3 beautiful things found ...

Today I wandered into my Rome archives and rediscovered this shot where I had ended up using a bridge as my 'tripod' one evening while lost in that city I always get so happily lost in.

The second beautiful thing today was a chat with Lisa Chiodo.  She is one of those magnificent women I get to call a friend.  You can read about her and Sam and their big beautiful dreams over here here on their website

Think about booking a holiday with them too ... you won't regret it  :-)

The third thing ... after dropping Miss 10 off at school this morning, I discovered that the new bakery nearby sells the most divine custard-filled eclairs.  I carried one all the way home, reading Cees Nooteboom's divine book, Roads to Santiago.

A sample of his writing: I wander around.  The coolness of the garden contrasts with the heat of the landscape, the coolness of the church contrasts with that of the garden, it is almost chilly where I am now.  The thick walls of a church prevent the outside air, the ordinary air, from having its way.  Suddenly I am standing before an arbitrary structure made of stone: its mere presence alters the quality of what little air has managed to come in.  This is no longer the air wafting in poplars and clover, the air that is moved this way and that in the breeze.  This air is church air, as invisible as the air outside, but different.  Church-shaped air, permeating the space between the columns and, deathly still, like an absent element, rising up to fill the pointed vaulting constructed of rough-hewn blocks of stone.   There is no one in the church.  Enormous columns rise directly from the paved floor, the position of the sun casts a strange, static pool of light through the oculus somewhere on the right of the church.  It's a little ghostly.  I hear my own footsteps.  This space distorts not only the air, but also the sound of each step I take - they become the steps of someone walking in a church.  Even if one subtracts from these sensations all that one does not in fact believe in oneself, then there's still the imponderable factor that other people do believe, and especially have believed, in this space.

Cees Nooteboom.

Cees Nooteboom, photography

Photography is a more intense way of “looking”. No photographer simply travels. He cannot allow himself the luxury of just looking around. He does not see landscapes; he sees photographs, images of reality as it might appear in a photograph.
Cees Nooteboom in 1982 in the Holland Herald, KLM’s in-flight magazine.

Books Read Recently

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

All Kinds of Magic - A Quest for Meaning in a Material World, by Piers Ede Moore.  I also loved his first book, Honey and Dust, found after I had finished the first but entirely enjoyable in this wrong order too.

The Places In Between, by Rory Stewart.  Loved it, and it reminded me of a favourite book that I’ve carried with me since forever, William Dalrymple’s, In Xanadu - a Quest.

I love books where people set out walking, across countries.  The first 4 probably make this quite clear so I’ll move away from mentioning Cees Nooteboom and Ryszard Kapuscinski

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa, blew me away and left me exhausted at the end.  Beautifully written.  Actually, it reminded me of another old favourite, I Saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti.  Mourid is a poet who wrote his story in the most beautiful prose.  His second book has just come out.  I must find it. 

One of his poems appear on page 100 of my copy of the book.  I have never been able to forget this poem he wrote about his mother:
She wants to go to a planet away from the earth
Where the paths are crowded with people running to their rooms
And where the beds in the morning are chaos
And the pillows wake up crumpled,
Their cotton stuffing dipping in the middle.
She wants washing lines full and much, much rice to cook for lunch
And a large, large kettle boiling on a fire in the afternoon
And the table for everyone in the evening, its tablecloth dripping with sesame of chatter.
She wants the smell of garlic at noon to gather the absent ones
And is surprised that the mother’s stew is weaker than the power of governments and that her pastry in the evening
Dries on a sheet untouched by any hand.
Can the earth contain
The cruelty of a mother making her coffee alone
On a Diaspora morning?
She wants to go to a planet away from the earth
Where all directions lead to the harbour of the bosom,
The gulf of two arms
That receive and know no farewells.
She wants airplanes to come back only.
Airports to be for those returning,
The planes to land and never leave again

I discovered Yasmina Reza’s book, A Year with Nicolas Sarkozy, and enjoyed it immensely.

But enough of books and me.  As I have worked here tonight, Gert has been discovering just how easy Squarespace is to work in ... this as he creates my new website.  It’s all rather exciting, almost as exciting as moving countries.