Thursday, 2 April 2015

Goodbye Ole Mate Brian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 27 March 2015

Library Loot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Parvana by Deborah Ellis (Young Adult)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Life still travels its hectic path..

I know when people retire they say they don't know how they had time to work. I never believed that. Now I do. It is past ridiculous.  Our sister who was here for a month went home and things are still as busy.

First off we have a very old dog who keeps throwing up health issues. Wally is making us go even grayer than we normally are. It is very hard when you know your beloved dog is going to pass on. He is pretty good now so fingers crossed for more time. The needs of the other 2 cats and 2 dogs we have continue. We love all that involves but it is busy.

I am reading a Michael Connelly book now. When harried I turn to crime.

I also have just signed up for a journaling class short course online through Monash University. It runs for 6 weeks with two assignments a week, some quizzes and a final exam at the end.

Then we won't talk about all the food and drink we had when the family got together. I now have a choice between a whole new wardrobe or the 30 minutes exercise program every day.

I must say I am well and truly tired of the TBR challenge. I have a few new books I am wanting to read but then I guess 1 April is not that far away.

We are having the last of summer days here and the weather is lovely lately. A few motorbike rides have been the norm.

During May we have a 6 week holiday coming up but more on that later. Getting everything booked for that is finally over and I am ready to take off now.

I am always amazed at how some of my blogging friends manage to read so much and then write so much about their books. I keep thinking our winter is around the corner and once our holiday is over I will have lots of time beginning 1 July. We'll see. I hope all of you are doing well.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Another Saturday- They Sure Roll Around

Saturday and a few things on for today. I stayed up last night finishing off To Kill A Mockingbird and then had to think about it all. I will never comprehend the racism that went on in the south of the USA. Were people really that ignorant? I guess so.

Today is a shop at the local discount department store. We are having a fund raising BBQ tomorrow in front of one of the major hardware stores to raise money for the Dog's Home Auxiliary. I am in charge of bringing 100 cans of soft drink.
We raise money to buy things for the dogs. I don't do volunteer work AT the dog's home because I bond with all the dogs as soon as I make eye contact so I joined the Auxiliary and just help raise money for them. Three dogs and two cats is enough and I don't need to "bond" with anymore.

I have to buy the drinks for the BBQ and of course the store that has the cheapest one wins.  I think I'll pop my Kindle in the car and listen to The Rosie Project on the way down. It is one of those books that has been hanging around and I am sure I have listened to the same passage a dozen times. Need to get on with it and finish it. So the Rosie Project is the goal for today.

I am sure I am the last person in the world to read it. It is about a man with Aspergers Syndrome who uses a spreadsheet to record the traits he would like a future wife to have. Of course it all goes haywire and he ends up with someone who does all of the things on his list he does not like.  Of course everyone already knows that as I said, I am the last person to read/hear this book.
It is a fun book to listen to but not worth spending the amount of time hanging around as has happened.

Why is it we just have some books we don't get through but they're still interesting enough to hang on to. I hope to finish this off today and put it on the shelf.

The BBQ begins at 8:30 tomorrow morning and I'll be done with it by noon (my shift anyway).  We hope to raise over a $1000.00 on this thing. Fingers crossed.

I think another thing on my list for today is to choose the next book I want to read. I am still working away at books on my shelf for the TBR. I think I'll try to choose something a bit different so stay tuned to see what it is.

I need to do a walk around the yard today and pick up all the branches that fell during the terrific wind storm we had the other night. As there is no land mass between Tasmania and the continent of Africa the winds really can fly over the Southern Ocean and hit us head on. We had a cold front come through the other night and winds over 100 km per hour were pushing off the mountain and slamming into our yard. Branches, lawn furniture and even bark from trees were flying around half the night. Only one of my dogs was a bit nervous about it and she kept getting up to look around a bit. It really is impossible to sleep when a heavy wind is around. Looking forward to a quieter meteorological weekend.

This is a three day weekend for Labour Day or 8 Hour day as it is sometimes called. Three day weekends don't affect me as they did when I worked but I still seem to like them. A good excuse and as Mr . TP is working on a friend's farm maybe I'll shut myself in with a reading stint of uninterrupted time.  I would like to get a couple of more books caught up, started and finished by the end of March.