Some of my worst days in Belgium are surely the grey days. Belgium does 'grey' like no other country I have known ... which is saying something when you come from Dunedin, New Zealand.
The complication is that the greyness can't be relieved by a mountain or hills draped in mist. There are none. Nor are there any massive lakes or fast-flowing rivers. Nature always feels constrained here. So many people, such a long history. Then again, the history and culture is surely the bonus.
And so here I am, on a grey Saturday in winter, at my desk ... knowing I don't have the strength to go out. I've been reading Georgia O'Keeffe today ... almost finished now.
But I was distracted from Ms O'Keeffe by Here I am - the story of Tim Heatherington, War Photographer. It slipped in-between O'Keeffe and I. In fact, it turned out that I finished the book about Tim first. I couldn't put Alan Huffman's book down. And then, I couldn't resist returning to the dvd, Which Way Is The Front Line From Here?, by Tim's sometimes-colleague, the truly interesting Sebastian Junger (there's an interview with Sebastian attached to Sebastian's name).
So this is what I am doing with my winter ... although yes, I am preparing for Italy and fly later this week and this time it's something completely different.
I'm heading off to a small village on the side of a hill ... I think. My espresso is an 18 minute walk away and there are two dogs involved. I'm house-sitting for a New Zealand artist who lives there, somewhere between Rome and Naples :-) I love the idea of this. And I am looking forward to meeting her friend and neighbour Jack, and Cees too.
Once there, I have two tasks and I am trying to convince myself that 2 is hardly anything at all but okay, perhaps they are complicated. I want to finish my book about/on Genova. I have the photographs, I have interviews, I simply need to collate everything and create something exquistely beautiful.
Yes, I am a perfectionist who frequently terrifies herself into inaction because NOTHING is good enough.
The other project is all about the photography workshops. I know the workshop experience I offer is superb. I know that women have a most excellent time. I know that there's lots of laughter and really good conversations. But packaging it ... did I ever write that I struggle with marketing.
And then there's tonight ...dinner with people we haven't yet met. The parents of my daughter's good friend. There is a pavlova involved and Jess is going to whip up a chicken pie. I have some Spanish Cava (champagne) in the fridge. I think it'll be okay.
Ohbutthismorning ... I woke from the depths of an intense dream to the sound of our doorbell. I'm the Antwerp Pavlova-Baker and it makes me laugh because I'm not a grand cook however I do have some set pieces that maybe create the illusion that I can cook. So most Saturday mornings, 8.30am, I'm usually awake for the pick-up of 1 or 2 New Zealand pavlovas. This morning ... not so awake.
In fact, so very asleep.
The good news is I didn't fall down the stairs as i dressed stumbling down them. And I didn't break the pavlova while moving it from the baking tray to the plate and wrapping it ... while barely awake. And ... I think ... I was lucid in the conversation I had as I worked.
Tomorrow ... no plans.
And in Best News ... Miss 10 has moved schools and is so happy that we are left wondering how come we didn't do this sooner. I guess you get used to things ... they seem normal and you know you're the problem. This new school oozes kindness and safety in ways that made us realise we had forgotten how a really good school can seem. Fingers crossed. It's only been 2 days but we are hellishly impressed. And it's good to see her so happy after so many months of something like misery.
They welcomed her with a card the kids had all signed. Another child made her a cookie, and yet another wrote up a timetable for her. The kindness of it all simply melted our hearts.