Sunday, November 23, 2008

With the Rats

The literary symposium went off very well though of the assembled forty or so people, no one was putting up their hand saying, 'I made money out of literary publishing.' The hotel was good, we had a very nice Thai conference dinner (under where Olims hotel used to be) and it was good to catch up with a lot of old friends.

Now I'm ensconced with the Rats in Croydon, all of whom are well and thriving, in spite of the crisis in the world of finance, in which the adult rats both work. Last night, daughter Kit made a delicious Asian-style soup with chicken, asparagus and mushrooms. Very spicy and yummy. Today, P. arrives from Melbourne and tomorrow we embark on our mountain adventure.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Launch junkies

Yet another launch last night, this time for Julie Watts' opus, The Art of Graeme Base, at the Melbourne Art Roooms gallery in Bay Street, Port Melbourne in conjunction with an exhibition of his work. There were speeches from Julie, the artist, Bob Sessions and launcher, Terry Lane. It was a packed function and it was good to catch up with a few old Penguinis.

After the launch, P. and I had dinner at C'est Bon, a nearby French restaurant (how did you guess?). It was very good food and proved that even toothless you can do quite well in some places. I had a richly brothed onion soup and steak tartare (hot version), both of which were very fine. P. had that old standby coquilles Saint-Jacques and a veal cutlet.

I had my last hyperbaric this morning and got a shock when I was told I couldn't fly for 24 hours after the last treatment or I risked getting the bends. Fortunately, my flight to Sydney is exactly 24 hours after I walked out of the chamber, if it's on time. So this blog will be quiet for a while, pending NSW news to come.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lots of launches

On Tuesday, P. and I went to the launch of Chris Tsiolkas' The Slap at Trades Hall. We certainly weren't needed as rent-a-crowd as it was packed and a very joyous occasion. We ran into Dmitri and Leigh, which was nice and gave our condolences over the death (by bait poisoning) of their dogs. I've now read the novel (the hyperbaric chamber gives lots of time for reading) and it is very good. It deserves to be a success.

On Friday, after hyperbaric, I raced to the Museum for the launch of Lives of the Papunya Tula Artists which I did some work on three years ago. It's been nearly thirty years in the making, and three years in production, but it's worth it for its encyclopaedic account of the artists. John Keane, an earlier art coordinator, gave a very good and informative launch speech and two of the artists responded in Pintupi. Vivien Johnson, the author, was gracious as was Jill Walsh, the publisher at IAD Press. They have had launches all over the country. The book sold out at the launch, a very rare event, especially for a $100 book. It was good to catch up with Jill, albeit briefly.

Shopping yesterday was varied with a visit to George P. We trundled down to the shops from the hostel with George's wheelie and had a coffee at a (appropriately) Greek cakeshop and a good mag. Because we were in Preston (with Charlie the Yaris this time) we went to the Preston market which was very multicultural and cheap. There is even an Aldi supermarket attached. Suck on that, Coles and Safeway. We'll have to go more often, though the parking is chronic, partly because it is so popular. Sal says that it is to be redeveloped with more of a pedestrian focus as a Barcelona-style market, rather than, as originally proposed, yet another mall.

And last night, after a yummy dinner at Wasabi in Clarendon Street, P. and I were joined by Sally at the soon-to-be-closed by Peter Garrett National Academy of Music for a concert conducted by Oleg Caetani of works by Schubert and Schoenberg. It was an inspiring concert, helped by an enthusiastic and supportive audience. Along with nearly 10 000 others, I have protested to Minister Garrett, but had no response.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Even more hospital...

We had a very quiet weekend with really only shopping on the agenda (market and mall). It was just as well, as this week has been full on with hyperbaric every day, which is fine. The staff are really exemplary and nice, but it is a big hole in the day. Added to which, on Wednesday, I had a visit to the cobbler/elves to have a mould taken for a new nose. They are always a pleasure to visit, very helpful and chatty, and a new nose will probably be ready on return from Sydney. Then off to Renal, where I got the results of my Nuclear Medicine test, which was not at all alarming. Some slight abnormality for which I am referred to Cardiology for a double check, but nothing to worry about. My kidney function is stable so I await a call from Cardiology.

Today, after hyerbaric, I toddled off to the Royal Melbourne again, this time for ENT and the persistent flora infection in my nose. Because it hasn't responded so far to antibiotics and sprays, the Doc. said he wanted me to have a CT scan of my sinuses, and probably follow with an operation to 'open up' my sinuses to remove the infection. At this point, I jacked up, in a nice way, and said it could all wait until I return from Sydney. I need to get some work done before then, and anyway, I feel a bit overmedicalised for the moment.

I need to finish my more detailed report on the novel and my two papers for Sydney, and I won't get that done if I'm going to and from the Melbourne every other day, as well as having hyperbaric each morning. I'm feeling like I'm living in hospitals, and even though all the staff are good and helpful, enough is enough.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Another hospital day

This morning, my father picked me up for our journey to the Royal Melbourne. In a smorgasbord of medical attention, I gave blood to the vampires preparatory to a renal clinic visit next week, briefly saw the ENT staff to defer my appointment until next week, picked up some pills from the pharmacy and reluctantly went to the dental surgery. I behaved better this time, aided by Valium, and the rest of the teeth were removed without difficulty. In a nice irony, the dental nurse thought my father was a friend, as he didn't look old enough to be my father. Shades of years ago when a hotel thought my son Nick was my brother. I think it's a function of having the generations close together (around twenty years).

I hope to restart hyperbaric treatment next Monday, and should have advice about that tomorrow. That puts me on track to be ready to go to Sydney on 21 November for the publishing symposium and Resourceful Reading conference, plus some R&R with P. in the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury or maybe Hunter Valley. Some R&R would be nice after all this medical stuff. I'm starting to feel like a pin-cushion.

I'm just awaiting author contacts to get going on the Queensland novel, but really my top priority in the next couple of weeks is the papers for the Sydney conference, though most of the groundwork is done on those.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I don't believe it...

not only an African-American U.S. president-elect but one who mentions gays in the third paragraph of his speech claiming victory. What a pity that KRudd was not as inclusive. Instead, we are waiting to see just what the government is offering which might include dog-tag recognition of relationships ('we'll register you like dogs or cats') and granting of some rights but being careful to make sure that it doesn't look too much like marriage. As if anyone in their right mind would want marriage anyway. Roll on a regime that recognises ALL people as individuals and then lets them make whatever arrangements they want in their relationships, including marriage, if they want that. However, I'm not holding my breath.

This morning, I did the second part of the nuclear medicine test. The bicycle test was pretty stiff work. My heart didn't give out, but my legs got very tired. Apparently, my veins are not in the best of shape, according to the scans, but I'll get a full report when I visit the renal clinic next week. Tomorrow is part two of the dental operations, but this time I'll be taking valium beforehand. I hope it helps, more for the sake of the hapless dentist and dental nurse than me.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Getting nuked

Yesterday, I went to instalment one of my nuclear medicine heart test. If these medical adventures are getting boring, believe me, they are very tedious. It wasn't meant to be instalment one, but when the good doctor started questioning me about my medication, I got confused about whether I had stopped my Noten before my Norvasc (don't ask!). Just in case I hadn't got it right, he said it wouldn't hurt if I did the first part of the test right away, then came back on Wednesday (after Cup Day) for part two, after another day without Noten and, again, no coffee for 24 hours beforehand. Sigh!

Part one of test consisted of being injected with some radioactive tracer, then, after a short break, being scanned around the heart region and wherever else. I couldn't see where as the whole thing was done lying on the stomach. Home again, to continue reading the Queensland novel. On Wednesday, I have to do the stress test which I think is bicycle riding, then more radioactive tracer and another scan.

The only after effects I know of are a small bruise where the tracer was put in and some rather peculiar smelling urine, probably because of the radiation being expelled, but who knows. The nuclear medicine crew seem to be a very happy mob from casual observation and very competent. Now, back to the novel.

I've had my fastest payment ever, never to be repeated, I'm sure. I lodged an invoice last Friday for the Tasmanian book and it was in my bank account today.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Productivity plus

Post first dental horror (which actually wasn't so bad), I had a very productive Friday. I've finished reading the Queensland novel and started to make notes on it for the author. I finished the first analysis of the Literature Board figures from the Australia Council and had a eureka moment when the subsidy monies turned out to be two per cent of the fiction contribution (I knew you'd be excited about that one!). And the final version of the Tasmanian ms. arrived back from the author with very few amendments, which were duly done and despatched to the publisher.

All in all it was very satisfying as the gums where the top teeth were seem to be healing without much pain or difficulty. Thank you four weeks of hyperbaric chamber treatment. Thanks for everyone for their good wishes and various get-well goodies.

Today, P., Frank and I collected Phoebe the Yaris, for old times sake, and did normal shopping and brunched in Clifton Hill. I had scrambled eggs which don't require chewing. Frank is coming for dinner tonight which will be P.'s famous roast chook, and in case of difficulty, he has thoughtfully made mushroom soup for me.

Tomorrow, I have to start preparing for the nuclear heart test on Monday, which means stopping some blood pressure pills and having no coffee or chocolate for 24 hours. The chocolate part is easy.

On Thursday night, P. went to the launch of Morris Lurie's new novel, To Light Attained. I read it quickly yesterday and today in spare moments and it is very moving. Morris' elliptical, staccato style can be a bit opaque at times, but most of the time it works very well. He performed well on Ramona Koval's radio book program last week, so I hope the book goes well. The publishers, Hybrid, have done a nice production. The subject matter is quite painful: his daughter Rachel who suicided at a young age. But the book is more a celebration of her life.