Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Eloise zooms in

Our fourth grandchild the beautiful Eloise, takes after her mum in beauty and is almost bald, just like her dad!!
An easy labour and a breeze ever since, as a daughter and grand child she gets full marks. And her big sister Safie makes sure that Eloise gets the attention she deserves, and that mummy gets all the help she can!

Yes folks Cara says that Blatz is the go, or Blitz as she calls it!!

What else bin happening? Busy as usual. Trips to Melbourne, Nowra/ Mollymook twice, Corowa.
Denise and I had a great weekend with Vince and Christine Smith at picturesque Mollymook, then returned for our 35th wedding anniversary! Dinner at Rick Stein's restaurant, Bannisters.

A perfect location on the cliff overlooking bush and the ocean, an excellent menu and friendly helpful service. I enjoyed plump rich oysters from St Helens, and Denise's entree, a lobster 'raviolo' with spinach and basil sauce, was ''just delicious!'' We shared a huge cold seafood platter of prawns, oysters, mussels, crab and lobster, not forgetting the shy periwinkles.

In between courses we were given complimentary treats, savoury and sweet. The desert was superb and coffee and brandy pour moi was perfectment! The bottle of Spanish white wine was moreish, if not moorish. We will return.

The recent rains have filled Canberra dams, from 38% earlier in the year. The countryside and Canberra itself are festooned with new growth and flowers. Check out Denise's absolutely fab Spring flowers on our Picasa site

Cheap books can be found at the Milton antique store, near Rick Stein's, together with all sorts of interesting objects d'arts. In Canberra we have the best second hand bookshops in the country, and I rate Cantys as the best for reasonably priced, quality books, however you can find a bargain anywhere.

Books read recently include:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, the 2009 Man Booker winner about Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey coping with HenryVIII. I found it interesting in that her depiction of their characters differs from traditional readings. It is historical fiction and you can paint the colours in as you see them I guess. An enjoyable read, albeit idiosyncratic.

A Long Long Way by Irish author Sebastian Barry. A poetic book about a Dublin Fusilier in WW1, hated by the Home Rulers in his own country and mistrusted by the English, despite their huge sacrifice. A tragedy, and a terrible beauty.

The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin. Again, a tale of sad beauty, perfectly written. Language to light the senses.

I finally got around to reading Robert Graves' autobiographical account of his life at boarding school and his service in WW1, Goodbye To All That, renowned as being one of the best accounts. A great read, the prose of poet Graves is so natural and fluid.

A Thousand Splendid Sons by Khaled Hosseini is an engrossing, exciting read. If you want insight to the Afghani situation with its warring tribal factions you should read this account. But much more, it is a story of friendship, love and human tragedy. Not to be missed!

Hellfire by Nick Tosches is a fascinating insight into rock 'n roller Jerry Lee Lewis. In dirt farming Ferriday the poor were succoured by the Holy Ghost and the Hidden Hooch, and enticed by the Lure of The Devil, and you were hot or cold, never lukewarm, and Jerry Lee became seduced by the Whore of Fame. I have posted a review on Amazon.

What's new musically?

The Steeldrivers

I came to the Steeldrivers through Mike Henderson's Bluebloods, a fabulous blues band which issued ''First Blood'' and ''Thicker Than Water'' in the late 1990s. Solos from Henderson's guitar and John Jarvis' piano always surprised and were never clich├ęd like so many others, and this from Nashville session musos! So, I checked Amazon recently to see if the Bluebloods had issued another album, and I found that Henderson had formed a rootsy bluegrass unit called The Steeldrivers. Soon after I found an excellent Rounder compilation called Sinner's Prayer and The Steeldrivers track ''If It Hadn't Been For Love'' was in the prime second spot. I was impressed. Then, while down in Melbourne I found their initial CD in a second hand store, I couldn't believe my luck. So I ordered Reckless through Amazon and I've been listening to it for a couple of weeks. In short, it resonates. It has power depth and soul. It is organic, unpretentious, light years from slick Nashville sounds and it is encouraging to note that the group is based there. I have posted a review on Amazon.

What else? I was blessed to see Leonard Cohen at a vineyard in Bowral, an incandescent night in 2008. A glass of sauvignon blanc with Leonard and friends among the eucalypts - there is nothing in life to compare, almost. I only regret that we didn't get to see him at Woodend recently. But, for consolation, you can buy his Live in London DVD or CD, or the recently released Songs From The Road, DVD and CD for a pittance - the Aussie dollar is fluffing its fandango.

Two bargains I found recently are Linda Thompson's Fashionably Late (2002) and Graham Parker's Struck By Lightening (2004). I found Linda's CD at The Salvos for $3. What?? Brand new. How did it get there? You don't hock goods at the Salvos. I assume someone died and whoever was dealing with the estate had no idea of the worth. Songs are written by Linda or Teddy Thompson and accompanied by ex hubby Richard, Martha and Rufus Wainwright, their parents the McGarrigles, plus the Waterson Carthy dynasty in fact all the cutting edge folk luminaries are there. Songs are tops. Parker's album I found for $3 at Dixon's Recycled in Brunswick St. My original went up with the house in 2003. A very good later Parker album. I was blessed again.

The Cds with each Songlines magazine continue to provide new and exciting music from around the globe. Others I liked are Electric Gypsyland remixes, Lucille Bogan's Reckless Woman, a 1920s blues artist who also recorded as Bessie Anderson/Jackson. I revisited Fleetwood Mac for my U3A group presentation, listening to the original Peter Green band - of Brit blues this surely was the finest. Also listened to Mac's last release Say You Will from 2008, minus Christine McVeigh, and it is surprisingly good, the band can still rock and Buckingham is as adventurous as he was in Tusk.

Tom Waits' chosen tracks for his Mojo Mag disc were eclectic but US music mostly - I was pleased to find Dylan's 100 miles/ I was Young when I left Home, also Big Mama Thornton's Ball and Chain, later recorded by Janis Joplin, but for me Big Mama does it. Sierra Leone's Refugee All stars release Rise and Shine is a winner. I reviewed it on Amazon. Hendrix's Valleys of Neptune is a welcome addition, all good stuff and at least 3 tracks close to being definitive, Red House, Hear My Train A Comin and Stone Free. His humour and sense of fun is apparent throughout.

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