What Mary Read

Today I finished reading “No Friend but the Mountain –  Writing from Manus Prison” by  Behrouz Boochani, translated by Omid Tofighian.  This is a spectacular book, on so many levels. Behrouz is a prisoner on Manus Island. He refers to the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre as a prison and he is correct.

He has been on Manus, locked up for several years. His supposed crime is to seek refuge in Australia, and to arrive by boat. Seeking refuge is not a crime, but what has happened to him, and many others, under the direction of the Australian Federal Government is.

Reading this book has been devastating, engaging, informative and horrifying. That the government seeks to destroy these humans through imprisoning them is something I find hard to comprehend.

The last few weeks have seen so many details come to light about the cost of  running our off-shore detention centres, and the tender process or lack thereof. It is time that every man living on Manus is transferred to Australia for effective medical treatment, as there would not be one who is not in need of psychiatric care.

Behrouz has won both the won both the $25,000 non-fiction prize at the Victorian premier’s literary awards and the $100,000 Victorian prize for literature. He deserves these accolades.

If you only read one book this year, make it this one. If you only buy one book, purchase this. It should be mandatory reading for every single person who thinks they have a future as a politician in this country, on whatever level of government they aspire to.

Photo A Day – Week 6

Playing catch-up here, after going MIA for a week. Rest assured daily posting has been taking place on Instagram.

Day 12 – Work

My lads getting on with it, at the dining table

Day 13 – Super Duper

My love surprised me a day in advance.

Day 14 – Love

February is for lovers, this was part of our family Valentines picnic dinner.

Day 15 – Ink

Carly in the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald!!

Day 16 – Balance

These two, taken by Photography by Tracey Devereaux almost two years ago.

Day 17 – Kindness

Our dog doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.

Day 18 – Shadow

Captured on the way to school.


Dinner on the verandah with the family.

We call it Picnic Dinner, thanks to our holiday in Greece a couple of years ago. There, we found ourselves staying in small apartments without kitchens. Calling platters picnics made it fun. Small supermarkets had all we needed.

Tonight’s was superior. We all loved it, and the request came to do this more often. I think it’s a distinct possibility.

Mothering days

Today was one of those days when I thank my lucky stars that my full time commitment is to my family. In fact it’s been one of those weeks when managing the family has been intense.

Today I went up to T’s school bright and early for my first Recorder Parent Helper morning for the year. I ended up taking the newbies out for a practice session – and couldn’t really believe I was tutoring. Not too hard to lead little ones on three note wonders! T is in the ensemble, hence the volunteering. This will be my fifth year in the job!! Up til last year I didn’t regularly do anything much apart from assisting on the excursions.

Then at 11 I was collecting G from her school. She had a dentist appointment (her expander had snapped) where her dentist concluded that no repair was necessary as it’s done it’s job. Now the decision as to whether she’d like braces is up to her, it’s a cosmetic thing from here on. I breathed a sigh of relief really!

Then it was off to the GP for the lass. Then the pathologist. Then back to collect the lad late from school.

Piano lessons around the corner for both of them rounded off the afternoon. No wonder I lay on my bed for an hour after that.

A came home and bustled around cooking dinner and implementing surprises. The darling had a bunch of red roses and a silver vase for one bloom conjured up for me as February is for Lovers around here!

Such a beautiful surprise. He is a romantic, that man of mine. I count my blessings.

That brother of mine

It’s the 12th of Feb, and that means my brother is celebrating another successful completion of his annual trip around the sun.

We were so delighted when he arrived and evened out the number of children my parents have. We really couldn’t believe that there was a boy in our family – a trio of sisters was what that little baby joined. It’s amazing that that little baby grew into a 6″4 man, but these things do happen!

Happy Birthday to you!! Here’s to many more fabulous years!

Photo A Day Week 5


Day 5 – Water

Down at our Bay

Day 6 – Opposites

Sea and sky, boats and plane(s). On Australia Day at the harbour.

Day 7 – Card

A card from Champagne Cartel that came a little while back. Words to live by!

Day 8 – Fave Smell

That seaside smell, at Yamba of course.

Day 9 – Pet

Where would we be without our Archie Dog? He’s a delight.

Day 10 – Umbrella

This one is my favourite and my best, a Charlie and Lola-ism that has become part of our everyday. Mary Poppins memorabilia is fab!

Day 11 – Friend

When your friend becomes a published author you do have to go to her Sydney book launch. Congratulations to Carly Findlay on such a fabulous achievement!

China dreaming

Today we went over to Burwood ostensibly to purchase a music book for G, but actually to get a belly full of superior Chinese food, at the Xi’an Eatery.

A blogger I follow had done a review of this particular restaurant so I knew it should be good. Not Quite Nigella did not let me down. It was fabulous. Both my kids want to return. I count that as a win!

Burwood is full of Chinese restaurants, many with Xi’an featuring in the name. Being transported back to that particular home of lamb and cumin sticks is always a delight.

We had a great selection of food. The waitress we had was attentive and friendly, I have also had my tank filled from hearing Mandarin being spoken, then being apologised for. I love nothing more than being immersed in another language where the person for whom it is their mother tongue just ploughs through, knowing that you’ll get the gist! We were definitely the foreigners in that restaurant today.

I had to order a mango beer off the menu as it sounded tantalising. It was great.

The food was fabulous too.

After lunch T and I went around to the shopping centre where we’d parked the car, to sit and wait for the others. They needed to do some shopping.

Fortunately this coincided with a couple of dragons visiting, with their percussion entourage. Watching them go around the shopping centre, eating lettuces and lucky red envelopes, and moving to the beat of the extremely loud percussion band, was wonderful.

What Mary Read

I belong to a local book group. With this comes the reading of books that I mightn’t usually choose. These also need to be read for the second Tuesday of the month.

As mentioned before I keep a big pile of books on the hop sometimes. Having a set date to have a book read by can be a good thing.

Our “holiday read” for the February meet was from a selection of Kathy Lette books. I randomly selected “After The Blues”. “Puberty Blues” was her first book, a co-write that was written in the 70’s, about growing up on the southern beaches of Sydney at a time when girls were seen as the buyer of chiko rolls and the cheer squad on the beach for their surfer boyfriends.

This book was written two years ago, as a follow on from the first book. Set in the few years after high school, taking up where apparently the first book left off. It is an easy, amusing read, delving into the friendships and love stories of the central character and her mates. New friends, old friends, new locations and trips back to the burbs are all part of the story.

I enjoyed this romp through the early 80’s. If you are looking for a quick read then this fits the bill!

One of the best things about our Book Group is that the books are sourced by a lovely librarian at Rockdale Library. We give her a list of what we might like to read and she works it out from there.

Stay tuned for the March read in a few weeks time.

What Mary Read

My name is Mary, and my reading specialty is starting as many books as possible and having a tower not only on my bedside table, but also on the floor beside my side of the bed.

I got this book for myself for Christmas. I had seen Sofija at the Sydney Writers Festival in May, on a panel about borders and displacement. This book had been on my list since then.

It was a fabulous read. I learnt so much about the area that was Yugoslavia. Having lived through this era, on the other side of the world, and as a privileged 4th generation Australian, I really had no idea what was going on there.

Sofija moved to Australia with her family in the 80’s, abruptly moved back again before the wars of the early 90’s, and then, as they had citizenship here back they came during the unrest before the war.

I laughed, learnt and sobbed reading this book. I think being a parent sometimes puts me right into the story, more than being a daughter. Sofija has to deal with some things that you would never wish on a child. She also has a great way with words.

Our suburb is full of people who came out from the Balkans, both as immigrants and as refugees. We have a little cafe that turns into a Small Bar and nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights. Club Rakia brings a bit of the Balkans night life straight to our high street, and it is fabulous. When I go there with A we people watch and drink beer. I think that Sofiya might feel a little bit at home, with the mad Balkan disco going off down the back, and the different people coming through the front door like they own the place. In a way they do.

If, like me, you lived through this tumultuous era without much idea of what was going on “Miss Ex Yugoslavia” might give you an idea of how this effected the then-Yugoslavians at home, and in their diaspora. The name itself comes from a beauty pageants that Sofija entered. Read it to find out more!

Things you need!

Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of what you might just need.

Last week a wonderful parcel arrived, of beautiful things I’d ordered from Champagne Cartel way back in January when we were up the coast. You know when you see a little online sale and it plays on your mind? This was one of those. I’d seen it, looked thoroughly, noted some lovely things, and went back a few days later and added to cart!

I knew it would take a while for the parcel arrive (the women who run the site were enjoying a January break too). When the parcel arrived it was a wonderful surprise! So beautifully wrapped, I loved it before I even opened up my gifts to self!

This card was with my purchases, and I love it. I think it’s my motto for this term – and the glasses that arrived add just that to my great big drinks of water. When cocktails are required they’ll come in handy then too!

Here’s to Sass and Glamour! A wonderful combination!