These are some pictures of the little flower garden in front of the Pine Hills branch of the Albany Public Library. It’s a respectably working-class neighborhood, around the lower Western Avenue/upper Madison Avenue area of Albany, and right across the street from a police station. I often walked over there after school in sixth grade, during my sophomore year, and when I was in summer school for chemistry after sophomore year.
I’ll also be discussing this in my next RSW post, but I finished my chapter-by-chapter notes for my fourth Russian historical and have begun putting together the file with stuff like the table of contents, cast list, glossary, etc. There are no scenes in the USSR in this particular volume, but I still call it a Russian historical because of the origins of the majority of the characters. I can’t wait to finally start it in November!
Given the era (1948–52) and some chapters/scenes in Japan, I’d like to use bomb-inspired titles for Parts I and II. What do you think of Fission and Fallout, Hypocenter and Epicenter, Bright Light and Black Rain, or Pika (Flash) and Don (Boom)? (Pika-don is what the Japanese call the A-bomb.) The Epilogue is tentatively titled “Red Canna Flowers,” after the beautiful flowers which miraculously sprouted amid the rubble of Hiroshima, only 10 days after the bombing.
It doesn’t seem like a lot of people write about this early postwar era, making this a rather underused historical setting. My main storylines will be Lyuba and Ivan’s long-deferred dream of going to university, the struggles of not exactly conforming in this conformity-loving era, the challenge of being a woman pursuing higher education, the spectre of McCarthyism, the love stories of Lyuba and Ivan’s two younger sons, and the unhealed wounds that come with being a polio survivor.
WIPpet Wednesday is a weekly bloghop hosted by K.L. Schwengel. Excerpts must be related to the date in some way. I’m sharing 17 lines, for 12 +
2015. This is at Aleksey’s 18th birthday dinner, 12 August 1922, before his nephew Savva’s fatal injury put a premature end to the party.
Pelmeni are like Russian pierogi; varenye is a type of thick dessert jam; vatrushki are cheese pastries; pirozhki are baked, stuffed buns; and syrniki are fried quark pancakes.
The palace cooks had prepared a feast of sturgeon, pheasant, quail, goose and duck eggs, mutton, French onion soup, pelmeni stuffed with mushrooms and served with sour cream, salads aplenty, stuffed peppers, broiled salmon encrusted with pistachios and orange slices, pirozhki stuffed with minced beef and rice, syrniki served with strawberry varenye, caviar, venison stew, roast goose, tomato cream soup, and vatrushki. Until he’d been orphaned, Aleksey’s name day in October had always been celebrated more grandly than his birthday in August, but Mikhail felt it important to show the world how modern the monarchy was by putting equal emphasis on birthdays, not just the religious days. After four years as Regent, he didn’t seem likely to suddenly ease up and grant the constitutional monarchy he’d once wanted, but this was still a form of progress.
“I can’t believe you’re really going to the Sorbonne,” his fifteen-year-old cousin Prince Vasiliy said. “If I were you, I’d be really eager to become Tsar as soon as possible. It’s your Divine right, something you’re supposed to look forward to getting.”
Prince Vasiliy Aleksandrovich (23 June/7 July 1907–24 June 1989) in 1923
“I’m really eager to be Tsar, but I can’t be very good at it if I’m too young and inexperienced. Just because that’s the way it’s always been done doesn’t mean it can’t ever be altered. I’m glad Dyadya Misha changed the House Laws so I didn’t have to take power when I was only sixteen. Even if we had some good Tsars of that age a long time ago, it’s a new century, with new realities.”
“You can’t convince me this isn’t sheer madness,” the Dowager Empress said from the end of the table. “You can’t just sign away your Divine rights as easily and passively as your dear father did. A monarchy can’t sit around waiting for four years while you have fun in Paris. If you absolutely feel you need more education, you can always have some professors brought in to tutor you in university-level subjects while you govern. You’ll still get to indulge your bourgeois whim for a higher education while attending to your sacred duties. Misha can’t keep holding the throne for you forever. The people will get restless, and might, God forbid, revolt all over again.”