28th Feb: I felt the pressure of words when I read, across the rear window of a ute in front of me, in large white Gothic lettering, ‘Justify your existence’.
29th Feb: When I go into homes to tutor, some people tell me to leave my shoes on, even on rainy days on fully carpeted floors. I never see them barefoot. Others won’t let me step inside until I’ve removed my shoes, even when they have tiled floors and the day is icy. I never see them shod.
1st Mar: Tonight when I was in the shower, a police car gave its siren a short sharp burst right outside my bathroom window.
2nd Mar: All this rain (4th day) is bringing out garden weirdness. Today my foot just missed a 7-inch long leopard slug; a large caterpillar crossed my undrying washing like an omega Ω; water-retaining crystals used in the drought have jellified and are oozing up out of pot plants and creeping over the sides.
3rd Mar: My son said to his boss today: ‘I’ll just take this back out the back then I’ll be back.’
23rd Feb – Driving in blazing sunlight, I entered a short tunnel and my eyes didn’t adjust. Everything went dark and I had to trust my knowledge of the road for a few seconds.
24th Feb – Discovered that Google makes finding a Justice of the Peace easy. I gave it a suburb and it listed the local JPs in order of distance in metres from my house, though I hadn’t given an exact address. I like the knowledge Google has but I hate it knowing where I am.
25th Feb – This afternoon I read about Shepheard’s Hotel for two hours so I could write a factual paragraph for the Indulge challenge. I began the weekly photo challenges with just pictures in mind; now the writing matters.
26th Feb – A black crow picked up a white cockatoo feather, flew up onto a fence, held the feather under its claw and tore it to shreds, the white scraps catching in the breeze and blowing away.
27th Feb – When I asked a woman in a quilting shop to tell me the difference between cotton and polyester thread, she said, ‘Well, this one’s cotton because it’s cotton. It’s made from cotton.’
Several weeks ago we found a possum in the tool cupboard (see post of 16th Jan). Now there are two.
Green. Where do I begin? I see it through every window; the yard and gardens are full of it. In my back yard, a fig tree laden with green figs overgrows a garden of zantedeschias and red valerian, both flowerless here, and lemon balm, a relative of mint. Two steps hide beneath the luxuriance but to descend you’d have to break the spider’s web stretched between the fig tree and the rose bush on the right (out of sight). I caught the web this afternoon with the western sun hitting its silken threads. The spider hides inside a rolled leaf thinking she’s invisible because we can’t see her face, but her legs are hanging from the leaf roll. You might have to zoom in.
18th Feb – Doing some exercises in the book How to think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven steps to genius everyday (Michael Gelb), I noticed after a few pages that the cover of my notebook, a gift from a son, says ‘I have nothing to declare except my genius’ (Oscar Wilde).
19th Feb – Removed a metal and glass shower door and replaced it with a rod and curtain. The splash of the shower is no longer tinny and echoey, but soft like rain on porcelain.
20th Feb – This morning a Housing tenant, the one who exposed himself to the ATM camera at the local shops, is getting into a fluoro yellow hatchback in a fire-engine red business shirt, a blonde woman at the wheel.
21st Feb – Today I noticed that I have 22 followers, many of whom I’ve never heard from. They follow me like shy phantoms.
22nd Feb – A few weeks ago I ordered some fabric online for the first time. I wanted this dark red organza with orange and yellow checks, as it is in the sample online.
But this is what I got: a bold gold cage embroidered onto look-at-me red. With turquoise and cream triangles. It was one of those ‘ha ha ha, well, that didn’t work’ moments.
13th Feb – Realised today that some people won’t read blogs. Even if they’re writers.
14th Feb – In my bed tonight I’m hearing, from the room in front of me, one son teaching himself a new song, singing and playing on his guitar erratically, and from the room behind, recorded heavy metal music played by another son on his computer.
15th Feb – At the National Library this morning I drove around for 15 minutes before finding a park. I was there to read a hard-to-find book, but the spaces were all filled by tourists come to look at exhibitions.
16th Feb – Editing an article about a Melbourne coffee shop, I hesitated at the term café latte. English-speaking coffee namers seem to prefer the French word café, not caffè as it is in Italian, and latte from Italian but not au lait from French. French coffee in Italian milk.
17th Feb – Met a woman who met a man online. She has just arrived in Australia to live with him. He’s a vegetarian minimalist. She likes meat and furniture.
8th Feb – A neighbour working on an old Jag removed the muffler and took it for a test drive. He roared it round a corner where a woman was pushing a pram. She jumped back a few feet.
9th Feb – I drove in a storm today for the first time in years. Doesn’t rain much here.
10th Feb – A friend who does no gardening, not even pot plants, showed me four full buckets of peaches from trees in her back yard.
11th Feb – Driving from Queanbeyan to the coast, there’s a strip of several kilometres where people nail teddy bears and other stuffed toys to trees. It’s hard to stop for photos because it’s a highway, but I did capture one crucified teddy:
12th Feb – My son who has no cameras who is engaged to a photographer with many cameras gave me for my birthday a disposable camera.
3rd Feb: My son and his fiancée just ordered their wedding rings from a country in the other hemisphere. The new way of shopping. I’m still getting my head around this.
4th Feb: When leaving to walk the dog, the couple in the Housing flats called out: ‘How are ya?’ This is the first time any of the tenants have voluntarily spoken to me.
5th Feb: Bought an antique chair for my son’s fiancée. I saw swirls etched into the seat, but she showed me they were hearts.
6th Feb: I just bought fabric from a country in the other hemisphere. Never say never.
7th Feb: Translating a passage about a dying abbot, I paused for a moment to search for a song online for background music, and found several covers done by Amy Winehouse. I wouldn’t have let her into my personal space, but when I played her version of Billie Holiday’s ‘There is no greater love’ all the grimness of the abbot’s death was forgotten. I never learn to never say never.
29th Jan – My son and his fiancée showed us a circle of firs in a park, a green cathedral, where they will get married. If it doesn’t rain.
30th Jan – Tonight, just after falling asleep, I woke screaming. A large heavy painting had fallen off the wall behind my bed and slipped down behind a chair.
31st Jan – A woman in the Housing flats opposite my window just bought one heaped-up ice-cream cone from the Mr Whippy van. She’s holding it out for 5 children from the neighbourhood who take licks in turns.
1st Feb – I crossed the line today to congratulate another couple in the flats on the birth of their baby. They were gracious, grateful and clean-mouthed.
2nd Feb – A short walk from my house, in a small university run by the Dominican Order, monastic buildings enclose a round cloister and a garden, in which I found rose beds and a sign: No Smoking in the Rose Garden.
24th Jan – A visitor arrived at the Housing flats but, before getting out of his car, was assailed by a tenant spewing the loudest tirade of abuse yet heard in this street. It was about money paid as maintenance for her 2 granddaughters – $50 a week. Her vocabulary was quickly exhausted, so for about 10 minutes she repeated two obscene words several times in each sentence.
25th Jan – I noticed when I knock on a door gently to wake someone, only the knuckle of my middle finger does the knocking.
26th Jan – A manuscript appraiser suggested I break up my translated text using a dinkus.
It’s a tiny design dividing otherwise undivided text. I like this one.
And below, here’s one in place.
Dinkus in ‘Almost French’ by Sarah Turnbull
27th Jan – My breakfast-on-the-deck was better than usual: I saw a possum curled up in a corner of the roof guttering. Turned out she was hiding something…
28th Jan – As I drove onto the bridge to cross the lake, I had to slow for 15 horses and riders and a black and white sheepdog in my lane.
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.