Monday, May 31, 2004

Another weekend gone

After news from K&B (K has landed a job in South Africa) my plans for London will have to change slightly; luckily GR has also offered me accommodation so things should be OK.

The weekend was lovely, only marred by my incessant coughing. As mentioned before this damned cold has returned to hit me in the chest/throat leaving me with a nasty cough. I have eschewed cough syrups and lozenges preferring to suck on the occasional spoonful of honey, which seems to soothe the tickle enough to let me get to sleep.

Tat came round on Saturday to pick up the heaters she kindly donated during my heating crisis. She brought a CD she'd burnt of the pick of her NZ pics (pucs?) but for some reason this disc was unreadable by my PC. We'll try again tonight.

In the evening I dined with M&D at the ever-wonderful Cafe India in Hawthorn, then back to theirs where we sat and chatted, with the cycling championships on quietly in the background (of course).

Sunday after Mum's for lunch I dined with P&B (yummy saltimbocca with spinach and crunchy potatoes, followed by stewed rhubarb and ice-cream), and we watched the finale to the Charles II series. Peter's cold has also done the returning trick like mine.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Bad cold, naughty cold!

For some peculiar reason my cold has taken a turn for the worse -- the cough in particular. I hope I can clear the tubes out for Monday's rehearsal as I certainly can't sing at the moment -- well, perhaps second bass.

Lots of follow-up work to be done for the FDC project which I hope to get stuck into tonight -- at least I was able to have a bit of a sleep-in this morning. Spoke to Tat briefly about her picking up her heaters; she's going to come around tomorrow afternoon, with pictures from her NZ trip.

Listening to: Wagner, Die Walküre (Solti). This recording, the first one I ever got to know, stands up extraordinarily well after nearly forty years. Is there a better Sieglinde than Crespin? Not for me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


I've been in Sydney since Monday evening -- I flew up with SVS for two days of talk about our new asset-management system, FDC, with the Sydney library people. It's been really constructive and has been great meeting up with all the people involved. Also great to discover that what we're doing in Melbourne is not all that different from what they do here.

Last night SVS, MS and I went out to a Thai place for dinner, though after the massive nasi lemak I had for lunch, I only had a mixed entree. I still felt stuffed afterwards. Made time for visits to Abbey's bookshop and Michael's record shop but was very self-controlled; could have spent a lot, but there was nothing I really couldn't live without.

Fly back this evening.

Monday, May 24, 2004

More of the same

Shopping as usual on Saturday morning, then a bit of garden maintenance in the afternoon. P&B for dinner (quasi-chicken cacciatore followed by yet more quinces) and after The Bill (farewell Mickey) we watched the rest of Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria; it really is a splendid performance with some beautiful music, from the singers and the orchestra. Last week I bought a DVD of Sweeney Todd, which we will watch soon.

Sunday morning to Mum's; she's looking much better after last week's diversions. Then down to DG's for the most wonderful lamb pot-roast finishing up with rhubarb and pear crumble. We watched the first part of Charles II -- I had to leave before the end or I would never have got home; the bus service on Sunday evenings leaves much to be desired.

Off to Sydney tonight for two days' discussion of all matters DC4: work-flow, processing, training, documentation, etc.

Friday, May 21, 2004

No news... no news.

Not much happening at the moment. German class last night, home in front of the TV tonight trying to make a dent in the huge pan of potato and leek soup which is looming in the fridge.

Listening to: The last prophet, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Reading: The hedgehog, the fox and the magister's pox Stephen J Gould's last book, finally in paperback.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

More good news

Mum went home today.

I went out to Cabrini after work last night to see her. My brother was there waiting for her to come back from her endoscopy; we waited for her for about half an hour. She was not particularly happy but I think relieved to have it all over with. I left around 5pm and headed round to P&B's for P's wonderful vera bolognese; as expected it was delicious. Watched the usual stuff including the beginning of the new series of Bedtime. It continues to delight.

Got up around 9am and after breakfast I did a bit of pulling out and pruning in the garden; there's lots more to do, but I must arrange for DT to come and do the big cutting bits and to take away all the stuff. I wish our council provided bins for garden waste -- hard rubbish collections twice a year is not enough.

After spending some time on my German homework I decided to call the hospital -- they told me Mum had gone home. When I called my brother said she was feeling fine, if a bit washed out. It was internal haemorrhoids which they have treated with their fiendish little rubber bands (or something like that). My sister and b-in-law came down from the country but won't stay.

Listening to: Regine Crespin singing (mostly) Verdi and Wagner -- what a fabulous singer!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

No news... good news.

Mum was admitted to Cabrini last night and they are doing an endoscopy today. I hope to see her later this afternoon, before going to P&B's for dinner. More news as I find out.

Last night's rehearsal was satisfying on a number of levels: I am completely over The Cold and the Josquin and Poulenc are coming together very nicely. There's still a bit of work to be done, but it's shaping up to be a good concert.

Listening to: Schubert Trout quintet. What's not to love about Schubert? I could listen all day.

Monday, May 17, 2004

The weekend just gone

On Saturday afternoon Mum and I went to one of the last performances of Urinetown - the musical, which we both really enjoyed. It's really about fighting for personal freedoms rather than pissoirs; it also plays a bit with the musical genre, indulging in a little post-modern self-referencing. The score is not madly memorable but the performance had great energy from a great cast, which included Shane Bourne, Collette Mann, Gerry Connolly and Rhonda Burchmore. Good fun.

Sunday was the regular visit to Mum's for lunch -- she said she'd been a bit poorly, a repeat of what she'd had a few months ago, but persistent. This morning I had a call from her to say that it hadn't abated overnight and that she'd called the doctor. He suggested she take herself off to Cabrini, so my brother took her in. I spoke to him later and he said that she's been admitted overnight and that they would do more tests in the morning. They initially guessed her age as around 75 -- "keep guessing", said my brother. They were astonished to find out she's 91.

So, it's been a little stressful today -- I'm confident things will be OK, but we'll wait and see.

Sunday night I was expecting P&B for irish stew (and the inevitable quinces), but as P was feeling poorly (I fear he's developed my cold) it was just B and I sitting down to eat. We watched a bit of the Eurovision Song Contest (ick) then turned over to Best in show, which we both enjoyed.

Friday, May 14, 2004


I'm glad it's Friday -- we're not going to the movies tonight, rather I'm going around to P&B's for dinner. I got myself completely confused today and nearly booked myself in for a conference in the wrong month -- it wasn't until we were trying to rewrite the roster to cover my absence that I realised that the dates didn't match. Well, at least I know that my boss is agreable to my going to one soon. It's a shame really, as it would have meant I had four days in Sydney the week after next, instead of just two. Che sera, sera.

I see B has caught the redesign bug as well. There's a lot of it about. One day soon I'll implement comments -- when I get my brain around what I have to do.

We probably won't hear much from Lesley for a while as she's off on her overseas jaunt. I hope she has a wonderful time and that she manages to update her blog occasionally for our vicarious enjoyment.

Listening to: Romeo and Juliet, Prokofiev (I used to say I didn't like ballet music, but have recently come to the realisation that it's 19th century ballet music I don't like -- particularly Tschaikovsky -- but the periods before and after have produced some fabulous music, not the least this score.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

New look

I hope all my faithful readers have noticed the new look. I thought it was about time for a change so have taken advantage of Blogger's extended range of templates. There may be more changes over the next few days. Stay tuned.
The Cold

Well, I wasn't able to ignore The Cold. As Monday progress it got worse, so much so that I didn't go to rehearsal and had an early night. Only to be woken by not being able to breathe -- jerking awake gasping for breath. After rearranging myself I managed to get a few minutes' sleep (or that's what it felt like). By the morning I had virtually no voice left and even less energy so I stayed in bed for the day.

The upside to yesterday was that the plumber came and cleaned out my jets (at least I think that's what he said) and only charged me $126, which is not bad considering he was there for about forty minutes. So I have my lovely heating back -- aah, bliss.

So apart from finishing the Rankin spy book and watching some appalling daytime television (though I did see an episode of I Claudius this morning on 31), I've done nothing for the past two days.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Saturday started with a trip to the farmers' market at the Collingwood Children's Farm where I bought some lovely beetroot and apples; at least they look lovely. After lunch I accompanied DR to an auction opposite B&P's; it was a house owned by the nuns and according to B it sold for considerably less than they paid for it a few years ago.

Later, P&B came for dinner which consisted of roast lamb with many varied root vegetables followed by stewed quinces with ice-cream. We watched The Bill, then, as there was nothing else of interest on, we watched the first half of Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria on DVD. It's a performance by Les Arts Florissants at the Festival of Aix en Provence and is really enjoyable. We'll catch the rest of it soon.

Yesterday was Mum's for lunch followed by LE's for dinner -- we are certainly well fed this weekend. LE had made the most magnificent garbure (a broth with spinach and pork bits in) followed by more quinces (nicer than mine, I must reluctantly add). It was a delightful evening during which we made plans to catch up with some movies: Triplets of Belleville and Troy among them.

Late last night I noticed that my throat was getting scratchy and, sure enough, today I've come down with another cold. I am going to try and ignore this one.

Friday, May 07, 2004

To dinner chez B&P last night for delicious roast pork (love that crackling). Nice relaxed evening listening to Company and Bran Niu Dae before returning to my still cold house -- the plumber is booked for some time next Tuesday. I will know when to expect him by a phone call at the unlikely hour of 7am. I just hope it's not too expensive.

SP finished up today before her three-week stint working in the Sydney library. MC got turkish bread and dips (sorry pestos) at the market this morning which we all fell on with great gusto.

Listening to: Der Burger als Edelman by Richard Strauss; Violin concerto by Glazunov
Reading: Blood Hunt by Jack Harvey (aka Ian Rankin)

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Met DG and B&P at Ladro for dinner. As we had no booking (we didn't think they took them) we sat at the bar. The food was lovely: I had a pizza puttanesca with anchovies, olives (with pips) and cherry tomatoes; P&B shared a very nice pizza gorgonzola (I know it was nice as we swapped slices) and DG had the roast veal. P and D also had walnut tart which was delicious. The staff were extraordinarily busy and exceedingly good, taking orders, delivering meals, answering phones, making drinks, etc. It's obviously The Place to be seen at the moment.

Recital (not Diva as I mistakenly called it yesterday) was fun; a very vigorous performance from Helen Noonan, who has been doing it now for fifteen years(!). She plays the Ur-Diva, an amalgam of sopranos some recognisable, some not, and sang bits from works ranging from Purcell to Ravel as well as delivering a monolog accompanied by music/sounds. Unfortunately her pitch was less than perfect, making for some uncomfortable lack of accord with the piano accompaniment (played by Dean Sky Lucas). Despite that, I'm glad to have seen it after all these years.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Work as usual today -- going to see Diva (Chamber Made Opera) tonight with B&P and DG. We're meeting for a meal at Ladro before heading off to the Melbourne Museum for the show.

No German tomorrow evening; Dr D just emailed me to say that Uli is not well. We'll get a week tacked on at the end of the semester. A bit of luck (well, not for Uli) as I haven't done my homework. Watch me put it off for another week.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Flying Dutchman was good, if you don't take the production into account. Senta's redemption-by-love of the Dutchman through her death, as written by Wagner, was completely negated by having the spurned Erik break her neck in the last few bars. Then to top it off we were presented with a person representing Senta sitting on the side of the stage reading her book (which replaced the portrait) suggesting that the whole thing was Senta's imagining. That idea was done so much better in the production I saw at Bayreuth in 1979 -- Senta was on stage throughout the whole production and there was some reason to suppose she was disturbed and imagining everything.

However, the singing was great, particularly John Wegner as the Dutchman and Elizabeth Whitehouse as Senta -- the orchestra also played really well. Our seats were in row B, a little close, but what's to complain about half price?

BN came for dinner on Saturday and we huddled around Tat's heater while watching acts two and three of the very variable Stuttgart Götterdämmerung; act two works really well, but then they go and spoil it all in the final scene of act three having Brünnhilde carefully show everyone else off the stage -- including the dead Siegfried -- while she sings here Immolation to a fully-lit auditorium. Very strange.

Things were a little better on Sunday evening (or perhaps just a little less cold) when P&B came. We watched A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum which I picked up on DVD the other week. It turns out not to be as funny as I had remembered; fun, in a very 1960s way, but not so funny.

I'm working Tuesday evening this week for a change and had lunch in town after picking up my next month's supply of Lipitor from the clinic pharmacy. Just as well because the Library was this afternoon presented with some left-over bread-and-butter pudding of which I scoffed quite a big piece -- yum!