Friday, December 30, 2005

Steady as she goes

Most of this week has been spent making bookings for The Trip, now almost finished, and working on the proofs for Darby and starting work on the Warlukurlangu Book.

There was only one highlight: dinner chez Cher Chidzey (the ex-Singaporean memoirist) where we met another blast from the past, Len Palmer, erstwhile inhabitant of the Marxist-feminist commune in Clifton Hill, circa 1976, where I met a cast of characters including P., many of whom I still see. Especially P. Len was at dinner with his partner, Helen, and daughter, Eleanor (now about 30). He seems not to have changed a bit.

Cher had cooked up a splendid dinner of SE Asian specialities, and, many champagnes later, P. and I headed off to the tram.

A scorching New Year's eve tomorrow will probably bring more of the same: Warlukurlangu and Darby, preparing for a meeting on Tuesday when we try to tie it all up. The Warlukurlangu (you'll get used to it) Arts Centre book is looking good, but is in its early days yet. First contact today with one of the authors (there are batallions of them), but I am confident of getting the ms. together before we head off to Europe. However, this means no slacking off in the next few weeks.

Monday, December 26, 2005

In the Old Tub at Rosanna

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On Christmas Day in the morning,

P. and I made the prawn and mango salad for entree, then headed off on the (free) train to Montmorency with heavily laden esky. After the salad, which was delicious, we had roast turkey, then the yummy pudding which my sister's husband Ian had made.

My father presented us with his first effort at CD burning, a folio of family prints taken from old slides. A choice example is shown below. We also watched my sister and her husband's trip to NSW on video. By now totally soporific from too much food and drink, I snoozed a bit, then we headed home on the train for leftovers.

Thanks to his work. P. has all this week off, so will probably pig out on art galleries. I'll join him for some, consistent with ploughing through a good bit of work.

Old Family Portrait

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Festive Season

On Friday night, P. and I went to Frank's for dinner (pork casserole, plus poached peaches and icecream) and watched teev, then we did our Festive Shopping at Victoria Gardens the next morning. We got lots of goodies which we took home for lunch, then P. and I had more goodies for dinner (cold collation of various things) and another night of mindless teev. We've been naughty and done our presents ahead of Christmas Day and a very nice swag they are too. I particularly like our Jukurrpa diary and calendar which are a highly colourful 'cheerup'. But lots of other good things including 101 Places Not to Visit, and a massive book on Myths to help with the Sunday Crossword. And a new novel by Rosalie Ham, and a Spanish cookbook/guide to Spanish food, and a Spanish useful phrases CD. I got P. a set of books on birds of SE Australia, which I hope will be useful and enlightening. And colourful.

Today will be a day off work after a frenzy of emails yesterday: Christmas Eve always seems to provoke massive action, as if the end-of-the-world is going to come on Christmas Day. Well, probably not so, but at least the trains are free.

Friday, December 23, 2005

New for Old

Just as things are tidying up for the Festive Season, a new project has begun. It's another book from Yuendumu: this time an account of the Warlukulangu Art Centre, one of the most successful in Australia. It involves putting together the manuscript: at present a series of 'essays', accounts and comments on the Centre. It will, of course, be heavily illustrated with paintings, photographs and maybe drawings. Etchings, even.

With any luck, the other projects on deck, which are all in the 'finishing' stage, and this one, will all come together before P. and I head off to Europe on 11 March. The timing is looking good for all of them, though I might have some busy times in February.

Just in case, I'd better get a lot done over the 'Festive' Season.

All of this Yuendumu-based work means that I really should go there some time next year, probably in conjunction with a trip to Alice Springs to see the Walshes and Alison French.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Peaceful plodding

After that frenzy of socialising, things have settled down, with a week of proofing of Darby and bits and pieces of Ring Cycle.

Had coffee with Jo B. on Tuesday, which was very pleasant. She has escaped from Sweden (Canberra) for Christmas with her family in Melbourne and a bit of work on her thesis.

Frank came for soto ayam on Tuesday night, plus the passionfruit icecream. Also made some blueberry and rasberry icecream which was delicious.

There's still no final word on the publisher for Darby. I expect an answer next week after the silliness of Christmas is over. Bryony told a wonderful story of a friend of her mother, who is in a wheelchair in an old folk's home. For three weeks, she has been subjected to carollers from schools and choral groups, almost twice a day. "Enough!" she cries. "Enough!" Torture by kindness. "Please, no Vera Lynn!"

It reminds me of Victoria Roberts cartoon comment on gay marriage: "Haven't they suffered enough?"

Monday, December 19, 2005

Blasts from the past II

The party, at the home of Bob Sessions and Christina, turned out to be hugely successful. There were lots of people I was pleased to see, including Trevor Glover, the jest of honour, in good form considering his trials of recent times. It was also good to catch up with John Hooker, busily running over people in his wheelie, and heaps of other old Penguins and associates. The caterers turned on a magnificent spread, delicious savouries, then a surprise, a full lunch with ham and salmon and salads, followed by cheese and berries. It was a very easy trip down there in the bus and tram.

Meanwhile, P. was preparing renal-friendly lamb fillets at home, so, stuffed with food, we settled back to watch HMS Pinafore and Trial by Jury for mindless entertainment, followed by Asterix! It don't get much more escapist.

Today, back into work, with some Ring Cycle sent off to Melba, and more proofing of Darby.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Still whirling

As Friday was P.'s RDO, Frank, P. and I went to the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at ACMI. It was absorbing and like seeing all of his films in brief and a fascinating insight into his obsessive researching and organising to make his movies. The end result was to convince that they are great movies (on the whole) and make me want to revisit some of them (especially Dr Strangelove) but to wonder about their thematic cohesion. Also to query whether that really is an issue: maybe after all these years my Leavisism is taking a dive.

On Saturday, after the usual shop, Lorraine, P. and I hiked off to Bryony's to have lunch with her mother Freda. It was good to see her looking so well after knee surgery. The rest of the family are in various places o/s (the boys in Hawaii, Emma in France), and we had a yummy lunch (veal tonnato and lots of salad, followed by a berry compote) and a very fine time. An email this morning told of the Christmas tree falling over ten minutes after we left. I plead innocence, unless it was subconscious or subliminal or sub judice or any of those other 'subs'. It was hastily replaced by Xmastreesontherun for a more stable model. Hmm! Perhaps I should suprise everyone and give them a call. Bah! Humbug!

Today, it's off to Wonderful Windsor, for a party to welcome Trevor Glover to Australia after all these years. It should be a bit blastish-from-the-pastish, but nevermind. This week there's lots of work to do on various projects in the runup to Christmas and the Christmas/New Year period will be quite busy.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Whirl, whirl, whirl

The dinner at Arabesque was very good. The only problem was the noise. The place was chocka including two large tables of 'girls on the town' who shrieked. But we had a very nice dinner, perhaps a notch below the quality of Abla's, but that is hard to beat.

Next day, off to Melba Recordings for a meeting on The Ring, followed by lunch at Cicciolino's where we went on Friday for dinner. As P. said, you're living high. It was very pleasant lunch and a few problems seem to be sorted and clarified at least.

Then, slightly downmarket at the market, for the night market, which consists of various food stalls of varying quality but few top notch, and market stalls selling what seemed like useless bric-a-brac to people in a Christmas buying frenzy. We meet up with a few of P.'s work colleagues and had plenty of munchies and lots to drink.

Back on the work front, I'm waiting on a response to Oily Rag from the publisher, which probably won't come till after Christmas now. The proofreader is working away on Darby and I hope a publisher for it is hoving into view, if not two.

Tonight, Frank is coming for tea, a simple roast lamb, but a good one. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More Social Whirl

On Sunday, Frank, Lorraine, George and Lou came round for lunch. We had kind of antipasto firsts, followed by P.'s superb beef rendang with Gado Gado for mains, and ending with Lemongrass and Ginger Icecream. We realised what G. and L. have been up to as they showed us photos of their superb drystone walls. With any luck, they'll have more renovations in the New Year. It was a very long lunch, and most enjoyable.

Lots more work in the meantime, bits of the proofs of Darby, a bite for a new job (more of that later) and The Ring is hotting up again. Lunch at Melba Recordings tomorrow.

Tonight it's off to Arabesque in Elsternwick for dinner with the old Penguinis in a Middle Eastern mood. No race riots, we sincerely hope. The Rodent has a lot to answer for.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Social whirl

On Friday, took myself off to Ivanhoe to pick up air tickets for The Trip. All seemed in order, the passports were checked, so all is ready.

Had lunch with Rochelle J. Her book is selling well. An extra two columns by Phillip Adams commending it won't hurt. She is working at various things, mostly ABC Bush Telegraph, and devising a new book project. We had lunch and gossip at the Kew boathouse in the sun with the ducks and geese.

In the evening P. and I joined David G. and Frank at Cicciolino's in St Kilda for their, as usual, flawless dinner. I had pea and prosciutto soup, followed by blue swimmer crab souffle. The others had equally delicious dishes. We heard more about David's trip to China and Vietnam, in search of ceramic factories. He's off to a trade fair at Frankfurt next year, another in the long line of overseas trekkers. (Is everyone trying to escape the Rodent?)

Market day this morning, and Carmel B. joined us for the shopping. We blitzed the Farmer's Market for produce for lunch today and tomorrow, and 'did' Victoria Gardens to follow. An orgy of cooking followed a v. pleasant lunch with Carmel, and a long overdue catchup.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Medical Rounds and Lobster

Wrapping up the final text of A. Nauthor's ms with him and his agent, we had lots of little queries, but the big one was on lobster. A. Nauthor has a piece which mentioned raw lobster. His agent, who knows crayfish, queried this. A. Nauthor responded that the Chinese do eat uncooked lobster and are shown it crawling around; it is taken off to the kitchen and cut in half, causing death, then the flesh is served raw. Delicious white meat, he says. The bones (the shell, I assume) is then fried, and any leftovers used for soup. Three way lobster.
It is a very satisfying ms.

Other events include visiting George P. and Helen (very pregnant) and discussing various projects. I also caught up with Rose C. on the phone which was, I hope, morale boosting for both of us.

Off to the Renal Clinic. Bad news: my changes in medication have not worked, so it has been restored (with minor variations) to what it was before. With luck, my protein and blood pressure will go down again.

A busy day today catching up on bits and pieces before a busy weekend, indeed busy social round generally, before Christmas. Right over Christmas there will be some heavy work on the Darby book. First proofs will be here in a day or so and then it's all go for the next couple of months.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Three nights of dinner

Friday night was John Bryson's birthday party, which was held at Fran's place. Heaps of folk turned up including some I hadn't seen for a while. A delicious spit roast (pork, beef and chicken) was turned on, and a good time had by all. We left just before 12 in the teeming rain and got the bus home.

Late shop on Saturday as Frank had a rehearsal, followed by a very pleasant lunch at the Farm Cafe. P. and Frank went for a walk round the river, and I went home for a snooze. Frank returned for dinner where Vera got another go, followed by blueberry pancakes courtesy of P.

A quiet day at home today, with more organising for the Trip, the Sunday crossword and delicious curry dinner chez Frank. Tomorrow night P., Frank and Tat are doing the latest Harry Pooter (sic). The arrangements for the Trip are going well, except that accommodation prices in France and Italy seem to have gone through the roof. All those seedy hotels which we loved so much have renovated, put in ensuites, TVs and telephones and, understandably, upped their rates. It's quite a search to find those joints where guests leave comments like "seen better days". Or, indignantly, the (French) hosts didn't speak English! How rude of them.