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 four 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.
On the 30th of March two of my friends and I decided to have a ‘local’ adventure and drive down to the small town of Franklin in the Huon Valley to do an afternoon tour on a small ship that goes up and down the river.
We were on the water for about 2.5 hours and enjoyed a brilliant day out of sunshine, mild breezes and the best food. All of the food and wine is produced in the local Huon Valley. We had locally smoked pork (the meat eaters amongst us), salad, pickled onion and radish type treats as well as the best local cheese and home baked bread one could ask for. The food was served to each of us in, what I can only describe as a small horse trough shaped container. It was very clever. Everything was packaged up and was a great deal of fun to explore. We found too many goodies to eat to remember. We were busy gnawing our way through it all.
Tasmanian wines were sampled as well but as I was driving so my sampling ability was rather limited. The guy up front told us a bit about the boat.
I think the photos will speak for themselves as to how much fun we had. It was a wonderful Saturday Wander.
A friend and I had a fun time at the book launch last week of political cartoonist Jon Kudelka and writer Jim Jeffrey’s book. Mike Bowers, Guardian Australia photographer also came along and facilitated the conversation. The three kept us entertained about their adventures with parliamentarians in Canberra. Their little book is called The Wonks’ Dictionary. This book is very much for Australians as the federal election has been called for the 18th of May. It was an enjoyable evening as they related tales of the Ausssie pollies we all love to make fun of. The jokes about Michaelia Cash’s hair in windy interviews had many wonderful chuckles. It never moves. I won’t even mention the pages they read about Eric Abetz. Let it suffice there were snorts and chortles.
Another note is our book group read and discussed The EverlastingSunday by Robert Lukins. This story of the English blizzard of 1962 involved teen boys who were placed at a school/home for “boys who trouble had found”. The reader senses an ominous start to this book from the beginning. The combination of the personalities, leadership of the school and the ongoing blizzard made me a bit on edge. At first I couldn’t adjust to the writing style but others in the group weren’t bothered by it. Too many adjectives and “try hard” descriptors for my taste but I thought the second half of the book was much better. Members disagreed widely on this novel that is the author’s debut and up for several awards. Some loved it, one wanted her money back. I liked the concept for the story. It held my attention and I worried about a couple of the boys. However there was one girl character the group all thought had not been developed enough and we wondered why she was included. A couple of the characters were developed well while others weren’t so much and the inconsistency bothered a couple of our members, myself included. I thought it quite a good book as a debut and would read more by this author. His previous works have been short stories in several literary magazines. I thought the novel began like a bit of a short story that got away from him but settled down into a novel again. I could feel the transition.
I continue to peruse photography books and magazines in anticipation of my trip in May. The latest one being Why You Like This Photo by Brian Dilg. It opens with a lovely quote by Werner Heisenberg:
“Nobody sees a flower-really-it is so small it takes time-we haven’t time-and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
I am going to Europe for a month in mid-May with two girlfriends. I will be doing more serious photography but will also use my Samsung phone for facebook, Instagram and blogging in short spurts. I would like to share some photos with friends and the Penguin will be leaving this page and travelling with me too. I won’t forget him this time. I’m going to be on a tour with 20 people max and going to Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Mr Penguin is staying home caring for our creatures. We are known for doing “his” trips, “her” trips and “our” trips. He recently did a “his” trip to India, now it’s time for a “her” trip. We will do an “our” trip at the end of the year. This arrangement is probably why we’ve been married for almost 50 years.
I have not done blog posts on my Samsung tablet so I am doing it now and seeing how it comes out. I don’t want to take a laptop and download the raw photos and edit, etc while travelling. I think this might work.
There are often times I’d like to write up a quick book post or local adventure at night from the comfort of my bed without firing up the big desktop.
Today we went to Willie Smith’s Apple Shed with two other couples. It is a renovated shed that has an apple museum, cider distillery and restaurant with all local Tasmanian food. It’s great. We sat at big picnic like tables, drank wonderful Tassie red wine (though I was limited as I was the driver) and ate wonderful food. It was a clear, sunny autumn day and we had many laughs. One example was the conversation between two of our friends, one a former Catholic priest who remains very spiritual and the other a devout atheist kept us entertained. It was all very good natured.
Autumn in Tasmania is glorious with the light especially. We don’t get the bright reds and oranges as much as North America but yellows and russets and all shades in between into lighter oranges are beautiful.
On the way out we picked up some Indian apple chutney, apple jam and apple brandy of which I have yet to taste. Tasmania is the apple state of Australia and you would not believe how many wonderful varieties of apples there are. Yet our grocery stores seem to sell only about four varieties. The rest are exported all over but mainly to Japan. One must travel to local markets or food stalls to get some of the lesser known varieties. If you look at the photos you can see the apples, yes these are real, with their name printed below each one. Quite amazing really.
I hope this post is formatted okay because if this works I will certainly have more posts to share while on the road. I think I’ve said enough for Thursday Travel.
This past couple of weeks I’ve been reading a fair bit but the books I want to share with you today are in the subject of photography.
The first one is the Autobiography of Ansel Adams. This book presents the life story of one of America’s best known and most popular photographers and environmentalists of the 20th century. Adams was also a teacher, musician and crusader over the last six decades. He was born in 1902 and lived until 1984. This autobiography came out the year following his death in 1985.
I am in the middle of this book now and am loving it. He was an excellent writer and there doesn’t seem to be a lot he leaves out. I am also finding the history of California (he grew up in the San Francisco area) fascinating. He talked about the big earthquake and fire of 1905. There is so much that happened during the first 2/3 of the 20th century and he describes it through his eyes.
That alone is interesting enough but then he goes on to describe his love of music and studying to be a concert pianist. The art scene in San Francisco in early 1900s was just brilliant and very energetic. He hung out with artists, poets and the people who started the Sierra Club. He got to know Yosemite National Park like the back of his hand, long before it was recognised as a national park. He had strong ties to the southwest of the United States.
Some of his descriptions of climbing the rockiest areas in Yosemite carrying his camera and all the gear back in the 1920’s is exhausting. Photography back then was very different than it is now. He studied shapes and lighting more than colour as colour wasn’t possible back then. The work that was completed in the dark rooms was interesting and difficult.
The reader learns of his wife, friends and parents as the years go by. It is a well written biography and I would recommend it for anyone who loves photography, music, the arts or American history of the western states.
The second book I’d like to share is one by (still living) Joel Myerowitz. The book is called Aftermath. It is a compilation of photographs from the terrorist attack of the World Trade Towers of New York City of 9/11. The book is a huge, coffee table sized tome that takes two hands to carry it. You need to set it on a table to read it. I don’t usually read anything about that day but this book is important for one reason. After the attacks happened, New York City officials completely surrounded the site in high fences and secrecy. No photos were allowed. This day was going to go completely unrecorded photographically. Mr. Myerowitz spent days making friends with some of the officials
onsite, especially a group of police officers. Many of those working the site thought the pictures should be shared. It was almost as if it was being covered up. Eventually as he stalked the area daily, making himself known he began getting into the site and taking the photos of the cleanup that continued for a long time. He donned a hard hat he found, dressed the part, found various pieces of things he could wear from the workers and started photographing various angles of this disaster. He was thrown off the site several times but he kept going back. The photos are amazing and one feels as though they are penetrating all angles of the destruction of so many buildings. There are also quite a few photos of the surrounding buildings with all their windows blown out and missing walls. One can see into all the offices with the missing walls. The portrait photography of the workers is also very interesting to look at. He captures so much emotion in his photography. Many stories are being told within the site. This book has made me think quite a bit. Had this single photographer not persevered to such an extent the whole incident would have been visually lost. The bureaucracy around the cleanup was quite interesting and I paused many times not believing what I was reading.
Mr. Myerowitz was born in 1938 in the Bronx, New York and there is a wonderful short biography of his achievements here. He continues to teach photography. He is well known for his street photography especially and he is on Instagram (here) if anyone is interested in seeing what he is doing currently. There is a vast store of knowledge and photographs that can also be searched on google under his name.
I always think I enjoy reading fiction the most but it seems the older I get the more I enjoy reading non-fiction, especially in learning what so many amazing people, both alive and now gone have given to the world. It is probably a way of distracting myself from the horrible world leaders we seem to have now in so many countries. I wish the good people of the earth got as much media coverage as the awful ones. The world would be a more inspiring place.
I have only recently finished reading this book. I heard about on a blog post on Booker Talk some time ago. (Read her review here.) I remember the review appealed to me so I ordered a copy from Abe Books.
From Good Reads description:
Edwin Fisher is on holiday at the English seaside – but this revisiting of childhood haunts is no ordinary holiday. Edwin is seeking to understand the failure of his marriage to Meg, but it turns out that her parents are staying at the same resort – whether by accident or design – and are keen to patch up the relationship. As the past and his enigmatic wife loom larger, deeper truths emerge and the perspective shifts in unexpected ways. This is an extremely subtle story, a consummate portrait of English provincial life told with all Stanley Middleton’s artistry and depth of feeling. It was joint winner of the Booker Prize in 1974. Review quotation: “At first glance, or even at second, Stanley Middleton’s world is easily recognisable…The excellence of art, for Middleton, is an exact vision of real things as they are. And because he is himself so exact an observer, his world at third glance can seem strange and disturbing or newly and brilliantly lit with colour.” (A.S. Byatt).
(From web page Brief Biographies).
The author, Stanley Middleton was British born in 1919 and died in 2009. He attended schools in Nottingham, England. He had a military career during the second World War serving in the Royal Artillery and Army Education Corps.
He wrote many short stories and novels with characters mainly being drawn from the middle classes. He enjoyed studying people whose lives had stopped in a middle of a crisis and analysed how they dealt with it.
He wrote about the complexity of the human characters and this comes through in this book. He didn’t believe novels needed to be intense stories but but he certainly created obstacles in the way of his characters. He then devised ways of getting through the issues he raised.
I have only read this one book by him but would not hesitate to look at others he wrote.
I really enjoyed the writing in this book. I thought it was excellent. There were many times when I felt I was standing beside Edwin as he walked the beaches and chatted to the locals.
The story takes place over one week’s time but it seems a much longer period of time. The story goes back and forth from his early marriage days to current days as the protagonist is struggling with a current separation and ‘where to’ from here.
The characters are not always likeable, especially his wife.I just didn’t see what he saw in her but then as the reading continues the reader understands a physical attraction to her and hope for future changes. Relationships are definitely not straight forward and this book is an excellent example of that.
The interference of his in-laws is aggravating too but many of us married people can understand this happens.Sometimes trying to sort out marriage issues is impossible to do by oneself.
I kept reading because I really wanted to know if all of the issues were going to be resolved satisfactorily. Nothing in this book is tied up neatly.
If a you enjoy a leisurely read where the characters breathe onto the page and you care about them then this book is for you.
This book shared the Booker Prize along with The Conservationist, by Nadine Gordimer in 1974.
(I will add it to my Century of Books which I add to over time very, very slowly.)
I have a lot of catching up to do here. Thanks for being so patient. Last time I stopped by here I was preparing for the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. I was supposed to work four days but only managed three days. It was full on and hot and my old body needed a day of rest. We walked more than 10 km per day with our cameras. When my body talks….I listen. I will put up some photos on a Wordless Wednesday post or a Thursday Travels.
The weekend after the Wooden Boats we had the Kempton Festival for the day. It was stinking hot that day and little shade. The country town of Kempton opens their doors for garage sales and a big festival full of locals and animals. It was fun. I think that might be another Wednesday or Thursday post of photos. I won’t dwell on the six dogs I made the owner pull out of their car in the terrible heat. When will people learn you don’t put kids and pets in cars to wait for you in the stinking heat while going of to enjoy yourself.
Then we had visitors from Michigan. My husband’s cousin and his partner. You won’t believe how much we did in a week. They arrived Sunday evening so a meal in the Cascade Brewery pub was called for. Monday- the top of Mt. Wellington and the MONA (Museum of Old and New Art Museum). Monday night was a home BBQ. Tuesday was the Tasmanian Museum and the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Tuesday night was a lovely Japanese meal out. Wednesday we managed the Botanical Gardens. I had an author event so Mr. Penguin cooked them a pasta dinner. Then Thursday we drove the 90 minute drive down to Port Arthur (the ruins of an 1800’s penal colony) with a breakfast stop on the way. Mr. Penguin and Visitor Cousin had a
cousin/sister on the cruise ship with friends that day who took the ship’s tour to Port Arthur where we all met up. Then home we came and met them later on at a fish restaurant down on the wharf. They then sailed for New Zealand on the cruise ship and we came home
Friday was a quiet day just resting, drinking beer and watching Netflix a bit. On Saturday it was 39 degrees (that’s about 100 F) and Mr. Penguin took them back down the Tasman Peninsula for a Pennicott boat cruise that goes along the cliff faces on the Tasman Sea and sees lots of marine wildlife. I get very seasick as it’s quite a rough ride so
I chose not to go. I stayed home and rested. Sunday saw us walking down around the
sandstone buildings of Salamanca and a stop for a cold beer. They flew out to Melbourne Monday morning and we collapsed. I took photos in most of these places so I think I’ll have a lot of Wordless Wednesdays and Travelling Thursdays coming up.
Now….did I read? Yes I did manage some books. There is no time to write a great deal about the books but I will give you a bit of a synopsis.
Book One- The Arsonist by well recognised author, Chloe Hooper, b. 1973 from Melbourne Australia. This book is Australian non fiction about the Black Saturday fires in the state of Victoria in 2009. There were 173 fatalities and many properties lost. The story is a journalistic investigation of the fire and what caused it? Who caused it? I won’t give much more information as I don’t want spoilers.
It was a very interesting account and much was learned from that fire and new practises put into place. Our Fuller’s Book Store Book group is reading it for this week’s meeting but as I am so exhausted from all the past month’s activity I chose to sleep at home through the meeting. There is a
group meeting tonight but I’m booked into a play tonight so will miss it. More on that later. (maybe)
I found this book incredibly interesting and the writing was not sensationalised. It offered a lot of food for thought which is always good. The ramifications carry on for a long time.
The second book I managed to get through, as it’s a very short book was The Newspaper of Claremont Street by Australian author Elizabeth Jolley. She had an incredibly interesting life and wrote quite a few books. (here for The Wikipedia entry about Ms Jolley)
The Australian author Tim Winton mentioned her as he studied under her at Curtain University in Western Australia in his book The Boy Behind the Curtain (short stories)
I loved this book. It is a story of an elderly cleaning woman who services all of the affluent homes in her neighbourhood each day. She gets all of the gossip from every house and shares it with every other house. If something is happening she knows about it.
When her immigrant neighbour dies she is left caring for an extremely difficult wife of the man who died. There is some good black humour in this book. The character is verywell developed. We get to know her well and we feel the need for her to accomplish her goal of raising money for a certain ideal in her mind. I won’t say more than that. She lives in a room in a boarding house and we get used to her habits at home. The last half of the story is about the relationship between her immigrant neighbour and how that develops. I will certainly read more of her work and I believe I have one or two of her books on my shelf. She’s definitely an author I will look for in second hand shops.
The third book I just finished for the April Book Club read is TheEverlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins. This is his first novel and is being nominated for all kinds of awards. The Good Reads blurb states:
During the freezing English winter of 1962, seventeen-year-old Radford is sent to Goodwin Manor, a home for boys who have been ‘found by trouble’. Drawn immediately to the charismatic West, Radford soon discovers that each one of them has something to hide.
Life at the Manor offers only a volatile refuge, and unexpected arrivals threaten the world the boys have built. Will their friendship be enough when trouble finds them again?
At once both beautiful and brutal, The Everlasting Sunday is a haunting debut novel about growing up, growing wild and what it takes to survive.
I found this a difficult book to get into. I had the audible edition and had trouble following it as there was too much going on in my life as I got to it in bits and pieces. I finally downloaded the eBook from the library on Overdrive, sat down properly in a chair with both versions, backed up a few chapters and began again. I then got a lot more out of it.
In the beginning I thought the author’s descriptions were over the top and I got irritated.
Too many adjectives. I laughed out loud when he described someone’s lips “collapsing into themselves”. My mind is just too visual. I don’t need descriptions like this every few sentences. Then he calms down a bit and the characters take over more. I enjoyed the protagonist Radford, though you’re never sure why he’s in the boys home. It was a book that had an ominous overtone and I felt something awful was going to happen. I felt the book got a lot stronger as I continued. I would have liked more even character development. Some characters that turned out to be more important later on weren’t fleshed out enough that I cared about them. There were a couple of characters; Radford, his friend West and the boys adviser and mentor, Teddy who were quite well developed. I think it is a remarkable first novel but I can’t say I loved it as I went through it. I did want to see though how it was going to end. It made me curious. I wanted to know why Radford was in this place. He seemed such a nice young man. Well…. I will be interested to know what my book group thinks about it in April and it is certainly one meeting I won’t be missing.
My quick online research states that Robert Lukins lives in Melbourne and has worked as an art researcher and journalist. His writing has been published widely, including in The Big Issue, Rolling Stone, Crikey, Broadsheet and Overland . The Everlasting Sunday is his first novel
Whew!!! A bit long winded but I wanted a good catch up to get me motivated again. When one steps away from their blog for too long everything piles up and just can’t be covered. I think this post is more than enough for all of us.
I want to wish everyone well. The northern hemisphere people are yearning for spring and summer especially in those cold places in the USA and UK. The Southern Hemisphere people want the fires out (six of which continue in Tasmania with continued smoke here and there) and cooler temperatures. We always seem to want what we don’t have. So enjoy spring if you’re above the equator and enjoy autumn if you’re below it. More soon. I promise.