Monday, 15 August 2016

Time To Crank Up the Blog Again

Hi Folks,

I am still here. Life gets in the way of the blog sometimes. You know, the best intentions etc. 

I am writing this to you from the local laundromat on my 45th wedding anniversay. Our washing machine died yesterday. It was a front loader full of water that would no longer drain. Needless to say flooding happened when I opened the door to fetch the sopping wet clothes. Lots of towels later we decided the laundromat was the easiest.

We have not used a laundromat since we were first married and too broke for a machine. Times have changed. We went out today and bought a new one to be delivered tomorrow. The things we take for granted.

I am happily sitting in the warm winter sun, with chocolate and a pocket full of dollar coins washing all the wet towels we used to clean up the flood.

My sister was here for two months. She has now gone home to California. I miss her.  I won't write of all we did because it would be longer than Shakespeare and not quite so eloquent. So close your eyes and pretend...
... clean slate. 

Needless to say we had a very good time. I have four weeks before meeting a friend at the hotel in Terminal Five at Heathrow airport to do a two week Cornwall road trip and then a two week drive around Ireland. So the travels continue.

I won't be actively hunting Penguin books for my collection but no doubt if I come across something I don't have in the first 1000 series in a good, first published condition it may well be living in Tasmania in the years to come.

I have not been reading a lot as I have been travelling between Cairns, Port Douglas, Queensland, Alice Springs, Uluru (Ayres Rock) and Tasmania.

As well we re-did the lock up in my back yard. The lock up is a long patio area behind my house that we enclosed with a lot of lattice and laser light. It has outddoor furnitire and cat things as it is the outdoor area for our cats. With the incredible winds we get it is generally a mess and turned into a storage area. My sister and I cleaned it out and to make a long story short it is now an outdoor room with comfortable furnitire in which to sit and read, have coffees or wine and the occasional bbq. I must put up a photo.

The cats like it with their tall climbing frames, litter and food dishes. It gets the sun much of the day and is generally quiet when the local hoons are not reving their cars up and down the road. Rain on the roof also sounds nice.

Mr. Penguin was visiting family overseas and was out of our hair. We planted native plants for the birds and bees, stabilized fences that were wobbly and set up two Buddhist areas in the back to provvide some good feng shui. One can never have too much good feng shui. We were "Sparking Joy" everywhere. Marie Kondo would be proud. 

Now having all the jobs I have been too overwhelmed to approach completed, life feels much lighter. It is about time to relax and read.

Our book club is reading The Watchman of Filigree St and I must say I am loving it. I am not far enough into it yet to get the gist of the story but I do enjoy the characters and one of them lives in a boarding house. I love boarding house tales.

I am continuing to watch You Tube videos about tricks in Photoshop and I am closer to getting a gold vote in the photo challenges voted on by other club members but not there yet. . Each month there is a challenge. One can earn either a bronze, silver or gold. Have earned several bronze and silvers I am now on a quest for gold. Its fun to try for it.

Well, for the first post back in awhile this is a good catch up one. Back to Penguin hunting, reading and bookshops now things have died down for a few weeks. We will see where we go from here.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Publishers---Stop Doing This False Advertising

I am going to have a bit of a rant here. The other night I was watching the ABC (Australian Broadcasting) Book Club show with Jennifer Byrne, Jason Steger and Marieke Hardy.  They reviewed an Australian crime story.  I forget the name of it but that doesn't matter. The thing is the publisher sold it as a psychological thriller about two sisters. One who was murdered and the other who was grieving beyond all belief. They all said that it is definitely not a psychological thriller. It was an in-depth story of the remaining sister's grief.

The point is if you go to the bookshop, pay your hard earned money because you want to buy a good psychological thriller, buy this particular book and read it you will be disappointed. 

I saw this book, Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand.

The Amazon kindle site (I was travelling) told me the book was as follows. 

"The bestselling French phenomenon now being made into a Hollywood movie.

Diane has a charmed life as a wife, a mother and the owner of a literary cafe in Paris called Happy People Read and Drink Coffee. But when Diane suddenly loses her beloved husband and daughter in a car accident her perfect world is shattered. Trapped and haunted by her memories, Diane withdraws from friends and family, unable and unwilling to move forward.

One year on, Diane shocks her loved ones by leaving Paris to move to a small town on the Irish coast to rebuild her life alone. There she meets Edward, a brooding, handsome photographer who lives next door. Initially Edward resents Diane's intrusion into his solitary life, but before long they find themselves drawn to each other . . ."

The cover shows the main character holding a book in Paris and reading it.  I was so disappointed in this story I almost had Kindle take it back but figured it would be more trouble than it was worth. Yes the protagonist owns a book store in Paris. However she doesn't really go into it much. She also doesn't read.  Her husband and daughter die at the very beginning in Paris in a car accident. She is grieving very much. She spends a great amount of time carrying on to her gay guy friend who also works in this book store.  She lies around the house, doesn't do anything for about a year and then she does go to Ireland. The entire rest of the book takes place a small village in Ireland. It is a very formulaic book. 

She rents a little house, sits around doing nothing, makes a friend, meets the friend's crabby brother who is about her age. He is not in  a relationship. Still nothing about the Paris bookshop or reading.  She doesn't even drink much coffee, lots of alcohol though.  She and the friend's brother go back and forth, verbally sparring, spending time together.....yeah, you get the drift. Nobody is spending time with books though.

Finally during the second to last page she is back in Paris and lo and behold she is in her bookshop. She is holding a grand re-opening of sorts.  People are talking about coffee. They touch books. Next page continues with The End. 

The publisher completely misrepresented this book both on the blurb at the back of the book (I saw it in the bookshop in Hobart) and on the Amazon site.  Is this going to be the new trend in publishing? Will books be advertised to be about the topics all of us really love? Then when we get home in our PJ's, curl up on the couch with whatever pet sits with us, get our hot cocoa (It is winter here) and dive in we will find out the book is about something entirely different.  This book is pure hype. I might have enjoyed it if I wanted to read a romance/grief/fall in love book but I didn't. I am too old for that nonsense of youth. I read that years ago.  I wanted to read a book that takes place in a book shop where people meet, read, chat and drink coffee.  That's what I like now.

If this happens again I am really going to complain to the publisher.  I usually let three things happen before I hit the proverbial roof. So far I am on number 2.  Publishers.....please beware.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

New Penguins from Alice Springs

No. 2543- 1968
Who would have thought I would find vintage Penguin books from Alice Springs? I did not expect to find a book shop but lo and behold I not only found one but there were two.

One book shop at the far end of the Todd Mall had new books. I did not go into it as we walked past because the last thing I needed was a new book.

I did ask a shop clerk if there were any second hand bookshops in the city. "Yes," she replied. "Go to the other end of the street. Go past the KFC (of course there would be a KFC) and you will see it in the next block across the street."

Sure enough we found it without any difficulty.  The lady who was working in it said she had been there for 11 years but this was her last week. She had sold the shop and was moving back to Melbourne where her family lives.

No 2296- 1968
Most of the books were popular fiction that backpackers and airport travellers might look for. I call them "airport books". I did find one shelf of older classic books and there were a handful of vintage Penguins scattered amongst the shelves. Several I had already. The horrible Galsworthy covers were staring at me and fortunately I did not need them. I dislike these covers of their photographs of the tv series stars intensely. My very least Penguin books. But then I saw four books by Richard Gordon.  These are part of a series of "Doctor" books that appear to be quite humorous. I have a couple of them and I already owned one of the four there but I did not have the other three. They were all first published so I picked them up.  I must say, I am very happy with this find as I do not come across them much in Australia.

The next story is a bit more odd.

My sister and I had been in Cairns, Queensland, the week before. We took the sky rail up to Kurunda. Forty five minutes in a cable car high above the rainforest canopy below. Once I decided to not indulge my fear of heights it was very peaceful and beautiful. Also the giant blue koala Commonwealth games mascot and a cameraman were in the gondola behind us. A promotional for the games was being recorded. If you see an advertisement for the upcoming Commonwealth games in a gondola over a lot of trees know that we were in the next car.

No 2294- 1968
We walked around the town of Kurunda with all the touristy markets, cafes and Aboriginal paintings. At the very end I noticed a sign for a bookshop. It looked very second hand.  My sister waited outside while I went in. An older gentleman sat behind the counter and looked as though he had been there a very long time. It turned out the majority of his books were non-fiction. Though I did see a couple of boxes on the floor of fiction books.

The conversation went like this:

Me:  "Do you have any vintage Penguin books?"
Him: "What are they?"
Me: "Penguin published paperback books printed between 1935 and 1970."
Him: "Never heard of them."
At this point I had to hold onto a shelf because I was reeling a bit. Where had this man been the last 80 years?  Behind this counter I expect.

Me:  "They would most likely be small paperbacks, coloured orange......or maybe green.  Green is crime, Orange is fiction. " I decided not to mention blue, yellow, cerise or especially grey."

PK 48- 1965
Him: "Nope, don't have those."             Me:  "Okay, I thought I would check."
Him: Continues reading whatever he is reading behind the counter. I could hardly breathe for his enthusiasm.

On the way out of the open shop door I glanced down and saw an old Penguin Peacock book.  It seems I only come across these in the Hobart Tip recycling shop so I picked it up. I don't always buy them but I did love the cover on it. The title was vaguely familiar and it was a first published.

"C'mon little Peacock, let's get you out of this place. The old man might eat you for dinner or just as likely throw you in a bin." I am sure Kurunda does not have a mass market for a 1965 Chinese Peacock book."

I always feel as though I am releasing a bear from an Asian bile factory when I rescue an old Penguin book from a strange bookstore. There was no appreciation going on there.

So off I went with my dollar

purchase.   I must say I am very happy with my four new (old) Penguin books. I will soon catalogue and photograph them and onto the revered book shelf it will go.

If you have read any of these please let me know what you thought.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

A Hacker Stuff Up

The Penguin has had lots of fun this week.
I am still here but have had a lot of technology problems lately. We have had a wonderful trip so far in Cairns, Uluru and now Alice Springs. However suspicious activity was noted on one of my accounts that monitor this blog and Google shut it all down. They then attached it to a different email address that didn't seem to be able to be touched by apps on my tablet or phone. I am on my laptop today and was able to update things and hurrah, my blog is working again. Imagine how I felt when I was told it wasn't there.  But now, all is well.  I will have time after this weekend to load up delayed posts and some wonderful photos I took.

I found 3 Penguin books today in an Alice bookshop that I did not have. One Peacock that was from the Op shop here and three Penguins from the bookshop. All first Penguins.

In Queensland we did an Aboriginal day where we went onto the mudflats and speared crabs to be served to us later. Though I must confess I did find several little crabs but instead of spearing them I hid them from the others. I didn't need the food enough to take their lives. Others in the group were like savages and I just couldn't do it. However I enjoyed walking along the flats in almost knee deep sand and muck at times looking for them.  I saved a few periwinkles too. I was handed them by others and told to put them in the bucket. I "accidentally" dropped them.  Whoops.....

I just can't kill things. We did have enough later on for everyone to try.   It was an interesting day and we learned a lot about indigenous history in the northern Queensland area but walking about 5 km in mud was tiring. We loved it though.

We did other rainforest excursions and ate barimunda that was good and had a great week in the rain.  
The sun came out the day we flew out to Ayres Rock (Uluru).

A wonderful time there. We saw Ayres Rock and the Olgas. Uluru and Kata Jtuta I believe is how it is spelled but don't quote me. We photographed two sunsets on the rock that were beautiful and I will post up the photos of some things next week when I have more time.

We loved the Ayres Rock area and walked what seemed miles and miles. I know my Garmin tracker gave me a couple of badges when I synced it to see how far I had walked.  Weather was beautiful, not too hot or muggy and loved everything.

The night before we were to leave Qantas sent us texts tellings us our flight out of Ayres Rock to Alice Springs was cancelled. They only have one a day. As we only scheduled one full day in Alice we weren't willing to take the flight offered the next day so ended up on a tour bus from Ayres Rock to Alice springs the day we were scheduled to fly out. Almost 7 hours with three or so hours of commentary about the history of the area.  It was fun to listen to and often quite colourful. I do love the stories of the explorers, dreamtime and early history of Australia. So we enjoyed a peaceful day.

Today we did the big walkabout around Alice Springs that does not take longs. Sat in the mall with coffee and watched people. Heard a brilliant guitar playing blind busker and we gave him some cash. Lovely man.
Life is so hard for a lot of people around here and we feel for them.

Tomorrow I head back to Hobart and my sisters goes to visit friends in Perth.  She will be there for a couple of weeks and then she will back to Hobart where she will be with me a month while Mr. Penguin leaves the beginning of July for a month to Canada and US (Michigan) to visit family.

He has been holding the fort while I have been away and now it is my turn to take care of the little fellas that live with us.

Looking forward to a cold, relatively quiet month I hope and more time to write posts.

I leave you now to await further photos and a bit more commentary and maybe photos of my new (old) Penguin books.

All the best to all of you who read this mish-mash.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Weekend Wrap Up- Sunday Evening

We got snow this weekend on the mountain. It was a  chilly 9 degrees C (about 45 F).  But the sun was out most of the weekend and it was really gorgeous out there. Whenever it snows, many people drive up the mountain, pile snow onto their car, even build a snowman on the bonnet and then drive back down and through the city.  Each person seems to think they are the only one who does it and it cries, "Look at me, look at me!"  

I spent the first 20 years of my life in Michigan in the USA. I remember those days where the windchill was 60 degrees below zero F. I remember the blizzards when we couldn't open the front door to get out of the house due to high drifts. I remember the ice storms when the branches sparkled in the sun.  So it does make me laugh when we get half a centimetre of snow and everyone drives up the mountain to see it.   Human's really are funny. is a photo of it from the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp).

So what did we do this weekend?  Well I picked up a couple of new books. Two new ones from Fuller's book store that looked interesting and two secondhand ones from Cracked and Spineless (Facebook page). 

This is what I picked up.  First I went to Fuller's as they have a café and I was in need of a hot cappuccino (in a mug- I wanted it BIG) and also they have wonderful almond croissants with custard in them.  I have an interest right now in anything photographic so this little book caught  my eye.  The photos I like to take the most, besides birds and animals is urban photography. I love anything old in cities, people going about their daily life and little bits of nature I uncover here or there.  I think this book will have some good tips.

Then I saw this little gem. This is the story of a man in the UK who walks along the coast of Cornwall from Land's End along the northern shore of Cornwall.  As my friend and I are planning a trip to Cornwall this coming September I thought this would be interesting.  I love travel writing especially when people walk or bicycle and see everything up close. I love to hear about the people they meet and write about.  Travel writing really is my favourite read.


 Then, on to see Richard and Mike at Cracked and Spineless. They have an incredibly active Facebook page. When Richard gets in boxes of books he quickly photographs them and puts them onto Facebook pretty quick smart. He has a lot of followers and quite a young clientele online. People immediately snap up these books and it is sometimes very hard to get one unless you time it right.

This was one of the finds. Down to Earth-Australian Landscapes. A large coffee table book full of landscape photography of Australia.  Tim Winton, a well known Aussie author is one of the authors who helped put it together. He writes a lot about the landscape and nature of Australia. Especially Western Australia where he lives. As I just undertook a Landscape Photography workshop a couple of Sundays' ago I thought this would be good.

The other secondhand book I found was this Virago Modern Classic by Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career which I really loved. I have not heard of this book and it looked interesting. Also it has a beautiful cover.

An eclectic assortment really.   So what did we do today?  It was very cold this morning. Snow was still on the mountain so the dogs and I headed for the beach. Yes, we go to the beach all year round here.  It was sunny though chilly. We rugged up and off we went. Molly, Odie and I. Mr. Penguin was going to clean the house and wanted us gone.  I know, I am very fortunate. He is better in the house than I am. I like outside jobs, putting things together and taking care of bills. We have role reversal here.   Anyway....

I thought the dog beach would be empty but it was quite crowded. A small group of women were there with their greyhounds who were running around. They are so beautiful when they run. All of them have been rescued from the dog track. Don't get me started on the cruelty of dog racing.

As we walked along I noticed two dolphins swimming fairly close to shore. They went out a ways and headed south along the shore line. The sun shone on their backs and they were gorgeous. There seem to be quite a few dolphin and whale sightings around the state lately. On the move to warmer waters I guess.   A golden retriever also saw them and entertained us all by trying to swim out towards them before turning back, running along the foreshore and then diving back in the water again. He so wanted to meet them and his owner had his hands full getting him to settle down a bit.

Well the weekend is over now, tomorrow I pack my bags and head to Cairns (pronounced Cannes) on Tuesday in Queensland where I meet my sister who I have not seen in a couple of years. She will be here from California where she lives. I am really looking forward to it. The penguin is going with me so stay tuned to what we get up to. Should be fun.
Oh excuse me, did you say something??