A Week of Mish-Mash

This week has been insanely busy with all kinds of stuff. One of those weeks when you have no time to even chase your tail.

Monday: Hit the gym and am pleased to know with a year’s weight training my almost 72 year old body is registering 56 on their assessments. Hard yakka and all that.

That night we had our shared reading at Fullers book store continuing Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman. This is probably the most intense and wonderfully written book I have ever encountered in my life. I know, a bit statement but I can’t recommend it enough especially if you’re interested in World War II. We are now up to page 600 by next Monday. We read about 60 or 70 pages at home and 30 – 35 pages at the shared reading. This past Monday was absolutely harrowing as our experience led us on the walk to the “baths” at Auschwitz where we were happy to wash and scrub and strip off the old cloths after the weeks of hardship and starvation only to watch the older people take responsibility for young children who were alone and then realise the sweetened smell was gas. At the end of the reading we all looked at each other and felt the silence in the room. No one spoke.

Moving on to happier times….. Tuesday. While the rest of Australia got hyped over the Melbourne Cup horse race of which I abhor (at least this year no horses died after the past six or seven years a horse died each time). I wonder how those who gambled off money they could ill afford told their families that night. I’m sure you get my point but of course fashion ruled and I just went and got my hair taken care of. In jeans, no high fashion for me.

That night we had our seniors group meeting where our guest speaker was a woman who presented their photos of a bicycle their family of spouse and four children aged 7 to 11 took from western France to Budapest, camping along the way. A wonderful experience for those children and she was an enthusiastic speaker. We all enjoyed their experience of riding a 3000 miles bike trail. Australia….take note. I talked to her afterwards and learned she lives about one km up the road from us. Who knew?

Wednesday, I took this 56 year old body (ahem😳) back to the gym and then had to run up for a quick doctor appointment (just routine- no worries) then took the bus up to South Hobart and hopped off to do a couple of errands in the 40 minutes I had before the next bus came along. I went into a charity shop attached to a local church and found a wonderful succulent plant I’d not seen.

Stock Photo. Not mine.

Spring is a season for me where I gather plants that catch my eye and enthusiastically plant them only to say, “You now have a home so thrive on your own, you are now released to the wild. ” Surprisingly most of them survive if the garden guy doesn’t accidentally take his whipper snipper through them. I treat them like wildlife.

Wednesday night it was off to the Book Group where we discussed Klara and the Sun. What fun it was. The first question asked was, “Is it science fiction?” We didn’t really think so as the story is about artificial intelligence in the life of an artificial friend for a sickly girl who had been ‘lifted’ and surviving the procedure, although extremely unwell was companioned by her AF (artificial friend). Kazuo Ishiguro doesn’t give you all the details, but he does scatter clues. The book is told in the first person of the AF and readers became quite attached to her. Does the girl Josie survive her lifting procedure? We are led to believe all is well as we travel through this book but the ending is very ambiguous and the discussion the 10 of us was wild and hilarious. All kinds of issues around robots, artificial intelligence and “oblongs” (that are the rectangular screens the children all use for their schooling) arose. It is a fun book we thought but the social issues it raised were spotted everywhere. The environment, social media, loneliness in the community, spirituality. I would recommend the book if you want an easy read that has a lot in it. It may not be to everyone’s taste but hey, what book is?

Thursday I thought I’d get a reprieve from the headless chicken routine but instead we took our five year old cat, Grizzy to the vet for his follow up blood work as his liver is giving off funny blood readings. (I’m remind pet owners they seriously may want to consider pet insurance- wouldn’t be without it).

That over and done I wandered into town to pick up my new glasses that are supposed to help me see again from my left eye. However I had a really dodgy optometrist of which is a long story I won’t go into, but think ageism (“Your left eye can’t read the eye chart but your right eye will eventually compensate”) and Yes, we don’t need to check to see if you can read with only one eye. You don’t need glasses as you have “good middle vision”. Doesn’t matter I can’t read the eye chart with my left eye or road signs or read a book. The ophthalmic surgeon who is renown told me after a year’s work on that eye including surgery, “Now is the time to get glasses- off you go”. I was excited and this numbskull burst my bubble. It boiled down to “women who are retired don’t really need great vision, what do you use it for dear?”

Artist unknown as I could not locate. Let me know if yours.

I might add I made him order glasses anyway, which showed me his little temper tantrum side, went home, slept on it, then documented the whole episode (I’m good at that) and sent it off to the company he is employed by and the Optometry board of Tasmania. You don’t mess with this Old Age Woman. I kept thinking how many older, unassertive women have been his victim and left the office being told “You don’t need glasses dear, your other eye will fill in for it.” Livid does not describe my mood.

I picked up the glasses and of course they aren’t completely right and after a lovely conversation with this middle age man’s manager I’ve been referred to a competent optometrist who will redo all the tests again. Looking forward to seeng how that goes. OK….as if older pe ople don’t have enough medical issues at times.

However last night my friend and I went to a Fullers Book Launch event of a Western Australian author from Perth named Alan Carter and the book is Crocodile Tears. It is the final in a five book series (but can be read stand alone) of a detective who becomes involved in bodies, spies, Timor-Leste and the true story of Australian government spying on them in the Howard years (2004) to be exact. This book has everything. The author had a great sense of humour. The room was full of Fullers supporters and we all enjoyed the evening very much. Not sure I’ll get to this book but I sure would like to. Who knows when the mood and interest level change and you pick up books you’d not have predicted interest in.

Then when that finished at 6:30, my friend and I sat in the hotel lounge for 20 minutes and chatted to another couple who had also attended the event. They were having a drink before going off to dinner. We chatted about what a horrible prime minister we have and what an embarrassment he is to our country and the sooner he is gone, the better. You know, the type of conversation that seems to be prevalent in the circles I roam, haha).

Then we walked up to the Playhouse Theatre and watched Marta Dusseldorp and Essie Davis in a excellent, brilliant, wonderful, engaging, heart wrenching, (need I say more?) play The Maids by Jean Genet. Oh so good.

Now as I write on a rain free, sunny Friday morning my hectic week is about to end as this afternoon our friend’s memorial is being held at the Sandy Bay Yacht club where hopefully cheery stories and food and drink will be served. Drinks being the operative word. This has been a long event and quite sad. We’ve had her partner up twice for a meal in the past two weeks and hopefully the support of his friends will get him through this.

What’s on for the weekend? N O T H I N G hopefully. Sit on the porch with my Russian novel to get the 60 pages completed. Enjoy Ollie and Peanut’s company. Ollie now believe the lounge chair is for him as it makes him taller (all the better to keep an eye on the neighbourhood and get cuddles at the same time).

I haven’t decided what book to dive into outside of the Russian book. I did finish the audio book of Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink, an English author who loves books. Her experiences of working as a book seller at Harrods Dept store in London and Waterstones as they just opened was fun to hear about. Other than that is a list of books she calls out with a quick synopsis around her quick retelling of her life, marriage and the love for her family. It is a very light, enjoyable night time listening and car book. I finished it quickly as it is only around 4 or 5 hours long.

I then began Anh Do’s book The Happiest Refugee. He is a Vietnamese born Australian of wonderful talent and personality. We have seen him on stage previously in Hobart at the Theatre Royal, watch his ABC program of interviewing and painting portraits of his guests and generally admire him. One of the loveliest people one would ever come across.

Okay, now this monstrous missive has finished I’ll give you a rest, if anyone is still out there reading this. The Penguin moves on once again.

Have a happy time as much as possible, stand up for yourself, support your fellow man and read!

Stay well.

18 thoughts on “A Week of Mish-Mash

  1. I really enjoyed Dear Reader. I recently listened to the audiobook of The Last Act of Love, about her brother being hit by a car then on life support for years – good but quite harrowing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Dear Reader was enjoyable. I was surprised at the stories of rudeness she had to deal with whilst selling books. I just never picture readers being so rude. A bit naive of me I guess. By the way I heard you on Backlisted podcast. Well done! Thank you for dropping by Simon.


  2. Thank you for entertaining post. Yes, the eyes do give way as you get older. I am currently using three, no, four different glasses; progressive normal ones, progressive sunglasses, reading glasses and computer glasses. Need an extra bag for all of them. I am so afraid that I will leave the behind somewhere. I am glad you change optician, it sounds a strange way to meet a customer.
    Busy week, but you still managed to read some books. Enjoy a hopefully more quiet week.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You and I are very similar in age (I wish I had the body of a 56 year old!), but not so much in our ‘doings’. I get angry about things and plan marvellous letters in my head, but they never go any further. As a driver, I depend on my vision of course and have been mucking around for years with bi-focals and then multi-focals, not to mention levels of light-sensitivity (which don’t work behind polarized windscreens).

    I listened to an Alan Carter, Prime Cut, set in southern WA three or so years ago and thought it was ok.

    I had a funeral to go to too. A friend’s mother. It was astonishing to be around people I have known and mixed with off and on for more than forty years. I’ll be a ‘local’ if I stay here much longer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alan Carter was a fun presenter because he had a good sense of humour and got a few laughs. His books sound average to me but I think this fifth and last one in this detective’s series, Crocodile Tears sounds better than most, even to the author. He seems to have a real go at the Howard years and this spying incident in 2004. I won’t read it most likely but Mr Penguin might like it.


  4. Goodness me, what a busy and active week! I would have been fuming at the optometrists as well – how dare he!!! I have Life and Fate on the shelves for when it’s the right time, but I know I will have to be emotionally strong to read it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would recommend maybe reading Life and Fate with another person or persons so it can be discussed. There is so much in it. Such beautiful passages that it is often hard to move forward as one only wants to dwell on them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, this made me laugh. Well at least I got my point across and am happy that my complaint is being taken seriously. We’ll see but in the meantime I just want my vision corrected (if possible). It’s always something but we just have to keep laughing.


      1. Absolutely, good for you, I say. It’s as you get older and you see more of these specialists making a fortune out of us, that you discover just how arrogant some of them are and how patronising they are to their older patients. If they’re not medicalising the ordinary process of ageing, they’re ignoring the very real problems that do need to be fixed.
        The way older people are supposed just to put up with arthritis with a useless bit of Panadol makes me livid.


        1. Mr Penguin has severe arthritis. 2 hips replaced, 1 kmee, one spine deadened. Fortunately he has excellent specialist and gp but so many don’t. The assertive of us must speak up for those, women especially, who aren’t. Give me that high horse, haha.


  5. love books about bike trips! so sorry about your eye thing… i’ve been having a round of difficulties with doctors over here, too… why is it that the competent ones are hard to find? or seemingly sometimes… the door stopper sounds like a wonderful experience but 900 pages is a lot. i recall reading extra long Russian sagas in the past… some were interesting and some not. NOTHING sounds like a restorative prescription for the weekend! glad your health is holding up; so far my bicycling is helping me a lot, i think… take care…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey congrats on your fitness score!
    I see that Life & Fate is book #2 in a series. Did you read the first book, too? If not, do you plan to? I felt a chill reading about your shared reading experience.
    A 3,000 mile bike trail from France to Budapest sounds amazing!!
    I hope the new eye doctor can get BOTH your eyes in focus again so you can read and do all the other things you love to do!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes the first book is Stalingrad but our facilitator who has studied these books for more than a couple of years says it stands alone and Life and Fate is really the best one. It repeats a bit of what is in Stalingrad also so unless you’re really keen on Russian history at that time he suggested Life and Fate is more than enough. Though the writing is so exquisite Stalingrad sounds tempting but would be quite an undertaking as it too is very long. Life and Fate is 900 pages. Thanks for the well wishes.

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