Thursday 19 September 2019

Mr P. Had A Holiday

Aerial photograph of Flinders Ranges showing Wilpena Pound
Everyone's First Choice for a Holiday Destination, no?
Mr P. and my BIL went there!

Mr P. had a holiday recently with his brother, for the first time in, well, Forever! This is a satellite image of where they went. Can you guess where this is, Dear Reader?

The Sahara Desert, perhaps? No, cold ...

Photo of the Richat Structure in Africa taken by astronaut Thomas Pesquet
The Eye of Africa in the Sahara Desert
Photo Credit: ESA Astronaut, Thomas Pesquet

Gosh, it does resemble our ol' favourite Dream-Job Destination, the Moon, but, No, colder ...

Photo of Crater Daedalus on the Moon credited to NASA
Crater Daedalus on the Far Side of the Moon
Photo Credit: NASA

It seems even reminiscent of Mars' lovely moon, Phobos! Again, No. Cold, cold, cold ...

Hubble Space Telescope photo of Martian moon Phobos
Martian Moon Phobos
Photo Credit: Hubble Space Telescope

Give up? The land formations in the photographic Clue at the top are not craters, but geographic folds, specifically a geosyncline. Formed about 500 million years ago, the whole area has: enjoyed a bit of dunking under the sea a few times; had a bit of glacial scraping during an ancient Ice Age; been given a good whack with a meteorite; then had some several kilometres shaved off the top from erosion and what not and is a mere husk of its former self. Yes, we're looking at South Australia!

Stobie poles along an Adelaide street, photo from Alchetron
Behold, the Stobie Pole
Photo Credit: via Alchetron

Hotter than Hades in summer and as freezing in winter as its nearest neighbour, Antarctica*, South Australia is famous for its sophisticated tourism catchphrase, "S.A. Great, Mate!" and its world renown & enviable Stobie Poles. It is also the birthplace of Mr P., whose family arrived there by ship from Italy in 1957. I had never been to South Australia or its capital city Adelaide before meeting my husband but have been there Many Times since, so was quite happy for Mr P. and his brother to go off and hang about with friends and Do Stuff while I stayed at home, ahem, polishing the silverware.

Photo of view from Mount Ohlssen Bagge across Wilpena Pound in South Australia
The natural amphitheatre known as Wilpena Pound
Photo credit: Flying With Hands

They hired a 4WD and went to the Flinders Ranges National Park, about 5 hours drive from Adelaide; their destination: The Pound! They walked the trail up Mount Ohlssen Bagge, (where according to his iPhone's pedometer he climbed 101 flights of stairs); stayed in the Aboriginal-owned resort (nota bene: Sydney prices); walked some more; drove around even more; saw emus, kangaroos, feral goats and a couple of lizards and came back in a much dustier car.

Photo of dusty road in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Hundreds of millions of years have shrunk our mountain ranges
Photo Credit: Flying With Hands

Photo of lizard on a rock in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Nature Notes: A Lizard!
Photo Credit: Flying With Hands

You will be pleased to know that they had a great time!

* As declared by me, so all true.

Sunday 15 September 2019

Hair Affair

Photo of Pipistrello and her Mum, 1967
Me & My Mum, 1967
Photo credit: Flying With Hands

Dear Reader, my lovely mother and I were looking at this photograph recently.

"That straw hair of yours!", she said. 

Mum is 20 here (yes, a Child Bride) and I'm evidently thrilled to have turned One on this day. My big present, by the by, was Teddy, who you've met before around these pages. 

As you can see, Your Correspondent did not inherit her Mother's raven hair, but what you won't see is that neither did she inherit her ability to style said hair, even after a further 52 years have passed. Practise has not made perfect as Pipistrello has ... Hair Issues. Fine & straight at the front, thick & wiry at the back, a bit of a cowlick here and an ability to mat into wannabe dreadlocks there, all on its own volition, mind you, at the mere whiff of a breeze or glancing brush against a knit ... It pains me to admit I cannot master my own hair after all this time.

I necessarily keep mine long, as it gives more me more options for wrangling its unruliness into submission, and a sighting of a glorious mane of hair will always grab my attention. A casual glance at my Pinterest pages to see where my particular fantasies lie gives a good indication of my vexed relationship with my own tresses. Like any obsessive, I "pin" all manner of Hair Glories as inspiration. Par example, a youthful Lauren Hutton, below, sports my Idea of Unruliness:

B&W photo of Lauren Hutton and her hair in flight, Vogue Magazine June 1968
Lauren Hutton and her joyous locks
Vogue, 1968
Photo via Pinterest

But with hair like straw? Yes, in Reality, Worzel Gummidge doth spring more to mind...

Photo of Worzel Gummidge
Delightful, non?
Image via Google

Growing up in the 70s, the shampoo in our bathroom cabinet at home came in a couple of flavours: Green Apple or Egg. Conditioner wasn't around then but a tiny, little bottle of optimistically-named Tame de-tangler was all for me and my Special Needs. Sadly, Tame never really worked.

Tame hair detangler 1970s
Promises, promises
Image via Pinterest

Because I'm bewitched by fads, I've gone no-poo, so these days it's apple cider vinegar, unbelievably, that works a treat on those knots. It only took five decades to figure that out, but then any long-haired woman from ages past could easily have whispered the name of that magic elixir into the ear of any cloth-eared modern woman, deafened by Advertising and its siren's call of Promises. (Although Flex did a mighty good job, as I remember.)

I have not the disposition for a high-maintenance short cut & Mr P. is anyways a Man for Long Hair. So it is but once or twice a year that I trundle off for a cut, occasionally supplemented by a bit of scissor d-i-y at the bathroom mirror, and meanwhile Fuss About with pins, combs, hot rollers etc. And thank goodness for hats! Sheer laziness results in either the simple chignon or ballet bun as the go-to 'do, but the elaborate Up-Do worthy of gracing a satirical pamphlet circa 1776 is ever the goal.

Oh heigh oh, or a view of the back settlements engraving published by M Darley, London 1776
High hair fashion in 1776
Why not today?!

Monday 2 September 2019

One Encore Away From A Vacation

Johannes Moser B&W photo from Pentatone website to illustrate Sydney recital review September 2019
Johannes Moser wields the Tool of his Trade
Photo credit: via Pentatone 

So did sayeth the superb German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser at the end of our recital at the Utzon Room one Sunday afternoon in August. Well, he did say that it was in fact his 1694 Andrea Guarneri Cello that did demand the 10-day vacation at the end of his tour, and he was just going to be obliging. (Of course, in true Pipistrello fashion, that holiday has now been & gone, obv!)

And if only such aged instruments could speak, Dear Reader, beyond Yippee, I'm on Holiday!, they would have an awful lot to tell. Meanwhile, Two-Peas & I instead heard Very Fine Music being coaxed and conjured from this cello, to the equally delightful accompaniment of the British pianist, Kathryn Stott.

Sydney Cove & Farm Cove flanking Bennelong Point,
Whereon the future Opera House is to lay, but in 1909 is yet a twinkle in the eye of Utzon 

I've been a little remiss in keeping our irregular Utzon Sundays posted about these pages this year, but be assured they've been a typical gladbag of musical wonders. The past two recitals Mr P. has been otherwise engaged so I've been able to Treat-a-Friend, and it was the turn of Two-Peas on this wintery day to partake with me of the Opera House coffee-&-finger-sandwiches-lunch followed by a glass of bubbles, harbour views and excellent music.

Fort Denison, 1923
George F. Harris
Image credit: State Library of NSW

Outside, the gale-force winds were taking a breather and there was reasonable tranquility on the harbour, and in spite of it being 'flu season, there were no hacking coughs and we were only to endure one Senior in our midst doing the slow-motion grapple with a cellophane wrapper on a sweet. We have a new security regime at the Opera House entry whereby our bags are put through an X-ray machine but honestly, what they really should do is pat you down for any noisy luncheon and treats wrappers. Anyhoo, enough tch-ing and stern looks ... to the music: Before launching into the main meal of our Sonatas, we were delighted by Beethoven's lilting and joyous "love letter to Mozart", Seven Variations on 'Bei Männern, welche Liebe Fühlen', WoO46, from Mozart's The Magic Flute.

The Bridge, October 1929
Adelaide Perry
Image credit: AGNSW

And then onto one of Moser's "favourite pieces", the 1934 Cello Sonata in D minor, Op.40 by Shostakovich. Some energetic shredding of the bow in the second movement and the lively piano accompaniment led to breakout applause before the more melancholy Largo. Then it picked up again while some occasional flashes of light off the stern of a passing sailing boat or catching on the white render of distant apartment blocks seen through the Utzon Room's wall of windows joined in with the exuberant playing. A little bit of finger-plucking even added a nightclubiness to the last phrases of this 1934 piece, so evocative of a Jazz-era club scene à la P.G. Wodehouse. Although the composer wasn't to know that his work was to be denounced by Pravda two years later, this piece "hints at dark times to come" but retains a "certain optimism with Russia's future", Moser tells us when he stopped for a little chat.

Olde Ferry on Sydney Harbour
Photo credit: Australian National Maritime Museum

Then the recital was rounded out by Brahms 1860s Sonata for Cello and Piano No.1 in E minor, Op.38. Again, a perfect pairing with our transfixing view across Farm Cove to Fort Denison (the same vintage as the sonata) and Mrs Macquarie's Chair. Contrapuntal is the name of the game here: there is the alternate satin and suede patchwork reflecting the scudding clouds and winds across the water; some melancholic moments to match the drear day then the late afternoon winter light picks out the white register of some surface-skimming seagulls and the Deco-yellow of the tiny suburban ferries and the 19th Century sandstone of Fort Denison are rendered a brilliant gold as the "voluptuous fugue" of the third movement sees Moser's bow ending in tatters!

All very exciting and enormously enjoyable, then Johannes tells us he's "one encore away from a vacation". So after a little bit of Rachmaninoff, his twinkling patent leather shoes and Kathryn's rhinestone & gilt-edged court shoes skip off the stage and Moser's cello gets its wish.

Bats In The Belfry