Weekend Wander- What a mess…

Snip20180527_1I really don’t like to get behind with my posts but so much has been going on with everyone around me I haven’t had the energy to put up much. Bear with me, this may be long. I’ll try to put in photos for interest.

Books read, either finished or not-

I have been reading a lot with both the real thing and listening to audio. No reviews, will just give you a blurb- I’m sure that’s enough anyway.

Snip20180819_3Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood by Nikki McWatters.  No I don’t have kids, I have animals. The choices we make, but I do feel for single mothers and am very interested in how they cope. This young woman’s husband walked out leaving her with two young boys. She’s Australian and lives in the Sydney (Bondi Beach Junction) area. Trials and tribulations. A lot of joy, a lot of poverty, a lot of gumption and success and some very real heartbreak. The writing is good and the story really packs a punch with surprises. A bit of name dropping too re: the Australian music scene. I really enjoyed this and Nikki will stay with me for a long time.

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Dancing Home by Paul Collis-  I read a review by one of the Australian bloggers, think it was Lisa? Sorry if wasn’t you but I loved this book but it is a tough read. Aboriginals and the police are not a happy mix in this country and the drug use, alcoholism and really tough lives of these good people was a tough read. I will never forget them.

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Don’t you love this cover.

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner (1942) on audible. Simon of Stuck in a Book talked about this American author and actress who lived from 1899 to 1979. I had never heard of her and so needed to remedy that. This was the only book I could find by her on audible so I’ve listened to her. It’s a memoir of the trip she and her friend took in their twenties to France via New York, the St Lawrence Seaway, London,  across the Atlantic on a ship in the 1920s. Although I found the two young women very tedious, especially when they bought two little dogs in a pet shop as fashion accessories, their trip did have some very good humour.  It is what I refer to as a ‘fluffy’ book. Lots of natter and nothing that will keep you awake at nights.  I was happy to finish it off though. I tired of their silliness.

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I have started Educated by Tara Westover, the American woman who escaped from her family who lived as a cult against all government authority in Idaho.  Joanne reviewed it on Lakeside Musing (here).  I must agree with what she said about it. I have taped an episode of Insight on the ABC tv here about people who deal with aloneness and I noticed this author is on theachael  panel but I have yet to finish the book. I will probably read more but I’m not in a hurry.

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More interesting is the story Australian journalist Rachael Brown from Victoria has written about a cold case death that happened in Melbourne in 1980. She launched the book Trace, at Fuller’s a couple of weeks ago and my friend and I went along. Fascinating. We bought the book and I have just begun it. It involves some very corrupt Victorian police from that time and the protection at all costs of a group of extremely dodgy priests from the Catholic Church. I continue to be amazed at what crawls out of the woodwork about priests and bishops these days.  A gripping story. What a professional journalist with bucketloads of integrity this young woman possesses.

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The following week my friend and I went to the launch of The Nowhere Child by Christian White. It was a smaller group of attendees than Trace but we had a fun discussion of this book. The story is fiction but the events throughout the book are based on fact. Like the Pentecostal church members who have ceremonies around rattle snake handling. Australian Kim Leamy is the protagonist and she is approached by a stranger from Kentucky in America who is investigating the disappearance of a child 28 years ago.  He believes Kim is the missing child. I have not started this book yet but am looking forward to it. It goes back and forth between Australia and Kentucky.

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I will also mention  Priestdaddy: A Memoir (memoirs seems to be everywhere these days) by author Patricia Lockwood.  I have just rejoined Fuller’s book club after a couple of years break and this is the book for October. I will talk more about it after the group meets in the first week.

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We also finished  final play of the term in my U3A play reading class, A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney. Set in the 1950’s in North West England, it tells the story of Jo a 17 year old working class girl, and her mother, who is a very crude and sexually indisriminate difficult mother. The things they get up to…. Very much enjoyed by our class reading aloud about a slice of poverty in 1950s England.

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Oh Yeah, I’m also listening to A Diary of a Provincial Lady by  E. M. Delafield (1890 – 1943) now when I am in the car.  I’m getting through it quite quickly and it is gently amusing.  It was the August book for the Fuller’s book club so I decided to listen to it with one of my audible credits. It will go towards my Century of Books challenge (1930). It is largely autobiographical told through the pages of a journal, which is a format I dearly enjoy.  I heard there were mixed opinions of this novel in the book club group. I’m not sure if I will follow up with the sequels of her story.

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For those of you suffering heat waves I thought I’d share a photo of what Mt. Wellington looks like this week. Beautiful snow.

This kind of catches you up on the bookish side of life in South Hobart.  I have three overseas trips coming up between now and May of 2019 and have been spending time wrapping up payments and paperwork for those. The first begins in two weeks when I am heading to the San Francisco area of California to spend three weeks with my sister.  I’m hoping photography and books play a part in this trip as well as maybe a short road trip or two.  The penguin is going with me and…..wait for this….he may be taking a couple of friends of his…..the Bald Eagle and the American Robin.  So stay tuned for that.

I have done some fun photography also and am looking forward to sharing the visit to the Raptor Refuge over the weekend with you.  We were trained in what Tasmania has to offer regarding the beautiful raptors and what to do or how to handle if finding an injured one. More on that later and I’ll share the photos of the release we observed of a rehabilitated Peregrine Falcon that is just too stunning for words.

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Whew!! I hope this didn’t get too boring.  I’ll try to post up again soon and the next six weeks should have a bit of fun as well as some more books, arts, travel and photography.

Have you read any of these books?  I’d love to know if you enjoyed them or not. Back soon…gardner

Weekend Wander- 7 July, 2018

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New Jammies

 

This has been a hectic week so today Mr. Penguin and I are having a Pyjama Day. It’s cold out. There’s been a lot of rain with more to come. It’s winter in Tasmania. Pajama Day is a day where you wear daggy clothes, stay home, read books, put a roast in the slow cooker and drink hot drinks…all…day…long.

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Stamp commemorating the Berliner Ensemble Production

Tuesday our play reading class made good progress on Mother Courage and Her Children by the German dramatist and poet Bertolt Brecht (1898- 1956).  It is an anti-war play rated as one of the most important plays of the 20th century. It takes place over a period of 12 years in 12 scenes.  The class is enjoying it very much.

Wednesday had our Writing Group admitting a new member. This week’s topic was “about a walk”. It could be a walk in nature, a walk you’d like to do, a walk you’ve done.  It has been a popular topic and we had a variety of perspectives.

I am also reading an interesting little book I found in the South Hobart Tip Shop. It’s called Circuit and is written by Francisco Jiménez. He was born in Mexico in 1943. He was the second oldest of nine children. When he was four years old his family escaped into the United States. The family worked as migrant farm workers. He started working in the fields with his family when he was six.  They would move with the seasons of crops and he missed a lot of school.  When he reached grade 8, his family was deported Snip20180707_1back to Mexico but they legally returned a few months later. His father developed back problems not long after and that caused them to stop moving and he settled into school. He went onto Santa Clara University getting his B.A. in Spanish in 1966. He then became a U.S. citizen. Throughout school he and his brother supported themselves working as janitors.   He went on to attend Columbia University to get his Master’s and Ph.D. in Latin American Literature. He later married and had three children.

He wrote a series of books about his life as a migrant worker. I thought the book is relevant to what is happening in the United States now.  It appears to be written for a younger audience and I can compare it to a simpler version of The Grapes of Wrath but from a Mexican view point.  It raises important issues and details the hardships that migrant workers face between escaping a poorer, more dangerous life,  trying not to get caught by U.S. immigration officials. Mexican migrants work incredibly hard and American agriculture wouldn’t survive without migrant workers. 

I picked this book up because I was drawn to the cover. I am really enjoying it and will be finished with it very soon.

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Uncle Buck and Odie are the best of friends.

On a personal note we had a bit of trauma with our brain injured cat, Uncle Buck (aged 12). We’ve had him since he was three weeks old.  He came home with me as a kitten from a veterinary practise I was working in at the time. He had been badly injured and wasn’t expected to live but 12 years later he is an important member of our family. He has neurological damage and as a result of that he only chews on the left side of his mouth. That means the right side gums and teeth need to be watched. He was to undergo a general anaesthetic but he crashed on the table so the procedure was aborted. This hadn’t happened before but our lovely veterinarians and their nurse got him back after a good five minutes and he survived. It was described to me by one of the vets as “controlled panic.”  We have been keeping a close eye on him. It turns out he reacted negatively to the anaesthetic and after Friday’s ultrasound we learned he has been diagnosed with cardio-myopathy. It pays to have health insurance on your pets. He begins medication next week and we are happy to report he is back to his purring self.

Thursday was a lovely day. I mean lovely. Sunny,  16 degrees and no wind. That’s 60 degrees to my North American friends and relatives. Mr. Penguin dropped me in town with my camera for the afternoon on his way to the gym. I spent the next couple of hours meandering through Battery Point and Salamanca as well as the waterfront for the next couple of hours. Both of us needed a very stress free day after the previous activities and events.  Battery Point is the oldest section of Hobart. The original settlement began here.  I include a few photos here.

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Arthur’s Circus is the name of this circular street. The cottages are lovely.

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Old and New
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View of the Derwent River from Princess Park

When I got home my friend rang me and said she was looking forward to us going to the theatre on Friday night. I said, “What?”.  We booked Sweeney Todd at the Playhouse some time ago and I hadn’t put it in the diary. As both of us laughingly state, “If it’s not in the diary it doesn’t happen.” So last night was a meal out and a three hour (including intermission) of Sweeney Todd. It was a musical and very gruesome. The story goes (in a nutshell). English man married with child. He gets transported to Australia for a crime and returns after 15 yrs. He meets the pie shop owner who falls in love with him. She tells him his wife has died. But a daughter remains and is holed up in a mansion with a lecherous judge who adopted her at a young age but now wants to marry her. He wants his daughter back but can’t get past the judge. The pie shop isn’t doing well.  The man is a trained barber but has competition. He ends up killing the competition and when trying to work out what to do with the body, they decide to bake him in the pies. The pie shop takes off because the pies are so delicious. To keep business going the barber continues to slash the throats of those in his chair if they are strangers or loners (no one will miss them) and keep the pie business booming.  I won’t give away anymore but the trend does continue with a few surprises.  We enjoyed the play but after three hours in a hot theatre we were glad to get out in the winter’s night air at 11:00pm. Snip20180707_5

This pretty much brings you up to date on last week’s wandering. I’m hoping for a quieter one next week. Snip20180527_1

Weekend Wander- 25 June, 2018

Snip20180625_10Although it’s Monday morning here it’s still the weekend in some parts of the world.  The past two weeks have been busier than usual.  Mr. Penguin has been housesitting a friend’s house the past six weeks and that means the care of our five animals has been busier than usual.  Vet appointments, three cats using a litter box that needs cleaning four or five times a day. Feeding and exercising the dogs.  I did get a book read though.  A friend of mine started the Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I had started it when it first came out but got distracted by something and put it back on the shelf.  Since I’m trying to read books I own I thought it was a good time to start again, finish it and move it on.

 

Generally, I enjoyed this book.  For those who haven’t read it (though I think everyone I know is ahead of me on this book) it begins with Harold hearing from a work colleague of 20 years ago telling him she is dying of cancer and wants him to know.  There is a commitment he feels towards her though we don’t know that story until the end.  He walks out the door to post a letter he wrote back to her and decides to keep walking. He plans to walk the length of England to visit her because he gets it in his head if he achieves this task she will not die.  The book is about his walk, the people he meets and more than that, the reflection of his life since childhood.  During his long days of walking he is confronted with the way he lived his life, the things he felt he didn’t achieve, his relationships with his son and his wife, Maureen.  There is a secondary storyline of Maureen. Since Harold left so suddenly she is now confronted by her aloneness and thoughts of her marriage. As she faces her own demons she begins to come out of her self imposed shell and you can see where this might be going.

There are revelations along the way that help us understand these two dysfunctional people.  I enjoyed the book for the most part. I did think it was too long though. There were a couple of story lines I thought were unnecessary.  As he walks he gains fame in the British press and hangers on start surrounding him on his walk. I found this section tedious and annoying, as I felt this section wasn’t as well developed as the rest of the story between him, Maureen and Queenie, the woman he was hoping to meet up with at the end.  A young boy is thrown in the mix as well as a dog and a man who follows along as part of a group of strangers, trying to take notes of the excursion dressed in a gorilla suit.  I found that was just annoying.

I am happy I can finally move this book off my shelves and move on.

I might add the past few weeks had me seeing several films.  Tea with the Dames featuring Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins was a brilliant film. They spend a pleasant afternoon talking about their lives, their careers and their families. Some great clips of their career history are also included.

Lost in Paris is a pleasant Belgium produced film with a Paris setting.  It is filmed in the tradition of some of the old silent films of early history including those of Charlie Chaplin.  The actors are almost caricatures and I loved it. Charming, quirky, with a fun story line and some very good humour.

Last night I saw The Bookshop.  I found it a film that passed the evening pleasantly enough but not earth shattering. Bill Nighy is in it and that’s what made me want to see it. The story was a bit of a non event, predictable and I even figured out the ending. However having said that, the young actress who plays her child assistant in the film who works in the bookshop is worth the ticket price. She was charming and the scenery was gorgeous.   I wouldn’t drive cross country in heavy traffic to see this movie, but if you’re home alone, tired of having five animals sitting on you every chance they get and need a bit of respite it was pleasant enough.

I rounded out the week with some time out at Cornelian Bay, which is a dog park and sports oval on the River Derwent in Hobart. The dogs had a great time for the afternoon. Then when the cold settled in that night Odie got to sleep in his new warm jumper once the heating was turned off for the night.  Hopefully Mr. Penguin will be home in a few days and things will return to a bit of normalcy.

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Odie feels most trendy in his new jumper.

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Weekend Wander – 9 June, 2018

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My copy is the 23rd edition published in 1926. Published by then PF Volland Co.

Beloved Belindy by Johnny Gruelle

For our writing group we had to write a paragraph or two about one of the oldest objects we still own.  Of course I thought of my childhood books and decided to introduce the group to Beloved Belindy.

I own quite a few very old books. Although I don’t have many left over from my childhood this is one that has travelled with me whenever I moved. I don’t remember how I acquired it but it has been with me for more than 60 years.

As a child I loved the Raggedy Ann and Andy series of books written and illustrated by Johnny Gruelle.

Johnny Gruelle, according to Wikipedia, was born in Arcola, Illinois, in 1880. He died in 1938.Snip20180609_8

He began his career as a painter and cartoonist but then went on to illustrate books. He was friends with James Whitcomb Riley who wrote Little Orphan Annie.

The story goes that his daughter Marcella brought from her grandmother’s attic a faceless doll on which the artist drew a face. But this story was evidently a myth according to his biographer, Patricia Hall. In reality, Gruelle’s wife Myrtle told Hall, it was Gruelle who retrieved a long forgotten, homemade rag doll from the attic of his parent’s home sometime around the turn of the 20th century. There was something he was looking for in the attic when he found an old doll his mother had made for his sister. He thought it would make a good story.

 

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You can see how many friends she had to care for.

What he was most famous for was his series of books about two rag dolls called Raggedy Ann and Andy.  I read everyone of those books from the Grand Ledge, Michigan library in the 1950’s.

All of the dolls in the Raggedy Ann and Andy series came to life at night and played in their mistress’s playroom upstairs in an old house.  They had big adventures and got into much  mischief.  Not only did Ann and Andy come to life but they had quite a few friends. Readers never knew if they were brother and sister or husband and wife. We never thought about it.

There was Beloved Belindy who was the black nanny who took care of everyone.  I know Beloved Belindy isn’t politically correct but back in the 1950’s I adored her. She could cook large meals, gather eggs from the hens and organise garden parties.  One night she cleaned up Percy the policeman when he got covered in flour from some misadventure they encounted when they ventured into the kitchen. Beloved Belindy could also stitch their ragdoll injuries, sew button eyes back on if they fell off or mend their britches if they were snagged while climbing trees. 

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There was always a moral message in American children’s books.

They represented the best that friendship had to offer. They were kind to each other and worked together so they would enjoy the adventures they set out on each night. 

I used to think it would be wonderful if all of my dolls and stuffed animals came to life at night. I would have given anything at that time to hang out with the Raggedy Ann crew and share the events they organised.

Are there any American readers out there that loved these characters as a child, or dressed up as them on Halloween night?

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I laughed that Percy has to serve the plates because he is a man doll.
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As a child you know nothing about stereotypes.

 

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Raggedy Penguin

Weekend Wander- 27 May, 2018

Thank you for the suggestions put forward for naming my weekend posts. I enjoyed hearing your ideas. Also I had a few suggestions from friends on facebook too. I liked Whispering Gums idea of using the word ‘scoop’.  I did try to work it in Sue.

In the end I needed to look at the purpose and the name of my blog and as the word ‘Travellin’ plays a big part….well, no need to explain. The weekend posts will simply be a summary of how the week was spent and hopefully will motivate me to get out there and do stuff when the wind blows, the rain pummels and I know friends are out there with hot cups of coffee.
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The Past Read:  Okay, I’ve been harping on about the Levison Wood Travel books. Exploring the Nile, Exploring Central America and Exploring the Himalayas.  I got about 2/3 ‘s of the way through the Himalayas and finally gave it the old Heave Ho.  He had a very bad car accident in the book. It was amazing, really, that he survived it. I thought the book would end right then and there.  His car plunged down a very steep ravine, rolling dozens of times, yet everyone survived but he was very broken after that. He had to return to England, heal and then start the trip again where he left off.  I just got tired of the drama and the history being repeated and the descriptions of the Nepalese earthquake began to sound the same.  (No, I’m not belittling what happened there.) I unplugged the audio. I got the gist.

Snip20180527_2The current read: I was ready to move on.  I’m currently reading Think Like An Artist by Will Gompertz. It is a small book, about A5 size. The paper feels good to the touch, like a heavy newsprint. The illustrations are fun. Lots of stick figures throughout. He describes an artist as anyone who creates anything in any medium.  I’m on a photography jag at the moment and reading anything that increases my skills or my motivation. Did I say that winter is on its way?

Here is the blurb from the back of the book that sucked me in when I saw it at Fuller’s book store recently. (No comments about sticking to those TBR books on the shelf. My staunchest critics may not be better at leaving a book store empty handed than I am.)                             Stick tongue out here.
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After spending years getting up close and personal with some of the world’s greatest  creative thinkers, the BBC’s Arts Editor Will Gompertz has discovered a handful of traits common to them all. Basic practices and processes that allow their talents to flourish, and which we can adopt-  no matter what we do- to help us achieve extraordinary things too. It’s time to Think Like an Artist and…”Snip20180527_4

The Film:   Now- on to the rest of the week.  I won a ticket to see the film Kodachrome at the State Cinema in North Hobart on Monday. I probably would not have seen it without the freebie but the name ‘Kodachrome’ did have me seriously looking it up on IMDB. I remember reading an article in some magazine quite awhile ago that the lab that developed Kodachrome film was closing and an important photographer was credited with developing the last film out there and after that there would be no more.  A sad thought really. Think of all those beautiful photos taken over the years by National Geographic photographers.  I remember seeing pictures of the photos he took. He lived somewhere in the United States.Snip20180527_5

In this film, Ed Harris played the crotchety old photographer. He’s dying and his personal nurse, who is a very attractive young woman contacts his son, who he has fallen out with. Predictable story, right?  The old photographer had to be driven across the U.S. in order to get his film developed before the last lab closed its door.  The son says, “No way” the nurse says ‘way’. Before you know it they are in a classic convertible car pounding the freeway across the country. Arguments, enlightenment, a disastrous visit to the old man’s  brother’s home in Ohio.   It was predictable, predictable, predictable as only Hollywood can do. Moralistic and a do you think it had a happy ever after ending?

The best part of the film was when they rolled the credits and the audience members could see some beautiful photos from history from National Geographic photographers alongside the credit information.  But hey, it was free, so who am I to complain.  I like films.  I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the theatre and time to myself.

The Wander:  Friday had me in the small country town of Kempton with friends at the Huntingfield Pub.  One of our senior club excursions. I drove and transported three other ladies in my small car to much chatter and good humour. Thirteen of us turned up, ordered our meals and sat down. One hour, 20 minutes later the food arrived.  As usual the normal complainers started in and the good humoured ones continued to enjoy each other’s company. When the food did arrive it was very good. Typical situation where the owner only has two staff on board to take orders, sell Keno tickets, cook the meal and clean up.  My motto is just relax and enjoy the present moment. We were warm, the people were nice and the views of the country were gorgeous.

In ending this post I will post up the posts. Kempton is a small farming community, about a 45 minute drive north of Hobart off the midlands Highway, (Hwy 1). Notice in the photos there is no wind or rain and the sun was glorious.  A good day was had by all (except the regular two who never have a good day). Fortunately I know they won’t be reading this post.

The Photos:

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St Mary’s Anglican Church

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Town Centre

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I liked this little garden area.
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Second hand shop- check out the old photograph of the lady getting dressed. It looked so out of place on this little nook.
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The old churchyard in back of St Mary’s

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The traveller is never too far away from sheep when in Tasmania

The Latest Outfit:

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All ready for autumn.