Australia · blessings · books · family · freedom · memories · Mount Warning · rain · reading · spring · sunset · Tweed Valley

Monday Musings

5:45am in the valley.

There were storms about last night – plural. Thunder with no rain during the afternoon, which subsided. A rain storm between around 6pm to 8pm, which also ended. Then overnight, another storm. Bowie cat, I discovered, is scared of storms and slept all night cuddled close to me.

I didn’t know what to expect in the valley this morning, but I woke to a very pretty misty fairyland scene, even if Mount Warning was hidden behind mist and clouds.

Each day since uni ended I catch up on a neglected chore, yesterday I pressure-cleaned the front veranda and part of the driveway; today I spent ironing.

Ironing is a pretty brainless task, and as anyone old-fashioned – like me – knows, whilst ironing and alone, your mind wanders off in all directions.

Today, I contemplated the risk I took in deciding to take photos and add a post to my blog every day, while I studied. It was a risk because I wasn’t completely sure I’d have time to post something every day, but I did. (Except for that one night when my sister called, and we stayed on the phone until after midnight. That was worth missing a day of posting.)

I decided to take that risk and make the committment, another committment – but an enjoyable one – which would distract me from the tunnel-vision I am prone to while studying and writing assignments. As much as I enjoy the study and writing, it drains me. I needed a distraction.

My conclusion at the end of the three month semester is that it paid off. Forcing myself to take time out each day to walk outside and take photos gave me something else to think about. It was a very worthwhile distraction. And even more rewarding has been my reconnection with blogging friends, most of whom I have known now for many years. The risk was worth the effort in many ways.

I’m not much of a risk taker though, which led to another thought. I feel content right now, I’m getting my home and garden back in order, and I am looking forward to Christmas. Through into next year, and when semester 1 of uni starts back, I will continue blogging. Decision made. But I also know I want to hold on to my peace of mind.

Here in Australia, there is a state election on Saturday. It’s not for my state, but the outcome will directly affect us as we live so close to the border. And next week, there’s the big election in the U.S., the outcome of which will have an impact on Australia. I’ve decided though, that this week, I will not listen to any news. Regardless of my opinions, the outcome of both elections will be whatever they will be, so I will save myself the agony of speculating on “what might be”. When the outcome of both elections are known, regardless of which party wins and which one loses, the world will keep on spinning.

Another thought I had was about the year – 2020 – which the multitudes seem to consider is the worst year ever. I understand why many people feel that way, but I don’t. Last year was more difficult when my husband and I had to organise aged care for his parents then sell the home they had lived in for twenty years. In 2015 my first grandchild, baby Samuel, was born, but never took a breath. The next year, baby Braxton, now aged four, was born, but we wouldn’t have Braxton if Samuel had survived. 2002 was an incredibly trying year when my husband had a serious accident and could have lost his life. He survived. I thought my world would end when my mother left me in 1993. The world kept spinning though, and her absence gave me the opportunity for the next five years to develop a closer relationship with my Dad.

My point is, life goes on. I thought a lot about that today, whilst ironing. I can’t control the world, my country, my state of residence, my town – I have no control over the actions of anyone other than myself, and it is my responsibility to be the best version of myself that I can be.

Making that decision feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I think also that if I stay away from watching television this week, I will get a lot more reading done. 🙂

Husband and I have been planning a renovation of my kitchen, so tonight he called me into the kitchen to discuss the height my new rangehood should be installed at. The discussion had to wait though. I looked out the window, and after all the rain, and storms, and mist we have had, look at the sunset sky! ❤

Australia · books · in my garden · Mount Warning · pets · reading · spring · subtropical weather · Tweed Valley

A Happy Garden and a Day Spent Indoors

Not a happy gardener, because it’s too wet for me to do any gardening today. My garden is extremely happy though, due to a good, solid soaking of rain that has hardly let up all day.

When I saw a magpie, a currawong, and two kookaburras outside my kitchen window this morning, my first thought was one of amusement – they are social distancing! Then I thought, but this is the way birds always act. They never get into each other’s space, they wait patiently, distanced from one another. No, not social distancing at all. I believe birds understand – they have always known – that they each need their own “personal space”.

There’s nothing to see today where the mountain can usually be seen sitting in all her splendour. Nothing but mist and rain. I took all of my outdoors photos today from either inside, or standing on my back veranda. It’s too wet to venture any further.

I have spent most of today indoors, sorting through masses of papers which have littered my desk for the past three months while I have been engrosed in uni study and assignments. I plonked a grey blanket on top of my sewing table a few weeks ago, and Miss Tibbs seems so happy with it being there that I haven’t had the heart to move it. Now, she sleeps on the blanket, and when she’s not sleeping she’s kneading the blanket! That’s why one of her paws is blurred in the photo – up and down her little paws went, kneading away as happy as could be.

I’m pretty happy too – just look at my desk-top! No really, look at it, because you can! And I can too! This is a rare event! I usually have so many piles of this, that and the other on my desk, but today they have either been thrown in the recycle bin, or put away where they belong. Bliss! ❤

I have another blissful sight to share too – a pile of books that I have been collecting over the past months of uni. I’m reading two book now, and will work my way through these, and others, during the next few months.

In another week’s time, I think I might have my life sorted and back in order. 🙂

Australia · clouds · fiction · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · quotes · reading · spring · sunrise · sunset · Tweed Valley

The Misty Mountains

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.
~~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.

The mist is below the mountain actually, but what a glorious sight it is! I’ve been looking forward to daylight savings so I could rise an hour earlier, which at 5:30am – in real “Earth” time, even though the clock says it’s 6:30 – is right on sunrise. It’s a magical time of day, when the valley has an atmosphere of belonging to another world at the break of day.

I haven’t heard of any dungeons in the valley or the mountain ranges, but I’m sure many “caverns old” could be discovered there.

If only the kookaburras could talk, they could tell the tales of caverns they have discovered in the valley.

Looking east towards the coast as the sun was rising, I could see the clouds catching glimmers of sunlight – more magic!

There are no dragons from Middle Earth guarding this “pale enchanted gold” at the end of the day, just the sparkling lights in the sleepy town below. 🙂

book review · books · fiction · reading

Book Review – The Sewing Machine.

 

When my blog-buddy Nicki at the Secret Library Book Blog posted that she intended reading The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie, it reminded me that I wrote a review of the book last year for a university assignment. When reading through the review today I had to make a few changes to remove evidence of it once having been an assignment, but I’ve left the basics intact.

******

There’s a great deal to like about Natalie Fergie’s debut historical fiction novel The Sewing Machine. The inter-generational weaving of lives, and the social context of various time periods intertwining events spanning over one-hundred years form a complex narrative of intrigue.

In March 1911, Jean and her fiancé Donald, both workers at the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank Scotland, become embroiled in a strike at the factory. When Donald loses his job, the couple relocate to Edinburgh, where the story begins to weave its way through several fateful events in the lives of four generations of two families.

The catalyst, a message written by Jean and wrapped around a bobbin before she left the Singer factory is discovered by Kathleen after she purchases a new machine. This message, and the part the machine plays in the lives of each owner as it passes through the generations remains the focus of the story.

The last owner of the sewing machine, Fred, who we meet in 2016, is an unemployed blogger. He is the great-grandson of Kathleen, and inherits the sewing machine as part of his grandparent’s estate. After his fateful meeting with the great-granddaughter of Jean, the two descendants unravel the mystery of the message written in 1911.

I have just one criticism to make regarding the structure of The Sewing Machine. As captivating as the story is, I found the emotional connection between character and reader hindered by the introduction of three protagonists within the first nineteen pages, with each living in a different time period. In the beginning, the plot was difficult to follow. Further preventing intimacy with each protagonist, little is mentioned about their appearance. In an interview with Anne Bonny, Fergie claims she “painted each character’s appearance with a light brush” to enable the reader to form a picture of the person through their personality, avoiding any “long-winded physical descriptions”.

Unfortunately, descriptions of a nurse dressing for her shift on page 178 are long-winded. The paragraph begins with “she assembled the uniform in stages, fixing the collar on to the dress with three studs”. After a detailed fifteen-line commentary of a nurse dressing, complete with accessories, the nurse “gathered her red woolen cloak around her and set off, past the discreetly signed mortuary and up the steps to the long surgical corridor”. With similar detailed narrative of the characters lacking, I formed mental images of faceless people while reading.

At times, it is difficult to foresee how all elements of the story will come together. By the conclusion, however, the connection of every significant event occurring within the two families over one-hundred-and-five years is cleverly explained.

I read The Sewing Machine over four days during April 2018 and my rating for the book on Goodreads is four stars.