A Bit of a Week this week…

I thought I’d just do a bit of a journal for this week as it was quite discombobulated. So here we go.

Monday: I attended our shared reading group at Fullers Bookshop. We have one more week to go until we finish My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin. Everyone in the group has been enjoying this Australian classic written by the young Miles Franklin when she was 21 yrs old in 1901.

The National Museum of Australia describes the time the book takes place briefly as follows:

Australia in the 1890s

The 1890s was a decade of turmoil in Australia. It was characterised by depression and strikes and the worst drought since European settlement.

Social attitudes were slowly changing. Women were demanding and receiving better education, although their work prospects were still limited.

In 1894 women won the  right to vote and stand for parliament in South Australia, the first jurisdiction in the world to grant this right.

The year after My Brilliant Career was published women were enfranchised at the federal level too.

Books written by young Australian women were being published with greater frequency. My Brilliant Career is the only one that lingers in the national consciousness.

We are particularly enjoying the humour in the book. We also stop and discuss some of the vocabulary that is not used in our modern times. We have had some good laughs with that.

Our next shared reading group after a short break will be James Joyce’s Dubliners while waiting for a batch of Hard Times by Charles Dickens to come in which we will begin later in the year.

Tuesday: This morning had a friend and I at the Tasmanian Museum and Gallery (TMAG) to attend the launch of a new book detailing the history of Tasmania’s government house by Professor, the Honourable Kate Warner AC and Dave Owen, Official Secretary, Office of the Governor, Government House. The description of the book is as follows:

Government House Tasmania: A Remarkable Story co-authored by Kate Warner and David Owen is being published after many years’ research and writing. The two-volume set has a combined total of nearly six hundred pages printed on luxurious 150 gsm silk stock. The books are case bound and fitted in a burgundy hand-produced slipcase with gold foil embellishment.

Government House Tasmania: A Remarkable Story is lavishly illustrated two volume set with over 500 images, including historical paintings and drawings, maps, plans and early photographs (some never previously published) and a stunning collection of contemporary photographs of the House and Grounds.

As well as being a detailed work of Tasmanian history, the two volumes cover architecture, art, gardening and landscape ideals, pioneering scientific endeavour, colonial administration, vice-regal families and staff, the evolving use of the House and Grounds, royalty and more.  

100% of proceeds from sales of the book are applied towards heritage maintenance of the House and Grounds. Price is $180.00 plus postage & packaging.

The talk was informative and several quite comical anecdotes were shared including a drunk butler that almost upended a royal visit in the past and the two of the authors searching the closets, the attics and other hidden spaces in the home. We enjoyed it very much.

Wednesday: This evening was my book group at Fullers again where we discussed Louise Erdrich’s book The Sentence. It was a good book for book group as many enjoyed this Native American story during the year 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota during the time of Covid beginning and the George Floyd murder. As many people who really loved it we had an equal number of a those who did not like it at all and the middle of the roaders who enjoyed the story but thought the writing was uneven and we had a lengthy discussion about the ghost of the story.

I won’t say much more about it as Mr Penguin is reading the book now. We certainly had a wonderful discussion about it. As for me, I enjoyed it while I was reading it but looking back and hearing from others it is not described as her best work. But as with life, this book interested some and not others.

Thursday- had me home puttering around and doing jobs that needed to be caught up on. Then the rains came that night. And the storm during the night escalated into a morning weather event we’ve not seen for several years. Tasmania is not a big lightning or thunder state for that matter, but by Friday morning we were roaring with it. Starting around 6 or 7 am, we had buckets of rain, wind off the mountain over 100 km per hour (60 miles per hour), hail, sleet, snow in the yard, so much lightning I moved to the back of the house away from the window and cracking, non stop thunder.

Our dog Ollie just barked at it to all go away. Little Peanut wandered around as though nothing was going on wanting her breakfast, the cats hid under the beds and I didn’t see them until mid day.

My friend and I were scheduled to go to Fullers book shop organised Robert Dessaix’s book launch in the city that night. His new book Abracadabra is out now. It is described here if you are interested in seeing a summary. If I decide to read it I’ll post more about it but for the time being this post is getting long and I’ll leave it for now.

In the end we didn’t go as we were both awake in the night quite a bit as the wind and rain was so strong it was hard to sleep. Many of the city streets were flooded and SES personnel were operating. We decided to stay in and stay warm and cozy. So we missed it. You know a storm is bad if I miss a Fullers Event.

So that sums up the weekday events and the weekend has been a time of rest, reading, naps and preparing for another week of upcoming events.

I hope all of you are well and the Penguin and I will say talk to you later.

Little did I know the Penguin had friends over too.

The Penguin and I are back!

Things have been more than hectic the past few weeks with Mr P having had his hip replaced and on crutches and not driving for six weeks. I’m having eye surgery end of May and will be out of commission but by mid winter we should all be up and back. Did I mention I backed the new car into a guard rail one early morning while blinded by the sun and that is in repair for a week so learning to drive a little rental car. I need to pick it up this week the same time Peanut goes to the vet for injections. Whoops

I could go on, but it is boring so I won’t.

I had a disaster with this blog disappearing and I gave up and moved to Wix. They were great at setting up a blog but once that was just about finished they pulled all support and communication so to make a very long story short, I cut my losses and decided to get stuck back into the original one at Word Press. I can now tell you there is good in the world I really misjudged WordPress. As confusing as I find it at times, I spent more than 90 minutes in an online chat with a lovely person who got me back online. They can’t figure out what happened either. I had part of a different blog incorporated into mine and the whole thing went “Whoosh!” But….I’ve spent enough time on all of this so let’s say no more. But I can’t praise the WordPress support I got more. I’m now eating my words.

Photography has had some lovely moments as we are in autumn here and if I manage to figure how to post a photo I will do so.

There are many events happening at Fullers book shop this year. As my friends and longer term followers know, Fullers is the oldest book shop in Australia at 102 years. It is under new ownership by a young, lovely man (Tim) who has a PhD in philosophy and is also extremely well read, ambitious and absolutely full of ideas for the shop that people are flocking to. With more than 100 people divided into groups of 12 for monthly book groups, there is also a shared reading group that meets regularly, a new monthly poetry reading group where they focus on one poet a month. Shakespeare and philosphy events are scheduled as well as many author events and book launches.

Jane Dawson entertained us with her contagious laughter.

Just last week my friend and I attended a really fun event as Jane Rawson launched her newest book, A History of Dreams. It is the story of four very different women who become witches to deal with rising facism during 1937 in Adelaide. Such an unusual theme but as she stated she is very concerned with many issues both past and present regarding how right winged our world is becoming and coinciding with that the problems of global warming especially as it relates to Australia with fires and floods. It was a great night and Geordie Williamson, one of the book critics from The Australian interviewed her. I think he should be working for the Guardian listening to their conversation. It was most enlightening and Jane has very unusual and interesting ideas for her books. She stated her next book would be about a time traveller who goes back to the 1980s and murders those responsible for global warming, though I must emphasize that is simply an idea at this point but it got a good round of applause and laughter from the audience.

Geordie and Jane in conversation.

Well I don’t want to push my luck here so we will see how this goes today so I will wrap this up for now. I must say my panic has subsided now I have my blog back and fortunately Wix transferred almost all of my past Word Press posts to this site though I haven’t had a good look yet. So stay tuned.

If you’d like to see the new direction this blog is going check out the new About page. All the best.

Walk With me a bit through Hobart

End of the school day

No this isn’t a bookish post per se. I am sitting in Hobart, early in the morning looking out to a chilly day but sunny for a change. Another busy week is upon us but I want to catch up a bit here. I just read a bunch of back blog posts from people I generally follow. Sue, Lisa, Karen…and the rest. You guys write so many posts I can never keep up but do enjoy them.

I just read Lisa’s post on the book Adrift in Melbourne about Robyn Annear’s walks in Melbourne (here). How I wish there was a Hobart book such as this but of course Melbourne is so much bigger than Hobart.

I really love books about walking. No idea why but I know there are people walking everywhere. They walk to work, they bushwalk, they hike through multiple countries. I think meeting and chatting to people on a walk is great fun. One can have a great conversation, connect, then perhaps never see them again.

Last week I needed to get out of my head so after an appointment (which I took my camera to in my backpack) I told Mr. Penguin to drive home and I was going to walk. It was an area I’d not walked before and off I went. Three hours later I got the bus home and said head was clear. I need to get out more often with the camera and walk more. I have a friend in Sydney who does her “Judy” day, a day just for her. I am going to start doing a “Pam” day. Time to visit those little out of the way places and take photos or just smell a few flowers. I will share the walk with you here, sorry not much narrative. Here we go….

Many people are doing it tough these days.

I had a lovely chat to this fellow while he waited for the bus.

These workmen thought it was quite funny I wanted their photo.

He didn’t have much to say but was happy to pose. The biggest problem with wearing a mask is you can’t see smiles anymore.
The two of us chatted for more than 30 min about the world problems and her garden. Lots of laughs before I went on and she went back to work.
This guy approached me and wanted me to take a photo of his dog Bindi.
This very elderly woman comes to the sweets shop, reads the paper and goes home with a bag of lollies.

Replacing a damaged window at the State cinema.

Waiting at the bus stop to go home.
Ollie (left) and Peanut. Home again from the bus. They know if I’m not home to check the window every time the bus goes by. Sure enough they weren’t disappointed this time. I still want to know which one of them figured out I’m on a bus first. Those little heads! What a greeting.

March Already!

My reading has slowed a bit during the last couple of weeks. World events are very distracting at the moment. However our book group is talking about This is Happiness by Niall Williams the first week of April and I have begun it. The writing is lovely. I was going to highlight various quotes to share at the meeting that I love but found I was making pencilled marks on every page so have given it up.

I have put the Togo book, The Village of Waiting by George Packer up just for a week or so. It was my random pick for the Armchair Traveller reference book.. I am enjoying the book quite a bit but it is long. I will continue but will be slow to report on it.

Theme this month: Reinvention

My Womankind magazine arrived and I am enjoying it. It comes out bi-monthly and has the most beautiful photographs and articles.

I have also been working on learning more Photoshop and Lightroom editing techniques via instructors on You Tube. My good photographer friend in Sydney and I chat all the time about photography. There is so much flooding and non stop torrents of rain there now I have to keep an eye on her. All up the east coast of Sydney the flooding has been dire. 13 People have died last count and it is hard seeing their homes and lives washed away. Then there is continued Covid and the horrible stuff going on in Ukraine. When does it end? I try to stay away from the news but it is really in our faces much of the time.

I am continuing to “play” with IOUMA Art postcards.. I received a couple of lovely cards yesterday, one from Postcrossings that came from the Czech Republic and an Art card from Texas . Really lovely to get real mail from random people that is gorgeous and interesting.

This Art Card came from Texas, USA
This was sent to me by a young woman who lives in the Czech Republic. She took this photo of the most beautiful butterfly

I also bought a new book that is gorgeous. Alison, in Cape Town posted information about it on her blog, The Booksmith. (here). It is beautiful in cover and words. Described as “See the British year afresh and experience a new way of connecting with nature- through the prism of Japan’s seventy-two ancient microseasons. The book covers the year in sections of 2 to 5 days and focuses on what is happening in the natural world during those days”. A beautiful short reminder of what is beautiful in our world each morning. It is definitely a book that ‘sparks joy’.

I realise it is more important than ever during these times to spend time being creative (even when you think you’re not good at it), reading books and magazines you love, moving your body even when you don’t feel like it and don’t binge on a lot of junk food as much as you might want. Turn the news off from time to time too.

I have also pulled a couple of photos from the archives that I took on trips in the last five years. I will share two of them from Sri Lanka that I took and posted up on the World Wildlife Photography fb page this week. It is a site that shares wonderful photographs of wildlife/birds, from around the world in their natural settings.

This leopard came out of the bushes as we drove by. He was stunning.
This little guy came out to investigate us too. So curious.

I look forward what anyone who might come across this post is doing to manage their life and mental health at the moment. Please feel free to share.

Some Books & Local Artwork

It’s catch up time again so I’ll get right into it. I just finished a wonderful book by 2021 Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah. The title is After Lives, published by Bloomsbury 2020 in the UK and my copy in 2021.

The blurb on the back reads:

While he was still a little boy Ilyas was stolen from his parents by the German colonial troops. After years away, he returns to his village to find his parents gone, and his sister, Afiya given away.

Another young man returns to the town he once lived in. Hamza was not stolen for the war, but fled into it to escape a life of bondage. In the war he has grown up at the righthand of an officer whose protection has marked him for life. With nothing but the clothes on his back, he seeks only work and security- and the love of the beautiful Afiya.

As fate knots these young people together, as they live and work and fall in love, the shadow of a new war on another continent lengthens and darkens, ready to snatch them up and carry them away.

Located in East Africa in the first half of the 20th century it is a wonderful tale of the interlinked relationship between a few characters that goes from the war with the Germans against the British, right to the end of their lives.

I loved this book and as it went on I could not put it down. It is one of those books where you read the first half and don’t ask questions. It will all become clear once the war is over about half way through (if that.) I will never forget these characters and I cared about them deeply. I also learned quite a bit about the post colonial conflicts of Eastern Africa around Tanzania.

I read this book as part of the Fullers book group I’m in and I look forward to our discussion during the first week of March.

My car book is something completely different. I am listening to 78 year old New York dancer Twyla Tharp read her book Keep It Moving. As I try to exercise with longer walks and two weight sessions at the gym each week I find her a role model I can respect. Everyday she gets up first thing and heads to her studio and dances. It is a pledge she made and as she states not a goal. Goals can be ticked off when finished and then you’re done. Her pledge is an activity she does as part of her entire life and she never waivers from it. I am enjoying her discussion about the benefits, especially of older people ensuring they move regularly and how to put it into your life and not just for a new year’s resolution. She applies her teachings to many creative pursuits and I find her a very inspiring and interesting woman.

My other project (if one wants to name it that) is to get cracking with the TBR books on the shelves. A couple of weeks ago I went through every book I own and made a whole new Library Thing catalog. As I went through each book, one by one, I tossed those read, those found in op shops that sounded a good idea at the time and old gifts I’ll never gravitate to. I filled three large shopping bags and off they went. I whittled down the books listed on Library Thing significantly and now it is completely up to date.

Today, once finished with After Lives, I randomly selected three books (using randomiser app) from Library thing. I have decided I will randomly choose three and from that I will choose the one that appeals to me at the time. If a book of short stories comes up I will read at least three of the stories before I put it back on the shelf. I don’t enjoy reading a complete book of short stories unless they are interlinked. I think three will have me remembering them more.

The three books picked are: Worst Journeys: The Picador Book of Travel. It represents a selection of shorter experiences of things that went wrong while travellin to some well known authors. It happens to everyone who travels a lot sooner or later. It has happened to us. Like the time we were in South America, arrived for our connected flight and they had no record of a ticket because the travel agent changed hands during the booking of the trip and screwed up to be succinct. We had to get another ticket that involved finding a cash machine and being escorted with a guard from the airport. Why not use a credit card, you ask? We had it eaten in Bolivia and it was only through the kindness of our hotel manager in La Paz we could travel ahead to Peru and Mr Penguin’s very good use of Spanish that helped a lot.

Or when my father died and I decided to fly to Michigan from Hobart for his military funeral I did not want to miss. He was a large part of my life. Qantas flights were twice cancelled. I couldn’t get a flight to Michigan from Los Angeles. I had a complete meltdown in the airport after travelling for a very long time and a kindly staff member organised me to get to Chicago and then leave Chicago to Lansing, Michigan. I had my sister pick me up at the airport. After almost three days with no sleep, I slid into the funeral service 45 minutes before it started. I know I will enjoy this book.

The second and third book chosen is a small book, part of a Penguin boxed set. Boxed sets that have sat on the shelves for a long time looking very pretty but unread. Now all of those individual books from the Penguin 70s and Great Ideas boxed sets plus a few others are individually catalogued. So I will probably read both of the books chosen. The English Journeys set has me about to read Voices of Akenfield by Ronald Blythe. I haven’t got a clue what it will be about but that will be fun.

The second one is part of the Penguins Pocket Penguins (70s collection I think) called Dressmaker Child by William Trevor. As someone who absolutely loves watching the Great British Sewing Bee this has major appeal. I grew up attached to my grandmother’s side while she sewed dozens of clothes for my sister and I, my Barbie doll who has a complete wardrobe including lined woolen suits and a satin dress with a fur collar around the cape. She also sewed dance costume for my cousin who was an exotic dancer and all of her costumes had sequins hand sewn through out.

That sums up the past couple of weeks of books. I could add I started the audio of Trent Dalton’s Love Stories but it was a bit too saccharine for me. I loved the concept that he sat in the city centre of Brisbane, Qld and asked people to tell him a love story. It was very random. I enjoyed a few of the stories butter awhile it became a bit too much. I know a lot of people will love them but they didn’t excite me either way. Maybe when Covid is over I will be more receptive to really sweet tales. To be fair, not all of them had happy endings and that didn’t appeal either. 😍😍😍 I am not a saccharine person nor was I raised to think the world was brilliant all of the time. So I moved on.

While taking a good walk last week I went through South Hobart to see the new artwork on the side of a popular cafe. The Hobart rivulet goes from the mountain into the city and it passes through South Hobart. There is a platypus who lives in the rivulet and people post about it and keep an eye on it and any friend or family that appears. A local artist has painted a wonderful mural of him and I finally got to see it.

Our South Hobart platypus.

I also received a lovely card from Holland from a IOUMA member. (International Union of Mail Artists. I made a few collaged postcards. I am by no means an artist but I enjoy cutting up papers and calendars and old magazines and organising them on small postcards. There are some wonderful sticker books out there too for all those bullet journalers and I decorate envelopes too. Very relaxing.

I really like this.

I’ve reached the time now when I should stop chatting to you all and make a move out of this seat. As usual, I hope you are all well and doing something you enjoy and also moving those bodies. Old age is so much easier when your body knows how to move.

Keep Calm & Read.

Saturday 5 February 2022

Time gets away from me but you’ve heard that one before. I have been reading and listening to books so I’ll catch you up on that.

As I said before, I finished These Precious Days by Ann Patchett so won’t talk about it again.

I am almost finished with the book by Helen Garner, How To End A Story. I enjoyed her second diary more than this one but she does lead a very interesting life. I see her 80th birthday is approaching in November this year. Everyone is getting older.

The highlight of this month was my reading of Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty, a Texas author who sadly died a year or so ago. I have always heard excellent things about this book but have put it off as it is more than 800 pages long, the paper in the pages is thin and the font is very small. Once I got into this book (it didn’t take long) I forgot all about the font being small. I also have new reading glasses and for the first time I can see quite clearly. I have inherited my grandmother and father’s eyes, so this is wonderful. So I jumped in and took off on a horse from Texas to Montana as part of a very large cattle drive. This book won McMurtry the 1985 Pulitzer Prize. I think the last western book I read was The Sister’s Brothers by Patrick DeWitt which I did not care for at all a few years ago. Then I read Shane by Jack Schaefer probably in the early 1970s or even the late 1960s. That book, I believe is in the 1001 Books You Must Read.….and I really enjoyed it.

Good Reads describes it as:

A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize— winning classic, Lonesome Dove, the third book in the Lonesome Dove tetralogy, is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America.

Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.

I enjoyed this book so much. It had many twists and turns, births and deaths, blizzards, snake attacks, Indians that were wonderful and one who was incredibly evil. When you read this book, you will feel as though dust is settling on your face and you will become saddle sore. It is an epic of the last wild days of the American west and I loved it. It was wonderful to read a book where the author wasn’t afraid to kill off characters to surprise the reader, to set up weather events you could taste and feel. The twists in the plot are throughout the book. I read it one day from about 11 am in the morning 2:30 the following morning. You don’t even have to enjoy westerns to enjoy this book. The first 5 ***** read I’ve had in awhile. I will remember the characters for as long as I live.

I finished the Audible Book, Cuba: Beyond the Beach (Stories of Life in Havana) for my Lonely Planet, Armchair travel book. This was a car book. It is written by Karen Dubinsky. She isn’t actually Cuban but has spent a great deal of time there every year. The reason I chose this book is because I will not buy books for this challenge. I use either the library or Scribd which I joined recently. She is a professor at Queen’s University in Canada and teaches in the department of Global Development Studies and History. What she doesn’t know about Cuba isn’t worth knowing. Politics, history, life style, economy, music, art, sport. The book is quite dry to read but I achieved my aim by finishing it and I achieved the goal I wanted to achieve. Learning something about Cuba. Now I can randomly choose the next country.

Our book group read and discussed the Labyring by Amanda Lohrey. Actually everyone loved it too much. There was no fun polarity of issues to discuss as one member pointed out. We also ended up talking about the labyrinths to be found in Tasmania and a couple of us went out and visited them after reading the book and shared photos of them. It was a fun event.

The book for March is Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah’s, Afterlives. Here is the Good Reads description for those of you who might not be familiar with it. Should be an interesting read but much different from the Labyrinth.

While he was still a little boy, Ilyas was stolen from his parents by the German colonial troops. After years away, fighting in a war against his own people, he returns to his village to find his parents gone, and his sister Afiya given away.

Another young man returns at the same time. Hamza was not stolen for the war, but sold into it; he has grown up at the right hand of an officer whose protection has marked him life. With nothing but the clothes on his back, he seeks only work and security – and the love of the beautiful Afiya.

As fate knots these young people together, as they live and work and fall in love, the shadow of a new war on another continent lengthens and darkens, ready to snatch them up and carry them away…

That sums up the reading part. I haven’t done a lot of photography lately. Though I have been working on a challenge for our club in the Open category. I really like street photography and urban photography. Much of Tasmania photography is a glut of trees and moss. It is beautiful, but I need something different.

Back in 2007 I was visiting my brother and mother in Tennessee. We went to a small town market. It was quite a warm day as we walked around this place. I saw this man and couldn’t help photographing him. It was an old point and shoot camera so it is not as clear as my fancier camera but the picture tells the story so I don’t believe it needs to technically perfect, though I doubt my photo club will agree. Anyway, I think with street photography, it is the story the counts so I’m submitting it anyway. It’s not like I lose a kidney if it fails to place. Here it is:

I doubt very much that this man reads my blog, or anyone from Tennessee actually so I feel safe posting it here. Tennessee is currently banning books through legislation about the Holocaust. I’ll say no more.

I have also joined the International Union of Mail Artists (IOUMA). It is site of many people around the world who share post card art with each other. You send it and you receive it. I’ve been feeling a bit unsettled after living with Covid and other things so long and my doctor wants me to do things to relax more and get away from things that I don’t enjoy. So I’ve dropped one group and picked this up. Along with the activities of Fullers and also deciding to do my own thing with the photo club. There is one member that just harps and harps at me about my photos. So I am now a non responder and will do as I well please. So there!!

Here are a couple of cards I received and sent.

A woman from Germany after reading my blog embroidered a penguin under a star for me. The little green booklet has lined paper for noting my travels no matter where they are.

This is the farm collage I’m sending off Monday. On the back I wrote down books about the land. Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small, The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
A Reader lives a thousand lives before she dies.

I have one more photo to share and one more piece of bookish news from Tasmania. ABC Broadcasting put up a photo of the southern aurora we had the other night. I don’t go out alone to dark spots to take photos but there are enough others who do.

Southern Aurora or Aurora Australis

The piece of news is to share with you a new group that is being started at Fullers Book shop before too long. Here is the clip from their newsletter. “

Calling all millennials (and the millenial-ish): we’re starting a new reading group, with a focus on contemporary themes and issues, with a special focus on books by LGBTQI+ authors and authors of colour. This should start in the next few months — see below to register your interest.

Such a wonderful idea.

Well I guess I’ve carried on enough. Tassie may be small but there is a lot going on down here.

It will be the start of another week soon. I’m hoping to see the Agatha Christie film, Death On The Nile, staring 10 November at our State Cinema. Another book related activity. Stay well everyone. The penguin has been safe.

Tassie Life – 22 January

I thought I’d better do a catch up here. So easy to fall behind. Our bodies get in the way of our lifestyle. We must tend to teeth, eyes, bones and whatever else starts to fall apart as we age. Lots of appointments but pretty caught up now. I am getting new reading glasses next week. I have had a year of very poor left eye vision and now it is as good as it can be, two pairs of glasses have been ordered. One for life, one for books.

So I’ll start with what I’ve read this month and what I thought of it.

First off is the Armchair Explorer book by Lonely Planet project. I spun the wheel and ended up with the country Haiti. I did a bit of exploring and travelling through google and settled on the female Haitian author Edwidge Danticat. The book I chose is called Krik Krak.

Her Wikipedia profile reads: Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-American novelist and short story writer. Her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, was published in 1994. Danticat has since written or edited several books and has been the recipient of many awards and honors. 

From Good Reads: At an astonishingly young age, Edwidge Danticat has become a celebrated new writer. She is an artist who evokes the wonder, terror, and heartache of her native Haiti–and the enduring strength of Haiti’s women–with a vibrant imagery and narrative grace that bear witness to her people’s suffering and courage.

When Haitians tell a story, they say “Krik?” and the eager listeners answer “Krak!” In Krik? Krak! Danticat establishes herself as the latest heir to that narrative tradition with nine stories that encompass both the cruelties and the high ideals of Haitian life. They tell of women who continue loving behind prison walls and in the face of unfathomable loss; of a people who resist the brutality of their rulers through the powers of imagination. The result is a collection that outrages, saddens, and transports the reader with its sheer beauty.

My thoughts: This book is not for the faint hearted. The atrocities committed by the soldiers as they sweep through villages is enough to make one want to stick your head deep into sand and not look up. Absolutely horrific. I’m talking nightmare materials. Her stories of experiences under the dictatorship of Haitian leaders and actions of the soldiers as they sweep through villages. The atrocities….are just that. I’m glad I read it and understand more of the history of Haiti but I will have a rest from exploring future books. The writing was wonderful and the author doesn’t shy away from the hard issues. Although she resides in the USA now she still considers herself very much linked to her homeland.

The other book I finished was These Precious Days by Ann Patchett. I listened to it on Audible and it was narrated by her. A series of vignettes about her life, well written but I must admit I got weary of repetition in this book. She begins one chapter about her views on not wanting to have children in her life. Okay, fine. Then it comes up again. And again. And again. And again. It made me wonder if she was as committed to her choices as she claims.

I wanted her to talk more about other aspects of her writing life and her life in Nashville with her book store. She did move on to another important story in her life. She did some work with Tom Hanks. During the interview she met his personal assistant, an Asian woman in her 60s who she was really drawn to. Long story short, when this friend she makes develops pancreatic cancer in the time of Covid and needs to attend medical trials, Ms Patchett whose husband is a doctor organises for it to happen in Nashville. (ignore the grammatical structure of that last sentence.)

The woman moves in with the Patchett family and from there the description of the friendship finishes off the last section of this book. It is quite emotional but it is also. r e a l l y o v e r d o n e in my humble opinion. I found everything she wrote about was hammered into the earth like a person driving a very long spike into the ground with a sledge hammer. I know there are many who love this book. The only book of hers I have read is The State of Wonder. I enjoyed it very much and I want to read the Dutch House. I hear so much about her books and I’m sure I’d enjoy them. I think writing fictional stories well and then changing to writing memoirs well are two different things. In this case I’ll stick to the fiction.

New Books waiting to be read: Latest Readings by Clive James and Allegorizings by Jan Morris. I have started Latest Readings and am enjoying it quite a bit however he does mention British authors who I am unfamiliar with and has discussions around them. I don’t mind this as I enjoy his writing. I will share a short blurb from inside dust jacket: In 2010, C James was diagnosed with terminal leukemia. Deciding that “if you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do.” James moved his library to his house in Cambridge, where he would “live, read and perhaps even write. ”

As he unpacks boxes of books to set up his library I enjoyed hearing him rediscovering favourites of the past and talking about his desire, or not, to reread them. I am only part way through this book so will certainly continue.

Allegorizing by Jan Morris- blurb from the cover: Soldier, journalist, historian, author of 40 books, Jan Morris led an extraordinary life, witnessing such seminal events as the first ascent of Everest, the Suez Canal Crisis, the Eichmann Trial, the Cuban revolution and so much more.

This book was not to be published until after her death, which occurred last year, age 94. She revisits key moments and talks about her travels across the USA, across Europe to trips she loved on trains and ships. She talks of experiencing the deaths of her old friends Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay and also about the relationships in her own life.

I am really looking forward to reading this.

I could go on with a couple of more books I’m really wanting to get into but I will leave it now. The future looks promising. Beginning in February a shared reading will begin of Oscar Wilde at Fullers book shop. Book groups will begin there too. Fullers book shop are going to have socially distanced, vaccinated and masked book groups of 12 and also will be holding Zoom book club meetings for those who are worried about coming into the groups face to face. They are beginning poetry nights once a month and I have applied to be in one but numbers are limited so I may not be able to go. I am in a couple of their groups already and I know there are others who want to join in. (Can’t be selfish…..can I?)

I’ll leave you here as this is long enough. I will try to get back to you before another three or four weeks goes by. All the best and stay well. Get those jabs and wear those masks (whether you like it or not).

Stay Well

Labyrinths in More Ways than One

The path

I won’t talk about this wonderful book The Labyrinth by Amanda Lowry too much as there are conversations everywhere online about this Australian Miles Franklin winner. Except to say I really loved it and felt sad when I finished. I loved the characters with all their flaws. I liked the fact the author didn’t go overboard in describing them yet they were well enough drawn I could see them in my mind. I loved the pace of the book. I loved how there weren’t tied up solutions to all of the issues shared by the various characters. It is a book I would recommend to others and wouldn’t mind reading it again. It will be discussed in more depth at our February book group and I look forward to that.

But it did have me researching labyrinths. I hadn’t thought about them before. Not at all. I had to see how they differed from mazes. One can get lost in a maze and the object is to enter it, then find your way out. A labyrinth doesn’t have tall shrubs at the edges. It is a designed path, often made of rocks where one can meditatively walk and then arrive at the centre where meditation can take place. It is calm and peaceful. You would not get lost in it.

The Red Star marks the spot.

I wondered if Tasmania had any labyrinths one could visit so I googled it and found one in a council bush reserve about 45 minutes from where I live. I live in the Cascades area. Potters Hill is across the river and south.

I thought as my first project of undiscovered Tasmania for 2022 I would visit and get a photo. Yesterday was the day I chose. It was warm out with a cool breeze. I followed google directions in the car and it took me to the front door.

I parked in a pullover at the bottom of a hill and followed the sign. No motorised vehicles allowed. I walked 400n metres up hill along a tree lined path. I saw many rosellas flying amongst the trees. Upon reaching my destination a large field opened up and to the right there it lay. There were swooping swallows everywhere around the trees. I had a 360 degree view of the land and water around me. If you look at the map you can see the amount of water around this area. I hope you enjoy the photos.

The labyrinth (view towards Derwent River)

Who would have thought the first book of the year I explore turned out to be such an adventure. I have ideas of combining future books with photographic experiences if at all possible. It is something different that gives me thought. Enjoy the photos.

A bug’s view
A view in the opposite direction
Walking back to the car. A view of Kunanyi (Mt. Wellington)
What adventure will the next book bring?
Here’s to a new year of books and adventure!

Merry Christmas and All the Best for 2022!

Like everyone, everywhere, time has slipped past quickly and it has been a busy time. I’m having a technology break over the holidays and will be back in January with new books, plans and possibly a project, hahaha. Those that know me will chuckle at that.

We are having an Icelandic Christmas this year. Our family is all in North America and friends have been catching up during the month. We will have a quiet dinner on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day we have some presents for the neighbour kids and some new books for ourselves. We plan to read over the next few days.

Tasmania has opened up to the world as of the 15th Dec., and our Covid numbers, although not high, are increasing. Lovely to stay home and not run around with a mask all the time. Mr. Penguin has been enjoying the Australian author Chris Hammer and his crime books. I am reading the Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey for the beginning of February’s book group at Fullers bookshop. Looking forward to it. I am enjoying this book very much.

There are new books to open as of tomorrow, some fiction, some non fiction and a photography book.

By the way, if you love Penguin books there is a new reference book called The Penguin Modern Classics Book (just out!) edited by Henry Eliot. It lists every Penguin Modern classic ever published with illustrations of all of the covers and lists at the back of the books year by year. (Kaggsy- it is written for you). The index is extensive too. I love it!!!

The Armchair Traveller has me listening to a book of short stories by a Haitian author as Haiti is the random country selected for me. More on that later.

Keeping this brief, I wanted to say how much I appreicate my online, bookish friends and although I never get a chance to comment on all the blog posts I read, I enjoy them and I am always close by seeing what you’re up to. Let’s hope 2022 has all of us staying well and moving forward and finding much to enjoy in our world that really is full of beauty. Sometimes we just need to look for it!

I might add, this photo regarding the Find Fullers bus ad competition saw me winning a $50.00 book voucher to their 101 year old shop I love so much.

The Penguin saw the Fullers bus in town so rushed to it carrying his Fullers cloth bag.