Friday, September 30, 2005

Disability knocks

Well, my medical certificate did elicit a response. It appears that I shouldn't have been on Sickness Benefits for two years, because, as self-employed, I should have produced a 'contract of service' to be eligible. I should instead have been on Newstart (incapacitated), which pays the same. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant, and probably only Alice in Wonderland would know, because I am nearly up for two years on benefit. This means I need to apply for Disability benefit. The forms are on their way: but this probably involves going to my own doctor (again) and visiting whover the successor is of the Commonwealth Medical Officer. If I don't make twenty points on the Richter scale, then I become a Jobseeker. Hello, Pauline of The League of Gentlemen. The man from Centrelink says that I don't run out of time on benefits till the end of October, so there is a bit of breathing space.
It was all a bit hard to absorb, as I was feeling very complacent and smug about having got my form in ahead of time, and being so organised, and feeling secure till the start of January next year. Never feel smug. It is dangerous. Or as Gerald Murnane said at his booklaunch, "Stay in your room. It gives fate less room to manoeuvre."
Yuendumu is going more slowly than I'd like, but there are some problems to solve. At least their end has slowed down a bit too. But we have a stiff deadline to meet in order to produce the books at the behest of another government department which coughed up the money for it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Roast with rosemary

Sal dropped in for tea last night for her roast: not one, not two but four veggies. Crispy roast spuds, baked sweet potato, beans and onion, carrot with garlic butter. Sorry, that's five not counting the garlic. Oh and roast lamb with rosemary and gravy. S. is v. busy with uni. and work, and is generally unavailable, so the roast was to tempt her out.
After tea, Frank and David dropped in to organise the weekend in Newstead. Done. They'll go up on Friday night, and we'll join them on Saturday. Will drop in and coffee with the newly arrived Ann de H. back from her Kimberley adventures.
Today, I renewed my sickness benefits, had a good chat with the doctor, then headed off to Centrelink with the form. Little wait, no queues! Has the Howard government been that successful at frightening people off benefits? Across the road to Victoria Gardens, how convenient, for a little shopping and a sandwich for lunch.
My quarterly financial statement period is over in a couple of days. Twill be interesting to see whether this one elicits any kind of response, or if the new certificate does.
Meanwhile, back to Yuendumu.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I'm leavin' on a jetplane

Kit and Nick have gone back to Tinseltown from Mexico after what seemed to be a very pleasant weekend, and quite restful for all concerned, I hope. We had a very gutsy lunch yesterday at Alfred's Homestead in Warrandyte with Julie and Ian, and heard some of her tales of her recent visit to Boston. Then Nick repaired to our place for a light dinner, while Kit went with my Olds. Today we did the Federation Square Potter Gallery (tick), the Centre for the Moving Image (cross, no wonder it is empty most of the time) and lunch at Southbank, where there was a very good exhibition of novel moving images that should have been at ACMI.
The Olds and K & N repaired to the airport, and I came home on the bus for a much needed arvo nap after a quick call to check progress in Yuendumu.
Tonight a very simple dinner of trout fillets in lemon juice and chives, with chippies and asparagus (more lemon).
Last night we tried Kit's dessert idea of (premade) brandy baskets filled with King Island yoghourt, then topped with berries (strawberries). I varied it a bit by soaking the berries in brandy first for a big of extra zing. Delicious.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Eels and cormorants

On Friday night, Frank, David G. , P. and I went for a very pleasant dinner at the nearby Park Hotel. It is doing very well, with lots of young folk. We made arrangements for a possible weekend away, and trip to Eddie Perfect.
Early yesterday morning, the Olds arrived with Kit and Nick, fresh from Virgin from Sydney. Mum had brought scones for breakfast, then we did a quick shop with Frank and all of them at Victoria Gardens, then went off to the Fairfield Boathouse for a good lunch. Some of the party walked home via the Merri Creek and saw a cormorant wrestling with an eel for its lunch.
Then we had dinner at home (beef burgundy) with a slideshow of embarrassing old slides from my father. Today we're off to Alfred's Homestead for their massive smorgasbord lunch, then, who knows. Kit stayed here last night, and Nick is staying tomorrow night, the other at the Olds at Montmorency.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Busy but quiet

This week mainly burrowing away on Yuendumu. Liam is back home, but is very energetic, so I soon as I send something off to him, it comes boomeranging back very quickly. So I've been kept busy. Also, some movement from Paris on the Ring cycle. It seems a bit weird phoning Yuendumu then Paris, but never mind.
Also, Ann de H. turned up this week in Melbourne, on her way home from the Kimberley. It was very good hearing her stories of her time there. She brought a v. nice painting of a fish back which will get framed. It's in predictably bright Fitzroy colours. Jill and Peter have arrived in Alice Springs and are temporarily residing in the caravan park pending their new house this weekend.
And for something completely different, I went to the launch of Gerald Murnane's essays. He gave a brilliantly funny launch speech, after informing us there were not a lot of laughs in the book. He is a bit wrong, and it's certainly a very absorbing read so far.
Today, P. had a rostered day off, so we went to see the Ric Amor paintings at Niagara Galleries. Sadly, they were all sold, though the 60 000 plus price tags were a bit outside our range. They were well worth seeing though. Someone has heaps of dough.
Since then a frenzy of cleaning and shopping pending the arrival of Kit and Nick at sparrowfart tomorrow.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Camped by a Billabong

Well, not really camped. Today, P. and I went to Willsmere billabong in Kew, and walked along the river. There were heaps of birds, lots of parrots and P. saw a wattlebird with its babies in a nest. Also lots of woodducks frolicking in the water. Unfortunately, there were lots of lycra loonies, not all with path sense, and across the river a few goofy golfers, using more than their fair share of public land. However, it was a very pleasant stroll.
Yesterday after normal shopping we had lunch at Clifton Hill. Clifton's cafe did its usual mammoth serves and unusual middle eastern take on traditional recipes. P.'s quiche was very peculiar. Frank and my eggs benedicts were fairly traditional, with white toast rather than muffins.
In the evening P. cooked barramundi with roasted macadamias and a cointreau veloute, recipe courtesy of Jean-Jacques. It was delish, and the fish, from Victoria Gardens fish shop, was melt-in-the-mouth. Tonight, he's steaming away with a lamb shanks recipe from Jill Dupleix. Frank is coming for tea. I've bashed up a very non-gourmet vegie soup for starters.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Pleasant Friday Night

Last night, P. and I went round to Frank's for a very pleasant Friday night's dinner. Appropriately for the end of the week, it was homemade pizza with tasty fillings (two sorts) then baked apple and cream. Mindless TV followed, and we walked home during the next instalment of the Latham debacle this time on Lateline.
Meanwhile, I've reached the end of the Ring in both English and German. All I have to do now is put the two together: no mean feat. Yuendumu is going a little slower than I expected but making good progress. As it is such horrible weather, I'll probably get a bit more done over the weekend. In any case, I'll put in a progress report to Yuendumu on Monday. Liam arrives back there on Monday.
Now it's off to Saturday morning shopping. Pesto is on the agenda again this week, this time with more garlic.
Lesley's blog has gone off the air again, probably as a result of more unhelpful comments. It is vicious out there in cyberspace. Maybe Mark Latham is right.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Just slogging away

The meeting with Liam on Monday went v. well, I think. We're cooking with gas on the Yuendumu book, and the rest of this week will be spent doing more work on it. It is very tricky: balancing readability and authenticity, but we'll get there.
Meantime, for light relief, am taking some time on finishing the parts of the Ring which I can do, pending the arrival of the finished essays. It will take till the end of the week as well, though this stage of Yuendumu might spill over a bit.
My father's coming today for lunch to pick up some end of August accounting stuff, and P. and I have been consuming some foodstuffs from the weekend markets and slow food. Particularly nice was some very runny brie from Maffra cheeses, and some venison salami. Also very edible were some smoked scallops with dill (from Mount Beauty, how did the scallops get there?) cooked as per the instructions of the maker, just lightly panfried, then with rocket sprinkled on top at the last minute.
Had a weird and paranoid dream/nightmare last night of the Howard rodent government introducing a stratification system: if you are below a certain income, you are not allowed to buy certain goods or have certain holidays. No venison salami or smoked scallops for us. Top shelf food and recreation are reserved for the rich. We'll see when they implement that one.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Slow Food

Frank came round early on Saturday for coffee, then it was off with the new jeep to the Farmers market and the ability to buy LOTS with the new carrying implement. Lots of goodies will appear in the week's eating including some staples like good olive oil for salads, and some nice cheeses. Then it was off to the Slow Food festival at the Convent. It was very well organised. The entry price included a glass for tastings, and you could buy lunch. We did, of course, and each tried something different, all delicious and good value. Then we perused the various stalls, and had some freshly shucked oysters which were truly delectable. As the shuckers were falling behind demand, one lady got impatient. The shucker reminded her that it was a Slow Food festival.
While Frank, Lorraine and Peter were at the movies (Wallace and Gromit), I cooked up some leek and potato soup, and some passionfruit icecream, and we had a scratch dinner when they came back with the leftover vego lasagne. All in all, a very pleasant foodie day.
On Sunday, Bryony and Philip stopped by on their way back from the Slow Food gig for a cuppa. We were all impressed with how well it went, though I couldn't go out till late today to do some supermarketing for fear of not getting a park back home. You can't make an omelette without cracking eggs.
In between times, I've been getting a couple of chapters of Yuendumu ready for our meeting tomorrow.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Meetings and more meetings

At least these meetings were quite pleasant ones. Wednesday's meeting was about the Yuendumu book with the author and the designer. We nailed down a lot of details and have set the show on the road. Liam, the author, is coming back on Monday for further work on the text, as we have a fairly tight deadline. Meanwhile, Carmen, who is doing production, new babe in arms, is getting quotes for various sizes and formats.
Then on Thursday, I had coffee with Humphrey on his essays for the Ring cycle. He had sent a dazzling draft that morning, so, head buzzing, we discussed it and gossiped. A polished draft will turn up soon.
AND today I got the okay to go ahead with the Chinese/Australian language book, so I am now officially trilingual: Warlpiri, German and Chinese. Much literal comparing of words. Fortunately, I don't have to be the final arbiter on any of them. There will be a separate German proofreader, Liam will check the Warlpiri and A. Nauthor will check the Chinese. (He headed off to China in the last few days to be Visiting Professor, so all our discussion will be by email.)
As well, I went to Simon Clewes farewell from the Writers' Festival board at the Malthouse. Drinks and nibblies and well-wishing. He certainly went out on a high with what seems to have been a very successful Festival.
And for something completely different, dropped into Frank's afterwards to view last week's Broadway musicals on tape. Foot-tapping fun with apple and rhubarb.
This weekend is market day at the Farm, plus the Slow Food Festival at the Convent. Sadly, it looks like rain. How can it happen every market day?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Victoria in several ways

After usual Saturday shopping, we repaired to Frank's for lunch (spinach burek) and hung David G.'s big painting above Frank's piano. Of course, this involved moving the piano, which was no mean feat, and trying to get the painting straight. By the end, it looked splendid, and just as though it had always meant to be there.
On Sunday, after the crossword, it was off to St Mark's Fitzroy for a Gloriana performance of works by Tomas Luis de Victoria, with Cornetto, Dulzian, Sackbut and Vihuela, early instruments in tune and tuneful for once. It was a bravura performance on a sunny day.
After which to Lorraine's for dinner, delicious as always. Just as Frank was having trouble with the buses, so our bus failed to materialise, and, in the end, we caught a cab there and back. L. regaled us with tales of work, the true horrors and hindrances of retail.
I'm making good progress on the Ring cycle, plus getting prepared for the meeting tomorrow about old Darby's story. A. Nauthor is back from Singapore, and heading off to China in two days time. Sigh!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Siegmund, den Walsung

I am busily working my way through the Ring cycle. I have figured that if I do a little every day, I can get through the libretto in English in about two weeks. If I do the German concurrently, I can easily meet the deadline of the end of September. Playing the CDs while I do it makes it more enjoyable, and by the end of this I should know the Ring better than I need to.
We had our grand final meeting of the Premier's non-fiction award on Wednesday and came to a successful (secret) conclusion. The shortlist is now allowed to be five, which is even better. I've done my share of the report, so it's all finished as far as I'm concerned apart from the prize dinner. It turned out to be a better experience than I expected, though severely underpaid for the time taken. I suppose I'm a better person for it. Maybe.
It looks like a very interesting three months ahead: the Ring, the Aboriginal biography and the Chinese/English language book. Certainly varied. Different. Unusual. In between times, almost at monthly intervals, Kit and Nick visit Melbourne, Peter goes to Brisbane for his nephew's 21st birthday, and I go to Sydney/Nowra for the viewing of the new grandchild (and Nick as the Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance). Different. Unusual.