Things are beginning to look up…

Although left eye vision will never be very good again at least I can see the outlines of trees, buildings and cars. Driving isn’t bad either as my right eye is sharp as a tack for vision and with glasses I can read. There is a possibility too a new left lens in my glasses down the track a bit will improve it a bit more.  So onwards and upwards!

Reading has been slow but has been happening. I see Brona has written a review on H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, but I’m holding off reading it as I find the more I hear about a book the less I want to read it and I have just started Hawk myself. You can read
Brona’s review here.

I need to begin Geraldine Brooks book Horse as a priority as it is our August book group’s book and I have a ticket to see her at the Theatre Royal 27 July as organised by Fullers book shop. Tim who now owns Fullers felt bad when I could not make the Shakespeare event earlier this year due to eye surgery so he kindly put aside two complimentary tickets for a friend and I to see Geraldine Brooks this month.  (How to win over permanent customers though he never has to try with me.) 

I finished the audio version of Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. I have read several reviews of this book who love it but I was more than ready to finish it once read.  I found a lot of it tedious and I guess in today’s world the personalities of four women sharing a medieval Italian castle grated a bit against the daily news of today. I didn’t escape into it as many have though I thought the writing was good and the descriptions of the characters were good. It was orginally published in 1922 and though the world had just gone through  a couple of wars at the time and were recovering this book was a tad too fluffy for now.

I have also downloaded The End: The Human Experience of Death by Bianca Nogrady after reading Sue of Whispering Gum’s review of it.  I put it on my kindle as the book to read while sitting in waiting rooms and bus stops after the gym each week. As this book is quite a scientific look at death I think I need to read it in short sections. You can see her review here

I am currently half way through a new Australian crime book, Black River by Mattew Spencer. A serial killer has killed two women from a rich Sydney neighbourhood near a private boys school. When a third woman is found on the grounds of the school is it linked to the previous two? Two detectives, one female, one male work it out with the help of a cooperative journalist they enlist to publish specific information to hopefully flush out the killer or killers.  There are a range of suspects from the headmaster to the principal at the school and a few red herrings. This is the author’s first novel and I’d say he does a pretty good job of it but for Sydney all the characters bar one are pretty white as they talk about a multi cultural city.  But it moves along and I’ll finish it soon before I move on to Horse

Later this week my friend and I will attend the Fullers launch of 2022 Stella Prize winner Drop Bear with author Evelyn Araluen. I am looking forward to it very much and no doubt will buy the book. 

The 2022 Stella Prize judges described the winning book as:

“…a breathtaking collection of poetry and short prose which arrests key icons of mainstream Australian culture and turns them inside out, with malice aforethought. Araluen’s brilliance sizzles when she goes on the attack against the kitsch and the cuddly: against Australia’s fantasy of its own racial and environmental innocence.”

Chair of the 2022 Stella Prize judges, Melissa Lucashenko, says of the winning book:

“When you read Evelyn Araluen’s Dropbear you’ll be taken on a wild ride. Like the namesake of its title, this collection is simultaneously comical and dangerous. If you live here and don’t acquire the necessary local knowledge, the drop bear might definitely getcha! But for those initiated in its mysteries, the drop bear is a playful beast, a prank, a riddle, a challenge, and a game. Dropbear is remarkably assured for a debut poetry collection, and I think we can safely say it announces the arrival of a stunning new talent to Australian literature. Congratulations, Evelyn.”

That pretty much wraps up the bookish side of my week. On a more personal note, the planning of the Sydney photographic road trip thanks to my good friend J. there, progresses for August followed by four nights in a 5 star hotel near Circular Quay with another friend, I, who will arrive from Port MacQuarie for some R & R. We will enjoy full buffet breakfasts and a cocktail of the day for 4 glorious days following J and I crawling around rock pools and abandoned buildings I the rain with our cameras. SO looking forward to both lifestyles and getting off this island for a break. 

I’m back at the gym with Daniel who runs the weight classes, twice a week, followed by another dear friend, Teresa who is a diabolical personal trainer I will work with for 12 weeks developing core strength, balance and Pilates. Hopefully I’ll build up enough coordination and muscle people will stop on the street and stare saying, “Who is that old woman with the big muscles and drooping eye?

I’ll be the one wearing the black hat, black eye patch, black mask carrying the black Canon. Might make a good Instagram or Tik Tok personality. (As if…😳😳😳)

Keep laughing.

On that note the Penguin and I wish you all well and hopefully all obstacles in your life will be pursued with a sense of humour. 

A Wintry Sunday

I’m back with the living after three weeks of fighting with my left eye. I won’t go into the details as I once heard Germaine Greer say, One should not use body parts in conversation once over the age of 50 or you’ll be very boring. So I’m standing by that.

I have managed to get a bit of reading done but not a lot. I gave up on The Animals in that Country. by Laura Jean McKay. It is for the July book group. I read 50% and for me it was just irritating and I am the first to admit I do not appreciate books where things happen to animals. I have met others though who really enjoyed the book so I will leave it to individuals to form their own opinion.

I had to pull my Kindle out of a drawer to read the past couple of weeks as I spent a lot of time in dr waiting rooms and I appreciated the large font. I have been enjoying the book, The Day the World Came to Town by journalist, Jim DeFede. He writes about the history of the small town of Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada in the wake of the September 11th attacks. The small city embraces the welfare of the many people stranded there from all the planes that could not enter American air space. It is a wonderfully uplifting story of the kindness of people when life gets tough.

For our shared reading group at Fullers on Monday nights we are reading Dubliners by James Joyce and I really like these short stories. We read four stories each week and discuss them a bit once finished with each story.

I also attended a couple of book launches the past two weeks at Fullers. One was Chloe Hoopers Bedtime Story which was quite moving. She tells the story of her husband who was diagnosed with a terminal type of leukaemia and the doctors said chemo would not be effective. She had to work out how to tell her children their father was going to die. She has written an entire book of grief and children and how to approach it. However, our audience felt better once she told us her husband’s cancer mutated six months later, chemo did become effective and he is now in remission. I hope it lasts.

The second book launch was Wendy Davis introducing her book, Don’t Make a Fuss: It’s only the Claremont Serial Killer. In 1990, Wendy was working as a social worker in Palliative Care in a Western Australian hospital. Her office was located in a more isolated area of the hospital and when a telecom worker asked to use the toilet (in uniform) she didn’t think anything of it. Suddenly though he had grabbed her from behind, put a cloth over her mouth and was dragging her towards the bathroom. She fought hard, kicked him harder and he apologised to her and ran out. She was able to get to a nurses station and report it to police and the telecom office. But, being female and the police being as they were, no one took her seriously. Telecom made excuses for him and continued to employ him. The police never took a statement and sent her home with her husband, who was also employed in the police department. She was very traumatised and eventually moved to Tasmania. Then in 2012 (I believe it was), she heard on the news that this same man had been arrested as WA’s worst serial killer having raped and killed several young women. Suddenly she was contacted and gave evidence in his trial. The killer had gained more confidence and escalated in his attacks on women since her experience.

Her book details how she felt by not being taken seriously, and how the whole case affected her. She joined a Victim’s Support group in Tasmania when flashbacks came back to her upon hearing the news he had been arrested. The psychologist suggested she keep a journal, which she did and that became the book. You could hear a pin drop in the audience as she recounted the experience. Her message, is to definitely make a fuss and make sure authorities take your story seriously. I am sure police practises have changed (hopefully) in dealing with assaults on women in our current times but women still need to be assertive in these types of situations of assault or bullying.

The Telecom company eventually apologised profusely to her but nothing more ever came from the police department.

That pretty much wraps up my last three weeks of bookish news. I hope to get a few more things read in the coming three weeks. However it might still be slow going.

I will leave you with one of my photographs of some beautiful Tasmanian fungi.

From Styx Valley, Tasmania

Styx Valley Tasmania. (PSParks)

Catching up a bit…

Good morning. There has been quite a bit going on and I have not been able to write much over the past week or so. First off I had a trabeculectomy on my left eye and presently, I have no vision in it but do have heavy duty eye drops and pain I am struggling with. Having to get used to reading with one eye hasn’t seen me do a lot. It is going to take awhile to settle down and we don’t know if the vision will come back.

The saddest part of the procedure is I had to cancel the order I had with Motorworks for my 150cc Italian scooter due to arrive in Australia in August/September. I don’t feel I should be on the roads with one eye.

I did finish The Promise by Damon Galgut and I am hoping to get to Wednesday night’s book group to discuss it. I think it was a powerful book about families, interactions around funerals, dysfunctionality all against four decades background of South African history. There is a lot packed into this book. I can’t say it was a fluffy read by any means and hard to enjoy but the characters were well drawn, the climate within the family around the funerals and the ramifications of the promise during those decades made for quite a riveting story. I’m looking forward to the discussion with the others.


The four books I have enjoyed very much are the motorbike travel novels I downloaded from Audible by Sam Manicom. Sam is a British motorcyclist who spent six years riding around the world on his BMW motorcycle. It is one of the best travel series I have listened to. He wasn’t an experienced biker when he decided he was going to travel the length of eastern Africa in the 1980s. The first book is called Into Africa. The deciding factor for him to begin was the Ethiopian war had ended even though there was still quite a bit of unrest around him in the other countries. Sometimes naivety can be useful.

What is so good about his writing is the amazing detail that he balances out throughout the books regarding history, terrain, the people, the cities and villages and the people he meets. He has many really interesting experiences, both positive and negative and frankly, I am surprised he survived.

The second book is Under Asian Skies as he travels from Australia northwards to Asia and much of that book covers India, Pakistan and Iran. Again the same format. By now he has met a female partner and she is travelling with him as pillion.

The third book is their trip that his German girlfriend, Birgit goes on with him, Distant Suns. He asks her to continue with a new adventure but she agrees only if they can go through Africa again and she can ride her own bike. Now we have her on a BMW with no experience getting her first miles in Africa. It is the later 80s by now, almost the 90s. She turns out to be a great navigator, and has the social skills to get through some very tricky border crossings. Once they arrive in South Africa they travel to Brazil and ride to the southern tip of Chile into Patagonia, back to Argentina and north along the pacific highway into Peru and up through Central America. Their trip in the third book ends at the Mexican border.

The fourth book I’m currently listening to, Tortillas to Totems, has them riding throughout Mexico and into California then exploring the American west and their goal at this point is Alaska. The point I’m at now is they are soon to go into Canada on their way to Alaska but it is almost September and I think the weather might be a concern as they head to Alaska. They have two months to spend in the USA, then will head back to the UK.

The detail of his memory in these four books is quite astounding, however he said Birgit kept scrupulous diaries and he noted quite a bit down too. I admire travellers who can do that. I find by the end of the day when I travel I am so tired, I can barely write down the name of the town or hotel I am in.

While I have lain in bed with my eyes closed for several day, my cold compresses over my eye, I am vicariously living their trip and it has really kept my spirits up.

Another reason books are so important in contributing to life in so many ways.


In the meantime, I am picking my way through The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion because I am attending a Theatre Royal performance of it in June.

It is described as:

This highly personal account of loss through the lens of hope unpacks a surreal and overwhelming time in Didion’s life as she faces the sudden loss of her husband John, and later her daughter Quintana. Deeply moving, sometimes funny, and ultimately joyful, this is one woman’s story of the journey to find acceptance, and the lessons learnt in letting go.

After a critically acclaimed sellout premiere season in Melbourne, this production is a must-see for all fans of great writing and drama.

The Year of Magical Thinking is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Inc., and Concord Theatricals Company. This production was developed for the stage by FortyFiveDownstairs.

Upcoming things to look forward to:

My photographer friend in Sydney and I are planning a road trip in NSW in early August for approx 10 days to share photography skills together. I am really looking forward to that, one eye or not! Fortunately I look through my camera with my right eye and that works well.

We were going to have gone in July but she has some things happening in July and I see that Fullers Book Shop is hosting Geraldine Brooks at the Theatre Royal on the 27th of July to launch her book Horse. She is in conversation with Heather Rose. Our book group will be reading Horse towards the end of the year. I am really looking forward to both.

This is as far forward as I care to think at the moment. As I go along I am enjoying time at home with family. Mr. Penguin is just now off his crutches and driving again after six weeks recovering from his third hip replacement.

Our dog Ollie, has had a torn ligament in his back leg and is on restricted activities. That is fun. Have you ever tried to restrict the activity of a Jack Russell terrier?

Now I am laid up just a bit, but we all deal with health issues pragmatically here. It is a part of aging at times and we just focus on what we can do and the good things around us. That means not following any awful news or interacting with others about it. We were very happy with our federal election results and that kept us happy too.

You just never know what is around that next bend in the road do you? You just keep riding.

A Day Spent with my Camera-

I have been reading a bit lately and I will tell you about the travel books by the same author in a post to come. I am not quite finished with the second one but enjoying it very much. More information on that to come.

I also have some new books to share and I need to continue with the book group read of The Promise by Damon Galgut. More on that too later.

But for today, I have been learning a bit more with my camera with the help of a good friend in Sydney. We are planning a road trip with our cameras hopefully the end of July. I will fly to Sydney then we will do a New South Wales road trip with our cameras. I am looking forward to it very much. But more on that later too.

For this Sunday I will leave you with the following photos.

I drove from Hobart south to Police Point and then stopped in Dover. There was a rally of old mustang cars zooming around down there and I watched them go by as I set my tripod up on the side of the road overlooking the Huon river. It was a pleasant day out. My Sydney friend encourages me to have a Pam day as she does with her Judy days. That means you get all the camera gear loaded into the car and spend a day away from the world enjoying the opportunity to take photos of places we haven’t investigated lately. One might also call it a mental health day.

The route from Hobart on some rural roads to Dover.

It was a very bright day so I had to close up the aperture to not let in so much light.

Although we have had a lot of rain recently the summer dryness continues in parts of our state.
Not many yachts along the river but one had some activity.

The beauty of photography is the ability to really notice the small things one would normally overlook.
I love the black swans. I left my telephoto lens at home so this is as close as I could get.

I guess this post wraps up the week. I’ll keep reading and post up some bookish news next time. Stay well.

A Bit of a Week this week…

I thought I’d just do a bit of a journal for this week as it was quite discombobulated. So here we go.

Monday: I attended our shared reading group at Fullers Bookshop. We have one more week to go until we finish My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin. Everyone in the group has been enjoying this Australian classic written by the young Miles Franklin when she was 21 yrs old in 1901.

The National Museum of Australia describes the time the book takes place briefly as follows:

Australia in the 1890s

The 1890s was a decade of turmoil in Australia. It was characterised by depression and strikes and the worst drought since European settlement.

Social attitudes were slowly changing. Women were demanding and receiving better education, although their work prospects were still limited.

In 1894 women won the  right to vote and stand for parliament in South Australia, the first jurisdiction in the world to grant this right.

The year after My Brilliant Career was published women were enfranchised at the federal level too.

Books written by young Australian women were being published with greater frequency. My Brilliant Career is the only one that lingers in the national consciousness.

We are particularly enjoying the humour in the book. We also stop and discuss some of the vocabulary that is not used in our modern times. We have had some good laughs with that.

Our next shared reading group after a short break will be James Joyce’s Dubliners while waiting for a batch of Hard Times by Charles Dickens to come in which we will begin later in the year.

Tuesday: This morning had a friend and I at the Tasmanian Museum and Gallery (TMAG) to attend the launch of a new book detailing the history of Tasmania’s government house by Professor, the Honourable Kate Warner AC and Dave Owen, Official Secretary, Office of the Governor, Government House. The description of the book is as follows:

Government House Tasmania: A Remarkable Story co-authored by Kate Warner and David Owen is being published after many years’ research and writing. The two-volume set has a combined total of nearly six hundred pages printed on luxurious 150 gsm silk stock. The books are case bound and fitted in a burgundy hand-produced slipcase with gold foil embellishment.

Government House Tasmania: A Remarkable Story is lavishly illustrated two volume set with over 500 images, including historical paintings and drawings, maps, plans and early photographs (some never previously published) and a stunning collection of contemporary photographs of the House and Grounds.

As well as being a detailed work of Tasmanian history, the two volumes cover architecture, art, gardening and landscape ideals, pioneering scientific endeavour, colonial administration, vice-regal families and staff, the evolving use of the House and Grounds, royalty and more.  

100% of proceeds from sales of the book are applied towards heritage maintenance of the House and Grounds. Price is $180.00 plus postage & packaging.

The talk was informative and several quite comical anecdotes were shared including a drunk butler that almost upended a royal visit in the past and the two of the authors searching the closets, the attics and other hidden spaces in the home. We enjoyed it very much.

Wednesday: This evening was my book group at Fullers again where we discussed Louise Erdrich’s book The Sentence. It was a good book for book group as many enjoyed this Native American story during the year 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota during the time of Covid beginning and the George Floyd murder. As many people who really loved it we had an equal number of a those who did not like it at all and the middle of the roaders who enjoyed the story but thought the writing was uneven and we had a lengthy discussion about the ghost of the story.

I won’t say much more about it as Mr Penguin is reading the book now. We certainly had a wonderful discussion about it. As for me, I enjoyed it while I was reading it but looking back and hearing from others it is not described as her best work. But as with life, this book interested some and not others.

Thursday- had me home puttering around and doing jobs that needed to be caught up on. Then the rains came that night. And the storm during the night escalated into a morning weather event we’ve not seen for several years. Tasmania is not a big lightning or thunder state for that matter, but by Friday morning we were roaring with it. Starting around 6 or 7 am, we had buckets of rain, wind off the mountain over 100 km per hour (60 miles per hour), hail, sleet, snow in the yard, so much lightning I moved to the back of the house away from the window and cracking, non stop thunder.

Our dog Ollie just barked at it to all go away. Little Peanut wandered around as though nothing was going on wanting her breakfast, the cats hid under the beds and I didn’t see them until mid day.

My friend and I were scheduled to go to Fullers book shop organised Robert Dessaix’s book launch in the city that night. His new book Abracadabra is out now. It is described here if you are interested in seeing a summary. If I decide to read it I’ll post more about it but for the time being this post is getting long and I’ll leave it for now.

In the end we didn’t go as we were both awake in the night quite a bit as the wind and rain was so strong it was hard to sleep. Many of the city streets were flooded and SES personnel were operating. We decided to stay in and stay warm and cozy. So we missed it. You know a storm is bad if I miss a Fullers Event.

So that sums up the weekday events and the weekend has been a time of rest, reading, naps and preparing for another week of upcoming events.

I hope all of you are well and the Penguin and I will say talk to you later.

Little did I know the Penguin had friends over too.

The Penguin and I are back!

Things have been more than hectic the past few weeks with Mr P having had his hip replaced and on crutches and not driving for six weeks. I’m having eye surgery end of May and will be out of commission but by mid winter we should all be up and back. Did I mention I backed the new car into a guard rail one early morning while blinded by the sun and that is in repair for a week so learning to drive a little rental car. I need to pick it up this week the same time Peanut goes to the vet for injections. Whoops

I could go on, but it is boring so I won’t.

I had a disaster with this blog disappearing and I gave up and moved to Wix. They were great at setting up a blog but once that was just about finished they pulled all support and communication so to make a very long story short, I cut my losses and decided to get stuck back into the original one at Word Press. I can now tell you there is good in the world I really misjudged WordPress. As confusing as I find it at times, I spent more than 90 minutes in an online chat with a lovely person who got me back online. They can’t figure out what happened either. I had part of a different blog incorporated into mine and the whole thing went “Whoosh!” But….I’ve spent enough time on all of this so let’s say no more. But I can’t praise the WordPress support I got more. I’m now eating my words.

Photography has had some lovely moments as we are in autumn here and if I manage to figure how to post a photo I will do so.

There are many events happening at Fullers book shop this year. As my friends and longer term followers know, Fullers is the oldest book shop in Australia at 102 years. It is under new ownership by a young, lovely man (Tim) who has a PhD in philosophy and is also extremely well read, ambitious and absolutely full of ideas for the shop that people are flocking to. With more than 100 people divided into groups of 12 for monthly book groups, there is also a shared reading group that meets regularly, a new monthly poetry reading group where they focus on one poet a month. Shakespeare and philosphy events are scheduled as well as many author events and book launches.

Jane Dawson entertained us with her contagious laughter.

Just last week my friend and I attended a really fun event as Jane Rawson launched her newest book, A History of Dreams. It is the story of four very different women who become witches to deal with rising facism during 1937 in Adelaide. Such an unusual theme but as she stated she is very concerned with many issues both past and present regarding how right winged our world is becoming and coinciding with that the problems of global warming especially as it relates to Australia with fires and floods. It was a great night and Geordie Williamson, one of the book critics from The Australian interviewed her. I think he should be working for the Guardian listening to their conversation. It was most enlightening and Jane has very unusual and interesting ideas for her books. She stated her next book would be about a time traveller who goes back to the 1980s and murders those responsible for global warming, though I must emphasize that is simply an idea at this point but it got a good round of applause and laughter from the audience.

Geordie and Jane in conversation.

Well I don’t want to push my luck here so we will see how this goes today so I will wrap this up for now. I must say my panic has subsided now I have my blog back and fortunately Wix transferred almost all of my past Word Press posts to this site though I haven’t had a good look yet. So stay tuned.

If you’d like to see the new direction this blog is going check out the new About page. All the best.

Walk With me a bit through Hobart

End of the school day

No this isn’t a bookish post per se. I am sitting in Hobart, early in the morning looking out to a chilly day but sunny for a change. Another busy week is upon us but I want to catch up a bit here. I just read a bunch of back blog posts from people I generally follow. Sue, Lisa, Karen…and the rest. You guys write so many posts I can never keep up but do enjoy them.

I just read Lisa’s post on the book Adrift in Melbourne about Robyn Annear’s walks in Melbourne (here). How I wish there was a Hobart book such as this but of course Melbourne is so much bigger than Hobart.

I really love books about walking. No idea why but I know there are people walking everywhere. They walk to work, they bushwalk, they hike through multiple countries. I think meeting and chatting to people on a walk is great fun. One can have a great conversation, connect, then perhaps never see them again.

Last week I needed to get out of my head so after an appointment (which I took my camera to in my backpack) I told Mr. Penguin to drive home and I was going to walk. It was an area I’d not walked before and off I went. Three hours later I got the bus home and said head was clear. I need to get out more often with the camera and walk more. I have a friend in Sydney who does her “Judy” day, a day just for her. I am going to start doing a “Pam” day. Time to visit those little out of the way places and take photos or just smell a few flowers. I will share the walk with you here, sorry not much narrative. Here we go….

Many people are doing it tough these days.

I had a lovely chat to this fellow while he waited for the bus.

These workmen thought it was quite funny I wanted their photo.

He didn’t have much to say but was happy to pose. The biggest problem with wearing a mask is you can’t see smiles anymore.
The two of us chatted for more than 30 min about the world problems and her garden. Lots of laughs before I went on and she went back to work.
This guy approached me and wanted me to take a photo of his dog Bindi.
This very elderly woman comes to the sweets shop, reads the paper and goes home with a bag of lollies.

Replacing a damaged window at the State cinema.

Waiting at the bus stop to go home.
Ollie (left) and Peanut. Home again from the bus. They know if I’m not home to check the window every time the bus goes by. Sure enough they weren’t disappointed this time. I still want to know which one of them figured out I’m on a bus first. Those little heads! What a greeting.

March Already!

My reading has slowed a bit during the last couple of weeks. World events are very distracting at the moment. However our book group is talking about This is Happiness by Niall Williams the first week of April and I have begun it. The writing is lovely. I was going to highlight various quotes to share at the meeting that I love but found I was making pencilled marks on every page so have given it up.

I have put the Togo book, The Village of Waiting by George Packer up just for a week or so. It was my random pick for the Armchair Traveller reference book.. I am enjoying the book quite a bit but it is long. I will continue but will be slow to report on it.

Theme this month: Reinvention

My Womankind magazine arrived and I am enjoying it. It comes out bi-monthly and has the most beautiful photographs and articles.

I have also been working on learning more Photoshop and Lightroom editing techniques via instructors on You Tube. My good photographer friend in Sydney and I chat all the time about photography. There is so much flooding and non stop torrents of rain there now I have to keep an eye on her. All up the east coast of Sydney the flooding has been dire. 13 People have died last count and it is hard seeing their homes and lives washed away. Then there is continued Covid and the horrible stuff going on in Ukraine. When does it end? I try to stay away from the news but it is really in our faces much of the time.

I am continuing to “play” with IOUMA Art postcards.. I received a couple of lovely cards yesterday, one from Postcrossings that came from the Czech Republic and an Art card from Texas . Really lovely to get real mail from random people that is gorgeous and interesting.

This Art Card came from Texas, USA
This was sent to me by a young woman who lives in the Czech Republic. She took this photo of the most beautiful butterfly

I also bought a new book that is gorgeous. Alison, in Cape Town posted information about it on her blog, The Booksmith. (here). It is beautiful in cover and words. Described as “See the British year afresh and experience a new way of connecting with nature- through the prism of Japan’s seventy-two ancient microseasons. The book covers the year in sections of 2 to 5 days and focuses on what is happening in the natural world during those days”. A beautiful short reminder of what is beautiful in our world each morning. It is definitely a book that ‘sparks joy’.

I realise it is more important than ever during these times to spend time being creative (even when you think you’re not good at it), reading books and magazines you love, moving your body even when you don’t feel like it and don’t binge on a lot of junk food as much as you might want. Turn the news off from time to time too.

I have also pulled a couple of photos from the archives that I took on trips in the last five years. I will share two of them from Sri Lanka that I took and posted up on the World Wildlife Photography fb page this week. It is a site that shares wonderful photographs of wildlife/birds, from around the world in their natural settings.

This leopard came out of the bushes as we drove by. He was stunning.
This little guy came out to investigate us too. So curious.

I look forward what anyone who might come across this post is doing to manage their life and mental health at the moment. Please feel free to share.

Some Books & Local Artwork

It’s catch up time again so I’ll get right into it. I just finished a wonderful book by 2021 Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah. The title is After Lives, published by Bloomsbury 2020 in the UK and my copy in 2021.

The blurb on the back reads:

While he was still a little boy Ilyas was stolen from his parents by the German colonial troops. After years away, he returns to his village to find his parents gone, and his sister, Afiya given away.

Another young man returns to the town he once lived in. Hamza was not stolen for the war, but fled into it to escape a life of bondage. In the war he has grown up at the righthand of an officer whose protection has marked him for life. With nothing but the clothes on his back, he seeks only work and security- and the love of the beautiful Afiya.

As fate knots these young people together, as they live and work and fall in love, the shadow of a new war on another continent lengthens and darkens, ready to snatch them up and carry them away.

Located in East Africa in the first half of the 20th century it is a wonderful tale of the interlinked relationship between a few characters that goes from the war with the Germans against the British, right to the end of their lives.

I loved this book and as it went on I could not put it down. It is one of those books where you read the first half and don’t ask questions. It will all become clear once the war is over about half way through (if that.) I will never forget these characters and I cared about them deeply. I also learned quite a bit about the post colonial conflicts of Eastern Africa around Tanzania.

I read this book as part of the Fullers book group I’m in and I look forward to our discussion during the first week of March.

My car book is something completely different. I am listening to 78 year old New York dancer Twyla Tharp read her book Keep It Moving. As I try to exercise with longer walks and two weight sessions at the gym each week I find her a role model I can respect. Everyday she gets up first thing and heads to her studio and dances. It is a pledge she made and as she states not a goal. Goals can be ticked off when finished and then you’re done. Her pledge is an activity she does as part of her entire life and she never waivers from it. I am enjoying her discussion about the benefits, especially of older people ensuring they move regularly and how to put it into your life and not just for a new year’s resolution. She applies her teachings to many creative pursuits and I find her a very inspiring and interesting woman.

My other project (if one wants to name it that) is to get cracking with the TBR books on the shelves. A couple of weeks ago I went through every book I own and made a whole new Library Thing catalog. As I went through each book, one by one, I tossed those read, those found in op shops that sounded a good idea at the time and old gifts I’ll never gravitate to. I filled three large shopping bags and off they went. I whittled down the books listed on Library Thing significantly and now it is completely up to date.

Today, once finished with After Lives, I randomly selected three books (using randomiser app) from Library thing. I have decided I will randomly choose three and from that I will choose the one that appeals to me at the time. If a book of short stories comes up I will read at least three of the stories before I put it back on the shelf. I don’t enjoy reading a complete book of short stories unless they are interlinked. I think three will have me remembering them more.

The three books picked are: Worst Journeys: The Picador Book of Travel. It represents a selection of shorter experiences of things that went wrong while travellin to some well known authors. It happens to everyone who travels a lot sooner or later. It has happened to us. Like the time we were in South America, arrived for our connected flight and they had no record of a ticket because the travel agent changed hands during the booking of the trip and screwed up to be succinct. We had to get another ticket that involved finding a cash machine and being escorted with a guard from the airport. Why not use a credit card, you ask? We had it eaten in Bolivia and it was only through the kindness of our hotel manager in La Paz we could travel ahead to Peru and Mr Penguin’s very good use of Spanish that helped a lot.

Or when my father died and I decided to fly to Michigan from Hobart for his military funeral I did not want to miss. He was a large part of my life. Qantas flights were twice cancelled. I couldn’t get a flight to Michigan from Los Angeles. I had a complete meltdown in the airport after travelling for a very long time and a kindly staff member organised me to get to Chicago and then leave Chicago to Lansing, Michigan. I had my sister pick me up at the airport. After almost three days with no sleep, I slid into the funeral service 45 minutes before it started. I know I will enjoy this book.

The second and third book chosen is a small book, part of a Penguin boxed set. Boxed sets that have sat on the shelves for a long time looking very pretty but unread. Now all of those individual books from the Penguin 70s and Great Ideas boxed sets plus a few others are individually catalogued. So I will probably read both of the books chosen. The English Journeys set has me about to read Voices of Akenfield by Ronald Blythe. I haven’t got a clue what it will be about but that will be fun.

The second one is part of the Penguins Pocket Penguins (70s collection I think) called Dressmaker Child by William Trevor. As someone who absolutely loves watching the Great British Sewing Bee this has major appeal. I grew up attached to my grandmother’s side while she sewed dozens of clothes for my sister and I, my Barbie doll who has a complete wardrobe including lined woolen suits and a satin dress with a fur collar around the cape. She also sewed dance costume for my cousin who was an exotic dancer and all of her costumes had sequins hand sewn through out.

That sums up the past couple of weeks of books. I could add I started the audio of Trent Dalton’s Love Stories but it was a bit too saccharine for me. I loved the concept that he sat in the city centre of Brisbane, Qld and asked people to tell him a love story. It was very random. I enjoyed a few of the stories butter awhile it became a bit too much. I know a lot of people will love them but they didn’t excite me either way. Maybe when Covid is over I will be more receptive to really sweet tales. To be fair, not all of them had happy endings and that didn’t appeal either. 😍😍😍 I am not a saccharine person nor was I raised to think the world was brilliant all of the time. So I moved on.

While taking a good walk last week I went through South Hobart to see the new artwork on the side of a popular cafe. The Hobart rivulet goes from the mountain into the city and it passes through South Hobart. There is a platypus who lives in the rivulet and people post about it and keep an eye on it and any friend or family that appears. A local artist has painted a wonderful mural of him and I finally got to see it.

Our South Hobart platypus.

I also received a lovely card from Holland from a IOUMA member. (International Union of Mail Artists. I made a few collaged postcards. I am by no means an artist but I enjoy cutting up papers and calendars and old magazines and organising them on small postcards. There are some wonderful sticker books out there too for all those bullet journalers and I decorate envelopes too. Very relaxing.

I really like this.

I’ve reached the time now when I should stop chatting to you all and make a move out of this seat. As usual, I hope you are all well and doing something you enjoy and also moving those bodies. Old age is so much easier when your body knows how to move.

Keep Calm & Read.