Monday, February 27, 2017

Pills, pills, pills

This morning, I went to the hospital early to get the pills (anti-rejection) which only they can supply. The pharmacy was slightly quicker than its usual glacial pace. On the way home I got quiches from Parisienne Pate for lunch, and so did P. who went to Carlton to pay his Telstra bill. As he said, perhaps we've been living together too long. I also went to the health centre to get MORE pills, so now I'm well stocked. Roast lamb for dinner tonight, in spite of the hot day. The rest of the week is warm too, so there's no point in waiting.


Yesterday (Sunday), was a very quiet day, just doing the crossword and having leftovers for lunch. We then joined Frank at the Recital Centre for the Brandenburg Orchestra's version of Handel's Messiah, barefoot and semi-staged. It was a very enjoyable performance, including the gimmicks, except for the bare feet which might give the singers colds, though Frank says that is nonsense. My mother knows best. Quite a few of the audience defied the program note to stand up for the great chorus, delivered with gusto by the singers. We then went to Barre in the Arts Centre for their guest Thai street food for Asiatopia. It was very tasty. Home for more soporific Midsomer Murders.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Shopping and little else

Today, P. and I picked up Franz and Frank and did the Victoria Gardens shopping. We then had a good brunch at the Bedford Street cafe near Smurf Street, then home for a nap. The newspaper distributor stuffed up again (twice in four weeks) giving us the odious Hun instead of the Saturday Paper. It's now fixed but given that is his business it's pretty poor. Instead of the probably soon-to-be-gone pleasure of opening the front door to get some good reading, it requires a phone call to get it fixed. Am I just a grumpy old man? Don't answer that.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Week away

On Monday, we picked up Franz and P. and I headed for Healesville. Once there, we collected some goodies from the provedor attached to the Healesville Hotel (two meals for dinner at the cottage at Buxton) then had a good lunch at the Innocent Bystander, reliable as always. Unfortunately, the Badger Creek Reserve was closed because of storm damage so we went on the Watts Creek at Fernshaw and the beautiful Black Spur road. We also had a short walk at the Narbethong nature reserve before arriving at the Buxton Cottage which was just as comfortable as last time. The next morning, the mist was rising over the Cathedral Range and we went there to see the creek and have a short walk around the camping areas. Having searched in vain for something good to eat in Buxton, we went to Marysville for a good lunch, then visited Steavenson Falls which were flowing well (as were the creeks elsewhere). Home again for a nap and dinner. We had some difficulty with the high tech appliances but eventually managed to cook dinners (both of which were tasty). On Wednesday, we headed via Alexandra where we had morning coffee to Merton and Anne and Joe's farm. We spent a lovely couple of days there with a side trip along the Strathbogie Road to Euroa and a beautiful swimming hole on the creek. Just sitting on the peaceful verandah was a joy. Today, we came back to Melbourne via Yea and Yarra Glen then went tonight to the Malthouse for 'Homosexual', a purported farce, which nearly made it but not quite in spite of magnificent performances by all concerned, especially Genevieve Lemon. Some of the satire hit home, but some was directed at very easy targets. It was, though, an enjoyable night.

Sunday, February 19, 2017


I picked up Franz, then Peter and the bbq lunch and we headed for the Bellbird picnic area on the Boulevard. As it was a slightly rainy day, attendance wasn't huge, but a very affable group of rellos turned up, including a lot of Churchills, a couple of Coupers and all the Simses who are available. We also disposed of Dad's ashes in the river at long last, almost exactly two years after he died. It is very good having such a group of congenial relatives with not a dud amongst them. We'll have leftovers from the bbq for dinner which turned out to be delicious. Thanks P., for a great day.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Unusual Saturday

The skip provider came this morning to pick up the skip to which I'd added a bit more debris from the front room as well as the plaster. P. and I then caught the bus up to Coles in Johnston Street for the shopping as we didn't need much this week. Better luck with Franz next week. It's a very quiet weekend with only the family barbecue for punctuation tomorrow lunchtime.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Plaster day

This morning, Peter and I had to get up early to move the last furniture out of the front room and reserve a parking spot for the arriving skip to take the plaster rubbish. The electrician arrived to turn off the power in the front room and the plasterers started stripping the ceiling. By lunchtime, the ceiling was removed and now there's a new ceiling and the large cracks are gouged. Lee will be back in a week to put up the new cornices. Then it will have to be sanded and painted and we'll need new carpet. So far so good. Leftover soto ayam for dinner.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


This morning, P. and I did a massive clean-up on the front room to remove nearly everything for the plasterers tomorrow. By a minor miracle we managed to transport the whole computer set-up to the living room and it worked. The only minor hitch is that, though it worked when I first opened it, now Google Chrome doesn't work. Until I solve that I'll just have to use Microsoft Edge. I think it's some wicked trick by Microsoft. We'll have a rest this arvo. and then have leftovers for tea.

Little Emperors

Yesterday, I continued tidying for the plasterers and did some admin. work. We had leftover beans on toast for lunch, then in the evening went off to the Malthouse and had a good quick meal. The show was 'Little Emperors' about China's one-child policy and its aftermaths. Partly in Mandarin and part in English (with subtitles), it was an intriguing show with a gay sub-theme (not used in publicity). A watery set was a bit of a good theatrical gimmick (splashing during arguments) in a very 'theatrical' production. Today, there will be shifting of furniture and an attempt to reset up the computer in the living room. If I go off the air for a while, don't fuss. It just means we weren't successful yet.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Plaster and Moonlight

Yesterday (Tuesday), I did more filing and tidying in the front room in preparation for the plasterer, Lee to appear which he did. He was very good and thorough and will be here on Friday to begin work. In the arvo, P. and I went to the Westgarth cinema to meet Frank for 'Moonlight' which turned out to be not at all as I imagined. It was a subtle movie but a bit slow-moving but it did provide some insight into black culture in the U.S. which I didn't have before. Frank came back to our place for soto ayam and baby cheeses as we eat our way through my birthday package (thanks Kit and Nick). The finale of 'Spring Tide' was pretty impressive late at night with a surprise ending.

Monday, February 13, 2017

More cooking, more autobiog.

This morning, I got the lamb roast ready (thanks Stephanie) and it will just have to be heated for dinner tonight. As well, I've very nearly finished the report on the autobiography which I'll look at again in the morning and add the last bits. I spoke with the plasterer, who is coming tomorrow to assess the job and quote for our part of it. So, for the moment, all's right with the world (our small part of it, not the big picture). Michael H. and Frank came for dinner last night. We had French onion soup, Stephanie's lamb and beans then berry icecreams and a good mag. Michael is off to Berlin soon so he and Frank exchanged tourist tips.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Cooking frenzy

After a bit of a cooking frenzy yesterday, I stored away French onion soup (some of which we had for lunch today), soto ayam and some raspberry icecream for dinner on Monday. I've finally got round to doing more work today and haven't far to go on the (ghosted) autobiography. Tonight, P. is making goulash for dinner.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Botticelli, what next?

This morning, after the Saturday papers, P. and I went to Carlton to see Botticelli's Inferno, a doco. about Sandro Botticelli. It ranged wide (with a slight lack of focus) but was fascinating and it was good to see the works on a big, big screen. We then went for a good brunch at Trotter's and a visit to Readings to spend some of my birthday present from Frank and for P. to get some (lots) of books for U3A (American lit.). Tonight, prawns for dinner with Margaret Fulton's seafood sauce.

Friday, February 10, 2017


This morning, P. and I picked up Franz the Corolla then Frank and sailed off to Victoria Gardens (no gardens here) to do the shopping. Frank had to go off to the radio station so P. and I went to Dr Morse for a very tasty brunch: P. had satay campur and I had the marinated tomatoes with smashed avocado and fetta (really) with a poached egg. It's almost retro now. P, went off this arvo to his 'girls-night-out' with Robin S. and friends so I'm at home on my own to do some preparatory cooking. Yum. Chicken stock, beef stock etc. to get ready for soto ayam and French onion soup.

A real treasure

Yesterday (Thursday), I did some more work on the new autobiography and (at last) did some more filing. As well I checked that our power company had the paperwork for the solar power, which they did, and nagged the insurance company about the plastering. The plasterer will come next week to check the job, quote on our share and then start the work on Friday. I'll have to clear the room before then. In the arvo., P. went to the first of his U3A sessions for this year, a gallery visit at the Convent. Not far to go! In the evening, we had a return go at Blondie Bar for dinner. It redeemed itself after the disaster last time and we had a very good meal, including dessert. We then went to Treasures of a Nation with the Opera National Opera & Dance Drama Theatre Orchestra. Under the hand of conductor, Hong Xia, with three splendid soloists in different concerti. Sadly, the number of non-Asian audience members was very small and confirms my opinion that Aussie interest in things Asian is close to zero. It was a wonderful show and how such a huge orchestra was affordable I don't know. Perhaps the Chinese government put in a massive subsidy. Even accommodating such a huge number of people would be a feat, never mind getting them all to the Healesville Sanctuary (if they went).

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Stimulating seminar (and you can't say that often)

Staying up too late has its penalties. I didn't sleep well so was rooted this morning and snatched a little nap before P. and I went out at lunchtime. Our destination: the University of Melbourne. We had a quick snack for lunch at the Union then went to the flash new arts building (like a palace next to the rather tawdry Baillieu Library). There was a seminar on 'Social movements, archives and memory'. Five speakers gave accounts of their archival work from left-wing organisations, feminist, lesbian and gay to indigenous. It was nice to be in a room (almost) free of economic rationalists, except for one woman who thought it was a good idea to sell off archival material for money on Gumtree. Speakers included Tony Birch from Victoria University ('poor but happy') on the Gary Foley Archive, Graham Willett (Aust. Lesbian and Gay Archives), Geraldine Robertson from Women's Web ('talking to Penguin and the RSL is like ringing a call centre, and I hate call centres'), Jack Roberts from Reason in Revolt and Tom Denison from IT at Monash who has connections with Radical Archives in Pistoia, and the Instituto Ernesto de Martino which mainly deals in radical and folk music, both in Tuscany near a Monash University offshoot (nice work if you can get it). It was an intriguing account from people who care about 'real' history. In the evening, we had leftovers for dinner: chicken and fresh French carrot salad.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Mostly at home

Monday and Tuesday were mostly spent at home, doing a little work reading the (ghosted) autobiography. Last night, P. cooked a delicious five-spice chicken courtesy of David Herbert. This morning, I made a quick trip up to the Health Centre for more pills. P. went off for a long lunch in a beer garden with Margaret N. In the evening, we joined Frank for a quickie at Yoyogi. By an amazing coincidence, an old work colleague of P.s from the ATO was at the next table and was going to the same show as us. Which was 'Tis Pity by the Victorian Opera, written and conducted by Richard Mills. It starred Meow Meow and Kaneen Breen, with three dancers and was about prostitution through the ages. It did lack a bit of thematic focus but the music was good, especially the last number, 'Semitone Song', which deserves a long life. As Frank said, 'Mills is a better composer than librettist.' When we got home, I watched two episodes of the magnificent 'Spring Tide' which made it a very long day.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Australian chamber orchestra and birthday dinner

This morning, I was up early to go to get the Sunday Age for the crossword. Then I phoned some of the few remaining people on the invitation list for whom I didn't have email addresses. After salmon cakes for lunch, Peter and I went to Hamer Hall for the Aust. Chamber Orchestra who did a novel program of American folksongs with Sam Amidon singing very subtly with guitar or banjo and sometimes with the strings, interspersed with movements of Janacek's Kreutzer Sonata. The second half consisted of more folk songs plus John Adams' Shaker Loops finishing with encores of more songs and a piece by Messiaen. The whole concert worked very well though the ACO seems to be in danger of being taken over by Finnish hobbits. In the evening, we joined Frank for my excellent birthday dinner at Mr Ottorino who are maintaining a very high standard. I had a pretty rare (for me) three-course dinner. Thanks Peter and Frank.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Shopping and planning

This morning we picked up Franz the Corolla and Frank the person and went to Victoria Gardens for a normal shop. We didn't have brunch because we thought we were going out to dinner, but now we're not so it will be a quiet night at home with awful television. We also did some planning for our week away with some long overdue time at Merton with Joe and Anne. We'll have fish soup for dinner plus the many baby cheeses which came for my birthday from Kit and Nick. We've already breached one which is delicious. It's Brillat Savarin from French and is very creamy and as the description says is 'rich and decadent'.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Lightly working

I spent most of this morning on a translation of a short story (checking the English) and starting reading an autobiography for a report. Both are very congenial jobs. Peter meanwhile went off for his orientation for volunteering in the U3A office. Acceptances are coming in for the anniversary party and we now have a very respectable number coming and maybe coming. As we've put off the shopping until tomorrow, it will be a scratch dinner tonight with onion and rosemary fritatta plus leftovers.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Early next morning...

Another early morning, this time from the painter I'd already spoken to about him having the wrong job description. He went away vowing to fix it all up, but I doubt that he will. I spoke to the insurance assessor and he said the confusion was because there were two jobs in Abbotsford. We will, he said, be contacted by a plasterer. We'll see. Meanwhile, the solar power permission has arrived so we await confirmation from our supplier that the distributor will alter the meter and how much that will cost. More toe-tapping and finger rapping. Meanwhile, P. has sent out some more invitations to the party and acceptances are pouring (well, trickling) in. Tonight, I went to the old Penguinis dinner which celebrated Anne O'Donovan's elevation to AO. She was nice enough to say that Bob Sessions was more deserving but only got an AM. It was a lively dinner of very likeminded people in this conservative age at Zen in Hawthorn.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Solar and Hockney

This morning, early, Gyula the Solar Installer and Cameron the Inspector turned up to certify the solar power. Now we have to wait for our electricity supplier to turn on the meter to solar. Peter and I then went to activate our National Gallery of Victoria membership (from Frank, thanks) and used it to get free entry to the David Hockney exhibition. It is breathtaking. We saw Leigh Hobbs there (his second visit). We then had lunch at the tea rooms, crotchless sandwiches and all. We also got a discount because of being members. Tonight, it's off to Noel T.'s for dinner. As usual, it was a magnificent meal but this time with FOUR courses. We came home really stuffed and wonder at Noel's resilience.

End of the month

A quiet day at home doing invitations to the party and Peter made delicious duck with mango salsa for dinner followed by baby cheeses.