2021 is finally underway…

I think I have my thoughts organised around my book challenges this year enough so I can say it out loud.

2021- Stay focused

First off will I say no challenges ahead of time except to read my TBR books and library copies? However, I guess my TBR is a challenge. I am going to follow blogger Book Snob and begin reading them alphabetically by author. I need to not just read the books I am always drawn to on my shelves but to get the impulse buys I thought I’d love, then lost the mood. How many of those do we own?

Right now, I’m reading Charlotte Wood’s The Weekend. Three women in their 70s gather at their friend’s place for a weekend to clean it out after she dies. Throw in a very old arthritic, incontinent dog and the dynamics should be interesting.

I know I am probably the last reader to dig into this popular Austraian book. I’ve heard so much about it. I’m not far into it but I am enjoying the writing. I have no idea how these three women and Finn the dog are going to cope in this run down house of their friend without killing each other. For friends of long standing they sure have a go at each other behind their backs. So far it is Finn, the dog I’m enjoying the most. But it is pulling me into the story and I am looking forward to seeing how they all cope.

Once finished I will begin other books. I want to have an essay or short story read of the day. So that will be one book on the go. I will either start with Chekhov’s short stories or The Bookseller’s Tale by Martin Latham. I might rotate between them as I am looking forward to both of them.

I will also get one book at a time from the library. There are so many books I discover through fellow bloggers but I don’t want to purchase those books. I have my own extensive library but I feel it is important to always support the library and even if I don’t get to all the books I place on hold, I want to contribute to their usage statistics. I don’t trust government funding for libraries. Fortunately our library seems to be well supported and in safe hands but one just never knows.

I also have photography and magazine articles to read. I regularly read Photography magazines from the library online, own a subscription to the Monthly and Australian Book Review magazines, not to mention Womankind. I can stick those in a bag and read them while waiting for appointments or the bus.

Did I mention kindle books and the audible books I listen to nightly? Or the bookish podcasts and author interviews? (sigh)

So there you have it.

My baseline goal is to read 50 pages per day from one of the above challenges. I should not call them challenges as that is the fastest way I know of to fall off the wagon, so to speak. Anyway, that’s the plan and we’ll see how we go. I won’t mention my daily journal writing and learning to draw book. I’m making myself laugh now.

Other catch up news is both good and also sad. The good news is my health is finally settling down after major surgery. I will pass the five week mark on Thursday and can start driving again soon. Feeling better but probably won’t be fully recovered until end of January or February. I can start taking longer walks and need to get Ollie to the beach again. I’m sure he misses it but you wouldn’t know it.

The sad news is we had to euthanise our old dog Molly. She would have been 16 in March. She had a bad fall and ruptured her cruciate ligament. We knew she couldn’t have surgery at her age and with her very advanced arthritis complicating matters we would not have put her through that. She had an extremely peaceful end with both of us with her and knew no anxiety. She was more than ready to go. I like to think of her running with her old mates Odie who we lost to cancer last year and Wally who died 4 years ago of old age. I will put another bell in the maple tree for her, next to Odie and Wally’s bell. Ollie hasn’t indicated he misses her but then again he is such a little narcissist it is hard to tell. Our old cat, Uncle Buck, seems to know she is gone though. They were great mates for the last 14 years.

Our lovely three friends are all together again and their bells ring gently in the wind. L-R Odie, 2019; Molly 2021; Wally 2016.

Well, enough of that and forward we move. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens politically in America the month of January then I’m going to forget all about it and concentrate on Australia!!

Stay well my friends, especially those of you in North America and the UK. I think of you daily and am saddened by what is happening in both countries. Just stay safe. Think medical and not political. Enough said.

Until next time…

Hangin’ in there like a rusty nail…

This year just keeps getting better and better. I’m writing this for my good friends who I know read this. Then I might delete it as I am not about discussing body parts. I had major surgery last Thursday. I’ve had a very large mass, (think large baby’s head) removed plus all those internal (infernal?) female parts and although thankfully it does not look like there is any high risk cancer as part of it, it is being evaluated by several pathologists as something to look into more. I should know more by next week. I am feeling relaxed and positive and know I will get through this as we must all get through anything. I plan to stay in the current moment and do what I can. After all what else is there? I’m thankful I live in Australia where there are hospitals clear of Covid, people on the whole do the right thing and government leadership has been strong. It has saved many lives. I don’t care what side of the political fence they are on they are keeping us alive as much as possible.

I think the saddest realisation I’ve had with all of this it is time to sell my trusty scooter. I’ve been riding almost 25 years and when my friend who runs Motorworks said he would sell it for me, I hung up and cried. It is like losing an old dog who took me up and down the east coast of Australia, around Victoria, the Great Ocean Road and around Tasmania several times.

I am a believer that we realise and accept limitations in our lives and as much as we want to keep doing what we love we must get up and keep looking for other things to fill the void.

I think being an old lady now in her 70s with many interests can find other things to do. My photography is at the forefront and hopefully travel will be in the future. But when I came home from hospital yesterday, which is a place I never want to spend time again, I thought of the wall of books I have, Mr Penguin who helps me with so much and gives us all love and the wonderful Ollie, Molly, Uncle Buck, Cousin Eddie and Grizzy who love us with all their hearts.

I might add that the kitchen was pretty much finished and everything moved back in by the night before my surgery. Now just to paint the ceiling, the attached laundry room and put in the floor. Can’t believe it will be completely done and we won’t be cooking in a 70’s time capsule anymore.

So while I do feel grief at losing the past I guess that is what we all come to terms to and I plan very much on being my silly, joking self, laughing at the silliness of much of the world. I have no plans until 1 January to go anywhere. I’m going to get my strength back, get back to the gym, my pilates and personal trainer work, take amazing photos, spend time with Ollie on the beach, spend time with my friends who have been so supportive both here and overseas. It meant a lot through some very dark nights.

I promise this will be the last you hear of this nonsense. I will probably delete this post once it’s been read by the people who have followed my “letters” as I tend to look upon this blog and back to exploring Tasmania, Hobart, books, reading and everything that adds value to life.

I look forward to the clean slate that is to be 2021. Hopefully. a vaccination that does its job most of the time, no Trump antics in the White House, a bit of kindness and warmth and hopefully people taking care of each other, and our environment and animals.

Okay, now I’m off to read Pollyanna and eat sweet cherries while patting small children on the head and smiling at the flowers in my yard.

The Age of Innocence and Kensuke’s Kingdom

age innocenceI’ve read a couple books this week plus a short story. It’s quite hot out so nice to stay inside where it is cool.  Southern Tasmania is probably the only place in the nation without smoke in the air. It’s really been terrible for people.

I read The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton for my upcoming book group meeting in February at Fullers Bookshop. Edith Wharton was the first female author to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1921. It was originally serialised in four parts in a magazine the previous year and then published and sold as a book.  I’ll be interested to see what the book group thinks about it. Last year they hated the period piece of Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield which I loved.  I enjoyed this book once I got into it. It’s one of those books I wouldn’t start unless I had a good block of time to get into it so I’d want to pick it up again.

Newland Archer is engaged to May Welland and looking forward to his wedding very

edith wharton
Edith Wharton

much. Then her cousin the Countess Ellen Olenska arrives from Europe where she has left her brutish Polish husband and does not plan to return.  It is the end of the 19th century, New York, so of course there is a great deal of discussion about her upcoming divorce and will she be accepted into society or not.  She is a bit Bohemian, wears scarves, loves the wilder side of life and is very independent.  Newland falls in love with her and that sets up the plot for the rest of the story.

However the beauty of this book is how it defines social class in the later half of the 1800s in New York.  The requirements of proper society ladies and gentlemen are very clear and heaven help you if you break one of them. The scandals, the gossip, the theatre, the interactions between the extended families of both Newland and May come into the tale very much.  It was an important piece of literature in America in the early 1900s because of the impact World War I had on society.  Values were changing and that impacted on New Society and pretty much the entire way of life. Events such as the war, the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the depression changed the face of America. This book defined how life was previous to all of that and you could see the beginning of those changes as the year rolled over into the new century from the 1800’s.  There is also the theme of balancing what is responsible in one’s life versus what one wants. Does one forego a life, hurting many people in exchange for only thinking of oneself to attain what is wanted.  As predictable as the story was the ramifications of how it addressed an important part of American history stays with the reader.  I enjoyed it.

322My second book of the week was randomly selected from 1001 Children’s Books You Should Read Before You Die.  The first couple of selections were not available in our local library but this book was. Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom is a book I’d never heard of. Mr. Morpugo was born in 1943 in Hertfordshire, England. He has written many books and our library seems to have most of them. I would think the reading age for this book would be about 9 or 10 upwards. It is the story of an 8 year old boy who moves onto a yacht with his parents after they lose their job when the local factory closes down. They sail to various places in the world and one day while the boy is on watch with his dog, they fall overboard. His parents are asleep below deck and have no idea this has happened. He and the dog manage to stay above water but when all is lost and he becomes unconscious and the dog has floated away, he awakes and finds himself on an island. Only one other person lives on the island, a 90 year old Japanese man who has been there since Nagasaki was destroyed in World War II and he cannot go home again.

The man eventually works out the boy is not an enemy and he takes him under his wing.

Michael_Morpurgo
Michael Morpurgo

They care for the gibbon monkeys and the orangatangs. They live in a cave fitted out with items from a sunken ship nearby. While there, evil men arrive in a sloop with rifles and their aim is to kill the adult gibbon monkeys so they can steal the babies for the tourist trade.  There are a lot of environmental messages in this book. They talk about the animals and the extensive clearing of land. At the end of the book there is a page about all the illegal and governmental land clearance around the world and the impact that has on the wildlife.  The message it portrays is very pointed.  I didn’t think I’d like reading a book for such a young audience but the main characters were enjoyable and developed enough that I cared about them. I worried about the monkeys and orangatangs too. I finished it in a couple of hours as I was interested in how they would all end up.  If I had children in my life I would recommend these adventure stories to them. There is enough adventure that the educational value of it does not become overwhelming.

I’ve got another couple books on the go but I’m not far enough into them yet to say anything.  I have a very funny short story from the book Funny Ha Ha to share too but will do so later.

Until next time…

Yellow Casual Penguin
It’s raining today. We need more!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book counts for the Century of Books Challenge:  1920.