Saturday, March 31, 2007


In a burst of activity, I got the Meanjin business plan and the AIATSIS handbook off on deadline on Friday. I can now settle in with some comfort to the research project until one or the other of these comes back to bite me which they will over the next month. It will be nice to see the handbook in all its glory after the designer has worked her magic on it.

Meanwhile, social activities continued with Rochelle J. and Carmel B. popping by for coffees on Thursday, and dinner at the local pub with Jo B. for an overdue catchup on her new life in Melbourne's west, both living and working.

'Normal' shopping today with Frank, a quick trip to the Olds bearing rhubarb and apple crumble, and P. arrives home tonight from BrisVegas. Life resumes normality, I hope.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A little of nearly everything

On Monday, I was about to go out and Senior Constable T. turned up with a book of photos. I thought the whole veranda affair was over as the very-reliable RACV insurance had refunded the excess on the insurance. QED, I thought. But no, the indefatigable Senior Constable T. is collecting identifications of the errant driver from the three witnesses, me included, with a view to a charge of perverting the course of justice. Just like in The Bill, I considered the pics and picked the 'right' one. Senior Constable T. is nothing like Reg Hollis.

I'd had a flash of inspiration that my mother, who was getting out of hospital and going home, might like some opera and other DVDs as she is finding reading a bit tiring. I raced out to the hospital and delivered those before she went home, carting a huge swag of antibiotics.

Tuesday was the second foray into the bowels of Penguin. It is starting to become clearer as we really get into the boxes of files. Jessica, the research assistant, is very bright and quickly learning the quirks of publishing. Back again next week. This week, I did a bit of socialising with old work comrades, but I have to be careful or I could take all morning gasbagging.

Sally and Frank came for roast lamb roll last night (exactly the same thing as P. was preparing in Brisbane) followed by Di's delicious apple and rhubarb crumble. If I have time tomorrow, I must take some out to my parents.

Meanwhile, the Meanjin business plan is coming together and I await corrections (which might come today) for the AIATSIS handbook. They need to be turned around instantly and forwarded to the designer.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Did the Earth Move?

Rochelle and I went up to Smith Street yesterday for brunch at Cavallero, the new eatery whose name I didn't know last time. It was like old home week, as Sally was out the front with a work colleague having a natter. The brunch was delicious, and the place is definitely a find, if a little on the trendy side. The staff were good enough to let us sit on our coffees past closing time as they cleared up.

Then off to St Mark's Fitzroy for the Gloriana concert: the Earthquake mass by Brumel, a very complex piece (Missa Et ecce Terrae motus) with lots of contrapuntal voices in the scoring. This was followed by a piece by Clare Maclean (a New Zealand/Australian) called Christ the King and Gorecki's Miserere, which repeats 'Domine Deus noster' endlessly until it finishes with 'miserere nobis'. No trouble forgetting the words in this one. It has quite an emotional impact with the variations. The whole show was fiendishly difficult and faultlessly accomplished.

The musical theme continued over dinner, where Frank came for shepherd's pie as, having worked on Saturday, he hadn't done any shopping. In the absence of any tellie, before Ms Marple, our usual silliness, we watched the DVD of La Donna del Lago by Rossini, another piece of silliness where two of the heroes wore funny hats, one a kind of pheasant and the other some kind of feral feline. A woman playing a male warrior in a feral cat hat is really something. The singing was superb, which is really the point of the piece. At the start of the second act, the two bravura tenors have a sort of singing contest, after which the loser dies. High stakes indeed. The production was by Werner Herzog, who seemed to be having a bad attack of the statics, though the standard of the singing kept the whole thing moving. Certainly, the La Scale DVD set is good value so far, with its Don Giovanni done with elan in a very conventional way, with grand sets and big voices.

A very musical weekend indeed. Now back to work.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Music, music, music

Two hours with the cobbler/elves on Friday resulted in a new nose being attached to the new specs. Thanks to Greg for his hard work and goodwill. He also provided some little clamps which go on the arms of the specs behind the ears, which prevent slippage. I have to see how they work and whether they're comfortable, but so far they're doing the trick.

Dinner with Frank followed: a curry with icecream and rockmelon to follow and the usual Friday night telly.

Today was Slow Food market day at the Convent and, of course, it rained. During a let-up in the rain, I went down to buy some more bath milk and their 'cosmetic' butter, which will be interesting. I got a good (I hope) roast of saltbush lamb and some leeks which are already turned into soup. Last week's lamb has become shepherd's pie.

In the afternoon, Sal and I used the parents' tickets for the Melbourne Symphony: a good and varied program of Respighi's Fountains of Rome, Ross Edwards' Violin Concerto and Rachmaninov's third symphony. Very enjoyable. Tomorrow, more music with Gloriana in St Mark's Fitzroy and lunch with Rochelle.

On the way home I got a special at Discurio, an opera DVD of 11 operas from La Scala. We'll have to have an opera festival weekend or perhaps a week. They are probably very 'straight' productions, but there are a number of operas I don't know or don't know well and at ten dollars each, they're a steal.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Business dealings and more dinners

Our first foray into the Penguin archives was positive, but we realised what an enormity was in front of us. I met the research assistant on the project, Jessica, for the first time, and she, Mark D. and I went through a couple of boxes on a fishing expedition. Next week, we'll fish a bit more seriously.

Frank came for roast lamb on Tuesday night, and the AIATSIS phone meeting went well, though I was dismayed at the lack of comment (critical or otherwise) on my 22, 000 well-chosen words (or at least, I thought so). However, we remain on schedule for the handbook, and the design is looking great.

This morning I picked up my new specs and tomorrow morning go off to the cobbler/elves to have the nose fitted to them. Then I trained back to Phoebe's pod and headed out to Warringal Hospital where mother seems to have stabilised and her temperature under control. She should be allowed home on Friday or Saturday, all going well.

I went to Sal's for dinner tonight and enjoyed sitting in her backyard which is surviving the drought well. Good food too!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Dinners, dinners

On Thursday, P. and I went to Noel T.'s for dinner. He is briefly in Melbourne on his hectic schedule which now includes (shortly) Macau, New York and London. It was a delicious dinner as usual with lots of delicious stories, many unrepeatable.

With the handbook text send off to Canberra, we had Frank for tea on Friday with a three-course extravaganza before P. headed off for his mother's birthday in Brisvegas. P. made guacamole with our own chillies, I used the leftover venison, sliced with watercress aka pondweed, then we had chicken laksa, followed by marinated strawberries with dollops of strawberry/raspberry icecream and blueberry/blackberry icecream. Not a bad production to remind P. he has to come back from Brisbane.

On Saturday, Frank and I collected Phoebe. For the first time, we coincided with the previous user bringing her back, bang on time for us. We deposited P. at Skybus in the city, then went to Brunswick for the shopping. It makes a nice change from the Mall and Piedmonte's is a much nicer supermarket than Coles or Safeway. Plus it paid off, as Frank got lots of nice ingredients for his homemade pizzas on Sunday night!

A quick visit to the hospital in Heidelberg, where mother is recuperating from what seems to be an infection causing high temperatures. No real diagnosis yet, and she might not be able to cope with this week's chemotherapy.

Sunday meant doing the big crossword alone, then going to Helen and George's for Tallulah's first birthday. It was a gala affair with lots of other kiddies, spilling into the laneway outside. I caught up with lots of people: Helen and Jan, Foong Ling and Mark and Brian, the chair of the Health Centre. Home again on tram and bus, and thence to Frank's, where David joined us for the delicious pizzas, plus icecream and raspberries.

Now for a busy work week, with the first visit to the Penguin archives tomorrow, and the feedback on the Handbook on Wednesday. Batten the hatches.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Off today to Budget specs to have my eyes tested and purchase new glasses. It made less of a hole in the wallet than I expected, and in six days I'll have new specs and will have to visit the cobbler/elves to have my nose refitted to them. With a bit more seeing power and no lens scratches, not a single typo will escape my attention. Some hope!

As well the Maps to Success is steaming along, with versions flying around the country for comment, so far mostly good. The 'final' version has to go off on Friday, though there will be a deal of tinkering after that, I'm sure.

I'm pondering the Meanjin distribution options but no Edison-like flashes have occurred yet. What we need is maximum bang for buck: an innovative solution is called for. I'll spend some more time on it tomorrow.

As well, I'm going through the old Angus & Robertson lists from 1965 onwards. I was surprised to find that, in that year, Thea Astley's Slow Natives was first published, along with Wildcat Falling by Mudrooroo. What other surprises are in store I know not, but one thing it proves is that the more things change...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Newly arrived elephants

who should be at Werribee freerange zoo, not cooped up as crowd-pleasing charismatic megavertebrates at Royal Park.
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Alexis W. at zoo with butterfly

Posted by Picasa All pics by Peter unless otherwise noted.

Grand guignol in Collinwood

Seen after visiting the galleries in Derby Street. Click on image for enlargement.
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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Scandal notes

After nearly finishing the crossword, we broke routine by heading for Carlton and seeing Notes on a Scandal, an intriguing little pic with Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench. It is a moral tale, though what the moral is is hard to determine, unless it is that old lesbian history teachers are very sinister and not to be trusted or the fairly obvious, if you are a teacher, don't have it off with your students. There is a splendid portrait of the headmaster in a small role, vicious and ineffectual at once. All the performances were splendid, despite a plot which occasionally stretched credibility. The movie moved so fast that they passed almost unnoticed.

We had little time beforehand so had good but simple toasted sandwiches outside the Nova, then went to Collingwood to see two gallery exhibitions: a Kimberley exhibition of interesting pics from Derby and Kununurra at the Mossenson Galleries and one of small things with large prices at the Australia Galleries. Both were worth seeing. though it looked at though both galleries were wasting their time opening on Sunday for real buyers which we weren't.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Usual Saturday

This morning was Farmers Market at the Children's Farm, so Frank came round and we toddled round with the red jeep. Fresh olive oil, lots of greens, a bit of venison, juice etc. were bought, then we picked up Phoebe and went to Victoria Gardens for the supermarketing and fruit shopping. Lunch in Clifton Hill followed, cheap and cheerful after last week's gourmet treats.

Dinner at Frank's tonight: a new chicken dish, very tasty, with icecream, raspberries and mango to follow. Tomorrow will be just as normal, I hope, with the Sunday crossword and a fry-up for lunch. There are some work bits and pieces to complete, so maybe that too. It's all very 'usual' but soothing nonetheless.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Diamonds are a girl's...

Today, I sent off a draft of the Meanjin business plan for comment. My computer is generating a lot of things for comment lately. But at least it's nearing completion.

After that, I headed for downtown Bulleen, to the Manningham club for lunch for my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. It was mainly a gathering of their siblings and spouses, plus Big Valda (so-called because my mother's sister is also Valda) and her daughter, Rosemary, who was a flower girl at the Old's wedding. We had lots of old photos to ogle at, and a quite passable lunch. (I indulged with a special of half a crayfish to celebrate.) It was good to catch up with people I haven't seen for a while, especially Uncle Frank, who is always good for his realpolitik insights.

Now it's time for tidying up bits and pieces: some bits of research project, which will probably include a symposium cum meeting in Brisbane in August, some Warlukurlangu (remember them?) before an overhaul on the Maps to Success after feedback early next week. In a week's time, we're (Mark, Jessica and I, more of them later) assailing the Penguin fortress to start digging in the archives. What fun!

There might even be time next week to tidy up some of the book litter around the house and restore some sense of order.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


On, Stacy Farrar, editor of the Sydney Star Observer, has commented on the Howard government investigation into gay equality. The government is finding out how much it will cost to enact gay equality. Farrar points out that it is a matter of swings and roundabouts. Newly recognised gay partnerships should attract some benefits (like family allowances, increased pharmacy benefits) but some benefits will be lost through income pooling by way of single mother payments or social security benefits. Farrar opines that the costs will be much higher for the government than its savings, which is probably why there is consistent gay support for equality. It's not just a matter of principle; in the end, it means hard cash. It will be interesting to see whether this one surfaces before the election.

Back in the real world, Maps to Success has gone off for checking by all the researchers to see whether I've got anything wrong or misrepresented them. The research project is gearing up, though a lot of this week will need to be spent on the Meanjin business plan. Just as well a few people have paid me, some promptly, some in a leisurely fashion. It seems to be a fair principle that usually the larger an organisation is, the longer they take to pay, with a few notable exceptions.

Off to the hospital today, to Ear, Nose & Throat. I'll reward myself with a visit to Readings in Carlton on the way.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Great indulgence!

After a very indulgent brekkie at the European cafe on Friday, after the shopping on Saturday, Frank, P. and I went to Smith Street to a (relatively) new cafe for brunch. They have an interesting menu: Frank had avocado on toast with roasted garlic and caramelised chillis, P. had black rice pudding with mango and custard, and I had fetta and spinach pancake with chilli beans and fried eggs with dukka. The coffee was good, the service was good, but we left without establishing the name. It's between Traveller's Bookstore and the Last Record Store. We'll report later.

Tonight, David G. came for tea in Victoria Street, at an old standby, the Victoria cafe. Mixed entrees, salted squid, Singapore noodles and satay chicken. FAQ food, cheap and cheerful and a good mag. David reported on his recent trip to Bali to see some manufacturing and have a holiday as well. Another Bali 'adventure' is on the agenda soon.

Don't hold the front page! The Australian reports that the Howard government is at last considering equality for gays. However, the issue has been referred to Treasury to find out how many millions this equality will cost. Enaction is promised by November or December, so don't hold your breath till then. It will be very interesting to see what, if anything, they finally come up with.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Birds and beasties

Today, P. had a rostered day off, so we met up with Alexis W. at the European Cafe for a delish breakfast, then trammed off to the Melbourne Zoo. Though it was a warm day, it was very cool in the shaded and rainforested parts of the zoo, thoughtfully misted with recycled water.

We saw lots of birds even though the Great Aviary was closed, including a very close up view of the rare Regent Honeyeater. Lots of other beasties, including the cats, large and small, were a bit soporific in the heat. The renovations to the Australian section are effective in a dessicated kind of way, lots of river pebbles and dirt to disguise the lack of grass. The wombats, those slumbering lumberers, peered at us in a desultory way. And the orang utans, who used to be bored out of their brains in a concrete pit, now have a gym-like structure. They will probably get bored in time, but at present they seem to be enjoying themselves, covering themselves with sheets and climbing impossibly up ropes and plastic fake bamboo poles.

There were lots of other delights: a lunch by the 'lake' with swan and turtles, and very pleasant encounters with not-so-wild life. Perhaps because of the heat, the zoo was relatively quiet so it was very pleasant. The new elephants should really be at Werribee, but they are obviously a big commercial drawcard, especially for the kiddies. We spent a lot of our time magging away, so it was a very enjoyable day.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have nearly finished the first draft of Maps to Success, and will refine it next week, plus hammer out a business plan for Meanjin. Recycled pesto and potato and leek soup for dinner (not together) ended a very pleasant day.