Tuesday, March 24, 2015

And now for something completely different

Today, there was more preparation for the journey including a trip to the city for money (dong and euros). Tonight, we went to the Robbie Burns Hotel for an excellent 'Spanish' dinner with lots of dishes including superb desserts with a Spanish version of herbed grappa. Somewhat sozzled, we left for home. Tomorrow, packing and sorting of documents.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The novel is done bring on vera

Today, I did a few more travel things (DFAT notification, packing list) but the main game was finishing the novel, which is quite good. I'll send off the report tomorrow morning or tonight. P. is making a batch of (defrosted) vera bolognese, which is by him via Donnini's recipe. It's delicious but a lot of work. We won't find anything like it on our travels.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Another Boyd Foundation tour

After finishing the crossword, P. and I went off to do another Boyd Foundation tour, this one close to home, just up the hill in the Studley Park part of Kew (mostly). There were five houses all built by emigre European architects in a fairly modernist style. A couple were also fairly modest, though comfortable and some of them have had features removed over the years. It is always fascinating to peek into other people's lives. The area we traversed is so different from down the hill in Abbotsford and dripping with flash cars. The houses and the cars make a potent argument for tax reform, and not the kind the Rabbott government is proposing. In the middle, we had lunch at The Pantry (?) in Heidelberg Road, Alphington. Tonight we are beginning to use up leftovers.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Gallery, pants and lunch

This morning, I went to the health centre to stock up on pills for the trip, then P. and I went into town. I diverted to quickly get some pants for the journey, then I joined him at the Potter Gallery in Fed. Square for lunch (crotchless sandwiches). We also saw a good exhibition of local and foreign in the Kaleidoscopic Turn, installations and pictures using optical effects (mainly). We also had a review of the permanent collection and I went off to collect my adjusted pants. In the evening, we had a great meal with Noel T. and a good mag about politics etc.

Bold as brass

Yesterday, I sent off the short stories and started reading the new novel. So far so good! I'm about a quarter way through and will be able to finish it before I leave. In the evening, P. and I had an excellent and good value meal at Wasabi in Clarendon Street, then went to Splendour of Brass at the Australian National Academy of Music. US educator and horn player, Gail Williams, directed a wonderful concert of brass and percussion with works by Broughton, Barber, Plog, Winteregg, Puts and an arrangement of two movements of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique by Saras. As expected, the concert was mainly very noisy and took a bit of winding down from. It was good to see the brass and percussion let their hair down. Some of the percussion had to be very fleet of foot getting from one instrument to another.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Stories, car and novel

It took a little longer than I thought to finish the stories and I'm just sending them off today. Yesterday, I took Dad's car for a service which cost a small fortune as it needed new tyres and I also got my international driver's licence, my hair cut, so all I need to do now is get money (euros, dong) and some new clothes to suit Vietnam (hot) and Paris and Ireland (not so hot). I also have several other things to do before departure but I can't think of them now. I know, one is read and report on a new novel.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Stories and a play

Yesterday, I broke the back of the next stage of the stories, which I should finish today or tomorrow. Phew! Last night, P. and I had a good Mexicana dinner at Fonda near 45 Downstairs, then saw a play by Don Reid, 'Young and Jacksons', a look at the 'dying' days of WWII. Directed by Wayne Harrison, it was a production which made good use of the space, and the four performances were all excellent. The play, however, skated over the surface a bit and could have done with a bit more depth. The denouement was wonderful.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Diverting morning which I can't afford

This morning, I went off to see Eugenia the nephrologist. All of my indications are fine, so it's back in three months. She teared up when I told her of my Dad's comments in hospital (about not wanting to be any trouble). That's what I want: a doctor who can get weepy. Forget your stoic (and sleazy) surgeons. Then I went with P. to the Musica Viva coffee concert with the Sutherland Trio doing muscular versions of Beethoven (Kakadu variations), Brahms (piano trio no.2) and works by Ford and Piazzolla. It was a splendid concert. On the way there I ran across a woman going to the same concert who said she used to go to the ACO but they play too fast and ruin the music! I was going to recommend ANAM to her, but thought better of it. Home again, I managed to get a bit more work done on the Chinese stories. At last, it's beginning to look as if I can get finished before the end of the week. And, as a bonus, I managed to book Dad's car in for a service on Thursday. Things are starting to come together.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Time is short

I've just realised how short time is before we head on holidays and how much I have to do. I went today to see the vampires at the Hospital for a bloodtest for my appointment with Eugenia tomorrow. It was impossible to fit it in last week. They were very competent as usual, much better than doctors or anaesthetists. Then I did some work, though not enough, on the Chinese stories. Then there was some organising on some remnants of Dad's stuff, but there is much more to come. Tonight, a scratch dinner of leftovers and frozen as the turkey wouldn't defrost properly. Tomorrow.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

'Quiet' day at home

It did turn out to be a quiet day at home, though I got quite a lot of work done on the Chinese short stories. Now only a proofread to go before sending it off which will probably take a couple of days. It turned out to be a bit longer than I had thought, over 75,000 words, when I had estimated around 50-60,000. Oh well, it's a very good and worthwhile work in making China more comprehensible to us whities. Tonight, market whiting with mushroom sauce. The whiting was not so tasty, but the mushroom sauce, courtesy of Jean-Jacques was very good.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Arty Saturday

The day started off very unartily with a visit to the Farmers' Market nearby to buy our produce for the week including fish and turkey and vegies. Then off to the Nicholas Building for the launch of Janelle Humphreys' excellent exhibition at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery with a superb view over southern Melbourne. Then to NGV International for a sample of various treats including a Japanese model of Reflections of a Temple. Home for more soto ayam followed by cheese from the market. Tomorrow maybe a quiet day at last.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Diamond Valley Learning Centre tribute

The DVLC had a tribute morning tea to Mum and Dad this morning. The local MP, Vicki Ward, unveiled a plaque and read a piece she had read into State Hansard as a tribute. They had a good spread and had reduced the projected Highland dancer and bagpipes to a cassette which is much more manageable. It was good to catch up with lots of people including Jo, Sally, Aunt Ellen, cousin Wendy and her husband, Gary, Helen French, Pauline 'Dawson' and many DVLC people and staff. Thanks for a splendid 'do' to all concerned. Now, with any luck, a bit of respite from all this. Tonight P. is out for dinner with Robin and friends, so I'll have a night at home with soto ayam and the teev. (We had the remnants of lion-head broth for lunch.)

Thursday, March 12, 2015


The settlement on Dad's house happened today as planned. I also got a heap of work done on the short story collection and will have it finished by early next week as promised. And P. served his beef cheek recipe tonight plus cauliflower puree (sorry Frank) which was delicious. It is definitely worth repeating including its Pedro Jiminez accompanied by tempranillo (so trendy).


With any luck, settlement will occur on Dad's old house this morning, around 11am. Yesterday morning early, I went to Dad's solicitor, Des, in St Kilda Road to pick up the title. I then went home, picked up P. and we went to Montmorency, I hope for the last time on this particular mission, to give the deed to the conveyancer for the settlement. We then went to the house where we, fortuitously, found Scott, the real estate agent, showing the buyer the house for the final inspection. She seemed pleased with it and we were able to tell her some of the things about the house. We then did a final tidy up, returned the keys to the agent and went to have a farewell lunch at the Were Street shops. Today I will get some work done on the stories, I hope, plus a few other jobs like getting pills from the Health Centre. P. made a rather superb lion-head broth for dinner last night, a Chinese dish courtesy of Feast magazine.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A busy but productive day

P. and I went out early to Montmorency and met Graham, the man from Just Rubbish, recommended by Sally and Roger. He did a great job and cleared the house, with not much help from St Vincent de Paul who turned up to collect the washing machine and the sideboard, but then refused to take the sideboard for a host of spurious reasons. Graham saved the day by demolishing it and taking it away. He fitted everything that was left into two tip loads which was a triumph and worked very hard. Thank you. Then tonight, by way of something completely different, P. and I went to the Recital Centre, had a good meal at Blondie outside, then saw the brilliant Arts Florissants and Le Jardin des Voix in a superb concert of Italian language baroque treasures, semi-staged. It was wonderful.

Monday, March 09, 2015

At last, some work

I spent a good part of Labour Day labouring. Because of all the packing and chucking, I've been behind on the short stories, so I got a good go at that today and am much more than halfway through now. I should be finished with all the interruptions in a week's time, a bit overdue but the author doesn't seem fussed. Tonight, soto ayam for dinner while P. slow-cooked the beef cheeks for later.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

And again

Today, after doing the weekend crossword and a small amount of work, P. and I went out to Dad's place and began packing and cleaning again. Julie and Ian did the same valiantly. I think the place is now ready for the rubbish man, Graham, to come on Tuesday and pick up all that is left. Fingers crossed! I am still not sure whether St Vincent de Paul will come to take their last two items. We'll see.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

More packing

Off to Montmorency this morning for more packing. P. did more work on the kitchen and fridge and I tackled the hall cupboards and the bedroom. It's nearly finished so we'll be back tomorrow for the next instalment. We had a nice lunch with Julie and Ian who were also there cleaning, sorting, tidying and chucking out with their local friend, Russell who took away some of the detritus. Back home, exhausted, for takeaway dinner (Thai).

Friday, March 06, 2015

Peaceful day today

Today, P. and I just did the mall shopping then came home to consume some of it (fish patties) for lunch. Tonight, more fish: oysters, followed by fish soup. This is all preparatory to much activity during the weekend cleaning up and tidying Dad's house.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Another day, another goalpost

St Vinnie's arrived at Montmorency today and filled up their truck with loads of stuff. Unfortunately, they forgot the washing machine (my fault, I should have reminded them) and couldn't fit the large sideboard. I am waiting to hear whether they can come back to get them on Tuesday morning which is when the rubbish removalist, Graham, is coming to remove everything else remaining. We started packing up the remaining kitchen stuff and are yet to start on the haberdashery and bedding. Back again on Saturday. The real estate agent rang to arrange the final inspection, which I didn't even know about. Another goalpost. I've also got to pick up the deed from Dad's solicitor, probably on Tuesday or Wednesday sometime.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Another day packing up and blessed relief

P. and I went to Montmorency today and spent much of the day preparing for the visit of St Vinnie's tomorrow. Home again afterwards, then, in the evening, off to Pope Joan in East Brunswick for a Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Event, 'From Barham to Brunswick', where lots of 'local' produce was sourced for a splendid dinner in which some of the goodies came from Barham on the NSW border. Incidentally, it is where Liz Kelly's parents were publicans in the long-distant past, though they still remember George and Audrey and ? at the pub. The meal of hor d'oeuvres, tasting plates of goodies, lamb main course with veggies, then an avocado and chocolate dessert were very good. Early day tomorrow in case the St Vincent's come early.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A little closer

Today, P. and I went to Montmorency again. We made a little progress on preparing for St Vinnie's on Thursday though we ran out of newspaper (for wrapping) and boxes, so will be back tomorrow to continue. I also arranged for Graham, the rubbish collector, to come on Tuesday and remove the residue, I hope. We also have to get the title deed to the conveyancing solicitor from my Dad's old solicitor who is administering the will. Never a dull moment. The conveyancing solicitor says that settlement is like a duck pond, tranquil on the surface with a lot of activity going on below the water. Thanks Frajs.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Charity begins...

P. and I went to Montmorency today to see, first St Vincent de Paul women who put yellow stickers on most of the furniture. No one takes beds for health reasons, and they didn't want most of the white goods (too old?). They will also take the smaller things if they are bagged or boxed. By the time they were finished there was nothing left which Doncare, who came next, wanted. Tomorrow, we'll have to empty any of the furniture which Vinnies are taking (on Thursday) and do some more bagging or boxing. I'll try Brother of St Lawrence for the white goods and a local op shop for the little stuff.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Musical Sunday

After doing the crossword, a bit more difficult than usual, P. and I went to the Recital Centre for the first Melbourne Chamber Orchestra concert of the year. The inevitable Barry O. Jones gave the introduction with a good joke: 'I was a politician, but now I'm in rehab.' Sadly, William Hennessy was only able to conduct rather than be the lead player as he had a recent bike accident. He will recover. Rebecca Chan did a fine job as the stand-in leader. The concert consisted of a string nocturne by Dvorak, a serenade for strings by Suk (you're getting the Czech theme?) as well as Mozart's Piano Concerto number 25 and Symphony number 38, both written in Prague when Wolfgang was obviously in a good mood. The pianist was Stefan Cassomenos, very accomplished and manic in his Greek way. The whole concert was precise and clear and most enjoyable.