Saturday, September 30, 2006

Launch, shopping and videos

Alexis Wright's launch went very well at Brunswick Street bookstore. Again, we weren't really needed as rent-a-crowd as a very impressive number turned up to hear Tony Birch, Gary Foley and Alison Ravenscroft launch Carpentaria. Peter had been at the previous launch in Brisbane, by Murrandoo Yanner and Jackie Katona. There is another, in Alice Springs, on Monday. The speeches were excellent, and the book is well on its way to becoming the classic it deserves to be.

This morning, P. and I did a big shop (the first big one since his return from the banana republic) and got coffee at Brunswick Street in the trusty Phoebe the Yaris. It has been commented by some that there seems an overemphasis on food on this blog. Untrue! Last night's dinner was steak and three veg. What could be more pedestrian and pleb. than that? Tonight, coming up is a soup from Jill Dupleix (white bean and chippolata) and Aiglio and Oglio pasta. Very simple, dare I say, elegant dinner, but hardly big in the gourmet stakes.

I should also note the new technology which is allowing many (including Agent FareEvader, Anonymous Lefty and Jeff Sparrow) to run videos on their blogs. A passing fad, say the Abbotsford bloggers. Photos yes, sometimes, as an aid to the prose, but the riverdwellers eschew such flashy innovations. Luddites forever!

Also, a passing nod to the overseas bloggers: Frank and Tat. Having had a good time in Berlin ("In Berlin, they only speak about Berlin") they are off to Leipzig and Dresden (or the other way round).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Zipping in Phoebe

As I had to do some shopping, I got Phoebe the Yaris this morning and went out to Montmorency for a quick visit to the olds. Mother is having a battery of tests, all kinds of scans, and on Monday, the worst of it, a bone marrow sample. The quack will have to survey all these tests and prescribe treatment in a few weeks. Meanwhile, there will be a welcome rest from interventions.

It was very pleasant doing the shopping in Heidelberg at a near deserted supermarket: no waiting at the deli. or the checkout. Now Pierre is preparing Stephanie's roast chook for tea.

Puddling away on various novels is keeping me busy for the next few days, with bits of Warlukurlangu and Papunya flying back and forwards intermittently.

There's a nice review of When Books Die on Tomorrow night is Alexis' Melbourne launch for Carpentaria at the Brunswick Street Bookstore.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Master of What?

Had an intriguing morning today, giving a three-hour workshop on editing to a bevy of Master of Creative Writing Students, all women. They were all pretty vibrant and intelligent, and I'm still working through some of their responses to the workshop exercises. However, I can conclude that they were very good value, inquiring students, who gave as good as they got. Most of them are working, some full-time, while doing the course. Such energy, such resources.

After three hours of activity, I came home and hit the hay for a snooze, exhausted, with a few ideas for fine tuning the exercise, if I ever re-do it. Now for some full-on work on THREE novels this week, the one that is paying the rent from the Evil Empire, and two for friends, sort of.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Browns having a nostalgic Swiss dinner

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Ben Brown as Post Mouse

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Just tidying up before Peter's return from dizzy Brizzie and finishing off all the material for the workshop on Monday: they are not paying enough for the amount of preparation, even though I am mainly recycling old stuff. Also, above is a crosspost from Kit's blog of Ben Brown, done up as Post Mouse for book week. Very grown up. How about some digital pics from the Nowra mob?

Am trying to fit in a bit of floor cleaning and dishwashing around novel reading: which I'd much rather be doing. Then off to the airport.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Steaming ahead

It didn't seem possible but everything is falling into place by the end of the week. Arrangements for the trip to Alice Springs are in place, even if Yuendumu is still a bit problematic. Nick's visit to Melbourne is also in place, more or less, plus his three-week trip to New Zealand IN THE NAVY (I hope that's not a State Secret protected by Phil the Dill Ruddock's anti-terrorism laws). And the Creative Arts Workshop is nearly finished, as is this round of the AIATSIS project and the Novel is well on the way. Tomorrow should sort the lot of them, for the minute.

Mother has her visit to the quacks in the morning for prognosis and treatment options: I should see her late in the morning to get the provisional verdict.

I did some shopping today at the French deli. in Lygon Street for a huge jar of Dijon mustard and some merguez. Love their merguez: very tasty and the mustard sets them off in splendour with pommes frites, of course.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bits and pieces

Spent most of the last couple of days on bits and pieces: cover copy, picture captions and so on for various books, but didn't get onto the main game, the novel, very much. Also, I have a three-hour seminar first thing next Monday morning for Masters of Creative Writing students. That will need to be all-singing, all dancing entertainment. I have all the material, but need to put it together. Plus the draft of the AIATSIS study that I got a new draft of Friday morning.

However, it will all get done. I booked to go to Alice Springs at the end of October for a bit over a week to catch up with Jill and Peter Walsh, and other folk, and maybe go to Yuendumu at last.

Frank and Tat have hit London after a big circuit around the misnamed Great Britain or United Kingdom. And tomorrow morning a quick visit out to see my parents. So, let's get on with it.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Not quite peas in a pod

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Michael perusing the book, Canbergen

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Enjoying a laugh with Michael, Canbergen

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Canbergen, the Sweden of the south

Good trip to Canbergan: whisked away by Virgin which was very efficient and satisfactory and picked up by Jo B. and whisked off to her new residence in Kaleen. Next morning, she dropped me at the Museum for a meeting with Julie F. from AIATSIS and we had a good chat about the research project. I then checked out the Museum: it's only been laundered a little bit. 'Massacres' have turned into 'Conflicts' and there are signs of a bit of tweaking here and there, but nothing too major.

Dinner on Friday night was a bit fraught. Trevor arrived and we went off to a booking at the Kaleen Italian. We ordered, then waited and waited. After an hour and a half we left, to almost no apology. It was busy, but an hour and a half is excessive! Jo whipped up a fish dinner in ten minutes and we ate well.

On Saturday morning, another meeting, very pleasantly by the lake for brunch. Mouli came for our first face-to-face meeting and told me about her trip with Flick to Yuendumu the previous week and we talked about the Warlukurlangu book and the AIATSIS project. It was a good meeting, both pleasant and productive.

Then off to Braidwood for the launch. There were about 150 people there, including a few surprise blasts from the past: Ian Templeman and Sally Milner. Good speeches from Robin Wallace-Crabbe and Michael Brissenden and a lot of mingling and buying of The Book followed. Jo departed, and I was whisked off to Manar for a dinner for 22 (plus 5 children), which was mainly the authors, publishers and friends. I stayed overnight in the loft of the studio (very cosy) with an ancient commode for nighttime emergencies. In the morning Michael and Tracey Brissenden kindly drove me back to Canbergen with their girls.

Then off to the Bootcamp birthday party. It was at Civic Pool. Two sturdy young personal trainers took the 12-year-olds through footie and boxing, then they had time in the pool, followed by cake and pizza. Everyone enjoyed themselves, and, at the end, it was just put the rubbish into the bins and go home. A very nice steak dinner at Lesley, Louise and Michael's place followed, complete with a very good cello recital. It was good to catch up with all the Canbergans.

This morning, off to the airport with Lesley. Qantas was three-quarters of an hour late filled in with bacon and eggs, but happily my father was waiting at the Melbourne end, so I arrived home quickly and began tidying and getting ready for the week's work which is going to be extremely busy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

This is some service!

A quote from a publisher: you don't often get compliments like these, so it's worth showing them off.

Apart from that, just puddling away at various things. Because I couldn't bear cooking a roast for one, Sal came round for dinner last night: smoked trout and watercress, venison with spuds and asparagus, and blueberry icecream to finish. Leftovers tonight after the Writers' Festival washup meeting (it all went very well, but dare I say anything?) Leek and potato soup, peppered farm mushrooms on toast and leftover venison and spuds. Followed by Maria's rice pudding and the icecream again. Burp!

Had a small victory today over the tax office which sent me a late notice when I wasn't late. They have admitted computer error and have junked the incriminating file letter, they say. How many people now have a black mark because of a 'computer error'? No doubt my local member will find out. Go, Lindsay!

Off to Canberra tomorrow after a foray into the Melbourne University Archives re Helen Daniel. Sasha's demise has renewed my researching zeal. I'll explain that anon.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Slow food attracts crowds

Trundled down to the farmers market today early to get produce for my week alone, after P. heads off to Brisbane. Lots of goodies: venison, smoked trout, mushrooms, leeks, cheese and greens. Then Margaret and Dick arrived and P. and I went with them to the Slow Food festival at the Convent. It was considerably busier than last year with lots of additional features: we started with a delicious Spanish sausage in a roll with salsa, then made a bee-line for the Tasmanians who provided us with fresh oysters, then Queensland served up fish patties (prawn and mudcrab, very spicey) and we finished with some Stephanie cheese. P. bought some dukkah made from Australian bush tucker and some macadamia oil. The main problem with the extra bodies was that it was even harder to find a place to sit down. There'll be more chaos in the neighbourhood on the second day tomorrow as the four-wheel drives circle like big metal sharks looking for spaces.

Then Phoebe the Yaris and I took P. to the airport. He rang later to say that the flight was delayed by an hour. What fun: an extra hour at Tullamarina.

This week has been occupied mainly with finishing off the non-fiction ms. All that is left to do is the blurb and captions for next week before heading to Canberra/Braidwood. (And a bit of work on the two novels on my computer at the moment.)

Sasha's funeral took place in Sydney this morning: no doubt I'll hear more of that anon.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Obituary, endnotes and dinner

Last night had dinner at a Chinese restaurant off Little Bourke (the unlikely Kum Den) with Morris L. and the Brysons. He rang at about 5 to say he was in town. P. was exhausted from work, but I trundled off to a very pleasant dinner, larded with Morris jokes. Fran Bryson is up the Amazon, and Morris reminded us of Dinny O'Hearn's dictum: when in the Amazon, only drink whiskey.

Today, as well as working hard on the endnotes of the non-fiction book, I went to see George P. to start work on Sasha's obit. It's proceeding well, as drafts bing back and forth via email. More endnotes tomorrow, and no doubt more obituary.

And Mother came home from hospital and is being cosseted by Father. What a relief!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sasha's Melbourne wake

The pics below are of the wake, courtesy of Helen Barnes and Jan McKemmish. Some of the less flattering pics have been omitted, also as a courtesy. The low level lighting has caused some 'atmosphere'. Thanks to Artery for the venue. Go there, or be square.

The funeral is in Sydney next Saturday 9 September, 11am, Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney, preceded by a viewing at the funeral parlour for those so inclined.

Group at Sasha's wake: Damian's turn to get emotional

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Meredith gets emotional

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Michael makes a point about Althusser

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Dot, Ann and Julia

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Bruce introducing proceedings

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Peter, George and Helen

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Sombre group at Sasha's wake

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Elizabeth Drake plays Chopin with passion

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Monday, September 04, 2006

The good, the bad and the glitzy

A busy couple of days: first we took our piquenique off to Warringal hospital to have Fathers' Day with my dad, mum, sister and brother-in-law. Because the weather was a little inclement we found unused tables near the closed coffee shop and picnicked in the wonderful hospital ambiance, mum in wheelchair. We brought chicken, goats cheese quiche and pate, while my sister brought her worldfamous pavlova (yum: lashings of cream and fruit and sugar). It was a very pleasant occasion.

Not so pleasant was Sasha's wake: though there were ample very moving and funny tributes, and a beautiful rendition of a Chopin etude by Elizabeth Drake. The venue turned out to be just right (gallery-bar off Brunswick Street) and I think everyone thought it was worthwhile. The best story was Sasha turning up to a function at the height of theoretical madness with a book by Althusser in tow on a leash. Vale, vale.

After a day's work on the non-fiction book, off to the Premier's Awards, which were like a school speech night with literary pretensions. The food and company were good enough, though unfortunately Noel Tovey didn't win. The best act was the schoolchildren announcing the Young Adult Fiction award: the Premier announced them as year 8 and 9 from Drouin. The first kiddie said that the Premier was wrong: he was year 7. Up yours, Stiv Breck. The speeches were all at high speed: someone had given everyone time limits so they said the same in shorter time. At the end, I congratulated the non-fiction winner, Helen Ennis, who said she had just bought (in Canberra) When Books Die with me in it. Serendipity strikes again.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Frank and Tat in Singapore

At a quick check of Frank's blog tonight, I find that he and Tat have made it via a boring flight to Singapore, so are on their way.

It felt unusual, different, doing the shopping today without Frank, but this arvo. I went into the Writers' Festival to check out what was happening, and ran into Barbara N. and her friend, Maeve, who have been doing their bit to keep the Festival afloat. I also ran into Marion Halligan and Carmel Bird and had a quick natter. The Festival seems to have a good feeling though it is inevitable that some sessions in such a big program will not work as well as others. Barbara and Maeve said they'd had a good hit rate.

While I was out, P. did some cooking for the Fathers' Day picnic at the hospital tomorrow, and a luscious dinner tonight (the recipe from the Australian magazine for potato and Jerusalem artichoke gratin, among other things). Tomorrow, the picnic and the Wake. Apparently, the funeral next Saturday in Sydney includes a 'viewing' before the funeral, in the grand Russian tradition. I think I could give it a miss.

Friday, September 01, 2006

At last, some sanity

Spent most of the day on the non-fiction ms., though still am a bit behind on it, but will finish it by Monday, before a session with the author on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Wake preparations continue apace, but seem nearly all done.

Tonight, P. and I joined Tat and Frank for a farewell meal at the local Park Hotel. The food was good, the company good and they are off tomorrow for the Bad Old World. Meticulously organised by Tat, they will take in England, Scotland, a peek at Wales perhaps, then Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic and Austria. Seven weeks later, they will return. Watch Frank's blog for updates.

The weekend brings the Wake, and Fathers' Day. Saturday will be preparation for same. Sasha has asked for a headstone saying 'I See'. What that means is anyone's guess.