Simply Sunday

Although a stock photo, this is what it looked like.

Another week has passed and I can’t believe Christmas is at the end of this week. I have had a quiet week at home though I finally got to get out yesterday for a brief woodland walk with Ollie and my camera and tripod. I have also been reading all week. I have noticed my concentration is returning and I can actually tune into a book now for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Throw in some cooking in our lovely kitchen and the week rounded out nicely.

The range hood was installed over our stove top Friday. We still have the flooring to be installed and the ceiling to be painted. The painting will happen Monday but I think the flooring has to wait until January.

The other night I made a big pan of enchilladas. I used one of those El Paso kits that have the tortillas and two packets of sauce but then added the cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado and sour cream at the end. Splash a little tabasco sauce across the top and it was very good. I cooked the first 25 years of our marriage and Mr. Penguin cooked the last 25 years of our marriage. August will be the 50 year mark. Now we are both cooking. It has been fun. Twenty five years was a good break.

82 % finished

The books I continue to read are The Gifts of Reading, a series of essays about gifting and receiving books. I’ve read one essay a day. I am now heading towards the finish line. Edited by Robert MacFarlane I am enjoying it very much and one essay a day is just right.

I have finally settled into the mystery that is Ann Cleeves “Vera” book called The Darkest Evening. I am loving the snowy setting of the winter scenes around Newcastle, England. I’ve not read a Cleeves book before and I must say I’m enjoying it.

56 % finished

I am also listening to My Life in France by Julia Child read by Kimberly Farr. I would not recommend this book to vegans or vegetarians as Julia Child was a serious carnivore. I can picture her sitting down, tucking into geese, pheasants and all manner of meat, with blood dripping down her chin. She was a very eccentric woman and quite arrogant at times. However she did know her French cooking. There is a great deal of reading recipes in French so if you cannot understand French you miss a bit. She seems to assume almost everyone would know what she is talking about. However I enjoy her recollection of the people she met, the school of Le Cordon Bleu she attended and the many cafes and restaurants with vivid descriptions. Much of her book involves the description of how she wrote her book French Cooking for Americans that took several years and needed to be revised many times over. She recounted one episode where she sat down and cooked two whole geese, two different ways, then sat down and ate both of them in order to write up a correct description of the recipe. Mind you, she was a large woman, height wise and large boned but to eat two geese at one sitting was a bit much for me to comprehend.

55 % finished

I have learned a great deal about her and overall am enjoying it. I should be finished with this book before too long. It is a bit longer than I think it needs be but then I think that about a lot of books.

I will now leave you with some photography I did in the reserve behind our house and finished up in our backyard. Ollie and I were standing deep in brush and leaf litter focusing on a mossy tree that had fallen and suddenly Ollie gave a deep growl. I could only think “snake” and hurried back to the main trail. I still don’t know what he was growling at but I’d had enough and went home. We only have three varieties of snakes in Tasmania but all three are very poisonous.

I hope you enjoy the three photos I did settle on in the end. Until next week.

I hope all of you have a lovely Christmas, whether in lockdown or not. Remember, it won’t always be this way and next year MUST bring better times.

All the best for 2021 ! ! !

Harold and Maude

I saw this film absolutely ages ago. I never forgot it and have seen it a couple of times since. I always loved the actress Ruth Gordon who plays the 79 year old woman in this story and Bud Cort (also in Brewster McCloud which I didn’t care for) as the 19 year old boy. Ruth Gordon is the American version of the Australian Ruth Cracknell. I could see both women in these roles but that’s a personal opinion.

The story goes (Wikipedia)- Nineteen-year-old Harold Chasen is obsessed with death. He fakes suicides to shock his self-obsessed mother, drives a hearse, and attends funerals of complete strangers. Seventy-nine-year-old Maude Chardin, on the other hand, adores life. She liberates trees from city sidewalks and transplants them to the forest, paints smiles on the faces of church statues, and “borrows” cars to remind their owners that life is fleeting— here today, gone tomorrow! A chance meeting between the two turns into a madcap, whirlwind romance, and Harold learns that life is worth living, and how to play the banjo. Harold and Maude started as Colin Higgins’s master’s thesis at UCLA film school before being made into the 1971 film directed by Hal Ashby. The quirky, dark comedy gained a loyal cult following, and in 1997 it was selected for inclusion on the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. Higgins’s novelization was released with the original film but has been out of print for more than thirty years. Fans who have seen the movie dozens of times will find this a valuable companion, as it gives fresh elements to watch for and answers many of the film’s unresolved questions.

The book was originally published in 1971 by Colin Higgins. It is really more of a novella at only 144 pages. At the time it wasn’t well received and faded into obscurity and out of print. At the same time the film arrived which also didn’t do well initially but soon after had more of a cult following especially from university students. I probably saw this film originally in the 1970s too while in university.

What strikes me about this book is how much I enjoyed the black humour and much of it is quite black. But the characters are very likeable and the book does answer some questions that are left behind by the film.

As far as the film goes it would definitely be in my all time top ten favourites of my life. I didn’t know there was a book until only recently when I came upon it accidentally on a Kindle. Nostalgia reared its head and I needed to read it. I know I will reread this book again. I enjoyed it that much.

A Quiet Simple Sunday

Photo of cockatoo Kevin is mine. Other three photos are from stock photos.

We have a lovely warm Sunday happening here. It seems quite still. The windows are open and I can hear our local neighbourhood birds twittering quietly away. I know all the pairs of birds around our yard. We have Mr and Mrs Blackbird. They are good workers and always busy doing one thing or another. We had bachelor Wattle Bird but this summer he got married and they can be seen in the birdbath quite often though he also bathes in the eaves of the house over the porch. He sure likes his baths. I haven’t seen her much lately so she may be busy with eggs or chicks. Then we have a new pair of magpies. We’ve never had magpies here before as we are up towards the base of Mt. Wellington and it has been too cold. In 30 plus years I’ve not seen them but they have now moved in. They have spent the past two weeks rolling around on the neighbour’s yard mating. Everyday they are cavorting in the grass. Surely she’ll lay some eggs soon. They moved in on the plovers who had a family of five chicks of which four survived. They are now enjoying an empty nest for awhile.

Then we have Kevin. Kevin is a dorky cockatoo that we believe was an escapee from a backyard aviary at one time and though he does stay with the flock much of the time he’ll often be found on our front porch screaming for a few sunflower seeds if we don’t put them out. He doesn’t get them a lot because I don’t want him to become dependent on us for food as these birds can live well over 100 years. If Kevin sees us in the yard he’ll fly by and give us the “eye”. It is not uncommon for him to sit on our porch railing and look in the lounge room window looking for us.

You can see I have a lot of time on my hands now.

Today I spent some time choosing some books to work my way through. I chose one Audible, one E-book, one Fiction and one Non Fiction. A couple I’ve begun, the others not yet.

I played around with the design of my blog a bit and now I’m sharing the books I chose to dig into. Once again 2021 is the year of the TBR shelves. I didn’t do that well this year so must buckle down next year. Here we go.

Progress so far–

Ann Cleeves Vera Mystery = 33%. Harold and Maude (ebook)= 28%

Julia Child-My Life in France (audible) = 25%

The Bookseller’s Tale (non fiction essays) = 0%

I’ll write more about these books as I finish them off. For now it is time to wrap this up and do something non computer related.

I hope all of you are having a nice weekend.

Staying dry in Tassie…

Looking forward to the weekend…

This week has ended quite well and the weekend is looking better. I’ll get the first news out of the way as I am not dwelling on this body thing anymore. I am well and truly over it. But pathology results have returned and there is no cancer. I am happy and relieved. Now onto a book I just finished.

I have been listening to a lot of audible things during the past week or so. A book I downloaded from audible.com is called, Things I Learned on the 6.28, A Commuter’s Guide to Reading by Stig Abell. Narrated by the author, published by John Murray, 2020. UK

The book blurb states:

For a whole year on his train to work, TLS Editor Stig Abell read books from across genres and time periods. Then he wrote about them and their impact on our culture and his own life.

The result is a work of many things: a brisk guide to the canon of Western literature; an intimate engagement with writers from Shakespeare to JK Rowling, Marcel Proust to Zora Neale Hurston; a wise and funny celebration of the power of words; and a meditation on mental unrest and how to tackle it. It will help you discover new books to love, give you the confidence to give up on those that you don’t, and remind you of ones that you already do.

He began in January and finished just before Christmas. His train ride was approximately 55 minutes and each month he planned a different genre.

The winter months (in the UK) were Jan- Crime; Feb- English Classics; Mar- Shakespeare

Spring had him discussing Apr-American classics; May-Historical Novels

Summer were Plays, Translated Classics and Poetry.

Autumn was Modern Literary Fiction; Autodidact Non Fiction; and December was Lucky Dip.

My reading corner on the porch. Our porch is tiny

Overall I enjoyed this book. I loved the concept and was surprised at how much he could read in such a small space of a day. He had a family with children and the time on the train was pretty much his best reading time.

He gave a good bit of information about the authors, the time periods of the books and their impact on society as he saw it. At times he got a little bit too wordy and I skimmed ahead as it began to drone a bit but not often. I must say I lost a bit of interest on Plays That Aren’t Shakespeare in June. I was familiar with a couple but some were very obscure to me only because I don’t read a lot of the classical plays from centuries past.

It was a good book to listen to during the night when sleep escaped me and the topic changed regularly enough I could concentrate on what he was doing. He seems really committed to the value of books and I enjoyed that.

So I actually finished a book this week. Progress.

I’ve been thinking about some projects for next year to replace time on my motorbike. I’ve got a few ideas but am still pondering. Hint- I have a brand new kitchen and it’s all ready to go. Also, Australia (even Tasmania) is very hot in summer so would be nice to be indoors if not under a shady tree.

This weekend is to be between 28 and 31 degrees C (approx 86 F). I have my lounge chair set up on the porch, Ollie is happy in the front yard with his assortment of bugs to stalk and places in the sun to nap and I think we will be doing some reading in the shade.

And just for fun…..This photo popped up this week on my facebook memory. Ollie as a puppy as I listened to an opera and the soprano came on. He had been sleeping and it startled him.

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

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.

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…

The Gifts of Reading

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.

Cover painting John Craxton

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.

A very big catchup…

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…

Simply Sunday

25 October, 2020

Ollie and I went to the beach the other day.

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.

I think I am going to enjoy her story.

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.

These are the birds I counted in my front yard on Day One. L to R: Green rosella, Common blackbird, Black Currawong, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. We have other birds by they didn’t show in the 20 minute block.

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.

Top Left: Father Jack; Top Right: Mother Heidi; Bottom left: Ollie; Bottom right: litter mate brother Eddie.
Ollie’s sister from previous year. Ollie takes after his mother and sister.

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.

Mental Health tip: Learn to say No.

The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break

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.