Friday, December 31, 2004

Pigs on the Run

Rochelle came around this morning, and we went for a walk round the farm. It was very pleasant, and then became hysterical when one of the pigs escaped under the fence. Rochelle and one of the farm women, with little help from me, recaptured the pig, who was very boisterous and testy. Some people with children were very slow to take the hint and scarper as the pig was very het up and likely to do damage to small (and even big) people. After that, we did some work on the ms. Catching pigs would have to be one of the more unusual jobs I've done in association with editing.
Though not as frustrating as the liner notes for a CD. The 'corrections' arrived today, and there are still five pages of errors, at a quick check. Fortunately, this time there are a few days to check it, rather than only one. It's a 96 page booklet, so it takes a while to do it properly, especially with all those French names and titles.

My father dropped by to set the car battery charging and we all went up to the Boathouse for some lunch. (Not the pig!)

Thursday, December 30, 2004

So much for a quiet time

Last night, Maria Vandamme rang up with a quick proofreading job, for a CD of La Somnambule, an obscure nineteenth-century French ballet (the first great romantic ballet, according to Richard McBoyngeBoynge, the conductor). I thought it would be a simple job until I got into it, and it yielded some interesting questions and complications. Especially as I've never done anything like it before. Fortunately, I'm not responsible for the French translation, though I had to make sure it was at least consistent. And as for the conventions of French titles: no rules is good rules. I've spent all day on it so far, and will have another check through to see whether I've missed anything. Of course, it has to be done straight away.
Rochelle tomorrow is looking very leisurely by comparison. And no time to continue Der Rosenkavalier.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Give em curry

Frank came round for tea tonight, and I made fish curry (a Sri Lankan recipe but just a coincidence, nothing to do with the carnage in that beautiful place). We had the remnants of the rhubarb for dessert. All's quiet at The Rage this week according to Frank.
I also went to do some shopping in town today, and should never go near JB Hi-Fi during a sale. They had a cheap Der Rosenkavalier so, of course, I got it, and listened to Act One today. So much for working. Rochelle, as predicted, has got back into it, and sent some revisions today, well ahead of schedule. I should see her this week some time.
Tomorrow will be a more industrious day. Looking at Rochelle's revisions and A. Nauthor's work. And maybe Act Two of the Strauss.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Folly

Christmas lunch at my sister's was fine. The vichyssoise went down a treat, and Ian's smorgasbord roast of turkey and stuffing with all the trimmings, followed by father's plum pudding, left us all like little pigs. I came home to a quiet evening watching The Bill and Cracker.
Liz and John came round on Sunday morning, and we had coffee then went for a walk round the farm. It was very pleasant, and good to see them. A foray into the city yielded Jill's birthday present (ssshh! a secret). Town was madness with people rushing hither and yon in a frenzy of . . . what? Shopping. Still, I was doing it too.
Then tonight, dinner at Frank's for very superior Christmas leftovers (chook in a cold collation, and summer pudding and cream to follow).
In the middle of all this, did the Sunday crossword: all but one word!! Peter is safely in Brisbane, and some time they all go to Eumundi to his older brother's place. Sounds as though all is going well.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Twas the night before Christmas

Well, there was plenty stirring . . . The drinks at Fran Bryson's were indeed enjoyable. Apart from Lois and John Bryson, Sarah, Barry and Louis were there, and it was very good to catch up with them. Barry has a new play having a reading soon called The Real Thring which is about Frank Thring, of course. Also there was Gary Foley and it was good to see him. When I arrived home, his old mates the Tregenzas had left a message to say they are in town, and I'll catch them on Sunday morning.
Sarah and I had a conversation with two women we'd never met before about the pros and cons of the internet (one of the women was into researching goddesses, but I think she really believes in them). It was turning into an interesting discussion about what constitutes a civil society, and the place of fantasy and the internet in it. But it had to stop as the two women were getting very defensive, as if they were being attacked for being loonies (which they sort of were, I suppose). Religious nuts of any complexion deserve anything they get, in my book, because characteristically they dish it out pretty well. It would be nice to continue the discussion again with Sarah at a later date.
It was a good night, an when I got home I had two episodes of Inspector Rex to watch. SBS had run two episodes with two difference Inspectors, and probably Rexes. Silly stuff.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Bah Humbug

Had a really good session with Rochelle yesterday. She is off work till mid January, but will take a break over Christmas before we get back into it. Only five chapters to go, and it's looking good. Before seeing her, I got a replacement for my calculator/clock, which has died after over twenty years. It is actually some kind of geographic aid, with a compass and map measurer, but it is all that is available. The man at the shop said he didn't think it would last as well as my old one. We'll see. Now I have to learn how to drive it.
Then straight from town to dinner at Frank's. He made delicious pasta followed by fruit salad and yoghurt.
P. is off to Brisbane today, but has to go into work first for the morning. I have to make my contribution to Christmas lunch (the vichyssoise) and there are Christmas drinks tonight with the Brysons which I'm quite looking forward to, as I haven't seen them for a while. In the middle of all this Christmas activity, I need to try to do some work.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Revving Up

Suddenly, I'm very busy. Today I'm going to see Rochelle about her latest revisions. I still have a lot of work to do on A. Nauthor's ms and yesterday an MA thesis arrived from the University of Melbourne for marking. It looks very interesting at a quick glance, but will need a very careful read in January. (The deadline is the end of January.) So I'll have to get my skates on. I'm going to be quite busy through to February. I hope the minor surgery on 20 January isn't too much of a distraction.
Last night, P. and I discussed overseas trips again: he said that he would like to be overseas for his 50th birthday (which is in April 2006). So maybe we should go on an economy drive (less crayfish), save up this year and go early in 2006. I got this project off to a very bad start by ordering a CD of Stephen Kovacevich playing the Emperor concerto with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, after watching it (with different band and soloist) on the ABC last night. P. did some research on the best performance of it, and that one came up trumps. It's absurd that you have to order such a disc from the UK. What happened to national pride? Okay if you're into cricket culture, but 'high' culture can forget it.
Sorry, make that NO crayfish.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Food Glorious Food

Frank and David came to tea last night. I'd cooked Stephanie's chicken provencale for the first time, and it turned out well (even though I didn't have the red peppers). David brought some yummy fruit salad, and Peter produced his yoghurt pannacottas to go with it: delicious. It was a very pleasant evening. David is thinking of winding up his (and David Elliot's) pottery business next year sometime. It is getting to be too much work for too little return, even though they are quite successful and selling in Europe and the U.S. We're having a return match at Frank's on Thursday night, and all trying to avoid Christmas as much as possible.
I checked with Ian about what to take on Christmas day. I'll do first course: I think I'll do a cold vichyssoise in case it's hot. It should go well with the turkey for mains.
Off now to the Writers' Festival breakup meeting.
I've been working on A. Nauthor's ms this week and making good progress, though I haven't yet 'cracked it' to my satisfaction. I'll just have to keep plugging away through the whole thing to get the drift wholly.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The block of flats

At dinner the other night, Adele pointed out that every good communist always owned a block of flats. Peter replied that his best union rep owns flats, so that the bosses can't get him! I wonder whether this is almost universally true?
Today, Morris dropped in for a coffee and we talked about the Ring and his trip to Paris recently. It made the feet itch. P. and I sat down and worked out how much it would cost last night, but it was an awful lot for our present circumstance (at least mine) so it will have to go on hold for a while.
Meanwhile, I'll book a little trip to Sydney to see Kit and Nick and co. Unfortunately, this time it is not just as cheap to go through Canberra on the way back.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Degrees of Separation

It was a great dinner with Adele and Teresa. Surprisingly, it turns out that they went to the same school as Finola, and Adele remembers her well. It was amazing that Finola was sitting as the same table only a week before. The conversation ranged across all sorts of things but mainly Buddhism, but also what Teresa has been up to workwise since we last saw each other. Adele is a columnist for The Age (has been working for them for 25 years).
After a fairly noisy night, today has been fairly quiet. P. went off to do his Christmas shopping for Brisbane (and me: I got the new edition of The Style Guide). I just stayed home and repaired the damage on the computer (quite easy, but time consuming). Fortunately I backed up on Friday.
Started to look at booking for Sydney in March.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

A storm of cooking

'Normal' shopping today with Frank at Victoria Gardens, bearing in mind that P. is off at the end of the week to Brisbane for Christmas (preceded by a case of wine from Cellarmasters). Frank came to lunch at our place and we finished off the rabbit casserole at last ready to cook our new purchases. All afternoon was then spent getting stuff ready for dinner tonight: Stephanie's french onion soup from the southwest, Rosemary Brissenden's sour fish curry was made by me, while Peter made some pannacotta with yoghurt rather than cream (very healthy, I'm sure). We'll either have that with rasberries or with the rhubarb, apple and honey which I also cooked up. Other delights this week will be Stephanie's roast chook and an aberration of mine, curried sausages. I always look out for them on pub menus, but they seem to be out of fashion. I wonder why?
Meanwhile, after consultation with Lorraine, we got tickets for Kate and Anna McGarrigle and Kate's progeny Rufus and Martha Wainwright in February. Makes a change from the Ring!
Onwards to dinner! Teresa Pitt and her friend Adele Hulse are coming soon.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Quiet Times

The last two days have been very quiet. Just working away on A. Nauthor's ms and doing various fairly low key things like going to Carlton today to get Peter's Christmas present (Quiet Flows the Stream: a natural history of the Yarra) which of course I had to give to him straight away. He was home sick today so I got some goat's cheese tarte from the French place behind Reading's for lunch. The rabbit casserole is proving very persistent. We've had it for dinner two nights in a row, and there's still one meal left in it. I should have taken the seller's advice and frozen half of it. Still, it's very nice (a Stephanie recipe with prunes and bacon) but very filling.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Routine not routine

Now settling back into a 'regular' pattern. Yesterday, went to see George and Helen and had a rhubarb and berry muffin, cooked by Helen, and nattered about various things. George is emailing an essay of his, and the 'last' version of his novel, both of which will be interesting.
In the afternoon, I finally caught up with A. Nauthor. Those who have been following the blog will know who this is. In a search for himself on Google, he discovered himself on my blog, and would rather remain anonymous, so I've 'disappeared' him. He will keep popping up in his new guise, as I'm working on his novel as of today, which will probably keep me busy, along with Rochelle into February.
Last evening, I had a meeting with Rochelle, and we worked through the next three chapters. We are within sight of the end, though there is still a deal of work to be done. I've spoken to Brigitta Doyle at ABC Books about their style requirements, and it all seems like plain sailing. Famous last words!
A. Nauthor remarked what a busy life I had, which I hadn't thought at all. It's all relative, I suppose. In the last week, I've had some very intense conversations with writers about their books and writing, so it has been busy in a sense, yet also seems very routine. Not boring, but normal.
Rochelle was amused by me saying that you can't be a publisher or editor without a good bedside manner.
Enough philosophising: she was also amused when I rang Peter during our meeting to check whether we were having the rabbit casserole (which I cooked that afternoon) or his pesto for dinner. "You are real gourmets!" she said. Again, I hadn't thought so. It's just food, and therefore important. Perhaps people don't cook much these days. And we do have our share of fairly humdrum meals: meat and two veg.
Also humdrum: off to the Health Centre to collect more of the multitudinous pills.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Quiet Weekend

Well, not so quiet. Finola Moorhead made her promised appearance for Sunday lunch and an afternoon of magging about politics, publishing and her new project. It was a very pleasant arvo and it was good to see her again, as it's been a long time. The renovations on her house in Wauchope sound like a triumph: three years of working up found materials into a new home.
After dropping her at Camberwell junction to continue her visits to relatives, I went briefly to the Convent Christmas carols. Frank and Tat were singing in the main choir, Gloriana, and there seemed a good attendance for the overcast weather. Lots of food stalls, coffee, icecream. I went home for Peter's roast pork dinner, and Frank and Tat dropped in after the bunfight was over.
Rochelle has delivered the next few chapters, so that will keep me busy this week, plus meetings with George, A. Nauthor and a Writers' Festival meeting.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Further travel stories

While in Adelaide, we had various excursions apart from the vast Ring cycle. The first was to the airport, to pick up David Golightly, who had come over by plane from Melbourne to join us. His Qantas frequent flier flight in fact turned out to be a Connell Airlines journey via Mount Gambier, Lord knows why. But he arrived on time and safely having had a bird's eye view of what we had recently seen on the ground.
Then, in between Walkure and Siegfried, we made up our opera deficit, if any, by going to Ravel's L'enfant et Les Sortileges which was put on by the Opera Studio, or some such, and was quite a creditable production, marred a bit by the surtitles giving out early in the piece. (Dodgy things those surtitles.) There were also some Britten French songs and a nice little nine minute piece called something like The Card Game which was splendid. Sitting in front of us was Elizabeth Campbell whom we had seen as a marvellous Mrs Fricka Wotan the previous evening.
After Siegfried, we spent a day in the Barossa Valley, where the highlight was a visit (and much expenditure) at Torbreck winery, based on a good wine of theirs we had had at Ciciolino's in St Kilda. We also dropped into Seppelts for old time's sake, and Pierre bought a bottle of sherry to celebrate. It was quite a nice day and it was good to travel through the hills. The next day we had an excusion to Glenelg beach, which was a bit windy, and had fish and chips on the foreshore. Then back for Gotterdamerung.
We scooted home along the most direct route and stayed at Newstead (near Castlemaine) for two nights in the cottage of Anne and Jess. The country was greener than usual, with lots of birds, including some honeyeaters who had a nest near the back door in a rose bush. Home again after that. Refreshed.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Back to Normal

Today it seemed as if everything were back to normal, as we had a market day (albeit with some drizzle) and bought rabbit, rhubarb, strawberries, and, unusually, crayfish (caught yesterday, the man said). Then the supermarket at Victoria Gardens, then lunch at Clifton Hill. Just like always. P and I enjoyed some of the fruits of our hunter-gathering for dinner tonight.
The previous day, the Meanjin meeting proceeded without great incident, and the dinner with Stuart Neal and Rochelle was quite enjoyable. A bit of talk about her book, and some gossip about the ABC and its doings. Stuart has been there for 20 years, God help him.
Tomorrow should be a tidying day, which is long overdue. P has cleaned out the cupboards which had something of a small moth problem, so I'd better do my bit. In the last few days, some intriguing work opportunities have arisen for next year. Nothing very lucrative, but interesting.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Back on the Road

The Coorong Wilderness Lodge is about 20 kms south of Meningie. It is on a promontory out in the Coorong Lakes. When we arrived it was very windy but this settled down by the next morning. There are four rooms in the Lodge each with four beds and its own bathroom. Then there is a central area with kitchen and sitting (TV etc.). Gordy the caretaker said that telly depends on the weather. When we were there, there were four channels on which you could get SBS but no ABC. They do meals if you prearrange (08) 8575 6001. We did our own as we hadn't, though they did lunches while we were there for AAT tours and a backpacker bus. Two ladies from the Lowlands arrived on the second night and stayed for one night (en route to the Gariwerds and Sydney). There are also activities such as kayaking and cockling if you want them, plus Indigenous cultural walks and talks. We toured around and geeked at pelicans and other birds, and did a walk across the dunes to the sea (frightening an emu on the way, who skittled up the sanddunes).
The next night we stayed with Liz Tregenza at her farm at the Finnis River near Strathalbyn. It is a lovely spot. They have cattle and some olives (she gave us some of their delicious homemade olive oil). We had a splendid roast lamb dinner on the verandah and some walks around the property. They are considering planting crocuses for saffron, but it is very labour intensive as they have to be picked then the stamens extracted by hand. And you need at least 20 000 to make a small amount of saffron. Someone told them it is easy. You just do it while you watch telly. She and John are still consulting a fair bit, so they are commuting from there to central Australia fairly often. John was assisting at an inquest into the deaths of some young folk in the Pitjanjantjara Lands while we were there, so we missed him.
We drove off to Adelaide via McLaren Vale where we took in some of the bits of the Fleurieu Art Prize, a biennial, which is displayed in the cask rooms of various wineries (Hardy's Tintara, d'Arenberg etc.). The paintings were very good on the whole. More on the Ring later.

Back Into It

It's been a busy week after two weeks' holiday. I spent the first couple of days working on Rochelle's ms before a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the second half. The olds dropped in to retrieve their car (which we had borrowed), and I had a renal clinic appointment. I acquired a new drug to prevent protein leaking, so now I have a morning regime of six pills. Rattle, rattle, clink, clink. This morning I had a pleasant coffee with Marion (M.) Campbell to talk about her novel and other matters literary and scholarly (a very grandiose way of recording a good mag). In a splendid piece of oneupmanship, she trumped the Ring with a performance of Tristan and Isolde at the Orange amphitheatre with Kirsten Flagstadt. Tomorrow morning is a Meanjin board meeting, then dinner at night with Rochelle and Stuart Neal of ABC Books, at Chez Phat in the city. I keep missing A. Nauthor to have a discussion about his big novel. It looks as though we have to do it on the phone.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Home Again Vagabond Shoes

I can't possibly put all of the last fortnight into one blog. The Rinse Cycle was well worth it, and our early booking meant that we had a good view, even though we were in the cheaper seats. The journey over to Adelaide was delightful with a night at Port Fairy (in a ye olde cottage) and one at Beachport (in a ye olde hotel). Then two nights at the Coorong Wilderness Lodge (run by the Ngarrindjeri) and one night at the Tregenza's splendid farm on the Finnis River (near Strathalbyn). More of that anon.
The East End Astoria in Adelaide is not ye olde but is very comfy and functional and between four of us (Peter and I, and Frank and David) was not too expensive. In between Wagners we went to the Barossa and to Glenelg Beach, and saw a few movies (Stage Beauty and Hero were okay, Bad Santa just bad). We did the long haul back to Newstead (near Castlemaine) in one day, then had two restful nights in another ye olde cottage at Newstead. Nothing disastrous seems to have happened while we were away, and a great time was had by all.
On the way over, we stopped to have a coffee with Julie Eagles, temporarily back from PNG, at her Warrnambool residence, with a splendid view over the sanddunes and whale waters. (No whales on that day, though). Unfortunately, right along the coast there are many examples of ugly residences encroaching on what should be beautiful views. Port Fairy has some very unsplendid examples right on the beachfront. The same people seem to go in for fourwheel drives as well so they can despoil the countryside staticly and on the move. On the way we saw Blue Lakes (Mount Gambier) and Pink Lakes (the Coorong).