Weekend Wander- What a mess…

Snip20180527_1I really don’t like to get behind with my posts but so much has been going on with everyone around me I haven’t had the energy to put up much. Bear with me, this may be long. I’ll try to put in photos for interest.

Books read, either finished or not-

I have been reading a lot with both the real thing and listening to audio. No reviews, will just give you a blurb- I’m sure that’s enough anyway.

Snip20180819_3Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood by Nikki McWatters.  No I don’t have kids, I have animals. The choices we make, but I do feel for single mothers and am very interested in how they cope. This young woman’s husband walked out leaving her with two young boys. She’s Australian and lives in the Sydney (Bondi Beach Junction) area. Trials and tribulations. A lot of joy, a lot of poverty, a lot of gumption and success and some very real heartbreak. The writing is good and the story really packs a punch with surprises. A bit of name dropping too re: the Australian music scene. I really enjoyed this and Nikki will stay with me for a long time.


Dancing Home by Paul Collis-  I read a review by one of the Australian bloggers, think it was Lisa? Sorry if wasn’t you but I loved this book but it is a tough read. Aboriginals and the police are not a happy mix in this country and the drug use, alcoholism and really tough lives of these good people was a tough read. I will never forget them.

Don’t you love this cover.

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner (1942) on audible. Simon of Stuck in a Book talked about this American author and actress who lived from 1899 to 1979. I had never heard of her and so needed to remedy that. This was the only book I could find by her on audible so I’ve listened to her. It’s a memoir of the trip she and her friend took in their twenties to France via New York, the St Lawrence Seaway, London,  across the Atlantic on a ship in the 1920s. Although I found the two young women very tedious, especially when they bought two little dogs in a pet shop as fashion accessories, their trip did have some very good humour.  It is what I refer to as a ‘fluffy’ book. Lots of natter and nothing that will keep you awake at nights.  I was happy to finish it off though. I tired of their silliness.


I have started Educated by Tara Westover, the American woman who escaped from her family who lived as a cult against all government authority in Idaho.  Joanne reviewed it on Lakeside Musing (here).  I must agree with what she said about it. I have taped an episode of Insight on the ABC tv here about people who deal with aloneness and I noticed this author is on theachael  panel but I have yet to finish the book. I will probably read more but I’m not in a hurry.


More interesting is the story Australian journalist Rachael Brown from Victoria has written about a cold case death that happened in Melbourne in 1980. She launched the book Trace, at Fuller’s a couple of weeks ago and my friend and I went along. Fascinating. We bought the book and I have just begun it. It involves some very corrupt Victorian police from that time and the protection at all costs of a group of extremely dodgy priests from the Catholic Church. I continue to be amazed at what crawls out of the woodwork about priests and bishops these days.  A gripping story. What a professional journalist with bucketloads of integrity this young woman possesses.


The following week my friend and I went to the launch of The Nowhere Child by Christian White. It was a smaller group of attendees than Trace but we had a fun discussion of this book. The story is fiction but the events throughout the book are based on fact. Like the Pentecostal church members who have ceremonies around rattle snake handling. Australian Kim Leamy is the protagonist and she is approached by a stranger from Kentucky in America who is investigating the disappearance of a child 28 years ago.  He believes Kim is the missing child. I have not started this book yet but am looking forward to it. It goes back and forth between Australia and Kentucky.


I will also mention  Priestdaddy: A Memoir (memoirs seems to be everywhere these days) by author Patricia Lockwood.  I have just rejoined Fuller’s book club after a couple of years break and this is the book for October. I will talk more about it after the group meets in the first week.


We also finished  final play of the term in my U3A play reading class, A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney. Set in the 1950’s in North West England, it tells the story of Jo a 17 year old working class girl, and her mother, who is a very crude and sexually indisriminate difficult mother. The things they get up to…. Very much enjoyed by our class reading aloud about a slice of poverty in 1950s England.


Oh Yeah, I’m also listening to A Diary of a Provincial Lady by  E. M. Delafield (1890 – 1943) now when I am in the car.  I’m getting through it quite quickly and it is gently amusing.  It was the August book for the Fuller’s book club so I decided to listen to it with one of my audible credits. It will go towards my Century of Books challenge (1930). It is largely autobiographical told through the pages of a journal, which is a format I dearly enjoy.  I heard there were mixed opinions of this novel in the book club group. I’m not sure if I will follow up with the sequels of her story.

For those of you suffering heat waves I thought I’d share a photo of what Mt. Wellington looks like this week. Beautiful snow.

This kind of catches you up on the bookish side of life in South Hobart.  I have three overseas trips coming up between now and May of 2019 and have been spending time wrapping up payments and paperwork for those. The first begins in two weeks when I am heading to the San Francisco area of California to spend three weeks with my sister.  I’m hoping photography and books play a part in this trip as well as maybe a short road trip or two.  The penguin is going with me and…..wait for this….he may be taking a couple of friends of his…..the Bald Eagle and the American Robin.  So stay tuned for that.

I have done some fun photography also and am looking forward to sharing the visit to the Raptor Refuge over the weekend with you.  We were trained in what Tasmania has to offer regarding the beautiful raptors and what to do or how to handle if finding an injured one. More on that later and I’ll share the photos of the release we observed of a rehabilitated Peregrine Falcon that is just too stunning for words.


Whew!! I hope this didn’t get too boring.  I’ll try to post up again soon and the next six weeks should have a bit of fun as well as some more books, arts, travel and photography.

Have you read any of these books?  I’d love to know if you enjoyed them or not. Back soon…gardner

Homo Deus at Fullers Book shop

Snip20180729_1I know I talk about Fuller’s book shop quite a bit here. They have started Philosophy Cafe Evenings. I learned about them recently. I missed the first one but I caught the second one. This one began at 5:30 pm and went for an hour.  A friend who was interested in the topic went with me. It ended just after 6:30 and then we went for a Japanese meal around the corner. A fun night.

The book and subject discussed was humanism in the future from the book Home Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow written by Yuval Noah Harari (Translator- Du’o’ng Ngoc Trà). It was facilitated by Dr Ingo Fanin, from the University of Tasmania.

Good Reads describes this book as:

“Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.

What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers?”

Mr. Fanin introduced the book and then had some questions he thought of he threw out to the audience. The audience then began a discussion of humanism in the future. Topics covered the environment, technology which took up quite a bit of futuristic thinking, how humans treat each other (war), population, religion versus science and then whatever tangent it went off on before another question was asked by Mr. Fanin.

Yuval Noah Harari

There were quite a few people there and everyone sat around the tables in the cafe so had a good vantage point to see who was talking.  I had read the book in the preceding two weeks and did manage to finish it. At times it went over my head and I had to revisit parts of it. I’m glad I read it in consecutive days as it’s the type of book if you put it down and come back weeks or even too many days later you’d forget what you had read.

I enjoyed the intellectual discussion. I also enjoyed that there were young people and elderly people and every age in between. It was good to hear what others thought of the direction of our future on this planet. Overall I didn’t find it too depressing when when the subject came up “What if technology was developed so people never died?” arose the question was asked, “What is then the significance of being murdered if you had everlasting life on earth.”   Or what if you reach a point in your life, such as old and ill and you stay at that stage for another few hundred years. Is that what we want? At what age would our life “freeze” so to speak and we live with that forever.  I thought they were interesting thoughts but was also relieved to know I will never deal with any of that. I don’t think I’d want to live forever.

Another topic is what does the world do when technology is taking over all of the jobs in the world. An example of research that stated when doctors diagnosed lunch cancer they got it right 50% of the time but when a programmed robot diagnosed it the diagnosis was correct 100% of the time.  There will be a world of billions that all surplus people. We were encouraged to then be happy we’re surplus and to enjoy all the leisure that brings. Study, educate ourselves, travel.  My question how does one support themselves over two hundred years of leisure?

There’s some deep thinking going on here.

There were lots of ideas and opinions in the room and I really enjoyed the evening. All of this in about 70 minutes.  The Japanese food was very good afterwards and it gave my friend and I quite a bit to debrief about over dinner.  I look forward to the next Philosophy Cafe later in the year.

NB: The author is also known for his previous book, which this one leads on from, Sapiens: A brief history of humankind.

Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian and a tenured professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Wikipedia

A Little Bit of Winter Fun

On these darker, colder, rainy days it is still important for me to get my walks in for some exercise.  I have been trying to motivate myself so I find things that are entertaining. Yesterday I went into town to do a couple of errands. Mr. Penguin dropped me in South Hobart and I walked the 20 minutes into town.  I took my camera and decided I would look for art work as I went along.

I did my errands and then of course ended up at Fuller’s Book Shop for a hot coffee and a warm apple turnover that was very nice. Their winter guide to books is available now so I sat down with that and ticked the books that looked good. I’ll see if the library has them as there are just too many to buy.  I have been reading my TBR from my shelf but I do like to support the library as I believe they are important to a community.  Even if I don’t get time to read everything I still like to check the books out.

I digress….. the walk turned up the following photos:

I always enjoy walking past this old advertisement. 
This mural is on the Artery Art Store wall. I love the Japanese theme.


The following art work is in frames on the back wall of the art store.









I passed these dog sculptures while walking back to the bus.  I have always enjoyed seeing them.

I got the bus home just before the skies opened up with rain. Snip20180527_1

Photographic Treasury- Vivian Maier

coverI love photography so I was more than happy I was able to check this wonderful book Vivian Maier, Street Photographer out of the library.  Ms. Maier was born in 1926 in Europe and died in 2009 in Chicago. She worked many odd jobs but nobody really knew much about her. She was most known for her work as a nanny, working in various homes. What people didn’t know was she took photos. Not just photos. Excellent photos. She took her camera everywhere she went. When she worked as a nanny she dragged the children everywhere on excursions so she could take photos. I think at times the children were quite the inconvenience but she had a place to stay and some spending money and three freedom to roam the streets of Chicago. One day she took a couple of her charges through the slaughterhouse in Chicago, a very in appropriate place for children I would think but she wanted the photos. (I have not included any here!)

In 2007, the author of this book, John Maloof of Chicago was at a large sale and came across many boxes of her film, much of it undeveloped.  He had his own interests in photography and bought the lot. Over the next few years he sorted them, catalogued them until the job became too much and he turned it over to others to help him. He was responsible for establishing biographical information through her photos as much as he could.

Most of her photographs were taken during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Although she continued to shoot pictures into the 1990s.

I recently watched the biography documentary of her life on Netflix that went right up to her death.  She was described as exceedingly private and eccentric. She also had mental health issues. She never married, she didn’t always get on with people and in the end she spent her time surrounded in her apartment by hoards of things she kept. She was a classic hoarder. No one knows how the thousands of film canisters came to be sold.

I enjoyed both the Netflix documentary and this book. I also looked her up on line and read quite a bit about her. Now I will share some photos of her work with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. kidsthumbnailold manbeach mancurlerspoliceworkers


A bit of fun to share in this little book…

The Book

Today I took the dogs out for a walk.  I get bored walking up and down through the same neighbourhood but we all need the exercise.  I came across this book in some review I read. Many of you would be familiar with Keri Smith’s “Wreck This Journal” in bookstores that sell journals.  It is a journal with pages that you can destroy according to the directions.  I have never been interested in it but she has this one that might be a bit of fun over the winter months.

First off, I have always been a scavenger.  I have organised a scavenger hunt for next Saturday in the historic town of Richmond (Tasmania) for our photo club. That is a story for another day.

I am the kind of person that picks up paper clips or buttons, and reads invoices and notes

The List from the Book

that I find in the gutter. I have this weird curiosity to know what people throw away or lose and I know there are others like me. There are web pages and books of things people find.

So it is not surprising I am attracted to The Pocket Scavenger by Keri Smith.  It is a pocket paperback, sized A5, and has lots of things to look for. I’m sure I’m on the spectrum at times.

The Pages

On the right hand page is what I am to look for and on the left hand page is a place to paste my photo of it once found or to draw a picture of it.  There is also a space to write the date, the location found, the time and to write a short paragraph about the circumstances I am in when I found the object.  There is also a bibliography in the back.

Seed Pods (from the list) from a gum tree. I will attempt to draw these on the page.

The rain is moving in this afternoon and it is quite cold and blowy out. I thought I’d go out on a couple of kilometre walk with Odie and Molly and see if we find anything along the road or through the bush.  I limited myself to just a couple as several items will be easy to find and I don’t want to rush it.

I am sharing the pages of the book with you and if anyone is so inclined to follow along I’d love to hear about it. You could use a blank journal, copy the items posted here or make up your own.  This is something fun to do while walking to keep me moving when I’d rather be curled up in a chair with a hot drink and a couple of cats or dogs.

Moss- I will draw moss on the page

Do you ever pick up things in the street to see what it is?



Odie and Molly, my fellow scavengers. My Best Friends. They love to sniff around the stuff I find. No one else does 🙂

Weekend Wander- 7 July, 2018

New Jammies


This has been a hectic week so today Mr. Penguin and I are having a Pyjama Day. It’s cold out. There’s been a lot of rain with more to come. It’s winter in Tasmania. Pajama Day is a day where you wear daggy clothes, stay home, read books, put a roast in the slow cooker and drink hot drinks…all…day…long.

Stamp commemorating the Berliner Ensemble Production

Tuesday our play reading class made good progress on Mother Courage and Her Children by the German dramatist and poet Bertolt Brecht (1898- 1956).  It is an anti-war play rated as one of the most important plays of the 20th century. It takes place over a period of 12 years in 12 scenes.  The class is enjoying it very much.

Wednesday had our Writing Group admitting a new member. This week’s topic was “about a walk”. It could be a walk in nature, a walk you’d like to do, a walk you’ve done.  It has been a popular topic and we had a variety of perspectives.

I am also reading an interesting little book I found in the South Hobart Tip Shop. It’s called Circuit and is written by Francisco Jiménez. He was born in Mexico in 1943. He was the second oldest of nine children. When he was four years old his family escaped into the United States. The family worked as migrant farm workers. He started working in the fields with his family when he was six.  They would move with the seasons of crops and he missed a lot of school.  When he reached grade 8, his family was deported Snip20180707_1back to Mexico but they legally returned a few months later. His father developed back problems not long after and that caused them to stop moving and he settled into school. He went onto Santa Clara University getting his B.A. in Spanish in 1966. He then became a U.S. citizen. Throughout school he and his brother supported themselves working as janitors.   He went on to attend Columbia University to get his Master’s and Ph.D. in Latin American Literature. He later married and had three children.

He wrote a series of books about his life as a migrant worker. I thought the book is relevant to what is happening in the United States now.  It appears to be written for a younger audience and I can compare it to a simpler version of The Grapes of Wrath but from a Mexican view point.  It raises important issues and details the hardships that migrant workers face between escaping a poorer, more dangerous life,  trying not to get caught by U.S. immigration officials. Mexican migrants work incredibly hard and American agriculture wouldn’t survive without migrant workers. 

I picked this book up because I was drawn to the cover. I am really enjoying it and will be finished with it very soon.

Uncle Buck and Odie are the best of friends.

On a personal note we had a bit of trauma with our brain injured cat, Uncle Buck (aged 12). We’ve had him since he was three weeks old.  He came home with me as a kitten from a veterinary practise I was working in at the time. He had been badly injured and wasn’t expected to live but 12 years later he is an important member of our family. He has neurological damage and as a result of that he only chews on the left side of his mouth. That means the right side gums and teeth need to be watched. He was to undergo a general anaesthetic but he crashed on the table so the procedure was aborted. This hadn’t happened before but our lovely veterinarians and their nurse got him back after a good five minutes and he survived. It was described to me by one of the vets as “controlled panic.”  We have been keeping a close eye on him. It turns out he reacted negatively to the anaesthetic and after Friday’s ultrasound we learned he has been diagnosed with cardio-myopathy. It pays to have health insurance on your pets. He begins medication next week and we are happy to report he is back to his purring self.

Thursday was a lovely day. I mean lovely. Sunny,  16 degrees and no wind. That’s 60 degrees to my North American friends and relatives. Mr. Penguin dropped me in town with my camera for the afternoon on his way to the gym. I spent the next couple of hours meandering through Battery Point and Salamanca as well as the waterfront for the next couple of hours. Both of us needed a very stress free day after the previous activities and events.  Battery Point is the oldest section of Hobart. The original settlement began here.  I include a few photos here.


Arthur’s Circus is the name of this circular street. The cottages are lovely.


Old and New
View of the Derwent River from Princess Park

When I got home my friend rang me and said she was looking forward to us going to the theatre on Friday night. I said, “What?”.  We booked Sweeney Todd at the Playhouse some time ago and I hadn’t put it in the diary. As both of us laughingly state, “If it’s not in the diary it doesn’t happen.” So last night was a meal out and a three hour (including intermission) of Sweeney Todd. It was a musical and very gruesome. The story goes (in a nutshell). English man married with child. He gets transported to Australia for a crime and returns after 15 yrs. He meets the pie shop owner who falls in love with him. She tells him his wife has died. But a daughter remains and is holed up in a mansion with a lecherous judge who adopted her at a young age but now wants to marry her. He wants his daughter back but can’t get past the judge. The pie shop isn’t doing well.  The man is a trained barber but has competition. He ends up killing the competition and when trying to work out what to do with the body, they decide to bake him in the pies. The pie shop takes off because the pies are so delicious. To keep business going the barber continues to slash the throats of those in his chair if they are strangers or loners (no one will miss them) and keep the pie business booming.  I won’t give away anymore but the trend does continue with a few surprises.  We enjoyed the play but after three hours in a hot theatre we were glad to get out in the winter’s night air at 11:00pm. Snip20180707_5

This pretty much brings you up to date on last week’s wandering. I’m hoping for a quieter one next week. Snip20180527_1

Weekend Wander- 25 June, 2018

Snip20180625_10Although it’s Monday morning here it’s still the weekend in some parts of the world.  The past two weeks have been busier than usual.  Mr. Penguin has been housesitting a friend’s house the past six weeks and that means the care of our five animals has been busier than usual.  Vet appointments, three cats using a litter box that needs cleaning four or five times a day. Feeding and exercising the dogs.  I did get a book read though.  A friend of mine started the Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I had started it when it first came out but got distracted by something and put it back on the shelf.  Since I’m trying to read books I own I thought it was a good time to start again, finish it and move it on.


Generally, I enjoyed this book.  For those who haven’t read it (though I think everyone I know is ahead of me on this book) it begins with Harold hearing from a work colleague of 20 years ago telling him she is dying of cancer and wants him to know.  There is a commitment he feels towards her though we don’t know that story until the end.  He walks out the door to post a letter he wrote back to her and decides to keep walking. He plans to walk the length of England to visit her because he gets it in his head if he achieves this task she will not die.  The book is about his walk, the people he meets and more than that, the reflection of his life since childhood.  During his long days of walking he is confronted with the way he lived his life, the things he felt he didn’t achieve, his relationships with his son and his wife, Maureen.  There is a secondary storyline of Maureen. Since Harold left so suddenly she is now confronted by her aloneness and thoughts of her marriage. As she faces her own demons she begins to come out of her self imposed shell and you can see where this might be going.

There are revelations along the way that help us understand these two dysfunctional people.  I enjoyed the book for the most part. I did think it was too long though. There were a couple of story lines I thought were unnecessary.  As he walks he gains fame in the British press and hangers on start surrounding him on his walk. I found this section tedious and annoying, as I felt this section wasn’t as well developed as the rest of the story between him, Maureen and Queenie, the woman he was hoping to meet up with at the end.  A young boy is thrown in the mix as well as a dog and a man who follows along as part of a group of strangers, trying to take notes of the excursion dressed in a gorilla suit.  I found that was just annoying.

I am happy I can finally move this book off my shelves and move on.

I might add the past few weeks had me seeing several films.  Tea with the Dames featuring Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins was a brilliant film. They spend a pleasant afternoon talking about their lives, their careers and their families. Some great clips of their career history are also included.

Lost in Paris is a pleasant Belgium produced film with a Paris setting.  It is filmed in the tradition of some of the old silent films of early history including those of Charlie Chaplin.  The actors are almost caricatures and I loved it. Charming, quirky, with a fun story line and some very good humour.

Last night I saw The Bookshop.  I found it a film that passed the evening pleasantly enough but not earth shattering. Bill Nighy is in it and that’s what made me want to see it. The story was a bit of a non event, predictable and I even figured out the ending. However having said that, the young actress who plays her child assistant in the film who works in the bookshop is worth the ticket price. She was charming and the scenery was gorgeous.   I wouldn’t drive cross country in heavy traffic to see this movie, but if you’re home alone, tired of having five animals sitting on you every chance they get and need a bit of respite it was pleasant enough.

I rounded out the week with some time out at Cornelian Bay, which is a dog park and sports oval on the River Derwent in Hobart. The dogs had a great time for the afternoon. Then when the cold settled in that night Odie got to sleep in his new warm jumper once the heating was turned off for the night.  Hopefully Mr. Penguin will be home in a few days and things will return to a bit of normalcy.

Odie feels most trendy in his new jumper.