Sunday, January 30, 2005

Into the Wilds

The last couple of days have been spent on the last few 'bits' of Rochelle's ms (glossary, references), and A. Nauthor: so from Melbourne in the 70s to ? in the more-or-less present. We'll have a meeting in about a week to deal with the second part (or as much of it as I've been able to do by then - it's 245 pages in itself). Am beginning to get a couple of ideas for restructuring it, or perhaps, repackaging it, which are quite simple, but might make it easier to grasp.
Friday night was dinner at Frank's, who tried an new Indian recipe, plus that favourite of mine: a new product, prepackaged lentils. The end result, pork chops a l'Indienne, was delicious. Perhaps Frank should be the one opening an Indian restaurant in the Ardeche. Perhaps one day I'll work out how to do accents on this blog.
We did the usual Saturday morning shopping at Victoria Gardens with Frank, then went into town to see the Gays in the 50s display at the Town Hall: small but interesting. Lots of familiar characters including (briefly) Noel Tovey. Then we had a lunch that was unusual for Saturday, a yum cha in Little Bourke Street, yummy and very cheap.
In the late afternoon, P. and I caught the train to Blackburn, and wandered via the beautiful Blackburn Lake to Rochelle's place for a BBQ dinner. We had a great night, sitting on her patio, and magging away. The walk back to the station was very quiet. Just the odd dog barking and nothing else. The suburb had gone to sleep by 11pm. On Saturday.
Today is the big family bash for Uncle Frank's OAM. There are 140 guests, I believe, so it will be huge. This time it's into the wilds of Oak Park, in the west, rather than Blackburn in the east.
East, west, Abbotsford's best.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Postmodern Pastimes

We're nearly there with Rochelle's ms. I've sent an almost 'final' version back to her, following our meeting on Tuesday arvo. and she is working on the references and slang dictionary (of villain slang) and her libel list of people (for the lawyers). There probably aren't any great problems as most of the dramatis personae have spent time in jail, so can hardly have much of a reputation to ruin (according to the law).
Meanwhile, I'm soldiering away on the MA thesis, which is a conundrum. It is good, but fashionable in a derivative way. Well done trendiness, rather than clumsy honesty. Probably deserves a good mark and a bad crit. to be fair to all.
P. was on hols today, and we went up to Clifton Hill to replenish the coffee supplies and buy lunch.
In the early evening, we went up to meet Frank at the Nova, Carlton. My new 'John Hunt is a Coward' T-shirt elicited a lot of good comment. ('Like your T-shirt, man!')
We saw I Love Huckabees which was very enjoyable if a bit flossy. Then we came back to Abbotsford to the Park Hotel for tea. My Fish Fingers for Grownups were delicious.
The next couple of days are clear for A. Nauthor's ms. I'm looking forward to getting back into it, ahead of his deadline for going overseas to . . .that place. It is very nice escaping there via the work. And it is good mental exercise grappling with such good but difficult writing.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Quiet before the storm

Friday was fairly quiet, and I took the opportunity to tidy up (defrag the computer and backup everything) and generally take stock. Shopping on Saturday was pretty ordinary, and Frank came back home to finish off the vichyssoise (cold with chopped chives) and yum cha dipping sauce (leftover from Thai fish cakes) with steamed Asian delights. A major victory with dinner that night as I finally got panfried fish with oil, lemon and wine to work. Sounds simple, but isn't, getting the fish poached just right.
On Sunday, after an easy Age crossword, P. and I went off in search of Willsmere billabong, from the natural history of the Yarra book. We found it easily (Alison F. had pointed us in the right direction last weekend) and it made a nice walk, with lots of ducks and birds, though too many walking dogs limit the type and numbers.
In the evening, P. made another Stephanie chook, cooled with ice cubes and with an Asian sauce and vegetables. Delicious, and leftovers for tonight.
Toing and froing with Rochelle's blurb now almost done, and a final check on the text to do before our meeting tomorrow. Also the MA to finish, and on with A. Nauthor who is going off somewhere in a couple of weeks, so we have to meet before then to make some progress before the journey to the mystic East. (Well, according to the fiction, it is much more pragmatic than that.)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

In case anyone was worried,

the 'procedure' went off quite well. My prediction that it would be like cutting nails turned out to be quite accurate. Snip! snip! two snips of bone about the size of a 100th of a little fingernail. The hard part was getting to the hospital at 9am, having checked the day before that it was on, and finding that 7 West where it was meant to happen was empty except for Lainie, a nurse who wasn't expecting me. She swung into action and Matthew the doctor was there by 11.15 after my father and I had gone for some breakfast.
The only hard part was the injection for the local, in spite of numbing spray in advance. But it was more my cowardly reaction to these procedures than any really difficult pain. After that, it was plain sailing and took two seconds, literally. No wonder they didn't want to put me out under a general anaesthetic. Home by 12.
However, with all the tension of the anticipation, which was the worst of it, I think I need an arvo sleep.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Days with The Texan

Have spent the last couple of days trying to get Rochelle's ms finished before a meeting with her this afternoon. I did, though when we tried Track Changes on her work computer, it has been 'upgraded' so that it is, in fact, less efficient to use. Never mind, it is still more efficient than pencil on paper. We're in the final stages of the ms before it goes off to its makers (the ABC). R. should be able to sort out her end over the weekend, and we'll close off next week.
After our session at the library, I scooted off to dinner at Frank's, which was delicious curries followed by berry dessert. All very tasty and SOO good for us as well. His weekend gig in Ballarat went well.
Tomorrow, I've got to tidy up as best I can before the little op. on Thursday. I'm counting on it being easy and not too distracting. I hope so.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Blasts from the past

A lot of Saturday was spent shopping. In the morning, a trip to Nicholson Street, Fitzroy, to Canal's, the fish shop, the Milawa cheese shop and the nice butcher to get things for Saturday dinner. Then we met up with Frank after his rehearsal to do the supermarketing at Victoria Gardens, then went home to cook.
Frank came to tea with Ian Harrison, whom we hadn't seen for a while. Of course, it turned out that he and Frank had numerous connections. Peter did tsunami Thai fish balls for first course, I did biftecks for mains and Peter did berries and passionfruit cream syllabub for dessert. It was a very nice night, I think. We will get Ian and Noel to meet sometime. (Noel was still in Sydney.)
Today, we went over to Anna French's place to pick up Alison to finally get to Heide. Anna kindly gave us lunch before we left, then off to Bulleen to recheck the late Gabrielle Pizzi's collection of Indigenous art, the exhibition on angels and old Heide. The place is closing soon for a year or two for additions and renovations, though the old Heide 'farmhouse' will stay open. It was a very pleasant afternoon, with yummy arvo tea at the soon-to-be-closed eatery.
I had forgotten the connections between Ian and Anna. She designed the costumes for a production of The Crucible which he directed more years ago than any of us care to remember. She is currently working on designs for three ballets at once. A very busy budgie. She couldn't come to Heide as she was too busy. I should have decided the same, but don't regret going.
Now for three days of frenzied activity, to try to get Rochelle finished before Thursday, and make some inroads into other things.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Psychic or what?

Of course, you don't need to be psychic to know that the hardworking Rochelle has sent her final chapter in this arvo. So now it's all there and just needs a final tidying up (which we'll do on Tuesday) and it should be ready to go off to the ABC. It's looking really good, and just needs a few more touches (plus a brisk copyedit between now and then). Who needs sleep?
Well, I still do, and had an arvo snooze today to recuperate from this morning's fairly busy activity. Now for a quiet, easy dinner.

Salt and battery

Working away on A. Nauthor's ms waiting for Alison to ring yesterday for our projected trip to Heide. Unfortunately, when she did ring, the car wouldn't start AGAIN, so I cancelled. Then two visits from the RACV later, it seems to be fixed.
I had a good session (I think) with A. Nauthor this morning for a couple of hours, which has nearly wrapped up part I. Only parts II and III to go.
P. is home from work today, and is about to go off to the Health Centre for a check, and I've made a hunter/gatherer trip to Carlton for tea (onion tart, salad, very simple).
I'll try to have a look at the MA thesis this arvo. as it's due by the end of January. Then the report on Carpentaria (Alexis' novel), and by then either there'll be more new Rochelle (the place where the mansion will be) or I'll go back to A. Nauthor. Any way you look at it, life's not dull.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Guest appearances

A couple of days spent quietly working away at home, but in the evenings we've had unscheduled guests for dinner. On Tuesday night, Rochelle came round for a bit of work on her book, and she stayed for dinner (blue eye oven-baked with chips) and tonight Alison French turned up (Frank was scheduled too) and we had roast lamb, with mint sauce. The funniest part was that Peter Walsh gave us tomatoes and a 'zucchini' in Albury, so I cooked the zucchini to Peter's recipe (really Elizabeth David) in oil, with sugar and red vinegar. Trouble was, when it was on the plates, it was fairly obviously cucumber. A nice twist. Alison is good, working away on her PhD in Canberra. I'll probably see her today to go off to Heide to farewell Gabrielle Pizzi's exhibition there. Frank is off to Ballarat on Sunday to sing with Gombert (Mozart and Haydn).
Just had an email from Rodney Hall, who is back in town. Maybe he can be the next guest appearance, maybe with Noel Tovey. Now there's an idea.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Rara: Rural and Regional Australia

Albury turned out to be quite busy. After a very pleasant train journey, we were picked up by Peter Walsh, who booked us into our motel (the Boomerang, where we were to have dinner on Sunday). Then we went off to Jill and Peter's for a barbecue dinner and a reunion with Aura and Harley (the dogs) and Jill's mother Margarette who had arrived from Newcastle (not necessarily in that order).
On Sunday morning, Peter joined us for breakfast in the hotel, then dropped us at the very well preserved Botanic Gardens (circa 1877). Then we went to the Art Gallery for a very good travelling exhibition from NSW regional galleries (State of the Art: Peace) with some fine Sam Byrnes, a Barbara Hanrahan and a couple of Reg Mombassas among others. Lunch at Electra cafe followed, then a part of the Albury literary walk (Boldrewood, JP Hartigan etc.). There aren't really a lot of Alburian literary luminaries!
Then dinner at the Boomie, which was delicious. A few surprises turned up for Jill: Julie and Joan and Maria and Ian from Melbourne as well. Peter W. had arranged a cake with bones on it (for arthritic 50 year old bones), and the food was excellent. It rounded off with a berry flan, and we retired to our room for post dinner drinks with most of the party.
Next day, Monday, we went on the Cumberoona paddle steamer for a short trip on the river (we think we saw a platypus) then went to the dam with Peter and the dogs for a rural idyll. The train back was a bit late, but, again, very pleasant.
Now back into the chaos after a rara retreat.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Hotting Up

It's been a busy week. Bits of La somnambule keep flying backwards and forwards. The ms. of A. Nauthor progresses slowly. Good news: Alexis' novel has been accepted by a publisher, and we have had some correspondence about that. Fortunately, Rochelle is on holidays down the Great Ocean Road, but we'll be back into that next week.
Yesterday, Joe and Ann from Nyah dropped in for a cup of tea, and we projected a trip to the Gariwerds in autumn, just for a weekend. We could drop in on Bron at the same time in Stawell.
Frank came for tea last night (pot roast with yummy baked potatoes, which Peter made).
Early tomorrow, we're off on the train to Albury for Jill's birthday. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Two Kinds of Landscape

I just realised on rereading yesterday's blog how bizarre it was seeing two exhibitions of landscapes and not making the connection between them. The European and the Australian. Both were dripping with mythological references, though because the European ones were mostly 'sketches' these was a lot less mythology in those. It was as if crossing St Kilda Road moved you betwen two planets. It almost did. It shows the absurdity of separating the two. They should have been side-by-side, even paintings side-by-side, and then even nongs like me would get the point. They provoked two kinds of nostalgia: for the great landscapes of this continent, and the worked-over ones of Europe.
Meanwhile, today went to see Dr Hiran to get my medications topped up (my meds, as the Yanks would say) and sickness benefit renewed. He was very good, ordered a blood test to test whether the new pills were increasing my potassium too much, and said that the combination of chemo, radio, surgery and renal problems was probably what was still making me tired. I delivered the sickness form to Centrelink. It's hard work being sick: it took all morning. I had quick talks with Halina, the counsellor and Helen, the nurse, about the op on 20 January.
I rechecked through La somnambule when I got home, and sent off the corrections. That will be all till the revises come (probably tomorrow). Maria and I discussed The Ring a bit, and we'll see each other in Albury next weekend. Then I had a nap.
Now, I'm now getting back into A. Nauthor's ms: a welcome break from the nineteenth century. I wonder what happened to the twentieth century?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Vibrant Colours

P. arrived back last night, pretty tired, from Brisbane. By today, he had semi-recovered and we headed off to the Potter Gallery (Federation Square) for an exhibition of their Indigenous paintings from about 1982. It was incredibly vibrant and good to compare with the late Gabrielle Pizzi's exhibition at Heide. We had an excellent lunch at Funk Fish in Fed. Square (pizza with bugs, prawn salad with avocado, mango, both of which we shared) and went on to St Kilda Road to see Plein Air, European landscape paintings of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It made for very itchy feet and was quite instructive.
I got home to messages about La somnambule (as it now is), and have to give it one check over before handing it all back to Maria V. We also discussed The Ring a bit. I don't think she liked my more off the wall ideas, but took most of my points. Heigh ho! Back to the nineteenth century. It's getting on for 200 years since then. Seems only yesterday.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Happy New Year

dear reader(s). A very quiet start as the car battery was quietly recharging, so Frank and I did the shopping with the jeep, which we haven't done for a while. We went to Smith Street (likewise) and had a very nice brunch (thankyou Frank) at the successor to Toast (whose name escapes me). It had a skeleton staff of a lady in the kitchen and a little boy (son?) who took the orders with precision, in spite of being about eight. Then jeeping back to Abbotsford, the jeep groaning with produce. Unfortunately, it is on its last wheels, I think. It has a big rip in the bottom of the back which will start to disgorge things if we're not careful. The trouble is that new jeeps are not so capacious. We'll have to find an oldstyle one somewhere.
Dad came and refitted the battery, so today I drove out to the olds for lunch with them, my sister and her family. It was very pleasant: what an orgy of family gatherings, twice in a week. I've brought some leftovers home for dinner, as P. is arriving back from Brisbane tonight.
In the meantime, I've sent a new instalment of corrections to Maria V., and will check it through again in the morning. She had dinner last night with Terry Lane, and apparently I have his seal of approval. How would he know? She has asked me to assist with The Ring cycle 'booklet'. I'll consult with Frank and Pierre and see what they think. I'm intrigued but a bit intimidated by the scale of it. On the other hand, it's just like a book, just in German with music. Hmmm!
The Sunday crossword is looking more attractive than La somnambule at present. Last week's missed clue turned out to be internet accessible, but only if you knew what it was: 'elegant extracts' the Cambridge slang for people not good enough for the poll (grading into classes of honours), but too good to be plucked (failed). Must be useful for something. Most weeks I can get it all out, but sometimes a really hard one eludes me. It's not all that different from the liner notes to an obscure nineteenth century ballet.