Another Country Diary

Links to images and other pages are in blue, mouse-over pop-up comments are burgundy. 
24 May '02
Top three images from Parliament House reception, Bob Brown at the rear in the top one, below at ANU for the Mind Science Forum (Allan Snyder in the leather cap) and signing the Celebrity Wall at Llewellyn Hall.

Images Dalai Lama in Australia Limited 2002
Another day of dallying with the Dalai Lama. (See yesterday's entry for more) This is not very country, so if you skip it I won't mind.  The only reminder for the day that we're not in the city is that we awoke to the first hard frost where we had to use hot water on the car windscreens to melt it. We've had a few frosts now but not that hard. It measures out the year and this one is later in changing to the frosts of winter. When Jan and I both drove to work, it was my morning ritual to melt the ice off, and squeegee the windows of the cars.

I had time for some morning chores   before I picked up Greg from the airport (because there was the usual Canberra winter schedule delay caused by fog). We headed straight to the hotel so that he could borrow a suit. It was considered more appropriate for his lunch at the National Press Club where the Dalai Lama was speaking. (To his credit he doesn't own one. My 'business impinging on real life limit' is having no ties, just t-shirts.)

I went on to Parliament House with a car load of equipment and Karin, one of the two photographers from Sydney covering the day, and Tom her assistant. Senator Bob Brown had invited the Dalai Lama to a private member's morning tea. Partly to put it up John Howard's nose, but mostly to compensate for the fact that the Government had refused to allow the Press Club Lunch to be held in the Great Hall. It was deemed too political an act.

Everyone was introduced to the Dalai Lama and had their photographs taken with him, even the Parliament House staff. I was covering it on a Sony Mini-DV (Andrew from Images Online lent me the camera, thanks!) and these are stills grabbed from tape. 
While everyone else was at the Press Club lunch, we moved on to the ANU's Llewellyn Hall to set up for the afternoon's programme, the Mind Science Forum. I took Karin and Tom to a quick Yum Cha lunch, (Tom, an American, said he'd never had one before) and Karin told stories of shooting the rich and famous around the world. She and Tom had just returned from shooting the stills for the new Ned Kelly movie being filmed in Melbourne, starring Heath Ledger and Russell Crowe. The director Gregor Jordan is a friend of hers. I also found that she shot the image on the cover of the very last issue of Cinema Papers.

After a last minute dash back to Parliament House to pick up some film, we fell into the Hall. I just had time to get the hang of the camera I was operating for the multi-camera coverage (I'd set up for them to use David and Peter Howe's OB van). We had a last minute hassle of finding another operator but pulled in a volunteer via the ANU A/V dept.

Then I did some more DV of the arrival, and of the Dalai Lama meeting the University heavies and the panel of scientists who were taking part. (The ANU Press Release online has details) and then took my place operating camera. I didn't have much time to see what was really happening on stage "Fred, can you give me a two shot..., no go back to the wide. Ready camera 1...etc" in the headphones. If you'd like to hear an audio record of it, Chris Friedl made an MP3 of the event and I uploaded them yesterday to the Buddhist 'Radio' web site The video tape will probably be available soon as well. 

The ABC's Science Show's Robin Williams was the moderator but his main task was to keep it moving along. From the bits I did hear, and the responses made by the Dalai Lama it could have been twice as long and would then have been interesting. It all sounded a bit superficial. I was impressed by the Dalai Lama's interpreter who did an amazing job all day of keeping track of who was important, what comment might need a response and what didn't need elaborating on. He also had a good understanding of what the panel members were talking about technically.

Greg was hoping that the tape would be able to be sold perhaps to the ABC, but I think it will need some more coverage to be interesting. Maybe I'll offer to pad it out. 

I ferried Karin, Tom and from the airport where they covered the departure, back to the hotel and then with their gear back to the airport. I arrived home in Bungendore at the same time as Jan got home from a new business briefing in Sydney. There was almost a full moon lifting through the low clouds as I drove home, and the yard was lit with moonlight. I slept well. 
25 May '02
Cotoneaster /Cottoneaster berriesCottoneaster/Cotoneaster. It's one of those words that unless you hear someone say it, reading it on the page looks like Cotton Easter. Once you know it's pronounced Co-tonny-Aster you can feel very superior and mention it at least a few times a day. "Gee the cottoneaster is late setting berries", "Look at the parrots in the cottoneaster". Horticultural hubris. There's an element of that in experienced gardeners and nurseries staff, it's designed to make the interested amateur like me feel a fool. I have to look up names of plants I only planted a year ago, forgetting varieties unless I write them down. Co-tonny-Asters however, I've got down pat.

Crimson RosellasI'm sure it's just like the surprise we get seeing wattle 'so early', but yes the cottoneaster berries seemed later appearing and I didn't see the parrots hit them until this weekend. I followed a pair around the bushes with the camera but gave up and decided to put out the winter birdseed to attract these crimson rosellas to pose. There must have been plenty of other food around for them until now, or they were just waiting until the berries were ripe.

There are lots of varieties and it's a popular bonsai plant. The name comes from Greek 'Kotoneon' (meaning quince) and the Latin "ad istar" (roughly a similarity). It's hardly quince-like so I'm not sure how that came about. It makes a good hedge with dark green smooth leaves, and it looks nice clipped. Ours sprawls along a fence hiding the view of the neighbours low roof and TV antenna. It's not a declared weed but it's very invasive, the berries eaten by birds who drop the seeds unharmed in bushland. It's a very hardy plant and can go without water for long periods.

The spelling with a double TT seems interchangeable in all the sources I've seen. It's listed as a poisonous plant and is another case of how you can get caught assuming 'if the birds eat it, it must be ok'. Don't. 
27 May '02
I left for Sydney at dawn and was hauled to a stop as the sun rose through a heavy fog. Pictures of sunrises and sunsets are a challenge to make interesting. Usually you are so overwhelmed by the wonder of it, that it doesn't translate well into a small picture. I took a few images until the sun lifted into low cloud and you can see them here. On the home journey the moon was rising in the same place and similarly strong yellow. I took some of that but even with long exposures couldn't lift the detail of the low hills. Without hill shapes and trees it's just a picture of the moon. 

Sure you can see sun rises in the city, and I've photographed lots of them, it often looks good setting because of city smog. The expanse of hills and trees make it somehow more monumental (elemental?). In a world of growing things it is significant and feeds into the ancient spot inside you that says seasons, wonder, beauty and even scary power. Something also says, 'you'll be late for your meeting'.
28 May '02
I grilled and peeled some capsicums (bell peppers) on the weekend to have as part of an antipasto lunch, with some runny chevre cheese and fresh Silo bread. Silo in Kingston is as close as we've found in Canberra to the 'big city' foodie support cafe. They have a small but always well stocked, temperature controlled cheese room for a start. And their sourdough baguettes and stirato (stretched) loaves are terrific and in heavy demand. So much so that we stock up. We always buy half a dozen, cut them in half, bag them in plastic and put them in the freezer while they're still warm from the bakery oven. Defrosting them later in the microwave doesn't seem to make them any less delicious or crusty. I've tried the same technique with bread from the Patisserie across The Broadway from Doug's office in Ultimo but it seemed to dry out. Silo also make a bigger sourdough loaf which we toast and have with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. It dries out a bit as well but is fine toasted, so maybe it's how quickly the thinner loaves freeze that keeps them fresh.

After the lunch, there were still some leftover 'fillets' of capsicum sitting in olive oil in the fridge, so I flipped through the pasta recipes to find if they could be used. Conveniently as it turned out, as last night Jan had to eat and run, so a quick pasta was called for. (She was playing 'parent support' to daughter Kate and her boyfriend at a fund raising night at the Australian Institute of Sport. Kial, the boyfriend, is a cyclist and trains at the AIS.)

Spaghetti ai peperoncini verdi from the big Bugialli on Pasta book recommends the smaller light green or 'Italian' peppers that are used whole after roasting. It tasted pretty good with the pieces of the big red ones. I've put the recipe up here.
Fred Harden  
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