- Time to say goodbye to 2017 and look at the results:
Most looking forward to 2018 – #DealMeIn2018
- Jay host a refreshing challenge each year.
- It give me the opportunity to read short stories
- …and essays!
- I will be joining his challenge for sure!
- I will be making my ‘to read list’ soon!
My favorite of the year – #AusReadingMonth @Bronabooks
- …here is the reason why: ‘Wrap-up AusReadingMonth’
Most difficult: #HLOTRreadalong2107
- Read-a-long @Brona’s books
- I decided to leave my comfort zone and read all 4 of Tolkien’s books.
- Brona had to nudge me along at times…but I did finish the books!
Most fun –The New Yorker Magazine
- I tried reading the New Yorker Magazine the week it arrived!
- I failed miserably (read only 5 issues since June 2017).
- But is was the most fun….because I never knew what I would read!
Most intoxicating – Cocktails and Literature
- I stumbled upon National Daquiri Day this summer.
- After some investigation I found more links between
- …cocktails and writers and even WWI weapons!
Most disappointing – Modern Library’s Best 100 Novels List
- I had high hopes for this challenge.
- Some of the choices
- …I doubted if they were worthy to be on the list!
- I read 20 books and enjoyed only…4 (20%)
Most surprising – Read Ireland challenge
- Again, I stumbled into this challenge via
- …the History Book Club group on Goodreads.
- I throughly enjoyed Irish plays, non-ficton, fiction!
- No one can tell a story like an Irishman!
Most work – Nobel Reading Challenge
- I started this challenge 3 years ago.
- Every chance I had I searched for a new book for this list.
- Now, sadly, I just cannot find the enthusiasm I once felt.
- I ‘m afraid this challenge will be dropped in 2018.
- There are too many other genres ( poetry) I want to discover!
Here are my top 5 in 3 catagories:
- Cloudstreet – T. Winton
- The African Queen – C. S. Forester
- The Slow Natives – T. Astley
- The Dry – J. Harper
- Bleak House – C. Dickens
- Milligan, L. – Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell
- Franklin, R. – Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
- Lamb, K. – Thea Astley: Inventing Her Own Weather
- White, R.C. – American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant
- Meade, M. – Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This
- This ends three weeks of ‘reading anything I like’.
- After an intense #AusReadingMonth in November
- ….I needed to take a break.
- I slapped on my apron and have been cooking one great dish after another!
- Now I must get back into my reading chair.
- Today I will choose some challenges for 2018 and my reading direction.
- There are a lot of choices to make today!
- Now this last poem by Australian Bronwyn Lovell was the perfect ending.
- I managed to memorize Emotional Astronomer.
- Wishing all readers, visitors and bloggers a very Happy New year 2018 !
Read poem: Emotional Astronomer (Browyn Lovell, Australian)…but at 0300 AM this morning. I awoke and could not fall asleep and managed to memorize the poem. Then I slept for another 5 hours. My brain absorbed Lovell’s words like a sponge. I discovered the FORM made memorization easy! Each phrase starts with a verb 3rd person present….except for the last line.
- cares for telescopes like mechanical pets
- camps out with cameras and an aching neck
- tints torchlight, dims his van brothel-red
- waits for the Earth to move, the moon to set
- props a director’s chair for the fade to black
- can’t factor his children’s resentment
- accepts the conditions, won’t ask the sky why
- will not love a nebula less the tenth time
- gets teary at a clear viewing of Alpha Centauri
- feels things to which his wife won’t relate
- needs no chart to plot the now fragile arc
- of a retired accountant’s amateur star—
- knows meteors will rain down consolation:
- Jupiter a river pebble, Saturn a silky stone
- I wanted to learn the meaning of this line
- …why did it differ from the rest of the poem?
- I started to look into meteor showers
- …and found that the gravitational pulls of
- Saturn and Jupiter might combine to
- ….cause spectacular meteor showers.
- Meteors are fragments of ice and rock.
- Now I see how Lovell used this information
- to give the poem a surprising sense of closure
- that satisfied this reader….after some investigation!
….Time to slowly leave the kitchen and get back into my reading chair.
Update: 25 December 2017
Read: The Dublin Review: 4 issues per year containing first-rate writitng from Ireland and elsewhere. Essay: The Tourist and the Journalist by D. Ralph (Ass. Prof Sociology Trinity College, Dublin).
Read: Path to Power (R. Caro) I’ve been listening to the 1st vol of Caro’s award winning biography series about Pres Lyndon Baines Johnson. Started on 06 Dec and hope to finish this week. I am surprised how little I know about this man.
Finish date: 25 December 2017 On Elizabeth Bishop by C. Tóibin
Review: Biography, analysis of Bishop’s poems, and her world (trauma losing her parents, childhood in homes of family, friendships male (R. Lowell) and female (Lotte, Marianne Moore).
The fact that the world was there was enough for Bischop and she describes all that is around her. This was her defense…. so she can avoid descriptions of herself. #MustRead if you are interested in Elizabeth Bishop’s poems.
Read: On Elizabeth Bishop (C. Toibin) – biography, analysis of some of her poems, and descriptions of Bishop’s world so she can avoid descriptions of herself. #MustRead before I try to read Bishop’s poems.
Read: Bishop’s poem “North Haven,” her elegy to Robert Lowell. In six, five-line stanzas the poet composed a masterpiece of remembrance that stands among the finest evocations of a Maine island ever written.
Read: The Sun December 2017 (ad-free independent magazine, stories, poems, interviews, essays) – Read short story Believers by Kate Osterloh. I found this short story…a bit too long! Not especially interesting to me. 15 ch each alternating about ‘HE’ and SHE’. Narrator is flat, detached and not one line of dialogue. in comparison to Dave Ralph’s essay which I loved…this was a boring read.
Read: short story by Poe Ballantine. He is a fiction and nonfiction writer (1955) known for his novels and especially his essays, many of which appear in The Sun. This short story that was very entertaining….a bit more polished than Believers. Poe Ballantine wrote Mining the Lost Years. I liked this quote: “ Mining the lost years….or how to take the dirty coal of your life (breakups, breakdowns, shattered dreams, sickness, death, misdeeds, indiscretions and other ringing failures….and compress it into diamonds!”
Read: Poem by M. Cochrane Stage Four in The Sun. The form is 37 lines with no paragraph breaks. I see that Cochrane uses ‘ I believe…” repeated 6 x . I will read the poem with these words as a ‘mental break’ (lines then divided 4-15-4-4-10). Cochrane lists so many things he believes in (therapy , mindfullness, holy water and the saints….etc) but the powerful ending made the poem worth reading! It is what the poet makes us as readers think of ourselves. I remembered my own ‘lemonade small business on a summer street curb’!
( good feeling!)
Mick Cochrane is professor of English and Lowery Writer-in-Residence at Canisius College, where he has three times been named Peter Canisius Distinguished Teaching Professor.
Update: 26 December 2017 – reading The New Yorker 18-25 December
Update: 27 December 2017
Read: poem Emotional Astronomer by Bronwyn Lovell in Australian Literary Magazin Meanjin and the poem spoke to me instantly. She has been shortlisted for the Fair Australia Prize 2017 . There is something unique, something hidden in the images….something but have not been able to put my finger on it yet! This one needs more reading and thinking. Bronwyn Lovell’s website.
- Wordsworth believed that the poem is the record of a great emotion,
- …later ‘recollected in tranquility’.
cares for telescopes like mechanical pets
camps out with cameras and an aching neck
tints torchlight, dims his van brothel-red
waits for the Earth to move, the moon to set
props a director’s chair for the fade to black
can’t factor his children’s resentment
accepts the conditions, won’t ask the sky why
will not love a nebula less the tenth time
gets teary at a clear viewing of Alpha Centauri
feels things to which his wife won’t relate
needs no chart to plot the now fragile arc
of a retired accountant’s amateur star—
knows meteors will rain down consolation:
Jupiter a river pebble, Saturn a silky stone
- Between grocery shopping and cooking…
- I’ve litte time for ‘ sit down serious reading’.
- Here are a few snippets, thoughts while making pumpkin pie (Mom’s recipe)
- and …mushroom lasagna! (Cookbook Plenty by Y. Ottolenghi)
- #SNAFU in the Xmas kitchen….chilled dough ready for pumpkin pie
- …. and I can’t find my rolling pin!
- PS: I can eat Pumpkin Pie for breakfast!
- This dish took me 4 hours to make:
- 4 different cheeses – béchemal sauce – chop 2 lbs mushrooms + 15 onions
- pre-soak lasagna pasta….and then put all this together in layers!
- I deserve a ‘y-uuuge’ glass of wine after this culinary extravaganza!
- Ready for the oven….XMAS Mushroom Lasagna!
- I used every frying pan, dish, spatula and bowl in my kitchen
- to make this…I’m exhausted!
- Happy Holiday!
UPDATE 17-18 December 2017
- Read: ISLAND magazine (nr 151)
- This is a Tasmanian Literary publication sent to me all the way from Port Hobart!
- Read: editorial by Geordie Williamson
- Read: poem Munchian O by Mededith Wattison.
- Re-read the poem Munchian O this morning with my coffee: ..it makes very little sense to me except the allusions to E. Munch ‘The Scream‘ and Bruegel’s ‘Landscape With the Fall of Icarus‘. I’m sorry …I really tried to like it!
- Read: personal essay by Erin Hortle “How Do You Make Them See You Belong” (feminist issues in the middle of Tasmanian surf culture). This essay was so-so….issue seemed trivial to me. Erin is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill in my opinion…but it is important for her.
- Read: The Writer at Present Interview by Benjamin Law with author Heather Rose.
- She is the winner of Stella Prize 2017 book: the Museum of Love Modern Love. She describes her journey while writing her prize winning book.
- Read: 2 personal essays by husband and wife team on their decision to move to Tasmania from Melbourne. These were excellent personal essays by Damon Young and Ruth Quibell.
Film: finished short series HBO The Young Pope (Jude Law nominated Golden Globe 2018) ..I spent 6 hours watching the last episodes and enjoyed it but felt still as if I was wasting my reading time. Watching films and series on HBO or Netflix just feel like a ‘sugar buzz’ and later I come crashing down. On the other hand…books keep me afloat for days.
Read: The New Yorker with the new app “The New Yorker Today”.
Daily shouts: Xmas grocery shopping/cooking got you down? #JoinTheClub
But I have just been jolted into ‘Ho-ho-ho” spirit @NewYorker “Life Hacks for the Reluctant Home Cook” (@tasneemraja) Tasneem Raja’s article has given me #CulinaryShame “Astronauts in space find time to make their own stock. What’s your excuse?”
Read: Meanjin – an Australian a literary magazine
- Essay: Two Fires by T. Birch – winner of the P.White Award 2017
- He is the first first indigenous writer to win the Patrick White Award
- His newest novel is Ghost River (2015)
- A collection of impressions and people Birch met during a
- 2 week residency in Canada, Banff Cenre for Arts and Creativity
- …and Christmas Hills Readers and Writers Festival 2017.
- The history of a stolen generation in Canada…sound haunting.
- Tony Birch makes many comparisons (CAN vs AUS) and its history
- …of dispossession and attempt to destroy the indigenous peoples.
- Essay was very readable but did not ‘wow’- me.
Read: Quarterly Essay, vol. 68; White, Hugh, 28 November 2017 (Australian)
This is worth the time it took to read….2 hrs!
- Essay: , ‘Without America: Australia in the New Asia’
- Hugh White is Professor of Strategic Studies
- ….at the Australian National University.
- Stop assuming that USA is going to dominate Asia forever
- Stop assuming that USA will keep Australia safe.
- China is now so strong and ambitious that USA under Trump..so weak
- that USA will cease to be a significant player in Asia.
- Australia must prepare itself for this transformation.
- I loved White’s explanation of two world powers put their rivals to the test!
- “classic power-political salami-slicing”
- “…each slice of the salami might be insignificant,
- Washington looks weak if it can’t or won’t stop China taking
- …one slice after another, and China by contrast looks strong and resolved…”
- “Rex Tillerson has proved to be the worst secretary of state in living memory,
- ….and the overpraised General James Mattis in Defense
- ….has failed to bring coherence to the administration’s strategy.”
- Who would have thought that Indonesia will be a
- ..VERY POWERFUL country, second only to China?
- Thank you, Hugh White for opening my eyes….about China and Indonesia!!
- I think TRUMP should put this essay
- ‘Without America’ in his bedside night table….
- …his TBR!!
- 40 years ago Australia managed a ‘post-alliance’ transition with Britain.
- Now Australia’s task in the next few years will be…doing the same with America!
- China’s rise is a fact and isn’t going away.
- This will require Australia to rethink a lot of things,
- ….to make some hard choices, and perhaps
- …to pay some heavy costs.
- #ExcellentMustRead essay!
Pre- Christmas movies:
- Babette’s Feast ( Best Foreign Film Oscar 1988) – classic favorite
- Casablanca – classic love WWII story (3 Oscars – best picture, screenplay, director 1944)
- Going My Way – 7 Oscars 1944; Oscar for best actors B. Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald #MustSee
- Hail Caesar – picked this up at the library….don’t waste your time!
- Mr. Holmes – great actor Ian Mckellen…..despite this talented thespian the movie was boring!
Where are you reading your books?
- I took a long weekend to the Frisian Island Vlieland
- …and read my Australian books there!
- I took the boat trip (1,5 hrs) from Harlingen to Vlieland.
- The boat makes 3 trips a day to the island….
- Here is the boat arriving at Vlieland under a rainbow!
It was a chilly day at the beach….but a wonderful time to contemplate….how good life is!
Weather on the North Sea is at times…..dazzling!
…but we all know…the sun will come out again!
No island is without a lighthouse!
Tell us about the Australian books you’ve loved and read so far.
- I joined AusReading Month 5 years ago @Brona’s Books.
- I was clueless about the country and knew of only one author: Nevil Shute.
- Brona was there for me ….providing tips, book lists and suggestions to get me started.
- Now I can’t STOP reading Aussie!
Reading list: 2012 – 2017
Most favorite Aussie books: These books made a lasting impression on me
- Thea Astley: Inventing Her Own Weather (K. Lamb)
- All of T. Astley’s books:
- Girl With a Monkey
- A Descant for Gossips
- The Well Dressed Explorer
- The Slow Natives
- Birds Mind: Cognition and Behaviour of Australian Native Birds (G. Kaplan)…amazing!
- Past Carin’ – (Henry Lawson) – stop and listen to the poem….the hard life in the Outbush.
- A poem which records the lament of a bush woman whom hardship and tragedy have made ‘past carin’’
Past Carin’ (1899)
Well, up and down the sidling brown the great black crows are flyin’
And just below the spur I know another milker’s dyin’.
The crops have withered from the ground, the tank’s clay bed is glarin’
Yet from my heart no tear or sound for I have grown past carin’.
Through death and trouble, turn about, through hopeless desolation,
Through flood and fever, fire and drought, through slavery and starvation,
Through childbirth, sickness, hurt and blight, through loneliness and scarin,
From being left alone at night I have grown to be past carin’.
Our first child took in days like these a cruel week in dyin’,
All day upon her father’s knees or on my breast a-lyin’.
The tears we shed, the prayers we said were awful, wild, despairin’
I’ve pulled three through and buried two since then, and I am past carin’.
‘Twas ten years first, then came the worst, all for a barren clearin’,
I thought, I thought my heart would burst when first my man went shearin’.
He’s drovin’ in the great North West; I don’t know how he’s farin’,
And I, the girl who loved him best, have grown to be past carin’.
My eyes are dry, I cannot cry, I have no heart for breakin’,
Where it was in days gone by is empty dull and achin’.
My last boy ran away from me; I know my temper’s wearin’,
But now I only wish to be beyond all signs of carin’.
Past bothering, past carin’, past feeling and despairin’,
And now I only wish to be beyond all signs of carin’.
Least favorite Aussie books: I felt I wasted my reading time.
- The Magician’s Guild (Trudi Canavan) fantasy
- Georgiana Molloy: The Mind That Shines (B. Barry) non-fiction
- A Guide to Berlin (Gail Jones) fiction
- Weak point: the writing was repetitive, lacking creative imagery and just dishwater grey.
2. When you think of Australia, what are the first five things that pop into your mind?
- Sydney Literary Festival (May 2018)
- Nevil Shute
- Foster’s beer
- Dragonfly airplane (De Havilland)
- I would love to visit someday…but now only in books!
- What are the pro’s and con’s about travelling to/in Australia for you?
- ….long flight (con) …visit towns/places I’ve read about! (pros)
4. If you have been or plan to visit, where will you be heading first?
Australian fiction and non-fiction list:
- The Hate Race – M. Clarke
- The Other Side of the World – S. Bishop
- Portable Curiosities – J.Koh
- Dying in the First Person – N. Sulway
- The Redemption of Galen Pike – C. Davies
- Secrets Between Friends – F. Palmer
- The Eye of the Sheep – S. Laguna
- The End of Seeing – C. Collins
- The Neighbor – J. Proudfoot
- Talking to my Country – S. Grant (NF)
- The Art of Time Travel: Historians and Their Craft – Tom Griffiths (NF)
- One – Patrick Holland
- Seeing the Elephant – Portland Jones
- That Devil’s Madness – D. Wilson
- Soon – Lois Murphy
7. Which book/s do you hope to read for #AusReadingMonth?
- Aunts Up the Cross by Robin Dalton – NSW
- Power Without Glory by Frank Hardy – Victoria
- Salt Water – Queensland
- Cloudstreet by Tim Winton. – Western Australia
- A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute – Northern Territory
- Into the Heart of Tasmania by Rebe Taylor – Tasmania
- The Grief Hole by K. Warren – ACT ( author is from Canberra)
- The Element of Need: Murder and Memory in Adelaide by James Bradley – Southern Australia
- A Boat Load of Home Folk – by Thea Astley overseas setting (Pacific Island) – FREE
- Five?? only one Dingo
- Kookaburra ( …thanks to Gisela Kaplan)
- Galah ( …thanks to Gisela Kaplan)
- Shrike-tit bird ( …thanks to Gisela Kaplan)
- kangaroo desert rat (…thanks to Don Watson)
- I have no clue!
- I do remember the female PM….
- I can see her face, hear her voice….
- but the name escapes me.
- Gold Rush equipment ( Miners Gold Cradle)
Hope you enjoyed my thoughts!
14 October 2017
The autumn garden: (De herfsttuin)
- Heuchera Indian summer the most intense colors can be found in planters on the fence.
- These plants can even survive the winter!
- Pink Scotch Heather (heideplanten, Calluna vulgaris) is another sturdy winter plant
- …that will give the garden color.
- Chrysanthemums (bolchrysanten) (yellow and white)….my birthday flower!
- The other planters are filled with tulip, crocus, grape hyacinths bulbs
- …that will start flowering January through May 2018!
- Do you know how it feels when you give up ?
- I always thought I would never give up….but I did.
- After fitness training with a personal trainer for 7 years…..I stopped.
- At first I felt elated.
- No more aching muscles, no more pushing yourself to the limit.
- Then after a year….I felt my body change.
- I lost muscle strength and …gained a few pounds
- … and worst of all….I lost my drive to stay healthy.
- It took me another year to finally realize fitness is not an option…
- …it is a life long project.
- Since we all are living longer and at home….I have to keep fit.
- I cannot depend on others to lift heavy bags of cat litter
- …take out the garbage and do house- and gardening work.
- I have been inspired by many women …for example:
100 year old Ida Keeling who started running at 67….and is still running.
Read her story HERE.
82 year old garden architect Penolope Hobhouse
garden writer, designer, historian and lecturer….still works the soil 5-6 hrs a day!
Here is one of her beautiful creations!
Leontine van Moorsel: Olympic athlete (Dutch) and international champion
- At the end of 1993 and beginning of 1994,
- …it seemed Leontien’s career would come to a premature end.
- Health problems developed as a result of an eating disorder.
- Leontien tried to keep her weight down….particularly for the cycling climbs.
- Leontien was tired both physically and mentally —
- …it became the lowest point in her life.
- Then it changed when she met Michael Zijlaard.
- Michael was a competitive cyclist.
- He is credited with teaching Leontien to live healthily and eat properly again.
- They married in October 1995.
All these women are proof that age is just a number
- …and physical and mental strength can be achieved.
- Now I have decided to get back to my training.
- I know I can do it with the help of Sport Met Hart
- It starts today @home with 2 weeks walking, stretching
- …plank exercises, push ups and perhaps
- …later some jogging.
- My diet is varied and I am following the advice of Dara Torres.
- Her meal plan looks like something I can live with!
- It all starts with a different breakfast every day!
- My plan is on the kitchen counter….and I’m ready to go!
- I will keep you updated on my progress….because
- I know this is going to be tough
- …and it is going to hurt!
- It’s a summer Saturday afternoon.
- The sun is still warm yet I notice even now
- …the days are getting shorter.
- Time to continue searching for the perfect summer cocktail.
- I’ve added a new item to my home bar….ice crusher.
- It is the greatest little gadget!
- The Brandy Crusta was first created in the 1850’s by an Italian.
- Joseph Santini opened his ‘Jewel of the South‘ Saloon in New Orleans.
- The recipe has 4 basic ingredients + lemon juice.
- 45 ml brandy
- 14 ml Maraschino Cherry liqueur
- 22 ml Grand Marnier (or Cointreau)
- 22 ml lemon juice
- dash of bitters ( I used Fernet-Branca)
- I poured the ingredients in a wine glass filled with crushed ice.
- Others use a cocktail shaker..shake with ice, strain and serve.
- I prefer to leave the ice in the glass….to keep the drink cool
- …and not TOO powerful.
- The taste is exquisite…
- …a perfect after beach drink.
- Just sit back, sip and enjoy the sunset!
Illustration: M. Ulriksen in his book Dogs Rule, Nonchalantly
- Lists were my downfall in June.
- I was drowning in them…..trying to come up for air.
- After many weeks reading where my mood took me
- BARTENDING at La Floridita Bar in Havana (for Hemingway)
- CHASING a corrupt wheeler-dealer in New Jersey (CF)
- WATCHING history unfold during the Civil Rights Movement 1960-63 (history)
- TIME-TRAVELING back to the Middle Ages in the middle of The Plague (SF)
- …it is time to get back to some structure in my reading.
- Brona@brona’sbooks posted her LONG AND SHORT OF IT comments
- and now I will choose a few books from her lists…and start reading!
Waiting by P. Salom – shortlist Miles Franklin Award
Philip Salom is well known as a poet and believes this background helped create the mischievous narrator for his acclaimed novel Waiting.
Waiting revolves around four central figures. Big and Little, two of the world’s marginal people, live in a rooming house in inner Melbourne. Jasmin is from another world. She teaches semiotics at a university. Angus, the landscaper who ost his house in a fire in the Adelaide Hills.
UK Read :
Lincoln in the Brado by G. Saunders – longlist Man Booker Award
Now 58, Saunders has written four short story collections and one full length novel: Lincoln in the Bardo, which explores the short life and death of US President Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie.