19th Jan – A 19 year-old girl, just returned from 6 months abroad, told me her best moment was arriving in Istanbul at night and going into Hagia Sofia. I thought of the unlikelihood of me knowing what this was, except I’ve studied art history.
20th Jan – A metallic violet Police ute drifted past me; number plate: RAPID 3. Its black and white checked stripe followed the lines of the ute, the back end of the stripe dissipating in the wind speed.
21st Jan – A very British architect interviewed on radio said you have to tickle the boxes. For 3 seconds I imagined how I would tickle a box, before I understood he’d said tick all like tick’ll.
22nd Jan – I was standing alone on the beach at 8.30 pm, the light almost gone. An adolescent boy rolled onto the sand in an electric wheelchair. For a few moments it was just him and me and the vast ocean. He did a u-turn and went back to the park behind the beach.
23rd Jan – A distant relative rang after 9 years of silence and within seconds was asking me for help with French pronunciation.
In the album I found a few photos of Arabs snapped in the simplicity of their daily lives. This one really narrows it down: a shadeless desert, a man stopping to pray, a curious and patient camel. Bowing over his mat in prayer, the Arab blocks out the Allied soldier behind the camera lens, and the complications of war.
14th Jan – I tried to tear up some poorly framed photos I’d had printed for 10 cents each. How disappointed I was to feel the photos resist my cranky hands. The Kodak XtraLife II paper has a top layer of plastic that won’t be torn. To destroy it, I had to go in search of a pair of scissors and then cut, cut, cut. Where’s the satisfaction in that? Tearing up a photo, especially of an unpleasant face, is one of the great pleasures in life.
15th Jan – Watched Gone with the Wind for the first time in 30 odd years. In the hospital scene, some long dark shadows cast onto a wall didn’t move exactly as their owners did. The shadows seemed to have been filmed and attached afterwards.
16th Jan – My husband uses an old wardrobe in the shed for tool storage, and the possum uses it as a hideaway:
Jan 17 – I received a letter from Germany in an envelope made from a paled scan of a letter I’d written myself.
Jan 18 – My lady butcher’s hands are red, like she’s had them deep inside an animal’s flesh. But they are that colour even when clean. I said, ‘Your hands have been working hard,’ and she said ‘Yes, I have ugly hands.’
Like this week’s photo challenge, the following poem and its miniature illustration also have a peaceful theme. My father was in the Middle East in 1941 thinking about the sun rising in his home country. I give you the first of four stanzas.
This week, it really was a challenge to find a photo in the war album that suited a peaceful theme… I like this one of the sun rising behind the pyramids, though even this photo has a disturbing darkness.
8th Jan – Tonight I found the very first comment on my blog. It took 8 days.
9th Jan – I was having coffee in the far back corner of a café when a short European man dumped a heavy cardboard box on my table. I jumped. When he went off to speak to the manageress I took a peek and saw 8 plastic boxes full of honeycomb.
10th Jan – I saw a bike chained to a rack, its front wheel twisted by vandals. But something about its melted form was worth remembering.
11th Jan – The Housing tenants are sweeping their path, hosing the gutter, picking up rubbish and putting away the seven chairs they usually gather on to smoke and drink and abuse passers-by. A 9-year-old girl picks up debris while her corpulent grandmother holds open a large plastic bag, a cigarette dangling from her lips. The authorities have visited.
12th Jan – A Swiss friend made une tresse, a plaited bread roll, for me.
6th Jan: I put out seed for wild rosellas and a rat came to nibble on the leftovers.
7th Jan: Outside the most expensive shoe shop in Canberra, an old Chinese lady sits behind two Styrofoam boxes, one holding large bouquets of hydrangeas, pink, purple and blue; the other holds herb bunches. She counts her cash, moving her toothless jaw in and out.
Every day I see or hear at least one thing that makes me look, or listen, twice, because it’s not something I was expecting. Here are the unusual things I’ve seen so far this year, this leap year, when there will be 366 days. A bonus unusual thing.
1st Jan: The housing tenants across the street welcomed the new year with coprolalia.
2nd Jan: A thin dirty woman in a mini-skirt, ankle socks slipping into her clogs, was walking past the video store, hugging the glass wall. She stopped to pick up a dead half-cigarette, pulled out a lighter, lit the cigarette and smoked it.
3rd Jan: Neighbour no. 1 phoned and neighbour no. 2 emailed to tell us that neighbour no. 3 is a police informer with a gun.
4th Jan: My son’s new employer, a jeans shop owner, wants him to wear their $300 jeans. They’re made with special bacteria and can’t be washed. The bacteria eats the dirt.
5th Jan: A pretty twentyish blonde girl serving me at the car repair place bent over to write down my details. I saw ‘Joshie’ tattooed in beautiful black copperplate across her left breast.
Fertile Ground: In a long crack in a short concrete wall, a Johnny-jump-up grows, unwatered and ignored until now. Years ago they grew in a pot plant near the little wall, a very poor specimen which I abandoned. Hope reigns.