Friday, August 31, 2007

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

My friend Lou rang me this morning to ask if I had finished this book yet, as she just had and was reeling from its conclusion. I spent time doing so today and have just finished. (We are reading it for the book club we attend once a month.) It is classed as 'young adult' fiction, and is a very powerful story. As I reached the last chapter I had an inkling of how it was going to end, but was madly wishing it wouldn't. I won't tell you anymore, just in case you pick it up to read.
The following is part of a review written in 'the Age' newspaper about the book last year:
Irish writer John Boyne's fourth novel is the first he has written for children. It's a touching tale of an odd friendship between two boys in horrendous circumstances and a reminder of man's capacity for inhumanity.
Bruno is a nine-year-old boy growing up in Berlin during World War II. He lives in a five-storey house with servants, his mother and father and 12-year-old sister, Gretel. His father wears a fancy uniform and they have just been visited by a very important personage called the Fury, a pun which adult readers should have no trouble deciphering. As a consequence of this visit, Bruno's father gets a new uniform, his title changes to Commandment and, to Bruno's chagrin, they find themselves moving to a new home at a place called Out-With.
When Bruno gets there he is immediately homesick. He has left his school, his three best friends, his house, his grandparents and the bustling street life of urban Berlin with its cafes, fruit and veg stalls, and Saturday jostle. His new home is smaller, full of soldiers and there is no one to play with. From his bedroom window, however, he notices a town of people dressed in striped pyjamas separated from him by a wire fence. When he asks his father who those people are, he responds that they aren't really people.
Bruno is forbidden to explore but boredom, isolation and sheer curiosity become too much for him. One day, he follows the wire fence cordoning off the area where these people live from his house. He spots a dot in the distance on the other side of the fence and as he gets closer, he sees it's a boy. Excited by the prospect of a friend, Bruno introduces himself. The Jewish boy's name is Shmuel. Almost every day, they meet at the same spot and talk. Eventually, for a variety of reasons, Bruno decides to climb under the fence and explore Shmuel's world.
Bruno's friendship with Shmuel is rendered with neat awareness of the paradoxes between children's naive egocentricity, their innate concept of fairness, familial loyalty and obliviousness to the social conventions of discrimination. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is subtitled A Fable and, as in other modern fables such as Antoine de St Exupery's The Little Prince, Boyne uses Bruno to reveal the flaws in an adult world.
How old are you?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

What is your real age?
A Day in the City
Today Oliver spent the day at the aquarium with Andrew's aunty, Margaret. She has taken all the kids to the aquarium when they have been old enough to walk the distances needed by themselves, and appreciate the exhibits.
Vanessa and I had an appointment in at the American Club to get a feel for the reception room for Wendy & Dave's wedding - we are decorating the tables.
After we had got the business out of the way we walked down to David Jones in the hope of viewing the new floral display. This year’s theme, ‘The Fabulous Festival of Fantastic Flora,’ is inspired by Graeme Base’s famous and much-loved children’s book ‘Animalia’. Unfortunately we were 2 days too early, but what was already on display was incredible.These photos were taken on our phones, so the quality may not be great.

And we had lunch at the 'Noodle Bar' in David Jones' food hall section of the store.

Outside I managed to have a free hug. You can read about free hugs here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blood Moon
The kids and I, along with most of the world I presume, enjoyed the lunar eclipse last night.
I love the fact that the kids are old enough to appreciate this sort of phenomena now.

From yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald:

The moon is expected to turn anything from a yellowish brown to a blood red in Tuesday night's total lunar eclipse.
The eclipse, visible to the naked eye anywhere in Australia, will begin at sunset when the earth, the sun and the moon fall into perfect alignment.
The moon's surface will darken as the earth's shadow creeps across it to create a partial eclipse from just before 7pm (AEST), with the total eclipse visible one hour later.
Although it will be a total eclipse the ring of light around the earth's edge is enough to illuminate the moon's surface.
If there is enough dust in the earth's atmosphere the surface will appear blood red.
An eclipse occurs when the earth passes between the sun and the moon, blocking the sun's light. It is rare because the moon is usually either above or below the plane of the earth's orbit.
"It is a pretty sight and it's an unusual sight so it's worth looking at," said Professor Mike Dopita from the Australian National University's School of Astronomy.
"The moon gets this sometimes quite blood red colour and it's quite an interesting sight to see although it is of no astronomical importance at all."
Prof Dopita said it was hard to predict exactly what colour the moon would be.
"It really varies. Sometimes it's a kind of a sunset yellowish colour, sometimes it looks quite red. It depends upon whether there's been volcanic activity.
"When there's more dust it turns redder. After Mt Pinatubo Volcano (in the Philippines) erupted (in 1991) there was lots and lots of dust in the atmosphere but that has all settled.
"It might be anything from a yellowish earthy colour to a really dull brownish colour passing through red and in between, but an unusual colour to see the moon anyway."
The last total lunar eclipse, visible in Australia, was in July 2000.
Prof Dopita said total eclipses were relatively infrequent.
"There's usually about two of them a year but they are usually partial - a total one is a little bit rarer," he said.
The next total lunar eclipse visible in Australia will occur in December 2011.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lunch in the Sun
Today was a perfect day for a BBQ. The sun was shining, the air was still, and the temperature was very mild.

David and Sophie, Stephen and Oliver
We celebrated Sylvia (Andrew's mum) and Ruth's (aunty) birthdays.

Boris especially enjoys a BBQ.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hearts a Mess
I posted the clip to this some time ago.
Morning tea at the shopping centre.
This morning we all went out to do a big supermarket shop - tomorrow Andrew's family are coming around for lunch and we needed lots of supplies.
One of the big drawing cards (for the kids) of going to the supermarket is the chance to maybe have a milkshake. They were lucky. We decided to stop and have morning tea in one of those large open eating areas found in shopping centres everywhere.
I have boycotted buying anything from a well known doughnut shop due to their exorbitant milkshake prices, and so we decided to buy something from a well known muffin chain instead. Andrew was the lucky one to do the ordering, and then to have a earnest discussion with the girls behind the counter over the prices of their milkshakes! $4.30 for a 'small' kid's one! What is that!! (They looked nothing like the ones pictured - they came in a plastic cup with a lid and straw.) As the said drinks were delivered Andrew was given a free mug by the establishment as they conceded that their prices were quite high. Mmmm... just what we needed - a thick, cheap china mug.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Lauren received a parcel in the post yesterday. A birthday present from her Nanna and Grandad. A Furby - an amazing creature. It even comes with dictionary so you can understand what it is saying. It has been placed in its special spot on the end of the bed with all the other fury friends.
Of course the arrival of this toy has caused a great fuss. The siblings are very keen to play with it, and Lauren is very keen that they do not. I will have to carefully place it back at the end of her bed soon, as Oliver and Sophie (niece) have been using it today while Lauren is at school.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Simpsonize Me
I heard some friends talking about this on the weekend. It is a very silly, but fun, time waster.
This is me 'simpsonized'.
And this is my daughter Lauren.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Last year I was looking through a favourite magazine (the type that shows fabulous houses with designer pieces) and I saw this tree. I fell in love with it but never imagined that I would ever find one. However, earlier this year I attended a trade show for home decor and saw it!! My friend Vanessa brought it around for me a couple of months later. It has now become a feature in my lounge room makeover. I love it!! It ties in beautifully with the fabric from IKEA that I used to make the curtains. When the room is finished I'll take some more photos.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A visit from cousin Zac
Philly and Brad brought Zac around for the first time today.
Lauren's Birthday
A very excited girl.
Today was Lauren's 7th birthday. She invited friends to go to Coney Island, located in Luna Park on Sydney's harbour. It was the same trip we took with Madeleine's friends when she turned 7. Lauren's friends were a lot more timid about spinning and sliding, and some spent more time watching the rides rather than having a go themselves.
It was a fun afternoon, and we are EXHAUSTED!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Remembering Elvis... 'Storm Boy' and a green cardigan
I have been painting again today, and so have been listening to the radio for quite awhile. I could not help but hear that today is in fact the anniversary of Elvis' death. The 30th anniversary! Now that makes me feel old. Not because I was around for most of his career, but because I can remember exactly where I was when I heard he had died, and it is hard to believe that it was really 30 years ago because I remember the emotion of the situation very clearly.
A bit of background for you so you will understand - the first part of my life I grew up in Tanzania. There was no television and the only music my parents owned consisted of classical/orchestral numbers. I had certainly never heard of Elvis.
Shortly after I began school in Australia we went on an excursion to see 'Storm Boy' at the cinema. Very exciting for one who had not been to the cinema very many times. I was wearing a hand knitted green cardigan, made by my mother, and part of my new school uniform.
When we emerged from the movie, and were making our way back to school, two things occured. It was announced that Elvis had died (uhh?? but bad), and I realised I had lost my new cardigan (worse). I heard myself saying to the person next to me, 'Oh, I really loved him!'. The statement I thought I should make as people seemed to be quite upset about this news. But knowing that my mother was going to be even more upset about the news of the lost cardigan (and she was).
In the years to follow I did enjoy watching reruns of old Elvis movies of a Saturday afternoon. I think 'Clambake' was one of my favourites.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lake Parramatta
Today I went on an excursion with Madeleine's class to Lake Parramatta. Apparently it used to be a very popular swimming spot. The photo below was taken in 1938. It was closed to swimming in 1970 due to high levels of pollution. There has been a big push to clean it and surrounding waterways in the past 15 years, and the lake is now open for swimming on certain occasions.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I was just reading Laurie Anne's blog about washing, and remember why I was at the computer again - I am avoiding the plie of clean clothes that need folding! I just commented on her blog that the folding and ironing of clothes is one of the daily tasks I dislike the most (hence the pile that has not been touched for days).

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Tenderness of Wolves
Last week I finished reading this book.
I thought it was going to be good, but it exceeded my expectations. Not only was it a great murder mystery, but the development of the character's relationships with each other and the environment was exceptional.
'Mrs Ross' really struck a chord with me.
1867, Canada - As winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Dove River, a man is brutally murdered and a 17-year old boy disappears. Tracks leaving the dead man's cabin head north towards the forest and the tundra beyond. In the wake of such violence, people are drawn to the township - journalists, Hudson's Bay Company men, trappers, traders - but do they want to solve the crime, or exploit it? One-by-one the assembled searchers set out from Dove River, pursuing the tracks across a desolate landscape home only to wild animals, madmen and fugitives, variously seeking a murderer, a son, two sisters missing for 17 years, a forgotten Native American culture, and a fortune in stolen furs before the snows settle and cover the tracks of the past for good. In an astonishingly assured debut, Stef Penney deftly weaves adventure, suspense, revelation and humour into a panoramic historical romance, an exhilarating thriller, a keen murder mystery and ultimately, with the sheer scope and quality of her storytelling, one of the books of the year.

Stef Penney writes with spare beauty. She clearly thinks about the rhythm of words, etching each scene with fierce intelligence. There is a determination here to understand the effects of loneliness, the frontier and the wilderness on both human community and the individual spirit. The result is a book ruthlessly stripped of cliche and false comfort. (Michael McGirr, reviewer - October 12, 2006)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Brian Ferry & David Gilmour
Family Lunch
My husband's family have maintained the tradition of eating Sunday lunch together most weeks of the year. As the family has grown larger, this means we take turns to host lunch (although, not so often at our place it seems!). Today our lunch celebrated Lauren and Sophie's birthdays. Our Lauren turns 7 next Saturday, and Sophie (our niece) turned 2 a couple of weeks ago.
My sister-in-law Bronwynne is amazing. I could drop in any time and she would always have a cake baked ready for morning or afternoon tea. Below are some cupcakes she made for today.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Women In Art
I was sent this amazing link to YouTube recently. It is really clever.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Am Not a Billy Joel fan...
but this is great.

Mere Mortals After seeing the movie 'Amazing Grace' with some friends, we were having a dicussion about the ailment William Pitt may have had, which eventually lead to his early death. And also, what was William Wilberforce suffering from?

Move forward a couple of weeks, and Sylvia (my mother-in-law) produced this book yesterday, which is fascinating. She thinks she may have bought it as a gift for someone, but decided to keep it as it was so interesting. The book talks about William Pitt, giving a background to his 'unspecified poor health', and it seems that he probably drank himself to death.

Here is a blurb about the book from the ABC shop website:
Throughout history, one thing has been certain: even famous and important people suffer embarrassing, painful and even debilitating illnesses.
What's not been agreed is exactly what medical maladies have tormented many of them. In Mere Mortals, Jim Leavesley has delved into the history books and attempted to solve some of the world's most baffling medical mysteries, offering priceless snippets along the way.
For instance, could Joan of Arc in fact have been John? Was Adolf Hitler really a chronic farter? Why did Van Gogh so favour the colour yellow? Frighteningly addictive, Mere Mortals will have you hooked from the start.
Jim Leavesley is a retired GP, author and regular contributor to ABC Radio National's Ockham's Razor program. In 1993 he was appointed a member of the Order of Australia for sevices to medicine, in particular to medical history.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Winsock (??!!) problems
Unfortunately my computer seems to have crashed!! If I try to connect to the Internet it states that there is a Winsock problem. However, I have discovered this morning the problem is worse than that. My computer won't even recognise a 'ping' command.
I'm at a friend's house checking my emails at the moment. Please don't be offended if you don't hear from me for awhile.

I don't think I will last long without a computer.
Mmmmm... I think I hear the sound of money draining from my purse.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I saw this on Kate's blog and was intrigued. Seems it only takes into consideration words used...too bad if I had nude pictures posted on here!

Finnish Design
Recently I have been falling in love with Finnish fabrics and homewares. The more I see of them, the more I am impressed by them. As you may have noticed I have a link to Marimekko fabric in my sidebar.
I have just been browsing through an online gift shop - The following is the blurb they have about Marimekko:

Vivid colors and large scale patterns helped Marimekko establish Finland as a source of cutting-edge style in the 1950’s. Some of those same innovative and bold patterns have led to the resurgence of Marimekko in the design world today. Once again at the top of fashion, Marimekko's unique style reaches across generations.

I recently bought a piece of fabric on Ebay which I am going to stretch out as a canvas for our lounge room wall (it is undergoing a makeover at the moment)."Lumimarja" by Marimekko

Saturday, August 04, 2007

More Photos of Zac
We went over to visit my sister and Brad this afternoon. All are doing well. Zac is still to learn that night = sleep, but that takes a while.
The kids had not held him yet so they had a turn, then I grabbed him to have a big cuddle.

Friday, August 03, 2007

This incredible photo was sent to me by Al (a friend) this week. Incredible because he was there, and he took it!! Here is a part of the letter attached so you know what you are looking at:

The handy thing about watching the Tour in Paris is the stage finishes with eight laps of the Champs Elysees. This is helpful, ‘cause the peloton flies by in under a minute. Eight times the pack went by, each time the experience was better.

I’ve got lots of photos, but I’ll limit it to one for now. It’s not great, but the attached photo shows Team Discovery on the first lap – you can see Hincapie, Liepheimer, etal protecting Contador, and, somewhat poetically, Cadel Evans from Predictor/Lotto blurred in the background. Gee Cadel rode well – a clean rider, his is a phenomenal Australian sporting achievement.

Andrew stayed up every night to watch the Tour de France. It was on very late at night if you wanted to see it live.

And in other racing news - the girls had their athletics carnival at school this week. Not as high pressure, but they were both nervous about the day as I dropped them off in the morning. By the time I arrived back at school to watch they were enjoying the day.

Lauren and Madeleine are both on the far left in these photos.Oliver got to race too. A special preschool sibling race. He is on the far right.