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.

Two books and a puppy!

👀 A Real Book

Leaving the best until last.

I have begun an interesting biography called Notes From A Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi. Alfred Knopf publisher. 2019.

I am reading this because I have become much more enthusiastic cooking not having to cook in a kitchen out of the dark ages. I have also been watching cooking shows on tv. Repeat series of the Great British Bake off and travels with Rick Stein. Not to mention a copy of Two Fat Ladies vintage cookbook I found in the tip shop. I loved them. I will probably settle down before long but for now I am enjoying many food related tasks.

Kwame Onwuachi is the executive chef at Kith and Kin and owner of the Philly Wing Fry franchise in Washington D.C. He was born on Long Island and raised in NY City, Nigeria and Louisiana. He was first exposed to cooking by his mother, in the family’s modest Bronx apartment and he took that spark of passion and turned it into a career. From toiling in the bowels of oil cleanup ships to working at some of the best restaurants in the world, he has seen and lived his fair share of diversity. This is his story.

He trained at the Culinary Institute of America and has opened five restaurants before turning 30. He has a twitter account: @ChefKwame and an Instagram account: @bastedmind

The author of this book is Joshua David Stein who is a Brooklyn based author and journalist. He was a restaurant critic for the New York Observer and has been a food columnist for The Village Voice. This book is also available on audio. (inside back flap)

👀 👀 Audio

The book I’m listening to currently on audio is Twyla Tharp- The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. Simon and Schuster; Illustrated edition 2008.

I have chosen this book because after a break from my photography because of the distractions of ill health (all better now), Christmas and all the events in the United States (also all better now) I needed to get my mojo back. Our photography club is meeting again face to face as we are currently Covid free in our state and several excursions in interesting places coming up. This book talks about the way to develop more creativity in all the arts and encourages the reader to establish the routines to be productive in ones chosen field. The author gives several examples of well known dancers, artists and writers in their routines and how productive they become as a result of them. I know…. common sense….but it is nice to have a coach when working alone with any endeavour. It will also encourage me to be more consistent with my journaling and attemps at drawing.

She is one of the world’s leading creative artists, choreographers and creator of the Broadway show, Movin’ Out. She is a well known American dancer, choreographer and author who lives and works in NY city.n In 1966 she formed the company Twyla Tharp Dance. Her work often uses classical music, jazz and contemporary pop music. From 1971 to 1988 she toured extensively around the world performing original works.

The focus of her work and book is going through the painful first steps of scratching for ideas, finding the spine of your work and getting out of ruts and into productive grooves. The wide open realm of possibilities can be energizing and she explains how to take a deep breath and begin. (paraphrasing from Amazon and Wikipedia)

I have always enjoyed book that are related to New York City so to have two on the go at once is great fun.

👀 👀 👀 Personal Journal– Now for the good news. (I think.)

Dolly. Born 27 November, 2020 Pug/Maltese/Toy Poodle……I know.

Meet Ollie’s new little sister…. Dolly. Since we lost our beloved little Molly, Ollie has been at loose ends. He walks around eating stuff that makes him sick, sleeps too much and generally is not himself. He has not been well and has just had xrays and an ultrasound that is backing up his illness that is still being investigated.

We brought Dolly home yesterday. Yesterday was her 8 weeks old birthday. She is a mixture of (get this) pug, maltese and toy poodle. As we get to know her we can see a lot of pug in her (without the flat nose that causes respiratory problems in some breeds). She has a little toy poodle/maltese face with the squatty body and curled up tail of a pug. She is a little feminist, not letting Ollie boss her around as he has tried to do. When that didn’t work, he has now taken all his tennis balls in the front yard and hidden them in the bushes and in the house he has hidden his favourite toys next to bookshelves and behind furniture. It has been very funny to watch. He has that “only child” syndrome. Like a couple of toddlers. We are seeing a new side to him.

Ollie Meets Dolly for the first time.

As we are probably not travelling anywhere for any length of time this year we have lots of time to train her during her first year and to give Ollie a job which he needs. I think most dogs need a job to keep them focused and stop them eating all manner of things they find in the yard. The laughs just keep on coming watching the interaction of these two. As for our indoor cats, they have just rolled their eyes, looked at each other, sighed….’Another puppy!’ and moved on to their daily routines.

What a week it has been. This coming week has the builder coming back and painting our laundry room and before too long installing the kitchen floor to finish off the new kitchen.

I have a couple of friends dropping by to visit Ollie and Dolly and sharing a cup of tea or coffee. Ollie has a vet appointment to continue his diagnosis and treatment and I will take Dolly along to get her checked out as I always do with a new dog. I imagine she will be the last puppy we get in our lifetime as we are not getting any younger and we will go into “older age” together.

They better not forget about me !

As they say in an Olympic year- “Let the games begin!’

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…

A Bit Late with Simply Sunday

Snip20190720_1Well, I finished The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. I listened to it on audible and the narrator, Gretchen Mol did an excellent job reading this book.

Penguin and I immersed ourselves in 1920s New York City where this story takes place. Rose, a plain orphan girl grows up and finds work in a New York City precinct police station in the typing pool. She resides in a share room in a boarding house that is run by a WWI war widow with a small child. She doesn’t fit in with the others and keeps to herself. A real plain Jane. She enjoys her work as she listens to criminals give statements, records what they say and types it up. She is infatuated with the Sergeant who oversees much of what goes on day to day and doesn’t entirely trust the more arrogant Lieutenant who is really in charge.

One day a very sophisticated young woman, Odalie,  arrives as a typist in the pool. Dressed to the nines, a fashionable bob, all heads turn.  Rose becomes very infatuated with Odalie, envies her appearance, her character, her fashion sense. She is really taken in by Odalie.

The story is how Odalie ingratiates herself into Rose’s life and completely takes over. Rose moves into her beautiful hotel suite that Odalie lives in, goes out to illegally run boozy clubs, wears her clothes. Odalie becomes Rose’s life. Where does Odalie get her wealth? hmmm

The story is told in hindsight as Rose relives her life from the time she met Odalie to her current circumstances. She is in a mental institution/jail. How did she get there? What happened?  You will have to read the book to find out. No spoilers here.

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bluejumperI found this to be an average though unforgettable read. I enjoyed the time period very much. I enjoyed the location.  I thought the tale was quite predictable as events unfolded with a few red herrings thrown in. It was entertaining to listen to through bluetooth as I drove around running errands. It was worth 30 minutes of listening to at night as I set the sleep timer before I would drift off to sleep. I was interested in Rose and Odalie but I really did wonder why Rose couldn’t see what was coming.  It was quite obvious. I had many theories and I kept listening because I wanted to know if I was right. I was most of the time but not always.

It was just fun fiction without too much energy having to be spent. If this is your type of book you might enjoy it. I did.

I have been studying photography a great deal. Studying Photoshop and learning how to blur backgrounds, clone out unwanted items in the photo, how to change colours, brighten landscapes.

Charlie 2 copyMy friend who has an adopted greyhound named Charlie had a play date with Odie at the beach. I had him involved in a photoshoot and was very happy with the results. So were his owners.  We have another play date scheduled for later this week.

I’ll try to get some of my travel photos up for Thursday or Friday this week. I have been sorting them into categories. Doors and windows, portraits, street scenes, landscape, animals. It has been fun. I’ve even changed some backgrounds in some of them.

The weather here has been a warm wintry 12 or 13 degrees C during the day which has been very pleasant for photography and walking my dogs. I’ll share a couple of photos I took of them yesterday. They were happy to run around in the reserve behind our house.

I’ve started a new book. A travel diary by an Australian author. Actually she is from the UK but now lives here in Hobart and I am enjoying her daily diary she kept during her travels in Australia just after 9/11 in 2001. More on that later. So until then,  say hello to Penguin, Odie and Molly.

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14 year old Molly (Molly Melodrama as a friend calls her)

 

Odie
Dear Odie (the Big Loaf)

Happy Mother’s Day

Snip20160609_6Today is Mother’s Day. It is a holiday I don’t celebrate. Why? Because I am not a mother. We chose to not have children very early in our marriage. Now 47 years later we have no regrets. I worked with children for 35 years in my career as a speech pathologist.  When I came home at night there were other things to do. Also we wanted to travel all over the world and that costs money. Children cost money. Our choices were made. We travelled. We did other things. We do not feel empty at all for not having had children.

Instead we chose to care for animals and have done so for a very long time. We are mother and father to rescued animals since 1977 when we bought our first house in Florida and acquired a dog that had been abused. We had him for the next nine years.

When we moved to Australia we adopted cats and dogs and they have been cared for since 1989 when we bought our house in Tasmania.

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Odie and Molly who both had very rough starts to life.

We have cleaned up accidents all over the house. We have scraped up hairballs and spit. We have paid enormous amounts in veterinary bills for the previous abuse they received. We have loved them to death.  They have loved us to death. We have taught a brain injured cat how to use the litter. We taught him how to walk in a straight line when after his head injury caused by an uncaring man he could only walk in right hand circles. His right eye was saved with help from the vet.

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Uncle Buck who was stomped on as a three week old kitten, survived and is now 12 yrs. old.  Our late dog Wally, always looked out for him. We had him 16 years.

I have rescued countless animals that have been hit by cars or acquired toxoplasmosis from feral cats for Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.  We’ve driven them to vets, checked their pouches for joeys and had them humanely euthanised.  The world is full of animals to be cared for.

There is a great deal more to life,  for us, than caring for children when we feel there are far too many in the world already.

This morning when I turned on facebook I saw numerous posts for mother’s day and I was looking at my bookshelf and wondering if I had any books on the shelf with the word ‘mother’ in it.

I lost my own mother in February of this year.  It hasn’t really sunk in yet but I am happy she is finally at peace.  She had difficult times in her life and she went out peacefully and I believe happily.

I booted up the Library Thing app and searched my lists of books for the words ‘Mother,’ ‘Mum’ and ‘Mom’.  Not surprisingly I only found two books out of the 1200 books on my shelves.

Snip20180513_2The first one is The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio,  How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan. I saw this on a shelf years ago and it caught my eye.  It is about a woman who enters contest after contest in America and wins money for her entries. There are many contests one can enter, especially in the United States. One must discuss a certain topic in 25 words or less. I have no idea how the winners are picked. Are the entries read? Or are they just picked at random and the winners think they wrote the most clever entry?  I have entered a few myself. I thought my answers might be amusing or different and the prize would be winging its way to me. I thought they would certainly stand out. They didn’t. Or my number was just never picked.  I’m still waiting to win the prize.

The second novel on my shelf is The Glass Mother by Rosie Jackson.  This novel is the Snip20180513_1personal story of her academic success and career at the University of East Anglia, her separation from her son when he was three, her travels, spiritual journey and ultimate reconciliation and reparation with her son. This according to her publishers website. I have not read this book but I think I will take it off the shelf today and begin it. I was wondering what book to read next. This sounds interesting and it is definitely one I haven’t read yet.

So to all of those mothers out there who do have children I’d like to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.  I hope your experiences with your children have been all you wanted. I hope you have a wonderful relationship with them and they bring you the happiness. I think motherhood is one of the hardest jobs on earth.

And to all of you who don’t have children but are mother to fur kids, I hope those relationships bring you satisfaction and happiness and not too much sadness.

Whatever choices you have made for yourself throughout life I wish you a glorious spring or autumn day (depending on which hemisphere you live in) and it all goes to plan. There is so much to enjoy in life whether you have children or not.

By the way- what books do you have on your shelf with the words, ‘mother’, ‘mum’ or ‘mom’ in the title? I’d love to know.

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Odie with his favourite toy, the very dirty frisbee.

Cat Lovers Will Enjoy This…

Snip20180510_1It is pouring buckets of rain today. We can use it. It’s midway through the morning and it is grey, wet and cold. This is the start of our Tasmanian winter.  I am ready for it. I don’t mind winter. We don’t get the snow like North America or Europe so it is liveable.  Mind you, ask me again in September, after three months of this and it will be a different story.

It has been a busy week of Play Reading and Writing Group with friends.  We finished Arsenic and Old Lace written by Joseph Kesselring, in our Play Reading class. It was great fun with the old ladies hiding the dead bodies in the window seat. I saw the film about 200 years ago but had never read the play.  It was great fun reading the various parts especially the part of Teddy “Roosevelt” Brewster. He was an old gentleman with dementia who thought he was Teddy Roosevelt. He also thought the holes he was digging in the basement were part of the building of the Panama Canal. There were some pretty good laughs as the reader got to yell, “Charge!” as he headed up or down the basement steps.

It’s been a kind of “fluffy week”. I use the term fluffy to describe events that are pleasant without angst of any kind. I also describe comfort books as ‘fluffy’. Books that can be read without much thought and can be finished quickly.

I read an article about a book named Cleo written by Helen Brown. It is a true story about a little black cat that healed a family during a tragedy that happened to them and the healing effect the cat gave them over the years.  So I put it on hold at the library a couple of months ago, forgot about it and then received an email to go pick it up.

It’s a New Zealand story. A family lives in Wellington. Mom, Dad and the two little boys, aged 9 and 6. One day mom takes them to visit a woman who had a litter of newborn kittens. Of course they weren’t going to get one. Mom, after all, was definitely not a cat person.  However the boys talk her into putting one on hold to take home when the kitten becomes old enough because after all it would make such a good birthday present for him. (Eyes look upward with pleading cries). They also promise to do any number of chores for her for the rest of their life if only, just this once, they can have this little girl.

Then about a week later tragedy hits the family in a very hard way. The arrival of the kitten is forgotten until it is delivered several weeks later. The timing couldn’t have been worse but they take her in and name her Cleo.

I don’t usually read books about animals. I have to read the last few pages of the book first to make sure there isn’t anything awful before I bond with the character in the book.

The tale is one of love, hope and redemption (as the publisher describes it). This is a very accurate description. The cat moves with the family to Auckland, New Zealand and later to Melbourne, Australia over a 23 year period.  It is a lovely little creature, small for its size and very mischievous.  He brings cuddles and laughter to those he is ‘responsible’ for.  The book has a huge “Awwwww” factor.

He lives a long, happy life so those animal lovers out there who can’t read books about animals can relax throughout this book. 23 years to be exact which is a very long life for a cat.

It is interesting to watch how this family copes with the tragedy in their life and how they evolve through the next two decades. I met their friends and lived through their highs and lows. It is written quite well and I got to know Cleo.  She was a lovely little creature.

This book isn’t for everyone. It can be read in a day and one must love cats to enjoy it. If you aren’t an animal person then leave it on the shelf.Snip20180510_3

It is a book to save for one of those days when you drink coffee or tea for most of the day because the outdoors is very wet, the rain on the roof tries to lull you to sleep and it’s cold enough to have a fuzzy wrap. It’s a comfort book or as I tend to think it, a book of ‘fluff.’

PS- if you want to see photos of my three cats – scroll down and I’ll introduce them to you.

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Uncle Buck aged 12

 

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Cousin Eddie aged 3

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Griswald (Grizzy) aged 2