Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hardworking day

Today I did little else but work and I made progress which was good considering that I won't be able to do any work on tomorrow's very busy day. For lunch and dinner we had leftovers, which were delicious, pending tomorrow's shopping. I am enjoying the VAST novel, over 200 000 words. I'm about one third of the way through, more or less. I said I would take three weeks and I will, at least.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Latitude 37

This arvo, P. and I headed to the Recital Centre for a concert by Latitude 37 and guest artists called 'Bach and his ancestors'. It was deservedly sold out with pieces by Becker, Tunder, JC Bach (JS's uncle) and the man himself: Cantata BMW 85: Ich Habe Genug, beautifully sung by Nicholas Dinopoulos. Other guests included Kirsten Barry on baroque oboe, David Irving on violin, Laura Moore on viola da gamba and Ruth Wilkinson on violone. The core members are Julia Fredersdorff on baroque violin, Laura Vaughan on viola da gamba and Donald Nicolson on organ. Afterwards we went to Fatto for a good dinner if a bit overpriced (Blondie was booked out).

Hospital fun

I got to the hospital early to visit the vampires for a bloodtest to check my tachrolimus levels for Genie. I then went to the clinic for maxillo-facial (not plastics as I thought). Dr Wong was very pleased with how I am going and pleased that I am putting on weight (unlike the dietician!). He allayed my fears about the tightness in my neck saying that was normal and also explained the consequences of gland removal: not much as they leave some glands behind to do the work. I then hiked up to Speech Therapy where Lauren tested my speech and offered to give me a referral to a local speech therapist for further work. Everyone seems pleased with my progress, as I am.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

More work plus curry

Today I advanced the novel and the autobiog. though not as much as I would have liked. As well, we had leftover souffle for lunch and P. made a delicious chicken curry for dinner. So, a quiet day again. Tomorrow, a visit to the Club (Royal Melbourne) again, this time for plastics, I think.

More Easter work

Yesterday, I got lots more work done on the autobiog. and the vast novel, with no penalty rates for Easter. Am I a scab? P. made smoked salmon scrambled eggs for lunch, which were delicious and I made a spinach and cheese souffle for dinner. It didn't rise all that much but it was okay. I realised that apart from the beef stock for the French onion soup that we'd (unintentionally) had a meat-free Easter. Does that make us virtuous? We didn't have very much chocolate either.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Quiet easter

This morning P. and I did the crossword which seemed to have two mistakes this week. Then I did some work on the huge novel and made French onion soup for lunch. A rest in the arvo was followed by more scallop pie for lunch. Very relaxing and more relaxing (maybe) than our Churchill cousins doing the Three Capes Walk. Good on them.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Another work day

I finished the second pass of the autobiography today. Now 'all' I need to do is print it out and proofread it! And I made a bit more progress on the vast novel, first pass. Almost first thing, we trundled down to the Convent Market (Slow Food) and bought milk, rack off lamb, mint (for the sauce) and a scallop pie. The scallop pie will form tonight's dinner (and probably a lunch or two). The market was fairly busy, in spite of being Easter, but the fish people didn't make it from Lakes Entrance. I don't blame them but drat. Overheard at a nearby table last night, a man reported hearing on the radio, 'There's no need for businesses to open on Sunday. The wife can make sandwiches.'

Friday, March 25, 2016

Penny Arcade

I spent the morning working and made good progress. We had fish cakes for lunch with wasabi sauce (yum!). Then went into town and had a quick bite at the old Curve Bar now slightly remodelled and renamed Barre but actually much the same but with table service. I had croquettes (a bit bland) and garlic white bean dip with Turkish bread (delicious). P. had pulled pork sliders and a tomato salad with buffalo mozzarella. We then went to Penny Arcade at the Spiegeltent. She was wonderful with (at last) a show that was thought-provoking. I didn't agree with all of it (you're not supposed to) but she left me buzzing. And what bouncing breasts!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Shopping etc.

This morning, P. and I collected Constantine the Corolla again (Delila still isn't fixed) and went shopping. We arrived home in time to meet Joe and Ann who stayed for lunch. It was good to catch up and tell them we wouldn't be able to meet them in California in a month's time. We hope they have a good time touring the national parks of western USA. The rest of the day was a bit lazy so I hope to get more work done tomorrow. In spite of that, I call this Friday good.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Work and legals

Today I did a fair amount of work on the autobiography AND novel. In the evening, while P. went off to a concert with Louise L. (on Lesley P.'s ticket), I went to Fitzroy Legal Aid to get advice on whether to appeal my loss at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of an appeal against Centrelink. Yes, you can appeal their decision as well. However, the Legal Service advised I would only lose anyway,just as I thought, so there is no point. However, they said I could point out the failure of process to the Federal Ombudsman's Office. I might do that, but only after my present contretemps with Centrelink has played out. Now I am waiting to see how long they take to act on my correspondence of November and December, at present waiting at three months for a response.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


This morning I left early to get to the Cardiology clinic by 9am. To my immense surprise, they saw me by about 9.30am. A very nice doctor called Kai did a careful review of my heart history and declared (like nuclear medicine and my nephrologist) that all I needed was monitoring and medicaments unless I got any symptoms. Then he sent me on my way without any further appointments. With any luck, that's it for a while. I also got some medicines from the Health Centre on the way home, so didn't get any work done today sadly. Tomorrow I should get lots done. My eating is getting back to pre-op levels nearly and I am now taking medicines whole rather than in liquid form which makes me more portable (i.e. going away overnight). Yay!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Much Mahler

This morning I did a fair amount of work on both the big novel and the autobiography and can see myself clear to getting them both finished next month, if not earlier. In the early evening, P. and I went to Hamer Hall to hear Ravel's piano concerto for left hand very ably performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, though he did seem to have some difficulty knowing what to do with his right hand. Then Colin Davis conducted Mahler's symphony no. 5. It was a stirring performance and made me wish that we had Paul Keating back again, instead of the milksop leaders we now have. I didn't like him much but at least he had some guts. And he likes Mahler. We had a quick meal afterwards at Teatro, under Hamer Hall. It is Spanish sort-of but quite good. I had scallops, croquetas and patatas bravas followed by a chocolate pudding with delicious lemon icecream. I am nearly getting back to pre-op eating, thank goodness. When I got back home, I had my pills in pill rather than liquid form, another improvement.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Vale George Dale

George died around lunchtime on Saturday after a long illness. He had been a great friend to many people mainly through his long time as designer at Penguin Books Australia. Lou Thorne, his longtime companion, looked after him and was amazing in his last years while also holding down a demanding job. He will be missed by all of us for his uncompromising standards and gentle manner. (Even so, I did a bit of work today.)

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Not quite a normal routine this morning as we're shopping on Saturday and got Constantine the Corolla as all other cars are out of action or booked (I booked very late). After the mall, Frank joined us for lunch/brunch at Backstreet Eating which seems to be under new management and botched my order and seemed not quite as good. Oh well, there are lots more fish in the sea. Home now for a rest and then to consume some of the booty.

Steve Earle

Last night, P. and I went to see Steve Earle and the Dukes at the Recital Centre. It is good to see him at a comfy venue. Two of his band did the warm up very well (as the Mastersons) and without outstaying their welcome. However, like many a 'one-man band' act, there is no one to tell Steve (a) how to shape his act to make it better or (b) when to stop. So what could have been a wonderful show fell a bit flat, though not for the diehard fans who were wetting themselves with enthusiasm after nearly three hours (at least half an hour too long). Good value is sometimes a bit too much. Beforehand, we had a quick meal at Yoyogi where I was able to eat my usual order. (Korokke and Sashimi). Yay! I'm getting back to pre-op diet slowly.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Work away

Today I spent a deal of time working and should finish the two short stories tomorrow morning. I've got a whole autobiography and a 200 000 word novel looming so I'll be busy. Tonight, P. cooked a beef burgundy with mash and I was able to eat some (pureed) but it was good to have. It's getting better.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

More fluoros or whatever they are

This morning, I went off early to the hospital to see the Speech Therapists for an Xray (fluoro something) of me swallowing. They said it was okay for me to do what I have been doing for a week now, so I keep expanding my eating horizons without killing myself. The proof of the pudding was having lunch with P. and Robin Shaw where I had poached eggs with smoked salmon and avocado (I couldn't manage the crumpets). After a nap, P. and I went to the Malthouse to see 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'. It was absorbing enough, though the complete blackouts were a bit of an affectation. However, both the book and the movie are a lot better.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Today I popped up to the pharmacy at the Health Centre to replenish my pills. The pharmacy has had a reprieve from Health Minister, Susan Lley, until June but then the refunding will be decided. Will she decide to defund a facility over a hundred years old. We'll see. I then went to see Genie the nephrologist. My kidney function is okay but there is a bit much protein, not surprising considering my diet and my tachrolimus levels are too low, not surprising considering I've been taking unreliably measured amounts of the liquid version rather than my pills. I hope to be getting back to pills very soon. Home again for a rest and to find that, suprise, surprise, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal did not uphold my appeal against Centrelink. I was not 'in good faith' in a legal sense. In other words, they can do what they like, even make mistakes, and get away with it. I'll decide whether to appeal the appeal. Probably not, as I know I can't win.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Plus more food

Last night, P. very kindly made a cheese and spinach souffle for dinner, so that yesterday I had TWO real meals, sort of. I also had lots of biscuits and spreads to follow, so I've been both good and bad. Today, I need to spend a lot of time working on the short stories.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday sweet Sunday

This morning, P. and I despatched the Sunday crossword though the mistake this week gave the answer 'Eugen Onegin' which is the German title, though the clue didn't say so. We then, to avoid being housebound, went to Carlton where we had a pleasant lunch at Tiamo. I had their tortellini in brodo. I couldn't eat much of the spinach but the broth was delicious. Then we went to the Potter at Melbourne Uni. One exhibition was an intriguing 'Fabrik: conceptual, minimal and performative approaches to textiles', some of which was mystifying but much of which was very worthwhile. There was also 'Mummymania', a whole lot of mummy bric-a-brac including Hollywood film posters of movies, mostly starring Lon Chaney. Some of the objects were a bit grisly but others were very artistically satisfying and suprisingly fresh. Last was a showing of the original Ewing Collection which sort of began the university collection. Mainly landscapes it was worth seeing, especially the Walter Withers. The university could spend a bit more on cleaning and restoring these works. At first I thought my glasses were dirty, then I realised it was the painting.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lazy Day

Most of this morning was spent perusing the papers. The Saturday Paper earned its keep again with a series of good articles, not to mention Gadfly saying the elder statesman version of John Howard looks like a sinister koala. As well he laughed at Louise Adler's comments on the Nikki Savva book which were praised in 'The Australian'. Both in the right place, I'd say. There were three Shanahans in the Oz today, but sadly not the comedy column by Gaga Gerard Henderson. Perhaps even Rupert has dumped Gaga. The rest of the day was spent snoozing and relaxing, though a new job has arrived (checking two short stories) so I'd better pull my finger out and start working.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Back in the driver's seat

Today P. and I did some 'normal' shopping. Unfortunately, Delila the Corolla has suffered a vandalism attack and is being repaired so we got Hugh the Yaris from nearby Trenerry Crescent instead. Off to the mall. It was strange driving after a month and a half but because it was a familiar route all went well. We got our supplies and offloaded. The rest of the day was, well, restful. We should be in for a restful weekend, except for maybe some art visiting.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rolling along

This morning Barry D. dropped in to visit the sick (me) which was very welcome. He is fielding the aftermath of his manhandling by the police on our favourite bus stop in Carlton. The whole saga is unbelievable and more or less like a Dickins play seen through the eyes of David Williamson (in his early days in 'The Removalists'). We'll report later when the outcome is known. Then P. went off to his U3A session at Melbourne's galleries and museums, this time at the Hellenic Museum. Then we went to Chapel Street for a quick meal before 'Violet the Musical' at Chapel Off Chapel. It was a very fine performance of an okay piece but buried deep in the program was the following rubric: 'The Equity Approved Co-op Production is performed by professional actors/performers. For this season the performers are unwaged.' I think this means the brilliant performers did it for free. They must have because the ticket prices were quite low for such a large cast and band.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Molto Medicals

This morning I left early for a four-hit visit to the hospital. First, to the vampires for a blood test for next Tuesday's appointment with Genie. Then to the Dietician and Speech Therapist about my swallowing and eating which is going well. They've booked me in for another swallowing test next Wednesday. Then to Plastics for a brief consultation, 'healing well' and come back in two months. Then to pharmacy for more Microphenalate in liquid form, then home for lunch. Efficient but it still took four hours all up.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Coffee concert

Monday was a quiet day at home tidying up various things. I'm gradually improving my swallow and increasing the range of things I can eat. This morning, P. and I went to the Musica Viva Coffee Concert. We have moved forward a row this year. At current rates of attrition, it will take ten years to get to the front. Pianists Michael Kieran Harvey and Timothy Young played, on two pianos, Debussy's 'En blanc et noir' then the version for two pianos of Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring', both bravura works. They opened the concert by reading some really shitty reviews which both works got at their time of premiering. Now they are regarded as major twentieth-century works. And so it goes.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Ramping up

After doing the crossword today, P. and I went off to the Recital Centre to the first Melbourne Chamber Orchestra concert of the year. Angelic (cliche but there's no other word) harpist Melina van Leeuwen soloed in works by Ravel and Debussy, and Daniel Griffiths slam dunked Mozart's clarinet concerto in A major. The first version of Mozart's symphony no 40 (sans clarinets) completed the program. It was a crisp, precise and exhilarating concert by a group of dedicated musicians. Home for a night of deferred Mardi Gras on the tellie.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

ANAM opening

We had a quiet Saturday then went to South Melbourne in the early evening. We went to the Indonesian near the town hall where I had my first restaurant meal since the op. They kindly made me soto ayam without the additions so it was really just chicken broth but very tasty. Then we went to the Australian National Academy of Music opening concert for 2016. They have a new artistic director, Nick Deutsch. The outgoing director, Paul Dean, wrote an oboe concerto for him, so it was a nice handover. As well, the conductor, Antonio Mendez, conducted Per Norgard's percussion concerto with Kaylie Melville on bravura percussion. The evening finished with a full-on performance of Sibelius' second symphony. Everyone played with gusto. As Frank said, 'They've set the bar very high'. Peter R. very kindly gave us a lift home where we caught the end of 'Jack Irish'.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Thanks Jenny

I went today to the local Health Centre to see Dr Jenny, partly to bring her up-to-date with what is happening with me and partly to get her to certify about my health for an insurance claim for cancellation of the California trip. She was very busy with lots of patients but, as always, takes care with all of them so was running nearly an hour late. Never mind, I had my book. Now for a rest having done a fair bit in a few days including four medical visits and two concerts.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Quartet magic

Tonight P. and I went to the Recital Centre for the first concert by the new lineup of the Australian String Quartet. They did oldies but goldies by Beethoven and Schumann with the moderns represented by John Adams and a world premiere of a commissioned work by Matthew Hindson. Claire Edwardes obliged on percussion for the Adams and the Hindson so the tone colour was quite varied, including some work on her tupperware. It was a very good night. Everyone who was anyone was there including friend Sal and our friend Wilma. The only blot was that in spite of leaving with an hour and a quarter to get into town (not that far really), we had a nail biting photo finish and just made it in time. It seems we need to allow an hour and a half. Sigh!


Today I went to the Hospital and saw Maxillo-Facial and ENT and both gave my healing a bit tick. But the best news was that the Speech Therapy and Dietician people have given me the go ahead to have pureed food and not restore the naso-gastric tube. So full steam ahead with a mass of pureeing and mulching, plus lots of water so I don't dehydrate. Yay!

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

What a day this has been...

A bit of a roller coaster today. First, P. went off to the health centre for his blood test results which were okay. Then I had a phone call from the federal Administrative Appeals Tribunal about my appeal against Centrelink demanding a refund of an overpayment which they made. This was the hearing. Centrelink didn't front but provided 31 (!) pages of evidence. The man doing the hearing was quiet and careful and will deliver his verdict within three weeks. I doubt I'll win, but you never know. It hinges on whether I received the payment in good faith (in a legal sense, whatever that is). Then in the arvo, I spilt my afternoon gastro-tube feed, probably by forcing the syringe too hard. Vanilla muck everywhere. Quite shaken, I then found the tape securing my tube was loosening so I tried to fix it, without much success. We headed to town for a Yoyogi meal (for Frank and P., not me) and in the eatery my tube disengaged and fell to the floor. We then went to the Arts Centre for 'Banquet of Secrets' by Victorian Opera, written by Steve Vizard (words) and Paul Grabovsky (music). He also led the ensemble on piano. It was an absorbing piece (90 minutes without interval, which seems to have become almost standard) and quite moving and amusing, beautifully performed by the cast of four plus the waitrines. An excellent musical/opera and, possibly with a bit of fine tuning, worth a second run. Tomorrow morning, a visit to Maxillo-Facial at the Hospital. I've no idea what they will say or whether they will notice the tube has gone. Tonight I managed to finish my eating orally and take my medicaments orally, so maybe I can dispense with it. It would be a huge relief.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Be still my beating heart...

This morning, after a snafu with taxis (they sent it to 6-8 Abbotsford St, not 68), I got just on time to Nuclear Medicine at the Melbourne Hospital. They treated me to a not bad cannula, a nuke injection, then a scan, then a moderate bicycle workout, more injections, another scan and sent me on my way. It seems not much has changed since they looked at me before the transplant about four years ago. I do have a partly blocked something in my heart, that they were unable to put a stent in last time around. However, it is not bad enough to require a second go, rather just medicaments and close management. We'll see what cardiology says in a week or so. The bicycle nurse was a barrel-load of fun. She lives with her girlfriend who is always losing things like keys. I can't imagine that. She also suggested a tough line with the speech therapy neo-nazis. Take a bucketload of questions, she suggested. All in all it was a worthwhile outing. Now home on a very hot day for a rest.