Sunday, July 31, 2005

Social Sunday

Saturday was very normal, though the shopping was a bit different. To Brunswick, to the Continental Deli. to get bulk olive oil and grana padana, thence to Piedmonte's for the supermarketing, thence to Smurf Street for lunch at the Old Post Office (whatever it's called). My parents dropped in in the arvo. and P. made Stephanie chook for tea (from the butcher in Brunswick). Later, I made chicken stock from the chook carcass and remarked how free range chook makes much better stock.
In the morning, I transformed the stock into minestrone, and Sally and Rochelle came for lunch for the soup and some shepherd's pie which I made a couple of days ago from the roast lamb leftovers. Rochelle brought some cakes for nibblies to finish, and Sal brought an early Christmas present, a new, very stylish bright red shopping jeep, perfect for taking to the Farmers' Market. P. and I will need a makeover in order to look stylish enough to drive it.
Tonight, we went to Frank's for dinner with David G. A very pleasant lamb sweet and sour, followed by tarte tatin. Frank has a new laptop toy, so we watched Google World on it, in between sparkling conversation, well, normal conversation.
The Sunday crossword is almost done: but who is the Chinese inventor of wine who was deified for the achievement? i-?i. Three letters.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


It seems odd to be putting some remarks about confidences on a public blog. A. Nauthor has taught me to be careful about what I say. What I see as innocuous remarks might be regarded as a breach of confidence by someone else. Issues of confidence arise all the time: I seem to attract them like mosquitoes in a swamp. Being a freelancer, you are often in possession of information from one publisher, which you can't transfer to another publisher, even if it is relevant to the job in hand. The proper answer is 'don't'. There are ways of raising questions which don't breach confidence.
Prejudice, on the other hand, should be declared outright. Old emnities should be declared so that a decision on conflicts of interest can be made in the open.
All that high-minded ethical stuff aside, it doesn't help when faced with a job which might involve unforeseen repercussions down the track. Do you say, 'yes' and then go on to negotiate the future difficulties when and if they occur. Or is it best to avoid them by just saying, 'no, can't do'. Best bet is to discuss the potential problems with the person offering the job and see what they say.
Nothing to do with the above moral dilemmas, I have finished the linguistic ms. report and await instructions on whether to proceed with a sample chapter or two. It is a very intriguing and clever work, and I'd almost have a go at the sample chapters for nothing as an exercise. Almost!
Fairly humdrum but nice winter food the last couple of days: sardines from Canal's, just pan-fried in butter with parsley and dill, and last night, veal chops. Both meals with three veg, as it should be. All's right with the world.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Spencer (the hotel, not the cat)

Last night, Frank, P. and Deb went off to the Spencer Hotel, which we had been meaning to try for a long time. The food was excellent: I did my usual two entree trick with a tart of onion and taleggio, followed by pheasant sausages (I didn't spare much of a thought for the pheasant). The others had loin of lamb or kangaroo with various carefully made vegetables and sauces. Too full for dessert we staggered off into the night, to find the Loop was out of action, so we took a bus to Flinders Street, replacing the train. It was like taking a guided tour: Melbourne by night, very dull.
Working away on the linguistic ms. which is fascinating and funny, significant and silly, all at once. Word books are fashionable at the moment, but they need to be more immediately accessible than this one is. Hmm. Ponder, ponder.
I think I've reached the end of the page-turner books for the Premier's Awards. It is now a matter of crawling through the pages, a sure sign that something is definitely not a winner. There is no prize for the best masochistic book of the year: suffer when you read it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Clinic

Today it was off to the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic to be peered at and poked by a baby doctor and declared fit to come back in four months. Meanwhile, the program for the Writers' Festival arrived and I was pleased to see several things. One was that I was let off the hook for the Indigenous sessions, now to be chaired by appropriately Indigenous women. Phew! So I am left with the Yarra session which I feel decidedly underqualified for in some ways, being neither historian nor natural scientist. However, I'm sure I can keep that one moving at least. And I'll hand over the Joanna Murray-Smith to Bryony. Phew!
Dinner last night was a delicious pesto, even if I say so myself. For dessert, the icecream flavouring was very subtle. The lemongrass disappeared entirely, and there was a hint of ginger. We'll try that one again and pump up the flavours.
Tonight, Frank came for dinner and P. did a very retro steak diane, which turned out deliciously, with mushrooms, carrots, broad beans and well-browned potatoes. Three cheers to Diane Holuigue for the recipe.
Oh, and The Ring proceeds apace.

Monday, July 25, 2005

La Donna e Mobile

Frank was feeling a bit poorly, so after the shopping at Victoria Gardens, which he survived, just, P. and I went by ourselves to David G.'s show in Port Melbourne. It was fun making an excursion to the 'lifestyle' suburb, where my parents come from. It's not looking like it used to. David and a few artist friends have rented a space in an old car factory building to use as a gallery, and it works very well. A small space but comfortable. We viewed the art on show, then trundled along trendy (that's right, trendy) Bay Street, and did some leftover shopping. However, Coles Bay Street is not that trendy: verjuice is not to be had. Stephanie, eat your heart out.
Sunday was another blustery day, so we huddled by the fire for most of the day, making our only excursion to get some wood to have in reserve in case the delivery is late. Roast dinner was the perfect thing for a cold night.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

All of a sudden, busy.

Yesterday, I went down to Elwood to meet with Melba Recordings. I saw their new office, in a flat down the road from Ian and Maria's house and listened to some bits of The Ring on their supra good equipment. Then, Maria and I had a discussion about the 'booklets', more like a four-volume book. It seemed a good discussion and has set that part of the project on a feasible track. She and I each have tasks to do to make it happen. Having worked in the cheese-paring, chiselling world of book publishing for so long makes me an expert in keeping the costs down in what is a very cost-sensitive project.
As well, the Premier's Award books sit there looking accusingly, and I have an intriguing linguistic ms. to puzzle out a structure for.
Home again, and lunch with the olds in Clifton Hill for a monstrous-sized roast at the Clifton Cafe and very grateful receipt of the annual accounts and tax return from my father. I just have to send it off to the ATO and an extract to Centrelink, so it's very easy. While in Clifton Hill, I got real coffee and some takeaway pea and ham soup, and shepherd's pie for easy Friday tea. It wasn't very nice. We're spoiled by making it ourselves most of the time, and ours is much better quality.
Today is a cold, blustery day, and it hardly seems worth venturing outdoors. But the shopping must be done, and David G. has a gallery opening this afternoon which it would be nice to go to.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hotting up, slowly

Frank joined us for laksa (chicken) on Tuesday. Herbie's laksa mix does come up trumps. We finished it off with some strawberry icecream which came out well again. My next move is to try to replicate the lemongrass and ginger icecream we had in Bali.
Spent most of the week continuing with the Premier's Award entries, which are of surprising quality. Who said publishing was dead?
As well, The Ring has resurfaced, and am going down to the Melba Recordings new offices for a meeting about it tomorrow. And to see the offices, and hear the Ring in progress on their flash equipment.
Lots of other bits and pieces, too numerous to mention, as someone (Pooh?) said. Basically as boring as our food choices of the last couple of days. P. made some yummy tabbouleh to go with lamb chops last night, and we'll finish it off with the leftover laksa, and some lamb shashlicks I made today from various leftovers: pepper, onion, mushrooms. And of course lamb from Safeway. That's as exciting as it gets.
However, one bit of news. Nick rang last night to say that they are having baby number four. In October. Sigh. As Nick is doing the Police Chief in Pirates of Penzance in November, I'd better schedule a visit for the double purpose of seeing his efforts on stage and in the flesh. Do I feel old with the prospect of grandchild number five? Not a bit. It almost seems to be happening in another universe.

Monday, July 18, 2005

VERY quiet time

Sunday was spent doing the Age crossword, an easy one as they seem to increasingly be, and an afternoon walk around the farm and the river. Still reading with great pleasure all the goodies that have lobbed. Today, A. Nauthor dropped by to pick up an ms. and leave another, plus a couple of his previously published books. We had a good chat: I always learn a lot from him.
Much the same as Sunday, a couple of queries from A. Nother (author) plus a bit of shopping. It's still a hazardous business, taking the car out during the day, and not finding a spot on return. I hope the new parking restrictions are in place soon to make a simple trip up to Smith Street less of an adventure. Peter's leftover goulash tonight, this time with mashed spud instead of pasta, and cabbage and carraway seed, and spinach. Sort of healthy even.
With the shopping today, I got more strawberries to try the strawb icecream again. The lemon sorbet was quite nice, but not too brilliant. Needs more lemon, I think and be tarter. However, the new secondhand icecream maker is getting good service, for the minute.
Both Coles and Woolworths seem to have deleted smoked chicken breasts from their delis. Sigh! Me liking anything is the kiss of death, and the smoked breasts were very good for quick and easy soto ayam. I doubt that I can set up a smokehouse in the backyard to make my own. Drat!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Harry Potter Day

It didn't make much difference to me, but at Victoria Gardens for the shopping today there were wizards wandering around giving out Minties. In spite of accepting a free Mintie, I can't see what the relevance is to La Potter. Obviously though, the books were walking out of the bookshop and they thought they had underordered at 1500 copies. Poor things.
We did the usual shopping, found that Coles has deleted cracked wheat or burghul through lack of demand. No one is making tabbouleh obviously. We were able to get some at the 'health' food shoppe. Then we had lunch at Clifton Hill, which is becoming frantic for Saturday lunch, so will be bypassed in future.
Ever a creature of fashion, I made prawn toast from today's Australian as part of a leftover dinner with bolognese and satay sauce (not together). Yes, it sounds odd, but is very satisfying on a cold Saturday night by the fire. All temptations to go to Don Giovanni or Christos Tsiolkas' play about Salo gave way to staying warm and cosy.
Am still ploughing through non-fiction entries, and am starting to wrap my mind around the three sessions I've ended up with for the Writers' Festival: a one-on-one with Joanna Murray-Smith, a session on the Yarra River (my expertise is nil, apart from the occasional stroll), and a session called Blackfella, Whitefella. I feel in every case there are others more qualified, but they are sadly not available.

Friday, July 15, 2005

New phases of the moon

Last night, Frank came for dinner and we had Deluxe-ah Laksa: a prawn laksa recipe from Herbie of Herbie's Spices. The prawns are marinated in Szechuan spice mix, then the laksa is cooked from laksa mix with baby bok choy and mushrooms, topped with beanshoots, coriander, mint and, of course, the prawns. It was delicious even if I say so myself, followed by homemade strawberry icecream. We had the remains of the laksa for dinner tonight, even better after a day's resting, with another Herbie's recipe for satay sauce with chicken shaslicks.
Have finished off the report on the novel and despatched it to the author who seems pleased. We'll have a talk about it next week.
Meanwhile, the Premier's Awards books continue to be read and 'processed'. I had a brief discussion about them with another of the judges after the Meanjin meeting this morning.
It was quite a good meeting, with guest appearances from Arts Victoria, and the University's finance supremo. Quite surreal, both of them. I also learned a new phrase: strategic alliance, and it's nothing to do with war, or at least, not a declared war. There is another meeting in three weeks time to discuss some of the 'issues' raised in this meeting. I think I can predict the outcome, but I'd better not play my hand in public yet. In any case, that's all too predictable.
Had a phone call out of the blue from Jane Arms tonight fairly late. She moved to the Clare Valley with Brian Matthews and sounds fairly settled already after about six months. And a thread is taken up from several months ago to do with editing in universities. We'll see if anything comes of it. I hope so, as it's something I'm rather keen on doing.
And Lesley is back on the air blogging: address by request to only bona fide enquirers. I thought that she couldn't resist diarising for too long.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

...Tail up

In the last couple of days, I've finally come to grips with the novel. By going through it and systematically comparing the three versions, I think I've found a way to tie it all together. We'll see what the (real) author thinks. I just need to go through it again to check that it all works and then I'll be ready to hand it back in a couple of days. It has been an intriguing puzzle and a welcome relief from the massive number of (good) books entered in the Premier's Awards.
It has been good to have Ann de H. back on the air again with adventures in the Yakanarra store. Who would have believed that the fastest movers would be smoked oysters? Ah well!I'll have to check out the cupboard and see if we've got any in stock. Also, Frank has put a link to Dr Dennis' blog, so I have a replacement for Lelsey's defunct one. It is if anyone's interested. It seems even more preoccupied with food than I am. Which reminds me, I must put on Peter's Spag Bol, which he made last night, to heat up for dinner.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Food, lots of glorious food

After nearly finishing the Sunday crossword, it was off to Warrandyte, to Arthur's, Alfred's, somebody's Homestead for lunch for Father's eightieth birthday. It was one of those eat all you like smorgasbord's, but it was a very good one. The eggs mayonnaise were a treat with the entrees, though the crackling on the roast pork was not up to mine, even if I say so myself. The pav got my pav-master sister's seal of approval with two helpings, a vote of confidence. It turned into a sunny day, and we made a quick visit to a nursery on the way to get some 'erbes to replace the ones we regularly kill off.
Afterwards, stuffed, there was nothing else to do but have an arvo sleep, followed by a very delicious lamb shank dinner at Frank's place with the usual Sunday night telly. This time, a very welcome reminder of last year's Ring Cycle.
A fairly clear week this week, to knock off the novel, and, I hope, my first foray into the literary awards. I think I've got a long short list at last, with all of my biases showing.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Don't rain on my market

It seems inevitable. Every market day (the second Saturday in the month), it rains. The rain doesn't seem to stop some people trundling down to the farm with their shopping bags, but it certainly slows down the numbers. Looking out at the drizzle, I'm discouraged. However, as Frank has a singing rehearsal this morning, we have lots of time before normal shopping so we'll wait to see if the rain eases off: after all, there will be some sodden delights down there. As it turned out, the Premier, Stiv Brek, was standing under a tent in the rain, announcing that Australand were ceding in the fight over the northern carpark. As predicted, demand for their 'units' has plummetted, so the farm carkpark is now intact. Also, as usual, a politician claims credit for something over which they had absolutely no control. As we left the farm, Stiv's minders were ferrying him with umbrellas through the mud. A surprising number of people were fools like us and went to the market in the rain.
My father's eightieth birthday lunch is tomorrow, and we're going to Frank's place for Sunday dinner, so we won't need much food this weekend anyway.
As well, there are operas galore on (Don Pasquale, Don Giovanni, Carmen) probably none of which we'll attend, and a reading tonight of B. Dickins' new play on Squizzy Taylor. Whether a cold, drizzly night can tempt us to the Courthouse in Carlton remains to be seen. On such a night (as they say), the fire seems very desirable with some hotpot on the stove.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Library Launch

Yesterday, I trundled off to the Library for the launch of In Your Face. It was very well attended and I had a natter to Robert Richter, who, unbeknowns to me, turned out to be the launcher, and Johnny Lelleton, who always seems to turn up when dodgy customers are involved. The launch went off without a hitch and there were lots of media. It was well covered in today's Australian and Age. Everyone should be very pleased.
A brief time at home before heading off for the last programming meeting for the Writers' Festival. It seems to have wrapped up fairly well, though I await what leftovers there are for final correction and sweeping up.
Back to the novel. The entries in the Premier's Awards are gradually going down. The quality is v. good indeed, so twill be a hard choice when it comes to it. Likely contenders keep appearing.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Icecream for Esquimaux

Now beginning to feel better from the cold, P. and I went shopping today for regular supplies and my parents came round bearing an icecream maker, gift from friends of theirs who are downsizing. We can now discover the delights of making exotic icecreams in the depths of winter. To harmonise, I ordered more wood for the fire to keep in balance.
Am continuing to plough through the work on the Premier's Award and searching for illumination on the three versions of a novel which I have. It is proving harder work than I thought (the novel, not the awards, which are more like recreation.)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Day in Bed

Well, we didn't go to Albury today. The cold had well and truly taken hold, so I spent the day in bed, doing nothing. We'll try again tomorrow as I feel a lot better now.
While I was abed Kent and Wendy and son Ty dropped in, so P. had to deal with them on his own, and there were a few phone calls. Otherwise all was quiet. Oh, and Lorraine headed off after her beautiful (self-provided) breakfast of classy muesli, strawberries and posh yoghurt. She slept okay, and probably better than she would have at her party-infested flat.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Laid Low

Finally, Peter's cold has caught up with me. It was inevitable that I would get it, and I have with the sneezing, coughing and running nose, and, worse, lack of concentration. Little for it but to take to bed and tough it out horizontally. Fortunately, there was little else to do, so I have been able to stay indoors by the heater and the fire and just moulder, making desultory attempts at work, but really unable to do much at all.
Lorraine and Frank are coming for tea tonight, and Lorraine is staying the night to escape a party at her neighbours' place. Then it's off to Albury for the weekend, so I have to be feeling better by then.