Saturday, 29 August 2015

Nothing Literary But Had Fun with Cameras, Bob & WWII

Yes, I know I am behind with a post. It is way overdue.  I haven't read much that I thought anyone would be interested in though a couple of books stood out. They were both non-fiction and I enjoyed them.

First things first though.  I signed up with the Hobart Photographic Society. Wow! Are these people good.  I did photography classes ages ago in the 1970's but of course that was simply SLR.  Now it is SLR DSL. Not only do I need to learn the workings of my Canon 700D SLR but then there is the software.  Photoshop is silly to purchase for the amateur photographer unless you want to remortgage the house.

So I am using Photoshop Elements 13. It is a very good program and I have been taking You Tube lessons for the past two weeks.  Fortunately the lessons range from simple to complex and then I need to practise what I learn.  I am really interested in learning composite photography because then the Penguin can visit some of the locations of the books I read.

The two books I have read are A Streetcat Named Bob by James Bowen.  Non fiction- James is a down and out drug addicted, homeless, street musician going nowhere fast.
Then Bob, a lovely ginger cat shows up on his doorstep. Emaciated and sick.  They develop a wonderful relationship and sometimes this cat is so smart I had to check to see if he was really, well, real.

The story takes place in 2007. Now suddenly it has erupted online everywhere and the film is currently being produced. I googled it all and found they are still together.

James has turned his life around, thanks to Bob and amidst all the hype and glam it really is quite a remarkable story.  There are some tense moments when Bob disappears into the crowds of London street scenes but all ends well. I don't think I am giving anything away about the book because you would have to live in a cave to not know this story lately.  I admit though, I did read the last few pages to make sure Bob was alive before I started this book. I do that with all animal books. Don't want any nasty surprises.  World War II stories are okay with planes being bombed out of the air but don't hurt the homeless cat in London.

Speaking of World War II the more significant book I can heartily recommend is Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand. This was the choice of my Facebook Class of 68, Grand Ledge Michigan book for September discussion.
Lauren also wrote the true story of Seabiscuit.  I have not read that book but certainly know who Seabiscuit was.

Unbroken is the true story of Louis Zamparini and his immigrant Italian family in the USA. The time period is the first half of 20th century America.  Louis was the son in the family and was really nothing but trouble. But he had incredible experiences, those experiences that would kill most of us but he survived.

It started with his school days and stories of his thieving in the town he lived in were quite entertaining. Then he becomes an Olympic runner. Yes, just like that. From a chubby couch potato to Olympic fame. The first Olympics he was destined for were cancelled as it was 1940 and Europe was at war. No Olympics to be held in Germany that year.  He does compete in the following games after the war.

The majority of the book focuses on his days in the Pacific as a pilot during the war. There are lots of facts and figures about flights during the war and I admit I was very surprised at how many pilots and crew died because the American planes they were flying were as dangerous as the war itself.

Just when you think nothing more can happen to this guy it gets worse. Much worse.  I don't like war stories and I would not have read this book except for the group that picked it. It is very blokey.  It is very true.  It is an awesome tale and I mean that word for the definition it really is.

It is well written most of the time, the story moves right along and I felt like I was with him through all of his experiences. It really is an incredible book and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good war tale or a tale about inspirational, motivating people. This really is my least favourite genre and I loved it.

So.... I have been on the streets of London playing guitar with a cat, preparing for photographic challenges and flying over and in the Pacific Ocean over the past few weeks. Is it any wonder I haven't had time to catch up on these blog posts?

Good news to come though.... The Tasmania Reader and Writers festival is in two weeks and I have signed up for 5 events. I will happily share them with you and I am looking forward to it. There are authors coming from all over Australia and overseas.  It is my first festival to do with writing and it is going to be fun. So stay tuned. I will try to get photos too.

Anybody else in a war over the past two weeks???

Sunday, 9 August 2015

I Unveil My Vintage Penguin Book Collection

I have completely redone the Penguin Library. I have pulled old books out of the closet, replaced reprinted books with First Published and am able to proudly display the Penguin ephemera collection which I continually add to. 

You can peruse the copies of books I own in this library at the top of this page. Click on the link to see the books collected in each series. I am updating it all the time.

The Penguin Library and Reading Room

These books are from the main Penguin series numbers 1 - 3000 plus. I will never have all of them
but will enjoy spending the rest of my life looking for them. Most of them are first published. I have stopped
collecting reprints and now try to only buy first published or replace the reprints I currently have. 

This shelf holds several of the other Penguin series, listed at the top of
this page. I continue to look for first published books. Almost all of these are.

One more bookshelf of first published Penguin series.  These are the King Penguins,
The Penguin Poets and the vintage Classic Penguins. The top shelf has some
boxed sets and a collection of the Penguin Travel Books a local man was selling. 


Penguin Ephemera (always looking for more)


If you wanted to order a book decades ago you would send in a postcard. You
could find these in the new books at the time.



This is a picture of the Penguincubator. You would find this little machine
in train stations.  Put in your coins and a Penguin book popped out. The original
machines would be worth a fortune. Sadly I only have a photo.



The 50th anniversary celebration in the Penguin News paper 

An original paper bag that your new Penguin would be wrapped in.



A replica of the Penguin trucks that would deliver these books to the bookstores.

The Institute of Contemporary Arts held a display of Penguin
book cover art in 2013. London



If you want to send a Penguin book you could get cardboard
mailers to wrap your book in and off it would go in the post.
This one says:  A Penguin To Greet You

Bottom right hand: The booklet advertising the 75 Popular Penguins
produced 5 years ago. The publisher announced a photo shoot in
all major cities of Australia.  I showed up at the Hobart shoot in
Orange Converse sneakers holding a matching orange Penguin book.
75 people were picked nationwide to be in the publicity book. That is
me on the upper left hand side holding the Popular Penguin - Scoop.




A more modern Penguin greeting card I picked up on sale.

This is a Penguin postcard.



The watch produced for the 60th anniversary of Penguin. 
Yes it works.



The Penguin poster I talked a book seller in Hobart into giving me. 
The Popular Penguin poster for the 75th anniversary.



I also talked the bookseller into getting me a bag too.


These vinyl Penguin covers were produced in different
colours. My old mate Brian found one in an op shop and
gave it to me. What a find for Hobart.

This is a page from Good Reading magazine in Australia
featuring my Penguin collection. I was pleased they asked me.

This is the poster advertising the Great Ideas books
that were published several years ago for another anniversary.

These were distributed by the members
of the Penguin Collector's Society in England with
their publications.

Another Penguin newspaper about the 50th anniversary. It looks
nice on the shelf.

I don't usually buy the new Penguin products but my friend
knew how much I love stationary and they were a present.
We are always looking for
more books to add to our collection.
Contact me if you have some you
want to sell or donate. 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

N is for Walking The Dogs in a NEW place......

......... that they have not seen before complete with photos.

About a week ago we had a beautiful winter's day. The temperature was mild and the sun was out. It was time to take our dogs Odie and Molly on a walk to new ground.

If you walk up the avenue I live on and turn onto the fire tracks you can walk right to the top of Mt. Wellington. We live at the base of it.  I generally take the same path but this day we made a left turn onto another track. I don't usually take that route because it is a steady walk uphill.  I also don't walk it in the warmer weather because of the highly poisonous tiger snakes. They are currently in hibernation so a good time to go bush.

It isn't until the very end we get to start walking downhill to our home.  I thought I would share the photos. I enjoyed the day with my best friends and they could not get enough smells of possums, wallabies and pademelons into their highly sensitive noses.  What a good day it was.

It was nice today as there weren't any screaming downhill mountain bikes to watch out for.

Molly doesn't get tied up in scents but Odie's dad was a Beagle.
He just can't help himself.

I could barely see Molly on the trail but Odie is off and running after another scent.

Odie decided to be a bit social and stick to the trail for awhile.

This area was peppered with wallaby droppings. So much to smell.

Odie assumes the position of King Odie Tracking Wonder

The view of the river in the distance towards the city.

When we were away on holiday in May/June there was a lot of rain. This must
have been put up during that time. Now it is just a trickle down this trail.


The path heading slowly downhill and towards home.






Saturday, 1 August 2015

Very Busy Culling Everything I Own

I said in an earlier post I had thought about what I would do when I returned from holiday.  My book collection was out of control.  After reading Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever, I really got carried away. In fact I am still working my way through it but I have managed to get through the first two items of the checklist:    Clothes and Books.

My good friend Frances put me onto this book. I really thought it would just be another tidying up, move things around and create more storage type of book. But it is a change in attitude I hadn't thought of before. And it works!  Enough of the sales pitch.

Most of the book is extremely helpful. For example beginning with clothes, you are to get every piece of clothing in your entire house and put it in the middle of the floor. Yes, I did this. However she does allow you to categorise things and I started with tops.  I put every top I own in the middle of the floor. Then you hold up each piece and ask yourself if you really love it.  Most of the old shirts I had hanging around I didn't love at all. If the answer is "no" you toss it. If it is "yes" then you keep it.
Then the process continues with the rest of your clothes category by category.  It was kind of hard to hold up my old knickers and say "Do I love you?"  "Nope, I don't feel anything for you."  However I did quite like the newer ones so I  kept those.

I finished with the clothes and took several garbage bags of clothes to Vinnies.  Then I had to do the books.  The only thing I found really hard with this whole process is her advice to thank the items that had served their purpose and move them on.  I just couldn't bear to say "Thank you jacket, you served me well when I was working but your time has come."  I just stuffed it in the bag.

The whole idea  is you end up living in a house with only the things you really love. That evidently is supposed to cause untold happiness.

Only a few of the books I got rid of.
The books were hard. I had over 3000 books easily.  Mind you 2000 of them are vintage Penguin books.  Once Karyn of apenguinaweek organised her books into bookshelves I decided it was time to get serious with the storage of mine. Her shelves were an inspiration.

I have a front room full of books. The right wall was shelves and shelves of Penguins crowded together everywhere. The left wall was shelves and shelves of non-Penguins.  My goal was to get rid of the non-Penguins.  Taking a big breath I dumped all the non-Penguins onto the floor.  I started to cull.  One book for the bag, three books for me. Okay, it didn't go so well. But I continued.  Once all the bags of books were full I put them aside to move them on.

The next day was much better. I went through the pile of books left for me and ended up getting rid of a lot of them.

I sold some to a bookseller in Hobart.  I donated many to Vinnies and the Red Cross book store. I have three boxes of duplicate Penguins that are going to the auction house on Monday.

All in all I culled over 1000 books.  Yes, that is One Thousand.  Then I sorted all of the Penguins into the various series categories. Then I reshelved them.  When I walk into the front room now I have one wall of Penguin and the other wall is also full of Penguins except one book case that has the non- Penguins I chose to keep.  I put some of my paperbacks under the bed. I have two large drawers under the bed. None of those books are in any order.  My rule is to pick a book out of the drawer and read it. If I don't want to or I am not in the mood then it leaves the house. Otherwise I read it and then it leaves the house.

The hallway bookcase has my valuable books of Jack London, William Horwood and John Steinbeck plus my old Dog books collection.  They will stay there until we all leave the house together. The same with the Penguin collection.  The front room is well and truly my Penguin library and once it is cleaned up and the table cleared and dusted I will post up photos of the whole thing.

I have listed the entire inventory of each series on my main blog page in the categories. It is easy to refer to the list and see what I have and what I still need. It transfers easily to my smart phone and comes in handy when I find a new Penguin and I am not sure I have it. I can look it up on my phone at the time. This should prevent anymore duplicates coming into the house. From now on I will only collect first published Penguins. Reprints stay behind.
Only another few books I got rid of.

I am still working my way through the Marie Kondo book checklist but the rest will be easy. I have yet to do the kitchen cupboards, the papers, the momentos.  It will be entirely completed by the end of August. That is the time frame I gave myself.  The house will be clear. If I get hit by the bus next week no one will have to struggle with the clutter. Just box up those Penguins and send them to auction.

I am looking forward to finishing because in September I begin on the Garden Project. Now that will be a big job. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

K is for a short story that begins with this letter.

I have always loved stories that take place in New York. I especially love those stories that took place in the first half of the 20th century.  It seemed like a person could go to New York City and do anything they wanted, be anything they wanted.  It seems like a city like no other in the world.

When I saw this lovely copy of the Vintage book, with the grey tones of the cover and the red spine I had to look at it more closely.  Up In The Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell.  I had never heard of Joseph Mitchell. He was born in North Carolina in 1908. He moved to New York city in 1929, the day after the big stock market crash.  He loved architecture and spent a lot of time studying it. He liked to people watch also and that is what this book is about.  He worked as a crime writer and reporter. He spent 31 years working at the New Yorker but by then was finished publishing his own work. He died in 1996.

The blurb on the back of this book will really pull you into what it is about:

"Mitchell is the laureate of old New York; the hidden corners of the city and the people who lived there are his subject. He captured the waterfront rooming houses, nickel-a-drink saloons, all night restaurants, the visionaries, obsessives, impostors, fanatics, lost souls, the end-is-near street preachers, old Gypsy Kings and Old Gypsy Queens, the out-and-out freak-show freaks.
Mitchell's trademark curiosity , courtesy and graveyard humour fuel these magical works of reportage."

I don't know about you but when I read that I wanted to read it all, all 707 pages of this book published in 1938.

I have only just begun. They are a series of short stories, vignettes.

I was looking for a short story title that began with the letter K. for my alphabet challenge. That was harder than I thought. I have several large books of short stories but none of the stories began with K.  It was in this book that I found it.
The Kind Old Blonde.  Mitchell is sitting in an Irish restaurant near Pennsylvania station. A couple walked in and sat down:

"They had just come in from the Belmont track. The man was bald and red-faced and substantial. He looked like a contractor or maybe he had something to do with the horses. The woman was a big sound, well-dressed blonde. She might have been the co-leader of a Tammany* club or an old vaudeville actress who had saved her money or perhaps married well. "

The man looked at the menu and the woman ordered an Old Fashioned. The man frowned at her as it turns out his doctor had told him he should quit drinking for health reasons. He was prepared to do this. But the woman relayed a story of a man who had done that and he died within a year. She gives all the reasons why your body "needs oil" and it wasn't such a good idea.  The discussion is quite entertaining as she begins to convince the man he needs a drink to stay in good health and not to die young. She orders a second Old Fashioned and finally at the end of the meal and discussion the man orders a Rye. Not mixed with anything like soda or ginger ale. Just a rye with a little water. For health reasons.

The readers has just visited this restaurant in old New York. I could see the characters. I could smell her perfume. I thought I was sitting in the restaurant observing the scene. It felt real. I was probably at a table by the window facing into the room. I saw it all.  I was with Joseph Mitchell. The day was probable cloudy, not many people in the restaurant. It was a day out, a quick meal in the city I love. New York City.




*Tammany club =A  community/political club of middle class ethnic origin.