Friday, April 30, 2004

A trip into town today to get Halftix for 'Der Fliegende Hollander'. I got the second row which turned out to be a real treat as it was very well sung. A knockout in fact even though the production itself was a bit limp. Then off to the Melbourne hospital to see the vampires as I've got a renal appointment next week and have to give blood and urine for testing. It was a good vampire, nearly painless. Then to Carlton for onion quiches from the French patisserie for lunch.
Pierre and I met Frank at Southbank for a very indifferent, but quick, meal, then off to the opera. The only very minor blot was the woman behind us who didn't stop complaining about the lack of interval (as she thought she might want a pee), but kept eating and drinking right through the performance. Go figure! A weird touch in this production was Erik strangling Senta rather than her jumping off the cliff, which was a bit counter to Wagner's intentions. Though, as I said, the good thing about Flying Dutchman is that you never know what the end is going to be. The direction was a bit Gilbert and Sullivanesque, but the singing was brilliant, especially Elizabeth Whitehouse as Senta, and John Wegner as the Dutchman. She had a choice as Frank said between Dr Who (Wegner) and Billy Bunter (the tenor). But who cares! It sounded glorious especially from the second row.
Tomorrow night, birthday dinner for Elisabeth's mum Nan at Abla's. They arrive from Sydney tomorrow morning while we're shopping.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

A couple of days spent going to Centrelink to inquire about how to report on returning to work (if any). My father came down yesterday to do a bit of exterior painting, and the house is now starting to look very swish with new verandah paint and repairs. Centrelink wanted my last tax return, so we took it down today, and Greg (not the cobbler/elf) photocopied it, and said we would be notified in under a fortnight what kind of reporting was needed. Meantime I've had a couple of queries about jobs, one a private job which I don't think I should do (an author wanting a fix it and sell it job) and the other a report from a publisher which I'd like to do.
As well, I'm going back to an ms which I couldn't report on while I was sick, but can probably concentrate on now. It's a very difficult proposition, but if I can help with it, I will.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

A busy time running around after spectacles! I went yesterday to Budget specs to pick up two pair to take to Greg, the prosthetician, who has been promoted to surgeon by the optician (I think the salesman finds it too hard to say prosthetician). Greg approved of both pairs, with a slight preference for the cheaper ones, so with different responses from my olds and Peter (severally), I decided this morning to get the cheaper pair in case it all doesn't work. Back to the opticians to order the glasses, and in between times I've defrosted the fridge, which badly needed it, and bought new jeans in town as I've only one pair, and it's getting too cold for shorts while they're being washed. I hate clothes buying, but Peter was right, the Levi shop in town is hassle free, even pleasant. They are altering the length as I write, and I'll head back into town to pick them up. Then it will be time for Peter and Jill Dupleix's (modified) lamb shanks which look delicious. (He finished cooking them last night, so I know).

Sunday, April 25, 2004

A cooking weekend! After shopping at Victoria Gardens and getting good fish and good veggies (from Toscano's), Peter made an oldie but goldie, Beverly Sutherland-Smith's fish with prawn sauce. It is supposed to be made with whiting fillets, but they were priced like gold at the fish shop, so we had flathead fillets instead which were very tasty (possibly more tasty). I have made real soto ayam for tea tonight, using a supposedly free range chook (which probably will make a slight difference) and because I needed celery leaves for the stock for the soto, I've also made celery soup, which is a much more delicate proposition than the spicy soto ayam.
I'm still experimenting with the new nose glue. As well as washing off in the rain, it washes off in the shower. Any water at all seems to make it go ineffective, so roll on the spectacle solution!

Saturday, April 24, 2004

I forgot to say, and it caused much mirth to Peter and Frank over dinner, my nose fell off in Darrell Lea. I was going up Swanston Street in search of an umbrella in the pouring rain, and the new glue is water soluble. That makes it less abrasive to the skin, but also less sticky. The server in Darell Lea was very understanding as I bought a ginger bar and held my nose on, before dashing to the loos at the Town Hall for a quick fix. I then got an umbrella at Arthur Daley's Bargain Warehouse and was safe again!

Friday, April 23, 2004

A fairly quiet week! Just a bit of tidying in the front room/office (which needs it). It was nice to be asked by Sarah and Carla whether I'd be interested in doing second semester at Melbourne Uni. I'm still not sure whether I'd be 100% reliable, so I took a raincheck till 2005, unless they have an emergency.
Today, I went back to Greg the cobbler at the hospital, and he coloured two more noses, same as the one I've got, so I can clean them better. I also went to the Clifford Possum exhibition at the Gallery and had a bit of lookaround there.
Then to optician, to see whether I need spectacles. I have not been fooling myself all these years. My eyes are okay, and I see closely with my left eye and distance with my right. But the optician can improve things a bit with, hooray, a different lens in each eye which I can wear all the time. So I'll try it out. She can sell me frames to take to Greg to see if they're all right, then if they are, I can take them back for lenses. If it works, it will be a lot easier than glue all the time.
Off to Frank's for Friday dinner.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

A fairly busy day today. Because of a visit to the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic (surgeons) at the Melbourne hospital, I had a big nose clean this morning. Then my father arrived with some businessy things (BAS form and other things to do with accounts), then we went off to the hospital for a brief admiration session for my new nose, and the cleanliness of it all, but little else. It is a check on whether anything is going wrong, though.
I had a nice phone call from sister Rosanne who is leaving on Monday for Paris, a motor trip in France and another visit to St John of the Compost in Spain. Wot a globetrotter!
Then down on a seemingly endless trip during peak hour to the Astor Cinema to meet Frank and P. for Jacques Tati's 'Jour de Fete' which was a lot of fun and quite charming. Those French sure know how to build myths of rural France. Free trade agreements eat your hearts out!
Dad didn't manage to see the Centrelink social worker at the hospital to try to organise a renewal of sickness benefits. It is a very confusing situation at present where according to some I'm still feeling the effects of radiotherapy, but according to others I'm actually quite fit. Subjectively, I am still having trouble concentrating, though I can read quite well now, and I still need an arvo sleep if I can cadge one. What does it all mean: I am gradually getting better, I think.

On Sunday, Barry Dickins dropped in with an invitation to his exhibition of drawings at the William Mora gallery in late May. It was nice to see him. Then we had lunch with Noel Tovey and Lorraine E. which meandered into the afternoon, then Lorraine and Peter went to the Richard Thompson concert, which they said was very good. Noel's book is coming out in late May, and he is doing his one-man show, 'Little Black Bastard' at Belvoir Street Theatre in September. The Fruitfly Circus Con Colleano show has finished its Australian run for the moment, but might do NZ and Mexico later. Noel would have to perform in Spanish for that, but he doesn't seem fazed.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Yesterday, Peter did a huge clean, and I went out to get pills from the health centre and some quiche for dinner. P. made a shepherd's pie from the leftover lamb as well. Frank came for dinner, but in the afternoon I went to the zoo with the olds and the Browns from Sydney. The zoo was a bit of a disappointment: it was FULL of school holiday kiddies including one party of 42 noisy orange-hatted bipeds. The zoo is not especially wheelie friendly, and, though I am prejudiced against them being there, the much touted new elephant enclosure is not a heap better than their old concrete one, just more palatable. (More trees, Asian village surroundings, but same oldl cramped quarters and bored heffalumps.) THEY SHOULD BE AT WERRIBEE ZOO in the paddocks! But the zoo must have its charistmatic mega-mega vertebrates to attract custom. Interestingly, little Ben seemed more interested in the stick insects and the feeding of the pelicans.
Today: shopping as usual but this time at Victoria Gardens, followed by Vietnamese lunch at Qan 88 with the Browns and the olds, plus Frank. We had a very satisfying lunch (for eight) for $75 only. Sadly, I missed Maria's meeting with councillor Sue Corby about the treeplanting and parking changes, but I'm sure she and her daughter Angela held our end up. It seems the landscaping man has been telling porkies about the whole scheme having been cleared by the traffic engineer's department. Someone is ducking for cover somewhere. The outcome will be interesting.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

We had a nice lunch with the olds and Kit, Neville and Ben at the boathouse (they had all been to the Aquarium in the morning), then went out to the olds for dinner. We had a hilarious time coming home as we couldn't figure out how to get the car off low beam, and Neville's wheels wouldn't quite fit in the boot, so part of them had to travel on Peter's knees. But we got there quite successfully, and they are re-installed in their apartment in Little Bourke Street.

I went yesterday for a nose fitting, and it actually turned out to be a nose colouring. Greg, the cobbler/elf, even has a palette with a thumbhole which he uses to mix the colours. This nose is a glue-on but is of a stiffer silicon, and could be attached to glasses. He has also made a softer silicon nose which he'll colour next time. He has given me a water-based glue this time, which is less likely to cause irritation, but is a bit more complicated to apply. (It needs a double application and a blowdry in between the two!)
My friends and relatives are meant to comment on this new nose about whether it is a good match to my 'old' one, and Greg will adjust it accordingly. But so far response is very favourable. My parents and Peter and a couple of close friends have seen it already. Greg said that most Australian insurance companies provide a new prosthetic every two years, but Workcover, the government agency for workers' compensation, is trying for five years, which he says is not enough. Mine is under the public hospital system which is free. He says that when we settle on a nose, he'll make four of them to allow for cleaning in a batch so I can't complain about the system.
Meanwhile, I have to check whether I need glasses, as that seems to be the simplest method. I can see that the glue will become very tedious after a while. At present, it's a novelty but that will wear off very soon, I think, no pun intended.
I had a coffee yesterday afternoon with Jo B. and Trevor (from Canberra, who was in town to see 'The Producers'), Sal dropped in for a natter after her Easter at Falls Creek, and my olds dropped in after picking up Neville, Kit and Ben from the airport and depositing them in Little Bourke Street. We might get together and do something today, like go to the farm.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

A very nice Easter. After a drive broken by a real sandwich and pie in Taradale (eschewing the trendier shops in Malmsbury), we got to Newstead. The stone cottage and garden are beautiful as ever, if a little parched by the drought. We tried to save water as much as we could, but still had some fine eating. Nice cheeses and salami and ham for lunch, Peter's bean casserole SW France, Frank's preserved lemon and olive chicken, and bbqed Castlemaine sausages and pork chops with plum sauce from David. We are like little porkers.
On Saturday we went for a run into Clunes, which looks like a film set, which it was for 'Ned Kelly' and 'Something in the Air'. Another doomed afternoon tea spot run by quite unsuitable people in the main street. The secondhand bookshop was good though, in the old post office, and smelling of god-knows-what old and musty. I got P. a book called 'Victoria over hill and dale' from 1907, to see what has changed.
On Monday, we farewelled David and Frank, and went into Castlemaine to see Ann de Hugard. She regaled us with a splendid lunch and dinner for P.'s birthday, and we went to the Castlemaine museum and art gallery, which was good value. A very pleasant overnight stay.
Today, we had a good run home, after a bit of a look around the Castlemaine shops.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

On Wednesday, went to Melbourne Writers' Festival programming committee which seems to be coming along well, followed by the launch at Readings for Sophie Cunningham's new book, 'Geography'. I was NOT needed for rent-a-crowd as there was a cast of thousands and it was impossible to even get into the line-of-sight for the launching. So I exited gracefully, nose slipping disgracefully.
P. and I went shopping this morning in Carlton for things for the weekend, and were very successful. The Olds dropped in at lunchtime (for French salmon quiche from the shop behind Readings), then we went Vietnamese for dinner with Frank and Tat. We are now mouldering in front of the telly with a very suspicious Spencer cat, who knows that something is up. Jo B. is feeding him for two days, then my father for one, so he won't be neglected. But tell him that!
Ann de Hugard (in Castlemaine) says that people are behaving madly there - as if the food is going to run out over Easter. Huge queues in the supermarket and so on. So I'm glad we did our shopping in Carlton.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

A surprisingly busy weekend after return from Sydney. Shopping with Frank on Saturday in Smurf Street, a very nice dinner with Jo B. that night (delicious fish) and on Sunday the Gloriana concert in the afternoon at St Mark's Fitzroy. A few too much Lamentations ('In the midst of life we are in death' etc.) but the choir were in good voice. Caught a glimpse of who I think was Anthony McMahon at the end, but when I went back he was gone.
Pierre arrived back on Sunday night, full of news of Brisbane, and a big saga of his mother's new washing machine.
On Monday, off to see the cobbler elves. Greg the prosthetician wanted to show me progress on my new nose, which looks good. Next Friday, after Easter, he'll give me two new noses to try out and get comments from my friends and relations. 'Flare the nostrils a bit more' etc. We also talked about the glasses option, as I can tell I will get tired of the glue (on the steps of the palace). Some people think the glasses option is a bit Groucho Marx, but it is possibly easier to manage. I'll check whether I need glasses anyway and if I do that might make the decision for me.
A quick dash across town to the North Yarra Health Centre (Fitzroy branch this time) for a session with Halina, the counsellor. I wasn't sure of her last time, but this time she demonstrated that she is sharp as a tack. In the nicest possible way, she wasn't letting me get away with anything. She was very bracing.
A busy time is upcoming, what with going away to Newstead on Friday, thence to Ann de Hugard. Then Kit, Neville and Ben arrive after Easter for a few days.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Well - home again vagabond shoes! Have had a really good week but now I'm very, very tired. Unlike Lesley's adventures in Rome, mine were fairly humdrum, but interesting and rewarding. No free internet access for me! Lesley - the cramped Qantas first class lounge at Singapore airport. Really! I felt so sorry for you. Wait till you do some real travelling with us common folk in cattle class.
I spent the weekend with Kit, Neville and Ben in Sydney. Both days of the weekend they did fundraising things for Ben's primary school. On municipal election day they had a carboot sale and on the Sunday afternoon (the Norton Street Festa) they sold carparking at the school.
I had brunch with Keren Lavelle on Sunday, and my new nose did a bit of very embarrassing shifting. But we had a nice time. Among other things she had a good yarn about her son Daniel handing out how-to-vote cards for the Greens. Some old-style ALP type came up and said, "You're a Green! What kind of tree is that over there?" And Daniel replied, "You're in the ALP! How much would you get for selling off this school?" That shut him up.
Off to Katoomba on Monday morning, and the talk, workshop and quiz went really well. The first day I wore my dressing (after the incident with Keren on Sunday) but on Tuesday I wore the secondhand nose and it stayed put. I was really pleased, especially with my roleplays in the workshop. (Should they be rolesplay. I dunno!)
Back to Sydney on Wednesday, and a time with Nan and Elisabeth Wynhausen, which was great. Elisabeth is always really challenging. Then on Thursday, over to Sasha's place at Cremorne/Mosman. I met his housemates Jack and Monica for the first time.
Unfortunately, Anne Deveson had a tooth abcess so we had to cancel our Friday meeting, but at least that meant I could spend more time with Sasha without Jack and Monica, who were both teaching ESL on Friday.
Then back to Melbourne where very kindly Jo picked me up from the airport. But am I glad to be home. And is Spencer pleased to see me. Though Frank has obviously looked after him really well, as he looks sleek and not distressed at all. (If he's feeling distressed he looks ratty.) Enuf for now. I'm exhausted. Even though I haven't done nearly as much as Lesley has this week, I feel tired just thinking about it. But she's really lucky to have had an audience with Il Papa (I don't think). I think she should have held out for the Sistine Chapel, myself.