About Penny Cowell

Arts & culture writer

Why I love volunteering at Parkrun

On any given Saturday you’ll be sure to find our recent Tea Tree Gully Library work experience student Erica volunteering at one of Adelaide’s many Parkrun events. She tells us why below.

Hi! My name is Erica and I have spent one week at the Tea Tree Gully Library completing my work experience placement.

When work experience was first mentioned at my school, the library was the first place that came to mind when thinking of where I wanted to go. I absolutely love literature and reading (even though I’m incredibly slow), and I thought working behind the scenes would help me to develop certain skills and give me an insight as to what having a job is like – and it did!

But not only do I love reading, I also enjoy volunteering. I just love being able to go out into the community and spend my time helping so many different people for so many different reasons.

I have volunteered at several places and events (and I will be looking into volunteering at the Tea Tree Gully Library – which I highly recommend), but by far one of my favourite events to volunteer at is Parkrun.

Blog pic 1

My mum and I at the Parkrun event in Mawson Lakes

Now you might be thinking, “What on earth is Parkrun?” Well, I’m glad you asked!
Parkrun is a weekly 5km running event, in which people of all ages are allowed to participate. It begins every Saturday morning at 8am, and you are able to walk or run as slow or as fast as you would like (it’s not a race, so there’s no need to feel pressure to rush).

There are so many different people who participate in Parkrun, so you should never feel intimidated or out of place. Athletic people do attend of course, but so do large families, small children, women with prams, and some older people (and there’s never a shortage of dogs, either).

Another aspect of Parkrun I love is the vast amount of locations you’re able to go to. I personally visit the Mawson Lakes Parkrun often as it’s close to my home, but Tea Tree Gully has its own Parkrun, too! It’s located at the Jubilee Community Centre, and participants have to complete one full lap around a park. It’s a great event, and I highly recommend attending.

Blog pic 2

No matter the weather,  nothing can stop my mum and I from volunteering at Parkrun!

If you’re interested in taking part in Parkrun, you can register and find more information here Best of all, it’s free!

Once you’ve registered for Parkrun, you can also sign up to volunteer! There are so many different jobs you can volunteer for, too. My favourite job is the Tail Walker, because I am able to help out whilst completing the walk at the same time. As Tail Walker you need to stay at the very back of all of the runners, so the other volunteers know who the final person is to cross the finish line.

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Sometimes I run the Parkrun course, instead of volunteering – here’s me about to hit the finish line.

After each event all of the volunteers group together for a photo, and meet at a nearby cafe or coffee van for a free drink of their choice!

You can also volunteer to be a marshal, a barcode scanner, a timekeeper, a photographer, or finish token support. All of these roles help to support Parkrun, and without them the event wouldn’t be able to take place. So once again, I highly recommend signing up to help out.

Spring salad recipes

It’s warming up and spring is almost here. Here are some super easy and delicious salad recipes from our friends over at Bake and Brew.

Caesar Salad

Bake and Brew’s Caesar salad and potato salad

 

Caesar salad recipe

Caeser recipe

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole Cos lettuce (washed and sliced)
  • 6 rashers of bacon (with rind removed and chopped)
  • 50g Shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 8 Boiled eggs
  • 4 slices of toast to make croutons
  • 100mL of Caesar dressing (Zoosh brand)
  • Parsley (optional)

Method:

1. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until crisp and browned. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.
2. To boil eggs, place 2-3 eggs in a saucepan and cover with warm water. Cook on high until the water starts to boil, then remove from the hot plate and cover with a lid for three minutes (set a timer). Once three minutes is up, transfer the eggs to cold water and leave there until cool enough to peel.
3. Toast and butter the bread, before cutting into small squares for croutons.
4. Combine the lettuce, croutons, bacon and half the Parmesan in a salad bowl.
Drizzle over the dressing and top with the remaining Parmesan.

5. Sprinkle parsley over the top if desired.

Potato salad recipe
Potato Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 1kg potatoes (quartered)
  • 6 rashers of bacon (with rind removed and chopped)
  • 1 whole red onion (finely chopped)
  • Six pickles (chopped)
  • 200mL Coleslaw dressing (Zoosh brand) OR mayonnaise
  • Parsley (optional)
  • Balsamic glaze (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until crisp and browned. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.

2. Place potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

3. Mix potatoes, coleslaw dressing, bacon, pickles, onion, salt, and pepper together in a bowl until all combined. Refrigerate to allow flavors to blend and bacon to soften, about 1 hour.

4. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and parsley if desired, prior to serving.

 

My two best friends: Mekah and Lara

After a rough start to high school in 2016, Year 10 work experience student Jessica sought out a new puppy to bring some happiness into her life. It was love at first sight when she met German Shepherd puppy Mekah. Below, Jessica tells the story of how they met … 

It’s interesting how some people say diamonds are a girl’s best friend – in my case, my dogs are my best friends.

A couple of years ago, I was in Year 8, my first year of high school. I had a rough start trying to find my feet and didn’t know where to go.

One day I came home exhausted and complained to mum and dad I wanted a puppy. Mum and dad were considering it, but had their doubts at the same time. I already had a dog named Zara, a German shepherd, the most beautiful and athletic dog.

Still, I kept asking and my parents ended up looking at German Shepherd puppies online. They chose a breeder who looked professional and knew what she was talking about, so we called her up and arranged a time to see the puppies the next day. I was filled with joy!

The next day we drove all the way down to Penfield to look at the puppies. When we got there, there were at least 40 German Shepherds barking at us as we waited to get let into the yard.

Finally, the gates opened and we walked into the puppies’ cages. I got to choose which puppy I wanted and I chose the girl – she was so tiny, as small as my two hands put together.

Mekah

The lovely Mekah, as she looked when we first laid eyes on her at the breeder’s place

We put a deposit down but we couldn’t take her home yet because she still needed some needles and also had to be vaccinated.

I went home and started to choose names. I decided on the name Mekah – yes it’s a different way to spell it from Meeka, the standard way it is spelt, but I liked it because it was different.

A week later we went and picked Mekah up and took her home. She fell asleep straight away. A few days later we took her to the vet because her back legs were a bit wobbly and she kept falling over.

Mekah as a puppy

A picture of Mekah one week after we took her home

Mekah had her X-rays done and it turned out she had severe hip dysplasia in both of her hips. We contacted the breeder, who was shocked. She said none of the dogs she had bred had ever had hip dysplasia before. The breeder refunded our money and said she was going to take Mekah and put her down. But we couldn’t let that happen to Mekah – she was only a puppy! So we kept her. We have looked after her ever since and still to this day, Mekah is a fun and adventurous dog who loves to play and EAT!!!

We still had Zara at the time we got Mekah and they both got along so well, until one night Zara had several seizures and had to be put down. Zara was only two years old when she died on the 11th of July 2017.

It was sad and my family didn’t know how to move on without Zara, because she was so close to us and was the best dog. My brother wanted another dog, so once again we searched for a puppy online, this time for a Siberian husky. One evening he came in and said ‘I’ve found a dog and I’m buying her.’

She was the cutest puppy I have ever seen: a Siberian Husky with long and fluffy white fur and big bright blue eyes.

My brother made a booking as soon as he could to go and see the puppy, because so many people were interested in her and wanted to buy her.

I went with my brother and my mum and dad to meet the dog and the breeders, who were so nice and friendly.

A few days later we collected the dog and named her Lara. We chose Lara because it rhymed with Zara, the name of our previous dog.

Lara

My gorgeous puppy Lara, who turned one earlier in the year

Both Mekah and Lara love playing and sleeping a lot, when they are not eating…..

Mekah

Lara and Mekah, chilling at home

Mekah is currently two and a half years old.

Mekah 2

Mekah is now two and a half years old and is a big sook

Lara has only just turned one.

Both Lara and Mekah have had big impacts in our family’s lives. They bring a lot of happiness and smiles to my family and that’s why we love them the most.

THE MANDELA EFFECT

Year 10 work experience student Caitlin is a massive fan of supernatural phenomena and the unknown. While watching a YouTube video on conspiracy theories, Caitlin stumbled onto the ‘Mandela effect’. She writes more about the topic for us below:


Have you ever been convinced something is set a particular way but it turns out you were completely wrong? Chances are you have. This is referred to as false memory or “The Mandela Effect.” The Mandela effect is a psychological phenomenon and it is a collective of misremembered facts or events. Some believe it is just our mind weaving a lie but others speculate this is evidence you have experienced events from a different reality.

Don’t worry though, you are not alone. Many people experience similar Mandela effects. The human memory is a complex thing and although we do know a lot about it, there are still some holes in our research. These past events that people remember feel so real and vivid, most refuse to believe the evidence. Various theories have been speculated and proposed – some are sensible but others still have many confused.

If you are still confused let me give you an example:

In the popular and iconic movie Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (which if you haven’t seen it, were you raised under a rock?) Luke finds out Darth Vader is his father. Darth Vader says to him, “Luke, I am your father.” Well at least that’s what most of us remember. In fact he actually says “No, I am your father.” If you remembered it correctly, well done, but if you believe it to be the other way around you’re in the same boat with thousands of other people. It gets even more confusing because there is various evidence complementing both sides of the story.

The Mandela Effect began in 2010 when American paranormal enthusiast, Fiona Broome, posted on her website about Nelson Mandela. She claimed she remembered seeing news coverage of Nelson Mandela’s death in late 1991 in a South African prison. It wasn’t just something small and hazy – Broome clearly remembered news clips of his funeral, the mourning in South Africa, rioting in cities, and the heartfelt speech by his widow.You may be thinking she’s crazy, due to the fact Nelson Mandela died in 2013.

 

Fiona Broome.jpg

Fiona Broome                                                 Image source:     https://cynthiasuelarson.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/berenstain-bears-mandela-effect-thanksgiving-thursday/

When she heard the official news in 2013, Broome believed she had just misunderstood the previous information but when she attended Dragon Con she learnt from a member of security there were a number of people at the event who also remembered that Nelson Mandela died in prison.

Nelson Mandela

But did he really die in 2013?                                                                                                                                   Image source: https://www.rte.ie/news/2013/1205/491152-nelson-mandela/


This notion spiralled and Broome found thousands of people who were in the same boat as her. When she started posting about it online, she got hundreds of response messages. One person who remembered Nelson Mandela dying in prison was with their mum and when hearing of his death in 2013, both were confused. Both remembered the Oprah show dedicated to Mandela and a specific concert that was live and shown on multiple channels in memory of Nelson Mandela. There is even proof of a Time magazine article stating he died in 1991, 22 years before his reported 2013 death. Many remember discussing Nelson Mandela’s death with family and friends and one even had a notebook where they documented his death prior to 2013.

Here’s the newspaper ‘proof’

Mandela effect - proof

Image source: https://in5d.com/the-mandela-effect-proof-that-negative-timelines-are-collapsing/

 

Maybe you’re skeptical. But if you are someone who remembers Nelson Mandela’s death prior to 2013, then go to this link to discuss with others:

http://mandelaeffect.com/nelson-mandela-died-in-prison/#comment-4891

If you still are completely turned away by this, then let me give you even more evidence:

Remember the ever-so-popular line from Disney’s rendition of Snow White by the Brothers Grimm. The line goes “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” You would think this line would be easy to remember, seeing as IMDb actually describes this film as “by far most memorable full-length animated feature from the Disney Studios.” What if I told you the Queen never says ‘mirror, mirror’ but instead says ‘magic mirror’. In earlier written copies of Snow White, each has the stated line “mirror, mirror”. Snow White was written around 100 years prior to the film and each rendition uses “mirror, mirror”. Of course a logical explanation is that Disney just changed the wording – but why are there so many people who vividly remember the film version saying “mirror, mirror”? You can even see the line being used in pop culture references, appearing in TV shows, on t-shirts and even a movie having it as its title.

I could go on and on about this topic with hundreds of other Mandela Effect examples but I’ll leave you to explore and make your own judgements.

Natsume’s Book of Friends – an anime/manga recommendation

Work experience student Jasmine recently spent a week with us at Tea Tree Gully Library – she loves anime and highly recommends the series ‘Natsume’s Book of Friends’ .

Here’s Jasmine in her own words:

Hello, my name is Jasmine and I have just completed one week of work experience at the library. I chose to come to the Tea Tree Gully Library because of my passion for books – being surrounded by them for a whole week is a dream come true. After school I usually come here for many reasons, mainly to read and borrow books from the vast collection. I also place holds from the many other amazing libraries in South Australia. I enjoy reading many different genre books such as fantasy, horror, action and comedy.

My absolute favourite kind of books to read are manga books: a Japanese light novel of sorts, with a unique and distinctive art style. Manga is closely connected to anime, which uses the same art style as manga in an animated show or video format (which I am also obsessed with). More often than not, manga has an anime adaptation and vice versa, in the case the anime was created prior to the manga. This is to engage viewers who prefer either media, as it can also show different story directions. For example if an anime had two seasons, in the first half of the manga almost all of the same events occur and then in the second half of the manga, the second season of the anime commences. The story takes a different direction, creating a different result for the conclusion.

It is impossible for me to pick a favourite manga series – however I would like to share with you a series I am currently reading. I would like to show and suggest to you Natsume’s Book of Friends, a fantasy series depicting the life of Takashi Natsume. Not having any parents around from a fairly young age Natsume was shuffled between many family members throughout the majority of his life, none of whom cared for Natsume and were simply looking after him because they had to. Natsume did not have any friends while being shuffled from house to house for two simple reasons:

a) He wasn’t in one place long enough to keep any

b) Because he could see creatures called yokai

Yokai are a kind of spirit that cannot be seen by most people, however there are a select few who can see them. Some yokai are malevolent – others are quite passive. Each of the yokai look unique and bizarre, apart from the humanoid-looking yokai who wear yokai masks.

Most of the people who can see the spirits either:

  1. Ignore them
  2. Research the yokai
  3. Become exorcists

Throughout his childhood Natsume repeatedly tried to explain to his classmates and family about the creatures nobody else seemed to be able to see. Everybody, including his family, thought he was imagining it or was making up things for attention, Natsume was left alone to figure out what these creatures were and why he could see them when no one else could. This was until he moved into his aunt and uncle’s house, when he decided not to mention his ability to see yokai at all to his new classmates, or to his aunt and uncle. By not telling anybody about his ability at his new school allowed him to make friends, however he still remained a bit of an oddball.

The main plot line of this manga/anime series is driven by the events following Natsume’s discovery of a special book ‘The book of friends’, which belonged to his grandmother Reiko Natsume. It is a small book containing names of many yokai. The names contained in the book symbolise contracts that were made between Reiko and the yokai, which ruled the yokai do anything at her will. After Natsume found the book it was his responsibility to return all the names to their owners, break the contracts and defeat any yokai cruel beyond reason. Soon after being burdened by the responsibility of returning yokai names, Natsume met a yokai who resides in a ceramic cat body known as Nyanko – sensei.

While residing in the ceramic cat, Nyanko-Sensei can be seen by all humans, but cleverly hides the fact he is a yokai to most people. After running into heaps of danger and odd situations, Natsume makes a few more friends who can see or at least know about yokai and they go on yokai adventures together throughout the series.

As the series progresses Natsume starts to learn about his grandmother and discovers secrets about his family. Eventually it becomes an objective of his to know as much as possible about his family.

 

 

 

I enjoy this series in every way, from the characters and character development, the art style, plot line and many other things. It is a series I definitely recommend looking into. Personally I have been unable to watch the anime at this point but am up to date on the manga. I have been told the anime is of great quality and quite popular in Japan and among western audiences. I absolutely can’t wait to watch the anime considering how amazing the manga is.

That is it for my blog post, I hope you enjoyed reading it!

What was your favourite read from 2017?

Despite ‘The Barefoot Investor’ dominating book talk and library requests in 2017, our staff still managed to branch out and discover some other new reads for themselves.

Here’s what some staff rated as their favourite read of 2017:

Victoria the Queen
Ali – My fave from 2017 was Victoria the Queen by Julia Baird

I’m still reading it actually, as it’s a bit of a tome! It’s well-researched and written, interesting, compelling and definitely not a dry historical book. I heard a podcast on ‘Conversations with Richard Fidler’ were Julia Baird told how she had access to primary sources in the archives at Windsor Castle.

The book covers all aspects of Victoria’s life – personal, family and political, and shows perhaps a more truthful view of the queen without referring to clichés and preconceptions. I would recommend this book if you like biographies.

 

 

The Diary of a Bookseller

Helen – I read a few books in 2017, but my favourite was The Book Shop by Shaun Bythell

It is a non-fiction diary style account of the day-to-day events in Scotland’s second-largest secondhand bookstore in Wigtown. It is written in a matter-of-fact account of what happens each day in the life of a secondhand book store. The humour is very dry – but laugh out loud funny! Through reading each diary entry, I got to know more about the staff who worked at the store (or who didn’t in some cases) and the challenges of running a business – especially in the digital age – and the owner’s fight with Kindles.

I feel I enjoyed it due to some similarities of the customers encountered by public libraries. The bookshop has its own Facebook page – which is just as amusing as the book itself. Thankfully there is a follow-on book!

 

Hunger by Roxanne Gay

 

Hayley –

I had a heap of stand-outs this year but my top pick would be Hunger by Roxanne Gay

This book is a memoir about the author’s relationship with her body after she is attacked as a young girl. Roxanne Gay’s writing is raw, beautiful and powerful. I couldn’t put it down.

 

 

 

 

 


The Handmaid's Tale

Eleanor –

Last year I had to read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for an English class at university. After a few pages, I was completely hooked. It’s a beautifully crafted, chilling story that explores gender, freedom, control, and consequences in a dystopian society. The Handmaid’s Tale is a timeless classic that I would thoroughly recommend!

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Asking

Penny – 

I picked up The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer at Dillon’s Bookshop in Norwood early last year, after my curiosity was piqued by the striking book cover. Two things stood out straight away – Amanda’s sharp and honest writing, and the incredible anecdotes she weaves together to share her story from poverty-stricken street artist to world famous cabaret-punk performer. The scenes she writes about asking for money from her husband, writer Neil Gaiman, are hilarious and show how much confidence she lacked, when she felt she couldn’t ask her husband to financially support her during a downtime. It’s a great book for creatives, and navigates the tricky area of exchange in the Digital Age.

Chocolate Christmas Stars – recipe

Contributed by Librarian Adrienne

Christmas tree biscuits portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ingredients

125g butter or salt reduced margarine
¾ cup caster sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
½ teaspoons baking powder

For decoration

90 gm white melts or royal icing to represent tinsel
Silver or coloured caches
Mini chocolate Smarties
Mini m&ms
Decorations of your choice to represent baubles

Method

Place butter and caster sugar in a bowl and beat until creamy.

Add egg and vanilla essence and beat well.

Stir in sifted flour, cocoa and baking powder and knead to form a firm dough.

Roll dough out to a thickness of 0.5cm between two sheets of baking paper and cut with a 9 x 12cm Christmas tree cutter (you can use other size cutters but you will get more or less biscuits depending on the size of the cutter).

Place trees on oven trays lined with baking paper. Bake at 190°C  for 15 minutes. Allow to stand on trays for three minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.

Place white melts in the top section of a double saucepan and stir over simmering water until melted. Pour into a piping bag and drizzle over cool shortbreads. Decorate the biscuits using icing, chocolates etc.

Makes 14 biscuits.