Tram-Napping and Other Things ...

As I write this, the predicted snow is beginning to fall ... sigh.  We were all so hopeful when the temperature cranked up to 16-18 celsius last week.  So hopeful that Spring had arrived.  The current prediction is for up to 10cms of snow overnight.  I hope that they are so wrong and that it's less.

Meanwhile I've been holed up at my desk for weeks on end, or so it seems.  I have had all the photographs from Flanders Fields to process and get back into the world as quickly as possible for any publications that might have wanted them.  I had the wedding shoot too.  They are in-process and almost done.

One of the more difficult things about being the photographer is that your work can go on long after the event, long after those who did their work on the day ... in the moment, are finished.  It's a strange and lonely job sometimes, with 80-90% of the work happening after the event, in some lonely room somewhere.

However the adventures are grand.  And I'm pleased with the results.  There should be more than 200 wedding photographs by the time I'm finished.  Photographs that tell the story of a beautiful wedding here in Belgium.

Flanders Fields ... well, that's always about the people I find there.  Old friends, new acquaintances, and some delightful adventures.

I'm hungry to travel again but I am making myself sit still until I am organised here.  I have spent these grey freezing cold winter weeks organising my working life, exploring new directions, especially writing again. 

Old friends have appeared in my inbox and there was a whole lot of delight over the idea that Murray might pop over to visit.  Murray from those 4 years back when I lived on the airforce base in New Zealand.

One of my oldest friends arrives later in June and that will be grand.  It's been a long time since I've seen him.  And there's a wedding to photograph in France in August ... the photography workshop in Italy too.  The last being the pièce de résistance perhaps.

My life seems like a big old complicated tapestry.  I've been been woken at 5.15am these last few weeks, as my daughter wakes to go out to work.  Then I'm up and out the door, catching trams to get little Miss 8 to school on the other side of the city Tuesday till Friday.  It's a 2-hour round trip and definitely hasn't helped with the winter blues. 

Rinse and repeat, as I'm on pick-up duty Monday to Wednesday.  I'm dragging myself around by Wednesday, dreaming of open-roads and long journeys as I try not to fall asleep on the tram home.

I have been reading when not tram-napping.  Superb books ... two fictions based around actual lives: The Truth About Lou by Angela von der Lippe and Seducing Ingrid Bergman by Chris Greenhalgh.

Lou Salome seems to be a fascinating creature who first came to my attention in Irvin D. Yalom's book When Nietzsche Wept.  I am now pursuing Lou via various means.  The second book is about Robert Capa's affair with Bergman.  I have a few books on him so this dip into a kind of fact-based fiction is delicious.

And I picked up the second book by BBC journalist, Frank Gardener.  The first, Blood and Sand, was a fascinating read. 

Still to come is my big book review of True Vines, written by the multi-talented Diana Strinati Baur.  A delicious novel that came with me across the world when I flew home to New Zealand.  The same Diana I'm putting the Your Beautiful Truth Retreat with in August in Italy.

I love books ... rereading the best again and again over the years.  I've had Isabel Allende's My Invented Country tucked away in my handbag for emergencies.  It's small and packed with wise words.

And that's me lately.  Photography, reading, tram-riding, houseworking, winter me.

The image: a tray of champagne that floated past me at the recent wedding.  Random but beautiful is my idea of it.

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.