts made by the villain to capture the ship. I am continuously amazed at how neatly historical facts suit this story. It is almost as if my subconscious had been storing specific knowledge to trigger my imagination.

It's a great life, hay fever or no.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

The best laid plans

Mid October is approaching and the WIP, The Countess and the Privateers, another slight name change, is languishing at thirty thousand words, its wordage creeping rather than growing.

There's nothing wrong with the story, I'm still as excited as I was in the beginning, and the plot is developing very nicely. The problem lies outside it, in a family trauma not affecting me directly, but still very distressing to those I care for. Like everything else, it will pass and, hopefully, leave no lasting scars, but my concern for them keeps tugging away at my concentration and I find myself staring into space rather than writing.

Worse than that, the normal uncertainties and delays of a writer's life seem suddenly mountainous and I find myself seeking reassurance wherever I can. Intellectually, I know this is merely a knock-on effect of the other, but the needy brat, who still populates a distant corner of my mind, is screaming for comfort and won't be hushed.

It's a selfish reaction in giving comfort to others for a part of you to call, "Me too!"

It's back to 1802 for me, where the privateers are gathering,


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Soldier's Woman has a new home

Shadowrose Publications have accepted the Americanized version of A Soldier's Woman and are looking at Snow Drifter, which would bring the last of my Australian published books to the US.

Mitchell's Run made it as Mitchell's Valley. A Fair Trade will be released this month as A Fair Trader and The Widowmaker will come out at Whiskey Creek Press in May 2008. It will be great to see them tread a broader stage, because I enjoyed writing every one of them.

It's a great life!