The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think. (Harper Lee)

This past week was really busy with all kinds of “catch up” appointments such as eyes, teeth, gym, events. I did manage to get a bit of reading tidied up.

What I finished reading this week:

I finished Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book . It was written 1000 yrs ago from the perspective of a lady at the imperial court of Japan. It is described as a “crazy quilt of vignettes, opinions and anecdotes” of the times.

Our book group will discuss it on Wed night. It was a real eye opener to see many of the issues in that book were the same as the ones we deal with now.

There is also a lot of humour in the book. I laughed out loud at this quote:

Old fashioned people put on their gathered toursers in a very time consuming and awkward way. They pull the front panel up against the stomach and proceed first of all to tuck all the layers of robe in under it, leaving the back strings dangling till they’ve got the front completely straight and tidy, then they bend forward to reach for the back panel, gropping behind them with both hands. They look like monkeys with their arms tied behind their backs, standing there fumbling about with the strings like that. You can’t imagine how they could ever get dressed and out the door in time for any urgent appointment.

And

Infuriating things: A guest who arrives when you have something urgent to do, and stays talking for ages.

Or a very ordinary person, who beams inanely as she prattles on and on.

Or a dog that discovers a clandestine lover as he comes creeping in and barks or a baby who cries when you’re trying to hear something.

The entire books is made up of many observations of life.

Audible book finished this week.

How to End a Story: Diaries 1995 to 1998 by Helen Garner.

I enjoyed her narration of the book but she is in so much pain as she ends her third marriage and she doesn’t leave much out of this book of how she feels.  It continues how people can write about the extreme angst they might have in their life for the world to see.  It seems she’d want to keep it private but then who am I to know how others handle their grief. We’re all different. 

Bookish Event of the Week: 

My friend and I attended a book launch at Fullers this week. The book is:

Nine Lives For Our Planet:  Personal stories of nine inspiring women who cherish Earth by John Watts. It is described as “Here are nine personal stories of brave hearted women defying the greed and corruption smashing Australia’s environment, including its farmlands. 

John Watts introduced s to women who light up the darkness of the climate and extinction emergencies with their flair and stoic commonsense. Each has acted to take on the gas frackers, coal miners, native forest loggers, wildlife killers, water profiteers and their political agents.

(quote by Bob Brown, acclaimed author, photographer and life long activist).

The author was interviewed by Bob Brown and the discussion was very interesting. The women are not well known celebrities of any kind but those who work to make positive changes in their own quieter ways.

One of the women was Simone Marsh and she was also part of the three person panel.

There was a lot of head shaking and discomfort hearing what the big corporations and politicians have done to no advantage of the environment or people living on the land.

Penguin’s Choice:  Last week I announced the random draw of the week was the short story, Christmas in Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor. I began it but I just couldn’t face another story about war.  I have read and heard much about the atrocities of war in the past two years and I am over it.

I decided to pass it back to the box, maybe for another time and I spun the wheel again and a Roald Dahl book was chosen. It is A Taste of the Unexpected. I have no idea what it is about but it should be a bit cheerier than the war books.

Life as it happens

The coming week is not going to be as hectic as this past week was. A couple of weight classes at the gym, maybe a long walk, if the weather changes from cold rain to something more pleasant. I have the shared reading book Monday of the Kafka stories and Wednesday will be the book group discussing the Pillow Book.  I think there will be a big variety of opinions about this book. Thursday night there is a book launch that I’ll be attending. That should be enough to keep me socialising and exercising this week.

From the Photo Archive:

Here are two more photos of beach scenes from the south coast of NSW.  It was a lovely day to be out with a camera. Such a shame it seems like it was such a long time ago.

Stay well, until next time….keep moving, catch up with people and stretch your brains.

Live your life by a compass…

I have returned from a lovely trip to see friends in NSW. Almost 10 days down the south coast from Sydney in New South Wales and the northern beaches of Sydney. Then followed by meeting up with another friend for 5 more days in the city. It was great to finally get off the island we live on and see more of Australia.

By the way, the quote above is what was printed on my license plate frame on my scooter.  While I am no longer a motorbike rider I still hope to enjoy the intent of this quotation.

What I’m Reading: 

I am working my way through Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book . It was written 1000 yrs ago from the perspective of a lady at the imperial court of Japan. It is described as a “crazy quilt of vignettes, opinions and anecdotes” of the times.

Our book group will discuss it in the first week of September. She discusses the many issues she encounters in her life and it is interesting so many of them are relevant today. Relationships with men and friends, communication with others in the palace, much of it through written poetry that everyone wrote back and forth and following the young Empress who over sees daily life in the palace. 

It is not a book I’d pick up and read in large chunks but I try to read 15 – 20 pages a day and that is enough. The author lived in the Heian period that translates as ‘peace and tranquility’.

The periods stretched from 794 to 1186. 

My copy is a black Penguin classic and the introduction and addendums take up as much space almost as the story itself. It is certainly different from what I usually read and I am enjoying it more than I thought I might.

Audible Book on the Go at the Moment:

How to End a Story: Diaries 1995 to 1998 by Helen Gar

ner narrated by. Helen Garner. I listened to her first two diaries and this is the final one in the trilogy. It is described as:

“The third instalment of diaries from the inimitable Helen Garner covers four eventful years in the life of one of Australia’s most treasured writers.
Helen Garner’s third volume of diaries is an account of a woman fighting to hold on to a marriage that is disintegrating around her.

Living with a great writer who is consumed by his work, and trying to find a place for her own spirit to thrive, she rails against the confines while desperate to find the truth in their relationship-and the truth of her own self.”

I can’t say it is pleasant to listen to but at times is interesting. I don’t know why so many people want to publish a ‘warts and all’ diary for anyone out there to see, but it seems to happen with regularity.

I wonder what her ex-husband thought of this publication as it certainly doesn’t shine a good light onto him. It also isn’t hard to discover who the unnamed husband in the book is either. But it is a rather short book and as I found her first two diaries interesting I wanted to see how it all ends up. 

Bookish Event of the Week:  

I attended a lovely Fullers book shop event last Sunday with a friend. Carmel Bird launched her wonderful book  Telltale with a fun interview with author Danielle Wood. There was accompaniment by a Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra member, Michael Fortescue, who played the beautiful double bass as she read aloud passages from her book. 

We really enjoyed it and I look forward to reading her book. Carmel Bird really identifies with the peacock and not only does her book have a beautiful cover featuring a peacock, she was dressed in the gorgeous colours of a peacock herself. The room was full of appreciative readers and we all went away feeling most uplifted. 

Penguin’s Choice:

The Penguin 70s bookish project begins.  Our facilitator of our book group is going off on maternity leave in October and that month will see our final discussion. We won’t meet again until March of 2023 and not only is she going to give us recommended reading for the summer, I will be attacking the books on my shelves that lie unread. I will also be getting into the 70’s anniversary Penguins from the boxed set.

Kicking off the random draw is: No. 16- Christmas at Stalingrad by Antony Beevor. More on this little book next time.

Life as it happens…..  the coming week has me getting out of travel mode and back into the regular routines. Medically, especially with the old eye, things are looking up. A bit of vision has returned, and I have been instructed by the ophthalmologist to go to the optometrist and get fit for some new lens in my glasses. Although the vision will never be great in that eye, the improvements do make it easier to read and drive. The glasses will hopefully increase the vision a bit and now we just hold steady to see what progresses in the future.  So now, the eye discussion is at a close!!! Such a boring topic. 

Back to the gym this week too and that should be a laugh as I stumble my way back to fitness with a good sense of humour. I expect to be quite sore for a few days but feeling good.  Old age is hard to face but it helps to keep oneself in as good of physical (and mental) shape as possible. So on we tread……sometimes clumsily.

From the Photo Archive:

Melting Sydney Opera House

So far I have not downloaded and edited all of my photos from NSW. I do have some interesting filters to add to Photoshop and Lightroom which I am playing with. Although a steep learning curve, I am getting a bit of success. I will share the two photos I have entered in to our club challenge. One is a open theme of which I submitted the Sydney Harbour bridge with a vintage touch. The second theme is about taking something we all know as familiar and changing the way it looks but still keeping it recognizable.  I decided to fantasize what the Sydney Opera House would look like if global warming increased to such an extent it would melt.  It was an interesting exercise. 

What the Penguin did this week:

Penguin and I were thinking about aging. He has travelled on six continents with me and he still looks as good as ever. I think I am feeling the older years more than him.

But I heard some very good advice and I try to live by it now.   1. Exercise.   2. Socialise with others. 3. Learn something new.  That should keep us going in the right direction for a while.

Stay Well.

Classic′ – a book which people praise and don’t read. (Mark Twain)

I guess Mark Twain didn’t follow book blogs.

What I’m Reading: 

This week I finished a fascinating book called Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery.

This is a fascinating tale of the first woman to ever walk the Appalachian trail in the 1950s from Georgia to Maine. The blurb is as follows:

“Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than twhundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, sixty-seven-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. By September 1955 she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin, sang “America, the Beautiful,” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”

Driven by a painful marriage, Grandma Gatewood not only hiked the trail alone, but she was also the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times. At age seventy-one, she hiked the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail. Gatewood became a hiking celebrity and appeared on TV with Groucho Marx and Art Linkletter. The public attention she brought to the trail was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction.”

Author Ben Montgomery interviewed surviving family members and hikers Gatewood met along the trail, unearthed historic newspaper and magazine articles, and was given full access to Gatewood’s own diaries, trail journals, and correspondence. Grandma Gatewood’s Walk shines a fresh light on one of America’s most celebrated hikers. 

I found this book fascinating and would recommend it to anyone who might enjoy a different kind of travel narrative and nature. The themes are memoir, travel/walking, history, domestic violence. She also raised 11 children. Bookish Event of the Week:  

The most exciting event was seeing Geraldine Brooks launch her recent book Horse, at the Theatre Royal interviewed by Heather Rose in conjunction with Fullers Bookshop. The recently built studio theatre was a great venue. The event was sold out and she was generous to sign books in the theatre foyer after the event. I gifted her a small cloisonne black cockatoo pin in a little felt like bag for her to put somewhere in her horse stable when she gets home. She seemed to love the small Tasmanian gift.  I always think authors must get so tired of book signings and repeating themselves over and over during their tours. I did not take my book to be signed just to give her hand a rest. 

She told us about this obscure piece of American history in this book which in the end I loved. I wasn’t sure at the beginning I was going to enjoy this book but as I went along, I just kept reading and reading.  I will never forget this tale. Horse racing was built in America on the backs of slaves in the 1800s before the civil war. The book combines that history of the 1800s. It also has two other periods of time the story includes. The 1980s of the New York art worlds and the current times of the science of preserving skeletons at the Smithsonian.

The author talked at length how this book was successfully finished after the sudden death of her husband three years ago. It got her back on track as her grief was deep.

The research into the art and slavery issues were well researched. She talked about how as a Caucasian she talked to many African Americans about writing this book about their culture and history. She was encouraged to do it on all fronts, and she consulted with the African American community regularly. 

I admire the research skills she displays in the writing. She is an experienced former foreign correspondent and journalist and her writing displays that. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in these topics.  It finishes with a current race event of the 21st century of America and the impact is greatly felt.

She also made mention of a little-known law in Australia that I think would surprise people. She would like to come back to Australia at some time. As she has lived in American, married to an American man since the 1980s or so, she mentioned her biological son can get dual citizenship with Australia however her legally adopted Ethiopian son cannot. She and her husband adopted him at the age of five and raised him as their own. He is an American citizen now through the family adoption. Australia really does need to get their act into gear. (My letter was the lead opinion piece in the Saturday paper.

Many are surprised by this little-known law. So, one day I wrote a letter about how discriminatory it is and sent it to the Opinion page of the Hobart Mercury, and Tasmanian Senators Jacqui Lambie and Andrew Wilkie as well as the federal minister for Immigration.  I felt better but no idea if anybody will respond or open their eyes a bit. Other families must be affected by this I’d think.

Off the Shelf: 

When I get back from my upcoming trip to New South Wales I have some new books to share with you that I am enjoying very much.

Penguin of the week:

I have also rolled the random di and have a 70th anniversary Penguin picked out of the boxed set collection. That too will be shared later.

Life Happens: 

Life is starting to pick up. Thursday I am flying to Sydney to begin an eight day road trip of photography down the coast with a good friend. We will travel south of Sydney for some seascape days and then inland for some photos of areas I’ve not been to before.

Then I will have a ‘rest’ when another friend arrives, and we will spend 4 nights in Sydney visiting all the places we love. We are going to the Opera House one evening to see A Comedy of Errors.  This week I researched the play as this is a play by Shakespeare, I am not familiar with.  It looks like it will be fun and quite comical. We won’t forget the bookshops either.

Photo(s) of the week: 

Last Sunday our photography club went south of Hobart to the Wooden Boat centre at Franklin. We spent time photographing whatever we wanted for a couple of hours. I’ll share a couple of the photos at the end of this post.

It was a beautiful day and not as cold as it’s been. We really enjoyed the day and followed it with hot coffee in a local café afterwards.  It felt like life was normal again. 

I’ll be back here after 20 August sometime. Need to get over the two hour jet lag I’ll experience. I have not been off this island since 2019. 

What the Penguin did this week:

Outside of hasseling politicians I am packing.  I will see that our Penguin is on the road again with me as well. Long term followers will have seen him visiting other countries previously.  He is looking forward to this trip as much as I am.

Stay well everyone.

Penguin Anniversary Box sets

18 July 2022 – 6C i

When I was collecting the old Penguin books I was able to attain several boxed sets. In fact I had 37 boxed sets in all by the time I sold the library. I sold most of the boxed sets but I wasn’t able to part with all of them. Too sentimental.

I kept the 1960’s, 70’s and the 80’s little black book anniversary sets.

However I have not read them so I thought it was time I did. I am going to begin with the 1970’s set. There are 70 small books in this set. Some books are excerpts from larger works, some are like short stories or novellas.  I will use the random org app to choose which one I read next. I would like to read one a week but I can’t promise this as life has its chaotic moments. I will do a brief summary of each book so do not expect a long review of anything. So many people do such a wonderful job of book reviews I don’t feel compelled to add my voice. 

Stay well. Stay tuned…….

In the end we’ll all become stories (Margaret Atwood)

The week of 10th July, 2022

Welcome to the new format of the Travellin’ Penguin. With my dodgy eye sight I decided to develop a template for future blogs. Something easier that keeps my on track, avoids me rambling too much and just getting out the points I want to make. 

What I’m Reading: I am getting through Geraldine Brook’s book Horse. It is based on the true story of the most famous race horse in 1800s America who was cared for by a young slave. I’m finding it a much simpler read than I anticipated. It is more like a book I would have read in 7th or 8th grade, a level above Black Beauty maybe. I am finding the research is quite good as are the characters that pop up in the 1800s.  Of course a book about slavery and horse racing is not my favourite topic. I really abhor stories of slavery (though so far I’m not finding the horrific events written about in other books but the night is young). I also really despise horse racing but as this is a book for August book group and I’m seeing Geraldine Books at the Theatre Royal the end of July I am persevering with dread. 

I have begun a wonderful memoir by British actress Sheila Hancock called Old Rage. She is in her late 80s and she has a lot to say about growing older. The book is in diary form. Her sense of humour is on every page and I have seen her most recent film, Edie (2017) a couple of times and no doubt will watch it again. The story revolves around her life after her husband’s death. She doesn’t want to sit around waiting to die so she travels to Scotland where she is determined to climb a mountain in a remote area. I loved the film. There is a synopsis of it here.

I also have the book about death called The End on my Kindle by Bianca Nogrady. Sue at Whispering Gums wrote a great review of it so I decided to read it. Find that here.

It is an interesting non fiction account of death, what happens physiologically, the myths, is there an afterlife, etc.  It is not a book for everyone but I am really enjoying getting familiar with the nitty-gritty and hearing other person’s experiences with it (then revived) or around it. But……(Now you’ll laugh at this) I tend to read it when sitting in doctor waiting rooms or at the Franklin Square bus stop waiting for the bus home after the gym). I do not read it before falling asleep at night in bed. It is a bit too close to home!

Bookish Event of the Week:  There have been two book launches in the past two weeks through Fullers Book shop. The first one was the Stella award winning author Evelyn Araluen discussing and reading from her book of poetry Drop Bear.  There are many reviews of this book online so I’ll let Mr Google lead you there, but what a breath of fresh air she is. Young, dynamic, tells it like it is regarding First Nation’s people of Australia. Funny, intelligent and I think I’d read anything she publishes. We just loved her. If you get the chance to see her or read her poetry, run, don’t walk.

The second event was the launch of Undertow, by Kim Bambrook.  The blurb is as follows:

And on it goes. Fiction published by Forty South Publishing.

Kay wakes up on a floundering yacht.The Tasmanian coastline has receded, and her partner, Sam, has mysteriously disappeared.An eerie fog hinders visibility.With no means of communication with the outside world, Kay’s worst fears are realised: she is alone and isolated, her vessel off-course and lurching into the unknown.From the bow of a sinking yacht to remote and craggy coastlines, Kay’s journey is one of unexpected dangers and startling discoveries.In an unforgiving environment, Kay has to dig deep and trust her instincts

(Photo at left- Above: Kim Bambrook rt and below Evelyn Araluen)

The launch was a bit of a laugh. This is her first book, and she based it on a very adventurous childhood and adult life she has lived. She has travelled the world, lived and sailed on a yacht alone for 7 yrs, had two children, seemingly raised on her own.  The head of Forty South Publishing flew here to introduce the two people who would introduce and interview her. The room was packed with quite well off people who flew here from all over the country to be here for the night.  The launch was person after person singing her praises and achievements. In one hour we had the three who heaped accolades on the author, the interview of the author, a journalist whose name escaped me after the audience was told she had Covid earlier in the week! I lost my train of thought after that announcement and I must say she looked very sick. Then we had the talk for 15 or 20 minutes of how the book came about which was interesting. I must say I liked the author and she appeared very humble but the others! Then there were a few questions and then the author gave a speech lasting about 10 minutes as to how humble she felt and she had a list of notes four pages long of those she wanted to thank. OMG, we winced.  There was a book signing afterwards and of course I bought the book for my friend’s 83rd birthday and I think I will actually enjoy the story. But as my friend and I left the shop we looked at each other and said, “Did she just launch her first book or did she find the cure for cancer?” Hilarious. 

Penguin of the week:

I will tell you more about this the next time and probably in a separate post. 

Life Happens:

My week went well. A couple of times at the gym, no visit to the eye doctor for a change. Cold days but I accomplished a fair amount of walking. A wonderful pedicure with teal nails in anticipation of seeing two dear friends in Sydney soon. I hope my mask keeps me healthy as I wear it everywhere. The book launches over the past two weeks and the Monday night shared reading of Hard Times by Dickens pretty much filled the week.

From the Photo Archive:

I am continuing to learn editing software of my photos so have pulled a few out of the archives. I will share one of the past travel photos here. I hope you enjoyed this rambling missive and look forward to hearing one or two things you read or did this week.

This photo was taken in Botswana on a trip we did to Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. These guys are scary and purported to be the most dangerous animal in Africa. Faster than you’d think.

Hippos weight up to 2000 kgs and kill 3000 people per year in Africa. Yikes!

Let me know what you did or read this week. I really enjoy hearing what people do to make themselves comfortable or happy during these times.

Things are beginning to look up…

Although left eye vision will never be very good again at least I can see the outlines of trees, buildings and cars. Driving isn’t bad either as my right eye is sharp as a tack for vision and with glasses I can read. There is a possibility too a new left lens in my glasses down the track a bit will improve it a bit more.  So onwards and upwards!

Reading has been slow but has been happening. I see Brona has written a review on H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, but I’m holding off reading it as I find the more I hear about a book the less I want to read it and I have just started Hawk myself. You can read
Brona’s review here.

I need to begin Geraldine Brooks book Horse as a priority as it is our August book group’s book and I have a ticket to see her at the Theatre Royal 27 July as organised by Fullers book shop. Tim who now owns Fullers felt bad when I could not make the Shakespeare event earlier this year due to eye surgery so he kindly put aside two complimentary tickets for a friend and I to see Geraldine Brooks this month.  (How to win over permanent customers though he never has to try with me.) 

I finished the audio version of Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. I have read several reviews of this book who love it but I was more than ready to finish it once read.  I found a lot of it tedious and I guess in today’s world the personalities of four women sharing a medieval Italian castle grated a bit against the daily news of today. I didn’t escape into it as many have though I thought the writing was good and the descriptions of the characters were good. It was orginally published in 1922 and though the world had just gone through  a couple of wars at the time and were recovering this book was a tad too fluffy for now.

I have also downloaded The End: The Human Experience of Death by Bianca Nogrady after reading Sue of Whispering Gum’s review of it.  I put it on my kindle as the book to read while sitting in waiting rooms and bus stops after the gym each week. As this book is quite a scientific look at death I think I need to read it in short sections. You can see her review here

I am currently half way through a new Australian crime book, Black River by Mattew Spencer. A serial killer has killed two women from a rich Sydney neighbourhood near a private boys school. When a third woman is found on the grounds of the school is it linked to the previous two? Two detectives, one female, one male work it out with the help of a cooperative journalist they enlist to publish specific information to hopefully flush out the killer or killers.  There are a range of suspects from the headmaster to the principal at the school and a few red herrings. This is the author’s first novel and I’d say he does a pretty good job of it but for Sydney all the characters bar one are pretty white as they talk about a multi cultural city.  But it moves along and I’ll finish it soon before I move on to Horse

Later this week my friend and I will attend the Fullers launch of 2022 Stella Prize winner Drop Bear with author Evelyn Araluen. I am looking forward to it very much and no doubt will buy the book. 

The 2022 Stella Prize judges described the winning book as:

“…a breathtaking collection of poetry and short prose which arrests key icons of mainstream Australian culture and turns them inside out, with malice aforethought. Araluen’s brilliance sizzles when she goes on the attack against the kitsch and the cuddly: against Australia’s fantasy of its own racial and environmental innocence.”

Chair of the 2022 Stella Prize judges, Melissa Lucashenko, says of the winning book:

“When you read Evelyn Araluen’s Dropbear you’ll be taken on a wild ride. Like the namesake of its title, this collection is simultaneously comical and dangerous. If you live here and don’t acquire the necessary local knowledge, the drop bear might definitely getcha! But for those initiated in its mysteries, the drop bear is a playful beast, a prank, a riddle, a challenge, and a game. Dropbear is remarkably assured for a debut poetry collection, and I think we can safely say it announces the arrival of a stunning new talent to Australian literature. Congratulations, Evelyn.”

That pretty much wraps up the bookish side of my week. On a more personal note, the planning of the Sydney photographic road trip thanks to my good friend J. there, progresses for August followed by four nights in a 5 star hotel near Circular Quay with another friend, I, who will arrive from Port MacQuarie for some R & R. We will enjoy full buffet breakfasts and a cocktail of the day for 4 glorious days following J and I crawling around rock pools and abandoned buildings I the rain with our cameras. SO looking forward to both lifestyles and getting off this island for a break. 

I’m back at the gym with Daniel who runs the weight classes, twice a week, followed by another dear friend, Teresa who is a diabolical personal trainer I will work with for 12 weeks developing core strength, balance and Pilates. Hopefully I’ll build up enough coordination and muscle people will stop on the street and stare saying, “Who is that old woman with the big muscles and drooping eye?

I’ll be the one wearing the black hat, black eye patch, black mask carrying the black Canon. Might make a good Instagram or Tik Tok personality. (As if…😳😳😳)

Keep laughing.

On that note the Penguin and I wish you all well and hopefully all obstacles in your life will be pursued with a sense of humour. 

A Wintry Sunday

I’m back with the living after three weeks of fighting with my left eye. I won’t go into the details as I once heard Germaine Greer say, One should not use body parts in conversation once over the age of 50 or you’ll be very boring. So I’m standing by that.

I have managed to get a bit of reading done but not a lot. I gave up on The Animals in that Country. by Laura Jean McKay. It is for the July book group. I read 50% and for me it was just irritating and I am the first to admit I do not appreciate books where things happen to animals. I have met others though who really enjoyed the book so I will leave it to individuals to form their own opinion.

I had to pull my Kindle out of a drawer to read the past couple of weeks as I spent a lot of time in dr waiting rooms and I appreciated the large font. I have been enjoying the book, The Day the World Came to Town by journalist, Jim DeFede. He writes about the history of the small town of Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada in the wake of the September 11th attacks. The small city embraces the welfare of the many people stranded there from all the planes that could not enter American air space. It is a wonderfully uplifting story of the kindness of people when life gets tough.

For our shared reading group at Fullers on Monday nights we are reading Dubliners by James Joyce and I really like these short stories. We read four stories each week and discuss them a bit once finished with each story.

I also attended a couple of book launches the past two weeks at Fullers. One was Chloe Hoopers Bedtime Story which was quite moving. She tells the story of her husband who was diagnosed with a terminal type of leukaemia and the doctors said chemo would not be effective. She had to work out how to tell her children their father was going to die. She has written an entire book of grief and children and how to approach it. However, our audience felt better once she told us her husband’s cancer mutated six months later, chemo did become effective and he is now in remission. I hope it lasts.

The second book launch was Wendy Davis introducing her book, Don’t Make a Fuss: It’s only the Claremont Serial Killer. In 1990, Wendy was working as a social worker in Palliative Care in a Western Australian hospital. Her office was located in a more isolated area of the hospital and when a telecom worker asked to use the toilet (in uniform) she didn’t think anything of it. Suddenly though he had grabbed her from behind, put a cloth over her mouth and was dragging her towards the bathroom. She fought hard, kicked him harder and he apologised to her and ran out. She was able to get to a nurses station and report it to police and the telecom office. But, being female and the police being as they were, no one took her seriously. Telecom made excuses for him and continued to employ him. The police never took a statement and sent her home with her husband, who was also employed in the police department. She was very traumatised and eventually moved to Tasmania. Then in 2012 (I believe it was), she heard on the news that this same man had been arrested as WA’s worst serial killer having raped and killed several young women. Suddenly she was contacted and gave evidence in his trial. The killer had gained more confidence and escalated in his attacks on women since her experience.

Her book details how she felt by not being taken seriously, and how the whole case affected her. She joined a Victim’s Support group in Tasmania when flashbacks came back to her upon hearing the news he had been arrested. The psychologist suggested she keep a journal, which she did and that became the book. You could hear a pin drop in the audience as she recounted the experience. Her message, is to definitely make a fuss and make sure authorities take your story seriously. I am sure police practises have changed (hopefully) in dealing with assaults on women in our current times but women still need to be assertive in these types of situations of assault or bullying.

The Telecom company eventually apologised profusely to her but nothing more ever came from the police department.

That pretty much wraps up my last three weeks of bookish news. I hope to get a few more things read in the coming three weeks. However it might still be slow going.

I will leave you with one of my photographs of some beautiful Tasmanian fungi.

From Styx Valley, Tasmania

Styx Valley Tasmania. (PSParks)

Catching up a bit…

Good morning. There has been quite a bit going on and I have not been able to write much over the past week or so. First off I had a trabeculectomy on my left eye and presently, I have no vision in it but do have heavy duty eye drops and pain I am struggling with. Having to get used to reading with one eye hasn’t seen me do a lot. It is going to take awhile to settle down and we don’t know if the vision will come back.

The saddest part of the procedure is I had to cancel the order I had with Motorworks for my 150cc Italian scooter due to arrive in Australia in August/September. I don’t feel I should be on the roads with one eye.

I did finish The Promise by Damon Galgut and I am hoping to get to Wednesday night’s book group to discuss it. I think it was a powerful book about families, interactions around funerals, dysfunctionality all against four decades background of South African history. There is a lot packed into this book. I can’t say it was a fluffy read by any means and hard to enjoy but the characters were well drawn, the climate within the family around the funerals and the ramifications of the promise during those decades made for quite a riveting story. I’m looking forward to the discussion with the others.

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The four books I have enjoyed very much are the motorbike travel novels I downloaded from Audible by Sam Manicom. Sam is a British motorcyclist who spent six years riding around the world on his BMW motorcycle. It is one of the best travel series I have listened to. He wasn’t an experienced biker when he decided he was going to travel the length of eastern Africa in the 1980s. The first book is called Into Africa. The deciding factor for him to begin was the Ethiopian war had ended even though there was still quite a bit of unrest around him in the other countries. Sometimes naivety can be useful.

What is so good about his writing is the amazing detail that he balances out throughout the books regarding history, terrain, the people, the cities and villages and the people he meets. He has many really interesting experiences, both positive and negative and frankly, I am surprised he survived.

The second book is Under Asian Skies as he travels from Australia northwards to Asia and much of that book covers India, Pakistan and Iran. Again the same format. By now he has met a female partner and she is travelling with him as pillion.

The third book is their trip that his German girlfriend, Birgit goes on with him, Distant Suns. He asks her to continue with a new adventure but she agrees only if they can go through Africa again and she can ride her own bike. Now we have her on a BMW with no experience getting her first miles in Africa. It is the later 80s by now, almost the 90s. She turns out to be a great navigator, and has the social skills to get through some very tricky border crossings. Once they arrive in South Africa they travel to Brazil and ride to the southern tip of Chile into Patagonia, back to Argentina and north along the pacific highway into Peru and up through Central America. Their trip in the third book ends at the Mexican border.

The fourth book I’m currently listening to, Tortillas to Totems, has them riding throughout Mexico and into California then exploring the American west and their goal at this point is Alaska. The point I’m at now is they are soon to go into Canada on their way to Alaska but it is almost September and I think the weather might be a concern as they head to Alaska. They have two months to spend in the USA, then will head back to the UK.

The detail of his memory in these four books is quite astounding, however he said Birgit kept scrupulous diaries and he noted quite a bit down too. I admire travellers who can do that. I find by the end of the day when I travel I am so tired, I can barely write down the name of the town or hotel I am in.

While I have lain in bed with my eyes closed for several day, my cold compresses over my eye, I am vicariously living their trip and it has really kept my spirits up.

Another reason books are so important in contributing to life in so many ways.

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In the meantime, I am picking my way through The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion because I am attending a Theatre Royal performance of it in June.

It is described as:

This highly personal account of loss through the lens of hope unpacks a surreal and overwhelming time in Didion’s life as she faces the sudden loss of her husband John, and later her daughter Quintana. Deeply moving, sometimes funny, and ultimately joyful, this is one woman’s story of the journey to find acceptance, and the lessons learnt in letting go.

After a critically acclaimed sellout premiere season in Melbourne, this production is a must-see for all fans of great writing and drama.

The Year of Magical Thinking is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Inc., and Concord Theatricals Company. This production was developed for the stage by FortyFiveDownstairs.

Upcoming things to look forward to:

My photographer friend in Sydney and I are planning a road trip in NSW in early August for approx 10 days to share photography skills together. I am really looking forward to that, one eye or not! Fortunately I look through my camera with my right eye and that works well.

We were going to have gone in July but she has some things happening in July and I see that Fullers Book Shop is hosting Geraldine Brooks at the Theatre Royal on the 27th of July to launch her book Horse. She is in conversation with Heather Rose. Our book group will be reading Horse towards the end of the year. I am really looking forward to both.

This is as far forward as I care to think at the moment. As I go along I am enjoying time at home with family. Mr. Penguin is just now off his crutches and driving again after six weeks recovering from his third hip replacement.

Our dog Ollie, has had a torn ligament in his back leg and is on restricted activities. That is fun. Have you ever tried to restrict the activity of a Jack Russell terrier?

Now I am laid up just a bit, but we all deal with health issues pragmatically here. It is a part of aging at times and we just focus on what we can do and the good things around us. That means not following any awful news or interacting with others about it. We were very happy with our federal election results and that kept us happy too.

You just never know what is around that next bend in the road do you? You just keep riding.

A Day Spent with my Camera-

I have been reading a bit lately and I will tell you about the travel books by the same author in a post to come. I am not quite finished with the second one but enjoying it very much. More information on that to come.

I also have some new books to share and I need to continue with the book group read of The Promise by Damon Galgut. More on that too later.

But for today, I have been learning a bit more with my camera with the help of a good friend in Sydney. We are planning a road trip with our cameras hopefully the end of July. I will fly to Sydney then we will do a New South Wales road trip with our cameras. I am looking forward to it very much. But more on that later too.

For this Sunday I will leave you with the following photos.

I drove from Hobart south to Police Point and then stopped in Dover. There was a rally of old mustang cars zooming around down there and I watched them go by as I set my tripod up on the side of the road overlooking the Huon river. It was a pleasant day out. My Sydney friend encourages me to have a Pam day as she does with her Judy days. That means you get all the camera gear loaded into the car and spend a day away from the world enjoying the opportunity to take photos of places we haven’t investigated lately. One might also call it a mental health day.

The route from Hobart on some rural roads to Dover.

It was a very bright day so I had to close up the aperture to not let in so much light.

Although we have had a lot of rain recently the summer dryness continues in parts of our state.
Not many yachts along the river but one had some activity.

The beauty of photography is the ability to really notice the small things one would normally overlook.
I love the black swans. I left my telephoto lens at home so this is as close as I could get.

I guess this post wraps up the week. I’ll keep reading and post up some bookish news next time. Stay well.