Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Productive day

It was very busy today, with lots of electronic traffic about Maps to Success, the AIATSIS handbook. The sample layouts were viewed and amended and lots of ideas and suggestions flashed around. It was reminiscent of the best cooperative days with Darby, where designer, writer and editor worked cooperatively and efficiently. There's still a lot of work to do on it, and no doubt lots of arguments, but it's looking good.

After all that frenzied activity, dinner was spinach souffle with a difference. Marika Hanbury-Tennison's standard Maximix recipe was varied with warrigal (Australian native spinach) and local pastrami from the Slow Food market instead of ham. It was a kind of French/Italian/Australian fusion, if we want to be pretentious. In any case, it was delicious, especially taken while watching the Food Safari Spanish program.

Now, back to the research project, keeping the handbook on the boil.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Shop with a difference

Frank had to work on Saturday, so P. and I went to the Slow Food market with Sally and got the usual things: some liverwurst, some pastrami, some rarebreed corned beef. Peter decided to try some of the bath milk: which is unpasteurised milk, full cream, which cannot be sold for human consumption. It's delicious and has found its way into our strawberry bath icecream. Isn't the world a wonderful place or 'Save us from the nanny state until we want to sue it' (this last for the abalone divers). We anxiously listen for helicopters circling the house in search of illegally used milk

Then we headed for Brunswick and Mediterranean Wholesalers for our regular supply of grana padana and a bit tin of extra virgin olive oil, topped off with fruit, veg and flowers from La Manna which is nearly as good as Toscano's and a lot cheaper.

Then out to Montmorency for a drink and cake with the Olds. Mother is holding up remarkably well after a double dose of chemo this week. One more to go, then she'll have a rest.

On the way home we got the groceries at Safeway in Heidelberg, and tried the 'best fish and chips in Victoria' from the Greville Street shops in Banyule (at least that's according to 'Epicure'). Well, the chips were really very good as per their review, but the fish, potato cake and dim sims were pretty ordinary: good but not outstanding. If caught between Eltham and the city and needing fish and chips it's a good bet.

Frank came for dinner on Saturday night, and, no time to linger, we had the corned horse (oops, beef) which was delicious with the horseradish sauce, I think from David Herbert, the perfect cook. Di's rhubarb from the market cooked up a tasty treat (no water, but with honey).

A very quiet Sunday followed with the now-restored Sunday crossword in The Age, Sunday brunch and a bit of work. Today there was a Meanjin meeting which went quite well, though I was exhausted at the end of it. Back to work!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Writing and researching away

Most of the week has been spent writing for AIATSIS and crunching some more numbers for the ARC (and trying to avoid acronyms in both). It's fun writing with one hand and having a calculator in the other: it's called multiskilling, I think. I've been conferring with collaborators on the phone about the AIATSIS Handbook (did I say it's called Maps to Success?) and the feedback has been useful and good.

Meanwhile, Frank came to dinner on Tuesday. P. made mixed shaslicks which were delicious with stirfry and we finished off the blackberry and strawberry icecream.

A few phone calls about Meanjin and the news that Alexis Wright's novel is on the shortlist for the region for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Break a leg!

Otherwise, things are very quiet.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Awakening new dragon

The night Dayglo dragon being awoken by the Lions (front left), firecrackers and drums at the Dragon Museum Bendigo. Chinese New Year 2007, year of the Pig.
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Joss House, Bendigo

One of the few National Trust properties still being used for its original purpose. Volunteer sweeping leaves from entrance.
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Yay! Year of the Pig

The trip to Bendigo went without a hitch. Richard the Wagon performed well (sorry to leave you behind, Phoebe). We stopped for the usual coffee at Gisborne. Our first port-of-call was the Dragon Museum, where we pondered the largest dragon in the world and various Chinese artefacts. After booking into the 'Italian' room at Marlborough House, we returned for the waking of the New Dragon: a dayglo night-time dragon, woken by a crowd of lions, crackers and various loud percussion instruments. Thence off to a Chinese banquet including more lion action as a street- and floorshow. We were mystified at the effort given to suspending an iceberg lettuce from the ceiling. Then the two lions fought over it (the front legs on the shoulders of the back legs) until one lion swallowed the lettuce, then some time later spat it out shredded all over the place and the other lion. The year of the pig was well and truly with us.

Next day, after a very pleasant breakfast on the balcony of the B&B, we went to the Art Gallery for the travelling exhibition of photos of famous people. Elvis was the most surprising, with a number of candid shots, though most of the photos were 'image-making' photos and fairly familiar. Queen Victoria dead in state was very grisly, accompanied by a photo of Albert by her head. Garbo, Ghandi, Muhammed Ali, Audrey Hepburn, Kennedy and James Dean were fairly predictable. More interesting were the half dozen Brett Whitely paintings on loan from some very generous private donor(s). A great collection of pics including a baby Arkie with a real plughole in the canvas.

After a very tasty lunch in the gallery, the old Joss House completed the Chinese theme. A nice National Trust lady showed us round the old building which was just saved from turning into a carpark. After restoration, it is now used for worship by Chinese families, old and new, so is a living monument. Further excavation is in progress in the local area which might uncover other treasures, including a old Chinese bottlemaking kiln.

On arrival home, I confirmed that I am a Pig, even though born in the Year of the Rat. My birthday is before Chinese New Year, so relates to the previous year. Go pigs.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mainly head-down

It's been a week of mainly work this week, with a couple of pleasant interludes. On Tuesday, Liam C., author of Darby, dropped by for a coffee on his way back from Cuba and the US. He forgot to leave the promised Cuban cigar. Next time! He's on his way back to Yuendumu to finish off the telly series on Aussie rules Aboriginal style (a sort of sequel to Bush Mechanics).

Then Frank came for tea for a very conventional roast pork, with crackling etc. followed by rhubarb with strawberry and blackberry icecream. On Thursday, another Penguini dinner at the Park Hotel again, which was a very pleasant catchup, and more old Penguinis for morning coffee today, with Beryl H. and Teresa P. mainly talking about the revisions to the Penguin history which Teresa has embarked on.

The AIATSIS handbook is going well, though it has another month and a half's work to go on it, but it is being hurried along to get some sample pages done this month, which is a bit cart-before-the-horse, but we'll cope with that. I'm also pulling out some more figures for the ARC research project: this time on Viking O'Neil books which relate to 'nationalist' issues. They are proving just as interesting as the last lot from the Penguin list.

Tomorrow, off to Bendigo for the weekend in Richard the Wagon, to see the Art Gallery and other delights of Bendigo. It's going to be hot!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Defrosting Sunday

No, not a new event in the Anglican calendar, but a result of needing to prepare for the new fridge. After our usual shopping, and Sunday morning crossword completion, we set about emptying the poor old fridge and cleaning it up. The man came with the new fridge more or less on time and skilfully manoeuvred it around our awkward corners into place. It is now lit up and freezing and cooling as it is supposed to. Amazingly, we almost filled it up, except the freezing part at the bottom, which we'll have to get accustomed to. It actually freezes, unlike the old fridge.

In the evening, we went with Frank to Lorraine's for the usual splendid meal, which we shouldn't take for granted. Mint and pea soup, followed by a beef salad to die for, then a dessert with spun Middle Eastern 'fairy floss' (is she making a comment on her guests?).

Back to work today, finishing the proofing of Papunya so I can get back to the AIATSIS handbook tomorrow morning.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Frig time

Sal came round for tea on Friday, preparatory to the great fridge saga this weekend. She did her usual trick of bringing her own dinner, so we had a small serve of soto ayam, by me, followed by P. cooking her 'baby' steaks, which were actually quite substantial. She is cleaning out her fridge in order to send it to us, while she gets a new one.

Therefore we had to be a little circumspect with shopping at the market and mall on Saturday, but still got lots of goodies, and today cleaned out and defrosted the antique fridge. I remember visitors once who asked whether it was a reproduction. It will be sad to see it go, but it needed replacing as it was falling to pieces and far too small for our hefty appetites.

I'm powering through Papunya Tula, faster than I thought, and still finding niggling little errors, though not many. The fridge movers should turn up at any minute. I hope they can negotiate the hall.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Powering away

As well as being busy with work, there have been lots of social things this week. On Monday night, I went to Eleanor C.'s for drinks with Trevor Glover, ex-MD of Penguin Australia, here for a visit to his son in Sydney. He is looking well, after yet another bout of chemo- and radiotherapy before Christmas, though stick thin. We had a natter about the research project, as I did with John Hooker. Trevor has a box of 'letters to home'. He wrote a weekly letter to the powers-that-be in the UK on events at Penguin Oz the whole time he was there. He is sending them out for perusal by history writers (TP) and researchers (us).

On Tuesday, Bryony came round for coffee. It was good to catch up on her news. She brought a truckload of lemons and cumquats which were very welcome. The cumquats are brandying as we speak. Her edited letters of Barbara Blackman and Judith Wright are due out in March, with a brilliant cover (I'm sure the contents are great to). Don't miss it: $60 from Miegunyah Press. A very fat book indeed. She is planning further research and writing in similar vein. A usually delicious dinner followed chez Frank.

There was a phone hookup on Wednesday with Canberra on the AIATSIS project. It is tough being on the phone for over an hour, but the meeting was quite productive. On the same morning, 400 pages of proofs for the Papunya Tula book turned up. It looks splendid, but will take a while to check, so I'm head down and into it. Luckily everything else can be postponed for the week.

Meanwhile, Mother is not feeling so well, so will have another CAT scan tomorrow to see what's going on. Her infusion for this week was deferred until the results are known.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A weekend of lunches

After the usual Saturday shop, P. and I headed for Westgarth where we met Marg & Clive from Yanakie, and Julia, who lives locally, for a very pleasant lunch. Their son Ben and family have now headed for Canada, so they are much freer to visit, though still often busy with their B&Bs. It was good to catch up with the news of them all, and Wilson's Prom.

On Sunday, it was off with Phoebe to Montmorency for my sister and my birthdays at the Olds. Dad did a barbecue lunch, we took a salad which P. had made and there was a very creamy birthday cake. Frank came for dinner in the evening, and P. made his famous preserved lemon chicken. I warbled: '59 today, 59 today. I've got the key of the door, never been 59 before.'

The veranda saga appears to have come to a close: the police report arrived today and fault is ascribed to the lady who came out of Paterson Street and the substitute driver of the BMW, which hit the veranda, has been accepted. At least that probably means the insurance will pay, but the wrong one. Ah, justice.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What a busy week

Steaming ahead on the publishing research project and the AIATSIS handbook all week, and actually getting somewhere. On Tuesday, I had a meeting with the deputy chair of the AIATSIS project which went quite well, and the writing of that part seems to be going swimmingly. As well, had a meeting with the Meanjin editor about the forward budget and so on.

Wednesday night was a packed launch of Jeff Sparrow's Communism: a love story at the Trades Hall bar. It was packed to the rafters. No need to be rent-a-crowd here! There was a good launch speech by Christos Tsiolkas, then the author responded well. I was pleased to be thanked. Dinner afterwards at Franks: a very superior form of bangers and mash, followed by mango and icecream.

Tonight we returned the compliment to Frank .with nibblies to start, warrigal souffle (that's right, instead of spinach, warrigal from the Slow Food market) followed by homemade strawberry icecream. Frank has a big concert on Friday night with the Tallis Scholars at the Hamer Hall.

I feel as though I'm about a day behind with work, so it will have to be all stops out tomorrow.