Simply Sunday

25 October, 2020

Ollie and I went to the beach the other day.

I hope this finds everyone well and not too stressed by world events. I must admit I’m a bit stressed about the outcome of the upcoming presidential election in the United States. I will be happy once the election is finalised but not holding out a lot of hope that everything will go smoothly. It’s getting crazier day by day but enough of that.

Simply Sunday is about the past week or so and what’s been happening on our little island at the bottom end of the Australian continent.

The book I’m listening to is The Flight by Julie Clark narrated by Patricia Rodriguez. (USA- Hodder and Stoughton).

I haven’t read much fiction and as I enjoyed the Minotaur fiction I thought I’d dive into some more.

Good Reads describes this book in part as:

Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of ten, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he’s not above using his staff to track Claire’s every move, making sure she’s living up to his impossible standards. But what he doesn’t know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.

A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets ― Claire taking Eva’s flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. They believe the swap will give each of them the head start they need to begin again somewhere far away.

I won’t add anymore because I think it’s a spoiler. This tale begins at a ground breaking pace of suspense. It flies and really sucks the reader in. Then once the first big event happens it slows down a bit. However it’s about to pick up again soon.

I am not going to say much at all about the plot as there are many twists and turns constantly and I don’t want to ruin it. I wouldn’t google this book either as spoilers seem to be in a lot of places on the net. Suffice it to say I am finding it a fun read amongst many distractions and my lack of concentration. I’ll get back to more serious reading after the U.S. election.

I think I am going to enjoy her story.

Having said that I have just started another book in print called Olive Cotton: A Life in Photography by Helen Ennis though am only 25 pages into it so far so can’t talk about it except to say it’s an Australian biography written by an Australian author.

Other news? I have been participating in the Great Australian Bird Count this week. It runs for seven days and participants sit in their yard or wherever else they may want to go for blocks of 20 minutes. There is an app to download and as you see a bird you identify it and enter it into the app. It is a yearly event and it is easy to do. It provides a useful census of the current bird population throughout Australia. I think it is a very worthwhile event. Today is the final day of counting.

These are the birds I counted in my front yard on Day One. L to R: Green rosella, Common blackbird, Black Currawong, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. We have other birds by they didn’t show in the 20 minute block.

I also had some entertaining news last week. I ran into a work colleague from about 20 years ago recently in the book shop and she used to have Jack Russell dogs. Her last one passed away at an advanced age, she lives alone and has recently downsized her house. She would like another dog. Well lo and behold didn’t I have a photo to show her. She loved Ollie and I told her if I could chase up the breeder I would do so. I was able to retrieve the contact details from when we purchased Ollie in Nov in 2019. I contacted her and long story short, we became Facebook friends and she put me in touch with other puppy owners, one of which to my delight lives in the Hobart area. (Playdate soon I hope).

I now have photos of Ollie’s mother, father, brother and litter mate Eddie and a sister born the year before Ollie. I think her name is Magga. I’ve never bought a dog from a breeder before. We have always rescued animals from various places and I’ve never known much about their relatives. So this an enjoyable first.

Top Left: Father Jack; Top Right: Mother Heidi; Bottom left: Ollie; Bottom right: litter mate brother Eddie.
Ollie’s sister from previous year. Ollie takes after his mother and sister.

A couple of other things I’d like to share is an Australian magazine I subscribe to that is actually distributed internationally but published here in Hobart. It is called Womankind magazine and it has wonderful stories featuring various countries, photography, short stories, book reviews and assorted miscellaneous articles. If you’re interested in having a look your can find the link HERE

Speaking of links, I found this link to an interesting article on the Lit Hub (originally the Post Bulletin) newsletter about a high school student who tells why students should read bad books. He says that throughout school he has been confined to the books that teachers have chosen and they had an assignment to choose any book they wanted. He chose a book by Ayn Rand that he thought wasn’t that great of a book and he explains what he learned from reading a ‘bad’ book. He wants to be a writer and this evidently gave him some ideas of what he doesn’t want to do in his writing future. I enjoyed the article. You must answer one question in a survey though before you can access the article but seems rather harmless. The link for that is HERE.

I think this is enough news for one Sunday so I will now shut this thing down and continue with the spring clean up we are doing in our large enclosed patio area called The Lockup in the back yard. Lots of winter debris to sweep and clean and it is also our enclosure for our cats. Since Ollie has destroyed a few of their things I need to sort out what I can substitute. More later, stay well and motivated. Do something today that makes you happy.

Mental Health tip: Learn to say No.

The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break

Written by Steven Sherrill. USA – first published in UK by Canongate Books 2003- Edinburgh.

The blurb on the back of this book states…..

Five thousand years after leaving the Cretan Labyrinth, the Minotaur- or M as he is known to his colleagues- is working as a line chef at Grub’s Rib in Carolina, keeping his horns down, trying in vain to put his past behind him. He leads an ordered lifestyle in a shabby trailer park where he tinkers with cars, writes and rewrites to-do lists and observes the haphazard goings on around him. Outwardly controlled, M tries to hide his emotional turmoil as he is transported deeper into the human word of deceit, confusion and need.

I walked into our indie book shop Fullers when one of the staff walked up to me to say hello. I was browsing the shelves as I often do and he walked to one shelf, picked out a book and handed it to me. “Read this” he said. I took one look at the cover and thought, “This is something I would never look at twice.” It isn’t my genre but to be honest I’m tired of the genres I often pick. Non fiction and travel writing especially. I asked him what it’s about. He told me “A minotaur who lives and works in America.” Well that sums it right up doesn’t it. Then we had a quick chat about it and I thought “Why not?” and brought it home. I began it at once and found so different I was really enjoying it.

M lives in a Carolina state, probably North Carolina, though it doesn’t specify. Part of the novel does state it is a 9 hour drive to Florida which fits and they eat Tex Mex food which made me think of Texas not the Carolinas but by now I suppose most states have Tex Mex food.

M is quite sensitive and also very self conscious. Who wouldn’t be if they had the body of a human and the head of a bull. I thought this book would have a lot of bullying behaviour because of his appearance and the fact he walks around with a large set of horns on his head. But it doesn’t fall into that trap.

It is a story of his mates at work, the other people who live in the run down trailer park he lives in, the manager of the trailer park. Their daily life. The book is very well written and does pull you in. There are some rough spots in it regarding a couple of incidents and some crude language but it is all in context and I didn’t find it bothersome at all.

I enjoyed the moments described as he worked for Grub who ran the rib & steak house. M is a great worker and very handy with a knife and it was fun to see the work he did in the kitchen.

I understand there is another book out about M called The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time but Peter at the book shop told me he didn’t think that one was as good as this one.

If you’re looking for a quick, 312 page read about some very unusual people and situations you may enjoy this. The themes covered are dealing with those who are impoverished, different in society, lifestyles and difficulties dealing with those who don’t fit in. I find myself thinking about M a lot. He is such a real character and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I met him one day walking up the street.

The Guardian wrote an in-depth review of this book (here) in 2003 if you’re interested in reading more. I don’t review books, I only talk about my narrow scope of them. I leave the in-depth reviews to those who do it well.

Simply Sunday

Royal Hobart Botanical Gardens- Spring 2020

Spring has arrived in Tasmania with various bouts of gale force winds, rain and sunny days interspersed amongst it all. We are continuing to keep busy and I have also been reading quite a bit. I’m also culling books here and there too. My aim at this point is to have all books fit easily on the shelves with no flat stacking in front of the standing books on shelves. So whenever I bring in a new book to the clan, I make at least three leave and find their way into the book wilderness. So far it is working but I have a ways to go.

I am also making myself read at least 50 pages each morning before I turn my tablet on and get stuck into reading emails, blog posts, Facebook messages from family and friends overseas and the morning news. Starting with 50 pages immediately with my coffee gets me into the reading mood and lifts my spirits. People who love books will understand the feeling of the little jolts of happiness that course through a mind while reading something new.

Let’s continue with what books were uncovered since my last post.The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie– Australian- Non fiction, winner of the Finch Memoir Prize 2018 and 2019 Stella Prize and shortlisted for the 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

(From Booktopia description). When Vicki Laveau-Harvie’s elderly mother is hospitalised unexpectedly, Vicki and her sister travel to their parents’ isolated ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to help their father. Estranged from their parents for many years, Vicki and her sister are horrified by what they discover on their arrival. For years, Vicki’s mother has camouflaged her manic delusions and savage unpredictability, and over the decades she has managed to shut herself and her husband away from the outside world, systematically starving him and making him a virtual prisoner in his own home. Vicki and her sister have a lot to do, in very little time, to save their father. And at every step they have to contend with their mother, whose favourite phrase during their childhood was: ‘I’ll get you and you won’t even know I’m doing it.

It is described as “sharply funny” but I thought it was anything but. Vicki lives in Australia and flies back and forth to Canada to deal with all that is happening with her parents. Her sister lives in Canada and at times feels quite overwhelmed by being the one closest to the parents.

Their mother certainly has some issues and truly seems to hate her daughters. I thought the book is extremely well written and describes the issues of dealing with elderly parents, especially from a distance very well.

I enjoyed reading about how they dealt with everything. The story mainly deals with the present situation and then dips backwards into some experiences of the sister’s childhood with their mother. I never learned though why her mother seemed to hate her daughters so much. I would have liked to know about the family from the mother’s perspective, from her mind.

When did this attitude begin? Why was it so? Their mother was incredibly hateful, wanting them to suffer as much as possible. Perhaps that wouldn’t have been possible. Who knows how family members in these situations really interpret each other.

The next book I finished was Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship wth the First Lady by Stephanie Winston Wokoff, narrated by the author on Audible.com.

What an interesting book but what was wrong with this author!!?? Stephanie and Melania met years previously when both were involved with Vogue magazine. They became very good friends and that friendship endured for many years. So when Melania became the First Lady of the United States as part of the Donald Trump family she was able to get Stephanie to hire on as an assistant to her as she dealt with everything the East Wing of the White House involved.

However the people working in the West Wing with Donald Trump and Donald’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared Kushner never seemed to acknowledge her presence, much less her authority.

The book is a very long tale of the interminable abuse Stephanie endured while participating in the inauguration preparations of Donald Trump on 22 January, 2017. Stephanie lived in New York with her husband and children. Yet she spent incredible amounts of time in Washington DC. She was hired but somehow a contract never happened. She worked without salary. It would all be organised soon but never was. Melania is portrayed as someone who could care less about anything that happens in the USA and is more obsessed with the outfits she wears and her appearance.

I thought the information regarding the Inauguration preparations and life within the White House was interesting. The stories about Ivanka were as I expected as she and Melania do not get along and Ivanka is portrayed as being more interested in taking Melania’s position to be with her “daddy”. It was Ivanka that “helped” Melania prepare the speech for the 2016 Republican convention where Michelle Obama’s speech was plagiarised. She wanted to humiliate Melania. It worked. Melania was silly to take it on trust and not proofread it or fact check it with people in the know.

As events progress over the next couple of years, Stephanie’s health deteriorates so much she ends up doing quite a long stint in the hospital with Melania continuing to offer her platitudes through emoji laden texts. By the end of the book Stephanie is well and truly thrown under the bus based on missing millions of dollars resulting with her photo and false information plastered all over the front page of the New York Times.

Throughout the telling of this tale I could only think, “Why are you being so pathetic to allow yourself to be treated like this for such a long time?”

I can understand trusting a friend but most friendships end far before this one did if one person is harming the other.

I didn’t really feel sorry for her because she appeared to be so blindsided by the power and publicity of having her best friend become First Lady of the country she couldn’t do enough for her. She really was her own worst enemy.

On the other hand Melania is exactly as she portrays herself. Wearing a jacket that says “I don’t care” because she likes it. Wearing foreign designer clothes from foreign designers instead of American ones and forcing one designer to near bankruptcy as bills aren’t paid. The Trump family is portrayed exactly as how I think they are, incomprehensible in their actions and activities, fraud and money laundering stories. Melania was heard to speak of the Stormy Daniels episode as “that’s politics!”

Stephanie was told again and again by very well known people, her husband, her friends, “Do not get involved with the Trump family” but she ignored it to her own detriment. I think most people in her situation would have seen the light far sooner. However if you fancy a salacious tale of the nutty Trump family this is your book. It’s something right out of an amusement park.

The book I’m halfway through is about as different as a book can be for me. I was in Fullers Book store in Hobart and one of the sales people, Peter, walked up to me and handed me the book, The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break by American author Steven Sherrill. I’ll write more about this book once finished but so far it is a really interesting read with some good themes in it.

I’ll leave you with a photo of Ollie’s walk on the beach last week when we attended a Mental Health activity for National Mental Health Week in Australia. It was a dog walk and consisted of a dog walk with others along the beach, speakers by the manager of the Dog’s Home of Tasmania, a Veterinarian and some Indigenous peoples readings about the land we stood on. It was followed by a sausage sizzle that included veggie burgers and onions. The first time the event was held and they hope it becomes an annual event.

Ollie plays with another small dog who is also named…..Ollie.

Until next time….stay well.

…and the days keep flying by

Hobart Waterfront at night. One cool spring time night.

I know it is a cliche but I really don’t know where the time goes. Busy with the 12 week fitness challenge I’m doing, a long motorbike ride, a few photography events and lots of household planning. I’m not getting a lot of time for reading books but I am listening to a lot of books. I get a couple of hours in most nightHs while lying in bed. A very relaxing and quiet time.

I finished One Day by Gene Weingarten. I heard about it somewhere and was intrigued by the concept. The author wanted to explore the events of one day in history in America. He picked three strangers and each drew numbers out of a hat. One chose the year, one, the day and one the month. The result was Sunday, 28 December, 1986. It is the date he researched extensively to find the events of the day. He wasn’t expecting as much as he found as it was a Sunday. Not the best day of the week, he thought. It was also only three days after Christmas. In the end it didn’t seem to matter as there was no shortage of events.

That Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s turned out to be filled with comedy, tragedy, implausible irony, cosmic comeuppances, kindness, cruelty, heroism, cowardice, genius, idiocy, prejudice, selflessness, coincidence, and startling moments of human connection, along with evocative foreshadowing of momentous events yet to come. Lives were lost. Lives were saved. Lives were altered in overwhelming ways. Many of these events never made it into the news; they were private dramas in the lives of private people. They were utterly compelling.

One Day asks and answers the question of whether there is even such a thing as “ordinary” when we are talking about how we all lurch and stumble our way through the daily, daunting challenge of being human. (Booktopia site)

Gene Weingarten- Author

Gene Weingarten is an author that has won the Pulitzer Prize twice in the past. His day job has him working as a journalist for the Washing Post newspaper.

I enjoyed this book as if you think of everything that happens in a person’s live and multiply that by billions there really doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. One never knows what lies ahead. The author’s research was good and it was an interesting concept to explore.

Last night four of us from the Photo Club went down to the waterfront to teach ourselves how to get night time ‘bokeh’. For those who don’t know what bokeh is, it is the blurry lights you see behind a photographic subject. It is regularly seen in films and television and nighttime photos. The photographer finds a subject to photograph and then looks for light sources farther behind the subject. The camera lens is opened up wide and hopefully the subject in the front of the photo will be clear and the lights in the background will be blurred. It was trickier to get then we thought but some other lovely photos came out of our experimentation. It was a chilly night out, as we wandered around the fishing boats and fish and chips shops at night looking for subjects and lights with our tripods over our shoulders. It was good to get out in the fresh air with like minded fellow photographers and have a laugh and share ideas. Here are just three photos I came up with. The bokeh isn’t that great but the photos turned out nice and one had nice starbursts in the light I wasn’t expecting to get. Once I went out to get starbursts and ended up with bokeh. One just never knows.

Here’s hoping all is well with anyone stopping by this page. Stay well.

Flippers is really good.

Simply Sunday

Just some miscellaneous musings on a partly sunny Sunday. 21 degrees C (69 degrees F).

There has been a lot happening here in springtime Tasmania but all rather disjointed.

Last week I read a blog post by Lisa on https://anzlitlovers.com blog.

She reviewed the non fiction book The Application of Pressure. You can see her review here. I was interested in this book after reading her review. As I had a credit on my Audible.com subscription I thought I’d see if they had it. Sure enough they did so I downloaded it and have listened to it the past few days. I finished it last night. The book is written by Rachel Mead and the audible version is narrated by Caz Prescott who did a pretty good job. However there were times she sounded a lot like Kitty Flannagan with her intonations. (Australians will understand Kitty Flannagan). I found that distracting at times but if you aren’t familiar with her it shouldn’t be a problem.

***********************************************************

The Blurb From Affirm Press

***********************************************************

I didn’t enjoy the book as much as Lisa did but overall it turned out to be pretty interesting and I’m glad I read it. It’s just that it gets uncomfortable at times.

First off this book is not for the squeamish. There is a lot of every type of body excrement, horrible smells (yes I think you can smell stuff coming out of this book) and some scary experiences. There is also a variety of quite funny experiences and compassionate experiences. I think the author tried hard to balance things out.

Tash and Joel are two paramedics. The chapters take it turn to feature one of them. I had a harder time with Tash than I did with Joel. I felt Tash was quite jaded and came very close to inappropriate comments about a few clients, especially one with disabilities and older people. A couple of her comments grated on me but in her defence it is a job that not many people could do and I understand some of the black humour. It probably wasn’t the type of audible book to read at night before falling asleep. However as the author’s first book, I thought the topic was interesting and the writing was good. There are parts you can’t put down until you come to the chapter’s end. If you like the subject matter I would recommend it.

Other things happening this week. Well, we are getting a new kitchen. We had a consultant come from a very large hardware store here and design our 1970s kitchen into something that goes into the 2020s. It is very exciting but quite daunting. The components should be here in about 6 weeks, the builder has been hired and it will be all systems go. Other than having to clean out cupboards that haven’t seen the light of day since the late 80s, having 3 cats, a 15 and a half year old terrier and a one year old Jack Russell puppy in the house, it should be a real challenge. The cats are all house cats but if the weather is nice they will be living in their outdoor enclosure for a few days while the kitchen gets gutted.

On top of that I’ve joined a 12 week gym challenge that has me completing two pilates classes and a one hour session with a personal trainer in the gym in the city. A 5 block walk from bus to gym and then gym to bus on a time schedule keeps me pretty focused. But having seen what is going on in nursing homes during this Covid episode I don’t want to end up in one in 15 or 20 years. So staying strong and mobile is my older age priority these days. I couldn’t bear to be separated from my pets if things went downhill. Heartbreaking thoughts like that make me get up and self torture myself! No, it’s not that bad and feel wonderful after each session. End of winter blues have disappeared too.

What else is new? Well I’m dipping into some other books here and there, watching a couple of Netflix series and our photography club and senior’s group is now meeting monthly face to face. Tasmania continues to be in lockdown from Australian mainland and the rest of the world and there is not a single case of Covid in our small island state which is lovely. At least for now.

Last but not least: Today our photography club is having a day out in the Royal Botanical Gardens. I’m hoping the tulips are in bloom. I might share some of my photos in Wayfaring Wednesday if they turn out to my satisfaction.

Books I’m dipping into to and an interesting library book:

The Bedside Baccalaureate edited by David Ruben is one I bought several years ago on a trip to Sydney. It has parts in it of various topics in each section. For example Part I is: American History- General Grant’s Civil War; Economics- Globalization; Art History- The Hudson River School; Physical Sciences- The Astronomical Universe and Classics- Mythis of Ancient Greece and Rome. Each subject is rotated. So day I is General Grant, dat 2 is Economics, etc. There approximately 18 to 20 pages on each topic. If one topic’s overview is interesting enough there is a more extensive bibliography at the back. I’m not rotating the reading. Instead I flip through all the pages of the same topic. I have just finished the chapter on General Grant and enjoyed it very much. Limited to his personality, how he achieved his roles in the Civil War and his important battles.

Another book I’ve started too is one of Penguin’s Little Black Classics. No. 40, The Steel Flea which is written by Russian author Nikolay Leskov. It is short and very funny. Very similar to the Emperor’s New Clothes.

The library book that came in is: The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter. It is a literary walk through out Paris. It looks like fun and has some illustrations.

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: 0%

The Steel Flea: 18%

The Bedside Baccalaureate: 4%

That pretty much finishes up the past week. Hope everyone has an enjoyable Sunday.

Off to the Gardens today.

Some Birds in the World-Wayfaring Wednesday

Lake Titicaca, South America. This little sparrow was chirping away.

The Weaver bird of Namibia, Africa.

The nest of the weaver birds. Namibia, Africa

Raven in Namibian desert. I offered him water. He had a big drink.

Off the northern western coast of Namibia. He flew over our boat to see if we had any fish.

Parrots of Sri Lanka

Wetlands of Sri Lanka

Wetlands of Sri Lanka

Back on the northwest coast of Tasmania.

Born Again Blakfella- Jack Charles

I have been listening to the interesting biographical audible copy of Jack Charles. This book is narrated by Jack Charles as well. He has such a pleasant, deep reading voice and I enjoyed hearing his story. I didn’t know a lot about him until I saw the tv program of Anh Doh interviewing him and painting his portrait. The interview was interesting so when I saw Audible had the book I downloaded it.

Jack was born indigenous to a mother who had 11 children. All 11 of her children were ‘stolen’ from her when the Australian government thought they would do better being assimilated into the white world. He found his mother again in his later life but he was the only child she had that she ever saw again. He was an infant when taken so had no memory of her.

He grew up in an institution where he was sexually abused and beaten for years. When he did become a part of a foster family later in his childhood he was kicked out of their home when he announced he was gay.

The next few decades saw him arrested for drug and alcohol abuse and getting caught stealing from the rich home in eastern Melbourne. He was arrested and jailed 22 times in his life.

He had some good fortune between jail time as he was interested in acting and participated in some stage shows and later a film documentary of his life.

He went on to make several films during his later years.

Throughout the book it is obvious that although he went through a great deal of trauma in his life he remained a gentle person. He didn’t fight others or speak of his life with much anger. He was interested in learning and read when he could. He laughed at his experiences as a cat burglar, getting caught one night by someone who had seen him in a play and instead of calling the police in the middle of the night, made him a cup of tea. He agreed to not come back to that house again. He also made friends with some of the animals in the homes he robbed. There are many parts of his story where the reader can share a laugh with him and also feel the pain of never having had a family of his own. It is a very tragic tale but he continued on, moving from one adventure to another. I don’t know how he didn’t become twisted and bitter.

He travelled the world with the filmed documentary and began speaking to large groups. He is not in his late 70s and continuing his good humour.

The stories of the stolen generation of indigenous Australians are hard to read about. It was a policy that was doomed to failure from the very beginning and didn’t end until the 1960s. Man’s inhumanity to man. I enjoyed hearing his tale and found him to be an inspiring man despite his criminal past. He continues working with various media when he can. The audible book is a good experience as it is read by him and the reader becomes involved in his sorrow and his laughter. He is an example of someone who really has tried to make the best of things and I think those of us who have had easier lives can learn a lot from his attitude and stories.

Simply Sunday

Today is a sunny, spring like day in Tasmania. In Australia the seasons begin on the first of the month. So September 1 was the first day of spring here. However I do not celebrate it until the equinox as I don’t think you can fool Mother Nature into thinking it’s spring when there is still bits of snow around parts of the state. In my mind spring is just around the corner.

Our state still has the bridge over the moat closed to mainland Australia due to Covid 19 so we aren’t going anywhere and neither is anyone coming here without 2 weeks of quarantine. Ho hum. We are fortunate we do not have the virus in our state but I feel for people in other parts of the world struggling with it.

On to the book I just finished yesterday. Yes it is another bit of travel writing. I think I’m almost at brain capacity with travel writing as I have been immersed in it for some time. Might be time to move on to something else for awhile.

This book is called Ghost Rider by Neil Peart. Memoir in its nature and perhaps a bit overlong. I was ready for it to end at a couple of points however it continued on.

Neil was a Canadian professional drummer working with the well known band Rush. I had not heard of but that is not unusual. He was married to Jackie with one 19 year old daughter, Selina, he was very close to.

She leaves home to begin university in Ontario and is in a car accident and killed instantly. Of course he and his wife are devastated. Then a couple of months later, Jackie is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Within a relative short amount of time he loses both his daughter and his wife. Then his dog dies. His very best friend in the world is arrested for selling drugs and goes to jail for a couple of years. What does one do in this situation?

He gets on his motorcycle and rides through Canada, the United States and into Mexico.

The book is about his travels which I found really good. He is good at describing the people he meets, the accommodation he stays in and the food he eats. I really enjoyed that.

He is also a big reader and he takes a great deal of life’s lessons from the books he has read and the books he is currently reading. He always visits a book store if one is nearby on his travels

The book also deals with the grief he feels and the loss and confusion of having to begin his life all over again in his late 40’s/early 50s. He has a small home at a lake in Quebec he spends time in and writes about the nature he observes. He is an avid bird watcher and writes of the birds.

He shuns being around many people and instead concentrates on having to keep moving as he is unable to sit still for long. He also hikes, spends time watching the beloved birds and reading a great deal. He has several good friends who live in various parts of North America that he rides his bike to in order to spend time with them.

This is his journey out of grief. I really enjoyed many things about this book.

He keeps a journal regularly and writes down everything that happens to him each day. The book is developed from this journal. He also writes long letters to his best mate in prison and to several friends.

The book is a combination of what he writes in his journal and what he writes in his letters. There isn’t very tight editing in it so it does tend to ramble, especially during the last third of the book. I became weary of the repetition at this point. However by then I was invested enough in his life I did want to know how it ended.

I do wish the editor had been a bit harsher with slashing out some paragraphs.

But overall it is a very good book and it deletes deeply into what people go through with the loss of loved ones and some of his thoughts were enlightening. However I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone. He addresses what he does with the anger he feels as well.

If travel by motorbikes is of interest to you then there is plenty to keep you entertained in this but it does come with a lot of personal baggage as you can imagine.

The Blurb from Amazon:

On a journey of escape, exile, and exploration, he traveled from Quebec to Alaska, down the Canadian and American coasts and western regions, to Mexico and Belize, and finally back to Quebec. While riding “the Healing Road,” Neil recorded in his journals his progress and setbacks in the grieving/healing process, and the pain of constantly reliving his losses. He also recorded with dazzling, colourful, entertaining, and moving artistry, the enormous range of his travel adventures, from the mountains to the sea, from the deserts to Arctic ice, and the dozens of memorable people, characters, friends, and relatives he met along the way.

Published March 2003 by ECW Publishers. – 400 -pages

A Weekend Wander

The beginning of the path.

Last week I woke up to a beautiful, sunny day in Hobart. Ollie needed to get out as he is a live battery on wheels and had a full charge in him. He’d had a bath the day before, he was fluffy and raring to go.

Hobart has a lot of parks and reserves and though we often go to the dog beach today I decided on a 3 km bush walk. It wasn’t that long but there are hills in Hobart and they are everywhere. So Ollie was put into harness and off we went to the Knocklofty Reserve. This reserve is high on a hill and overlooks Hobart. It is very much a bush reserve with many birds. I could hear many of them but they were high in the trees and wouldn’t come down and pose for my photos.

String bark Eucalyptus trees. When fires hit these trees the strings burn, saving the rest of the tree from the flames. Very hardy trees. Nature is so clever.

There were a lot of people out walking, picnicking playing with their dogs. We came upon a woman walking five Lhasa Apsos. There are areas of water that have been set up for the frogs. We walked around the frog ponds and I heard a few but being winter there wasn’t much activity.

The view towards Hobart through the bush.

Ollie is working well as a photography dog. I drop his leash, say “Wait!” and he stands still. All the beans in this little guy stop moving and I can get the photo without my arm being pulled out of its socket.

Enjoy the photos and hope you enjoy Hobart that you visit one day. You will get a personalised tour if you do. It will include beautiful scenery and lots of cafes or pubs.

I love the texture in this tree.

You can see the casino down on the river by the yacht club. Where the fancy people live. 😁😁

An overview of Hobart. It was built around the River Derwent and the city centre is off the left out of view.
Ollie turned one year two weeks ago. We celebrated his birthday with new rubber pigs.
I felt like Robin Hood out there today.

Wayfaring Wednesday 2 Sep

Today I hope you have a cup of tea or coffee. Sit down, put your feet up and enjoy the El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookshop in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We visited their in 2012 so I am reaching back travel wise. The Guardian has rated this bookshop the second most beautiful bookshop in the world. National Geographic rated it as the most beautiful. (Wikipedia)

It was certainly the most beautiful bookshop I’ve ever been in.

“Situated on Santa Fe Avenue in Barrio Norte, the building was designed by architects Peró and Torres Armengol for impresario Max Glücksmann (1875-1946), and opened as a theatre called Teatro Gran Splendid in May 1919. The building features ceiling frescoes painted by the Italian artist Nazareno Orlandi and caryatids sculpted by Troiano Troiani, whose work also graces the cornice along the Palacio de la Legislatura de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires.

The theatre had a seating capacity of 1,050, and staged a variety of performances, including appearances by the tango artists Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro, Roberto Firpo and Ignacio Corsini. Glücksmann started his own radio station in 1924 (Radio Splendid), which broadcast from the building where his recording company, Nacional Odeón, made some of the early recordings of the great tango singers of the day. In the late twenties the theatre was converted into a cinema, and in 1929 showed the first sound films presented in Argentina.” The architect Fernando Manzone transformed it into the stunning bookstore in 2000.

Okay, enough history. I have photos to share with you and I hope you enjoy them. (Mind you the photos were taken before I began photography courses so bear with me. Lumix point and shoot tiny camera. But you get the gist!

Art work on the ceiling.

Need I say anything??

There were quite a few specialty areas.

The children’s section has a very good selection and I enjoyed seeing the illustrations of the Spanish books.

The cafe was up on the stage and the food, as you can see, was beautiful.

There was one problem with this shop for us. Almost every book is in Spanish. I think that was a good thing in the end as I didn’t buy anything except maybe a notebook or some cards. I don’t remember.