“An ORGANic Christmas” Concert Review

Last Saturday’s concert from MonUCS (Monash University Choral Society) was really good. It had fun pieces and grand pieces and carols. An organ accompanied some songs.

Their opening piece (Regina Coeli from Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni) began with quite the entrance. The choir walked in two columns between the audience seats in order to get to the front of the church to perform from. I thought that was pretty cool.

There were the pieces I hadn’t heard before, sung with vocal strength and expression. Operatic choruses which were gorgeous to listen to and surprising, emotional and sweet by turns. Some of these pieces had soloists – all of whom performed very well. These pieces included the Priest’s Chorus (from Die Zauberflote), Chorus of Enchanted Islanders (from Alcina), Dido’s Lament and Final Chorus (from Dido and Aenea) and even a humming one, Humming Chorus (from Madame Butterfly).

I thoroughly enjoyed myself as I watched my friends perform after weeks of hard work. I also enjoyed singing along to some of the carols as we were encouraged to do – though only at mezzo piano volume so as to hear the actual choir. The carols were not all your usual fare – in fact, two of them I only knew thanks to the carolling gigs last week. That made it all the more fun. Carols included Infant Holy Infant Lowly, Zither Carol, Gloucestershire Wassail and others.

The choir were balanced beautifully, each section blending well (the ultimate goal) while holding their own parts in a superb manner. Each section also had its chance to shine, enabled by the range of songs chosen. For example, it was noted that the tenors sang “without hesitation … and with a wonderful lightness” as one friend put it. The altos were the smallest section of the four, but it didn’t feel like it. The basses carried the bottom range as they are supposed to, giving strength and resonance, while the sopranos were glorious on top.

Bravo, MonUCS! I look forward to seeing what you’ll do next year – and to singing with some of you at MIV. Well done!

 

 

 

 

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Holiday gatherings and fun

Writing this quickly before I head off to my last choir night of the year.

I’ll write a review of the concert I attended on Saturday (MonUCS’ “ORGANic Christmas”) tomorrow. I want to do it justice and time slipped by me today. In part because less sleep last night from a choir holiday party combined with the afternoon sun on a 37*C day is not conducive to productivity, I think. XD

Choir parties are the best – always great food and conversation with lovely welcoming people. Last night’s one had Karaoke even!

Carolling with MIV – and at LaTUCS’ own gig – has been really lovely this year. My favourite carols are a lot more complex now than the favourites I had when younger and it’s really nice to perform them with friends.

There are still a few chances to see the MIV carollers in the lead-up to Christmas, but I won’t be among them.

As of next Monday, I’m off to Japan on a family holiday until the New Year. I will try to keep you more-or-less abreast of our journey with the help of Womble again  I make no promises as to when any updates will occur though.

Must dash to LaTUCS now….

Remember to buy concert tickets to see the MIV choir with soloists and orchestra perform on January 20th (less than ONE MONTH to go!!): Facebook event here and tickets here. Monday was spent getting decorations for MIV with other committee friends…. I’m getting excited now.

 

 

Fun stuff: all the choir things

Yesterday, my choir (LaTUCS) sang carols at an end-of-year event at uni. Nice and I’m hopeful it’ll lead to further opportunities.

This weekend (starting this evening) I will be a-carolling with MIV2018 people.  Tomorrow afternoon too. Our concert tickets for the end-of-festival performance are on sale now. Put the evening of the 20th of January 2018 in your calendars (Facebook link here – friends should expect invites shortly) and get some tickets via this link.

Also, MIV merchandise sales close on Monday, December 11th – this coming Monday which also happens to be the one-month-out date! Wow. If you want a tie-dye tote bag, a keepcup, promise of concert CD and participant photo, or tickets to the “Aquademic” Dinner, please head on over to miv.org.au, sign up for an account on the website and buy the things you want.

This weekend has other fun apart from carols. Tomorrow evening I’m attending a choir concert by MonUCS. Can’t wait – the program sounds really good. 😀 Here is a link to the Facebook event and click here for tickets (or get them at the door). Hooray!

 

Finally – marriage equality is law in Australia

Image of text from attorney-general's website, as follows: Marriage equality: On 7 December 2017, the Australian Parliament passed the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 to change the definition of marriage and provide for marriage equality in Australia. The right to marry in Australia will no longer be determined by sex or gender. The Australian Government is progressing arrangements for marriage equality to commence quickly. Further updates will be advised on this website as they occur.

It’s finally, finally, finally happened. Today, in the late afternoon, the Members of Parliament (House of Representatives) passed the bill that had come from the Senate last week. An amendment to the Marriage Act to remove “man and woman” and replace that with “two people”.

Here’s a link I saw on Facebook – the final minutes of procedure and voting – and a lovely celebration from the public gallery (and floor of the House).

I loved the celebration song before, but I really love it now. New Zealand’s song (and process) was better though…

This vote should’ve happened some years ago and it definitely shouldn’t have needed an expensive postal survey in order to happen – with nearly another month between that beautiful result and today. The grandstanding around this has been ridiculous from many sides (including what’s in the video).

It’s been a long time coming. (It still has to go through a final bit of procedure – the Governor-General has to sign off on it.)

Those who married overseas immediately have their marriages recognised. Weddings for others will start in mid-January because there is a requirement of at least a month’s notice. See all details about that and other procedural things at this link: https://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Marriage/Pages/Getting-married.aspx

I can’t wait for all the lovely weddings to start. 😀

Today’s outcome is super important in a major way. For many people, the result is an affirmation of their love. Equality is equality – and equality before the law matters. Now all people have the choice to participate in marriage if they wish. It is also just nice to know that the law agrees that it doesn’t matter if they want to marry someone of the opposite or same sex. What matters is that both parties are happy and love each other.

As one of my friends on Facebook put it, “Think of all the children born today who will never know a life where marriage wasn’t legal for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation.”

Kids will grow up with that as the societal narrative now, reinforced by the law. Yes, there will probably still be the conservative nobs and fundies who say otherwise and people who just “don’t quite get it”. But the majority support the new narrative – people from a diverse background. Change has happened and will keep on happening.

After all, there’s still plenty to do to ensure all are truly equal. In the LGBTIQA+ sphere, there are broader discriminatory practices that need to be fought, for example. Also, beyond that, human rights/ social justice issues are all interconnected.

But for now, it’s time to celebrate.

 

 

[Reblogged] Guest Post: Breaking The Low Mood Cycle

Interesting stuff in the Captain Awkward archives. Reminds me a bit of some of the things (like stress buckets and activity scheduling) we looked at in my mental health subject earlier this year. So I am sharing it and bookmarking it. Check it out.

Also: five days in a row of blogging last week, yay! That is down to scheduling and while I know I can’t always do it, it’s nice when it happens.

via Guest Post: Breaking The Low Mood Cycle

“Much Ado About Nothing” at the Pop-Up Globe

The above is a YouTube clip I grabbed from a link on the Pop-Up Globe’s Facebook page.

The Pop-Up Globe is currently in Melbourne, with an extended season until the end of January. Last night, as I mentioned yesterday, I went to see Much Ado About Nothing there.

It was really really fun. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but once I’d got over that it was really good. The cast performed their roles really well.

An interesting element was added by the structure of the auditorium. Those in the standing-room-only section at the front were put in the position of a “chorus” if you will – the players made entrances through them, used them to hide, or conversed with them. If you were in the very front part, you also had to risk having things like partially chewed food splattered on/near you! (I’m glad we were in the next section up!)

Below are some photos I took. I recommend the experience highly -but get in quickly!

 

What are you up to?

Guess what – according to WordPress, I’ve been blogging for three years exactly as of yesterday. Hooray!

 

It’s getting to that busy time of year again, isn’t it?

Melbourne is quite a big city – and I really feel that when my weekend involved going from the north-east to the south-east on Friday, then from there to my regional hometown on Saturday before going back to the south-east on Sunday. Yep, it was one of those weekends. Lots of fun stuff with a bit of work/ business thrown in.

Quite a few people had their eyes turned northwards on Saturday through to Sunday as QLD voted. I know people up there and given a couple of the major election issues were pertinent to my interest, I paid attention too. Then today I spied this article – one Queenslander’s opinion of the election. Interesting! I’m curious about what the Queenslanders in my life think about it.

Lately, I’ve been reading a book about General Sir John Monash. I put a hold on it after the concert I participated in in September. I have to admit, I had songs from the September concert running through my head during parts of the book. The book is called, “Maestro John Monash: Australia’s Greatest Citizen General” and is by Tim Fischer, former deputy PM of Australia. Fischer gives a good overview of Monash’s life, focusing on his activities during WWI but not neglecting his other achievements, pre- and post-war. The book has been written with an agenda – Fischer believes that Monash was discriminated against while he was alive, and denied an active service promotion to General due to this (his promotion came a year before his death). The book also maintains that Monash is not properly recognised now. Actually, that’s really the main purpose of Fischer’s book. So I’m going to read another book about the General from a different author when I get the chance as well.

I’m keeping busy organising choir things. LaTUCS have a carolling gig at a Christmas Fair that’s near uni this Saturday then another one at uni the following Thursday. If you’re in the area, why not come along to Saturday’s one? Details in the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/816640598506065/

Another thing that’s keeping me on my toes and will only ramp up from now until January is MIV2018. There are six weeks and two days until Thursday, January 11th 2018, when the festival opens. The concert is just under two months away…and tickets are on-sale! 😀     Click on the link for more info: https://www.miv.org.au/concert.
Meanwhile, I’m putting the details into plans of how to keep 100+ registrants entertained. Hee hee!

Ooh and finally… I’m going to the Pop-Up Globe this evening to see Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and I can’t wait! 😀

 

Beef meat roll

A while back I read a recipe online that sounded really interesting so I decided I’d try it out.

I halved and further adapted this recipe and it was really yummy.

Ingredients:

  • 500g minced meat (I used beef)
  • 1 egg
  • Breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ham
  • cheese
  • carrot strips
  • spring onion
  • extra veg if desired, to serve.

Tools:

  • aluminium foil
  • oven tray
  • mixing bowl

Method:

  1. Mix the mince, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic, etc. in a bowl.
  2. Lay the mixture out on an aluminium foil-lined oven tray.
  3. Then start layering!

Uncooked unrolled beef roll is laid out on foil on an oven tray. Beef mince is hidden under layers of ham then cheese then carrot strips and finally spring onion.

  1. Using the foil, carefully roll it up into a log-shape then put it in the oven.
    a) Cooking time will vary according to oven power and temperature but occurs in two stages, one with foil (25 mins at 180 °C) then without (25 mins at 250-260 °C). Times are according to the online recipe and I seem to recall mine took longer because my oven is dodgy.
  2. While it’s cooking steam some extra veggies if you desire.
  3. Eat! I had enough for leftovers.

 

Recipe Time Again: Steak

I fell out of the habit of posting recipes for meals, which is a shame because I’ve only got pictures of some interesting creations now. Photos aren’t always enough to describe something new or experimental.

I’m going through the photos – I labelled a bunch the other night with their “meal” names in the “Food” folder of my Photos section. Time for more sharing… I am actually going to try to catch up a bit now and then stay caught up.

I’ve learnt how to do a nice steak, especially when marinated with garlic and mixed herbs in a couple of ways.

An uncooked piece of steak sits on a red chopping board with garlic and mixed herbs smeared liberally over it.

The first way is the pic above – grab your steak and put it on a flat surface then smear each side liberally with garlic and mixed herbs. It’s easiest to do one side on the flat surface before cooking, then heat up your oil/ etc. and put that side down to cook first. You’re left with one un-prepared side facing up at you which you then prep in the pan. This minimises wastage.

 

Two pieces of delicious steak frying in garlic butter in a small black non-stick frypan.

Next we have this pic above. I’m not sure if it’s got mixed herbs on it because as you can see the prepared side would be face-down. I do know that there’s garlic there because I’ve chosen here to put the garlic in first before the meat, while the margarine I used was melting. I know it’s margarine, not oil because of the colour.

Cooked steak with fried potato wedges and steamed cut veggies (orange carrot, purple cabbage, white cauliflower, green silverbeet) sits on a round white plate with green edging

Finally the finished meal. Steamed veggies (fifteen minutes in a steamer pot), fried potato wedges (also with mixed herbs on them by the looks) and a nicely-cooked steak.

I read of a method a while ago that you can also find online. Basically: for a 2-cm-thick steak, cook each side 2-3 minutes for rare, 4 minutes for medium and 5-6 minutes for well done. Turn it only once. I favour cooking it for between 4-5 minutes. Very yummy.

It has made me think about cooking times and turning when cooking other meats. I usually only do one turn now, unless I’ve misjudged how long the meat needs which happens. I’m also trying to remember that when steaming veggies I need to look at my watch and take them off after fifteen minutes or else they become a bit overcooked.

 

 

Central Australia trip report #7 & 8

Wow. I didn’t realise I’d forgotten to upload the last two days of these.

 

Day 7

The next morning we were up and going early. We soon arrived in Alice Springs.

View out the front of a car windscreen from the passenger side, showing two red stones with "Welcome to ALICE SPRINGS" written on them. Sky is blue and everything else outside is red.

We saw the sights and had a drive around. Including Charles Darwin University:

Foreground has red dirt and yellowing grass. Then the black sign with white words stands in front of some buildings with blue sky behind.

And a place called “Anzac Hill”, a memorial to those who’d died and served in war.

At the top, I realised that I’d been up Anzac Hill before – when I went to Central Australia with school, some seven (!) years ago now.

Then:

I'm standing in front of a steel fence two bars across. Behind me is Alice Springs town. It's a close-up photo and I'm wearing a black t-shirt with "Hong Kong" and a gold dragon on it, with tan/grey shorts. My hair is out and long and I'm wearing my "jillaroo" wide-brimmed hat.

…and now:

I'm standing in front of a steel fence - two bars across. Behind me is Alice Springs town. I'm wearing a blue collared t-shirt and jeans with my "jillaroo" wide-brimmed hat. I'm standing next to a green shrub and the sky is clear blue behind me.

We drove on through and around the town and found other things to see. Like the monument to four people who died during the “Inaugural Cannonball Run” in 1994. You can find out more information about the race and monument here. (It’s located to the south of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway.)

Red rock and mortar creating a fence with a raised corner which has a dark stone triangle on it. On the stone triangle is a plaque dedicated to those who lost their lives during the "Inaugural Cannonball Run"

We also took a squiz at the Cultural Centre and town square. We’d had the luck to visit during NAIDOC week, so there were events going on. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of those.

Eventually, we had to travel on, aiming for Uluru.

Sunset over scrubland, creating a layered effect of blue, pink and orange-yellow stripes on the sky's horizon. The half-moon is bright and small high in the darkening sky above.

Day 8

The next morning, we awoke early. We’d spent another night “free-camping” just outside the national park (Uluru campsite itself – Yulara – was full), to take the total to three. We had set our alarms to wake us before dawn. I remembered seeing the sunset at Uluru last time and wanted to experience a sunrise with family.

So off we went.

We found a good spot in the designated viewing area (they have different ones for sunrise and sunset), then set up to take photos.

Hello, Uluru.

Photo of me in puffy black coat (with fake-fur-rimmed hood), standing in the foreground with Uluru, a bit of grasslands and trees/ shrubs behind me. The sky is blue.

I’m so glad the climbing ban’s been placed… There are plenty of different ways to experience the place with respect.

We took photos of the distant Olgas too.

It would’ve been nice to do a ranger-guided walk around all of Uluru, as I’d done with school, but time was against us. The tour started too late and went too “long” for our purposes, due to a scheduled flight. Before I left on that plane though we went close to the Rock at Mutitjulu waterhole and did a little walk, exploring the story told there.

We visited the Uluru cultural centre and saw the displays. Including hearing a talk by a ranger and Indigenous people about various tools the Indigenous people of the area use/d. Hint: boomerang is not universal. The Pitjantjatjara people call it a kali. (For more words, see this link: Pitjantjatjara words – Tools.)

A sign at the entrance to the cultural centre, first in Anangu then English: Yunkumytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara Traditional owners say, 'Welcome to our place'. Listen to the insects and birds, look at and feel the land as you walk down the paths to the Cultural Centre. Enter through the display. Exit near the cafe."

And then we were off on the road again, for the last time on the trip together…. (For context, I had made the decision to fly back to Melbourne while others continued back down the highway, because it got me back in time for placement with a couple of days to regroup.)

Before long, we arrived at the airport…and it was soon time for boarding.

Red runway from the plane's window, also showing the wing and red dirt.

Then lift-off.

As we were told at the start of the flight by the pilot, the flight took us south of Coober Pedy, near Leigh Creek (? At least, I think that was the name of it), over Lake Eyre North, south of the Flinders Ranges, above Mildura to Bendigo then over the outer suburbs to land in Melbourne. In other words, I reflected, it used a similar route to our trip. I liked the symmetry of that.

Here’s Lake Eyre North:

The flight was pretty good. Before long though – quicker than I’d expected – we were flying over the outskirts of Melbourne…

Ready for landing.

But my journey back wasn’t yet complete. I went out and had to choose between the SkyBus then train, or a PTV bus and ended up choosing the latter (cheaper and not much longer). After another hour and a half, I was back home.

 

A black, grey & orange Smartbus is driving on a road. Its destination is Melbourne Airport 901

An image sourced from Google as illustration – obviously going the opposite direction than me!