Thursday, June 30, 2011

A perfect day

I couldn't have asked for a better last day of June. A day off work; a lovely clear blue Melbourne day; a visit from some very dear friends (you know who you are, Lif and Russ); and a trip to Brunswick to see my cousin sing with Chiliad. Perfect.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tale of a journeyman

Today I discovered that my official title at Ancora Press is 'journeyman'. This means I'm trusted to do routine tasks such as setting, distributing and sorting type, but must follow the direction of the master for more complex tasks including actual printing.

We are now engaged on setting the introduction and notes for Jack Lindsay's D.H. Lawrence poem. I predict that this is going to take a long time. Meanwhile Morgan Bach is expected back from the binders any day now. We are planning a very special launch of our Welsh masterpiece.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


After the raging success* of yesterday's blog post about the colour scheme of my living room, today I will introduce the study.

The same red walls flank the other side of the double doors between the study and the living room, but the remaining walls are painted a dark purple up to the picture rail, with a tasteful cream above. The woodwork, ceiling and cornices are white. The paintwork of both rooms was conceived and executed by #1 son, who is rightly appalled that I haven't yet organised proper window furnishings for both rooms.

The angles manifest themselves again in this room, with a right-angled section off the front porch featuring opaque glass panels with an art deco gazelle design. These panels are 'temporarily' covered in cast-off purple cotton curtains, waiting for me to organise something more suitable.

The other two windows are diamond leadlight casements, again at right angles to each other, which sound terribly romantic but are horrible to clean. So they're not.

I can't show you a photo of the windows until I fix the curtain situation, but here is a picture of another part of the room.

A corner of the study
*Two comments via blog/twitter so far! And counting!


My living room is painted a lovely apple green colour. The house is an early Californian bungalow style built in the 1920s. The original rooms and the hallway are all very small and have odd angles. The living room walls angle into the fireplace. The wall above the fireplace is painted a sandy colour which contrasts nicely with the green of the other walls. A couple of other bits of wall are dark red, and between them are some white sliding doors leading into the study. For such a small room it has quite a range of colour, but it is a very restful space.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bircher muesli

This week I've had Bircher muesli for breakfast every day. Here is my version of the famous recipe.

In the evening, grate one small or half a large beautiful pink lady apple from the farmers market. Dr Bircher-Benner says to leave in the seeds, but I usually pick them out. Put the grated apple into a container with a lid, suitable for carrying to work the next day.

Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the apple.

Scatter a couple of tablespoons of natural muesli on top of the apple. If you don't have any muesli on hand, you could use plain rolled oats instead.

Spread a couple of tablespoons of natural yogurt over the muesli. Use plain natural yogurt, not the 'Greek' variety which often has all sorts of additives. Keep it simple.

Scatter over some craisins. If by some unfortunate chance you don't have any of these, blueberries would probably be even better.

Cover the container and leave in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, just before you rush out the door to catch the train, break up a few walnuts over the top of the mixture, replace the lid of the container and pop it into your bag.

Once you're safely at work, grab a spoon from the kitchen, stir your muesli up a bit and eat it at your desk while catching up on your twitter and/or email.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Past vs future

This evening I had to make the difficult decision whether to help out as usual at the Ancora Press, or go to a VALA meeting on web scale library services. The VALA meeting won out and I was pleased I attended for two reasons. Chris Thewlis gave a very interesting presentation on OCLC's transition to cloud computing services - lots of implications to consider, particularly for school libraries who are used to having their libraries operate in a relatively closed and controlled environment.

The other highlight of the evening was meeting one of my twitter friends in person for the first time - a kindred spirit who is also a librarian and Geelong supporter!

Navigating to the Leigh Scott room at the Baillieu Library was also rather fun. The ground floor is completely inaccessible at present so you have to enter through what was once the Economics building, go up three floors, walk through the Giblin Library (formerly a completely separate branch of the university libraries but now physically connected), go down two floors and there you are. Simple!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Bloomsbury tragic

Yes, I'll admit it. I wrote my honours thesis on Virginia Woolf. I own the complete set of her letters and diaries, the Quentin Bell biography and numerous other books by and about the members of the Bloomsbury Group. I even have the beautiful portrait of Virginia by George Charles Beresford hanging on my bedroom wall.

Yesterday I randomly typed my usual keyword search into an American university library catalogue in the course of investigating the change of its discovery service from Voyager to WorldCat local. I serendipitously discovered this wonderful book about Charleston, the home of Virginia's sister Vanessa Bell and her fellow artist and sometime lover Duncan Grant. And even better, it was available in my local library, albeit it at a far-flung branch.

At my command it was soon wending its way to my favourite branch ready for collection this evening. Thanks to OCLC, Libraries Australia and Boroondara Libraries for their collaborative services that made this discovery possible - fairdinkum unbelievable!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A taste of summer

Melbourne's wet weather has not been kind to tomatoes. Especially mine. Despite being given some beautiful seedlings last spring, I didn't get around to planting them until well after Christmas, which as Kevin Heinze could have told me is way too late to plant tomatoes. Meanwhile a couple of self-sown plants bravely emerged from the compost.

But lo and behold now in the depths of winter a few hardy plants have survived to give me a tiny taste of home-grown goodness.

Here is a picture of the latest little batch.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lawrence and Lindsay

The latest Ancora Press project is a poem by Jack Lindsay about D. H. Lawrence. The free-verse poem laments Lindsay's failure to meet Lawrence during Lawrence's visit to Australia - although Lindsay and Lawrence corresponded after Lindsay moved to England, unfortunately they never actually met.

My job for tonight was setting the notes, which taught me that Lindsay, Frank Johnson and Kenneth Slessor edited a literary quarterly called Vision in 1923-24. Thanks as ever to Trove for the bibliographic details. I also learnt that Lindsay lived in a rented house in Bondi before his move to England.

The setting of the poem is nearly finished but it will take some time to set the comprehensive notes and the introduction by John Arnold. Publication will probably be in early 2012.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

MCC library fact sheets

One of the hidden treasures of the Melbourne Cricket Ground is the Melbourne Cricket Club library. For every match day at the MCG the staff and volunteers produce a fact sheet, full of fascinating historical and statistical information about the teams playing that day.

On Saturday night I dropped in as usual to pick up the sheet, but was stopped in my tracks by a lovely exhibit dedicated to Bob Davis. Earlier in the year a friend and I took a tour of The Crooked Staffe exhibition which gave a great insight into the collection of cricket books and artefacts of the MCC library and the MCC museum. If like me you're lucky enough to be an MCC member you can visit the library any time; otherwise I highly recommend you go on a tour.

Here is the link to the online version of the fact sheets. Make sure you check out the fact sheet for the Geelong v Hawthorn match of 11 June 2011, featuring the Bob Davis tribute.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

E M Forster

For some unknown reason I've suddenly developed a hankering to read E.M. Forster again. I haven't read his books for many years and I wonder if I'll like them as much this time around. I don't think I have any on hand in the 'home library', so was pleased to find Howard's End and A Room With a View available via the Stanza app. Looking forward to rediscovering them once I finish The Ice Princess and the L.M. Montgomery books (currently reading Rainbow Valley, only Rilla of Ingleside to go).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grown larger

One of our favourite pastimes while perusing the menu in a restaurant is checking for typos and other oddities. The most consistent error we find is 'Crown larger', which we like to interpret as a misspelling of 'Grown larger', rather than the name of an overpriced beer.

Today I found in my letterbox a free sample of craisins, with a promotional brochure and recipes. I had never heard of craisins until I visited Boston a couple of years ago, where they popped up in a salad, along with edamame. I was very taken with them and delighted to discover that they could be purchased back home under the more prosaic name of dried cranberries.

I was very pleased with the free sample and decided to check out more recipes on the craisin people's website. I found a rather appealing recipe for aubergine crostini with cranberry pesto. Among the ingredients of this recipe is '1 large banquette, sliced thinly'. I imagine it's quite difficult to slice up a banquette, but even if it were possible I doubt if it would go with the craisins.

Monday, June 6, 2011

On the couch

I would like to say I'm watching On the couch while sitting on the couch, but it wouldn't be true. Instead I'm sitting in an armchair with an interesting provenance (if indeed an armchair can be said to have an interesting provenance).

My armchairs first came into my world in 1970-something when a friend offloaded them because she found them too old fashioned. I loved them, but when I moved to a tiny house in Port Melbourne there was sadly no room for them, so they were offloaded to another friend.

Time went by and the chairs were in turn offloaded to a friend of my other friend. And then that friend of my friend decided they were no longer required. Meanwhile I had moved to another small house which luckily had grown enough to accommodate the armchairs. Back they came, in a somewhat sorry state, but with a spot of loving care from an upholstery service, they resumed service.

View from my armchair: the other armchair

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kardinia Park: the early years

My early experience of Kardinia Park was as a toddler. I faintly remember sitting in my pusher and being totally bored because I couldn't see anything except people's legs. When just a little older, but still not very interested in the games I couldn't see, I used to wander off and climb the pine trees at the river end of the ground, near where the Doug Wade stand is now.

As time moved on and I developed an interest in the game, my sisters and I would get to the ground early so we could sit on the seats around the boundary line. Those were the days of Polly Farmer, Billy Goggin, Paul Vinar (my favourite, for some reason), the wonderful Lord twins, Terry Callan and John Sharrock.

Sadly we moved to Melbourne and the trips to Geelong gradually became less frequent as family commitments took over. We saw Geelong through the dark days of the 70s and 80s mostly at Waverley and the MCG. On one memorable occasion in the 1970s we spent a weekend in Geelong and rejoiced in an unexpected victory over Collingwood at a packed Kardinia Park. We had to hitchhike home because of a train strike, but it hardly seemed to matter.

The later 1980s and early 1990s were the Gary Ablett years. What excitement Gary and Malcolm Blight brought to Geelong! We have rarely missed a game at Kardinia Park ever since.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The pleasure of the table

Tonight I decided to make a dish based on a recipe from one of my favourite Australian cookbooks, The pleasure of the table: the cooking artistry of Wivine de Stoop. This book was published in 1981 and tells the story of a wonderful Belgian lady who gave classical French cooking classes at her home in Blackburn during the 1960s. The book includes photographs of Wivine's lovely home, complete with Aga stove. It also has delightful sketches by Donald Green and a foreword by Penny Smith.

The book is still sometimes to be found in op shops and second hand shops and I encourage you to buy it if you see it.

The recipe I adapted is 'Gratin Maison' which in the original includes hard boiled eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and broccoli baked with a mornay sauce. The eggs are stuffed with a herby breadcrumb mixture. It's a lovely simple, comforting dish and I recommend it to you.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Trams and trains

Today I have travelled on five trams and two trains. Is this excessive, or perfectly ordinary?

1. Riversdale to Richmond
2. Richmond to Flinders Street
3. Swanston Street to William Street
4. Queen Street to Spring Street
5. Wellington Pde to Burnley Street
6. Burnley Street to Camberwell Junction
7. Camberwell Junction to Riversdale

In between all these trips I managed to spend a day in the office, go down to the end of the town to meet #1 son at Mrs Parma's, walk through the gardens to Jolimont, stop off at Dan's for supplies, and be back in time for tea!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Winter in Melbourne

Having spent last weekend at the Gold Coast, I'm way behind with the washing, shopping and other chores. While hanging out yet another load of washing tonight I couldn't help but notice the sound of lilly pilly berries being crunched by hungry fruit bats overhead. I just hope the washing is not covered in purple splotches when I bring it in tomorrow! Gold Coast

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Morgan Bach in Australia

After months of work the latest Ancora Press publication is ready for binding. This is an ambitious production for the team of dedicated hand printers who meet at Monash Caulfield campus most Wednesday nights. The Ancora Press is shared with the Fine Arts department whose students use the facilities to produce artists' books.

Morgan Bach in Australia is a Welsh poem about a mother who grieves for her son when he decides to emigrate to Australia in colonial times. Both the original Welsh text and the English translation have been painstakingly set by hand and embellished with charming decorations.

The book will be available for sale in either a leather- or cloth-bound version. I'll keep you posted!