Wandering on a Wednesday

Molly
What are YOU looking at?

This morning I have to take Molly to the doctor for her elbow. It pops out sometime. This is following another day when I book her into the hairdresser.  Grizzy has been the one that keeps me busy with the doctor but he seems to be doing okay now.  Grizzy is our black cat. He is only two years old.

No, Molly is not human.  She is our little silky terrier cross, madam of the house.  She is undergoing a series of anti inflammatory injections (once a week for a month, than once a month for—well, forever probably.) The hairdresser is really Woofer’s of Hobart and she will have a bath and a haircut. But she can’t get in until after mid February.  She will come home with a pink bow attached to her collar and she will think she is pretty special.

Odie
All I need is here.

She will put our Odie into the corner after the vet appointment this morning.  Everything is always Odie’s fault. She is 13 and after several years of being second in command she is now the Queen Bee, in charge of one other dog and three cats.  There are few signs of slowing down.  She is a terrible manager. She is a bully, a disrespectful, narcissistic tomboy at times who blames everyone else in the household for anything she doesn’t like.  She will turn up at the vet’s office, be sweet as pie. Butter wouldn’t melt……  “What a sweet dog you have” the nurses will coo. What an act. She can really turn it on.  But once home, she will run in the house, find Odie, who is at least 4 time her size and

dogs
Best Friends Even if Everything is Odie’s fault.

put him in the corner with lip raised. It is his fault she had to go to the vet’s. Everything in life is his fault.  Odie almost rolls his eyes and gets on with life. He knows how to ignore her. After a sideways glance at me, as though to say, “Do you believe her?”   Then she will jump into Mr. Penguin’s lap and give him kisses. She is a daddy’s girl. He lets her get away with murder. I make her behave. I tell her things she must do. She looks at me, walks over to him, and jumps in his lap….then looks at me. “What are you going to do about it?” she challenges.  What a laugh.

I started this post, ready to write a quick “what did I think about” the book Extinctions by Josephine Wilson. When I put my fingers to the keyboard, Molly popped into my head. By the way, we call her Monkey.  That is her nickname and she responds better to that than Molly.  For 13 years she has been our Monkey. I will write about Extinctions soon.  But the sun is shining, it looks to be a beautiful day. I have a meet up later in the morning for a coffee with a friend in the city.  It is too nice a day to write about a book about a grouchy old man and the regrets he has as he looks back on his life. He realised the truths of his life way too late. As much as I enjoyed this book, and I really did, today is too nice of a day to not pay attention to what is going on around me.  So this morning I am appreciating my little monkey and I am grateful she lives with us.

MollyOdie DruPt
Always so much to explore.

Deal Me In Challenge – 3 of Diamonds

Snip20180118_4Brother Long Spring Day

This week’s short story came from the book Stories From Beyond the Clouds, An Anthology of Tibetan Folk Tales. It is a book of Tibetan folk tales and an easy and enjoyable read.

Sangay Khando was the lovely daughter of an old and cranky mother. The mother would never let Sangay ask questions so she didn’t know much.

They never had enough to eat although a lovely jar of rice was stored in the cupboard. She was told to never fix it. It was being saved for the “Brother Long Spring Day”.  One day while home alone a very old and tired monk came to the door telling her he had travelled far and was hungry.  He told her he was “Brother Long Spring Day”. She fed him the rice.

“Brother Long Spring Day” really meant the longest day of spring had arrived and was not a person at all. She fixed the rice for him, saved some for herself and her mother who she knew would be tired and hungry after work.  The monk seemed to know about her terrible mother and told her she could always find a home in the mountains with him. He knew a great deal about her.

You can figure the rest out.

Mother came home, was very angry and threw her daughter out of the house. She lived with the monk for several years, being taught Buddhist principles of kindness, mindfulness actions and the Buddhist scriptures. She was happy living with the monk and his pet rooster and cat.

One day, when she was fetching water she came upon the king’s men who spied her and followed her. They saw she left footprints in the snow shaped like lotus blossoms.  They knew she was special. She was a human Dhakini who was right up there with the faeries.

The monk knew these horsemen to be servants of the King and that they needed a Princess for his son to marry.  The monk explains she will one day marry the prince. She is covered in beautiful clothes and has more food than she has ever seen.

She sadly leaves the monk, marries the Prince and one day a poor beggar woman arrives at the castle. Yes, you guessed it, her mother.

She takes her in, she is dying and houses her for 7 days.  She cannot tell her history to the prince. It slips out though as she forgets to be mindful. The prince asks a lot of questions and she convinces him to leave her alone for 3 days. He agrees. With that, she secretly rides through the night to consult the monk. What should she do? She cannot tell him the history of her childhood and her mother. The monk organises for her to return home and come back with the prince. When they return there is a large castle, lots of servants and her mother has come back from the dead. It is really the monk in the form of the mother.  A good  deed done, they all go home happy. The monk is released from this life on earth to disappear into the ether, through the rainbow hued sky and join the Dakinis and faeries.  Every one is happy.

Snip20180121_1It finishes with: Sanghay Khando, the human Dakini, realised her mission in life. The wind was blowing through her hair, the birds were returning from their journey to foreign lands. She felt the sandalwood beads and was at peace with the world.

For a Sunday afternoon that is pleasantly warm, the windows are open and not much to do this was a pleasant read. I haven’t read fairy tales in many years and I think this little bit of escapism into the folklore of Tibet will be a bit of fun. There was even an gardnerillustration in this story.

 

Sha Ding: The Magnet

Snip20180118_1Deal Me In Challenge- The Six of Clubs

This short story book of Chinese tales was published back in the 1930’s. The stories are quite short.  I have had a look at several and they are fairly obscure and the themes are sparse.  I am not finding them to be of a depth of thought I am currently craving.  I am thinking as it is the beginning of the year I am going to swap this book out for another book of short stories.  The Magnet is a simple tale of a teenage boy during the 1930’s named Yuan who wants to leave home, leave school in winter and join the rebellion against the Japanese.  Not much is said about the actual revolution. The title refers to him being attracted to the new adventure “like a magnet”.  The magnet is a very obscure theme related to his attraction to do something he feels is important rather than his uncles telling him he will become a teacher, which he doesn’t want to do.

His mother doesn’t want him to go, he has no money to do so and he won’t accept money from anyone who might want to give him some. He feels angst about the whole situation and in the end he leaves home.  The story is only about 4 or 5 pages long and the conflict was simply stated.

I realise Japanese literature at times can be quite obscure but this was so obscure it almost doesn’t exist.  After reading this tale I read some other tales from this book and decided the overall book is not what I am looking for in a book of short stories. I want something that is a bit more applicable to my sometimes obtuse mind.

The book has already been consigned to the bag headed for the Tip Shop Book sale, where it came from in the first place.  Snip20160609_6

I doubt Yuan will spend many years in my mind as I continue through life.  What do you do with books you begin to read when they just don’t stack up (no pun intended) ?  Now, to go back to my shelves and find another book of short stories to replace the Ace to the King of clubs.

Saturday Squawk

Snip20160612_11The Week:  This week has been a bit of a write off but I did get some reading done. Just not enough to write about it.  I  stepped on a bug. I think it must have been a white tail spider because within 48 hours I was at the doctor’s with necrosis spreading rapidly across my big toe and onto my foot.  I was told if the strong acting antibiotics didn’t work I would end up in the hospital. I have heard about these Australian flesh eating insects but not really encountered them closely or appreciated what they are capable of.  I now have a new respect for their power.

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White tail spider

I am happy to say the care of my GP and the wonderful antibiotics we have access to have done their magic and it is improving rapidly.  I couldn’t help but think though “what if we lived before the time of antibiotics”.  It really doesn’t bear thinking about and I wonder what the anti-vaccine people would think of this. We are fortunate we live in a time we don’t need to cope with the ailments and diseases of the past.

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News: Feeling good today that everything is working out. Then I read Book Journey’s blog post and learned of the death of Sue Grafton. She writes of an encounter with this lovely lady and tells about it here.

Sue Grafton is the author of the alphabet murder mysteries. “A is for Alibi, B is for Burglary,” etc. I have read several of these and used to buy them for my mother for Christmas and birthday presents. She always enjoyed them. My mother got up to the letter R or T, I forget. Sue Grafton died 28 December 2017 after a long battle with cancer. I wish to high heaven a cure for that awfulness would be found. She finished the book “Y is for Yesterday” but sadly died before she could publish her book for “Z”.Snip20180113_9

Deal Me In Challenge: This week I dealt the cards and got the 6 of clubs for this weekend. That means I will be reading a short story by Sha Ding called The Magnet. Absolutely nothing comes up on Google for this author or short story. Since it is from the book Stories From the Thirties and this author is presumably Chinese it is probably in the land of obscurity now. If anyone out there knows anything about this author I would be interested to know more.

Other stuff: I have been doing a bit of photography reading and playing with Lightroom and Photoshop but not a great deal. Our challenges were due for our photo club this past weekend. The theme was “Cloudscape”. Lots of “cloudy” photos on our facebook page, all of them quite beautiful.

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My entry for January:   Coles Bay Cloudscape

Crawling into this Book:

On a final note, I have just begun the Australian book Extinctions by Josephine Wilson. It was the 2017 winner of Australia’s premiere Miles Franklin award. The Sydney Morning Herald describes it as:

“Extinctions is the scrupulously structured story of Frederick Lothian, an engineer

Snip20180113_7
Josephine Wilson with her award winning book.

specialising in concrete – “the J.D. Salinger of concrete”  – who has moved into a “retirement village” after the death of his American wife. He has a fractious relationship with Caroline, their adopted, Indigenous daughter now living in London where she is curating an exhibition to be called “the drama of extinction”,  and a virtually non-existent one with his son Callum, who is in care after suffering a cataclysmic brain injury in a car crash. Then Jan, the old woman who lives next door, comes into his life and the tectonic plates of their lives start to shift.”

So far I am enjoying it though I have had to turn back a couple pages here and there because there are quite a few characters and the story jumps from now to then frequently. I like the protagonist so far. The author, Josephine Wilson, stated she had to consult the thesaurus when she won the Miles Franklin award because she couldn’t find the words.

Well I guess that sums up the Week that Was… What has been your main focus this week?

Diary of a Bookseller- Best laugh of the year.

Snip20180109_1Shaun Bythell is a bookseller. Not just any bookseller. He is wry, sardonic, sarcastic and sometimes just a rude man who owns a house that is his shop in Wigtown Scotland. Wigtown is in the southwest part of Scotland. I am sure it is a beautiful area. He has an appreciation for the trade though that has kept him going quite a few years.

His mentor seems to be George Orwell. He refers to Memories of a Bookseller, an essay by Orwell, quite a few times.  I want to read that essay as well as it too is very humorous. The two of them have a lot in common when it comes to the second hand book business.

If you are the type of person who does not deal with fools gladly you will love him. If you are a proper, upstanding individual who doesn’t appreciate rudeness when it is due you might want to read something else.

This is Shaun’s diary during 2014.  I found it to be very funny. There are moments when I laughed out loud.  The people around him are also very entertaining.  Shaun does have a soft spot for some people, though I doubt he likes to admit it. For example people who find a book they have been searching for everywhere for years. He discounts it or gives it to them.  Children whose eyes light up when they discuss books.Snip20180109_3

I also enjoyed his assistant, Nicky, a very eccentric, quirky young woman.

Every Friday Nicky raids the bin behind Morrison’s. (I assume that is a restaurant or bakery.) She finds goodies that are still wrapped but past their use by date. That girl will eat anything. Not only will she eat the stuff she scrounges she will offer it to others. She updates their facebook page and doesn’t seem to have a lot of boundaries. Their facebook page by the way is here.

If a customer rings Shaun wanting the name of a book he/she saw earlier on a shelf he won’t tell them. When they ask why he tells them, “You’ll only look it up on Amazon and buy it from them.”   “I know what book you are talking about. We have it here. I can put it aside for you.”  They usually hang up on him.

If someone carries a book around the shop, coveting it so to speak, but Shaun won’t lower the price on it, they leave it behind. When they return later in the day or the next day and decide to buy it they will find the price has gone up a couple of pounds. They often leave in disgust.

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Captain, the bookshop cat.

 

Shaun fights a continual war with Amazon.  There is a lot of factual information he offers about Amazon that helps the reader understand why. Though most of us know the reasons why.

He has a kindle hanging in the shop that has been shot. You can see the bullet holes in it.

I loved this book and it is something I would read again.  I have already listened to the same parts of it more than once.

I bought the book but I have the audible version as well and I read it as I listen to it. The narrator of the audible version is Robin Laing. He does a brilliant job of voicing the Snip20160612_11conversations of the customers.

I would recommend this book highly. But only if you need a good laugh.

Sample entry follows:

“Monday, 12 May

Online orders: 5

Books found: 3

After lunch I was accosted by a man in a cagoule with a terrible lisp, who came over to my side of the counter, uncomfortably close, and asked ‘Now what do you specialise in?’ to which I replied, ‘Books’, which was, I admit fatuous. Predictably, he was not impressed and replied, ‘Do not be smart with me.’ In a pointless continuation of my previous fatuous comment I replied, ‘Why not?’ Needless to say, the conversation did not end well. In fact, he became so odious that I had to pull rank and make Nicky deal with him. 

Till total £84.50

14 customers”

Noted on a Century of Books challenge- 2017

 

The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens

Snip20180106_3The 4 of Hearts came up for the first Deal Me In Challenge of the year.  I had not heard of this story by Charles Dickens.

This short story had the Penguin and I visiting a ghost. I have not read a ghost tale since those scary tales by Edgar Allan Poe in Grade 12. It is not a genre I am drawn to.

The characters in this short story are few: The Narrator (a man), The Signal Man who works on the railroad and the ghost.

The Narrator is out walking one day. He looks down at the railroad tracks and sees the Signal man along the tracks. He calls out, ” Halloa! Below!”. The Narrator wants to go below and visit the Signal Man.  The Signal Man freezes but finally talks the Narrator down the zig zagged track below.

He is a very nervous Signal-man. Why?  Because he believes he has seen a ghost by the tunnel near where he is standing.  The ghost has said that very same phrase to him, “Halloa! Below!”  while wildly gesticulating, waving his arms. It is a warning.  He has see this a couple of times and there have been deaths related to the train after each appearance.  He hasn’t told anyone about these experiences.

At first the Signal Man doesn’t say much to the narrator because he is nervous of him. He is not sure he is a real man instead of a ghost.

When the Narrator asks if he can visit a second time the Signal Man reluctantly agrees. But he tells the Narrator to not call out upon his arrival.  Just show up, no announcement.  The Narrator doesn’t yet know the greeting he used before is the one the ghost uses.

Snip20180106_4On the next visit the Highway man, after much small talk in front of the fire in his shed, finally discusses what he has seen with the Narrator. He finally explains why he was reticent the night before to talk to him.

“One moonlight night,” said the man, “I was sitting here, when I heard a voice cry ‘Halloa! Below there!’  I started up, looked from that door and saw this Someone else standing by the red light near the tunnel, waving as I just now showed you. The voice seemed hoarse with shouting, and it cried, ‘Look out! Look out!’ And then again, ‘Halloa! Below there! Look out!” I caught up my lamp, turned it on red, and ran towards the figure, calling, ‘What’s wrong? What has happened? Where?’ It stood just outside the blackness of the tunnel. I advanced so close upon it that I wondered at its keeping the sleeve across its eyes. I ran right up at it, and had my hand stretched out to pull the sleeve away, when it was gone.” 

The story continues and it becomes clear the Signal Man knows he has seen a ghost. The Narrator does not believe in ghosts at all and is very sceptical. He thinks the Signal Man may be losing his mind and wonders if he is safe to work for the railroad. He thinks about reporting the incident to his superiors but he holds off. He wants to meet with the Signal Man again before making a decision.

In researching this story it appears the themes around it are do we only, as humans, believe in what our five senses tell us or is there another plane where things happen that can’t be explained.  There are people who believe in the supernatural completely while others shun it all together. Personally I don’t believe in much that can’t be seen, felt, smelled, heard or tasted. I am a complete sceptic though every once in awhile I have had experiences that I cannot explain. So who knows.

Read on only if you want to know how this story continues as it is a spoiler. You can read the full story here if you’d like. I really enjoyed it and was delighted to have found it. When I think of Dickens I don’t think of him with his short stories.  I will stay tuned in the future for more I might come across.

But…….-S P O I L E R   A L E R T-  here:

(The Penguin leaves the room)

I remain to see what happens.

The story continues…

Continue reading “The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens”

A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life

Snip20180105_1This book was so much fun.  I bought a pressure cooker several months ago. I do not have a lot of recipes and I haven’t a history of using one.  I was talking to a friend about my purchase and she had just read a review on this book.  Our State Library had it so I checked it out. Oddly enough it is my first book of 2018.  I started it last year but put it down to read Orwell and then picked it up again when finished.  The State Library summary of the book is as follows:

 

When Juanita Phillips stumbled on an old pressure cooker in an op shop, it changed her life. As a frantically busy working mother, she was desperate for solutions to that modern dilemma: how to juggle kids, career, housework and marriage. The pressure cooker helped her solve one of the biggest problems – preparing daily healthy meals – but that was just the beginning. She and her husband decided to transform their chaotic life in other ways too, and where it led them was surprising. This candid confession of a failed supermum offers practical tips for anyone searching for a calmer, simpler, healthier life. Includes: The Amazing 7-Minute Risotto and other pressure cooker recipes How to find more than 24 hours in a day, role reversal: the pros and cons of house-husbandry. This is the guilt-free guide to cutting housework.  (Tasmania State Library Summary)

Juanita Phillips, the author, was working as a newsreader for ABC broadcasting in Sydney., Australia she had over an hour commute to work, two small children at home, a busy husband and was working full time.  She had a nervous breakdown on air and knew she had to do something to change her life.

There is a lot of discussion in this book wondering if women can in fact ‘have it all’.  It is biographical in nature. She focuses on succeeding in a busy profession, feeding her kids, how to achieve sharing household duties with her husband more fairly and the general problems they had coming to terms with running a household fairly. Quite a bit had to change and she discusses it at length.

She discusses the history of women’s issues going back to the 1950’s and their role in marriage, employment and raising children.  This isn’t usually the type of book I go for but I really enjoyed it. One of the more pleasant aspects of this book is it is a big book with whole pages devoted to illustrations from the past. When I say a ‘big book’, I mean the pages are big. The print is large. It is fun.

Unfortunately I had to take this book back to the library and did not remember to photograph these pages. There are advertisements from the 50’s and 60’s and posters of women that have been published over the years along with pages of quotations scattered amongst pages of text.

There are some recipes but one would not buy this book as a recipe book.  She does talk about how she learned to use her pressure cooker. It was great in fixing multiple meals to later take to work for lunches and to feed her young children during the week.  She made lots of meals, popped them into the freezer and then had them available when getting home late from work.

There was an interesting chapter or two on the different ways her husband cared for the children on his days home as compared to hers and how she had to get used it.  She spends a bit of time talking about the differences between men and women raising children.

There is a good bibliography, the book is Australian and Juanita is a good writer.  I think people who like recipes, household management, time management and have a family would enjoy this book.

I am not a big recipe hound, I don’t have a large household, my time management has always been very good but I barely need it now I’m retired and I really enjoyed reading about the practical application of so many skills in this.

As for using the pressure cooker in my own home, I just got this book in the post today

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and look forward to looking at it. It is an American book, chock a block with recipes for pressure cookers and I look forward to learning to use this contraption without jumping six feet in the air and running out of the kitchen when I release the pressure at the end of a cooking cycle.   The downside of this book is being American the measurements are all pounds and ounces.  Having been in Australia now 30 years I am more accustomed to using metric measurements which I LOVE as it is so much easier to do conversions.  But I do have apps on my tablet and conversion tables on my fridge so it will only be a minor annoyance.

Do any of you use a pressure cooker? Do any of you read books about them?  (chuckle here).

This book counts for 2010 in the Century of Challenges.