A Smaller, Quieter Life ...


My days here, are so different from those beautiful days back in Genova.

I miss the bars, and the lovely people who worked there, making the best coffe in the world.

I miss the noise of the city, and the quiet of the medieval centre.

I miss the musicians, and the everyday presence of ancient places. I miss passing by people whose faces look like faces painted in 400 year old paintings. I miss good pasta and sauce, pizza and walking. 

I miss the Genovese.

BUT, I am learning to love hanging my laundry out on Dad's old clothes line, in the garden that smells of roses and all the other flowers he has there. And it makes me so happy to climb into my bed when thesheets smell of fresh air & sunshine. 

I love the sound of the birds ... one of the only sounds as I hung out my laundry at 7am this morning.

I was always passionate about driving ... about wandering, and so I am happy to be driving again. Even if I enjoyed the kilometres I walked on Genovese footpaths, and the buses and trains. And I'm not sure how to avoid weight gain, other than via that boring path called self-discipline.

Reading. I have just finished 3 books, one after another. Reading late into the night, just as I did as a child.

My espresso machine is making me happy, I just need to go find 'the' coffee. 

I love 32 celsius days (yesterday) and sitting here in the kitchen, back door open to the garden, and working. 

Mmmhmmm, I called the plumber today. The bathroom tap is broken and it has leaked for days now. 
Another thing to love, after a life lived in Europe, I phoned the plumber at 8.50am and he said, 'Okay, I'm doing a job just round the road, I'll come to you after it'. It was the same with the washing machine repair guy. That's quite marvelous really :-)

Here I am, just trying to find my balance again, in this smaller, quieter life that I'm living. 
Buona giornata ...

Foto: these chairs, were just there, in this ancient ruin in Genova. I had my photograph taken in one, and couldn't resist the beauty of this still-life moment, Genovese-style.

About Rarotonga and Me ...

raro colours.jpg

I drive around this tiny island and I am overwhelmed by the place, by memories of growing up in New Zealand, so many years ago, when life was so different to this European life I've spent the last 15 years living.

I am living quite a simple life here but such a good simple.  There are little houses here, painted turquoise greens and blues ... just here and there, not standard but they remind me so much of the summer houses we called 'crib's', down there at the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand.

I have returned to a natural kind of life; a life I didn't even know I was missing. I swim in the sea, in the lagoon really.  We might sit out there with a beer, escaping the heat, escaping gravity too.  The current in the lagoon runs round the island, so you can be in the shallows and simply swim against it.  It's bliss really.  The reef protects us from most things.

My skin is turning a deep golden brown.  The brown of childhood.  The brown I had forgotten was possible.  My arms, my face ...

My legs are following, much more slowly, mosquito-scarred but moving from a pale white into something slightly toasted.

The landscape is volcanic, so there are lush green peaks in the centre, odd shapes, quite beautiful, and Nature.  Nature is in the ascendant here.  Lush rain-fed vegetation, ants, mozzies, coconut, mango and paw paw trees.  And so much more I don't know.

Driving round the island though, that's what I want to write about here but I need to try again another day. 

Oh, and there are two radio stations.  One plays music I love, a lot from my past, and easy-listening contemporary music too.  The other is very much about local news and music.  I move between them.

Meanwhile, on my bench here ...

on my bench, raro.jpg

Neil Finn ... & an instant trip back to my childhood

Obviously we didn't have quite the divine guest list as seen in the music video ... so many of New Zealand's greatest sporting folk drop in but this video captures so much that I recognise from my Kiwi childhood.

Those Mousetraps ... the grated cheese, egg and onion, maybe some tomato, on toast, baked and/or grilled.  Sometimes burned.  Hot milk Milo, friends over, furniture moved, mad crazy joy as instructions were shouted at the game on TV.

Martin introduced me to the song and he recognised 'home' too. 

Giovanni Tiso Writes ... and David Whyte too.

Giovanni Tiso wrote a beautiful piece about childhood homes and memories ... To visit now, if only electronically, to see that light again and the shallow sky, is to relieve the migrant’s grief for places and a life left behind.

I know these feelings he writes of, so well ...I cannot say that I miss this place, in the sense that there is no place for me there. Not in my grandparents’ house, that was sold over twenty years ago; not in the village, where I couldn’t build a life if I wanted to. I have a fondness for it that is reserved to distant things and for the past. I miss the people in it, but especially those who are no longer there. I miss my childhood, or maybe more precisely the idea of it: those interminable summer days and weeks, all identical to one another yet always charged with the remote possibility of adventure. I do not subscribe to the current fashion for romanticising boredom, but I wouldn’t trade that sameness, my few friends, our games for excitement and travel.

And David Whyte wrote this beautiful poem:


I awoke
this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that
thinking for
a moment
it was one
like any other.

the veil had gone
from my
darkened heart
I thought

it must have been the quiet
that filled my room,
it must have been
the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,
it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

I thought
this is the good day
you could
meet your love,
this is the gray day
someone close
to you could die.
This is the day
you realize
how easily the thread
is broken
between this world
and the next
and I found myself
sitting up
in the quiet pathway
of light,
the tawny close
grained cedar
burning round
me like fire
and all the angels
of this housely
heaven ascending
through the first
roof of light
the sun had made.

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

'The House of Belonging'
From The House of Belonging
Poems by David Whyte
©David Whyte and Many Rivers Press

Christmas ... as experienced by Antipodeans

I love this song, it makes me all teary every year when I'm missing home like hell because a northern hemisphere Christmas can only ever be a rotten-Dunedin-weather-kind-of-Christmas. 

I grew up near Dunedin, on the east coast of the lower South Island - situated around 40 degrees south in latitude.  We had some appalling weather some of our Christmas days. 

Anyway, Tim Minchin is an Australian living in London and he wrote this song for his baby daughter.  It started out amusing then startled me as he simply captured what Christmas is like in the lands downunder.  My mum loved her white wine in the sun.  Socks, jocks and chocolates was all Dad ever wanted for Christmas.  Later it became about golf tees and golfballs.

There's so much fuss about religion this Christmas but for me, it's simply about family and spending time with people you love.  Red wine in the sun would be quite fine with me, back home with my brothers and sister, my Dad and my nieces.  But this year ... we are 5 here in Belgium, and that's okay too.

Anyway, a little bit of Tim ...