The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
A book about grief, friendship and ageing from the talented author of The Natural Way of Things. Grieving the loss of the fourth member of their quartet, the three remaining friends head to her shack for the Christmas weekend to clean it out ready for auction. Personalities clash and long-buried truths are revealed as the friends navigate their relationships with each other and themselves. A great book about female friendship and its complexities.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, looking forward to reading it each night after work. It is written in a format I love where it alternates between the perspectives of the two main characters, giving you insight into two lives and how they intersect. While thoroughly enjoyable, this novel also tackles some difficult themes, particularly race and racism, making it a very pertinent novel for our current circumstances. I particularly loved the way the novel drills down into the intricacies and politics of African women’s hair and how they choose to wear it.
- The great hope of Isiah Dawe from ABC RN’s Conversations – an interview with an inspiring young Indigenous man who moved from foster home to foster home as a child and is now CEO of a not-for-profit in Sydney’s Redfern which provides a home base for Indigenous kids experiencing similar upheaval.
- Fascinating fungi – the intelligent kingdom from ABC RN’s Conversations – I wasn’t sure how interesting I’d find this interview but thought I’d give it a whirl. Turns out fungi are absolutely fascinating
The event of the month would have to be my Birthday celebrations which extended over multiple days. This being my first Birthday away from home, as well as being a Birthday in the middle of a pandemic, it seemed important to physically surround myself with the people I love who are in Hobart with me and then virtually connect with my family and friends interstate.
So, I organised a small gathering of my Hobart friends at my house just before my actual Birthday (Hobart has been COVID-19 free for months now so this was allowed). I called the event “Bring a plate and celebrate”. As the name suggests, the idea was that each guest brought a plate of food to share which made my life super easy. All I had to do was to make a cake (I made a vegan and gluten-free chocolate cake to ensure everyone could partake); set up a tea and coffee station; and provide plates, mugs and so on. It was such a lovely afternoon, bringing together many (although sadly not all, some friends of course had work or other commitments) of the wonderful people in my life here, whether they be from work, the hiking group I’m part of, or people I know from Melbourne who have also ended up in Hobart.
My actual Birthday was on a work day. I thought about taking the day off but I ended up having a few urgent tasks to work on which meant I needed to put in some hours. I took in a cake (a second vegan and gluten-free chocolate cake) to share and received a wonderful surprise when flowers and card arrived on my desk over my lunch break. I spent lunch with one of my wonderful work friends and returned to the flowers and card from my previous manager! I did make sure to get away from work nice and early (around 3pm) so that I could have a relaxing afternoon and evening.
After an afternoon tea of leftover cake from the weekend and tea, I took my parents (virtually) with me for a walk via Skype. Then I spent some time replying to messages from friends and family interstate while my wonderful housemate cooked dinner for the three of us. We had a delicious creamy mushroom stroganoff and then played the game “Listen Up” which is essentially a game of conversation starters which took us into some deep and delicious conversations. When I say deep, I mean deep, we only made it through half the game before I had to get onto Zoom to eat cake with my family.
The Zoom call was a lovely way to get a dose of my family on my Birthday. I was regaled with an out-of-sync rendition of Happy Birthday – out-of-sync because my parents were singing from one location, my brother and his fiancé from another. Then we all ate chocolate cake, those in Melbourne ate a cake Mum had made, half of which she delivered to my brother and his fiancé, while I ate some of the cake I had made. Mum had sneakily shipped a present for me to my housemate a month earlier so this present magically appeared on the morning of my Birthday, giving me two things to open as Mum also express posted me another gift. The early arrival was a jigsaw, the late arrival was a box of my favourite dark chocolate, oat and almond cookies which Mum baked for me, plus a notepad.
These celebrations left my heart so full, particularly the beautiful messages people wrote in cards and to my phone. I am still waiting on some more cards which will no doubt add to this immense feeling of gratitude and loved-ness with which I have been suffused for some days now.
Basically, I couldn’t have asked for a better Birthday.
As my description of my Birthday hopefully highlights, I have a lot to be thankful for at the moment. While I have periodically written in a gratitude journal since I was 18, I’ve been filling it out once a week or so recently to record the wonderful things, people and experiences which fill my life here in Hobart. I usually fill it in before I go to bed with three things I’m grateful for from that day. Reflecting on my day puts a smile on my face, which is just the way I want to feel when I turn in for the night.
Love, hope and peace from Emma.