Beginning of an unknown week.

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2012

 

I began the Travellin’ Penguin blog back in 2011 for two reasons.  I was recently retired, did not have enough to do and dealing with a good bout of chronic depression. Having the belief when things hit one, one must deal with them head on, I got help from a wonderful GP and a great psychologist.  Having worked for 40 years, not having much family around me I was at loose ends. I also had a couple of thousand vintage Penguin books I wanted to do something with. Having no children or grandchildren to focus on as many do in retirement, my psychologist said I needed a job. I had always worked and I needed to continue to work in some way and there began the list of things I was interested in.  Books, animals, motorbike riding, volunteering for wildlife rescue, doing something worthwhile, of use to others.  In this post I will only deal with the books and the animals, or I should say ‘animal’.

I started writing about my Penguin book collection. I catalogued them all on Library Thing (no isbn codes to scan in with vintage Penguins) and that probably took a year or more.  I started studying the history of the books and speaking to groups about that history in the community.

Before I knew it I was happily busy again and willing to participate in more activities.

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Our beloved Odie-Dodie

Today our wonderful dog Odie is in the vet’s office.  He has had some very unusual symptoms and to make a long story short, the vets are conferring with the specialists at Sydney University to get yet more information to the vast information in their heads. We have wonderful vets. There is a strong possibility Odie has leukaemia or some form of blood cancer.  We won’t know more until all the tests are done.  (By the way we are finding pet insurance very useful now).  So much has been ruled out about what he doesn’t have, we are waiting to see what he does have.

Mr. Penguin is dealing with his worry by cleaning the entire house. I slept for quite awhile having been up with him quite a bit during the night dealing with his restlessness and pain. (He is unable to walk right now due to massive swelling in his leg.)

I am pulling books off the shelf.  When feeling worried, or sad or just wanting to be alone, books are always such a comfort.  I have had the book These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper on my shelf for awhile. I don’t remember if it was a blogger’s recommendation or if the blurb on the back cover drew me in. Good Reads describes it as: “Within its walls, people talk and kiss, laugh and cry; some are glad to sit alone, while others wish they did not. A woman with silver-blonde hair opens her bookshop downstairs, an old man feeds the sparrows on his windowsill, and a young mother wills the morning to hold itself at bay. Though each of their walls touches someone else’s, the neighbours they pass in the courtyard remain strangers.

Into this courtyard arrives Edward. Still bearing the sweat of a channel crossing, he takes his place in an attic room to wait out his grief.

But in distant corners of the city, as Paris is pulled taut with summer heat, there are those who meet with a darker purpose. As the feverish metropolis is brought to boiling point, secrets will rise and walls will crumble both within and without Number 37.”

Snip20190819_3I am starting it today and hope it turns out to be good. The synopsis of it intrigues me. I looked up Fran Cooper and it looks as though she is quite young and has another book out as well. Evidently this book won some kind of travel writing award.  I’ll look into it more when I have the time.

Yesterday Mr Penguin and I took it in turns to be with Odie to care for him.  As Odie slept most of the day on the bed I fooled around with some photos from past trips.  I then saw an advertisement for a ‘Pop up Weekend Photo challenge.’ By then it was about 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon and this challenge was to end at midnight last night. I read it, sat back and thought about it and then laughed! I was going to do it!  Besides the winner receives a new Sony mirrorless canon and lens to the value of $5000. The rules: Photographers could submit up to three photos of anything they liked……..as long as there was a pineapple in it!  I jumped in the car, drove to the local shop just down the road and purchased a very nice looking pineapple.

I brought it home, grabbed my camera in one hand and put the pineapple in the other and began walking through the neighbourhood for inspiration.

I got my mind out of myself and started focusing  (bad pun) on where could I photograph a pineapple.  As I headed down the driveway our neighbour chatted to me and walked away smiling.  I know, it is funny and we all need humour when dealing with adversity. Below are the photos I submitted to the challenge.

As I am still waiting for the vet to ring me later this afternoon, once again this blog has dragged me out of the depths of woe and given me something to smile about.  I’ll stick my nose in the book I pulled off my shelf and see if that also takes me to another place temporarily as the photo challenge did. And wait to hear if the Pineapple Photos win anything.

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To find the Secret Garden you must first get by the Pineapple

 

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This pineapple is as idle as the phone box of which it resides.
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Even a pineapple enjoys a bit of nature.

I’ll let you know how Odie goes.

Camera Penguin

Simply Sunday

Snip20190811_7This has been a very quiet week. The weather here has been cold, blustery, snowy and windy as a polar vortex sweeps the southeastern part of Australia. So we have not gone outdoors much at all except to run errands and stock up on food.

I have gotten into the book The Red Kangaroo by Hannah Blackmore. It is an Australian Travel Diary written by her in 2001. This year she has decided to publish it in the book I’m currently reading.  The author blurb on the back states she is from Jersey in the Channel Islands and now lives in Hobart, Tasmania. She is an artist and writer, working from her studio in Salamanca. She is passionate about art and travel.   Maybe I’ll run into her.  She kept a diary for one year as she travelled around Australia in 2001. Each entry is a paragraph or three about each day from mid 2001 into 2002.  So far she still hasn’t left Sydney. Evidently she is spending Christmas with family members before taking off on her own to backpack around the country.

I am enjoying it so far. She is a good writer and as this is a diary, she is quite concise which I enjoy. I am getting a good look into the life of living in a backpackers hostel on Bondi Beach and she writes a lot about her days at Coogee, Bondi and areas between there and the city centre.  She visits galleries and gardens, works briefly in a local, very busy cafe and spends days at the beach with new found friends and her boyfriend who visited from the UK for three weeks.

I am looking forward to the rest of her trip.  If you enjoy travel diaries then this one is fun and doesn’t take long to read. I’m also wondering if her relationship stacks up while she is away for one year and he is in the UK.

 

My other reading has me going cover to cover with Australian Photographic Magazine, Womankind Magazine (published here in Hobart)  and MindFood magazine (all Australian).  Winter is a great time for long, hot baths, hot drinks and reading magazines.  I get motivation when I read what the rest of the world is currently doing and magazines are good for that.

Our dog Odie and his friend Charlie (greyhound featured a couple of posts ago) had a play date bush walk up the fire track on Thursday and also we visited the donkey up the road. However Odie has either been bitten by something or somehow managed to get something into his foot that has caused quite the infection. Saturday’s trip to the vet with his very sore back left foot had him in hospital for the afternoon for x-rays (no fracture or tumours), a couple of high doses of methadone that made him a very sociable dog and antibiotics. He continues those now he is home with another check scheduled for tomorrow. He is such a drama queen and pretty much refuses to walk on three legs so we are carrying him outdoors in the pouring rain all weekend from the polar vortex. Now who’s being a drama queen?  As he’s 16 kgs this is great fun, while waiting for him to do his doggie business.  Hopefully whatever is causing his swollen, very painful foot will ease off in the next couple of days.

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Most recent photo of Odie- 2019

As Odie spends long days on my bed sleeping and refusing to walk, yet we don’t want him to jump up and down off the bed, I am on the computer sorting through old photographs from a couple of years ago, keeping an eye on him.  I thought I would share a few of my Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary photos that I forgot I had. As I have several North American and European blogging friends I thought they might enjoy seeing some of our wildlife here.

All photos taken at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary that cares for injured animals with view to release back into the wild, if possible and educate the public about our wildlife. They have rescued more than 7000 injured and sick animals this past year.

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Greg, the owner, explains to tourists about the life of wombats. I love the expressions on their faces. 
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Orphan wombat being cared for until old enough to be released into the wild.
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Tasmanian devil, part of the education and research programs
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Eastern Rosellas that just hang around the Sanctuary in the wild.
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Koala. Not native to Tasmania. He is here for education and display to the tourists who love them. They are not allowed to be held but are patted at sometimes under strict supervision. 

We’ll look forward to seeing what this coming week brings. Hope your weekend is sharping up to be a good one and for you Australians, hope the storms didn’t hurt you too much. received_344353279619767

A Bit Late with Simply Sunday

Snip20190720_1Well, I finished The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. I listened to it on audible and the narrator, Gretchen Mol did an excellent job reading this book.

Penguin and I immersed ourselves in 1920s New York City where this story takes place. Rose, a plain orphan girl grows up and finds work in a New York City precinct police station in the typing pool. She resides in a share room in a boarding house that is run by a WWI war widow with a small child. She doesn’t fit in with the others and keeps to herself. A real plain Jane. She enjoys her work as she listens to criminals give statements, records what they say and types it up. She is infatuated with the Sergeant who oversees much of what goes on day to day and doesn’t entirely trust the more arrogant Lieutenant who is really in charge.

One day a very sophisticated young woman, Odalie,  arrives as a typist in the pool. Dressed to the nines, a fashionable bob, all heads turn.  Rose becomes very infatuated with Odalie, envies her appearance, her character, her fashion sense. She is really taken in by Odalie.

The story is how Odalie ingratiates herself into Rose’s life and completely takes over. Rose moves into her beautiful hotel suite that Odalie lives in, goes out to illegally run boozy clubs, wears her clothes. Odalie becomes Rose’s life. Where does Odalie get her wealth? hmmm

The story is told in hindsight as Rose relives her life from the time she met Odalie to her current circumstances. She is in a mental institution/jail. How did she get there? What happened?  You will have to read the book to find out. No spoilers here.

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bluejumperI found this to be an average though unforgettable read. I enjoyed the time period very much. I enjoyed the location.  I thought the tale was quite predictable as events unfolded with a few red herrings thrown in. It was entertaining to listen to through bluetooth as I drove around running errands. It was worth 30 minutes of listening to at night as I set the sleep timer before I would drift off to sleep. I was interested in Rose and Odalie but I really did wonder why Rose couldn’t see what was coming.  It was quite obvious. I had many theories and I kept listening because I wanted to know if I was right. I was most of the time but not always.

It was just fun fiction without too much energy having to be spent. If this is your type of book you might enjoy it. I did.

I have been studying photography a great deal. Studying Photoshop and learning how to blur backgrounds, clone out unwanted items in the photo, how to change colours, brighten landscapes.

Charlie 2 copyMy friend who has an adopted greyhound named Charlie had a play date with Odie at the beach. I had him involved in a photoshoot and was very happy with the results. So were his owners.  We have another play date scheduled for later this week.

I’ll try to get some of my travel photos up for Thursday or Friday this week. I have been sorting them into categories. Doors and windows, portraits, street scenes, landscape, animals. It has been fun. I’ve even changed some backgrounds in some of them.

The weather here has been a warm wintry 12 or 13 degrees C during the day which has been very pleasant for photography and walking my dogs. I’ll share a couple of photos I took of them yesterday. They were happy to run around in the reserve behind our house.

I’ve started a new book. A travel diary by an Australian author. Actually she is from the UK but now lives here in Hobart and I am enjoying her daily diary she kept during her travels in Australia just after 9/11 in 2001. More on that later. So until then,  say hello to Penguin, Odie and Molly.

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14 year old Molly (Molly Melodrama as a friend calls her)

 

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Dear Odie (the Big Loaf)

Top Ten Tuesday- 16 July

Do you believe it’s mid-way through July already?  It’s time for a Top Ten Tuesday and the subject for today is Ten Bookish Characters in Books (that I have read and enjoyed).

I found it interesting that these bookish characters I enjoyed spent time with me when I was younger. Though I still revisited several of them in later life.

Snip20190712_21.  Anne Frank loved her books in the Diary of Anne Frank. It surprises me how much I think of and remember her and often wonder what would have become of her had she not perished in the Holocaust.Snip20190712_3

2. Atticus Finch is a bookish character that many of us know from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I loved him in both the book and the film. Gregory Peck certainly did justice to him in the film version. A lovely character.

3. Elizabeth Bennet and all of her sisters, for the matter in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen were certainly bookish characters. I often wonder how much more we would all read if we didn’t have tv, Netflix and the internet.  It becomes harder and harder to focus on books at times of tiredness when these are Snip20190712_4available. We must be strong!Snip20190712_6

4. Liesel Meminger shared her reading with us in the wonderful story of The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak.  What a great book that is.

5. Jay Gatsby had that huge library in The Great Gatsby. He must have been a reader to have had so many books in his home.  Another wonderful tale I have read a couple of times. F. Scott Fitzgerald.

6.  Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and other characters in Betty Smith’s books were readers. Francie would sit on the fire escape outside of her Brooklyn apartment and read during the summer days. A character I continue to love. Snip20190708_5

7. Jo March in Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott.  Who doesn’t remember the influence she had on our reading as a young person.  I can still see her sitting by the fireplace reading her books. An image Snip20190708_7that will remain forever.

8.  Clare Abshire in the Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  Although she was an artist I will always remember her as a very old woman sitting in her chair when her husband revisits her once more, reading a book and sees Snip20190712_7her sitting there. An unforgettable image.

9. Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch by George Elliot. She had such high hopes of working with that awful husband of hers that she thought she would assist. She was most certainly a reader. That early life was certainly a disappointment. Snip20190712_8

10.  This is one non-fiction character who sat in his study with his wife Helen and good friend Seigfried Farnon in front of a roaring fire reading their veterinary journals and books.  I’m referring to the well known veterinarian, James Herriot. I remember the scene fondly from the wonderful series with Christopher Timothy playing the lead role. Mr. Penguin and I went to Thirsk in the early 1970’s to tour the areas the books and series mentioned.  We were fortunate enough to meet the wonderful James Heriott in the flesh. We visited his surgery along with about 12 other people and chatted to him. We saw the little border terrier that he is often pictured with and he signed our

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James Wight, the real James Herriot

book.  It was unforgettable to us.

What an eclectic collection of travels through wonderful books and characters this little meme has been. Snip20181102_18

 

Sunday Salon…16 June

Snip20190515_3I have noticed quite a few book blogs participate in Sunday Salon.  I’m sorry but I don’t know who it originated with. It’s not my idea though.  It is a recap of the week of the blogger where they get a chance to sit with friends, maybe have a coffee in hand and chat about how their week went regarding their interests, mainly books, but also life. I have thought of adding it to my blog so today is the day I begin…

I arrived home from Morocco on Thursday night very jet lagged.  It is a long haul flying to Australia from that part of the world.  I slept off and on for three days and have now emerged quite refreshed. Going from a very high heat to a wintry Tasmania hasn’t helped either.

I will post photos up in the coming weeks but wanted to touch base with people who are interested in life in Tassie.

I managed to read two books during my 25 day tour. I finished off The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan in audio version, mainly on long bus rides as we toured Spain, Portugal and Morocco. I enjoyed this book but if you are one of the few that haven’t read it yet I suggest you read a copy of it and not listen to the audible version.  The audio version uses quite cartoon like character voices in the narration of this story and it grated on my nerves at times. I noticed later on, when reading reviews on Good Reads the same comments were made regarding audible. I should have listened to the sample reading first. I will in future.

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Author Amy Tan

It is the story of four generations of women from China as their lives evolved and followed the youngest generation as she ends up in the United States. It was mainly depicted realistically I thought most of the time. Living in multi-cultural Australia, it is obvious to see how a new generation finds it easier as they have the English language to assimilate more easily. The first generation in a new country has many obstacles to overcome but future generations are the ones who learn the language and cultural ways of the new country. This can create difficulties between the parents and their children as each learn to understand the cultural differences within their own family as this growth develops.

Magda Szubanski highlights this as well in her book Reckoning as her family get used to Australian life  having immigrated from Poland.

The other difficulty I had with the book is the way the narration jumps around. I found it very distracting. I would be well and truly involved in one character’s life then it would switch to another person in another time in another country.  It was difficult at times, especially with an audio book, where I couldn’t flip back through pages to determine whose story was being told.  The great grandmother? The grandmother? The mother?  I would have preferred a narrative from one generation to the next in sequence but after rewinding the book a few times I was able to determine who was speaking.

I don’t think it is a great book as many on Good Reads seem to think but it was an interesting story that held my attention most of the time when I wasn’t being distracted by travel. I may have rated it higher if I were at home, reading comfortably in a chair for a prolonged period of time on a rainy day.

I’ll write about the second book I read on the flight home in a day or so. I enjoyed it much more but it was a completely different type of book. More to come on that soon.

I am happy to be home and it was fun to see my dogs explode in place when they realised I was back.  Even our cats followed me around for a couple of days.  It is now time to enjoy the winter months of Tasmania and look forward to the next journey the end of September. Hope this finds everyone doing well. Camera Penguin

The Joy Luck Club for Travel Reading

I leave for Europe on Friday morning for approximately one month.  I’m catching up with two women friends travelling to Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

I wanted something

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Although I travel with Kindle books I do love this Penguin cover of all of the covers I’ve seen of this book.

big but not too heavyweight to read on the plane and in my hotels.  The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is a book I have always wanted to read. I remember reading the wonderful book Wild Swans years ago by Jung Chang. What I loved about that book was not only learning much more about China and the politics of the Cultural Revolution but I loved the families involved. I never forgot that book and the Joy Luck Club seems a similar type of novel.

Good Reads describes it as:

Amy Tan’s beloved, New York Times bestselling tale of mothers and daughters

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s “saying” the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. “To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.” Forty years later the stories and history continue.

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.Snip20190515_2

Wikipedia describes:

Amy Tan (born February 19, 1952) as an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships and the Chinese American experience. Her novel The Joy Luck Club was adapted into a film in 1993 by director Wayne Wang.

Tan has written several other novels, including The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and The Valley of Amazement. Tan’s latest book is a memoir entitled Where The Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir (2017).[1] In addition to these, Tan has written two children’s books: The Moon Lady (1992) and Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (1994), which was turned into an animated series that aired on PBS.

Despite her success, Tan has also received substantial criticism for her depictions of Chinese culture and apparent adherence to stereotypes. (Hmmmm…We’ll see.)

I downloaded a Kindle Read/Listen copy of this book and began it a couple of days ago. It has already drawn me into it a bit. As I seldom sleep well on a plane,  I look forward to settling on my long flight with my headphones and tablet, ready to disappear into another realm.

This book was developed into both a play and a film also, neither of which I have seen. I’ll let you know what I think of this once I finish it.

I hope to put up a few travel photos and stories of my trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco.  I will be more focused on photography than book stores but if I come across anything interesting about either I will be sure to save and hopefully share it.

I do find travel exhausting and night time often has me stretched out on a lovely hotel bed with my tablet, books and reviewing the day’s activities. I don’t like television in hotel rooms as at the end of the day I prefer silence.

I return home about mid June. Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll produce a few things on this blog but it will be basic as I’m not taking my laptop and my tablet does funny things with photos on Word Press.

PS-  Penguin is leaving the page tomorrow and getting in the suitcase to share the experience. I will send photos of him as it is always fun to travel with a Penguin.

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Looking forward to snuggling in my case.

Holiday by Stanley Middleton- 1974 Booker Prize winner.

From Good Reads:

Snip20190401_1HOLIDAY

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. 

Snip20190401_2He 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. Snip20181102_18

(I will add it to my Century of Books which I add to over time very, very slowly.)