Saturday, December 29, 2012

Photo Fest

On Friday, we did the shopping a day early to avoid the anticipated Myki transfer chaos (which today didn't seem to happen). We did the mall and had brunch at an old favourite, Red Tongue. In the evening, Frank came for tea to help with the ham. P. also made baked eggs on a pepper mix (from St Stephanie) which was delicious.

Today, P. and I headed to the NGV Fed. Square for part one of the photo fest, the work of Jeff Wall. It is quite interesting but rather cold photography: large works (on the whole) of which the only one containing real human interaction was a group of chicken dressers, laughing as they worked.

We also looked at the retrospective of the last decades of buying in Australian contemporary art. The exhibition was quite good, but the captions were in awful artspeak, at best opaque, at worst, obfuscatory. A bit of plain speaking would help the unconverted a bit.

We had a tasty light lunch at the gallery cafe before heading to St Kilda Road for the next part of the show, photos by Thomas Demand. If Wall was cold, Demand was icy. He reproduces scenes (all without people) in paper models which look (kind of) real, then photographs them. Pretty much a waste of time and effort.

We also looked at the upstairs photo gallery (which included another work by Demand) but also some photos with some humanity in them.

In the prints and drawings gallery, there was an exhibition of memento mori pieces by Durer, Holbein and others. Very grisly accounts of war, death and disease. Not exactly a cheerup, but very accomplished.

Now I am attempting fish with beer batter. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas time

Last Saturday, we did shopping at the Convent market, then the mall, then Frank left us and P. and I had a delicious lunch at Bayte in Johnston Street. Their Middle Eastern menu is packed with tantalising things: we shared a mezze breakfast with various dips, a kebab each and other delights including a very hot pepper each.

After a quiet weekend, Frank came for Christmas Eve dinner where we had (unusually) Vera Bolognese and swapped festive prezzies. Then on Christmas Day, my family came, bringing first course (a yummie seafood salad, thanks Ian) and Christmas pudding (thanks Dad). We made rolled loin of pork with stuffing, and potatoes, brussels sprouts, beetroot, parsnip, carrot and peas. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

On Boxing Day, we did the usual things - nothing. I did go up to the supermarket to see if there was any cheap post-Christmas seafood. There was: so we had crayfish (small) and crab claws with the leftover seafood sauce (thanks Ian again). We are also beginning to read our Christmas books and listen to our CDs.

Today, Barry Dickins came round to do some work and stayed for lunch: the Christmas ham which is delicious and will keep us going for another week probably.

We're bringing forward this week's shopping to Friday to avoid the inevitable Saturday chaos when Metcard is switched off and people are forced to have Mykis, which they, in many cases, won't have.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Social whirl

After Sunday's dinner with Rochelle, we had a Monday night dinner at Noel's place with Sam S. It was good to catch up. Noel is healing slower than expected, but still managed a superb roast followed by a luscious dessert. On Tuesday, we had dinner chez Frank, with pie from the market and tasty fruits and icecream.

Also on Tuesday, I visited Eugenia the Nephrologist. All my measures are fine, except my tachrolimus (from the anti-rejection pills). The levels are too high so she has reduced the quantity, and (drat) I have to have another blood test to check on Friday and call her on Christmas Eve for the results. Another reduction might be in the offing.

On Wednesday, we had our final meeting for the year at the government agency and everything is proceeding quite well, but over Christmas and January I'll have to finish off editing the book (as much as I can at this stage).

Last night was the final Victorian Opera concert for the year: a Galah Concert to farewell Richard Gill who is stepping down as musical director after founding the company and leading it for seven years of magnificent achievement. It was a splendid evening as, instead of the usual hoary old chestnuts, there were some unusual chestnuts including work from Mussorgsky, Wagner, Berlioz, Donizetti and Richard Strauss. Particularly impressive was young soprano, Olivia Cranwell. Watch out for her!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Quietish week and weekend

It's been a good week for working. The only 'event' was having Frank for dinner on Thursday, for roast lamb followed by P.'s clafouti and cream. On Saturday, we took Vincent the Car to the Gasworks market to pick up some orders for Christmas (pork for roasting and ham). We also did some usual market things as many of the stalls were the same as at our markets. We then did normal supermarket shopping at the mall. Frank left to go to his radio station Christmas bash and we followed up with tasty brunch at Madame Sousou's, with P. having the charcuterie platter and me the French onion soup. Yum!

After a quietish Sunday, we had dinner at local Rita's with Rochelle J. It was a very tasty dinner and we swapped travel stories, ours from our recent trip and Rochelle's from two trips to South America. It was a very pleasant night and good to catch up after so long. P. made some delicious guacamole to start.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Grisly opera

On Saturday, we did the usual shopping with Frank including the farmers market, then brunch at another edition to our now huge repertoire of brunching holes, The Fitz in Brunswick Street. We're getting to the point where we could go to a different brunchspot every Saturday for close on three months and be very well fed. Hooray for Fitzroy, Abbotsford and Collingwood.

On Sunday, P. and I went to the NGV (St Kilda Road) for the Neo-impressionism exhibition. It includes work by its seminal members, Signac, Seurat and Pissaro, then additional works by (mainly) Belgians. It is a light-filled show full of life, including some splendid portraits. The Indonesian duo show was also fun, funny and to the satirical point.

On Monday, after an economical Yoyogi meal, P. and I went to Salome, presented by Opera Australia. It was an excellent production, well-sung, even if Cheryl Barker was a touch underpowered as a Straussian soprano, but performed well. Her duet with John the Baptist's head was a triumph in grisly blood-smearing, a good match for Emma Matthews' very bloody Lucia.

Work is getting back under control and on schedule. Today, I had a coffee with a new author and, I hope, a productive meeting. We'll see down the track. I hope for a couple of days solid work to catch up properly, as well as continuing some organising for Christmas.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Musical interlude

I've made contact with one of my authors, who is very personable, about seven years older than me. After a deal of talk, it was good to meet at last. The other new one is next week.

Meanwhile, P., Frank and I went to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. We had a very good meal before at Movida Next Door, a series of tapas-style dishes, plus desserts. Very tasty.

The concert consisted of two Mozart symphonies (31 and 40) which were competently done but without the fire, vigour and passion of the smaller ANAM orchestra or the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra.

Much better were the extracts from Idomeneo sung by tenor Ian Bostridge, and the Schubert songs as orchestrated by Webern Bostridge is an excellent singer but very dour and I would love to see him do the whole Winterreise, one of which was in this selection.

Yesterday, I received an ominous form from Human Services: Transfer to Age Pension. I have to fill it out to transfer on my birthday, otherwise I get cut off. I will soon be an OAP. Back to work.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Burbling along

At last, I've almost caught up with my work. I've finished the two manuscripts I had to read and am in the process of reporting back to the authors. I've had another meeting at the government agency and that job is progressing. Now I just have to do some work on the old 'big' manuscript and I'll be on track.

A minor hiatus occurred with a new manuscript which arrived yesterday, but at least it is only a novella, but a fairly long one at just of 47 000 words. I read it with despatch yesterday.

As well, for about four days, my father has been here to fix and paint our ailing back fence which has looked in imminent danger of falling over for years, but hasn't. He has now made it solid and it will probably last a good few years more. Thanks, Dad.

On Sunday, P. and I went to a LONG lunch chez Bryony and Philip. There were lots of friends there, some of whom we hadn't seen for yonks, so it was good to catch up with them as well as enjoy good food and wine. Thanks to the hosts.

Now, back to work.