Saturday, 30 January 2016

Anne Tyler's books are perfect summer reading

A friend lent me a bag of books by Anne Tyler before Christmas - and what a gift they have been!

There was nothing more delightful during the summer holidays than to allow myself to read Anne Tyler on the front porch, helping myself to chocolate and cups of tea along the way.

Her characters are funny and humane. There is perhaps an element of repetition, or at least a pattern, in the fact that they are often about middle aged women re-examining the lives they have found themselves living. But the situation in each book is distinctive, and she vividly describes their complex relationships with the people in their lives. She is often intensely funny.

Here are some of the Anne Tyler books I've read and loved:
  • The Accidental Tourist. This one has a middle aged man, Macon, as its main character. It is the story that has stayed with me the most vividly, of all Anne Tyler's books. Macon finds himself separated and isolated after a family tragedy, and has to find a new way to live in the world.
  • Ladder of Years. Delia abruptly departs from her family to find out who she is when she lives alone.
  • Back When We Were Grown Ups. Rebecca is a 53 year old widow who mkes her living by holding people's parties in her house. After being swept off her feet by her husband Joe Davitch (now long dead) and surrounded by his extended family for years, she starts to wonder what would have happened if she hadn't veered off her original course by marrying Joe.
  • Breathing Lessons. This novel is about the less than perfect marriage of two opposites, who stay together despite the frustrations they create for each other. It's quite a stressful (but funny) book to read, as the spouses veer off course due to their differences. From Wikipedia:

    "In her review in The New York TimesMichiko Kakutani writes, "In Miss Tyler's capable hands,...the Morans' outing...becomes a metaphor both for their 28-year marital odyssey, and for the halting, circuitous journey all of us make through life."

Friday, 29 January 2016

Djinni - new painting by Dean Bradley

This work is a departure from the greens and blues of Dean's more recent work.

'Djinni' (or genie) captures the twilight tones of the desert, whilst suggesting a supernatural presence dwelling in the landscape.

Djinni - by Dean Bradley

Djinni - detail 1

Djinni - detail 2

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Incoming Tide - new painting by Dean Bradley

The perpetual movement of the tide is celebrated in this painting, with special attention paid to the ribbons and  patterns that the tides create in the sand. This painting is now on show at Icon Art Park, in Upper Moutere.

Incoming Tide, by Dean Bradley
Incoming Tide - Detail 1

Incoming Tide - detail 2


To see more of Dean's work, please visit his website at

Saturday, 2 January 2016

To plan - or not to plan?

I love January. There's a sense that time is not compressed in the way it can become by mid-winter. There is ample time for the 18 secondhand books I bought at the Founders Book Fair in June. I think I was really buying that memory of expanded time!

January is also the traditional time of the year to make goals and plans - and with the same sense of expansion, that new things are possible in this lovely fresh new year. However, I am more wary of plans than I have been in the past. It seems that whatever I plan for my business, something else happens. So is there any point in making a plan?

Over the past two years I have slowly been learning to "think less and act more". That's because I am a natural planner, far more at ease writing a business or a marketing plan than implementing it.

However, as Marianne Cantwell says in her excellent book Be a Free Range Human, for the first few years of self-employment business plans are more of a guess than a realistic direction. She advocates small, low cost experiments as the best way forward to finding viable self-employment.

Marketing specialist Chris Butler also recommends an agile approach. He is in favour of 12 weekly marketing plans, as he outlined in a 2015  talk to small businesses. He recommends trying things for three months to see if they have an impact, and then reviewing them.

Chris' key message has stayed with me: "Taking marketing actions leads to something happening, but what happens is entirely unpredictable. However, taking no action always leads to nothing happening."

So I think the real question is: "To act - or not to act?" And to only do as much planning as is needed for those next few actions.