The Year Continues to Speed by…

I’ve been busy catching up on blog reading but lately there are too many posts to comment on so my comments are a bit sporadic. And sometimes there just isn’t a good response to make so I slide into the next one.

I’ve been following the Intrepid Arkansawyer for awhile now and I really like her format. It is in the format of a weekly diary and details not only books and tv events she watches but life with her mother and cats. I like the personal touch.

So I think I might try a bit of the diary format as I find if I wait too long before I post, it is just overwhelming to remember and write everything that happened since my last post, so I don’t. I would like to post more often.

So here goes… MONDAY:

Today was quite hectic. I did my normal weight training after a trip on the bus into town. Only 5 in the group so was nice. Getting strong. Then had a couple of errands before getting the bus back. I recently got this cookbook called Recipetin Eats Dinner by Navi Maehashi. Evidently this is one of the fastest selling cookbooks out there. I have looked at some of her you tube videos (recipetin) and really like her no nonsense approach to good food with a wonderful Asian slant to it.

I bought ingredients for one of her recipes I’ll cook tomorrow.

Once home I had to take Ollie to vet for a check on his surgery wound. He is doing good but has now been confined for six weeks and he really is over it. Thursday he has his sedation and x-ray to see how his leg has settled.

For relaxation this week I am reading Heather Rose’s newest book, her memoir called Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here.


Needing to get rice for today’s RecipeTin recipe. Teriyaki Beef Bowl. I’ll let you know if we like it.

More reading on the Heather Rose book. Since I missed her launch as she was the author I wrote about earlier making us wait so long for the event to begin and also on Ollie’s surgery day I was not keen to indulge her on her book. Just being stubborn. But I am so enjoying the book. Her life has been remarkable and extremely different to what I, with biased thinking, thought it would be. Her writing is very visual and I can see the places in Tassie she writes about and her experiences with the Native Americans in the USA as a young adult we’re just incredible.

I am quite surprised she survived her youth after reading of those experiences and her time in Asia in the 80s. I would recommend this book as I am just speeding through it and I don’t speed through books generally. I am enjoying the part now where she has just completed the Overland track walk with her 13 yr old son. Quite funny. I read her book Bruny previously but think I need to get her book The Museum of Modern Love.

I just had some good news from Australian Photography Magazine. Two photos I entered into the Photographer of the Year competition have been shortlisted. I’ll share them here than publish this as I have a big event coming up Thursday and this post will be too long if I include it. This is now Part One.

Winners of photography competition will be announced the end of January. I have no thoughts of being in the top ones but am very happy to be shortlisted.

Photos below: 1. Global Warming melts the Sydney Opera House.

The Retired Showman.

Stay tuned for Part 2, end of week.

Still Coping with this Tasmanian spring…..

…..of a great deal of wind and rain and cool temperatures. However we are going to reach a high of 19 degrees C today, (56F) so the temps are beginning to climb.

I got up early this morning and finished the book, Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down. This book won Australia’s Miles Franklin literary award 2022 and was short listed for the Stella prize here.

I have heard a few say they don’t want to read it due to the subject matter but it is a wonderfully complex story (IMHO) and once into it I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Maggie, the protagonist.

Here is the blurb on the back of book: “A quiet small town existence. An unexpected Facebook message, jolting her back to the past. A history she’s reluctant to revisit: dark memories and unspoken trauma, warning knocks on bedroom walls, unfathomable loss. She became a new person a long time ago. What happens when buried stories are dragged into the light?”

The story starts with Maggie as a 4 yr old. Her mother has left and she is left with her father. When he is imprisoned for manslaughter, her life in foster care and institutional care begins. We follow Maggie until she is in her 40s and see the ramifications of a traumatic childhood. It went in directions I could not have predicted and once into this story I think the reader is really on her side.

I found the writing amazing and the characters jumped off the page.

I’m not going to say another word about her journey as it would spoil her trajectory.

Here is another book I’m reading from the library:

Postcards from the Asylum by Tasmanian poet Karen Knight. I went to a Fullers book launch a week ago of a book of poetry she and her photography partner put together. He would take photos of the landscape of the Tasman peninsula (google Tasman Peninsula photos if you want to see it’s beauty) and she wrote a poem to go with each photo. I did not buy this book but I was interested in a previous book she mentioned that she published in 2008. It is a book of poetry of her time as an inmate at the Royal Derwent Psychiatric Hospital in 1969.

Willow court has a very old history as a hospital, lunatic asylum, psychiatric hospital and all manner of people were incarcerated there over the decades. Many with disabilities, immigrants from WWII who could not speak English, the mentally ill. It didn’t take much to end up there. It closed in 2000 and I was working for Disability Services at the time. We supported residents moving into community homes as part of a team. Reading the files of my clients made for disturbing reads and although the buildings of Willow court still stand many are now derelict with their steel bars over windows and even a moat round one building. Various organisations have tried to make a go of different enterprises since but the government has been less than helpful in managing anything to do with this place. Vandalism and graffiti have taken its toll and who knows what might happen to these heritage buildings in the future.

I am looking forward to seeing how she manages her poetry of such a dark place.

Well, I am off to the gym soon on the bus so I will move along here and leave you with a photo or two to cheer this post up a bit.

Our spring tulips from Botanical garden.
A small bandicoot that was also feeling safe at the gardens. They are small marsupials. Only found in Australia.

I Don’t Feel So Bad About My love for the Penguin

I have to do this. When I was in the wonderful days of collecting my Penguin books beginning about 2011 or so, I forget. I acquired the little mascot of Penguin.

Since then he has travelled with me as I travelled in 6 continents on both holidays and book collecting these lovely vintage books. A couple of years ago, with 3000 books of varying Penguins on the shelves, specially built shelving and many travel stories the journey is over, having sold the library a couple of years ago. Getting older one begins to worry what will become of our valued collections.

However the Penguin remained. I couldn’t part with him and I take him with me still. In my 70s, I now travel, embarrassingly at times with him. He recently accompanied me to Sydney and whenever I take him out of my bag or pocket to hurriedly take his photo while he enjoys the sites, as my childhood takes over, I almost turn red in the face. But today that all changed.

I read this article in the Guardian.

It is a wonderful article about adults who take comfort from inanimate friends. The story I love the most is the last one about the recently widowed woman in her 70s who acquired a teddy bear for comfort. They watch the news together and she stated she tells him “what sons of bitches they all are.” I really laughed out loud. Who is to say what the appropriate age is to give up their soft friends.

I think now I’m going to feature our household Penguin even more here. After all he’s sat on walls in Cornwall looking out to sea. He sat on the porch of Doc Martin’s porch. He’s been on camera safari in Namibia and Botswana. He had tea in Japan with several,people in our group who would borrow him for their own photo opportunities. That was quite funny as they posed him with cherry blossoms in yards we walked by.

He’s been in the subways of Moscow and once he fell off our bookshelf and one of our dogs grabbed him. I really saved his life that day.

So while this post isn’t about reading books now or going to many places, I do feel like this article in the Guardian may be life changing. I wonder how many other adults out there refuse to give up a childhood friend or find comfort in hard times with an old friend.

I haven’t gotten to the point that he goes into the will but you never know. I hope everyone is having a pleasant weekend and maybe this post puts a smile on your face.

Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore? (HW Beecher)

It’s been a good week in southern Tasmania despite the confused weather. One day I’m outside with the dogs in the sun, the next day there are snow flurries and it looks to continue over the coming days.

Shaun Micallef and Marta Dusseldorp

The gym I attend started a new way to kill us. I attended my first “barre’” class. It is a combination of ballet, Pilates and yoga. I just passed my 2 yr anniversary of weight training and this new addition was great though I was on paracetamol for the next two days so I could walk. My second class is coming up this coming week. So much fun. 😏 , no really!

I attended a couple of really fun book launches through Fullers book shop over the past couple of weeks. Australian tv presenter and comedian, Shaun Micallef has released a new book, Tripping Over Myself. The launch was held in the historic Town Hall as he was interviewed by actor Marta Düsseldorp, who I really admire. I’ve not really followed Shaun but he was very entertaining. I went because I admire Marta so much and have seen her performances both live and on television. The two of them really played off each other and there were lots of laughs, The book is autobiographical related to his rise as a comedian and presenter.

The other book launch was the children’s book Runt by Craig Silvey, author of Jasper Jones and Honeybee. The book, though written for younger readers is also touted to be enjoyed by adults. A tale of resilience and hope and everyone wanted to read this book by the time we left. Looking to the future it could very well be an Australian children’s classic and will most likely be made into a film. Craig was an entertaining speaker and quite a bit of conversation went on around me as question time had many people putting up their hands, including one child. The feel of the book is wonderful due to the texture of the cover and the illustrations are like the sparse black and white children’s book of the past. I just loved it.

I was going to add the books I’m travelling in this week but as this is starting to become long I will post a part 2 soon.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a couple of bird photos I took during the last 10 days exploring nature reserves with friends.

Superb Blue Wren also known as fairy wren. He was singing his heart out.
Welcome swallow.

All the best for the coming week.

A Very Miscellaneous Week

Sunday night, looking to another week upon us. Isn’t this year just sailing by.

It’s been a real mish mash this week but I am into two books and I feel the need to read upon me. Some snippets from the week.

Visiting Hours

Our dog Ollie injured his cruciate ligament and had a big surgery on Thursday. Those of you who know dogs will know how much care a post surgical dog takes. One rough coated Jack Russell who is used to having his own way most of the time and never holding still. One who is now confined to a pen with a cone around his neck and enough pain meds to stop a horse. Forget our bank balance. Thank goodness for pet insurance is all I can say.

Birding Without Borders : An Obsession, A Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World - Noah Strycker

One day last week I was invited to go on a morning photography excursion to photograph birds. I haven’t done specific bird photography before but I do have a long lens and with two friends we spent a lovely morning hunting birds. Photographers can be divided into two types of people. The hunters and the fishermen. The hunters stalk their photos, walking for miles or climbing hills looking for the photo. Fishermen sit still for hours waiting for the photo to come to them. Thursday we started out hunting but ended up fishing. I got a good shot of a silver eye and several more of swallows. Ever try to photograph swooping, flying swallows? It’s very difficult but fun trying. Will share a photo of swallows in another post but here is the silver eye.

We met three old men taking their morning stroll on the track we were walking on. One asked if we wanted to photograph 3 old buzzards. Then another one told us he had just seen a “red headed blackberry picker” up the track. They were just full of it. Nice to see them enjoying themselves.

Once home I pulled a birding, travel book off my shelf and began it. Birding Without Borders by Noah Strycker.

The blurb states: Noah Strycker set himself a goal: to become the first person to see half the world’s 10,000 species of bird in one year.

With an itinerary covering 41 countries, spanning all seven continents, and armed with a backpack, binoculars, and a series of one-way tickets, he sets out on the greatest adventure in the birding world. Along the way he meets a colorful cast of fellow birders—and discovers a world of blood-sucking leeches, chronic sleep deprivation, floods, war zones, ecologic devastation, and conservation triumphs.

Vivid, charming, and full of wonder, Birding Without Borders is a celebration of passion, exploration, and the birders’ ethos that, if you keep your eyes and mind open, you never know what you might see

The other book I’m reading and enjoying is Atomic Habits by James Clear. I wanted to read something that was motivational to fall in line with motivation for my health and fitness. I enjoy my weight class and fitness work …..once I am there. It is getting there with enthusiasm I need to work on. I’d heard a lot of good things about this book and I am not a self help book fan but I am enjoying this very much. I am listening to it on Audible and have it on whenever I’m in the car which lately has been a lot.

For the foreseeable future…. My plans are to continue to get my book enthusiasm back and make time for one day a week to do more bird photography.

When attending university in Michigan years ago I took an ornithology class as everyone there had to do at least 2 yrs of basic courses before deciding on a major and minor. Part of the final exam consisted of 25 tape recorders and sets of headphones of bird calls that had to be identified. I have always wanted to be able to identify more birds and their calls in Australia, especially the small ones. This could very well be a bonus to the photography. We’ll see how it goes. I know a lot of American birds but now I might learn about more Australian ones.

The other night I went to see the book launch of Heather Rose’s newest book. It was to begin at 5:30 pm. However when I arrived, there was a cast of thousands, many seats reserved by her so the rest of us had to sit in the back, overcrowded with recording equipment and cameras and very bright spotlights. This particular room holds 80 people but there must have been twice that with very few wearing masks. Heather continued to make her way around a myriad of people, chatting, hugging. More chatting and more hugging. Well that day Ollie had his surgery. I had been on the photography excursion in the morning, later having discussions with the vets. I was tired and I couldn’t cope with all the mayhem around this particular book launch.

Author Heather Rose and Tim, Owner-Manager Fullers Book shop

Fullers are very good at keeping launches from 5:30 to 6:15 then time for questions and out the door just past half past. Most authors who are well attended have a party or large gathering elsewhere or just stay on after the launch but this had already begun. This author would leave the room, come back, sit down and chat some more to old friends and acquaintances. At 6:10 I’d had enough. Tim, the manager of Fullers was herding cats. There were so many people, many who were quite elderly all waiting for her to start and she just didn’t. There has been so much hype about this book. Anyway, I walked out at 6:10 and went home. I’m sure the talk would have been good but I really think she should have just begun earlier and then talked to everyone who wanted to talk to her or she wanted to catch up with after the event. Many people there were not friends of hers. I like to keep perspective. It’s a book launch for one book not the coronation of King Charles. I thought it was ridiculous but others may disagree and I was tired and it was hot in the room. So moving forward.

Well, I guess that catches you up on the week. Here’s hoping I enjoy the books, Ollie continues to heal and get rid of the cone and none of us catch the new strains of Covid. I won’t even mention the cruise ships that have been dumping people on our shores this week. With Covid people quarantining on board the ship.

I hope everyone is staying well and enjoying books and anything else of interest to you. I’m also enjoying a few days of 20 degrees C and NO rain. All the best…..

The silver eye who is very camouflaged.

Be Able To Be Alone. Lose Not The Advantage of Solitude -Thomas Brown (1605-1682)

From my shelf…….

Today I am going to share a recently purchased book with you. It’s not the regular type of book I buy but I think it will be lovely. That is why I want to share it with you.

These Ranunculus brighten anybody’s day.

How many of you are familiar with the Danish magazine FLOW? I subscribed to it or just picked it up when I saw it. It could be quite difficult to find. Then with all that’s happening in the world they stopped printing it in English and the library I only had Danish copies. The editors have a love affair with books, bookmarks, cooking lovely treats, paper in all it’s forms, self wellness, little trips, big trips and beautiful art work. I have kept most of my back copies simply to cut apart for my art postcards I share with others around the world.

But it disappeared for a long time. Then walking through my home away from home, Fullers bookstore in Hobart, their little icon caught my eye at a book as I passed it. I stopped in my tracks , grabbed it off the shelf before I saw they had more than one copy tucked away behind the display book. I loved it.

It has been designed to continue sharing everything I loved in the magazine. It has postcards in it, a nature journal to fill up, a biscuit (cookie) recipe and a page of lovely tear apart bookmarks.

It gives fun advice for dealing with darker moods. Not full on depression but those days when one feels lethargic, out of sorts and full on contrariness. It recognises compassion, loneliness, self image and encourages activities for doing the small things in your community to get out of your own head as we deal with global warming, war and Covid to name a few. Little things to just get you moving that is guaranteed to get you out of your head on those funky days. Go to a museum, have a coffee and chat to someone, exercise with a walk in your neighbourhood or in nature. Pick up some colours and draw. Get back in touch with enjoying child like wonder. It is completely illustrated with beautiful artistic illustrations. It really is a happy book, impossible to leaf through without perking up and having a few, “I could do that”, “awwww” and “that looks yummy”. Bottom line….just MOVE!

I’ll leave you with some photos and as I progress through it on the days I’m so sick of rainy days where I deal with wet, muddy dogs, standing at the bus stop with the sound of rain on my hood, on those days I can’t get out with my camera…..this little book just may pop up again as I consider their advice and get moving to counteract the annoyances of our world.

I’d enjoy hearing about a book or activity that pulls you out of the doldrums. Stay well.

The Book Events I’ll Be Attending…

For the most part. I am looking forward to meeting a lot of interesting writers in the coming months. The authors here will be of interest to Australian readers but I’d like to encourage readers in other states to attend author events.

There are always a lot of speakers one can go to but I find writers are the most interesting. The authors speak for 30 to 40 minutes with 15 or 20 minutes for questions. Fullers time keeping is impeccable and I appreciate that.

One day I might hear about Antarctica. Another day I might hear how another writer came up with the fantasy idea that is in his or her novel. Sometimes it’s political or environmental. Often times I have enjoyed an artistic conversation or seen some wonderful photography.

Writers encompass all subjects and thoughts and I often walk away from these events having learned something new to this old brain. Writers make me think. Sometimes I disagree with their points of view but I hear about the issue in a different way. Many times I am entertained such as hearing the music of the late Archie Roach.

There are author events in many cities around the world and if you are fortunate enough to live near these events I’d encourage you to attend, even if you aren’t familiar with the person. It is an inexpensive way to support your local book shop and have a different kind of an evening.

Australians will appreciate the agenda in Hobart this next month.

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.” — James M. Barrie

Our cat enclosure we call the lockup.

I am back and hope to be back again sooner this time. I had a great many things to catch up on in life and I gave films and books a complete miss for almost a month. I just put my head down and moved forward with a myriad of chores, new structures, health jobs and all that’s worth doing around here.

Now I look ahead to the rest of spring and summer with more spare time and a new reading area in our back “lockup”. Our lockup is a lanai type area behind our house and we enclosed it with lattice panels and laser light ceiling. It has a large passion fruit vine just cut back a bit as it was taking over. It is a lovely area for our cats to be outdoors as we don’t believe in letting cats roam outdoors, especially in Australia where so many native animals are small and cars are often driven by hoons.

So this post is pretty book free….but not entirely. I bought a small electric folding bike and I need to learn to ride it. Approaching age 73 next month, my balance is not great and although I work on it in the gym and at home, I think riding a bike will help. Waiting for a mirror to arrive as I hate being on roads around here without a mirror. I never understood why bicyclists don’t use mirrors like motorbikers.

I have done a bit of photography and magazine reading but no books. I have attended several book launches.

Today I received a lovely, short book by Sarah Bernhardt called In The Clouds from my Renard press subscription. I think I will ease back into reading with this 95 page novella published in 1878 to the utter dismay of Gustave Flaubert, when it replaced his.

I hope everyone has stayed well and has been enjoying hearing about the Booker Price announced today. The Sri Lankan book looks very interesting as were the other books it was up against. They were certainly different from each other. I would hate to be a judge.

Well that is me for the moment so I am happy to be online again.

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.


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.