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Audiobooks, Ebooks and Old Friends

AudiobooksI’ve always loved having books read to me.

When libraries first started lending books on audio cassettes, I was one of the early adopters. It was wonderful to be able to kick back, relax and listen. Perhaps especially when I was in the car.

With stories to keep me company, long trips were a breeze. Peak hour traffic when the freeway was a car park? No problem!

Catching every red light on the way? No hassle at all – it just meant I’d get through another chapter.

So it was a very natural next step when I could borrow downloadable audio-books from the library and listen to them on my Android phone instead.

But, once upon a time, if you’d suggested I’d start reading e-books on my phone, I’d have laughed. After all, nothing could replace the ease and enjoyment of holding a real book in my hands. And reading on a small screen? That would be a total pain – no way I’d do it!

I was wrong!  :)

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Farewell My Lovely

Creamy

Creamy

My badly neglected blog has been calling me to write for some time – but today it’s a sad post I’m finally writing.

This morning I am saying farewell to one of my beautiful Tonkinese cats.

Seven years ago Hershey and Creamy came to me as adults from a breeder, after they’d had their litters. Such different personalities, with different quirks and habits, both have been a wonderful joy in my life. Two furry mischiefs who have, with gentle paws and soft voices, taken their firm places in my heart.

But now poor Creamy has developed an inoperable cancer. Although several visits to the vet over the last few months gave no answers, now they can feel the large mass in her tummy. She has become restless and is obviously increasingly uncomfortable. She’s almost stopped eating and has lost so much weight so quickly, that she’s feather-light in my arms.

A Yin-Yang Snooze

A 'Yin-Yang Snooze'

So today it’s time to say goodbye – before she starts to suffer in earnest. It’s time for a last breakfast, a last ‘yin-yang snooze’, curled up with Hershey. And lots of pats and cuddles before her final visit to the vet.

Such a hard decision – and I am typing this through my tears.  But when our hearts are too full to find our own words, it can be comforting to find someone else has said it for us:

A Pet’s Prayer

If it should be that I grow frail and weak,
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then, you must do what must be done
For this, the last battle, can’t be won.
Don’t let your grief stay your hand,

For this day more than the rest,
Your love and friendship stand the test.
We’ve had so many years,
What is to come can hold no fear.
You’d not want me to suffer, so
When the time comes, please let me go.

Take me where my needs they’ll tend,
Only, stay with me to the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you’ll see it is a kindness you do for me
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I’ve been saved.

Don’t grieve it should be you who this thing decides to do.
We’ve been so close, we two, these years,
Don’t let your heart hold tears.
Smile, for we walked together for a while.

(Author Unknown)

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Up to the Eyeballs in Alligators

AlligatorIn an email this morning from Marge Schiller, my colleague and friend in the US, she mentioned that “eyeballs and alligators are in far too close proximity“.

My first thought was “What on earth …? ” :)

But the web is a wonderful place to wander, so I embarked on a wee journey of fun and discovery.

Apparently being “up to the eyeballs in alligators” is a uniquely American expression for when things seem particularly overwhelming or work is stressful.  And although we Aussies certainly have similar experiences, alligators don’t enter the equation. Perhaps because we have crocs not alligators, and those only in our northern regions. :)

I learned that we can be up to our ‘ass‘, ‘armpits‘ or ‘eyeballs‘ in alligators too. Obviously there are different levels of severity for an alligator quota. :)

And here’s a great saying:

When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember you’re there to drain the swamp.

I’ll have to remember that one and use it sometime!

I also found myself smiling when I read a post by an artist, Jill Banks, who said she was ‘literally’ up to her eyeballs in alligators. The mind boggles!

Do not feed the alligatorsAnd there’s even a book by Larry Wilde about being up to your eyeballs in alligators!

My exploration of eyeballs and alligators just goes to show that there are always new things to learn and discover in life.

And (as I said to Marge) next time you find yourself up to the eyeballs – or any other part of your anatomy – in alligators, may you find they are well-fed, sleepy and very friendly after all! :)

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The Book Thief

I have just finished reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusack, and loved it!

It’s told from an unusual perspective, because the narrator is Death – though he doesn’t really like that name, or (even worse) “The Grim Reaper”.

It tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a child in Nazi Germany, and I thought it beautifully written!

Such wonderful turns of phrase! So many places where I paused in my reading, just to savour the language or the description.

Here is an example, taken from a passage where Liesel was fighting a young schoolmate, Ludwig Schmeikl, in the playground:

Oh, how the clouds stumbled in and assembled in the sky.
Great obese clouds.
Dark and plump.
Bumping into each other. Apologising. Moving on and finding room.
Children were there, quick as … well, quick as kids gravitating towards a fight. A stew of arms and legs, of shouts and cheers, grew thicker around them. They were watching Liesel Meminger give Ludwig Schmeikl the hiding of a lifteime. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,’ a girl commentated with a shriek, ‘she’s going to kill him!’

Or here’s another passage – a description of a Nazi book burning in the town square:

The orange flames waved at the crowd as paper and print dissolved inside them. Burning words were torn from their sentences.
On the other side, beyond the blurry heat, it was possible to see the brown shirts and swastikas joining hands. You didn’t see people. Only uniforms and signs.
Birds above did laps.
They circled, somehow attracted to the glow … until they came too close to the heat. Or was it the humans? Certainly the heat was nothing.

And at the end of that day … ‘the dark came in pieces‘ …

Beautiful stuff!

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The More Things Change …

For various reasons this  last week, I have found myself in a deeply reflective space.

I’ve walked again in an earlier me, revisiting events and experiences from 10-25 years ago.

I’ve unearthed diaries, letters and other mementos and spent time reading them. It is fascinating to have such a clear record of what I was thinking and feeling so long ago!

It’s good to reflect on how I believe I’ve grown, mellowed and matured over the years since then.  But it’s also true that some things just don’t change.

As an example, I thought I’d share a snippet of something I wrote almost 25 years ago – complete with the doodled sketches that graced (dis-graced?) those pages. :)

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