Summer’s Aren’t All They’re Cracked Up To Be

snip20190130_4Sadly, Tasmania is burning and it just has everyone on edge and filled with sadness. The fires began in our wilderness areas from lightning strikes from a dry storm we had a few weeks ago.  They seem to be spreading from west to east.  They have now approached residential parts of the state in the southwest and central highlands. People are evacuating everywhere.

Tasmania has very good fire management strategies and so far there has been no loss of life though a few houses have now gone.

The smoke not only blankets our state, it has been reported that it has reached New Zealand.

Fires are unrelenting in our high temperatures blanketing out state and they really cause people to feel depressed.  I feel very sad for the people leaving their homes for evacuation shelters and camping in large football ovals in this heat. I also feel very sad for the animals. Wildlife flee, people with horse trailers collect farm animals and move them to large paddocks that have been volunteered away from the fires. People really rise to the occasion and provide amazing relief on all counts.

Lots of donations being made to the dogs home and the woman who is organising paddocks for farm animals. A pet taxi service in Hobart has been collecting domestic pets and driving them to refuge as well.

One feels helpless watching. Everyone wants to do something but is not equipped to do more than donate money to those working. There have been warnings to stay away unless on official business.

snip20190130_1Of course there has been one looter caught and another in a campground in the eastern half of the state that is currently fire free lighting a large campfire. Both have been charged and will go through the courts. One can only wonder what these morons think about. There has also been some arsonist that started another fire that diverted one of the helicopters away from the main blazes to put this fire out. I must admit my thoughts run to the days of public floggings.

Like the rest of the country, we need rain. Except Queensland which has floods raging in the north. Isn’t that always the way. We also need politicians who believe in the science of global warming and aren’t pushing through a coal mine at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. (Again the public floggings go though my head.)

As far as books. I have finished up reading the books I wrote of previously and am looking for something that will hold my attention long enough to get out of this funk that quite a few of us find ourselves in.

snip20190130_2There is a lot of photography work coming up for me in the month of Feb that will be mentioned later. But for now I just need to get this out of my system.

I know this will pass. Everything passes eventually. Just need to keep telling ourselves that.

January Reading And A Bit Of Serendipity

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Our Fuller’s Bookshop Book for February is The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. It is a retelling of the Iliad from the point of view of a woman. Our group meets the first Thursday night of February so I will write more about it after we have discussed it.

I recently finished The Arsonist by Chloe Harper. Our group will discuss this book the first week of March. Chloe Harper is an Australian writer who writes about the Black Friday bushfires in Victoria that happened several years ago. Again I will wait until after the group meets to write about it.

I am currently reading our April book, The Everlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins about boys living in a boarding school in England in 1962. I’m not that far into it yet but I feel it might become quite ominous. More on that later.

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In the meantime, I can talk about the recently read The Shepherd’s Hut by Australian writer Tim Winton. I imagine most people who live in Australia who read this blog have read it. I will say I loved it very much and couldn’t put it down. It was a slowly drawn  story of a young man who lives in Western Australia. He had a very abusive father who had abused him for years and it became worse once his mother died of cancer. He often wished his father dead and when he does die in an accident while working on his car in a shed, the boy fears he may be blamed and heads off into the bush and desert of Western Australia.

In my opinion nobody writes about Western Australia better than Tim Winton. You feel the heat, the dust, the young man’s hunger. He comes across an elderly man living in a shack in the desert in the middle of nowhere and the story continues with the development of their relationship, the life and trials that happen upon them.

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My only criticism of the book, which some don’t agree with is I thought Tim Winton wrapped up the ending too quickly. This is a drawn out story that seemed to follow a certain, consistent pace throughout. Then suddenly the end is upon the reader and it seemed to quickly finish. I can’t say more than that as I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone. I will leave it at that for now. I did really enjoy this book though.

The serendipity I refer to is regarding a page I have put in my 2019 journal. I read a lot of book reviews. I get them from my bookshop, other blogger’s posts, the newspaper, everywhere.

I also receive publishers newsletters and magazines and often see older books referred to at times. I often exclaim to myself, “My gosh I have that book on my shelf!” and think I should get it off the shelf and read it so I can then pass it on. So for 2019 as I read reviews and notice books that are named by other bloggers, I will get that book off my shelf and place in a pile to finally have a serious look at it. If I’m not going to read it then maybe it is time to pass it along.

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So far on my journal’s Serendipity page, as I call it, I have Persuasion by Jane Austen. It is one of her books I have seen the film for but never read. So onto the pile it goes and I might finally get to it. As it is early in the year I don’t have any other books listed but I do have books by a couple of authors that have been in the winds of 2019.

I read a blurb in the Weekend Australian just before New Year’s Eve written by Mandy Sayers about her favourite books for 2018. I have a book on the shelf by her so I may grab that one. I have several books on the shelf by Helen Garner unread and I know I must read them. I hear so much about Helen Garner especially from Australian bloggers I follow. So onto the pile they need to go. I can’t think about their latest books while I still have their previous books on the shelf.snip20190124_6

February will have me listening to audible books, mainly in the car. I’m currently listening to Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick who is a New York City writer I love. I heard her speak at the Sydney Writer’s festival a few years ago and enjoyed her very much. Most of her books are memoirs of her life growing up in a tenement building of 20 apartments in the Bronx. Some of her books are of her life later in life. She is close to me in age so has lived quite a bit of life.

I love tales that take place in Brooklyn or the Bronx especially in the 1950s and 60s. She deals with a very exasperating mother which I find interesting and I feel as though I am on the streets of New York with her, trying to figure out life. Fierce Attachments has most of the book taking place in her first 25 years. They live in an apartment building that has 20 apartments in it and the interaction between the neighbours and families really draw me in. I love the New York Jewish phrases and sometimes hysteria as many of the women deal with their husbands and children.snip20190124_4

February is going to be a very busy month for us but I’ll write more about that in a couple of days. I’m trying to finish off books in January because I’m not sure I’ll get a lot of reading completed in February.

More on that later. Until then, I leave you…

gardner

Bits and Pieces for a Hot Day

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This photo lifted from the Tasmanian Weather Page on FB. The temp for Hobart has now been revised from 33 to 36C. The country areas to hit 40.

Australia is in the grip of a heatwave today and tomorrow especially. It is supposed to get near 40C here which is highly unusual. To my American friends and family that is around 95F.  The sun here is very hot, dry and direct. You can feel it burn through your clothes. The kind of heat we get is hard to describe but other Australians will know what I mean. I think it will be an indoor day with air conditioning on and reading books, writing in my journals or binging on a good Netflix British crime/detective show.

Mr Penguin is travelling in India now for a 19 day tour with four other people. I have his itinerary in my diary and am googling the places he goes each day to see what they get up to.  They are visiting markets, doing cooking classes, tours around cities, boat rides down rivers, riding on the trains and having two nights camping in the desert with a camel trek up through the sand dunes.  It will be fun to follow him.  He might send a photo or two from his tablet or phone that I share here. So far I only have a photo of his hotel room (bed and bath) so not worth sharing. At least I know he got there okay.

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I could not find source of this photo of New Delhi (population of area around 300 million people) except it was part of a tourism page.

The house is full of groceries including ice cream and I have no appointments anywhere. It’s going to be a ‘Pajama Day’ but with shorts and t-shirt.

I’ve been thinking of what I’m going to do with this blog for 2019.  I want to incorporate books I own and read, share some of the old collectable books I keep on a shelf in a hallway that is not exposed to light and I think I’ll use Wednesdays to share my photography.  I had three overseas trips last year and will have two coming up this year in nine different countries. Five of those countries I have not been to before. Many photo opportunities.  I’m not sure I want to call the Wednesday posts ‘Wordless Wednesdays’ as I’d like to caption the photos with descriptions or information of some time. I’d also like a photographic alliteration of Wednesday but have not sat down to think of something with a W.

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I just took receipt of this wonderful Vegetarian book. I’m not a vegetarian but would like to eat more vegetarian meals this year. We don’t need so much meat. This is a very practical book I might share later on. Lots of curries with Asian spices and some great desserts. (Not that we need them).

I’d like a paragraph about books, especially non-fiction books I’m picking my way through and thoughts and simple reviews on the fiction books I read.

 

I think I’ll keep the Weekend Wander for my walks and motorbike rides around Tasmania that I do mainly on weekends. Or I could pretend I do them on weekends and post them anyway. A bit of walking exercise, including the pets and our own local beautiful cities, towns and state.

I’m going to spend Hot Friday and Cool Change Saturday this weekend redesigning content on this blog.

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Photos from Glenorchy Market website
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This is one of those places where you pick through a lot of junk to find the treasures. We’ll be swirling our pans in the rivers of this stuff. I’m only looking for a couple of cheap plants. I don’t need the rest but fun to forage.

Sunday I’m going to a local market that has all kinds of stuff, pretty much like a home grown flea market with a good friend to look through old clothes, books, cheap plants and flowers and very cheap doughnuts. That might be the topic for a Weekend Wander.

I love that I have a few faithful follower friends but my aim is not to try and get as many people to follow me as possible. I do this purely for fun and to keep track of my life in a journal format. It’s very lovely when people want to participate and share and I enjoy the conversations but as for trying to be someone like an Instagram Queen, I am just not interested.

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I had to share this Sherylea. (Photo by friend Sherylea) They just took receipt of this beautiful greyhound, Charlie, to foster him for awhile before he goes up for adoption.  I wouldn’t be able to return him but we’ll see if she does or not. From GAP (greyhound adoption program). Gorgeous boy. I hope to meet him soon.

For those of you attached to the Penguin, he will remain a part of this blog. In fact I might get him off the page for the Sunday Market and take him with me. Get some photos. He hasn’t been out in awhile.

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Wordless Wednesday- Well, almost…

Sri Lankan Photography -November, 2018

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It rained a lot. Hotel porter takes our bags to our rooms.
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School Children boarding their bus to school
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The whiteness of school uniforms really stood out. The government gives each child a uniform and it is up to the children to keep it clean.
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Passing by one of the many temples.
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The dining room at restaurant at elephant orphanage where we ate lunch and watched the elephants play in the river.
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Some of the many elephants that are walked to the river daily. The orphanage takes care of previously abused elephants and orphans. 
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Back on the bus, watching the men work the rice fields.
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One of the many temples we visited
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We saw monkeys in most of the places we visited. So much fun to watch.

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This little guy was very interested in what we were doing and didn’t mind posing for this photo. 

Camera 5DMiii; Lens 24 to 105

All photos are copyrighted and not for distribution.

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Starting the Year with the Australian Female Author- Lily Brett

Snip20190101_3I don’t know how many of you have read Lily Brett’s books but I, for one, love this author. I met her several years ago when she was in Hobart for the book launch of Lola Bensky, I believe it was. Lily Brett was raised in Melbourne to Jewish parents that survived life in Auschwitz during World War II.  However her grandparents on both sides and many aunts and uncles did not survive. She has written quite a bit about being the child of Holocaust survivors over her writing career and the common traits that seem to follow these children.

When I think of having parents who survived the death camps of WWII, I often think you could never complain to them about anything.  Being bored during the school holidays or not being able to buy that latest dress just wouldn’t hold any weight at all. From what I have read there is also quite a bit of guilt children of surviving parents face due to constantly thinking about what happened to them.

Her parents raised her to believe there was no God. I guess if one witnessed what they did during the death camps of World War II, one would certainly be inclined to being atheistic.  Why would a merciful God allow this to happen?  But before anyone who has faith bombards me with an argument, this is not what this post is about.

Lily Brett moved to New York City more than 25 years ago with her second husband, an Australian painter, David Rankin and they have three children. She now considers herself as much a New Yorker as an Australian.  I just finished her book Only in New York.  It is a book filled with anecdotes divided into chapters of her experiences and thoughts about New York. It is a very funny book.

I have always loved books about New York City. However, for as much travelling as I have done in this word, touring 6 continents, I have yet to visit New York City. I know, I know.  When I was a preteen I read the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I then went on to read everything Betty Smith ever wrote, though I forget all the titles now.

That book was the first book that put me in Brooklyn and allowed me to explore New York from that perspective.  I loved it. After that I would read anything I could about New York City.  I have a vision of what old New York City is like. The shops, the multi-cultural food, the quirkiness of the people, all the policemen named Patrick O’Mallory or something similar and the smells of the subway. I also love bookshop stories of New York.  I often think if I actually visited the city, all my images I carry in my head would be ruined. I’d probably see a lot of chain stores and foul weather. Or heat. Terrible, penetrating heat.  I often prefer my visions of what I think New York city is. I may still get there one day, but I have to admit, I am not in a hurry.

Snip20190101_2Lily lives in Manhattan in a lovely apartment filled with ‘stuff’. She talks about all of it. She talks of her daily walks, her husband who loves her and tolerates her eccentricities. Her father lives there. He is in his 90’s at the time this book was written and very much alive. She talks of her parents often and how she misses her mother. She talks about Jewish life and the traits of such, especially as it relates to life in New York City.

She writes about people who hold grudges, cafes, fashion she enjoys, New York psychics  and the various eccentric people she encounters.  There is a funny chapter about her lack of understanding of the animal world. I laughed out loud when she talked about camels and what their humps are for. I won’t spoil this with the actual paragraph, but I did reread it a couple of times so I could enjoy the laugh.

Lily Brett has a long list of memoirs and novels she has written. Mr. Penguin enjoyed two of her novels, Between Mexico and Poland as well as Too Many Men.  They linger on my shelves waiting for my turn to read them.  I remember loving her book Lola Bensky, the part fictional, part true experiences of being in her late teens following the music scene in England working as a junior journalist. She has met many rock stars of the time and her anecdotes of that time were both really interesting to someone of my generation and hilarious. I also enjoyed another book of her memoirs by chapters, You Gotta Have Balls.Snip20190101_4

Only in New York reminded me a great deal of the book Helene Hanff wrote of her daily life in New York City in Apple of my Eye.  That was a fun book to read but Lily’s is much funnier. She has a very wry sense of humour that sometimes drips with sarcasm as she describes daily life in such a large, populated city in the Jewish community.

If you haven’t tried her books I think you might consider her for 2019. If you have, I’d love to know what you thought of the books you read.

Here you will find the Wikipedia story of her life and books written. 

Snip20180527_1Lily Brett- Only in New York. Published in 2014

…regards, some girl with words

Snip20181227_1This tragic story happened in Hobart in 2005.  Elizabeth Ryan’s daughter, Genevieve was born in 1984. She died in 2005.

She came to Tasmania to attend the University of Tasmania.  She was a very bright, intelligent girl who had her entire life ahead of her and lived it enthusiastically. She loved words. She was a passionate writer. She loved nature.  She loved everything around her and she had an eye for observation that most people don’t seem to bother with.

One lovely Tasmanian day, Genevieve took a bushwalk on the Mt Wellington tracks.  People who don’t live here don’t always understand the life of Mt. Wellington. Indigenous people understood it for centuries. Mt Wellington has many stories. Many of them quite haunting tales of those who went missing and were never found again. Although the mountain is near the city, it has remote sections on it that need to be respected.

When Genevieve came upon a waterfall, she stood atop of it, marvelling at everything one marvels at when visiting a beautiful waterfall. She slipped and fell to her death.  When she failed to return to the share house she lived in she was reported missing.  Her friends, Nick and Ben found her body. Gen had mentioned she was going to walk to a waterfall several days earlier.

“She was lying peacefully on her back, naked, her arms above her head. She had been there for two nights. Nick (her friend), said that from up above, from where Gen had fallen, she looked like water- merging into the waterfall. A huge tiger snake, curled on the rock beside her, slithered away as Ben approached. ” (page 11)

Good Reads describes this book as:

Articulate, perceptive, sensitive, quirky, and often hauntingly beautiful, Genevieve Ryan’s writing explores the innermost experiences of a young woman growing up in an exhilarating and confusing world. Her journey through the twenty years of her short life is enriched by a passion for philosophy, literature, politics and art.

In this book, her mother, Elizabeth has drawn together a collection of Genevieve’s writings. The collection presents a delightful picture of a much-loved daughter. More importantly, it presents a message to a wider world – a message that growth and beauty are to be found in the deep, often painful search for inner meaning.

This is a book that will motivate everyone who feels called to write. People from fifteen to ninety-five will be inspired and charmed by the remarkable insights of an extraordinary young woman. Elizabeth Ryan grew up in Melbourne where she taught for many years before meeting Peter and having four daughters. With her family, she travelled and lived in Tumut in the Snowy Mountains, Townsville in North Queensland and Lismore in Northern New South Wales.

During these years she pursued a range of occupations. She has published in a number of educational journals and now works in Research Services at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.

Daughter Genevieve was a wonderful writer. She wrote all the time. I do mean, all…the…time.  When working at the kiosk at the cricket once, she would write thoughts and little poems on brown paper bags when they weren’t busy.

She wrote in cafes all of the time. She mostly wrote journal entires, poetry and observations of people, places and events around her.

This book, written by her mother, Elizabeth shares Gen’s story of her life. She grew up on mainland Australia in several places. She wasn’t a Tasmanian.  She came here specifically to attend university.

Her writing is lovely. It’s intelligent and intuitive.  It’s one of those stories one reads about a person’s life that makes you wonder why the intelligent, beautiful people, who contribute to the world, have a life cut short and the mean, nasty people that only do harm live to be old.  In fact, her mother mentions this thought when she goes to the police station after Gen’s body has been found.  They need to identify her body. While there, a young man is dragged into the station, hate filling his eyes.  Gen’s mother wonders why there is such a difference between her daughter’s short life and this young man, who appears to not appreciate anything about life at that moment.  Who knows his story.

My thoughts-

I enjoyed meeting this young woman. Though I did get bogged down in the mother’s grief. Of course, anyone would. I focused on the writings of this talented young woman as that was what seemed important to me.  I didn’t know Gen but I know I would loved to have met her.  I enjoy hearing about talented young people who do wonderful things such as paint, write, succeed at sport.  This woman had her entire life ahead of her and it is to her mother’s credit to record her story and include so much of what she wrote.Snip20181227_2

I will include a sample below.

Cars Are My Soundtrack

I’ve been given life

And I choose to take it in the form of

Ink-water and touch

Writing, tears and human inter-action

My head is beating with the rhythm of necessity

My face is flushed, hot, burning

My heart is doing vigorous exercise

Am I ok? I have no idea

Cars are my soundtrack

Other people my plot.

Sometimes I think if the credits rolled at the end of my life- I might be a stunt double

Or a cameo

I feel like, in cutting the unnecessary fat away from my life, I’ve just chopped 

off a large portion of the actual meat, a large part of my essentials.

So I’m bleeding

I feel like I need a teacher

But can’t find anything that helps me, in books, music or people

I can’t open up to religion

I’m worried that I’ll be stagnant forever

 

(written 2002 in Melbourne before she entered Uni.)

I still have a couple of chapters at the end of this book to finish so I will stretch it out until the first of January so I could it on the list for 2019.  It will be the first Australian book, by an Australian woman writer for the year. Snip20181102_18

 

An Icelandic Christmas in Tasmania?

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I do still have several old vintage Penguins. 

As many of you know Icelandic persons celebrate Christmas in a way that I love. The government sends each resident a catalog of books before the big day.  The residents pick out the books they plan to buy for their family members and off they go shopping. On Christmas Day they all receive their books as gifts and they they settle down and read for the day.  That sounds like heaven to me so we will come close to doing that tomorrow.

We have celebrated Christmas with a surrogate family (friends with kids) on Saturday so most of it is over. Mr. Penguin and I celebrate it on Christmas Eve.  Christmas morning is spent quietly at home, reading the papers, books, magazines and a leisurely breakfast. I might add it is to be 24 degrees C tomorrow here (75 F) so a lovely summer day. Then a friend will join us for afternoon tea later in the day.

I bought these books last year but they arrived too late to read them for the season so looking at them tomorrow. Very northern hemisphere but I love the covers and the authors.

 

Then it’s over. Of course the big Sydney to Hobart boat race begins on Boxing Day (26th) and we usually listen to a bit of that news or watch them leave Sydney Harbour on TV.  The boats begin arriving in Hobart around the 27th (the big maxis) to New Year’s day (the smaller ones.) I admire the smaller ones taking on this race. I’m not interested in the multi-million dollars racing boats. It’s those that sail on the smaller boats across treacherous Bass Strait that seem to have the spirit of the race in them, in my humble, non boating opinion.  They are all scored on handicap. I might post up a few photos later in the week.

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Beginning the walk into town.

Today I decided to take the bus into town and get a bit of Christmas Spirit.  I missed the first one so just started walking. I knew the next one would be along in another 35 minutes or so. It takes one hour, ten minutes to get into the city centre from my house.  Once the next bus was due I stopped at a bus shelter and sat down for a little rest. It was very hot today. 31 degrees C (88 F). An Indonesian woman, named Clara,  who has lived in South Hobart for many years was at the stop. I loved the flowers in her hair and the little Christmas hat she wore. We chatted for about 10 minutes and then both of us rode the bus into town. She certainly was enjoying the Christmas season. I ran into her again on the way back to the bus home. She was carrying two heavy grocery bags and I asked her if I could help, but she waved me away and said she was taking a taxi home. So we wished each other well again and went on our merry way.

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On the bus with cheery Clara. Don’t you just adore the “Merry Christmas” hat?

While in town I sat at Bojangles cafe which is located in the Elizabeth Mall. (For you American friends, a mall here is an area outdoors- not like you have.) I had a toasted cheese sandwich and a large, cold milkshake and people watched for about 30 minutes. It was fun watching everyone walk past with large bags and parcels, funny t shirts and all kinds of hats.

I then went on my way, finished my errands and caught the bus home.  I am looking forward to peace and quiet now in the coming week.  I haven’t decided if I’ll do the Boxing Day sales. I think it might be a bit mad and I really don’t need a thing.  I think I just talked myself into staying home and playing with Odie and Molly.

There are some fun summer photography challenges happening with our club so I will have a closer look at the topics and see what I can get up to with my camera.  I need to practise using my camera on its tripod more often. Sharper photos but so often I just don’t bother. There is always something to work on in photography.

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Hobart City Council Christmas banners were getting a bit windblown.
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This holiday urchin was on the front of a large tea shop. 
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One of the decorations in the mall. They are metal and go around the trees to keep the trunks from being damaged. You can see them in the photo below.
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People watching in the Elizabeth Mall. There were lots of people, I just caught this photo while it slowed down a bit.
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Enjoying my milkshake on this hot day.  

I am looking forward to seeing what books people get from Santa and I look forward to the year ahead reading, mostly what is on my shelf.  Stay tuned.

Merry Christmas to all my online friends and let’s hope 2019 is a really good year, personally, environmentally and politically. Snip20181218_10

Enjoy the photos.

Last but not least- the photo challenge for this week from Hobart Photographic Society fun challenge. The theme this week is:  LIQUID.

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ODIE enjoying ‘liquid’ at the beach. I just love the expression on his face. He always concentrates so hard whenever he does anything.