366 unusual things: days 269 – 273

25th Sep – My son recited pi to 81 decimal places.

26th Sep – My Chinese student gave me a box of Moon Cakes to celebrate mid-autumn (in mid-spring).  Normally they have a dried raw egg at the centre – that’s the moon.  Mine are moonless.

27th Sep – In my husband’s car, a song title, incorrectly entered by someone in the process of ripping my CD, appeared on a digital screen in the centre of the dash, in big letters, as “Chest of Draws” instead of “Chest of Drawers” by Jenny Biddle.  It’s one of my favourite songs so I looked out the window until it was over.

28th Sep – Read on a French news site that J.K. Rowling’s new novel was released in English on Thursday and in French on Friday.  That’s confidence in her writing.  And the translator’s.

29th Sep – At the National Portrait Gallery today, saw a new and amazing portrait of the Queen in a reflective mood, painted by an Australian artist, Ralph Heimans.


Ailsa's travel photo challenge: Foliage

Ailsa has posted photos of autumn foliage this week and challenged us to do the same.  Check out her photos:  http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/09/28/travel-theme-foliage/

I have no idea what season it is in my photo (or rather, my father’s photo), but I’m guessing that in this boy’s part of the world it’s always warm enough to climb a tree.  In bare feet!  The photo suits not so much a foliage theme as a trunk theme.  But if the boy climbs for long enough he’ll get to the foliage and more importantly to the dates.

Boy climbing date palm, Egypt, c1941

366 unusual things: days 264 – 268

20th Sep – Looked at a lagoon and a lizard on a log.

Frill-necked lizard, Korora Bay, NSW

21st Sep – Saw four dead gum trees on the clifftop boardwalk in front of a mansion with million-dollar views.  A huge Council sign says:  “These trees have been POISONED”.

22nd Sep – After 14 months of searching for an out-of-print book, I’ve obtained an 1867 edition, its spine broken, back cover torn, but entire.

23rd Sep – Heard on a documentary that enough sunlight falls on Australia in two days to power the whole world for a year.

24th Sep – An author sent me a manuscript to read and is eager to know if I’ll translate it.  Oh yeah!


Weekly photo challenge: Solitary

Another photo from my father’s war album.  Table Mountain in Cape Town looks like a good place to be solitary (unless you’re with troops on their way to war).

This nurse wears the military uniform of Queensland nurses who joined up in 1940 and 1941 to accompany troops to the Middle East.  I don’t know her name but I hope someone sees the photo some day and recognises her.

My father praised the nurses in his poetry.  And when he returned home and married my mother, he wanted their first child, my sister, to be named after a particular nurse who had cared for him in the army hospital in Kantara near Cairo.


366 unusual things: days 259 – 263

15th Sep – At a chocolate shop/café my cup of coffee came with melted chocolate dribbled, apparently decoratively, down the outside of the cup.  It ended up on my fingers in a great mess.

16th Sep – Went to a church in this seaside town where we are holidaying.  It looked conservative from the outside but the music was hypnotic, the last song line repeated 16 times, and the preacher didn’t preach;  he prayed for troubled souls until they fell on the floor.  I’ve heard of this but never seen it before.

17th Sep – Walking to the beach we passed a refugee and his sons.  We smiled and said Hi;  he hesitated, nodded ever so slightly, but didn’t smile.  I wondered what he was thinking.

18th Sep – Found out that a short piece I submitted to a magazine has been published, including two photos which I had taken for this blog.  Only, they attributed the writing to another Trish!  The editor promised to place a correction in the next issue.

19th Sep – Went to the porpoise pool and got kissed by a dolphin and a seal.


Ailsa's travel photo challenge: White

Ailsa proposes a White theme in honour of the International Day of Peace on 21st September.  That’s today.

See her white things here:   http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/09/20/travel-theme-white/

Some people, she says, observe a minute’s silence at midday, but that time has already passed for me.  It’s just after two in the afternoon and I’ve just received her email.  Still, I can observe it with my photo of two white figures on the steps of a white church, Le Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, in Paris.  As I stood watching this scene (2 years ago), it was mid-morning mid-week which confused me when I saw the bride.  She posed for so many shots that I wondered if she were modelling.  If she had indeed just been married, then her husband must have been a very patient man.

The other figure that looks like a white statue isn’t.  He’s another very patient man.

Le Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Paris

366 unusual things: days 254 – 258

10th Sep – Early in the afternoon, went to a beach where there were 4 people on the sand and 3 in the water.  Late in the afternoon, went to a Point recommended for its sunset, where 4 people were watching it and 3 were gutting fish.

Zenith Beach, Port Stephens, NSW.  The figure on the sand is me.
Sunset, Soldiers Point, Port Stephens, NSW.  The figure on the rocks is a stranger.

11 Sep – In a park, beside a sign declaring it an alcohol-free zone, a group of people were drinking tallies under an old fig tree.

12 Sep – Currently reading or listening to 4 novels:  The Brothers Karamazov;  The Pickwick Papers;  Spiridion;  Le Bouclier rouge.  Sometimes I confuse the plots.

13 Sep – Had coffee in a converted church called ‘The Flying Nun’.  The woman behind the counter looked like a man and the man looked like a woman.

14 Sep – On a small truck with ‘Outback Queensland’ plates:  Bugger this. I’m goin piggin.


Ailsa's travel photo challenge: Texture

Ailsa has been checking out textures during her road travels:  http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/  She’s asking us to show some textures from our own travels.  I thought of the bubble texture on these beach rocks at Apollo Bay in Victoria:

Rocks, Apollo Bay, Victoria, Australia

Weekly photo challenge: Everyday life

Everyday life for a soldier in Egypt in 1941 included some pretty unpostable activities:  rifle practice, wrecking tanks, sinking ships, covering  the bodies of dead comrades in the desert.  However, the activity in this photo looks fairly harmless.  My father captioned it ‘Shufty’, which comes from an Arabic word for ‘a look’, as in ‘take a shufty at this’.

Three curious things I’ve considered:  What are the tubular projections behind the men?  What is the Egyptian boy doing?  Why is one man naked while all others are clothed?

Shufty, Egypt, 1941

366 unusual things: days 249 – 253

5th Sep – When the door of my student’s house opened to me, I saw her waiting, her long blond hair plaited down her back.  Her mother, also with long blond hair plaited down her back, was standing behind her brother, plaiting his long blond hair.

6th Sep – In 2 books in 2 days I’ve read that I should take my time when reading, don’t go too fast, have the time to read, ask why the author chose one word over another.

7th Sep – Went to a jazz concert with my son.  Never done that before.

8th Sep – At a professional development session about Aboriginal English I had a long conversation in French.

9th Sep – Today we drove to our holiday destination.  Arrived at the moment of a wide, horizontal orange sunset identical to the one in the ad for this place.