Friday, 6 March 2015

T0 Kill a Mockingbird: Memories of an Earlier Time

Friday has rolled around and I really have no idea where the days go. This year, like last, seems to be whizzing by.  We definitely need a pause button once in awhile.

Sadly, our company has gone back to Canada but it is nice to get back into a bit of a routine again. The first week of the month is always busy as the Dog's Home Auxiliary meets the first of the month and we're doing a big BBQ on Sunday to raise money for the home. Then my senior's association meets for dinner and meeting the first week of the month. We deal with community and political issues that relate to older people. Then the local book club meets the first week of the month but I think I am going to give it up as I have now joined my Class of 68 (Grand Ledge, Michigan) book club and am having great fun with that. Also it is not quite so prescribed as the one run locally in our wonderful Indie Book Shop.

This week I have really enjoyed pulling out the book To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee for the GL Class of 68 book group and am reading it.
I have seen the film with the wonderful Gregory Peck (1962) in it several times but had never read the book. No idea how I have gotten this far in life without reading it but it is a great book. I mean, what can I say about it that has not already been said.

I am enjoying the children, Jem and Scout, their hardworking father, Atticus who is a lawyer in the depression south (USA) representing a black man, wrongly accused of rape.  The fall out for the children due to this case is as you would expect with several of the white townspeople not enjoying this situation at all. The racism is rampant.  I don't enjoy books with racism as the thought of it is totally abhorrent when people are simply trying to live their lives and those of different race, religion, creed just won't let it happen.  It is Scout (the young, about to be adolescent girl) and her older brother that bring the joy to this book.

Their neighbour Boo Radley, who never comes out of his house, is a constant source of curiosity and pranks and I remember living in mid Michigan in the 50's also having a house with an elderly lady in it who we were always fascinated with.

I remember Mrs. Wiseman. She lived alone in a neighbouring house in our small town of about 5500 people.  She walked with a cane, stared at the children as we played near her house and the odd thing was she attended every funeral in the town. There was probably a funeral about twice a week. She could always be seen walking to the funeral home, in her black coat and heavy shoes, leaning on her cane.  I don't think she knew all the people who had died but she attended their funeral.  Now as an older person myself it is quite sad as she was probably just wanting some social interaction but as 10 year olds in the 1950's it was a lot scarier to us.

I remember as 10 year olds my best friend at the time and I went to her front door, rang the bell and asked her if we could do some work for her.To raise money for the movies of course, which at the time was 25 cents for children and 35 cents for adults.  She invited us in, sent us upstairs to an old bedroom that was filled with newspapers and magazines and had us move them somewhere for her. I can't remember now. I remember we were overwhelmed by the old stories we saw on the front pages of the stacks of newspapers and knew those papers had been there since World War II and before.

Of course we were scared to death when we rang the bell on the porch, climbing the stairs was even scarier and we were convinced we would probably be locked into the room and no one would have any idea where we were.

We were old enough to know she wouldn't have eaten us.  I have no idea what had possessed us but we did live to tell the tale and tell the tale we did.

Those were the days, when our parents threw us out first thing in the morning during our summer holidays and didn't expect us to return home until dinner time that night. The freedom we had was wonderful and no helicopter parents for us.  Times have certainly changed but the book To Kill a Mockingbird certainly brings back those different, quieter times and I am finding the book very nostalgic in many ways.  Living in mid-Michigan in the 50's and 60's I never saw a person of another race until I left for university when I was 18.

Like Scout and Jem did others have these people in their neighbourhoods that they were fascinated with as children?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Sunday Wrap Up

The Travellin' Penguin had the very best weekend and almost lost his footing on this outdoor seat at MONA.

The month long visit of our Canadian sister (in-law) is at a close tomorrow with her trip back to Canada. We have certainly done the tourist thing while she was here. Now we are all exhausted.

The other day we went to MONA.  MONA is the creation of a Tasmanian man, David Walsh, who has travelled the world and made millions gambling. He has come back to Tasmania and built this underground Museum of Old and New Art and given it to the Tasmanian community. It has really opened our island state up to international tourism and is absolutely amazing. We spent the day out at the museum on Friday.

They have four levels, three of them underground of art displays. The modern art can be quite confrontational to some people but the traditional is also there. The building is made of sandstone from Tasmanian rock and is representative of stunning architecture on the River Derwent.

I have shared some of our photos from the day with  you.  Then on Saturday we spent the day with friends at the Salamanca market and I found the most wonderful sunflower. Sunflowers are my most favourite sunflower and I absolutely fell in love with it. You will too.
I hope you enjoy the travels of our Penguin and it inspires you to visit here one day.

MONA Museum Link:  here

Salamanca Market Link: here 

MONA on the River Derwent, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia  (Get there by car or ferry from city centre wharf)
All the walls are made of local sandstone. Tasmanian Rock
Well known artist Sidney Nolan's Aboriginal snake. This is only 1/3 of it and with person in forefront you can see how tall it is.  Each square is a drawing of a face or abstract art piece complete in crayon and dye. The photo does not do it justice.

A very large brain on display on the floor with windows looking inside. This is photo of inside of flashing moving activity.
A representation of all of the activity inside one's brain. Very busy.
A piece from an ancient Egyptian grave. Approximately 3000 years old. I love the etchings.
This San Francisco artist from California is obsessed with the works of Norman Mailer. It is enshrined in a salted base.

Outdoor sculpture of a cement truck. Very impressive with all the wires that comprise the truck.
A very modern car in a bubble plastic. Brilliant red.
A roomful of spider webs that have been spray painted with enamel paint of various colours and then transferred onto
a canvas and framed.  Interesting work.

There are many more exhibits but flash photography was prohibited and space does not allow them to be seen. There are more traditional arts as well as some R rated work.  You will see more on the web site if you are interested. MONA Cinema also has excellent programs screening. I discovered a large library on the bottom floor and people are invited to come in and peruse the books   with plenty of seating in the reading room. I will have to go out there one day and explore the library. 

Saturday we went to Salamanca Market and experienced sun, clouds, rain, lunch, cappuccinos and beautiful flowers. Enjoy this sunflower called the "Double Double Sunflower". I must find the seeds for it to try to grow next year. Stunning flower.


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Renewing Myself

As we have had family visiting from overseas this past month I have not read anything. February has been a washout book wise. That's okay though. As James mentioned in my last post on comments from James Reads Books I am busy living life.  That is certainly true and thank you to James for easing my guilt re: not reading.  I know, it happens.

We have participated in all manner of things. Sea planes, wildlife sanctuaries, restaurants, a movie, as well as a fast boat trip around the southern coast of Tasmania in a lightning and thunder storm, participating in a group "seasick-in" over the back railings. I'll leave it at that.

In the book world the Penguin black and white classics have arrived in Hobart. I have decided to get the set as it is the 80th anniversary of the publishing of Penguin books. Yes it is an indulgence and I won't be able to read them until 1 April because of the TBR challenge and I am determined to finish that.

Next week I begin To Kill A Mockingbird for the Grand Ledge Michigan High school class of 68 book group that started this month.  This has been great fun, catching up with several classmates I have not seen since high school. No I don't recognise their pictures now, we are all in our 6th decade and I cannot believe it. Some people look the same, others do not.  I can't believe we are all so old. We sure don't feel or act it. (Well not always anyway.)
Listening: I will finish up the Rosie Project.  I don't think I will bother with the Rosie Effect. It is a funny read but I get the gist of things now around Aspergers and having worked with many people on all levels of the Autism/Aspergers spectrum for so many years I think I'll move on to other reads.

I would like to get into the books on my shelves that contain the Penguin sets.  I have about 40 Penguin series/boxed sets and they are starting to draw me in to the boxes, saying "Me first, Please".

I want to do a big cull of my library too. I have been given so many books by people who know I collect Penguins but the books I receive are not the collectable ones. I have a couple of friends who have given me any book they find anywhere with a Penguin icon on it.  It is getting to be ridiculous.
(As part of the culling stay tuned for book giveaways- anywhere in the world.)
Before long I will have more than Penguin Publishing does. They need to move on to other homes and I think I'll start the Book Phantom project up in earnest again.

Well that's me for this week.  Company leaves next Monday. I have some routine household chores to catch up on, cleaning up of the library that has had a mattress and clothes strewn around it all month. Time to catch up with friends, meetings of my volunteer organisation, planning of holidays, bike rides and lots and lots of reading.  But what a blast of a time we've had this past month. It's been exhilarating and exhausting.

PS- Stay tuned for Travellin' Penguin who is now 3 dimensional. I found a great little Penguin on my tourism travels that looks so much like this little guy and I thought I'd take him on some of my travels and photograph him in various places. You know, kind of like the neighbour who steals your garden gnome and photographs him at the Eiffel Tower or a dude ranch in America.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Seaplane Trip up East Coast Tasmania

Books have kind of gone out the window though my sister in law seems to be able to get some reading done. She was able to finish Olive Kitteridge. I read this book several years ago when it came out and loved it. We also watched the BBC production of the mini series last week. We thought it stuck to the book pretty well and was very good. Frances McDormand was excellent as Olive.

She is currently reading Isablle Allende's book Maya's Notebook. She has another Isabelle Allende book coming up with her Canadian book group so this is a good introduction to Allende.

I am reading Pat Conroy's Beach Music still but it is dragging still. I think I will probably give it up and move to something lighter. I am finding it too hard to concentrate with days currently filled with activities of company.  It isn't often we get company down here in Tasmania as we are so far from everyone in North America so we tend to overdo it when someone does visit.  I'll be catching up with books in March.

Today we took a Seaplane trip from the waterfront of Hobart up the east coast of Tasmania to Wine Glass Bay in the Coles Bay area. Lonely Planet has named these beaches as the  number one beaches in the world. Can't get much better than that.

The plane landed at the beach and we hopped out of the plane, walked to the beach, had some morning tea and biscuits and then back in the plane for the return trip.  It was very misty out and the shoreline was absolutely stunning. I have put a few photos here.

We still have a couple more day trips to do before our sister/sister-in-law returns home. I hope we last that long as we are all exhausting ourselves with fun.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Back From Sydney- Company and Books

I had a good trip to Sydney. My sister in law was supposed to have arrived on the Wednesday from Canada and I was to meet her at the airport. However after a Canadian blizzard and then a plane with engine problems the flight from Toronto to Los Angeles was cancelled. The following day the flight from Los Angeles to Sydney was full and a seat could not be found so she finally arrived on the Friday morning.

As I had arrived on the Tuesday that left me with almost 3 full days to get into all kinds of book trouble in Sydney.  On the Wednesday I headed straight to Kinokuniya, which is a large, Japanese owned book store in the heart of Sydney.  For those visiting Sydney who have not been there before it is a large, lovely book store in the Victoria Galleries on George Street across from the Queen Victoria building.  Although the books are new I love looking at the large selection of art books, classic fiction, travel writing and Japanese inspired stationery and pens.

Their Facebook cover page

I probably spent a good hour or so just looking at all the books. There is a large section of Books about Books.  I love those books.  I found a wonderful book called "Books- Over 100 Top Ten lists" but more on that further on.

I also like to look at all the classic fiction. They must have every book on classic fiction known to man (new books of course). The have big racks of Penguins and Vintage and I love looking at all of the covers and series. Then I walked down to the travel writing section. There are books about people travelling in country by bicycle, camel, motorbike, walking, sailing. If you can move your body from point A to point B it is in the travel writing section.  I stayed strong and did not buy any as I have many TBR travel books of my own and I am participating the TBR challenge until 1 April.

Next stop was the stationery section. Beautiful Japanese papers, pens with ink of every colour, blank journals (don't you just love the myriad of blank journals on the market).  Then their is the art section which has art history, large coffee table books, graphic books on shelves that seem to not end, graphic arts and all genres of Japanese lit that I can hardly begin to comprehend.  There are some additional areas that are quite large of all books printed in Chinese and Japanese languages but sadly, not speaking or reading these languages I can only look at the covers.

The reference and academic sections also take a large part of the store and I spend quite a bit of time looking at the anthologies of writing from many countries as well as text type books about Australian Lit, American Lit, English Lit and literature books from many other countries.

It is a wonderful store to browse in. So far I had not been too tempted to buy any books. I promised myself I would go in with the attitude of simply browsing.

Then I saw this on the New Books shelves.

All book bloggers share a love of bookish lists.

This book has big heavy pages. It feels wonderful in your hands. There are so many illustrations of book covers. And there are over 100 lists relating to  Top 10 books. It was published in 2014 by Bounty Books which evidently is a subsidiary of Octopus books. I was not familiar with this publisher.  Okay, I picked it up. I also looked through it. Yes I also walked straight to the front counter and put my hard earned cash on the counter and they put it in a bag I bought (yes I saw it on the way to the cash register and it was love at first site. )

Have I read it yet?  No.  I am doing the TBR Challenge until 1 April aren't I. Did I read even one list?  Well I actually did. The book fell open to that page. Do you believe that? Yes I read the page about the top ten Enduring Romantic Heroes in Books.  I did have to know what kind of lists are in this book. According to the Table of Contents the lists revolve around the following categories.

Compelling Characters, Imagine That, Out of This World, Relativity, World of Books and Page Turners. 

It is rather vague but I have I even thumbed through to check out more of the lists? No, I am going to treat myself with this book on April 1. Then I will find a very comfortable seat and I will look into all 100 of the lists.  I might even find a challenge in this book of things to read for the second half of the year.

In the  meantime I continue on with Pat Conroy's Beach Music.  I have to admit I am not reading much this month. It is summer here. We do have company staying in our house and we are exploring Tasmania. We are eating, drinking and laughing our way around this great state of ours. We are filled with good Tasmanian red wine, soft drinks, cheeses, meats, fresh summer berries and produce. We try to read at night after days in the sun and on the road and all we can do is fall asleep.

We have visited the Wooden Boat festival down at the harbour that is held every 2 years. We have also had lunch at GrandVewe. It is a sheep dairy farm with a wonderfully modern restaurant where you can taste their variety of cheeses and then have a glass of wine, or beer or a great cappuccino, Devonshire teas and lunch as one looks over the river and the fields of green and sheep. It is truly beautiful. Photos of each are below.
Wooden Boat Festival- 2015

The view from the restaurant at Grandvewe

We will be forging our way through February quite quickly I think with many more adventures on the agenda. Tuesday will be a seaplane trip off the coast of the state so stay tuned as the Penguin does more travelling in his home state.