what I read in september 2011...

on Thursday, September 29, 2011

Can you honestly believe that it's the end of September already? I'm sure it was only February five minutes ago!
I feel like I've been a reading machine this month, and boy, it's given me so much pleasure. And it seems my 'make reading a priority' message last month resonated with some of you too. I'm really happy about that. Of course, all this reading hasn't done much for my writing practice! But still, I'll take my pleasures where I can get them.
So, here's this month's book list...ten tomes. I've even impressed myself :)
The Contest by Matthew Reilly - sci-fi thriller
The Secret River by Kate Grenville - historical fiction
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - fiction
Plan B, Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott - non fiction/memoir
The People on Privilege Hill by Jane Gardam - short stories
The Writing Book by Kate Grenville - non fiction
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote - fiction
Marrying George Clooney by Amy Ferris - nonfiction/memoir
Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey - historical fiction
The Tall Man: death and life on Palm Island by Chloe Hooper - non fiction

It was quite a mixed bag this month; a bit of science fiction (The Contest) which I normally don't read, but have to admit I enjoyed - it was a page turner but not particularly deep and meaningful! Not that there's anything wrong with that.
The non-fiction/memoir selection was a bit disappointing to be honest. Not bad, but I expected more.
The fiction books were all sensational and I would find it very hard to select a favourite. I really enjoyed re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird. It was required reading for my writing course and I loved it. It never grows old. I'd never read Breakfast at Tiffany's before this...how did that happen!  Kate Grenville is a brilliant Australian author and I love reading anything she writes, but this month the fiction pick has to go to another Australian, Peter Carey. His novel about two highly unlikely companions who travel to the new world is full of delicious detail and hugely fascinating characters. Loved it a lot and I especially loved reading about New York at its genesis.
But for me, the pick of the month was The Tall Man. The story of the death in custody of aboriginal man Cameron Doomadgee on Palm Island in 2004 and the events that took place after, including a riot on the island and the trial of Senior Sgt Chris Hurley, this is a book that stays with you. I couldn't put it down. It was interesting to read The Secret River earlier in the month, a story that told of a massacre of Aborigines in the early days of the colony...and two centuries later, the injustices continue. The book paints a sad picture of a remote community. I visited an aboriginal community on Cape York a few years ago and spent one of the best weeks of my life there. In that eight days I saw both the worst and the best and considered it an enormous privilege just to have been there, but that's a story for another day. This book is not an easy read in terms of the subject matter, but it is a must read in my view. A review of the book can be found here.
So there you have it. It's a long weekend here. Bet you can't guess what I'll be doing :)

top ten pictures from the week ~ 28 September 2011

on Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Surprisingly for me...
The Lake House - Creative Space Architectural Design modern kitchen
few words today...
just pictures...
bit knackered...and it's only Wednesday
enjoy possums :)

a restful weekend...and a thank you

on Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's Monday again, a day that comes around far too quickly for my liking. There was a time in my life that I lived for Mondays...sad but true. But not anymore. Nope, those days are blessedly gone. Quite often I have to work on the weekend. Not as in actually attending a workplace somewhere, but more a case of finishing something to meet a deadline that hasn't been able to be achieved during the working week.
But not this weekend. This weekend I did things just for pleasure, and it was good :)
Friday night was a movie, free, courtesy of a double pass win from the ACT Writer's Centre...the Fred Schepisi adaptation of the Patrick White novel The Eye of the Storm...brilliant stuff.
As soon as we stepped out of the movies I hightailed it across the street to a favourite bookshop The Paperchain in Manuka and bought the book. I haven't read Patrick White since the enforced reading of The Tree of Man in high school.  He's easier to read when you're a bit more grown up I've found. Loving the book. It's scary reading a book after you've seen the movie don't you think? There's almost always disappointment one way or the other, but it doesn't seem to be the case with this story. Movie and book are both excellent.
It was lousy weather on the weekend so I did a lot of reading and I even had an afternoon nap on Saturday. I never do that! It may have been because I was a bit exhausted after hoofing it around the Lifeline Spring Book Fair. I came home with a few pre-loved books...20 to be exact...but such a bargain, ending up at around $4 a book. Yep, definitely a bargain :)
A trip to the Grower's Market near my place on Sunday morning yielded the week's supply of baby spinach, rocket and coriander and some plants for my new veggie patch from Bunnings that I put together last weekend...all by myself with only a few minor injuries involving a concrete paver.
And hallelujah the wisteria is finally sprouting. About time!
And last week's poppies hung in there really well and can now be joined by this week's new bunch from the markets...seven bucks well spent.
Do you like ivy? I know some people don't, but I love it. My grandma's name was Ivy, so perhaps that's why. This has appeared over the courtyard wall and there's no way I'm getting rid of it. I'll just have to be vigilant and not sit on the bench for too long lest I be strangled by it!
And the orchid was disappointing this year...a bit ratty, but still lovely in all its imperfection.
And before I forget, because I can be such a lame-brain sometimes, a big thank you to Jennifer, the blog mistress over at A Sampler who gave me the versatile blogger award a few weeks ago. 
Please go and visit Jennifer...she's a writer and a reader (so you can see the attraction!), who, as she puts it "fled the film and TV industry a few years ago to give motherhood a second whirl...". Gotta love that!
I hope the week ahead brings lovely things your way.

soul food friday: a rare (and quite mild) rant

on Thursday, September 22, 2011

I can be quite opinionated. I won't lie. But I don't get on my soapbox much. Really, I don't. 
But yesterday I saw this...
and it really got on my goat; goats having horns 'n all.
In Australia there has been much recent debate after commentator Mia Freedman dared to say we shouldn't call Cadel Evans (Aussie winner of the Tour de France) a hero.  I agree with her, totally, although her timing may have been a bit off. Misuse of the word hero has long been one of my pet hates. To prove, I previously wrote about it here...
And while Jonathan Adler may be a design guru, and I dare say some will be ludicrous enough to call him a design 'hero', I really wish he or his marketing minions wouldn't use a word with as much gravitas as heroic to label a porcelain horn or three. Please leave it to describe acts of courage, which this is not, unless of course people hate them. If that's the case then I can probably think of a few other words, like dopey.
This hijacking of hero/heroine/heroic makes me crazy!
They are quite nice though, those horns :)
Have a lovely weekend while I put my soapbox away in the attic. Which I don't have. Wouldn't mind one though.

top ten pictures from the week ~ 21 September 2011

on Tuesday, September 20, 2011

You would think wouldn't you...
that because it's been two weeks since my last top ten...
I'd have lots of pics to share with you.
But, nope....'fraid not :(
Because the reason I haven't posted for two weeks...
is that I've been busy, busy
and have had to drastically reduce the old blog stalking time.
Sorry about that...
but I made it...
images seen on: a punch of color; brabourne farm; princess anne county; small space style; ada and darcy; casa sugar; the red thread; head over heels; apartment therapy

lessons from the 100 day challenge...

on Sunday, September 18, 2011

The 100 day don't buy anything I don't really need challenge is over. Here is my first post about the challenge where I tell you why I started this madness and here is the halfway point post where I 'fess up to a couple of small purchases in Bali. And I bet you're wondering what I've learned from the experience. Yes, I am too. But first, a recap...here's what I said I would give up buying for 100 days:
  • magazines 
  • books 
  • appliances
  • clothing, shoes and accessories
  • music
  • craft materials
  • anything decorative for my house
  • linen and towels
  • cosmetics
  • iPad applications
  • anything from an op shop that I don't need even if it is an absolute bargain and I'm helping a charity. 
  • wine (just kidding...!)
So how did I go?
  • Magazines: 2 in 100 days, but I did renew my subscription to Real Living last month and I feel fine about that. Magazines are what I thought I would miss most, but I haven't. Not really. Occasionally I'd linger over the magazines in the supermarket but the feeling soon went away. And there are always blogs, and a lovely friend did buy me a few as a gift, and I still haven't finished reading them :)
  • Books: ok, moving right along. I didn't buy books for maybe the first month but I couldn't manage for 100 days. I love books. Always have. Always will. Can't live without them. Therefore they fall into the category of 'need'. No guilt. Not a bit.
  • Appliances: apart from the kettle that blew up, a little electric mini chopper/blender/whizzy thing. I've used it and it only cost $20 so I think that's ok.
  • Clothing, shoes and accessories: nope, nothing. Now that's what I call impressive, although with spring and summer upon us that may change a little over the next few months.
  • Music: no
  • Craft materials: only the bits I needed for gifts I was making, which still aren't finished. Yep, I'm a great starter but finishing is sometimes a challenge :)
  • anything decorative for my house: no, except for the occasional bunch of flowers and I'd say that was perfectly justified!
  • Linen and towels: no
  • Cosmetics: well, it's like this. I was going incredibly well with this until a friend invited me to a cosmetics party last weekend. I think the products I bought will be brilliant but it's a bit too early to tell yet...I'll let you know
  • iPad apps: just the Blogpress one which I haven't used, so that may be justified in going into the things I didn't really need category
  • stuff from op shops: I went into a few when we went to Ballarat, but apart from a couple of books (see above) I've bought nothing!
  • wine: don't be crazy. 
And, what have I learned (and I'm not about to write an essay on consumerism...although I probably could...so don't worry!):
  • that I definitely have enough 'things' and I'm not in the least bit deprived (nor do I feel deprived, there's a difference) if I don't have more/the latest/or in some cases the replacement
  • that I'm becoming less interested in 'stuff' (except book type stuff...see above!)
  • that while I'm happy to go shopping with others I really don't have all that much interest in buying for myself these days (is this a sign of age I wonder or just an acceptance of enough?)
  • that in the early days of the challenge I used avoidance as a strategy (i.e. didn't go anywhere near shops, didn't open emails from shops, didn't follow links to shops on blogs). Now I don't need to avoid, but I'm just not all that interested to be honest
  • that when I do buy I think about it much more carefully. I ask myself do I really, really need it or do I love it so much that I will forever kick myself if I don't get it? And importantly if I do need it is this the best option, because for sure I have a lot of things in my house that haven't been the best choice. And if the answer is yes, then of course I'm going to buy it, provided it's affordable. It's not about not buying for the sake of not buying. 
  • that I've been surprised at the things I've said no to...they've mostly been things for the house...this has always been my weak spot (along with books!)...and unsuitable men ;)
  • that I really, truly love having a zero balance on the credit card statement
  • that 'things' don't make you happy (but we all knew that) and that some things make you smile every time you look at them...and that they are the things you know you've bought well...they are the things you would be quite correct in saying you really need :)
And during it all I found this quote, which sums up the experience quite nicely I think.
"Enough is abundance to the wise."
Someone indicated to me that Euripides also said "where there is no wine, there is no love".  I suspect that may not be an accurate quote, but I'm happy to go with it!
 Now, what will I try next I wonder :)
images: my clever girl; flickr; google images

turn your radio on...

on Sunday, September 11, 2011

I don't listen to the radio much. Mostly it will be when I'm in the car and occasionally on the weekend. And as a sign of I know not what, these days it's permanently tuned to ABC Radio National, not to JJJ or a commercial radio station as in days of old. Is this a sign of my age? Probably.
But I've heard some wonderfully interesting things in the last week and I'm determined to turn on the radio a lot more.  I've learned (or been reminded) that:

  • lifts are the most unsociable places you can find yourself in (there's a short story that's slowly, slowly taking shape in my mind about this)
  • people live in very small homes quite happily, and apparently the 'not so big' house movement is the antidote to the McMansions epidemic. But, Australian houses lead the world in size - double the size of a house in Denmark but also bigger than American houses - that really surprised me. And, get this...the amount of space we take up as individuals is equivalent to 2.5 tennis courts (that includes roads, housing, hospitals, employment). Hell, why aren't we all Roger Federer then? As a comparison, Parisians take up just over one court and Londoners a mere three quarters. Interesting.
  • there's much pleasure to be gained in listening to someone read you a short story...back to our infancy perhaps?
  • if you're planning to build a skyscraper don't bother with more than 50 floors - above this and you drastically reduce your return on investment (so glad I found that out!)
  • I'd really love to see the Aboriginal opera Pecan Summer, inspired by the first mass strike of Aboriginal people in this country - something I knew nothing about - shame on our education system.
  • losing weight is not as straightforward as we think - less calories, more exercise is only a small part of the solution; if you engage others in helping you lose weight you're more likely to be successful; and if you're an all or nothing, black and white thinker you're much more likely to regain the weight you've lost. Be flexible about the amount of weight you can reasonably lose seems to be the message. If only it were that easy :)
And there were a few wonderful hours yesterday morning listening to the live broadcast from the Brisbane Writers Festival. Are you a radio listener or is it the TV that turns you on? Or perhaps you're happiest with the wonderful sounds of silence?

image: 1; 2; 3

frozen moments in time...

on Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sunday is the tenth anniversary of the day that will forever, or for at least a very long time be known as nine eleven. And my heart goes out to all those who are still suffering. I remember exactly what I was doing and where I was when I heard the news...or rather, saw it on the tv. I bet you do too.
I also remember the details of the day Diana died, and exactly where I was during her funeral (on a supposedly romantic weekend away, with me refusing to budge from the tv coverage). Funnily enough that relationship didn't last but poor Diana wasn't the reason!
I also vividly remember the day of the first moon landing. We were sent home from school early to watch it because schools in those days didn't have tv...yep, I'm that old!
I can also remember overhearing my best friend Barbara's dad telling others what he thought should happen to the person who shot Bobby Kennedy. I won't repeat it here.
Closer to home the Newcastle earthquake in 1989 was a shock on a personal level. I was living in England and a phone call from the other side of the world delivered the news that a relative had been killed.
I don't really have a point in writing this post, other than to remind myself how extraordinary some events are, how indelibly etched into our brains they've become and how easy it can sometimes be to take ourselves back to those frozen moments in time. And I also wonder if horrible events embed themselves more deeply than the good ones. I hope not. What do you think? 
all images google images

top ten pictures from the week ~ 7 September 11

on Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'll let you in on a little secret
 on the night before a top ten post
chania's wonderful florida living room...love it!
which is when I put them together
I'm normally scrabbling around like a mad chook
trying to find just the right pictures
I usually don't have enough
and I get a bit stressed.
Not this week though :)
this week through some extraordinary and inexplicable alignment of the moon and stars
I had more than enough, and I've had them for days!
not only that...
there are two extras this week
and that's the way I like it...