Thursday, August 9, 2012

Friday Photo - RSPCA

Himself and I help out at the local humane society, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. We do menial labor, cleaning the cat litter boxes, the poop from the dog kennels, washing and refilling water bowls. However, it has bugged me for a while that the dogs sleep on bare concrete floors. We can't afford to buy enough beds in one go for all the kennels, so I trawled my friends and colleagues begging for donations, and we bought beds for 16 kennels altogether. The dogs love them! Here are just a few of the happy recipients:

Lucky me, getting a thank you lick!

This tail is wagging so fast, it's almost invisible!

This little girl snuggled right down and gave herself a wash 

This is Judy, she is a long-time resident, with the sweetest nature. We have no idea why nobody has adopted her yet. 

The beds are from Kuranda Beds; they supply beds to humane societies in the States, so we knew we were getting good quality. The RSPCA is thrilled and impressed, so they lived up to our expectations. Well done, Kuranda!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

100 Book Challenge Week 21

Book Review #41: 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD:
Author: Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, PhD
Blurb: Managing attention-deficit disorder (ADD) as an adult is a constant challenge. You may notice that your mind sometimes wanders during conversations. Maybe you keep misplacing your keys. Or your ADD may be causing bigger problems in your life, making it difficult to keep in touch with friends and family and leading you to procrastinate on important projects.
10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD offers ten easy ways to better manage your symptoms and live better with ADD. Written by noted author and acclaimed psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis, who has used these solutions to personally overcome her ADD symptoms, this concise and clear new edition offers the latest treatment information to help you sharpen your focus, improve your relationships, and manage your time and money.

Review: Wow! Never in my life have I felt entirely normal. I’m an outsider, and I really don’t understand the “inside”. But this book suggests that while I’m not normal, my oddities are normal. For an oddity, that is. What a unique concept!

Sarkis explains that this book is for newly-diagnosed oddities, aka, ADD/ADHD people. And a lot of her listed coping skills I have already figured out on my own. However this book was still great to read as, not only did she point out some areas where I am normal (woohoo), she had tweaks for my old skills and some new ones up her sleeve.

Beginning with a discussion on diagnosis and medication, she goes on to expound on coping skills to cover eight different areas, ranging from handling finances to managing clutter and time, to relationships. I must admit, relationships are the most difficult for me; it is so hard to explain to those around me how odd I am, that I can’t “change”, and that it’s not “bad”, just different. I suspect that 90% of folk really believe I’m just making excuses 90% of the time. Unfortunately, Sarkis has no cure for this misconception, but she does suggest some coping skills that may help.

Some of her suggestions were great fun: feng shui as a cure for ADD? Well, I use it a lot, but it never occurred to me it was a coping skill. Using a headset when you’re on the phone – I so love this one. Email yourself reminders – been doing this for years.

Others covered my “guilt” issues. I’ve always “inhaled” my food, there’s just so much to do, why waste it eating? Turns out, it’s an ADD trait. How about teeth grinding? Did you realize it’s common to ADD people? Me neither. So I’m not quite so embarrassed to wear my “Bugs Bunny” (teeth guard) at night any more.

It was a quick read, for me, as a lot of it is not new, but to someone freshly introduced to the world of being 'normally' odd, they’ll find it useful to work through it more slowly, doing the exercises at the end of each chapter, and spending time putting the suggestions in each chapter to use. While I may not agree with all of her ideas, the suggestion that all ADD can be cured with medication, for example, she has an excellent selection of ideas.

Work your way through them, trying them on for size and keeping the ones that fit. You’ll be so glad you did!

Book Review #42: The Toll-Gate
Author: Georgette Heyer
Blurb: His exploits were legendary...

Captain John Staple, back from the battlefront, is already bored with his quiet civilian life in the country. When he stumbles upon a mystery involving a disappearing toll-gate keeper, nothing could keep the adventure-loving captain from investigating.

But winning her will be his greatest yet...

Review:  Unlike many of her novels that are Period Romances, this is a Period Mystery. What fun!

I was surprised to learn that Heyer was born in 1921, her knowledge of the lingua-franca of the day is astounding, I was sure she was born in the late 1800s! I must admit it was difficult to understand sometimes, she doesn’t explain the odd phrases very well, but I got the gist of it.

Heyer is no Agatha Christie, but this is still an entertaining mystery. I missed the humor and the feisty females with which she has populated the Period Romances I’ve read previously. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed this book greatly.

Monday, August 6, 2012

100 Book Challenge Week 20

It's been a while since I posted my reviews. I've still been reading (not as much as I needed to, I'm on a major catch-up right now), but not posting. However, I'm running out of time before the challenge ends, so I'll be posting over several days in the next few weeks.

Book Review #39: I Don't Know How She Does It
Author: Allison Pearson
Blurb: Delightfully smart and heartbreakingly poignant, Allison Pearson’s smash debut novel has exploded onto bestseller lists as “The national anthem for working mothers.” Hedge-fund manager, wife, and mother of two, Kate Reddy manages to juggle nine currencies in five time zones and keep in step with the Teletubbies. But when she finds herself awake at 1:37 a.m. in a panic over the need to produce a homemade pie for her daughter’s school, she has to admit her life has become unrecognizable. With panache, wisdom, and uproarious wit, I Don’t Know How She Does It brilliantly dramatizes the dilemma of every working mom.

Review:  Himself doesn’t understand how, or more importantly why, I read multiple books simultaneously. There’s the book I’m currently captivated by, the one downstairs that I can pick up when the TV’s boring, the other one downstairs that I read when the TV’s not boring, but not busy enough to hold my entire attention, the one in the office for the odd occasions I actually take a lunch break, the self-help book (God knows I need it) and the self-improvement book, because moving forward is better than stagnating. If you open books at random on my Kindle, you will find a bunch that I have begun, some barely started, others mid-way, a few nearly finished. (I generally push to finish a book when I get to the 90% mark, so there’ll only be one or two near the end.) Sometimes I’ll have books stashed in my car, or my tote.

Why do I mention this?

Because it makes me think it’s the same lunacy of necessity practiced by the lead character, Kate, in her quest to be the perfect career woman, mother, wife and person. Her desperate fraud, and even greater desperation not to be unveiled as such, married with her guilt at not being the person she so badly wanted to be, resonated with hundreds of women around the world. The sense of running wildly and realizing that the reason you’re not getting anywhere is because you’re on a treadmill resonated with me.

No matter how far we run, or how fast, we take us with us.

The statement that stood out to me most in this book was “Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman!” Terrific. True. Totally ignored by everyone. We’re all comparing ourselves to men, trying to be a better one, whether we’re male or female. The woman who jokes “of course God is a male” is ruefully acknowledging that the odds are weighed against women. Always has been, probably always will be.

Someone asked me once: “is that what you want to do, or what you want to want to do?” I think that Kate realized, in the end, that she had to work out the answer to that question.

As do we all.

Book Review #40: Kindness Goes Unpunished: A Walt Longmire Mystery (Walt Longmire Mysteries) (Walt Longmire Book 3)
Author: Craig Johnson
Blurb: New York Times bestselling author Craig Johnson's mystery series - starring Walt Longmire, the straight-shooting sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming - is attracting more and more fans with its distinctive blend of humor and action. In Kindness Goes Unpunished, Walt's pleasure trip to Philadelphia to visit his daughter, Cady, turns into a nightmare when she is the victim of a vicious attack that leaves her near death. Walt is forced to unpack his saddlebag of tricks to mete out some Western-style justice, and the result is another action-packed thriller from this up-and- coming star of crime fiction.

Review:  This guy reminds me of Angela Lansbury, the dame from Murder She Wrote: everywhere he goes there’s a dead body or two (or three). I’ve changed my mind about living in his town, I wanna go somewhere safer! LOL.

Johnson obviously knows and loves his country, and has an in-depth knowledge of Native Americans and their culture and customs. He mocks incessantly the PC habit of calling Indians “Native Americans” and says that they are as wryly amused by the term as much as he. I don’t know any Indians or Native Americans, so couldn’t tell you if he’s right, but he does have some good points.

The story is, as usual, excellently told and unfolds with great pace. There’s a lot of Indian/Native American references here, and I felt almost like this was a “bible-punching” session, exchanging “bible” for “Indian”. It didn’t detract from the story any, but the idea did nag at the back of my mind.

An interesting side effect of reading these books is that I’ve started looking up the areas he writes about. I’ve read up on Wyoming and Philly, because he writes about these places so well I feel the need to know more about them, and even the desire to go visit there sometime.

Now, that’s some talent. While I regularly look up new words in a dictionary, it’s rare for me to research a location. Well done, Mr. Johnson! I want to write like you one day.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sogeri SingSing

Technically, not a photo, but...

Last weekend I joined a group trip to Sogeri for a SingSing - a collection of native dancers and singers performing traditional ceremonial dances. Unfortunately, the bigwigs arrived really, really late, so we didn't get to see the actual event, as we had to get certain members of the party back to town to make a flight.

Another member of the party and I, however, trotted off to join the rehearsals and had a marvelous time meeting folks, taking photos of their gorgeous costumes, and even some video of them practising.

In this group from the East Islands, we were waiting patiently for folks to finish their preparations to see what happened, and Granma obviously decided we had waited long enough. Watch how she bullies the girls into dancing for the "dimdims" (white people).