Saturday 9 October 2010


“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.” – Yoko Ono

We had a beautiful, fine, warm and sunny Spring day today. The trees are truly starting to look green and leafy now, the flowers are beginning to come into their own now – we cut our first rose from the garden today. It was a lovely day.

Here is the first movement from Beethoven’s Symphony No 6 in F major, Op. 68, the “Pastorale”. It is played by the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrucken conducted by Myung-Whun Chung. Quite fitting for the season and the day…

Thursday 7 October 2010


“Be a fearless cook! Try out new ideas and new recipes, but always buy the freshest and finest ingredients, whatever they may be. Furnish your kitchen with the most solid and workmanlike equipment you can find. Keep your knives ever sharp and - toujours bon appetit! – Julia Child

A busy day at work today with much to do, many meetings, lots of staff coming in to see me. My secretary has been away all week on holiday as her daughter-in-law has had a baby, so I have been realising her worth! Not that I don’t appreciate her when she is around, but certainly when we lose something we then are forced to evaluate its true worth. In any case it all got done, but it was a long day of nearly twelve hours in my office, at my desk…

It was nice to come back home and find dinner cooking and the heater on as it has been cold in the morning and in the evenings, even with Spring well and truly sprung. On the menu tonight was Quiche Lorraine, a fresh garden salad with lettuce, wild lettuce, nasturtium tops, spring onions and herbs in a vinaigrette, all washed down with some excellent shiraz. When well made, this classic French dish is a tasty favourite in our household. The recipe for it below:

Quiche Lorraine
For the Pastry
  • 220g plain flour
  • 120g cold butter, roughly chopped
  • 20 mL very cold water
  • 1 large egg, separated

For the Filling
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 220g lean bacon, finely chopped
  • 5 large eggs
  • 150 mL cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 110g grated tasty cheddar cheese

  • Place flour and butter in a large bowl and after washing hands in very cold water, rub the butter into the flour quickly until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • In a cup stir together water and egg yolk (reserve the egg white).
  • Add the yolk mixture to the butter and flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until well mixed.
  • Use your hands to press the dough clumps together into a mass.
  • Form the pastry into a disc shape and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Unwrap the pastry and place between two large sheets of baking paper.
  • Using a rolling pin, roll pastry out to fit a 23cm diameter quiche dish.
  • So as to prevent creases forming on the bottom piece of paper, flip over every now and then and roll.
  • Line the baking dish with pastry. Using a sharp knife, trim away any pastry that extends above the top rim of the dish
  • Cover dish and refrigerate for a further 30 minutes.
  • Preheat fan-forced oven to 170˚C.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2-3 minutes. Add bacon to the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (about 5-6 minutes). Remove pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
    Line the pastry case with baking paper and half fill with raw rice, dried beans or pie weights.
  • Bake pastry case for 15 minutes on the lowest oven rack.
  • Remove weights and baking paper and brush pastry with some of the reserved egg white.
  • Return pastry to oven and bake for a further 10 minutes on the lowest oven rack.
  • While the pastry is baking, make the filling.
  • Place eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk ingredients together until well combined.
  • Sprinkle cooled bacon and onion mixture over pastry case. Top with grated cheese.
  • Gently pour egg mixture over the grated cheese.
  • Move oven rack to the middle of the oven. Bake quiche in the centre of the oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until set and lightly browned.
  • Cut into slices and serve hot or warm.
Bon appétit!


"The Sun, with all the planets revolving around it, and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else in the Universe to do." - Galileo Galilei

It is another day when I cast my eyes heavenwards in wonder and awe, as news of yet one more discovery of cosmic proportions is publicised by the press. Australian scientists from Swinburne University have discovered a type of galaxy that was long thought to be “extinct”. This discovery has caused a great deal of excitement in astronomical circles as the find has forced cosmologist to re-examine their theories about new star formation.

These new galaxy types look just like our own Milky Way galaxy (a twirling spiral disc-like structure), however each one such galaxy appears to be forming about 100 new stars a year compared to the one new star per year formed by galaxies such as our own. The newly discovered galaxies have been demonstrated to be more turbulent than the Milky Way and they are about a billion light years way from Earth. Such galaxies that are “star nurseries” were very common about three billion years after the Big Bang but this is the first time they have been observed in “today’s” universe. I put “today” in inverted commas as the currently observed galactic events occurred one billion years in the past, as the objects observed are so distant that it has taken light so long to reach us. Nevertheless, they are considered recent for the 14 billion-year-old universe.

The way stars form is when large clouds of gas collapse under their own gravitational attraction and the popular theory suggested that large streams of interstellar gas fell into the primitive star from outside. The question that was immediately asked in regard to these star-forming galaxies that have just been observed was where is the gas coming from to form these new stars? In the “modern” universe we expect large masses of primordial interstellar gas to be available any more. The source of the gas has to be discovered still…

galaxy |ˈgaləksē| noun ( pl. -axies)
A system of millions or billions of stars, together with gas and dust, held together by gravitational attraction.
(the Galaxy) The galaxy of which the solar system is a part; the Milky Way.
figurative a large or impressive group of people or things: A galaxy of boundless young talent.
The Galaxy in which the earth is located is a disk-shaped spiral galaxy with approximately 100,000 million stars. The sun is located about two thirds of the way out from the center.
ORIGIN late Middle English (originally referring to the Milky Way): via Old French from medieval Latin galaxia, from Greek galaxias (kuklos) ‘milky (vault),’ from gala, galakt- ‘milk.’

The reference to milk is from the Greek myth whereby Hera/Juno, the queen of the gods and wife of Zeus, was tricked by her husband Zeus/Jupiter into breast feeding his illicit son Heracles/Hercules as a baby while she was asleep in order to give Hercules immortality. When Hera awoke and realised who the baby was; the illicit son of her husband; she immediately tore him from her breast causing a smear of milky droplets across the sky which the Milky Way. As a result Heracles became a semi-immortal hero. In Greek Heracles, is derived from Hera’s name, and means the “glory of Hera”. However, after Hercules completed his twelve labours and after his death he became immortal. Hera was then reconciled with him and allowed him to marry her daughter, Hebe, the goddess of youth.

Wednesday 6 October 2010


“All love is vanquished by a succeeding love.” - Ovid

Well they say that in Spring a young man’s thoughts turn to love. Maybe not only a young man’s or just a man’s! Sweet springtime when the greening trees are revivified, when flowers wildly bloom, when dormant sap begins to flow and verdant juices restore the branches their summery foliage, it surely does affect us humans also. For poetry Wednesday today, a love poem by Ovid (43 BC-17 AD) whose oeuvre was rich in this genre:

Love in the Afternoon

It was very hot. The day just past its noon.
I’d stretched out on a couch to take a nap.
One of the window-shutters open, one closed.
The light was like you’d see deep in the woods,
Or like the glow of dusk when Phoebus leaves the sky,
Or when night pales, and day has not yet dawned –
A perfect light for girls with too much modesty,
Where anxious shame can hope to hide away.
When, look! here comes Corinna in a loose ungirdled gown,
Her parted hair framing her gleaming throat,
Like lovely Semiramis entering her boudoir,
Or fabled Lais, loved by many men.
I tore her gown off - not that it mattered, being so sheer,
And yet she fought to keep that sheer gown on;
But since she fought with no great wish for victory,
She lost, betraying herself to the enemy.
And as she stood before me, her garment all thrown off,
I saw a body perfect in every inch:
What shoulders, what fine arms I looked on - and embraced!
What lovely breasts, begging to be caressed!
How smooth and flat a belly under a compact waist!
And the side view - what a long and youthful thigh!
But why go into details? Each point deserved its praise.
I clasped her naked body close to mine.
You can fill in the rest. We both lay there, worn out.
May all my afternoons turn out this well.
                                                                   Ovid (43 BC-17 AD)

Ovid was born in Sulmona east of Rome in 43 BC, to an equestrian family, and was educated in Rome. His father wished him to study rhetoric toward the practice of law. Ovid tended to the emotional, not the argumentative pole of rhetoric. After the death of his brother, Ovid renounced law and began travelling to Athens, Asia Minor, and Sicily. He held minor public posts, but resigned to pursue poetry. He married three times and twice-divorced by the time he was thirty years old, yet only one marriage yielded a daughter.

Originally, his “Amores” were a five-book collection, published around 20 BC; the surviving, extant version, reduced to three books, includes poems written as late as AD 1. Book 1 contains 15 elegiac love poems about aspects of love. Ovid's next poem, the Ars Amatoria, the Art of Love, parodies didactic poetry whilst being a manual about seduction and intrigue. He identifies this work in his exile poetry as the carmen, or song, which was one cause of his banishment. By AD 8, he had completed Metamorphoses, an epic poem derived from Greek mythology. The subject is “forms changed into new bodies”, this long poem tells of transformation. The stories from mythology follow each other in the telling of human beings transformed to new bodies. Famous myths, such as Apollo and Daphne, Orpheus and Eurydice, and Pygmalion are contained.

In AD 8, Emperor Augustus banished Ovid to Tomis, on the Black Sea, for political reasons. Ovid wrote that his crime was “carmen et error” (a poem and a mistake), claiming that his crime was worse than murder, more harmful than poetry. The Julian Marriage Laws of 18 BC were fresh in the Roman mind. These promoted monogamous marriage to increase the population’s birth rate. Ovid’s writing concerned the serious crime of adultery, which was punishable by banishment.

Monday 4 October 2010


The days in Brisbane went extremely well despite the problems with the technology. I was able to recover my presentations from the injured disc (something a damaged b-tree structure...) therefore it was no chalk-and-talk, but rather th eexpected powerpoint presentations with the bells and whistles. That did the trick, which impressed everyone, not least the boss, who was more anxious than I was regarding the damaged computer.

I am on a late flight to Melbourne this evening and I am quietly waiting for its departure in the Qantas lounge at the airport. Now is the time to relax a little and wait for the plane departure to be announced while sipping on a drink.


I am in Brisbane for work for a couple of days and I have been hit by rather unfortunate ill luck. I was working on a presentation on my computer yesterday and then suddenly, my computer died...
This has left me in a spot as I had two other presentations on there and now I shall not be able to access them unless I get my computer fixed. Fortunately it's under warranty, but still, the inconvenience of it is just such a pain!

Technology is wonderful and makes things so much easier, however, when it fails we realize how inordinately our life has become on it. If I can't get to my presentations this morning, I shall have to give a good old fashioned "chalk and talk" presentation, which I don't mind doing, however, everyone nowadays expects a PowerPoint presentation...

Sunday 3 October 2010


“Pictures must not be too picturesque.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The art of Australian David Boyd for this Art Sunday. He was born the third and youngest son of artists Merric and Doris Boyd in Melbourne in 1924 and studied pottery and painting within the artistic Boyd family, which was an extended and multi-talented one. In 1948, he married Hermia Lloyd-Jones, daughter of graphic artist Herman (Jonah) and Erica Lloyd-Jones. Together they introduced a new wave of Australian pottery, inventing new glazes and novel methods of shaping sculptural figures. Their three daughters also became potters.

Initially acclaimed as a potter, Boyd began his career as a painter in 1957 with a series of paintings on Australian explorers. His paintings ignited controversy as he depicted aborigines as gentle, frightened people not wanting to be deprived of their homeland. Boyd remained unmoved and he continued to provoke with unpopular ideas. As a humanist, his paintings are full of social comment, as befits a moral painter. He said: “I often think of myself as being a spiritual anarchist.” Several major series of paintings demonstrate his highly dramatic style with the juxtaposition of innocence and evil. For example, the “Trial”, the “Tasmanian Aborigines”, the “Wanderer” and the “Exiles”.

He was also an accomplished pianist, having studied at the Melba Memorial Conservatorium of Music. David Boyd worked and travelled in Europe and the UK, winning international recognition, and on his return in the 70s, produced some of his most approachable work, combining angels, aborigines and children dancing through his often depicted and much loved bush. The work above, "Winged Child Dancing" (1974)  is an example of these sorts of paintings.

He became Chairman of the Contemporary Arts Society of Australia and for the next 20 years travelled and exhibited overseas and at home to world acclaim.