schnauzer dog in pupsnaps bed
blogging

Has the World Gone Entirely Crazy?

As if Covid isn’t enough to contend with, have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to go as it should? Where it seems the forces of the Universe are set against anything going smoothly? Yes, it was one of those.

Things happened.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Chaos Rules or Life by Crisis Management

  • A friend I haven’t spoken to for over a year sends a message, out of the blue, with only the words, “How are you?” There was no other context to her message and yes it was her – I did check. A little odd or, perhaps, spontaneous. She was just wondering how I was, she said. After a year without communication!
  • My daughter rings to make an appointment at a medical specialist doctor and the Receptionist asks her to supply a full length photo for a the appointment. Weird. Full length?
  • Three out of three kids then had mini breakdowns of sorts on the same night, unrelated to each other, sending us scampering from one to the next in succession. It was a busy night.
  • That same night the neighbour sent me a message at 7pm that he wants to come sit on my garden bench for a while. Did he have a fight with his partner, I wonder? This is out of character. I only saw the message at 9pm whilst scampering to and fro, said kids.
Schnauzer dog

Finally late on the same day as ALL of the above:

We discovered the new pup had eaten the TV remote control, yes, the plastic controller part. The Moth’s favourite activity is to watch television and you can imagine what the Moth said when it became apparent he could not change the channels or adjust the volume. Not to mention the possible harm to the puppy, which resulted in my daughter having to check the poo for remnants of plastic when she walked the dog around our estate, for the next few days.

Not so strange, I suppose, but given that we live in an area where there are lots of tradie workmen building new homes, you have to imagine the strident scene of strange stares and comments when they see a pretty young teen, now adult, picking up dog poo on the footpath, then examining it closely, feeling it and squishing it around in her hands, (inside the doggy poo bag of course)!

It seems the little pup has a penchant for chewing anything. Here’s more evidence of her dental disasters.

And the final piece of news – we have “worms.”

Not in our bodies thank goodness; we’ve merely purchased a batch of garden-variety, soil-improving worms and installed them in their new home at the Home by the Sea.

At least the worms aren’t having a personal crisis or feeling chocked up with plastic remote controls.

“There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”

– Richard Bach
#WQWWC
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Iceland
Book review, Community

Summer Reading

Summer in Australia, means that many of us can use the excuse of the heat, to relax inside the air-con with a good book, guilt free. And if you are anything like me, it would usually be a good crime novel that you reach for.

As my summer is now over, I thought I’d share a few lesser known authors I read, in particular some Icelandic authors. 

Iceland Thingvellir

Authors from Iceland

One Icelandic author that you may not be familiar with is psychological thriller/crime writer, Arnaldur Indridason. I really enjoyed the tone of his books, particularly how he depicts the cold bleak landscape of Iceland using this to not only to illustrate the tragedy and sadness in the plot, but also to reflect thoughtfully on the past.

It’s easy to feel sympathy for Indridason’s protagonist, when the character reveals the great personal cost of police detective work. Two of Indridason’s books include, The Draining Lake and Tainted Blood which is alternatively: “Jar City” and both give an insight into police procedures.

Jar city is the story of a murder mystery that spans a generation and discusses the implications of inherited traits or diseases in a country where they Human genome project is extremely topical. (The Icelandic genetic pool has, to a large extent, been isolated from external influences). Jar city has been made into a motion picture and the cinematography in certain rural scenes, is absolutely fantastic, as one would expect from a country as scenic as Iceland. And right now, virtual travel is best!

‘The Draining Lake’ delves a little into historical fiction and Icelandic political attitudes during the Cold War era, so it also provided an insight into cultural beliefs of that time. For example, police staff being rung at home by members of the public or getting into political arguments with suspects, seems not to be an unusual occurrence for detectives in Iceland. 

Iceland

One Review states,” THE DRAINING LAKE boasts an interesting and unusual angle, especially for those of us not familiar with Iceland’s recent history. There’s a link to the Cold War and spying, and to the 1950s when idealistic Icelandic teenagers went to study in East Germany. Unlike Indridason’s earlier books, where I never felt much of a sense of place, Iceland and its society plays a more vital role in this book – particularly as the posting from hell for diplomats! “

Suggested reads  by Icelandic authors: Arnaldur Indridason or,  if your preference is not for thrillers/crime, you might like to try Iceland’s Nobel prize for Literature winner Halldor Laxness, whose books are available include, Independent People, The Fish can Sing, Iceland’s Bell and Atom Station. I hope you find these entertaining as Icelandic literature is something well worth pondering over.

snow

Reading Recommendations

Blogger M-R has just referred me to the Daughters of Time, which I downloaded on the Kindle last night, so I am keen to get started on that book today.

I hope you enjoy discovering some new authors this summer. (Or winter if you are living in the south).

Do you have any recommendations of books you have read lately?

Crime fiction/Historical Fiction/Autobiographies? It matters not the genre.

I would love to hear them.

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waterlilly
Community, Environment

All Sorts of Crap and the PKR

It was a Saturday morning, 2012 and my phone rang impatiently. When I picked it up, an unfamiliar voice asked,

“Is that Amanda?”

“That is me,” I answered.

“Yeh?” [pause]

” It’s Susie. I’ ve got your crap here.”

“Sorry,” I said, about to hang up, thinking that this was a prank call.

But then I was a little curious, so I tentatively asked, “What kind of crap have you got?”

[Believe it or not, this is the second time in my life, I have had to ask a stranger this exact question. This time I was not in Denmark, but that’s another story.]

The Caller continued.

“Well, I dunno. There’s a box here, with your name on it and it says that it’s umm, filled with crap.” It had your phone number too, so I rang you, ‘cos, you know, I don’t want it!” Susie exclaimed.

The penny dropped.

“Oh, okay. I know what it is. It’s my toilet paper,” I said with sudden clarity.

[Frustrated with too frequently needing to change the toilet roll and attempting to shop more ethically for environmentally friendly products, I’d purchased a regular delivery of toilet paper from a profit for purpose, online store, Who Gives a Crap and hadn’t received a notification that delivery was imminent.]

“They’ve delivered it to the wrong street address,” I squirmed inwardly, realizing how ridiculous it must have sounded to Susie, to have toilet paper home delivered, in the days before online shopping really became mainstream.

What? Susie asks, sounding confused.

“I bought some environmentally friendly toilet paper online – it is recycled, you see.”

“Recycled? Toilet paper? What?” She asked, seeminly incredulous at my wild suggestion. [Apparently, the hole I was digging, was getting deeper]

“It’s a little crazy but it is a genuine product, from a company called Who Gives A Crap, and they are, you know, all for sustainability and helping the environment, you see. Their sales speel is really corny Dad jokes and puns about toilet humour which they print on their wrappers.”

Susie was not convinced, but eventually agreed to a suitable time to pick up my box of “crap.”

On collection, she cheezily remarked, “You’re finally here to pick up the crap, are ya?” The toilet humour was wearing a little thin, by then. I wanted my loo paper and to get out of there. So, I thanked her for her honesty in calling me and offered her a roll to try out for herself.

“No, I don’t use it,” she said.

Now it was my turn to be confused. How could anyone in this day and age, get away without using toilet paper? I pondered.

I had to know more.

Let me say that Susie was only too willing to share the finer details of her medical condition which required her to use soft wipes instead.

Before we delved into the realms of TMI, I decided to take my environmentally friendly crap and trot off.

2020

Can you imagine if the same incident happened today?

There’d be some kind of snatch and grab feast in the burbs. Not only is Who Gives a Crap now a widely known brand, but a free box of 48 rolls of EXTRA LONG Toilet paper, would be akin to finding the golden ticket to Willy Wonka.

Who Gives A Crap?

Let’s face it anyone brave enough to call their company, Who Gives A Crap, is worth a look. Plus 50 % of profits get put back into Water Aid and projects that improve sanitation in the Third World. I love that. And according to its founder, it has a low PTR!

What is PTR? you may ask. It is a Poke-Through-Rate because no one wants crap on their hands: as Simon explains in this promotional video.

To test the poke through rate yourself, you’ll have to wait a little, as the current runs, (no pun intended), on toilet paper has Who gives a Crap stocks completely SOLD OUT, in Australia.

Roll on.

This story was promptly by Barb at Barb’s blog, discussing the Corona pandemic.

front door
Community

Tenants Rights or Wrongs?

An Unwelcome Intrusion

A day or so ago, an email arrived in my inbox which shook me up. Not initially of course, but as you will soon discover, people can be unpredictable as can our reactions. The email was from the property agent advising me that an unnamed person and their property representative wanted to, nay – were about to- enter our home as our property had been identified as one said unnamed person, would like to purchase.

Rather an unexpected interruption to our normal Saturday morning routine, to say the least. Particularly as we rent the home and have a rental agreement that has not yet expired. I also hasten to add that this property is not on the market for sale, and the owner had no plans to sell before this stranger approached him, especially given that we had, a couple of months before, negotiated and signed off on a longer lease. He had actually asked us to sign on for at least another year.

Now, as I said, initially I was a little taken aback about the email, what with receiving little more than 24 hours notice of this unexpected intrusion, but I did appreciate being advised beforehand, at least. I was not required to give permission for this “entry,”at all. It was an advice, not a request!

However, there seemed little chance I could have denied the entry, as the property manager stated we did not have to be at home at all and the strangers would enter regardless. It is true, I do not own this property, I merely rent it. However, all the contents are mine and I do pay good money to live here- more than most around, and in return, I expect that I can quietly enjoy residing under this roof.

french doors

What I didn’t expect was my own extreme reaction to this visit.

Perhaps I may not have had such a reaction if the prospective buyer was, at least, a little humble or respectful? Clearly, humility was a lesson this stranger had missed at school.

Upon her arrival, Mrs ‘I am Used to Getting my Way’, bustled into my home, her family in tow, completely ignoring me as she walked past, as if I was some invisible, enslaved home help, completely peripheral to her consideration. [I know – that is SOOO judgemental, but bare with me, as I AM writing this in retrospect.]

Perhaps I should have stopped the rest of her family at the door, and given permission for just one person to enter, with the rep, as per the entry notice?

I don’t know.

My head started spinning with a range of thoughts.

Perhaps I should have followed her around? Is that polite or allowed?

Prone to ‘worst case scenario’ my thinking was immediately: Who knows if her child might have decided to pocket my jewellery or valuables as they sifted through our rooms, one after the other? These days we have to beware of all kinds of scams and who we open our door to, but then I decided I was being far too paranoid.

schnauzer
Butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth

The MOTH wasn’t on hand, either. He had taken the polite option of scurrying off for a walk with the growling Miniature Schnauzer, which to be truthful, would never bite. Our dear little girl does, however, sound a lot like a cross between the death metal band, Slipknot and the character Regan in the creepy movie, The Exorcist, to any stranger that darkens our doorstep. [you have been warned]. I decided to make myself scarce out in the garden, with one ear directed to the goings on, inside.

The lady’s first comment on entering our premises was a condescending –

“Oh – it’s so small.

To which the Real estate agent, intent on securing a sales commission or spotter’s fee, entered damage control:

“Well,” he said, collecting his thoughts.

“It really comes down to how much furniture a person has.”

Do I have too much furniture? I thought, suddenly questioning myself.

Quite possibly.

The next step in Mrs Stranger’s inspection offensive was to order her daughter to get out the tape measure and to measure the dimensions of the rooms and plan out the furniture placement and layout for their new home! This took some time.

Vocal criticism of our “settings” periodically burst forth from her mouth, like the water spilling over Niagara falls.

“You wouldn’t have THAT lamp.” And -“That chair doesn’t go THERE, she continued unabated.

schnauzer animation
Say what?

I was, by then, a little aghast.

She had barely been inside for more than five to ten minutes. As the whole group continued with their inspection, I wondered if they had indeed been checking out our property during the last week or so?

Suddenly, I felt vulnerable and chided myself for not hiding any valuables that might lay trustingly about. And Mr Real Estate didn’t really supervise them either, standing casually with his hands crossed behind his back near the door.

I also began to feel as though my privacy had been violated. An extreme reaction – maybe, but it seems one really has few rights as a tenant to secure a rental property and rest comfortable in the knowledge that you don’t have to continually lock away any valuables, given that strangers may enter a rental property on an email and little more than 24 hours notice.

What if we had been away on holidays and not able to check email?

Queenslander home
Perhaps she was planning a serial renovation?

When Mrs ‘World is MY Oyster Stranger,’ disappeared into the garage, I took the opportunity to slip upstairs. Some time later, I overhead the conversation in the living room to be something like,

“Well, naturally, I’ll be wanting a second inspection before submitting an offer [to buy], to which the real estate rep enthusiastically agreed.

He then finally mentioned us.

“There is the small matter of the current tenants – but they won’t be here for much longer.”

I gulped! – WHAT?

We had in fact, recently extended our lease with the landlord until our new house, the [Home by the Sea], was completed.

Mrs ‘World is My Oyster Stranger/potential Narcissist’ pounced on this piece of information.

“Oh,” she said with an authoritative rising tone,

“Well, I’ll just rent it.”

Now, I am not sure if she meant she was planning to rent our house out to others, or for herself to become the new tenant, but the real estate rep clearly, like me, took the comment to mean the latter.

“Why would you do that?he worryingly asked – (seeing his commission as water swirling down the drain-hole).

Some whispering then took place that I was not privy to, and in any case, my mind started spinning. It seemed unfair that someone could roam around the suburb where I live, pick out a place that took her fancy, eye it over and within a little over 24 hours, have gained somewhat unsupervised entry, under a whim that she might make an offer to buy, (or rent), this or any property, just as she wished, without any regard for the folk who might be/were PAYING a fee, to live in that premises?

weaving rocking chair christmas

Please tell me if this is a completely unfounded, knee-jerk reaction that is founded in insecurity? If so, I will back off.

I defintely need some objective perspectives here from the blogosphere.

Tenants’ Rights – Something I’ll be Pondering About

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Community

Sunday Sayings – “Home, Ship, Home”

If you want to live on the edge of life, you need to be flexible.”
~ Kim Novak
flower

I just can’t do it! I can’t,” he implored. Manfred was clearly beside himself.

Holly paused to let the tension digest before replying, “Can’t you negotiate with them, Mannie?

Manfred looked sad, then stubbornly fixed his jaw, explaining, “No, I just can’t go back. It won’t work.

Holly decided Manfred wasn’t going to budge. It was hard to understand why he was fixated on quitting the job he’d started just a day or two before. After all, working in a food truck was good experience for an unskilled youth, even if the Manager had abused him and rostered him to work long hours at weekends.

Holly quietly suspected that if Manfred quit this job, he’d find it difficult to survive and worse still, he’d lose the routine and direction he sorely needed in his life. Teenage boys with time on their hands tended to create trouble; something Holly had witnessed when her own brothers were growing up.

So, ah – what’s your plan now?” she ventured, after letting the silence hang for a minute.

ports

Well, I’ve been thinking about doing street entertainment, so I can start my own business,” Manfred began enthusiastically. “I have this idea to remodel shipping containers as cheap accommodation.” “They’re portable, readily available and everyone wants one.”

A business, hey? You could call it, Home, ship, Home,” Holly joked.

Manfred’s face lit up, which gave Holly a warm feeling inside. Since meeting Manfred on the park bench some months before, she’d grown to like his confidence and enthusiasm. He’d charmed her with easy conversation and a good dose of charisma, but she knew he was dangerously impulsive. And that she thought was worrisome.

After promises to meet again the following week, they parted ways. Holly back to her family in the suburbs, and Manfred to who knows where. Holly wondered where he’d sleep that night. He had explained several time that it was often safer to walk the streets at night and ‘crash’ in the park, once daylight came. On those nights, he’d confessed to using to cope with his inner demons. Holly decided she’d have to convince him to get help when they met up again.

While idly washing the dishes from Mum’s casserole dinner, with the 6 o’clock news droning in the background, Holly’s legs suddenly collapsed under her.

The unidentified man fell from the City Bridge in a daring stunt gone wrong,” the TV droned.

Her head hit the floor hard and when Holly came to again, it was easy to forget the news story. Surely, she’d see Manfred’s smiling face again, at the end of the week.

Holly’s week dragged by ever so slowly. When 5 o’clock came she rushed to the City Bridge and anxiously looked for Manfred’s slouching figure on the bench seat where they always met. She was sure he would be waiting for her, as he always did, in their usual spot.

But the bench seat was empty. Holly sat down and waited. 5.15pm passed, then 5.30. By 6pm, she could no longer ignore the sense of despair mixed with utter hopelessness that blinded her thoughts. Was Manfred really gone?

With trepidation, Holly peered over the Police tape cordoning the City Bridge’s narrow railing and absently reached for a gum wrapper someone had twisted around a wire in the fence. Her heart broke as she read the words scrawled thereon:“Home, ship Home.”

dream-feelings-love-pain-reason

Something different for Sunday Sayings this week

Appreciate and treasure the moments with others.

There isn’t always a second chance.

“The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest” – Bob Hawke

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Community

Weekend Writing Prompt – Heartbeat

smoking
Can you smell that? I questioned my husband. More interested in the television screen, his reply was an inaudible mumble.

“Those kids are smoking,” I hissed. “The rules were the rules, after all.” I’d had misgivings about hosting a party for my daughter Kim and her teenage school friends, but she’d convinced me they’d stick to the rules – No smoking, and no bad behaviour.

I peeked outside to where the dozen or so adolescents were sitting and saw one of the boys drag heavily on a cigarette. With my heartbeat hammering in my eardrums, I stormed outside just as one of the lads hit Kim squarely, on her back.  “Right you, get out,” I snapped to the boy with the cigarette still hanging from his lips. Then, turning to the boy who had hit Kim, I blurted, “And you can get out, too! You never hit a girl.”

“It’s alright, Mrs B.” explained one of Kim’s young friends soothingly. “That’s my brother Daniel. It is his way of saying ‘Hello’, because he doesn’t speak. He’s got a disability.”

178 words

Linking to Sammi’s Prose ChallengeIn less than 175 words, write a story that uses the sound of a beating heart for dramatic effect.

My first prose challenge….. three words over is okay, isn’t it?

 

 

Book review, Community, History & Traditions

New Ebook Scandinavian Mystery – Book Review

I have previously been a beta tester for an author who lives in Denmark, and writes in English, I would like to spread the work about one of her books, which I have read, which is now on Kindle, downloadable for free.DorteHummelshoy Jakobsen

This novel is set in Denmark and Sweden and paints a portrait of a two families at different historical time frames.  I personally loved the descriptions of life in the early twentieth century Sweden and could easily imagine a visual translation of the words, thanks to Dorte’s descriptive writing.

The tale has some dark overtones, but can be insightful for anyone who is interested in social history or family history especially from Scandinavia. Crime novels from Scandinavia are often more detailed about the characters and the personal struggles than the intrigue, and I think that could be said for one of the protagonists in this novel as well.

I absolutely loved the way she included hymns or songs in Swedish, throughout the diary entries of Swedish Anna, and would also use Danish words here and there, and included a glossary to aid translation. This really added a layer of authenticity to the writing.

I am happy to recommend her book.

Amazon’s precis:

This is the story of a young Danish woman, whose life is in a rut. Anna Storm is unemployed, her father is seriously ill, and her best friend and neighbour receives mysterious threats. Anna is a very ordinary antihero, so even when her friend dies unexpectedly, she keeps burying her head in the sand.

Then she finds her Swedish grandmother’s old notesbooks, however. Anna is spellbound by the beautiful drawings and the sweet story of her grandmother’s everyday life. Finally, she has found a worthy project to engage in. As she reads her grandmother’s family chronicles, it dawns on her that the books are not suitable for children at all, but that the sinister story which is hidden between the lines may give Anna a much needed push. Anna wakes up – but is it too late?

For readers of {Dorte’s}Knavesborough series: please note that this book is not a cosy mystery, and I do not recommend it for children.

(The knavesborough series are light hearted detective stories, set in England)

The difference between the Anna Marklin story and the previous Knavesborough, is a sign of the author’s versatility and depth as a writer. Something to ponder about.