A Week of Mish-Mash

This week has been insanely busy with all kinds of stuff. One of those weeks when you have no time to even chase your tail.

Monday: Hit the gym and am pleased to know with a year’s weight training my almost 72 year old body is registering 56 on their assessments. Hard yakka and all that.

That night we had our shared reading at Fullers book store continuing Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman. This is probably the most intense and wonderfully written book I have ever encountered in my life. I know, a bit statement but I can’t recommend it enough especially if you’re interested in World War II. We are now up to page 600 by next Monday. We read about 60 or 70 pages at home and 30 – 35 pages at the shared reading. This past Monday was absolutely harrowing as our experience led us on the walk to the “baths” at Auschwitz where we were happy to wash and scrub and strip off the old cloths after the weeks of hardship and starvation only to watch the older people take responsibility for young children who were alone and then realise the sweetened smell was gas. At the end of the reading we all looked at each other and felt the silence in the room. No one spoke.

Moving on to happier times….. Tuesday. While the rest of Australia got hyped over the Melbourne Cup horse race of which I abhor (at least this year no horses died after the past six or seven years a horse died each time). I wonder how those who gambled off money they could ill afford told their families that night. I’m sure you get my point but of course fashion ruled and I just went and got my hair taken care of. In jeans, no high fashion for me.

That night we had our seniors group meeting where our guest speaker was a woman who presented their photos of a bicycle their family of spouse and four children aged 7 to 11 took from western France to Budapest, camping along the way. A wonderful experience for those children and she was an enthusiastic speaker. We all enjoyed their experience of riding a 3000 miles bike trail. Australia….take note. I talked to her afterwards and learned she lives about one km up the road from us. Who knew?

Wednesday, I took this 56 year old body (ahem😳) back to the gym and then had to run up for a quick doctor appointment (just routine- no worries) then took the bus up to South Hobart and hopped off to do a couple of errands in the 40 minutes I had before the next bus came along. I went into a charity shop attached to a local church and found a wonderful succulent plant I’d not seen.

Stock Photo. Not mine.

Spring is a season for me where I gather plants that catch my eye and enthusiastically plant them only to say, “You now have a home so thrive on your own, you are now released to the wild. ” Surprisingly most of them survive if the garden guy doesn’t accidentally take his whipper snipper through them. I treat them like wildlife.

Wednesday night it was off to the Book Group where we discussed Klara and the Sun. What fun it was. The first question asked was, “Is it science fiction?” We didn’t really think so as the story is about artificial intelligence in the life of an artificial friend for a sickly girl who had been ‘lifted’ and surviving the procedure, although extremely unwell was companioned by her AF (artificial friend). Kazuo Ishiguro doesn’t give you all the details, but he does scatter clues. The book is told in the first person of the AF and readers became quite attached to her. Does the girl Josie survive her lifting procedure? We are led to believe all is well as we travel through this book but the ending is very ambiguous and the discussion the 10 of us was wild and hilarious. All kinds of issues around robots, artificial intelligence and “oblongs” (that are the rectangular screens the children all use for their schooling) arose. It is a fun book we thought but the social issues it raised were spotted everywhere. The environment, social media, loneliness in the community, spirituality. I would recommend the book if you want an easy read that has a lot in it. It may not be to everyone’s taste but hey, what book is?

Thursday I thought I’d get a reprieve from the headless chicken routine but instead we took our five year old cat, Grizzy to the vet for his follow up blood work as his liver is giving off funny blood readings. (I’m remind pet owners they seriously may want to consider pet insurance- wouldn’t be without it).

That over and done I wandered into town to pick up my new glasses that are supposed to help me see again from my left eye. However I had a really dodgy optometrist of which is a long story I won’t go into, but think ageism (“Your left eye can’t read the eye chart but your right eye will eventually compensate”) and Yes, we don’t need to check to see if you can read with only one eye. You don’t need glasses as you have “good middle vision”. Doesn’t matter I can’t read the eye chart with my left eye or road signs or read a book. The ophthalmic surgeon who is renown told me after a year’s work on that eye including surgery, “Now is the time to get glasses- off you go”. I was excited and this numbskull burst my bubble. It boiled down to “women who are retired don’t really need great vision, what do you use it for dear?”

Artist unknown as I could not locate. Let me know if yours.

I might add I made him order glasses anyway, which showed me his little temper tantrum side, went home, slept on it, then documented the whole episode (I’m good at that) and sent it off to the company he is employed by and the Optometry board of Tasmania. You don’t mess with this Old Age Woman. I kept thinking how many older, unassertive women have been his victim and left the office being told “You don’t need glasses dear, your other eye will fill in for it.” Livid does not describe my mood.

I picked up the glasses and of course they aren’t completely right and after a lovely conversation with this middle age man’s manager I’ve been referred to a competent optometrist who will redo all the tests again. Looking forward to seeng how that goes. OK….as if older pe ople don’t have enough medical issues at times.

However last night my friend and I went to a Fullers Book Launch event of a Western Australian author from Perth named Alan Carter and the book is Crocodile Tears. It is the final in a five book series (but can be read stand alone) of a detective who becomes involved in bodies, spies, Timor-Leste and the true story of Australian government spying on them in the Howard years (2004) to be exact. This book has everything. The author had a great sense of humour. The room was full of Fullers supporters and we all enjoyed the evening very much. Not sure I’ll get to this book but I sure would like to. Who knows when the mood and interest level change and you pick up books you’d not have predicted interest in.

Then when that finished at 6:30, my friend and I sat in the hotel lounge for 20 minutes and chatted to another couple who had also attended the event. They were having a drink before going off to dinner. We chatted about what a horrible prime minister we have and what an embarrassment he is to our country and the sooner he is gone, the better. You know, the type of conversation that seems to be prevalent in the circles I roam, haha).

Then we walked up to the Playhouse Theatre and watched Marta Dusseldorp and Essie Davis in a excellent, brilliant, wonderful, engaging, heart wrenching, (need I say more?) play The Maids by Jean Genet. Oh so good.

Now as I write on a rain free, sunny Friday morning my hectic week is about to end as this afternoon our friend’s memorial is being held at the Sandy Bay Yacht club where hopefully cheery stories and food and drink will be served. Drinks being the operative word. This has been a long event and quite sad. We’ve had her partner up twice for a meal in the past two weeks and hopefully the support of his friends will get him through this.

What’s on for the weekend? N O T H I N G hopefully. Sit on the porch with my Russian novel to get the 60 pages completed. Enjoy Ollie and Peanut’s company. Ollie now believe the lounge chair is for him as it makes him taller (all the better to keep an eye on the neighbourhood and get cuddles at the same time).

I haven’t decided what book to dive into outside of the Russian book. I did finish the audio book of Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink, an English author who loves books. Her experiences of working as a book seller at Harrods Dept store in London and Waterstones as they just opened was fun to hear about. Other than that is a list of books she calls out with a quick synopsis around her quick retelling of her life, marriage and the love for her family. It is a very light, enjoyable night time listening and car book. I finished it quickly as it is only around 4 or 5 hours long.

I then began Anh Do’s book The Happiest Refugee. He is a Vietnamese born Australian of wonderful talent and personality. We have seen him on stage previously in Hobart at the Theatre Royal, watch his ABC program of interviewing and painting portraits of his guests and generally admire him. One of the loveliest people one would ever come across.

Okay, now this monstrous missive has finished I’ll give you a rest, if anyone is still out there reading this. The Penguin moves on once again.

Have a happy time as much as possible, stand up for yourself, support your fellow man and read!

Stay well.

The Week of 18th October

Photo from ABC website.

This past week was full of highs and lows. We were in lockdown over the weekend of 16, 17, 18th October so didn’t do a lot. On Wednesday I happily took the bus into the gym to do the weight training. We had to wear a mask outside of our house or face a $1000 fine until the Friday. Working out at the gym (as weight training is not considered intensive) with a mask is not anything I enjoy so I skipped my second session Friday.

Lilacs are my favourite plant.

I stayed home and read quite a bit during the week. On Tuesday I had to go to the funeral of one of our dearest friends of 25 years who passed away in her sleep after being ill for sometime. When people or pets I care about die, I generally plant something in the garden that reminds me of them. She loved lilacs and my lilac tree hasn’t bloomed early this spring due to the heavy rains and frost we had this year so I just missed giving her a bunch of blossoms as I have done every year. So today I went lilac shopping and found a very nice more mature purple lilac bush to plant in the yard next to mine. I will do that on Tuesday coming up.

I was to have attended a photo club excursion today (Sunday 24th) but as it has been pouring rain it was cancelled. I was going stir crazy as I’ve been in quite a bit due to rain. We have also been dealing with very muddy dog paws now for two weeks. I am over the incessant rain we’ve been getting. Anyway, I went to the garden shop which is always fun and looked over everything.

The Austrian produced puzzle I found at the tip shop.

I have been reading a lot of books on journaling and dipping into books on illustrations and sketching etc . I love journals that people do where they draw what they see as they travel around or they collect art pictures, or whatever else interests them. So today I thought I’d drop into the tip shop and see if they had any old postcards, or things that look vintage or arty for my own big table journal where I scribble and paste pictures of things that catch my eye from magazines, events, etc.

I found art work by this French artist who lives in Paris. Murial Kerba

I found several little art papers, postcards and even a little puzzle (that had one piece missing đŸ€š when I put it together and glued it in the book. However the puzzle came in a tiny box, had around 50 pieces ? Maybe not that many and the company that produced it is in Austria. Now speaking of Austria……

This postcard was one I picked up to. Tasmanian artist Curmilla.

I have been slowly reading the Austrian novel The Hotel Years by Joseph Roth as he was an Austrian author (going back to my previous Lonely Planet book post) who was listed in the book. It is very slow going. The book has many chapters in it of two or three pages. The time frame so far has been the 1920s and he jumps around from place to place beginning in the Baltic States and Germany as he travels between hotels. One chapter might be an experience within a hotel. The next might be telling a history of a village he is staying in. Sometimes it is a description of a market or the people he visits. Sometimes it is about the food he eats. I find it isn’t really a book to read straight through so I tend to read about five or six chapters then move on to something else. He is a very good writer. I just wish the chapters wouldn’t jump around so much as he travels. He was in northwestern Germany then the next chapter he had gone south. Then he was in western Poland, then back to Germany, then he was in northwestern Spain, back to Austria and now I am about 40% through it he is in the USSR. I take the episodes with a grain of salt and just concentrate on the content of the place he is actually visiting.

I finished Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. Klara is an artificial friend to a young sickly teen. It is a book of science fiction and the relationships between her and family members. It is quite believable however quick a read it is. I enjoyed it but was happy to be done with it. Our book group will discuss it in a couple of weeks. I found parts of the dialogue a bit clunky towards the end. I am not sure this is his best book. I have Remains of the Day to read soon as everyone tells me how wonderful that one is though very different to Klara.

I have listened to six of nine hours of Derva Murphy’s Full Tilt bike trip book. Really enjoying it but it is my ‘car’ book. I only listen to it when driving and with all the rain, lockdown and mask wearing I have tended to not be in the car. However I did get a good chunk of it listened to today as I drove around doing errands.

On Tuesday night Fullers held an event with Marta Dusseldorp and her husband Ben Winspear who are doing Jean Genet’s play the Maids beginning next week. A friend and I will be attending that. I have seen the Maids before with Cate Blanchett and Elizabeth Debicki in Sydney several years ago and really enjoyed it. I really like Marta Dusseldorp. Some of you will know her from the series: Jack Irish, A Place To Call Home, Stateless, Blackjack and Janet King, most of which I have seen.

She is now living in southern Tasmania and has several projects lined up. They will be producing a film of Favel Parrett’s book Past the Shadows hopefully in two years time. The setting of that book is in Tasmania and our book club read it several years ago when it came out. Marta Dusseldorp and her actor/director husband Ben Winspear are heading up projects here. I had a lovely chat to her and we talked about the refugee work she does with UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). Topics discussed during the hour long event were her work with this organisation and her visits to Lebanon, Syria and Uganda. She discussed the trauma of Manus Island too. She has also done quite a bit of feminist work and the two books she recommended people read, when asked by an audience member the books she values were Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things. She believes that is one of the most important feminist works to come out of Australia ever. She also talked about her conversations with Behrouz Boochani and his book No Friend But the Mountains. It was a very lively event with 50 people in attendance.

Fullers got permission from Health Officials that presenters could take their mask off once they began talking but it would have been a bit rude to snap photos once they started. I was in the front row.

As the event was to discuss the Maids by Jean Genet there was a lot of information of his life and the hardships he faced. All in all a very good night.

Well this post is getting long and I wish to put up some photos so will move along here. What a very active and diverse week it has been. I look forward to this coming week being a bit quieter but who knows. Rain continues to be predicted throughout the week so anyone of us might go nuts. Bring on summer.

Summer Please.

Lonely Planet’s Armchair Explorer

I thought I should pop out a post today as southern Tasmania is in a three day lockdown due to a “Covidiot” with Delta Covid escaped hotel quarantine coming from New South Wales then through Melbourne airport (sorry Lisa) and frolicked around our neck of the woods for a day before being arrested. We are fortunate though as so far our lockdown is only three days. Victoria (Melbourne) is just coming out of a 250 day lockdown. They have done it tough.

I have been thinking of reading projects for 2022. Haha, that makes me laugh as I am not one to ever finish reading projects though I generally get a good start on them. So I do get something out of them.

I had a good look at what I really enjoy reading. My own picks, not the picks of book groups, other challenges that may or may not be what I like. One day while lurking around all the new books at Fullers (my personal bookshop😁), I came across this book. The complete title is: Lonely Planet’s Armchair Explorer Discover the Best Music, Film and Literature from Around the World.

The book is divided into continents beginning with Europe then going to South America, North America, Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Middle East before hitting the index at page 282. (No idea why left off Antarctica- there must be something though no permanent residents.)

Each page is then a country from one of those continents. There are many colourful photos too of one or two iconic images from each country. Of course the book is not conclusive in any of its areas but it is a fun ‘taster’.

Sitting down recently on a very rainy day, of which we have had days and days of, I opened this book to explore it more carefully. The first country I came to was Austria. Of course it would be alphabetical.

The layout of the book is two pages as the book lies flat. The first page left column is a Reading List of five authors from Austria. They mention Joseph Roth, Robert Musli, Stefan Zweig, Elfriede Jelinek and Christoph Ramsay here.

Column two of the left hand page is the Watch List. It lists the films Sissi, The South of Music, Funny Games, Museum Hours and the Dreamed Ones.

The right hand page, left column has a lovely colour photograph of Hundertwasser House, displaying the architecture. Then there are a few notations alongside of some trivial facts about Australia related to the final column on the right of the Playlist. The Playlist consists of the Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, music by Joseph Haydn, Falco, Christina StĂŒrmer, Schönberg, Edenbridge (Heavy Metal), Schlager, some Stelar (Electric Swing) and Kruder and Dorfmeister (Electronica).

For my project (sorry, I can’t say that without laughing) I am going to pick one selection from each column to enjoy. That is, if I can find it. The Reading list and Playlist are easy to access between the library, cheap kindle books and Spotify or Amazon Music. The films might be trickier to find but I did have a look around and did find one of them on Vimeo I think it was. Unfortunately some of the streaming services only have the more arty films in their libraries in the USA or Europe which Australia is not privy to.

I did think of going through this book from beginning to end. But as I probably won’t get all the way through it I think I’ll just choose a page randomly with random.org and see how I go. The books and music interest me much more than the films so if I am unable to find a film that will be ok. But I will look.

The rest of this week has not gone so well as a long time friend of ours passed away suddenly so next week has us attending her funeral, assuming our lockdown ends Monday evening. We continued to read Life and Fate at our shared reading. We are up to page 400 now. Such a wonderful book.

I am continuing to read Klara and the Sun for November book group which I will finish soon. I am almost finished with the audio version of Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy and I finished the crime book I was reading. The Alex Cross series number 24 by James Patterson. The only James Patterson book I have ever read. I am attached to the detective’s family in this series and began the series in 1993. All of us need popcorn books from time to time.

On that note I will move along here. The sun is shining which is such a treat after two weeks of rain. Now if the temperature would only jump up about 5 degrees more I’ll be happy. Bring on summer. I hope all of you are well.

Stopping to take a breath…

The week is off to a good start so far. Although our shared reading group of our big Russian novel, Life and Fate was put off another week due to illness of our facilitator. We were assigned more pages to read in preparation for next week. We will soon be approaching the page 300 mark of this 900+ chunkster.

I have some other books on the go as well. I am reading just some light crime novels in the evenings as the Russian book is too much to read late at night. I have also begun the book by Cherie Jones, How the One Armed Sister Sweeps Her House.

The Good Reads blurb states:

A debut novel in the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, from a brilliant Caribbean writer, set in Barbados, about four people each desperate to escape their legacy of violence in a so-called “paradise.”

In Baxter Beach, Barbados, moneyed ex-pats clash with the locals who often end up serving them: braiding their hair, minding their children, and selling them drugs. Lala lives on the beach with her husband, Adan, a petty criminal with endless charisma whose thwarted burglary of one of the Baxter Beach mansions sets off a chain of events with terrible consequences. A gunshot no one was meant to witness. A new mother whose baby is found lifeless on the beach. A woman torn between two worlds and incapacitated by grief. And two men driven by desperation and greed who attempt a crime that will risk their freedom — and their lives.

Cherie Jones is an award-winning author from Barbados. Her debut novel How the One Armed Sister Sweeps Her House has been critically acclaimed by several publications including the The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post . Cherie’s past publication credits include PANK, The Feminist Wire and Eclectica. She is a past fellowship awardee of the Vermont Studio Centre and a recipient of the Archie Markham Award and A.M. Heath Prize from Sheffield Hallam University (UK).

It doesn’t take long to get into this book that was short listed for the Women’s Prize for fiction. I had to settle into the dialect of the characters but that didn’t take long. I don’t think this book will be a walk in the park but so far I’m enjoying the diversity of it from other books on my shelf at the moment.

I have also done a book shelf cull this week, as many of the books I have finished or they are ones I picked up in thrift shops and probably won’t get too as moods change over time related to what we like to read.

I have a cute photo that Kerri, my photography friend from the Cradle Mountain photography drew for my blog. She draws characters and is quite talented. She sent this photo to me after she learned about my blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. She even matched the clothes of the Penguin and the Bear to what we wore at Cradle Mountain as we hiked around the rainy terrain taking photos. I was very touched by it.

Today I’m keeping it short and sweet so that’s it for now.

Focus on Dervla Murphy

How I admire this woman. Really…….admire……her.

Dervla Murphy is no doubt familiar to anyone who reads a lot. However if one reads a great deal of travel writing she is one of the very best.

I have heard of her for years. Maybe even read one of her books years ago but not sure. Maybe I just think I have read her as I have read a lot of travel writing in my life.

Another of her books

I downloaded this book as an Audible last week as I was becoming tired of books about books, readers on trains, readers in libraries and it all became a bit of a melting pot that seemed to wear thin as the quality of some of these books were less than ideal.

I have always enjoyed Travel writing or diaries the most as an audible format. I have come to the conclusion unless one sits right down and listens or is confined to a space, novels seem to be harder to follow as an audible text. That could be me though as I do get distracted much more with audible anything than written words.

So on to Dervla. I am listening to her 1965 published book Full Tilt. She buys a bicycle and names it Rozinante (Ros for short) after Don Quixote’s horse. She is Irish and living in Ireland. In 1963 she decides to set off riding Ros from Ireland to India going eastwards across Europe.

Very enjoyable

In 1963 single women didn’t do things like this. No mobile phones, no internet, no money to speak of.

Dervla Murphy grew up poor. She left school at age 14 to care for her disabled mother. At the age of 10 her parents gave her a second hand bicycle and her grandfather sent her a second hand atlas of the world (Wikipedia).

And another of her books

She later stated in life she was never afraid of her trips though she did have some pretty harrowing experience. Over the years she was attacked by wolves in the former Yugoslavia, (this happens in Full Tilt and she pulls her pistol out of her pocket and shoots one, killing it and scaring the other two away); threatened by soldiers in Ethiopia, and robbed in Siberia. In Full Tilt she awakes one night in her small accommodation and finds a very large muslim man uncovering her in bed and as he climbs in beside her, again she pulls her pistol from under her pillow and shoots into the ceiling and watches him leave the room very quickly.

She had her critics in life. She had a child in 1968 and chose to raise her daughter alone. This was not an acceptable practice in Ireland. She made enough money from her writing she didn’t care and she her daughter travelled more as her daughter aged.

And another

She was also quite political regarding activities in Ireland, women’s rights and regarding the plight of refugees.

Evidently she wrote an autobiographical book called Wheels Within Wheels in 1979 and I will certainly be following up with that one if I can find it.

The guardian featured her towards her later years once she decided to give up travel writing. She is celebrating her 90th birthday next month at the end of November. What an incredible life she has had. The link to the Guardian article is here.

And yet one more…

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Other news in Tasmania? Not much. Spring has arrived with a bit of fanfare. Lots of wind and rain. More rain expected in the next few days. Enough to cause floods I understand. The temperatures are still chilly with bits of sun here and there but not enough to get used to. So doing a lot of reading and have continued with walking and exercise.

We woke up not this last week but it only lasted an hour or so.

I have had some good news on the photography front but will discuss that later. An excursion, a competition win I hadn’t expected, a new illustration of the Penguin and a friend from a fellow photography friend. Will share that in the next post.

Will consider renting out for a weekend.

Dogs are fine but Ollie wants to go out every ten minutes to see if the sun is out and he can lie next to his fence and warm himself in the sun. He comes back to the house ten minutes later and bangs on the door to come in. He loves lying outdoors in the sun but hates the cold grass. Not a weather tolerant dog at all. Peanut seems more outdoorsy than Ollie at times. She never cares how muddy she gets and I recently submitted a photo of her to the Sydney Morning Herald Weekend magazine. They have a type of good news gallery and their email about the article happened to arrive in my inbox at the time I was looking at a photo of Peanut with mud on her face. The article was saying to people send in any photos or other items that are ‘feel good’ items. So I popped Peanut’s photo in and received an email back a couple of days later they will definitely put it in their gallery. The journalist thought it was cute so I will finish on that note.

Until next time…….stay well and keep smiling even if you do have to grit your teeth!!

A Bit of Delightfulness

There are many wombats at Cradle Mountain. Wombats have a hard shell on their rear so when in their burrows they can raise up and crush a predator if needed. They also have a pouch that faces backwards.

I edited a few more photographs from the Cradle Mountain Trip. I have a really cute dogs photo that makes me laugh and I hope you will chuckle a bit.

I have a few books to briefly write about and just some natter going on in my head. So let’s get started.

We’ll talk about a couple of books first

I am now 99 pages into Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman for the Fullers Bookshop shared reading. We read some of it in the reading group on Monday. Our facilitator, Ebi is a German man who really studied this book for more than a year and knows his Russian/German history inside out. We stopped several times to discuss features of the story or to hear some more history.

Then we had to read another section at home as it is such a large book and we have 12 weeks to finish it. I am really enjoying this Russian novel about the war between the Russians and Germans. I might add we aren’t doing too bad either with the Russian names either.

I have given up on the Shirley Hazard Collected short stories because I don’t have the patience for them. She is an excellent writer and her characters are developed well and her locations are descriptive. I do like the writing and will read other novels by her. However these stories were written in the 1950s for the most part and with all that goes on socially around women’s issues (and many other issues) in Australia, I am having difficulty going back to the time in a book at the moment.

Most of the stories have been about men lusting for younger women, boring descriptions of their wives, unrequited love. The entire book is a description of disappointment (which she does very well) but against the suffering endured in the Russian book I just want them to all go away. I made a small chart of the type of men and women described in the 40% of the book I did read.

I have been reading about the short listed Booker nominees this week too. Jason Steger who is Literary Editor for the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald has a newsletter that he sends each Friday. This week’s newsletter is about all of the problems with the Booker Prize, the criticism, the rules. I found it very interesting.

As I can’t attach this newsletter I will send it to anyone as an email to anyone who would like to read it. Email me at: travellinpenguin at gmail dot com.

So speaking of the Booker shortlisted books, you can find them online with google, (Booker shortlist 2021). I won’t go into the shortlist today though there are a few I’d like to read. I did start with Patricia Lockwood’s book No-one is Talking About This. It is very much stream of consciousness around the world of Twitter. As I don’t use Twitter and have never been interested in it I found the book bored me to tears. I actually downloaded the Kindle version. As I didn’t care for her book Priestdaddy that we read for book group a year or so ago. I didn’t want to spend a lot on this one. I read 35 to 40% of it then threw it down in frustration. I really couldn’t bear it. I looked up the reviews on Good Reads and found about 50/50 between ‘love it’ and ‘hate it’. I think I am too old for it. I’m sure she’ll find her audience who praise it but it won’t come from here. I was actually within the time period I could return it to Amazon. As I never return things to Amazon they allowed a refund which I happily accepted.

In the meantime I heard a podcast about Anthony Bourdain and as I’ve not read him before I downloaded his older book Kitchen Confidential. I began that last night and am really enjoying it. It is biographical as well as discussing the restaurant business, warts and all. The two American men on the podcast I was listening to, There Will Be Books, gave a good description of what they enjoyed about the book and it isn’t all peaches and cream when it comes to criticising the chef or wait staff. You have been warned. Bourdain has another book out recently, put together by others since his death and Good Reads reviewers pan it as an overrated grab for money on his name so I wasn’t interested. Kind of what happened to Harper Lee’s last book published after her death.

My copy of Womankind magazine arrived this week. It features the Arab world this month and I look forward to delving into it. Womankind is published bi-monthly.

That’s it on books for the moment.

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Now on to photography. I have a few other photos I edited from Cradle Mountain that showcases our wonderful wilderness areas in Tasmania.

Enjoy the photos. I was quite happy with them.

Philosopher Falls- Warratah, Tasmania
Philosopher Fall area
The wilderness area is full of these ferns. So green and beautiful.
This photo was taken by Kerri Huang, who gave me permission to post. She was a fellow
member of our tour at Philosopher Falls.
It is a truly beautiful area and there may be an elf or a hobbit who lives here. Just wonderful.

Next I have a wonderful snippet about Peanut and Ollie. I take the bus into town two or three times a week to go to the gym or run errands. Mr Penguin is often off to his gym and doing his errands so the dogs are home. As they play hard in the mornings they are ready for a sleep in the afternoon. They curl up on the bed that is under the window in our front room that is on the second story above our garage. Great views all around.

They have figured out one of us is often on the bus. The bus goes by on weekdays every 30 to 40 minutes. When they hear it, they pop up from their bed, look out the window and watch for a few minutes to see if we come walking up the drive. If not I assume they go back to sleep. If we are on it, they follow with their little faces and greet us enthusiastically at the door. No-one is ever happier to see us than our dogs. I snapped this photo with my phone last week as I walked up the driveway.

Are you on this bus?

Well, that is about all that happened this week. I look forward to seeing what others are doing with their time and their reading.

Cradle Mountain Part I

Well, I survived the Cradle Mountain photography instructional tour. We had lots of fun and our guide, Luke O’Brien did a brilliant job of organising, instructing and generally putting up with our quirks for four days.

Weather was laughable. The tour began at 7:30 am Tuesday morning this past week. There had been a very heavy wind and rain storm through Monday night into Monday morning. It was serious. We had 60 to 100 kms gusts of winds and our neighbours house had part of their roof removed. I heard later there were a few roofs that were lost in and around the state. When we arrived at the hotel at Cradle Mountain in the afternoon, trees had come down and the power had been out everywhere in the area. It came back on as we arrived.

We had all kinds of wind and rain Wednesday and Thursday we were absolutely soaked. We walked with our heavy backpacks, dressed in layers of clothes (did I mention temps of 1 to 5 degrees C?) dripping wet up and down rainforest paths. Ankle deep mid, hundreds of stairs to see out of the way waterfalls, freezing hands and had the best time. Lots of laughs, great photography instruction, scenery like nowhere else in the world and the best food back at the hotel. Friday morning we left Cradle Mountain and drove through snow that had arrived during the night. Home safe and sound Friday night just after dark and my own bed never felt so good. I thought my muscles would never recover but they did. Thank goodness for all the fitness training I have done over the past few months. I don’t think this 70+ years body could have done it otherwise.

Luke O’Brien has a webpage that showcases his photos and you can find it HERE.

I didn’t get any reading done as I was in bed early as we planned sunrise shoots that were to begin at 5:30 am but sadly the fog and clouds were ground level so they didn’t happen. Neither did the night sky photography. But we made up for it. The photos I’m sharing today are from the beginning of our trip.

On the way home I did begin listening to the book Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams on Audible. It is described on Amazon as:

The story is an absolute joy . . . A captivating and exquisitely crafted debut’ Sunday Times bestseller, Heidi Swain

‘Absolutely captures the magic of reading and libraries’ Louise Hare When Aleisha discovers a crumpled reading list tucked into a tattered library book, it sparks an extraordinary journey.

From timeless stories of love and friendship to an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean with a boy and a tiger in a boat, the list opens a gateway to new and wonderful worlds – just when Aleisha needs an escape from her troubles at home.

And when widower Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to connect with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha introduces him to the magic of the reading list. An anxious teenager and a lonely grandfather forming an unlikely book club of two.

Inspiring and heartwarming, The Reading List is a love letter to storytelling – its power to transport us, connect us, and remind us that a new beginning is only a page away


I need to catch up on Shirley Hazard’s Collected stories first before I begin again on the Reading List. I should be on the 12 story and I think I’m only on the 5th one. Need to crack on to those.

I have an interesting week ahead of me. Monday night we start the shared reading of Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman at Fullers book store, the chunky Russian novel we will be immersed in during the next 12 weeks.

Tuesday night Fullers is hosting a poetry night to celebrate the Australian National Reading Hour day. PA limited number of people registered to participate and each person who wants to stands in front of the group and reads a favourite poem. The poem cannot be something that person wrote (thankfully). We are allocated 5 minutes each. If people don’t want to stand up and read, someone else can read it for them.

I thought I’d read an American poem I grew up with during my primary schooling years, Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Paul Revere was born in 1734 and worked as a Silversmith and Engraver. He was a real patriot and was best known for his midnight ride to alert the colonial militia in 1775 to the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord during the American Revolution.

“The British are coming! The British are coming!”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow dramatised this event in this poem written in 1860 and published in the Boston Transcript publication at the time and the following. year in the Atlantic Monthly just as the American Civil war was beginning. It is quite dramatic to read and should be within the five minute time frame. It should be fun.

As the broadcasters say….”and folks- that is the week that was.” Enjoy the photos from our beautiful state that is…….Tasmania.

This currawong followed us around a bit that day.
The peak on the left is Cradle Mountain
How beautiful are these waterfalls?
Stay Warm

September Saturday

It has been a very busy week with quite a bit of activity. On Sunday I set up the “photography” room. We have this tiny spare bedroom that was full of junk. We got sick of it so got rid of the junk, had the room painted and had a double sized wall bed installed in case overseas relatives ever get to come visit us again. I didn’t want a room with a bed in it that seldom gets used so the wall bed is perfect. It has a desk and shelves attached to it. I set up the desktop computer, printer and my Wacom tablet. I then filled the shelves next to it with cook books and photography books. I also hung some of my prints in the room, installed the orange chair that was a part of my Penguin library when I had the vintage penguins and a reading lamp. It is now a very functional room with all my gear sorted in the wardrobe closets and drawers. I really like it.

You would never know there is a full size double bed mattress against that wall.

When someone visits, I remove the computer and the desk folds under the bed once the bed is pulled down from the wall. So clever. An updated version of the Murphy bed.

Monday I went to my shared reading group at Fullers bookshop. It was a lovely evening. We finished Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and had a great discussion about it once the last page was turned. She writes so beautifully with such subtle humour. We also got a peek into the next book we are going to begin in two weeks time. It is Vasily Grossman‘s epic Russian novel, Life and Fate.

I love this cover.

Amazon describes it as: “The twentieth century War and Peace, a broad portrait of an age and a searing vision of Stalinist Russia, Life and Fate is also the story of a family, the Shaposhnikovs, whose lives in the army, the gulag, a physics institute, a power station and a concentration camp are stunningly evoked, from their darkest to their most poetic moments.

Judged so dangerous by the Soviet authorities that the manuscript was immediately confiscated when completed in 1960, Grossman’s masterpiece was finally smuggled into the West and published in 1980.

The Vintage Classic Russians Series- Published for the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, these are must-have, beautifully designed editions of six epic masterpieces that have survived controversy, censorship and suppression to influence decades of thought and artistic expression. The original translation by Robert Chandler has been updated and revised.

We will take 12 weeks to read this book with some extra reading to do at home as it is 912 pages. The copy we have is this lovely Vintage Classic copy.

On Wednesday I was reading emails and I see that Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) Listen app now has audio books persons can listen to for free. Peoople are able to download and listen to the ABC Listen app around the world. You can also follow our news, radio programs and many conversations and podcasts if interested here.

Audio books have been added.

I began Shirley Hazard’s Collection of short stories this week. I am reading one a day. So far the stories are very well written but extremely predictable. But it is hard to make a judgment because I have only read three of 28. I will reserve judgment on it for now.

I had to finish some photos to ready for our photo club challenges for our September meeting in two weeks time. I am leaving this Tuesday for Cradle Mountain in Tasmania for a four day photography tour. Our itinerary is full and includes night sky photography, sunrise and sunset, landscape, macro and a visit to a Tasmanian Devil farm plus much more. Our instructor, Luke is an experienced landscape photographer and spoke at our club a couple of months ago about his fungi collection. There are five members attending plus Luke. I should learn quite a bit. Although Cradle mountain will probably be cold as predictions are 0 to 10 degrees C with some rain. That’s about 32 to 50 degrees F for my northern hemisphere readers. Maybe it will snow.

Cradle Mountain is beautiful. You can see some photographs of it here from the web.

These are the photos I’m submitting for our photography club meeting challenges. They are prints that I had printed up with a $70.00 voucher I won at the last meeting for one of my photos. Once the meeting finishes I will put them on the wall in the “photography room”.

Japanese stage actor from a Japan trip a few years ago.

Young elephants at play in Botswana, four years ago.

THEME: FARM Photo from a big agricultural expo type place in southeast England, not far from Exeter and for the life of me I can’t remember it’s name. Big domes, agriculture research and displays. Perhaps someone from UK can remind me.
THEME: FARM. This photo was taken in Ireland on a road trip a friend and I went on about five years ago?

Book Sharing:

I’d like to share these books with you I ordered this week. It is a set of Penguin Classic Japanese Literature books and they are beautiful. I look forward to reading them as they look fascinating. So far I have seen five of the books but I ordered four of them. The Wind Up Cat Chronicles by Murakami is the one I didn’t order as I have read it already.

How beautiful are these books !! I absolutely LOVE these covers.

The only thing I have left to do this weekend is to pack my carry bag for next week’s trip and also sort and pack my camera gear and charge all the batteries I will need for my camera. I will update photos from that trip probably in two weeks time as we don’t return until late Friday evening and I’ll be busy recovering, doing laundry and sorting photos for a bit. I’m sure I will come home with a load of photos waiting to be edited and shared.

On the road again…….Can’t wait to get on the road again…

That sums up my week. I’ll probably take the Penguin with me as the last trip he was on was the one to Russia at the end of 2019. We are both more than ready to go somewhere!

Stay well everyone and get vaccinated so the world can open up sooner.

PS.. It’s spring here now and Ollie is on the trail for lizards. Whenever he thinks he smells one, he wags his tail furiously. Very funny to watch. He has the one track mind of a jack russel terrier.

Love a waggy tail. Lizard hunting. No luck today.

Simply Sunday

This Week-

I have decided to change how I write my own posts. I find waiting a week or two then doing a catch up is too much, so instead I don’t do anything. I have decided I am going to update it more like a diary or journal with day to day events. Then when the weekend comes I’ll publish the post. I’ll trial it until the end of the year and then maybe revamp the page for 2022.

Daily activities will include book events, anything read that week, a bit of photography, social events that may be of interest and anything else that catches my fancy.

UPCOMING INTERESTS-

The past week has seen me buying the book, Collected Stories by Shirley Hazzard. Our Fullers book group will discuss it the first Wed of October. It is a series of 26 short stories and so far I have read the first one today. I am enjoying her writing very much. The characters are quite visual and I like the dialogue. If all the stories share the same type of writing I will be happy.

We are focusing on A Perfect Spy by John le CarrĂ© for our September book group. I have finished more than 400 pages but have to admit I’m very bored with it and have decided to stop. When I checked reviews on Good Reads I find people are quite divided as to whether they enjoy it or not.

This past week saw our photo club going to the small village of Richmond for a photography scavenger hunt. We were given the list at 11 am and then met for a coffee/snack at 12:30, sitting outdoors at a local cafe. Richmond is quite the tourist town and it was busy with families. I kept seeing people walking little white West Highland terriers everywhere and I later learned they were part of a group of Westie lovers meeting up for a social event. They were everywhere.

The week ahead looks promising. Monday I will be participating in the final shared reading group of Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf at Fullers Bookshop. It will be our 5th meeting. I have enjoyed the group and the book very much. I am wondering what reading they will do next and how staff will pick the 12 participants in the next group. Previously it has been, once you’re in the group you stay in the group until you leave. That may change as there is a waiting list to get into the group. Fairness may reign.

On Wednesday evening I am back at Fullers and we’ll discuss A Perfect Spy. I’m looking forward to seeing what people thought especially as our group has 12 women in it and no men. I am not sure how many women are drawn to spy novels though this is LeCarre’s most autobiographical novel. Other book groups at Fullers have men. There are several groups that meet the first week of the month at the shop, 90 people in groups of 12. They do ask us to come even if we don’t finish the book. It is a misleading thought that one cannot contribute if they do not finish the book. The reasons for that are as interesting as the reasons another person enjoys it.

Thursday night I am attending the local Playhouse Theatre to see Agatha Christie’s play The Stranger. The Playhouse theatre cast are amateur enthusiasts and I have often seen plays of a higher standard than those of some of the professional shows at the Theatre Royal. Many cast members are regular actors and a night out there has always been enjoyable. I’ll let you know next week how that goes.

That will pretty much fill up my week of social events. On top of that I will have my two weight training sessions Monday and Wednesday and Friday has me participate with my personal trainer in finishing up my 12 week challenge. After that I revert back to two weeks of weight training with instructor Daniel in our small group and hopefully one day a week dedicated to a walk or a photography day outside of Hobart.

Richmond Tasmania gaol

Things to look forward to in the coming months-

* A four day photography instructional tour at Cradle Mountain in September.

** A two day stay with a new group of previous biker friends who have set up a private fb group called Half Arsed Tours and Camping. They are riding their motorbikes up to Deloraine, north of us about 3 hours to visit a distillery and do a river walk. As I am no longer riding, I will take the car and back roads, and get some country photography shots and meet them at the hotel for drinks and dinner, staying overnight at the hotel. The hotel is situated alongside a railroad track and previous experience taught us that when trains go by the beds tend to move across the room a bit. I’ve not been there for several years so looking forward to seeing if this still happens. Breakfast will be the following day with the group at a local cafe. I will then head home another route to get different photos.

Richmond Tasmania church

*** I have an eye surgeon’s appointment in October where we have been working together to restore the vision in my left eye. I can see most things okay but can’t read signs or books very well. Fortunately the right eye is compensating very well. The eye had very high pressure that has now reduced to normal and hopefully if the vision does not restore completely a contact lens might correct it. Just a wait and see. As I told Mr. Penguin, we don’t have room for a guide dog. (That’s a joke!)

There you have it for today!