Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Yeast affection

AFTER A long break (months and months) I have finally reacquainted myself with the wonders of yeast. What a magical substance this is which allows us all to make our own bread. As you may have worked out, Friday's pizzas were a success, piled high with salami, buffalo mozzarella, olives and tuna, roast capsicum and capers. P&B seemed to enjoy the eating as much as I did the making.

Then on Sunday I baked myself a loaf of bread - I used a mix of white and wholemeal flour to which I added a good handful of oats. It's yummy.

I am really starting to like the Pärt and think the concert will be a cracker. We start rehearsals tomorrow for the Bach (after the first German 2 class); there's only a handful of rehearsals so I will have to make sure I know it well.

I'm working again tonight after a lazy day -- my main highlight was walking into town along the Yarra after catching the Hoddle Street bus to Swan Street. A very pleasant diversion which climaxed in an iced chocolate at Fed Square before work.

Friday, February 18, 2005

More of the same

WORK HAS been a bit frantic this week. After Monday's mess it has settled a little but there still seems to be not enough people around; I suppose having one off on sick leave and one on annual leave, as well as no replacement for the boss, does leave us fairly depleted.

I had a lovely dinner at P&B's on Wednesday: sour fish curry followed by rare venison and mayonnaise on slices of bread. There was dessert as well, but by then I was FURTB* and just quietly wandered home to bed.

Last night I spent pottering around ripping a few CDs for the Zen (including St Matthew Passion to listen to over the next few weeks -- should make a playlist of just the choruses), watching TV and just generally lounging about.

Tonight I hope to resurrect my pizza skills and will feed B&P with the results. It's been quite a while since I've played with yeast.

* Full up ready to burst

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Jumping Jack...

week has gone past in a flash - Gombert rehearsal Saturday morning followed by lunch and shopping with P&B. Sunday was passed riding to Mum's in the am and training it to BN's in the pm. BN is living smack bang in the middle of a renovation which is not much fun for her, though she's still grinning. She's been told that in a week or so it should be more manageable, but let's wait and see. When it is finished it will be great; what a shame it's so messy getting there.

Monday was Gloriana in the evening after a truly horrendous day at work. I felt like the sorcerer's apprentice (cue Dukas) - every time I thought I'd cleared up a problem, four more (five? fifty-five?) would spring up in their place. Unfortunately when I ran screaming out of the building I had neglected to do a couple of things which would have made life for others much easier. This was not helped by the fact I had yesterday off. So this morning was spent cleaning up (most of) my messes.

Yesterday I spent trying to get myself organised enough to get my tax return done - unfortunately I seem to have lost what used to be called a group certificate. I think I've put it in a very safe place - and we all know what happens when you do that. I've requested a replacement from Sydney. In the evening Tat was back for dinner before we spent the rest of the night rehearsing the Pärt (which is growing on me).

Today was a lot easier (once the fires were doused - pardon the mixed metaphors) and I'm looking forward to a relaxing dinner chez B&P.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Pärtly interesting

SATURDAY'S surprise party went off brilliantly -- Rod was genuinely surprised. This is all the more amazing as the party had originally been planned for December and had to be postponed. No-one blabbed. On Saturday he was told he was going to a Gombert trivia night; we all stood around near the door while his family and friends hid inside the hall. Then when he entered the hall the cry of "surprise" went up. A triumph of organisation.

On Sunday I went to Mum's as usual; I don't normally mention it but I wouldn't want my regular reader to think I didn't see her every weekend. She's much the same but last week went back to work at the shop -- an opportunity shop in Malvern where she helps out two mornings a week. As usual she cooked me a delicious meal followed by yummy strawberries with ice-cream. She certainly eats well.

Monday evening was Gloriana rehearsal. The program for this concert is terrific; I particularly like the Sheppard mass, but the rest is pretty good, too.

On Tuesday morning AH came to fit the new anti-burglar window locks. He also tightened up a few odd things around the place, like the back door handle and the towel rails, and put some graphite in the front door lock. It's so nice to have a man around the house.

After eating with Tat we were off to Gombert in the evening: the Pärt Kanon Pokajanen is actually more interesting that I was expecting, I think DG in particular will enjoy it. However, it is made more difficult by the text in Cyrillic; luckily there is also roman transliteration.

At the rehearsal DS was talking about the St John's St Matthew Passion - the rehearsal dates have been organised; they're all on Thursday evenings so I will have to miss about twenty minutes or so because of German classes, but I'm sure it'll be OK.

I'm working again this evening most of which will be taken up with training the new boy - he seems a quick learner so I hope I won't have to do too many more of the split shifts (which I have to do tomorrow). This afternoon I walked to Carlton where I had to pick up some material for work. It was a good day for walking, overcast and not too hot (well, not hot at all), and I had a nice little amble around Reading's before setting off for the city and, eventually, work.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Non-whistling Rufus

LAST NIGHT B, P, L and I headed down to St Kilda where, after a yummy meal at Cicciolina (I had linguini with Atlantic salmon), we met up with M&D at the National Theatre to hear a concert given by Kate & Anna McGarrigle, and Kate's children Rufus and Martha Wainwright.

It was not the best organised, nor indeed the best sounding concert I've ever been to, but there was some great stuff including a number of the McGarrigles' old songs (which I actually remembered) and some interesting songs from young Rufus. It was, as he said, rather like a parlour concert - all a bit thrown-together and no real structure.

Although he sang Gay messiah I'm afraid I have absolutely no appreciation of the song as his dodgy diction combined with the atrocious sound meant I could understand perhaps one word in five. His songs do display a use of interesting harmonies of the sort not often encountered in popular music. His voice is strong with a wide range and he uses it intelligently; but I wouldn't call it the most beautiful noise I've heard.

It was an enjoyable night, not least for catching up with M&D after too long a break.

IN OTHER news: P&B have gone to Mornington for the weekend gallery hopping and generally relaxing. I'm off to a surprise 60th party tomorrow night (no names, no packdrill) and should really do some serious house cleaning as well, but we'll see about that.

At least it's stopped raining for the moment, although it's still not particularly warm.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


LAST NIGHT was one of the most extraordinary night's I've experienced. I don't think I slept at all, although I probably did manage a few winks. The rain and wind did not let up until the sun rose, when everything went very strangely quiet. Quiet, that is, except for the house and car alarms that were going off all around the area. During the night I lay in bed (under my doona - in February!) listening to the howling wind outside and a steady drip, drip somewhere inside -- however I've worked out that the leak is over the shower base. How lucky is that?

We've just had the wettest day in recorded history; that is, the wettest day in over 150 years: Melbourne received around 120mm of rain in 24 hours. This morning chaos is everywhere: trains on most lines are disrupted (luckily Epping not too badly), the Southgate tram depot is flooded affecting the 109, 112 and 96 lines, the usual roads in South Melbourne and North Melbourne are under water, and the Yarra is rising. I wonder how high it will be in a day or two.

Luckily everything had eased off when it came time to come to work.; the train I caught was packed but I made it without any hassles. Let's hope it stays dry for me to get home again later.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

They're off and running...

LAST NIGHT was the first rehearsal for Gloriana thus starting my six week marathon of rehearsals. This concert has a terrific program: a mass by Sheppard, motets by Byrd and Weelkes, some Purcell and finishing with some later English works. Luckily I've sung a good proportion of it before which will make the next month or so a lot easier in terms of learning notes.

Unfortunately, because of work commitments, I will miss the first of the Gombert rehearsals tonight; I do hope the Pärt is not too tedious. Still, I'll have the Bach to keep me amused. But I don't know yet when rehearsals start for that.

On Saturday morning I picked up a parcel which was waiting for me at the Post Office; it was the vocal score for Marshner's Der Vampyr which I ordered a few weeks ago. When I had some time I sat down with the score and listened to one of the recordings I have. I know Pfitzner had a hand in revisions in the 1920s so he may be responsible, but there are a number of cuts in the work on the recording I heard. Not major ones, and thinking about them I realise that they probably make very good sense in performance. But now of course I'll just have to listen to the other (three?) versions I own and make comparisons. It's great stuff so I won't really mind. Perhaps I should send off for a score for Hans Heiling - it is after all supposed to be his masterwork.