366 unusual things: days 134-138

13th May –  Wandered down an alley beside an antique shop, attracted by old French doors lined up against the wall.   I wonder who would buy them, they’re so tall and our doorways are not.  The wrought iron is so rusty.  The paint so unattached.  Yet I ache for the doorways they came from.

14th May – Read that echidnas are carnivores because they eat ants. So, an ant is meat!

15th May – Tutored a student who never gave more than one-word answers.

16th May – Saw a large older woman waiting for a bus wearing a knee-length purple cardigan and fluffy pink earmuffs.

17th May  – Read that Abraham’s wife Sarah is the only woman in the Bible to have her age at death recorded.  She was 127.

366 unusual things: days 129-133

8th May – The waning Super Moon was super yellow tonight.

9th May – The two cafés at the local shops are both owned by Greeks.  I asked the owner of one if he was related to the owner of the other, and he said, ‘Yes, he’s the godfather of my children and I’m the godfather of his children’.  I tried to get him to confirm they aren’t from the same family, but he wouldn’t really agree.  I saw that he had redefined family for me.

10th May – This week I’ve been feeling really confident about my car because it’s French.  Today its engine died.

11th May – Home alone.  Studied two novels set in monasteries and two documentaries about the unchanging rhythm and solitude of monastic life.

12th May – Drove a car today that has no hand brake.  But it has a button.  A finger brake.

366 unusual things: days 124-128

3rd May – A student sent me an email that seemed blank until a few words caught my eye on the far right of the screen.  Her computer was set for Arabic.

4th May – The restrooms in a trendy shopping village have blue lighting which makes your skin look blue.  Found out today this makes finding a vein impossible.

5th May – When a police car arrived outside the Housing flats opposite us, an old guy doing some gardening stood up with both hands in the air.  I was relieved to see them all laugh.

6th May – Tonight there was a Super Moon:  the orbiting moon came the closest it gets to the earth.  My husband and I took photos –  I shot the moon and he shot the possum.  With a camera.

7th May – Had my hair cut by a hairdresser who said ‘beautiful’ every time I spoke.  I liked it.  At first.

366 unusual things: days 119-123

28th Apr – An 8-year-old dyslexic pupil says she thinks in pictures when asked to spell a word.  I’ll have to find a way to turn sight words into pictures!

29th Apr – Just witnessed two angry young boys fist-fighting on the street. Their cool, calm mother brought them together, saying “Now, Matthew and Oliver, you must never hit each other.”  When she moved away they flew together, slapping and yelling.

30th Apr – Tutored a boy at a desk placed between a mirrored wall and uncurtained glass doors.  At the same moment, though facing in opposite directions, we both saw the clouds part and reveal a brilliant orange sunset.

1st May – A large black dog stood at the automatic doors of the grocery store, preventing them from closing, until his master had finished shopping.

2nd May – A few minutes before midnight, I translated a passage about a man locked in a room who heard a clock strike midnight followed by the sound of quiet steps approaching him.  He could see no one, but when he looked around, his door was open.

366 unusual things: days 114-118

23rd Apr – Offered two guests a cup of tea and both of them asked for a cup of hot water.

24th Apr – Tonight I was reading another blogger’s long, long post written in white print on a black background.  My husband came to my desk and when I looked up at his face I saw it veiled in white print for several seconds.

25th Apr – At the Anzac Day Services in Canberra (the first one at 5.30 am (4 deg C, brrrrrrrr), there were 40,000 people.  That’s 5,000 more than last year.  The further we get from the First World War, the more patriotic we are becoming.

26th Apr – A man down the road has a pet black sheep.  Farmers didn’t want her because she’s the black sheep of white-woolled parents.

27th Apr – Sat beside a full-length stained-glass window, the sun beating through from the other side.  Large pieces of red glass reflected red patches onto my red bag.

366 unusual things: days 109-113

18th Apr – Read some speeches by Desmond Tutu about the concept, ubuntu, and couldn’t remember where I’d seen that word, until logging off my computer and the word appeared on the screen.  It’s the name of my operating system!  Ubuntu means “A person is a person through other persons.”

19th Apr – Read that Chopin composed some of his best pieces in an abandoned Carthusian monastery, once occupied by ascetic monks who denied themselves musical instruments.

20th Apr – This morning the rubbish truck had a female mannequin’s head sitting on the dashboard, looking out of the windscreen.

21st Apr – Found out that the word Wikipedia is derived from a Hawaiian word, wiki, meaning quick.

22nd Apr – Visited my son and his new wife, and she put a record on!  An LP, on an old wooden stereo.  Sounded great!

366 unusual things: days 99-108

8th April – My son is on a camping holiday for four nights at the Folk Festival, fifteen minutes from home.

9th April – The 100th day of this year.  A guest brought us some Hot Cross Buns from a Vegan bakery.  On the packet it says ‘cruelty free’.  How much cruelty is there in producing a sweet bun in a traditional bakery?  (Each of the six buns was wrapped in cling wrap.)

10th April – A hairdresser washed my hair, then massaged my head for minutes and minutes and minutes.  She seemed to be luxuriously filling in spare time.

11th April – In a book of short stories I found that the Q is the Queen of Capital Letters with an attention-seeking train.

From "Elizabeth's News" by Monica McInerney, in "10 Short Stories you MUST read this year", 2009

12th April – Survey results today show the greatest editorial barrier to publishing literary translations is the ‘cost of paying translators’.  I’ll push on with my novel translation anyway, for the love of it.

13th April – Went to my son’s wedding rehearsal in the forest.  The bride’s father was mowing a path, an aisle, for her to enter along.

14th April – The wedding day;  the most unusual wedding I’ve ever been to.  The bride played a ukulele (which she has just learnt) and sang, in the sweetest voice I’ve heard, a song by Ingrid Michaelson, You and I.  (Note the chair – refer to my ‘unusual thing’ for 5th Feb;  note the table – she found it at a flea market and painted it this week;  note the bunting – she made it.)

Photo by Craig Tregear

15th April – At dinner with my son and his bride, she was still wearing her wedding shoes which she bought online from Sweden.  (See photo above)

16th April – Years ago I opened a long-term investment account at the bank with $500, and tried to do it again today.  The minimum they now take is $5,000.

17th April – Watched a documentary about an Australian man who gave up a wealthy Hollywood life to establish schools for kids from the rubbish dumps of Phnom Penh in Cambodia.  He started the Cambodian Children’s Fund:  http://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/

366 unusual things: days 94-98

3rd Apr – Went  to the home of a Muslim woman to teach her English, but she wanted me to explain Christianity and to tell her what I know about Islam.

4th Apr – Just read that the woman who found Moses in the bulrushes, and then raised him as her own, was one of Pharaoh’s 59 daughters.

5th Apr – Another Muslim student is going to Saudi Arabia, where she’ll write a draft essay and send it to me in Australia to check before she sends it to her teacher.  The essay is on The Metamorphosis by Kafka.

6th Apr – I’m halfway through The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers, about a girl preparing for a family wedding; she buys special clothes and wears them for some time in the story. Today I’m preparing my special clothes for my son’s marriage next week when I will be a member of the wedding.

7th Apr – A blog article about a French Catholic church, written by a blogger I follow, was used as a sermon by a Presbyterian minister.  Imagine!  Your blog words spoken in public by someone you’ve never met!  See Dennis Aubrey’s article about the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine,Vézelay, France:  Elle chante, Père.

Then hear Gordon Stewart read the blog post in his sermon:  The Stones are Singing.

Narthex tympanum, Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, Vézelay, France (Photo by Dennis Aubrey)

366 unusual things: days 89-93

29th Mar – Spoke to the Housing tenant who was the target of last night’s tirade.  He spoke to me politely, without swearing, and was touched that I was interested. The same man once threatened to do terrible things to my head if I called the police about him.

30th Mar – On the back deck there are two spiderwebs, one neat and circular and the other messy like crazy ladders.

31st Mar – This afternoon, two sons worked on serious maths problems while sharing one orange, one slice of fruit toast and one cup of chamomile tea.

1st Apr – Woke at 2.30 am.  Still awake at 3.30 am but daylight saving ended at 3 am.  At 4 am it was 3 am again.  Still awake at 5 am, which was now 4 am.  A long night.

2nd Apr – Alone in a gift shop, I heard a beautiful voice singing ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’, and stood still to listen closely. The owner showed me the CD case and told me about Melody Gardot, a prophetic name, as I learnt when I later read her life story.

366 unusual things: days 84-88 (Take 2…)

Yesterday, I posted these unusual things.  Today, I tried to add a photo, and then another unusual thing happened.  My post disappeared.  Poof!  Fortunately, my husband, as one of my ‘followers’, had an email version that I could copy.  So let’s do this one more time…

24th Mar – My oldest son is 26 today.  This is the first time I’ve had such an old child.

25th Mar – Walked past a front yard that is all garden, lush and green and shaded by three big trees.  Through the luxuriance snakes a path of imitation grass.

26th Mar – Reading George Sand’s 1838 travel account, Un Hiver à Majorque – 181 pages.  Searched in the library for the English translation, Winter in Majorca, assuming it would be the same size, but found a thin 43-pager.  Dead authors are fair game for some translators.

Carthusian Monastery, Valldemossa, Majorca, where George Sand, her children, and Frédéric Chopin spent the winter of 1838/39

27th Mar – At my nine-year-old student’s house, she misheard my question after a woman unknown to me walked past the table:
“Who was that?  Is she a relative?,” I asked.
“She’s my grandmother,” she replied.
After a silent moment, she asked, “Why did you say that?”
“Say what?”
“That she’s irrelevant.”

28th Mar – Afternoon:  A tiny Housing tenant wandered into my yard and sat on my steps, his parents close behind.  We chatted;  it was pleasant.  Another ‘first’.
Evening:  An angry man shouting from mid-street threatened this same little family with unbloggable sufferings, until the police arrived.