Thursday, September 30, 2004

Off to the seat of 'power'

Had a good meeting with Rochelle on Tuesday and her book is coming along well. She is meeting with the subject this weekend to get some fresh material, and we'll look at it next week.
The ikan bilis turned out fine, not perfect, but it was only the first time. On the way to see Rochelle, I dropped into the DJ's new food hall which is very impressive. They had Spanish anchovies which would have been perfect for the ikan bilis, except they were $110 per kilo, compared with $1.98 for the dried version at the Asian deli. Last night, we had the remains of the fish curry with some fresh dahl and the ikan bilis. It was a perfectly balanced meal, and delicious. This fish curry had got less hot with keeping for some reason. Perhaps it was mixing the leftover rice in with it.
Tonight, we have to drop a no-doubt traumatised Spencer into Sally's for a little holiday, then head to the airport to catch the flight to Canberra. It will be a movable feast, with two nights at Olim's, then a night at Lesley and Louise's, then a night at Jo's, then at Jill and Peter's in Albury. Phew! Home again on Tuesday.

Monday, September 27, 2004

They All Do It

Having spent Saturday by the fire, still nursing colds, we emerged on Sunday to do the shopping. It just shows how our routine gets disrupted by Frank being in Europe. We're trying to clean out the fridge before going to Canberra, so Peter's Vera Bolognese became Lasagne for dinner last night. I've got some fish for Malaysian sour fish curry and some dried anchovies to attempt ikan bilis, one of my favourites but which I've never made myself. Peter suggests I should leave it to those with some ethnic skill in the area but we'll see.
On Sunday arvo, we went to see Cosi Fan Tutte put on by the Melbourne Opera. It was at the Athenaeum Theatre, which is the perfect venue for chamber opera. The orchestra sounded splendid in the small space, and even the singers with smallish voices carried well. Frank's erstwhile co-chorister Jerzy Koslowski performed creditably as Don Alfonso, and the whole affair was really enjoyable, apart from the side-titles going bung for part of the second act.
The Melbourne Opera might be overreaching itself with a November production of Turandot at the Palais with a chorus of a hundred, and children's choir from Carey Grammar, and all the bells and whistles. They are trying to extract funding from the State government at the expense of the Australian Opera. Selfishly, I don't see why we shouldn't have both, though I'd have to say it shouldn't be highest on the Bracks' priorities to have two or more opera companies in Melbourne. I'm sure it won't be.
Also on the musical front, Frank achieved his aim of surprising Ensemble Gombert by appearing at their Amsterdam gig. It's just as well he travelled halfway across the world to see them, as he and his friend Brent made up nearly ten per cent of the audience! He's now in Berlin, thence to Hamburg.
Now it's Monday, and back to work.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Into the world

Well, in a very limited way. I dropped into George P.'s and saw a copy of Mumma's Kitchen which looks very impressive. It has a goodly range of authors and recipes, and would make both a good kitchen handbook and a good present. We had a political whinge about the rodent, and talked a bit about George's new novel. Helen was there too with a bad cold or flu.
Then into town to get halftix for Cosi Fan Tutte for Sunday's matinee.
Lelsey P. is back in Canberra, recovering from the death of her father, but Louise has gone to Adelaide to her mum who is not very well, to say the least. It has been a bad week for that household. We'd better suggest staying somewhere else as things are a bit unpredictable and fraught in their quarter.
Meanwhile, out in the world, Frank is in Utrecht, visiting Brent, and taking in the delights of the home of Peter's father.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Malaysian cookfest

Both Peter and I are still fluey, though recovering. Last night, we had Polly Pollock and Jane Nicholls for dinner. They are both very experienced in both visiting and working in Indonesia, so it was very interesting. In the arvo, I cooked up a storm of dry prawn curry, stirfried spinach and spicy dhal, all of which turned out okay, courtesy of Rosemary Brissenden, with rice from our new rice cooker. The leftover rice turned into very un-Malaysian fried rice for lunch today, courtesy of a Margaret Fulton recipe.
Late on Tuesday afternoon, I had a second meeting with Rochelle about her manuscript. It will be interesting to see what she makes of the next chapter now.
Tomorrow morning, I'm popping over to see George Papaellinas for a visit.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Still by the fire . . .

Neither Peter nor I have recovered from our colds yet, so have stayed close to the fire. A new load of wood has helped to keep us warm as toast. Our only excursion has been to the shops to replenish the larder, though last night we had a mammoth clean-out of the fridge to use up the leftovers.
Today, Peter has energetically made Vera Bolognese - quite an operation and cleaned the car, while I've spent most of the day entering corrections to Alexis' ms so all parties can be sure we're talking about the same thing. All that is done so we can now . . . settle for a night by the fire!
Lesley P. and family have made a dash to Forster to comfort her mother as her father died of an unexpected heart attack last night. They'll probably stay there for the week.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Meanwhile, in England . . .

Frank has arrived safely in the Old Dart and has been in touch electronically. You can follow his adventures on his blog (, but he has already been a culture vulture at the Tate Modern and the Victoria and Albert. No stopping him.
Had a very good meeting with Rochelle about her book, and she is revising away at present.
Peter and I both have dire colds so are just following doctor's orders and resting up. Not too difficult. Having consumed most of the bunny, we have moved on to roast pork, which had tasty crackling, the whole point of roast pork.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

It was very muddy and wet at the Farmers' Market on Saturday, but we got some goodies including some bunny bits for dinner on Sunday night. Peter and Sally went off to see five Robin Boyd houses courtesy of the National Trust, while I had lunch with Frank and a quick visit to Safeway (how exciting!).
On Sunday arvo, we went to the Gloriana concert which included a splendid rendition of Handel's Dixit Dominus. There were lots of Frank's friends there, Margaret and Dick and her mother, Barbara Niven, Sally and us. It was well worth it on a windy, cold afternoon. Frank came afterward for dinner (the bunny) with mushrooms instead of prunes.
Both Peter and I have colds. He went to the quack yesterday (Dr Hiran) and got two days off, and I spent most of the day in bed. But today I'm having to get ready for a meeting with Rochelle this afternoon.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

On Wednesday, Dad came round with some financial papers, mainly relating to superannuation. I don't know how any ordinary mortals are supposed to understand it. Mine is relatively simple, yet seems subject to complexities beyond need. I don't know what you'd do if it was really complicated. Thank goodness my father seems to fathom it. I can't.
I've been working away on In Your Face, and arranged a meeting with the author on Tuesday. Sue Abbey rang on Friday and seems happy with Carpentaria, so I've sent her an electronic version so she can print it out double spaced. Alexis seems happy with it, too.
On Friday, we had one of those unconscionably early Meanjin board meetings (early because we are all voluntary except the editor and office manager). It was fine though some carping made me very annoyed. Anyone would think it was BHP the way some people carry on.
The phone is now fixed, having been faulty for two days, after the technician 'fixed' it on Thursday. His mate refixed it on Friday and it seems to work well now.
It's farmers' market day today, but as the rain is pouring down, which it was last market day, we'll need to wait for a break before heading down to the farm. Peter is going with Sally to visit Robin Boyd houses for a sold-out open day this arvo. and I'm having lunch with Frank.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

A visit to the health centre on Monday to see Dr Hiran: he adjusted my blood pressure medicine in line with the renal clinic recommendations (Kathy Nicholls, my favourite). In the early evening, P and I went (courtesy of Lorraine E.) to the Melbourne Theatre Company play, "Take Me Out". It is a bit confused ideologically, as if a series of disasters were 'caused' by the main character's coming-out. Perhaps they were, but it was hardly his fault.
I've been working away on "In Your Face" and it's going well. I have a good feeling about this book. The author is a good goer, full of energy and enthusiasm, a real tonic.
Frank came for dinner tonight, for the famous fake soto ayam, but it was very tasty. It's getting very close to his departure for England, Germany and so forth, next Monday. He seems remarkably composed for such proximity to departure. We'll see him over the weekend, for various things, including a good performance (we hope) of "Dixit Dominus" on Sunday.

Monday, September 06, 2004

So far so good! Feedback from Queensland and Alice Springs is positive on Alexis' ms, and the meeting with the ABC author went really well on Friday. She is as keen as mustard, and is very receptive to new ideas on shaping the ms, and the new title: "In Your Face". I'm looking forward to working with her. I'd better get well into it this week, preparatory to another meeting to discuss it in depth.
The rest of the weekend was much as usual, except for Father's Day, which involved a very pleasant brunch with Lesley, Louise and both Michaels in the Fitzroy Gardens. Peter's idea of venue and birthday present for Michael were both very apt. He was flushed with the idea of having a Myers voucher to spend himself. Then, out to Montmorency for lunch with the olds and my sister and her husband, and Nyssa whom we haven't seen for a long time. She seems to be going well, looks well and lively.
Louise offered a bed in Canberra so we'll probably stay three nights there, and I'll stay the final night with Jo after Lesley gets back from Washington. Peter had the good idea of hiring a car instead of accommodation, which is probably a good idea in roundy-roundy Canberra. I'll get prices!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I went to Officeworks this morning to copy Alexis' ms, and it has now gone to Alice Springs and Brisbane, so I await the response from both quarters. Meanwhile, I've started reading the ABC ms in preparation for a meeting with the author on Friday with Stuart Neal from ABC Enterprises. It will be interesting. Tomorrow, I have to come up with an idea for the structure of the ms. I have thought of a good title, In Your Face, but I'm not sure that the author will wear it. (Never mind the subject). We'll see.
Frank came for dinner last night (roast lamb). The meat from Coles is much better than Safeway, even if a little more expensive. The lamb was tasty and very free of fat. The Bill is getting sillier and sillier.
For some reason, I'm finding the rodent controversy rivetting. Today's news had the Rodent Fanciers' Society complaining about badmouthing rodents. Hear! Hear! George Brandis is giving rodents a bad name.
Planning for Canberra is nearly complete: though the three days there is going to be very busy, even before we do anything touristy.