Friday, June 2, 2017

Reading

My bookclub has finally disbanded after 10 years.  Felicity moved to WA, I moved to Darwin and Camille moved to Germany. So many happy Sunday afternoons!

I've joined the Darwin City Libraries, and we take Nora to story time each week.  It's shambolic, toddlers tripping over each other, occasionally listening to part of the book.  Nora loves it though she spends most of her time pulling books off the shelves.

I just updated my reading list, here are my favourites in the past 12 months:

1. The Museum of Modern Love- Heather Rose
I was so pleased that this book won the Stella Prize, because I just adored it.  A novel based around Marina Abramovic's installation/performance 'The Artist is Present.'  It explores ideas of stillness, meditation and enduring in a really beautiful way.  I read the final chapters over a bowl of pho in a tiny Vietnamese place on Smith street.

2. The Handmaid's Tale- Margaret Atwood
I finally read this after seeing images of women wearing handmaid's robes to protest anti-abortion bills in Texas.  I found it so stressful I could hardly keep reading, nor stop reading. I found the scenes where Ofred's child is taken just gut-wrenching. I was also reading it during a very stressful period at work, so I'd get home from a long shift and become more anxious.  Thanks, M Atwood.

3. A Field Guide to Getting Lost- Rebecca Solnit
I'm not sure where Rebecca Solnit's been all my life.   A series of essay exploring different ways of being lost.  Beautiful concept and beautiful writing. I read this whilst staying with my uncle in the Barossa Valley. It inspired an off-piste wander through the pine forest behind the Seppelts family mausoleum.

4. Commonwealth- Ann Patchett
Jason's dad and I disagreed wildly on this book, to the surprise of no one.  I loved it.   Jason' dad is book club is the polar opposite of my old bookclub, and we love to make fun of each other.  His club are all business men, my bookclub is all women working in arts or health. His bookclub is run to strict rules and timelines.  For example, each book chosen must be published in the preceding calendar year (there are special sub-clauses about translations).  Each book is judged against a criteria matrix and the person whose book choice scores the lowest for the year is excluded from picking another book for 2 years!!!
Our bookclub met roughly six to eight times per year.  The book choices seemed to meander around topics for a few months.  There was a mid-twentieth century phase and a lesbian gothic phase. There was certainly no scoring matrix. Anyway, suffice it to say that Peter's book club did not rate 'Commonwealth' very highly.

5. Burning your Boats- Angela Carter
This was a book club book last year and it's stayed with me.  Carter's writing is lush and challenging. Nora was just a wee baby at the time I read it.  She fell asleep in her pram one afternoon and I got to sit in Everyday Coffee for 45 minutes (practically hours in baby-time!) reading stories and drinking coffee.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Commuting

Whenever I am asked if I am enjoying working in Darwin, I reply, "My bike ride to work is amazing!"

And it really is.



The journey only takes about 10 minutes.  After riding to the end of my street, I turn down a gravel track through the bush to the hospital.  As Jason says, "You're practically mountain-biking!"  Huge trees tower over the path to the left, and fronds of native grass brush against my legs.  There are two wooden bridges crossing the creek.

I travel east in the early morning and west in the evening, so I'm always heading towards the rising or setting sun.



One Friday afternoon during the wet season I road home through a thunderstorm.  It was a truly impressive storm.  The lightening was so bright it hurt my eyes.  I'd decided to take the bush track home because I thought I'd be more likely to be struck by lightening along the main road.  But I hadn't really thought it through.  One of bridges was in flood and I pedalled frantically across hoping I wouldn't be swept into the open jaws of a crocodile.

Much of the path was flooded too. At some parts the water was so high that my pedals were submerged at their lowest clip.

I hadn't considered the big open clearings between the trees until I raced across them perched upon a lightening rod.

I arrived home sweaty, spattered with mud and feeling extremely alive.  Jason laughed at me.