Friday, April 3rd 2015
G’day Phi… Here we go again… I’ve been writing to you, my dear daughter, since March 2009… that’s over six years now. I miss you Bella, and am always thinking of you… always.
I’m sitting at an airport again. We’re at Cairo Airport on our way to Aswan for a Nile cruise to Luxor. Yep, your Dad’s teaching has taken him to Egypt!
It’s odd, I often seem to be sitting at an airport thinking of you, writing to you, missing you, wondering how you’re fairing, how you’re feeling. You and your Yoda smile, your Yoda vision, your Yoda heart… such grace and wisdom for one so young and pure. You’re a poem, a sonnet, a flamenco dance… so capable of bringing me speechless Goosebumps, and of taking my breath away. You’re a gift that kindles my spirit. You keep me determined, you steady my focus, you bring me hope. You’re like a secret that might make me burst.
I love you Ophelia… Your Dad… XoXo…
WORDS OF WISDOM… from a Wally…
Take your relationships slow. Don’t follow your Dad’s lead of throwing caution to the wind and gambling on what you might at first think of as love. Yes, one has to gamble on love, but give it the time & thought it deserves. With R, there was a certain temptation to move in with one another and create all that delicious drama; especially when you said to her, I wish you were my mum. She was a truly remarkable woman. But it was a tragedy really. It wasn’t just R & I who ended up hurt, you, and her girls suffered your own losses too. And for that, I am truly sorry, I allowed my heart to lead my head.
I urge you to go slow, to follow your head and not your heart. Easily said, but not so easy to adhere to, especially when your heart is fit to explode with happiness… Maybe I’ll learn to slow down and breathe by the time we have our next conversation… Life is full of unexploded landmines… Listen to those who love you, for sometimes, they know where the landmines are.
With R, everything was peachy & perfect at first… I guess in retrospect, it’s often the case when you launch into a new relationship open & trusting, hopeful & giddy. Your heart is open, your mind presumes good intentions, and your soul is bouyant.
You and her gals were instant friends; an overnight sensation we all wanted more of. And then, in the space of a few short weeks, you were gone, taken from me on that nightmarish evening at Shibuya Station. I still can’t believe what your Mother did that evening…
After you were abducted, that black haze that at times threatens us all, tried its luck on me. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I had been around depression with your Mother. She had suffered from this illness for years, but I was determined to avoid falling down this crevice. My wicked mate, Hadyn Xavier Hewitt (HXH) was looking out for me, as was my family. Hadyn challenged me to beat my predicament, not just mentally, but physically too. And so I did.
I drank a little too much Scotch of an evening, but of course I was in denial because I balanced my drinking with cruel running/workouts. Hadyn had challenged me to overcome and not give in, so I stuck rigidly to my exercise routine. I joked with myself and Pat Cossey that the Scotch was medicinal, that it helped sooth my heartache; but of course, it was just an excuse.
In the evening, a glass of single malt on ice did dull my senses, numb my pain, but there was no forgetting you. In the meantime, your Dad was pumping out 3000-4000 push-ups per month, all the while gritting my teeth and thinking of you. Hayd had embarrassed me on the chin-up bar back in Melbourne, so I started throwing in 300-400 chin-ups during the same time period (monthly). And, I was running 4-5 times a week, hard… anything to avoid having to feel my feelings… anything to numb my thoughts. I worked out with the x-country and track & field teams at Saint Maur, and buried myself in my wonderful job… but I never forgot you… it was just easier to be apart from you if I was busy.
I had to step outside of myself and force myself to breathe deeply. At times, I was so exasperated that I could feel fury coursing through my veins. I let my blood charge and ran hard, and did extra push-ups & chin-ups. One night, I banged out 400 push-ups. And I hugged my sweaty self alone.
There were moments I thought my heart was going to break from all the mixed-up feelings, to puncture itself, and I would slowly leave this world. Nights were torture, alone without you, but by day, I could stand again.
With what was happening at the Family Court, trying to sleep was the worst. I missed you so much. I heard myself breathing as I stared into the nothingness of night. Sometimes we just can’t quiet the mind Phi, sometimes. I tried to shut myself down, and most likely I shut out (not completely) my family and close friends, like our Pat Cossey.
I was living in mud… everything seemed so heavy, so thick, so impenetrable. There was nothing transparent about the Japanese Family Court, or your Mother’s next move. I tried to keep things to myself, not voicing 90% of what was happening, and yet in a strange twist, it was the thought of my family and friends that brought me through each night. Just the thought of them was a steadying factor. They weren’t even there, but our family is the BEST, sister-in-laws included. Nandee & Pa on a scale of supportiveness, blow the scale out of the water, and Uncle Rich, well he’s Dad’s best friend… he just knows, he’s totally intuitive. And Uncle Sean, he’s the hippest, most with-it dude one could ever have in one’s corner, articulate, generous in spirit, and wise. And then there’s family like Uncle Hadyn Hewitt, Ralph Dankwort, & Milton Miltiados. They’ve always been there for us, always. They’re solid, forever, and platinum. They’ll be there when you walk into my arms again. We’re lucky Phi, our family is perfectly always with us… it didn’t matter that they were 10,000km away, I felt their presence, their love, their encouragement, their support, their fight.
At dawn, I was still petrified of losing you, hollow, and unwilling to get too close to anyone. But then I met C, and bit-by-bit, my life started to turn around. Spring always blooms, always, despite the depths we must conquer. I want you to believe that Phi. The hurdles harden us, scar us, confuse us, but they also teach us, remind us, and keep life in perspective. We can all learn, if we’re willing and open and honest with ourselves… everyone can.
I hoped beyond hope that I could continue to be a Dad to you… to watch you sleep and marvel at your shallow breathing… I had to occasionally stroke your hot flushed cheek as you slept as a toddler, very gently, because at times, I wasn’t sure you were breathing… you slept like a plant breathes! Young, strong, alive, reaching for warmth & light. Often your cheeks would grow rosy red, and little strands of your hair would stick to your forehead with sweat in summer. Beautiful, so beautiful, so full, and bursting with promise.
Hope continues. Hope is what sustains us… it thrives in a positive mind… believe that Phi, and you’ll be fine. I want you to grow up to have faith in who you are, to be strong and sure of your identity, to be a gentle and considerate person; somebody people turn to, because you will not give up on the ideals of peace and justice and mercy for everyone. I hope you will be a forgiving person, and even after you discover the truth, you will forgive her too. Everyone needs a second chance, everyone.
As I sit here, it seems the worst is over. I have to hope, I have C. Though you are far-far away, C is now my life… I just hope she realizes. I don’t mean to pressure her, it’s just that sometimes I feel as if she doesn’t comprehend the depth of my love.
I love you kiddo… XoXo… Dad. Flick us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
SAD BUT TRUE…
When you got your first round of vaccinations you didn’t cry… but alone Dad got a bit teary later on. Stoic, that’s you.
Sunday, April 5th 2015
Hey Bella, it’s Uncle Sean’s (Sean Morice) birthday today! Happy b’day bro’! I think my little brother is turning 42! Can you believe it?! He’s still the same uncle to you though… fun & loving, gentle & considerate, compassionate & creative… he’s one of a kind, your Uncle Sean!
You won’t believe where I’m sitting now… C & Dad are on the Nile… yes, on the Mighty Nile. We’re on a Nile Cruise looking out our bay window at what’s passing by. Up close, the scenery by the river is very green; sugar cane, mango & avocado trees, bananas, rice paddies, palm trees, donkeys, kids swimming, men washing their motorbikes, mud-brick houses, straw huts, people fishing, boys in canoes ferrying bricks, straw/hay in canoe type boats, people in white plastic chairs sipping hot tea, vegetables, there’s even vendors in little boats trying to flog things to us tourists on the boat… the view and sites are a million times better than the TV!!! Such infotainment, and despite being keen on a nap, the real-life documentary is too interesting to pass-up. Besides, it’s almost beer-o-clock. What special drink would you like Bella?
This morning at 6:30am we took a horse drawn cart to Edfu Temple. A Greek Roman style temple built between 200BC & 180AD. Spectacular in size and detail. It towered over 50 meters in height and had a myriad of rooms, aisles and stories to match.
Last night the cruise stopped for an hour at the Komombo Temple & Crocodile Museum. Before the High Dam in Aswan was built (1971) to create Lake Nasser and Egypt’s hydro-electric system, there were crocodiles this side of the dam… don’t know what happened to them all, but at 4 meters in length, they’d be pretty hard to miss. The same morning, we were woken at 3am, and by 3:30am we were on our way to Abu Simbel. No wonder I need a nap!
But, back to our cabin aboard the mighty Nile. It’s just so relaxing, so comfortable, so memorable sitting here, lying here on our bed watching the world go by. Fascinating personified, and although I could sorely do with a nap, there’s too much to miss if I close my eyes and visit La-la Land. Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ, and even Napoleon, they’ve all been here. Can you imagine it? It’s real, so real, so tangible.
On day 01 (Friday) we were picked up at Aswan Airport and taken to the High Dam that was jointly built by the Egyptians and the Russians in 1971. The first dam, perhaps 2km down stream from the newer dam, was built by the British. After the High Dam, our guide took us to the Temple of Philae, an ancient Egyptian Temple that was mostly submerged after 1906 (when the first dam submerged it) but was painstakingly moved after 1971 (when the second dam was completed) piece by piece to its present site. 44,000 pieces, and quite a dramatic location. Kudos to UNESCO and the many countries who helped. This magnificent temple was built on this island for the Goddess Isis. We took a boat across to the island to wander the ruins of Philae and enjoy a bit of lunch. Then we boarded our boat, and settled in for dinner aboard our Nile cruise…
Gotta go, missing the sites. Wish you were here with us.
Love Dad… XoXo…
“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” – Paul Theroux… I’m not always sure about that one.
Wednesday, April 8th 2015
G’day, g’day, g’day my little Aussie battler. Back from our splendid Nile Cruise and time for a recap… now let me see… where to begin… Mmm…
Dad’s been busy coaching track & field, mainly track, but enjoying showing the kids a bit of high jump and long jump; don’t mind the hurdles too. It’s fun working out with the kids. They range in age from G6 to G12, so 12 to 18 years of age. I push them pretty hard, though a good many of them could work harder. All the same, they keep me on my toes, and I work hard trying to lead by example. Wish you were with me, running beside your Dad… I bet you can move too.
Getting Toro into Hong Kong is proving difficult. C started the process in February, but it seems it’s a never-ending list of to-do items to check off. He’ll have to sit and wait in quarantine for minimum four months, but that’s not the end of it. Coming from Egypt he has to have all sorts of vaccinations and certificates prepared before they’ll even consider taking him into quarantine. Blood samples have been forwarded to the UK for testing, numerous vaccinations, check-ups, and a special dog carrier kennel purchased. Still, Toro Chan is a cutey, a dog you’re sure to love. Like most dogs, he’s very loyal, good for a cuddle, and has that innate sense of knowing your moods and adjusting his actions accordingly. He’s great company, especially for C. Toro has been a genuine companion for her, good for a kind lick and an affectionate snuggle.
Hopefully he’ll be in your arms one day too… love Dad & C… XoXo…
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley
Thursday, April 16th 2015
Ophelia Hirakawa-Morice (Ophelia Ishijima), how are you? By now, you’ve started Middle School… it’s so hard to believe… I remember your entrance ceremony in Primary School, and now you’re really going places… Kid, you’ll move mountains!
We’re moving on too. Hong Kong beckons, so we’re packing up our belongings once again. We’ll lump together many of our items to sell to a newbie (new teacher); washing machine, fans, microwave, curtains, and other assorted goodies.
I’ve enjoyed my time here at Cairo American College. Wayne is a great superintendent, the best I’ve worked for, and Julie (ES Principal) has really looked after us. Great staff, mostly good kids, and the campus is pretty much an oasis as far as Cairo in concerned. Unfortunately, C has had several incidents on the streets, so it’s time we moved on. We’re off to HKIS, so happy days.
Last Friday, April 10th we took a felucca with Jan & Beth, and their guest, whose son’s book I purchased: What If… It’s not a bad read, posing insane but topical questions, which he answers with a good amount of scientific credibility. I guess it will prove one of our final felucca rides on the Nile in Cairo. You’d love it Phi. It’s a very relaxing way to watch the sunset, sail flapping happily above, and the chaos of Cairo receding in the background. Your favorite drink in hand, and some tasty nibbles complete the equation.
And Thursday April 9th I had some fun with the kids. We’re kick starting our unit on geometry, so we created a wicked dome that we’ve named our Readohedron. It has 26 vertices, 45 edges, and 46 faces!!! I wonder if we can work out the surface area, and work out how many equilateral and isosceles triangles we have? The kids love it, and are rightly very proud, because while I gave them some instructions, they largely built it by themselves. It’s a great dome to sneak into and curl up and read a book! I hope you’re provided the same opportunities to explore Math at your Japanese schools…
All the best kiddo… XoXo. Ged & C.
READY FOR A LAUGH KIDDO…
When you first began eating solid food, you plunged in with mighty pride and vigor. After boiled and mashed potatoes and carrots, you seemed to graduate to real solids pretty quickly. I handed you a lamb chop and some pasta in tomato sauce, and OMG, Phi, did you enjoy it! Such enthusiasm. It was five star ***** dining for you Mademoiselle! You had spaghetti and tomato sauce all over your face, in your hair, in my hair, and your bib was working over time. And, the solid food made changes to your poo too! Sometimes the reaction wasn’t so good, but usually solid equaled solid, and you would poop little perfect solid balls. Sometimes as I was changing your nappy, one of those hard solid spheres would neatly roll off your nappy and find its way to the floor. It was so comical chasing your kaka-kaka; sort of sporting, and it would never fail to bring me an inner smile… even now, 12 years on, the memory is fond and somewhat exhilarating.
Tuesday, April 21st 2015
How ‘r’ you doing Phi? The weather is starting to warm-up here in Cairo. Every day it’s pretty much 30+ degrees Celsius. How’s the weather in Nippon? I guess it’s just starting to become milder, and time for the cherry blossoms…
Tonight Jan & Beth came for dinner, and C made one of your favorites, pork gyoza! In Japan, it goes without saying that the meat would be pork, but here in Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country, pork is scarce & expensive, and somewhat taboo (pork is only sold at one or two stores, and it’s never on display). The gyozas were exceptional, with Jan and Beth salivating as they gorged themselves with these tasty Japanese delicacies so far from home.
On Saturday, April 19th we had another track & field practice out at AUC (American University Cairo). Dad had a good work-out, mainly training with the distance and 400 meter runners. After practice, I invited the coaches for coffee (Hatem, Susan & Thomas) to discuss a few important issues, and to determine our traveling team. Have I told you about Coach Hatem? He’s none other than an Egyptian Olympian, in fact he was at the Sydney Olympics; and guess who was in the stands watching? Your Dad! He was a phenomenal athlete with a PB in the long jump of 8 meters 31cm. That’s world class.
On another note, I think I’d like to purchase two large alabaster candle/light holders. I prefer the rectangular prism type, but C likes the cylinder type. Of an evening, the cut of the alabaster, and the line of the rock looks sensational as the light pierces it. I hope one night, we’re all seated on the deck at our place in Tokyo with the alabaster candles burning our bond bright.
We look forward to sharing our Egyptian odds & ends with you some day Phi… there’ll be no shortage of stories Bella!
Love Dad… XoXo… XoXo… Missing you Possum!
“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon
Saturday, April 25th 2015
Hey Phi, how’s life in Nippon? How do you sleep? What’s the last thing you think of as your eyes close each night, and what’s the first thing you think of as you rise each morning? I know whom I think of…
It’s hard to understand what has happened to us, but it’s even more complicated trying to anticipate what your Mother will do next. This summer when we return to Japan for a couple of weeks with C’s family, I would like nothing better than to see you… but how? If I write to your Mother, she’ll conveniently ignore my pleas. If I call, she won’t answer, and if I do decide to visit you, who knows what she is capable of. It’s incomprehensible that she wishes to severe our ties completely… what to do Phi?
Anyway Phi Morice, you’ll never guess what Dad did this morning. It was ANZAC day, and I attended my first dawn service. Sarah, Rick and their kids (a Sydney family), Mel (a teacher from Melbourne) and I were in Old Cairo, in a military cemetery at sunrise (5:15am) for the dawn service. Incredible that so many Australian & New Zealand service men and women were buried here in Cairo during/after both WW1 & WW2. I had no idea. Many fought Rommel’s army in North Africa, many others trained at the foot of the pyramids before being shipped to Gallipoli.
Yeah, I actually attended my first dawn service. I was very tight-lipped about my feelings and thoughts, skeptical of the common Aussie notion that it (it = mainly our troops landing in Gallipoli, Turkey) helped carved Australia’s identity, especially as I perceive(d) it’s a very white-Australian-male thing to do. As it happened, as it played out, it was in fact to be a real eye-opener. For one, the ceremony was organised by the NZ embassy whose ambassador greeted us personally (can you imagine? His wife, Jacqui, even knew me by name – they have two kids at CAC), then invited us back to their home for breakfast! Breakfast at the New Zealand ambassador’s residence in Cairo! Cool, hey? You would have loved it. They had an in-ground swimming pool, and even though it was still before 7am, I’m sure a quick swim with breakfast would have suited you and your Dad.
Barney, he introduced himself as (that’s the ambassador), was a man of some standing and principal. His first and last words of his speech were in Maori. Impressive. I like that. We don’t take the words of our own indigenous people enough in Australia.
I was also touched by the fact that the master of ceremony was an Asian-NZ chap. And, the third person to speak was the Turkish ambassador, who quoted Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish leader of such renown:
“Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
Standing there in the dawn, surrounded by so many nationalities, it was a humbling and emotional moment. Such beautiful words, don’t you think Phi?
The first to lay the wreaths was the head of the UN peace-keeping force in Sinai (Egypt), none other than a female NZ army major.
Again the Kiwis got it right, because as a Fijian played the “Last Post” on his bugle, five members of the peace-keeping force, two of them women, saluted.
The ceremony forced me to reassess my thinking. I still passionately disagree with anything that glorifies war, but there was something very peaceful, something very symbolic about nations that once stood opposite each other in trenches, shooting to kill, standing together at dawn to remember their dead, and the tragic paths their leaders took them down. I will stand at another dawn service, because it’s important we learn from history, so our mistakes will not be repeated.
And all of these thoughts just penned wouldn’t have been possible without a little sustenance. This evening I made chili con carne with a dollop of sour cream, Mmm! Not bad kiddo, with some extra cheese just as you like it!
Yesterday (Friday), wasn’t so eventful; I spent a good part of my day getting on top of reports for my students… all 21 of them! That represents tens of hours of evaluation and drafting comments.
Thursday night we went to Zentro with Azarea (our Australian – Croatian buddy). We had a couple of drinks at Azarea’s first, then after our meal (courtesy of Eddy – my student), a night cap back here at Road 207, Building 14, apartment #3.
Love & licks, Dad… XoXo…
“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca
Tuesday, April 28th 2015
How’s my Australian – Japanese Angel? Enjoying the challenges of Middle School? New friends, new teacher, new curriculum, but same campus, right? Your Mother doesn’t reply to anything we send… emails, letters, postcards, gifts, packages to you… all go unanswered. I guess, one day, we’ll know if you’re receiving them… one day… But that day can’t come soon enough.
On a brighter note, today was the artistic HOUSE EVENT. It’s all organized by Sara Harman, the most amazing sports teacher I’ve ever had the opportunity to work alongside. We also coached cross-country together. The kids all had chalk and a colourful pattern to follow; it looked like the Yellow Brick Road, only it was very much a multicolored mosaic. It was warming watching Egyptian kids colour alongside American kids, French next to Kiwis, Palestinian next to Canadian, Chinese beside Japanese, Koreans helping Nigerians, Syrians lending chalk to Indians… wish you were still with me Phi…
After school, in place of our regular Tuesday meeting agenda, we had in-house PD (professional development) run by the teachers. I had the pleasure of working on a Weebly site with Brandon. It looks great, and might just prove as a tool for reconnecting with you… I’ll need a little practice first!
Yesterday (Monday), I had two meetings regarding track & field. Unfortunately, with only 14 students traveling, only two coaches will accompany our CAC athletes to Brussels, Belgium. It’s a bummer, because we started with a list of 54. Actually, probably only about 45 turned up for the first few training sessions, and from that point on, the less than serious just stopped coming out for a run, and a few were encouraged to give it away because of poor attitude.
Wish you were part of our team. I know you would give 100%. I just know I would be proud of you… love Dad… XoXo… I bet I can make you a serious 1500m athlete! We still have time… XoXo…
“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” – Anatole France
Sunday, May 10th, 2015
Howdy Cowdy! How’s trix in the Land of the Rising Sun? Here in Cairo, things are pretty good, apart from the bureaucratic frustrations of shipping Toro (our Alexandrian canine), and the quarantine rules & regulations of Hong Kong.
Last Sunday, May 3rd Uncle Hadyn Xavier Hewitt, Ted, and Ged (Hadyn’s brother) departed for the great Southern Land. We’ve had a great stint of visitors (the fourth set in as many months), and each group has brought excitement, laughs, and plenty of duty-free alcohol! It was especially grand to see Hayd et al. Ted (Hadyn’s dad), at 84 looked a tad frail and expectedly tired, but he’d lost none of his wit and sparkle. We were a little bit worried about his 84 years of three-veg & meat diet, but at our very first meal, he told C, “This is the best meal I’ve had since leaving Australia.” Ged & Hayd enjoyed a second serving of curry rice, and quite quickly C charmed the Hewitt lads.
On the Friday, Dad dragged ’em out to the Great Pyramids (Giza). We had a great time, and they hung curiously close to Big Red, as one tout after another masqueraded as some sort of would-be official trying to squeeze money out of them. Even on our way to the pyramids, our car was waved down by a couple of would-be rip-off seekers, but we managed to convince the driver to drive-on.
The day after the pyramids (Saturday, May 2nd), Hayd came with me bright and early to help coach the track & field team. Every Saturday, we take the squad out to AUC (the American University). It’s an amazing facility, though shade-less, and damn hot. I enjoyed putting the team through their paces as Hayd observed. It was great to have Hayd along, and one of my favorite parents was there too, and quickly he & Hayd struck up a conversation.
Happy Mother’s Day to all Mums today…
Luv & licks, Ged & C… XoXo.
Dad still holds and cherishes the black school shoes you once wore at kindergarten… XoXo…
Monday, May 18th 2015
G’day Phi. Two weeks and your Dad will be 47 years OLD! Can you believe it? A birthday month of sorts, with a few drinks at Mel’s last Thursday night. We sat on her balcony, and had a few wines, a bit of cheese, and even some hard to find chorizo here in Egypt. Friday night we had a farewell dinner for Jan, and Saturday night, Azarea came over for dinner. So quite a bit of celebrating, but Dad still managed a good workout Saturday morning. Once again we took the track & field squad out to AUC for a track meet against CISE, another international school here in Cairo.
Fancy running for CAC Bella? I think I can make you into a good 800m and 1500m runner. What do you say, up for the challenge?
Coach Morice… XoXo…
Saturday, May 30th 2015
Well Phi, Dad is on his way back from Brussels with 14 students. We’ve been in Belgium for the ISST Track & Field Championships on May 28th – 29th. There were schools from Paris, London, Frankfurt, Zurich, Vienna, The Hague, etc., 12 big international schools (mainly American) in all. Here’s an excerpt from the MS & HS newsletter that I’m writing at the moment:
CAC Track & Field ISST Report
A small but committed team traveled to Belgium May 26th – 30th for the Brussels’ ISST. The mild Brussels’ temperatures were a pleasant surprise after toughing it out in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Celsius in the lead up to the event. After starting out with a list of 50+ potential athletes, 14 jumpers, throwers, and runners qualified to represent CAC.
Our major highlight was the JV boys SILVER MEDAL in the 4x100m relay. Our star athlete, Yeong (3 medals, GOLD, SILVER & BRONZE) ran a solid first leg, before handing off to Rumi, who dominated his leg, and in doing so, proved the big improver on the team. Rumi handed to Kyumin who ran a strong bend. Daniel ran the anchor leg and held onto second in a sensational time of 47.84 seconds; a phenomenal effort by a young relay squad considering none of our sprinters made the final of the individual100m dash.
Other highlights included:
- Yeong won GOLD in the JV Boys long jump with a jump of 5 meters 60cm
- Yeong also took BRONZE in the JV Boys 100m hurdles in a time of 15.76
- Daniel jumped into SILVER in the JV Boys high jump with an equal first jump of 158cm
- Isiaih came FOURTH in the Varsity Boys high jump with a jump of 165cm
- Isiaih jumped 5 meters 70cm to take the BRONZE in the Varsity Boys long jump
- Alexander came SEVENTH in the Varsity Boys shot with a powerful throw of 10.56 meters
- Daniel ran17.57 to come FIFTH in the final of the JV Boys100m hurdles
- Odeh ran EIGHTH in the final of the 3000m in a time of 10 minutes 43 seconds
Special thanks to our ex-Sydney Olympian, Coach Hatem. His expertise and encouragement gave our athletes the confidence and belief they needed to compete against much bigger schools.
The strong culture and spirit that the squad has built in 2015, will prove the key to success next season. There are a core group of determined and promising athletes who we can build upon, and with 2016 being an Olympic year, we anticipate a strong and dedicated team.
If you have a positive attitude, and are committed to bettering yourself both physically and mentally, you might be just what we’re looking for in 2016.
“Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversation.” – Elizabeth Drew
Wednesday, June 10th 2015
Hey Phi… it’s time to say our “goodbyes” to CAC. C came up to school today… God bless her… to help hand out presents and say our farewell thank you. She had wrapped presents for Todd, Juana & LeeAnn (my teaching partners), Julie (ES Principal), and Wayne (Superintendent). It was a nice way to go out, and I much appreciated C’s time & effort in preparing all she did for me.
Believe it or not, with all the packing and sorting of things at school and at home, I managed to find some time to complete an online course before starting at HKIS (Hong Kong International School). It’s titled: “Darkness to Light – End Child Sexual Abuse.”
Yesterday (Tuesday), I had my final day with my G5 kids; actually it was only a half day, but a lovely day at that. Received a pair of running shoes from my class, and some great cards from parents and students alike. Squeezed in a 30 min run, 75 push-ups, 60 sit-ups, and 25 chin-ups. Returned home from school at a very respectable hour, 5pm and then went with Cc and collected three pairs of shoes that Cc had had resoled for me down on Road 7, that’s across the railway line, and considerably cheaper than the Maadi expat area we live in. The shoes actually look pretty good, and at 40LE each, that’s only around 600 yen a pop.
Monday, I joined Sarah at the Coaches dinner. It was another warm way of saying farewell. Dad received a plaque for coaching T&F and X-Country. Didn’t last too long, despite a Mexican buffet, because Rick (Sarah’s husband) had invited me back for a bourbon.
And, Saturday we went to the Chinese just opposite with Sarah & Rick, and their kids Matt & Emily, and Beth. Shame you couldn’t join us, as I know you and Emily would prove great mates.
Tomorrow the moving company (AGS – a French company) will arrive at 9:30am. Wish us luck! I think we’ll need it…
With loads and loads of love… your Dad… XoXo…
I miss you more than vegemite!
Wednesday, June 3rd 2015
Well Bella, Dad is well on his way to the BIG 5 – Zero! On Sunday I turned 47 years OLD! Besides an ever worsening rounding of the shoulders, I don’t feel too bad. I have to keep reminding myself to stand up straight, and to look out for my posture, because I tend to slouch, especially when I’m seated.
Beth Rappe, our wonderful American friend came for dinner tonight. We’re both going to miss her easygoing ways and her calming influence. She and Jan were our first neighbors when we moved to Cairo, and fortunately after we were all moved from that particular apartment building, their new dwelling was just around the corner from our new flat. Beth and Jan are moving to Chennai, India. Actually, it’s the same American IS Dad did some collaborative Math with for 12 months last year, AND, we’re planning on visiting them both for Christmas 2015! Xmas in India!
And, so Sunday, May 31st, was Dad’s b’day… Well, when I opened the front door (actually, we only have one door) Cc, Azarea, Beth, Juana & Matthew, Rick & Sarah were all there to say SURPRISE! Yes, even without you, it was a special evening.
Love you Bella! Dad… XoXo…
Dad has three photos in his wallet of you… XoXo…
Friday, June 5th 2015
G’day Phi. C just showed me a youtube clip of you dancing in Japan. We think it was taken in the autumn of 2014. I’m not sure how I feel, but I know I’m proud to be your Dad. You were dressed as a cat, and looked so athletic, so tall, so beautiful. Tears streamed down my face, as I watched again and again. By now, I imagine the same clip is being screened in Australia by all those who have loved you. I miss you Phi, so much.
Love Dad… XoXo…
Wednesday, June 17th 2015
Hola Ophelia Hirakawa-Morice!
Good morning Phi! It’s 6:40am and we’ve just departed from Seville Station for Granada. We have a 3 hour journey ahead of us, so a little time to catch you up on where we are, and what we’ve been doing. We arrived in Spain yesterday, after a long transfer in Amsterdam. Our hotel has a lovely historical, quaint charm about it. The concierge, Sergio, is ever so helpful, and the food!!! Last night, though exhausted after our 3:30am departure from Cairo, we wandered aimlessly through the cobbled stoned streets of downtown Seville. First impressions: FANTASTICO! It’s a foodies capital, and very, very affordable. To be continued…
So, La Alhambra… WOW, what a palace! It was built 800 years ago in Granada, and from roughly 711 – 1400 it was the resting place of the Sultan, yeah, an Islamic place. The gardens are beautiful, and despite the dry and hot climate, water is plentiful, streaming down from peaks, still snowcapped in June at about 3500 meters altitude. It’s where Queen Isabella of Portugal is buried, and so too King Ferdinand of Spain.
The forests nearby must have hosted good game, because the Sultans, and later the Kings hunted with their falcons. King Ferdinand arrived during the crusades with an army of 50,000 men to capture the city from the Muslims. There was a standoff for years, until finally in 1492, the Christians took Alhambra. In the 16 century, the mosque was destroyed, and fortunately they weren’t stupid enough to also destroy the gardens and series of aqueducts that provided the fresh water. Charles V built the palace, and the magnificent wood comes all the way from Lebanon, and is some 7 centuries old.
It’s also the place where Columbus came seeking his money for his exploits in the new world… Gold, Glory, and God.
Can you believe it? Queen Isabella, Columbus, King Ferdinand, Ged & C, have all spent some time roaming Alhambra’s tranquil gardens.
Now, what to eat this evening??? What do you fancy Phi? Love Dad… XoXo…
“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
Friday, June 19th 2015
G’day Phi. Dad & C are sitting on a bus heading back to Seville, Spain. I hope as you’re reading our travels, you have the atlas out beside you. Don’t you just love maps?!
This morning we took a bus to Cordoba. It’s a magic place beside the Rio Guadal River. The highlight was a visit to the cathedral, first established around the sixth century. Some years later there was an Islamic invasion of Cordoba, and the church made way for a mosque. King Ferdinand III re-conquered Cordoba in 1236, and even today, there are wonderful reminders of both faiths.
For lunch, we enjoyed some tapas, a glass of sangria, and then a glass of chardonnay with the local pate. We then wandered aimlessly through the old town, the Jewish quarter and surrounds, until the heat, and the clock got the better of us. It’s almost as hot here as Cairo!
Yesterday we woke at a respectable time (7am), and Dad took a 45 minute jog along the river here in Seville with the locals… threw in a few push-ups and chin-ups for good measure too!
We then took to the streets of Seville after a hearty breakfast at a local café. The proprietor was a friendly chap, so we returned this morning for our fresh orange juice, coffee, and toasted ham sandwich; 8 euro for two! We visited the cathedral, then meandered through the cobblestoned streets searching for a tapas bar for lunch. With so many to choose from, one just continues to search until finally our hunger got the better of us, and anything would do.
Bugger the bulls, tonight, it’ll be more tapas, and perhaps Dad will be dancing the flamenco in his new shoes! Spain might be a foodies paradise, but it also boasts superfluous shoe stores, with funky affordable leather shoes… YEAH!
Fancy some tapas? Don Juan Ged & Queen Cc… XoXo… to be continued… I’ll write tonight Phi… missing you, and wishing you could join us here in Spain…
Just to add a little sassy salt to your tapas Phi, we’ve just returned from a restaurant C researched; pretty much le boss in terms of value for lira (actually, it’s all euro these days) anywhere on this planet, or Mars.
25 euros bought me a beer, a glass of blanc, vin rouge, and for madame Cc, the prerequisite two glasses of sangria. AND le feast extravaganza included pork ribs, anchovies fried in olive oil, tiny hamburg with egg (almost Japanese style), the second item on the menu (some describe-less fish egg thingy – exquisite), and three or four other tapas that our drinks have deprived me the name/description of. Alas, rest assured, we’re heading back tomorrow! 25 euro, fantastico, considering I’m earning US$… viola! Come on Phi, jump on that big bird in the sky and join us… we’ll pick you up at Seville airport!
Love Dad… XoXo… XoXo, XOXO… XoXo… XoXo, XOXO… XoXo… XoXo, XOXO…
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
Wednesday, June 24th 2015
Hey Bella. Sitting beside the birthday lass on an Air France flight from Paris to Cairo. Yes, back to Cairo, for the last time. It was C’s 44th b’day yesterday, and we celebrated with a fine meal at Epicure, the restaurant that C once worked at in Paris, the City of Lights.
I often think of traveling with you, like we once use to do. I see kids with their tiny backpacks, and I think of you and your petite pink backpack, wandering proudly beside your Dad. I dream that you’re beside me, with your own purse, perusing the duty free, wondering if you’ll buy a little something, or pass, and keep your euro for next time. I imagine giving you our change, change that you carefully deposit in your purse, and then with a smile, tip our waiters, and the buskers that bring you a smile.
Monday, we arrived in Paris from Bordeaux. We checked into our very, very cheap hotel… terrible, and then headed off to meet JB for an Italian lunch of pasta & pizza, and of course, a glass or two of wine. For dinner we met more of C’s friends who are residents of Paris, K & JP.
Tuesday, a little sightseeing and shopping, a cool Italian sports jacket and sweater for Dad, and a bag for the b’day lass. Awesome crepes for lunch… I just know you’d love French crepes! Had my third run and workout for this trip late yesterday afternoon, but it’s a bit of a battle keeping the calories at bay with all the tantalizing treats on offer.
So, it’s back to Cairo, and time to punish the body for all its culinary sins. Will need to wake early to beat the heat… will let you know how the intended routine goes.
Love Dad… XoXo…
“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Morning Phi. Worked out at school this morning to serve it up to the gluttonous past 10 days we’ve had living it up in Spain & France. Did my regular three laps (30 minutes jogging), 30 chin-ups, 75 sit-ups, 75 push-ups, 75 dips, and a few squats for good measure. Not bad for an old chap, hey!? I think I’ve still got you… fancy a race?
And, just penned the following to the two squads I coached this year:
CROSS COUNTRY – GOLD or SILVER? Who wants it? What’s it to be? It won’t just happen…
Mantra: I can do anything for 30 seconds!
-each of you need to run over the summer. Calvin, Odeh (you can run top 3) & Amin, I expect you to run under 20min next season, and Ben, I want you to aim for a PB of 20:30 & a top 10 finish. Hana & Zeina, your “can-do” attitude during Track & Field proved to me, we can build a strong JV team around you both. I know you can both run top 10 at ISST if you train like you did at T&F
-to run your best 5000m you need interval training, hills (hit the stairs & ramp again & again and AGAIN), km in your legs, and a strong core
-before we can do interval training, we need an aerobic base to build upon
-when running your intervals at 100%, run like you stole something from Coach Morice, or better still, Mr. Rutherford! To run faster, you have to spend time running fast! With practice and effort, you’ll be able to run faster for longer periods while maintaining the same perceived effort
-6 x 200m intervals with the 3rd and 6th intervals at full speed (longer intervals for fitter runners)… intervals are character building!
-fartlek training (like intervals, but you jog the recovery). Fartlek intervals are all about the effort. Try 5 fartlek pick-ups for 3min each at race-pace, then back off for 3min, and repeat
-gradual pick-ups: run 8 x 400m (race pace, with pick-up 4 and 8 fastest)
-float workouts are awesome late in the season (fartlek training with less recovery). By keeping the recovery quick, but below threshold, you maintain high lactate levels throughout the run without having to stop… I can do anything for 30 seconds! Try 200m at 90%, then 200 meters 10 to 15 seconds slower, repeat up to 6 times… only the fit will survive… run in packs!
-intervals: 1 x 800m at 90%
2 x 400m at 80%; jog 200m between
4 x 200m at 95%; jog 200m between each
2 x 400m at 80%; jog 200m between
-squeeze in a beep test
-relays: pair up runners so that you’ll get the desired blanket finish; ie., fastest with slowest. Runner 01 runs one lap, passes to runner 02 who runs one lap, passes to runner 01 who runs two laps, passes to 02 who runs two, passes to 01 who runs 03, passes to 02 who runs three. Try four & five laps later in the season
-when you go to the wadi, do at least 6 intervals up the hills. Push extra hard and remember this year’s mantra: I can do anything for 30 seconds! Talking won’t be an option.
-final push/surge: 6 x 10 second sprints is a great way to complete a session. We can do all out sprinting even when we’re tired, just as you would at the end of a race (without beating up our body)
-run barefoot on the grass; shorten your stride, feel the surface with the soles of your feet, run careful & alert; running barefoot will strengthen the muscles in your feet
-in addition to The Degla Dash, try hard for two time trials at AUC, preferably against other schools (CISE are keen – contact: Stephanie)
-if you can get the track at the Olympic Centre or AUC, it’s a great experience for the kids to try running two even splits, i.e., each 2500m split should be within seconds of the other
-after the first reliable time trial, stagger start each runner according to their times over 5km. The slowest runner sets off first. If the second slowest runner was 32 seconds quicker than the slowest runner, they set off 32sec later, and if the quickest runner was 7min 14sec faster than the slowest, they wait 7:14 before they start. It’s a very exciting workout, and ensures a blanket finish where every athlete gives 100%
-when the team trains, it’s best to run in packs, shoulder to shoulder. This builds team mentality, and it also makes us accountable to one another. We know, as soon as we drop off the pack, it’s that much harder to keep up. During a race, it also helps prevent us from breaking the cardinal sin: going out too fast in a race. Run with your race group for a PB!
-limit km increases to 10% per week; once a month drop it back by 20% This avoids too much, too soon, too little rest
-when we train 5x per week, it’s important you have at least one relatively easy day so that your body can recover from the tough sessions. When your coaches say back off to 80%, that’s exactly what they mean; it gives your body time to recuperate and the recovery allows you to give 100% next session
Gonna miss you guys. Make me proud, stay fit!
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener