An informal journal of a retired Tasmanian who loves animals, books, reading, walking, photography, motorbiking and sharing my world with others.
I live a retired life in Tasmania, Australia. I love books, travel, animals, photography, motor biking and good friends. I indulge in all these activities with the little Travellin' Penguin who has now shared five continents with me. We love book shops, photography walks and time with friends as all our family is in USA and Canada. I enjoy visitors to my blog so hope you'll stop by.
Reading this past week or so has been a mish mash. We have builders, an electrician and plumbers tearing the kitchen apart. We have confused pets checking everything out constantly wondering where their food dishes are and Ollie spends days in the backyard looking through his crack in the fence for the neighbour’s cat, Stanley; playing with his toys and standing, staring at rocks for the local lizards to emerge. I am trying to keep him from killing them. So far the score is Ollie 1 the Lizard 0.
I’ve also been informed in this past week of a health problem I have and it will require surgery within a very short period of time. I’ll have more on that front on Friday. Needless to say it is a hard time to concentrate.
I’ve been enjoying further essays in the book I wrote about in the last post, The Gift of Reading. I find them quite uplifting. I’ve also pulled a beautiful copy I have of Andersen’s Fairy Tales off the shelf. It is illustrated with lovely black and white as well as colour plates and there are 100 stories within it’s beautiful covers. I go to random.org each day and choose the number of the tale I will read that day. It is a total comfort read.
I was given several book vouchers for my birthday which I will probably save until after Christmas when new books stock Fullers Book shop after the Christmas rush or older shelved books will be on the large sale table.
Last night had two of my wonderful friends and I at our popular local Italian restaurant, DaAngelo’s for our annual birthday, girl’s night out. The next one will be in March when they celebrate their birthdays. I received a book from each of them, plus a beautiful little note pad and a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolate. My dessert was a delicious crème brulee. Birthdays can be so much fun even as I progress into my 70th decade. I cannot believe I am so old.
Love Clancy is a book of letters from Clancy to his parents in the bush. It is a tale of a young dog’s musings about the oddities of human behaviour, life in the big city and his own attempts to fit in. An interesting perspective I think by a well known author.
The second book I received is both a title and author I am not familiar with. The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messini. The author has been living in Japan and works between Tokyo and Kamakura where she lives. It has been translated from the Italian by Lucy Rand, from the U.K. She has also been living in Japan for the past three years. No idea where the Italian link comes from.
It is a story of Yuri who loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami and wonders how she will carry on. She hears of a disused telephone box in an old man’s garden where those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of this phone box spreads people travel to it from miles around. Interesting? Certainly different. Should be fun.
I received the latest copy of Womankind magazine and this month it features the women of South America. Some interesting articles and brightly coloured photography.
I am also working my way through my copy of October’s Australian Book Review with several interesting articles of books I’ve read or own on the TBR shelf.
As you can see November is a big month of chaotic mish mash and my reading,Mr. Penguin and our affectionate animals are keeping us sane in the run up to Christmas.
I’m not certain what December is going to bring except to say I will have no problem farewelling the year that has been 2020 and I do wish/hope/pray for better times worldwide in 2021. To think one year ago we had no idea what this year would turn into. Wow!
Our local bookshop, Fullers, my home away from home, that I mention a lot in my posts had a Christmas shopping day yesterday. They usually have a night time spree, but with so many people who buy books they have stretched it out over a day in order to have less people in the shop at one time. As Tasmania has not had a Covid case in months, due to strong lockdown of our state (take note Americans) we have bookshops and libraries that are open and thriving.
It was also double points day so I went down to see what Christmas presents I might pick up. I got distracted by the book I am going to share with you here today and bought it. It is easy to get distracted in book shops by books WE want!
The book I bought and have begun is called: The Gifts of Reading: Essays on the Joys of Reading, Giving and Receiving Books. Inspired by Robert MacFarlane (a British writer). Published 2020 by Weidenfeld and Nicholson, it was developed to give to the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) which does vital work saving migrant lives at sea in the Mediterranean and the Bay of Bengal, and which relies on donations for its continued operation. It also crossed paths with Jennie Orchard, long term supported of an NGO, Room to Read and John Wood, its founder. This organisation transforms the lives of tens of million of children, especially girls, in Asia and Africa.
There are 23 essays/chapters from various authors including, Robert MacFarlane, William Boyd, Roddy Doyle, Pico Iyer, Jan Morris and Michael Ondaatje to name a few.
The last three chapters are called The Gifts, (a list of books these authors gift to others regularly); Acknowledgements of everyone else involved in this project and Room to Read, information about the organisation.
Today I randomly chose a chapter with random.org and the number that came up was Chapter 1 called The Gifts of Reading by Robert MacFarlane. Robert MacFarlane now teaches at Cambridge in England. Quite appropriate I thought. I have set up a lounge chair on our very small front porch, with a cushion. I bribed Ollie to sit on it with me with liver treats and settled down on a lovely, cool, cloudy spring day to read.
This chapter tells about a time living in Beijing with a friend, the books they read and some of his travels. He was teaching there for a coupe of years and then did some walking trips into the mountains of southwest China. He and his friend talked a lot about books. The books they have received as gifts and those they gifted to others. More importantly they discussed how those books impacted on them receiving them as
His favourite two books he gives to others are Patrick Leigh Fermor’s- A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: from the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube. This book tells the story of Fermor’s legendary walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in the early 1930s, started when he was 18. However he did not write the book until the 1970s so it is stated be narrated with the wisdom of an older person of his youth.
Fermor makes it seem as if anyone could just walk out the door and keep going. He writes, “The comforting rhythm of his journey- exertion, encounter, rest, food, sleep; exertion, encounter, rest, food, sleep- rocks its readers into feelongs of happiness and invulnerability. I could do this, you think, I could just start walking and keep going for a day or two, or three, or four, or more…”
The second book he gifts is Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain. Published in 2012. Amazon describes it as: In this masterpiece of nature writing, Nan Shepherd describes her journeys into the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. There she encounters a world that can be breathtakingly beautiful at times and shockingly harsh at others. Her intense, poetic prose explores and records the rocks, rivers, creatures and hidden aspects of this remarkable landscape.
My intention is to read a new essay every day or two and if they move me I will try to share a couple more with you. However if there is a bibliophile in your life this would make a lovely Christmas present.
Time continues to slip away this year. I won’t mention the Covid news (all okay here and hope you are too) or the U.S. election news (I’m thrilled and relieved) as I know everyone is really over the unrelenting news of it all. So straight to what’s going on book wise on our little island state.
I started a couple of books but they were both DNF. The first one was Girt, An Unauthorised History of Australia by David Hunt. I was listening to it being read as an audible. It is a humorous version of Australia’s early history and though I enjoyed the content I encountered a large problem. After every page the sound of a large whip cracked! Louder than the narrative and regularly at the bottom of EVERY page. At first it was startling. Then it just became annoying. Interesting content was being read then suddenly this very loud cracking whip would lash through the air and crack. Whoever thought this is a good idea should have their head examined. I finally reached a point I couldn’t bear it anymore and sent it to the ‘unfinished bin’.
The next book I began was My Love Story, an authorised autobiography of Tina Turner. I don’t usually read celebrity biographies. I can count the number on one hand. But I have always been a huge fan of Tina Turner and in the 90’s I flew to Melbourne twice to attend her concerts. Anyone who can sing and dance on stage for over two hours then complete a finale of hanging upside down from a cherry picker over the audience while still belting out one of her hits at the age of 69 gets my vote of admiration. She was a wonderful performer.
However, as is often the case the book was a big disappointment. It was very self indulgent, with a continual carry on of name dropping and how she did everything except scale Mt. Everest backwards in stilettos. I got bored quickly so I think she is now relegated to my bins of history. Her performances though will always be top notch in those memories.
By then all of the news in America was kicking off full on and the last thing I was going to do was read anything that made me think so I pulled out a comfort read.
The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield. This book was a reread and once again it soothed my frayed nerves. It is such a fun book and would lower my blood pressure as soon as I picked it up.
Now it is November and I have always loved this month. Growing up in the United States, November was full of family fun with Thanksgiving, my birthday and looking forward to Christmas. Now, I no longer get the same excitement about Christmas as it is just too commercial for my tastes. Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Australia and family is overseas and greatly diminished. However, my birthday remains. I always begin my diary on my birthday for the following year and am enjoying the blank slate it currently contains.
Here is hoping 2021 is a much better year or at least slows down a bit for all of us. My heart remains with the people around the world who continue to be so affected by Covid. I think of you UK people in lockdown and I worry about my American friends and family who continue to dodge this disease on a daily basis. Keep your masks on people!
Until next time-
I look forward to picking up some interesting books, doing a photography post very soon and sharing what else life throws at us down here in our end of the world. Stay safe…
I hope this finds everyone well and not too stressed by world events. I must admit I’m a bit stressed about the outcome of the upcoming presidential election in the United States. I will be happy once the election is finalised but not holding out a lot of hope that everything will go smoothly. It’s getting crazier day by day but enough of that.
Simply Sunday is about the past week or so and what’s been happening on our little island at the bottom end of the Australian continent.
The book I’m listening to is The Flight by Julie Clark narrated by Patricia Rodriguez. (USA- Hodder and Stoughton).
I haven’t read much fiction and as I enjoyed the Minotaur fiction I thought I’d dive into some more.
Good Reads describes this book in part as:
Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of ten, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he’s not above using his staff to track Claire’s every move, making sure she’s living up to his impossible standards. But what he doesn’t know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.
A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets ― Claire taking Eva’s flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. They believe the swap will give each of them the head start they need to begin again somewhere far away.
I won’t add anymore because I think it’s a spoiler. This tale begins at a ground breaking pace of suspense. It flies and really sucks the reader in. Then once the first big event happens it slows down a bit. However it’s about to pick up again soon.
I am not going to say much at all about the plot as there are many twists and turns constantly and I don’t want to ruin it. I wouldn’t google this book either as spoilers seem to be in a lot of places on the net. Suffice it to say I am finding it a fun read amongst many distractions and my lack of concentration. I’ll get back to more serious reading after the U.S. election.
Having said that I have just started another book in print called Olive Cotton: A Life in Photography by Helen Ennis though am only 25 pages into it so far so can’t talk about it except to say it’s an Australian biography written by an Australian author.
Other news? I have been participating in the Great Australian Bird Count this week. It runs for seven days and participants sit in their yard or wherever else they may want to go for blocks of 20 minutes. There is an app to download and as you see a bird you identify it and enter it into the app. It is a yearly event and it is easy to do. It provides a useful census of the current bird population throughout Australia. I think it is a very worthwhile event. Today is the final day of counting.
I also had some entertaining news last week. I ran into a work colleague from about 20 years ago recently in the book shop and she used to have Jack Russell dogs. Her last one passed away at an advanced age, she lives alone and has recently downsized her house. She would like another dog. Well lo and behold didn’t I have a photo to show her. She loved Ollie and I told her if I could chase up the breeder I would do so. I was able to retrieve the contact details from when we purchased Ollie in Nov in 2019. I contacted her and long story short, we became Facebook friends and she put me in touch with other puppy owners, one of which to my delight lives in the Hobart area. (Playdate soon I hope).
I now have photos of Ollie’s mother, father, brother and litter mate Eddie and a sister born the year before Ollie. I think her name is Magga. I’ve never bought a dog from a breeder before. We have always rescued animals from various places and I’ve never known much about their relatives. So this an enjoyable first.
A couple of other things I’d like to share is an Australian magazine I subscribe to that is actually distributed internationally but published here in Hobart. It is called Womankind magazine and it has wonderful stories featuring various countries, photography, short stories, book reviews and assorted miscellaneous articles. If you’re interested in having a look your can find the link HERE
Speaking of links, I found this link to an interesting article on the Lit Hub (originally the Post Bulletin) newsletter about a high school student who tells why students should read bad books. He says that throughout school he has been confined to the books that teachers have chosen and they had an assignment to choose any book they wanted. He chose a book by Ayn Rand that he thought wasn’t that great of a book and he explains what he learned from reading a ‘bad’ book. He wants to be a writer and this evidently gave him some ideas of what he doesn’t want to do in his writing future. I enjoyed the article. You must answer one question in a survey though before you can access the article but seems rather harmless. The link for that is HERE.
I think this is enough news for one Sunday so I will now shut this thing down and continue with the spring clean up we are doing in our large enclosed patio area called The Lockup in the back yard. Lots of winter debris to sweep and clean and it is also our enclosure for our cats. Since Ollie has destroyed a few of their things I need to sort out what I can substitute. More later, stay well and motivated. Do something today that makes you happy.
Written by Steven Sherrill. USA – first published in UK by Canongate Books 2003- Edinburgh.
The blurb on the back of this book states…..
Five thousand years after leaving the Cretan Labyrinth, the Minotaur- or M as he is known to his colleagues- is working as a line chef at Grub’s Rib in Carolina, keeping his horns down, trying in vain to put his past behind him. He leads an ordered lifestyle in a shabby trailer park where he tinkers with cars, writes and rewrites to-do lists and observes the haphazard goings on around him. Outwardly controlled, M tries to hide his emotional turmoil as he is transported deeper into the human word of deceit, confusion and need.
I walked into our indie book shop Fullers when one of the staff walked up to me to say hello. I was browsing the shelves as I often do and he walked to one shelf, picked out a book and handed it to me. “Read this” he said. I took one look at the cover and thought, “This is something I would never look at twice.” It isn’t my genre but to be honest I’m tired of the genres I often pick. Non fiction and travel writing especially. I asked him what it’s about. He told me “A minotaur who lives and works in America.” Well that sums it right up doesn’t it. Then we had a quick chat about it and I thought “Why not?” and brought it home. I began it at once and found so different I was really enjoying it.
M lives in a Carolina state, probably North Carolina, though it doesn’t specify. Part of the novel does state it is a 9 hour drive to Florida which fits and they eat Tex Mex food which made me think of Texas not the Carolinas but by now I suppose most states have Tex Mex food.
M is quite sensitive and also very self conscious. Who wouldn’t be if they had the body of a human and the head of a bull. I thought this book would have a lot of bullying behaviour because of his appearance and the fact he walks around with a large set of horns on his head. But it doesn’t fall into that trap.
It is a story of his mates at work, the other people who live in the run down trailer park he lives in, the manager of the trailer park. Their daily life. The book is very well written and does pull you in. There are some rough spots in it regarding a couple of incidents and some crude language but it is all in context and I didn’t find it bothersome at all.
I enjoyed the moments described as he worked for Grub who ran the rib & steak house. M is a great worker and very handy with a knife and it was fun to see the work he did in the kitchen.
I understand there is another book out about M called The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time but Peter at the book shop told me he didn’t think that one was as good as this one.
If you’re looking for a quick, 312 page read about some very unusual people and situations you may enjoy this. The themes covered are dealing with those who are impoverished, different in society, lifestyles and difficulties dealing with those who don’t fit in. I find myself thinking about M a lot. He is such a real character and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I met him one day walking up the street.
The Guardian wrote an in-depth review of this book (here) in 2003 if you’re interested in reading more. I don’t review books, I only talk about my narrow scope of them. I leave the in-depth reviews to those who do it well.
Spring has arrived in Tasmania with various bouts of gale force winds, rain and sunny days interspersed amongst it all. We are continuing to keep busy and I have also been reading quite a bit. I’m also culling books here and there too. My aim at this point is to have all books fit easily on the shelves with no flat stacking in front of the standing books on shelves. So whenever I bring in a new book to the clan, I make at least three leave and find their way into the book wilderness. So far it is working but I have a ways to go.
I am also making myself read at least 50 pages each morning before I turn my tablet on and get stuck into reading emails, blog posts, Facebook messages from family and friends overseas and the morning news. Starting with 50 pages immediately with my coffee gets me into the reading mood and lifts my spirits. People who love books will understand the feeling of the little jolts of happiness that course through a mind while reading something new.
Let’s continue with what books were uncovered since my last post.The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie– Australian- Non fiction, winner of the Finch Memoir Prize 2018 and 2019 Stella Prize and shortlisted for the 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards
(From Booktopia description). When Vicki Laveau-Harvie’s elderly mother is hospitalised unexpectedly, Vicki and her sister travel to their parents’ isolated ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to help their father. Estranged from their parents for many years, Vicki and her sister are horrified by what they discover on their arrival. For years, Vicki’s mother has camouflaged her manic delusions and savage unpredictability, and over the decades she has managed to shut herself and her husband away from the outside world, systematically starving him and making him a virtual prisoner in his own home. Vicki and her sister have a lot to do, in very little time, to save their father. And at every step they have to contend with their mother, whose favourite phrase during their childhood was: ‘I’ll get you and you won’t even know I’m doing it.
It is described as “sharply funny” but I thought it was anything but. Vicki lives in Australia and flies back and forth to Canada to deal with all that is happening with her parents. Her sister lives in Canada and at times feels quite overwhelmed by being the one closest to the parents.
Their mother certainly has some issues and truly seems to hate her daughters. I thought the book is extremely well written and describes the issues of dealing with elderly parents, especially from a distance very well.
I enjoyed reading about how they dealt with everything. The story mainly deals with the present situation and then dips backwards into some experiences of the sister’s childhood with their mother. I never learned though why her mother seemed to hate her daughters so much. I would have liked to know about the family from the mother’s perspective, from her mind.
When did this attitude begin? Why was it so? Their mother was incredibly hateful, wanting them to suffer as much as possible. Perhaps that wouldn’t have been possible. Who knows how family members in these situations really interpret each other.
The next book I finished was Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship wth the First Lady by Stephanie Winston Wokoff, narrated by the author on Audible.com.
What an interesting book but what was wrong with this author!!?? Stephanie and Melania met years previously when both were involved with Vogue magazine. They became very good friends and that friendship endured for many years. So when Melania became the First Lady of the United States as part of the Donald Trump family she was able to get Stephanie to hire on as an assistant to her as she dealt with everything the East Wing of the White House involved.
However the people working in the West Wing with Donald Trump and Donald’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared Kushner never seemed to acknowledge her presence, much less her authority.
The book is a very long tale of the interminable abuse Stephanie endured while participating in the inauguration preparations of Donald Trump on 22 January, 2017. Stephanie lived in New York with her husband and children. Yet she spent incredible amounts of time in Washington DC. She was hired but somehow a contract never happened. She worked without salary. It would all be organised soon but never was. Melania is portrayed as someone who could care less about anything that happens in the USA and is more obsessed with the outfits she wears and her appearance.
I thought the information regarding the Inauguration preparations and life within the White House was interesting. The stories about Ivanka were as I expected as she and Melania do not get along and Ivanka is portrayed as being more interested in taking Melania’s position to be with her “daddy”. It was Ivanka that “helped” Melania prepare the speech for the 2016 Republican convention where Michelle Obama’s speech was plagiarised. She wanted to humiliate Melania. It worked. Melania was silly to take it on trust and not proofread it or fact check it with people in the know.
As events progress over the next couple of years, Stephanie’s health deteriorates so much she ends up doing quite a long stint in the hospital with Melania continuing to offer her platitudes through emoji laden texts. By the end of the book Stephanie is well and truly thrown under the bus based on missing millions of dollars resulting with her photo and false information plastered all over the front page of the New York Times.
Throughout the telling of this tale I could only think, “Why are you being so pathetic to allow yourself to be treated like this for such a long time?”
I can understand trusting a friend but most friendships end far before this one did if one person is harming the other.
I didn’t really feel sorry for her because she appeared to be so blindsided by the power and publicity of having her best friend become First Lady of the country she couldn’t do enough for her. She really was her own worst enemy.
On the other hand Melania is exactly as she portrays herself. Wearing a jacket that says “I don’t care” because she likes it. Wearing foreign designer clothes from foreign designers instead of American ones and forcing one designer to near bankruptcy as bills aren’t paid. The Trump family is portrayed exactly as how I think they are, incomprehensible in their actions and activities, fraud and money laundering stories. Melania was heard to speak of the Stormy Daniels episode as “that’s politics!”
Stephanie was told again and again by very well known people, her husband, her friends, “Do not get involved with the Trump family” but she ignored it to her own detriment. I think most people in her situation would have seen the light far sooner. However if you fancy a salacious tale of the nutty Trump family this is your book. It’s something right out of an amusement park.
The book I’m halfway through is about as different as a book can be for me. I was in Fullers Book store in Hobart and one of the sales people, Peter, walked up to me and handed me the book, The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break by American author Steven Sherrill. I’ll write more about this book once finished but so far it is a really interesting read with some good themes in it.
I’ll leave you with a photo of Ollie’s walk on the beach last week when we attended a Mental Health activity for National Mental Health Week in Australia. It was a dog walk and consisted of a dog walk with others along the beach, speakers by the manager of the Dog’s Home of Tasmania, a Veterinarian and some Indigenous peoples readings about the land we stood on. It was followed by a sausage sizzle that included veggie burgers and onions. The first time the event was held and they hope it becomes an annual event.
I know it is a cliche but I really don’t know where the time goes. Busy with the 12 week fitness challenge I’m doing, a long motorbike ride, a few photography events and lots of household planning. I’m not getting a lot of time for reading books but I am listening to a lot of books. I get a couple of hours in most nightHs while lying in bed. A very relaxing and quiet time.
I finished One Day by Gene Weingarten. I heard about it somewhere and was intrigued by the concept. The author wanted to explore the events of one day in history in America. He picked three strangers and each drew numbers out of a hat. One chose the year, one, the day and one the month. The result was Sunday, 28 December, 1986. It is the date he researched extensively to find the events of the day. He wasn’t expecting as much as he found as it was a Sunday. Not the best day of the week, he thought. It was also only three days after Christmas. In the end it didn’t seem to matter as there was no shortage of events.
That Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s turned out to be filled with comedy, tragedy, implausible irony, cosmic comeuppances, kindness, cruelty, heroism, cowardice, genius, idiocy, prejudice, selflessness, coincidence, and startling moments of human connection, along with evocative foreshadowing of momentous events yet to come. Lives were lost. Lives were saved. Lives were altered in overwhelming ways. Many of these events never made it into the news; they were private dramas in the lives of private people. They were utterly compelling.
One Day asks and answers the question of whether there is even such a thing as “ordinary” when we are talking about how we all lurch and stumble our way through the daily, daunting challenge of being human. (Booktopia site)
Gene Weingarten is an author that has won the Pulitzer Prize twice in the past. His day job has him working as a journalist for the Washing Post newspaper.
I enjoyed this book as if you think of everything that happens in a person’s live and multiply that by billions there really doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. One never knows what lies ahead. The author’s research was good and it was an interesting concept to explore.
Last night four of us from the Photo Club went down to the waterfront to teach ourselves how to get night time ‘bokeh’. For those who don’t know what bokeh is, it is the blurry lights you see behind a photographic subject. It is regularly seen in films and television and nighttime photos. The photographer finds a subject to photograph and then looks for light sources farther behind the subject. The camera lens is opened up wide and hopefully the subject in the front of the photo will be clear and the lights in the background will be blurred. It was trickier to get then we thought but some other lovely photos came out of our experimentation. It was a chilly night out, as we wandered around the fishing boats and fish and chips shops at night looking for subjects and lights with our tripods over our shoulders. It was good to get out in the fresh air with like minded fellow photographers and have a laugh and share ideas. Here are just three photos I came up with. The bokeh isn’t that great but the photos turned out nice and one had nice starbursts in the light I wasn’t expecting to get. Once I went out to get starbursts and ended up with bokeh. One just never knows.
Here’s hoping all is well with anyone stopping by this page. Stay well.
She reviewed the non fiction book The Application of Pressure. You can see her review here. I was interested in this book after reading her review. As I had a credit on my Audible.com subscription I thought I’d see if they had it. Sure enough they did so I downloaded it and have listened to it the past few days. I finished it last night. The book is written by Rachel Mead and the audible version is narrated by Caz Prescott who did a pretty good job. However there were times she sounded a lot like Kitty Flannagan with her intonations. (Australians will understand Kitty Flannagan). I found that distracting at times but if you aren’t familiar with her it shouldn’t be a problem.
I didn’t enjoy the book as much as Lisa did but overall it turned out to be pretty interesting and I’m glad I read it. It’s just that it gets uncomfortable at times.
First off this book is not for the squeamish. There is a lot of every type of body excrement, horrible smells (yes I think you can smell stuff coming out of this book) and some scary experiences. There is also a variety of quite funny experiences and compassionate experiences. I think the author tried hard to balance things out.
Tash and Joel are two paramedics. The chapters take it turn to feature one of them. I had a harder time with Tash than I did with Joel. I felt Tash was quite jaded and came very close to inappropriate comments about a few clients, especially one with disabilities and older people. A couple of her comments grated on me but in her defence it is a job that not many people could do and I understand some of the black humour. It probably wasn’t the type of audible book to read at night before falling asleep. However as the author’s first book, I thought the topic was interesting and the writing was good. There are parts you can’t put down until you come to the chapter’s end. If you like the subject matter I would recommend it.
Other things happening this week. Well, we are getting a new kitchen. We had a consultant come from a very large hardware store here and design our 1970s kitchen into something that goes into the 2020s. It is very exciting but quite daunting. The components should be here in about 6 weeks, the builder has been hired and it will be all systems go. Other than having to clean out cupboards that haven’t seen the light of day since the late 80s, having 3 cats, a 15 and a half year old terrier and a one year old Jack Russell puppy in the house, it should be a real challenge. The cats are all house cats but if the weather is nice they will be living in their outdoor enclosure for a few days while the kitchen gets gutted.
On top of that I’ve joined a 12 week gym challenge that has me completing two pilates classes and a one hour session with a personal trainer in the gym in the city. A 5 block walk from bus to gym and then gym to bus on a time schedule keeps me pretty focused. But having seen what is going on in nursing homes during this Covid episode I don’t want to end up in one in 15 or 20 years. So staying strong and mobile is my older age priority these days. I couldn’t bear to be separated from my pets if things went downhill. Heartbreaking thoughts like that make me get up and self torture myself! No, it’s not that bad and feel wonderful after each session. End of winter blues have disappeared too.
What else is new? Well I’m dipping into some other books here and there, watching a couple of Netflix series and our photography club and senior’s group is now meeting monthly face to face. Tasmania continues to be in lockdown from Australian mainland and the rest of the world and there is not a single case of Covid in our small island state which is lovely. At least for now.
Last but not least: Today our photography club is having a day out in the Royal Botanical Gardens. I’m hoping the tulips are in bloom. I might share some of my photos in Wayfaring Wednesday if they turn out to my satisfaction.
Books I’m dipping into to and an interesting library book:
The Bedside Baccalaureate edited by David Ruben is one I bought several years ago on a trip to Sydney. It has parts in it of various topics in each section. For example Part I is: American History- General Grant’s Civil War; Economics- Globalization; Art History- The Hudson River School; Physical Sciences- The Astronomical Universe and Classics- Mythis of Ancient Greece and Rome. Each subject is rotated. So day I is General Grant, dat 2 is Economics, etc. There approximately 18 to 20 pages on each topic. If one topic’s overview is interesting enough there is a more extensive bibliography at the back. I’m not rotating the reading. Instead I flip through all the pages of the same topic. I have just finished the chapter on General Grant and enjoyed it very much. Limited to his personality, how he achieved his roles in the Civil War and his important battles.
Another book I’ve started too is one of Penguin’s Little Black Classics. No. 40, The Steel Flea which is written by Russian author Nikolay Leskov. It is short and very funny. Very similar to the Emperor’s New Clothes.
The library book that came in is: The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter. It is a literary walk through out Paris. It looks like fun and has some illustrations.
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: 0%
The Steel Flea: 18%
The Bedside Baccalaureate: 4%
That pretty much finishes up the past week. Hope everyone has an enjoyable Sunday.
I have been listening to the interesting biographical audible copy of Jack Charles. This book is narrated by Jack Charles as well. He has such a pleasant, deep reading voice and I enjoyed hearing his story. I didn’t know a lot about him until I saw the tv program of Anh Doh interviewing him and painting his portrait. The interview was interesting so when I saw Audible had the book I downloaded it.
Jack was born indigenous to a mother who had 11 children. All 11 of her children were ‘stolen’ from her when the Australian government thought they would do better being assimilated into the white world. He found his mother again in his later life but he was the only child she had that she ever saw again. He was an infant when taken so had no memory of her.
He grew up in an institution where he was sexually abused and beaten for years. When he did become a part of a foster family later in his childhood he was kicked out of their home when he announced he was gay.
The next few decades saw him arrested for drug and alcohol abuse and getting caught stealing from the rich home in eastern Melbourne. He was arrested and jailed 22 times in his life.
He had some good fortune between jail time as he was interested in acting and participated in some stage shows and later a film documentary of his life.
He went on to make several films during his later years.
Throughout the book it is obvious that although he went through a great deal of trauma in his life he remained a gentle person. He didn’t fight others or speak of his life with much anger. He was interested in learning and read when he could. He laughed at his experiences as a cat burglar, getting caught one night by someone who had seen him in a play and instead of calling the police in the middle of the night, made him a cup of tea. He agreed to not come back to that house again. He also made friends with some of the animals in the homes he robbed. There are many parts of his story where the reader can share a laugh with him and also feel the pain of never having had a family of his own. It is a very tragic tale but he continued on, moving from one adventure to another. I don’t know how he didn’t become twisted and bitter.
He travelled the world with the filmed documentary and began speaking to large groups. He is not in his late 70s and continuing his good humour.
The stories of the stolen generation of indigenous Australians are hard to read about. It was a policy that was doomed to failure from the very beginning and didn’t end until the 1960s. Man’s inhumanity to man. I enjoyed hearing his tale and found him to be an inspiring man despite his criminal past. He continues working with various media when he can. The audible book is a good experience as it is read by him and the reader becomes involved in his sorrow and his laughter. He is an example of someone who really has tried to make the best of things and I think those of us who have had easier lives can learn a lot from his attitude and stories.