A Lazy Wednesday with Books & Food

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P Fiennes writes as though he is travelling with these writers and I feel I am with him in conversations.

I have found two books I must say I am really enjoying.  The first came recommended to me by English blogger Catherine of the Read-Warbler blog. After my last post she suggested a book she was enjoying entitled: Footnotes: Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers by Peter Fiennes. Amazon describes it as:

“Peter Fiennes follows in the footsteps of twelve inspirational writers, bringing modern Britain into focus by peering through the lens of the past.

The journey starts in Dorset, shaped by the childhood visions of Enid Blyton, and ends with Charles Dickens on the train that took him to his final resting place in Westminster Abbey.

From the wilds of Skye and Snowdon, to a big night out in Birmingham with J. B. Priestley and Beryl Bainbridge, Footnotes is a series of evocative biographies, a lyrical foray into the past, and a quest to understand Britain through the books, journals and diaries of some of our greatest writers.

And as Fiennes travels the country, and roams across the centuries, he wonders:

‘Who are we? What do we want? They seemed like good questions to ask, in the company of some of our greatest writers, given these restless times.”

I downloaded it from Audible and have only listened to the first two chapters. The first is about the life Enid Blyton who I had no idea was such a difficult person with, what sounds like a lot of personal issues and the second is about the life of Wilkie Collins, author of the Moonstone and The Woman in White.  The description of his life makes me want to read the Moonstone again and also the Woman in White which I have never read.  I listen to 30 to 60 minutes at night before I fall asleep or as I lie down for a short rest in the afternoon. Peter Fiennes, the author, also narrates it and does a splendid job of it.

The other book in print I began last night is one I’m hearing quite a bit about. In this

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This beautiful little hard cover is a Virago Press UK copy. I love it.

book I am visiting a castle in Italy with four women who share the rent in the early 1900s.  Some of you may have guessed by now.  The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.  I only began it this morning with my morning coffee and toast with Ollie (who I learned loves apple slices).  I’m not far into it so will comment later.

The rest of the day will centre on taking our 15 year old Molly to the vet later for her monthly arthritis injection.  I think running around the yard with Ollie has been good for keeping her young though observing the looks she gives him at times might disagree with this though. Molly is a terrier mixture of about 9 different breeds according to the DNA sample we sent in. She is a sturdy little dog that just doesn’t quit and is certainly in charge of this household.  Ollie has a healthy respect for her having been shaken by her at least twice since he arrived in this household. Those boundaries were established early.

Mr. Penguin has gone to the grocery store and will be picking up some ingredients for a Moroccon chicken recipe I found online that looks pretty good and also quite easy. I will print it here in case you’re interested. I’m not a big cook anymore. I cooked the first 25 years of our marriage and Mr. Penguin has cooked for the past 25 years.  Once we hit our 50 year mark I’m not sure how we will divide that up. During these days of isolation and watching the Great British Bakeoff show on reruns I feel a bit like getting into the kitchen at times.

Here is the recipe

Moroccan Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 8 ounces baby carrots with tops, trimmed, or baby carrots, halved lengthwise if large
  • ½ cup pitted dried plums (prunes)
  • 1 14 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons curry powder (I brought back some spices from Morocco when I was there last year I will use)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Step 1 In a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker combine onion and carrots. Add prunes and broth. Top with chicken. In a small bowl combine curry powder, salt, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over chicken.

Instructions Checklist

Step 2 Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Remove chicken, fruit, and vegetables from cooker with a slotted spoon. Spoon some of the cooking juices on each serving. Makes 4 servings.

I’ll have to let you know if it is good or not or of any adjustments I make to it.

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This is first thing in the morning as Ollie lies on my fuzzy robe in our reading chair with our cup of tea or coffee before the household is awake. A favourite time. I love it when he is asleep.
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Another lazy day.

A Bit of a Rethink

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His descriptions of the British people who run BnBs in the 90s are very funny.

I’ve been in a bit of a reading and blogging slump and have finally thought it through enough to come out the other side.  This blog was started in 2011 so it is almost 10 years old and I must say I am feeling quite stale with what I’ve been reading and writing.  When I think back to the books I get the most excitement from and just really enjoy I always come back to travel writing.  Travel writing isn’t written about that much.  Most of the bloggers I follow read the Bookers, the Stellas, the Pulitzers, the popular books, current events, politics, global issues and authors from the first half of the 20th century. While I enjoy following these posts they are books I don’t always get too enthused about, except maybe authors of old.  Modern authors, though on my radar, aren’t always authors I enjoy reading. I think too many of them try to be too clever,  politically correct to the extreme , using gimmicks that try to outdo everyone else. (Okay, you don’t need to agree with me and I will still like you).

I like adventure. I like a good story. I’m too old for too much naval gazing and deep and meaningfuls. I feel too old to do much more about changing the world from outside of my own domain. I’m leaving it to the younger generation. I have spent years writing letters to politicians, working in unions over worker’s rights, volunteering for various causes. I am tired now. Being in my 70’s I want to back down and enjoy what is around me more.

My interests in life are friends, animals, nature, photography and travel. I enjoy a lot of books that surround these subjects.  Having been socially isolated for several weeks now along with the rest of the world, these topics are continually rising to the surface.

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This recently arrived and looks to be a gentle, motivating book about this topic. It has literary quotes in it too from well know authors that I love

I’m supposed to be in Sydney today. I should be spending a day with a fellow photographer friend talking about the performance I saw on Saturday night at the Opera House.  That same friend and I had booked a trip to Italy, Slovenia and Croatia and should be leaving in a couple of weeks.  Sadly all of that has gone by the wayside and I now spend time here housebreaking a Jack Russell puppy who thinks he knows everything and argues with me every chance he gets.  (Lucky for him he is such a cutie)

It is odd how quickly things can change.  On the other hand I have been enjoying the quietness of being at home all the time. It’s given me a chance to buckle down and sort through closets and bookshelves. I even did a cull of some books and moved them on.

I haven’t been reading much though I did start the book Bruny by Heather Rose that was

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Thank you to a friend who sent me this. I’m almost half way through it and have smirked a couple of times.

kindly sent to me by a friend in Queensland. I am enjoying it. It is political but I know who all the characters are as it takes place in Tasmania.  The author isn’t at all careful about not revealing, shaming and almost naming the politicians this story seems based on.

But….. I keep going back to travel books in my heart. People walking, cycling, motorbiking to the corners of the earth. I love the people they meet, the experiences they have. The suspense of tricky situations that sometimes arise. I love road trips more than any other kind of travel, both real and virtual. I want to be with them on that bike, in that backpack so I am giving all the books I feel I “should” be reading the flick and focusing on travels. The Travellin’ Penguin didn’t get his name from reading best sellers.

I’m hoping the enthusiasm will come back to my moods when it comes to pages between covers.  I am also listening to more podcasts about books and interviews with authors regularly so I am not going to be completely in the dark regarding modern times.

So, without further adieu the Penguin and I are going to get our virtual passports and spend time doing more out in the world. I’ve scattered some photos throughout of the Dapper Penguinplaces and people I plan on spending time with.

Shakespeare Sonnets

ScreenshotIt’s time for a quick catch up. I abandoned the Alphabet book sharing from my shelves as I found I was having to spend too much time online either researching the authors or looking up photos of the books plus writing about the book. During lock down there are more phone conversations of people I usually catch up with, emails to friends and relatives overseas, book blogs to read, books to read. All in all I was just on screens too much and it was getting to me.

It felt too much like a job and that meant stress to get everything done regarding a simple blog. So I just packed it in.

One thing that has just started that I am enjoying is the Shakespeare Sonnets sharing from Tim, a Doctor of Philosophy and assistant manager at Fullers Book store. As the store is closed it isn’t possible to visit though you can pick up books at the front door if needed. Tim discusses one sonnet a day and it will take three months to get through the 120 he plans.  The online group has the book Sonnets which is a Pelican Shakespeare edited by John Hollander. Each day we read our one page sonnet and then receive a discussion email from Tim.  It has been fun and doesn’t require a lot of time.

In the meantime I continue to read blogs that are still very active and hope everyone is remaining in good health.  Until next time….Hawaiian

Simply Sunday

It’s been a pleasant weekend. There is a very large book sale down the road put on by Rotary club this weekend.  I took my motorbike down yesterday as Mr. Penguin was helping out on a friend’s farm.

BOOKS:

I didn’t think I would find much and I wasn’t going to go but you know how it is. A very large book sale less than two kms away?  Would you at least check it out?  I did. I found six new books and I could not believe it.  The ones I found could not be left behind. It would keep me awake at night.  I went straight to the literature/classics section. Wasn’t interested in anything else.  Here you have them.

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I have never read any of his books and I have always wanted to.

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Very unfamiliar with this author but hey, it’s a Persephone. It must have merit.

 

  • Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory
  • Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock
  • Persephone (which you NEVER see in Tasmania) Saplings by Noel Streatfield

 

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I like Hemingway a lot as long as I don’t have to read about his African hunting excursions and the Bullring in Spain.
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I have a very small collection of Virago and think they are lovely books.
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This is close in size to a coffee table book. Just beautiful.
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • Over the Frontier by Stevie Smith – green Virago
  • The Illustrated Edition of Charles Dickens. A very large, double column gorgeous book filled with illustrations. Simply gorgeous.

The next thing I did was come home and culled 16 or 17 books from my shelf and they will be donated to the Red Cross book shop. I chose that shop because it is in the city centre and each time I visit it is full of young adult and the elderly picking through the books. They also sell them for the most affordable prices than other op shops. My shelves look emptier already. (*cough *sputter)

PHOTOGRAPHY:

I had another weekend win today.  My good friend in Florida sent me a photo that was taken of her with a phone under a beautiful tree in Charleston, South Carolina.  She just returned from a short trip there. The problem is there were heaps of tourists and she asked me if I could get rid of the man dressed in orange.  This is an exercise I need to work on in Photoshop so I enjoyed trying. I didn’t think the result would be so good though so once again I am happy (and terribly surprised.)

BEFORE:

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She is dressed in red. Isn’t it a beautiful tree. So much clutter in the photo though. Everywhere !

AFTER:

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1. Cropped it.  2.Got rid of people and the shed.  3. Brightened up her top. 4. Filled in the bare patch in background right and filled in the space between the branches.

I looks a lot better now.

WALKS WITH OLLIE:

The last thing that was a happy event today is that Ollie and I took a walk up to the fire trail up the road from our house. We used to go up and visit the donkey.  We would take her carrots. Odie and I did this a lot before he died.  But the last two times we visited the donkey was gone. As there’s been a drought I was worried they sold him. I was hoping they only moved him to a better paddock. He’s been gone all summer so I figured that was it.

Donkey 1

Today. as we walked up the road I heard the loudest, biggest braying. I couldn’t believe my ears. Ollie and I walked up to his regular paddock and lo and behold, she was there. He was on the far side of the paddock but as soon as soon as she saw us she walked over so we could pet her. I felt so bad I didn’t have a carrot for her as I usually do. She and Ollie sniffed noses.

Donkey 2
The two of them were really interested in each other. Ollie is more fearless than is good for him.

This weekend has been a good one and I am continuing ignoring all the hype about everything going on in the world at the moment. I really can’t take it much longer so I’m making a concerted effort to do other things that make me smile.

Okay, your turn…. What did you do this weekend?

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Currently reading a book about Antarctica. Would love to visit one day.

Documenting Life-What are their stories?

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Laundry lady in a Portuguese courtyard

Today I came across a photography competition (Lens Culture) being held somewhere. It’s online and international. I saw that the winners of the competition will have their photos exhibited somewhere in Paris. The competition closes in April and anyone can submit one single photo, five single photos or five photos that are part of a project where the photos are linked together to be a project or tell a sequential story. I chose the five single photos and I also paid the small extra fee to receive a critique back on them from the judges. If I am not going to end up in Paris at least someone from another part of the world will explain to me why not.

Now, I am not a professional photographer by any means as I’ve never made a cent from my photos.  But I am somewhat of a dreamer and I can see me walking in to the well lit gallery on a Parisian street with dozens of wonderful street photography hanging on the walls. Standing around in a quirky outfit with other people in interesting dress. I might even wear a hat. We’d be sipping champagne discussing the settings we used in our cameras and the experiences of dealing with the people we stalked through the streets.

(Though I am more of a photographer that sneaks up from behind.)

As it is fun to give things a go, even when you know you have no chance, being in that moment for a second, on a cold, blustery, rainy Tasmanian day is a fun way to live once in awhile.

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Making herself more comfortable on a street in Moscow while life passes by.

My favourite genre of photography is Street Photography.  Documenting life. Street photography are photos that presumably tell a story. I also try very hard to not take a photo of anyone holding a mobile phone unless it is imperative to the story.  All of us are living stories each day that very few people ever witness.  I like that about life.

Often I will sit in traffic and be stopped at a light. How often do you watch people cross the street in front of your car and wonder what’s in the shopping bag or think about where they are coming from? How did they spend their afternoon? Probably not too exciting but the thought does cross my mind. I enjoy looking at the expressions on their faces and while really stuck in a long line of traffic, begin to make up stories in my head about them.

 

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Two friends hanging out on a Moscow street. The dog has his own agenda.

Perhaps she wouldn’t be so cranky if her son hadn’t just slammed the car door on her and disappeared down the street. Or the three girls giggling because their school day has finished and they have big plans for the weekend.  How good will it feel for the elderly lady, carrying too many groceries in that bag, hoping she makes the bus and can finally relax when she gets home.  It is no wonder I love books so much. It also keeps me calm when some idiot does something on the road where I want to ram him or her. I won’t describe the stories I think up for that person but *hint* it involves crime and will I get away with it?

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Morocco:    Waiting for his friend to come back with jumper cables maybe?

It is with the idea of these little stories happening every second of the day and night, right around the world that I decided to enter five of my favourite shots I have taken whilst travelling. I may never hear of them again which is most probable but I’ve had fun making up the dream and working with the photos.

I share them here with you today.

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A Street Cleaning Woman on a street in Seville, Spain.

and last but not least…………….

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Penguin exploring Tasmanian wilderness.

Olive Again and a Giveaway Winner

Business first please:  

Berezina bookI said I would send the Russian travel book, Berezina by Sylvain Tesson to a random person who commented on the last post.  I used Random.org and the winner is Kaggsy of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings.  Karen, if you email a mailing address at psbparks at ymail dot com, I will post to you at the beginning of next week. I hope you enjoy it.

Binging on films:

little womenThis week has really flown by and I admit I have no idea where the time went. I have been reading and also attended a couple of films. Little Women was enjoyable but more for the costumes and scenery.  They flash back and forth a few times which at times confused me momentarily but then all became clear.  I have seen so many interpretations of this film I guess now I have it covered more than enough. The book remains the best way to know this story. Timeless.

I also saw the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. Starring Tom Hanks, it is the story of Fred Rogers who presented the American childhood show, Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood in the USA from 1968 to 2001. It was a very gentle show and although I was too old for it at the time, I remember my younger brother watching it and the impersonations he did of Mr. Rogers kept our family in fits of laughter several times. I enjoyed the nostalgia of it.

Last night I saw the film, Bombshell with a couple of friends. It is based on the sexual harassment that happened to the women broadcasters on Fox News by the CEO and the women’s case against him that resulted in his leaving the organisation in 2016, just before the American election of Donald Trump.  As I won’t have anything to do with Fox News, I was unaware of all of this, though none of what I witnessed surprised me.  Fox News isn’t even registered as a news organisation but instead is listed as entertainment. Why so many Americans think Rupert Murdoch’s Fox TV news program presents unbiased news is beyond me but hey, to each their own.  Of course being a Hollywood film it was full of drama and spit and polish.  I don’t usually run to see a lot of American films unless they are more independent but to see three in two weeks is a record for me.  It was more of a social opportunity to spend time with friends than having any real desire to get to these films.

I did get excited to hear the producers of the Downton Abbey movie that was so popular last year are looking at making yet another full feature sequel.  I think they were surprised at how much money they made from the first one so that is probably the best incentive.  Now, they just have to try to get all of the actors gathered together again to move forward. We’ll see…

Books:

Olive AgainThe book I immersed myself in this week was Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout. I really loved Olive Kitteredge as the first Olive book. I also enjoyed e mini-series made of it with Frances McDormand starring as Olive. As I read the book she is who I pictured in my mind.

Olive Again is constructed the same as the first book and picks up from the end of Olive Kitteredge and goes to almost the end of her life when she is in assisted living.  The chapters feature various people in the town of which she lives and she pops up here and there. Sometimes she features quite a bit in the chapter and other chapters she is a passing character.

Elizabeth Strout has such a good way of defining and writing about characters in a community and by the end several characters are intersecting in each others lives with Olive somehow touching all of them. I really enjoy the format.

Olive KitteridgeI know a lot of people probably wouldn’t like her as a person but I love her.  She is acerbic and cranky with a very hidden heart of gold. As I grow older I find myself blurting out things when annoyed and I can hear Olive’s voice in my head-=. Sometimes it worries me how easily I could become her.  She is one of my all time favourite characters in a book and I really do come close to knowing her as a non-fictional character.  I guess this is very complimentary of Strout’s writing.  If you enjoyed the first Olive book then I think you will enjoy the second one. If you didn’t like the first one then it is probably best to skip the second one.  I think they are both books I could happily read again at a later date.

I’m undergoing some treatment for an eye problem at the moment (nothing to worry about as it is treatable but necessary) and the drops I’m using really cause the eye to be sensitive to light.  It also aches quite a bit for a few hours after the drops so I am only reading in fits and starts.

classic american litI downloaded the Classics of American Literature narrated by Arnold Weinstein on Audible.com.  I listen to it for 30 to 45 minutes each night when I first go to bed each night. I set the sleep timer for 30 or 45 minutes and as it finishes I am either asleep or just about to sleep. The entire course is 44 hours long.  I’m finding it very interesting.  Mr. Weinstein is a professor in literature at Brown university and is very knowledgeable.

I have heard lectures on Washington Irving, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe and am currently listening to lectures on Nathaniel Hawthorn.  He discusses their personal lives and then really dissects their most prominent writings. Currently he is really giving a great deal of information about the Scarlet Letter. I read this book in high school and hated it. But now I am much older and learn what Hawthorne was trying to relate through it, I am finding it much more interesting.

I guess that pretty much summarises the week so I will finish this off and get the Berezina book wrapped, ready to post.   Enjoy your weekend.

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Happy Reading

A Bit of Fluff on a Rainy Day

Life According to Literature Tag Meme

First off I’d like to thank the weather gods for sending us rain overnight. It’s not all we rainneed but it sure sounded lovely on the roof this morning. I hear it’s raining over the fires as well but that’s a mixed bag. Lightning can start more fires, but cooler conditions and rain can help extinguish the fires that are still going.

It’s been a silly old day today.  I took Ollie for a walk today and of course he got into the burrs. Burrs and a rough coated Jack Russell are not at all compatible. Especially when one has very short legs and the burrs get on the puppy tummy as well. Trying to comb anything out of a five month old puppy is a challenge but we finally got through it.

outbackThen I thought, “Now what can I do to entertain myself when Claire’s meme came through from her blog. Several of my blogger friends have participated in this little exercise so I thought I’d have a go. However, one is supposed to use the names of books read in 2019. I didn’t keep track of what I read in 2019. As I am focusing this year on the books currently unread on my shelves I decided to use those TBR books instead. So here goes. I revised the rules for my page.

THE RULES: Using only books you have not read on your shelves, answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. Let me know below, if you’ve joined in too

Describe yourself:

How do you feel?    Happy Returns by CS Forester

Describe where you currently live:    In Tasmania by Nicholas Shakespeare

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:    Outback and Beyond by Cynthia Nolan

Your favourite form of transportation:    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by   Rob Pirsig

dogYour best friend is:    The Literary Dog by William E. Maloney

You and your friends are:    Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

What’s the weather like:    Rain-Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison

You fear:    The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

What is the best advice you have to give?    Get an:   Accommodating Spouse by Elizabeth Jolley

Thought for the day:    Browse The World in Bookshops by Henry Hitchings

spouseHow would I like to die?    Central Mischief by Elizabeth Jolley

My soul’s present condition:    Autumnal Tints by Henry David Thoreau

 

So there we have it… Until next time.

Yellow Casual Penguin
I’m finally getting some wear out of this rain coat.