Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Time for reading

It's been ages since I've done a book review, and look at this.... too many to remember... but I'll give you a very quick snapshot of where I'm up to. 

Victoria the Queen.. this is a big book. I haven't finished it by any means, but I am enjoying it. I'm at a new place in my reading life, and its actually ok to not finish something from start to end in one sitting and its ok to just read a little bit at a time.. this book is progressive so I'm just at the point when Victoria has been crowned and has a strong crush on her prime minister.. what happens next? I dont know yet... 

Perfect reading for when I was 2 weeks post op and pretty shallow in my thinking and concentration .. I actually devoured this light and easy story... a story of love, change, friendship and creativity. 

Also in my post op period, the improbability of love was a little more than an easy read, but also engaging. Its the story of a painting, sort of a who dunn it storyline. The painting even gets his own chapters.. its a novel full of characters, which can take some time to get to know,  but evetually i got into it. Love or not, i think the painting won.

  Something a little more meaningful, Pachinko is the story of a Korean family through the generations. Starting from humble beginings pre 1900 in a rural village, through the daughters eventual migration to Japan through the war years. Her new family and their struggles in a post war Japan, with no option of returning to Korea, they make a good name for themselves. Grandsons end up studying in  the US, returning to their famly base in Japan. A fascinating perspective on Japan... 

This is a collection on essays, and again something I'm just reading a bit of at a time. Its from  15 different writers who explore what it means to be black, asian and minority ethnic in Britain (but probably many other western nations) in todays climate. 

Ah, Lilly Brett.... I've loved all her books. Australian author, daughter of Haulocaust survivors, now living in New York... this is a collection of snippits from her life there. Funny and fast. Im mixing this up with the other more heavy reads I have on the go at the moment. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy places

Bush tracks - and listening to the wildlife...
Happy Places are special places that can transport you to your inner happy place. I have been very mindful of how blessed I am to have some wonderful happy places, and many quite close to where I live. As life gets busy, and routine becomes the normal, I am working at setting time in my life for happy places. Here I share some images from my happy places - and I notice, there are all out doors... this is who I am. I rarely find contentment from being indoors. 

I love being surprised by nature...

This is from a very famous and busy lookout in the Blue Mountains... regardless of the many busloads of people here, I do still love this view.

This is very close to my home, and I love to go and listen to the waves crashing along the shore

Often, it's the colours and reflections and tesxtures of a place that will provide me great joy....

            These pelicans also live quite close to me... and they are such majestic creatures that being in their presence just brings me joy

Sunset..... doesn't really matter where it is.....



Friday, March 31, 2017

The end of Time Out


My 'Time Out' is running out. I am incredibly lucky to work in a country that has good workplace relations regulations, and I work for an employer that has very good provisions for sick leave. So I have had the privilege (and I know that it is a privilege) to have had 6 weeks off work to concentrate on my physical recovery from a large surgery. What have I done with that time?
To mark the end, we visited the Blue Mountains and stayed in this gorgeous cottage 
Focusing on the physical, I have been doing my physio program (at home) 2 x day, walking every day aiming to increase my distance, time and pace each week, on the exercise bike 3-4  x week, and I've been going to the pool 4-5 x week for strengthening work and doing some laps. Returning to work will mean I will need to work hard to fit in the required training around my working and travelling hours.

When I haven't been doing my physical training, I have had to rest and recover.

Meditation and Colouring in

I've posted some of my colouring in here already. This has been a new discovery for me. Johanna Basford's colouring in book has been one of the first things I look at each morning. In the quiet hours of the morning, when others are sleeping, I've picked up my pencils and used this as a focused meditation.

Watching & Listening

So when reading wasn't working for me, I was able to watch & listen.... Podcasts, TV, Movies and Videos. Some of my highlights in this category included
  • Chat10Looks3 (podcast)- with Leigh and Annabel, two Australian political journalists who take time out of their working world to chat about the books they read, things they cook and the podcasts they listen to. 
  • Conversations with Richard Fidler (podcast) - Richard draws you deeper into the life story of someone you may, or may not, have heard about - someone who has seen and done amazing things. The episodes are daily, but if you go online you can listen to any of interest to you.. some I liked
    • Decca Aitkenhead and the unexpected love she found, and lost
    •  Mark Cross: Normalising mental health care
    • Sarah Brooker: The luck car accident which changed her life
    • A storytelling night from the world's greatest scientific minds
    • exploring the science of gut feelings.
    • American Political Analyst, Thomas Frank:A lively conversation about how the Democrats have got it so wrong
  • Missing Richard Simmons (podcast 6 episodes) - This was recommended by Leigh and Annabel (above), and I really enjoyed it.. 
 On February 15, 2014, fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared. He stopped teaching his regular exercise class at Slimmons, cut off his closest friends, and removed himself from the public eye after decades as one of the most accessible celebrities in the world. Nobody has heard from him - and no one knows why he left. Filmmaker Dan Taberski was a Slimmons regular and a friend of Richard’s. Missing Richard Simmons is Dan’s search for Richard - and the deeper he digs, the stranger it gets.

  •  The Good Wife - (TV Series) - This is probably old news to most, but I finally got around to starting this series. 
  • House of Cards - (TV Series) - Also old news, but my partner and I started to watch this together. 
  • The Girl King (DVD Movie) -  THE GIRL KING paints a portrait of the brilliant, extravagant Kristina of Sweden, queen from age six, who fights the conservative forces that are against her ideas to modernize Sweden and who have no tolerance for her awakening sexuality.
  • Bridget Jones's Baby (DVD Movie) - probably no need to mention what this is about... But it was fun.
  •  Hysteria (DVD Movie) - My sister sent this to me to watch and recommended Ii watched it with my visiting mother..... it was very funny..... Set at the end of 1880, the film depicts the invention of the vibrator.
  • Brokeback Mountain (DVD Movie) 
  •  Hidden Figures (Cinema)

Also, I have done some reading, (and I'll post my reviews in the next few days)... I've done some gardening (more on that soon too), and I've been truly spoilt with some wonderful friends taking me out, driving me to appointments, and just being with me. Thank you my lovelies.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Changing seasons

A few of the summer franginani are hanging on...

Summer herbs (basil) are thinking its time to flower and seed

And broccoli are coming into fruit with the changing night temperatures. 

Its March, and in the Southern Hemisphere, were moving into autumn. I love all our seasons, but Spring and Autumn are my favourites... they mark a change, a period of preparation. As a project manager, and a big picture thinker, these periods of preparation are important for me in both my professional life and personal. 

Its just three and a half weeks since my hip replacement surgery and, now well and truly over the hardest part, I'm feeling like my last few weeks of leave from work, and rehab period, are about preparing me for the next season... one were I can enjoy walking and riding and gardening again.. pain free, drug free. All the indications are good, but still diligence is required to ensure I comply with best practice in healing and rebuilding strength. 

While at home, I've been watching and reflecting on my garden, and its potential. This changing of the season means thinking about food, nourishment and preparing the garden for winter. I'm coaching my partner in order to get the winter veggies planted (as I can't bend over yet). We're motivated to get more food out the garden this year. Last year was really hampered by my physical capabilities. 


On our list of winter plantings are rhubarb, beans, spinach, kale, beetroot, leaks, and maybe even try out luck at potatoes this year.

So, what season are you in? And what does it mean for you? I'd love to hear your thoughts..

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Womens Day


Happy International Women's Day! March 8th, around the world, Advocates for Women's rights & equality unite in action to raise awareness. There are many many events occurring this week to bring women & men together to learn about this  issues, raise awareness & funds, to share successes and challenges. So, as I am not out and about at present (laying low on rehab), I thought I'd post some of my thoughts about IWD. I was encouraged to do this when I read this post

This is direct from the IWD website..

This is direct from the IWD website..
Use International Women's Day (IWD) on March 8 as an important opportunity to:
  • celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women because visibility and awareness help drive positive change for women
  • declare bold actions you'll take as an individual or organization to help progress the gender agenda because purposeful action can accelerate gender parity across the world
For me, its a time to reassess and focus. So I did a bit of a brainstorm of what came to mind when I think of IWD. I came up with 5 points of focus. 
  1. Its important to take time and effort to notice the power & influence women can have towards change. I thought of three areas to think about 
    • In small ways - i thought about how some women in my life modelled womenhood to me.. my piano teacher, school bus driver, my driving instructor, and my neighbour.  
    • In louder ways - i thought about those in the public sphere who can use their own position to affect change, like journalists, actors, authors and activists.  
    • And then theres the longer term ways - and I thought of people like Mother Theresa.
  2.  Another important aspect of IWD is the value of celebrating the contribution of women & men towards the goals of equality and fairness. Many of you know I support a girls school & hostel in India. I have to say a huge thanks to the number of men who help in that campaign. They do make a difference..  
  3. IWD reminds me to stay focused on looking for opportunities to seek out better fairness and equality for women.. its important to notice the wrongs, and act where I can, or support action if I cant do it myself.  
  4. I am often in awe of the internal strength and power of women. I know this is a characteristic of many women that sustains us. its important to celebrate that power 
  5. Finally, IWD, is a time for me to re declare, that I want to live out my life being the best woman I can be. 


Celebrating Love: My latest colouring in from Johanna Basfords, Secret Garden. 


Thursday, March 2, 2017

JLC 10 - book review - Malice - Hagashino


Malice is one of the bestselling—the most acclaimed—novels in Keigo Higashino's series featuring police detective Kyochiro Kaga, one of the most popular creations of the bestselling novelist in Asia. (Good reads). 

I read this just after Christmas, so there are some details I don't recall,  but I do remember that I enjoyed this mystery. Its a story about authors, murder and friends. Given I dont recall too many of the details, I will share this description from here
Malice is essentially a study of intellectuals doing their very nasty damnedest, and especially of the ambitions and jealousies of bookish persons. Osama Nonoguchi, writer of children’s books, discovers the body of a fellow author, Kunihiko Hidaka, in his locked office.  Nonoguchi admits he has been attracted by Hidaka’s beautiful wife, so we are soon made uneasy as to his reliability as a narrator, though, as a writer, he is naturally keeping an account of events.
What I do recall was how I felt when I was reading this, and I was intrigued. The story kept me on my toes, as I like a crime book to do, and yet as a crime novel, it was too gruesome or frightening. There was an element of mystery in this story, and I really didn’t know who done it until the end. 

As I read this as part of the Japanese Literature Challenge, I'd like to highlight some of the Japanese-isms I noticed. 
  • Cherry blossom features in the story
  • The characters know each other- it seems to me often in Japanese novels, the characters worked or went to school together. I wonder if that says something about the small or closed communities of Japanese society, or something aboit class structures?
  • There's plenty of etiquette in the ways Japanese people visit other peoples homes - bringing a gift,  making the announcement, and only staying for the intended purpose. 
  • The Japanese drink alot of whiskey. 
Again, I really appreciated the challenge set out by Dolce Bellezza for the Japanese Literature Challenge. I did enjoy this book, and being the person I am, I need the challenge set for me to actually get motivated to read. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

By Jahanna Basford  Image

While the past 18 months has been somewhat marred by an underlying pain and discomfort, I can see light in the future. I've had my hip replacement surgery, with an awesome doctor, and while still early days of recovery, I'm feeling very hopeful. Hopefully this will manage the arthritis, and free up my mobility, and see me back doing things I love to do (and more) in the new few months. 

In the meantime, I'm on 6 weeks recovery, and a little house bound.. what does one outdoorsy girl do when slowed down.... colouring in. I know this was all the craze about 2-3 years ago, but now is just the right time fore me. And I'm really enjoying it. 

When I knew I was going to have 6 weeks of work, which keeps my mind very active, and that I was going to take a break from my postvgraduate studies... i set myself a grand reading list... but had no idea that post operatively I wouldnt be able to concentrate. I cant even seem to get into a magazine or newspaper now. But this is perfect. 

And my other new adventure is listening to books. I choose my first audiobook from the classics. I dont recall ever reading this when I was a child, and felt sort of left out because, while I knew all the names of the little women, I actually didn't know the story. (I've decided I wont be officially reviewing this, as you've all read it,  and Im afraid my femeinist and modern views of christianity are quite different to those of Mrs March)... 

So, each day, in hospital and now at home, I've sat listening to little women, and coloured in. I felt like part of the family, joining in around the the fire, as Jo would write, and Beth would sew or knit, I'd be colouring in... and creating....



And when I was playing with my image to put on Instagram, I found that I could do this to my image... it is a fun way to pass the day.


Here is what has been said of secret garden, by this blogger...

There are other adult coloring books out there, but Secret Garden and its companion, Enchanted Forest, are probably the king and queen of the genre—in other words, something pretty special. When my book arrived, I was delighted to discover 96 pages of beautiful pen and ink drawings on thick, creamy paper. The drawings feature the flora and fauna of Basford’s home in rural Scotland. At the beginning of the book is a guide to creatures that are hidden within the detailed drawings. If you visit Artist Goes Outside The Lines With Coloring Books For Grown-Ups on the National Public Radio Web site, you can see some images from the book and listen to an interview of the author..

So, what this space, and see what is yet to come... I may even get some books read yet...