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A NEW WAY OF SEEING - A PHOTOGRAPHY RETREAT FOR WOMEN, IN GENOA, ITALY

Not only has Di changed my perception of the city I have called home for the past six years, she has also taken me beyond my own limits as a photographer. She has inspired me to stop living my entire life on the default settings I have grown so comfortable with. By pushing a camera to its limits and learning how to manipulate the manual settings, I, for the first time in my life, realized how much potential I was wasting by always deferring to my default auto setting.

Leah Armstrong, from Help! I live with my Italian mother-in-law, and her article about the workshop over at Holiday Mag.

Come join me on a journey of discovery in an exquisitely ancient Italian city.

 

'Visit' Genova via Stefano's RIGHICAM.

Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home - not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colours. How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you. How you can fall in love with the light. Ellen Melloy, Writer
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the quick brown fox

Come travel with me to...

Rome from xx to xx December 2099

Friday
Mar272015

Quite Some Time Later ... a bow to UK Immigration

Here I am, back and blogging again.

I've been putting together all the pieces of my yet-to-be updated website.  My current version of Squarespace has become outdated and no longer works at 100% and so I'm forced to upgrade.  This is not my most favourite thing to do and I have been switching between procrastinating and working. 

An inefficient combination as it turns out.

I've been distracted by other things too.  My very respectable, middle-class New Zealand friend was denied re-entry into the United Kingdom.  She was fine in December but deemed at risk of over-staying when she returned from Italy in January.  After 9 hours of questioning, an interview, and a search she was made to sign a report of events that was different when it came back to her.  She was then held overnight and thrown on a plane and deported back to Belgium ... with her 10 year old daughter.

UK Immigration has her passport now.  She's had to apply for a visa ...   They've had it a fortnight.  She can't travel without it and when she phoned them today, wanting to know if they were going to allow her back into the UK within their stated processing time, she learned they were on holiday.

Yesterday, when she phoned them to check on progress, she learned that she had to give them her credit card details so they could take 20 pounds for each call.  The second call was to tell them that they had sent her a 'dont reply' email address as the address she needed to reply to.  They didn't let her off the fee ... they also wanted her passport number.  She had to remind them that they have her passport.

Seems like hell to me. 

So New Zealanders, be cautious on entering the UK.  You may get a nasty border guard because Tanya, as sure as hell, as done nothing to deserve this. 

No children, she's not religious.  Not a peace activist.  Not hanging out with Edward Snowden.  I know these are some of the standard (appalling) reasons for detaining people these days.  She's a New Zealander, no criminal record, nothing ever done except owning and operating two very successful businesses.  It seems an error of judgement has been made but someone had the power to make this error and cause her to lose quite some thousands of euro while she waits.

Her story is one that will be told in full by her, as it's long, complicated and rather rotten. So, currently she and Ruby are here while she fights to continue with her long-planned return to the UK.

Meanwhile she's also healing here, slowly.  Her lungs were infected way back when we were in Roccasecca, Italy, in January.  She is still ill.  Her Eustachian tube is blocked now.  She still has a cough.  It's been an 'interesting' ongoing battle to recover as she didn't get a staph infection on top of the lung infection, like me, and didn't get the massive hit of antibiotics I took.   She has become friends with both my doctor and my pharmacist here in Belgium.  Lovely but not what you dream of on a holiday where the UK is your destination.

In other news ... I also had a most marvelous visit from Kim of Dragonlane blog fameShe makes the loveliest jewellery.  I should know.  I wear two of her pieces almost constantly.  That too is a story for later, once I have her permission to post one of the photographs from the portrait session I did with her.

This is a post full of promises, isn't it  :-)

Here's a photograph I was just given.  It's me, in Italy, as we fled with our lungs full of stuff, trying to dry out and heal there in Rome.

Tuesday
Mar172015

One of those days...

For the first time in months I have 6 hours to spend alone and as I please but now I seem to be suffering some kind of panic about how to most effectively use that free time.

Unbelievable!

Perhaps it's more about the fact that getting Miss 10 to school, that early, to prepare a surprise birthday party for her teacher, and carrying a massive pavlova, whipped cream, paper plates and some utensils on two different trams, has resulted in a kind mini-crash.  Complicated, perhaps, by the fact that my kitchen looks like some kind of crazy cream-splatter bomb went off in there.  I was rushing and it may be that I might have taken the electric mixer out of the whipped cream bowl just before the beaters stopped moving. 

Then there's all the lunch-making stuff ... and breakfast too, there's laundry in the little room next door.  The floors could do with a mopping ... I know it, this often leads to vacuuming and really ... I'm trying so hard to avoid the plunge into the never-ending abyss that is housework. 

We've had a leaking water pipe in our cellar for a year or more.  The Antwerp water people are almost impossible to contact, I can't find a number on their website which ... to be honest, isn't surprising.  The customer is not king or queen in this country.  Someone there was told about it more than a year ago but no one has arrived to repair the leak that periodically floods our cellar. 

The civilian handyman has deemed it unfixable after some attempts were made.  The only 'good' thing is that the leak is located before the water meter that measures how much water we use.  But honestly, carrying those heavy buckets up the ladder that leads from the cellar to the first floor ... it is beyond horrible.  And if you relax down there in the cellar, if you stand upright, you can very easily smash your head on the low ceiling where that concrete beam juts out. 

It really hurts.  It feels like concussion and stitches and bleeding for about 10 minutes afterwards.

And so it is that many litres of water are wasted per day here at my place.  Even better ... if we forget to empty the massive container every 12 hours, then some very very bad language can be heard as I climb up and down that damn ladder with the bloody bucket, shoes wet from sploshing across the wet floor.  

Yep.

But moving on ... I was traveling across the city this morning and  noted the sky - though blue - actually had a dirty brown wash climbing up towards the sun in the not-too-far distance.  The air tastes really nasty and smells bad.  We're having beautiful weather but that stalls the heavy pollution over top of us ... as most of Europe uses our toll-free highways to transport their goods to and from the big old port here.

Oh the joy of being located on a crossroad in Europe with the 2nd largest port on the Continent located just 'there' ...

Feeling kind of Puddleglum-like by now, I searched for an air pollution index for Antwerp, (goodness knows why) and that map tells me last night at 9pm, the pollution level had hit 132, which is only 'unhealthy for sensitive groups'.  Unfortunately I can't get it to update this morning ...

But perhaps I don't really want to know.

Apparently it's only when it reaches 151 that 'Everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects'. 

I'm almost sure it's over that this morning.  Mumble, mutter.

So, now I have 5 hours to myself today because, you know, I've been here and there ... and procrastinating. I did one bucket of water to avoid overflow but I'll have to go back there soon.

Perhaps I could leave all the cleaning until I have Miss 10 home again. 

Yesterday was mostly a good day.  A very good day in fact. Today I'm going to have work a little bit harder on my attitude I think.

But welcome... welcome to my glamorous European life ...

Source of above Grumpy Cat photograph.

Sunday
Mar152015

Colbie Caillat - Try  

Colbie Caillat's song is about how we try so hard to get others to like us. We use our appearance and buy things to create a look we hope people will like.

Extracted from Joe Martino's article, Colbie Caillat Got Tired of Being Photoshopped ... So She Did Something About It.

I'm a photographer who doesn't believe in 'fixing' the people I photograph.  The only things I remove are blemishes that will heal and disappear anyway. 

I'm not to make people feel inferior by pointing out what they lack, I'm only about showing them how beautiful they actually are.

I'm glad the world is getting through this photo-shop/fixing phase.  Really glad.

The song and video ... well worth a watch.

Take your make up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don't you like you?
Cause I like you

Thursday
Mar122015

Sam Hunt, Home, & Stuff ...

What is peculiar, even a little bitter, about living for so many years away from the country of my birth, is the slow revelation that I made a large choice a long time ago that did not resemble a large choice at the time; that it has taken years for me to see this; and that this process of retrospective comprehension in fact constitutes a life – is indeed how life is lived. Freud has a wonderful word, ‘afterwardness’, which I need to borrow, even at the cost of kidnapping it from its very different context. To think about home and the departure from home, about not going home and no longer feeling able to go home, is to be filled with a remarkable sense of ‘afterwardness’: it is too late to do anything about it now, and too late to know what should have been done. And that may be all right.

James Wood, from 'On Not Going Home'.

Riding the tram to Miss 10's school today, I found myself wondering how many of us make a point of never buying anything we see advertised ... or is that just me?

I don't have a credit card, a dishwasher, or a clothes dryer either. 

Choices we make.

I've been quiet lately, reading a lot of 'stuff'.  I feel like I'm preparing for my next leap, something that merges my photography and my passion for writing.

This video had me in tears this morning ... the courage of these guys.  Their humour and intelligence in the face of incredible horror ... it wasn't the most uplifting way to begin a day and yet, in another way, it was perfect.

People become stories and stories become understanding ... I've been misusing this promise of content on this blog for a while now. I have an idea for a new project.  I only need the strength for it.  I think that strength is coming.

I found singer/song writer, Sam Hunt ... He reminds me of stories I've heard of weekends planned by my best old forever friend.  I sent her a link.  Over on facebook I wrote, A former college football player, who majored in philosophy, lives in Nashville now ... He says things like, 'You can't contrive a great song. Some part of the song has to come from an honest, genuine place'. I like his music ... this was the one that grabbed meMade me think of Fiona and Barry.  

And miss them.

Thursday
Mar122015

No Words ...

Sunday
Mar082015

Bookmarking Interesting or Beautiful Things Found...

Sharon Olds said something beautiful about sometimes thinking of her poems as instructions for how to put the world back together if it were destroyed.

From Amy Heppel's interview, with Paul Winner, from the Paris Review where she said so much that was wise and beautiful.

I was introduced to the story of Lisa Bonchek Adams via an exquisite article by Zeynep Tufekci, titled Make the Most of Your Day.  They wrote ...

Her love of life and courage was a lesson to me, everyday. She sent out these tweets almost daily, her lessons of life and death.

Saturday, I reread this book and realised all over again, how beautifully written it is while remaining a tale so powerfully written that it destroys me each and every time I read it.  Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa.  It's worth seeking out.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying this song by Andrew Belle as I listen to music here ... reading and writing, taking notes, enjoying the weekend ... at last.

Saturday
Mar072015

Saturday Night, Antwerp.

Saturday night, and here I am  ... listening to my hour-long video of a dawn chorus I recorded back in New Zealand.  It seemed insane to wake that early, at the time but now, I'm really glad that I did.  But it's always been easy to wake early in NZ.

And I found the video of me driving through the Homer Tunnel too but it needs downsizing to load here and so, tonight we'll make do with a photograph of the road home to my most favourite house ever.

I loved living out at Broad Bay, Dunedin.  Madly, truly, deeply. I loved everything about it really.  The winding crazy road home.  The proximity of the water.  The huge selection of beaches.  The birdlife.  The air. 

Everything.

And then someone offered me a job in Istanbul ...

Friday
Mar062015

A Bit of Yarning ...

Yesterday I caught the train to Geel to meet up with Martin and go roadtripping.  Well, we were searching for things in museums in Wallonia, actually.

And we talked as we traveled, then talked some more while we waited for museums to open their doors.

We talked up a storm and did the whole lunch-on-the-side-of-the-road thing too.  Coffee and tea from the thermos.  Cheese and jam sandwiches courtesy of Martin.  it reminded me so much of trips made back home.

And I realised that it's lovely having a Kiwi friend out here in Belgium because yarning is the best way to pass a day sometimes.  And actually, Martin has the very best stories.

Thanks for a lovely day.

Friday
Mar062015

Quirky, or so I thought ...

Martin and I went wandering yesterday, on a mission really.  Searching for artifacts.

But these keys impressed me, found in the tiniest quirkiest musuem I've ever visited. 

Friday
Mar062015

I Was Way Too Early for that Train Yesterday ...