Sunday, April 27, 2008

An Illing wind

On Thursday night, Frank, P. and I met in town for a good quick meal at Chillipardi, then on to Melba Hall for a recital by Rosamund Illing of a variety of French, German and Spanish songs. It was her opening recital since becoming head of voice at the University of Melbourne, and displayed an almost faultless technique. And it was free. What a treat to hear such wonderful musicmaking in an intimate environment, with excellent piano accompaniment by Dean Sky-Lucas.

Normal shopping this week. On Sunday, we met the Canberra mob, Lesley, Louise and Michael for brunch at The Commoner. As it was packed out at 10.15 on Sunday morning, we had to sit in the slightly chilly courtyard. L. & L. were provided with blankets; we boys braved it out. Of course, the food was excellent and the conversation better.

Tonight, it's off to Frank's for his famous pizzas, accompanied by a doco about that other Frank (Lloyd Wright).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Cooking Blitz

On the strength of Frank giving P. Karin Martini's Cooking at Home for his birthday, we've had a bit of a cooking binge. So what's new? I hear you ask. The first effort was a fish rillette (made with kingfish and smoked trout), followed up by a lamb chop casserole with chilli, tomato and potato which was delicious. The sardines from Canal's fish shop were transformed by a Stefano de Pieri recipe into a great entree and boosted our Omega Threes.

By Monday night, I did boring old roast lamb which tasted good, and today am transforming the remains of the casserole into a soup in a bold experiment. Last night, P. and Lorraine did K. D. Lang while I stayed home with leftovers plus turned the leftover lamb into shepherd's pie.

As well as all this culinary stuff, I've been finishing off the art biography and working on the Broome autobiography, though communications with Port Hedland are not always trouble-free. We hit on each other about every second or third try.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Arty Abbotsford

Who would have thought it? After shopping (Nicholson Street, Fitzroy, for Canal's fish and Milawa cheeses - what a friend we have in cheeses or as the shop paper said, "Blessed are the cheesemakers"), we headed back to Abbotsford for lunch. We had quite a respectable brunch at the shop on the corner of Nicholson Street (Abbotsford) and Johnston Street. At the gallery opposite, Chapman and Bailey, was a fine exhibition from Ngukurr, Arnhem Land, of paintings, fish traps and pole art. It seemed bizarre to go just round the corner to get to the Roper River.

On Sunday, we joined a crowd of Abbotsford busybodies for the residents' association fundraising Abbotsford Open. Five very varied houses had opened their doors to allow the curious, including us, to rubberneck their interiors. And a very varied lot they were from an ingenious factory conversion in Turner Street (near the football ground) to a very plush riverside house at the other end of Abbotsford. In between were a modern architect-designed wooden four-storey house, a cute restored cottage in Valiant Street and the old pub, now a house, in our Abbotsford Street, which one-upon-a-time was inhabitated by radical gays and now houses a largish family. It was a miracle of organisation for the residents' association, with doorkeepers and monitors in every house, but on a very fine day it was fun to troop around the 'hood and peer into other people's lives. Better than reality television. In most cases, the proprietors were proudly on hand to answer questions.

Friday, April 18, 2008

More culture

A week of working hard with a couple of diversions. The first was work-related. Associated with the art biography, Lorraine, P. and I attended a 'conversation' between Barry Jones and Judith Pugh on her book, Unstill Life: Art, Politics and Living with Clifton Pugh. While Readings insisted on bookings, booking did not entitle one to a seat, so it was very uncomfortable, though interesting to see one of the dramatis personae from the biography in the flesh, so to speak. We followed up with a very good meal at Cavallero in Smith Street.

Next evening, I went to the Convent to the 3MBS Salon Series, which featured the Silo String Quartet playing all modern, and mostly Australian, works. It was in the very warm (acoustic) ambience of the old Library, and very civilised with little tables and wine and antipasto available (provided for sale from the Convent Bakery). I hope it raised lots of dough for 3MBS, but it was certainly a gem of an experience and only just around the corner. May there be many more such events. The next one is in June with a percussion group.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Postmodern photo pic.

In the grounds of Heide, taking pictures of each other taking pictures. (Pic. by Lorraine Ellis) The tree has the most character.
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Running man

Rick Amor sculpture of Running Man plus crow, plus Frank, me and Lorraine. (picture: Peter)
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At old Heide

Me, Pierre and Frank at old Heide. (photo: Lorraine Ellis)

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Rick Amor day

After the shopping (farmers market, Vic. Gardens), P., Frank and I and Red the Yaris picked up Lorraine and headed for Heide. We had a pleasant, though undistinguished lunch, then took in the excellent Rick Amor exhibition and had a stroll round the sculpture-littered grounds. (See pictures above). It was P.'s birthday and I had bought him the new Rick Amor book, Frank got him a new cookbook and Lorraine a ukelele plus instructions on how to play it. We await with interest. We now have a catalogue and two books on Rick Amor, so must be close to becoming eggsperts.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A week in the office and kitchen

Most of the week has been spent working on the art biography and the autobiography from Port Hedland. There have been a few diversions: on Monday night, I gave a lecture on Indigenous publishing and editing at Melbourne Uni. which went quite well, and on Tuesday went off to Camberwell to poke around the Penguin archives. Also, had a coffee with the incoming editor of Meanjin, Sophie Cunningham, which was a long overdue catchup, and we talked about almost everything but the magazine. Lots of reminiscing about the bad old days.

Frank came for dinner on Tuesday, and the venison purveyors had sent a new recipe for a very simple venison stew with beer, honey and star anise. It is very tasty and SOOO easy. We will probably do some more Bambi-buying at this week's farmers market. As there was lots of P.'s vera bolognese left over, I turned it into lasagne for Wednesday, and the leftovers lasted into Friday lunch when my father dropped in P.'s birthday present for Saturday. I'm about to essay liquorice icecream, which I haven't made before, and I have liquorice powder from Herbie, and liquorice flavouring from Lorraine. It should pack a powerful punch.

Just when I thought I was safe from the Victorian Premier's Awards, I've been asked to be one of the judges for the biennial Indigenous writing prize, a much lighter load than non-fiction. I just hope that when the entries arrive there isn't any serious conflict of interest. I doubt it. As Carpentaria won the fiction prize last year, it's not eligible.

Tomorrow, we're off to Heide for the Rick Amor exhibition and lunch for P.'s birthday with Frank and Lorraine.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Lots of Italian

Things have got back to a normal weekend: Victoria Gardens for the shopping, Brunswick Street for brunch, Age big crossword on Sunday morning (anyone who knows 7 down: system of treatment based on the belief that all diseases are caused by connective tissue and ligament disorders and can be cured by massage, 10 letters. It's naprapathy - thanks Keren.) The only deviation was a grand tour around Fitzroy when our normal parking space was unavailable. Fitzroy traffic calming devices are the best in the world. I wonder how some of the residents actually ever get to leave.

On Sunday afternoon, P. and I headed off to St Marks Fitzroy for Gloriana Chamber Choir in the Glory of Italy. There was a fair-sized audience, including Sally S., Margaret and Dick and his mother Nancy. The usual round of Palestrina, Gesualdo, Lotti, Monteverdi and Gabrieli were beautifully sung, and were followed by an interesting Verdi Ave Maria and a very little performed Requiem by Ildebrando Pizzetti. Another excellent concert which makes for a pleasant Sunday afternoon. Home again, for more Italian, P.'s wonderful Vera Bolognese.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Back at the computer

The first couple of days back were spent organising and tidying things up after a very brief absence of ten days. Now I'm settling back into the last stages of the art biography and starting work on the autobiography from WA. Some time will also be needed in the next few weeks to prepare for the Residential Editorial Program at Varuna and spicing up the research project paper. I also had a two-year review from Centrelink, by one of their privately contracted work assessors. She was very efficient, and went out of her way to ensure I had enough support, and warned me about not damaging my health by working too hard, but it looks as though the assessment will be positive. It should be, as I am gradually reducing support from Centrelink and working more and more.

To leaven the load, we went with Lorraine and Frank to the birthday of the Commoner eatery. It was also the 30th anniversary for P. and I. It was a very pleasant evening, with suckling pig and trimmings for main course, and three very delicious desserts which we all shared. The Commoner also provided selected wines as part of the package. It couldn't have been a more enjoyable anniversary.

P. had an extra week's leave, and has done lots of cleaning, but this morning we went cultural at the Sid Nolan exhibition at the Potter Gallery, Federation Square. It's a mixed bag, as I'm not a great fan of Nolan, but the landscapes from various points in his career were the highlights, including one of my favourites, the Rainforest painting from the late 50s, belonging to the NGV. His outback and Antarctica paintings were good too, as were the two versions of the huge Riverbend. The Ned Kelly, historical and mythic paintings don't do a lot for me.