Wednesday, 30 July 2014


It is Eid al-Fitr as I am sure you know. This means that the fasting through Ramadan is over,
people visit their families, and there are celebrations in the community. Apparently in some countries this is celebrated on just one day, but here it seems to be a mighty three days. There are special prayers and ceremonies.

We have one large mosque here in Darwin and on Fridays it is common to see men in their white clothes after they have visited for prayers. They also have a big hall for community events. I admit I do not know very much about the system or practices but everything seems to run pretty smoothly around here. The Islamic Society of Darwin runs a Weekend School which educates their children in the religion, rather like Sunday School.You can see some photos at this site:  and

My husband has been trying to learn Indonesian for years and years. He now has a tutor who comes to our home and gives him personalised instruction once a week. Pak Ewan is a really nice person and a very devout Muslim. He interrupts his lesson to pray. This suits my husband quite well as Michael was educated in Roman Catholic schools. Lots of praying there too. So Ewan has travelled home to Indonesia for a while to be with his family at this important time.

If your community is a little plainer than mine, you might find this interesting. It is worthwhile finding out a bit more, because lately we are hearing horrible stories on the News about Muslim people. Not everyone is like that. People are people.

Monday, 28 July 2014

What is normal?

After my last post Shirley wrote in a comment, "What is normal?"
Shirley writes at

Shirley is a lovely person as I am sure you will realise after you read a few of her posts. She lives in a country town in the USA and I think she was one of ten children. She met and married her sweetheart and they continued to live in the same area. They raised a family and now there are some grandchildren. Shirley loves her husband but they must live apart because he is not well enough to live at home. Heartbreak. The nursing home is not quite as good as Shirley would like and much time and effort is spent in attempting to improve hubby's level of care. It must be exhausting driving for hours almost every day to do this. The grandsons also take a lot of time and attention, although this is always a pleasure. I thoroughly enjoy reading about those boys. Shirley does hand embroidery for clients and sells some in an Etsy shop. Until recently she also worked at a sawmill.
So Shirley's life is busy, loving, careful, and not what she imagined it might be.

What is normal for me? What is normal for Shirley? What is normal for you?

No, I do not remember where this originated.
If it is your work then I am happy to acknowledge it.
For me normal is being in my own home and among the objects that carry memories. Normal is fussing over my cat who wants to eat at all hours but must stick to her diet. Normal is eating home prepared meals because I do not like salt added to my food. Normal is wishing I was gorgeous but not putting quite enough effort into fighting the signs of aging and lifestyle. Normal is fiddling about on my computer, studying, tutoring, and staying in touch with people I care about. Normal is hearing my husband snore vigorously as I try to go to sleep. Normal is realising that I am very lucky to live here where I can look out and see a beautiful tropical harbour and interesting ships going about their work. Normal for me is rarely getting everything finished and then regretting my poor time management. Normal is sometimes spending time feeling sorry for myself, and later feeling ashamed because I know many people have hugely more difficult things to deal with.

My life has returned to normal after a truly wonderful holiday. Yes, there are bills and expenses because I have made mistakes with my computer. Aaargh!!! Yes, it is up to me to make things happen here. Yes, my studies are a bit too hard. Yes, the cat comes to talk to me if I sit on the toilet! Yes, the meals are a bit ordinary at our place and I like it like that. Yes, all these factors combine to prove I am alive and not a character in a novel or film.
Perhaps I do not know another word for normal.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Restarting normal life

We are safely home again.

Flowers from
Three local people were on MH17.
We cruised along the Rhine and Danube on one of those Scenic Space Ships. Absolutely marvellous. I will write a bit about that later.

The trip home was marred by the MH17 fatality of course. How could that happen? We were travelling Malaysian Airlines and had previously been booked on that flight. One change and our lives are very different. We were already in the airport when we heard what had happened. Truly dreadful.

I am very thankful we are alive and had a safe trip.
I will write again when life is returns to normal.

Thursday, 3 July 2014


I am on holidays in Amsterdam.
Unbelievable indeed.
We flew from Darwin to Kuala Lumpur, had a day there and then flew to Amsterdam.

Kuala Lumpur was just lovely. This was new for us both. The plane got in quite early in the morning and we had a hotel room to use for the day before our late night flight. Beautiful hotel with tennis courts, football, volleyball, fabulous pool, a spa with all the trimmings, and the list could go on and on. We took a tour on one of those hop-on-hop-off buses and hopped off to see incredible shops. Hermes. Chanel. Louis Vuitton. etc.

Amsterdam is just a bit cooler than I was expecting it to be. OK, lots cooler. Neat. Clean. Interesting. We toured some canals. The Van Gogh Museum was wonderful. So was the Maritime Museum.  We have been to lots of interesting places. This is the world of the cyclist commuter. Here is a photo of my husband on the steps of the Science Centre. Actually, this is part of the roof.

Now we are cruising along the Rhine to Budapest. A very jolly holiday is before us.