2014 October – December

Friday, October 3rd 2014

Hey Ophelia Hirakawa-Morice, how’s it all going??? It’s someone’s birthday this month. I wonder what she is hoping to wake to… a beautiful handmade card from Dad, a pair of running shoes, a smart new skirt, and three chapter books. How does, The Hunger Games sound. And what about Jackie French’s Hitler’s Daughter? And for book number three, let’s give you, Counting by Sevens. Classic books every young adult reader should read.

So, another three-month chapter in our correspondence. Where did all those years go??? Dad has been writing this journal to you since March 2009… five and a half years now. Wow, that’s a lot of letters… that’s a lot of words, especially as your Dad is a notoriously slow typist! I wonder how many pages??? Sometimes I read over the letters, and even I think, “Do you really think Ophi Chan will read them all? Maybe, maybe not. But at some point you’ll discover these letters online… they’re all for you. Every single word, every single sentence, every single thought, every single page.

This is my little gift to you.

It says I love you.

It says sorry.

It says I’ve never stopped thinking of you.

It shows you what’s in my heart.

And it helps me remember all the good times we shared, and I guess, it’s a bit of a window into the life I now lead.

Right now, I should be in bed, but instead I’m sitting up sipping scotch and writing to you. It would be better if we were both up late, sipping hot chocolate together, don’t you think? Healthier than Scotch too. Do you want marshmallows in your mug, and what about a piece of Nandee’s Christmas cake? Would you believe it, there’s still a tiny bit of her famous cake left in the fridge, all wrapped up in tin foil awaiting you! You could have extra marshmallows, then we could brush our teeth together… properly brush our teeth! You have to look after those pearly whites mademoiselle! We could both be excited about heading to Italy tomorrow! Yes, Italy, here we come. Woo-hoo! Pizza! Pasta! Wine!

Even C is in bed… which is saying something because 99 times out of 100 I’m in bed first. Actually, that’s not true. It’s more like 364 times out of 365 nights C stays up later than me. I should be in bed beside her, dreaming of romantic Roma, Italia…. Imagining wine and antipasto, pizza and the Coliseum, pasta and gladiators, crosses and Popes, saints and angels. But sleep will not come. Tomorrow morning we fly to Rome from sunny Cairo!

Thoughts of you joining us are on my mind, plus I’m on a bit of a roll with this letter, so that’s another reason I can’t sleep. Oh, my birthday gal, I can’t sleep. Why can’t I take you to Rome for your 12th birthday? It’s less than two weeks away now. Why did your mother do what she did… the unexplainable, the totally unimaginable? What happened in that family court all those years ago makes no sense at all. None. So many contradictions, so many sleepless nights, so many lies, so many tears, so many questions for you, so much pain for us all. How can I still sleep… How can I rest easy not knowing how you are? How can you sleep not knowing the truth? How can I rest when I know how you were taken…

Right now, it’s hard not to picture you awake too. I’ve just looked out the window and imagined you sitting up in bed. It’s still warm outside here, and nearly midnight. There’s no wind, and it’s quiet, but far from silent. It’s never really ever quiet in Cairo. I guess it’s a bit like Tokyo; it never sleeps. I feel you may be awake too, thinking of your Dad, your cousins, your Nandee, Pa, Patty, your aunts & uncles… But of course, there is no recourse. There is no quick-fix. I won’t wake in the morning, and see you jumping on the end of the bed excitedly screaming, “C’mon Dad, we’re off to Italy!” It’s just me, alone with my thoughts.

Wow, two pages, and still going strong!

Almost every other part of my life is smooth. I have much to be thankful for. So many people to be grateful to. Their kindness, empathy, and thoughts will always be with me. I have a beautiful wife, a solid job, good health, and the most supportive family in the world. And yet nights like these, when my head hits the pillow, I am tormented by injustice, longing, and so many “what ifs?” I’m tired of it. It exhausts me, and sometimes threatens to swallow me. I must do all I can to stay calm, to live with integrity, and to give so that others may feel valued & supported.

I want to give so much to you. I dream of teaching you how to write a tight narrative of realistic fiction. I wish I could coach you how to run two even splits over 5000 meters. I want to prepare your bento box, and cook our evening meal beside you. I want to read chapter book after chapter book to you, take you to the ballet, the cinema, musicals, and galleries. But most of all, I just want to listen to you.

Sometimes I wish to escape this agony of existing without you, but I cannot. I will not. I will not give up my dream of laughing with you again. To hold you, and feel your embrace.

But in so many ways, I am defined by this crime that has been perpetrated against you. I’m much less confident as a person, personally & professionally. I’m less of an extrovert (and that maybe a bonus). And I have to try twice as hard to be positive and optimistic.

Enough of my misery, because life is really what you make it. Life, is what I make it. I carve my future. I control my destiny. I determine what sort of person I will be. I must be bigger than my woes. I must remember that I am lucky for what I shared with you. Nobody can take those memories from me, or you. Nobody. You are innocent. You are pure. None of this in any way is your doing. None of it. What’s in our heart is forever, and though the dreams fade, our hopes will endure and permeate our future.

So, let’s dance like nobody is watching… here’s a little Dad to get you going (Dad & his class put this one together):

And this one Princess:

Now, that’s better, isn’t it! I love you. I miss you, and I’m okay. You needn’t worry. I can sleep now. I’m actually rather tired, but it’s a good sense of tiredness… I’m reaching out to you! I’m okay because I live with the hope that we will once again dance together!

Send us a mail if you feel like dancing, or laughing, or chatting, or just being… moriceg@hotmail.com

You can also mail me at gedmorice@gmail.com

XoXo… Dad (Gerard MORICE).

WICKED QUOTE

“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” – Freya Stark

Tuesday, October 7th 2014

Bonjourno Phi,

Fancy some pizza & pasta? Dad & C are in Roma on a train! What a city, even without you… Rome is like the broken mirror the woman opposite us brandishes. We wait for the train to depart, as she does, and outside the window that we share with fellow passengers, there is a jigsaw of old and new. Bridges, churches, homes, aqueducts, parks, roads… yep, old & new. I guess they’re mostly old, centuries old, woven so beautifully into the landscape that is Roma, it’s astonishing.

The lady with a mirror has a friend. She’s very interesting, it’s impossible to to sneak a peek. Roma. Rome, it’s the fallen strap from her companion’s shoulder, a puzzle of astonishing complexity, not quite whole, but neither incomplete. Somebody is playing Mozart (I think it’s an old tape cassette player, but I cannot see it), others are engaged in animated discussions (perhaps about the soccer, or who they kissed last Saturday night!!!), and there’s a man just across from us in a suit with what looks like boots made of fur… very snazzy!

So, like a summer camp we’re all on a train at Roma Termini bound for Naples (Napoli). We’re just waiting for the train to move. Some passengers wait patiently, others impatiently bounce their knee up and down, or pat the seat a million times a minute, or flit glances out the window… but there’s nothing to see. Nobody but us wait silently. Chaotic noise abounds. We have seats because we arrived early, but there are quite a few locals who have just arrived not too happy to see the train very, very full. There’s a bit of tension in the carriage… or perhaps it’s just the Romans, animated yet on edge. I wish you were here to giggle with me. There’s any number of things to look at.

We arrived in Italy Saturday evening for a week’s rest & relaxation from dusty old Cairo. Crucifixes, churches, the Pope, arches, classic red sports cars (haven’t seen any as yet!) and older women in black… perhaps not as many as gossip in the streets of Melbourne… also known as Little Italy back home.

Thus far we’re loving it. Rome is such a happening city with majestic sites, better than great food, and a people full of passion, energy, and personality.

Rome is a beautiful embracing city, and perhaps as a result, I have so often thought of you. There are so many little intricate sculptures, intriguing shop fronts and markets full of fresh produce to tweak one’s interest and palette. Then of course, there are the massive, historic architectural marvels that leave one’s mouth as wide open as one’s eyes. It’s astonishing to live history, to taste history, and to smell its magic aromas! Won’t you sit with me, and join our tour? There’s a little room between C & Dad… and the train has started to move…

Morning, afternoon, and evening I imagine you with us. I picture you running ahead to find the entrance to an historic site, or smiling with your eyes as you choose your favorite gelato flavor. Sometimes I see a dress in a shop window, or this morning as in the Benetton store, I saw a pair of very cool boots that I think you would just love. What size are you now??? 21, 23 or 25cm? Perhaps I should run back and buy you a pair… would you like that? I hope you never get to Dad’s 29cm, or worse still, Uncle Richie’s 30cm shoe size!CIMG1764

The food too is just perfect for you… and me. Again, C has done her research, so we only visit great restaurants that are reasonable in price and have terrific reviews. I imagine you beside us, choosing carefully from the menu, listening to C’s suggestions, your head tilted to one side, tossing up between a thin pizza crust with 5 different cheeses and honey, or a pasta dish with cream & salmon… and of course you with your best manners, “Dad, can I have the salmon fettuccini?” Yes, you can!! Guess what I had last night, yeah, you guessed it, the same salmon fettuccini that was your favorite at the wine bar in Numazu (Coeur).

So, Night 01, Saturday, October 4th, we arrived at about 5pm in Rome. That evening we went in search of a restaurant with rave reviews. When we found it, however, the next table sitting was 10pm. It’s a shame because it seemed so alive. There were patrons seated at the bar drinking an aperitif and sampling some lovely smelly cheese. The waiters were loud, welcoming & cheeky, but we were starving and couldn’t wait 3 hours.

So we wandered the streets nearby and found another restaurant in a busy street overflowing with dining options and alive with Romans. Sadly, not nearly as good as our first choice, in fact the wine was almost as bad as Egypt… but we were in Roma, and the excitement of our first night made the meal more palatable. Even so, we were both disappointed with the food… but things changed after our first disastrous choice.

Sunday morning, we didn’t even need you to wake us up. We were up and ready to make the most of our first full day, and only 7:30am. We bought a 48-hour public transport pass that combined free or discount entry to all the historical sites. The only problem was that it was also the first Sunday of the month, and as such, all the government museums were open to the public for free! Nobody told us! Thus, everything was so crowded, and our discount pass wasn’t much good to us. We wandered down the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, through Rome’s famed cobblestone streets, across the river toward Saint Peter’s Castle, the Vatican, and numerous museums. The line extending from the Vatican was preposterously long; it must have been around half a kilometer long, maybe more as it wound its way in front of Saint Peter’s. Even so, everything is radiant, everything so monumental, so worthy of museums… in fact Roma is one BIG museum!

So we left the Vatican to the Romans and the tourists, and made our way to one of C’s must eat at restaurants. Ace! No unbelievable! And cheap! Well, relatively priced, especially compared with Paris. And the wine tasted like a vintage after Egypt! It had been a long, long day, walking, jumping on & off buses and trains, and more walking, so the food was just right… comfort food… and of course the wine helped ease the aching feet… just between you and me, your Dad slipped his shoes off under the table… don’t tell C! I had a tomato based pasta with crispy bacon & chili, and C had a seafood pasta. Oh, Phi, the crispy bacon smelled of heaven. We shared a seafood entrée (there was enough for you), and a bottle of pinot grigio (you could have had a special drink too).

Monday we woke early, and headed straight for the Coliseum. Incredible! Wicked! Inspiring! Historians tell us it held up to 75,000 people. Really, that many??? Despite its size, it does seem a little hard to believe, because it’s not nearly as big as Melbourne’s mecca, the MCG, that has a capacity of 100,000 people. In any case, the architecture and engineering behind it was phenomenal.

From the mighty Coliseum we wandered up the hill for a view of Roma, and again boundless archaeological monuments. From the summit, we took in views that almost embraced 360 degrees of Rome… but not quite.

Next up we headed for a store that specializes in tiramisu, however being Monday it was closed. Bummer! It would have been nice if you were near to comfort C, as she was a little down after the trek to find the establishment, only to find it was closed. Some trek! Needed a piggyback from Shrek! Not to worry, because just around the corner we came across a lovely bar/café. We ordered our breakfast café, and a toasted ham (C had prosciutto) sandwich. It was still only about 10:30am because we had arrived at the Coliseum at about 7:30am. Breakfast was delicious and only cost us 6.80 Euro.

After breakfast, C realized there was a second tiramisu establishment open for take out. So we made our way back to the heart of Roma, and pretty much stumbled upon it. C was right, the tiramisu was grand!

It was then time to try our luck with the queue to Saint Peter’s (Vatican). To our delight, it was only about 300m long and moving quite quickly this time round. The biggest church in the world didn’t disappoint, I just wish you were there with your Dad, making it a first for both us… maybe some day soon huh? Rome Part II!

After an early start, we headed back to the hotel for a little kip. A quick shower and nap later, and we were ready for dinner. Earlier in the day we’d made a booking at another of C’s recommendations… again spot on, and even though we were 30min late, they saved our table. We drank the house red, and it wasn’t too bad, and with an entrée, main & dessert it was still only 54 Euro; much cheaper than Paris!

This morning, we just wandered around, found a café and had breakfast. Next we went beyond Termini and had a look through a market… cheese, wine, olives… Mmm. Last night C ordered some artichokes, they were perfect with the prosciutto. We also went to the supermarket and bought some fresh bread and made our own sandwiches for this train trip to Naples.

Choo-choo, we’re away! I love you, and wish you were beside me now in this incredible country… XoXo… Dad…

WICKED QUOTE

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling

THINGS I HOPE YOU REMEMBER

  • I made your bed, your bookshelf, and another set of shelves in your room in Numazu. The second set of shelves featured wood washed up on the beach that we collected together. We designed your bed deliberately a little high so as to fit your big plastic boxes of toys and lego beneath. You chose your sky blue curtains with pastel coloured circles

 

Thursday, October 9th 2014

G’day from Sorrento, Italy. How’s my Bella Daughter? Here’s a little list that I created and sent to your Aussie grandparents, aunts & uncles, and my own Uncle Leo. Hope you enjoy it!

TOP 10 THINGS THAT MAKE C & Dad SMILE ABOUT ITALY/ITALIANS… even if you’re not with us…

  1. It’s cheaper than France.
  2. The drive between Sorrento & Almalfi is the ants pants of Great Ocean Roads.
  3. Italian English: Sandwiches prepared at moment.
  4. My Uncle Leo is a famous Italian / Australian racing car driver (proof: grade 4 Famous Person project on Leo Fusinato at St. Francis Primary School).
  5. The pizza is cheaper and tastier (yes, in that order) than we expected.
  6. The alleyways are monumental cobble stoned pleasure paths (makes one wonder why my famous uncle had his nephew pull up the cobble stoned alley in his backyard).
  7. There’s nothing pretentious about Italians. *see #4 & 8.
  8. My famous Italian uncle said of my pasta in Numazu, Japan, “… al dente, an Australian first!”
  9. Gelato is not just for kids.
  10. Italy is best experienced with a beautiful woman.

ODD SPOT: There are almost as many eucalyptus trees in Italy as there are on the banks of the Nile.

FAST FACTS

  • I love you more than yesterday!

 

WICKED QUOTES

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

 

 

Friday, October 17th 2014

 

Hey Bella,

 

Sorry it’s taken me a while to get back to you. No excuses except for writing reports, teaching, and coaching x-country 5 times a week! Can’t complain, because Dad is mighty fit (for his ripe old age), and enjoying running and pushing the top boys. Curiously the top two runners are middle schoolers, yes, quicker and better stamina than the high schoolers.

 

Even so, Dad does get down on himself, especially as I can’t do anything like I used to be able to do over 5 – 10km. My guess is, I’m 12 whole minutes slower over 10km… 33 minutes has slowed to 45 minutes for 10km. That’s hard to swallow. My mind wants to go faster, and in fact I feel like I’m moving pretty quickly, but when I glance at the stopwatch, I have to do a double take and hope that the watch is wrong… but it’s never wrong… there’s no two ways around it, the truth is, your Dad is getting old and slow.

 

I wonder if I can still do backward somersaults on the trampoline, and if I can still walk on my hands… yes, I need some practice, but the back is not what it used to be. I will practice so as to show you, and teach you again some day soon… hopefully before I’m 50 years OLD!

 

And you? How’s your running going? I wonder if you frolic like Spirit still; throwing your head around like you don’t have a care in the world. Smiling & comfortable, smiling & safe, smiling & bubbly, happy & smiling. You’re the best Phi. When I think of the joy you brought me, I can’t help but smile too… thank you!

 

Tomorrow is the Degla Dash. CAC’s fun run. Fancy a run with your Dad? Love you Ophelia… XoXo…

 

CRAZY QUESTIONS

  • When do you think our next rendezvous will be? It’s your call… I’d love to see you today to experience your life… to be fulfilled, to be happy, to be joyful in your life. This is your destiny. Take your dreams seriously. You are here to become the best you can be you owe it to yourself (Susan Hayward)

 

WICKED QUOTES

“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Goldoni

 

Saturday, October 25th 2014

 

How’s my marathon gal? Are you an ekiden runner? Today, Sarah & Dad took the x-country team out to the wadi for the last time. We hit the barren, rocky hill five times in a row, before we took up a sandy trail around the top edge of the wadi. We then wound our way down and ran up the valley. I was mighty impressed with a group of 5 girls, who formed a pack, pretty much for the first time, and ran shoulder to shoulder. They gradually increased their pace, and managed to stay together until the final 200m. It felt good to coach them as such, and they felt proud when I asked them if they could/would have forced the pace if they had been running alone. They all answered in the negative. Theirs were big smiles. Smiles of challenge accepted and accomplished.

 

I came home with a lovely heavy loaf of bread and made C & Dad a prosciutto, cheese and tomato toasted sandwich. Late morning snack courtesy of our recent trip to Italia! Prosciutto leftover from Italy… mmm! We don’t have a toaster, so I used the oven, but it was equally good with a tasty cup of coffee. The cheese too is left over from our holiday escape. Then for lunch C made ramen. Yoshiko had given us a special pack, made in Japan! Oishikatta!

 

Tonight Jan & Beth, and Azarea will join us for a potluck dinner. We’ve all decided to leave CAC, so my guess is we’ll be talking job fairs and possible options. Dad & C will attend the Bangkok Search Job Fair for teachers.

 

I’ve been working late, long hours, writing reports, organizing my classes, coaching x-country four and sometimes five days a week, and of course writing applications to international schools. It’s a bit early yet, but it’s also a bit down heartening when nothing comes of an application. I have to keep telling myself, it was the same last time around, but when I got to the Johannesburg Job Fair, things picked up positively pretty quickly. I’ve decided I will attend the Melbourne Job Fair while I’m home at Christmas, and then meet C in Bangkok for the big Job Fair there.

 

Last weekend was the Degla Dash. Dad ran 21:09 and finished third in the 5km race. Two of my middle schoolers finished 1 & 2. Not too bad, considering it’s a rocky desert landscape, but a long way off Dad’s heyday when Uncle Sean & I were running 16min for 5km.

 

Yesterday we went to a local Chinese restaurant. Local is right, it’s about 20m away from our front door. It was great, and we met Lilly, a Chinese lady who is studying French with C at the French Institute here in Cairo. Her husband is French.

 

Our dog you ask, how is he, and when will you get the opportunity to meet him… Well, Toro is Toro. He’s quite adorable, but he needs you to run around the block with!

 

Love Dad… XoXo…

 

CRAZY QUESTIONS

  • Are you okay Phi? When a person that one loves is in the world and alive and well then to miss them is only a new flavor, a salt sharpness in experience (Anthony Powell)

WICKED QUOTES

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman

 

Saturday, November 1st 2014

Hey Phi-Fai-Fo-Fum, how’s my favorite 12 year old?

 

Today we had a Japanese moment. A Japanese connection with an Aussie flavor… a little bit like you, my beautiful Aussie possum. Takeshi came over for tea and cake. Who’s Takeshi you ask? Well, about two weeks ago as I was walking to school on a weekend, I noticed an Asian chap with a t-shirt from a university in South Australia. As you do (well Dad does), I said, “Hello.” He seemed a friendly enough chap and we got talking. He came across as such a nice young man that we exchanged contact details, and today, well, you already know, he came over to meet C. Of course it would have been nice if you too were here to chat all things Australian and Japanese. It turns out that he’s married to a South Australian lady, and is studying at the American university here in Cairo. Unfortunately his wife became very depressed about life in Cairo and returned to Adelaide… any wonder, Cairo is very challenging to live… for a holiday it’s fine.

 

Takeshi, C, and Dad spoke of many things, and of course spent some time discussing the streets of Cairo. The poor of Cairo really have it tough. We really are lucky…

 

Love Dad… XoXo… and some more kisses & hugs especially for you… XoXo…

 

CRAZY QUESTIONS

  • Why do the poor not have any hope in this world? They seek protection the afterlife, to balance this life’s misery… poor… in candles & praises, from time beginning, hell has been invented to frighten the poor. With its eternal punishment. And the poor who are so innocent, believe what they are told. And to continue the lie they call the priest, who says that God does not wish revolution, nor petitions nor trade unions which offends his heart (Violeta Parra)

 

 

Sunday, November 9th 2014

 

Now Phi, you’ll never guess where Dad just came back from… go on guess? Alexandria, no. Sinai, no. Red Sea, no. Vienna, Austria, yes! Last Wednesday the x-country team headed to Vienna for the ISST (international schools sports tournament) event! How cool! We flew out at 4:10pm, and by the time we arrived at the hotel it was about 8:45pm in Austria. It had been a long day because teachers and students alike had been in classes until 1pm, then took the bus to the airport, etc., etc. One of our lads left his passport on the plane, so I had to go back through security with him to locate his passport… fortunately it had a happy ending!

 

On the Thursday we had a hearty breakfast at the hotel… with ham and lovely fresh grainy bread! BTW, we don’t get a lot of ham or bacon in Egypt being an Islamic country. After breakfast and checking the kids’ rooms we took our team, all 23 of them into downtown Vienna for a spot of sightseeing. They’re a great group, pretty much responsible by themselves, and actually made us proud on a number of occasions… especially compared to the behavior of some of the other IS school students. Bit of Austrian schnitzel for lunch with the other Aussie coach, Sarah, and then at 1:30pm we had to be at Vienna International School. The buses took the 10 international schools up the mountains on the outskirts of Vienna. We walked the 5km x-country course. A challenging but picturesque course of trails, grass and hills. There was a huge athletes’ dinner in a restaurant, and we held the coaches’ meeting at the same place. It was an early dinner, so we took the kids to a local mall afterwards. Sarah & I went to the supermarket to purchase wine! Smuggled 15 bottles of wine back into Egypt… who’s a naughty Dad! Good food, good wine, and good company… ah, Phi, the simple pleasures in life are the best!

Friday morning, up early again to ensure the kids had finished their breakfast by 7am. 30 minutes later we were at VIS and on our way back up the mountain for race day. All day it threatened to rain, but the x-country gods were with us. The kids ran out of their skin, with the JV Boys’ team winning their section, and our team coming third overall. Most unexpected result, so the kids (and coaches) were overjoyed.

Pretty much as soon as we boarded the buses back to the hotel, the rain that had threatened since our arrival on Wednesday evening started. Our afternoon of sightseeing was canceled, so after we’d showered, we headed with the team back to the mall for a late, late lunch.

 

When are you joining x-country? Perhaps you already have… Dad has a few tips for his favorite athlete!

 

See you soon kiddo… luv & licks, Dad… XoXo…

WICKED QUOTES

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain

 

Saturday, November 15 2014

Hi Ophelia. Sitting here in Cairo thinking of you. For such a dusty, rundown and sweltering city, Cairo is surprisingly green. The green-belt parallels the Nile for as long as the longest river in the world stretches… a mighty long way. Beyond the green-belt however, is just what you would expect: desert, and more desert. I’m on the couch peering out the window, waiting for the call for prayer from the minarets that dot the Cairo skyline… not that I’ll be attending… no, I don’t think Religion is for me. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for those with faith. And, I’m all for balance and learning about each other’s beliefs and history. Religions have much to give, but as Nandee once wisely said, you don’t have to be Christian to be a good Christian.

 

Anyway, this morning Dad went up to school to tick off a few boxes. I ended up applying for a teaching position with the International School of Zurich, Switzerland. What do you think about a trip to Switzerland?

 

At 2:30pm I headed to the Maadi House, an American expat club, where one of my students, Sammy, was celebrating his 11th birthday. The kids were jumping in a huge jumping castle. About half the class was there, including Mahsa, my lovely Japanese student. It’s sad though, because her family will be likely returning to Japan in December. I can’t help but think that you and Mahsa might have been very close… she’s just the sort of kid I would love you to bring home for a play date. And tonight we’re headed to a Korean restaurant with Takeshi, the chap who came for a cup of tea and C’s homemade cake two weeks ago.

 

Love you Phi… Dad… XoXo…

CRAZY QUESTIONS

  • Why was Steve Biko killed? Google him Phi… his story is truly inspirational

They said Steve Biko was a man of violence, then why did he talk of peace? They said he wanted revolution, so why did he talk of friendship? They said he died of hunger, then why was his body broken & bruised?

WICKED QUOTES

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G. K. Chesterton

 

Saturday, December 6th 2015
Hello Ophelia, how’s trix in your part of the world today?

 

Y, C’s friend from London arrived Wednesday night. C took her to the pyramids on Thursday, and then we went to a Lebanese restaurant that evening. Friday morning I worked on sending a CV to another international school while C & Y went into Old Cairo. Once I was done we pottered around Maadi together.

Your Xmas gift... how did you like it?

Your Xmas gift… how did you like it?

 

And today we went into the tent makers market and the Khan. I’m not so sure I would take you to the Khan El-Khalili… that’s not true, yes, I would. We would just be extra cautious. It’s an enormous suoq (bazaar) in Islamic Cairo that’s full to bursting with mostly dishonest vendors. The merchants here are ravenous, quite often rude (somewhat humorous), and skilled at ripping off the tourists. I find it quite tiresome haggling and warding off scoundrels who feign at being new-found friends. Just the slightest common courtesy, such as a friendly hello, and they’ll stick to you like sticky disturbing flies. It drives one mad as they follow you very closely, continually touching you and calling you, “My friend, my friend…” only to try and empty your wallet as quickly as they can.

Your gift & card... on its way

Your gift & card… on its way

 

Not sure I’ll ever be that keen to return to Egypt, but if you do choose to visit, let your Dad act as a tour guide!

 

Go with care Bella… Dad… XoXo…

 

DO YOU REMEMBER?

  • How about another read of Hairy Charlie and the Frog? We used to giggle at the big, burly Hairy Charlie who was afraid of the frog in his letter box… you’re not afraid of frogs!

 

WICKED QUOTES

  • A teacher affects eternity, for a teacher can never tell where their influence stops (unknown)

Saturday, December 13th 2015
OMG Phi, you’ll never guess what happened to your Uncle Sean!!!??? Uncle Sean was bitten by a tiger snake today. The fear it sent through us kind of put our lives into perspective. As we were waiting for further updates on his condition from Australia, we couldn’t help but do our own research into tiger snake bites. He was in ICU (intensive care) while they determined what sort of snake it was; he must have been in tremendous pain considering it’s one of the most dangerous snakes in the world; fourth most dangerous snake in the world according to our research! Quite often a bite is fatal. The doctors ended up giving him a second vile of anti venom because the first vile didn’t seem to work. The blood had clotted because of the strength of the venom. Although later they determined it was most likely a juvenile tiger snake that had bitten him outside his home in Northcote. Crazy times, hey!?

In the morning before we had been panicked by Sean’s bad luck story we did some Christmas shopping. I bought you a photo frame, and I plan to put a photo of the two of us in it. C has offered to post it when she arrives at Narita Airport in late December. I’ll go back to Melbourne to celebrate Christmas with our Aussie family, and then C & Dad will meet in Thailand for the Job Fair. This morning we wandered all over Maadi buying gifts for your cousins, aunts & uncles, and Nandee & Pa… and you Princess.

On Friday night it was the CAC Ball. C looked gorgeous in a blue/purple gown I bought her in Malaysia… I think your Dad looked pretty dapper too! It’s a ball with all the trimmings, wine sit down buffer meal, and at the Marriot ***** Hotel no less!

I’ve been sending out quite a few CVs, but nobody seems too interested in me. Perhaps I’m too old for this game at 46… Only Singapore American School interviewed me, but that came to nothing. I’ve sent CVs to Bangkok, KL, Switzerland, Myanmar, Philippines…

 

Ganbarimsu! Something will happen soon… must be confident of finding a good job at a good school… do you think we should move back to Japan???

 

Love Dad… XoXo…

 

I WONDER IF YOU KNEW…

 

  • Your Mother & I had a beautiful architectural designed house together in Montrose, Victoria. I used to love being in the garden; it was like therapy for me because I worried about your mother, and her absence from our family home. She didn’t like Australia… we moved there for 3 years, but when my accountant did my taxes, he discovered she was in Australia for not quite 18 months…

WICKED QUOTES

“There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.” – Charles Dudley Warner

Tuesday, December 16th 2014
Konichi wa Phi! It’s finally getting cooler here in Cairo, but not nearly as cool as this time last year. Actually I’m loving the temperature. It’s perfectly sunny, but not too cold, and just perfect for exercise after the heat of the summer. In fact this afternoon after my meetings, I had a delightful 35min run with 100 push-ups and just 25 chin-ups, and then walked home in my shorts and t-shirt. Not too cold, nor too warm… just right! And now, well, I’m just about to pick up C from her French class. She goes into Cairo and studies from 4:30pm – 6:30pm every Sunday & Tuesday. I walk with Toro down to the Sakanat El Maadi Metro Station… the only problem is poor Toro seems to have a homing device on him for every stray dog here in Maadi… they come growling from nowhere, menacing not just him, but Dad too. So much so, that I often take a bar with me to fend their taunts off!

 

Gotta run… LOVE DAD… your Dad… XoXo…

 

WICKED QUOTES

Libraries have become my candy store (Juliana Kimball)

Here at my frontier, there are falling leaves

Although my neighbors are all barbarians

And you, you are a thousand miles away

There are always two cups on my table (T’ang Dynasty AD 618-906)

 

Sunday, December 28th 2014

G’day Phi, how are you? I’m sitting on the couch next to your cousin, Allie. Yep, I’m in Australia, your other home. Allie’s 10 now. Chris, who is now 8 is opposite playing with his lego. He made an awesome Star Wars contraption. He diligently spent hours and hours, quite determined to complete it today. I’ve been most impressed with his focus. Allie has been on the computer doing her own research into horses. I imagine if you were here, you and Allie would be researching a horse project together.

Yesterday I went into Eastland to do a spot of shopping. I was looking for something for your graduation, but I didn’t find anything. C suggested some jewelry, or a makeup bag, or perhaps a digital dictionary. Instead I found a tea set for C. It has two cups, a sugar bowl, a milk pourer, and a teapot.

After a bit of lunch, Pa & I tried to sort out the wood chipper/mulcher he received from Uncle Tony. We tested it, but it wasn’t shredding/mulching too effectively. We figured it needed some new oil, petrol, and a good clean up. We took it apart and sharpened the blades as best we could. It seemed to work a bit better after our effort. In any case it was just nice working alongside your Pa.

Last night I came over to Rich & Rach’s for a bbq. Tim, my old mate from HS was here too. He’s talking about visiting us in Cairo at some point early next year. Uncle Rich had prepared some delicious steak… there was even enough for you!

This morning we pottered around here at Rich & Rach’s, and then went into have a look at the Camberwell Market and had a coffee. This evening I’ll catch up with two friends from high school, Jenny Munro & Ellen Sheriden.

Friday December 26th, Boxing Day, I woke at Uncle Richie’s. Richie and the family had gone to Lancefield on the afternoon of Xmas day, so your Dad looked after Jazz, the family dog. You would love Jazz. She’s a gentle & affectionate Golden Retriever, but like Toro (our dog back in Cairo), she’s not much of a guard dog.

Friday afternoon/evening I went across to Hadyn’s (HXH – Hadyn Hewitt). Again, you would have fitted in perfectly, as Josh and Hope were there and ready to play, swim, and jump around with you. Do you remember going on our farm holiday with your cousins, Allie & Chris, and Hadyn’s kids, Jamie, Hope & Josh? It was good to see my old mate, who has a few more grey hairs than Dad… but Dad’s grey hairs have started to come through too! He’s a good man Hayd. We talked quite a lot about you… some day you’ll meet him again. He too is talking about a quick visit to Cairo. He’s planning on taking his own dad across to Turkey for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign, and a side trip to Egypt could be on the cards! Happy days kiddo!

Xmas Day was hard without you. Sometimes, I think it’s getting easier, but it’s never easy being separated from you. You’re so loved by everyone here. We all miss you, and constantly wonder how life is for you.

So how was your Christmas day? What did you wake to… did you leave Santa some milk and cookies like we used to? It would be a dream come true to have you here with me, watching you laugh and converse with your cousins, watching you jump on the trampoline and swim and splash in the Melbourne sun alongside those who love you.

Christmas Eve, Ralph’s (Ralph Dankwort) father unfortunately had a heart attack. That very evening I went around to Ralph & Diana’s to see how my mate was coping. Again, having three children of their own, you would have enjoyed chasing the chooks around, or running around in the nearby park before the sun went down. Being daylight saving here in Australia, it’s still light until around 8:30pm. Ralph was well, and surprisingly upbeat & positive. And of course he had a good bottle of wine ready to share… what a man… love you Wigsta (that’s Ralph’s nickname).

Now before I forget, better pencil in what your Dad has been up to:

Dad arrived in Oz without you from Cairo – Dubai – Singapore – Melbourne on Sunday (what a long exhausting flight!), December 21st. Pa picked me up at the airport and we went direct to Uncle Sean’s. Sean, Lauren, Billie & Luca were all there ready to greet us… but alas, no Ophelia. Bummer, because I imagine your cousins would have grabbed you and twirled you around before skipping you off to the park.

Sean looked well considering his near brush with death and the tiger snake bite just two weeks ago. He cooked up a storm… bacon, eggs & tomatoes on toast for breakfast. A quick shower & then we were all off to Uncle Richie’s to see the rest of your family. It wasn’t long before all your cousins were giggling and splashing about in the pool… oh, Phi, what I would do to see you laughing with your cousins again… maybe one day soon, huh?

Later in the day, it was back to see Nandee. Phi, she hasn’t been well. The chronic fatigue is back, this time for over 8 months. She’s putting on a brave face, but she’s not too well. I think a big hug from you might be just what she needs!

In the evening I wandered around to see my good mate Ralph. Yes, of course I took a bottle with me, and he had a delightful bottle of sparkling all chilled and ready for CHEERS!

Monday morning after an early run, I drove into Princess Park to meet your uncles and cousins and watch Carlton train. Go BLUES! We all had a milkshake afterwards, and then a cup of tea back at Uncle Sean’s. Sean took us to the spot where he was bitten by the tiger snake, and we practiced throwing two of his homemade boomerangs. Lots of fun! On the way to the car, just meters from Uncle Sean’s front door, Uncle Rich saw another snake! UNBELIEVABLE! That evening you missed a pizza party at Nandee and Pa’s… your cousins missed you too…

 

I Love YOU! XoXo…

 

DID YOU KNOW…

  • When you were born, you were born with 350 bones, but as you grow into an adult your bones will calcify into just 206 bones

WICKED QUOTES

  • We all live with the objective of being happy (Anne Frank)

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