Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Funky Sound FX

On Friday night, P and I had a very tasty dinner at Warung Agus in Victoria Street, North Melbourne. They are celebrating their 15th or 16th year, so are doing very well for any restaurant. There don't seem to be any worries about a Bali boycott, as they were chokka with people. A Melbourne army marches on its stomach. After that we went to Phobia by Chambermade Opera at Arts House aka North Melbourne Town Hall. It was a triumph, using sound effects and mime to 'tell' the story of Vertigo. As P pointed out we were the least funky people in the audience, so we were pleased by the very enthusiastic response at the end. Cool people can applaud loudly and vociferously.
The weekend proceeded according to plan. Rochelle turned up with her splendid book cover, and the olds turned up for Boston bun after their symphony concert. Lunch at Bryony's was very pleasant. Her children seem to have become grown up while I wasn't looking for five minutes. Sister Rosanne has been in Mexico and Guatemala. God, she gets around.
Back to work for a few days, pre-Bali. Yesterday, I got a new bag (with a lock that an elf could open) as my old one had been successively mauled by various baggage machines.
Sally came for tea last night, bringing a rack of lamb she claimed was too big for her. So I cooked that to perfection by accident and we had a pleasant surprise roast dinner.
Reports are filtering in about the travels of Louise, Lesley and Michael in the Old Dart, and, oddly, it is really whetting my appetite for Ubud. Lucky Louise is off to Sissinghurst today. Meanwhile, in a triumph of cultural dislocation, Ann de Hugard is flourishing in Yakanarra, 80kms south of Fitzroy Crossing, about as remote as you can get without plunging into the Great Sandy Desert. In another case of cultural dislocation, I'm finding it difficult to focus on China in the middle of all this. Discipline is called for, as I have only two days to go before the break.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Mixed messages

Last night's meeting on the Smith Street precinct was interesting. It was mainly small group discussion, and my conclusion by the end was that Smith Street is doomed to gentrification and the demise of 'ordinary' shopping. Comments wafted around about wanting social diversity at the same time as hoping that 'they' can be stopped from public drinking. I predict a treelined street with lots of outdoor furniture, strong police presence and lots of boutique shops and cafes. No greengrocers, no butchers and perhaps a new supermarket. And lots more units, flats, apartments and lofts. The best will in the world won't stop it. The lady from Traveller's Bookshop nearly swallowed her biro when I suggested oneway traffic in Smith and Wellington Streets. And the man who wanted ESD (what? you ask: environmentally sustainable development) can go whistle for it. He left early.
China is going slowly (very big), and I won't get to Singapore today (very small). However, I did go into town to buy a monstrous number of rupiah (700 000 to be exact) which sounds a lot but isn't. Perhaps I should have gone for broke and become a rupiah millionaire. The only remaining item I have to get is a bag before going off to Ubud.
Then got Halftix for P. and I for Chambermade Opera's Phobia tonight. At $13.30 a pop it won't break the bank. We're going to Warung Agus for dinner first as preparation for Bali. Hope no one decides to bomb it or shoot it up in the wake of the Corby decision. P. says via email that Indonesia is in very bad odour at work today.
A busy weekend ahead: normal shopping with Frank, then visits in the arvo from Rochelle and the Olds (after their symphony concert), and Sunday lunch for me at Bryony's with the old Penguinis.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Back in China,

this time in Shantou, then off to Singapore. The memoir is an interesting puzzle as it contains so many characters to be fixed in the mind, but it is inherently dramatic and interesting. I hope to get this part of the work finished before we head off to Bali.
More tidying and the office is looking less like a recycle bin. Instead, the hall looks like one.
Tonight there is a Council meeting/workshop on planning controls for Smith Street, to try to prevent a massive new mall going up with a tower block of units above it. Yuk! It'll probably be the usual local government bunfight with a goodly dollop of nutters. It is definitely not China.
Meanwhile, P. will transform the leftover chili con carne into tacoes.
Tomorrow, more China and into town (definitely not China) for some rupiah buying and maybe Halftix to a show.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Stop Press

Some of you may know that Lesley, Louise and Michael are off to Europe on Saturday. You can follow their adventures on Lesley's blog (www.sherbrooke.blogspot.com) and Michael has started one (http://www.mickstrip.blogspot.com/) which should be intriguing. It already is on one entry. I doubt that we will be blogging from Bali but keep yourself posted on their European adventures (London, Italy, Barcelona, London) of the Podesta/Lovett clan.
More tidying up today. It is intriguing to find what is buried in my office. Long lost mss, missing correspondence, errant business cards, you name it, it's here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

More Clearing Up

Another day spent tidying up. I'd forgotten one thing on A. Nauthor's ms. so I fixed that up this morning, I hope to everyone's satisfaction. Also, today did two references for various things, which were quite fun. As well, started tidying my tip of an office, which will be a long job, but it would be nice to come back from Ubud to a more-or-less clean office. Then went up to the Bank for some traveller's cheques for Bali. It wasn't too much of a performance. Now all I need to do is go into town to get some more rupiah (I've got nearly 20 000 in cash from last time, just over three dollars, and six US dollars in cash. Even in Bali that won't take me far) and go to Smith Street for a haircut.
Oh, and get a more respectable bag, though I refuse to shrinkwrap it. My old one has been mangled too many times by baggage machines.
It's still over a week before we go, but I feel as though it should be tomorrow. I do need the time to brush up my Bahasa - start quoting him now.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Clearing Up

On Sunday, we did our normally Saturday shopping with Frank. We went to Safeway, which had a recalcitrant trolley which refused to go forward, but we conquered it and completed our buying, then had our traditional lunch in the pie shop next door. All the other brunch places were chokka with Sunday brunchers. We had Stephanie AGAIN, this time her version of onion soup plus leftovers of her chook and other things from the frig for dinner.
I got up early today and did a final check of A. Nauthor's ms and sent it off to him. He dropped in this arvo to show me a possible cover, which looked really splendid, especially if you understand Chinese characters. He also brought a good bottle of wine as a thankyou which was very much appreciated.
The rest of the week should be spent getting some preparations for Bali done, plus a bit of work on the memoir and the novel. I need to have a clear space on my desk before a tonne of books turn up from the Premier's Lit. Awards (non-fiction).

Saturday, May 21, 2005

To And Fro

Went to the Health Centre first thing this morning and saw Doctor Jenny Blackett-Smith who completed my Centrelink review. We had a bit of a chuckle about its Alice-in-Wonderland nature, and it is now in the post with my response as well. I hope it's all right.
Then P. and I went to Clifton Hill to buy coffee and get chicken for tea. We've deferred the main shopping to Sunday morning so we can do it with Frank. Then we caught the train to Montmorency to my parents where my sister and her husband joined us for lunch. We had a v. pleasant lunch, including banana splits for dessert, before heading off again.
P. cooked Stephanie's chook recipe for dinner, which was delicious as usual though for some reason the chook was slower to cook than usual. A mystery!
Also, got a teach-yourself-Spanish CD in Montmorency of all places, to get ready for Espana next year. Going on my progress with Bahasa so far, it might not get far, but at least I can master the basics.

Friday, May 20, 2005

At Home Week

Most of this week was spent on working on mss, and today have sent A. Nauthor's latest version for checking. It's nearly there! Desultory preparations for going to Bali: checking menus at Ubud restaurants, visa requirements, traveller's cheques and Indonesian rupiah for arrival.
Meanwhile, have a medical review for Centrelink tomorrow (another one), and lunch with the Olds pre our various trips (they're going to Echuca, pronounced Yachuca). The only outings were to the Writers' Festival meeting, another quite good one. The program is beginning to take shape.
Quick trip to Carlton today, to pick up Renata books left over from her talks for them, and get some goodies for dinner with Frank tonight. Lucky P. has a trivial pursuit night at work, so will be late.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Isle with no Apples

We had a very enjoyable weekend in Tasmania by the Tamar. Good and easy flights on Jetstar began after we were dropped at Tullamarine by my Dad (thanks, it makes things a lot easier). There were monstrous queues at Qantas, and NO ONE at the few Jetstar flights. We arrived at the glorious Lonceston airport (thanks to Louise L. for the correct pronunciation) and picked up our Elantra (fourdoor rather than the twodoor ordered) and I proceeded to get used to driving a manual again. After a few miscues, like trying an uphill right-hand turn in third gear, I soon got used to it. Then off to the Art Gallery and Museum.
Well, there are really two of them, and we went to the wrong one first, and after perusing Chinese josshouses and porcelain, we went off to the one we really came for. The French masters were splendid, really a kind of second string collection but very interesting nonetheless. The Gallery is in the old Railway yards, suitably renovated, with a hapless volunteer endlessly windexing a huge all glass balcony. They also had a fine collection of colonial paintings and bric-a-brac from the Pacific Islands with bios of nutty Tasmanians who had collected them.
On Saturday, we headed off to Scottsdale through beautiful ferntree forests to an 'Ecocentre' aimed at persuading us how environmentally friendly logging is, then to a wildflower reserve at Bridport, and finally a splendid lunch at Piper's Creek vineyard. Then to the Tamar estuary and lots of ducks and waterbirds. As we didn't have time, we went the next morning to the Tamar Wetlands, with a huge boardwalk into the swampy bits. Again, lots of waterbirds and splendid views.
On Saturday night, we went to the Scotch Oakburn production of Cabaret which wasn't bad. There isn't much Saturday night entertainment in Lonceston. If I haven't mentioned the motel it is because it was about as standard as you can get, and our two pub meals were substantial but undistinguished by much except bulk.
A good flight back with Jetstar and a quite picturesque crew.
To cap it all off, Frank provided us with a nice dinner, which made coming home very easy. Now back to work.
Oh, and we didn't find any fruit.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, to Launceston we go

I've finished this round of A. Nauthor's ms, though I need to check through it one more time, but I am quite pleased with how it is looking, even though it is not radically different from what it began as. I've also read two versions of his novel, and have the third to go when we get back from Tassie.
Meanwhile, the osso bucco was a triumph, and the Writers' Festival meeting was quite fun, for a change, with nearly a full complement of members. I've been very lucky to read two good books for the festival: a memoir of a forensic scene examiner (gripping and stomach churning, Sam Ryan in the real world), and a novel about a separated wife who becomes a prostitute. Both were compelling, though only the novel was well written. In the other, the story was sufficient to carry it along with great speed.
Time to pack now, for an early start in the morning, to hit the Jetstar road. No more news till Sunday night.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The day after . . .

the computer arrived, I decided to upgrade to Windows Professional so I can download Chinese Simplified, and, lo and behold, it was cheap at Officeworks, so I can now download A. Nauthor's ms. complete with Chinese characters. Which I can't understand a word of, mind you, but at least it means he doesn't have to restore them every time it goes through the new computer. It won't make a huge difference to the speed of doing this revision, but on the larger screen any typos become more obvious, and there is less fiddling around changing over between computers for emailing the text backwards and forwards. At least, that's how I justify it to myself.
Before leaving for work this morning, P. finished off the osso bucco. After tea last night, he did an incredible amount of chopping to make the mirepoix. It would have been a lot coarser if I had done it. It is a Stefano di Pieri recipe, not his usual one for osso, so it will be interesting. It certainly smelt delicious after cooking for a couple of hours.
No other news, except that Rochelle's book has moved on to the next stage with final corrections, so she is now gearing up for publicity. It should get quite good coverage, if not wallpaper coverage.
Centrelink has sent me a huge form for more medical review: it seems that they are trying to reduce the welfare budget by swelling the Medicare one. I'll have to make an appointment with the Health Centre next week to get yet another set of forms filled out. In a conversation with my father today, we agreed to wait and see what Peter C. says in his budget tonight, before proceeding any further. They might have a scheme to bring DIMIA into the picture and either deport all welfare recipients, or else say that you must spend your money on groceries and vegies. I suppose, being white and Anglo, I might escape the net.

A footnote

Fish for dinner tonight: just oven baked, with fruit, honey, ginger and raisins (oh! and shredded coconut) microwaved, quick and easy, for dessert. By the way, the new blog is: http://creativitydeficit.blogspot.com/ If you are over, say, thirty, you probably need a translation service. But it is a window into another world. And the blogger is appropriately called: Windowlicker.
Now that the new machine is settling in, I'm very pleased with it. My only regret is not upgrading to Windows Professional. It won't support Chinese Simplified, which I need. But I can finish that job on my old computer and I can investigate Officeworks to see how much an upgrade would cost. Otherwise, I'm very pleased. It is great not having to wait an age for something to happen.
Oh, and it's very good to know that Ann de H.'s rye bread turned out okay.

Monday, May 09, 2005


In just under two hours, I have set up the new computer (except for the printer) and had lunch. Everything seems to be hunky dory though I've still got the email to conquer. Tracking back, the weekend was very conventional. Shopping with Frank at Victoria Gardens, then a delicious Mother's Day lunch at my sister's place. My brother-in-law, Ian, cooked a superb roast lamb with almost innumerable vegies, then the best apple crumble I've ever had. For tea, P. and I could only graze on leftovers, and an exceptional avocado dip which P. made.
Anyway, no delay, on with the installation.
Later - now the printer works, and the email (I think all of it works). There seem to be a few little bugs: the screen is not quite centred, and the inbox doesn't come up when you switch on, but these are small complaints. Frank is coming for tea tomorrow night, and might be able to fix at least the first.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Mee Goreng, Seafood Laksa and Ikan Bilis

Good news! The new computer is being delivered on Monday. Then will follow the hell of trying to reinstall everything, but after that all will be blissful and easy – easier.
Had lunch today with Alexis Wright at a blast from the past, the Penang Affair in Brunswick Street. It was okay after all these years, and we had a good mag about the state of the world. She, too, has a new computer and is very pleased with it. I hope that next week I can say the same.
I’ve been put onto a new blogger, who is the son of a friend, so at last my catalogue of blogs includes someone a touch on the younger side. I think, though, that I might need a translator. Young-person-speak might be a bit beyond me.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Is this Blog a Fictive Memoir?

Yesterday, I finished off the pea and ham soup, with a new method. Putting the ham stock overnight in the frig means you can skim the fat off more efficiently, making for a leaner soup when you complete it. In any case, it was delicious. Dad came for lunch to pick up the accounts for April, and P. was home sick with a cold, so we had soup and rolls. Not much else except some solid work which is getting somewhere on the novel(s). Tomorrow, for a change of pace, I’ll start getting stuck into the fictive memoir, number one. I’ll leave fictive memoir number two until I’ve finished both of them. Nothing more fictive than a memoir.
Also, more research on Spain: it is possible to fly on Europa (a cheap Spanish airline) from Bilbao to Madrid, Barcelona and Seville, so that might make some of the large distances easier.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Quick Trip to China

The last couple of days have been spent in China. Not literally, but working on mss with connections to China. I met a new author on Monday morning who turned out to be very nice and interesting, so we agreed on some work on her memoir, just a detailed report and recommendations. Meanwhile, by dint of what must have been furiously hard work A. Nauthor has checked right through his long ms. and brought it back today with an electronic version. I also have three versions of his next novel which I’ve started reading for report and recommendation. I hope to get all of this done before we head off to Ubud in four weeks time. It should be possible but I’ll need to keep at it fairly constantly.
Tonight was fairly un-Chinese. Frank came for dinner and we had Peter’s Vera Bolognese, followed by strawberries and vanilla icecream. I don’t think I mentioned I got some bargains at the Technical Bookshop yesterday when I got into town early: a map of Tasmania, a road atlas of Europe and good little books on Spain and Malta. I’ve also found the northern Tasmanian cheese places and established that you can fly (via Air Malta) from Barcelona or Madrid to Malta (at what price, I don’t know yet). There are also discount flights from Malta to Cologne!!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Greek Easter

This morning was spent mainly doing the Sunday crossword (me) and chopping and cutting to prepare Vera Bolognese (Peter). Then it was off to Smith Street to get flowers and plonk to take to George P. and Helen A-S.’s place for their Greek ‘Easter’ afternoon party. It was a most enjoyable bash, meeting some new people (mainly artists of various kinds) and having a good natter as well as lots of great things to eat including roast goat, that Helen had cooked. We also did the Greek Easter thing with the coloured eggs. In the evening, we went to Frank’s for a delicious chook dinner (joined by David G.) with yummy fruit and ice cream dessert.