A couple of crackers

I don’t often post book reviews although I am a voracious reader, but these two really got to me in different ways and I thought I would share them. I am rarely drawn to “light reads” and am more attracted to novels about relationships that are fraught and turbulent.

 

IMG_20180624_142045.jpg This is the quirky tale about a quiet young man called Charlie, who applies for and gets the job of Harbinger of Death.

He visits people around the globe bringing (often tatty) gifts of deep meaning to individuals. He describes his job as being a courtesy and it is Death who tells him who to visit.

The other characters include Pestilence, War and Famine and his intermittent love-interest, as well as the supporting cast of people who do not necessarily want him to visit (although, his visiting is not always a precursor to dying).

His travels often take him into dangerous territory and occasionally he has been close to dying himself, but his job means he no longer fears death and his calm approach helps a lot of the people he visits.

I described this book as quirky, it is certainly a fresh way of looking at the moving towards leaving this world, and making human the characters of Death, Famine and others is engaging (although War is frivolous and to me, very unlikeable) and slightly unnerving.

It was not an easy, it took me a week to get through this book as I couldn’t read much more than a chapter at a time, there was a lot to digest. It was an enjoyable, though at times, disconcerting read.

The next book is  IMG20180703041902.jpg.

Mette Jakobsen is Danish but now living in Sydney and this short novel is a real tug at the heart strings. The main character is a man whose son has died in unfortunate circumstances, he can’t believe the reality of his son being gone and instead starts a journey to look for him.

I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil it for you should you wish to read it, the pain of the main character and his wife is palpable, their estrangement as they deal with the reality of the death of their only child was enough to reduce me to tears at times.

It is a wonderful book, again, not easy reading but difficult to put down. If there is a downside to it, it is the amount of sex that is described in detail. I don’t think of myself as a prude, but the cynical soon-to-be divorcee in me wonders at the spontaneity of the couple sex life after so many years together. I will concede however, that the sex in the book is always loving (and not always successful).

Some heavy, but worthwhile reading for you to ponder and maybe delve into?

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Immersed in nature

Walking in the bush gives me vitality, the lifting of a weight from my shoulders feels real, I can breathe and enjoy the moment.A couple of weeks ago, we had the most glorious weather over a weekend and my daughter and I decided a bushwalk would do wonders for our winter fug.

Off we went to John Forrest National Park which straddles, Greenmount and Hovea in Western Australia.

This is close to where I grew up, I always feel energised and happy when I am in this country. We parked the car outside the park and walked cross country to the little settlement within the park, it was a very special time, I felt 30 years younger and just wanted to shout out loud with delight 🙂

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A few of the Balga trees (Xanthorrea) had flower spikes, but it is too early for the flower buds to be open. There was a lot of Dryandra and I really hope to plant some in the garden of my new home (when I get one). Sitting on the granite boulders, took me back to my childhood, even as an adult they are BIG!

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Another little gladdening of my heart was when I chanced upon this Eggs and Bacon plant, they have always been a nostalgic favourite of mine.

I had completely forgotten about Glen Brook Dam, the water was crystal clear and calm, it was a soothing place.

Finally, we went to the Tavern to buy icecream and met some of the locals! A couple of the girls had joeys in their pouches, one pouch was firmly zipped up when I got too close, but the other allowed her baby to poke its head out and say hello, it was really special.

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That dominant (male) Boomer was not interested in us at all.

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Unlike this lady 🙂IMG_20180623_090247.jpg

The middle one of this group was licking the outside of her pouch and got me wondering if a tiny embryo was about to make its way up to it.

This video explains how they do it 

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Hello Baby!!!

 

It was a lovely day.

The Pursuit of Beauty (or why are we afraid to age?)

It is very easy to get caught up in the media hype of what is beautiful and how to age (without really doing so).

I have been thinking about this for some time; Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are exploding with videos, articles and hints on how not to age, or how to hide ageing so it looks like it’s not happening cdb07eb6c8f0e83cb57a5511a8bdda55--makeup-mistakes-look-older

I have an age spot…on my face (shock, horror) and more coming. I live in Australia, my parents were migrants from Europe, there was never too much sun and only the redheads wore any sun protection; so it’s not surprising that at the age of 55, my skin is starting to show the result of this abusive past. My best friend wants to book a session for some “work” and has invited me to have some work done too… do I need it? Do I want it?? age spot (not me)

TBH, a little voice in my head is saying to go and do it, the age spot is not small, although it’s not too dark at the moment and it’s on the side so I can ignore it quite successfully 🙂

But, I know I would feel good if it wasn’t there…

My arms, back and decolletage are all peppered with freckles and moles (and curiously loss of pigment in certain spots). My skin is just one part of me, I think I look okay most of the time (hey, we all have our off days!).

My main issue is that I am trying to be happy with myself. What am I telling my children when I have stuff done to my face? That the pursuit of perfection is ongoing and that contentment with oneself is unattainable? This is not the message I want them to absorb!

I am carrying too much weight, I have mentioned this before. I think I have reverted to the shape I am meant to be, in some ways my body shape has gone back to when I was a little girl. I spent 40 years slim and envied, I never thought about my weight or what I ate, I lived my life, had babies and a career, my body has served me well. Now I am healthy.  I have done circuit training, boot camp, weight lifting, jogging etc etc with little effect except spectacular muscle definition. My blood pressure is fantastic, my cholesterol is okay, my blood sugars are fine. I am active and apart from a nurses back (with its sequelae) I am in okay shape, I am just too heavy- but who decided that? I have often said I have a Germanic build, lots of upper body strength (just perfect for digging in the fields) and I am quite similar to about half of my Dutch cousins (the other half are slim and tall). Maybe, this is the weight I am supposed to be?

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I am the shape  between 24.9 and 30 on this picture and it doesn’t alter much no matter how much exercise I do! So I continue to strive for contentment. I probably won’t get the stuff done to my face,  are always other things I would rather spend my money on (like fabric, sewing machines, sheet music, cycling gear……sigh)

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Update on what’s up…

I have been in quite a fug lately. Feeling lonely, not knowing how the future will pan out, wondering where I am going to live when this lease expires next month, hating winter, being cold and miserable (by my standards anyway!), blah blah blah. Despite how I sound, my life is good, but sometimes I need some help to see it. I made the decision to up my meds and the effect has been good. I was initially reluctant because it has taken me a year to decrease them by half, but needs must and here I am. Feeling less shitty, more hopeful and a lot stronger.

I rode to work this morning in the dark, it was a bit odd but I really needed it for my sanity as well as my physical health, I can tell I am better. I have discovered that I am a fair weather rider and last week was rain, rain, rain. Oh how I missed my bike. Today I am tired but satisfied.

I’m so much better that I actually did some sewing on the weekend, that is how the pills can change me when I am down.

…and let me say felt is a wonderful fabric.

There is so much to recommend it, no fraying, no requirement for oversewing, stability +++, bright colours etc etc.

I made a jacket a few years ago out of some wool/rayon mix felt, initially it was quite stiff but over the years it softened and was lovely to wear.

(burdastyle.com/…/winter-you-give-me-the-blues) , I loved it and wore it to death (literally), it was retired last year when the house sold and oh how I missed it.

The lovely thing about felt to wear is that it is very light (almost weighs nothing) but is very warm and knowing how I loathe winter and being burdened with heavy clothes (layers of them), I thought it was time for another lightweight jacket.

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It is another Lotta Jansdottir Pilvi jacket. Whilst I am not a huge fan of raglan sleeves, this little jacket is so nice to wear and easy to sew up, I thought another wouldn’t hurt. I made it first in denim last year (here). The felt this time is made from viscose and time will tell as to its durability. It feels finer than the wool and I am not sure it was a good choice- we will see…

I’m not sure if this colour is what Americans call Kelly Green, but I am afraid I will resemble a leprechaun when I wear it! You can see I put some contrasting braid on the inside (my daughter thought it was a bit attention-seeking on the outside) which I think is a nice touch, IMG20180610084727.jpg

but I am concerned that it is a bit bland and am now madly looking for a green tatty flower I made a few years ago to pin and make it a little more interesting. If I can’t find it I will just have to make another one.

The wooden button was my daughters choice, I would have gone something bigger and bolder (and may well change this one in the future) as I think it is a bit subtle for this colour and style.

We are a little way off the shortest day and I always feel better when it has passed. I am madly looking at real estate to buy and I have another rental picked out to tide me over in the interim. My lovely son is off to Japan for a holiday after exams and then he is flying the nest to live in student digs on campus- I will miss him as he has matured into a lovely, sensitive young man and my daughter and I are bouncing off each other at the moment (not too badly, but she is somewhat less biddable than I am used to).

The future is looking okay…

 

Times Past

As I am now single, my mind occasionally wanders to times past, past lovers, past heartaches; this is a little snapshot of “the One”.

They fell in love with alarming speed and ferocity, she eighteen, he nineteen, birthdays separated by days. In fact, he had just been to his own birthday party, put on by friends when they met, he was slightly drunk and feeling very merry.

The attraction was mutual and blinding. When he got up to leave, he tapped her lightly on the head with a rolled-up poster (a present from a friend); he said, “Very nice to meet you” and her heart skipped a beat.

He was a gentleman, although at that stage she did not know he was taken already; an intense holiday romance in England at the end of high school had left him feeling a sense of obligation to another girl who had come from more humble origins.

Back in Australia, things progressed very quickly.

It was a volatile relationship, they loved each other with such intensity.

They never really broke up. The girl from England came out to Perth, they got engaged, he was unhappy but what could he do (?) he had an obligation. They married a few years later, had children, settled down.

She (that is, me) was lousy about it, really, really lousy. He had known and she felt deceived, he had encouraged her knowing there could not be a future. In reality he was a victim too, because he loved her and they couldn’t be together.

That love continues to this day, 37 years later. It is a fantasy, she knows, an indulgence that is foolish.

She occasionally wonders how their lives would have been together, in some “Sliding Doors” scenario. She has a sneaking suspicion they would have not been good together over the long term. He was very aware of the physical comfort in which she lived. Her Father was a hard worker and had provided well for his family. He felt acutely that she was somehow “better” than him, she spoke well and had gone to an elite girls high school, very different from his background.

She is now 55. She does indulge occasionally in checking him out on social media, he still has beautiful eyes and if he posts a new photo of himself, she will have little thoughts like, ‘New glasses, they’re nice” or “those eyebrows need a bit of attention mate”! They have seen each other in passing and they both know “it” is still there.

It was never meant to be.

It’s time for me

Today is Sunday and after a hectic week, it’s my time.

Not going to church, just taking it easy.

Breakfast in bed with a new novel

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and in attempt to find a wrap dress that fits me and also looks good, I am cutting this one out after the fabric has dried from its pre-wash

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The fabric is a light grey cotton knit with random dots that I bought from Spotlight.

It is very warm for Autumn, my daughter is out with friends and my dear son is going to the footy (Aussie Rules), so I will be at home in the peace.

Bliss.