2015 January – March

Saturday, January 3rd 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR BELLA!

How’s things in your part of the world? Are you still the loyal and caring daughter you always were? What a stupid question, sorry. Let me ramble, because I think it’s important that you know that you were the best thing that ever happened to me. You had the eyes of the family dog who looks at its owner as if she/he can do no wrong. You were selfless, and emotionally mature beyond your years. You were quick to forgive our shortcomings as parents, but I know it rocks your heart even today, to sense the tension left by your mother and me. Forgive us, forgive me Phi…

 

So many times I have just stood and stared out at the night, stared into the leaves, lost my focus and wondered about you, wondering what if… wondering if only I had… wondering if I/we had taken a different path, perhaps a less noble & honest one…

 

Wouldn’t it be easier to pretend that this never happened? We could meet at our designated pick-up/drop-off area, and we could run into each other’s arms. No, not run, SPRINT! Can you run faster than a horse now? Dad’s not even as fast as an old hobbled horse… in fact after training with the Track/X-country Teams I’m sure if I were a horse I would be branded “lame”, and put down… but I’m ready to catch you when you leap into my arms.

 

I imagine you growing, growing without me, growing without us, your Australian/Morice identity. I think of your birth and picture your soft pink skin, your full head of beautiful shiny black hair and your chubby wrists. Despite being chubby your wrists had much the same circumference as Dad’s pinkies back to back. And now you read, but not with me, you write, but not to me, you dance, but not beside me, you sing, but not the same chorus as Dad, you skip, but with a different rope.

 

I am old, but so is Paris, and so is Rome, and parts of Paris & Rome feel refurbished and youthful. And though they may appear in places to be cracked and battered, and even crumbling, their spirit endures. Their loves blazes. So does Dad’s love for you… it blazes omnipresent.

 

Tonight for some reason, my mind can almost fit itself around the fact that it is not too late for us to be reunited. It’s never too late. And though at times it feels like I may collapse, that I am weak and crumbling like Roman ruins, your star burns forever bright in my sky.

 

Sometimes when I’m home in Melbourne, when I’m asleep in this room, my bedroom as a child, my bedroom as a teenager, and my bedroom before I left Australia at the age of 22, I think I will wake and all will return to me. Wake from a long, complicated and tedious dream. Wake from the frustration, from the pain, from the wondering. Wake to the joy that is you. Wake to your smile that warms us all. Wake to your spunk, your laughter, your sensitivity. But when I wake, nothing has changed. Everything around me is as it was, just slightly more unfamiliar. The disappointment scratches at my soul, scars my heart, and heavies my bones. It prods my heart with sharp jolts, and I know I’m awake. It was not a dream. This is my world. This is our world. But together, some day, we will do what is right and just… we will embrace and shed our tears because our love is true and good.

 

But it doesn’t stop me wishing. I wish I had taken you more times up Mount Kanuki to collect flowers and create more necklaces. I wish we had driven up to that park beyond Gyoshu High School, where we both believed we’d seen Totoro… just one more glimpse of Totoro together. Instead of going to the park with Riku every afternoon to throw the Frisbee, I wish we had gone twice a day. I wish we’d walked along the beach at Numazu more, collecting flotsam and throwing a stick for Riku.

 

Instead of reading just three books every night before bed, I wish we had read six. I wish you were asleep in my arms, your head resting perfectly against my shoulder, the smell of your freshly shampooed hair bringing me an inner smile. Your little heart beating against mine. I wish you were asleep in the next room, just like you used to when we visited Nandee and Pa… whenever you were close, Dad too slept more deeply. I wish you could somehow gauge the love I feel for you, because somehow because we’re apart my love for you has multiplied itself exponentially!! It’s unquantifiable and definitely inexhaustible… Can I ever run out of love for you… never, it’s perfectly impossible.

 

So, Dad is in Melbourne with Nandee & Pa. I’ve been Skyping with C, and it seems freezing in Tokyo right now… I hope you’re warm as toast and cradling a hot chocolate with extra marshmallows! It’s cooler here in Melbourne now, but it hit a gruesome 43 degrees Celsius today!

 

I miss you Phi, more and more as every year passes. More as every star passes. More as every sun sets. Sometimes I can block out the heartache. Sometimes I can try and ignore the precious moments in each other’s lives that we’re unable to share. Occasionally I forget what it was like being able to hear you breathe… Magical. To watch you sleep, so content, so beautiful, so pure, so loved… Magical.

 

I see a child laugh as you did. I glimpse a child smile as you did. I smell something that triggers a memory of you, and my defenses collapse. You’re everywhere in my world Phi, and yet you’re not beside me. I smell the buttery crispness of sausage rolls, and picture you and Pa giggling with your sausage rolls… a little tomato sauce lingers on your lips. I drive past the playground in Bayswater where I took you to play, and the only image I take with me is a lonely swing gently swaying in the breeze. I see a random kid in a café with a babycinno, and my mind drifts to the warm milk moustache you used to love showing after your first sip. Do you drink coffee? I hope not, and I hope you’re still too young for a coffee when we do meet again.

 

But it is also in the deeds of children who are nothing like you that I think of you. It’s in the child who throws a tantrum, that I think of your goodness; it’s in the child who is overtired and whimpering, that I feel your resilience; and it’s in the child who greedily snatches more than their share, that I recall your sense of fairness and generosity.

 

CIMG2107

Your cousins & uncles

Pretty much everyday now, I see your cousins. Luca & Billie, Allie & Christopher. They’ve all become beautiful kids, cousins that love, and cousins that would love to love you. Family is family. It’s so beautiful to see them at play together. There’s a bond, a connection, that makes them one, and yet somehow, there’s something missing… quite obviously, it’s you.

 

CIMG2113

Xmas with your cousins in years to come

I feel it most through Allie. She’s become very close to me, very personable, respectful and generous. She’s family, enough said. Allie loves you. She feels the injustice of not being able to see you, her cousin. I feel her warmth, her care, and her desire to do what she can to bring you back into our family, your family. Some years ago she even wrote to the Family Court in Japan to tell them how unfair she thought it was that your mother wouldn’t let you see your cousins. She misses you Phi, so do I, so too Nandee & your Pa. We all miss you Phi… that’s why it’s so hard to be home, because everyone clings to the hope that there may be some news… so they ask, because they care… but there’s no new news of you.

 

Anyway Phi, the Search Associates Melbourne Job Fair started today. There’s only a select group of schools we’re interested in: United Nations Hanoi IS, Phnom Penh IS, Yangon IS & St. Josephs IS Singapore. It would seem however, that our choices will be less than this small group of four. St. Josephs aren’t advertising any elementary positions, and Hanoi only has PE, while it looks like Yangon are only employing teaching couples at this stage; the head in Yangon says it’s financially too much to employ single teachers, or those with a trailing spouse because it’s costing them some $60,000 per year in rental per apartment… sounds hard to believe, but apparently true. Anyway, we’ll see what tomorrow brings when the schools open up for interviews.

 

The last time I wrote to you, Allie sat beside me, and added bits and pieces from time to time… since then, it’s just been nice being around your grandparents every morning. I’ve been running four or five times. I go early, probably a legacy of jetlag, in fact the first morning was still dark when I dusted off my old jogging shoes. Slow but sure. There’s something invigorating about running at dawn while the world sleeps on… while you dream, I conjure images of you… they help me run the hills harder!

 

When I get back, sweaty and huffing, but feeling great, because most of my run I think of you, the newspaper has been delivered. So as I’m opening up The Age (Dad’s favorite newspaper) for a good read, Nandee & Pa come to life… so too does Lucy, Sean & Lauren’s dog who is staying over while they go camping in Northern NSW. Lucy sleeps in Pa & Nandee’s room and potters out for a sticky beak as I prepare the coffee. Pa gets up first and begins to make fresh juice of apple, carrot, celery, orange, and other bits and pieces. I know you would like making the juice with Pa. He selects his fruits, then usually heads to the backyard to cut some mint and perhaps some celery from the vegetable garden. I can just see the two of you washing the dirt off. Then your dear Nandee gets up and has her juice. Wouldn’t it be great to sip juice with Nandee… you could squeeze in beside her and she’d tell you all the news.

 

We chat, but not as much as I suspect Nandee desires. With Pa I feel there is a comfortable silence. I don’t need to talk with Pa. I love him and respect his quiet stoic ways. I talk with Nandee of C, and what the day holds, but only in basic terms. I know I don’t talk as much as I used to. People don’t seem to realize half on me is missing. Nobody does. I have to be guarded because I don’t want their pity… but I know I’m brittle and hard, and not entirely with it emotionally. I can’t talk about you… not with anyone really, not until you return. Perhaps then I’ll find what’s missing in my soul.

 

Self-pity and tears are near, so I’ll instead try and remember what I’ve been up to…

 

On December 30th we met at Uncle Rich’s for a pool party. All your cousins were there… it was warming yet in many ways hard to watch their playful kinship. In the afternoon, Billie & Luca jumped in Nandee’s red Hyundai and I had a sleep over at Sean’s. We had a kick of the footy in the same park that Uncle Sean was bitten by the tiger snake! Crazy times, because it’s not the area you would expect a snake to be, especially a tiger snake. The grass was short, and there weren’t any bushes for the snake to find cover in.

 

Billie played footy too, so would have you… For dinner we all had fish ‘n’ chips and before we knew it, it was 10pm and time for some sleep.

 

On the 31st Dad went for a run with Sean, and Billie came part of the way on her bicycle. Even tiger snakes can’t slow Uncle Sean down. He ran effortlessly, just gliding along. I tried to slow him down a bit by throwing in some x-training, some push-ups and chin-ups… didn’t work too well, he’s plenty fit.

 

On my way back to Nandee & Pa’s that afternoon, I dropped into Bridge Road… it used to be a shopper’s haven, but it’s showing wear and tear; even so, I bought a cool pair of maroon shoes for $100 off, only ending up paying $40. Your Dad might be 46 years old, but he still enjoys looking dapper now and then.

Your cousins mixing it up on the trampoline...

Your cousins mixing it up on the trampoline…

 

On the final evening of the year, Pat & Pete (my HS mate’s parents – Tim Lawson) came for dinner. It was so wonderful to see them, and to see how they lifted Nandee’s spirits. It was just like old times and I would have gladly just stayed and chatted all evening. Then around 9pm, it was over to Ralph’s for a little New Year cheer… but I was home in time to Skype C at 11:30pm.

 

I can’t remember what I did on NY’s day… isn’t that terrible! Actually, I think Uncle Jeff, Tony & Margot, and Maur came over for a BBQ. Of course your cousins were here too, and they put on a show on the trampoline… there was just one part of their show missing… you.

Your cousins Allie & Christopher...

Your cousins Allie & Christopher…

 

And yesterday, January 2nd it was back to Uncle Rich’s for a swim with your cousins… it was a hot 37 degrees Celsius. In the evening I had dinner with Mick Tarulli, my old high school running mate in Box Hill, Vietnamese.

 

And tonight, Vietnamese again for Marty’s birthday, that’s Ralph’s brother. It was nice to see Marty and his family, as it seems each time I’m home he’s on holidays somewhere.

Chris & Allie with some of your Xmas gifts...

Chris & Allie with some of your Xmas gifts…

 

Good night Bella… I miss you, and wish you were here jumping in Uncle Rich’s pool with your cousins.

 

Dad… XoXo…

 

BTW, you can email me any time you like at: moriceg@hotmail.com or gedmorice@gmail.com

 

WICKED QUOTES

  • Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light (Jennie Jerome Churchill)

DO YOU REMEMBER…

  • You used to love being the toban (class leader for a day) at Katoh Kindergarten. It was so great to chat with you about your responsibilities at breakfast, and then again at the end of your day as leader. So proud of you Bella!

 

Monday, January 12th 2015

 

Good evening Phi,

 

By now you would have received (I hope) a little package of Christmas Cheer from Dad. While in Australia I bought you a silver necklace with a silver horseshoe. I hope you like it. I hope it brings you strength of mind. I hope it comforts your soul, and I hope it revives warm memories. I love you. I popped it in a postal bag and posted it along with a cool drink bottle from Aunty Rach & Uncle Rich to you.

Did you like it Phi...

Did you like it Phi…

 

Right now I’m sitting in Bangkok International Airport, awaiting my flight back to Dubai – Cairo. It’s been a successful trip, with your Dad signing with Hong Kong International School. Our plan is to be in Hong Kong for the next five years, and return to Japan for the 2020 Olympics. You’re 12 now, so in 5 years you’ll be 17… I wonder if you contact me while we’re in HK… here’s my email address just in case you’re reading along: moriceg@hotmail.com

 

What do you think about Hong Kong? It’s very cosmopolitan, and apparently very mountainous and beautiful. I think I’m going to like the environment. Evidently there are great trails I can run along, some good mountains to keep me young and fit, and of course a bustling Asian city of myriad delights.

 

So, let’s cast our minds back and try and remember what your Dad’s been doing. On January 4th I had dinner with Julie & Wayne, my principal and head at CAC. Crazy prices in Melbourne, so much more expensive than Tokyo, as I had a $9.50 beer!

 

On January 5th I picked up my new passport in downtown Melbourne. The last time I renewed a passport, it was yours… I guess that’s expiring this year too… I hope together we can have an Australian passport reissued soon. And on this day, I dropped into a shopping centre and bought your necklace. As soon as I saw it, I knew it had to be. It was the fourth shop I had entered, and each time I told the assistant what I wanted. I wanted silver, I wanted it to be simple and not too flashy, I wanted it to look pure and perfect, like you. That evening we had a family bbq minus Sean et al, who were holidaying north.

 

On my last morning in Melbourne, the 6th, I posted your necklace to Japan up at Ringwood East post office. My bags were packed. I tried to chat with my mum, your amazing Nandee. She’s been so strong for me, in so many ways. She was even out in the garden for a little bit, as if to prove to me she was okay. I hope she’s okay. When I’m so far away from her, as I always am, a small part of me can’t help but wonder, will I see her again. She’s fragile, yet energetic. She’s alone, yet surrounded by Pa’s brilliant love. She’s vulnerable, yet bold.

 

By just after midday I was at the airport with Pa for my flight to Bangkok at 2:40pm. There were no tears, but we both knew how hard it was to say “goodbye” again. That evening I landed about 8pm and took a train to the end of the line, then an 80 baht taxi to Win Long Place Hotel.

 

Oh, by the way, Phnom Penh IS offered me a position when I was back in Melbourne. Very kindly they gave me almost a week to think it over.

 

On January 7th your Dad had his first of three interviews with HKIS.

 

On the 8th a second, and third interview, and then finally an offer from HKIS. Just minutes before the HKIS offer, I had great interview with ISZL (Switzerland). Chinami arrived around 9:30pm that evening and we ummed and arred about Hong Kong or Switzerland.

 

On the morning of January 9th Dad accepted the offer with HKIS. Happy days, and then alongside C we began shopping and sightseeing. My first port of call was celebratory, time for your Dad to go to a tailor for a suit & 4 shirts! Wait till you see them, pretty flash Phi! That evening we had dinner at Harmonique, a lovely outdoor restaurant that I visited less than 12 months ago with teachers who I had attended the NESA Reading Conference with.

On the 10th I had another fitting for the shirts and suit, and then dinner again at Harmonique with Julie & Brian.

 

And yesterday, the 11th C left for Japan.

 

My flight is creeping up, the 8:40pm flight to Dubai… time to stretch these aching legs and my numb bum. See you in 2015 I hope!

 

Love always,

 

Your Dad.

 

WICKED QUOTES

  • Grief can take care of itself, but to get the true value of joy, you must have somebody to divide it with (Mark Twain)

DO YOU REMEMBER…

  • You were in Plum Class in K3 at Katoh Kindergarten… you turned 6 that October

 

Saturday, January 31st 2015

 

Hey Bella, the news from Japan says that snow fell over Tokyo & Yokohama last night. I imagine my wonderful daughter waking to silence but sensing something glistening white fell to the Earth through the night. Did you tip-toe across to peek from your curtains? Did you pull just a slither of the curtain to see if the ground was blanketed in pure snow, or did you tear the curtains wide open anticipation that fresh, pure, white greeting?

 

My morning wasn’t so exciting, although I guess I could argue it was interesting. Before heading to Hong Kong before my next job, it’s likely I’ll need to do a “police check” here in Egypt, so when the school offered to take teachers who are finishing their contracts in June, I joined the party. There was seven of us moving on, so one of the security guys from CAC chaperoned us to the big Maadi Police Station. It was quite the fortress, with several security checks before we managed to get anywhere near the inner sanctum. The police have had a lot of trouble in terms of bombs over the past 3 years. They’re quite the target (I guess because they themselves are very heavy handed). There were several security checks, and all in all it only took about an hour, and then I did some grading back in my classroom.

 

And now I’m sitting here biting my nails as Australia are playing South Korea in the Asian Cup Final (soccer). I don’t really follow the soccer, but I take a bit of notice if Australia makes the final. What about you? Do you support the Japanese soccer team in their bright blue shirts? It was 1 – 0 for the longest time, and then incredibly in the 91st minute (the first minute of 3 minutes of overtime, the South Koreans scored the equalizer).

 

Now they’re into the second half of two 15 minute extra time halves; Australia have gone to a 2 – 1 lead… Australia WIN! Oh, Phi, wouldn’t it be great to dance together like nobody is watching… wait a moment, who cares, if the world sees a Dad & his daughter dancing!

 

Love you GORGEOUS!

 

WICKED QUOTES

  • Don’t worry about senility, when it hits you, you won’t know it (Bill Cosby)

DO YOU REMEMBER?

  • We used to visit Mike Bostwick & Yukari in Yugawara. They had grand views of the ocean, but your favourite pastime was playing with their Labradors, Max & Hannah

 

Friday, February 13th 2015

 

Happy Valentine’s Day Phi. Are you creating any Valentine’s chocolates this evening for someone special?? What’s his name?

 

Last night we went to the JP embassy to watch a special screening of Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky, I think it’s called Laputa in Japanese. It was his first major release, and a great tale of the importance of caring for Mother Earth. I think I’ve seen it before, but I’m so forgetful these days, I couldn’t really remember the plot. In any case, it was nice to get out, but I was hoping they’d have some onigiri and Sapporo beer… no such luck.

 

Last Thursday we took Jan & Beth to Zentro, an Asian fusion restaurant for Beth’s birthday. It was their first experience eating sashimi, but unfortunately not a memorable dining event. The sashimi had most likely been frozen a considerable time and was subsequently quite bland and tasteless. Even so, we had a lovely evening with our dear American/Swedish friends. They were our first neighbors and Cairo, and just beautiful, welcoming, embracing people. Beth has found a job in Chennai, India, so already we’re planning on visiting them; most likely as soon as Christmas 2015.

 

And this past week, particularly Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, the desert has fallen out of the sky. The pollution combined with the winds whipping up the dust and sand have proved chaotic. Apparently much of the orange that has filled the air is from the Northern reaches of the Sahara Desert. It’s engulfed much of Libya and the Sinai (beside the Red Sea) too. Wednesday I had 6 kids absent or leave school early largely because of the putrid air. Our eyes are stinging, and we’re all coughing with itchy throats.

 

And tonight we’re off to Azarea’s for dinner. I’m craving her handmade pizza, so I hope it’s an Italian feast! Wanna join us? You’d love Aza, and particularly her pets; it’s like a zoo! She has her own cat, Bailey, who is a real-life version of Garfield. He has heaps of personality and bosses the two dogs around like he’s the general of Cairo. And then there’s Jasper, a tiny white dog who likely thinks he’s a human and all but ignores all other dogs. In addition to her own animals, Azarea is usually rescuing animals off the street. In most situations they are puppies or kittens that need a cuddle from you! I can just see you learning so many things from Azarea and becoming her veterinary apprentice.

 

Anyway Phi, time for a shower & a shave… see you soon buddy! Love Dad. XoXo…

 

WICKED QUOTES

  • It is hard for those who have never been to a Third World Country to imagine the degree of poverty in which human beings can live and love and laugh and have their being… we must realize… that the people who live there are not members of some strange tribe or race from another world, but that they are people who feel hunger and cold and weariness, just as we do (Shiela Cassidy)

STRANGE BUT TRUE

  • I had my first kiss when I was 14 years old… it wasn’t very memorable… perhaps I should have practiced on my arm more!! Did you know that a person is exposed to around 500 bacteria when kissing? Too embarrassing Phi? Yeah, I know, your Dad is a bit of a goofy one…

 

Tuesday, February 17th 2015

 

Hey Angel, how’s the winter in sunny Saitama treating you? Did you know that my first train station in Japan was Musashifujisawa… I think it’s the same local station for you?? If I ran from my humble abode, I could be at the station in 60 seconds, but usually 3 minutes was enough to walk there. When I think about it, it was a terrible apartment, probably made of asbestos! It was one room, no heating or A/C, no shower/bath, no hot water, and a piddly squat toilet.

 

When I first arrived in Japan at 22, I came with some of my savings, and had a vague understanding of how key money/real estate agents worked. I only checked a few apartments, but wasn’t quite prepared to fork out some 5+ months rent before even moving in to my shelter. Needless to say, I chose the cheapest apartment shown to me, and didn’t/couldn’t negotiate on price. And you know what, it’s meager fixtures didn’t worry me at all. Bonus trivia: my neighbor was in the Yakuza (complete with three partial fingers after he’d been made to cut them off at the joints), and he was pretty much the only Japanese neighbor to be friendly with me… fun times! His wife even helped me prepare for Halloween one year!

 

This afternoon we skipped regular meetings at school and had a welcome wellness afternoon. Dad did an awesome aerobic class with Sarah Harman (she’s the wonderful Aussie lass Dad coached x-country with), then your old man ran 45min. Feel tired but good!

 

What crazy weather we’ve been having! Is Saitama succumbing to global warming too? Last Wednesday the desert fell out of the sky, and then Sunday it was freezing and it rained… well kind of. Monday we woke to thick, thick fog. Upon arriving at school one couldn’t see the trees less than 50m away! If you changed the weather setting in a movie like we’ve just experienced, your audience would be thinking, that’s so unrealistic. But it’s happening, and still the conservatives in the US and our own countries remain climate skeptics.

 

Saturday we went to Carre Four (the big French supermarket chain here in Cairo) and bought loads of gourmet cheese. It was Valentine’s Day. C gave me some cologne, and I gave her some Swiss chocola & a big bunch of flowers. Of course Dad ate far too much cheese and wound up sick. Just as well Sunday (long weekend) was a holiday because I didn’t get out of bed until midday.

 

Hope your Valentine’s Day was better & healthier! Your Valentine always, Dad… XoXo…

 

CRAZY QUESTIONS

  • What are your memories of me? All the world is queer save the & me, and even thou art a little queer (Robert Owen)

DO YOU REMEMBER?

  • The first time I ever took you to McDonald’s you vomited. We were looking to move houses and the real estate agent was near McDonald’s. You had fries, a tiny bit of a cheeseburger and some corn soup… Naughty Dad hadn’t prepared a bento, so McChuckers it was… bad decision Dad!

 

Thursday, February 26th 2015

 

Hi Phi, another blackout in our part of Maadi, Cairo. It’s 7:45pm, and I’m sitting here in the living room with five candles writing to you. We were lucky, C was just finishing preparing dinner when the electricity went. It’s not even cold, so I imagine very few people are using their A/C’s for heating purposes; even so this part of the electricity grid is switched off. It’s the end of the week, and we have another 3-day weekend to look forward to, but I imagine much of it will be spent at my desk at school finishing off student reports… busy, BUSY!

 

On Tuesday we bade farewell to Nathalie, Dad’s colleague from Saint Maur, Yokohama, who now teaches at an International School in Istanbul. Nat San arrived Saturday around midday, so after a sandwich we jumped on the metro and ventured into Ataba (downtown Cairo) and the Khan (oldest bazaar in the world). Sunday I went back to the classroom, so C took our guest to the pyramids. You could have gone too… three lasses on their camels at the Giza pyramids!!!

 

The Friday evening before Nathalie arrived we had dinner with our JP connection. Takeshi introduced us to Kozue San, and an American/Egyptian women who spent some time studying in Japan. It was a nice evening, and Dad even managed to wheel out his rusty Japanese.

 

Sunday night we took Nat to a South American restaurant; the owners are from Ecuador. Very tasty!

 

Next Wednesday Milton arrives, and Thursday Dad will be checking out some potential candidates for a coaching position on the track team. Rather exciting. There will be four of us coaching track & field, and Dad is the head coach… cool bananas hey!

 

Tomorrow, the ES school put on a production of The Wizard of Oz… I wonder if you would have had a role…

 

I love you… Dad… XoXo…

 

WICKED QUOTES

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

DO YOU REMEMBER?

  • We used to read “Never Ride your Elephant to School” over & over. You loved the part where the elephant gets creative in Art class and plasters the teacher with paint… fancy another read?

 

Sunday, March 1st 2015

 

G’day, g’day Phi-Fai-Fo-Fum,

How’s things? Three-day weekend here, which is nice, especially the little sleep-in this morning. We’re readying ourselves for our move to Hong Kong, getting moving quotes, checking on quarantine regulations for Toro, visas, police checks, and a hundred other educational documents that need checking and rechecking by different authorities. We had the fourth & final estimate for a shipping company to Hong Kong take a look at our belongings this morning, and in a moment Dad’s heading to the dentist for a check/clean. Wish me luck! How are your teeth doing?

 

QUICK TIP: Ensure you brush after each meal, and especially after all the candy your mother seems to give you. Be vigilant of your sparkly white teeth; you only get one set of adult teeth! Brush your teeth systematically, both sides, and the top, and it’s a good idea to use floss daily! Moreover, pay for your own dental bills as soon as you’re 18; that’s what Nandee & Pa did for us, and it definitely ensured you properly cared for dental hygiene. I’m expecting a big beautiful smile, and beautifully cared for teeth when we meet!

Milton arrives from Tokyo Wednesday, and Tim flies in from China Wednesday week, so it should be a bit of fun. I can feel a boys’ weekend coming on! We just said goodbye to Nathalie (French colleague from Saint Maur, Yokohama) Tuesday. We had a great time, and Chinami enjoyed showing Nathalie around and using her French.

Last night we had a couple of drinks with a Sydney couple, Rick & Sarah. They suggested a good Nile Cruise, so we think we might do just that during our April Break. And shortly, we’re also off to Istanbul; me for the writing conference, and C will see quite a bit of Nathalie (above guest), as she now resides there. Then off to Brussels with the athletics’ squad in late May. Fun international life… just one piece in my jigsaw missing… YOU!

Love you now and always… thinking of you now and forever… Dad… XoXoXoXo… xoxo…

 

STRANGE BUT TRUE

  • We both live in the Northern Hemisphere, less than 50km apart… but I rarely see you. Did you know that 75% of all countries are north of the equator?

WICKED QUOTES

  • A clear conscience laughs at false accusations (unknown)

Sunday, March 15th, 2015.

Here’s a letter that I placed in an enveloped and addressed to you in Iruma, Saitama, Japan. Along with it I enclosed a gift and a little spending money (5000 yen). You’re on your way to Junior High School, so you might like to buy some special stationery. Milton will personally take the package back to Japan and post it for me. Hope it arrives in your precious hands soon… XoXo…

Hey Phi,

It’s Sunday, March 15th, 2015. This gift to you comes all the way from Cairo, Egypt. Dad is here with C, Milton, and Tim. You’ve met them all and they fondly remember you. CIMG2390

I’m including a small handmade bag that is made by the “zabaleen”. The zabaleen are this amazing group of Egyptian people that basically collect rubbish and recycle it in so many wonderful ways. Inside the bag is a little gift of 5000 yen to say congratulations on graduating from Elementary School. Perhaps you can buy some matching jewelry for the horseshoe necklace I sent to you at Christmas 2014.

I can’t quite believe you’ll be graduating any day now. I remember attending your opening ceremony when you were just about to start grade one… those skinny Morice legs in your navy blue sailor uniform… how time flies.CIMG2331

Yesterday we flew into Cairo from Jordan. We hiked in the mountains of Petra… one of the most incredible places I have ever been to. We also visited the Dead Sea, some 400 meters below sea level! It was actually used for part of the setting for the first Indian Jones movie.

CIMG2293Anyway Gorgeous, all the very best at your graduation, and if you feel like contacting Dad, send us a mail at: moriceg@hotmail.com

Love always,

Dad.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

  • When Dad was your age he thought when your leg “went to sleep”, that’s exactly what it meant. One time I was doing my homework at the bench and I jumped up to grab some milk from the fridge and my leg went to sleep. I sat down very gently and quietly on the kitchen floor and let my leg have a much needed sleep

STRANGE BUT TRUE

  • Dad interviewed Hatem for the fourth coaching position with the CAC Track & Field Team. Lovely modest guy, and it turns out he represented Egypt at the 2000 Sydney Olympics! He was in the long jump, and has a PB (personal best) of 8.31 meters! Phenomenal! Welcome aboard Hatem!

WICKED QUOTES

  • Friendship is far more tragic than love… it lasts longer (Oscar Wilde)

 

Friday, March 20th 2015

Ophelia, greetings from abroad once again! I’m at a NESA Teacher Conference learning a trick or two about contemporary educational directions. You’ll never guess where I am… Istanbul! YEAH, TWICE IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS! There’s about 10 of us here from CAC for 4 nights, 5 days. And better still, C joined us and is off playing with our French friend, Nathalie, who is a resident here. The only problem is that Dad feels quite sickly, and isn’t sure he’ll be even able to attend day 02 of the conference tomorrow (Saturday).

 

So, Istanbul, WOW, what a city. You will love it. It feels safe; it’s a vibrant rich of Europe & Asia; it’s a foodies paradise,;it culture and history draws you into the city,;and it actually has a public transport system that works. We’re staying in the extraordinary Taksim again, right off the main boulevard set up especially for walkers, day and night. We’re close to the conference (Hilton), eateries, bars, Nathalie’s, the ferries, and Taksim Tower. Perfect… let’s meet here soon!

Oh, last weekend Phi was absolutely incredible… I had a boys’ weekend in Jordan with Tim & Milton. I had a three day weekend, so we flew out Wednesday night and arrived in Amman around midnight. At the airport we were met by a driver who drove through the night (some four hours) to Petra… oh, what a place! Petra is elevated, so the fog and the clouds very nearly had the better of our sleepy driver (and us) as he inexpertly maneuvered the winding passes in the dark up to Petra’s 1000 meters above sea level.

 

There are some places in the world that you will just have to visit some day… Cairo is not one of them, but Petra definitely is! Astonishing natural beauty, with a history to match the magic splendor of the setting. Ironically, once again being an Islamic country, we couldn’t find any alcohol for the first two nights, so tea and shawma it was for our boys’ weekend… LOL! So much for a few drinks with your mates!

 

Day 01 we hiked down to the Treasury, marveling at the long narrow passage that led us there; apparently it was the result of an earthquake that opened the Earth up making it even more remarkable… divine intervention??? Sharp shards of light find there way down the deep winding passage making for spectacular scenes. We wandered further down the valley, and then Dad took a side-track to the top for some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever had in my 46 years on this planet. Unfortunately, Uncle Tim (Tim Lawson) wrenched his shoulder and appeared to be in quite a bit of pain.

 

That first evening was a pretty non-descript sort of evening… no beer, no wine, and definitely no whisky; no boisterous laughter with my mates. In fact we were all rather exhausted so we were rather early to bed after the rather draining previous night’s drive up to Petra.

 

Nether the less, Day 02, and Dad was up early for a 50 minute run. I ran back down the valley to the ticket office, but without my passport they initially wouldn’t let me in. Finally they okayed it, and I ran past the first tourists of the day already on their way. Before long I was my way to the Treasury once again. I was the first of the tourists to reach the treasury, and had the golden sun highlighting this monumental temple all to myself. Quite a special moment. It was a little further than I had expected, so I could have done with a running buddy to urge me back up the valley… do you think you can keep up with Dad??? I bet you’re not far off…

 

DID YOU KNOW…

Petra’s Treasury Temple was one of the famous scenes in the first Indiana Jones movie.

 

After breakfast (I think Tim dragged us back for chicken shawma again), Milton & I hiked back down again. Tim’s shoulder hadn’t allowed him much sleep, and he opted to stay at the hotel and rest. Dad took a longer circuitous route to the Cathedral where we met, and then we hiked back out to meet the injured Tim. Again the views were breathtaking, and even alone I had such a magic time scrambling up and over rock faces. It’s the sort of place I would gladly go back to, and the sort of setting where I would love to have a pack on my back, a tent, a sleeping mat, and some food to cook by the fire in the evening.

 

From Petra we drove to the Dead Sea, then onward to Amman. The capital was a pleasant surprise, with good dining, and quite a bit to see and do. We visited the Coliseum and the Citadel on our final morning before flying back to Cairo about 6pm.

 

Let’s go to Petra some day soon! My treat! I love you Bella! Dad… XoXo… and loads more kisses & hugs!

 

STRANGE BUT TRUE

  • The two mechanics across from us at our first house in Numazu, Kita San & Miura San remember you as the most beautiful princess I’m sure. You were especially fond of Miura San… let’s go and meet them again some day!

WICKED QUOTES

  • I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday, and I love today (William Allen White)

 

Friday, March 27th 2015

 

G’day again Phi. Yesterday Erin Scott & Nico arrived. Erin is 26 now, but I first met Erin when she was a grade 6 student at Templestowe Park Primary School. 15 years later she has visited me three times abroad. The first time she visited both you and me in Numazu (do you remember… I’ll have to dig out some photos). At that time she was a HS exchange student in Chiba. The second time, was just a couple of years ago when she visited Dad & Chinami in Tokyo. On that occasion she was a graduate student at Tsukuba University. It’s lovely to see her again… tomorrow I’ll take her up to CAC and show her my photo board… her G6 class features, and so do you Gorgeous!

Today we took them to Coptic Cairo after they eventually woke up… I’d forgotten how young people love to sleep in. They crawled out of bed at around 10:30am. We had a lovely day reminiscing and talking about Australia, Japan, and how Erin is now teaching English in Spain.

Gotta run… Dad… XoXo…

 

Sunday, March 29th 2015

Hey Phi, yesterday Erin & Nico went off to the pyramids, and I went to coach track at the American University here in Cairo. Beautiful facility, but of course no shade, so it was bright and hot, hot, HOT! I had two boys vomiting because of dehydration. In the afternoon your uncles & I got together with 8 chaps from Melbourne, Sydney, Yokohama, and of course Cairo for our annual fantasy football draft.

 

This week, one of Nandee’s aunts, Aunty Peg passed away. In some ways it was fitting that she went out with another Aussie stalwart, Malcolm Fraser, a former prime minister of Australia. Ironically he was the leader of the conservative Liberal party. When Dad was a child he came to power, and he was the devil incarnate in our left-wing family. And yet over the years he mellowed, drifted away from his conservative political views and set about making Australia a more egalitarian society. Aunty Peg as I remember, and Malcolm Fraser were both strong in stature, both so full of dignity & humanity, and both of them were loved for their genuineness & presence.

When I recall Peg, I think of someone who gave you all of her attention. Even as a kid, she seemed such a good listener. I’m sure you would have loved her too. She focused on you and made you feel that what you had to say was equally important to any adult banter in the same room. She seemed intelligent, yet humble. I know Nandee will miss her…

I read some of the tributes to Malcolm Fraser on my beloved Age (not dearly so beloved nor enchanted anymore). Four decades after the tumultuous Whitlam Vs. Fraser battles, curiously I can’t think of a better person to govern our landscape. He had Peg’s intelligence & wit, and he also had a better Australia in mind.

One article described a group of former Vietnamese refugees quietly huddled outside Fraser’s funeral holding placards to thank the former prime minister for the egalitarian society he endeavored to carve… it very nearly brought me to tears. Who else in power recognises minorities, even when they’re our hard working neighbors?

I love/d the way Nandee & Pa welcome/d new Australians. As a kid it warmed my heart to see how openly your grandparents embraced the Vietnamese up at the monastery, the Costa Ricans at Saint Francis, and more recently the Burmese. Such civility, such warmth, such togetherness. Your Aussie grandparents are truly wonderful ambassadors! We must thank them for giving us this multicultural spirit and awareness that is such a central theme to our lives.

Last night I read an article based on Peter Greste. He was the Australian journalist locked up in Tora Prison here in Cairo. Greste thanked Julie Bishop (Australia’s Foreign Minister) for what she did to secure his release from an Egyptian prison. He referred to her fondly & not unkindly as the Terminator. He was incarcerated for reporting on both sides of the story here on my doorstep. I often ran around the prison where he was locked in a cell. Eerie.

But what Peter said next blew me away. He asked our own government, why don’t journalists in Australia have access to our very own inhumane detention centres… mind-blowing! Australia, 2015, and still we don’t have access to the truth. Too many parallels with Egypt’s shut-down mentality.

Again, it was Fraser, and is Adam Bandt who have led this fight. But why so few of today’s leaders (Australian/Japanese) won’t stand up for what is right?

Oh, I wish Uncle Sean would get back into politics! Our country needs him.

Love Dad… XoXo…

 

DO YOU REMEMBER…

  • We used to practice riding the bicycle on the weekend in the Suruga Bank’s car park diagonally opposite our home in Numz

CRAZY QUESTIONS

  • What’s outside of space?

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