Monday, October 31, 2005

Food Department Flourishing

Very conventional shopping on Saturday was followed by lunch with Frank at our place (the remnants of the tomato and lentil soup) and dinner at Frank's on Saturday. He made a long cooked (five hours) lamb dish which was super. We also feasted on the Barcelona opera act three of Die Walkure.
After an at-home Sunday on which P. did a lot of room cleaning and gardening, he made his famous summer chicken which is stuffed under the skin with herbs and goodies.
This morning I went to Australian Health Services, who have very posh offices in Swanston St, near the city baths. I saw a nice doctor there who seemed very sympathetic, but we'll see what she recommends. I am foolishly optimistic.
Meanwhile, I am trying to subvert a request from Centrelink which requires my fourth medical report for a month (including this morning's). Raising a response from the Yarra office is proving difficult. A very helpful woman at Centrelink central this afternoon asked me to ring back if I don't hear anything three hours into Wednesday.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Pregnant with Meaning

Went round to see George P. yesterday, at his new place in Brunswick/Carlton, near Lygon Street. News is that Helen is pregnant, and the new babe (she is a she) is due in March. George is looking good, and has a Literature Board grant for next year for a new novel, and new baby.
I'm sorry to say that today's Meanjin meeting was not quite as pregnant with meaning. It should have been shorter but there were too many people enjoying the sound of their own voices.
Home again, later than I desired, and the loose tooth (a molar) which has been troublesome for a couple of days fell out while eating a modest egg sandwich. I'll have to attend a dentist next week: possibly the one at the Royal Melbourne, just to have it checked out. At present, it is no trouble at all, and it has happened before. My teeth are pretty dodgy.
Apart from that all is well. My new medication regime seems to be okay, and we'll see how it develops. Tonight, the onion tart from the French place behind Readings, plus salad, frites, peas and broad beans. Very French! And very slack Friday tea.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Marvellous Medic and Terrific Tovey

A trip to the renal clinic today revealed a decided improvement in renal function. Good news. My blood pressure is up. Bad news. Adjustments to medication: weaning off one pill, increase in another. See the results in six weeks. Thank you Mr de Crespigny for considered and thoughtful advice.
Did I mention I have an appointment with Health Services Australia on Monday for assessment for disability allowance?
It's hard work being sick, as I've said before.
On a brighter note, P. and I went off to dinner with Noel Tovey tonight. He turned on a magnificent dinner and is looking good. He has a lot of invitations to go round the world lecturing, workshopping and performing his show: more than he is able to comfortably fulfil. His friend, Madeleine was a delight, and good to meet.
Yuendumu powers along. It has a possible new title: Country Can't Cry.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

China in Carlton

Last night, P. and I went to an Asialink talk at Melbourne Uni. It was given by Li Cunxin (Mao's Last Dancer), Alex Miller and John Young, a Hongkongese artist, who has been in Australia since he was eleven. The talks were a bit crammed, as each had so much to say. Cunxin knows how to please a crowd, including a breathtaking DVD clip of him in Don Quixote. John Young has a spectacular tapestry, executed by the Melbourne Tapestry Workshop, on display at the library before touring to Sydney, and thence to China. It looks worth a visit.
In spite of the short time for talking, there were a lot of gems. It has given me a fresh impetus to work hard on A. Nauthor's new ms. and for some reason the talks inspired me to focus on his personality as a background to the linguistic shenanigans.
On Sunday, we went on a short walk around the river. Lots of birds including a great egret (?) in breeding plumage, and a beautiful grey shrike thrush at the Farm. We had malted milks and cake at the end of the walk at the Farm's new cafe. P. had a doorstopper scone, jam and cream. I had a monster lemon slice. They know how to do big.
Frank came for tea and P. made chicken with preserved lemons and couscous. Delicious as usual and enough left over for Monday tea after the lectures.
Still shuffling to and fro Yuendumu. Our big meeting to do picture selection is on Cup Day at Clayton.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

What could be more normal?

A very regular Victoria Gardens shopping morning, followed by a scratch lunch with a somewhat ailing Frank at our place. Just leftovers from the frig, and very nice leftovers they were. P. and Frank were deposited back at Victoria Gardens for the afternoon movie, and I had my usual arvo snooze. Am now snatching a little time for work (I'm procrastinating with the blog) before dinner which will probably be P.'s version of Stephanie's steak sandwich with caramelised onions plus his escalivada sauce which he made mountains of to go with the chorizos for last night's tea. Please note the Spanish note entering the cuisine, as we prepare our itinerary for next year's trip. I'd better find some more time for Let's Learn Spanish.

Friday, October 21, 2005

New grandchild

Born 2.45am (or thereabouts), Mark Clifford in Nowra. He joins siblings Allie, David and Maggie, and cousin Ben. 10 pounds, a big one. Kirrilly well. She woke Nick at about 12.30am, so it was quick, without time for any medical intervention to speak of. Off to Nowra on 11 November for a viewing of the babe and Nick (the father) as the Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance. What a treat!

Tangled Web

The Yuendumu book has gone back for checking, and the Ring cycle essays have come in, in 'final' form for editing, and the China end is on the desk and computer. Busy. Still can't find an electronic libretto of the Ring in French. That will be today's task. I've shortened my Sydney visit because of being so busy.
Yesterday, my father and I went down to Centrelink to lodge the disability application. The man was very helpful. I will have to go to their doctor for examination at some time in the next two months. Meanwhile. I'll be put on Newstart provisional until the case is determined. Either way, it looks as though I'll have to get involved with Job Network. 'Good morning, Pauline!' 'Good morning, Jobseekers.' He seemed confident that that would not be a major hassle if I'm self-employed.
P. and I have started planning next year's trip to foreign parts. He's checking with his aunt in Amsterdam about her travel plans so we can meet up with her somewhere, or visit her in Amsterdam. It's all falling into place quite well, and Malta still seems possible. Easter in Vejer-de-la-Frontera and Granada. I've found a basic flat in Vejer which is not too expensive. About time I started in seriously on Spanish, except when?
Today, off to see the vampires at the hospital in preparation for a renal visit next week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Parrots and Prizes

On Sunday morning, P. and I went off to the Boulevard in Ivanhoe for a wander along the river and billabong. There were lots of waterbirds and red-rumped parrots (not to mention flanneled fools on the cricket pitch, lycra loonies on the road and goofy golfers across the river). It was a very pleasant short walk through the reserve, originally bought by the scouts as a watersports venue. The mind boggles!
P. made roast lamb with ratatouille for dinner, and last night we went off to the Vic. Premier's Awards at Zinc in Federation Square. The old Stiv Breck did a reasonable job, aided by very good MCing from William McInnes, and a stirring address from Inge Clendinnen. I was very pleased to see Robert Dessaix win the non-fiction award, and was surprised to hear that he hasn't won any other awards. Always a bridesmaid. He said afterwards that it was very heartening, and he would be off home to start writing again. Sonya Hartnett won the fiction, and her editor was none other than Demetri K. He was very pleased and it is an auspicious start to his freelance career (though still two days inhouse at Penguini).
The food was good, the company enjoyable (all the non-fiction judges shared a table), and we celebrated Brenda Niall's recent D. Litt from Monash. The inevitable air of school speech night isn't aided by the Premier looking like a genial principal. And the Arts Minister, Ms Delahunty, looking like the senior mistress who terrorises the girls.
It was also good to catch up with some old faces like Di Gribble.
Back to Yuendumu after all the 'glamour'.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Editors Conference

On Thursday, headed off to Eden-on-the-Park, for a launch of At the Typeface, a collection from the Victorian Society of Editors newsletter reports of talks over the years, one of which was from a talk by John Bangsund and I about a fast-turnaround Australian edition of a U.S. detective book, to get it in time for the author's visit to the Adelaide Festival. The launch included talks by some of the contributors, and Kerry Cue reminded everyone of the time Beryl and I delivered her advance in outlandish costume (fluoro pink flippers, diamante earrings etc.)
At the last minute I was asked to chair the Saturday morning session (9am!!) on Indigenous editing which featured Jeanie Bell and her daughter, Kamarra Bell-Wyke. Even though they were very good, I felt I had to prepare a bit, just in case questions were a bit thin. They weren't, and it all went well, though it was a bit Indigenous Editing 101. It would have been good to have a workshop as well.
Then off to shopping with P. and Frank for the rest of the morning, and dinner last night at Frank's (girello with a dill sauce, followed by rhubarb surprise).
As well, I've been back to Centrelink and the doctor for a new application. I felt like I should be giving the doctor a certificate: she looked very tired and harassed after a long week. Centrelink, bizarrely, just wanted to sight the application on the due date, then gave it back to me to return with it for interview this coming week. "If we take it, it might go missing," said the woman on reception. Also, downstairs reception had a temporary sign: Disability, first floor! I shouldn't be commenting on Centrelink on the blog, but its somewhat Kafkaesque (or is it Orwellian?) aspects shouldn't escape comment.
Also, we spent part of dinner last night being seditious, under the new Rodent laws leaked by Stanhope the ACT chief minister. It was pretty easy bringing "the Sovereign into hatred and contempt", much harder to "urge another person to attempt, otherwise than by lawful means, to procure a change to any matter established by law in the Commonwealth". We'll have to take part in an illegal strike to do that. Perhaps a demonstration would do.
The defence of good faith will not go far, I fear.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Another week in Yuendumu

P. got back from Brisbane okay. The 21st was like going to another world altogether. We certainly lead a sheltered existence here in Abbotsford. However, it's good to get a hint of the 'other' Australias. Just not too much.
To have something ready for him when he got back late, I made soto ayam, which, as usual, is like the magic pudding and lasts forever. We should polish it off on Friday night, with the usual leftovers, having had two meals from it already.
Frank came for tea on Tuesday and the venison, roasted lightly, was a big hit, with a horseradish and bread sauce from the weekend papers, fortuitously. We had some strawberry icecream, and last night, I made some kiwi fruit icecream to go with it.
Lots of toing and froing on Yuendumu this week, and we are getting close.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Leaving on a Jetplane

On Friday, I took P. to the airport and he went off to Brisbane. The 21st went well, and his older brother came to take his mother and company off to Beenleigh, and back reasonably early, 'to let the young folk have fun'. He is spending the rest of a quiet weekend in Brisbane.
Meanwhile, Frank came round to the ranch on Saturday morning to head to the market with our bright red jeep (Thank you Sally). We stuffed it with produce, then headed off to Smurf Street to Safeway. Lunch at the Gypsy Bar followed. The rest of the weekend (not much after marathon shopping and the Sunday crossword) was spent working except for tonight at Frank's consuming some of the chook from the market (delicious roasted) and some of the fruit from the market (rhubarb, apple and pear, stewed with flash yoghourt). Agatha Christie on the teev was less than delightful. Ponderous, in fact.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Photos from the weekend

These photos are pinched from Frank's blog, in flagrant breach of copyright. Sadly, neither he nor Peter are in either of them, but they give the drift of a weekend near Castlemaine.

David G. and me at Bodles Posted by Picasa

Bodles cottage, with David G. Posted by Picasa

Week flashes by

This week has just disappeared. Nothing much has happened except a deal of progress on both the Yuendumu book and the Ring Cycle. By today, I had sent new versions of both off to their respective authors, so I suppose I've been busy.
Also, P. is off tomorrow to Brisbane for the weekend of his nephew's 21st, so there is still a day to go.
My only outside activity was to visit the Board of the Melbourne Writers' Festival, to report from the programming committee on this year's extravaganza. Pretty dull, that. (The bored I mean).
All in all, productive but quiet. I now have to go carefully through the Yuendumu book, and with any luck cut another 4 000 words roughly. Or even more would be better. I'll do that while P. is away.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Weekend in the Country

On Saturday morning, into the old car and off (after packing, of course). First stop was Gisborne for brunch with a bewildering assortment of eateries in what P. described as a gynocracy (everything appeared to be run by women). P. also brought some new pixie boots (aka ugg boots) which he wears in lieu of slippers. We stopped again at the Castlemaine markets for supplies to go with the biftecks which I made the previous night to take with us for Saturday dinner.
Thus armed, we headed for Newstead, where David G. and Frank had arrived the night before. We had a very lazy time in the old miners' cottage, just lazing, reading and looking at the paddocks and garden. As always, there were lots of birds, and on one walk P. and F. found orchids, pardalotes and a kanga with a joey. The biftecks went down a treat on Saturday night and we were very lazy and had the produce of the Newstead bakery for both lunches.
On Sunday arvo, we popped into the Castlemaine art gallery for a dose of culture, then had a coffee with Ann de H., newly arrived at her nest in Castlemaine.
The little old car performed impeccably on the way back. Back home, we raided the frig for leftovers for dinner and settled in for a mindless night of telly.