Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Journaling and Art

I am currently taking a Journaling course through Monash University online for 6 weeks.  Each Monday and Wednesday (Eastern time USA) a new lesson is released.  I must say I have really enjoyed it and though it is quite a basic class and there is a lot I already know, it is good to have it structured in order to work through it.

I am also enjoying the recommended reading. As always happens with Amazon I look for one entry and that leads to more entries in the same genre.  Journaling books are quite beautiful looking too. They always have illustrations of pens, pencils, art work, nature such as birds, leaves, flowers and the list goes on.

I wanted to share two of the books I am reading this week and enjoying very much.  I enjoy the writing side of journaling and learning different techniques to get in touch with my thoughts and emotions is good. But I am allowed to draw in my journal.  Now my drawing is appalling. No, really. I can barely  make a straight line with a ruler.  But of course a journal is private. I can draw whatever I want and no one sees it.

I remember once running a summer language group for early primary school students one year with my friend.  We did a lot of drawing.  I remember drawing some animals on a sheet of butcher's paper and one of the little 6 year old boys fell onto the floor in a huge belly laugh at the sight of my drawn animals.  He had tears going down his face. Of course that was contagious and all of us ended up crying with laughter. It was the best laughter because so much conversation ensued.

As I am older now I am able to take being made fun of in stride. I can even laugh about it.

These are pens made of wood and you press the eraser to get the point 
to pop out.  I really like the way they write as they are a bit thicker and
I can hold them easily.
These books outline the various kinds of journals one can keep. All of them with illustrations though. You might make lists in your journal, use writing prompts of which there are a million in books and online.  You might write dialogue or in the course now we are talking about unsent letters. Just make sure you destroy it once written. Or put a padlock on your journal.

I am reading about the different types of books you might use, or paper or tools such as pens, pencils, paint, crayons, stamps and stickers. I don't know many book lovers who don't also love stationary.

If you're interested in a book on journaling these are good but there are many others that are also fun. I have a few of them on the shelf that I pull down and look at quite regularly.

I am going on a 6 week trip in mid May overseas and I look forward to getting my journal in order to record a lot of what we do. I might even sketch an Italian city. Haha, more like I'll sketch a doorknob I see on a door or something easy like that.

So whether I can draw or not I am going to have a go at it and I'll enjoy the experience. After all isn't that what trying new things is about?

Do you keep a journal? Do you have any favourite books?

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A Bit of Travellin' and A Bit of Penguin

I have just not been reading much this week.  I seem to be watching a lot of Taggart reruns on t.v. because I love the way he says, "We have another 'mudder" to work on. I also love the Glasgow area as it relates to the show.  I really do love this show.

However I did finish my library copy of Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis. I had read Parvana and written about it earlier as my intro into Young Adult genre. I had to read Parvana's Journey to see what on earth happened to her family. A good set of young adult books about a girl's life in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

After a spate of bad, windy weather my friend Chris and I decided to head out to Mt Field National Park on our bikes to camp a night.  We're in the midst of autumn and the weather has been gorgeous for a few days so we decided to take advantage of it.  I just wanted some "nature time" to get over the negative side of last week. It worked a treat and being in the forest next to a river always does the trick. 
Here are a few pictures of our camping. This park is absolutely beautiful and the shades of autumn even more so.  
The bikes packed with our camping gear. Had to laugh.Chris's bike with 10 bags, mine with 3. We had everything we needed. Yes, we were only camping one night.

Our campsite. The river is just to the left. I am in the small tent and Chris in the large one.

Love the symmetry of these trees.

There are some very old trees in this park. So beautiful. It is like visiting ancient ancestors.

We hiked back to Russell Falls The falls tumble over several levels and you want to stare into them all day.

The tree on the left looks like a tall skinny tea pot.The bark on these trees is gorgeous.

Autumn Leaves. So many colours around us.

On the way home we stopped for a moment at the country market in Bushy Park.  They have a couple of book shelves that are filled with books people drop off. Every time I am in the area I stop in, talk to the country ladies, buy some of their excellent jams, chutneys and marmalades and look for Penguins on the shelves.

I found a Penguin I may have already, have not checked, but the prices are cheap and I like to rescue these little birdy books.  The Pterigan published by Penguin was a book I picked up earlier in a second hand shop. Thought I would share it here as Penguin published these books and they don't turn up around here very often. I also found this original Puffin in the market and it is in very good condition. Puffins are usually quite worn because after all they were written for children and they have been around quite a long time.
A nice cross section of published Penguin books. 

It was only a two day trip but it felt as though we were gone for a week.  It's good to explore our own backyard.

If you would like to see more photos feel free to join my Facebook page. I post up lots of my travelling' photos there.

You can connect at :    https://www.facebook.com/TassiePenguinHunter

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Goodbye Ole Mate Brian

I have written about our friend Brian on here before. I met Brian about 20 years ago when I was in a lapidary club. He was the first person to come forward and show me the machines and he loved to talk about the rocks. He would slice them open and polish them only to see what was on the inside. No jewellery making or anything for him. He liked the colours of the rock and seeing the transition from muddy old stone to a beautiful colour.

I left the club after awhile and so did Brian. I learned he lived in South Hobart and had been here since he was born. I kept running into him.

Another love of his was books and movies. He loved stories about American boxers, he loved Zane Gray and Louis L'Amour westerns. He told us stories about Alan Villiers who Penguin published books about years ago. He lived here.  He loved Jack London and tales of explorers and adventurers.

Brian worked in a number of jobs over his life. He was a wharfie, he worked doing odd jobs on the mainland and he finally settled on the production line of the Cascade Brewery.  The only way I can describe this man is to say he was rough as guts with a heart of gold.

In his later years, once retired, once done with the grog, done with fighting and getting in trouble with pubs he settled down. Brian was the kind of person who many people would walk past, walking around on his little missions in his flannel shirt and big heart that no one knew of. He hated injustice and a myriad of other things he would read in the papers. People didn't appreciate how smart or well read he really was.

Night time seemed to be the time he would read. He was a terrible insomniac and he spent the nights listening to the radio and reading books.

In his latest years he was an op shop junkie.  His favourite was the Red Cross Book shop. They are a great book store that raises money selling books for their organisation. The volunteers are wonder and helpful and the ladies are older and very social.That is where I hooked up with Brian again. He would stop in there regularly and they would give him a coffee.

We talked a lot when we met and a friendship grew. As Brian never married that we knew of and lived a life that was rough his experiences were very different over the years. But we both had a love of books and could talk about them for hours.

He also told us his childhood stories of growing up in South Hobart. The "other side of the tracks" stories though we don't have any tracks here.  His laughter was infectious and he loved to hear the stories he told again and again.  They were funny.  They were tales of petty crime and who people were and family histories and what a crook the woman in the charity shop at the church is.

As we learned of Brian's illness and as he lived alone and didn't take the greatest care of himself food wise we started inviting him up for coffee. Coffee turned into meals and quiz shows on the tv and more stories of books.  Tom would fix him a chicken dinner or spaghetti bolognese and afterwards he would pronounce that was the best meal of his entire life. I think at times he meant it.

Monday, 30th March our mate Brian passed away in palliative care. It has been a sad time and I know we are going to miss his visits. His visits with a paper bag filled with chocolate bars, wafer cookies for our dogs and stacks of Penguin books.

His favourite line was, "Do you have this book?"  And I would always say "No, I don't think so, doesn't look familiar." and he would reply, "well you do now!"  It gave him so much pleasure to bring the Penguin books to our house.  He got pretty good at finding the vintage ones I collect.

He would bring me any book that had a Penguin logo on them. I would pass them on to other people because our small house can't possibly keep all the books Penguin published from 1935 to current times. I had to be careful what Op shops I would leave them at because they would find there way back to me.

In return I would get him his western magazines of the 50s I would find, Zane Grey. Zane's son Rumer Gray,  and boxing dvd's from America's eBay.

I could say a lot more about this friend but the one thing I know the most, Boy are we going to miss him.
I would like to dedicate this post to Brian and I hope he knows how much he meant to us.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Library Loot

I have ended my self imposed TBR challenge a week early.  I am missing library books too much.  I read lots of book blogs and book reviews and there are books I want to read. Many of them are older books that I have passed by for one reason or another.  Now my Play Reading class has begun again on Tuesday afternoons through U3A (University of the Third Age) I have my library afternoon after that. The class takes place just a few blocks away from the library.

I have been reading reviews of children's reviews, young adult reviews and of course adult books reviews. I decided to randomly pick some reviews and choose those books from the library to read. I had not read any of them and I needed something to motivate my reading a bit. This has done the trick.  I'll still get to the books on my shelves. But this week here is my Library Loot.

Ash Road by Ivan Southall:  A story about children that are dealing with talk of bush fires from their parents when they find themselves faced with them but everyone seems to have disappeared except for an old man.

The Fish Ladder by Katharine Norbury: A woman who loves to wander faced with the issues of adoption, a miscarried child and finding a stranger who knows all about her.

The Millstone by Margaret Drabble: I have never read a Margaret Drabble book before. It is 1965 and sexual liberation in the UK is on the way. A young woman is found pregnant after a one night stand and must deal with being a single mother - finding herself transformed along the way.

Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis: The Sequel to Parvana which I talked about in my last post. A young Afghani woman must leave Kabul, looking for her family, caring for her father as she escapes to a refugee camp under the Taliban.

Mrs. Bridge by Evan Connell Jr. :  Turn of the century America, in a mediocre experience within her family who faces the dilemmas that arise in daily life. The back book cover states, "She is an interesting, pathetically comic, a tragically lonely figure." and "It is sad, somewhat terrifying to reflect upon the numberless Mrs. Bridges trotting befuddledly through this urgent age. This one, you will understand. This one, you won't forget."

 A House is Built and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne.  I know, I know. Every now and then the inner child  screeches across the library floor, sliding across the lino, wanting to spend time with the wonderful friends of Winnie. One is never too old.

 I like to keep up with what is popular with young people and these two books are both talked about with respect. The Fox by Margaret  Wild and Ron Books.  I love children's books especially to look at the illustrations. How I wish I could draw.

 The Arrival by Shaun Tan: A Graphic Book with the most beautiful images in sepia that is one to see in a book. Very strange tale. This may have to be reviewed separately.

I Capture the Castle by Dodi Smith and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne:
I have heard so much about these books that when I saw them at the library I decided it would not take long to read them and find out what the fuss is about. I know the Boyne book is taught as part of the 7th or 8th grade curriculum here. 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Parvana by Deborah Ellis (Young Adult)

I have not been one to read young adult fiction. I never thought it would interest me. But I read something recently that of all adult fiction it is 49% of adults in our population that do read it.

I have always been interested in what our young adults/teenagers read but I have not been inclined to pick it up.

Being totally bored with my TBR challenge and missing the library terribly, in a moment of weakness I went to the library.  Whilst there I found this wonderful YA book by Deborah Ellis.  (Okay, sometime during the next six months I will trade my TBR challenge for new/different books.)

I came across the book list on Yahoo called 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. I had not looked through that though I had heard of the book. This title is one of those books that is recommended.

I picked this book up and today I sat outside in the yard with the dogs, in the sunshine (as it is the first day of autumn here) and became thoroughly engrossed in this wonderful book.

Parvana is a young Afghan girl who lives with her family in a one roomed flat in Kabul.  She lives there with her mother and father, younger brother and sister and her older sister who is 17 years old.  When the Taliban learns her father was educated in an England University he is taken away by the Taliban and the family are left without their breadwinner.  The only way this family is going to earn money is if Parvana dresses like a boy and takes over her father's place at the market reading and writing letters and also selling little trinkets.  Women are not allowed outside without a man and now there are no men in her life.

Her life is changed very much as a young boy instead of a young girl and this book details her encounters with other people in the area and her family life.

This book gripped me from the very beginning and I cared very much about this young girl's family. Descriptions of her home and work life were realistic under today's Taliban and the oppression of girls and women is certainly felt.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is able to read it. It is a lovely family story, but still manages to get across the horrors of war and doesn't pull any punches with some of the incidents that happen within this community.  I see there is a sequel to this book called Parvana's Journey and I have already reserved this and will pick it up at the library soon. I am interested in seeing what happens to this family as we are left hanging a bit. One story finishes in this story, but there are threads that do continue and it is necessary to read the sequel.

If all Young Adult fiction is as excellent as this book I think I will branch out a bit and read more of it. Stories such as this, with the details within would not have been in the books I read as a young adult/teenager.  Books were a bit more sugar coated in those days and I am happy that younger people in today's society are able to have more realistic life stories.  I'll let you know if the sequel is as good.