Alannah Hill – Aussie Author

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The Book Cover

About three weeks ago a friend and I attended a book event at Fuller’s bookshop in Hobart.  The blurb about this interesting Tasmanian lady sounded very interesting in the advertisements. About 250 other people agreed with that thought and the event was packed to the gills with people wanting to hear her story.

Alannah spent her childhood in a very rural area of Southern Tasmania.  She talked of her childhood which was positively gruesome with mental and substance abuse by her parents.  She grew up and left home in her teens to escape parents who really didn’t like children at all but had five of them.  Their abuse consisted mainly of severe denigration of everything they aspired to do.  Alannah lived in a fantasy world and who wouldn’t in this situation.  She began designing clothes and became one of Australia’s leading fashion designers based in Melbourne.  She had multiple stores and was very successful, a feat that was never acknowledged by her parents, especially her mother.

She loved dressing up in quite outrageous clothes and her tastes reflected this in her designs. Her designs were trailblazing and instantly recognisable and became very iconic.

After 18 years of partnership with Factory X she released a statement that she was leaving her role as Creative Director and Founder of the Alannah Hill brand.  She stated in her talk that her own brand name of Alannah Hill was taken from her and from then forward she could not sell clothes under her own name as it was copyrighted elsewhere.  There is obviously quite a bit of bitterness about the whole situation.  However the name still exists in the fashion world. If one buys an Alannah Hill design now it has nothing to do with Ms. Hill.  She has been unable to get her brand name back under her control.

After eighteen years of partnership with Factory X Alannah released a statement informing her many loyal fans that she was leaving her role as Creative Director/Founder of Alannah Hill. The shock of Alannah’s departure from her own label captured the public and the media’s imagination. Alannah has had no creative input into the Brand Alannah Hill since 2013. Factory X continue to run the chain of stores named after her.

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Photo by PSParks taken at Fuller’s Book Shop Hobart.

In 2015 she launched a new fashion brand Louise Love online. It was retailed exclusively through the David Jones Department store.  In 2016 she closed her online store to recover from a melanoma cancer she was dealing with and decided to write her memoir.

Butterfly On A Pin is the book that has been published and what a ride it is going to be.  She details her childhood, her rise in the fashion business. The betrayal she felt of losing her name/identity in her business must certainly be included.

It has been described by the publishers as a “shocking and exhilarating memoir” describing her transformation from a joyless and abused childhood to a dream come true career peak of love, loss and reinvention. Publishers are Hardie Grant, 2018.

I really enjoyed hearing her discuss her life and success.  She did a wonderful job of impersonating her mother, using a very different voice from her own. One tale she told was when she opened her brand on Fifth Ave, New York and rang her mother to tell her. Her mother was not impressed and could only reply, “Why aren’t you good enough for First Ave?”  The audience had quite a laugh.  Alannah was wildly dressed and more actor than detailer of a depressing childhood.  I think some may have found her confrontational to a degree and thought, “This woman is wacky.”  I loved her and enjoyed all of her stories.

My friend and I did not stay around as the line for the book signing went around the store more than once. I bought the book later in the week and have added it to my TBR pile.Snip20180527_1

We were hungry and disappeared into a wonderful Thai restaurant/takeaway around the corner where we enjoyed hot food on a chilly night.

The event was fun and we look forward to more events over the upcoming dark evenings of winter.

 

Weekend Wander – 9 June, 2018

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My copy is the 23rd edition published in 1926. Published by then PF Volland Co.

Beloved Belindy by Johnny Gruelle

For our writing group we had to write a paragraph or two about one of the oldest objects we still own.  Of course I thought of my childhood books and decided to introduce the group to Beloved Belindy.

I own quite a few very old books. Although I don’t have many left over from my childhood this is one that has travelled with me whenever I moved. I don’t remember how I acquired it but it has been with me for more than 60 years.

As a child I loved the Raggedy Ann and Andy series of books written and illustrated by Johnny Gruelle.

Johnny Gruelle, according to Wikipedia, was born in Arcola, Illinois, in 1880. He died in 1938.Snip20180609_8

He began his career as a painter and cartoonist but then went on to illustrate books. He was friends with James Whitcomb Riley who wrote Little Orphan Annie.

The story goes that his daughter Marcella brought from her grandmother’s attic a faceless doll on which the artist drew a face. But this story was evidently a myth according to his biographer, Patricia Hall. In reality, Gruelle’s wife Myrtle told Hall, it was Gruelle who retrieved a long forgotten, homemade rag doll from the attic of his parent’s home sometime around the turn of the 20th century. There was something he was looking for in the attic when he found an old doll his mother had made for his sister. He thought it would make a good story.

 

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You can see how many friends she had to care for.

What he was most famous for was his series of books about two rag dolls called Raggedy Ann and Andy.  I read everyone of those books from the Grand Ledge, Michigan library in the 1950’s.

All of the dolls in the Raggedy Ann and Andy series came to life at night and played in their mistress’s playroom upstairs in an old house.  They had big adventures and got into much  mischief.  Not only did Ann and Andy come to life but they had quite a few friends. Readers never knew if they were brother and sister or husband and wife. We never thought about it.

There was Beloved Belindy who was the black nanny who took care of everyone.  I know Beloved Belindy isn’t politically correct but back in the 1950’s I adored her. She could cook large meals, gather eggs from the hens and organise garden parties.  One night she cleaned up Percy the policeman when he got covered in flour from some misadventure they encounted when they ventured into the kitchen. Beloved Belindy could also stitch their ragdoll injuries, sew button eyes back on if they fell off or mend their britches if they were snagged while climbing trees. 

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There was always a moral message in American children’s books.

They represented the best that friendship had to offer. They were kind to each other and worked together so they would enjoy the adventures they set out on each night. 

I used to think it would be wonderful if all of my dolls and stuffed animals came to life at night. I would have given anything at that time to hang out with the Raggedy Ann crew and share the events they organised.

Are there any American readers out there that loved these characters as a child, or dressed up as them on Halloween night?

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I laughed that Percy has to serve the plates because he is a man doll.
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As a child you know nothing about stereotypes.

 

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Raggedy Penguin

Weekend Wander- 27 May, 2018

Thank you for the suggestions put forward for naming my weekend posts. I enjoyed hearing your ideas. Also I had a few suggestions from friends on facebook too. I liked Whispering Gums idea of using the word ‘scoop’.  I did try to work it in Sue.

In the end I needed to look at the purpose and the name of my blog and as the word ‘Travellin’ plays a big part….well, no need to explain. The weekend posts will simply be a summary of how the week was spent and hopefully will motivate me to get out there and do stuff when the wind blows, the rain pummels and I know friends are out there with hot cups of coffee.
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The Past Read:  Okay, I’ve been harping on about the Levison Wood Travel books. Exploring the Nile, Exploring Central America and Exploring the Himalayas.  I got about 2/3 ‘s of the way through the Himalayas and finally gave it the old Heave Ho.  He had a very bad car accident in the book. It was amazing, really, that he survived it. I thought the book would end right then and there.  His car plunged down a very steep ravine, rolling dozens of times, yet everyone survived but he was very broken after that. He had to return to England, heal and then start the trip again where he left off.  I just got tired of the drama and the history being repeated and the descriptions of the Nepalese earthquake began to sound the same.  (No, I’m not belittling what happened there.) I unplugged the audio. I got the gist.

Snip20180527_2The current read: I was ready to move on.  I’m currently reading Think Like An Artist by Will Gompertz. It is a small book, about A5 size. The paper feels good to the touch, like a heavy newsprint. The illustrations are fun. Lots of stick figures throughout. He describes an artist as anyone who creates anything in any medium.  I’m on a photography jag at the moment and reading anything that increases my skills or my motivation. Did I say that winter is on its way?

Here is the blurb from the back of the book that sucked me in when I saw it at Fuller’s book store recently. (No comments about sticking to those TBR books on the shelf. My staunchest critics may not be better at leaving a book store empty handed than I am.)                             Stick tongue out here.
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After spending years getting up close and personal with some of the world’s greatest  creative thinkers, the BBC’s Arts Editor Will Gompertz has discovered a handful of traits common to them all. Basic practices and processes that allow their talents to flourish, and which we can adopt-  no matter what we do- to help us achieve extraordinary things too. It’s time to Think Like an Artist and…”Snip20180527_4

The Film:   Now- on to the rest of the week.  I won a ticket to see the film Kodachrome at the State Cinema in North Hobart on Monday. I probably would not have seen it without the freebie but the name ‘Kodachrome’ did have me seriously looking it up on IMDB. I remember reading an article in some magazine quite awhile ago that the lab that developed Kodachrome film was closing and an important photographer was credited with developing the last film out there and after that there would be no more.  A sad thought really. Think of all those beautiful photos taken over the years by National Geographic photographers.  I remember seeing pictures of the photos he took. He lived somewhere in the United States.Snip20180527_5

In this film, Ed Harris played the crotchety old photographer. He’s dying and his personal nurse, who is a very attractive young woman contacts his son, who he has fallen out with. Predictable story, right?  The old photographer had to be driven across the U.S. in order to get his film developed before the last lab closed its door.  The son says, “No way” the nurse says ‘way’. Before you know it they are in a classic convertible car pounding the freeway across the country. Arguments, enlightenment, a disastrous visit to the old man’s  brother’s home in Ohio.   It was predictable, predictable, predictable as only Hollywood can do. Moralistic and a do you think it had a happy ever after ending?

The best part of the film was when they rolled the credits and the audience members could see some beautiful photos from history from National Geographic photographers alongside the credit information.  But hey, it was free, so who am I to complain.  I like films.  I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the theatre and time to myself.

The Wander:  Friday had me in the small country town of Kempton with friends at the Huntingfield Pub.  One of our senior club excursions. I drove and transported three other ladies in my small car to much chatter and good humour. Thirteen of us turned up, ordered our meals and sat down. One hour, 20 minutes later the food arrived.  As usual the normal complainers started in and the good humoured ones continued to enjoy each other’s company. When the food did arrive it was very good. Typical situation where the owner only has two staff on board to take orders, sell Keno tickets, cook the meal and clean up.  My motto is just relax and enjoy the present moment. We were warm, the people were nice and the views of the country were gorgeous.

In ending this post I will post up the posts. Kempton is a small farming community, about a 45 minute drive north of Hobart off the midlands Highway, (Hwy 1). Notice in the photos there is no wind or rain and the sun was glorious.  A good day was had by all (except the regular two who never have a good day). Fortunately I know they won’t be reading this post.

The Photos:

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St Mary’s Anglican Church

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Town Centre

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I liked this little garden area.
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Second hand shop- check out the old photograph of the lady getting dressed. It looked so out of place on this little nook.
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The old churchyard in back of St Mary’s

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The traveller is never too far away from sheep when in Tasmania

The Latest Outfit:

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All ready for autumn.

Weekend Sundry

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The view of the River Derwent from our neighbourhood. 

I follow quite a few bookish and travel blogs and one thing I really enjoy reading is when they have a regular weekly feature.

Whispering Gums has Monday Musing on Australian Literature and Simon of Stuck in a Book has Weekend Miscellany. Many of the titles use alliteration.  I was doing Saturday Squawk but I wasn’t happy with such a crow like cawing title. I generally have time on the weekends to do something regularly but what to call it?  Sunday Sundry?  Weekend Sundry? Weekly junket?  If anyone has any suggestions let me know. I want to do a weekend round up of what happened the previous week. Posts will be related to combined topics of books or articles read; travels, nature, photography, films, theatre or animals.  Winter will be upon us very soon and the symptoms are here now so to prevent getting a good case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorders) from the short, darkened days I need some motivation and accountability that I haven’t been hibernating in my cozy bed with three cats and two dogs.  So suggestions are welcome but for today it is simply Weekend Sundry. 

So what happened this past week?  (No, I will  not mention ‘THAT wedding.”- yes, I watched it)

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View of an autumn day from the bus in South Hobart

Travel:  This past week saw me taking the bus into town (Hobart) a couple of times to get my walking exercise in. I love taking the bus. It’s a great venue for people watching and working on my photography. I wander around and try to accrue 5000 to 10,000 steps. I have included some photos from Thursday’s walk.  I met friends for coffee on both Thursday and Friday. We found a new (to us) burger restaurant on Friday and both of us being hungry gorged ourselves on hot kebabs in a wrap and the best hot chips I have had in a long time. We will be back. Sorry too busy scarfing the delicious food and forgot the picture taking.

Our play reading class is on term break for three weeks but will start up again in June. Our writing group meets every Wednesday afternoon except the third Wednesday of the month so quiet this week on that front also.

However my Photography class met this week as it was the third Thursday.  I love going to the photography class and hopefully one day my photos will be consistently at the top of the challenge ratings instead of the bottom or the middle.  I have read one must take at least 10,000 photos to even be classified as a beginner.  I have decided to post up at least five photos per week on my facebook page during the winter months. I need to have my camera on me more often.  The more photos taken the more one’s eye develops for what is good. I’ll share a few of them here.

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Books?  I have been listening to Walking The Himalayas. I have talked about Walking the Nile ages ago and Walking the Americas by Levison Wood. I am listening to this book by him from Audible.com.  I am not enjoying it as much as the previous two. He begins his walk in Afghanistan and then heads to Pakistan.  He and a friend are following the Himalaya mountain range from start to finish.  He goes on and on and on about the history of these countries. I find, as I read travel writing, I don’t want a great deal of the history. I want to hear about the travels: the accommodations, the trails, the people met, the experiences along the way. If I wanted to know about the history of the country then I would read that separately.  I find his style seems to be describing the history of the countries for the first third of the book then get to the actual travel.  Also as there is so much in the news about these countries (this is a fairly current book) I get satiated about those locations.  He is now in northern India and has met with the Dalai Lama which I enjoyed.  I think once this book is finished I will let whatever else he has written drop though I do have the dvd’s of two of these trips booked at the library.  I would especially like to see Walking the Americas as that was my favourite book. I saw Walking the Nile on the ABC, I think it was.

Miscellaneous:  Mr. Penguin is housesitting  a friend’s farm now for six weeks so I am busy with our five animals. He is spending his days rounding up sheep, and caring for a big labrador and an elderly cat.

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Mr Penguin (right) at an earlier date at the farm he is housesitting for.

Our animals and I are all having a pyjama day today for Sunday.  Might be a day to read some more (start something new), maybe one of the books I mentioned for Mother’s Day or soak in a hot tub with a photography magazine and learn new photoshop tricks. All I know is I won’t be travelling, socialising or exercising very much today.

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Having a Pajama Day

 

Before I leave- just reminding you to help me think of a title for these weekly (hopefully) posts. I know how clever some of you are.gardner

Happy Mother’s Day

Snip20160609_6Today is Mother’s Day. It is a holiday I don’t celebrate. Why? Because I am not a mother. We chose to not have children very early in our marriage. Now 47 years later we have no regrets. I worked with children for 35 years in my career as a speech pathologist.  When I came home at night there were other things to do. Also we wanted to travel all over the world and that costs money. Children cost money. Our choices were made. We travelled. We did other things. We do not feel empty at all for not having had children.

Instead we chose to care for animals and have done so for a very long time. We are mother and father to rescued animals since 1977 when we bought our first house in Florida and acquired a dog that had been abused. We had him for the next nine years.

When we moved to Australia we adopted cats and dogs and they have been cared for since 1989 when we bought our house in Tasmania.

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Odie and Molly who both had very rough starts to life.

We have cleaned up accidents all over the house. We have scraped up hairballs and spit. We have paid enormous amounts in veterinary bills for the previous abuse they received. We have loved them to death.  They have loved us to death. We have taught a brain injured cat how to use the litter. We taught him how to walk in a straight line when after his head injury caused by an uncaring man he could only walk in right hand circles. His right eye was saved with help from the vet.

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Uncle Buck who was stomped on as a three week old kitten, survived and is now 12 yrs. old.  Our late dog Wally, always looked out for him. We had him 16 years.

I have rescued countless animals that have been hit by cars or acquired toxoplasmosis from feral cats for Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.  We’ve driven them to vets, checked their pouches for joeys and had them humanely euthanised.  The world is full of animals to be cared for.

There is a great deal more to life,  for us, than caring for children when we feel there are far too many in the world already.

This morning when I turned on facebook I saw numerous posts for mother’s day and I was looking at my bookshelf and wondering if I had any books on the shelf with the word ‘mother’ in it.

I lost my own mother in February of this year.  It hasn’t really sunk in yet but I am happy she is finally at peace.  She had difficult times in her life and she went out peacefully and I believe happily.

I booted up the Library Thing app and searched my lists of books for the words ‘Mother,’ ‘Mum’ and ‘Mom’.  Not surprisingly I only found two books out of the 1200 books on my shelves.

Snip20180513_2The first one is The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio,  How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan. I saw this on a shelf years ago and it caught my eye.  It is about a woman who enters contest after contest in America and wins money for her entries. There are many contests one can enter, especially in the United States. One must discuss a certain topic in 25 words or less. I have no idea how the winners are picked. Are the entries read? Or are they just picked at random and the winners think they wrote the most clever entry?  I have entered a few myself. I thought my answers might be amusing or different and the prize would be winging its way to me. I thought they would certainly stand out. They didn’t. Or my number was just never picked.  I’m still waiting to win the prize.

The second novel on my shelf is The Glass Mother by Rosie Jackson.  This novel is the Snip20180513_1personal story of her academic success and career at the University of East Anglia, her separation from her son when he was three, her travels, spiritual journey and ultimate reconciliation and reparation with her son. This according to her publishers website. I have not read this book but I think I will take it off the shelf today and begin it. I was wondering what book to read next. This sounds interesting and it is definitely one I haven’t read yet.

So to all of those mothers out there who do have children I’d like to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.  I hope your experiences with your children have been all you wanted. I hope you have a wonderful relationship with them and they bring you the happiness. I think motherhood is one of the hardest jobs on earth.

And to all of you who don’t have children but are mother to fur kids, I hope those relationships bring you satisfaction and happiness and not too much sadness.

Whatever choices you have made for yourself throughout life I wish you a glorious spring or autumn day (depending on which hemisphere you live in) and it all goes to plan. There is so much to enjoy in life whether you have children or not.

By the way- what books do you have on your shelf with the words, ‘mother’, ‘mum’ or ‘mom’ in the title? I’d love to know.

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Odie with his favourite toy, the very dirty frisbee.

Cat Lovers Will Enjoy This…

Snip20180510_1It is pouring buckets of rain today. We can use it. It’s midway through the morning and it is grey, wet and cold. This is the start of our Tasmanian winter.  I am ready for it. I don’t mind winter. We don’t get the snow like North America or Europe so it is liveable.  Mind you, ask me again in September, after three months of this and it will be a different story.

It has been a busy week of Play Reading and Writing Group with friends.  We finished Arsenic and Old Lace written by Joseph Kesselring, in our Play Reading class. It was great fun with the old ladies hiding the dead bodies in the window seat. I saw the film about 200 years ago but had never read the play.  It was great fun reading the various parts especially the part of Teddy “Roosevelt” Brewster. He was an old gentleman with dementia who thought he was Teddy Roosevelt. He also thought the holes he was digging in the basement were part of the building of the Panama Canal. There were some pretty good laughs as the reader got to yell, “Charge!” as he headed up or down the basement steps.

It’s been a kind of “fluffy week”. I use the term fluffy to describe events that are pleasant without angst of any kind. I also describe comfort books as ‘fluffy’. Books that can be read without much thought and can be finished quickly.

I read an article about a book named Cleo written by Helen Brown. It is a true story about a little black cat that healed a family during a tragedy that happened to them and the healing effect the cat gave them over the years.  So I put it on hold at the library a couple of months ago, forgot about it and then received an email to go pick it up.

It’s a New Zealand story. A family lives in Wellington. Mom, Dad and the two little boys, aged 9 and 6. One day mom takes them to visit a woman who had a litter of newborn kittens. Of course they weren’t going to get one. Mom, after all, was definitely not a cat person.  However the boys talk her into putting one on hold to take home when the kitten becomes old enough because after all it would make such a good birthday present for him. (Eyes look upward with pleading cries). They also promise to do any number of chores for her for the rest of their life if only, just this once, they can have this little girl.

Then about a week later tragedy hits the family in a very hard way. The arrival of the kitten is forgotten until it is delivered several weeks later. The timing couldn’t have been worse but they take her in and name her Cleo.

I don’t usually read books about animals. I have to read the last few pages of the book first to make sure there isn’t anything awful before I bond with the character in the book.

The tale is one of love, hope and redemption (as the publisher describes it). This is a very accurate description. The cat moves with the family to Auckland, New Zealand and later to Melbourne, Australia over a 23 year period.  It is a lovely little creature, small for its size and very mischievous.  He brings cuddles and laughter to those he is ‘responsible’ for.  The book has a huge “Awwwww” factor.

He lives a long, happy life so those animal lovers out there who can’t read books about animals can relax throughout this book. 23 years to be exact which is a very long life for a cat.

It is interesting to watch how this family copes with the tragedy in their life and how they evolve through the next two decades. I met their friends and lived through their highs and lows. It is written quite well and I got to know Cleo.  She was a lovely little creature.

This book isn’t for everyone. It can be read in a day and one must love cats to enjoy it. If you aren’t an animal person then leave it on the shelf.Snip20180510_3

It is a book to save for one of those days when you drink coffee or tea for most of the day because the outdoors is very wet, the rain on the roof tries to lull you to sleep and it’s cold enough to have a fuzzy wrap. It’s a comfort book or as I tend to think it, a book of ‘fluff.’

PS- if you want to see photos of my three cats – scroll down and I’ll introduce them to you.

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Uncle Buck aged 12

 

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Cousin Eddie aged 3
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Griswald (Grizzy) aged 2

 

I’m Over All That…

Snip20180505_7No, Not me. I am not over much these days. But Shirley MacLaine’s latest book is titled I’m Over All That.  It is a book of very short chapters discussing all of the things she is over now she is approximately 80 years old.

Mainly she is over relationships. She had a lot of love affairs during her life even though she was with her husband for 30 years.  She said they had a fairly open relationship. She is not over her strong belief in reincarnation or UFO’s.  The government continues to cover up their existence according to her.  She drops a lot of names in this book as well. Actors, actresses and politicians of high standing whom she had affairs with. She was a busy woman.

Let’s back up a bit. When I was living in Ft. Myers Florida in my 20’s and 30’s I went through a real New Age phase. I think all American women in my age group seemed to flirt with the ideas.  Past life regressions, reincarnation, astrology, chakras acting up and all manner of ideas we hadn’t grown up with in our middle class midwest upbringing during our school years.

However I am “Over All That” now and have been for a long time. I read all of Shirley MacLaine’s books. Out On  A Limb, Don’t Fall Off the Mountain, Dancing in the Light.  Then I just woke up one day and thought, “This is all rubbish. I don’t believe any of it.” I moved on and once I began living in Australia in my late 30’s I didn’t think of it anymore. Also Australians didn’t seem to have any time for any of that stuff compared to Americans.

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I gave up reading anything by her.  However I continue to love her as an actress and have seen many films she has starred in going all the way back to The Apartment with her and Jack Lemmon. I enjoyed seeing her in films as the cranky middle aged to older person in various films. It made me laugh.  She was a very talented dancer as well.

Now more than 35 to 40 years later I saw this book on the library shelf.  I knew she would be about 80 years old and wondered if she still believed all of that stuff.  I read it in a couple of days and sure enough she does.  Life is one big spiritual journey to her. She can find meaning in a old pork chop.

She enjoys animals around her more than people which I can relate to quite a bit.  She doesn’t need the love relationships with men anymore. She does need her close women friends which I can also relate to.

Snip20180505_9She likes her own company and the comforts of her home too which I also enjoy. But then she travels down the path towards her future lives and I follow my path until I simply finish this life and don’t think beyond that.

One thing I have always found funny about those reincarnation beliefs is that people who do believe in it always talk about their past lives as a Queen or a Princess or someone well known in Egypt.  They are never the poor shopkeeper in India or St Louis. There have been billions and billions of people who walked the earth at one time but if you are reincarnated you only seem to believe you were from a royal family somewhere several centuries ago.  Why would you remember fishing on the banks of the Mississippi in the early 1800’s and sleeping in a shack? Where are all these people now? Did they reincarnate too? Really. Are we all just recycled?  It might be a fun idea but let’s face it, life can be long enough and tough enough, why would one want to start over and do it all again.  It takes 60 years to get stuff right and finally relax and maybe enjoy it for 20 or 30 years then you’re gone.

Anyway, the book was interesting in that I got to think about the changes in both Shirley and myself. I’ll let her go now and hope she has a long life and enjoys her next millennium and I’ll go on admiring other people and books about them. I’ll still cuddle with my animals though. Life really is short.bluejumper