Having nearly finished reading the "Sickened" book, I am of two minds whether it is a truly accurate memoir - or depiction of the author's life - or if it is mostly fabricated 'fact'. Some things just don't gel. The author writes, "Memories that hang the heaviest are the easiest to recall"; and she certainly has some 'heavy' memories. But are they real? Suffice to say, I don't recommend reading this book. It is an unhappy read, with quite bizarre subject matter and weird recollections that often don't ring true. But, that's just my opinion. Who am I to question such a story?
As for the claim that the 'heavy' memories ar the easiest to recall...in my opinion such 'heavy' memories may be readily available to recall, but there is nothing 'easy' about such recollections.
Then again, just my opinion.
All families have memories and the memories of family members are often very different.
The writer, Beth Yahp, wrote in an anthology etitled, 'Sisters', “Our memory is a house we enter through different doors, in which we seldom encounter each other and are always surprised that we don’t…”
How very true.
Reading a book concerning memories of a childhood 'cursed' by a mother who wishes illness upon her daughter, makes me think of the Leo Tolstoy "Anna Karenina Principle", that of "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
The family in the book ("Sickened") is certainly an example of a very unhapy family and a family very much "unhappy in its own way". Certainly we hope there are not many other families experiencing this sort of unhappiness.
And, speaking of families: one of my sisters is gathering a group of little second cousins; children belonging to my nieces and nephews, to have a little get-together, as one family is arriving from UK and would like to meet with some of the (small) Australian. relatives.
There will be 11 children, ranging in age from 8 years down to about 8 months. Their names are: Scarlett, Oliver, Abraham, James, Alexander, Thomas, Oscar, Joshua, Charlotte, Henry and William. The eldest of the eleven is a girl and the only other girl is the youngest.
There are five other children in this extended family (a couple of them belonging to me) but they are bigger and busy with school. Their names are: Edward, Alexander (yes, another Alexander), Sam, Tom, and Daniel. And, yes, all boys.
These children are the great-grandchildren of my parents. How pleased and proud they would have been to have known them all!
Perhaps they are 'watching'?
Finished reading "Thirty Years in a Turtleneck Sweater". A good read. The Irish Examiner newspaper said of it : "the innocence of youth rises from every page...powerful and emotional".
I'd have to agree.
The next book I have started reading is "Sickened" (the memoir of a Munchausen by proxy childhood). Weird, sad and hardly believable, until you face up to the fact that this is an illness - not belonging to the "ill" person but to the person who 'creates' the illnesses and symptoms of the poor child involved. It is written by the survivor of such an illness that belonged to her mother.
Fascinating in an uneasy sort of way.
I am so disappointed in the reading habits of people lately. It seems like readers either don't care, don't have time, or are just being lazy "sheep" following more "sheep" to the reading table. The "Fifty Shades of Grey" phenomenon has me baffled. The arrival of this first in a growing line of books, written by E.L.James, was greeted mainly by reviews of a fairly negative nature, but which spoke of salacious and 'spicy' subject matter of the book. Most reviewers agreed that the book was poorly written, aimed at titillating the senses of the young and the not-so-young who are on the look-out for a bit of naughtiness. Well, the books (and more that followed) took off at such a rate that they have been making and dominating the 'best seller' lists for weeks.
The only way these spurious pieces of literature could have been knocked off their 'best seller' perch was by the emergence of a book written by J.K.Rowling. And so it happened. But now, the J.K.Rowling book, "The Casual Vacancy" has well and truly usurped the top position in the best seller list. (At a cost of $A40, mind you!).
Does no one think for themselves any more? Do very few poeople bother to browse in a book store (or on-line) or read book reviews?
I feel I am alone in my choice of reading matter. Today I am reading a book titled, "Thirty Years in a Turtleneck Sweater" by Nick Warren. It's an old-ish book; a memoir written lovingly - and well - by a son, telling the story of what his father endured as he played such an important role in the national (UK) Building Workers' strike of 1972. The heartfelt anecdotes in the book are a (painful) pleasure to read.
The next book on my reading list is "Sickened", another memoir; this time by Julie Gregory. The book tells of a childhood dominated by the (hard-to-imagine) Munchausen by Proxy syndrome. Can't wait!
Am I ,then, the odd one out in an individual choice of reading matter?
On the theme of poetry again. Just love this, although I don't wish it to be any true reflection of my own thoughts, please!
"This Be The Verse"
by Philip Larkin
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.
Don't you just love it?
Going out to dinner. No time for thinking up something to write. However, that may be a blessing as I have had some of Wordsworth's words (huh?) going around in my head today and so I will post my fave part from his "Ode to Immortality". Here 'tis:
"Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind."
Is that lovely, or is that lovely?
Sorry, not much time or energy to add to the blog today.
Had an interview with a tv crew, to be shown on a program next year (!)
It's because I helped and mentored a young boy, who is now a young man, doing very well in his chosen career as a chef.
Amongst other things, over the years, I've been helping him write his life story, and yesterday had to re-read some of it to help me remember all he's been through, so that today's interview sounded authentic. Hope I did well...for his sake. Will write more about it one day, but, for now I'm just tired.
Totally different subject matter today. Have just finished reading - and commenting upon - an article about Vitamin D deficiency. It seems that almost everyone is sufferng from this (new found) deficiency. I am beginning to think it is a ruse devised by pharmaceutical companies. Have you seen the array of Vitamin D supplements in the pharmacies lately? Vitamin D combined with Calcium in many of them. I'm sure it's just aiming at the 'baby boomer' generation who are now evolving into "old people"; old people worried about their health.
I have recently been told that I have a Vitamin D deficiency. Rubbish! I have one acre of garden that I work in nearly every day. Every day, if it is not too cold or wet, I eat my lunch outside...in the sun. I put UV protection on my face only. My hands and fore-arms are (what my mother would have described) as "brown as a berry".
What I can't understand is how it is that nearly everyone I know has had a result from pathology tests announcing a Vitamin D deficiency. Either the testing has changed or there is no vitamin D emanating from the sun any more, or the pharmaceutical companies have duped us all.
More on the topic of how to get people to read a blog. Well, to be more specific, how to get people to read MY blog. I'm still not sure whether people are reading my blog or whether people are reading my other writing that appears on my web site; that is, my short stories, non-fiction and so forth. I would truly appreciate some feedback. Yes, I have received the occasional comment on my blogs, (not often!), but they are either agreeing with something I have 'said' or are just talking about blogging in general.
I would like someone (anyone!) to post a comment with (maybe) a suggestion as to what is worth writing (i.e., blogging) about.
Last week I discovered a publishing organisation which has a "Manuscript Monday" thing going. It means that any writer may submit an unsolicited manuscript to them on a Monday and they will reply within a month if they like it. It's not the whole MS that you submit, but a synopsis plus one chapter. I sent (via email) a synopsis and, not the first chapter, but the prologue from my memoir.
Long shot, I know, but thought it was a good (and generous) idea of the publisher, especially in these times of 'hard-to-get-anything-published-unless-it's-50 shades-of something-soft-porn' (sorry about that!) Anyway, no harm in having a shot.
Wish me luck - and any suggestions for future blog subject matter most welcome. Thanks!
An interesting phenomenon occurred yesterday when I questioned the reasons why I had more visits to my blog on some days and fewer on others. I am coming to the conclusion that it is the TITLE of the blog entry that may have an impact. For yesterday's blog I chose the title "Understanding Blogging". It was a title chosen purely to announce the discussion I was having (seemingly with myself) about why my blog visitor numbers were so changeable. Well, what a surprise I had when this blog achieved my highest visitor score yet of 182. I was astonished! Then the penny started to drop - was it because of the title? Were people thinking they might learn to understand blogging by checking out my blog? What a disappointment they would have had.
But now, after doing a little research and checking out a site entitled, "How to focus your blog or blogged book on a topic", I have realised that perhaps I should stick to one topic and try to gain an audience on that particlular subject matter, instead of just prattling on about whatever is 'in my head' on a particular day.
But, now, what topic to decide on? Of course I could start plucking pieces from my memoir; but would that be interesting to a wide audience? I could continue on the saga of trying to sell our house, but as any action on that is limited and the 'stories' so few and far between, it could be a non-event.
I'm good at whingeing in the style of "Grumpy Old Women". Perhaps I could give that a go (?).
My current "occupation" of eulogy writing, whilst very interesting, could be a little morbid and, also, there's a privacy factor there.
So, in the meantime, I think I will just concentrate on chatting about how to (try and) make a successful blog.
As I mentioned yesterday, I am not after a huge audience, but, being a writer, I have to admit I am always happy to know that at least someone has read (and appreciated) anything I have written.
I know I'm not the most interesting blogger. And I know that some people's blogs are read by hundreds - and even thousands - of 'visitors'...but I do try to vary the subject matter of my posts. However, that may not be the way to go. Perhaps I should stick to one subject and gain the attention of people who have similar interests, therefore gaining an 'audience'...not that I really crave an 'audience'. My problem (if you could call it a problem) is that I don't understand who reads my posts and why. At the moment I am pondering over why I had 52 visitors on my blog and web site on October 10th and yet, today, so far (on 20th October) I have only 1 (ONE !) visitor. Can anyone enlighten me as to why the discrepancy.
I'd be very grateful to be told....even if the truth hurts. Thanks.
Because of my current 'work' as an occasional writer of eulogies, I am in the mood for finding inspiring words suitable for funerals. Today, over lunch time, reading an autobiography ("Public Life, Private Grief" by Mary Delahunty) I was impressed by her comment on the burden of grief.
Mary writes: "The burden of grief is to move the loved one from an absent presence to a sacred place in the memory; from the missing to the remembered."
What a lovely way to express it.
I have greatly enjoyed reading Mary's book and will keep it for a while before taking it to the local book shop - which is what I usually do with books that I have read. I take books there and choose others to take home. It's more of a book exchange, really. The cost is minimal and, if you are like me and read a lot, it is an invaluable source of good reading material. If not for this book shop, my house would be drowning in books!
Talking of houses...no one has made us an offer this week. Will we ever sell?
I love writing eulogies. Spent an hour or so yesterday with a woman whose mother had died. I was to write the eulogy. Although I enjoy writing these mini-biographies, they can sometimes be difficult. It seems that the more interesting a life has been the more difficult it is to write a eulogy. It gives me what I call "brain strain". While attempting to give a true-to-life glimpse of the person's time here on earth, I am terribly aware that I must get it right; that the facts are true facts and the stories offer the right perspective of the person's life. This lady was a teacher, a sportswoman, a mother and grandmother and a spinner and weaver, amongst many other occupations. She led an extremely interesting life, though was not always very happy. The task before me is to write truthfully about her without glossing over the sad facts or the hard times, but without really dwelling on negative aspects. I must be aware that (for instance) the people who attend her funeral because they knew her as a teacher and, incidentally, when she was at her happiest, are not informed about facts that have no bearing on those days and those memories. But, on the other hand, I do not wish to convey that (for instance) she had a "marriage made in Heaven", as she certainly did not. So, there is a fine line I must tread.
Nevertheless I have enjoyed writing this eulogy and I hope that all who listen to it will be happy with the words, in that I will have conveyed facts and feelings about a life 'well-lived' and that I will also have done credit to this somewhat courageous lady.
So, what to talk about today? No house buyers. No news.
Am still eating chocolate and drinking red wine, though not exclusively.
Have entered more "stuff" on eBay. Placed an Irish linen tea towel on for $4.20 and had someone almost immediately email with an offer to buy it now - not bid - and asking how much I would like. I emailed back to say that I do not sell "out of eBay". Had a small antique tin up for auction a couple of weeks ago. Put the price at $19. A person emailed offering me $200 if I took it off eBay and sold it to him. I gambled and left it up for auction and received $304 for it a few days later. So, suffice to say, I have learnt not to "give things away". Looks like my tea towel may be "worth" more that the $4.20 I named as a starting price. I'll let you know.
Following on from yesterday's "advice", I have so far partaken of some green tea and chocolate; an apple sits on the bench waiting for me to cut and eat it.
Along with my dinner, I will soon have a glass of red wine. What have I forgotten?
Oh, yes, I have done a 30 minute mathematical equation work-out on The Khan Academy web site and am beginning to get the idea of Algebra...or, rather, retrieve some of its idiosyncracies that have lurked (idle) in the recesses of my brain for decades.
Is that enough to ward off dementia?
And, oh, yes...the house. No word from any house inspection people. Looks like it is, indeed, back to square one.
Forget about the house-selling debacle for a day. There was some good news in the paper last week, where I read: "Flavonoids - antioxidants found in cocoa (tick), green tea (tick), red wine (tick) and some fruits (tick) - appear to be effective in slowing down or even reversing the reductions in cognitive performance that occur with ageing"
So, now it seems that I should continue eating chocolate, drinking green tea and red wine and eating fruit, as well as working on cross-words and some of the simple algebra problems presented on the "Khan Academy" website, in order to keep sane as I approach old age? Great! (Pause to eat some chocolate).
No word from our house "buyers". Is that it?
The dog barked loudly this morning and we looked out to see a stranger in our front yard. Seems he thought no one was home and decided to have a look around the garden of the house that is for sale.Husband went out to greet him with a "Can I help you?"
Turns out the man is about to sell (try to sell) his house and was interested to see what ours was like. While I ran around feverishly, making sure all was in order inside, husband talked to the stranger about the house, but did not invite him in. Only suggested that the stranger talk to his wife and family and then give us a call to arrange a proper visit/inspection.
I wonder if we'll hear from him again.
So, the weekend is nearly over and no word from either Mr Enthusiastic or the impressed-by-two-bathroom family. Nevertheless, to have a stranger call was better than nothing!
So, well, no movement on the house-sellng front. No call from Mr Enthusiastic and no call from the two-bathroom-loving family. Back to square one, by the looks of things.
So, what to do on a dull day? The house is tidy (ready for "inspection") and no work to be done, except the continual sorting and de-cluttering (just in case) - ready to move on.
Looking around...Do I need this little Jasmine Tea tin? No. Photograph it to put on eBay later. Do I need these old note books from the 1920s? No. On to eBay. How about these 8 British History books (circa 1950/60)? eBay for them. And the craft books? eBay!
What about the signed photograph of Sidney Myer? eBay for him too. Three vintage shoe polish tins? People collect tins. ..eBay!
And then there are the 1957 Pan Am menu cover souvenirs. On to eBay.
So, a busy day was had. I have not worried about the house (non) buyers and my eBay list is growing.
Have already sold a tobacco tin and an old sign from a country post office.
Tomorrow I look for more "junk" to sell...while I wait for a house buyer to call.
No word from any prospective house buyers today. As I included a quote yesterday, I thought I'd use another one today. From Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745), from The Drapier's Letters, No. 2:
"I have heard of a man who had a mind to sell his house, and therefore carried a piece of brick in his pocket, which he showed as a pattern to encourage purchasers."
Worth a try, do you think?
Although a piece of grey concrete masonry is not very inspiring, nor is it indicative of what sort of house it is from.
Any suggestions welcome.
As it will be two weeks, tomorrow, since the over-enthusiatic (but miserly) prospective buyer came to spend some considerable time surveying our home, I have decided that if we don't hear from him by then, he has given up his plan to buy. But, on the other hand, I think that if he is going to contact us once more, then tomorrow is the day.
We shall see!
So, Mr "Maybe" house-purchaser who was oh, so enthusiatic about buying our home that he was even asking what would be a amenable date to move in. Then he shook our hands, said he'd go home (interstate) to discuss it all with his partner and get back to us. Well, he "got back to us" (as I have reported earlier) with an offer to buy at $65,000 under the price we are asking. We said a resounding 'No' and that, it seems, is the end of that! Oh, ha, ha!
Now I am reminded of the wonderful quote from A.J.Balfour, (in his 1918 Letter to Mrs Drew) who wrote, "It is unfortunate, considering that enthusiasm moves the world, that so few enthusiasts can be trusted to speak the truth".
What an excellent politician he would make! (Mr "Maybe", that is).
I hope there is a next chapter to this house-selling saga.
In the meantime, beware of enthusiasts in any guise.
Mr "Maybe" house-buyer has been very silent since he left to "talk it over" with his partner. Perhaps she said "No."?
Yesterday we had a family come to look over the house. Despite the fact that their English was very poor and it was difficult for us to understand exactly what they were saying as they were Asian, they seemed to be quite excited about the house and were most attracted to the TWO bathroom feature. They told us that the house was "beautiful" and that they would talk it over with family and get back in touch with us.
However, today we have just returned from a walk where we saw this same Asian family inspecting another house that's for sale in the next street.
Ah, well. You win some, you lose some, I suppose.
Keep you posted.
A spring-time picture from my currect garden. I have been taking photos to have reminders of what spring is like in Victoria. If all goes to plan, next spring we will be living in the sub-tropics and there will be no chance of having a spring flowering display such as this. However, I plan to study up on Queensland plants to see if I can make a beautiful garden there. Sure, it will be different, but an interesting project.
Wonder how long the "maybe" house-buyer is going to let us 'stew' over his offer. Although we think we have found a house we would like to buy, it is not imperative that we buy it and so we can wait for a while longer to sell our place. In the meantime, we have placed a poster of our house in the local book shop window, with a "For sale by owner" tag and a reduced price. Hopefully we will lure another prospective buyer and then have some amunition to tell the "maybe" buyer that there's "someone else interested".
The house that we might like to buy needs a bit of a tidy-up and we have found another place that is completely removated and looks much more appealing inside, though not in as good a location. So we have one up our sleeve, so to speak.
That alone makes me more comfortable in my mind and I am not stressing about Mr "Maybe" calling back with a better offer.
Oh, the trials of house selling!
We have been in this house for a long time and had forgotten all about what goes on when wanting to sell a home.
But it's all part of the life experience. Can be good fun, when you're in the right mood. (Ha, ha!)
House for sale! The person who has been showing interest in our home phoned yesterday to make an offer. He chose to offer us $65,000 LESS than we are asking! To quote from the film "The Castle", we did what we had to and "told him he was dreamin'". He then upped the amount by $20,000. Again, he was "dreamin'". He suggested we "think about it". We didn't have to "think about it". We thought about it the moment he made the offer. The answer was a resounding "NO"!
So, now we wait. Wait for either him (& his partner) to come to his/their senses and make us a realistic offer, or wait for another intersted buyer.
Oh, the trials of house selling...or not!
Computer crashed the other day. Is temporarily fixed but back to technician today. Nothing (almost!) makes me madder than a computer that will not do as it is "told", so I have taken pictures of the late-blooming bluebells to cheer me up before sending off the computer. (Strange reasoning?)
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.