Good News in Books and Music

I have a couple of things to share today. While Mr. Penguin (who never follows sport) is off with friends watching the American superbowl Ollie, Peanut (her new name from Dolly) and I have been working outdoors a bit in our ‘lockup’. Our lockup is a patio area behind the house that we enclosed with lattice and laser light ceiling years ago in order to have an enclosed area outdoors and one in which our cats can play in without roaming. I have a herb garden and our clothesline is out there too. There is too much wildlife around here to let our cats out.

Hadley’s Hotel in Hobart is our new Book Group venue.

Anyway, once back in the house, we filled up a box for the tip shop. I keep an empty box in the hallway and as I find things in closets and drawers we haven’t used/don’t need, into the box they go. Once full the box goes off to the tip shop. I like our tip shop as they employ people who have been out of work for quite awhile. They teach job skills and offer art projects and recycling classes to the community. However recently some teenager burned down half of it but they are now up and running again.

Now it is time for my coffee and a sit down. I have the book 1001 Classical Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die. It has been on the shelf too long so lately I have it beside my reading chair. I have a random org app on my tablet and since there are 934 pages of listed music dating from Pre 1700 to Present(2017) I use the app to randomly choose a page. Today we are listening to Domenico Cimarosa / II matrimonio segreto 1792. I am not familiar with this composer but I am enjoying the orchestral work very much. We have a subscription to Amazon Prime music and a few bluetooth speakers around the house. I find they have everything I’ve asked of them lately so am not disappointed. We also use it for gym work. So I’d say we get our money’s worth.

But back to the books. I received an email from Fullers Bookshop in Hobart that our reading groups are starting back in March. I have missed our book group so much. We are not meeting in the shop as before as the small circle of people is not Covid friendly. Instead we are meeting in an old pub/restaurant down the street from the shop. Hadleys Hotel/Restaurant. They have held book festivals there before and there is a big bar area where we can purchase drinks and there is plenty of room for social distancing. I am looking forward to it. The book list has been released for a few months and we have a new facilitator. She is a history/literature PhD who has returned to Tasmania after teaching in the USA and UK for the past 15 years. The book list is very different to book lists of the past. We have authors, both female and male, from UK, USA, Australia and more specifically Tasmania. We have translated fiction, mysteries, popular and non fiction. We are all to meet soon in February as a meet and greet. It is suggested we each provide a reading from something that kept us going through lockdown.

The March book is one I have begun as it is due first week of March. It is a Russian mystery and I am really enjoying it so far. I am reading at least 30 pages a day to ensure I get it completed as there are other things I want to read alongside it. The book is called City of Ghosts and the author is Ben Creed published by Welbeck Publishing Group, London.

The publisher’s site states:

Welbeck Publishing Group has signed a three-book deal with debut historical writer Ben Creed. (Ben Creed is the pseudonym for Chris Rickaby and Barney Thompson.)

Jon Elek, fiction publisher, acquired UK & Commonwealth rights to City of Ghosts and two sequels from Giles Milburn at the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. Welbeck will publish in October 2020. 

City of Ghosts is set in the Soviet Union in the final years of Stalin’s regime and follows senior lieutenant Revol Rossel as he investigates the discovery of five mutilated corpses neatly laid out on a railway track outside Leningrad. Rossel sets about piecing together fragments and clues from the murders, following a trail that leads to the heart of the Soviet establishment.

Creed commented: “I have always been fascinated by Russian and Soviet history, and I’m magnetically drawn to the human stories that show how people navigated the perils, terrors and absurdities of life under Stalin.”

The cover of the book states that investigator Revol Russel who was once a virtuoso violinist with a glittering future (until Stalin destroyed his fingers). The mystery takes him into the dark heart of Leningrad’s musical establishment and ultimately to the highest levels of the Kremlin.

It will be interesting to see how a book of this genre is discussed as I don’t believe we have had crime books in our groups in the past. It is quite graphic and I wonder how people will go with that. References to WWII in Russia, certainly in context. The writing is very good and I was hesitant when I first looked at this book but I sat down and read the first 50 pages and am now right into it. I’m getting my head around all of the Russian names. I’ll let you know how we go with the discussion.

I’m still listening to the Odyssey and enjoying it but I did put it on hold a couple of days to listen to a couple of Backlisted podcasts and do life things.

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My Weekly Journal

Caught up last week with a good friend at Fullers cafe for a bite of lunch, a short shop and then coffee at the beachside. A lovely day. Ollie was at the vets for a day being checked over. He is being looked at for Addison’s disease though his blood work is in the gray area. His ultrasound showed small adrenal glands and we will monitor how much cortisol they are producing. So no firm diagnosis but might or might not be later. He has picked up quite a bit living with our little Peanut. What a ittle firecracker she is.

Peanut has settled in very well.

I am starting back at the gym next week after my surgery and will hopefully get my condition back I lost during the past two months. Taking it easy at twice a week for the time being and will get some longer walks in also.

I guess this post has turned into a Monday Miscellaneous but I feel caught up now. Stay tuned to see if anything exciting happens this week. 😊🐧

It’s nice how the music puts Ollie and Peanut to sleep.

A Little Miscellany Today

Beautiful day today. We have been having a very chilly, windy, showery summer this year so far. I’m not complaining because that is better than bush fires and terrible heat. However it is nice to go outside in shirt sleeves.

I am half way through the book Nada by Carmen Laforet. I am enjoying it very much. What an unusual and I must admit very strange family tale in Barcelona just after the war. Life in the 40s in this family is not only very poor but also extremely bizarre. It is translated by Edith Grossman who I really liked as a translator having read her translation a few years ago of Don Quixote. (Bill, I will be sending this book to Perth before too long.)

The Book Tube I followed for a few days did his spin on Sunday and number 15 came up. I have two months now to read the book I listed as number 15 which is a book I am looking forward to. You can see what it is about, if you haven’t on my post Book Tube Part 3 (here). It is The Only Way Home by Liz Byron. Travel writing by an Australian female writer. In 2004 she undertakes a 2500 kms trek of the Bicentennial National Trail over nine months with two donkeys. I am hoping this is an interesting book but in any case the premise of it certainly appeals. I will start it as soon as I finish Nada.

On Audible I am listening to the Odyssey by Homer. The narrator is Charles

Purkey and I enjoy listening to him of this version. Of course we visited this in high school, back in the 1960s but who pays attention then? It all went over my head that was filled with horses and social events.

I picked up Italo Calvio’s Book Why Read the Classics and the first essay is about the Odyssey. I had a new credit and used it for this so I can read both the essay and listen to it. I am enjoying it very much. We touched on several of the characters from this and also The Iliad in our play reading class which has sadly met its demise. Once I got all the characters pretty straight in my head and heard the correct pronunciations of them I have well

and truly settled into the story. Such a journey. I think this might be a book I read like Mortimer Adler suggests in his book, How To Read A Book from back in the 1930s of a classic book. Read it, ask no questions, do not stop to look up things, just go. Then go back and reread it and then look up things if you need to but by then much of it will be in your head. I would have enjoyed meeting Mortimer Adler. I read his book twice and again here and there a third time. When one grows up in a family where I was the only one who truly loved books and reading a bit of outside direction from various learned people comes in handy.

Outside of the books, we are still working with the vet around Ollie’s medical condition. Much has been ruled out but his ultra sound has shown smaller than usual adrenal glands on his kidneys and so far he has picked up quite a bit on his anti-biotics and steroids but Addison’s disease is being looked at. He does feel good most of the time. He has lost his energetic bursts of speed though and acts more like an older dog. More tests are coming up soon and the vet is working with a specialist from Sydney university.

In the meantime we have changed Dolly’s name to Peanut. We thought Dolly would be a retiring, timid little girl puppy who would slot into our family on a quieter side. However, Miss Turbo Pants is full of piss and vinegar and has two speeds, run full on and drop wherever you are and sleep. She has been with us about 10 days and is already pulling the tennis balls out of the bushes where Ollie hid them and banging on the back door to be let in as she runs through the house chasing the cats. She has been slapped once and is now leaving Cousin Eddie, our tabby alone more. She is such a tiny Peanut little hell on wheels. We love her.

Built by convict labour in 1824.

Sunday our senior group had an afternoon tea at a heritage listed home/hotel in Richmond which is about 25 minutes from Hobart. We had nine of us, a real girls day out, enjoying a garden, a courtyard and a stately room with lovely chicken salad with tarragon sandwiches, a lovely Tasmanian sparkling Rose wine and several assorted pastries followed by a choice of assorted teas and coffee.

There is a legend that a woman named Elizabeth Buscombe his her jewels somewhere in the house in 1860, but then could not remember where she put them. They have never been found. Evidently people still look for them.

A pleasant way to spend an afternoon with friends. Tasmania has been completely Covid free now for 2 months so a safe place to hide out from the world. The Australian state leaders, no matter what one thinks of their politics have handled Covid safely in our states, no thanks to our Prime Minister who is usually more interested in getting adulation from America’s past president than helping the Australian people in any way. (No more as I don’t want to ruin a perfectly good post.)

We’ll see how the rest of this week goes. I am hoping to just finish the books I have picked out, do some more cooking and maybe experiment with some baking after watching reruns of both the Great Australian and British bake off shows. I have a Mary Berry book being delivered today that I am looking forward to. I really like her. She said in a television program her mother cooked right up until she passed away at age 105. There remains hope for us all.

Enough for today. Now I’ll go hunt out some photos for this post. Stay tuned and for goodness sakes, stay well.

Crazy Days of Autumn

Our kitchen is confusing our cats.

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!

Until next time…