Monday, June 28, 2004

On Friday, George Papaellinas and his friend Helen dropped in in the morning. The rest of the day was spent working on Alexis' ms, and at last I feel as though I am getting somewhere constructive with it. It seems a matter of small but important shifts in some of the pieces, but we'll see when we actually get down to working on it together.
On Saturday, P. and I headed off in the direction of Healesville for the weekend. We stopped at Yarra Glen for a quick but tasty lunch (onion tart and four cheese bruschetta respectively) then stopped at Tarrawarra Gallery for its new exhibition, which matches paintings to objets d'art. Some of the pairings are a bit obvious, and others are far fetched, but the objets are nice enough so that it doesn't matter at all. Some very nice paintings: a Clifton Pugh of a feral cat, pulsating with energy, a Dobell of a woman, vibrant with colour, and a Dale Hickey foyer of the Bercy cinema, almost abstract in its simplicity. The objets includes an inlaid wood rendition of Victoria's parliament house, a 'toile' of nationalities of the world (the Dutch are heavy and boring but noted for their perserverance), and lots of chairs, vases and bric-a-brac (a centenary of Victoria clock with boomerangs for arms was outstanding).
On to Healesville and the Sanctuary Motel, and dinner at the Healesville Hotel (bar not restaurant). In the morning on Sunday, we got to the sanctuary early, which was worth it, as we saw a cunning bush rat in with the wallabies, stealing their fruit, and a superb performance by the lyrebird, stomping his feet and doing an impressive range of imitations. We had a tasty lunch at Bunjel, the Wuradjeri place opposite, which, somewhat churlishly, the Sanctuary doesn't promote. A good run home, after a really restful weekend.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I've been a busy little budgie during the days. On Monday, I met up with daughter Kit, who was in town for a wedding. We trundled off after she had had coffee with her AMP colleagues in town to the Richmond Hill Larder for brunch. Cheese toasties! And they were delicious. We then did a shop-till-you-drop along Bridge Road, though all we bought was a jumper for me. Kit then went back to the airport after we had caught up on all the gossip.
Tuesday was a hospital day, and the Ear, Nose and Throat surgeons gave me a koala stamp, and have reduced my visits to every second month. I also got some glasses anti-freeze from the elves to help with the fogging problem which is getting out of control.
Today, Morris Lurie dropped in in the morning for a coffee. It is always bracing to see Morris, who was in fine form. He left his much-travelled piece on Peter Carey for a read. It is very good, if not very kind to Peter Carey.
This afternoon was Writers' Festival programming. We are one meeting away from a final program. I've scored two gigs: one a spotlight with Rodney Hall and the other chairing a session on Family Sagas with Elizabeth Smither (NZ), Larissa Behrendt and Steven Carroll. There is a lot of reading to get up to speed with Rodney Hall, but the other session should be okay. Though Behrendt is indeed a saga I believe. But I've already read the Smither, and Steve Carroll's last book, so there is only the new one to go (which is a sequel).

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Today, Liz Tregenza dropped in (from Strathalbyn in South Australia) for a coffee to give us directions of how to get to her and John's place when we go to the Ring Cycle in November, and also just to catch up. It was really good to see her. I might catch her in Alice Springs in July. They are living in semi-bliss in rural South Australia, having a fast learning curve on farm life and renovations.
In the afternoon, we went to Frank's Gloriana concert, which was indeed glorious. The Poulenc mass was especially good, as were the other twentieth century French works (Durufle and Messiaen). The first half (three hundred years earlier) was also very good. We didn't feel the slightest bit religious, in spite of two masses, and other religious motets. And the heaters were on full bore in the church so it wasn't as chill as it might have been.
Also, on the religious front, hundreds of people must have come to the Convent open day, judging from the traffic and parking today.
A quiet night in front of the tellie, with leftover bunnie and beef burgundy on toast, with the addition of a flash seafood cocktail for starters. Peter has embarked on the lengthy process of cooking the vera bolognese, but it needs to cook for hours, so it will be Monday or Tuesday.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

A semi busy Friday, with a morning visit and chat to George Papaellinas and his friend Helen, who cooked the most delicious apple and raisin muffins. Fresh from the oven, they were gorgeous. George was in fine form and we enjoyed some literary gossip and scandal for an hour or two. Then I had lunch with Jo B. at the Carringbush bistro. Again, more gossip and chat, followed by an arvo sleep, then Frank for dinner to almost demolish the rest of the bunnie. Not a very productive day in terms of work, but very productive in terms of social activity.
Today, the usual marketing at Victoria Gardens, and, unusually, lunch there, though we won't be making a habit of it. Smith Street and Clifton Hill are much better and cheaper. We will be having a frenzy of cooking as we have the makings of vera bolognese, a cajun fish dish, a seafood cocktail (crayfish were cheap, well, cheaper) and pea and ham soup which is bubbling away on the stove now. Tonight we will have our deferred vegie curry at Frank's, with David Golightly.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Busy yesterday morning cooking a rabbit casserole, but when it came to the point, Elisabeth was too squeamish to eat rabbit. Luckily, we had leftover beef burgundy from the night before, so she had that, followed by Herbie's special baked apple. Yum!
Tonight, we went to Noel Tovey's launch which went well though the attendance was a bit sparse. Afterwards, we went with Elisabeth W. to dinner at Abla's which was, as usual, delicious. She gave us Robert Adamson's new book as a present, and bought Noel's at the launch as well. Kathleen Fallon gave a good launch speech, and Noel responded with tears, as Reading's is on the site of a shop where his sister used to steal food for them when they were kids.
Hooray, I got the okay for the Alice Springs job, so I'll be off there on 26 July at sparrowfart (6.45 from Tullamarina) for a fortnight. It will be hard work, both there and beforehand, but it will be worth it. It's a very good novel. I'll possibly stay with Alison French, which will give me a break from the author, and she is proposing a weekend trip to King's Canyon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Yesterday, we had lunch with Peter's older sister, Marcia, and her husband Anton, who were visiting from Perth. At first, we were going to go to the Richmond Hill Larder for lunch, but they don't book on public holidays. Instead, we went to the All Nations Hotel in Richmond (very cosy and good food) then on a little drive along the Yarra in very blustery weather, then came home for tea and bikkies. They were in good form, having been to some air force reunion in Sale. Anton now works for customs, and Marcia for the Defence Housing Authority. They might be moving to Karratha/Dampier for a couple of years.
Peter had today off (rostered day off) so has cooked Beef Burgundy for dinner tonight, and Frank is coming.
Elisabeth W. is coming to Melbourne tomorrow for work, so we will meet at Noel Tovey's launch at Reading's on Thursday and dine afterwards.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Frank's birthday dinner was on Friday night at the Carringbush Hotel. We were joined by David G., Lorraine and Deb and had a very pleasant dinner by the fire. The Carringbush has carpet too, so you can actually hear each other speak, a novelty in eateries these days.
Market day on Saturday, and a new rabbit from Ouyen has been acquired to make Stephanie's rabbit with prunes. We ran into Brenda Irwin and Clare Forster at the market, and have now had the privilege of meeting the young Peter Blazey (one of Clare's very nice looking twin boys). The best thing about the market is running into people who seem nearly all to belong to the chattering, chardonnay-drinking classes, who still believe in being politically correct. And a good thing too.
My parents came round and picked us up to head into town for dinner (a very cosy meal at Yamato in Corr's Lane) thence to Rigoletto at Her Majesty's Theatre. It was a very basic production but effective. As we were in the front row, it was a knockout for sound. The orchestra might not have been beautiful, but it was effective. The conductor kept everything under very tight control, and it all sounded very good on the whole.
Today we are staying home (it is a very cold blustery day) and doing some cleaning and tidying. Peter's sister Marcia (from Perth)and her husband Anton are turning up tomorrow and we are going out to lunch. So a bit of being homebodies for a day is needed in the middle of all this socialising.
Son Nick and family are now settled into their new house in Nowra, and my father and I have vetted his last essay for the year. It was a good one, so we only found literal errors and the occasional infelicitous heading or expression. He got a High Distinction for his last one (for a Masters in Counselling at Chuck U.) and this one should do well too.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

It has been a waiting game the last few days. I'm waiting on approval to start two jobs, and in spite of phone calls reminding, I still haven't got it. One (the one in Alice Springs) I really want. The other would be good to do, but I won't weep if I don't get it. We'll see tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Frank came round for dinner last night (corned beef and mustard sauce) and we went round to his place tonight (roast chook with quinces for dessert) to watch the first two parts of Angels in America which is quite compelling. In spite of the hype it is quite 'domestic' in scale really.
I'm struggling a bit with the new lighter nose. It is much easier to wear, but causes more fogging, which is rife in this cold weather. You can't keep putting anti-freeze on the specs every five minutes (well, every hour is really what it would need). I'm not complaining, just pondering the best strategies. I went this arvo to the Melbourne Writers' Festival meeting, and got fogged up just before catching the tram in Swanston Street. I cleaned the glasses in a doorway outside the Town Hall, but it's hard to find a spot to do it discreetly. It would cause comment in a crowded tram!

Sunday, June 06, 2004

A very quiet weekend! Shopping with P. and Frank on Saturday at Victoria Gardens, then Frank came for tea on Saturday, where Peter did Osso Buco (a new and different recipe). I've taken to modifying a recipe from Herbie the spice man for microwaved fruit for dessert. So far I've done apples (twice) and bananas. Tomorrow, pears! It involves crystallised ginger, dates or prunes, raisins, coconut and honey, and it's very warming on these cold nights. And it only takes a tick! Sorry if this sounds a bit infantile, but I'm probably reacting to A Clockwork Orange which has just been on SBS. Because it hasn't been rescreened or available on video I haven't seen it for years, and it seems a lot simpler than it did on first release.
Tomorrow, into the thick of work.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I've finished the non-fiction ms, and sent off a quote (yesterday) but so far have had no response. I'll ring on Monday if nothing has come by then.
This morning I went off to the cobbler/elves and Greg has attached a new, lighter nose to my glasses. It feels more comfortable so far, though only time will tell.
I then got a couple of bits needed for installing Broadband on my computer (a double adaptor for the phone line, and two more filters for the other phones). But the process has stalled, as I thought it would for something. What I appear to be missing is the Windows 98SE Detect and Install Hardware Wizard. Somewhere in various updates and fiddlings, it has gone missing. I'll see what Frank has got up his sleeve, or wherever he keeps such things. It just might be time for a complete update. We'll see.
A welcome email this morning from globetrotting Sal, who ran across John Bryson's friend Henry in Barcelona. What a coincidence! Henry seems to pop up everywhere, but even more extraordinary is that his son, Enrique, is to work in Belgium with Sal's friend Paul at Medicins Sans Frontieres. Small world indeed.
After all this activity and frustration, I might just have an arvo sleep!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Yesterday, my father and I went off to the cobbler/elves again. This time Greg had successfully made two lighter silicon noses (the three that I have are more rigid and less flexible). I sat for about an hour while he worked his wizardry on painting them to match my skin colour (which is a movable feast anyway). I have to go back on Friday to have one of them fixed to my glasses once the paint has dried properly. It's a saga and a half, but by then I will have two 'rigid' noses and two flexible ones.
Last night, P. and I went to Frank's for dinner, and, though it was a cold night, Frank had produced a warming casserole, and we watched the teev.
Daytimes, I have been ploughing through the large non-fiction ms. and finding it quite absorbing. I will quote on it, but whether I get the job is problematic.
This afternoon, I went off to the Melbourne Writers' Festival programming committee. I haven't been for a few weeks, but we are now meeting weekly to finalise the program by the end of the month. This is the really gruelling time, as we try to fit the writers into panels on the right weekend and in good combinations. But, as they say, the talent is good this year. Let's hope little googly-eyes doesn't call an election to muck it all up.