Ponderings of a retired Tasmanian, photographing, animal loving, book reading, travelling, motorbike riding penguin, growing old disgracefully, who still loves old Penguin books and sharing our world with others.
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.
It has been a quiet week here (for a change). Our Play Reading class is about to start a new play next week. Good Reads describes it as:
“Ring Round the Moon by. Jean Anouilh, Christopher Fry(translator). NYTs Brooks Atkinson called it a work “of many moods… wistfully romantic, satirical, fantastic…” To make his points about love, Anouilh invented a story about twin brothers — Frederic, shy and sensitive, and Hugo, heartless and aggressive. To save Frederic from an unhappy marriage, Hugo distracts him by bringing to a ball a beautiful dancer who entrances everyone. The twins are played by the same actor. “Beautifully translated with wit and grace and style,” said critic George Jean Nathan, that plays “like a theatrical miracle.”
Jean Anouilh – June 23, 1910. He died 23 June, 1987.
“Anouilh was born in Cérisole, a small village on the outskirts of Bordeaux and had Basque ancestry. His father was a tailor and Anouilh maintained that he inherited from him a pride in conscientious craftmanship. He may owe his artistic bent to his mother, a violinist who supplemented the family’s meager income by playing summer seasons in the casino orchestra in the nearby seaside resort of Arcachon.”
I think we will have quite a bit of fun reading this. I didn’t know Stephen Fry translates pieces of literature. I’ll let you know how we go with this.
I finished the Australian book, My Mother, A Serial Killer by Hazel Baronwith Janet Fife-Yeomans. Wow, what a tale. I will never forget these characters. I found it most interesting to follow the family dynamics throughout their lifetimes with everyone knowing the crimes Dulce, the mother, committed and how their children coped with this knowledge. I thought it was written very thoughtfully and although the crimes were committed, I didn’t feel any of it was sensationalised for the reader. Great journalistic reporting.
I am now reading the book, The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, published in 2014. I remember reading reviews about it at the time. It sounded interesting so I picked it up where it has been sleeping on my bookshelves since.
I am planning a real crackdown on my TBR piles of books. Looking at a serious challenge for the remainder of this year and the first half of next year. We’ll see. More on that later.
The Good Reads blurb is as follows:
“A haunting debut novel set against the background of New York City in the 1920s…
Confessions are Rose Baker’s job. A typist for the New York City Police Department, she sits in judgment like a high priestess. Criminals come before her to admit their transgressions, and, with a few strokes of the keys before her, she seals their fate. But while she may hear about shootings, knifings, and crimes of passion, as soon as she leaves the room, she reverts to a dignified and proper lady. Until Odalie joins the typing pool.
As Rose quickly falls under the stylish, coquettish Odalie’s spell, she is lured into a sparkling underworld of speakeasies and jazz. And what starts as simple fascination turns into an obsession from which she may never recover.”
I love the time period where it takes place, the early 1920’s. I love that it is in New York city. I love remembering about typewriters!! I loved typewriters. I loved the sound they make, the way the type is imprinted onto the white, crisp paper. The nostalgia of it all.
I remember when in university doing my Masters degree in the early 1970’s at Central Michigan University. I had an electric typewriter. It was a high school graduation gift.
I had a report due and spent quite a bit of time on it. I thought everything was fine. Content, structure, you know what I mean. It was handed back to me to do it again. “Why?” I asked. “Clean the letter /e/ on your typewriter. It has a slight smear on it. You cannot deliver professional reports if the keys on your typewriter aren’t clean. So off I went, cleaned the key, typed the entire thing again and turned it in.
Younger people out there….. you have no idea.
I am also reading a library book that came in about the early days and photographs of Annie Leibovitz. I’ll do a separate post about this book. It is called Annie Leibovitz: The early years, 1970 – 1983. I’m finding it very interesting at this point.
The rest of the week went by with my dogs, cats and I pretty much holed up. Mr. Penguin was house sitting for a friend. The wind howled into Tasmania from the Southern Ocean for five consecutive days. We had quite a bit of rain earlier in the week. Lots of snow on the mountain. I won’t take the dogs out in the strong winds because there are too many gum trees around here and the branches are known for dropping when you least expect it.
We watched some Netflix, read, studied photography, fed and watered animals and cleaned up hairballs and litter. There is always laundry and Odie had a bath and is very fluffy this week.
That’s our week. Hope yours was under control. See you later.
Do you believe it’s mid-way through July already? It’s time for a Top Ten Tuesday and the subject for today is Ten Bookish Characters in Books (that I have read and enjoyed).
I found it interesting that these bookish characters I enjoyed spent time with me when I was younger. Though I still revisited several of them in later life.
1. Anne Frank loved her books in the Diary of Anne Frank. It surprises me how much I think of and remember her and often wonder what would have become of her had she not perished in the Holocaust.
2. Atticus Finch is a bookish character that many of us know from To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee. I loved him in both the book and the film. Gregory Peck certainly did justice to him in the film version. A lovely character.
3. Elizabeth Bennet and all of her sisters, for the matter in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen were certainly bookish characters. I often wonder how much more we would all read if we didn’t have tv, Netflix and the internet. It becomes harder and harder to focus on books at times of tiredness when these are available. We must be strong!
4. Liesel Meminger shared her reading with us in the wonderful story of The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak. What a great book that is.
5. Jay Gatsby had that huge library in The Great Gatsby. He must have been a reader to have had so many books in his home. Another wonderful tale I have read a couple of times. F. Scott Fitzgerald.
6. Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and other characters in Betty Smith’s books were readers. Francie would sit on the fire escape outside of her Brooklyn apartment and read during the summer days. A character I continue to love.
7. Jo March in Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott. Who doesn’t remember the influence she had on our reading as a young person. I can still see her sitting by the fireplace reading her books. An image that will remain forever.
8. Clare Abshire in the Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Although she was an artist I will always remember her as a very old woman sitting in her chair when her husband revisits her once more, reading a book and sees her sitting there. An unforgettable image.
9. Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch by George Elliot. She had such high hopes of working with that awful husband of hers that she thought she would assist. She was most certainly a reader. That early life was certainly a disappointment.
10. This is one non-fiction character who sat in his study with his wife Helen and good friend Seigfried Farnon in front of a roaring fire reading their veterinary journals and books. I’m referring to the well known veterinarian, James Herriot. I remember the scene fondly from the wonderful series with Christopher Timothy playing the lead role. Mr. Penguin and I went to Thirsk in the early 1970’s to tour the areas the books and series mentioned. We were fortunate enough to meet the wonderful James Heriott in the flesh. We visited his surgery along with about 12 other people and chatted to him. We saw the little border terrier that he is often pictured with and he signed our
book. It was unforgettable to us.
What an eclectic collection of travels through wonderful books and characters this little meme has been.
It is a cold blustery day down here and I am loving it. I don’t have to go anywhere today. Mr. Penguin is house-sitting for a friend for a couple of weeks so it’s very quiet. It’s the kind of day where there is time to snuggle with the pets, read a backlog of things piling up, watch a bit of Netflix and eat food that doesn’t go together. Just graze. Did I mention how quiet it is. Phone is turned off. Instant message is ignored. Except for Mr. Penguin.
The last week has happened in bits and pieces. It is that time of year where throats get a bit sore and you hope the flu shot you had works.
Last night a friend and I went to the Playhouse Theatre in Hobart. It is the home of the Hobart Repertory Theatre Society that was established in 1926. They feature amateur community productions. One often sees the same actors from play to play. The plays can be excellent and there is a very congenial attitude of mixed ages in the audience. Also chocolate is very cheap. You get a chocolate bar, a glass of wine if you wish, take it to your seat and enjoy the play. I support them every year by going to most of their performances. Last night we saw a production of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was a cold and windy night and the audience wasn’t packed like it usually is but the people who bothered to come out had a good time. They didn’t seem to have enough men/boys for the pirates so many girls played both girls and boys. They made good pirates. A young woman played the part of 14 year old Jim Hawkins and she did such a good job. Long John Silver was great fun. (Can’t find actor’s name). It was a nice way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday night despite the cold.
Books this week:
I finished the Mongolian horse race book by Lara Prior-Palmer, Rough Magic. I found it to be an average read. I liked her writing and hearing about the logistics of the horse race. She wrote about some of the Mongolian people she met and that was interesting. I got a little bit tired in parts when she flashes back to other times in her life. I think she had a lot of time to think of her past as the traversed the long days on the Mongolian steppes. I know when I rode my Scooter from Hobart to Long Reach, Queensland in Australia (one way 2300 kms/1450 miles) I was on very long straight stretches of road and your mind wanders to all sorts of memories, thoughts, creative ideas, future plans. She put a lot of these thoughts into her book. I would give it three stars. Just a good read. However I do think she is a character whom I will remember for a long time and I will remember her story. That is always a good measure of a book.
I am currently listening to a non-fiction Australian story called My Mother, A Serial Killer written by the daughter, Hazel Baron and Janet Fife-Yeomans narrated by Kate Hosking who does a brilliant job.
Good Reads describes it as: A gripping and shocking story of a serial killer mother, and the brave daughter who brought her to justice. Dulcie Bodsworth was the unlikeliest serial killer. She was loved everywhere she went, and the townsfolk of Wilcannia, which she called home in the late 1950s, thought of her as kind and caring. The officers at the local police station found Dulcie witty and charming, and looked forward to the scones and cakes she generously baked and delivered for their morning tea.
That was one side of her. Only her daughter Hazel saw the real Dulcie. And what she saw terrified her.
Dulcie was in fact a cold, calculating killer who, by 1958, had put three men in their graves – one of them the father of her four children, Ted Baron – in one of the most infamous periods of the state’s history. She would have got away with it all had it not been for Hazel.
Written by award-winning journalist Janet Fife-Yeomans together with Hazel Baron, My Mother, A Serial Killer is both an evocative insight into the harshness of life on the fringes of Australian society in the 1950s, and a chilling story of a murderous mother and the courageous daughter who testified against her and put her in jail.
I am really enjoying this bit of Australian history of this woman. It isn’t so much the murders. They are discussed but the main part of this story is the psychological machinations of this woman’s mind. Her manipulation, how she fools everyone in the communities she visits. If she were an animal she would be a feral cat. It is a shame she didn’t put her brilliant mind towards something worthwhile.
I am about half way through it and every time I sit down to rest a bit or before going to sleep I put the audible app on another 30 minutes to listen. It is true to its word as it details “society on the fringes” in the 1950’s which is a time period I enjoy reading about in both Australia and the USA. If you enjoy this type of book I can certainly recommend it.
Our photo club meeting is coming up this coming Thursday evening. We have two digital challenges I had to put up. One category is “Open” and the other category is “Hidden Spaces”. The print challenge category is “Abstract”. We get two of our images printed and upon arrival at the meeting we lay them out on a long table with our names on the back. Nobody knows who they belong to though some put in the same type of genres so easy to guess. I like to mix it up a bit so no one knows mine ahead of time. At the tea break during the meeting, members attending vote on their favourites. The first place (which I have never won) gets a bottle of wine. Second and third places get chocolate. I have come in third place a couple of times and enjoyed some chocolate. I love challenges and competitions and enter often both in and out of the club meetings. It is a good way to learn new types of techniques and genres of photography.
So I’ll pop up the challenge photos for this week for you to have a look at. They are all quite different. Until next time….the Penguin and I say..Have a good week. If you’re in the northern hemisphere stay cool. If you’re anywhere near Tasmania or Melbourne, stay warm.
I have a lot of photos to sort through so I thought I’d put a few up here on Thursdays, hence Penguin’s Thursday Travel Photos. If you aren’t interested in photos then you can just ignore the post. It will be more of a journal for myself and I do have quite a few photographers that check in from my posting on Instagram.
These photos are from Valencia, Spain. I enjoy street photography. My aim is to document what happens on the streets and to find people that are not holding a mobile phone. That in itself is a challenge in itself. I don’t want photos of a bunch of people walking around holding mobiles.
Those who are visiting here today…I hope you enjoy.
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme published on Tuesday that is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Questions are asked and respondents answer. It has been going awhile and I have read it quite a few times but never participated. However when I saw last week’s topic was Top Ten Childhood Favourites I thought I might join in.
Another however…….When this is published in the USA it is already Wednesday here so I decided that I would join in the following Tuesday so it could still be a Top Ten Tuesday although a week late.
I have forgotten a lot of the books I read as a child but reading the answers to this meme had me saying, “Oh yes! I remember reading those!”
So I will begin.
The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read the entire series and loved everyone of them. Life on the prairie despite the hardships faced was full of loving families and challenges that were overcome. They always brought happiness no matter what the reality of life was like at the time.
The Trixie Belden mystery series written by various authors from Western Publishing. They came out about three times a year and could be purchased at the local 5 and 10 dime store on the corner for 59 cents. A story of two best friends, about 10 years old who solved all kinds of crime though I could not for the life of me tell you now what any of that crime was.
The entire Nancy Drew written by a pseudonym Carolyn Keene by in fact written by several authors. The series was developed by publisher Edward Stratemeyer. He wanted a female version of the Hardy boys. Nancy was a bit older than Trixie was and I was too when I read them all. She also solved all manner of crime but she did it on her own which was most impressive at the time.
Then there were the dog and horse tales. How I loved them.
White Ruff by ????was the story of a rough collie stolen by the bad men that came through town with the circus. His young owner, a boy of about 9 or 10 came across him sometime later when his family took him to the circus. Convinced this was his beloved White Ruff he made a deal with the dog’s trainer if he could call the dog away from the trainer during a noisy circus performer he would prove the dog was his. If not, the dog was lost forever. During the circus performer the band played, the crowd cheered and suddenly a long piercing sharp whistle went through the tent. White Ruff stopped dead in his tracks. Upon hearing the second whistle White Ruff ran to the boy to live happily ever happen. The trainer sighed and moved on knowing the game was up. I think that was the first tale I ever read of true suspense. I must have read that last chapter ten times over to every reading of the book.
Then there was Champion Dog Prince Tom by Jean Fritz and John Clute .... I think was part of a series of books we signed up in school through Scholastic. We received a book in the mail every month and when that book came into that mail box you wouldn’t see me until the next day. Prince Tom was a true story of a lineage of champion cocker spaniels and how he went from a puppy to become the world’s greatest cocker spaniel. The kind of story that gives a dog loving child goosebumps.
There was another book from Scholastic I remember reading quite a few times called Ride Like an Indian by Henry V. Laron.
It was a story of a young boy who had an Appaloosa horse and he could ride this horse anywhere. I think it might have been a race he needed to win. He jumped on that horse’s back and rode him like there was no tomorrow, of course without a saddle. He and that horse were best friends. This followed the Fury series of horse books by Albert Miller, that any child horse lover of my generation would know.
Then there was Little Women. The classic story of the four March sisters living with their mother in the 1860’s while their father fought in the civil war. Jo was the oldest sister and I loved her the best. Probably because I was the oldest of my sister and brother. Jo and I knew everything.
As another year went by I discovered Betty Smith’s book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The story of Francie who lived in Brooklyn during the 1950s I believe and her life. Her love of school, books and stationery outweighed all the confusion and trauma of her childhood growing up poor. I loved that girl and if there had been anyone in fiction I could have hung out with it would have been her.
As a very young reader I remember spending time with Ferdinand the Bull. He wasn’t interested in Bull Fighting. He just wanted to lie in a field, be gentle and smell the flowers. How I loved that bull. I must have read that book a million times.
The other books I disappeared into were the first four books of the Childcraft series that was full of fairy tales, geography and travel tales, child development and some other things I never looked at. Childcraft bookshad 12 matching books and the first three were literature.
Grimm and Andersen were all there and I loved those tales. I hate that they have taken classic fairy tales and modernised them as to not scare children. Our wolves ate children, they didn’t chase them away. The bad animals didn’t muck around. But we knew they were tales and not to be believed and when the animals did survive we knew it was because they were strong and didn’t get caught. I never had nightmares about them. It was real life that gave me nightmares at times.
Well those are my ten books I can think of at the moment. I still own a copy of Champion Dog Prince Tom and White Ruff. I have a beautiful Penguin copy of Little Women. I’ve lost Ferdinand along the way. I don’t think I still have a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but I might have as I read it again about three years ago or so. I still enjoyed it.
So, I’ll see how this Top Ten Tuesdaygoes and if I feel like doing it again. Being retired after 40 years of solid commitment in my work and life I don’t commit to much anymore. I’m just continuing to fly through life by the seat of my pants. I think that’s what retirement should be about.
I wrote a very long post here last Sunday. I included all of the photos. I then decided to move one photo and as I dragged it a couple of lines higher the entire post disappeared. It hasn’t been seen since. Frustrated I turned the computer off and went and watched an episode of Master Chef. I’m trying to catch up on the episodes I missed while away. I am enjoying it so much. What I enjoy the most is the support the contestants and judges give to one another. They truly seem happy for the success of others. It is about time reality tv (though there isn’t much I watch) get away from the snarky personalities. The world is cruel enough at times.
Anyway….. Back to last week’s post. I have read or partly read three travel books. As I have said before I really do enjoy good travel writing. The first book I began and read half way through was Walking the Camino by Tony Kevin. I enjoy books by people who walk long distances and have read other books about the El Camino Pilgrimmage trail in Spain. Having just come back from Spain I had a clearer idea of where cities are and thought this would be really good. It is a really good book and the writing is wonderful but it isn’t much about the walk. It is about the history of the walk, the villages, the country. I think about 80% of this book is pure history. When I read a book about a walking journey I like to hear about the places, the accommodations, the hike, the feelings about the exertion the hike takes. I like to hear the about the conversations with others doing the same thing that the walker meets.
You kind of get the idea. I didn’t want to hear anymore about the Roman history in the country, the Arab history in the country, the Spanish Civil war (in depth). I wasn’t interested in the history of agriculture in Spain. I spent two weeks on my trip learning more history of Spain than I probably ever learned in 12 years of schooling. What is the walk like??? I finally put the book aside.
The second book of travel writing is much better. Stranger Country by Chinese Australian author Monica Tan. Ms. Tan is a young woman of Chinese ancestry but born in Australia. She visited China and marveled at the sense of family and connectedness of people in China. She thought a lot about Australia as a nation and seemed to understand the only people in this country that have that are the Aboriginal people. They have strong connections to the country and to their ancestors. She wanted to know more about it so she put her job on hold as a journalist working for The Guardian and spent several months driving 30,000 kms around Australia learning about Aboriginal culture. She was a bit worried about going into the remote areas of Australia as a young woman travelling alone and as a Chinese-Australian woman knowing the racism against Asians in many parts of Australia. This book is that journey. Her writing is interesting and I learned a lot of the lessons she learned. If one enjoys any of these topics then I would comfortably recommend this book.
The third book of travel writing I’m listening to now on Audible is Rough Magic: Riding The World’s Wildest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer. Ms. Palmer is a young woman who lives in England. She is also the neice of past Olympic rider Lucinda Green. Anyone who has followed show jumping or Olympic and World show jumping will have heard of Lucinda Green. I have chuckled at her descriptions of horses, riders and events many times in the past while watching these competitions. She can be quite over the top at times but she knows her horses. Lara sought quite a bit of advice from her aunt Lucinda about horses as she entered this race not having a lot of riding experience or knowledge of horses. It really seemed quite a hare-brained adventure to undertake.
Ms. Palmer is bored with her young life and wants to do something different. She hears of the 1000 mile horse race across Mongolia that happens each year on Mongolian ponies. Now I am the first one to stand up against horse racing as we know it in Australia. But this race is much different to the greed and cruelty we see in much of horse racing in the west.
The ponies can only be ridden forty miles per day and then they are changed. They are bred to be tough, and many run with little encouragement. If a rider does not get off from a pony immediately if it goes lame they are heavilypenalized . The horse comes first in this race. There are quite a few breaks during the day and in the evening the pony is cared for before the rider.
There are several young men and women participating in this race and overall I am enjoying hearing about the country side of Mongolia, the culture in bits and pieces and the tales about the people she meets. The other riders are certainly described in detail especially when it comes to their personalities. I would say it is an average read. The writing is good and if this is a topic that one finds interesting so far it is a gentle read. She rides many ponies as the race is 1000 miles and as there are many legs of it she keeps a log of the ponies she rides based on their personalities and appearance.. Some ponies barely move in this race while others move like the wind. They are not trained beyond basic commands so if it takes off running the rider must just hang on. Having been raised with horses in my teenage years I enjoy hearing about horse events but they must be treated kindly.
It is also interesting how they cope with the weather, quite often getting caught in storms and a single pair of clothes that must endure for the length of the race. They often sleep in wet jodphurs or dirty tee shirts.
And of course there is a bit of fantasizing that goes on from the young women over arrogant Devon, who is a young male who continually leads the race.
I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest travel writing I’ve read but it does keep my attention and it is certainly different from the long journeys around Europe many people write about while walking, bicycling or motor biking.
Have you heard of any of these books? What travel writing do you enjoy and what do you think travel writing should include?
I had a hold on this book from the library and it finally popped up on my Libby app as I was about to fly home from Morocco to Tasmania. I was happy to see it as I find movies on flights are notoriously hard to hear with engine noise and flight attendant interruptions so I settled down for the long haul and finished this book in record time.
In 2010 Dirt Bike riders came across a body in the Belanglo State Forest in New South Wales. As most Australian people will remember this was the state park that serial killer Ivan Millat buried the backpacker victims that he was convicted of killing and now serves terms of life in prison. It was determined that the victim discovered in 2010 was not a part of this crime.
Five years later a young child was found in South Australia, in a suitcase alongside a highway near Adelaide. Australians may also remember the “body in a suitcase” case at that time.
The author follows this crime from the beginning of the discovery of the woman’s body in 2010 until the end of 2018. The crime is uncovered early in the book. The story is not so much about the crime but about how people’s lives can change in an instant or over time due to the experiences they have in life or the people they meet and worse, might fall in love with. I found the psychology behind the characters in this story to be fascinating. Of course drug abuse enters the picture and makes it even worse.
Domestic violence, jealousy, loyalty, betrayal, poverty are all themes in this book. As a result of these issues and how they combine equals a very tragic tale indeed.
The journalistic writing of this story and the lives of these two people is excellent. The story is revealed in a very straight forward way without sensationalism. The author and the reader really cares about these people. It is interesting to see how a murderer is made in this instance. It begins with negligent parents and abuse of a small boy and leads to tragedy and misery that involves many families over the course of a couple of generations.
I kept thinking as I read it, “What if the parents had been loving and understanding” to this young boy….. Would it have happened? Many people do suffer traumatic childhoods and never go near committing a murder but it isn’t unreasonable to see how the various experiences of all the characters in this book end up with the results of their lives.
The book doesn’t go into gory detail over the cases until the wrap up at the end during the trial. Of course all the details must be revealed during the trial. This is not a book for those who don’t want to know specific details. The first 90% of the book is about the lives of everyone around the victims in this case. But the last 10% does bring it all into focus as the conclusion and repercussions are reached.
When we often hear so many stories of corrupt police officers and justice gone astray because of it, the story is also a tribute to the officers who did their job and the really good communication between authorities in four states that culminated in the solving of this case.
If this is a genre you find interesting then I can recommend it. If you prefer a more gentle read don’t pick it up. I must say though I barely noticed the extreme turbulence of my flight while this book was in my hand. I read and read and read. I could not put it down.