Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Rumbling Along

Good fortune continues: I received the Chinese ms. back from China with some corrections and updates, and have forward it to the Publisher for approval. Meantime, I'll check through it again, this time for style and pacing, pending any feedback. A. Nauthor is happy with the blurb; so far, so good.

Also, a focused and productive meeting on the Yuendumu ms. with a publisher yesterday. This one seems a real possibility but there are a couple of others still to make offers (or not). It might now be called simply Darby, with an appropriate subtitle. Good suggestion from the designer. Endnotes have been done and despatched, and the design session yesterday went well.

On the home front, we have been consuming leftovers (veal and chicken casseroles) but tonight Vera Bolognese gets another run, followed by icecream, blackberry this time.

Planning for the trip next year is proceeding, and the social events before Christmas are hotting up.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Roses and Requiem

Everything seems to be coming up roses at present. I'm a bit cautious about feeling elated, in fear of something dreadful happening.

Frank's Gloriana concert was excellent. The Poulenc Figure Humaine was especially fine, but other elements of the concert, Berlioz' La Mort d'Ophelie and Faure's Requiem were excellent too, with a good band to boot. As you can see by the titles, it was not exactly cheery stuff (the first piece was also Poulenc: Quatre Motets pour un temps de penitence). But the splendour of the music actually made it quite joyful, even the Requiem.

Frank came for tea afterwards: I cooked Herbert's chicken with peas and pancetta, which lived up to his 'perfect' moniker. After years of using the Mures packaged prawn bisque, I decided to try making it with the stock from the prawn heads from my mother's birthday. It is a bit fiddly, and I'm not sure it's entirely worth the trouble, but M. Oliver's recipe is delicious.

A travel agent (Flightcentre) got back this morning with a good fare when we want it on Japan Airlines (actually a combination of Qantas, Japan, Iberian and Alitalia, codesharing to the shithouse). We are waitlisted for the first leg, so hold your breath. It could include a stopover in Tokyo on the way back, but we'd need to cut some Europe to do that. To be deliberated . . .

Then, the dentist. Things are not too bad. He needs to check with Peter McCallum to find how much radiotherapy I had to see whether I need to have hyperbaric treatment before an extraction (only one). This means four weeks of daily oxygen treatment to vamp up your bloodflow in case of infection and to boost healing. Pretty drastically time-consuming. You could read a lot in four weeks of two-hour treatments. Anyway, it might not be necessary. Cross your fingers . . .

Otherwise, he needs to give me a good clean and scrape. The dentist at the Royal Melbourne, recommended by the cobbler/elves prostheticians, has a very good chairside manner, quite unlike the one at Peter Mac who was a bit like a leftover from the Lutwaffe.

Back to China and Yuendumu while you all hold your breath and cross your fingers.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Travel, travel, travel

Well, not much really. Just to Victoria Gardens for the usual shop, then lunch at home with Frank (more leftovers, this time cajun chicken salad).

Tonight, we went off with Frank and David G. to Victoria eatery in Victoria Street. Quite good with volcano chicken, flambed with cointreau at the table, pad thai, juicy flounder and David's stories of his recent trip to China and Vietnam to find pottery manufacturers. As he says, the ethics of it all need some pondering.

Meanwhile, I sent off the interim draft of the Chinese ms. to China, which later I found must have arrived in the middle of an earthquake. I doubt my editing is that earthshattering, so some other cause must be assumed. I await a response from the author, now Professor A. Nauthor, with great interest. I think I've done a reasonable job, and I certainly enjoyed doing it.

Tomorrow, Frank's Gloriana concert.

Friday, November 25, 2005

All Coming Together

The last couple of days have been very satisfying. A very good meeting yesterday on Country Can't Cry (the Yuendumu Darby Jampijinpa Ross book) went well, and the layout is well on the road. Lots of hard work to go on the layout and the endmatter, but the basics are there. Today, had a promising bite from a publisher, so, while not counting chickens, we await with interest.

My parents came for dinner last night, for my mother's 78th birthday. We had prawn cocktail (from More Perfect Recipes). It was. Then roast roll of lamb, followed by youngberry and ginger/lemongrass icecream with lashings of chlorestorol-producing cream. Triumphantly, my mother had no indigestive aftereffects. They have booked for their next-year boat trip to Scandinavia and Russia (Viking and Czars, it's called) and along the rivers from Amsterdam to Vienna. They've worked out a flying route with stops in Dubai and Singapore to break the journey.

Finished off this stage of the Singaporean memoir, and am about to plunge back into China.
AND the dentist at the Royal Melbourne rang with an appointment on Monday. I'm hardly doing cartwheels about the prospect of that, but I thought I might have to wait for months.
All P. and I need to do is clean out the frig of all of the leftovers for Friday tea to end a perfect day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Hospital Again

Yesterday, off to Ear, Nose and Throat for a checkup. A very nice young doc. called Tim Shakespeare gave a thorough examination and declared, "All clear!" I don't have to go back to them till after our trip in May next year unless I have some signs of activity (swelling etc.). It appears they are making no appointments during the Commonwealth Games next year. What happens if anyone gets sick? Anyway, we won't be here, thankfully. He also referred me to the Hospital dentist as requested, and I went off to Emergency xray for a mouth xray, as preparation.
Apart from that, work proceeds. P's goulash last night was superb.
Meetings are afoot: today the first of the Writers' Fest. for next year with the new Director, Rosemary. Tomorrow, a Yuendumu meeting on the typesetting. Have finished working through both Chinese mss. and am finetuning both of them.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

'Domestic' weekend

Nothing very out of the ordinary this weekend. It was time for a shop at the Mediterranean Wholesalers in Brunswick: we were out of grana padana. And we stocked up on pasta, including a doozy called radiatori, just like little radiators, with lots of surfaces for the pesto to stick to. We also popped into Canals in Nicholson Street for fish, and Piedmontes in Fitzroy for the supermarketing. It's a lot more fun than Vic. Gardens, but less efficient. Three suburbs shopping is better than one mall.
P. made Herbies laksa for dinner which we have christened Laksa Jihad, in honour of Alexander Downer. It came with prawns and fish (from Canals) and was very yummy.
Today, after a marathon effort on the Chinese language ms. and only about 5 000 words to go, Ian, my brother-in-law and my father delivered the single bed for the front room. Much gratitude for that. Then we went out to the Olds for lunch: lasagne and a casserole plus veggies, and fruit slice and ice cream to follow. We then had some Spanish slides from a trip years ago, when the Olds went with Julie and Ian. It was good to see the places, plus some antiquated 'looks', though my mother insists that she still wears some of the frocks.
Thence to Frank's place for dinner: his homemade pizzas which are delicious, along with Act 1 of Die Walkure, Barcelona version. Pizza and Wagner, perfect!
Early to bed tonight for a fresh assault on China in the morning, as the Chinese memoir has reappeared and needs attention too.
Liam from Yuendumu has gone bush for a long weekend so that is temporarily on hold.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Caught Up

At last, after two days have caught up on nearly a week away. A swag of emails awaited, and many other tasks, an extraordinary amount considering that my absence included a weekend. However, everything seems back on track and all deadlines are within view before Christmas.
Last night, I made pesto for dinner, and the good folk at Restaurant Lemak in Ubud sent their recipe for ginger and lemongrass ice cream, so I've tried to make that. Frank is coming for roast lamb dinner tonight, so I hope it's frozen by then. (As dessert, not an accompaniment for the lamb!)
Plans are proceeding for the trip o/s next year, and a new blogger appeared, who is a local, who is proposing an Abbotsford blog. Good idea, but it would be hard to match the peaks of wit of Sterne or Banyule Bloggers on a regular basis. However, since we became an Arts Precinct, there is no doubt plenty of room for satire and fun. Not to mention the local Greens, who 'mistake' peppercorn trees for natural bushland, and the local council, the only one in Australia with a socialist member. We are pink Abbotsford in more than one sense. Or our local member, Lindsay Tanner, who is not pink in any sense, but tries to appear 'radical' on certain issues to appease part of the electorate. And we have moles in the media and government departments, so I suspect we could manage the occasional scoop of more than doggy doo. Tremble, oh ye mighty!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Zoo Again

Some memories from Alexis' and my trip to the zoo, and one by Peter and Frank a week later. The dove is by Alexis from the butterfly cage. Her swan was very elusive, for a swan. The meerkats are my favourites. I love the way one of the meerkats is detailed to stand on a high spot and look out for marauding birds of prey - no good for meerkats.

Frank's Meerkat Posted by Picasa

Alexis' Swan Posted by Picasa

Rose-crowned Fruit Dove Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sydney, sweet Sydney with plenty to do

Back from the whirlwind trip to Sydney and Nowra. Qantas did their stuff with fair efficiency, though the queues were so long at Melbourne Airport on the way out that they were simply calling flights which had ten minutes to boarding to go to a special queue. My father kindly gave me a lift out which made it really easy. Sydney public transport worked a treat for me. I don't know what they complain about, but then I wasn't doing peakhour commuting. The train from the airport is extortionate but quick, and I arrived at Kit's place in time to have a snooze with the cat on the back lawn while waiting for her to get home.
She cooked delicious pork balls for dinner and it was a cosy good night's sleep.
Next morning we went off to little Ben's circus class, a new one, at Aerialize. It is staggering to see him climb up ropes and bits of cloth high into the roof. Then off to Nowra with Kit and Ben in her car, leaving Neville at home. The Pirates was quite good value, except for the tenor, who was execrable. Some of General Stanley's daughters looked considerably older than him, and one or two seemed to be suffering from some form of mental deterioration, or else thought they were in a different opera. But the production was good, and fun.
Next day we saw Kit and Ben off with ice creams in Berry, then went on a drive with Nick, Maggie and David while Kirrilly, Allie and Mark were at Athletics. We had a minor breakdown, but the NRMA were very quick off the mark, and two Ladies off a secluded country road gave us the use of their dunnie and phone.
Next morning I caught the train back to Sydney and went to the Library to two photographic exhibitions and the Art Gallery for Grace Cossington-Smith. All excellent. Back to Kit's for salade nicoise.
Because of the strike next day, Ben had no school, so Kit, Ben and I went off to the Sculpture-by-the-Sea between Bondi and Tamarama. A mix of the good, the pretentious and the nonentity. A beautiful morning though with sun, surf and fish'n'chips to follow.
Then after all that art, a nice coffee with Nan Wynhausen, and dinner with Sasha at his local.
Today was much quieter. After Neville, Kit and Ben had gone to work and school, I had a leisurely morning at their place, then bussed and trained to the airport.
Dad again kindly picked me up, and P., who had an RDO, was home to greet us. And thence to Frank's for dinner: chicken and asparagus risotto, with cherry clafouti to follow.
Exhausted by all this activity, I'm off to bed.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Leaving on a Jetplane Again

This time I am, I really am. Both now and in the future. Today it's off to Sydney and Nowra to see the grandchildren (and Nick as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance)! It will be a very noisy weekend with the five grandchildren all at once. Back on Wednesday, so it's a really quick trip.
AND P.'s leave has been approved for next year's March/April trip to Europe. The office is so dependent on him that the later leave could not be approved. This is because of GST lodgement frenzy, supposedly. (You remember that GST which everyone finds is so easy.) However, we've rejigged the itinerary to go a bit earlier. So we can get serious about booking now. Madrid, here we come.
Probably no posts till next Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Human Zoo

Rendezvoused with Alexis this morning, and we headed off to the zoo. Perverse, I hear you say. No, just very enjoyable. I love the otters and the meerkats, even though I can do without the charismatic megavertebrates who should be at Werribee Free Range Zoo. The butterflies had obviously been rooting madly, or whatever butterflies do, as there were heaps of them, and there were lots of beautiful birds, including Alexis' favourite white swan. We even had a decent sandwich! And as a bonus, the zoo shop provided inspiration for prezzies for the grandkids in Nowra.
On arrival home, I checked a strange payment on my bank account, which turned out to be a back payment for my Disability allowance, which I have been granted without notice. Who cares? It means a bit more security, probably less frequent reviews (like every few weeks), AND a pensioner card with longer currency. Small things, but they make a difference. However, not wanting to appear churlish, I await what wobbly things can still be bowled up by Centrelink, either accidentally or on purpose. At least I'm into the system ahead of the Howard government's amendments which will probably tighten the work test and reduce the number of hours you can work (I know the two seem inconsistent, but that's this government for you.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Launch, lunch and layout

Monday night, I went to Carlton to Alex Miller's launch. Hilary McPhee gave a fulsome launch speech, and Alex a somewhat rambling reply. Half the world was there, cramming Readings full, but I got my share of sandwiches and white wine, but not much else. Good bits were running into Bryony and Tom Shapcott, now retired back from Adelaide.
Today, much work on China, followed by a Yuendumu meeting about layout and photos again. It was a good meeting, very cooperative, with nibbly lunch included. Carmen dropped in a dummy earlier in the morning, and we have probably nailed down the format and design. Lots of things remain to be done: vast amounts of endmatter, captions, prelims etc. but it is looking good. Not to mention flogging it to some publisher or other.
Tonight, Frank came round for the regular fish curry, and leftover mango jelly. Sigh!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sunday, sweet Sunday, with plenty to do

First up, it was off to the Trades Hall, for the P.E.N. Borders conference. Because it was running behind before it started, we could only stay for the first session, which was some quite interesting readings from 'the Germaine Greer of China', Kirpal Singh and Alexis Wright. Also it was good to catch up with people like Alexis, Nick Jose and Inez Baranay.
Rush home for the Olds to come for lunch. The mushroom soup was a bit bland, but the cajun chicken salad worked a treat, and Peter's mango jelly was a triumph (served with strawberry icecream). The Olds are both well after their lazy week in Dromana.
In the evening, we joined Frank at Lorraine's for her usual outstanding dinner: spicy meatballs with yoghurt, a delicious slow cooked (seven hour) lamb with pomegranate and harissa and dessert with tangelo and cream. Two three-course meals in one day: we'll be like little pigs.
Oh, and we finished the Sunday crossword in between.
Back to China.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Thai Dinner

Last night, P. and I joined David and Frank for a Thai dinner in Victoria Street. The food was delicious, very tasty and the bill was surprisingly low ($71 for four including entrees and a bottle of wine). David is off to China and Vietnam as part of his new development in the ceramics business. He's off next week, and it will be intriguing to hear his impressions. He and his partner are looking for a suitable manufacturer to make their designs up after several years of painstakingly doing it themselves.
Normal shop this morning, followed by a frenzy of cooking caused by a big buyup from Herbies spices having arrived. What will result will be stirfried beef and noodles (Rita Erlich via P.) and Cajun Chicken Salad (Herbie via me). P. is also embarking on Mango Jelly to have for lunch tomorrow with the salad, and, maybe, if I've got the energy, mushroom soup as well.
Meanwhile, the Chinese ms. is steaming along.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Multiple Images

Yesterday, I headed off to Clayton, to the filmhouse for the picture selection for the Darby book (Yuendumu). Carmen, in charge of production, came and Sandy, the designer bearing sample layouts. Then we checked through something like two to three thousand images, at least it seemed that many, to get down to about 150. It took most of the day, with short breaks for rubber sandwiches. It was Cup Day and nothing but the petrol stops were open. However, it felt as though we were making good progress.
Frank came for tea with cold leftovers and potato salad as it was so hot.
I'm back in China today.