Sometimes, I think my subconscious is a teenager with a grudge. It likes to harbour these grudges for ages – literally years – and then suddenly confront me with them when I’m least expecting it, such as while I’m sitting in front of my computer at work. Luckily, my metaphor starts to fall apart here, because the grudges aren’t really grudges; sometimes they’re just random ideas or thoughts that have been wandering about the back of my mind for some time. The other day, I was attacked by one of these non-grudges and it revolved around a character’s motivation… from a scene in a ghost story I started writing in Year 8.
The scene involves my main character, Sophie, confronting a ghost who has taken possession of her sister’s body. Sophie has understandably taken offence to this and is inclined to express her outrage via violence. Sad for her that she will be prevented from doing anything by a neighbour who randomly dropped by in the middle of a storm. I… can’t quite remember whyhe’d suddenly turned up, but I suspect it may have had something to do with the fact that I wanted Sophie to enter into a love/hate relationship to add a little tension to the story.
This whole scene has existed for years without any comment from my subconscious, up until last week. Why did he stop her? my subconscious whispered to me. Why was he so fiercely protective of the ghost girl?
And now I desperately want to know the answer to that question.
The exact scene goes a little like this:
Sophie continued to take small steps towards Erin. Suddenly, the terrified girl turned and fled, with Sophie closely in pursuit. Erin ran up the old stairs and along the hall, followed by a maddened Sophie, who was followed by an angry Danny.
Soon, Erin was within Sophie’s reach and the elder girl grabbed her by the arm, in a vice-like grip.
But Sophie’s arm was grabbed in an even stronger grip.
“Whatever you do to her, I’ll do to you,” Danny whispered harshly.
Why? Why is everyone so inclinced to either hurt each other or possess them, depending on their corporeal status? And why can’t I shake the idea that I need to re-write it so I can uncover the answers to these questions and more?
Here’s the start of the story in question, printed out way back when:
Oh yes, produced on a dot matrix printer. That print-out probably belongs in a museum by rights.
Should I do it? Should I re-visit a story I wrote as a fourteen-year-old and see what can be done with it? It all seems rather tempting right now.
Things are improving around here: I am about to post some photos from an event that took place just over a week ago. Amazing! Usually, at least two months would have elapsed before I managed to summon such feats of productivity.
The Friday before last, Jen came to visit for no good reason beyond our awesomeness and her need to bask in it. And who can blame her? She arrived on Friday morning and Emily went to meet her in order to drag her up hills and down hills and to the Museum and then to a train, which Jen failed to board, despite Emily’s success in this matter.
Aimee and I joined Jen after work, where she attempted to hide any evidence of doughnut consumption…
Our first order of business was to acquire coffee and cake. My attempts to take a photo of my lemon meringue pie were thwarted by the fact that my camera had its zoom lens attached (I’d been using it at work), so Aimee helpfully held the pie at a point where it was in range of my camera. I’m sure this did not look strange at all to the many other people in the café at the time.
Our next order of business was Emily’s birthday present. We had her real one – a voucher for the September cruise – what we needed was a silly vessel in which to gift it to her. We settled on a large gift bag stuffed full of paper napkins and random things found in our handbags, not to mention a miniature bottle of cointreau which is Emily’s absolute favourite. And by absolute favourite, I mean, she’d rather drink puréed shoelaces than touch cointreau. We packed it all up and went to wait for Emily to finish work, at which point we handed over our present, draped her in bunting and attempted to take a photo, in which activity we were thwarted by a bad-tempered security guard.
If you’re wondering about the Twilight-themed card, that was intended for Bec (whose birthday is not until June). It was a work of art by the time we’d finished with it. Unfortunately, its current whereabouts are unknown, although the top suspect is a possible black hole in the back of Aimee’s car.
We also played Monopoly Deal, which Emily won both times.
The next day involved the markets at Werribee Mansion, followed by lunch at the café there. We plotted our plan of attack for the rest of the day: Olga Berg outlet store, then the city, where we needed to kill some time until Emily finished work and joined us. Aimee was also on the hunt for velcro dots, a standard item in a primary school teacher’s kit.
Olga Berg resulted in many purchases for Aimee and Jen but none for me, a fact that was looked upon as strange and unnatural (and rightly so). I had been tempted by a cute little retro handbag, but I needed to direct my money in a different direction: a better bag for my camera and its growing entourage of lenses.
By the time we set ourselves up in Federation Square to await Emily’s arrival, we had acquired the following: velcro dots and half of the Officeworks stationery department for Aimee, a pack of cards for entertaining ourselves and one brand new camera backpack for me.
At last, Emily arrived, looking outrageously stylish with her birthday luggage. She was followed by Jen’s friend and our set was complete. Our night involved dinner and cocktails, followed by dessert at Passionfruit – very successful indeed.
The next day, Emily, Jen and I headed to breakfast at the delightful Barclay’s Café, where the ten million hour wait for our order gave Emily and I time to plot our adventures for the day. When we three are together, our idea of a travelling plan is to choose whichever roads look the most interesting, so you can imagine the level of preparation that had gone into things. We decided Kilmore looked good: it’s not too far away and there’s often a market in the park.
There was no market in the park.
Everything was closed. The Old Mill (with antiques) was shut up. The Old Gaol (with antiques) was locked and barred. In short, the only place open was a lingerie store (no antiques).
So we headed out of town and took the next interesting road we saw. After five minutes, we found ourselves on a winding road surrounded by rocky hills and then, across a paddock, we spotted one of my favourite things to find on any given roadtrip: a gorgeous old abandoned homestead. Unfortunately, it was a gorgeous old abandoned homestead with absolutely no access and, as I confessed to my passengers, I had forgotten to pack my zoom lens.
This news was greeted with entirely appropriate mocking from Emily and Jen, given that I had just purchased a backpack specifically designed to hold my camera plus extra lenses. It was generally agreed that I was an idiot.
All was not lost, however, as another abandoned house presented itself a little way along. I have handily included a photo of it in its blurred state, behind a strand of barbed wire. It was an adorable little place, literally poised in the middle of nowhere, its front and back doors painted a cheery yellow.
Soon afterwards, we encountered Lancefield where shops were actually open. We managed to choose possibly the worst place in town for lunch but we happily wandered around afterwards and eventually wound up in the Antique Centre of Victoria, whose three storeys of antiques made up for the ones we’d missed out on in Kilmore.
Of course, at some point we ended up in a cemetery, where there were clear signs of attempted zombie break-outs. We were on our guard at all times.
By the time we returned home, I had been ambushed by a cold that left me feeling progressively worse throughout the evening (despite the feast of dumplings we had for dinner). Poor Jen and Emily had to put up with a very sniffly, miserable host for the rest of their stay, which, quite frankly, wasn’t long enough. Alas, our attempts to convince Jen to stay were futile and we had to wave her goodbye as she headed into the airport and back to Canberra. We haven’t given up hope, though; eventually, we’ll convince all of the Failboats to make their homes in Melbourne.
Of course, my cold had gone away by the time I returned to work on Tuesday. Stupid irony.
“Don’t have lunch. Finishing at 1.30. Let’s go somewhere.”
The message came through literally a split second before I was about to head into the kitchen to stare into cupboards for ten minutes or so in the vain hope that some fully-prepared lunch was lurking in there, waiting for me to consume it. Instead, despite my growing hunger, I made myself a cup of tea and waited for the Chef to come home. We were actually going to be able to spend some time together! On a weekend! That hasn’t happened for ages, thanks to the vast quantity of weekend shifts being funnelled the Chef’s way of late.
We needed somewhere to go, so I played to my strengths and settled on McCrae Homestead – an historic property about an hour’s drive away. Sure, we’d probably be starving hungry by the time we got there, but we could compensate with fish and chips afterwards. Thus, we stuffed the car full of fuel and headed off – if we had a smooth run down, we’d have at least an hour to explore the homestead and grounds and hunt for various photographic opportunities.
We made it in plenty of time and I tried to shrug off the “CLOSED” sign hanging in the window of the offices. Surely, something else was closed. A gallery, perhaps. The homestead was open; the website had promised the homestead would be open. But no – another sign was posted on the front door. Due to circumstances beyond our control, McCrae Homestead is closed today…
All I got to see of the homestead was a tiny glimpse of the shingled roof lurking behind some trees.
We headed the other way instead and found ourselves on the absurdly picturesque Rosebud pier. The water was so beautiful and such a pure blue in some places that if I hadn’t known better, I would have thought I was on a tropical island somewhere. Being the well-prepared and organised person I am, I had, of course, left my camera conveniently in the car, tucked down behind the driver’s seat. This meant I was reduced to taking photos with the camera on my phone, a process that involved squinting against the glare of the sun as I pointed the phone in the general direction of the gorgeous view and hoped I was actually taking a photo of an attractive scene and not just a random corner of sky.
We could have stayed there all day.
So I may have missed out on homesteady goodness but it will be waiting there for us some other time. Instead, I have the memory of sparkling blue water, sunny skies and seaside perfection to take with me into the working week. That should see me through until Friday.
Last week might have flown, but this week is well and truly dragging itself towards Friday in the slowest method possible. I blame the long weekend, myself. If those three days of public holiday goodness weren’t lurking enticingly in the distance, this week would have shot by just as fast as the ones before it.
Of course, this weekend brings with it the arrival of Jen and the promise of shenanigans or at the very least, a daytrip or two, which just adds to the appeal of the aforementioned long weekend. Despite the fact that her flight leaves tomorrow morning, Jen is following my fine example and failing to pack until the very last minute. I salute her dedication to this cause.
In the meantime, I feel it’s time to acknowledge the fact that this blog has taken a significant turn towards the photographic, as opposed to the ramblings about that amazing story I’m absolutely going to write one day. I’m not sure quite when that happened, but there’s no going back now. So now I guess we have the blog of a person who rambles on about photography as a perfect method of procrastinating about that writing they should really be doing.
To truly celebrate this theme, I present you with this:
Two of my favourite things in the form of a knitted dalek and my 50mm f1.4 lens. I didn’t always love this lens, although I wanted to. When I first got it, I tested it in extremely low light conditions on cats and was disappointed when the focus was a little soft. This was quite unfair of me, I although I refused to accept this at the time. Then I took it on a visit to an historic house and missed an opportunity to capture an image of a mob of kangaroos bounding through a paddock due to the fact that the only way to zoom in would have been to run up to the fenceline.
But then I started using the lens for its intended purposes and now it is quite possibly my favourite (examples here: 1 & 2). In fact, I was vastly annoyed by the fact that I wasn’t able to use the 50mm lens to take a photo of itself, due to some sort of logical impossibility. Damn logic.
I’m constantly making up reasons to attach the lens to my camera, too. The Chef has assembled an awesome cheese platter? 50mm lens photo! I have inadvertently left my pen in an artistic angle on my diary? 50mm lens photo! I have a new pair of shoes? 50mm lens photo! Actually, only two of those incidents occurred; I took the pen & diary photo with my zoom lens, due to laziness. But it would have looked better with the 50mm lens!
For a little light relief, please accept this photo of my brother’s weather station as it appears in our backyard. It was perfectly still up until I focussed on the thing, at which point, a breeze decided it would spring up and spin the cups around. This annoyed both me and, I suspect, the small spider that had taken up residence in one of said cups.
So basically, Aimee, Emily and Jen are doomed to endless talk to lenses and cameras this weekend. Pity them. Pity them hard.