Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sweet Things That Happened During the Week

Last week was a pretty good week. I was able to get out and about and noticed a few really lovely things. Hope your week was okay too.

I went to the library and because I got a good car park I was able
to take time for a cup of coffee in the library cafe.  Notice how coffee 
always plays a part in my "sweet weeks" ?

I went to the garden store and bought some colour
to give to my little Buddhist monk I have in the back patio
area for Easter. I thought he looked most Easter-y.

This is the coffee shop we meet at in Eastern Hobart. It is called
Moto-Vechio and they have restored motorbikes around the
edges of it. Old tables and chairs and big couches to sit on.
They also give our Ulysses motorbike club a 10% discount.
We stop by here before our midweek fortnightly rides to socialise.

Back in town again I was walking back to the spot I had parked
my motorbike and between two large buildings this tribute
to Antarctica was on display.  I forget that there are sculptures
around the city at different points celebrating Mawson's adventures
and Antarctica.   Hobart is the last point south in Australia before
you get to Antarctica and we are known as the Gateway to Antarctica. 
Many of their big ships come here. I love these penguin sculptures. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening - Thoughts

Well Easter is over in Australia and it was a pleasant, quiet day. With all our family overseas we don't usually do much for the holidays so we talked about holidays and read all day.  Did I mention too I ate a Lindt chocolate rabbit?  That was really nice.

The book of the day was Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening. I read it in a day.  It is a true story by Carol Wall and the title sounded so appealing. Carol lives in Virginia with her husband. Her children are grown and have moved away. She has battled with cancer in the past and worries all the time it will come back. Neither she nor her husband are gardeners and one day she realises how ragged her back yard finally looks.

She sees her neighbour's garden bloom and grow under the fine hands of Mr. Owita. Mr. Owita is a Kenyan refugee, highly educated along with his wife Benita but they cannot find jobs equal to their education because of the prejudices that abound in the community.

However he works at the local grocery, in the garden shop and in people's yards. He is full of wisdom and his quiet manner is quite endearing to everyone who meets him.  Carol hires him to work his wonders in her garden and there the story begins.

I didn't enjoy Carol's role in this book. She irritated me to no end. She won't irritate everyone but she did me. I am a type of person that deals well with crisis then crashes about 3 weeks later for a day then gets over it. Carol is a worrier. She is anxious about everything and feels the whole world is out to get her in one way or another. That just got on my nerves after awhile.

Her battle with cancer is real and would be difficult under any circumstance. But she thinks and talks about it all the time. She talks about it to anyone who will listen and Mr. Owita gets the full brunt of it. The Owita's have their own burdens to bear, having left their daughter in Africa and trying to get her to the USA.  Carol is interested in their lives but to me it always seemed as if it was after she had talked about herself and then she asked about Lok, the daughter. There are other issues in Owita's life that are very serious but of course she doesn't  know that but the reader can figure it out from Mr. Owita's manner. It seemed to go over Carol's head. She also seems to pride herself in her racial tolerance and I would have preferred if she had just talked about Mr. Owita and his wife as people not so much as black people.  We all have our own struggles.

I enjoyed the Owita family very much but there was a secrecy about Benita that was alluded to that I didn't think ever evened out.

The gardening aspect of the book was wonderful and I enjoyed reading about the transformation of her garden. Carol is also dealing with ageing parents and this is difficult for her and she writes of the relationship with her parents which I also enjoyed.

Germaine Greer wrote somewhere once that a person, once over the age of 50, should not have body parts in their conversation because they will be dead boring.  This is a premise I try to stick to with my friends and we laugh about it as at times it is quite difficult to do.

This is probably why I found Carol so annoying because everything she talked about was gloom and doom. Maybe it was because of the book. This is her first novel and it is obvious her health is a big concern to her. I sympathised with that but I have always believed you acknowledge your health problems but keep moving on and doing those things you enjoy.  Talking about all the ramifications and what "might" happen is useless.

A lot of people will really enjoy this book but I'm afraid there were bits I loved but balanced with bits that made me want to slap Carol with a wet noodle.

I loved that I could sit on the couch all day and read a book though and eat chocolate.  That alone was worth the entire day.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Bookish Questions for a Friday

Thanks to Simon of Stuck in a Book for these questions. He did a post sometime back that had more questions but I thought 10 were enough.

10 questions about reading

1. Favourite childhood book?
My favourite childhood books were a series of junior biographies in the Grand Ledge, Michigan library about inventors and explorers. I learned about Madame Curie, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and many others. I read the entire series but don't  remember how many there were. I also loved the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew mysteries and Trixie Belden. I loved strong stories about girls doing adventurous things. Old dog stories such as The Incredible Journey (I loved) and those dogs that did heroic things like saving people from fires or finding lost children.  The more I think of those books the more I remember.
2. What are you reading right now?
I'm reading a few books right now. I'm into The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers for our May book group. I'm listening to a series of short stories by Emma Donaghue - Touchy Subjects on audio book and I've just started a non-fiction book called A History of Armchair Travel by Bernd Stiegler that is about 18th and 19th Room Travel. (More on that later I hope).
3. What books do you have on request at the library?
I have a few books on hold at the library but some have a bit of a waiting list on them. One is The Magic Toyshop which I will read in June for the Angela Carter challenge. Also there is  Orange is the New Black, A Year in a Woman's Prison; another Emma Donoghue, Frog Music; and Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton. I don't know why I reserve books at the library but I do. I may or may not get a chance to read the many others I have but I just love going to the library and getting a pile of books to look through. I read some, others I skim, others go back.
4. Bad book habit?
Ha! Me?  Probably starting too many books at once. I generally have about three or four on the go and that can prevent me from not finishing any of them.  But if it really grabs me then I will finish it.  I just love being surrounded by books. 
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
I have two books by Emma Donoghue, Room is one of them and the audio book Touchy Things. I also have Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall. All of them look interesting. 
6. Do you have an e-reader?
Yes, I have a Kindle Fire but I mainly use it when I travel or go camping or somewhere on my big scooter because it is easy to pack.  I can also check emails on it when I am away. I still prefer real books to it but the e-reader is good for out of print books, Gutenberg like stuff and Amazon's cheap deals.  So I do see a place for both e-readers and real books. 
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I think I have covered this questions. I often have a book of fiction and non-fiction going at once and maybe an audio book. They seem separate enough that I don't get them mixed up but if I try to read several books of fiction at once it is a total failure. 

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Absolutely they have. I read my favourite blogs almost every day.  I keep up with a number of them and am always inspired not only by what people are reading but what they do in their daily life. So my favourite blogs are those that talk about the walks they take, the bookshops they visit, their travels, books they read and their pets.  Quite a few people are really interesting and they inspire me in many ways to get out there and read and do things and visit places. I also like the things they cook. Those blogs are perfect when they cover more than just one thing. I'm reading more and learning about authors I didn't know about. The blogs covering translated fiction are very interesting. There are so many genres of books and it is just so much fun learning about all the new books and old classics.9. 
9. Least favourite book you’ve read this year (so far)?  
I have enjoyed all the books I have read this year. I don't go through books as quickly as a lot of people do so if I'm not enjoying it by 60 to 100 pages I generally stop and go to something else. Life is too short to read books you don't enjoy.  
10. Favourite book you’ve read this year? 
So far it would have to be The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCuller's as I love the characters and the locale so much. Another one is Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being.  Also I have read a couple of vintage Penguins that I have enjoyed about Captain Hornblower. I am pretty easy with books. I am not as discerning as some people and like I said I am open to reading anything. I'm generally a good natured reader. her hee.
Well I hope everyone has a good Easter weekend whether you go to church services or just eat a lot of chocolate while going away or lying around the house resting up and catching your breath.   I hope you enjoy the break.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Old Dog Barks Backwards - Ogden Nash

Published 1972

Last week I began the Monopoly Board challenge. It is just a bit of fun and I have linked it to my huge TBR pile of books in the front room library.

When I shook the dice from Random.org I ended up on Oriental Avenue.  My assignment that I chose to accept was to:

Read a book with a mostly white cover OR a book whose title starts with O OR a book set in the Orient OR a book by an author whose first or last initial can be found in “ORIENTAL”

This book not only has a white cover, it was unread and the author's name and the title begin with the letter O.

Ogden Nash is an almost forgotten figure in the book world. I remember reading his poems when I was a young person in junior high school and at the time I can remember thinking he was fun. No doubt I bought this book somewhere along the line in the name of nostalgia.

Ogden Nash wrote a lot of nonsense verse that satirised social types that he observed. He was a great observer of life. A little known fact about his family is that an ancestor, General Francis Nash gave his name to the city of Nash-ville in Tennessee. *

Ogden was born in 1902 and died in 1971. 

He was a great one for knocking language out of shape and making wisecracks with it.  His comic verse is pointed by rhythms that become funnier the more strained and tortuous they are. *

He did quite a lot of free lance work and finally became a staff member for New Yorker magazine in 1932. 

This book is an assortment of verses throughout that make statements about all kinds of social situations and people from times gone by.  I enjoyed reading through this book.  It reminded me of a time of growing up in midwest America and the gentleness that I remember the small town I grew up in to be.

I imagine many people would think his poetry is quite simple and dated by today's standards but I quite enjoyed it.  It was fun visiting an old school book of authors we studied in the 1960's.  

I have always enjoyed American poets and although Longfellow and Whitman were my favourites I do remember seeing Ogden Nash's short verses throughout some of my English textbooks.

This book was very much like visiting an old friend.  

*A History of American Lit by Richard Gray.  
So before I leave you here I'll post up a couple of his poems and hope you too enjoy them.

Family Court  
One would be in less danger
From the wiles of a stranger
If one's own kin and kith
Were more fun to be with.

To keep your marriage
brimming, With love in the 
loving cup, Whenever
you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, 
shut up.

If you don’t want to work
you have to work to earn
enough money so that you
won’t have to work.

A Lady Who Thinks She is Thirty
Unwillingly Miranda wakes, 
Feels the sun with terror, 
One unwilling step she takes, 
Shuddering to the mirror. 

Miranda in Miranda's sight 

Is old and gray and dirty; 

Twenty-nine she was last night; 
This morning she is thirty. 

Shining like the morning star, 

Like the twilight shining, 

Haunted by a calendar, 
Miranda is a-pining. 

Silly girl, silver girl, 

Draw the mirror toward you; 

Time who makes the years to whirl 
Adorned as he adored you. 

Time is timelessness for you; 

Calendars for the human; 

What's a year, or thirty, to 
Loveliness made woman? 

Oh, Night will not see thirty again, 

Yet soft her wing, Miranda; 

Pick up your glass and tell me, then-- 
How old is Spring, Miranda? 


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Sweet Moments To Get Me Through The Week

I think this subject will become a regular because it makes me look for loveliness during the week and reminds me there are many things that may be simple, but make me happy.
I hope others will join me and Dolce Belleza in this endeavour because being mindful of good things when they happen can't be a bad thing.

Monday our book group met at Fuller's Book shop. It meets in the evening and when I get there early I am able to roam around the closed shop and look at all the books for sale. They really are beautiful.

In the evening when things are hectic putting the house to bed Eddie makes me smile once he goes to sleep.

Who can resist a sleeping kitten?

One day last week I took myself into the city and walked around looking at clothes, books and bedding. Winter is just upon us and who can resist beautiful bedding and wonderfully warm pyjamas. So I did a bit of shopping and then I took my bags into a coffee shop and relaxed.

I wonder what I will experience this week.