Saturday, January 27, 2007

Hillbillies and deaths in custody

The demo, outside the State Library, against Deaths in Custody and to 'celebrate' Invasion Day, was a mixed event. Callow youths sailed past, wrapped in Aussie flags, a phenomenon which always causes a slight chill in me, as does very expensive airforce hardware roaring overhead in a demonstration of power. A ragtag collection of blacks and whites listened to (too many) rambling speeches, some of which contained too much hyperbole, and some of which were heartfelt and true. Wearying of the speeches after an hour and the onset of the Socialist Alliance, we headed off for a guilty treat, a bento box lunch.

This week brought two surprises: one of the mss I had agreed to report on was a novel. I can't reveal too much about it, but it was set on the northern NSW coast, and is a semi satirical piece about a small businessman who is going down the drain, and deludes himself that he can trade out of it at the same time as he succumbs to an addiction to prescription drugs. For some reason, this saga of self-delusion made an impact, out of proportion to its intrinsic merit, though it was not bad. As well, the Lars von Trier movie Dogville was on SBS, and though the first half hour or so was unbelievably slow and tedious, I stuck with it and it paid off. The denouement was fairly predictable but powerful as the protagonist ('our' Nicole as some commentators refer to her) realised the depths of her arrogance. Probably the impact of the two pieces coincided with a particular work period, where I have a few quite large projects and have to believe I can do them.

I can comfort myself with the notion that none of the work I'm doing is rocket science, and that the world doesn't depend on it. However, it was a handy reminder against hubris.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Too busy to blog

It has been a very busy week, with two book reports to do (done!), some more writing on the AIATSIS handbook (not quite done) as well as some odd tinkering on the research project (not much). The handbook is shaping up quite well, though there is another month's work to do on it yet. Meanwhile, AIATSIS has sent another three case studies to incorporate: very telling accounts of three shared land-use arrangements, two in NT and one in NSW (though actually on Commonwealth territory near Jervis Bay).

In the meantime, Frank came for dinner for roast pork (delicious, even if I do say so myself, and even if the crackling didn't quite work), there was another Meanjin meeting, plus visits to the Health Centre to renew my prescriptions and get some pills. Oh, and the Olds visited to have lunch at the Convent bakery. Mother seems to be holding up quite well in the face of multiple chemo. infusions.

Tomorrow, P. and I will go to the demonstration at the State Library against Deaths in Custody and to remember Invasion Day.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Juan, two, three

The Juan Davila exhibition was well worth the visit. His little angry koalas are worth the admission alone, and his Australia Council phoney logos: Australia Council for the Art Dealers and so on are hilarious. Sadly, from the exhibition, it looks as though every Australian gallery has bought ONE Juan Davila and the rest are from his personal collection. They are BIG, so goodness knows where and how he stores them. We followed with a very enjoyable lunch at Madame Sou Sou's in Brunswick Street. P. had their bouillabaisse entree and I had the charcuterie entree, both accompanied by Caesar salad and chippies. It was all very tasty. We will return.

After a very conventional shop and Smith Street lunch on Saturday, Sal came round for a coffee and stayed for tea. I repeated the pea and mint soup (much mouli-ing), P. did a tasty Thai chicken salad and we had P.'s apricot bavarois for dessert. A more-than-scratch dinner.

On Sunday, we took more of the soup to Frank's for tea, where he served up two more yummy curries with fruit salad and Weiss icecream for dessert. Now it's back to work.

Friday, January 19, 2007

What next?

The gas man has beeneth and replaced the faulty ignition box and now (touch wood) the oven works again, and even lights automatically. There has been no further evidence of possums: perhaps the little tricksters are just lying low. Chris the Possum Man will come back on Monday or Tuesday to check progress so there are a few days for the possums to blow their cover.

Last night, we went to Frank's for another delicious nasi lemak: this time with beef rendang and chicken curry and lots of accompaniments. Fruit salad and Weiss icecream followed. David G. joined us. He is off to Bali in a month to explore manufacturing of his ceramics, as well as having a holiday.

Peter has a rostered day off today, so we are going to the Juan Davila exhibition at the Gallery, then having lunch in Brunswick Street. Meanwhile, I'll try to finish off some tedious administrative work, like sorting the 4 (FOUR!) quotes for professional indemnity insurance. Like all quotes these days, they are all slightly different, so comparing like with like is very difficult. The joys of a 'free' market.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Stove Saga

Well, the gas man cameth, and quickly assessed the problem. It was the cooling fan, which had been kaput for some time, so that when the oven overheated, it turned off the gas. He put in a new one, with a warning that when the ignition system, which has been dodgy for ages, went kaput, that would need to be replaced. A quick risk assessment by me said that if this happened it might be cheaper to get a new stove, so it was a gamble. Go for it, I said.

The oven worked for a day: all I did was heat the plates for the pasta pesto (delicious by the way) but it worked.

Next night, I set about roasting the venison, an easy job. I parboiled the potatoes for roasting and peppered the venison ready for sealing in garlic, pepper and oil before a very quick roast (it is meant to be rare). Not that rare! The oven wouldn't light. Maria came to the rescue again, preheating her oven to 220 and waiting ready for the roasting pan to go into her oven. The roast potatoes became mashed, and the end result of all this across-the-road cooking was a success. Peter made a delicious Cumberland sauce (orange, redcurrant and port etc.) and I left Maria some slices of venison as payback. This was all followed by some delicious apricot bavarois which Peter had made the night before.

Today, the gas man cometh again, I hope.

Meanwhile, Peter the Possum Man in the form of Alan and Chris came and installed a new possum door to try to keep the little furry creatures out. We'll see. All this domestic turmoil has not interfered with various assessments, researches and writings, despite frequent interruptions by insurance companies trying to establish exactly what they are interrupting.

On the pleasant front, Joe and Ann from Swan Hill dropped in for a cuppa on a visit to Melbourne. They do frequent trips as their two children are at uni., one in Adelaide, one in Melbourne, so they do a lot of kms. They recommended a visit to their place on the Murray while it is still there. The Murray that is.

Sorry about the tart note to all this: but we have had more than our share of domestic disasters lastly. Thank goodness we started the House Fund to cope with repairs and so on.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I spoke too soon,

as in the middle of cooking dinner last night, the oven went kaput. Something to do with the gas burners. I had to dash the spinach souffle over to Maria's oven and finish off the job. While it was a bit damaging to the souffle to change ovens in midstream, it worked quite well. Miracolo! So, the gasman cometh!

In the weekend, it was normal shopping after a farmers' market day at the farm, so we got lots of vegie goodies (e.g. the spinach) as well as a venison roast to try as venison en croute. There'll be no croute until the stove is fixed.

On Sunday, Phoebe performed the valiant task of taking us out to Ferny Creek to George and Lou's renovated house. We joined Andrew and Ann for a luscious lunch in beautiful surrounds (both the new house and the view from the Blue Dandenongs). It was also good to catch up with post-retirement George and holidaying Lou. As well as the renos, we saw George's magnificent drystone walls for the first time. There are still a few things to do to complete the renos, but it is mostly done, and looks very stylish.

Yesterday, Rochelle J. came for lunch at the Convent bakery, and we had a really good mag about work and the world. The bakery was very busy and nearly ran out of food, as the neighbouring Lentil-as-Anything was closed for lunch for some reason. She's well advanced on her new book and is off to Noosa for a week (a brother's birthday).

As well, a non-fiction book arrived for assessment: so much for express post. It took TWO days to come to Abbotsford from Camberwell. You could almost crawl that quickly. So what with AIATSIS, the novel and the research project, and two mss to assess (another novel, and the non-fiction), I'm quite busy. What do I do first? A nice problem.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Repairs finished

It took an extra day, but today Tim the carpenter finished off the fiddly bits on the veranda and we now have a bright new (old) veranda back again. The RACV insurance and their agents, Flynn the Builders have acted promptly and well. We'll see how the insurance wrangle proceeds in the coming months and, perhaps, years.

My father appeared today with a form from Centrelink (an Income and Assets update), though they haven't sent one to me as well yet. We checked it over, and I will send it off when or if I get my copy. Otherwise, I'll send it off on Monday.

As well, I've continued ferreting through the Penguin computer files, chasing missing titles by checking all the authors. I've found a lot that way. Next week, I should receive another checklist from Penguin which I hope will enable completion of this phase of the task.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Halfway Through the Veranda

It's been fairly quiet here in Abbotsford, until today, when the builders (Tim and Simon) turned up to start fixing the veranda. It was a very hot day but they soldiered on and got it about half finished. The rest, they say, will be done tomorrow, or almost. That's if they don't melt.

Meanwhile, I'm feeling a bit more confident about the AIATSIS handbook, having done a bit of the text and feeling that the rest can be done. The photos have proven to be some inspiration and I can see it taking shape into something reasonable and useful.

Tonight, P. and I went to Frank's for dinner and he produced a magnificent nasi lemak with all the trimmings (ikan bilis, roasted peanuts, fried boiled eggs etc.). It was very tasty, followed by fresh mango and ice cream. Just the thing for a hot night.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

More Canberra

Me too at the Botanic Gardens with the splendid display of kangaroo paws.
No, I'm not pregnant.

Posted by Picasa

Canberra visit

Peter with grasstree at the Botanic Gardens, well worth a visit in the National capital.

Posted by Picasa

Reconciliation 'monument' in Canberra

You would be forgiven for missing this
but if you click it to full size you will be able to read that it is Reconciliation Place, a clear indication of the priority which the Howard government places on reconciliation. To be fair, there are additional pieces to the right and left, but even these are fairly small and beautifully even-handed. No black armbands here!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 06, 2007

At the keyboard

Good meeting with the Berlin novel author and I'm now in the final stages of getting it ready to send off to the publisher.

Also, enjoying spending spare minutes (actually hours) going through the Penguin figures. I'm back in 1985 at present, but have a lot more checking to do.

In the real world, we did normal shopping today without Frank (he had to work) and got lots of goodies. We've had a chlorestorol-inducing surfeit of seafood in the last few days, prawns, oysters, smoked salmon: all to take advantage of a big batch of Mr Perfect Cookbook's seafood sauce which I love. We bought some seafood shaslicks today to finish it off.

Tonight, Frank came round for tea, and P. did tandoori chicken (for the heat) and we polished off the last of the blueberry icecream. Now for the passionfruit icecream, and Mr Perfect's pea and mint soup.

The insurance builders are coming this week to fix the veranda, so we'll have to spend some time tomorrow clearing up the weeds and junk out the front.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Medical Roundup

On Tuesday, I made a trip to the vampires at the Hospital. This time it was a Portuguese vampire, and a very cheery one. She also, in common with most of her fellows at the Melbourne, does almost completely painless vampire.

The followup today was with Dr Anna Chrysostomou, whom I've had several times before. She's a great fan of Spiractin, and was vindicated when my protein count was way down (a VERY good thing, she says). My blood pressure was perfect as well (130/80), which it was recently at the local health centre. So I left the hospital with a very big koala stamp. I don't have to go back to Renal for another four months. I was surprised, as I hadn't been for six months, that the receptionist said, before seeing any bits of paper, 'Hello, Bruce.' The Renal clinic is a class act: little waiting and very good service.

The CD arrived today with all the pictures for the AIATSIS handbook, which prodded my flagging enthusiasm (gorgeous pics of smiling kiddies, Yarrabah harbour, Alice Springs etc.) and I'm well on the way with this stage of checking the Penguin publishing program for the research project. Tomorrow, a blast from the past with a coffee with Meg Clancy, Terry Moloney and Teresa Pitt, and I'm sure we will discuss the project and the Penguin history which TP is updating. Also, I pick up the revises on the Berlin novel from the author, so that will occupy me for a few days.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Settling back for the New Year

On Sunday, we had to do the shopping we missed on Saturday, then had Frank for dinner (roast pork with the lot) and saw in the New Year in somewhat desultory fashion. I've managed to finish the first round of compiling the publishing lists, but have found the National Library had missed a lot, so have been crosschecking which will take a while.

Today, the Olds picked us up and we went out to my sister's place. We took leek & potato soup, cold, for starters, Ian did his famous roast turkey (cold with various accoutrements) and Father brought a plum pudding with custard and cream for dessert. It was sort of Christmas manque, though all cold in keeping with the warm weather.