#mynewyearstartedon13/01

This is the date that I was able to decontaminate and defluff the house after three weeks with the Grandfurbaby. Bentley, a gorgeous Labrador who suffers sorely from Only Child Syndrome and is profoundly deaf, has now travelled north to the land of crocs, dingoes and jabiru. That will test him…….and them.

My hostess skills were pretty minimal over these past few weeks. Cheese and charcuterie boards were the order of the day though I did throw fresh Tiger prawns on the barbie. Lots of garlic and a dousing of white wine – a damn fine effort, girlfriend.

So now I’m focussing more on where my year is heading, other than knitting sox from dog hair.

In the latter part of last year one of our cinema chains focussed on movies from Hollywoods Golden Era at selected locations across the country. This is being repeated commencing from February with sessions running first thing on a Monday morning. Yeah, first thing Monday is a bit hard to grasp, but I settled into it and found it a good way to start a new week. Do retirees even start a new week? 

Movies scheduled include Night Of The Hunter, Mr Smith Goes To Washington, On The Town and Casablanca. On the big screen people. And the more sessions you buy the cheaper the ticket price. 

Last Classic movie I experienced in this fashion there were only three of us in the cinema. This is not a good crowd if you’re after anonymity when you sob.

My Mondays are pencilled in : breakfast, coffee and an old flick.

Let’s take a look at Tuesdays…..

( Refer Event Cinemas)

4000 Bowls of Rice: A Prisoner Comes Home

About The Author

Linda Goetz Holmes is a Historian appointed to the U.S. Government Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, tasked with locating and declassifying material about World War II war crimes.

Summary

The author’s central figure, Australian Staff Sergeant Cecil Dickson, had been a reporter for a Melbourne paper. Already a veteran of fighting in the Middle East, he was returning home with his battalion in January 1942 when it was diverted to Java. Eventually, the battalion joined masses of American, British, Australian and Dutch prisoners working under brutal conditions on the Singapore-Burma railway.

Between stories of suffering and sadistic cruelty the author focusses on the months after Japan’s surrender and Dickson’s return to Australia utilising the letters he had written to his wife.

Personal Take

I enjoyed the different perspective with the protagonist focussing on wars end and getting home to his wife , Binks. It wasn’t until October 1945 that Dickson finally left Asia for Australia and between the lines we get that he could have departed earlier except that as a journalist he was interested in writing the POW experience for the Australian public.

Dickson was pipped at the post by Rohan Rivett, a fellow POW, who wrote the POW Bible, Behind Bamboo, released in 1946, which was the Go To book when I was a student.

One particularly tragic tale refers to the POW who survived years of incarceration only to ring his wife in Perth, Western Australia, on his journey home to learn that she had formed a liaison with another man. He quietly slipped over the side of the ship never to be seen again.

Dickson also relates that as he disembarked off the ship in Melbourne a “ charming woman came up and chatted to him”. It didn’t click that it was his wife of 19 years, Binks.

We have absolutely no idea, do we ?

Stringybark & Short Stories

Stringybark Publishing is an Australian bespoke publishing house in operation since 2010. No, I am not sleeping with anyone within management, nor do I have any monetary affiliations within the organisation.

To be honest, it was only within the last twelve months and my retirement that I took any interest in short stories which is the area in which Stringybark Publishing specialises. Someone once said “A short story is the ideal place for a first meeting, a bit like making the first date for coffee rather than a meal.”

Stringybark Stories encourages Australian and international writers to create and share stories by running regular short story writing competitions throughout each year with a variety of themes. And no, this is not my area of expertise though my appreciation of tales with a decidedly Australian flavour has certainly been fuelled by my recent visits to country townships and a better understanding and appreciation of our unique history. See here for further details: https://www.stringybarkstories.net/index.html

Up until the end of February Stringybark Stories have on offer a choice of two Summer Reading Bushfire Packs containing six different anthologies of short stories written as part of past writing competitions. These cost $29.95 each and include postage within Australia.

ALL PROFITS from these sales will be donated in equal amounts to WIRES Wildlife Information and Rescue Service to assist with the immediate needs of Australian wildlife and Bush Heritage Australia (https://www.bushheritage.org.au/ ) to help protect biodiversity into the future.

I’m not a rampant consumer ( unless the product involves Errol Flynn) and I don’t participate in online shopping ( unless the product involves Errol Flynn). But, WOW!

* Bushfire Update: As a nation we do adversity really well. We rally, support and assist each other. We thrive in times of major dramas. It’s what we do best. We also proportion blame, bitch like six year old girls in the school yard, and carry on like chooks with our heads cut off. Move on kiddies. Pull up those Big Girl Panties and keep moving forward regardless of your politics. “ It will be okay in the end, otherwise it’s not the end.”

** New Participants in competitions most welcome.

And if you have an interest in writing competitions, WOW again.

Around The World Reading Challenge

I don’t need to count the number of books I read each year. I read because it gives me pleasure. Pure and simple.

This year I will add to the mix by deliberately focussing on reading books by authors from other countries, starting with Nigeria. Off to the Library next week to pick up Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

This week I’m staying home. It doesn’t sit right gallivanting at the moment. Doesn’t mean that I’m not having fun. I’m up to series 4 of West Wing, continue to puppy sit and walk the grand fur-baby, and have read a couple of (appalling) books.

Australian comedian Kitty Flanagan’s 488 Rules For Life was a massive disappointment. I’ve seen Kitty live several times and love her to bits. Why so many of our celebrities are turning their hand to books I don’t know.

A couple of short stories by Robert G Barrett were even more woeful. Barrett, an Australian crime writer, was a butcher by trade. Say no more. They reminded me of my Uncle Bill, a commercial traveller, who used to keep a box of girlie magazines and cheap pot boilers in a box in the backyard dunny which was covered in choko vines.

I read his first book back in the early 80s. It was Sydney-centric and I could relate. Who else would understand “ how could you live in the Eastern suburbs and follow St George?”. No more Les Norton for me.

My next big trip is to Papua New Guinea. All booked and paid. I guess it would be appropriate to source some PNG authors too. Any suggestions please?

NY, Errol and Bushfires

Just over twelve months ago my first task upon retirement was to head to the New South Wales South Coast, my old stomping ground and source of many wonderful memories.

It was an opportunity to revisit this part of the world as well as reconnect with two beautiful lasses who played a major role in my life some forty five years beforehand.

Highway along South Coast

The beautiful south coast has been under siege for days. New Years Eve saw the residents and holidaymakers of one coastal township flee to the beach for safety from the raging bushfires. The battle continues with the navy enlisted to relocate people to safer shores.

My South Coast

So frightening, so compelling, so awful. I had to switch off the tele for some respite from the news.

Thinking of one of those childhood friends I put the same Errol Flynn DVD that we watched together just twelve months earlier. * Errol, chocolate, and pink champagne – what a way to spend a day together.

Again. Again.

This beautiful friend still has no power connected and sleeps on the couch watching for embers. Two houses in her street were lost to the fires and despite a call to evacuate this brave, headstrong woman chose to stay and defend. Vision impaired and a widow. No snowflake this lass.

My other friend still has no power. Food and fuel are low, but positivity and kindness are abundant. She can’t get out of her pocket of the world as the highway could be closed for weeks.

Another heatwave looms this weekend. My thoughts are with those doing it tough, and the firies and emergency service personnel who have been kept on their toes for weeks. To my two gal pals, to a blogger friend with the chocolate labs, and to all those affected……….no words. Just hang in there……..

*I also wanted to share a traumatic scene involving crabs with my daughter which to this day frightens the bejesus out of me and caused lifelong scars. I’m pretty fearless, except for seaweed which is where octopi and crabs lurk. Blame Against All Flags and Reap The Wild Wind and a lack of parental guidance.

But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and my adrenaline loving child was only interested in recipes utilising crab meat. My neurosis was quickly sideswiped. And yes, my Thai Crab Balls were a success.

Child minding.

Downsizing For The New Year

Change is in the air, as old patterns fall away and new energies are emerging. Consciously release what needs to be released, and welcome with a full embrace the newness you’ve prayed for and so richly deserve.” – Marianne Williamson

Each new year brings the ability to implement fresh, new changes.

I’m downsizing. That will be my my big change for the new decade. I’m going to reduce the size of my handbag.

Research indicates that women generally carry twenty one basic items in their handbag on a daily basis. Other than keys, wallet and sunglasses these can include safety pins, mints, toothbrush and floss, medication, pens, diary, book, comb, hair pins, hand cream, tissues, band aids, lipstick ……….and the list goes on and on and on.

When it comes to handbags I’ve always been a minimalist. Basics only.  Money, keys, spectacles, and in recent years, the Ipad.

I’ve always maintained good relationships with my handbags. Whilst some women collect shoes my preference is for going barefoot. Carryalls have always been more my thing and I’ve relished them being colourful, large and on the empty side. I don’t do clutter well.

I tend to work a handbag to death. They are not constantly rotated according to my wardrobe. Their day starts early and can finish late, and there’s a hint of co-dependency.

The new year has me reviewing my relationship with handbags and so I will begin the new decade with a smaller, more compact version. I will continue to opt for colour and consider this my effort to reduce my carbon footprint.

Of course, this move will necessitate the downsizing of my wallet. Advice from friends indicates that I will require a change purse and a card carrier, both requiring a huge shift in mindset.

We can do this.

Change.

When you’re finished changing, you’re finished. -Benjamin Franklin

Christmas Reading

In recovery mode so just finished reading Di Morrissey’s Rain Music. Massive disappointment though I shouldn’t be surprised as I selected it purely for its pretty front cover. I’m generally not one to take any notice of book covers but the flowering Poincianas are very familiar and line the streets where I live.

Tip: Give it a miss.

Doesn’t matter. Fluff is acceptable after too much merriment, isn’t it?

My previous read was Peace by Australian author Garry Disher.

Constable Paul Hirschhausen runs a one-cop station in the dry farming country south of the Flinders Ranges. He’s still new in town but the community work—welfare checks and working bees—is starting to pay off. Now Christmas is here and, apart from a grass fire, two boys stealing a ute and Brenda Flann entering the front bar of the pub without exiting her car, Hirsch’s life has been peaceful. Until he’s called to a strange, vicious incident in Kitchener Street. And Sydney police ask him to look in on a family living outside town on a forgotten back road.Suddenly, it doesn’t look like a season of goodwill at all.

Crime books are not my forte and so I battled through the first few chapters with Constable Plod slowly negotiating his way around his rural precinct. Then it clicked. Plod is working at the pace of the heat and the dry which is so draining on the edge of the Flinders Rangers in South Australia. Beautiful, but the only things that move fast are the flies.

A great read and of course I had no chance in predicting who was the culprit.

Tip: Well worth the effort.

I need a new Reading Challenge for the New Year. I’ve loved discovering more Australian authors, especially indie writers, but I need to up the anti.

Any suggestions?

I blame the chocolates.