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.