Taking the Longest, Prettiest Ways Home ...

These days, I'm having trouble going any place in the city, ...now that I have a camera in my phone.  I can't resist trying to capture the city and so the direct path is never taken.

And then, these last two nights have been unprecedented in this life of mine.  The night owl I have always been has fallen into bed at 9pm, only to wake at 5 and leave early for my bus ... so that I can wander, slowly, through the city.

And getting home ... an unfolding of beautiful that makes the road home quite a long one.

Last night was quietly desperate, as I didn't quite have the right clothes on for the humid, cool evening air and I knew I needed to go change but ... just one more photograph.

The series above is a mix of morning, midday, and that 'just one more photograph' series last night.

This weekend promises to be full of good people again.  A family foto-shoot with friends I adore.  And an old friend arriving from Parma too.  And finally launching my 2017 photography workshops here in Genova, too.

But it's 6.30am, Friday.  I must dress and go wandering on my way to the bus ... 


Late Night, Weather Dancers ... music from Genova

2am and just in from listening to Nickel & Dime. What a delicious band. I had the loveliest time with good people, and great food, up at  at the Agriturismo called E Reixe.
Not sure how I'm going to sleep, and really, I need to. It's been a stunning few nights of music in Genova. 
Grazie mille to Paola, who let me hang out with her tonight, and Thursday night too. 
It was a good night. Really good.

Di Mackey, Facebook.  19 March, 2.16am.

There are a handful of songs, in this 'so far' life of mine, that I have played Endlessly ... on repeat.

This is the latest.  Two Genovese musicians I heard playing on Saturday night.  Ivo was playing with  the band - Nickel & Dime, and Luca played a few songs with them.  

I am enjoying Genova's music scene, so much.

Another Sunday Morning, in Genova, Italy

I woke slowly this morning, enjoying the sensation of being in a bed fitted with beautifully heavy white sheets that had belonged to a friend's grandmother, and thinking about how it is to wake up here in Genova.  The city I have loved for so long now.

On this quiet Sunday morning it felt a little like Christmas morning ...

I had my window open to the world outside and the church bells began ringing in the Sunday morning silence.  I wanted to sleep again but I couldn't.   I have too much I want to write ... of these past days and nights, and of my photography workshops for 2017.  I know i can share this city and my photography in ways I have never been able to offer them before.  They are my passions ... 

I was out last night (Thursday and Friday night too) but last night, listening to a band called Nickel & Dime at  the agriturismo called E Reixe.  E Reixe (Genovese for Roots) where we were served the most delicious food before the dining room became the concert venue.   

I was out until 1 am, like the previous two nights ... different friends, different music. 

The people I've met these last few days ...it's been remarkable.  But last night, the most striking thing was the love I saw there in the room. The band members are all friends, and they were having a really good time, as were those who joined the band and played or sang for a song or two.  And then there was the love between husbands and wives ... it shone, even managing to warm those like me, out there on the edge of it all.

Perhaps it's because I'm a photographer who loves to write, or perhaps it's simply my way of being but I enjoy quietly studying the people I meet.  It's like exploring a new country, although just as a tourist.  I only get to see what is there on the outside but last night seemed special, as people let this curious New Zealander question them, and tell her stories too.  

Those stories that feel like they get more surreal as the curve of my life expands and is lived in different countries ... as I live different lives.  

I have fallen into bad ways.  I've been using my phone camera to take photographs, enjoying the freedom and lightness of it but it's just not good enough. I just went through the photographs I've taken these last few nights but low light remains a problem.  It turns out ... phone cameras aren't magic wands and one must still observe the rules of photography and light.  Mmmhmm but it was a great night, with music that made me smile so hard, and good people.  I wandered off to youtube and found Nickel and Dime playing in another bar that I love - da Ostaia da U-Neo, over in Sestri Ponente.  I was there Thursday night.

But it's Sunday.  Let's see how it unfolds.  

10.15am, and the church bells are ringing again, louder ... and my bed is calling me back.  Just for a little bit.


The New Phone ...

I've finally done it.  I finally gave up on the phone I left Belgium with and, when replacing its little dead body, I inquired about phones with decent cameras ... not including iPhones.

And I think I've done well.  I'm entirely in love with this new machine so very necessary to my life, as people need to be able to contact me and that wasn't a given for a more than a year. But more than that, I have this lovely little machine that lets me take decent snapshots as I wander.

The series of photographs that begin this post ... Piazza De Ferrari's fountain lit up for the evening.  Then, Palazzo Ducale in yesterday's 7.30am sunrise light.  And the last, taken this morning around the same time, looking forward along Piazza Garibaldi. 

I love my morning walk and I'm rapt to be able to share a little of this city I love so well.

I share these photographs on Facebook.  Sometimes on my page, other times on my Genova page - Love Notes to Genoa.  

I had to smile ... the most feedback came for the leather shop photograph below.  People wanted to know the shop's location, and the price of the bags.  

They're exquisite, aren't they.

The church in the second set is surely my favourite church exterior here in the city.  I love seeing it in the morning ... the beautiful wash of colour, lit up by the sun, and so many of my favourite colours.

And last but not least, my current favourite cafe for aperitivo.  Il Fileo's is committed to both quality and quantity.  All that you see cost me, in total, the lovely wine included ... 8 euro.  It works as dinner :-)

Life goes on here.  I'm fighting a little anemia because I'm not mad-keen on the cure however the elevator in my building is under repair and I am hating the 8 flights of marble stairs.  'Porca miseria!' is about all I can say on reaching my door.  I will take the medicine ... as I love the home I have found here. 

Another of the things I really enjoy about Genova, is its vibrant music scene.  I've been fortunate and heard more than a few bands lately.  But that's probably a whole other post.

In other news, I'm just about ready to launch a series of behind-the-scenes photography workshops, now that I actually live here.  I'm really excited about them and know I'm offering a quality experience.  I will share as soon as it's up.

Just a small catch-up, with photographs.  I'm good and life is mostly beautiful.

Livorno, Tuscany

I'm here this morning, in Livorno, Tuscany.  Just for 24 hours.

I had breakfast down by this wild and beautiful sea ... after battling Wellington-like winds to get there.  But the wind was warm enough and the coffee & crema brioche superb.

I was on a train at 9am yesterday, slipping through Liguria and down into Tuscany, to attend the first birthday of my favourite little man in the world.  It was really worth it. I met some lovely people, ate delicious food, and got to spend time with that lovely family I know.

I had to buy a new phone last week.  My old phone is almost legend, in that I've had trouble with it since moving to Italy ... It finally died an ugly android death.  I tried making-do with someone else's old phone but it was turning into an incredible saga.  Finally I caved and bought something new.  

I love my new phone.  I asked the guy to help me out, said I was a photographer and wouldn't mind having a phone with a decent camera.  I think he's done that.  No, it's not an iPhone but a Samsung, and so far it's impressing me.  I took the photograph above, using it.

On the packed train, I discretely took photographs as we passed through Carrera, with all its mountains and marble, and Rapallo ... a place I had read of in both of the books I just read about Hemingway's life.  And now this morning, after my cafe breakfast, there I was ... tears streaming from my eyes, hair a wild wind-blown mess, leaning into said wind to take a series like this.

I'm getting picked up soon and it's road-trip time.  I love road-trips.  I'm like the tail-wagging Labrador who loves nothing better than going someplace in a car.  Anyplace.  I think it's a couple of hours back to Genova, and I'm really looking forward to seeing Italy from the road.  But for now, it's time to explore Livorno.

I had been thinking of getting a Vesper one day but now I'm thinking, I'm a road-trip kind of woman, maybe I have to get a car.

Buongiorno from Livorno.


Dear Ren ... a letter to my wise & beautiful poet friend in Norway

Dear Ren

I love your idea about our Senses ...  the possibility of reclaiming of the only things that truly make-up our lives? Touch. Taste. A sense of balance, perpendicular to the earth, in vrksasana. 

And then, reading that there may be as many as 21 senses. I was quietly delighted. 

I think my senses are my way of negotiating this world Hunting for the light, and really tasting all that I eat and drink.  I am so particular.  Listening, as I wander ... to the extent that I can't bear to have anything playing in my ears.  Not music, not interviews.  I want to hear all that is going on around me.

The idea that there are more 'senses' than I already knew about...   Yes.  That delights me.

I am so sorry to read of your corset of sorts.  The breathing ... it doesn't surprise me as a response to Now.  I'm surprised not to be suffering more from it but I have theories on why I'm calmer than I've ever been ... calmer at a conscious level anyway.

I have mostly stepped away from the protests being organised around the world. I have this idea that my role is always to be something like the canary in the coalmine - to be there at the start, sharing from various sources.   People are discussing it now, protesting it.  They don't need my voice.

Is that a cop out?  I don't feel like it is.  I want to grow strong for whatever is next.

I'm not sure I understand why you were shamed, silenced and confused about the short life of a woman's son ... mostly because you stepped away from the insanity so long ago.  It's not who you are. And even if you were there, you would be fighting for human rights, not acting in ways that were shameful.

You are ... I was going to write international but it's more than that ... you are whatever we become when we live in countries not our own and begin to understand the fluid nature of things like identity, belonging, nationality. 

You came from that country but you left it.  You didn't go 'home' when you could have.  You keep choosing, when so many float.  I see no need for your shame.

I'm skim-reading social media these days but it remains my point of contact with family and friends and so, I remain online. I have lost interest in newspapers.  During the American elections, at some point, I realised that no one gave me a clear sense of what was 'really' happening, and I wanted 'really'.  Then again, I'm not sure anyone knows anymore ... nor have they ever.  Everyone has a 'position' but that's about all I am sure of.

I smiled when I read of your yoga and meditation ... that squeezing of another peaceful half-hour of life in case the world ends.  Wise woman.

You know, I actually made myself buy a light novel the other day.  It was so incredibly difficult.  I've become quite the snob ... a brat perhaps, about books.  Actually, about coffee, wine and food too.  I think I was always this way but I'm becoming more comfortable with it all.  No apologies. If I'm spending money, I don't want to waste it on things I don't like.

I wanted to lose myself somewhere and the lighter, well-written, novel has always done that for me.  I couldn't quite go to Danielle Steele but it was on that end of the scale.  And yes, for the days that it lasted, it was fun to 'escape'.  To pick up on the clues there for the reader ... to be right. I finished it last night, sad that it was over.  I'm not sure what to read next. 

My room has piles of books scattered around it.  Not as many as I would have liked came with me but there are more than I hoped for.  I shall have to dip back into something from there I think.  Biographies, fictional biographies too.  I found a set of fictions based on the lives of Hemmingway's wives.  I loved those.  I have never read Hemmingway, just books about his life.

When I look at my books, and compare them to the lives I've lived ... I see that perhaps I've been searching for 'tribe' in my reading.  I never found them while I was growing up, those people who would have shone a light, guiding me into my life.  Role models like Katherine Mansfield weren't mentioned in school.  War photographers and journalists, I had no idea about them.  I see how both would have appealed, mostly because I suspect you find real life out there, in those wars.  It's more difficult to find 'real' in the suburbs I spent more than a few years living in.

There were no strong role models in my world.  Now I see what I could have been, if I were awake, or awakened, way back then.

I wish I could write the reality of my life here, the stuff that remains private.  It's both beautiful and difficult out here.  The padding, or cushioning, has gone.  But the freedom to do whatever I please is divine.  I'm learning to sleep in.  I'm learning not to think of others when deciding on anything.  I'm learning ... a lot.

I suspect I am good at selecting which stories I tell.  There's only so much I can expose without feeling raw and undone and so, my stories must be selected and yes, told truly but not all stories are told.  But I've probably written that before.  It's a bit of an issue in my life.  I would like to be transparent but I've always been private ... more so than people realise.

I love my new home, and my landlords who have opened up a corner of their home for me.  They make me laugh, so often, and their kindness undoes me sometimes.  And yes, sometimes I do float home after a night in this city of musicians.  Actually, going 'up' I ride the ancient elevator.  Currently I only float down the marble staircase.  I had another run-in with anemia.  Neglect ...

You know, I had never thought of my life as a triangle consisting of a social life, creativity, and the personal.  Thank you for the gift of that description.  I see that my creative life has suffered from needing to earn a stable income.  My social life comes and goes.  My personal life ...I'm learning what that is.  I had never considered it before.  I was almost always part of a family ... and so, to have the freedom to create my very own personal life ... it's kind of divine.  I think I'm old enough to do it this time. 

Initially, like an orphaned kitten, I wanted a home and a life.  A fire to curl up beside.  Someone to care for me ... someone for me to care about.  But that has passed.  I was fortunate not to find anyone in those terribly lost and lonely days.  I felt like the Little Match Girl for a while, nose pressed against windows ... wistfully watching people whose lives were 'normal'.  Instead, I suspect I've been given the freedom and the space to become who I would have become if I hadn't been asked to play small all my life. But yes, that's under construction, let's see how it goes.

That student of yours ... I was horrified too but I think I see it in Italy.  Not the age limit on success but the belief that one must put aside childish things ... passions, to be 'successful'.  It breaks my heart a little.  I think, in the future, people won't believe how we put 'a successful career', as defined by society, before personal happiness and the pursuit of a full life.

Do you allow yourself to believe that your life sucessful, Di?

I think I do believe my life has been successful, so far.  My idea is that I will die rich in stories.  And that's okay.  I would rather be full of stories.  I like the way I have lived this life of mine so far.  I have been fortunate, in so many ways.  Country of birth, husbands, opportunities, friends ... yes, fortunate in so many ways.

I'm glad you experience life as meaningful of its own sake. Of itself

I suspect you might be surprised how your 'teenagers' view you.  I'm sure you have changed lives, or been a strong example to those who needed it.  I'm sure they listen too.   The way you turn up in the world is special.  I promise.  And so worthy of respect, and love. 

Thank you for the ideas and images you gifted me in your letter.  I will carry them with me, as usual, adding them to the 'Notes to Myself' story I have going on in my head.

I wandered out onto the terrace here, in the palazzo I call home for the moment, and spent some time writing but the sun was so strong that I could barely see my screen.  I ended up leaning back in my chair and simply bathing in the heat for a while.  I'm still glowing.  I need to go wandering again, before losing the light. 

I have so much still to do, and a nap appeals too.  Weekends are so complicated ... they're free time and yet, with so much to be done, I feel a very real sense of panic on my two days off.

And so the real world seeped into me as I wrote this, and now I feel I must hurry off and 'do' those things waiting to be done.

I hope your weekend was divine.  I'm adding some photographs taken over the last 24 hours ...

Much love, Di

This is one of a series of public letters to Ren – a friend, a writer, a poet, and an extraordinary woman who writes to me via her own blog.

Please click through to her website:  Ren Powell: Poetics & The Good Life