366 unusual things: days 364 – 366

29th Dec – Ten boxes of chocolates and biscuits, Christmas gifts, are stacked in a tower in my kitchen.

30th Dec – Heard in a sermon that 560 French and German churches have closed in the last decade and, now they are empty, many are being converted into mosques.

31st Dec – Today is a bonus day after the 365th.  The last unusual thing.

366 unusual things: days 359 – 363

24th Dec – One of the worst offenders from the Housing flats (he’s just been evicted) spoke to me for the first time when I ran into him in the fruit shop. He wished me a Merry Christmas.

25th Dec – Went outside to breathe in this fresh Christmas morning and heard a deep male voice in the distance calling “Ho, ho, ho!”.

26th Dec – Found out that ‘organised’ has another meaning; it can mean ‘made into a living being’, that is, composed of organs.

27th Dec – Passed two road signs on a mountain:  “Uncoupling zone” 🙁 and “Coupling zone” 🙂 (for truck drivers about to descend the steep and winding road).

28th Dec – Was having morning tea at my local café when the garbage truck, which had just emptied my bin, parked outside. Two hairy garbage men sat at the table next to mine, upwind of me.

366 unusual things: days 344 – 348

9th Dec – My son told me he hides in car boots to get into places…  He reminded me that my grandfather was a stowaway on a ship going to the First World War.

10th Dec – To sell their house, our neighbours got rid of their chickens, and now a small tree grows where they used to run.  Something on a branch hanging on my side of the fence caught my eye – cherries!

11th Dec – Read two articles by professional translators, one grumbling about dogs and their owners, another who can’t work without his dog beside him.

12th Dec – Walked into a friend’s study and was confronted by a dress hanging beside the door, a 1920s apricot lace dress with a satin hip sash and bow that she’d bought in a 2nd-hand shop.  While we sat talking, the handle of the door turned, the door opened a fraction and closed again, the handle turned back.  She assured me it was air movement and that it wasn’t the woman coming to claim her dress.

13th Dec – Put on a lip balm called Baby Lips;  my lips swelled outside and in, like an allergic reaction. I think that was the cosmetic plan, to puff them up like a baby’s.

366 unusual things: days 339 – 343

4th Dec – My 40-year-old Chinese student doesn’t know where Israel is, and has never heard of it.

5th Dec – My 12-year-old Cambodian student prefers to write left-handed but in Cambodia it wasn’t allowed.

6th Dec – I tutor a primary school student who asked me if tutor is spelt like shooter.  She formed her hand into a gun and shot.  I assured her they are spelt quite differently.

7th Dec – Sitting in the new café at the National Archives, I listened to public servants placing orders:  double-shot small latte, normal small latte, soy flat white, weak cappuccino, double-shot cappuccino.  No one actually ordered coffee.  Not even me.  I had tea.

8th Dec – On a hot road, I saw reflections of passing cars in mirages.

366 unusual things: days 334 – 338

29th Nov – In a post office I was waiting for quite some time in front of this poster. It left me wondering about the water source.FluPoster_cropped

30th Nov – Started learning Spanish online.  Now I understand why a printed j sounds like h.  Like San Jose.

1st Dec – Out of 30 people at a literacy lecture, two were men;  one was wiry, white-haired, long-retired, the other was young, robust and black.  The rest of us were middle-aged white women.

2nd Dec – At a ‘hipster’ market, some old half-life-size statues of Jesus and angels were for sale to ‘hip’ home decorators.  They looked like church plunder.

3rd Dec – Listened to a radio program about flies; apparently they will provide us with new antibiotics in about ten years.

366 unusual things: days 324 – 328

19th Nov – Spoke to a new migrant to Canberra, Australia’s capital, who ardently believes the capital should be on the coast.  His opinion shows the movement of priorities for Westerners:  in 1908 the inland capital site was chosen for its fertility and adequate water supply, but in 2012 the pleasure of seaside living is more important.

20th Nov – Tried on shoes in a shop but they were too tight.  Was given a stocking and told the shoes would feel looser with it on.  If I add a layer, won’t the shoes be tighter?  No, as it turns out, they did indeed stop pinching.  Did the stocking elastic push my foot flesh up my ankle?

21st Nov – The bathroom ceiling, painted a few months ago with unsuitable paint, is peeling in white flakes that float down before my face as I clean my teeth.

22nd Nov – I teach a few continental Europeans who tell me stories of very effectively demanding and receiving money they are owed.  They like the statement, ‘This is not negotiable.’

23rd Nov – Made a hot chocolate from a product which recommends organic non-dairy milk alternative.  But I used chemical, antibiotic and hormone-infused non-organic dairy milk.  Full cream.

366 unusual things: days 319 – 323

14th Nov – Someone from the Ancestry site sent me an obituary of my great-grandfather.  The phrase ‘engaged in suppressing the slave trade’ leapt off the page.  It’s given me hope.

15th Nov – In a car park, a young African immigrant was trying a car door and peering in the window.  Then he walked over to another car as I watched suspiciously.  I heard an electronic beep and he opened the door of a car identical to the first one he’d tried to unlock.

16th Nov – A very butch butcher, tattooed and pierced, prickly asymmetrical haircut, a woman in men’s clothes, sold me some meat and asked for my shopping bag to put it in.  Taking my small orange carry bag, she squealed “Oh that’s such a cute bag!  So cute!” as only a girl can.

17th Nov – A chicken pizza recipe found quickly online included no pizza base in its ingredients.  Instead, chicken breasts are pounded flat and round until they resemble a base, on which you put all the toppings.  Pffft.  As if that’s a pizza.

18th Nov – My son lost his mobile phone last night and today the city police station called to say someone had handed it in.

366 unusual things: days 314 – 318

9th Nov – Accidentally gave my dog three lamb chops I’d bought for dinner.  For us.

10th Nov – A penpal from Germany phoned me today from Central Australia.  Our first conversation after two years of handwritten letters.

11th Nov – When I give a student the writing prompt, “Heaven is like this…”, I often doubt we could imagine it.  Earlier this evening, in the garden lit by filtered sunset and perfumed by jasmine and roses, the street beyond quiet, all neighbours and dogs at peace, I imagined it.

12th Nov – Making up a bed, I threw a clean fitted sheet over the mattress, and a small bird’s nest fell out of one of the elasticised corners.

13th Nov – Hands are constantly visible when tutoring.  I notice nails growing, each day a fraction longer.

366 unusual things: days 309 – 313

4th Nov –  Heard recently that Jack London’s books are great to read when learning to write fiction.  I wouldn’t have picked him for inspiration.  But today, my husband and I were reading White Fang aloud and I was all ears listening to London’s masterful use of short, active, common words.  Here’s a pretty good paragraph:

“White Fang”, Jack London, Chap. 7

5th Nov – Three and a half years ago I applied for work with a tutoring company.  This week they’ve offered me a temporary job.

6th Nov – A strange building, a strange lift, a stranger, mop in one hand, cleaning bucket in the other.  As we moved from the 5th floor to the ground she established from my basket of teaching materials that I could help her son learn to read, and took my number.

7th Nov – Every week for the past six months, my neighbour has put a vase of fresh flowers in her kitchen window (which is happily opposite my own).  She’s trying to sell her house, but hasn’t.  It seems buyers aren’t swayed by flowers.

8th Nov – In two shops this morning, Norah Jones was singing Come away with me. Must be the ultimate music for relaxing a shopper’s grip on her purse.

366 unusual things: days 304 – 308

30th Oct – I’ve watched every 7 Up episode since I was 7, and today I watched the latest, 56 Up.  Michael Apted didn’t plan it this way in the beginning, but thanks to his perseverance, every 7 years I catch up with people I’ve known since I was a child.

31st Oct – There’s a Halloween party for 20 children under way next door.  This is unusual where I live.

1st Nov – Tutoring a student in a college library, we were asked to leave for recess.  The library closed for 15 minutes.  Who made up that rule?

2nd Nov – A tutoring agency asked me to fill in my details on a page entitled “Teachers Backend”.

3rd Nov – In the last two years my neighbour in the Housing flats has had two babies.  The father has taken them away to another town.  She accepts it;  she has no money to get them back or even to go and see them.  Her life is so different from mine.