Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 151 - John Green at the State Library of Victoria

Still feeling unwell, I was tempted to miss out on John Green speaking at the State Library of Victoria. I'm glad I didn't. He is such an energetic and deep-thinking author. It was amazing to see the turnout of adolescents - pictured here lining up to get their books signed - and incredible to hear to response they gave him when he bounded onto the stage. I've written a blog post if you're interested.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 150 - Upside down sticky banana cake

Taking advantage of my sudden spurt of wellbeing this morning, I sprang into action, whipping up a sticky upside-down banana cake, as well as a zucchini, mushroom and feta quiche, before collapsing again on the couch with renewed lousiness. I hope to feel better before tomorrow, because I'm booked to go to the State Library of Victoria to attend a talk by the Young Adult author, John Green. I don't know if he'd like being called a YA author, but he does write books for YAs. I've been enjoying his vodcasts and embedded one on my reading blog. He's very funny, and even filmed himself carrying out a challenge to climb onto a table. John is incredibly afraid of heights, and Justine Larbalestier dared him (publicly) to stand up on a table for money that would go to a charity of his choice. He did this at home and filmed himself. I showed a couple of classes, and they were fascinated. At first they couldn't believe how nervous he got trying to stand on a table. Great discussion starter. Conquering your fears. I thought he was brave for filming himself and putting it up on his blog.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 149 - View from the couch

My head is still not in a good way. I'm not really moving from the couch. This is what I see from where I'm sitting (well, it's more like reclining). My younger son has a student-free day and is doing something he rarely does - reading. Not sure how long that will last, and then he'll be off playing or composing music.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 148 - Home sick

At home with an inner ear thing. It's better not to move the head much. Thought I'd snap the last of these Stephanotis blooms. Soon everything will bare itself in the garden.

Day 147 - Picturesque Watsonia

Since I'm unwell and not moving about to reduce unpleasant symptoms, Guest Photographer has taken a view near the railway bridge of Watsonia station, not far from our house. Looks a bit apocalyptic.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 146 - Christian Lander

Guest photographer attended an author and book signing session at Readings, Carlton. Christian Lander is the author of 'Stuff white people like'. Apparently, I am a white person because I own a Kitchen Aid mixer, have an Arts degree (especially Literature), have gay friends, scarves, observe grammar, buy bottles of water, and prefer natural medicine.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day 145 - Fence dispute

Those who know me in person or on Facebook - please do not read on. You have had a gutful of my fence woes. Spare yourself the repetition. Our neighbours have written a letter demanding that we replace the fence and pay for the whole thing because our 'inappropriate vegetation' has ruined the fence. Yes, we did have a passionfruit growing here, but after we took it off, the fence collapsed in most parts. It was actually holding it up. I estimate the fence to be over 30 years old. I'm not looking forward to court, but if that's what it takes, I hope that will settle the dispute and allow us to pay our half.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 144 - Concert

My son (2) and I attended a friend's last concert as conductor of the Monash University Choral at St George's Uniting Church in St Kilda. The program included Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major, Mozart's Great Mass in C Minor, and a couple of sacred works by the Russian composer, Bortnyansky. The conductor, Nicholas Cowall, is a promoter and advocator of Russian and Soviet composers, in particular, Schnittke, Chesnokov and Bortniansky. It's amazing hearing non-Russians sing in Old Slavonic, not an easy thing to do.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day 143 - Saturday breakfast

As usual, Saturday morning's visit to the market is followed by breakfast in the city. We meet my mother, sister and friend in a lovely little cafe tucked away almost invisibly in Little Collins Street. The pastries and bread here are to die for. Well, obviously, that's hyperbole, but it's definitely worth looking forward to.

Day 142 - Hyacinths

The hyacinths I was given on Mother's Day are looking gorgeous at the moment. I wish I could bring them inside to enjoy their scent, but with the heater on they wouldn't have a chance at lasting beyond a day. Hang on - aren't hyacinths supposed to bloom in Spring?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Day 141 - Top of the muffin

This is one of those days when you thank me because I hand over to Guest Photographer. The main reason is to relieve you of excruciating banality, which is the inevitable result of not going anywhere different, just going to school, then coming home and cooking dinner, etc. And since Guest Photographer is my flesh and blood, albeit long divorced from my own, I think it is acceptable to occasionally slip in photos such as this one. Which one would you choose?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day 140 - End of a cycle

The Orthodox celebrate Easter for 40 days. Well, when I say 'celebrate', I don't mean we're still partying (although we are still getting through our stash of chocolate), but we are still in the Easter (Paschal) cycle. That's because Christ appeared to the apostles and faithful for 40 days after his resurrection, before His ascension.

Meanwhile, my Easter decorations are really getting on my nerves, and despite my youngest son's protests (he loves the decorations), I decided to get rid of the 'Easter tree' (more of a German thing) and the coloured eggs you see pictured here. Gone are the little wooden rabbits pushing barrows, and gone are the now squashed little fluffy yellow chicks. I decided to throw out the fluffy little rabbits sitting in tiny nests (some sort of strange, unnatural manifestation of Easter mixup) that someone had given me (possibly my mother).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day 139 - Ballet

The Australian Ballet School is celebrating its 45th anniversary with a couple of concerts. Fortunately my day off coincided with one of the daytime performances. I'd forgotten how exquisite ballet was, and how it transported the viewer into an entirely different zone. The students performed Swan Lake Act II; Matya's Dance with music by John Williams - gypsy-like, I thought; Songs of Light with music by Radiohead; and Graduation Waltz with music by Glazunov. An hour in a different world. I should do this more often.
In the afternoon, I returned to the garden to do some replanting. The trees are almost bare with snatches of yellow and red, soon to be a memory.

Day 138 - Chapel construction

I teach in a Catholic boys' school. A new chapel is in the process of being built. Today the construction site attracted interest when the crane lowered the unusual-shaped concrete (I presume) roof bits. Technical, arent I?
After a very foggy, crisp start, the day turned out to be a glorious one. I didn't mind lingering a little to soak up the sun. I wonder how long it will be before the chapel is completed.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day 137 - Kitchen duty

My turn for kitchen duty at church today. I got up earlier than I would have wanted, but a few other people were up even earlier getting the dough ready so that it would rise before all the ladies got in and started to make the piroshki. If you haven't heard of piroshki before, they're made of yeasty dough with fillings. We had fried ones filled with meat and rice, mashed potato and onion, and fried onion and cabbage. There some baked versions of these. We also made sweet ones filled with apple puree and dusted with icing sugar, and these are pictured here.

What I enjoy about this experience (only once I'm there and have had my coffee, and not before that) is the social aspect. Our parish is currently enjoying an influx of Russian people who are new(ish) to the country. My own family emigrated from Russia in the 40s and 50s, so are old immigrants, so we're pretty much Australians who are lucky to remember the language. Today I was making piroshki and chatting to a woman who was Russian but had lived in Azerbaijan for a lot of her life. She was probably in her 70s, and was complaining about how difficult it was to learn English. I think it would be hard to adapt to major changes, including language, as you get older.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Day 136 - Market flowers

As usual, Saturday morning is Victoria Market shopping day. I felt like buying flowers, and these proteas were unusual, in that they are usually pink. I cut back some very long stemmed pussy willow as an accompaniment. The day has been chilly with sun periodically surprising us in between gloomy clouds. We're waiting for the fence man to give us a quote on fixing the fence which is currently an issue of disagreement with our neighbours. I hope this gets solved without too much drama. Bad enough the neighbours on our other side dont' talk to us anymore since their giant gum fell into our yard, damaging our fence and trees, and we dared to ask them to pay half the cost of repair. Sigh, Maybe I wasn't meant to live amongst people.

Day 135 - My addiction

It's no secret to those who know me that coffee is one of my addictions. The other one follows logically, and that's chocolate. One leads to the other. If I'm drinking coffee, then I want chocolate. Wait, or is it the other way around? I definitely know that after eating onion (in salad), I crave coffee. Do you have any addictions? Which foods make you want to eat other foods?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Day 134 - What's for dinner again?

Some part of my life are supremely predictable. Like the evening meal. It's a regular occurrence in our household. Have you ever thought about how many meals you've prepared? So what's it like for you? For me, I race in from work, wrap an apron around me, and get cooking. Luckily I don't mind it, not like ironing, for example, which doesn't happen as regularly. Still, I think we'd rather eat than wear neatly pressed clothing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Day 133 - Catching the light

One thing I don't enjoy is knowing that we are moving closer to Winter. The worst part for me is the fact that it gets dark so early. It makes me want to crawl inside and not go anywhere. Isn't it funny how in the Summer it's still light until 9pm or so, and you feel like the day is still going on, but in Winter (or even Autumn), you feel the day ends some time after 5pm. There should be a switch in us that allows us to adapt to the seasons and function normally.
I took this photo just before it got dark. I ran out into the backyard and snapped before it became too late, and I was forced to take another inside shot.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day 132 - Guest photographer

My camera has been playing up the last few days. Today Son No.1 took it with him when he went to uni with the intention of having it repaired. That didn't happen, but this photo did.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day 131 - When in doubt, fruit.

Another day without photo or photo ideas. Actually, the day was full of ideas, and that may be partially to blame for my lack of focus and dedication to photo collection. Meanwhile, the bowl is yet another acquisition following the garage purge; I saved it from the skip.
By the way, notice the strange thing in the middle of the arrangement? It's a flower from a eucalypt. Don't ask me what it's called, but the tree looks gorgeous when it's in flower.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Day 130 - Wedding reception

I've just returned from a wedding reception which was exquisite. A beautiful venue, fantastic menu, heartfelt speeches, music and good conversation (when we could hear over the music) (I sound old, don't I?) Today's picture is of friends Ammia and Theo. Pity I didn't get one of them dancing. They're very good.

Day 129 - Flower clock

As far as I can remember, this clock in the gardens on St Kilda Road, across the road from the Gallery of Victoria, has been an ever-changing flower display. At the moment, it's in between plantings, but I've always enjoyed looking at the different, coloured designs.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Day 128 - Cabaret

Tonight we went to the school production of Cabaret. My youngest played violin in the orchestra, and the oldest was the repetiteur on keyboard/piano. This was a quality performance; I loved it. A powerful musical. I love the contrasting scenes. There's a lot of talent in the school.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 127 - Cuckoo

Still sorting old junk, this cuckoo clock comes from the Black Forest, Germany (Schwarzwald) and was given to my mother by her best childhood friend in Germany. My mother left Germany at the age of 12, and her friend came to visit her in Australia only 32 years later. My mother's childhood memories of Germany are frozen, sacred memories, and I think that if she ever went back to Germany now, these would either shatter in the face of the real, current Germany, or perhaps, she could find all her memories and bring them to life again.
Notice the antlers have disappeared. At one stage my father thought he was clever by sticking twigs into the head of the deer where the antlers should have been.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Day 126 - Nothing

A friend of mine commented today about the fact that I managed to find a photo every day for the Flickr groups and blog. I told her that often, at the end of the day, I was without photo or ideas. Here's the photo to prove it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day 125 - Must save the art

I'm still sorting through things I've saved from the skip. Here's an oil painting my sister did a while ago. It's quite large, up to my shoulders (and I'm 5 feet 11 inches). I'm not sure if I can find a spot on the wall in my house, but I couldn't bear to see it tossed onto the skip.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Day 124 - More old stuff

Still on the subject of Garage Discovery, guess what I pulled out? Remember the old Dymo? The label maker? Well, my older son grabbed this. Not sure if I can still buy the tape.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Day 123 - Crazy lamp

-My sister has a great sense of humour. Here's a kitsch lamp she put together for a laugh. You can see the little birds but it's a pity you can't see the tiny little plastic babies hanging off the wires. It was one of the many things I picked up in the Big Garage Cleanup; I couldn't bear to see it thrown away. Now, what to do with it....

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Day 122 - Old treasures

Today I spent the day emptying my mother's garage - 50 years of accumulated stuff. We were supposed to fill the skip but somehow my station wagon was filled with things I couldn't bear to throw out, including this old red phone. I pulled out the complete works of Dostoyevsky (in Russian), various other Russian classics which belonged to my grandmother, paintings on canvas my sister had done which she now rejected, wooden planks, an old rug, and other things. I was happy to see the old Lotto game with the original wooden numbers. We also found one and two cent coins.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Day 121 - Piano for leisure

My younger son often unwinds by playing on the piano, providing me with music as I cook dinner. We're looking forward to a visit from a good friend tonight (from Sydney). Unwinding at the end of the week over spaghetti bolognese and red wine, good conversation, and a few laughs.