Thursday, June 27, 2013

A tumultuous day

First up yesterday, I went for a meeting with the author of the government project which has temporarily stalled for political reasons. We will just have to bide our time till it reactivates, if it does. At least we have both been paid or, more appropriately, paid off. We'll see.

Later in the day, I went to Justin Clemens book launch for his book on psychoanalysis. Unfortunately, by the time I got there the book, which I am quite interested in, had sold out, so I've ordered one online.

Meanwhile, back at home, P.'s sister Marcia had emailed news from Brisbane about the winding up of their mother's estate. We might have to go to Brisbane soon as part of the process.

Then came the great Labor catastrophe. As we are in what I hope will remain a Green electorate, it makes little difference to us, and possibly increases the chances of Adam Bandt retaining the seat a bit. I doubt many of the Melbourne voters will look kindly on the rewarding of the rat Rudd. At the bus stop after the launch last night, I asked two women if they had heard the result of the Labor spill. They hadn't heard, but said if Rudd won, they would be voting Green!

At home, P. had prepared a delicious roast pork fillet dinner which made up for everything else bad that had happened during the day.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Away with the Penguins

It was a fairly quiet week, just working away and doing a drug run to the Health Centre and Smith Street to replenish supplies (all legal on prescription). The only event was on Wednesday night when I went to Hares and Hyaenas bookshop for an event sponsored by Overland to showcase 'neglected voices'. The speakers consisted amongst others of a lesbian Muslim, a black feminist and a non-ethnic ethnic: you get the picture. It was sort of six-penneth worth of mixed everything. They were quite interesting and Jeff Sparrow, editor of Overland clarified something for me when he talked about 'changing society'. This will never work. The task is to get society to look at and 'see' itself and set its own agenda. Real and enduring change can only occur 'bottom-up' not 'top-down'.

On Friday, P. and I went off in Harley the Corolla to Phillip Island. On the way, we stopped at the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens Australian Garden which we've been meaning to go to for ages but never have because we're always going to somewhere else or in a hurry to get home. They are really splendid and will be even better when everything grows bigger. (Left-click on any photos for a larger view)

P. at the Weird and Wonderful Garden at the Australian Garden, Cranbourne. Pic: B.

We went on to Phillip Island, bought our 'three parks pass' and checked into the Ramada Resort where we had a cosy little cabin with everything we needed. We ate both nights at their adequate restaurant as there were culinary slim pickings on the island. In the coolish evening, we went with a zillion Asian tourists to the Penguin Parade which was good especially watching the penguins afterwards making for their burrows and socialising on the way.

Next day, after a good breakfast at the resort, we went to Churchill Island and the Farmers' Market. A few purchases later we visited the old Amess farmhouse and farm which was very well maintained, then went on a walk around the northern part of the island. A lot of revegetating has been done and we also saw the ancient twisted Moonah trees.

The farm on Churchill Island. Pic: P.

Later in the afternoon we went to the Rhyll Conservation Park which had a very good boardwalk through the mangroves. On Sunday, we went to the Koala Conservation Park and another good boardwalk through the trees koala and bird spotting, then on a walk through the bush.

Soporific koala (is there any other sort?) in the Conservation Centre. Pic: P.

We finished our visit with a visit to the Nobbies and Cape Woolamai Beach. There is an unfortunate eyesore visitor centre at the Nobbies which should be pulled down and replaced with something sympathetic. The excellent work done by the non-profit conservation group on Phillip Island deserves better. The tourist infrastructure is otherwise sympathetic and user-friendly, like the boardwalks which have transformed the Nobbies area from bare rocks to green swards.

The southern coast of Phillip Island from the Nobbies. Pic: P.

Home again!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Very different styles of singing

Saturday brought the usual shopping, with no markets, and brunch at Backstreet Eating. P. scored a goat's cheese omelette with truffle shavings which he says was delicious. My more modest gravlax, eggs and potato rosti was excellent. Frank hoovered up some baked eggs with chorizo.

In the evening, P. and I went to Barb Jungr at the Salon in the Recital Centre. Her cabaret style performance allowed bottles of wine and nibblies at tables and made for a very pleasant evening. With arranger and pianist, Simon Wallace, she is a great chanteuse, full of emotion, singing songs by writers as various as Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

After the crossword on Sunday, P. and I went to the Gloriana concert which, because of pressure of audience numbers, is now at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Carlton. In spite of boasting fine acoustics, a splendid grotto and good toilet facilities (St Mark's in Fitzroy was a bit primitive in that department), it has NO heating and no kneelers (which can double as cushions). The RC church obviously thinks that comfort will be a distraction to worshippers but so can bitter cold and hard pews.

The concert was excellent and included Tallis' Spem in alium, Nysted's Immortal Bach  and Jackson's Sanctum est verum lumen among the highlights. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of 'old' pieces with recent works. The expanded choir sang very well and the concert will be on the ABC sometime.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sovereignty and a good dinner

On Wednesday night, Bryony kindly picked me up and we joined P. at Melbourne Uni. law school for a talk in the Raimond Gaita series of lectures. This one was by Nicole Watson, whom I worked with on her novel Boundary. Here she was talking as a lawyer about Aboriginal sovereignty and self-determination. It was a very level-headed, lucid and powerful paper which was very persuasive about a controversial issue. Rightly, she said that her people were in for the long haul and that a treaty was 'inevitable'. How long it will take is anyone's guess. She managed to argue a strong case without being insulting to anyone else, respecting others' positions but putting her argument very cogently.

On Thursday, it was (one of) Frank's birthday dinners at Esposito (once Toofey's) in Carlton. They had a pork special fixed menu which we all had. There was terrine, scallop, ravioli, roast pork and dessert. It was all very good. We retired replete, though the size of the five courses was very well judged to not stuff you too much.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I dream of Genie

Yesterday (Tuesday), I went to see Genie the nephrologist who, like my mother, told me I was perfect (as far as Peter's kidney goes) as was my blood pressure. No change to medication or anything so I collected a truckload of medicine from the hospital pharmacy. I paid $11.90 for what is probably hundreds of dollars worth of anti-rejection pills. Many thanks to the Australian medical system. Without it, I'd be dead.

Genie has switch me to six weeks gap between appointments and, if all goes well, will make it two months shortly.

Frank came for dinner last night. I cooked roast turkey breast with the lot and we had P.'s delicious tiramisu for dessert. As we sat, replete, Maria delivered a bowl of her (quite nice) spicy meat balls which will have to wait till tomorrow.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Betty's birthday weekend

We had a very quiet time for Betty Battenburg's birthday weekend. It was a farmers' market this Saturday at the Collingwood Farm and we got lots of good things then went to the Mall in Harley the Corolla, then had an excellent brunch at Bayte in Johnston Street. I can't recommend their food too highly and they are now open from Wednesday to Sunday for dinner as well. It is the freshest, tastiest, spiciest food about the place.

Apart from that we did very little but stay in the warm apart from a foray to the Kimberley exhibition at the Convent on Sunday. We bought a small watercolour of a wader bird at Crab Creek (the Broome Bird Observatory) which we'll have in a few days as it was the last day of the exhibition.

Today has been too chill to go anywhere but we are about to have good cold weather food: Peter's version of beef burgundy. Yum!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Bits and pieces and a novel

This has been a very 'bitty' week. Mainly I have worked on notes on a new novel for the author which I finished today and will send when I've looked over them. Friends all over the place. Michael H. was in Paris when Kerry B. was there, and is now in Portugal or Spain. Sal is due to head for Hong Kong and my sister is in Vanuata. Sigh! The pics of Paris in Springtime posted by Michael and Kerry are very jealous-making.

On Wednesday, I went to see George P. who is doing quite well, then Frank came for roast pork dinner followed by quinces and icecream.

On Thursday, P., Frank and I went to the MSO performance of Copland's Appalachian Spring and songs of poems by Emily Dickinson sung by Emma Matthews. After interval, there was a premiere of a concerto for piccolo by Nigel Westlake, followed by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring suite. It was all well conducted by Benjamin Northey and was a very well structured and enjoyable program.

Today, I visited the vampires at the hospital, preparatory to a nephrology visit next Tuesday, then went to hear Bob Brown launch an exhibition of very good photos of the Kimberley around the corner at the Convent.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Varied weekend

On Saturday, P., Frank and I 'did' the shopping mall for the week's supplies, then we went to the Robbie Burns Spanish Hotel in Smith Street to join P.'s sister, Marcia and her husband Anton and daughter Emily (now resident in Richmond) for lunch. We had a very good lunch. I had croquetas and fritura mista which were excellent and quite good value. The rabbit and carrot paella looked good too (had by Marcia and Emily). I also had a knockout Spanish gin cocktail.

At home that night we had oysters from Coffin Bay and seafood in crab stock, so I was happily eating fish most of the day.

Early on Sunday, we picked up Lorraine E. and headed off on the Robin Boyd Foundation open day, which involved seeing seven houses termed 'some of Melbourne's best houses' (architect-designed that is). They mostly were. It started with Boyd's own house in Walsh Street, South Yarra. The most livable (in my opinion) was the Redlich House in South Yarra, designed by Graeme Gunn, which was light and airy and separated the different living areas quite well. It was good to revisit the Salter House designed by Walter Burley Griffin. Since we were last there it has been spruced up a bit and the internal courtyard tidied up. It took about three hours to visit the seven houses as they were all quite close together. It was also fun to see how the other ten per cent live and observe their taste in artworks, furniture and books. It was very generous of them to let us great unwashed troop through their houses.

In the evening, P. and I went to the Bell Shakespeare Phedre at the Malthouse. Ted Hughes' translation was very workable and lucid and the production was about 1000 times better than the one I was in at Melbourne Uni. about 45 years ago. Catherine McClements gave a fine performance in the title role and the rest of the cast were good. It was good to have a chance to see this difficult and therefore rarely performed work which has a great emotional charge.

Afterwards we had a quick bite at Tiamo in Carlton on the way home.