366 unusual things: days 84-88

I’ve just accidentally deleted this post. Good thing I kept notes; I can rewrite it.
I had tried to add a photo. That was a mistake.

Wish I could undo the disappearance.

366 unusual things: days 79-83

19th Mar – Just read that Abraham’s first recorded words are his instruction to his wife to tell a lie, in order to save his own life.

20th Mar – Paid for access to George Sand’s Story of my Life.  Translated from French.  1585 pages, 72 chapters, 65 translators.   Apparently the largest group translation outside the Bible.

21st Mar – Heard Libby Holman singing Body and Soul (1930).  She occasionally uses the OSV word order – object-subject-verb:  ‘My life a wreck you’re making’.  Like Yoda from Star Wars – ‘When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not, hmmm?’

22nd Mar – Went to tutor at a house where nothing is thrown away.  Found a note to myself that I dropped in the yard last year, a reminder to get The Scarlet Letter from the library.

23rd Mar – Ran into a man who told me his wife, whom I’ve known for 10 years, is teaching French at the local primary school.  As a Francophile, I wondered how I could have known someone for 10 years and not known she speaks French, so I had to ask, ‘Does she speak French?’.  ‘No,’ he said, ‘she’s learning it at the Alliance Française.’  Hope she’s a few lessons ahead of her students.

366 unusual things: days 74-78

14th March – Yesterday I saw a young blind guy walking with a black Labrador guide dog.  Today I saw him again closer-up and realised I knew him.  I remembered him spectacled and dogless.

15th March – Saw through the rear window of a parked 4WD about ten plastic heads with moveable jaws.

16th March – Offered my figs to a Saudi woman, thinking of her other life she lives, like an Israeli fig-loving friend of mine, near the cradle of civilisation, near the Garden of Eden.  But she doesn’t like figs.  At all.

17th March – Was given a chance to learn German online for free.  I said yes.  A mature decision for me, having hated Hitler’s language since childhood.

18th March – This morning I read two 19th-century stories:  The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant and Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol.  In both, the woman values her existence only when she is pretty and attracts wealthy men.  This afternoon I read in Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey:  ‘If the mind be but well cultivated and the heart well disposed, no one ever cares for the exterior.’

Weekly photo challenge: Unusual

Death is something I hate thinking about, let alone writing about.  But when choosing photos from Egypt in 1942, there are so many whose subject is death that I will inevitably have to consider them.  I selected this image which, since my childhood, has always turned me cold but curious, simply because of the caption my father wrote beneath it:  Dead City, Cairo.  Until last week when I was researching the cemetery near the pyramids (see my entry for the ‘Contrast’ challenge), I never knew that Dead City was a cemetery.

Today there are about half a million people living in the City of the Dead due to Cairo’s exploding population. They live in the tomb buildings as slum-dwellers and have no electricity or sanitation.  However, some good people are growing micro-gardens in the Dead City complex which give the residents a way to produce some food for themselves and sell the surplus at the markets.  Tomatoes and strawberries, mint, aubergines and peppers are popular and grow well because of their shallow roots, not in soil but in a layer of minerals laid on top of the sand.  Read more about the project here:  http://www.abitare.it/en/liveinslums/the-microjardins-in-the-city-of-the-dead/

The building in the foreground is in the Mamluk cemetery.  It’s the mausoleum of Sultan Al-Ashraf Barsbay, built in 1432 AD.

So through blogging I’ve learnt of three unusual things:  Dead City is actually a city built for the dead;  half a million people are living amongst the dead;  a few others care enough to start vegetable gardens here and improve the lives of poor cemetery dwellers.

Dead City, Cairo, 1942

366 unusual things: days 69-73

9th March – In a Chinese restaurant, I wanted the “Catch of the Day” until I saw it swimming in a tank.

10th March – Walked up my son’s driveway through a litter of apples fallen from a tree.  I looked up, hoping to pick one, and indeed there was only one on his side of the fence, but it was too, too high.  The fruit-laden branches were on the neighbour’s side.

11th March – In an alternative café, an old wall vent has had its screen removed and replaced with four brass taps.  Vent art.

12th March – Last night at midnight we called the police about a party outside the government flats.  This morning I read in Agnes Grey, by Anne Brontë, an old cottager’s thoughts on the desirable consequences of being nice to unpleasant neighbours:  ‘the very effort itself will make you love them in some degree – to say nothing of the goodwill your kindness would beget in them, though they might have little else that is good about them.’

13th March – Busy selecting potatoes in the supermarket, I heard the sound of heavy leather slapping the floor behind me.  When my bag was full I turned round and found a large wallet, but no one close enough to have dropped it.  Handed it in.

366 unusual things: days 64-68

4th Mar – I read on my father’s army service form that he had blue eyes, a revelation to me;  I never looked him in the eye.  My mother and three siblings have brown or grey eyes.  I have blue eyes.

5th Mar – A rural commentator on ABC Radio today said he wants ‘action, not just antidotal stories’.

6th Mar – Just heard Cupid by Sam Cooke.  Sam asks Cupid:  ‘Draw back your bow and let your arrow go straight to my lover’s heart’.  But Sam loves a girl who doesn’t know he exists.  She can’t be his lover then, since a lover loves.

7th Mar – Thought about a mentor’s advice to use ‘perhaps’, not ‘maybe’.  Saw ‘maybe’ in an article and found myself mouthing ‘perhaps’, which purses the mouth with its two p’s and a sibilant s and a breathy h in the middle.  The song Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps just wouldn’t work as Maybe, Maybe, Maybe.

8th Mar – In a bookshop, I searched for the translators’ names in three editions of Madame Bovary.  The most expensive, a Penguin edition, gave a translator’s name;  a cheaper Penguin and the Collins edition made no mention of translators.  Perhaps Flaubert wrote them in English.

366 unusual things: days 59-63

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 ;   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.’

366 unusual things: days 54-58

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.

Possum mother and baby in the tool cupboard

366 unusual things: days 49-53

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.

The online sample
Organza surprise!

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.

366 unusual things: days 44-48

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.