366 unusual things: days 209-213

27th July – A new student’s mother, a public servant, asked me to help get her daughter ‘moving forward’.

28th July – Today I submitted two pretty colour photos (rather than black and white) and got more ‘likes’ in one day than ever before.  Clearly, more people prefer sweetness and light.

29th July – On the online German language course, I’ve been taught to say Orangen haben Fleisch – oranges have meat!  I’ve been laughing at this, but today my son bought a blood orange, tore it open and showed me its red flesh and red juice, the colour of blood.  The colour of meat.

30th July – Our local government has banned free plastic bags.  In the bakery today, I was asked to pay 20c for a huge brown paper bag.

31st July – Two weeks’ ago, I heard fifth-hand news that a guy in the Housing flats was torturing someone and was going to be taken away.  He’s still there.  Today, I heard fifth-hand news that he’s a victim of crime and the police are moving him to a safer address.  He’s still there.  I heard all this from a woman who heard it from a woman who heard it from a woman who heard it from the woman who works at the checkout at the local shop, who apparently heard it from the guy himself.


Ailsa’s travel photo challenge: Flowers

Thanks again to Ailsa for proposing a theme.  She showed us how New York does flowers:  http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/07/27/travel-theme-flowers/

And here is how my daughter-in-law does flowers.  When my son married this beautiful girl in April, she decorated their wedding with flowers:  in her hands, in her hair, in the bridesmaids’ hands, on their dresses, and on the tables.  But not on the men.

Bec has since dried her wedding bouquet, taken of photo of it, written about it, and about marriage, here:  http://therebeccapapers.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/not-the-stuff-of-myths/

Photo by Luis Power
Photo by Luis Power

Weekly photo challenge: Purple

On a family outing to the Pumpkin Festival in Collector (a no-horse town near Canberra), I went off in search of pumpkins and lost my husband.  When I found him he was shooting purple bears.

Purple bears at the Collector Pumpkin Festival (Photo: Brett Worth)

366 unusual things: days 204-208

22nd July – Began reading The Brothers Karamazov.  The three brothers are 20, 23 and 27, about the same ages as my three sons.

23rd July – One of my students had an alarm set for 5.17pm, the exact time of today’s sunset, the exact time she would be able to eat (Ramadan).  This is new to me.

24th July – Tonight I glimpsed an unfamiliar light, warm and yellow, in the gap between the curtain and the window. I went closer and found a horizontal crescent moon, like a Cheshire Cat smile.

25th July – Learnt that the three people who work in the local café are all expectant parents. Something in the coffee?

26th July – Heard an old guy telling a young woman that he was “pretty full-on as a child”. “I was reading before I was two,” he slurred, holding his six-pack tightly in the crook of his arm.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Why pose outside when you can pose inside and pretend to be outside?

Here’s a great illustration of Orientalism:  a European model imagined as an Arab.  Exotic oasis with odalisque.  Orientalist photography and painting were born from European colonisation of Middle and Far Eastern countries.  Artists and photographers at the end of the 19th century and up to the Second World War years produced paintings and postcards depicting exaggeratedly different and exotic females both in and out of the studio.  Outside the studio, photographers captured images of women who were mostly covered.  In the staged setting of a studio, women were mostly uncovered, and it’s these photographs that express a Western male’s fantasies of penetrating the harem, in a scene which could be created with actual North African women or, as here, with a European model posing as an odalisque (a female slave or concubine).  The images say more about the colonial perspective than about Arabs:  the men were seen as enviable sheikhs with many wives and concubines and the women were often painted as belly dancers whose sole occupation was to entertain and satisfy men.  We, the Western viewers of these images, both men and women, were convinced, by the contrast, that we were civilised.  Except, this is an image my father obtained in colonised Egypt while fighting in a six-year-long war between civilised countries.

Odalisque – Orientalist photography, 1930s/40s

366 unusual things: days 199-203

17th July – Tried to sew four borders onto a quilt, two long pieces and two short.  I got two of them wrong.  That has to be unusual.

18th July – A friend told me about Cloud computing which I knew nothing about.  A line from Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now came into my head and stuck:  I really don’t know clouds at all.

19th July – My husband read my translation draft.

20th July – In a sports shoe store with my son who is at the end of a flu bout, I saw his skin had a sickly green tint and I worried, until other people came in and turned green.  It was the intense lighting, which was also giving the African-Australian shop assistant an intense headache (but not a green tint).

21st July – A bottle of truffle-infused olive oil tells us that “Over 80% of women describe the odour of truffle oil as very sensual.” “Close your eyes, inhale the aroma,” it instructs. I’ve inhaled it twice and found I belong to the other 20%.


Ailsa's travel photo challenge: Tradition

Ailsa’s travel photo challenge:  Ailsa proposes the theme of Tradition this week.  Her post is multicoloured – take a look:  http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/07/20/travel-theme-tradition/

My post has only two colours:  black and white. The photo is entitled ‘Water cows’ (water buffalo) and comes from my father’s war album of photos taken in the Middle East.  This one is in Egypt, where the water buffalo is the most important domestic animal.

If farmers traditionally transport their cows on foot along a certain route, then an expanding city will just have to accommodate them.

Water cows (buffalo), Egypt, 1941/42

366 unusual things: days 194 – 198

12th July – Every young guy who enters the Housing flat opposite me pulls a hood up over his head before entering, even if he’s already wearing a cap.  What are they hiding from?

13th July – One of my students just got engaged to a man she met 2 weeks before.  It’s an arranged marriage which she is accepting because she’s ‘very lonely’.  For me, this is unusual and scary.

14th July – In a café, a sign told me their coffee can be DeLITEful.  Why not write it correctly, since the pun still works?  DeLIGHTful.

15th July – Made Spaghetti Bolognese without mince.  Instead I added 3 Italian sausages and 2 rashers of bacon.  So good!

16th July – My son just married a girl who looks beautiful in every facial expression in every wedding photo.  How is that possible?  So joyous!


Weekly photo challenge: Dreaming

The weekly photo challenge instruction is “Share a photo that makes you dream”.  When I look at news footage of Syria these days, I wonder if it will ever again look like it does in this photo from 1942.  Let’s dream it can be this peaceful some day.  Soon.

The 2/15th battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces, which my father was a part of, went to Syria in January 1942 for several months of frontier garrison duty.  I have several photos of the region from his album, but the Biblical tone of this one makes it the best.  Click it to see the detail.

Syria 1942

366 unusual things: days 189-193

7th July – Researching the El Gala’a Bridge in Cairo for a ‘Night’ photo challenge, I discovered it opened for feluccas by pivoting the central part around to perpendicular, making two passageways for the boats.
The first photo below is my father’s (that is, it was in his album but possibly not taken by him) which seems to have been shot from an identical position as the ‘Night’ photo.  Following this are two photos (undated but taken during WWII) in the National Library of Australia collection, by war photographer Frank Hurley, of the bridge opened for felucca traffic.  When closed, the bridge seems to have been only for pedestrians in those days.  I searched for recent images of the El Gala’a Bridge and found that it now carries heavy vehicular traffic, and during last year’s revolution was jam-packed with Egyptians heading for Tahrir Square.

“English Bridge”, Cairo (El Gala’a Bridge), 1942

Hurley, Frank, 1885-1962. Feluccas on the Nile at Cairo [with city, viewed from above] [picture] : [Cairo, Egypt, World War II]

Hurley, Frank, 1885-1962. Feluccas passing through the English Bridge, Cairo [Kobri Al Galaa or Evacuation Bridge] [picture] : [Cairo, Egypt, World War II]

8th July – Bought a green leather bag which was half-price ‘because of the colour’.

9th July – Spent hours searching the Internet for an image matching my camel bridge photo.  Finally found a postcard from the early 20th century showing the same bridge.  The Internet is an amazing resource!

10th July – Tried to get out of a 3-hour free carpark.  Put the ticket in the machine and it shot out and landed in a puddle where 6 other tickets were being rained on.  Mine was the driest, so I picked it up and put it back in.  It shot out again.  I hit the red ‘Help’ button and a muffled voice announced the free parking had been reduced to 2 hours.  The boom was generously raised anyway.

11th July – Learned that Joni Mitchell’s song ‘Both sides now’ was written as a poem.  It’s great read aloud.