Category Archives: Musing

revisiting your own past

1989-09-24 Armidale NSW_01

World premiere performance, concert version, Claudio Pompili’s “Songs for Ophelia” for unaccompanied female voice. Given in Lazenby Hall, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia, as part of the Musicological Society National Conference concert, on 24 September 1989.

Sometimes, as the years slide past, you forget the details of the good things as well as the bad. In my case, the bad might include mistakes I sometimes made mid-performance but the good definitely includes how stellar some of my vocal performances actually were. Luckily for my memory and the possibility of sharing some of that splendour with possible future grandchildren, recordings can bring a reminder. A few months ago, Dr B and one of his old schoolmates were working on Dr B’s motorbike together. They’re neither of them entirely capable of staying on the point, so their conversation wandered from motorbikes and strayed across many strata of music composition and performance and getting inside the technical stuff; and their physical presence wandered from the shed into the house for some musical evidence.

Some of the recordings Dr B used to illustrate points were of me singing his music (that’s not uncommon). A couple of works I’d practically forgotten, it’s so long since I recorded them and I probably never performed them more than a few times anyway (they were to some extent experiments by Dr B and not well suited to my vocal range or timbre but I sang them anyway in the spirit of collaboration and because they were too beautiful to let such minor details deter me utterly). Dr B’s Songs for Ophelia remain perhaps the most spectacular things I have ever performed, with all sorts of wondrous vocal pyrotechnics whose sparkle and agility still have the power to surprise even me; and I was the one pulling them off.

I would perform them differently now for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which would be that my voice is considerably older and darker than it was then (1989 – 1990) and, because rarely used nowadays, distinctly lacking in the sparkle and agility. I reckon, though, I’d still get the kind of reaction from the audience that I got the other day from the old schoolmate: a recognition of something special. (And a chuckle from YoungB who reckoned the resulting warbles were remarkably akin to those produced by the damn magpies when they start up at about 4.00 in the morning, as we well know from years of being up at that hour for rowing training.)

Now, you’re probably going to ask where can you hear any of this spectacular stuff and, I’m sorry, I can’t upload without going Premium. That’s probably not going to happen on our single income, particularly when this blog is not an essential part of anyone’s life.

However, I hope I’ve added a link to the page of Dr B’s recording where the Songs for Ophelia can be found; if you have time to scroll down the page. Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day is short – we’re talking 22 seconds – but stunning, if you’d like an idea of why I’m pleased to have unexpectedly revisited that part of my past (yes, unexpectedly because, in the normal run of things, you wouldn’t expect motorbike maintenance to end up encompassing the sharing of what are now close to vintage recordings).

I tested the link, and it worked for me. I hope it will work for you, too 🙂 And of course the photo is of me singing my little heart out to a sizeable audience. The recording was made at the Ultimo studios of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (usually referred to as the ABC, the Abe – think the Beeb – or Auntie). I believe the original recordings have since gone the way of the dodo in one of the many clear-outs; but note that the copyright was originally with the ABC.


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Well, you know, it keeps me off the streets!

That excavator seems to be still waving its bucket around, but at least we now have some happier, sillier things for it to excavate, in among the health issues and potential surgery. The potential surgery would be for Dr B, much as we’d like to avoid it. But if it’s necessary, then he’ll have it done and I’ll take some time off work to soothe his fevered brow while he recovers.

The happier excavations include the forthcoming family wedding and all the usual, “OMG, what AM I going to do for a decent dress?” dilemmas. But even more than that, as Middle Aunt and I agreed when we were discussing wedding attire, there’s the all-but-insoluble dilemma around the availability of shoes that don’t hurt but look acceptable. Yeah, not thick on the ground. On the other hand, we agreed it’s not world-shattering if you end up with something less elegant than you’d hoped for if it means you can walk. Priorities. Right?

She and I have both recently had optometry appointments and are eagerly awaiting our new specs. I haven’t had new specs for six years. That’s pretty good going. When I was picking out which of the multifocals I wanted, the girl who was explaining their various attractions started to talk about how one version is easy to scratch. But then, she pointed out with a bit of a laugh, I plainly don’t scratch my glasses. No. They’re either on my face or waiting to be put on my face, so the likelihood of their getting scratched is remote. Not beyond possible, but extremely improbable. It would, I suggest, be the result of a significant accident; in which case, scratched glasses might be the  least of anybody’s worries.

YoungB submitted his last ever essay (for a while, anyway. Nobody would ever suggest he might not return to study at some point in the future). We had a group hug to celebrate that, but agreed that the champagne can wait until graduation day. We also agreed it has been a long five years. But, you know, here we are and there he is and now let’s try to find a silver lining in the Centrelink queue when he rocks up there on Monday!!! (That would be our dole office equivalent, if you think I’m talking gibberish.)

And the simple shawl that I’m knitting? Yes, that’s making progress, too. It’s keeping me out of mischief while Dr B watched telly and that’s all it needs to do. 🙂

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Posted by on February 10, 2018 in Health, Knitting, Musing


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the next stage

2017 has been a challenging year in some unexpected ways, although we’ve attended fewer funerals, and all the overseas cousins are still with us. They are both good things. 2018 will include YoungB’s graduation and Middle Niece’s wedding, so we’ll have much to celebrate in the coming year.

It’s exciting that YoungB has finished his degrees; and remarkably odd to be giving him tips for his first serious job application! I don’t mean that his previous job applications weren’t serious; simply, they were all for part-time positions where a snappy LinkedIn profile wasn’t necessary. This is a full-time position with a government department, albeit for a fixed-length contract. Sadly, the fixed-length-contract paradigm is likely to persist throughout his working career, but you have to start somewhere. Naturally, we have our fnigres corsesd that it’s at least an interview-winning effort.

I completed the crocheted rug, finishing off with five rows of double crochet (US single crochet): four in the teal, and one in a flecked blue that worked with everything but which I hadn’t used earlier. I admit that, because I was still wrapping presents on the way to Christmas lunch, I ended up darning in the last of the ends late on Christmas Day. No harm done: I gave it to Youngest Aunt when we saw her on Boxing Day. Of course, and it really is of course, there was an accompanying lavender bag. The rug won’t match Youngest Aunt’s lounge suite, but we agreed that it would contrast beautifully. Or she could use it to keep her warm when she sits on one of the old lounge chairs on her front verandah. You see? There’s always someone who’ll love your handmade output. In the same spirit, this year Youngest Aunt gifted everyone a jar of her home-pickled olives, beautifully labelled and wrapped. Dr B is thoroughly enjoying those!

We spent Christmas Day and Boxing Day with family and friends; there are few things better. I hope that you had a similarly enjoyable celebration, and that 2018 is a happy and fulfilling year for you.


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multiskilled just isn’t the right description

YoungB signed our work, because all of us had more than a hand in it 🙂

Once upon a time, Dr B and I built our own house (and yes, I do mean with our own hands). Back in those days, he and I poured a concrete tank-stand and some paths. Recently we’ve concreted more paths, one of which now boasts a tank on a stand without necessarily being the tank-stand.

The path behind YoungB’s cabin, seconded to use supporting a tank-stand.

We’ve also ventured into laying pavers, greatly assisted by a variety of online resources. My personal observation is that, when your little fingertips are very sore from laying down little brickies, you do NOT want to pick up any sewing. This is, however, gratifying in a different way.

They wanted to finish the cabin’s courtyard before we went out for my birthday 🙂

And when I say I did some paving, it’s quite true. My input was to the path connecting that cabin courtyard to the garden shed.

Going with the flow around the curve and lots of fussy cutting (Dr B did that part).

Back to getting on with something else now. Winter is here, and I’m craving the feeling of working on a beanie. Plenty of those in my UFO pile 🙂

Whatever you’ve been up to, I hope it’s been as gratifying – if, perhaps, less labour-intensive – than my recent efforts.


Posted by on May 14, 2017 in Knitting, Musing


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comfort of a sort

You know that feeling when you’ve lurched to the last working day of the year and what you haven’t done is not done but you can’t dredge up sufficient energy to care? That happened to me halfway through December. In my previous job, the obligatory holiday during the Christmas shut-down could vary greatly, so I mostly made mine long to enable me to cope with all the family, cycling and rowing events that clustered round that part of summer. It wasn’t the sort of job where the work you hadn’t  finished would be waiting when you returned. Jobs didn’t hang around or hang over for that long. You might find yourself typing later sittings of the same matter, but it would have moved on.

In my present job, almost everything I hadn’t done was awaiting me when I returned, plus a few extras I hadn’t anticipated. That’s a distinct deterrent to taking long breaks, because it means that the return workload is crushing and you need a good life-jacket. But I had a holiday, anyway, during which I managed to tidy my sewing room somewhat.

2017 will be challenging. The sector is changing and in order to survive and flourish, organisations have to not only change but come up with new ideas for growth. I feel remarkably inadequate in that scenario. I’m still reasonably good at thinking on my feet, and quickly, but I have no business background at all. This is, I suspect, a shorthand way of saying that I need to enrol in some suitable units at a local TAFE, or within an undergraduate degree, if I’m to have any hope of not going under. My problem is that I don’t know what I need because it’s difficult to intuit what shape the future changes will take with regard to my job. I often feel now as if I’m close to drowning because of the workload, so perhaps I need to invest in a better life-jacket because that feeling is unlikely to lessen.

As near to drowning as I might be, something I do know is that I’ll need to knit and sew more, or I’ll be too grumpy for words. I also know that I’m going to have to do a l-o-t of work to get my photo app to talk to my blog. Lots to work on this year, and not a resolution in sight! All the best with all of your plans, resolutions or just general intentions for this year’s crafting. 🙂


Posted by on January 8, 2017 in Knitting, Musing, Sewing


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reminder to self… and because it’s been such a rugged year

There would be a photo. But I’m still learning my way around the new technology, which is a huge leap from my previous computer.

Today I attended a workshop about resilience in the workplace. Given the volatility of the sector, it’s a necessary attribute for anyone who works in it. Turns out I’m already quite resilient, but occasionally a reminder is a good thing.

In the spirit of continuing the work begun at the workshop, I’m trying to remember to be grateful: today it’s for sunshine and gumtrees, public transport that gets me where I want to go without too much drama, and a workplace where I feel not only valued as a worker but also as a human being.

They’ll help me bounce back tomorrow. 🙂

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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in Musing



nothing happening here

Late-afternoon iris, bringing promise of Spring 🙂

It looks as if Spring has been busy and finally reached the garden.

As far as the humans are concerned, Dr B is in composer mode, something YoungB doesn’t really remember from past occurrences. This means that life is chaotic beyond belief. I’m out of the house most of the day – working, not having a good time or sleeping till midday or anything enjoyable like that – and when I get home, I’m lucky if Dr B has removed his dressing gown since I left!

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Posted by on October 22, 2016 in Musing


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