Tuesday, April 28, 2009


If anyone is wondering where those mushrooms grow, well it's down this track.

I've been walking through here for years now, often twice a day, and not surprisingly, the more you go the more you see. Since I've found mushrooms, I've taken to lying on the forest floor. And then the thing to do is to try and change speed. 

It wasn't till Koyaanisqatsi that I started to get some insight into what being locked into our particular time frame means. It means at least that we are extremely limited in our perceptions. I wonder if animals see things at different speeds.


English National Opera have podcast an interview (20 min) with Director David Alden, Conductor Ed Gardner and Principal Artist Stuart Skelton, talking about their May production of Peter Grimes.

We only have to wait till October for the highlight of the (Sydney) year, for me at least, in the best of hands with Neil Armfield whose understanding of Britten is unsurpassed, I think. Mark Wigglesworth steps into Richard Hickox's big shoes, with the cast led by Stuart Skelton, at last, and Susan Gritton debuting here as Ellen.

Once again, once will not be enough.

Sunday, April 26, 2009



She had waited a moment                                                                            
closed curtains alone,                                                                            
dead to some world                                                                              
and yet to her child,                                                                            
the stillness deceiving                                                                      
a presence remained,                                                                              
so not till it faded                                                                              
did he know she was gone.         

No smile no kissed lips                                                                          
softness nor eyes,                                                                                
now minds only joined                                                                            
just truth can survive.                                                                          
The hearth is a memory                                                                            
hands through the hair,                                                                          
at the feet of a mother                                                                          
whose love is still there.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


There had been steady light rain all day and soon after dark, the house glowing warm in the bush, a tap tap tapping started on the windows and glass doors. The moths had arrived.

As soon as a door is opened, in they fly, into the light, with a noise somewhere between a flapping and a buzzing, a fluzzing, round and round the room till they settle on the edge of a lamp shade, or on a wall, or me. The dogs go nuts.

And they hang on. Just ask Yvonne Kenny. She had been visited by a Vine Hawk Moth, although that it was a Bogong is now part of the Olympic legend and regardless, the landing of a large moth on your person is said to be a visit from an ancient soul bringing good fortune. Thank you, and thank you too.

Sitting outside on the glass

and on the house walls just below a verandah light

and hanging onto the side of the verandah table

and if I'd known your legs look quite so spider like, I would have felt differently

but has anyone told you lately just how beautiful your antennae are?

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I don't know much about fungi, but I do know what I like.

Here, they are another signal of season change, cool nights, mild days, and good soil moisture. Pushing up from the forest floor, emerging seems so effortless, and silent...

in clumps

or all alone, tiny little ones

others with forest dirt clinging to the crinkly cap

and large ones with beautiful ribbing, part Gaudi, part Utzon

whose large souffle caps collapse and catch water for little people

and others like coral, with exquisite colours and shapes.

Monday, April 13, 2009


The lawn grass is seeding. There's masses of soft white stems sitting up a few cms above the leaf and they sway in a soft breese, little ripples of white over the green.

I was playing silly buggas the other day with the old dog, me-lizard-you-dog kind of thing, which not surpsingly the dog thought a stupid game, but it did get me up close to the seeds.

Today, in a light mist and fine drizzle, with the rain not far off, the Crimson Rosellas (Platycercus elegans) were out as usual, grazing their way through the afternoon.

I'd presumed they were feeding on seed, but closer attention shows some serious heads down, so maybe there is more to it than meets the eye, even when you're pretending you're a lizard.

April 15: Here they are in fine weather:


The chalk board at the bottom of the stairs said ' no mobile phones, no food, no drinks, and no muckin' up'. 

We had just shared a forked box dinner at a table in the consistently friendly foyer of Belvoir Street. Our accidental companions were the ex-wife of a geologist oilman, whose marriage had taken them to Texas, but not much further, and her greying curly haired partner, every bit the stereotypical forthright commie aussie intellectual bloke. Between mouthfuls of salmon and warm potato salad from a cardboard box, we all used happenstance to be uncharacteristically frank, with rapid fire questions and flight of ideas, careers exposed, affiliations on the table, a trip to USSR in the 70s (I thought so), relationships declared, did Jessye Norman sing Wagner he suddenly asked, as by now we climbed up the stairs, up to Dorothy Hewett's 'A Man from Muckinupin'.

Alec Bolton 'Portrait of Dorothy Hewett, Darlinghurst', 1985

Dorothy Hewett has been dead 7 years, buried in the Blue Mountains under her own words:

No motion has she now, no force;
        She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth's diurnal course,
        With rocks and stones and trees.

This was to be, shamefully, my first exposure to Hewett theatre, which is not the least of the reasons we were there, to catch up on stuff missed during years which by the very nature of how many hours in a day, days in a week, etc, had slipped right by.

Her sprawling musical play (music by Jim Cotter who gives a history in the programme notes of the evolution of the work, now 30 years old, a work commissioned to 'celebrate' the 150 year anniversary of white settlement in Western Australia) is in very good hands. Wesley Enoch directs a fantastic team on Richard Robert's sand-swept campfire set, using the pivot of a travelling theatre troupe in the 1950s caravanning its way through the outback performing a play set around WW1 to bring us, a century later, into this vaudeville-with-a-dark-side to reexamine who we are. Hewett shows us just how far we haven't progressed. It is astonishingly Australian. 

I wondered what a tourist would make of it all, laced with idiom, and even that slipping away into the past in a plume of dusty secrets and denials as we hurtle ourselves along some dirt road to a future of little meaning without due awareness of where it all began.

At interval, back in that friendly foyer, I bumped into a friend from work, a New Yorker just back here in her adopted county after a few months placing her widowed and unforgiving mother in a nursing home in Jersey. She was enjoying it, but seemed fixated that the singing wasn't great. Well it wasn't exactly bad, and was perfectly in context. It wasn't Oklahoma, thanks be to Dorothy Hewett and Jim Cotter.

The programme has some thoughtful extracts. From Anthony Stephens 'Jung, A Very Short Introduction' there are notes on Jungian psychology, touching on the denying of the darkness in ourselves and the projection of it on to others. We despise most the others who show us the worst of ourselves, and Hewett uses fraternity and twin-like devices to expose both sides of our coin. 

"Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness conscious". 

Ross Gibson (Professor of Contemporary Arts, University of Sydney) responds to the question "What was the land, two hundred and twenty years ago, in this place that would soon get called 'Australia' ?" He answers with an extension of the fallacy of 'Terra nullius' to embrace the concept that this land was a vast managed infrastructure of immeasurable wealth, and white takeover has been neither silent nor stain free. The land is the place of memory. It is the witness. It will not be denied nor disappear behind us. He goes on to note that 'The Man from Mukinupin' taps into this unfinished business, as he calls it. No black armband bullshit here.

Kerry Walker plays an ascerbic and po-faced Edie Perkins, hearing only what she wants to hear, and Max Gillies is her deceptive husband Eek, and the eccentric disconnected Zeek. Amanda Muggleton is Merci Montebello, the travelling chanteuse, to the manor born. David Page relishes his three roles, as does Craig Annis as the brothers Tuesday and Suzannah Bayes-Morton is the exposed black-white interface of the sisters Perkins. Roxanne McDonald and Valentina Levkowicz stab the dialogue with wit and the voice of the elders.

Daryl Wallis and Wayne Freer were the wonderful on stage musos playing Alan John's arrangement of Jim Cotter's music.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Yesterday K was outside doing some 'pseudo-anechoic' speaker measurements (those B&Ws are not the speakers we are currently listening to), sending known frequencies, 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz (10 octaves), to the speaker and measuring what the speaker actually delivers in frequency response and time delay. All very cleaver. Even cleaverer is the technology to do real time correction.

The old dog, craggy knee, 15 years of love and devotion, wise and accepting,  just wants to be with you. 

Friday, April 10, 2009


The first Sunday after the first full moon after the equinox; in the Northern Hemisphere rebirth, in the Southern Hemisphere a question of relevance, a search for meaning, asking the wrong people, looking in the wrong places.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


The beautiful Australian mezzo soprano Margreta (Greta) Elkins AM died in Brisbane on 1st of April. She was 78. Brisbane born, tall and handsome and with a voice to match, she trained in Australia, sailed to London in 1956 and into a 10 year Covent Garden contract. She sang Alisa in the legendary 59 Covent Garden Lucia which launched Sutherland's star. Her recollections of that night were of the anticipation and excitement, and the sheer joy of seeing Joan succeed after so much hard work. She wasn't one to beat her own drum.

As well as her career in the UK and later Australia, she became an integral part of the Sutherland-Bonynge caravan, and left a large recording legacy. I especially remember her Herodias, her stunning Maffio Orsini, a handsome Ruggiero, and most of all the Adalgisa opposite Sutherland, for one of those moments when beauty alone just chokes you up. My seats in those days were in E row and there they were, all mouth and long red curls. Sutherland said in an interview the day before opening (it was big news at the time) that she thought Margreta and she would make some magic. They did. Thanks for the magic Margreta.

Sarah has posted one clip, so here is another, and then some more memories.

Margreta Elkins Herodias, Marilyn Richardson Salome
Tom Lingwood design/producion Sydney Opera House, Concert Hall

Margreta Elkins Ruggiero, Joan Sutherland Alcina
Robert Helpmann design/production Sydney Opera House

Margreta Elkins Adalgisa, Joan Sutherland Norma
Sandro Sequi production, Sydney Opera House

Update, April 14 - Yesterday's Telegraph (UK) has this