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.

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The Blurb From Affirm Press

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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. ­čśü­čśü

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 Per├│ and Torres Armengol for impresario Max Gl├╝cksmann (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. Gl├╝cksmann started his own radio station in 1924 (Radio Splendid), which broadcast from the building where his recording company, Nacional Ode├│n, 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┬ábookstore 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.

Another Weekend Read

I downloaded an audible book this week and went through it fairly quickly as it isn’t overly long but what a sobering story it is.

Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you. 

From Booktopia:

“Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed in November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp. 

Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on a Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country. 

Because he survived, Eddie made the vow to smile every day. He pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story, sharing his wisdom and living his best possible life. He now believes he is the ‘happiest man on earth’. 

Published as Eddie turns 100, this is a powerful, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful memoir of how happiness can be found even in the darkest of times.

About the Author

Eddie Jaku OAM, was born Abraham Jakubowicz in Germany in 1920. In World War 2, Eddie was imprisoned in Buchenwald and Auschwitz concentration camps. In 1945, he was sent on a ‘death march’ but escaped. Finally, he was rescued by Allied soldiers. In 1950 he moved with family to Australia where he has lived since. Eddie has volunteered at the Sydney Jewish Museum since its inception in 1992. Edie has been married to Flore for 74 years. They have two sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren. In 2020 Eddie celebrates his 100th birthday.”

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This was a story I had to grit my teeth before I started it. I really hate reading about the holocaust but I know how important it is for people to learn as much as they can about. it. Also it is this man’s life goal to tell people his story. He was captured in 1938 and endured the most incredibly, mind bending horrors I have ever read. Yet he survived. Not only has he survived but he is now turning 100 years old and he continually tells people his story.

With what is currently happening in this world the time could never be better than it is now. It will always be a relevant tale I am sure.

I won’t describe it anymore than I have because I can’t do his story justice. I will say it is a story filled with hope. It is important. The author is a truly remarkable man and what can be learned from this book is that attitude is incredibly important. It puts everything people are going through now into perspective. This will most likely be my most important reads of the year. I hope others bite the bullet and read it

Having visited Auschwitz I had those images in my mind. It was such an important place to visit and reflect upon and shouldn’t be considered simply a tourist destination.

Enough said.

Wayfaring Wednesday

Tasmanian Wildlife Today:

A flock of sulphur crested cockatoos fly over head. (Tasmania)

Wayfaring Wednesday is a new feature of this blog. It will feature photography from various places from all over the globe. All the photos featured are ones I have taken as I travelled around the world over the years and also as I wander around Hobart and Tasmania in general.

I am also trying to get used to this new format on Word Press which so far I am not enjoying but I will persevere until I get the hang of it. I am not one to avoid change. So today while I practise I am going to share some eclectic animal photos I have taken in the past.

Below are a group of Tawny Frogmouth birds taken at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Animals who live at Bonorong are those that are not able to be released into the wild anymore for one reason or another. Part of the Nightjar family of birds.

Next we have a Tasmanian devil. Tassie devils may look cute at times but their bite is several times stronger than that of a Pit Bull dog. They are scavengers. They are also marsupials and are found in forest and bushland here.

I caught this photo accidentally as a group of Wallabies ran by. I quite like it though it is not focused as it could be. It’s okay….I’ll keep it. These are the legs of a forester kangaroo. Check out the claws.

Last but not least I am sharing this photo of our neighbourhood cockatoo. We think he may have escaped captivity at one time as he and a friend often come by alone but also fly with the large flock. He seems a little tamer than the others. I put sunflowers out for them every few days, not so many they become dependent. Lately though, if I forget to put them out he will hang from the eaves of the house and look in through my bedroom window where I sit in my reading chair to remind me. It is very funny and I’ve become quite attached to him. Cockatoos can live well over 100 years old. There is one out at Bonorong who has been in captivity more than 100 years and was surrendered to Bonorong. His name is Fred and when he turned 100 he received a letter from the Queen of England. It hangs on his aviary wall.

That’s all for today folks…….

One More Traveller’s Tale

When the Covid 19 Lockdown started I thought, “Great! I have all of this time to catch up reading TBR books.” However I could not concentrate and from reading news items, magazine articles and other blog posts I see I wasn’t alone.

I started books. I started several books but couldn’t get past more than 20 pages or so. The mood left and I’d switch to something else. Then I just read other, shorter things. I read magazines, I studied photography you tube videos. I read articles in the Guardian. I read everything except the back of cereal boxes and books on my shelf.

For the past couple of weeks I have been revisiting those discarded tales and finishing them. Travel writing held my interest more than anything else. I notice non fiction also appealed more than fiction. It kind of feels like we’re living in fiction and I think reading non fiction makes me believe all is right with the world. Weird type of reasoning.

So I finished this little Kindle story I downloaded for next to no cost as I liked the idea of an older person (man in his 60’s) walking the Via Francigena pilgrimage in Europe. This walk begins in Canterbury, England and ends in Rome, Italy.

A Hobart couple did this walk last year and I enjoyed following their walk on Instagram very much. They have also done some talks about it in the community once returned. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get to the one I had planned.

The name of the books I am referring to is Over the Hill and Far Away: Recollections of an Older Person’s Pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome written by Roger Harland.

Mr. Harland is a New Zealander who is quite religious and he had a desire to do this pilgrimage for quite awhile. He and his wife decided he would do it and she would then meet him two months later in Rome.

In my mind he is a little guy wearing a very serviceable hat with his blue backpack on his back. He carries a hiking pole. What stands out the most in this story is how often he gets lost. He almost doubles the miles of walking because he back tracks so much. He is always lost. If the trail goes to the right, he goes left. If he is to climb a hill he manages to find the down slope. It amazes me he actually makes it.

The only language he speaks is English. That creates a few difficulties in France and Italy. A few people lost patience with that.

He stayed in hostels and convents, most of the time with much younger travellers than he is. I enjoyed seeing how often the young people helped him out when he needed it.

The grumpiest people he met along the trail were the priests and some of the nuns in the convent accommodations. Their lack of patience and the amount of eye rolling they did actually surprised me. However there were a couple of nuns that were lovely and did help him when needed.

He often bought food in shops, ate in cafes and enjoyed getting his lunch and eating it in town squares with the locals (though there weren’t many he could converse with) in smaller villages.

This book is a fairly quick read. He didn’t have anything terrible that happened to him and his descriptions of the trail and accommodations were embraced by this reader. He also had quite a history of the European wars of the past and he always made sure he visited and discussed the monuments and plaques he came across. He would give a brief discussion about the history of those places and what the monument meant to the locals. I found that interesting.

He would also make a point of visiting all of the small churches and a few cathedrals he came across. He enjoyed walking around the buildings, looking at their structure and would look at photographs, stained glass windows and anything else specific to the location. He attended a few services when he happened upon them.

He always bought paper maps in every village or received them from tourist information offices. He enjoyed a glass of wine at the end of the day and he carried a tablet to use in cafes that had free wi-fi.

It is an enjoyable read and he did an excellent job of completing the walk. You could feel the pride and confidence in himself once he finished this life goal.

I would recommend it as an enjoyable read though not as heart stopping as the travel book I wrote about in my last post.

Ahhh–to be able to travel again.

Miles From Nowhere-Travel

I just finished the travel book Miles From Nowhere by Barbara Savage. I think it is one of the best travel books I have ever read and I have read quite a few. Barbara and her husband Larry decide to ride their bicycles around the world in 1978 and 1979. They begin from their home in Santa Barbara, California and head north to Victoria Island in Canada. They ride across Canada, down the east coast of the USA then leave for Europe. From Europe they head to Egypt, India, Malaysia and finally New Zealand before going home again

In the end they travelled 22,000 miles. What is so interesting about this book is that it was written 40 years ago. Long before the internet and looking everything up on google. They describe hardship, joy and weather as if the reader is right beside them experiencing everything.

They don’t shy away from their extremely difficult experiences travelling, especially in Egypt at the time. They go days with little food at times, get incredibly sick; they camp out most of the time unless it wasn’t safe. They ride through extreme heat, cold and even snow.

The fact they stayed together as a married couple and actually survived this trip was admirable. Several times they were in very dangerous circumstances. They shared their joy at travelling in New Zealand.

The reader is introduced to many people, places and the most interesting owners of accommodation and cafes.

It is a book that is hard to put down but the most moving part of this book (and this is not a spoiler as it was stated at the very beginning) is when, once home again, after all their experiences, Barbara is training for a marathon on her bicycle, is hit by a car and dies of a head injury. It is absolutely heartbreaking.

She wrote her book once home and sent it to the publisher just before 1983, then was killed and never saw it published. Her husband Larry made sure it was published and I later learned he remarried again in 1985. This couple went through so much together I couldn’t believe it once I finished and reflected on her death.

I would give this book a 5 star rating. There is enough history but not too much, enough suspense, enough joy balanced throughout. If you like travel writing I cannot recommend this book enough.