Ponderings of a retired Tasmanian, photographing, animal loving, book reading, travelling, motorbike riding penguin, growing old disgracefully, who still loves old Penguin books and sharing our world with others.
I have a lot of catching up to do here. Thanks for being so patient. Last time I stopped by here I was preparing for the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. I was supposed to work four days but only managed three days. It was full on and hot and my old body needed a day of rest. We walked more than 10 km per day with our cameras. When my body talks….I listen. I will put up some photos on a Wordless Wednesday post or a Thursday Travels.
The weekend after the Wooden Boats we had the Kempton Festival for the day. It was stinking hot that day and little shade. The country town of Kempton opens their doors for garage sales and a big festival full of locals and animals. It was fun. I think that might be another Wednesday or Thursday post of photos. I won’t dwell on the six dogs I made the owner pull out of their car in the terrible heat. When will people learn you don’t put kids and pets in cars to wait for you in the stinking heat while going of to enjoy yourself.
Then we had visitors from Michigan. My husband’s cousin and his partner. You won’t believe how much we did in a week. They arrived Sunday evening so a meal in the Cascade Brewery pub was called for. Monday- the top of Mt. Wellington and the MONA (Museum of Old and New Art Museum). Monday night was a home BBQ. Tuesday was the Tasmanian Museum and the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Tuesday night was a lovely Japanese meal out. Wednesday we managed the Botanical Gardens. I had an author event so Mr. Penguin cooked them a pasta dinner. Then Thursday we drove the 90 minute drive down to Port Arthur (the ruins of an 1800’s penal colony) with a breakfast stop on the way. Mr. Penguin and Visitor Cousin had a
cousin/sister on the cruise ship with friends that day who took the ship’s tour to Port Arthur where we all met up. Then home we came and met them later on at a fish restaurant down on the wharf. They then sailed for New Zealand on the cruise ship and we came home
Friday was a quiet day just resting, drinking beer and watching Netflix a bit. On Saturday it was 39 degrees (that’s about 100 F) and Mr. Penguin took them back down the Tasman Peninsula for a Pennicott boat cruise that goes along the cliff faces on the Tasman Sea and sees lots of marine wildlife. I get very seasick as it’s quite a rough ride so
I chose not to go. I stayed home and rested. Sunday saw us walking down around the
sandstone buildings of Salamanca and a stop for a cold beer. They flew out to Melbourne Monday morning and we collapsed. I took photos in most of these places so I think I’ll have a lot of Wordless Wednesdays and Travelling Thursdays coming up.
Now….did I read? Yes I did manage some books. There is no time to write a great deal about the books but I will give you a bit of a synopsis.
Book One- The Arsonist by well recognised author, Chloe Hooper, b. 1973 from Melbourne Australia. This book is Australian non fiction about the Black Saturday fires in the state of Victoria in 2009. There were 173 fatalities and many properties lost. The story is a journalistic investigation of the fire and what caused it? Who caused it? I won’t give much more information as I don’t want spoilers.
It was a very interesting account and much was learned from that fire and new practises put into place. Our Fuller’s Book Store Book group is reading it for this week’s meeting but as I am so exhausted from all the past month’s activity I chose to sleep at home through the meeting. There is a
group meeting tonight but I’m booked into a play tonight so will miss it. More on that later. (maybe)
I found this book incredibly interesting and the writing was not sensationalised. It offered a lot of food for thought which is always good. The ramifications carry on for a long time.
The second book I managed to get through, as it’s a very short book was The Newspaper of Claremont Street by Australian author Elizabeth Jolley. She had an incredibly interesting life and wrote quite a few books. (here for The Wikipedia entry about Ms Jolley)
The Australian author Tim Winton mentioned her as he studied under her at Curtain University in Western Australia in his book The Boy Behind the Curtain (short stories)
I loved this book. It is a story of an elderly cleaning woman who services all of the affluent homes in her neighbourhood each day. She gets all of the gossip from every house and shares it with every other house. If something is happening she knows about it.
When her immigrant neighbour dies she is left caring for an extremely difficult wife of the man who died. There is some good black humour in this book. The character is verywell developed. We get to know her well and we feel the need for her to accomplish her goal of raising money for a certain ideal in her mind. I won’t say more than that. She lives in a room in a boarding house and we get used to her habits at home. The last half of the story is about the relationship between her immigrant neighbour and how that develops. I will certainly read more of her work and I believe I have one or two of her books on my shelf. She’s definitely an author I will look for in second hand shops.
The third book I just finished for the April Book Club read is TheEverlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins. This is his first novel and is being nominated for all kinds of awards. The Good Reads blurb states:
During the freezing English winter of 1962, seventeen-year-old Radford is sent to Goodwin Manor, a home for boys who have been ‘found by trouble’. Drawn immediately to the charismatic West, Radford soon discovers that each one of them has something to hide.
Life at the Manor offers only a volatile refuge, and unexpected arrivals threaten the world the boys have built. Will their friendship be enough when trouble finds them again?
At once both beautiful and brutal, The Everlasting Sunday is a haunting debut novel about growing up, growing wild and what it takes to survive.
I found this a difficult book to get into. I had the audible edition and had trouble following it as there was too much going on in my life as I got to it in bits and pieces. I finally downloaded the eBook from the library on Overdrive, sat down properly in a chair with both versions, backed up a few chapters and began again. I then got a lot more out of it.
In the beginning I thought the author’s descriptions were over the top and I got irritated.
Too many adjectives. I laughed out loud when he described someone’s lips “collapsing into themselves”. My mind is just too visual. I don’t need descriptions like this every few sentences. Then he calms down a bit and the characters take over more. I enjoyed the protagonist Radford, though you’re never sure why he’s in the boys home. It was a book that had an ominous overtone and I felt something awful was going to happen. I felt the book got a lot stronger as I continued. I would have liked more even character development. Some characters that turned out to be more important later on weren’t fleshed out enough that I cared about them. There were a couple of characters; Radford, his friend West and the boys adviser and mentor, Teddy who were quite well developed. I think it is a remarkable first novel but I can’t say I loved it as I went through it. I did want to see though how it was going to end. It made me curious. I wanted to know why Radford was in this place. He seemed such a nice young man. Well…. I will be interested to know what my book group thinks about it in April and it is certainly one meeting I won’t be missing.
My quick online research states that Robert Lukins lives in Melbourne and has worked as an art researcher and journalist. His writing has been published widely, including in The Big Issue, Rolling Stone, Crikey, Broadsheet and Overland . The Everlasting Sunday is his first novel
Whew!!! A bit long winded but I wanted a good catch up to get me motivated again. When one steps away from their blog for too long everything piles up and just can’t be covered. I think this post is more than enough for all of us.
I want to wish everyone well. The northern hemisphere people are yearning for spring and summer especially in those cold places in the USA and UK. The Southern Hemisphere people want the fires out (six of which continue in Tasmania with continued smoke here and there) and cooler temperatures. We always seem to want what we don’t have. So enjoy spring if you’re above the equator and enjoy autumn if you’re below it. More soon. I promise.
This weekend has been very busy with photography. Getting ready for the Wooden Boat Festival on Friday (see my last post if interested) and several of us photographers participated in a Saturday Photojournalism course for the day. We had some theoretical information and photos on the screen (wall) as examples. Then we split into three groups and off we went amongst the millions are Salamanca market. This market is large enough but with tourists pouring into town and a cruise ship emptying about 3000 more tourists into the area it was full on.
Our team had a brief to photograph. We were assigned a task to develop a story of jewellery or fashion. Our team just could not get it together. Five people on the team and five different directions people wanted to go. I don’t feel we satisfied the brief of showing beginning, middle and end photos that told a story but we had fun and did get a few good shots. Overall we were just concentrating on photographs that tell a story.
Then today was the Chinese community festival on Parliament Lawns. So much good food. I’m glad I left my money in my motorbike a couple blocks away as I could have eaten a lot. The smells alone were worth money. I got a few photos but I could have had more if I hadn’t of fudged the settings on my camera and drastically overexposed several. Was kicking myself once I got home. I’ll share a few here from the weekend that weren’t so bad.
This coming Thursday our book group meets and we’ll be discussing the book The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. It will be interesting what our group members thought of it. I’ll do a post about it once we’ve met.
I’m reading the Newspaper of Claremont Street by Elizabeth Jolley now and really enjoying it. Quite short and I should be through with it soon. So more on that later too.
Well the whole weekend is about trying to get the perfect shot and there have been lots of laughs along the way. A good distraction from the fires which are still going. But I’ve decided not to think of them today. Nothing I can do about it anyway except support those wildlife organisations I like.
Coming up on Friday next week is the largest wooden boat festival in the world. Right here in Hobart. Our photography club has many members who have volunteered to be event photographers. I have not photographed events seriously in the past so this will be a good place to start. The event will have approximately 400,000 people attending over the four days of next weekend. Friday though Monday.
Yesterday I attended an induction for volunteers. Without volunteers the event would not survive. It is held bi-yearly in Hobart. I have attended in the past but never volunteered. I am not a boat person. I get very seasick on the water. But I do appreciate the expertise and workmanship that goes into these wooden boats. We will have everything on display from dinghies to tall ships. People attend from all over the world. I see there is an American pavilion so I might drop in and say hello. The event is staged in the Hobart wharf area which is a beautiful spot.
There will be about 30 photographers from our club. Once spaces were filled by club members remaining spaces opened up to photographers outside of the club. It feels like a job. There will be a morning, afternoon and evening shift. I will probably try to work the morning and evening shifts especially if weather is hot. We supply the event coordinators the photos and they choose what they want for marketing and publication.
Tomorrow I will be attending a day long photo-journalism course. We will have assignments around the Salamanca market to complete. There will be lots of people in the area as the market is on and there are lots of tourists in town. Though I am slightly intimidated I think it will be interesting and fun. Several others I know will be in the workshop too. It goes from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm.
Other good news is…..Remember the photographs I submitted of the African animals to Australian Photographic magazine’s competition for Wildlife Photographer of the Year? No, I did not come near to winning. The winning photos were truly stunning but I did get a highly commended certificate mailed to me. That meant my images went through not one shortlist but two. I was thrilled. It is a big honour for me who has only been participating in photography seriously between two and three years. Now I’m inspired to keep going and enter more challenges, not because I ever expect to win but they are so much fun and hoping for a win is enough.
I have been sorting through some of my Sri Lanka photos and came up with a short portfolio of portraiture I did. I’ll close out the post with those photos.
I’ve been in a reading slump for a couple of weeks but feel I’m out of it and am ready to pick up some books off my shelf and start them. I’ll be pretty busy with the festival but that might be a good way to relax at night to get the boats and water out of my head enough to fall asleep at night. More to come….
Sadly, Tasmania is burning and it just has everyone on edge and filled with sadness. The fires began in our wilderness areas from lightning strikes from a dry storm we had a few weeks ago. They seem to be spreading from west to east. They have now approached residential parts of the state in the southwest and central highlands. People are evacuating everywhere.
Tasmania has very good fire management strategies and so far there has been no loss of life though a few houses have now gone.
The smoke not only blankets our state, it has been reported that it has reached New Zealand.
Fires are unrelenting in our high temperatures blanketing out state and they really cause people to feel depressed. I feel very sad for the people leaving their homes for evacuation shelters and camping in large football ovals in this heat. I also feel very sad for the animals. Wildlife flee, people with horse trailers collect farm animals and move them to large paddocks that have been volunteered away from the fires. People really rise to the occasion and provide amazing relief on all counts.
Lots of donations being made to the dogs home and the woman who is organising paddocks for farm animals. A pet taxi service in Hobart has been collecting domestic pets and driving them to refuge as well.
One feels helpless watching. Everyone wants to do something but is not equipped to do more than donate money to those working. There have been warnings to stay away unless on official business.
Of course there has been one looter caught and another in a campground in the eastern half of the state that is currently fire free lighting a large campfire. Both have been charged and will go through the courts. One can only wonder what these morons think about. There has also been some arsonist that started another fire that diverted one of the helicopters away from the main blazes to put this fire out. I must admit my thoughts run to the days of public floggings.
Like the rest of the country, we need rain. Except Queensland which has floods raging in the north. Isn’t that always the way. We also need politicians who believe in the science of global warming and aren’t pushing through a coal mine at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. (Again the public floggings go though my head.)
As far as books. I have finished up reading the books I wrote of previously and am looking for something that will hold my attention long enough to get out of this funk that quite a few of us find ourselves in.
There is a lot of photography work coming up for me in the month of Feb that will be mentioned later. But for now I just need to get this out of my system.
I know this will pass. Everything passes eventually. Just need to keep telling ourselves that.
I have been doing quite a bit of reading but it mainly involves reading the books for the first few months of this year’s book club reads.
Our Fuller’s Bookshop Book for February is The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. It is a retelling of the Iliad from the point of view of a woman. Our group meets the first Thursday night of February so I will write more about it after we have discussed it.
I recently finished The Arsonist by Chloe Harper. Our group will discuss this book the first week of March. Chloe Harper is an Australian writer who writes about the Black Friday bushfires in Victoria that happened several years ago. Again I will wait until after the group meets to write about it.
I am currently reading our April book, The Everlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins about boys living in a boarding school in England in 1962. I’m not that far into it yet but I feel it might become quite ominous. More on that later.
In the meantime, I can talk about the recently read The Shepherd’s Hutby Australian writer Tim Winton. I imagine most people who live in Australia who read this blog have read it. I will say I loved it very much and couldn’t put it down. It was a slowly drawn story of a young man who lives in Western Australia. He had a very abusive father who had abused him for years and it became worse once his mother died of cancer. He often wished his father dead and when he does die in an accident while working on his car in a shed, the boy fears he may be blamed and heads off into the bush and desert of Western Australia.
In my opinion nobody writes about Western Australia better than Tim Winton. You feel the heat, the dust, the young man’s hunger. He comes across an elderly man living in a shack in the desert in the middle of nowhere and the story continues with the development of their relationship, the life and trials that happen upon them.
My only criticism of the book, which some don’t agree with is I thought Tim Winton wrapped up the ending too quickly. This is a drawn out story that seemed to follow a certain, consistent pace throughout. Then suddenly the end is upon the reader and it seemed to quickly finish. I can’t say more than that as I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone. I will leave it at that for now. I did really enjoy this book though.
The serendipity I refer to is regarding a page I have put in my 2019 journal. I read a lot of book reviews. I get them from my bookshop, other blogger’s posts, the newspaper, everywhere.
I also receive publishers newsletters and magazines and often see older books referred to at times. I often exclaim to myself, “My gosh I have that book on my shelf!” and think I should get it off the shelf and read it so I can then pass it on. So for 2019 as I read reviews and notice books that are named by other bloggers, I will get that book off my shelf and place in a pile to finally have a serious look at it. If I’m not going to read it then maybe it is time to pass it along.
So far on my journal’s Serendipity page, as I call it, I have Persuasion by Jane Austen. It is one of her books I have seen the film for but never read. So onto the pile it goes and I might finally get to it. As it is early in the year I don’t have any other books listed but I do have books by a couple of authors that have been in the winds of 2019.
I read a blurb in the Weekend Australian just before New Year’s Eve written by Mandy Sayers about her favourite books for 2018. I have a book on the shelf by her so I may grab that one. I have several books on the shelf by Helen Garner unread and I know I must read them. I hear so much about Helen Garner especially from Australian bloggers I follow. So onto the pile they need to go. I can’t think about their latest books while I still have their previous books on the shelf.
February will have me listening to audible books, mainly in the car. I’m currently listening to Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick who is a New York City writer I love. I heard her speak at the Sydney Writer’s festival a few years ago and enjoyed her very much. Most of her books are memoirs of her life growing up in a tenement building of 20 apartments in the Bronx. Some of her books are of her life later in life. She is close to me in age so has lived quite a bit of life.
I love tales that take place in Brooklyn or the Bronx especially in the 1950s and 60s. She deals with a very exasperating mother which I find interesting and I feel as though I am on the streets of New York with her, trying to figure out life. Fierce Attachments has most of the book taking place in her first 25 years. They live in an apartment building that has 20 apartments in it and the interaction between the neighbours and families really draw me in. I love the New York Jewish phrases and sometimes hysteria as many of the women deal with their husbands and children.
February is going to be a very busy month for us but I’ll write more about that in a couple of days. I’m trying to finish off books in January because I’m not sure I’ll get a lot of reading completed in February.
I was going to have posted this up last weekend but I came down with a virus that knocked me around a bit. Better now so getting onto it. I mentioned in the last post that my friend, Kate and I sometimes go to the Glenorchy markets. It is a real mish-mash of items but they have pretty good coffee and excellent doughnuts.
We decided to get stuck into the doughnuts right away to give us sustenance for walking around and searching through all the junk this place offers for some possible treasures. I brought Penguin and Penguin brought along his American friend, Red Squirrel. I gave the responsibility for Red to Kate. I know she hasn’t lost her ability to recreate childhood anymore than I have so it was a good match.
While sitting at a table at the little kiosk in this big warehouse, her eye wandered to a table of second hand books. She suddenly said, “I see a book I need to get.” Once we finished our doughnuts we walked over to the table and I saw the large book she was talking about, Tickleberry Tales. I had not heard of it before but it turns out it is a history of the Hydro Electric Project started in Tasmania several decades ago.
Following the Second World War in the 1940s and early 1950s, many migrants came to Tasmania to work for the HEC with construction of dams and sub-stations. This was similar to the Snowy Mountains Scheme in New South Wales and similar effects in bringing in a significant number of people into the local community enriching the social fabric and culture of each state. Most constructions in this era were concentrated in the centre of the island.
As the choice of rivers and catchments in the central highlands were exhausted, the planners and engineers began serious surveying of the rivers of the west and south west regions of the state. The long term vision of those within the HEC and the politicians in support of the process, was for continued utilisation of all of the state’s water resources.
As a consequence of such a vision, the politicians and HEC bureaucrats were able to create the upper Gordon river power development schemes despite worldwide dismay at the loss of the original Lake Pedder. (Lake Pedder is a lake that has a bottom of pink quartz on the bottom and there are still calls to bring the lake back to its original glory)The hydro-industrialisation of Tasmania was seen as paramount above all, and the complaints from outsiders were treated with disdain. (When the politicians approved the Gordon River to be dammed for inclusion in this scheme the people of Tasmania held enormous protests led by several very angry environmentalists, including ex-Senator Bob Brown and what is now know as the Greens Party had its beginnings. But that is another story entirely. I might add the environmentalists won and the river was not dammed.)
There is much more history to this large project and if you’re interested in more information just google Hydro-Electric Commission Tasmania.
Now the Hydro published a book about much more history of this project and the community of people who were the workers. This also included their families and communities. My friend, Kate, grew up in Wyatinah, Tasmania, deep into the Derwent Valley. Her husband, Mark also grew up in the same community and was two years ahead of her in school. Mark’s family is Stansbie. He comes from a large family of children and he and Kate were in primary school together.
As we looked through the book, Tickleberry Tales, she showed me photos that had been taken in their small community back in the 1970’s. Mark’s family members and Kate were featured in them. We started talking to the bookseller at the market about this book and I told her Kate is featured in the book. We thought the price she had on this book was a bit high. But before we discussed buying the book, she offered us a significant discount because she thought Kate should have it for her children to keep.
Kate’s husband’s family: The Stansbies
We pooled our money together and given the discount Kate took the book home. Her children were very happy to accept it.
That experience really lifted our spirits and we continued to walk around the rest of the market. Penguin and Red had fun, Kate and I had fun and we left two hours later with several very inexpensive plants we picked up for our gardens. I think this was a very successful Weekend Wander full of Serendipity.
I have scattered a few photos on the page. I hope you enjoy this little bit of Tasmanian history and the Penguin was glad to get home and onto the page again.