Saturday, 29 June 2013

My Worst Week of 2013 so far.....

The old saying goes, "When it rains it pours."  Well this week it absolutely pelted down. It stormed.
The week started well enough.  Then Thursday happened and I noticed my little dog Molly seemed to have a tumour.  Took her to the vet as it seemed larger than the week before.  It wasn't a tumour. She was bleeding internally and she had been poisoned.  Fortunately I was able to ring the vet before 7:00 am as the 'tumour' seemed to be spreading across her back.  I had her into the vet by 8:00 am. Immediate treatment started, blood clotting tests (that she failed) and a whole body pressure wrap- she looked like a little mummy.  Whew- got her in time. Then the vet said to me, "Okay go home and get your other four and bring them in. We need to test their clotting times." 

 I think I was in mini shock.  Off I went and loaded up the other two dogs and the two cats (who are indoor cats and have an enclosure in the back yard).  Brought them in and sure enough all of their clotting times were off.  ALL of them had been poisoned.  My animals are not free range. They don't leave the yard unless on a lead and I am with them. The cats live in enclosures because we have lots of native wildlife, birds and cars near us.
(L-R) Uncle Buck aged 7; Odie aged 2; Molly-Monkey aged 8
and Wally aged 12
We're feeling much better thank you

Rat bait but where did it come from.  We would take care of that later.  All of them were started on immediate Vitamin K and put into cages so they wouldn't bump themselves.  It turned out they had access to the poison a good week or so in advance and their clotting times were affected but we didn't know it until Koko our cat and Molly our little madam silky terrier had a skirmish (as they do) and Molly got whacked with a cat paw that caused her to start bleeding internally.

More clotting tests at end of the day and slowly it was getting back to normal. Then everyone home for the night to be watched carefully.  More medicine and in two weeks time all of them go through clotting time tests again and on it goes until the poison leaves their system. Bad news is there is a severe poison that is on the supermarket shelves now that can stay in their system for up to 150 days.  So more tests coming up without a doubt.  Did I also mention we are up to $1800.00 vet fees?  Luckily they are insured so that will certainly help.

Then the detective work was to begin- along with all of this happening the landscapers I'd hired to do some work in our front yard decided to start work on Friday so lots of noise happening and dogs wanting to bark at them but having to keep them quiet. Then Australia going through a political crisis and I have to watch our new Prime Minister Mr. Rudd challenging and winning the top job from the Prime Minister I really respected, Julia Gillard, our first female Prime Minister.  She has been bullied and treated abominably by both her own party and the opposition because she is a female,  an atheist and lives with a man without the benefit of marriage. I have never seen Australian politics become so dirty. Embarrassing to say the least.  I don't care who people support but when the country is being run on disgusting personal attacks as to debating policy I get really cranky.
Koko aged 8

So have spent the week caring for animals, cursing the television and the media for repeating themselves at least 6 million times on the same story and baking cookies for the landscapers. By the way they are doing a great job and I will have a level area in which to relax in my front yard instead of trying to read in a lounge chair that goes down hill that I slide off of.

I am reading. Started a book today as it is due for my Monday night book group. Fortunately it is only about 150 pages called So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell born 1908, American writer published by Vintage. Lovely cover too. Will do a separate post on it very soon. Will see how book club goes with it before putting up all our reactions to it.

So that was my week. Sometimes life just can't be about sitting under a tree in summertime reading a book. Besides it is winter here but a lovely winter now, quite mild.  I hope everyone else had a much better week than I did.

By the way I did find out that the poison came from the next door neighbours who had rats in their attic and put down bait believing the rats would die in the attic and that would be the end of it.  They had no idea they'd run out of their house and into our yard and cat enclosure for all the animals to dine on.
You can imagine how horrified they were after I spoke with them and told them they'd poisoned all five of our beloved pets and my poor T overseas visiting his ageing mother for her 90th birthday couldn't do anything but worry.  But "all's well that ends well", another quote by my mother. My mother raised us with lots of cliches.  So I am expecting my next post will have photo of a lovely book cover and some thoughts that are more literary than angst.
Whew! What a week. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Prime Minister's Literature Awards Shortlist- 2013 AUSTRALIA

For anyone interested in Australian Literature the shortlist has just been announced for the Prime Minister's Literature Awards for 2013.  I haven't been able to find a date as to when the winners will be chosen but will have a better look and can amend this when I get the information. Someone else may know.  I think Lost Voices by Christopher Koch is going to be our August Book group read but not 100% certain. Heard whisperings and will find out Monday when I attend the July book group. I see well known author names as well as some I'm not familiar with.  At least the individual categories have manageable lists so people should be able to get stuck into them without too much problem. Stay tuned.  


  • Floundering by Romy Ash
  • The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey
  • Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser
  • Lost Voices by Christopher Koch
  • Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany


  • Burning Rice by Eileen Chong
  • The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson 
  • Jam Tree Gully: Poems by John Kinsella
  • Liquid Nitrogen by Jennifer Maiden
  • Crimson Crop by Peter Rose 


  • Bradman’s War by Malcolm Knox
  • Uncommon Soldier by Chris Masters
  • Plein Airs and Graces by Adrian Mitchell
  • The Australian Moment by George Megalogenis
  • Bold Palates by Barbara Santich

Prize for Australian History

  • The Sex Lives of Australians: A History by Frank Bongiorno
  • Sandakan by Paul Ham
  • Gough Whitlam by Jenny Hocking
  • Farewell, dear people by Ross McMullin
  • The Censor’s Library by Nicole Moore

Young adult fiction

  • Everything Left Unsaid by Jessica Davidson
  • The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett
  • Grace Beside Me by Sue McPherson
  • Fog a Dox by Bruce Pascoe
  • Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield

Children's fiction

  • Red by Libby Gleeson
  • Today We Have No Plans by Jane Godwin and illustrated by Anna Walker
  • What’s the Matter, Aunty May? by Peter Friend and illustrated by Andrew Joyner
  • The Beginner’s Guide to Revenge by Marianne Musgrove

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Country Living - Cathy Woodman

It's very rare that I read anything related to Chick-Lit or Romance but I read an interview article in a magazine (I think Australia's Good  Reading Magazine) and it sounded a lot like light entertainment which I was very much in the mood for.  Also this book is about a veterinarian and being trained as a Vet Nurse and having cut my teeth years ago on every James Herriot book known to man I couldn't resist.

So these are my thoughts but first the fine print:

Title and Author:  Country Living by Cathy Woodman
Publisher: Century Books 2013 (doesn't fit into any kind of challenge)
Source: Tasmanian State Library (They appear to have all of her books)

Cathy Woodman is a vet herself but now seems to do more writing than practising however according to the blurb on the book she does still practise. What an interesting life and no doubt being a vet opens up the door for all kinds of story ideas.

Main characters:
Stevie an accountant working in London with a good firm.
Her Fiance: Nick
Leo: the country veterinarian who lives near her father in the country
Stevie's cranky old father

Now look at those four characters and see if you can figure out the plot?  Bet you did but that is what Chick Lit Romances are about. Formulas that bring in the big money whilst entertaining the general population across the world.

Stevie is a very successful accountant living in London, living the modern lifestyle, great clothes, fashionable apartment, all of those things young women may or may not kill for. Good income, handsome boyfriend.
But it is all to change once the phone call comes through that her father who is a long time dairy farmer and not long widowed has a stroke.  She gets a phone call from the neighbour who is concerned about the state of her father's dairy herd and the farm is about to have all of its animals taken for the poor condition they are in.
Stevie talks Nick into going to the farm to visit for a weekend to assess the situation.  Nick is a brat. It's all I can say.  You get the picture.  Whiney whiney whiney, no thought of anyone else but himself.

The farm is in a wretched condition, her father has been ill and neglecting the farm now for 6 months and there is no way Stevie can go back to London. She always wanted to take over the farm because she was the one who loved it so much. However it was designated for her brother because he was the son. He of course has no interest in it.

The whole situation causes a complete change in Stevie's lifestyle as she decides to give up everything in London except her flat (That will be a nice little investment and besides her best friend India is living in it). She moves in with her father who isn't very pleasant to her and the two hit heads constantly. They are trying to develop their relationship into something much more positive throughout.

She breaks up with Nick when he continues his life's goal of being an even bigger brat and although she is heartbroken she knows she has done the right thing.  Enter Leo the handsome veterinarian who desperately needs a place to stay because he is currently living with a family that has teenagers and they are driving him mad with their non stop playing of computer games.  It just so happens there is a long trailer (caravan) on the property at the farm and with a lick of paint and some cleaning agents this mouldy old tin box turns into a lovely place for Leo to live.

Now I know I'm being a bit facetious about the plot but I must say I have enjoyed this book quite a bit. It isn't literary fiction but I don't really want to read literary fiction all of the time. I can do that for my book club and when the mood strikes me.  It is cold here, it's dark, it's winter. My other half T is overseas for a month visiting his very ill 90 year old mother and that is a sad event as she really is at the top end of her life.

I don't want to think or analyse or really discuss much of importance as I care for our 3 muddy dogs and 2 crazy cats, one of which is quite head injured and needs constant lessons on finding his litter box as he does forget.  I am busy. So at night I crawl into bed with all the furballs I live with , who love me to pieces, they sleep and read about this lovely farm outside of London. It has beautiful cows in it which I love.  The dog is good fun. The visiting vet is intelligent and handsome and Stevie is no fool. She represents a more strongly minded woman who can do anything once she puts her mind to it.

The things she does around the farm remind me of my youth growing up in the mid west of the USA which was nothing but farming.  It is familiar, it is a pretty happy read, I know that most things will work out and the veterinary information is accurate.

I found quite a few things in this book believable in the descriptions of activities and location. There is quite an interesting future for Stevie. Will it be with Leo? After all he is only there for the summer working in a 3 month locum position.  You will have to read the book.

I find for this category of book it is one of the better ones in the genre as it is pretty intelligently written, believeable and I care about the characters.  I want Stevie and Leo to marry and raise their kids on this farm. I can't say anymore.  I want to read about the neglected animals becoming fat and sassy again with glistening coats.  I want her young heifer to win at the local country show.

So if you like a pleasant, unchallenged read I would highly recommend this book, especially if you love animals like I do. This isn't a book I'd reread but I might read one of her other veterinarian driven books next time I need something light hearted to occupy my time.  And no matter how one might possibly scorn at this genre of book it is certainly anything that's better on commercial TV 95% of the time.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Some Obsessive Penguin Chatter

All Penguins are double stacked on the shelves (back row to front row). One day I'll be able to space
them a bit more appropriately so all titles can be seen.

As I always enjoy looking at other people's book shelves I thought I'd put up a photo of my front room library.  This room should be the master bedroom but as it's at the front of the house with large wide windows and views over the River Derwent it seems a shame to waste it for sleeping.

T. had shelves built into one wall for the Penguin collection. Our friend is a Danish builder and designer and he did a wonderful job with them.  My Penguin collection is housed on this wall and only this wall now instead of everywhere I look.  The Boxed sets (also all Penguins) are across the top.

This wall is still in the process of being tidied up. (ahem)
The other wall houses the store bought book shelves and they are loaded with Non Penguin books. Everything else I love and many of them are still TBR. My collecting addiction really does get the better of me at times but I am always happy when I look at them.  As these books are read they will be moved on. The plan (haha) is to read all of those, move them on so the shelves are bare and then I can take the Penguins that are all double stacked on each of the Penguin shelves so what you see in the photo- double it. I would like the front room to be the Penguin archive.

I know holding this dream is like holding fairy floss - a bit sticky - but it's good to think big at times.
I have Penguin paraphernalia or I should say ephemera on the closet doors and also next to more boxed sets above the Non Penguin shelves.  The reading chair is comfortable and the light is good. We recently moved a heating panel from another room into this room so I can now use it more comfortably in the winter when the overall lighting really fades early.

So this is where you will find me- either in the chair reading or at the desk working on the collection, Library Thing website and Travellin Penguin blogs. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Hide n Seek Hobart? Certainly hidden today!!

I woke up early this morning, still dark and it was pouring with rain.  Thought about going back to sleep but with three hungry dogs who knew I was awake (they listen to me breathe and as soon as it changes any chance of sleeping more is well and truly gone). The sound of the rain on the roof is hard to compete with.  I had also committed to working at a market early to raise money for Tasmania's Dogs Home and then had to go down to Salamanca Market to finish the Hide/Seek Book jar's pick.

Fed dogs, drove over to the market and helped them finish setting up and then left for Salamanca market in the city centre down at the waterfront.

Sashiko Design

Mission:  Visit Sashiko Design as randomly chosen from the Hide/Seek Book Jar as mentioned in previous post (here) and see if it's book blogger friendly.

I have been looking forward to it all week.  Though I didn't think it would rain so hard.  Fortunately it was early enough to find a free car park on the main road at the top of the market. I had the stallholders address number so thought a quick run down, a quick chat, see if anything she sold was book friendly then a hot coffee in a warm cafe before heading home.

I hopped out of the car, pulled my collar up around my neck and started hiking down through the market stalls. As I expected not overly busy with such poor weather but there were tourists there with their cameras. The die hards who weren't going to let a little rain ruin their holiday
Top end of Salamanca Market. Only the die-yards out today.
I walked about half along all of the stalls stopping briefly to talk to a friend who has a stall there every week who sells the books they write and illustrate.  I asked her if she knew where the Japanese bag stall was and she pulled out the local map of the market and showed me. Good! It wasn't much farther.  Another block along and there was the stall holders space.  Was I happy?  No, not really. The stall holder hadn't turned up in the rain. I am sure that silk fabrics and heavy rain does not go well together but for heaven's sake.  Competition is very high to have a regular stall at this Hobart iconic market and she didn't turn up when everyone else did.  She perhaps may have had a better excuse than rain but I am not to know.  Her market table was there. It was shiny wet and a couple of people huddled next door but Sashiko was no where to be seen.
However all was not lost as there is a bookseller's stall next to her and I found a vintage Penguin book I didn't have.  So I happily paid the man for the book.  He turned up with all of his books and set up in the rain so I didn't even haggle with him over the price. I didn't have the heart to do that today. Penguins don't cost much anyway.
Then off to the warm cafe for a hot coffee and of course had to have a lovely warm pear Danish with slices of real pear.

The Hide/Seek Hobart book jar is doing what I wanted it to do. It gets me out of the house and active during the cold wet winter months and hopefully keep the black dog at bay.   It worked.  I had a lovely day out.
Time now to look forward to Monday's choice from the jar. Don't go too far.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Outlaw Bible of American Literature

I have quite an extensive collection of reference books dealing with all types of books and literature. I tend to collect them whenever I see them especially in Op and Second hand bookshops.

Yesterday I brought home a flat pack book shelf to put in the bedroom so the reference books would have their own home away from the main library in the front room.  After a couple of hours of working the construction with the supervision of two very nosy cats and one dog the shelves were up.

I will keep such titles on it as 1001 Books You Must Read, 501 Books You Must Read, Good Books, Book Lust and More Book Lust, The Novel 100, Literary Trivia, Legends of Literature,  The Penguin Companion to American Literature, Good Fiction Guide, The New York Public Library Literature Companion plus several books of smaller size.

Now I have them grouped together in their own bookcase I can actually see what I have.  One of the books that has always interested me is this one. It is called The Outlaw Bible of American Literature and is edited by Alan Kaufman, Neil Ortenberg, & Barey Rosset.  

Most of the reference books I look at are mainly American, English and  European. My favourites are always the American Lit books.  I love American Literature and the authors. It speaks to my whole being and brings back happy memories of hearing about authors such as Steinbeck, Hemingway, Morrison, Faulkner, Richard Wright.  To me authors don't get much better than these people.

There are evidently two other Outlaw books I know of. They are called Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and Outlaw Bible of American Essays.

This book has the most interesting Table of Contents. Authors and references of the " less desirables of American society who also wrote". People who were jailed, were scoundrels, hobos, transients, cheats and frauds to name a few.

The categories of the contents are divided into such headings as American Renegades, Voices from Outlaw Heaven, Holy Goofs, Road Dogs and Queens of Heart, Bad Ass, Riding the Rods, Nuclear Family Nightmares and Hardboiled.   You have to love those titles.

Listed within each category are authors such as Sylvia Plath, Dave Eggers, Waylon Jennings (I know he also sings), Tom Wolfe and Ray Bradbury.  There are really too many to list.

The Introduction has a wonderful paragraph about the scope of this book. It describes it as:

It is in the Orwellian nature of our contemporary society that not only is the Outlaw past disclaimed but actually effaced from meory, as though it had never been.  Like some ancient extinct civilization the Outlaw tradition in literature is just a legend, a rumor, a buried Atlantis. A new culture coming of age in the grip of Google and Wal-Mart might never know that Dick Gregory or Malcolm Braly, Boxcar Bertha, Nelson Algren, Lee Stringer, or Emma Goldman had ever existed. Know that some of our nation's great writing, a representative cross section of which is contained in this book, is a New India of underground prose, a spice route encompassed by mysteries and monsters, and comprises a fresh new canon sprung not from reality shows, Botox, or IPOs, but the streets, prisons, highways, trailer parks and back alleys of the American Dream. The authors in this collection are not greeted with book club appearances and White House invitations, but often lead lives of state pen incarceration, suicide, drug addiction, street hustling, exile, martyrdom, and even murder at the hands of strangers. These rich stories, candid oral histories, letters, graphic testimonies and autobiographical accounts of human burden come together as an unbroken circle of alternative/outsider literature.

I am definitely going to have to delve more into this book and see what I can find in the local library or in my own collection.  It just looks like so much fun, adventure and excitement and I think perhaps starting with a 10 book challenge during the coming year might be in order.  I look forward to learning more about the back streets America that I have been so sheltered from during my lifetime.


An example of the Table of Contents is:

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Hobart Book Jar No 1 Completed

Ha! What a laugh.  I fired up the scooter this morning and headed to Citrus Moon cafe as stipulated by the Hide/Seek Book Jar.

I took my camera and my book.  I'm reading an interesting Japanese (translation) short novel called Snow Country by Kasunari Kawabata who is a Nobel Prize winner but more on this on another post. I'm only half way through it.  So into the bag went the book.

Beautiful, if quite cool sunny day and I arrived at the cafe in about 25 minutes time after the twisty ride through Taroona.

As I walked into the cafe I knew I was in trouble. Right next to the door was a table of three adults and four toddlers including 2 fairly new infants strapped to their mother's chests.  There aren't many tables and the one small table next to the front window had a reserve sign on it. That would have been nicer but it wasn't reserved until noon and it was only about 11:20 am but no go.  Silly to tie up a table that long.

Never mind I sat down at a table for four right smack in the middle of the room.  So I was about an arm's length from the toddlers and the mothers. Close enough to hear the conversation.  There was no way I was going to read anything quietly with the waitress rushing back and forth and the busy table next to me.

I heard all about the upper respiratory infection of one of the children as the mother leaned the infant back and pulled something from its nose with her hanky, how marker pens and crayolas differ in use for toddlers who don't push hard enough when they draw. The man in the group was getting a bit impatient so he got up and announced he would be back later much to the annoyance of his partner who had the kids. She seemed a bit shell shocked really.  Then suddenly it happened. Just as I pulled a section of paper over to me that was lying there to enjoy with my coffee that had arrived,  the little boy let out one of those ear piercing shrieking screams because the little girl had grabbed his crayon from him.

I could feel the little hairs on my neck stand right up.  Nope, not even the paper was going to be enjoyable. I downed my coffee and off I went. AT least the coffee was 50 cents less than what I'd pay in Hobart central and was pretty good.

Will I take my book back there to relax? No.  I think if one wants to read or write as the man was doing in the photo I took once I was out of the cafe you need to sit outdoors.  However outdoors was about 10 degrees C (50 F).

Did I mention there was also construction work going on in the street out front?  Time to tell the Book Jar to pick someplace else a bit more suited to a retiree on a scooter who wants to read her Japanese book.

But at least I did get out of the house on a winter's morning, enjoy the sunshine and after all young mothers do need places to meet that they can enjoy.  So good luck to them.

Picked out Number 2 in Hobart Hide-Seek Book Jar

source: Hide-Seek Hobart by Campisi & Brady
If you are in touch with your inner 8 year old as much as I am you'd be impatient waiting until a full week  goes by for the Saturday market.  I drew from the Hobart Hide-Seek Book Jar and my assigned visit is a Japanese design stall at Hobart's Salamanca Market. However today is Tuesday, it looks beautiful outside and not too cold so thought I'd pick another page number from this charming little book because I can't wait until Saturday.   New projects are always so much fun.

So drum roll- I opened the jar, put my hand into the bottom, wondering if it would get stuck, it didn't, and picked out page number 056.  Page 056 is the Citrus Moon Cafe in Kingston."Woo hoo" you might have heard me cry.

The road to Kingston is a highway heading south out of Hobart and the cafe is 20 minutes away. However the motorbike world always goes to Kingston via Taroona, the community along the River Derwent and full of twisty roads and beautiful scenery.

It takes about 30 minutes to get there going the scenic route.  Taroona itself is interesting in many ways but more recently is known for being the hometown of Princess Mary of Denmark.

Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark
She and Frederik met each other during the 2000 Sydney Olympics when Mary was working as a Sydney real estate agent. They met, they spoke, they fell in love and she gave up everything here and became the Royal Princess, daughter in law to Queen Margrethe II.  She learned Danish, she learned about being a royal and she has done so beautifully. Hobart has embraced the entire experience. They now have 4 children, including twins and they too are beautiful.

Now you have just travelled with the Penguin through Taroona. There is also military history there and a beautiful old Shot Tower one can visit though I have never been up in it. Maybe when I pick one of the Random draws.

The thing that has always bothered me the most about the Princess Mary story is that her mother died before Mary met her prince.  So she never knew her daughter became a member of Danish Royalty.

But back to Citrus Moon cafe.  I go to that area quite a bit because the Kingston Dog Beach is just a block or two away and I often take my dogs down there.

Citrus Moon Cafe has lovely food and drink, however in the summer time it seems to be a meeting place of all things "PRAM". Yes very young babies and toddlers who very often do that "out of the blue, high pitched shriek right behind your back that makes the hair on your arms stand up".

The Yummy Mummies are there and it is a great place for them to hang out.  I love seeing them enjoy themselves but maybe not the place to take a book and quietly read?  I'll let you know once my visit is finished. My aim is to see if there is anything there to read, if it's suitable to reading and will I need my ear plugs or not.  I'll take a few photos to share with you.  Stay tuned and I'll let you know in the next day or two.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Game Begins - Hide-Seek Hobart Book Jar

Book Calendar Quote:

"Here was the house of the living dead, a life like none other upon earth."
 (Fyodor Dostoyevsy (1821-18881)

Today the game begins.  As written about earlier I have now drawn out a location from the Hide and Seek Hobart Book Jar and plan on visiting it this week.

Reaching into the jar I have picked:

Page 44 of the book-- hmm let me see.....Sashiko Design.  I have never heard of this place and no idea what is there but sounds Japanese now doesn't it?

It looks like there are two locations for this place. One is in the city and only open by appointment but the other is a shop at the Saturday Salamanca Market and is open from 10 to 3:00 pm  on Market Day which is Saturday.  Looks like I will be going to the market Saturday. That is certainly no great sacrifice as the market is also full of fresh fruit and veggies, books and everything else to do with Tasmania. However the focus will be on this particular stall. 

So will I find anything literary? I am not sure but I am definitely looking forward to this little adventure and won't be able to write up the results until Saturday coming up I'm afraid so stay tuned. 

If you have missed what this winter project is about please go here.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Hide and Seek Hobart - A Plan for Winter

Officially winter has arrived in Australia. The Australians claim seasons begin on the first of the month, therefore winter arrived 1 June. However I refuse to acknowledge it until the Solstice. To me that is when winter begins.

So as it is just around the corner and my Penguin Library is getting up to date, the blog has been rejigged a bit I now need some interesting winter things to put into the blog during our short colder days.

I was in Fuller's Bookshop the other day and I saw this little book called Hide and Seek Hobart by Dale Campisi & Michael Brady. Evidently it is part of a series of various cities around Australia who also claim their own book. There is a Hide and Seek Sydney and a Hide and Seek Adelaide...anyway you get the picture.

Also whilst cleaning the front library room I came across a partially used calendar. It is one of those page to a day calendars and this one was given to me by a friend. Each day there is a different "bookish" quote from some famous author. Some of them I have heard of and some of them I haven't heard of.  OF course the front room is cold, the calendar sat on my desk and many days passed when I didn't go into the room and now I have about half a year's worth of pages unused, unread.  I usually use the back of these sheets that I tear off as notepaper but I seem to be over run with recycled notepaper as I tend to tear up all kinds of bits and piece of paper from the mail and make notepads from them.

What to do with them?  Then on a long motorbike ride I undertook today I started to get creative. Riding my bike quite often offers me creative ideas as I enjoy the country side that is so beautiful here and I am alone inside my helmet with no distractions outside of huge log trucks whizzing past me. I do pay attention to those.  I thought, "Well you have this calendar with book quotes that are fun and you have this little pictorial book of Hide and Seek Hobart and you love Alex's Book Jar (here) so let's combine them all onto the blog! "  I got quite excited whilst traversing a country road along the River Derwent and I almost tooted at a couple of Black Swans swimming nearby.  

I will open the book to Table of Contents and write one page number for each entry onto the back of a calendar page, fold them up and put them in the jar.  Then maybe once a week or maybe twice a week I will reach into the book jar (maybe now it is a Hide and Seek jar) and pull out a numbered calendar page.  

I will then go to that page number in the book, hop onto the scooter and take a ride to the location given. I will be sure to be packing my camera with a fresh battery.  Many of these places are art galleries, book shops, theatre, and heaps of coffee shops.  I will visit the place and my priority is to work out if any of these places relate to reading or owning books. If not I will look for art work and/or food. 

Now move forward several hours and the Hide n Seek Book Jar is filled with the Table of Contents and ready to go.  The camera's battery is charged I plan on choosing from the book jar Monday morning first thing.  

Now fast forward into the future and you will get to travel to some interesting little spots around Hobart through the winter.  I have not looked closely at the pages of the book because I want to be surprised.  I only used the Table of Contents.  So I am thinking the blog will feature the following things:

1.  The top of the page will have the quotation from the calendar page with author's details. 

2. Will be the name and location of the place visited    

3. Will explain the experience of visiting this place and whether it could be or is a literary place or not.  Or how is it connected to the arts if not overly bookish.

4. Then there will be a photo or two of what the place looks like and what I like about it.
As I would like to promote tourism in Tasmania, especially as it is winter and the quiet season I think it would behoove me to be as positive as possible. Unless someone chases me out of a place with a I stick if I don't buy anything.  

I think as I'm not going anywhere anytime soon I will put the Travellin'  into Travellin' Penguin in a productive way in and around Hobart and take my friends with me who follow along.  

I might add I also put four Random bits of paper into the jar.  Random means - I get up and I visit a place in and around Hobart that I have never been before of my choosing.  I am looking forward to seeing parts of this city I have not visited before. 

On a final note- this book is screaming for an update and I see on the web page there is an update page and no doubt sequels may follow.  If I find this to be a successful winter venture I may continue it into spring.  Spring in Australia begins 1 September. Spring in my household begins 22 September. So I have several months to try this out.  I am really looking forward to sharing our beautiful and quirky city with you.  Thoughts??

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Fever by Mary Beth Keane (My Thoughts)

For some reason I have always been attracted to stories around the Great Fires and plagues of the world. I remember reading stories of the great Chicago fire as a child.  

The plagues interest probably came from reading Little Women as a young person.   As a child I was sick a lot and I always seemed to be in bed with a fever or a sore throat on days such as Halloween or Christmas when everyone was having fun.  Though my memories are really wonderful of those times when I'd come down with something.

One year in the 50's I was lying on the couch on a Saturday morning watching shows like Rin Tin Tin, Fury and Sky King and lo and behold my father walked up the front porch steps with an enormous man behind him. They were laughing. My father laughed a lot.  Wouldn't you know it, he went downtown to Grand Ledge Michigan, population about 5500 and brought home Santa Claus.  Santa Claus was in my living room, sitting next to me taking my Christmas order.  If this is what happens when one is sick who would want to be well.  I also remember my wonderful Aunt Evelyn bringing me a box full of small books. They were paperback books and each book was full of puzzles, mazes, paper dolls, things to do, things to read. I never forgot those two very beautiful times of my childhood.

So whenever I read a book about tragedy, and in the 50's and early 60's there seemed to be quite a bit of  history woven into children's reading, probably because penicillin was so new and I remember having spoonfuls of the green chalky liquid with a bit of sugar sprinkled on top of it. That is how penicillin was administered back then.

When I read the blurb about this book, Fever by Mary Beth Keane  it triggered some long forgotten bells.  The book is a fictional account of Typhoid Mary aka Mary Mallon.  A fair haired Irish woman who emigrated to AMerica to live the rest of her life in New York.  Somewhere along the way she had been exposed to Typhoid though never showed symptoms herself.  She was a very good cook and made her living cooking for families in and around the New York area.  She was in a very long term relationship with a man named Alfred.  It was the kind of relationship where they couldn't live with each other yet they couldn't live without each other. Alfred had a drinking problem as did many men in the tenement life of the very early 1900's. The book covers the span of time from approximately late 1890's to WWI with a short afterward of what happened up until her death in 1938.
A photo of the real Mary Mallon

The medical profession had many doctors and researchers trying to unlock the causes of diseases such as typhoid and diptheria. So many families and especially children succumbed to these horrible disease and it wasn't unusual to completely wipe out an entire family or small town.

However Mary would go to the agency and receive her household cooking assignments especially when she and Alfred were arguing and he was drinking a lot. She would ask to be sent farther away so she wouldn't have to see him for months on end and then she'd return to their top floor tenement flat and all would be right with the world. Alfred always refused to marry Mary so of course she was also ostracised quite badly for living with a man in such sin.  She never had children.

When typhoid starting following Mary around the doctors worked out it must be possible to be a carrier of the disease without actually showing signs of the disease itself. Mary refused to believe this and continued to feel it was utter nonsense until quite late in her life.

A particular doctor, Dr. Sope who is made out to be entirely evil researched outbreaks of Typhoid fever cases. He worked out that Mary was a common denominator of the outbreaks of the disease in the New York area.   She was forcibly removed and put into a TB Sanitarium on North Brother Island in the Hudson River in New york.  She stayed there several years.  Mary was always a hot headed Irish woman and everything in her life was accomplished kicking and screaming which also didn't help her cause.   She couldn't understand why she had been singled out for detention when there were others also identified as carriers but weren't locked up. 

She was provided a small bungalow on the island and this is where she lived.  Eventually after being the guinea pig and forcibly having urine and feces samples taken almost daily she was released back into the community.  She always seemed to have a percentage of Typhoid bacillus in her test results though as she couldn't see them she refused to believe it.   The doctors, all being men for the most part were secretive and also never let her know what was happening and refused to share test results and other information with her which also made things worse. She was often referred to as the "Germ Woman" by the media which published much of her story on the front pages of the New York City newspapers.

On top of all of this she is also trying to maintain a relationship with Alfred and find out what is happening in her old community as well as working out legal representation that might free her.

Fever,  although fictionalised appears to follow the true biographical information of Mary Mallon quite well from everything I could find on the net. The tale is fascinating and for one, it makes me eternally grateful all of this research was completed so eventually there is no reason anymore for these disease to occur anymore.

Society has come so far with medical technology and reading this book only reinforces that. It is an excellent book and I enjoyed the writing. The writer is clear, I enjoyed the way she wrote dialogue and I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in this area. Even if you don't it's a good read because it is a tremendous love story if you have no interest in the medical side of it.  Also for those who worry it may be graphic, it isn't really graphic at all. The story is more to do with the way people could be locked up or ostracised for not being married, living together or for having an illness that people didn't understand.  It is also a statement on how little control women had regarding their own health during that time. I would recommend this as a very interesting story.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Paris by Edward Rutherfurd - The Launch of

The other night T. and I went to Fuller's Book shop for the big launch of Edward Rutherfurd's book Paris.  Rutherfurd is British and has lived in several countries and evidently seems to like writing big blockbusters.  Paris comes in at over 800 pages and his previous books have also been large tomes.  New YorkLondon and Sarum are three of his previous works.  After reading the first couple of chapters of Paris it appears to be very readable and I am looking forward to really beginning it once I get through the library books during the next 3 weeks.

I have not read Rutherfurd before but the turnout at Fuller's (my home away from home Indie Bookshop I am always carrying on about) was great.  We got show bags for the price of our tickets. Upon entry we were given a glass of Sparkling Wine (champagne but the French don't like Australians calling their bubbly Champagne), a beautiful macaron biscuit that complimented the sparkly admirably and the VIP ticket gave us a copy of the book, and another couple of gifts.  One was a classic book and the other was a beautiful metal tin with French cards to tie onto packages for gifts. Really nice.

Everyone sat down and waited for Mr. Rutherfurd to appear and he stood on a platform behind his podium in such a way everyone was able to see and hear him.  He spoke about the book, read a passage from it and then took questions from the audience.  It was a wonderful event and I would certainly go to more of these.  I think what I enjoyed the most was the speech was short and to the point, including the questions lasted about 30 minutes.  He is a very entertaining public speaker with a great sense of humour which was good fun to listen to.
Mr. Rutherfurd speaking to his Hobart, Tasmania audience
at Fuller's Bookshop

Afterwards quite a few people got in the queue to have their books signed but we chose not to wait, instead going around the corner to get a Thai takeaway as we were hungry.  Lunch had been awhile before.  I don't really mind if a current book is signed or not.  We will read it, talk about it and then no doubt pass it on to someone else.  

I am looking forward to seeing who the next author is that they bring in. Always a treat when an author, especially from another country chooses to come to the bottom of the world to our little island.  It isn't as if we're close to very many places. Until next time. 

The following is a list of his books written as listed on Wikipedia. 


  • Sarum (1987) latterly titled Sarum: the Novel of England
  • Russka (1991) sometime titled Russka: the Novel of Russia
  • London (1997)
  • The Forest (2000)
  • Dublin: Foundation (2004) titled The Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga in North America
  • Ireland: Awakening (2006) titled The Rebels of Ireland: The Dublin Saga in North America
  • New York (September 2009)
  • Paris (April 2013)

Saturday, 1 June 2013

LIbrary Loot

Isn't it always the way.  I just went through my own books to see what I want to read next and I also need to finish my book for the Fuller's Book Club which meets on Monday at our local indie shop, Fullers.

Then I receive an email that a whole pile of books are ready to pick up at the library. As I was going into town I thought I'd stop by and see what they are.

I won't get a chance by any means to read them all in 3 weeks and probably as most of them have other holds on them I'll need to get them back when due but will see how I go.

 This is the one I want to look at first. It sounds fascinating. I know I've read a review of it somewhere but heaven knows where.    It's the story of Typhoid Mary, an Irish immigrant in New York at the turn of the 20th century who becomes the most dangerous woman in America. Sounds really interesting.

 No I do not have a 21st Century kitchen. I have a 70's kitchen.Very 70's though there is pretty good space in it and as long as we have animals, one of which still has wee accidents on the floor this will not change. Her little wee towel sets in the kitchen corner as she gets up in the night and uses it. Luckily she is only 5 kg small and has small wees. She is shy. She doesn't like anyone to see her go. So no use in having a very modern kitchen when the animals run this household. But I can maybe look forward to one and enjoy the photos.
 I had to get this not because everyone is reading it but because I loved Olive Kitteridge so much. Enough said.

I really dislike this cover as it appears to be a total rip off of the Clockwork Orange design that Penguin books published years ago. I don't like copy cats. I don't even know what this book is about but I read a review or it wouldn't have been on the library wish list with 300 other books on it.
Looking at the back of it now it reads
"August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten year old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary- inside.
But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go."       Hmmm interesting??
 Another book to drool over the photos. Yes our 70's house is small. Rooms are small. Animals are small. Spaces to hide out are small. The views are excellent though from the front window. The only reason we are in the house and the yards are fenced with high fences for lots of animal games.  But this is how people live who do not have 3 dogs and 2 cats that shake and then watch each other's fur in the shafts of sunlight.  Even if they are brushed regularly. These rooms in this book could house people with all sorts of allergies without even a sneeze.  Anyone coming to our house risks anaphalaxis.

 Our back yard goes up hill. Straight up hill and is covered with bushes. There is a patio area out back that we enclosed with lattice walls and laser light roof so it is possible to go out back. There is also a sloping front yard. My dogs play frisbee there and I sit in a lounge chair that is angled like a child's playground slide. I want to scoop out an area of front yard and make it flat so I can sit on a chair that is level.  I'm hoping I might get some ideas from this book.

This is an audio book.  I checked it out because I have never read anything by this author and thought it might be fun to listen to a bit of something classic. I enjoy classics in the audio format as long as it is completely unabridged. I do not like abridged books.  We'll see if I get to it or not. It's only 5 discs so not many.
 I just heard the best interview on tv the other day on ABC Tuesday Book club that is aired on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting).  I thought as I haven't read Ian Rankin I might have a listen to this, time permitting. Also my husband T. goes to the gym and is always looking for things to listen to as he walks the treadmill so this might be the go.

Same thing with this book. For the gym workout as T. really likes her. Laughs out loud.

Well that's the Loot for this three week period.  Now I only need to read these, listen to these and then finish the book group book and start on the book group book for July. Easy.  Especially since I'm such a very slow reader.  Will let you know how I go.

Get ready- Set- GO!