Thursday, March 30, 2017

Getting hotter

This morning, P. and I picked up Franz (but not Frank) and went to Victoria Gardens to stock up on food for the coming visitors etc. We then had soup for lunch and I began cooking up a storm (well, a little one, no match for Cyclone Debbie). I also received a cheque for the balance of Dad's estate which by a huge coincidence covers the remaining cost of tomorrow's party. Thanks Dad, and we'll drink to you (and Mum) tomorrow. In the early evening, P. and I went to the Recital Centre where we had a quick snack beforehand: some prawn dumplings, octopus balls and chippies. We then went to the Chambermade Opera production: Between 8 & 9 (Chengdu Teahouse Project). It was a fairly opaque performance, actually including a cup of tea each, with mainly Chinese instruments and song (though not exclusively). It was around the theme of the golden mean, though it was not clear what that was either. Nonetheless, it was absorbing and somehow, not quite mystical, but emotion provoking. Home again afterwards for some leek and potato soup, cooked today.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Another lull

A quiet day today for me with a bit of booking for the Perth trip. We can now get from Melbourne to Perth and back safely (I hope). Now all we need to do is fill in the gaps, but there's plenty of time for that. P. has gone off to his U3A architecture course and I'll start tidying up my room to accommodate Jacquita, P.'s sister on Friday. In the evening, we had leftover chook for dinner, followed by icecream with raspberry coulis. We're nearly ready for the onslaught starting Friday.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Much music and much else

This morning, we mopped up some things to do with the party and the trip to WA later in the year. We then hiked off to the Recital Centre for the first coffee concert of the year. It was French Canadian Alexandre da Costa on violin (a 1727 Strad.) and Kristian Chong on piano. They did works by Anon., Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Brahms, and performed brilliantly. We then went to visit the carpet people in Hoddle Street to choose a carpet for the front room and had a nice lunch with the hippies at Mavis the Grocer. Frank turned up, by coincidence, while we were eating. In the early evening, we met him again at Chocolate Buddha for another good meal, including yummy 'Asian' desserts. We then went to Deakin Edge for the Song Company who did an fairly unusual program of breast-beaters by Purcell, Tallis and Allegri, interspersed with Arabic music from Bordeaux to Persia performed by Oday Al Khatib, a fine singer from Palestine. While the classically-trained singers couldn't quite manage the subtle keys of the Arabic numbers, the whole effect was stunning before a sadly small audience.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The lull before the storm

A very quiet couple of days, with only the Sunday crossword for diversion (plus Vera of course). There was some tidying up of the guest list for next Saturday's party. The list is now 55 (including us) whereas I had confirmed 56 a few days ago. We'll see by Wednesday, when I'll send out some reminders to people I haven't heard from for a while. It won't matter if we slightly overestimate as it will just mean more food for the people who do come. The Friday dinner is now at 9, though might reduce to 8 by the end of the week.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


A quiet morning reading the Saturday papers and cooking the beef rendang for dinner (courtesy of Herbie's Spices). This arvo, we're joining Frank at the Arts Centre for a short (40 minutes) production of The Princess and the Pea which was slightly diverting and well performed. It was a mystery why it was performed in German to the complete incomprehension of all the kiddies in the audience who became a bit restive. Afterwards, we came home for beef rendang followed by baby cheeses.


Yesterday, Friday, P. and I picked up Franz the Corolla and did normal shopping, then went home for French onion soup for lunch. In the evening, after a nana nap, we did dinner at Yoyogi then went to the Recital Centre for the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra. The first half was all Beethoven, followed by Wolf and Mendelssohn. It was an excellent concert with an audience much younger than a usual classical audience which bodes well for the future of music and this orchestra. Benjamin Bayl did a great job as conductor with the assistance of Rachael Beesley as soloist and director in the Beethoven Romance for Violin and Orchestra no. 2. His 12 Contredanses for Orchestra were very speccy too, especially contrasting their jollity with narration by Richard Gill about Beethoven's approaching deafness.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Painting over

Peter the painter returned this morning and did a wonderful job. Thank you. Now for the carpet. In the meantime, while he worked, I checked on the stragglers for the anniversary bash. We are now up to 55 including P. and I (we intend to eat and drink too). There are still 7 possibles to be contacted but most of them are unlikely. Tonight, off to Charcoal Lane to case the joint (and with any luck have a good meal).

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Painting (is it art?)

Peter Goldsworthy, the painter not the novelist, arrived this morning after traffic delays to paint the front room and P. went off to his architecture U3A course. Later in the morning, Bryony C. dropped in for coffee and cake (which she brought) and a good mag. The painter finished by lunchtime and is coming back tomorrow to finish off, probably by lunchtime. In the evening, after a quick meal of leftover shepherds pie, we went to the Fairfax studio for 'John', a fairly rambling play by Annie Baker. In spite of valiant performances by the four actors, it really didn't hold together as a play (and where was George?). It was diverting enough for a show lasting nearly three hours but unsatisfying in the end.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Good concert of old workhorses

Yessterday (Monday) was a fairly quiet day. The cleaners came and whizzed through the house and P. went off for a haircut. In the early evening, we went to Hamer Hall for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for a concert including Strauss' 'Till Eulenspiegel', Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto no. 1 and Tchaikovsky's Symphony no 6. The Russian pianist, Daniil Trifonov played with panache under the baton of Andrew Davis. It was a good and well-received concert. Home for French onion soup afterwards, rather late. The painter rang early this morning to say he wouldn't come today because of an illness in the family, but will be here tomorrow. Otherwise, it was quiet at home. We had leftover pork chop and fennel for lunch with the watermelon and fetta salad. Yum! Then I made shepherd's pie for dinner from the leftover spicy lamb.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lazy Sunday

It was an especially lazy Sunday as, apart from finishing off the Sunday crossword, I did very little. P. cooked lunch, sardines on toast with watermelon, onion and fetta salad. He also cooked dinner, a delicious pork chops casserole with fennel etc. and mashed spuds. He also made a raspberry couli which we had with vanilla icecream. Frank came for dinner and we watched the marvellous Vera.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Yesterday (Friday), there was a bit of house work to do. I checked on the carpeting of the front room, which won't happen until after the painting is done next Tuesday and Wednesday. The plumber came to repair the sink mixing tap which seems to go bung a bit too often (it is only three months since the last time). Next time, we might get conventional taps put in. The rest of the day was quiet with P. going off to his U3A film noir. In the evening, I tried a new recipe for roast lamb (which was really one for rack-off lamb). It turned out quite well: a very spicy crust on the lamb. Today, P., Frank and I went to the post office to pick up our wine that Australia Post did NOT deliver, even though when we picked it up Australia Post sent an email saying it had been delivered! I then picked up some pills from the health centre, then we went to Victoria Gardens for the shopping. After returning Franz the Corolla we had a good brunch at Bedford Street, then sauntered down Smurf Street to see Barry Dickins at his exhibition at the Collingwood Gallery. It is selling well and on till the end of next week. In the early evening, we went with Frank off to Greville Street to Aka Tombo, a little Japanese restaurant. The food (we all had something different) was excellent and not the usual Japanese standards (although these were available on the menu). We then went to Chapel Off Chapel for Saint-Saens' mini opera, 'The Japanese Princess' put on by Melbourne Lyric Opera. It was very well sung and played. Melbourne is doing very well. There are probably not many places in the world where, in one week, you can see an opera by Respighi and one by Saint-Saens. Congratulations to all concerned.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Frustration then fulfilment

This morning, the solar switch-on was due, so I checked with the power company but the distributor is running behind and will probably have it on BY THE END OF THE MONTH. They don't have to come here to do it as we have a smart meter but, even so, can't do it in three weeks even working remotely. Isn't it grand how efficient and cheap the privatised power system is! P. and I then went up to Smurf Street to see Barry Dickins' exhibition at the Collingwood Gallery BUT even though he told me yesterday it would be open at 10am, in fact it doesn't open till 12. We at least got the Thursday Age, success at last. Then home for leftovers, disguised as Nasi Lemak. In the early evening, P. and I went to 45downstairs for their fifteenth anniversary party. They provided good nibblies, grog and some good entertainment (mainly music). It was a very pleasant celebration but it was rather shocking to hear from their chair, Julian Burnside, that they have to find 220,000 each year just for rent, before they do anything. Mary-Lou Jelbart should be very proud about what she has achieved.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lunch and dinner plus

Yesterday, P. and I joined Robin S. in the city for an excellent lunch at Chin Chin in Flinders Lane. The food is excellent and, because it was Tuesday lunch, it was busy but not overfull. In the evening, P. made duck breast and mushrooms (various) with rice for dinner. This morning, Wednesday, P. went off to his U3A architecture course, then we met at the Nova to finally catch up with Monsieur Mayonnaise, a film about the Mora family, mainly around the Second World War. It's an intriguing film with a strange mix of horror and humour. Mirka Mora's humanity shines through all the trials. What luck and skill for both parent Moras in the war to escape the Nazi killings. P. and I joined Frank for a quick Yoyogi meal then we went to the Playhouse at the Arts Centre for Victorian Opera's production of Respighi's 'Sleeping Beauty'. The production was witty and enchanting with use of puppets and dancers to back up the singers who did a fine job. The design, music and direction were absorbing and the eighty-minutes passed in a flash.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lazy long weekend

Yesterday (Saturday), we did almost nothing except watch teev in the evening. We had soup for lunch and salmon for dinner. Today is similar except that we're going at lunchtime to the NGV St Kilda Road for a talk about David Hockney and opera. Speaking were Andrew Davis (chief conductor of the MSO) and Simon Maidment, curator of modern art at the NGV. They also had a fascinating short film on the production designed by Hockney of The Rake's Progress at Glynebourne. The discussion was revealing and very unjargony about both opera and art. Afterwards, P. and I went to the Garden Restaurant for a very good lunch, good food and wine. Then home for a nap. P. made crab cakes and succotash for dinner which were delicious and unusual. Today (Monday) after a lazy morning, P. and I went up to Carlton to see 'Monsieur Mayonnaise' at the Nova, but found when we got there that it was booked out. We might try again on Wednesday. Instead, we had a very good brunch at Trotters. Tonight, raiding the fridge for leftover vichysoisse and crab cakes.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Shopping and Frank's

This morning, P. and I picked up Franz the Corolla, then Frank the Person and went to the Mall for normal shopping. We had an excellent brunch at Addict in Johnston Street, as well as buying coffee beans and checking out a possible after-place for the anniversary party. This evening, we're going to Frank's place for beef casserole which was delicious, followed by berries and icecream. We watched the TV crime shows, then came home for Lateline.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Carpet again, then Mahler

Today was a quiet morning then, after lunch (cheese, tomato and ham on toast) the carpet people came to assess the front room. The verdict was, as expected, that the carpet could not be saved, so we await the next insurance visit to replace the carpet. After that, Peter,, who had been at U3A art gallery visits, came home and we joined Frank at Fatto for a good meal. Then we went to Hamer Hall next door to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra do a choral piece by Stanhope (give them an inch and they'll take a mile) but it was not bad. Then they did Mahler's 7th which was very impressive. We were in the third row so got a good view of the strings (huge numbers of them). They worked very hard. It takes a long time to come down after such a heavy work.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Carpets, pills and soup

This morning, I phoned the carpet people back and arranged for the carpet inspectors to come tomorrow arvo so everything is underway. As well, I went to the health centre to stock up some pills and completed the leek and potato soup for dinner tonight. As it's international women's day, but really because I'm a Sara Dowse groupie, we've going to a talk tonight at the Church of All Nations in Carlton. At first I thought it was St Jude's and as St Jude is reputed to be the saint in charge of lost causes, I'd hoped that wasn't an omen for women's day. However, All Nations is much more promising. Judith Buckrich is also speaking. In the end, it turned out to be at Readings itself and it was a splendid discussion which could have gone for twice the allotted hour. I caught up with not only Sara but also Judith Rodriguez. There were numerous coicidences between Judith B. and Sara D. Their fathers were born in the same year (1911), they both came to Australia in the same year 1958 and both were ill in their childhoods. And each of them had one parent who was a Communist, even if Sara's mother said it was only for 20 minutes. She still taught Sara NEVER to cross a picket line. Home afterwards for vichysoisse and baby cheeses.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

More plaster and more carpet and more paint

This morning, Phil the plasterer turned up to finish the plastering, then Trevor the junk man arrived to remove the waste plaster. By lunchtime, all the plaster work was over, thanks Lee/Leigh. Meanwhile, I'd heard from Daryl (the insurance assessor) about getting a painter to finish off the room and I got in touch with the insurer about a carpet fixer, who rang later in the day. Amazingly fast moving after the long delays. During dinner (beef rendang), the painter rang, and he is coming on the 21st and 22nd of March. P. went off to have lunch with Robin S. All is right with the world, more or less.

Lots of things including a launch

Yesterday (Monday), P. went off to U3A and I went up to Smurf Street for a rather severe haircut and beard trim which will keep me going for a while. I got back just in time to coincide with the cleaners who whizzed through the place as usual. In the early evening, P. and Frank and I met at Readings for the long-awaited launch of Noel Tovey's book by Rachael Maza. She gave a very witty and gracious speech with an acknowledgment by Noel. There was a good crowd and the books sold out. P. and I went home for a scratch dinner of leftover French onion soup and baby cheeses and dips.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Busy day

First up, I went and got the Sunday Age and we did the crossword, earlier than we ever have. Then we went to the NGV St Kilda Road for lunch with Rachel B-S. which was a very nice catch up. Then off to the Recital Centre for a Melbourne Chamber Orchestra concert of works by Mozart, CPE Bach, Haydn and Tchaikovsky. There was a bravura performance by cellist, Li-Wei Qin, with conductor Michael Dahlenburg. It was all a tribute to the hard work of William Hennessy, the director of the MCO. After that, P. and I joined Rachel again chez Noel T. for a pre-launch meal, beautifully cooked as always. The discussion must remain confidential, but it was a splendid and moving dinner. See you all tomorrow at the launch.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Shopping plus English music

This morning, P. and I picked up Franz the Corolla and went to the mall to do the weekly shopping. We then had salmon patties and oysters (Sydney Rock) for lunch. In the arvo. we met Frank at the Salon de Sushi in Clarendon Street for an excellent and healthy meal. We then went to ANAM at the South Melbourne Town Hall for the opening concert of the year, which is usually a conductor whipping the new orchestra into shape. They were well in shape for a concert of English music by Ades, Britten, Vaughan Williams and Elgar. It was a splendid concert only marred by a dickhead couple a few rows in front of us who decided to take photos with their mobile phones during the concert then got abusive when they were tapped on the shoulder. P. wisely told me that the man was an attention-seeker, so I shouldn't tell him off at interval. I did scowl at his girlfriend who blew kisses at me as I mouthed 'Get fucked'. But P. is right, they should be treated like the two-year-olds that they are. Perhaps spanking is the go but as Peter R., also at the concert said, you have to treat spanking with caution. They might like it. Anyway, by the second half, the music had taken precedence and it carried us away.

Friday, March 03, 2017

More plastering

Another quiet day at home for me with a bit of 'administrative' and organising work. P. went off for U3A American literature. I had leftover soto ayam for lunch and Phil the Plasterer turned up. By the end of the day, there was still a bit of work to do, so Lee the boss will be phoning to come back and finish up and remove some rubbish. The front room will then need to be painted and the carpet will have to be replaced. Then the 'stuff' can all be moved back. Sigh! Leftover vera bolognese for dinner.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Plasterers again

The plasterers arrived at sparrow fart and have now put up the cornices and filled the cracks. It's looking good and should be finished in an hour or two. Meanwhile, P. has done some shopping and I've got on with bookings and organising for the anniversary party and preceding dinner. However, the plasterers did not finish today and will be back to finish off tomorrow arvo. We had leftover soto ayam for dinner and a quiet evening with the telly.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Eighth Blackbird plus

Yesterday (Tuesday), we had a very quiet day at home (quiches for lunch with leftover baked potatoes) then went to the Recital Centre for a Musica Viva concert by Eighth Blackbird. It was a stimulating and compelling concert with works by mainly U.S. composers (none more than five years old, the music not the composers). Australian Holly Harrison also got a guernsey for a piece based on Lewis Carroll. While it might have been a shock to some more traditional Musica Viva members, you could hardly fail to be carried away by the rhythmic and stunning pieces. Afterwards, we joined Neil A-D for dinner in Blondie, later joined by Janelle H. for coffee. We had a good chat and reminisce (Neil and I were at university together). Today, should be equally quiet with end-of-the-month accounting, recital centre bookings and vera bolognese for dinner (thanks P.)