Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

Lent to me by a good friend who insisted that it was one of the best books she had ever read!

**** "Powerful."

From the back cover: "Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move people to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with startling heroism."

I'm not sure that the blurb on the back cover is truly representative of this book. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a story about Afganistan, a country ravaged by war and political upheaval. It is told through the lives of two ordinary women who simply had the misfortune to be born in a time and a place which would infuse their lives with suffering.

I don't think it is possible for those of us fortunate enough to have been born and live in countries such as Australia, to grasp the horror of living in a country that is a battlefield. It's nothing like sending soldiers off to a war in a foreign country, nothing at all. To have tanks and armed soldiers in your streets, to be in danger from bombing or sniper fire as you go about your daily business, and to face oppression, starvation and imprisonment from invaders, is something I can only imagine. To never know from one month to the next which regime is in charge, what laws and what corruption will control your daily life...hardship is not a big enough word. To send sons, fathers, husbands, brothers off to war never to return; to lose daughters, mothers, sisters to disease and's horrifying.

In addition to the war, Mariam and Laila face the "ordinary" sufferings of womanhood; miscarriage, loss of loved ones, unhappy marriages; and the "extraordinary" sufferings of being women in a culture where they are not valued. Mariam is rejected by society because she is illegitimate, both Mariam and Laila are married off as teenagers to a much older man, and both are subjected to beatings from their husband.

Yes, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a story of suffering. But it is also a story that helped me to understand that we are all really the same, no matter where we live or what our culture or religion is. We all have quite modest hopes and dreams really; the desire to love and be loved, to have a family, and to work to make the world a little bit better for us having been here. All countries have so much beauty, all cultures have so much valuable history, all people want to celebrate what is good in their lives.

Mariam and Laila have an uphill battle to make a better life. I love the dream that they share; it's so simple and yet so beautiful:

"They would live in a small house on the edge of some town...where the road was narrow and unpaved but lined with all manner of plants and shrubs. Maybe there would be a path to take, a path that led to a grass field where the children could play, or maybe a graveled road that would take them to a clear blue lake where trout swam and reeds poked through the surface. They would raise sheep and chickens, and they would make bread together and teach the children to read."

I highly recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns. It's a book that will touch your heart and make you thankful for all the good in your life.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fashion I Fancy

I'm running a bit low on funds at the moment, but a girl can dream. Here's a selection of some fashion items that I'd like to get my hands on for winter.

Black Leggings with Ankle Detail

Black Ankle Boots

A Wrap Dress

What about you? Is there anything that you're lusting after in the shopping department?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

TTT - Getting Inked.

if you were to get a tattoo right now, what would it be?

Oooooh, I wonder if this topic will stir up a bit of controversy? Some people have very strong opinions about tatts, so it will be interesting to see what sort of conversations this question provokes.

I don't have any tattoos, but I'm not against them. It's just that because a tattoo is permanent (barring expensive laser removal), I'd want to make sure that I was really, really happy with what I chose, and I've never felt strongly enough and sure enough to go ahead with any ink.

Tattoos can look really cool, but they can also look pretty trashy. So I think you have to do a bit of research to find out which designs, colours and skin areas stand the test of time. I'd hate to end up with something that had drooped or gone blurry and made me look old and tired and past my prime! I think that I'd like to look at some tatts that were 5, 10 or 20 years old to see what the effect was.

Having said all this really sensible stuff, the thought of just heading straight to the tattoo parlour and getting one done does get the heart racing a bit! It seems a little bit edgy and exciting, but is pretty socially acceptable these days so doesn't seem too baaaaad!

So, enough waffling, if I was to bite the bullet and get one today, what would I get?

Definitely something feminine and pretty.

This heart-and flowers design has a banner on which the names of my husband and kids could be written.
After all, I know that I'll love them forever, so even if I regret the tattoo, I'll never regret them.

Another possibility would be getting an inspirational quote tattooed; something that is meaningful to me. Tattoos that are just a line of words done in script usually look pretty classy. 

This wouldn't be my particular choice, but it looks pretty cool to me.

And where on my body would I get the tattoo done? I think the back, as in the photo above, is pretty nice. It can be hidden or shown off as desired. Other possibilities for me would be:

the nape of the neck
(I think it's sexy, and it can be hidden by hair.)

the foot or ankle

 or, the wrist.

So, what about you? Do you have any tattoos? Would you get one? And if you were to get one right now, what would it be?

To join in the discussion, click the button above which will take you to Welcome To The NutHouse, where Shannon hosts this meme every Tuesday.

Friday, April 23, 2010

This Pen for Hire by Laura Levine

This Pen for Hire by Laura Levine.

Borrowed from my local public library.

*** "Fun!"

From the back cover: "Steamy personal ads. Daring declarations of love. Writer-for-hire Jaine Austen has penned them all. But when one of the love connections she made is broken up by murder, Jaine finds herself freelancing free-of-charge - and uncovering more than she bargained for..."

Geeky Howard is love with his beautiful blonde aerobics instructor Stacy and hires Jaine to write a letter that will convince Stacy to go out on a date with him. Quite a tall order. But Jaine uses her imagination, and much to her surprise, Howard rings her with the exciting news that the letter has been successful and he has a date with Stacy. Mission accomplished.

Or so Jaine thinks, until she turns on the TV news to see Howard being arrested for the grisly murder of Stacy. She doesn't believe that the timid, mild-mannered man that she met could be capable of violence, and so begins her life as an amateur detective.

If you like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels, then you'll find this book quite similar. Single girl, unlucky in love, stumbles from one mishap to another as she exercises her sleuthing skills. Along the way, we are introduced to a cast of amusing minor characters, and we meet a possible love interest. Jaine has similar issues to Stephanie, with her love of food and lack of self-control, and she has a similar level of disfunctionality in her life.

This Pen for Hire is enjoyable enough, but it's not laugh-out-loud funny like the Stephanie Plum novels. It's a nice, fun bit of fluff, and I'll persist with the series to see if it improves and grows on me.

I'd recommend This Pen for Hire as a great in-the-bath or on-the-beach read. It's light, and fun and a quick, easy read.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Birth of a Fashionista

Like most girls, I've always loved clothes, shoes, jewellery and all other accessories. Lately though, I haven't always been happy with the outfits that I've been putting together. I haven't always really felt like "me", if you know what I mean.

Recently, I realised what the problem was.

1. I was waiting until I lost weight so that I could buy new clothes and choose things that I loved and really love my "look".
2. I was waiting until I magically had a lot more money so I could afford the clothes and accessories that I really want.

I've decided to stop waiting! So, I'm not thin. That doesn't mean that I can't find a style and wonderful clothes that I love and look good in. So, I'm not rich. That doesn't mean that I can't do some bargain shopping and still put together some great outfits.

So, as this blog becomes more eclectic every day, I've decided to show you some of the outfits that I'm putting together. I welcome your comments, but only if you're telling me how fabulous I look!

Outfit Number 1 consists of:
Top from Target, was on the end-of-season sale rack. (Sorry, I got it a while ago, I can't remember how much it was.)
Skirt and belt from Rivers Clearance Store. (Again, can't remember the price, sorry.) The belt is supposed to be worn on the skirt, but I chose to wear the top out rather than tucked in and tied the belt around my waist.
Shoes from Rivers Clearance Store $18. (Yes they are leather!)

Outfit Number 2 consists of:
Top was a gift (a couple of years ago!) and is from Colorado.
Skirt from Salvos Store $7. Considering that the brand is Jacqui E, it fits me perfectly, and is showing no signs of wear, I'm pretty happy with that! 
Same shoes.

So, what do you think? If you enjoyed this post, head over to Frocks & Frou Frou, a blog that has been inspiring me of late.

And please leave me a comment, I'd love to hear about your take on fashion.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Bloody Thing After Another

Title: One Bloody Thing After Another

Publisher: ECW Press

Pub Date: 05/01/2010

ISBN: 9781550229165

Author: Joey Comeau

Category: FICTION - ADULT: Horror & Ghost: Horror

Jackie has a map of the city on the wall of her bedroom, with a green pin for each of her trees. She has a first-kiss tree and a broken-arm tree. She has a car-accident tree. There is a tree at the hospital where Jackie’s mother passed away into the long good night. When one of them gets cut down, Jackie doesn't know what to do but she doesn't let that stop her. She picks up the biggest rock she can carry and puts it through the window of a car. Smash. She intends to leave before the police arrive, but they're early.

Ann is Jackie’s best friend, but she’s got problems of her own. Her mother is chained up in the basement. How do you bring that up in casual conversation? "Oh, sorry I've been so distant, Jackie. My mother has more teeth than she’s supposed to, and she won't eat anything that’s already dead." Ann and her sister Margaret don't have much of a choice here. Their mother needs to be fed. It isn't easy but this is family. It’s not supposed to be easy. It'll be okay as long as Margaret and Ann still have each other.

Add in a cantankerous old man, his powerfully stupid dog, a headless ghost, a lesbian crush and a few unsettling visits from Jackie’s own dead mother, and you'll find that One Bloody Thing After Another is a different sort of horror novel from the ones you're used to. It’s as sad and funny as it is frightening, and it is as much about the way families rely on each other as it is about blood being drooled on the carpet. Though, to be honest, there is a lot of blood being drooled on the carpet.

I received an ARC of One Bloody Thing After Another from the publisher via NetGalley. Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this review, which is my personal opinion upon reading the galley.

This book wasn't what I expected it to be. I guess I was thinking along the lines of a psychological thriller, or a Jodi Piccoult-esque tale of teenage girls facing the horrifying realities of life.

Not so much...

One Bloody Thing After Another really is a horror story. I found it disturbing and confusing and horrifying. It's sad and frightening and well, to be honest, I didn't find it at all funny. After having read it, I've come to the conclusion that this genre really isn't my cup of tea. Having said that, I had no trouble reading it right through to the end because it was a page-turner; I had to know what happened next.

The storyline of One Bloody Thing After Another is very involving, and I would have liked to see a bit less blood on the carpet, and a bit more development of the characters, relationships and issues. To me, this book seemed a little underdone. Each of the three main characters and their stories has so much potential; any one of Jackie, Ann or Charlie could have been developed further and carried off an entire novel. In this book, even with the three interweaving tales, it didn't quite feel like a whole novel.

One Bloody Thing After Another ultimately wasn't satisfying for me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

TTT - Shop Till You Drop

if you could win unlimited shopping from one store, which one would it be?

What a good question Shannon! Can you please let me know how I can win this prize?

I had a bit of a think about this one. Hmmm...what store would I never get sick of visiting? What store would I never exhaust the possibilities of? What store could I shop in for myself, and for presents, and keep shopping in for ever and ever until I'm 101? And the answer was clear...

What's not to love? Books, books and more books, plus DVDs and the cutest stationery!

Here are some examples of what I could buy with my unlimited Borders gift voucher:

House Rules by Jodi Piccoult.

New Moon on DVD.

Gratitude: A Journal by Katherine Price.

The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind by Strauch and Prisant.
Also, most Borders stores have an in-store Gloria Jeans. I love to relax with my Caramelatte and browse through the magazines or books at my leisure. Best of all, my kids love it too! They settle in with a nice Caramel Slice or Hot Chocolate or Banana Bread and read a book right off the shelf. I don't hear a peep out of them!

So what about you? What store would you like an unlimited gift voucher to? To play along, click on the button above and link up with Shannon at Welcome to the NutHouse.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A New Christianity for a New World

A New Christianity for a New World by John Shelby Spong.

Borrowed from my local public library.

*** "Thought-provoking"

From the back cover: " A New Christianity for a New World, he presents his inspiring alternative of what true faith should be today - a Christianity premised upon justice, love, and the rise of a new humanity - and offers a unified vision of authentic Christian belief for the third millennium. Spong looks beyond traditional boundaries to open new avenues and a new vocabulary into the holy..."

I have been a member of several Christian churches over the years, all of which have been very traditional in their approach to the Bible and the fundamental truths of the faith. John Shelby Spong is synonymous with "heretic" for many of the congregation members. I, however, have always had an inquiring mind, and have always wanted to have avenues to explore my questions and doubts. A recent purchase of mine, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark, has encouraged me that genuine questioning is essential for a healthy spiritual life. It is from that perspective that I have read A New Christianity for a New World.

If you are happy with your religious/spiritual experience, safe and secure in your particular beliefs/faith/tradition, then you probably won't be interested in this book. However, if you're a Christian who wonders and doubts, you'll probably find at least some of this book resonates for you. 

The thing that strikes me the most in this book, is the fact that Spong still very much identifies himself as a Christian, despite refuting all of the traditional fundamental tenets of the faith. At first I found that confusing, but reading further I realised that Spong is attempting to strip back all the layers of human attempts to define God; all the language and imagery of Christian cultures over the centuries. He aims to find what is left, the central truth, if you like, of God, when all the human inventions are removed. To my mind, that's a noble ideal.

Do I think Spong has succeeded in arguing convincingly for his new definition of Christianity? That's not really for me to say in the context of a book review. Suffice to say, he has set himself a daunting task. A lot of what he says is extremely controversial when said from within the church (Spong is a Bishop).

Would I recommend this book? I would say follow your own conscience on this one. If you believe that this book may damage your faith, then don't read it. But if you're intrigued, I think you'll find it well worth your time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Daughters of the Witching Hill

Title: Daughters of the Witching Hill

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Imprint: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub Date: 04/07/2010
ISBN: 9780547069678
Author: Sharratt, Mary
Category: FICTION - ADULT: Historical & Biographical: Historical

Daughters of the Witching Hill brings history to life in a vivid and wrenching account of a family sustained by love as they try to survive the hysteria of a witch-hunt. Bess Southerns, an impoverished widow living in Pendle Forest, is haunted by visions and gains a reputation as a cunning woman. Drawing on the Catholic folk magic of her youth, Bess heals the sick and foretells the future. As she ages, she instructs her granddaughter, Alizon, in her craft, as well as her best friend, who ultimately turns to dark magic. When a peddler suffers a stroke after exchanging harsh words with Alizon, a local magistrate, eager to make his name as a witch finder, plays neighbors and family members against one another until suspicion and paranoia reach frenzied heights. Sharratt interweaves well-researched historical details of the 1612 Pendle witch-hunt with a beautifully imagined story of strong women, family, and betrayal. Daughters of the Witching Hill is a powerful novel of intrigue and revelation.

I received an ARC of Daughters of the Witching Hill from the publisher via NetGalley. Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this review, which is my personal opinion upon reading the galley.

Daughters of the Witching Hill is a captivating account of the life of Bess Southerns and her family. Reading this book, I found myself transported to England in the time of King James I. I felt the desperation of Bess and her family as they struggled to survive on charity, begging, and itinerant work as they walked miles to neighbouring farms to offer their services in exchange for a meal. I felt the despair brought by death, disease and famine, over which the poor had no control. And I felt the terror of simple people facing oppression from the church and the magistrates.

In the late 1500's, after The Reformation, the Catholic faith was driven underground. Practising Catholicism was seen to be just as dangerous and evil as witchcraft. Meanwhile, the only defence against sickness that the people had was prayer and herbal folk remedies. A woman who plied her trade as a "cunning woman", or healer, was never far from being cried out as a witch.

What stays with me after reading Daughters of the Witching Hill is the injustice of the times.It made me so angry to read what Bess and family had to go through. I don't know if I could have survived in those times. If you were born poor, you really had no opportunity to better yourself. It was a matter of keeping your head down, working hard, and being meek and respectable. If you were lucky enough to find favour with a rich protector, you were safe, but otherwise life was perilous indeed.

If you've ever been intrigued by the stories of witch trials, you will love this book, which is written from the point of view of Bess and her grand-daughter Alizon, extremely sympathetic characters. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will find Daughters of the Witching Hill extremely interesting. The fact that this story has been woven from actual accounts of the 1612 witch trials makes it doubly fascinating.

Highly recommended. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Do you read electronic books?

I've recently joined NetGalley. Publishers can share their digital galleys with professional readers (yes, I'm loving this title for what I do!) who can request galleys that they want to review.

I found out about NetGalley via Twitter, which really is an awesome source of all sorts of information. The first galley that I requested was Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt (published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Within 24 hours of my request, an advance reading copy (ARC) was available for me to download.

Because I don't have a portable ereader of any kind, I have to read the ARC on my computer using Adobe Digital Editions. It's great that I have the opportunity to read this, and it's wonderful that Digital Editions means that I can, but I've got to say, it's not the best. When I read a novel, it's recreation for me. When I sit at a desk and read the computer screen, it's work. So I'm having trouble enjoying the book the way I would be if it actually was a book. I can't just pick it up and put it down whenever I want to. And even though my computer is a laptop, so I can move it around and take it places, it's a pretty big, heavy laptop, and I can't really curl up with it.

So, do you read electronic books? Do you have a Kindle, or iPhone or iPad? How does the experience compare with an actual book?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Alana's Art Project

Alana started high school this year at an academically selective high school. She has already had some quite challenging assignments and homework. Over the school holidays she's been working on a Visual Arts project which had both written and practical components.

For the written part, she wrote a response to Spring by Arcimboldo. See a photo of the work below.

For the practical component she had to make a self-portrait using collage, inspired by the style of Arcimboldo.

See the progress of her work below:

And, the finished product!

I'm very, very proud of all her hard work.

TTT - Food, Glorious, Food!

if you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Oooh, this is a good one! I love to eat, and the thought of eating the same meal over and over each day leads me to one important conclusion - I'm going to need three courses!

For my American readers: In Australia, we refer to the first course of our meal as the Entree, the second course as the Main Meal or Main Course, and the third course as Dessert. Just so you don't get confused!

For my Entree, I'm thinking seafood. It's such a hard decision! I love smoked salmon, so maybe a Smoked Salmon Terrine? I also love Salt and Pepper Squid. Or maybe a pasta dish, like Linguine with a Cream and Smoked Salmon Sauce...

Ok, I'm having some trouble deciding here! Let's just say I've chosen a delightful seafood dish and matched it with a Semillon/Sauvingnon Blanc. We are having wine with our meal - yes?

For my Main, I'm thinking a nice casserole. Maybe Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Cous Cous? And I'll pair it with a glass of Shiraz.

For dessert, I must have chocolate, and I must have fresh berries! I'm thinking a Dark Chocolate Basket filled with Fresh Berries, topped with Double Cream. Of course I'd need a nice glass of "sticky" to go with it. Or maybe the sweet shiraz that I had at my sister's place!

"Thousand Layers" smoked wild salmon terrine. The salmon is layered with zucchini and piquillo peppers, and drizzled with a savory oyster vinaigrette. The dish is light but redolent of fall flavors, thanks to the smokiness of the salmon and the bite of the peppers.
From The Hall at Palihouse menu.

Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Morrocan Spices.

I've had so much fun choosing this menu! Thanks Shannon :)

If you'd like to play along, click on the button above.

Monday, April 12, 2010

grave secret by Charlaine Harris

grave secret by Charlaine Harris.

Borrowed from my local public library.

**** "Satisfying"

From the inside cover: "Lightning-struck sleuth Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver take a break from looking for the dead to visit the two little girls they both think of as sisters. But, as always happens when they travel to Texas, memories of their horrible childhood resurface...To make matters worse, Tolliver learns from his older brother that their father is out of jail and trying to reestablish contact with other family members. Tolliver wants nothing to do with the man - but he may not have a choice in the matter. Soon, family secrtes ensnare them both, as Harper finally discovers what happened to her missing sister, Cameron, so many years before. And what she finds out will change her world forever..."

grave secret is the fourth book in Harris' Harper Connelly series, which I love. I have reviewed each of the previous books in the series - you can read the reviews by clicking on each book's name.

I was waiting on this book for a long time. It was so overdue that the library almost listed it as lost, but eventually it turned up and I got the call that it was ready for me to pick up. I've been working hard on an educational research assignment for my Masters, so it's been sitting on my bedside table for a week or so, taunting me! Ah, what the hell, I decided to give myself a break from the study and treat myself!

As expected, I really enjoyed this continuation of the story of Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver, who travel the country finding and identifying the dead using Harper's supernatural gift. As usual, there was a mystery to solve, and I also enjoyed the developing relationships between the characters. It was also extremely satisfying to get an answer about what happened to Harper's sister Cameron.

These books aren't demanding, they can be read in a single session if you have the time. But the storylines keep you guessing, the characters are engaging, and - you guessed it - I can't wait for the next one!

A quick check of Charlaine Harris' website shows that there is nothing new in the pipeline for Harper as yet, however the next Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead in the Family, is due out in May. You can read the first chapter of it (yes, of course I did!) here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz.

Borrowed from my local public library.

**** "Extraordinary!"

From the back cover: "Meet the Deans. 'The fact is, the whole of Australia despises my father more than any other man, just as they adore my uncle more than any other man. I might as well set the story straight about both of them.' Heroes or criminals? Crackpots or visionaries? Relatives or enemies? It's a simple family story..."

This book is almost dauntingly long, coming in at over 700 pages. It's a convoluted, meandering tale of adventure, with the most unbelievable events and unimaginable characters. And it's funny! I found myself wanting to commit the spectacularly inventive imagery to memory. As I read, I wanted someone beside me that I could read particularly appealing passages to, to share my delight. Reading this book, I never once forgot that I was reading a work of fiction. It never once drew me in so that I believed that what I was reading was real, and I didn't care. I was having too much fun enjoying the demented narrative, the disturbingly original metaphors, and the narrator's commentary on life.

Will you enjoy this book? I think that in some ways, this book is quintessentially Australian, and would be hard to truly grasp for non-Australians. There are a lot of references to Australian culture and history. And I think you have to have a soft spot for the ridiculous to enjoy this one.

I'd love to read something else that Toltz writes to see how he attacks a different story.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The first footy game of the season.

Josh is a keen Aussie Rules Football player. Here he is all dressed and ready to go to the first game of the season.

He plays in the Under 10's, who play modified rules and don't actually have a competition. They play against teams from all over the area, but don't keep score. There are no finals, and no winning team at the end of the season. His coaches are some boys that play in the Under 16's. It's a welcome change from having his Dad coach him, it gives him a chance to do his best without being the coach's son. It also gives the 16-year-olds a chance to give back to the game they love, and frees up hubby to stretch his wings a little coaching the Under 14's.

I tried my best to get some action shots of Josh while he was playing, my slow reflexes and the delay on the camera on my phone made it very tricky! I think Alana actually took all the good ones.

Even though we don't keep score, I know that Josh's team flogged the other side! 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

School Holiday Activities (3) - Do Your Homework

Alana's art assignment is well underway. Check it out.

It's quite an ambitious project. She's creating a self-portrait via collage.

First we pixelated a photo of her using photobucket. Then we blew it up to poster size. Now she's attempting to recreate it using cut up photos from magazines. She's using mostly faces, with some plain colours to make the background.

I'll update you on her progress. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

TTT- it's hard to have a battle of wits with an unarmed man!

what's the dumbest argument you've ever had?

Sometimes my husband refuses to admit that I'm right, and it is sooooo annoying! I will set a well-reasoned argument before him, but it doesn't move him. He simply doesn't agree with me. What a pain!

For instance, I am absolutely convinced that my husband uses the word "later" incorrectly. When he says, "I'll do such-and-such later", I stupidly assume he means either in a few minutes, or later in the day, or possibly even later in the week. But I assume that he has a definite plan to go ahead with the action, and that it will occur soon.

Noooooo, I am so wrong! Apparently, "later" simply means at some unspecified time in the future, which may be days, weeks, months or even years away. And even though I know this about my husband, I always get sucked in. When he says "later", I always think "Oh, great, he's going to get to that soon!", when I should be asking "WHEN EXACTLY???"

And no matter how many times I tell hubby that his use of the word "later" is not the usual interpretation, he argues with me!

Pretty dumb huh?!?

So what about you? Play along with Shannon at the NutHouse - link your post via the button. What's the dumbest argument you ever had?

School Holiday Activities (2) Fishing

My helpful husband took the kids out for the day yesterday so that I could have some uninterrupted uni assignment time.

The kids both enjoy fishing, but only if they catch fish!

I always tell them to catch as many as they can, but don't bring any home. I'm not keen on the whole scaling and gutting thing. Fishing laws being quite strict, it's a bit too much hassle to confirm what species you have caught and what the minimum legal length is anyway, so my kids fish humanely, taking a photo then letting the fish free to swim another day.

Monday, April 5, 2010

School Holiday Activities (1) Nanny McPhee

Loved it, loved it, loved it!

I love this return to old-fashioned family fun. The humour does not rely on pop-culture references or double-entendres, it's mainly simple physical comedy. Good triumphs over evil, children learn important lessons, and qualities such as courage, faith and imagination are lauded.

We all enjoyed this one - me, hubby and the kids - and came out of the cinema smiling and discussing which were the "best bits", and who our favourite characters were.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is beautiful as the mother working at the local grocery store, keeping the family farm afloat, and looking after her three children while her husband is off fighting World War II. Her niece and nephew are evacuated from London and come to stay, adding to her burden. (Side note: her English accent is flawless.)

Maggie Smith is delightful as the slightly demented grocery store proprietor. Senility has never looked so appealing!

And of course, Emma Thompson is superb as the title character. I love the way Nanny becomes progressively less grotesque as the children learn their lessons. By the end of the movie, her beauty is breathtaking, and I couldn't take my eyes off her face.

If I must criticise the movie at all, I think we could have done the putty-eating bird. He seemed unnecessary for most of the story, and then suddenly much too convenient at the end. Surely there could have been another way to get the job done? (You'll just have to see the movie to understand what I mean.) But maybe that's just the adult in me talking.

Also, I think a couple of the special effects were simply gratuitous. But the kids liked them, so I'm obviously just an old fuddy-duddy!

A highly recommended school holiday activity. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Latest in the Ongoing Saga of My Local Public Library Branch

This morning some politicians were out and about in my local area. It's an election year, and I live in a marginal seat. Also, our sitting member has been "kicked to the curb" by the party that she represents and consequently we have a new candidate. And did I mention that it's an election year, and we're a marginal seat???

So I decided to have a chat with our new candidate, get a feel for her, and find out what she had to say about the possible closure of our local library branch. My first impression is that she's intelligent and strong. She seems well-informed about the importance of public libraries to communities, and supportive of the campaign to oppose the closure of our branch. It's not an issue that she has direct control of, not yet being member of parliament. Also, libraries are a local government (Council) issue, and our new candidate is running for a Federal parliament seat. However, she did assure me that she would support my petition to Council.

So I came home and rattled off a letter to the Mayor.

"It has come to my attention that XXXXXXX City Council is considering closing the XXXXXXX Branch of XXXXXXX Library. I have also become aware that moving the Branch to a temporary classroom within XXXXXXX Public School has been forwarded as a possible alternative arrangement.

Please do not close XXXXXXX Library.

XXXXXXX is an isolated neighbourhood with limited transport and the Library is an important asset within the community. In addition, residents from the even more isolated XXXXXXX communities do not have a Library Branch of their own, and the XXXXXXX Branch is their closest public library. The recent opening of XXXXXXX High School further expands the clientele that the XXXXXXX Library Branch serves.

Moving XXXXXXX Library to within XXXXXXX Public School is an unacceptable solution. It opens school students to risk from members of the public who would not usually be on school grounds.

Public libraries are vital to social infrastructure, providing the indispensable service of facilitating access to information for all.

“Freedom of access to public library and information services is essential to the democratic process and to the social well-being of the Australian community.” From Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Statement on Public Library Services, this can be read in full at

Please use this opportunity to consider how XXXXXXX Library can best meet the information, learning and recreational needs of the XXXXXXX community."

I have forwarded a copy of this letter to our new candidate, in the hope that she will add her voice to the cause.

What about you? Do you have adequate public library service in your area?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Twitter - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

3 days.

32 tweets.

Following 36.


I'm not exactly setting twitter on fire, but I've learnt a lot so far...

The Good
  • It's fun!
  • It's instant!
  • You can "follow" celebrities!
  • It's a wonderful source of information.
Expanding on that last point a bit, I want to share with you a couple of wonderful sources of information that I have found via twitter.

resourceshelf is a US website that collects all sorts of information of interest to information professionals, educators and journalists. They tweet links to each new resource that they list. I follow them, which means that I receive all their tweets. When something catches my eye, I click on the link to read more. If something is really interesting or useful, I "retweet", which means that I repeat the tweet to all my followers (who may not follow resourceshelf themselves). See how the information is passed on from twit to twit?

LISNews is also US based, and provides links to new posts about libraries and information science.

Getting away from the whole libraries/teachers/books theme, I also follow techreview, who tweet links to articles about the latest technology innovations. Recent posts include Glaucoma Test in a Contact Lens and Robotic Planes Chase After Climate Data.

Obviously, I have not even begun to plumb the depths of the information available to me via twitter.

The Bad

Unfortunately, I just can't seem to help myself from tweeting ridiculously boring details of my daily life! It's just so addictive, and I must admit I have been guilty of the following tweets:
  • OMG just finished helping Alana with her homework!
  • Devilled Sausages simmering in the Crock Pot for dinner tonight :)
  • Yay! The Vampire Diaries is back on GO! tonight :)
Sorry, sorry, sorry!

The Ugly

There seems to be a whole slew of people that use their twitter account simply to generate as much traffic as possible to their website (for the purpose of making money). They tweet multiple times about a new product/great deal. Ugghh, who could stand to follow them and get repeat tweets about making money and winning things all day? Not me.

Now excuse me while I tweet a link to this post :)

PS. What are your experiences with twitter?