Simply Sunday

Royal Hobart Botanical Gardens- Spring 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time….stay well.

Author: TravellinPenguin

I live a retired life in Tasmania, Australia. I love books, travel, animals, photography, motor biking and good friends. I indulge in all these activities with the little Travellin' Penguin who has now shared five continents with me. We love book shops, photography walks and time with friends as all our family is in USA and Canada. I enjoy visitors to my blog so hope you'll stop by.

10 thoughts on “Simply Sunday”

  1. “little jolts of happiness”: i get that when i come across a particularly skillful or well-turned phrase… nice… doggie fun is the best… i’d pay good money just to have nothing to do with the crooks in the white house… or any of their friends…
    hard to imagine what the Sherrill book title might have to do with the contents… curious, i am, now…

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  2. I love my hour in the morning to sit with a coffee and just read, it is a good choice to read fifty pages before any technology. The Trumps wow, yet none of it surprises me. Just watching American news is depressing enough not sure I could stand a sustained dose of that family in reading a book about them. Love the idea of a dog walk to celebrate mental health, sounds like a great event.

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    1. A book and coffee in the morning is lovely. The only reason I read the Melania book is she fascinates me in her attitude towards being first lady and I was curious to know more about her. But she remains as narcissistic as her husband and I’ll be glad when they are both out of Washington. Our dogs do much for our well being as they are just so funny. We laugh daily over Ollie’s antics.

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