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.

*************************************

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 Carré 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!

Who Gets To Be Smart- Bri Lee

I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and found it really interesting. Good Reads describes it as:

Bri Lee, best-selling and award-winning author of Eggshell Skull, asks Who gets to be smart? in this forensic and hard-hitting exploration of knowledge, power and privilege.

In 2018 Bri Lee’s brilliant young friend Damian was named a Rhodes Scholar, an apex of academic achievement. When she goes to visit him and takes a tour of Oxford and Rhodes House, she begins questioning her belief in a system she has previously revered, as she learns the truth behind what Virginia Woolf described almost a century earlier as the ‘stream of gold and silver’ that flows through elite institutions and dictates decisions about who deserves to be educated there. The question that forms in her mind drives the following two years of conversations and investigations: who gets to be smart?

Interrogating the adage, ‘knowledge is power’, and calling institutional prejudice to account, Bri once again dives into her own privilege and presumptions to bring us the stark and confronting results. Far from offering any ‘equality of opportunity’, Australia’s education system exacerbates social stratification. The questions Bri asks of politics and society have their answers laid bare in the response to the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, COVID-19, and the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

*************************************

I will add Ms Lee turns 30 this year and I applause the way she goes after injustice in Australia with her writing. It is good to see young women as she is rising to the top.

On screen- Hobart Town Hall ballroom.

I found it really depressing especially when figures are revealed of the amount of money Catholic and private schools receive from the government in stark contrast to public education. I believe that all children should have equal access to excellent education outcomes and those who struggle should receive the support they need. What is happening, as most of you know, the strong and powerful receive all the benefits our society has to offer at the complete expense of those who don’t get it.

Last week Fullers Book shop held the launch of this book in the Hobart Town Hall ballroom. It was filled to near capacity of interested readers as allowed during these Covid times.

Tim owner/manager of the 101 year old Fullers Book Shop

However the week before this event Sydney locked down due to an increase of Covid cases in the community and the event was live streamed. The event was extremely competently run as Fullers hasn’t really done much of this at the time.

A big screen was set up, Heather Rose, an author of international repute, popular recently for books Museum of Modern Love and Bruny. and a fellow Tasmanian facilitated the interview. The manager/owner of Fullers got the ball rolling and it was set to go.

Heather Rose had really interesting questions for Bri Lee, the audience was very interested and at the end many questions were allowed. The technical side of the interview flowed like a wonderful Tasmanian wine. With energy, competence and efficiency thanks to Tim’s efforts.

Heather Rose- A Tasmanian Jewel

The book is currently number 2 on the Fullers book sale list.

Here is a quick blurb I copied on Bri Lee’s web page: Bri describes herself as an author and freelance writer. Who Gets to be Smart, just came out in June 2021. It is her third book, closely following her popular book, Eggshell Skull that is a book about sexual assault and the justice system based on her own experiences. Fullers hosted the launch of this book a couple of years ago after its publication date and I also attended that. She is known for her investigative journalism, opinion, short fiction, essays, and arts criticism.

She is also qualified to practice law, but has no desire to. She has published peer reviewed research while she did practice. At times she gives lectures, keynotes, and other kinds of speeches. She lives and works on Gadigal land in Sydney, Australia.

Getting set up

I took a few points from this launch to share with you but there are many more in much more detail from the book.

One of the points she discussed was how long it takes to go from poverty to middle class. Most western countries, being educated results in two generations of schooling to get out of poverty into doing much better financially. The statistics for Australia are- four generations. A really depressing statistic.

20% of Australian children are not prepared when they arrive in Kinder. Their social skills, play, structure remains at a lesser level.

The government doesn’t encourage higher education. They raise the fees to attend courses such as arts, music, humanities, etc and lower fees for science and math. Not everyone is cut out for or wants to study science and maths. They do not seem to recognise education for the sake of education but only tie courses to jobs. I am happy I did not go through this system. In American I was able to spend the first two years of university studying a variety of courses and interests before I chose my major. I then spent the next three years in my chosen path.

Ms Lee asks, What are universities for if not to become educated?

She went into quite a bit of detail of the Ramsay foundation. Paul Ramsay established a monetary foundation that states on the website: Partnerships for Potential and Helping Australian Defy Disadvantage. However our conservative Liberal government (not to be confused with USA Liberal governments- complete opposites) railroaded the funds into programs of their own making, completely supplying the benefits to wealthy students in private institutions.

Tim making sure everything is perfect! He does a great job.

Our previous Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a Rhodes scholar (which is another interesting topic of the book) believes not all cultures are created equal thereby only supporting those he sees as important. eg White, rich Australians vrs. migrants, indigenous populations.

She also addressed the lack of transparency of governments and how tax dollar or foundation funds are used. Who knows? Not the people of the country. Currently numbers are showing functional illiteracy of males = 52% and females 47%. Do we believe this is appropriate?

I could go on for a few more pages but this is longer than I normally produce and I think you should just read the book. I might add that I don’t believe Australia is the only country in the world where this happens but it is certainly relevant to our “lucky country”.

We need to fix this !

I know. I know. A Catch Up 😊

I have had a bit of a break from keeping this little blog moving along. Focusing on actually reading books and keeping fit. On these short, cold winter days I just crash at home at the end of day, keep the dogs entertained and watch Netflix, rest or read some more. So let’s catch up here. I won’t go too far back, just starting over.

Shared Reading Group Selection

I have joined a shared reading group at Fullers Bookshop. I have been on a waiting list for this group for ages. I finally got in. Each Monday night we meet in a group of 10 to 12 people (it is capped) and are reading aloud from Chekhov’s book of short stories. As I have joined this group late, I have now attended three sessions and read six stories. We have one more Monday night (next week) to finish off the book. Then there will be a bit of a break and we are going to do a reading aloud of Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I have heard so much about this story but not read it so really looking forward to it. Also there won’t be a lot of Russian names to pronounce. We have done quite well though with the Russian words in the Chekhov book. It did include some laughter.

Our Fullers Book Group met earlier this month and we read the book Here We Are by Graham Swift. We read his book Mothering Sunday several years ago and we enjoyed this one. It was decided if one reads Here We Are it appears to be a lightweight book about a trio of friends, Ronnie, Jack and Evie who participate in vaudeville and Illusion acts in Brighton, England in the 1950s.

The book begins with the death of Jack, who is married to Evie in the late 20th century then goes backwards 50 years to the evacuation of Ronnie to the countryside as a child during the second world war. Upon a second reading several people mentioned they uncovered much deeper levels to this book and that is what we discussed. Themes of endings, death, colours (the colours white and green are used throughout as symbols), relationships, regret. Each member of the group took away various meanings from this book.

The book I am now reading for the August group is the Russian book The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I am almost 200 pages into it and must say I am enjoying it. It is on many lists of 100 or 1000 books you must read before you die. It has been on my shelf for quite awhile but I never had the nerve to open it. No excuses now and not difficult at all to get into as long as one keeps an open mind and asks no questions. I find it is a book to simply walk into and follow the story without too many questions.

In other news. I have been doing a bit of photography though the last few weeks have been very cold and rainy. Now it is simply cold and sunny. I continue with my fitness regime three times a week with trainers at the gym and enjoy that very much. I also get into conversations at the bus stop waiting for the bus that brings me home afterwards.

Peanut and Ollie are well. They keep us on our toes. We are also having a spare room redone with a new wall bed that is actually a desk when folded up onto the wall. It looks like cabinet doors with a bookshelf beside it. When company comes (that sounds hopeful doesn’t it) it pulls down into a lovely double bed with a full sized mattress.

I told you it was wet out.

We have painters coming today to work in the bedroom and hallway the next three days and then hopefully the bed will be delivered before too long from Sydney though they are in lockdown now due to the Delta strain of Covid and our Prime Minister’s incompetence at getting enough Pfizer vaccines to make our citizens safe. It is breathtaking how completely ineffective and incompetent this man is. We actually have a previous prime minister working with official at Pfizer because they won’t deal with our current one as he was so arrogant with them they ignore him. Just unbelievable.

Okay, I’ll share some photos with you now and move on. I did want to get this out today. All the best to everyone, stay cool in the northern hemisphere, warm in the southern hemisphere and safe around the world.

Our photo club went to the Terhune Airwalk in southern Tasmania a couple of weeks back to look for fungi. It is a beautiful area with a large airwalk that reigns over the trees. However we spent more time scrounging around on the ground looking for fungi. We were dressed in layers of clothing but overall we had a great day out with hot food and drink in their cafe when finished.

The swinging bridge over the river.

Simply Sunday

It’s Queen’s Birthday weekend here in Tassie. And a very cool, rainy, dreary, grey lizard type of weather it is. Grey lizard type of weather is to me where one stays inside, watches a film on Netflix, reads, cooks a bit and tries hard to stay awake. I also feel a bit of relief the gym classes aren’t meeting until Tuesday/Wednesday so I can rest the body from weight training. Though I will be chomping at the bit to get back to it by then. There are only so many grey lizard type of days one can cope with.

Reading is going smoothly. Our book club met and discussed the Yield by Tara June Winch. All of us enjoyed it and thought it an important First Nations book that should be on the high school curriculum. As many have read it, especially Australians I’ll leave it at that except to say it is extremely well written, tells a good story and won the 2020 Miles Franklin award in Australia.

I have been reading The Evenings by Gerard Reve after hearing it discussed on the podcast Backlisted. Backlisted is a British podcast that discusses authors and books of the past. It is highly entertaining and I really enjoy it. You can find it here.

About the Evenings. The Guardian wrote on 6 November, 2016:

Gerard Kornelis van het Reve was born in Amsterdam in 1923 and published The Evenings: A Winter’s Tale in 1947, shortly before his 24th birthday. It follows the movements of the 23-year-old Frits van Egters in (Amersterdam) the last 10 days of 1946. If the title focuses on the evenings, it is because, for much of the day, Frits is at work, where he scarcely exists. What does he do? “I take cards out of a file,” he responds to a friend’s question. “Once I have taken them out, I put them back in again.”

But Frits never complains about his job, nor expresses any desire to change it. Those hours are at least taken care of. His problem is his evenings and days off – Christmas in particular – and his one ambition is to get through them without losing his mind. Both for its hero and its author, this novel is a tour de force of filling space, of turning tawdry emptiness into comedy of the highest order: it is up there with Henry Green’s Party Going, and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Never has the business of arriving at bedtime been more urgently and richly dramatised.

Everything takes place in a few suburban streets in Amsterdam where Frits shares a small flat with his half-deaf father and well-meaning if clumsy mother. An older brother has left home. The parents live in a state of stalled conflict that Frits is determined to ignore. Their eating and grooming habits – described with a mixture of savage fury and grudging affection – are a constant torment, their conversation so predictable that Frits takes masochistic pleasure in prodding them towards old platitudes. His only ally, between stoking the stove, feeding guilders into the electricity meter and criticising Mother’s cooking or Father’s table manners, is the radio, whose scattered fragments of news and music offer themselves to the shipwrecked Frits as life-saving flotsam in an ocean of wasted time.

The Evenings, a Dutch novel was written in 1947. I find it to be hilarious in its mundaneness (is that a word?). Fritz makes a lot of comments in his mind about what he observes with his parents, friends, work. He quite likes to stir the pot especially with his parents. It is humorous to follow him in his day to day ramblings. You might also think he needs a good kick up the backside but in the meantime…..I am really enjoying this book. I might add the writing is very good as well.

The audible book I just finished this week is One Day I’ll Remember This: The Diaries 1987 – 1995. It is written and narrated by Helen Garner. I know Australian readers are quite divided regarding Helen Garner, both as a person and a writer. I enjoy listening to diaries on Audible. It is a good way to hear the intonations of the writing. Ms Garner has certainly lived an ‘interesting’ life in her 78 years. She turns 80 in 2022. Husbands,(three) writing, literary awards, controversy, friendships that wax and wane, travel. I don’t know if she could ever be friends in my world as I find her quite erratic and moody. I think at times she is quite self destructive especially in her relationships but what the diary highlights is her dilemma – does the demands of relationships and domesticity interfere with the creative process. She seems very torn between wanting to be alone so she can think and write without interruption yet maintain her love interests and a stable family. Added to this time period she is very much involved with a married author who later becomes her husband. Another dilemma is she lives in Melbourne, while he lives in Sydney. I’ll confess I googled to see who this author was. Hmmm.

All in all I enjoyed her reading voice very much. Sometimes Audible authors have shrill voiced women narrating and I have been caught out more than once when I didn’t listen to the sample before purchase. Her diaries are also quite comprehensive so I wasn’t left dangling very often. Ms Garner has a very pleasant reading voice.

The only thing I can think about with these diaries is – If I had written them I don’t think I’d be broadcasting them to the world especially when so many of the people in them are still living. This included husbands, lovers, friends. I would be quite embarrassed and would find it very awkward. But as my life is much more mundane (more like The Evenings) I was quite happy to play voyeur into her life.

******************************************

That’s it for books, now on to photography. We had a print challenge in our photo club. The theme was a “city lights at night”. I don’t have a great deal of those in my archives but then I remembered being in Tokyo four years ago and I know I took photos there one night with our small group. I did a digital dusting off of those photos and found one, edited it enough for printing and entered it and won a $20.00 gift voucher to our local camera shop. Though I’m not sure what anyone can buy in a camera shop full of thousand dollar plus lens we all covet. I’ll have a look. Maybe a strap or put it towards a battery or a card. Who knows.

*******************************************

I’ll also share an Ollie and Peanut moment. Peanut is getting big. She is lovely. Six months old now and full of piss and vinegar as my mother used to say to describe things.

We had her DNA done. Results- 25% bichon frise; 25% pug; 12.5 % miniature poodle; 12.5% toy poodle; 12.5% maltese, 12.5 percent unknown (too many generations back). The features we notice most in her are pug and unknown, maybe companion dog chihuahua.

Today I was trying out a new bluetooth speaker I bought recently and had Beethoven piano sonatas playing. This is the scenario.

PICTURE THIS: DOGS …..Racing through the house….. Jump on bed…….Then it’s quiet……music begins to play softly, softly……dogs pick up their heads, turn them towards the speaker , ears raised and five minutes later looked like this……..

Well that catches you up with what is going on here. Hope everyone is well and happy this week. I won’t get too far ahead of myself here….More later…

Sunday Catch Up…

We are trying to stop our city from building a cable car across this landscape to the top of Kunanyi (Mt Wellington). A private business wants to put a very large information center and restaurant on top of this sacred indigenous mountain. Just unbelievable. Photo by ABC broadcasting.

I haven’t been online here for a bit. Reason is I’m decluttering my online presence in several areas. It was becoming overwhelming. I have decided to really follow only a small handful of book blogs and you people will know which ones. I followed many other ones but never got a response so off they went. I only need to read so many book reviews a day.

Have also deleted many fb pages and newsletters I follow, mainly photographic ones. All they want to do is sell me classes or take my money somehow. Life feels much more streamlined now.

My reading has been slower this month as I’ve been studying photograghy and photoshop classes quite a bit this month. It’s one of those things if one doesn’t practice, important lessons are forgotten.

My personal trainer, Theresa. There are prizes at the end of the 12 weeks including a dinner on the waterfront. I’m going for it. 😍

The main activities I’m involved in lately is within the gym. I am doing a 12 week challenge that takes up three days a week. The routine is….

Take the bus into the city, walk the five blocks to the gym, do the class, chat a bit, run errands I might have in the city, then walk back to the bus. I get in an hour’s worth of fitness training plus approximately a 5 km walk by the time I get home. Two days a week I am doing weight training in a small group with a trainer. The third day I spend one hour with my personal trainer on the pilates reformer apparatus. My main goal is to continue strongly into older age.

By the time I get home each afternoon I need to rest a bit. There have been annual health checkups I need to undergo each year and so far that has all been fine. We have also had our first Covid vaccination. Things seem to be getting back to normal where that is concerned. Tasmania has just passed the one year mark without a single case in the state. Living on a small island has its benefits.

Wonderful story of a brilliant photographer

I’m listening to a book or two on audible. I had a break with the Bohemians by Jazmin Darznik, a story of the photographer Dorothea Lange who is know for her depression era photos during the 1930s American depression. It takes place in early 1900s San Francisco and has been good. I will return to it soon.

I interspersed that listening experience with a couple of essays or podcasts I also enjoy from other writers.

Book club read for June

The book I’m currently immersed in for book group is The Yield by Tara June Winch. This book has had a great deal of hype around it rightfully so. It is a very good tale of an Indigenous family that is extremely well written. It won the Miles Franklin Award in Australia for 2020. It took me a few chapters to get into it as I found the writing a bit confusing in the beginning. But I listened to a couple of interviews online with the author to get the story straight in my head and now I am sailing along with no further trouble. Our book group will meet and talk about it the first week of June.

Another book I am in the middle of is one referred to me by my very academic cousin from New Hampshire. It is called The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. If you wish to know about it you can tap on this link here. My cousin used to teach it to his university classes. I am really enjoying it. Extremely well written and a very good story. I must admit I’ve read more about Indigenous Australians than Native Americans and it is nice to have another perspective from a different culture.

I have also attended a couple of book launches through our book shop in the city, Fullers. They do events almost fortnightly and my friend and I go to all of them. One hour of interesting conversations and then a quick meal at our favourite Japanese takeaway. Always an inexpensive and lovely evening out.

We recently went to the launch of James Boyce’s account of Inga Clendinnen’s writings. She was a writer and history who’s writings are worth reading. The discussion of her (of whom I was not familiar) was interesting and I look forward to exploring her writing. The event was very well attended and the book is very popular here.

A selection of her writings was read at the launch and we really enjoyed it.

We also attended the launch of the Three Burials of Lottie Kneen by her granddaughter Krissy Kneen. A memoir of sorts of her very controlling grandmother and matriarch who travelling between Slovenie, Egypt, UK and finally Australia. The author resides in Brisbane now. The story is fascinating and I am looking forward to hearing more about this unusual life of the family.

So while I haven’t abandoned books altogether I am participating in some interesting varied events.

An absolutely fascinating tale.

I also had to edit some photos for our club photography challenges and that took some time. Our theme was 1. city nightscape and 2. side lighting of a person. I dug into my travel archives for those. I will share them at the end of this post.

Speaking of the end of this post…..it is now here. Until next time the Penguin and I wish everyone well.

Busy, Busy.

A couple of assorted photos from the archives…

Spanish Busker. I really liked this guy. Give him a coin and get some movement. This photo won me a silver category at our photo club.
Moroccan bride.
Moroccan Woman

A Bit of Travel Photography

I’ve been busy with appointments, gym and life in general and the days pass by. Too tired in the evenings to write. Today we are supposed to get our Covid vaccinations but I’ve had a bad cold and although I’m at the tail end of it I’m not sure they’ll give me mine. We’ll see.

I’ve been doing a photoshop class through Udemy that I downloaded ages ago and decided I’d better get stuck into it while I’m resting at home with this cold. It has been very useful and their classes are reasonably priced.

I’ve also signed up for a drawing class for $15.00 (good value) through Domestika. I’ve looked for places around Hobart that have drawing classes but just can’t find anything I want. Domestika is Scandinavian but not sure which country. They have really fun, colourful, creative ideas and I’m looking forward to beginning the class soon.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. I gave up on Gilead by Marilyn Robinson. It was just too religious and preachy for my mood and I got bored. I managed 200 pages and gave it up. I get the idea. I see she has written the book Jack who is the young son that the old man is writing to in Gilead. I probably will pass on that too though it could be interesting too see what he thought of his father. Maybe

I’m listening to The Bohemians by Jasmin Darznik on Audible. Booktopia describes it as:

In 1918, a young and bright-eyed Dorothea Lange steps off the train in San Francisco, where a disaster kick-starts a new life. Her friendship with Caroline Lee, a vivacious, straight-talking Chinese American with a complicated past, gives Dorothea entree into Monkey Block, an artists’ colony and the bohemian heart of the city. Dazzled by Caroline and her friends, Dorothea is catapulted into a heady new world of freedom, art, and politics. She also finds herself unexpectedly falling in love with the brilliant but troubled painter Maynard Dixon. Dorothea and Caroline eventually create a flourishing portrait studio, but a devastating betrayal pushes their friendship to the breaking point and alters the course of their lives.

The Bohemians captures a glittering and gritty 1920s San Francisco, with a cast of unforgettable characters, including cameos from such legendary figures as Mabel Dodge Luhan, Frida Kahlo, Ansel Adams, and D. H. Lawrence. A vivid and absorbing portrait of the past, it is also eerily resonant with contemporary themes, as anti-immigration sentiment, corrupt politicians, and a devastating pandemic bring tumult to the city-and the gift of friendship and the possibility of self-invention persist against the ferocious pull of history.

As Dorothea sheds her innocence, her purpose is awakened and she grows into the figure we know from history-the artist whose iconic Depression-era photographs like “Migrant Mother” broke the hearts and opened the eyes of a nation.


She was one of the best photographers who documented people living in 1930s depression America. She had polio as a child and walked with a significant limp the rest of her life. If you’ve not seen her catalogue of photography I suggest you google her.

I am really enjoying it and Dorothea Lange is one of my top five photographers. The early days of San Francisco, a city I have always loved, are also very interesting as are the people.

Reading has taken a bit of a back seat to photography lessons in the past couple of weeks so I’ll move on to it for a moment.

I’ll leave you with some back catalogue photos of my trip to Africa in 2018. I took a large number of photos and never really sorted them. However we have photo challenges in our club and I wanted to prepare some photos for those. I shoot all my photos in a raw format (which is like a negative) and import them onto Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop or Luminar to do the final edit (develop) them. It has taken a long time to learn the tricks of the trade and I still continue to work on it. I’ll leave you with the photos I worked on today and say goodbye for the moment. We need to leave for our vaccinations in awhile and I need to get some lunch. Until then….

Botswana, Africa

I love this sign and the road/bridge it refers to. I believe this was in Botswana.
African Pelicans, a bird I have always loved.
We slept in this bush tent for two nights and were told to not go out of this tent for any reason during the night. We had wild hyenas around it at night. It was too wet for lions or elephants to come through looking for water. There was a bathroom attached and enclosed at the back of the tent but it had a trillion mosquitos.
Aren’t ostriches just the most unusual animals.
Our guide and driver. Our group was very small and everyone had their own window in the truck. Lots of fun,
.The markings of a wild dog are absolutely beautiful.
The wildebeest is a very unusual looking animal. We saw some babies but I’ve not “developed” those photos yet.

Enjoy your week and I’ll try to get back sooner next time. Stay well and hope you can get out and do a few fun things.

P.S. Ollie and Peanut are well. Peanut was spayed and is now completely recovered.

A Cold Rainy Saturday

Rain and cold today.
Photo from ABC News website

Autumn has truly set in on our small island at the bottom of the globe. 12 degrees C (51F), rainy and probably snow on the mountain. Wind out of the south is chilly.

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately as well as doing my work at the gym, and attending a few events at Fullers Book shop. Easter weekend had me working on photography for three days as several challenges were due for our club. So first things first…..

Our book club discussed Tasmanian Erin Hortle’s The Octopus and I.

We had mixed feelings about it. It is her debut novel and we would have liked the editing to be a bit stricter. We enjoyed her writing about the Tasman Peninsula which we are all familiar with as it is only about 60 kms from where we live. We knew of the places she wrote about. We wondered why she varied between first person and third person narrative. We had interesting discussions about editing of books in general, comparing modern editing to that of the past. We thought books were edited more tightly before 1970. We also thought maybe younger women than all of us older women in the group would have worried more about the body image discussed a lot in this book. The protagonist Lucy has had a double mastectomy and breasts were discussed at length. Some of us would recommend this book and others not so much. We also liked the environmental themes within the book. We’re waiting to see if and how she approaches a second novel which we’ve heard she is working on.

I finished Rosie Batty‘s book, A Mother’s Story in no time. Rosie Batty was Australia’s Person of the Year in 2015 as a domestic violence campaigner and advocate for the work she has done regarding domestic violence. If you google her you can learn much more about her. She was in an extremely on again/off again relationship with Greg, whom she never really loved, but it resulted in her son, Luke’s birth. We know from the outset Luke’s father kills him when he is 11 years old. The story is a sad one but what I thought the book pointed out was how the system fails people in domestic violent relationships. There were also so many sliding door moments for Lucy. There were bad decisions Rosie made, there was incredible miscommunication between the agencies that should have been able to help her. This is not a genre I would read often but I thought the information on how communities, in this case the state of Victoria, handled her case. As a result of her becoming Australian of the Year and publicity of her story, a royal commission was held and evidently changes are being made regarding domestic violence.

However, one woman a week continues to die in Australia due to domestic violence. If a sporting name, a politician or a celebrity died at the rate of one a week I believe much more would be done. So moving on….

Another book I finished was a bit of travel writing again. I listened to young Jake Tyler from England discuss the walk he undertook to circumnavigate the UK. He wrote about it in his book A Walk from the Wild Edge. He has a great deal of difficulty suffering from depression/anxiety. This caused his excessive use of alcohol, drugs and non employment, lying around doing nothing. He finally decided he would leave Brighton where he was living in England and start walking clockwise around England, Wales, Scotland.

I didn’t find this book was so much about his trip as it was his unending discussion of dealing with depression. Every page had him talking to people about it, regressing once more into drugs and alcohol several times as he met up with friends in various locations, pulling himself out of it again, then talking more about it.

I believe the walk helped him in many ways but until he can beat his addictions I don’t think any walks anywhere are going to put him on a complete path to recovery. I was happy to finish the book.

I read a lot of travel writing and it seems many people, especially with more current books, are dealing with a mental health issue. They seem to travel, often using unusual transport (camels, donkeys, walking, bicycling, etc) to deal with what affects them. The more travel reading I do I am now looking at the back cover more carefully to see the reason for their trips. I’ve read enough about travel and mental illness for the time being.

I am halfway through Gilead by Marilyn Robinson for our May book group. The writing is beautiful and I appreciate it but I am finding it slow going. It isn’t the type of book I enjoy the most. It is much too religious for my non believer self. I am only reading 20 pages a day to ensure I finish it in time, then reading other things I enjoy more.

I am enjoying the
Australian book Neon Pilgrim by Lisa Dempster. Described as “15 year old Lisa Dempster promises herself to one day walk the zhenro michi, an arduous 88 temple Buddhist pilgrimage through the mountains of Japan’s Shikoku island.” She spent a year in Japan as a student when she made this decision. Now 13 years later she is doing it. She, again, is not in good health. She has few interests, is overweight, unfit and begins this journey. It is more of a physical health issue and also a way to develop her confidence and self image. However she doesn’t dwell on it and instead discusses the journey, the temples, the food, the people she meets. Her experiences are really interesting and she keeps an open mind to everything around her. I’m not too far into it yet but I am really enjoying it. The walk comprises “1200 kms of mountainous terrain, a sweltering Japanese summer, she has no money and has never done a multi-day hike especially alone.” But her determination is fun to watch and I am interested in how she does.

Other books I’m dipping into are photography books and instructional methods in books, magazines and you tube videos.

Our photography club is undertaking a challenge with our sister city, the West Yorkshire city of Ilkey, England’s photography club. Each member of both clubs has been paired up, one Tasmanian photographer and one Ilkey member. A colour and a letter of the alphabet has been ascribed to each pair. My letter and colour is A and the colour Blue. An Ilkey member has the same. A and Blue. This will result in two photos for each of us to complete. Then a judge will look at the four photos and judge the winner of each category.

Each photo club member has a different letter and colour. Then a tally will be made of what club has the most wins. This time we have an independent Australian judge who will judge the photos blind. Next time England will pick the judge.

It should be fun and I will include my entries below.

A is for Agriculture. (A real Tasmanian scene)
B is for Blue. (Everything in this photo except berries are from the Tip Shop)

On a personal note (which means the dogs), Peanut got spayed this week and our job is to keep a one year old jack russell and an active 4 month old from running around like zoomie nuts for one week. That is our challenge of the week. Lots of dogs on leashes, independent yard visits and getting them to bed at night as early as possible. So far so good.

Peanut home from hospital

Mr Penguin is fixing a large pot of chilli to get us through the cold weekend today. I noticed he brought home a fairly large container of long red chillies from the grocery store and hope he is only using some of them. Mr. P is a person who drinks tabasco sauce straight from the bottle so I do need to keep an eye on things.

I hope everyone who reads this is doing well and enjoying what they can in the part of the world they live in. All the best with your walking, cooking, reading, netflixing, crafting, working…whatever you love to do. Until next time.