Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday Selections #199

Sunday Selections was originally brought to us by Kim, of Frogpondsrock, as an ongoing meme where participants could post previously unused photos languishing in their files. 

The meme is now continued by River at Drifting through life.  The rules are so simple as to be almost non-existent.  Post some photos under the title Sunday Selections and link back to River.  Clicking on any of the photos will make them embiggen.

Like River I usually run with a theme. And this week I am continuing my lazy streak.  Just one of my obsessions this week.  Birds.  Real ones, and ones which live on our back deck.

A corella who visited last week.  His crest is up to express interest/alarm.  And it this case it was interest.



We had a little wonderful rain last weekend and more is predicted for this evening, and I really, really hope we get it.

I loved the rain - but did feel a little sorry for these poor wet galahs.




And some of the birds who live on our back deck.  The first were given to me by the smaller portion some years ago - and we call them the quirky birds.  There is a candle holder hidden beneath their wings, and they do look good glowing in the dark.



And the bone bird.  This was a gift (thirty years ago?) to my father.  I have no idea what sort of bone it is - but it was a big, big animal.  I wonder whether it might have been a whale.  And part of me cringes.




Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Name of the Wind

I have been reading speculative fiction/fantasy novels for well over twenty years, and don't expect to stop any time soon.

I read them for entertainment/amusement/comfort and as an escape.  I have a serious weakness for magic, far-away lands, different societies/cultures and dragons.  One or more of these will always suck me in.

Recently I picked up this book - the first in a series by an author I didn't know.


In my usual restrained fashion I guzzled it, but am in at least two minds about it.  I do hope that someone else in the blogosphere has read it and will tell me what they thought.

In some ways it is formulaic.  Which is not necessarily a bad thing.  A fresh and new slant on a familiar story is often a delight.

The main protagonist is male:  Check.
He was orphaned at an early age by a powerful and evil group:  Check.
He doesn't know why:  Check.
He was taught magic (known as sympathy in this series which intrigued me) by an older and somewhat mysterious figure:  Check.
True names for things have power:  Check.
He finds his way to a place of learning where he can learn more and hone his (already considerable) skills:  Check.
He is desperately poor.  Check.
At that school he find friends - and at least one enemy:  Check.
His aim is to track down (and naturally destroy) the enemy which annihilated his family:  Check.
He is a highly skilled musician.  Check.
He falls in love and the path to true love is anything but smooth:  Check.

There is at least one dragon.  Though I am not entirely comfortable with the concept of a flame-throwing, vegetarian, drug-addicted dragon.  And a dragon without magic strikes me as wrong. 

The writing is clear and evocative.  Even when I suspected I knew where the plot was heading I needed to read more.

I do have some reservations though.  This first novel in the series is over 650 pages long.  And the way it is structured it reads like a 'back story'.  A very, very long back story.  For much of the book we learn what has gone before as our 'hero' tells his story to someone who has stumbled into his life, and insists that it be written down - verbatim.  There are flashes to the present - where conflict and danger lurk, and lots of filling in of times past.

He has friends - but I am not entirely certain why.  They do favours for him, but he (at least in this novel) does little that is positive for anyone else (with the exception of a mentally damaged ex-student who lives in hiding beneath the school).  We get hints that he has done brave things, tremendous things - and dreadful things.  Legends about him abound, and he has largely retired into obscurity.  With a Fae student.  Who is deeply attached to him.   Why?  What is he teaching his student?  Why is he hiding?  Who or what is he hiding from?  Does he still have his powers?  He, and those around him are still in danger.  Probably from the group which slaughtered his family and friends.  Why?  How did they find him?  What do they want of him?

I will track down at least the next in the series - but hope that much more of it is written in the present.  But have my doubts.

Do any of you know this author or the series?   Should I persevere?


And, on a different note.  Thank you to those of you who suggested that since I loved the biography of Dorothea Bate I would also be interested in and enjoy Tracy Chevalier's 'Remarkable Creatures'.  I did.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sunday Selections #198

Sunday Selections was originally brought to us by Kim, of Frogpondsrock, as an ongoing meme where participants could post previously unused photos languishing in their files. 

The meme is now continued by River at Drifting through life.  The rules are so simple as to be almost non-existent.  Post some photos under the title Sunday Selections and link back to River.  Clicking on any of the photos will make them embiggen.

Like River I usually run with a theme.  This week I am being lazy and reverting to two of my obsessions, birds and the garden.

These birds have all visited this week.

First, a corella



Then King Parrots, the male (orange head) and his more subdued but still lovely mate...




Then to the garden.  My double poppies have just started to flower and as soon as the first one flowered I thought of Carola Bartz - who grows some stunners of her own.


Then to the Christmas Cactus (also known as Orchid Cactus) which are just starting to bloom.



And some plants I succumbed to at the Farmers Markets.  If we get the promised rain (which we need) I hope to put them in later today.

Cape daisies...


And something described as a Norwegian Bell Flower.



Thursday, 13 November 2014

Family Matters


Very, very personally.  Whether they admit to the acquaintance or not. 

Which means that this next gem is also true.



I use those difficult people (too many of them family) to take a kind of personal audit.  And it is overdue.  At the moment I am not liking my bad tempered mean spirited whinging self.  At all.  Action is required.

With a little help from...


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sunday Selections #197

Sunday Selections was originally brought to us by Kim, of Frogpondsrock, as an ongoing meme where participants could post previously unused photos languishing in their files. 

The meme is now continued by River at Drifting through life.  The rules are so simple as to be almost non-existent.  Post some photos under the title Sunday Selections and link back to River.  Clicking on any of the photos will make them embiggen.

Like River I usually run with a theme. This week?  Snippets of things which make me Smile.

In the garden.

Green Goddess Arum Lily - none of the coloured ones are anywhere near flowering yet.



Iris.


Pigface.

Foxgloves.

And then to the sky.


And the last one is for Joanne - who is also undergoing bathroom renovations.  Her photo last week reminded me that I do love our toilet roll holder.  It was given to me years ago by a friend who has since moved out of my life - and I cherish it.  And smile at it.


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Discovering Dorothea

As I have often said, I am a greedy reader.  I read something every day, and often several somethings.  I read fiction and non-fiction; literature and agreeable trash.  There are few genres I won't read (none spring to mind) but biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and diaries are always on my go-to list.

I am endlessly fascinated by people.  I don't always like them, and I certainly don't always like what they do, but I am fascinated just the same.  Curiosity is one of my defining characteristics.

While the house was in chaos with the platoons of tradies I continued to read.  And this book reminded me of just what I love about biographies.  Education and delight packed into a compact package...



 I grew to love Dorothea, someone about whom I knew less than nothing before I picked up this book.

In 1898, aged nineteen she marched into the Natural History Museum in South Kensington and demanded a job.  Despite the prejudice against women scientists, and no little opposition from her family her association with the museum lasted more than fifty years and only ended with her death in 1951.  Her contribution to the then brand new discipline of Paleontology was huge.  And over the years, this self taught driven woman carved out an international reputation for scientific excellence.

In the early 1900s she explored Cyprus, Crete, Majorca and Menorca.  In remote caves and sea battered cliffs she discovered fossil evidence of extinct creatures including dwarf elephants and hippos, swans too large to fly and giant dormice.  She developed intelligent theories about the changing face of the landscape and of the climate.  As I read I thought that she was certainly one of the very first to investigate climate change and its impact.

And there were other gems to revel in.  Did you know that the myth of Cyclops probably developed from the fossilised remains of an elephant?  That eye in the centre of the forehead was the explanation for the hole in the skull left by the trunk? 

Thirty years later she was excavating in Bethlehem,  in the midst of growing threats of war.  Later, into Africa.  And she continued to work, to learn and to grow. 

How many of us can take an interest and turn it into a passion and career - with very little encouragement and plenty of opposition?  Such a determined woman, with courage and persistence in every thing she undertook.  Very little is known about her private life - which appears to have been sublimated first to her family and then her career.  And I love her successes and hope she knew towards the end of her life just how highly her professionalism and achievements were regarded.

More than fifty years after her death the Natural History Museum employed the actress Jane Cartwright to re-create her as a 'Gallery Character'.  In the company of Charles Darwin and other scientists Dorothea now haunts the galleries of the Museum in school holidays sharing stories of her scientific achievements and hopefully inspiring others to follow their dreams...

I am so very grateful that I picked this book up, and loved reducing my ignorance about her life, her times and her achievements.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Sunday Selections #196

Sunday Selections was originally brought to us by Kim, of Frogpondsrock, as an ongoing meme where participants could post previously unused photos languishing in their files. 

The meme is now continued by River at Drifting through life.  The rules are so simple as to be almost non-existent.  Post some photos under the title Sunday Selections and link back to River.  Clicking on any of the photos will make them embiggen.

Like River I usually run with a theme.  For the last little while I have been largely housebound so yesterday I demanded a small outing to get my fix of kangaroos, pelicans, swans and whatever else was at Weston Park.  So off we went.  It was very changeable weather, windy, cloudy, warm and with rain threatening (sadly the rain only amounted to three spits).  And was still a treat.