So much for the 'recovering' part of my plan. I had to wander off to the doctor's yesterday and, in good news, my iron has roared up the scale to dizzy heights I've probably not experienced in years. That explains the feeling I had ... of being able to walk a million miles in Rome, in Genova.
The rotten news, as far as I'm concerned, is that I started a demanding course of antibiotics yesterday. I have an infection and it's the only way to clear it. And so it is, 12 days of porca miseria.
But there's always good news. Tanya, an old friend from school - my traveling companion during these last few weeks, has returned to Antwerp with me and her 10 year old daughter. Tanya has been both a successful florist, back in New Zealand, and a cook (she won't let me describe her as a chef. There are rules apparently but her food is divine.)
The good news ... well, Tanya's been cooking dinners since we returned. Maybe I made a Shepherd's Pie first evening back but since then, sublime has slipped into our dinner-time. Last night I made time to race away from the table, find my camera, and photograph her beautiful dessert.
Made for the kids, loved by the adults too ...
Let's see how long we can keep them here for.
I had a meeting this morning, one where I was offered the opportunity to exhibit my photographs in Brussels.
I'm excited. By emptying my life of 'Everything', I have left space for Some Thing. And while my Home & Away exhibition was an impulse that took me on an unexpected journey, this exhibition is going to be all about staying conscious ... in a way I didn't quite manage back in October.
I'm always learning. Always willing to learn.
It will open early in the new year and it feels like a good way to begin 2015. More news to follow as we decide on dates, times and all that important stuff.
The image below ... found on the streets of Genova.
And the burn-out has continued here in my world but I'm running up the stairs again, finally. I'm not taking that forgranted ever again. Now to commit to taking the vitamin D I guess. Apparently 80% of Belgians end up deficient in vitamin D ... this New Zealander too.
As for the burn-out, I'm not sure that it's still that. Now it seems more like I'm looking around and thinking 'what next?' But instead of attempting to follow multiple paths, I'm thinking of just one or two. We'll see how that plays out. I have remained slow ... very very. And I'm letting it be like that. I have had a few times of intensity, quickly followed by that descent back into slow.
I know it's a luxury. More time without income but still, the Belgian bloke seems happy enough with the housewife who has stepped up as me.
Lucy, Ruth and Fiona, lovely friends from near-by, birthday-gifted me 50euro in book vouchers for my favourite secondhand bookshop here in the city. I stretched it out over 3 visits and I'm rapt with my books. I finished it on Tuesday, with two books about artist and wise woman - Georgia O'Keeffe, with a third by New Zealand writer, Barbara Anderson. Oddly enough, I didn't see the similarities in the titles until later but Anderson's book was a slice of home that I couldn't resist.
I had my hair cut too. 'Cut' might be too big a description. I have finally found a hairdresser who listens to me ... a hairdresser that doesn't immediately start cutting while attempting to make me stylish. She also found a way of unifying the damage I had done with my boxes of hair colour bought at the supermarket. I can only adore her for this.
The Belgian boke's frozen shoulders are almost completely recovered. His flu is gone, and the relapse he had seems to have left the building too ... as of last night. Fingers crossed.
We're slowly making our way towards Christmas. We have a tree, some presents, and plans are being made with regard to the food. Since returning from that Christmas we spent at home, back in 2012, I have flashbacks to how good it was there ... in summer. And the food. And the way that my sister made sure I was spoiled. It was like a journey back to my childhood ... almost.
The haircut and colour ... it's below. I think I take the worst photographs of myself. I'd like to claim that the light in the bathroom is bad, that I use a telefoto lens and end up jammed against the wall but really, there are no excuses. It's more about the fact I quite like the difficult light and employ a little ineptitude when it comes to self-portraits. I like the blur and shake of it all, the strange lighting and I remain defiant in my use of the tele-foto. Not something I would teach but I might say, know the rules and then break them. Don't be afraid to play a little.
I feel that a real living form is the result of the individual’s effort to create the living thing out of the adventure of his spirit into the unknown—where it has experienced something—felt something—it has not understood—and from that experience comes the desire to make the unknown—known.
By unknown—I mean the thing that means so much to the person that wants to put it down—clarify something he feels but does not clearly understand—sometimes he partially knows why—sometimes he doesn’t—sometimes it is all working in the dark—but a working that must be done—
Making the unknown—known—in terms of one’s medium is all-absorbing—if you stop to think of the form—as form you are lost—The artist’s form must be inevitable—You mustn’t even think you won’t succeed—Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant—there is no such thing.
Making your unknown known is the important thing—and keeping the unknown always beyond you—catching crystallizing your simpler clearer version of life—only to see it turn stale compared to what you vaguely feel ahead—that you must always keep working to grasp—the form must take care of its self if you can keep your vision clear.
Georgia O’Keeffe (painter) writing to Sherwood Anderson (writer).
Source: Brain Pickings.
There was something about this small article, by Maria Popova, that made me want to note these words and keep them to read again and again. I loved the first paragraph most particularly.
I enjoy reading what artists write to each other, seeming to want to think on an important thing that so many wouldn't find important or interesting. Sometimes these things seem like the real stuff of life, as opposed to the forms we fill out and the lives that we Must live in that 'real' world people talk of.
Soon I will be heading off on another adventure, in a small village somewhere between Naples and Rome. There is a house and some dogs that I've been invited to visit, while breathing some good country air, with a view that I suspect I might want to photograph every day.
There is a book that wants to be written, or two. There are the photography workshops to announce, the ones I've planned for 2015. There is a bar where I'm hoping the espresso is perfect and where my beloved crema brioches are possible. Where there's a delightful red wine waiting for me.
Another adventure in Italy, in that land where everything is possible and sometimes, just sometimes, you find giantic lightbulbs out in the carrugi.
The author of Dear Miss Fletcher published one of my photographs, the one where I captured her at work in her beautiful city.
I saw her there in the distance and broke my promise not to photograph her. But really, I would have deleted if she hadn't approved. In this instance she felt it was the perfect photograph of her and here you have her.
I still remember her walking me through streets I had walked so often but without an intimate knowledge of the secrets they held. And so often she would turn to me and tell me, 'I have something to show you ...'
And so often, she did.
I haven't talked with Tanya since we were teenagers. We reconnected via Facebook and soon worked out that catching up was something we'd like to do ... next time she was in Europe.
Tanya and Ruby flew arrived on Tuesday, postponed by a day due to the very 'special' union strike actions taking place here ... that would be the one that shut down the international airport on Monday.
We picked up where we'd left off really and it's been a marvelous few days of stories and laughter. Some wine too. There will be photographs but for the most part, talking has taken precedence.
Old friends from far-away are good friends.
Meanwhile I'm told Christmas is approaching. I don't see it ... there are no Dawsons cherries on display, no strawberries. The weather is grey and cold. The kids are still in school. No daylight saving.
I'm currently caught in the Christmas grinch mode, not feeling Christmassy at all but perhaps it will pass. Anyway, for now there's a few more days to enjoy with Tanya and Ruby and that is something to smile about.
Ruth had wondered, a while ago, if Miss 10 might enjoy attending some of the Christmas theatre happening here in the city. I said I was sure that she would and voila, Ruth booked us all in for a performance by the FroFroe Theater ... titled TROPOI.
The performance was based on the book and movie, The Parfum, with the main character being an exquisitely made, and stunningly operated, puppet called Castiglio. I have no idea where to lavish the most praise as the performance was mind-blowing. There were the puppets, the actors, the singers and the musicians, all coming together to create a stunning show that I feel so fortunate to have seen
Did I mention the superb medieval and baroque music played on original instruments...!
I could rave on for paragraphs but here's a taste of what the Belgian press wrote:
TROPOI shows what grand performances the puppet theatre is capable of giving. De Morgen. TROPOI is one of the best productions this season. De Bond. FroeFroe can add another success to its prize list. Zone 03. TROPOI shows you not only the magic of music, but also the magic of the puppet theatre. Impressive. De Standaard.
You can get a small taste of tonight's performance in the video below. I hope I get to see many more of their performances. Brilliant. Miss 10 thought so too.
I miss Via Ravecca, the open window I work next to there, and the noise of the street below.
I love the way life sounds lived there in the old part of the city of Genova.
I miss the smell of the farinata nearby. And the overflow of people, their talk and their laughter, at Pizzeria Ravecca.
I miss walking through Porta Soprana on my way to someplace nice everyday.
I miss the beautiful fountain in Piazza De Ferrari. And I miss Palazzo Ducale.
I miss 15 celsius because I have returned to -1 celsius.
I miss interviewing the people of Genova about their quietly remarkable lives.
I'm missing Genova.
The photograph here was taken by Dear Miss Fletcher ... who wrote, E poi siamo passate all’Antica Barberia Giacalone.
I had decided to head back to Belgium, cautiously wearing my broken boots however ... on the way to the supermarket this morning I accidentally looked in the window of the Bata shoe shop. It's on Via XX Settembre, at 270-272R. I wandered in, just to browse.
I'm so glad I did. The women working there were lovely and so are my new boots. They had a special deal on ... buy 3 pair and get the second most expensive pair for just 1 euro. And I loved the idea of that because I loved 3 pair of their shoes however I only bought one pair.
They were on sale, at 39euro, and I thought them so very beautiful.
Sadly, my feet are currently hating them. I floated round the city in them all day, not realising till I reached the other end of town, that some breaking-in would have to take place. I am home now, wearing my slippers, wondering how tomorrow will go because I may have already thrown out my old broken boots.
Porca miseria ...
But aren't they beautiful.
I am quite in love with the fountain in Piazza De Ferarri. I consider it the heart and soul of the city ... then again, I am only a sometimes guest here and I might have that quite wrong. But have you ever heard the sound of it early on a Sunday morning, when the city is still sleeping. It's something to hear.
Anyway, there are the rules of photography and then there are those moments when a photographer simply plays with the light and the subject.
This was one of those moments.
I believe I may have created the distortion in this image. My wide-angle lens and I have an uneasy relationship however I love everything else about this shot ... and I fear that I won't organise myself to repeat it on my last full day in Genova tomorrow.
So please ignore the fact that I ruined the shop sign. Forgive me even ...
Dear Miss Fletcher wrote of showing me this place, E poi, ancora, le ho mostrato un’affascinante, antica libreria genovese.
And it was a charming, ancient Genoese library.
This stay in the city has involved quite some rain. Just as New Zealand seems to be waiting for summer to actually arrive, Genova is waiting for the rain to stop falling.
I flew in after some serious flooding had happened here in the city but the rain hadn't quite stopped ... and so it was that I discovered the only boots that I brought with me had holes in them.
But who does that! One pair of shoes in Italy?! I can hear my cousin, Julie's, disbelief from here :-)
However having to replace those boots on my last full day here in the city ... that is going to make it all okay. And no one will see that my feet have become webbed, like a duck's.
There is nothing like owning a good pair of boots made here in Italy.
The very serious shoe-shop owner actually laughed when my lovely friend, Barbara, asked him if he might keep the plastic bags I was wearing over my socks, inside my boots (as a basic water-proofing measure) a secret ... as I was attempting to appear elegant while here in Italy.
Mmmhmmm, but then again, if all was simple in my life perhaps it would bore me.
The day ended with more laughter, as Alessandra, Barbara and I discussed 'but which wine?!' while accidentally blocking the wine aisle in COOP. Oh yes, that was us.
And so, proof from this exquisite but watery city I have spent these last two weeks wandering ... another reflection. I do love finding them here.
As Dear Miss Fletcher lead me through the caruggi of Genova, I couldn't resist trying to capture snapshots of the sights that she showed me.
This one was taken just before 6pm, on a dark winter's night and yet the warmth that spilled out of this fruit and vegetable shop warmed my heart.
I had my first hot thick winter chocolate at this beautiful ancient Genovese cafe late on Saturday afternoon. I met Dear Miss Fletcher, who has already written of this beautiful place, there and we talked over steaming hot drinks.
I hope to have some of their stories to tell you in the weeks ahead. I took this photograph as we were leaving. The place is stunning. I promise.
Originally used as a corn market, in 1186 this square stood just outside the 10th-century town walls, beyond the Town Gate of San Pietro, which stood where the archway leading through to the tiny square Piazza Cinque Lampadi now is.
In the 12th century, the Barbarossa walls included Piazza Banchi in the city and turned it into the place where the early business exchanges between tradesmen and bankers took place.
This is where the word ‘bankruptcy’ comes from, deriving from the custom of axing to pieces insolvent bankers’ business desks, banchi in Italian.
Extract from, Loggia dei Mercanti -Piazza Banchi.
I love this piazza. It was the place where I bought my flowers in those days when I still bought flowers. And it's a place that I wander through daily while exploring the city.
I think you can see something of what brings me back to Genova, again and again ...
Long ago and far-away I fell in love with a reflected world. I was a child traveling State Highway 1, heading south on the flood-free, passing Henley. Destination Invercargill and Nana's house.
There were swamp-lands next to the highway and a creek that offered the most stunningly clear reflections I've ever seen.
I used to imagine another world, an upside-down world, there in the creek as we passed by in those days when I was a kid in the back seat, dreaming my kid-dreams.
Genova has made me fall in love with reflections all over again. I love when there is just enough rain to make puddles here on the cobblestones.
Today there was just enough rain to give me a glimpse of that other world.
I discovered that wandering with Dear Miss Fletcher involves learning Genova's secrets.
And the crazy thing is that I've walked past this charity slot, from 1729, so many times. In another location, Sabina showed me where the charity holes in the wall had been removed.
But ... if you don't know what you're looking for you will never find it. In another place, she stopped me in a narrow alleyway and showed me the indentations left in the cobblestones ... by chariots.
I don't think there's anything more civilised than being able to go out and buy really good espresso to bring back to the party.
I love Genova.