Monday, August 27, 2007

Too busy to blog (again)

Not because of work, though that is a factor, but because of a great deal of socialising. Last Wednesday, Lorraine and I went to Morris Lurie's opening of drawings at the Hill of Content bookshop. They're very good, so drop in to see them if you have the time. They're on the walls above the bookshelves. Afterwards, Lorraine came back for dinner where P. had made delicious pork steaks with spicy salsa, followed by the runny cheese we purchased in Healesville.

Then on Thursday, we went to Sister Rosanne's for a dinner with Jackie Y. and Steve R., and Bryony C. and Philip H. It was a good night, with excellent food from Rosanne, who produced her scrapbooks of Penguin memorabilia and an hilarious letter from an erstwhile guest, castigating her for an awful evening. I'll try to do one as a followup.

On Saturday, it was Steven Conte's launch (for The Zookeeper's War), which was massively attended and, for once, a launch was enjoyable with a good speech by Andrea Goldsmith, and an excellent reply from Steven. Then on to dinner at Lorraine's with Noel T. Another nice night, with stories from Noel (I don't drop names), as always, a highlight.

Now P. has come down with the dreaded flu lurgi. Frank came for dinner last night, risking infection. Having done too much socialising, I have a mountain of work left to do. Melbourne University knows how to get their pound of flesh.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On the way to the Meeting of the Waters

Photo: Peter
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Monday, August 20, 2007

Willowbank bed and breakfast

A misty, Elioth Gruner kind of a Sunday morning in the garden at Willowbank. We were inside having scrambled eggs with smoked trout for breakfast.
Photo: Peter

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Taggerty River cascades. Photo: Peter

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Taggerty River

Peter on the way to the Meeting of the Waters. Taggerty River in background. (Photo: me)
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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mystic Mountains

Such is the badge put on the area by tourism authorities but it's pretty damned nice anyway. Partly to celebrate P.'s return from Dizzy Brizzie and to stop me from being stir crazy after several weeks at home, we headed off for Taggerty on Saturday morning.

A stop for brunch in Healesville at the flash new eatery and winery in the main drag yielded very tasty egg dishes, with eggs of a carroty colour which suggested trickery of some sort. P. had poached with mushrooms, while I had a croque madame, a kind of normal croque topped with a fried egg. (No chlorestorol count this week!) They had a cheese room, so we couldn't resist a cheese which can be melted as a kind of fondue.

On the way, we diverted to Marysville and thence to the Lady Talbot Drive, which is a surprisingly quiet drive on a dirt road through rainforest. At one end are The Beeches, where we went for a short walk and were entertained by a dancing lyrebird who seemed to be rehearsing his repertoire of mimicry, sotto voce. He didn't seem at all alarmed by our presence. Quite the reverse: he moved around us, and stood on logs, moving just as P. got him into focus.
We then returned down the road to the Meeting of the Waters, where the Taggerty River meets White House Creek. The track was much steeper than advertised, but we were rewarded by cascades and falls along the way.

Overnight, we stayed at a very pleasant B&B in Taggerty, Willowbank, which has a very good eatery attached. Part of the deal was a three-course meal with very tender meat as the main feature (I had eye fillet, P. had lamb rack). The accommodation was roomy (living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom), with lush gardens and the hosts very pleasant.

After yummy scrambled eggs with smoked trout for breakfast, we headed to the nearby Cathedral Ranges. It had been a frosty morning, but there were some hardy campers there. We did an easy hour-long walk around the nature trail. I saw a small kanga, but no further wildlife materialised. It was a lovely walk though.

Passing through Buxton, before the Black Spur (aka The Blacks Spur), we dropped into the trout farm, where the owner pulled a couple of trout out of the water for us to take home. Monday night's dinner.

Back to town, via the Tarrawarra Gallery, which had an impressive exhibition showing that the still life in its various guises is alive and well. As always, a trip to the country lengthens the weekend. Now, off to Frank's for dinner and back to work.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life back to 'normal'

P. arrived back safely from Queensland and, as predicted, found the cold weather to be a bit of a shock. It is very nice to have him back, and hear his debriefing on the state of play in Morningside. On Sunday night, we went to Frank's for another splendid tagine dinner with David G. and heard more of David's tree-change plans. He looks much happier having sold his flat with the prospect of becoming more liquid.

This week included the usual trip to the Penguin archive boxes. I'll have to get down to writing up some of the research very soon. Then the first class for the week went much better than the previous week, even without Jessica's excellent suggestion of providing a sugar hit for the class via some lollies.

Today, I drove out in Phoebe to Footiscray to see George P. who is holding up okay. He has been notified that he will be re-located to a flat in Princes Hill (North Carlton) within the month, which will be a much better location for him and better for his friends to visit. Meanwhile, I've also been through a few more Imparja chapters with queries and suggestions for the author. Back to Melbourne Uni. tomorrow for instalment two of this week's class.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Good results

It's very hard to tell from the driver's seat, but the two classes this week seemed to go okay, especially the Friday one. I'll have to lift my act with the Wednesday class. Perhaps the second is only better because I've done it once already.

This week I went to Penguin on Thursday, not Tuesday, and had a good sandwich lunch with Bob Sessions to review the figures so far. He seemed to think that our assumptions were okay and conclusions not far off the mark. He's off on a much deserved three months' long service leave trip to Europe as we speak so it was good of him to give the time in what must have been a frantic week.

Frank came for tea on Wednesday for the old Stephanie chook, leek and potato soup with parsnip instead of potato and nearly the last of the passionfruit icecream. Today we went with David G. for a pleasant walk to the Farmers' Market. The sun came out for the occasion and I got the usual goodies: venison roast, bath milk and vegies. Then we picked up Richard the Wagon (Phoebe was booked by someone else), and did a busy shop to Mediterranean Wholesalers in Brunswick (olive oil, grana padana), La Manna fruit and veg and Piedmonte's supermarket. We finished off with brunch in Brunswick Street: two eggs benedict. Who says I'm obsessed with food?

Tonight, P. gets back from sunny Queensland. Melbourne will be a shock.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The manuscripts came in two by two...

A splendid dinner at Frank's on Sunday night, where he tried out a new tagine recipe, which was very spicy and full of fruit: prunes, figs and so on. Then two mss I had been waiting on for a while turned up: the novel which has been toing and froing for the last 16 months, and the next instalment in the faery story from Sydney. The first novel has been polished very well by the author, with minimal help from me, and is now, I think, close to perfect. It will be interesting to see what happens to it.

The faery story is very big, and is a bit like receiving a Dickens novel in instalments. Every few months a new chunk comes and I get to find more of goings-on in Brigantia. I really enjoy it, even though I know little about the genre. But then, who does?

But I was jolted out of the world of fiction today by the next class at Melbourne University. It's hard to believe that I'm a quarter way through already. There's such a lot to fit in, I'd better speed up. However, I still can't post anything on the computer system. Because I'm on a contract with MU, I'm a non-person. I haven't got a staff number, so can't have a university e-mail address, which means I can't access the computer system. We'll sort it out, probably in time for the end of the semester.

Off to Penguin tomorrow to ferret through the files again, and to check out the findings of the research project with Bob S., the publishing director. The Imparja manuscript will have to wait a bit, while the author treks back from Alice Springs to Melbourne.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A week of Academe

This week I only managed a bit of work on anything but teaching work at Melbourne Uni. and preparation for Friday's conference on the research project. Helped massively by my father, we got the figures together for presentation first thing on Friday, and Sister Rosanne came to provide her perspectives on education sales during the period. The rest of the day was interesting, though I had to miss two hours to teach my second class for the week. By the end of the afternoon, we were really too exhausted to clarify some conceptual issues to do with the research, so another later meeting will have to do that. After the day's talkfest, we repaired to dinner at Cafe d'Italia in Carlton to continue talking.

I arrive home very tired after a long day and with any luck, after the shopping, will be able to get some work done on other projects.