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.

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%.

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!

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.

366 unusual things: days 184-188

2nd July – In an online German course, I’m learning how to say “The salt is bad”, “The man drinks oil”.  I looked at the equivalent French course where I learnt “My wheat is black”, “We eat butter”.

3rd July – On the other hand, the French course teaches:  “She has a black dress” and “I love you”;  the German, “You are a man and I am a woman”.

4th July – A Chinese student thanked me with a packet of tea from China.  I scooped some into my teapot, drank the tea, inhaled its fragrance, then tried to empty the tealeaves out.  They had morphed into life-size green leaves, like leaf-litter in the bottom of the pot.

5th July – Eating at a table beside the lake when a seagull (lake gull?) landed and walked up to my plate.  It had a black and white polka-dot tail,which is actually the white tips of black edges of white wings.

6th July – A friend told me that her husband cut her hair in the shower this morning.

366 unusual things: days 179 – 183

27th June – Rode my bike home in the twilight.  Have only ever ridden in daylight.

28th June – Read that looking at an old painting by candlelight shows us what the artist saw before studios were lit electrically.  I have only one real painting on the wall; I started it but never finished it, but it became something better when I held a candle to it.

Photo by Brett Worth

29th June – I have sons who wake up on one date and go to bed on the next.

30th June – Heard that J.S. Bach had 20 children to 2 wives.  Eleven of them died within his own lifetime.

1st July – This is the date when I remember meeting my husband (31 years ago), conceiving our first child (4 years later :-)), and starting this blog 6 months ago.



On Saturday I posted a drawing of Millie, a little girl I’ve been tutoring for a few years.  Millie has dyslexia and has gone to Sydney for a while to learn how to read.  Her Dad, the artist behind the pencil and brush, also had dyslexia as a child.

Today, Millie’s Mum, Jackie, wrote the following piece about the learning disability, dyslexia, and about Millie’s time so far at the learning centre in Sydney.  If you’d like to contact Jackie, please click on ‘Contact Me’ at the top of the screen and I’ll pass your message on.

My daughter and dyslexia

Dyslexia is a language based disorder of neurological origin. It is completely independent of IQ. People with dyslexia have difficulties with the use and processing of linguistic and symbolic codes, alphabetic letters representing speech sounds, and numerics representing numbers or quantities. Dyslexics do not respond well to conventional instruction. It is estimated that up to 10 percent of the population have dyslexia. The impact of dyslexia on an individual’s self-esteem can be devastating – with dyslexic teens 20 times more likely to commit suicide than their non-dyslexic peers. My daughter, Millie, is 8 years old and has severe/ profound dyslexia.

As a mother, my heart aches for Millie every day. She is a sweet, compassionate, and social little girl with an IQ of 105. Unfortunately, it is often very difficult for her to demonstrate her true intelligence, due to the fact that intelligence is too often measured by the ability to read and write. As a consequence, Millie is convinced she is stupid. I believe Millie to be both smart and courageous. Can you imagine walking into a classroom every single day not understanding something and knowing that you are different to everyone else? To do that day in and day out and come home depressed, and then get up, put the boots back on and go back into that environment shows a tremendous amount of courage to me.

I guess our journey with dyslexia began some 2 years ago and it has been one filled with frustration, sadness, desperation and hopelessness. So, when I found a study which resulted in the growth of grey-matter in the left-hemisphere of the brain after 8 weeks intensive instruction at a learning centre in Sydney, I thought it was probably worth a shot.

We have been here for 2 weeks now, and progress has been solid but not remarkable. She tries so hard, but retaining the rules/exceptions of the English language has never been one of her strengths. This program is definitely not a magic bullet, but I’m hoping it gets things moving. There is no cure for dyslexia.

To date, she has learned the concept of the ‘bossy-e’ and is now familiar with ‘ea’ ‘ai’ ‘aw’ ‘ee’ ‘oo’ ‘oi’ sounds. I know that to most of you this probably sounds pretty basic and insignificant. Rules you were perhaps taught once or twice at school and were able to retain and apply. But for Millie – this is really quite an impressive step. She is still reversing her b/d’s but the learning centre expect that to stop within a week or two. I am very proud of her efforts and I have been told that she has made 4 months progress in 2 weeks??? Fingers crossed……

We are meeting up with the Director and Producer of an American documentary called “Dislecksia the Movie” either this week or next. They are in Australia at the moment, having a holiday, and are keen to meet Millie. Both of them are dyslexic and would like to share their own personal experiences with dyslexia with Millie.

366 unusual things: days 169-173

17th June – A church sermon was illustrated with a Renaissance sculpture of the devil tempting Christ:  the devil is bent-nosed and bald;  Christ is straight-nosed, long-haired and bearded.  They are both white.

18th June – Out for a walk, I passed a flock of ground-feeding sulphur-crested cockatoos.  One took off and flew close to my ear, squawking.  Almost deafening.

19th June – A man and his 10 year-old daughter went past on a bike – him riding and her standing on the bag rack, her hands resting on his shoulders.

20th June – At a closing-down sale of a large store, I was sold a cardigan by a fifty-something saleswoman.
“Are you a member?” she asked.
“Would you like to become a member?”
“Ah, no….”
She shrugged.  “We have to say it.”

21st June – On this winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, it’s very cold and blowing a gale, yet a few women are outdoors in strappy tops.

366 unusual things: days 164-168

12th June – My monosyllabic student had to write poetry for an assignment.  I started, he followed and came up with several words at a time.  Then he wrote a sequel.

13th June – My son who studies physics asked me which theory was more plausible:  time travel backwards or the idea that the physical world is an illusion.

14th June – Woke at 2 am and still awake at 5.  (This is not the unusual thing.)  I was surprised, in passing the hours, to read in a novel a recount of a long and spooky dream, then to pick up a second novel and read a recount of a long and spooky dream.

15th June – Turned on the car radio this morning to Artsound FM and heard Django Reinhardt.  Turned on the car radio this evening to Classic FM and heard Django Reinhardt.

16th June – Just after midnight, the dog across the street, who chases his tail all day and has never been outside his small yard, escaped and was free.  Ironically, shortly after, his mistress was put in a paddy wagon and taken to the watchhouse for the night for refusing to cooperate with the police (who had left her gate open…).

366 unusual things: days 159-163

7th June –  A black cat crossed my street.  The late afternoon winter sun created a monster-cat shadow which got me up off my chair to see if it was being followed by a large dog.  It wasn’t.

8th June – Sat at the table in a student’s home and quickly stuck to the seat in several places.  Put my books on the table;  they also stuck.  I told my 9 year-old friend about the problem;  she confessed it was maple syrup.

9th June – I’ve noticed that since I started blogging, I’ve stopped talking much.

10th June – Found out the previous owner of our new second-hand car was Lego.

11th June – On The Voice, the TV singing talent show, the coaches frequently say “I love you” to their protégés, who sometimes reply, “I love you, too”.  This love is a new fashion.