21st Aug – A Year 12 student arrived for a lesson today dressed in gym clothes with her cleavage pushed up and out like a French Madame from the 1800s.
22nd Aug – Received a letter from Germany with a Queen Victoria half penny stamp stuck on the envelope.
23rd Aug – One of my students wants to become an accountant and travel to the Mediterranean and beyond, using her accounting skills.
24th Aug – Noticed that when I shop at a shopping mall and run into someone, they are always in a hurry to get away. But if I run into someone at the fruit and vegetable markets, they are free to chat and are never rushing to be somewhere else.
25th Aug – Today I emailed a guy in Heliopolis, Cairo about some photos I have of his suburb; he was stoked and asked me to send them. This is the first time I’ve ever communicated with someone in Egypt.
16th August – Received a request to translate a very interesting children’s book, unpaid. (This is not as unusual as I wish it was.)
17th August – Snowed for half an hour. This is the first time I’ve seen snow in this city for more than 10 years.
18th August – Someone who ‘liked’ one of my blog posts was looking for postgraduates to do a survey on career prospectives. So I did it.
19th August – Spoke to an Alpaca farmer who had nails painted in a leopard pattern.
20th August – Driving home tonight I heard a meditation therapist interviewed on radio. He gave a few minutes of instruction in meditation and I did everything he said, except close my eyes. I wondered if the other drivers around me were listening to the same station.
11th August – My oldest son is composing a piece of piano music. I’ve never known a composer before. He’s posted it on his blog: http://lukeworth.wordpress.com/
12th August – Saw a tiny finch digging in a planter box hanging from my porch. I looked in and found a slanting tunnel dug out beside the pansies.
13th August – When we read in a grammar exercise that King Charles Spaniels are named after Charles II, my ten year-old student told me that King Charles II liked to party. She learnt it on Horrible Histories.
14th August – A male and female finch are sitting on the winter-bare branches by my window. Now and then the female flits over to the planter box and scrapes a few more grains of soil out while the male stands guard on the branch just above. Now I have an unusual problem: how can I water my pansies without the tunnel collapsing?
15th August – Researched a holiday resort online and found many variations in prices for the same room, same dates. Rang the resort and told the owner we’ve stayed there several times over the past 25 years; he gave me a $200/week discount.
6th August – Currently watching the documentary Shoah by Claude Lanzmann, all 9 hours of it, for an hour and a half each night. Each night I’m also learning German online.
7th August – This morning I woke when it was dark and looked at my clock’s glow-in-the-dark hands: 6 o’clock. After a long time waiting for the sun to rise, I looked at the clock again: 2 o’clock. The clock hands, the first time, must have actually said 12.30 am.
8th August – Through my window I watched a man arrive in a black car wearing a black suit and very black glasses. He had a quiet conversation with two guys in hoodies, then opened his car door and invited them to get in, gently touching one on the back, a reluctant passenger. The car moved away slowly.
9th August – A Superb Fairy-wren just landed on my windowsill. Never seen this in the 15 years I’ve been here. It’s female and looks like a fat flying mouse with a vertical tail.
10th August – Heard a story on the news about a Dalmatian breeder who also owns a newborn Dorper lamb which has black spots on a white-based coat (normally they have a black head on a white body). The lamb’s mother has rejected it, but a female Dalmatian has adopted it, licking it every now and then. The lamb has tried to nuzzle up to her udder.
1st August – Two people in my house eat apples every day. One likes Pink Lady, the other likes Gala. Whichever type is in the fridge, someone’s not happy. If I buy Fuji or Red Delicious, no one eats them.
2nd August – The mother who wanted to get her daughter ‘moving forward’ (see my unusual thing of 27th July) forgot to send her daughter to me for her first lesson. She was flat out, she said, and simply forgot. Too busy moving forward.
3rd August – Some new face cream I bought says it ‘Prolongs youthful appearance with age-defying AHA’s’. Aha!
4th August – At the local café there are two widescreen TVs on the walls of a small space, both set to a sporting match, not the same one, and loudish rock music plays through the sound system.
5th August – Watched The Diary of Anne Frank. (I’ve never been able to get through the book.) I learnt that she wrote prolifically in her diary because she wanted to be a writer. Indeed, she unwittingly became one.
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.
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%.
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.
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.