Sunday, November 25, 2007

Visitors from across the planet

On Friday, P. had an RDO. His sister and brother-in-law are visiting from Perth for a conference so we met for lunch in town (after they had a visit to the MCG). It was a very pleasant, catch-up lunch, even though our ideological positions could hardly be more different.

By the end of Saturday, all was revealed in the federal election: Rudd's acceptance speech was less than inspiring, particularly in its emphasis on 'hard work'. He didn't mention pleasure, fun or enjoyment once. He's that sort of guy. We'd been to the slow food market and got some goodies for lunch (Lorraine and Frank joined us) for Spanish eggs, cheese platter and chocolate and icecream. Reconvened at Frank's for an election night vigil. Peter made some Kevin Rudd poussin and some John Howard 50s style seafood cocktails. Frank made his usual delicious homemade pizzas.

While it was delightful to see the lying rodent get his comeuppance (yay, Maxine), the sense of triumphalism was sadly missing. Rudd's vision of lots more hard work is hardly worth aspiring to. We will be living in interesting times.

Meanwhile, closer to home, the little house across the road sold for $750 000. That's not a lazy asset, or perhaps it is. We celebrated with impoverished bluecheese and asparagus scrambled eggs for Sunday brunch which were very pleasurable.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hot water, water everywhere...

The gas hotwater heater finally died on Monday, so on Wednesday, Dean and Steve came in the pouring rain to instal a new one. I said I felt guilty about them working in the rain, but they said if they weren't in the rain here, they'd be in the rain somewhere else. Very stoic! Now we have fully functioning HOT water again. It's very nice after a few days of cold showers, which were very bracing indeed, even in the middle of a minor heatwave.

Meanwhile, the week has been mainly spent on A Remote Possibility (Imparja) with a looming deadline, with minor diversions on an AIATSIS report on a manuscript under consideration (quite interesting) and nearly finalising the Melbourne Uni. marking with a meeting with Mark D. on Tuesday. That should all be wrapped up tomorrow. For the next week, it's head down on the Imparja ms. in an effort to get it finished. My father has pointed out that he can tell when I'm busy, because the blog entries thin out. True indeed.

The pressure is not letting up because as soon as I finish Imparja (if ever), I've got George P.'s novel waiting, then a very large project starting in late December/early January. I think I'll need a holiday after that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Water, water everywhere...

Not really. After a week spent hard at work on A Remote Possibility, I had a morning off today. P. had a rostered day off, so we got up early and went to the Melbourne Water seminar at Fenix on the Yarra (in Victoria Street, near Victoria Gardens). There were about half a dozen presentations of various aspects of research done by Melbourne Water, covering water quality monitoring, fish, waterbugs (a wonderful indicator of river health), birds, people and controlled burning. They were very impressive and quite rivetting, especially on fish, about which we knew nothing before.

As well as good mindfood, there was good morning tea and lunch FREE, so we feel as though we've got our money's worth out of our water rates, even though we don't get much water anymore. We were alerted to this gig by the Riverkeepers Association, so thanks to them too. I don't know how many attended who weren't either part of Melbourne Water, government apparatchiks or connected to Riverkeepers, but overall there was a very good rollup, with good questions. Melbourne Water are planning similar information-sharing sessions in the future, so look out for them. The overall message was that some aspects of river health are improving, but others are succumbing to increasing urbanisation of Melbourne.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Historical walk

Yesterday, Wendy, the Imparja author, made her way from having her plaster cast removed, and Jill, her publisher, came all the way from Wodonga, for a meeting about progress on the book. We had a very successful meeting, I hope, with fabulous cakes from the Convent. It's now called A Remote Possibility: the battle for Imparja television.

After the farmers market and normal shopping, P., Frank and I had a nice brunch in Clifton Hill at some trendy bar. Then we went on the Collingwood Historical Society annual walk, this time an industrial one, which took in, among other things the old Kodak factory (now part of CUB), the old Cyclone wire factory and Denton's hat factory, which is being gutted to turn into new residential units. It was fascinating, if a bit exhausting, tromping around Abbotsford on a hot day, seeing the modern layers disappear as we went back to the industrial era of the 19th and early 20th century. The historical society has a project, in cahoots with the City of Yarra and Heritage Victoria, to put plaques on lots of historical locations in the area. The walk was led by Matthew Churchward, the industrial specialist at Museum Victoria, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of manufacturing in Victoria. We walked from dropping Phoebe off at the Town Hall, down to the CUB brewery site and all the way back home again, around the river.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A brief but action-packed excursion

Last Thursday, in an incredible coincidence, daughter-in-law Kirrilly came to Melbourne to see her sister the day before I went to Sydney and Nowra to see her family. We had a brief meeting when my Dad brought her from the airport for a visit.

Next day, I met up with Jill from IAD Press in town for a coffee, then headed to the airport and off to Sydney. Qantas was running late so I arrived just in time for the AIATSIS launch at UTS (so many acronyms) which went very well. The four volumes of the report look splendid and were well received. I met up with old friend Jo Upham at the launch and we escaped to a Chinese dinner and had a good gossip, finishing with a drink or two at my hotel.

On Saturday, I caught the slow train to Nowra. It would be one of the great train journeys of the world, through the National Park, the coal towns on the coast before Wollongong and the rural ride through Kiama and Berry, if only the train wasn't clapped out and had NO amenities to speak of.

It was nice to arrive in Bomaderry and be met by Nick and his brood, who are all bubbly and well. On Sunday, we went to Booderee National Park for a bush walk and a barbecue, and also a tour of HMAS Creswell. It is a beautiful park with both sea and bush. On Monday, back to Sydney and the ABC, where I had lunch with the short story comp. people (Jo again and Samantha), then off to Croydon to visit Kit, Neville and Ben. We had a nice day and a half, including a delicious French dinner in Rozelle. The whole trip was a long-overdue catchup with the Sydney and Nowra mob.

Then on Wednesday, off to the airport in the pouring rain and back to Melbourne, where Sally did her meals-on-wheels act again (her kitchen is still out of action) and brought dinner to our place. My Dad came as well to catch up on the Sydney news. Now back to work and an incredible number of emails, accumulated in just three working days. Perhaps I really do need a bluebottle, or whatever it is, so I can catch them 'on the road'.