Georgia O'Keeffe, on making the unknown known.

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.

You have Been Invited to Italy!

I recently had the pleasure of spending a weekend in the company of Renovating Italy's creator, Lisa Chiodo and she wrote, I am sure Di Mackey and I were sisters in another life, we just clicked, it felt like I’d known her forever. She gave me the gift of deep belly laughs, understanding, and freedom to be myself, each one I will treasure forever.

I would have written these words about her had she not beaten me to it in her generous post about attending the A New Way Of Seeing workshop.  It's been rare that anyone could make me laugh so hard that I almost collapsed in the street.  She has a gift for laughter that works with her beautiful attitude to life, and there's a deep wisdom too.

Meeting her, after having only read of her life via her beautiful website, Renovating Italy, was more than I could have imagined in so many ways.  She is the loveliest person and I'm sure, based on her website, that her family are just as she paints them.

Lisa and her family have put an invitation out into the world and I can't recommend it highly enough.  They are opening their Italian home to all of us and they have bookings available for 2015

Who knows, maybe I'll see you there.

About How It Is To Live About 16,000kms From Home ...

I grew up in a small town called Mosgiel, population something small, a place where people raised their families.  Near a city (Dunedin) but not a city.

I grew up with aunts and uncles living 'away' but close enough to visit sometimes.  I adored my Nana and Grandad (mum's parents) and often begged to go stay with them in their Invercargill house.  3 hours away in those days ... cars got faster, roads improved.  It's not so far in these days. 

My Grandma and Grandad were delightful too but that appreciation of them came later.  When I was small, it was all about Nana.

My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer back in 1998, my Nana (her mother) slipped away before her, with undiagnosed cancer.  Surprising us all. 

These days, so many years later, I still imagine them alive and so I have these conversations with them going on in my head.  Not 'voices'.  I guess I simply talk to the memory of them.  The memories of who they were, the memories of how they would react to things in my life now.

But I 'find' them via my senses too.  There might be a sight Mum would love, or an experience I wish I could share with her, or questions I so want to ask her.  And then I've wondered, in the years since losing her, if Nana ever wanted to travel ... but I never knew to ask.  Who knew I was going to do what I did. 

And, of course, I thought they were forever folk. We never considered that thing called Death while they were alive, there was no, 'this is last time I will see them'.  And then it was complicated by the fact that Mum wasn't even 60 when she died and that she so very much wanted to live.

Fast-forward to Now and I was invited to visit Lake Como.  I went, full of misgivings, knowing the Genova was the place that had captured my soul ... but curious to see what was there at this much-talked-about lake. 

It turns out there was a whole lot of 'home' just waiting for me to discover it.  The lake and the mountains there created a bizarre, and yet beautiful, split in my reality.  It was so very like Queenstown, New Zealand ... and yet, not.  The scent of lake rocks warmed by the sun, cleaned by a massive lake ... so very familiar.  The early morning peace ... 6am lake-lapping, birds calling, and air so clean that it took me back home in the peace of it all.

But another 'experience' was the food.  That first night Helen and I ate on the lakeside balcony of Ristorante Helvetia, in Lezzeno, and oh how we dined.  We ate every course, unusual for us but we were celebrating the end of a first fantastic workshop back in Genova.

For me, the course of the evening was this incredible piece of pork, with cheese and ... other stuff. It took me back to those times, when I was safe in the kitchen of Nana, eating meals that comforted me at some deep soul level, even while she denied she could cook.

I wish I could share my journey with these women who formed me.  I feel that they watch over me since dying, and I hope that they do because I miss them.  My sister will come here one day and we'll travel for sure, toasting those women we loved as we wander.  Those women who made us the creatures we are today.

But anyway, all of that just so I could post this photograph of a dinner that I hope to repeat sometime soon.

This And That, and a little bit more perhaps.

I have a new way of post-processing my photographs ... perhaps I should simply write, 'a new toy'.

It's so much fun!

And that's not written lightly.  I woke at 4.30am after an early night.  Well ... 11.30pm is early for me but sleeping before midnight seems to result in a ridiculously early morning wake-up.  My mind was racing so I gave in at 5.30am, slipping downstairs, turning on the radio as the coffee machine creaked into action, as the toast cooked. 

I sat awhile reading the new book about the granddaddy photo-journalist from way back there in the beginning.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I am loving that book, sad that I can't take it to Norway because ... along with my camera equipment and laptop, it would be too heavy to take with me.

I wanted to write a blog post from the quiet of this morning but my mind was noisy and busy.  I had a portrait session at 9am.  Two lovely Canadian girls from Texas ... from Canada.  And their cousins, the two girls from Belgium.  The shot of the day ... the one that made us all laugh most, was the one where Cloe had them all doing the 'fishface' thing.

It was about 2pm when I elegantly face-planted on the couch and napped for a little bit.  Oh those naps, they are getting me through.  I'm thinking, when I get back to Belgium, I might have an iron test.  It feels like it might be an iron thing, this tiredness.  I'm 'that age' these days.  And maybe some allergy tests too, as they're running out of control.

Soon though, I'm off to spend time with one of my most favourite poets in the world.  We hope to create some beautiful posts/art/something unexpected during our days together in Norway.  I'm curious.  I've never been there before.   But that's life, isn't it ... a big adventure.

I processed the photographs of the Air BnB apartment I spent some time in last time I was in Genova.  I loved this little place where my bed seemed to float, up there on the mezzanine floor, with a view up the narrow carruggi somewhere near the ancient Chiesa di San Donato.

So ... a combination of photograph, of new processing tool, and some stories too, written from another humid and hot summer day here in Belgium.

Our Clients Wrote of Our Workshop

What can I write ...

I feel so extraordinarily grateful to the three women Helen and I invited on our A New Way of Seeing workshop, in Genoa, Italy.

Since then Lisa, Leah, and Laura have written of working with us in ways that have filled my wee kiwi soul to overflowing.

Leah, from Help. I Live With My Italian Mother In Law, wrote of her experience with us in an English magazine

Laura, from Ciao Amalfi, wrote up her experience with us over on her blog. 

Today, I'm just in from reading Lisa's account of her time with us over on her blog.  That would be Lisa, from Renovating Italy ... the Lisa who had me laughing so hard that I could barely stay standing out there on Via Porta Soprana.  She has a talent for laughter but the weekend was full of laughter, of stories and photography too.

I borrowed one of Lisa's photographs from her post about it all.  I love this particular image, taken by Silvana, wife of Pino.  Pino is the man nestled in-between Lisa, myself, and Helen ... late on that laughter-filled evening in Genova.

Silvana and Pino own the very best pizzeria in the world and I adore them.  Their pizzas too. And so it seemed entirely appropriate to be photographed together.  Silvana, after a hot and exhausting evening, decided she would be the photographer ... and no begging her to join us would change her mind. 

I have to admit, I'm looking a little rumpled at this point in the day.  We were almost home after that first workshopping day.

I would work with any of these women in a heartbeat.  They were magnificent.  All of them. 

Huge grazie mille's to Laura and Lisa, Leah and Helen. 

It was a most magnificent weekend!

Tales to Tell ...

Tiredness continues to be an issue.   I'm doing all that needs done however approximately once every hour, I walk across to my bed and simply fall on it.  I'm exhausted it seems.  The 2 weeks in Italy was intense and my recovery seems to be complicated by 26 celsius nights ... and it's not that I'm complaining about the heat  but it does make the whole sleeping thing quite fraught.

I'm so tired that when I do wake at 5am, it's a simple thing to reason that the sound that woke me was someone walking on a huge dumpster full of wire coat hangers. 

I suspect this may indicate that I'm seriously 'tired'.

There's another huge story I want to tell.  I just need a little more time to sit down with the photographs and stories that unfolded at Palazzo Del Vice Re, located in Lezzeno, on the edge of Lake Como. 

I took the photograph that follows down at the lake edge, below the palazzo, when I slipped out early one morning wanting to capture a slice of the beauty and peace I found there.

Luciano Susto, Genova

I first heard Luciano play at Stefano's Antica Hostaria Pacetti.  He was performing with his wife, Donatella.  Together they are Susto e Soranzio.

They have become friends.  Friends who were kind enough to invite Helen and I into their beautiful home on the hill one evening, friends who generously share their world with us.

I took the following photograph during an aperitivo performance at Stefano's restaurant one evening ...

I Am Missing That City, Its People ...

Coffee at Douce in Piazza Matteotti, Genova.

Or perhaps I am generally missing good coffee.  Even the highway autogrills do good coffee in Italy.

I am missing green beans, lightly cooked.  Tomatoes from Il Bio di Soziglia.  And adding the best riccotta from Le Gramole Olioteca to that mix.  Missing Francesca and Norma too.

Then I miss the possibility of eating Ravioli fatti in casa al “tuccu” di carne at Roberto's place, Il Genovese because Tuccu is the most divine sauce ever invented ... any place here on this earth.

I miss Stefano's restaurant because there are always stunning surprises in store when you eat and drink there. 

I miss the possibility of hearing Donatella singing and Luciano play there.  I am learning to miss Donatella's fried squash flowers too.  They were divine that night she took Helen and I home and cooked for us.  

I miss Barbara and Alessandra.  I most definitely miss Stefano.  I miss Lorenzo

I miss the 'ciao's' that I hear in the street.  I miss Pino & Silvana, and their divine pizzas.

I miss Boccadasse and my seat up on the hill, I miss Outi, Paula and Paola.  There is Davide, Federico, and Leah, and so many others. 

I'm thinking now  ... perhaps it all adds up to the fact that I'm simply missing Genova. And forgive me if your name isn't here because I'm sure to be missing you too  :-)


Below, a photograph of Luciano playing bass guitar (really, he is), taken at a performance he and Donatella gave recently.

Home Again ...

I arrived home late Wednesday night ... exhausted. 

Like so many of the other days, on this particular journey, Wednesday was a huge day.   It was a day where my lost ID card was handed back to me at Milan Airport.  I had been holding my breath a little as I reached check-in.  I had the police report tucked away in my camera bag and my driver's licence, with the photograph to prove I was me, at the ready.

The lovely woman behind the counter saw my name and told me I had 'lost' that ID on the plane coming in and while it was strange that Brussels Airline didn't phone or email me using any of the personal details I have fed into their system so many times, I was grateful.  So grateful to see my ID card again.

I had had this feeling that it might turn up, somehow and as a result I hadn't followed the protocol of blocking my ID.  120euro was saved.  Helen and I did a small happy dance after leaving that counter.

So many beautiful things had been happening along the way however this seemed like a fairly serious slice of 'excellent'. 

Then ... my bankcard wouldn't allow me to withdraw the money I knew was in it, in Italy, but I could buy lunch using it directly.  So that was grand. 

We flew ... still working, making new plans for other New Way of Seeing workshops and arrived, after an hour and 15 minutes, in Brussels.  We made our way to the luggage claim area and began waiting.  Helen's suitcase arrived.  The clock ticked.  Soon it became clear I was going to miss my 'once on the hour, every hour' bus back to Antwerp. 

My suitcase never arrived.  I recognised 'the look' on the faces of others waiting there.  Their luggage hadn't arrived either.  But on asking, I learned they'd just come from Florence.  I was the only one missing my luggage from Milan.

I was tired and a little bit grouchy perhaps.  We walked the length of the luggage claim hall until we found the queue at the Brussels Airlines missing luggage office.  We were walking towards it when I noticed my bag, standing all alone in the middle of nowhere ...

I checked it for bombs and for drugs.  It seemed fine.  I imagine someone had taken my bag by accident and abandoned it there in the hall when they realised.  Thank goodness the police hadn't wondered about it. So we left.  Wondering whether it wasn't time to purchase some kind of lottery ticket.

I strolled over to the bankcard machine, wanting to access my money for a train ticket.  Helen had decided she wasn't leaving until she was sure I wouldn't be walking to Antwerp. 

My bankcard didn't work.  I was tired.  Disbelieving.  I knew I had money there.

Helen reminded me that my money had been accessible directly in Milan so, we wandered on down to the trains level of the airport.  Voila, I was able to use the card to purchase a ticket from the machine.  A big thank you to you, BNP Paribas Fortis, what was that all about?

Finally, an hour and a half after landing, I was on a train heading directly for Antwerp.  Windows down as we screamed our way through that hot summer's night.   Gert met me at the bottom of the stairs in the station. 

Note: why don't European train stations have escalators on every platform?  What wrong-headed thinking leaves travelers almost destroying themselves carrying luggage up and down them?  I pack as lightly as possible knowing this thing but it seems not very 'first world'. Belgium and Italy both fail in this respect and the men have long ago learned to look the other way when there's a women struggling up those stairs with her suitcase.  No one but no one wants to help anyone else with their luggage.  It has made me appreciate Kiwi blokes because I know they'd be there in a flash.  But never mind ... I can do it.  I pack lightly.

And so I am home.  Yesterday looked and felt remarkably like a road smash.  I had this idea that I've spent these past two weeks traveling at 100km p/h and that yesterday I hit the wall.  I did laundry, I cleaned the house, I shopped for supplies, I cooked ... falling on the bed in-between times or working here at my computer.

Never mind.  Whiny moment over, I'll leave you with a photograph I took back in Lezzeno in Italy.  I have so many stories to tell about the exquisite palazzo located on the edge of Lake Como.  That exquisite palazzo where Helen and I spent those last two nights in Italy.

Last Night Down By The Lake...

One of the more difficult things about traveling is the quality of the screen that I work with out here on the road.  It's difficult to view images ... difficult simply because I am used to a better quality of screen back at my desk.

I don't know that I've done justice to this image but I wanted to post it anyway.  Last night, after dinner at a restaurant that cooks the fish of Lake Como, in a whole range of styles, we wandered down by the lake below the stunning hotel where we are staying.

To write that this trip has been extraordinary would be stating the obvious.  Or telling you that we have met and spent time with so many good people ... also clear.  But more than that, the scenes that have unfolded in front of us, as we've searched out ways to make our joint photography workshops absolutely first class,  have been exceptional.

I was back at the lake edge this morning and a whole news series of scenes unfolded in front of me.  I'm going to miss this beautiful place tucked away in Italy's mountains.

Magnificent Days ...

We are on Day 2 of this first A New Way of Seeing photography workshop and all I can say is that feels like both an extraordinary privilege to meet and work with these women but it is a huge amount fun too.

I almost fell over due to laughing so hard last night.  Lisa, the Australian, was responsible.  Trans-Tasman relations are at all time high.  Meanwhile I have a few million photographs to download and so many stories to tell but really lacking the time to do.  We're off to Lake Como tomorrow ... stories should follow.

Day One of the weekend workshop ended on a restaurant balcony located at the edge of the Ligurian Sea, out at Boccadasse, eating exquisite food and well, yes ... laughing often.

We are a small united nations, with the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and America involved. 

Now ... for Day Two.

Early Morning, Genova, Italy

It has been so difficult to blog here in Genova.  So difficult to sit down and relax into attempting to describe some of the magic that has been happening here in this city I love.  But I woke early this morning, woke early and here I am, at the kitchen table, next to that window that opens out onto the street ... ready to write.

Already the neighbours are hanging their laundry on lines strung across the street here.  There is a pink duvet cover and a blue fitted sheet hanging between the ancient city gate, called Porta Soprana, and I. 

People are heading out to work, August and holiday already being anticipated in their casualness.  7.30am and there's a warm breeze, blue skies and 20 celsius or more.

These last few days here have been full ... even those times marked down as 'free'.  But 'free' ... what do I mean by that? I  guess they've been marked down as nowhere we have to be however the places we've ended up and the moments we've had have been so good.

Over years I've come to know some special people here in Genova and these last few days have been full of visiting with them although, as is always the case, I'm meeting new people too.  Last night we went to aperitivo with Alessandra, catching up with Federico, who introduced us to Paolo ... who gifted us a copy of his new cd.

Later, down in Piazza delle Erbe, we had dinner with Paula and her Paolo, not pausing in our conversations until 11pm ... when we  were surprised to realise the time.

And don't imagine that these are conversations or meetings where we talk lightly.  The weather and small stories might weave their way through our conversations but mostly there is this divine intensity with people.

And there is always laughter.

Two city apartments have been involved in this visit.  We were testing a new Air BnB space, with our future clients in mind, before returning to my much-loved space here in Via Ravecca.  Paola's place. 

Our dates for the Air BnB were 9-13 July but it appears that there was a brainfade and yes ... we included the night of 13 July as a night spent at the first place. 

Our Air BnB host smsed us at 10.30pm on 13 July, apologising for missing our leaving, hoping our stay was a good one.  We were out at dinner with friends, up on the side of those hills that surround the  city.  Reading their message, I felt quite some alarm and shared its contents with Helen, business partner and extraordinarily wise woman.

She was startled too.

A few sms messages later and we decided we would move ... right there and then, in the middle of the night.  We had a huge working day planned for the following day and so it would be fine ... an Adventure in fact.

This all unfolded while we were dinner guests up at Donatella and Luciano's place and the evening had been one of those magical ones.  There's always a bit of magic with those two.  Their friend Eleonora offered to drive us back down into the city and we accepted, with much  gratitude and some laughter. 

Midnight found Helen and I  packing, stripping beds and etc before moving apartments.  Two loads, two giggling hikes through the city ... 1.30am, 24 celsius, we arrived at Ravecca.

Yesterday, despite best intentions and big work day planned, the day was a slow one because ... well you know, we had fallen into bed some time after 2am.

Yesterday I also caught up with our BnB hosts and they apologised for not making it clear that they were relaxed about our mistake that we didn't need to move at that time of night.  They were lovely actually and their BnB is the best I have stayed in yet.  Photographs to follow.

I think one of the things I love best about Genova is surely her people.  They have shown us so much kindness already and we haven't even been here a week. 

Iit's always intense for me here but I suspect that's how I prefer to live life.  Planned meetings with people merge into unplanned meetings with other people.  Invitations and adventures arrive.  There is much joy.

And how do I write of it all?   Of Lorenzo introducing us to the loveliest people at his cafe yesterday.  Or Paolo, the singer, gifting us a copy of his cd.  Of Donatella and Luciano preparing a most marvelous gluten-free, vegetarian meal ...  Actually, we discovered they know Lorenzo too.  The Lorenzo who came and stayed with us in Antwerp.

There was a lovely long lunch with Stefano and Miriam, and meeting their beautiful friend from Haiwaii.  Dinner at Stefano's restaurant, and a long conversation with a woman I have come to know via a series of accidental meetings over years.  I photographed Paola more than a few years ago.  But that ... that story is so long and delightful that I can't tackle it here.  Not yet.  I want to tell it true and it's complicated.

Today we're off and wandering again.  The weekend is full of another kind of adventure and there is so much to write about ... and already my tummy is saying, But Di, what about breakfast?

I've been here an hour ... mostly sitting staring out the window that looks out over the small alleyway, or caruggi, drifting in and out of these stories I want to tell here ... overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of what has already been.

It's good to be back in Genova.  Really really good.

Below ... Donatella cooked us zucchini flowers, as well as so many other dishes (but my flash batteries ran out just as I began.  Living out of suitcase can lead to chaos with me).   Anyway, it was my first time eating zucchini flowers.  They were divine.

One of those Exceptional Days here in Genova

This morning, in dire need of an espresso after a superb yesterday, I wandered over to Mentelocale Cafe with my laptop hoping to put together a post while drinking that coffee.

I sat down and set myself up at Mentelocale Cafe then realised I stepped into the maelstrom that is the International Music Festival.  The 'background' music playing as I work here is mind-blowingly good.  As in, non-stop concerts at the major courtyard of Palazzo Ducale - from 09.30 until 13.30.

Genova retains its superb reputation with me.  It's a city where I have learned to accept the unexpected will happen.  Later, wandering the ancient city streets, marching bands would appear randomly ... complete with baton-twirling girls, smiles pinned in place, uniforms immaculate.

Let's just say it was surreal but quite 'Genova' for me.

But this post is really about yesterday.Yesterday I passed by a lovely local woman I had photographed and chatted with, by chance, more than two years ago.  She had been leaning on a windowsill and I had asked if I might photograph her.  She agreed then had come down to chat with me.

Fast-forward to May 2014, last time I was here in the city, and I recognised Paola at a table next to me at a cafe here in the city.  I said hi, not sure she would remember me photographing her but she did. 

Then yesterday, on the way back to the apartment, I passed her again.  She lives in a beautiful fishing village not too far from the city and I live in Belgium.  I don't take these random meetings forgranted.

We stopped and chatted for a little  bit, as she was wondering if I was still here from May.  I ended up telling her of the 'New Way of Seeing' project.  I mentioned I was taking my business partner out to the village I had met her in and she invited us to visit her. 

After a coincidence (or two), we ended up spending some enjoyable hours talking with her.  It was so very good to finally sit down and talk.

But honestly, the coincidences that are happening on this visit are remarkable.  We are meeting the people we are meant to meet but that seems to be the way it unfolds here in Genova.  Every time I come here, I find another reason to love the city more ... if that's possible.

Then last night, we had another sublime dinner at Stefano Di Bert's remarkable restaurant, at the invitation of singer and bass guitarist, Donatella and Luciano.  I met these three via Alessandra, a woman I feel so very privileged to know.   I met Alessandra via Barbara, again it feels like a privilege to call her a friend, and I met Barbara via the most adorable Francesca.

It's like that here in the city.

Stefano, once again, presented a huge range of the most divine wines matched to the most exquisite food.  It felt like we were eating and drinking some kind of sublime art collection ... perhaps.  A marriage of beautiful food and really good wine was almost overwhelming at times.

It was another rather relaxed 'after midnight' walk 'home' through this city I love so well. 

Voila .. it has been like that so far.  No camera, no photos.  I'm sorry.  I arrived here so tired that I have been leaving my camera behind.  This situation should change tomorrow ...

Meanwhile, the shot that follows ... I was up on my bed working on my computer, mezzanine floor, old Rolli palace, huge windows open, beautiful view of the street down below and realised I really must share.  I am so loving this place.

A New Way of Seeing ...

The new website has launched ...

And we are on Twitter and Facebook.  Places are selling.  It's so exciting.

The newsletter is still coming, I had to wait for my fabulous graphic designer and the marketing guru to ride to the rescue, in terms of logo design and site building. 

More to follow on them in the weeks ahead, as they are superbSpeedy, efficient, inspired, talented ...

Come wandering in Genoa, Italy. 

But Genova ...

You can't visit Genova, in Italy, and not taste the pesto.  It's the home of pesto.

Well, if you have an allergy, okay ... you could miss the pesto but otherwise, you will taste of the most sublime pesto ever made while visiting that ancient Italian city. 

They know what they're doing there.  You can taste the difference.



Stories and People ...

Maybe we refuse to acknowledge our common origins because racism causes amnesia, or because we find it unbelievable that in those days long past the entire world was our kingdom, an immense map without borders, and our legs were the only passport required.

Eduardo Galeano, Mirrors - Stories of Almost Everyone.

Re-entry is always difficult.  My life in Genova is so different to the life I live here in Antwerp.  And being house-keeper in this quirky little Belgian house means settling back into that domestic life of cleaning and cooking and taking care of people.

It's also about me creating a space that I like to spend time in and so there are peonies in the big vase downstairs ... my laundry is done, the floors have been cleaned, bread was baked, meals cooked.  The transition  is complete, I am a housewife and all kinds of other things too, again.

I've done a couple of school-runs with Miss 9 (almost Miss 10), we're on a countdown to her fourth of July birthday.  And one of those school-runs involved a much-needed detour to my place of worship and peace ... De Slegte.  I found treasure, of course.

Eduardo Galeano's book, Mirrors - Stories of Almost Everyone, was my tram-companion today.  I love that  man's humour.  His intelligence more than anything but the way that he writes is rather exquisite.  I heard him interviewed a while back and thought, 'Hmmmm'. 

I have a copy of his Children of the Days too. 

In other news, in news from Genova ... Giovanni is a friend I met long-ago via the internet.  Raised in Milan, he moved to New Zealand some years ago with his wife, and it is from there that he too writes the most marvelous things.

You can imagine, it's rare that we find ourselves in the same country at the same time.  Until this last visit he was always in Italy when I wasn't however we did catch up back in 2010, when I was at home in New Zealand.  And this time the gods of travel allowed us a small meeting.

He arrived in Genova last Sunday and we met in Piazza De Ferrari.  The antiques market was still on and it was fun to wander with him, hearing his stories of this thing and that. 

I was obviously beyond temptation having purchased the beautiful shawl.  (Actually I reached home with about 2euro in change in my pocket.  This is my traveling life, the common story of Di wandering... New Zealand to Istanbul being the most disturbingly close-call of all).

Giovanni and I lunched, we caught up on stories and then, that evening we were able to join Barbara, Donatella, Luciano, and friends of theirs, for aperitivo out in the city.  It was so much fun.  But that's Genova to me ... aka La Superba.

My airline had contacted me that afternoon and so there was the scramble as I worked to get ready to leave a day earlier than I had planned.  Gert has since expressed bemused surprise that he made that mistake while booking for me.  We never make these mistakes and, while it was a situation that made me laugh, there was so much I was leaving until that last day in the city. 

Mmmm, children, don't leave everything until the last moment.

Anyway, I left Giovanni in the city on the Monday, as he wandered there before he headed off along the exquisite Ligurian coastline.  And I gifted my wine and Monday-food to Barbara, then left.  It was over again.

And below ... a photograph I took of Giovanni as we said our goodbyes until next time we find ourselves in the same country again. 

My Genovese Workspace

It's raining this morning and so I've stayed at the apartment, with plans to meet friends later.  But even when it rains, I find this city beautiful. Reflections appear in puddles on footpaths all over the city.

I have developed a new and terrible habit.  I wake about 8am, open the door to the small balcony, climb back into bed and sleep again ... as late as 11am that first time.  It's bliss.  I'm an early-rising creature and find it easy to wake and begin a day.

Not so here.  I have become a sloth. Quite the delighted sloth.  It won't last. It's only that I'm walking all over the place and talking to so many interesting people.  And I have Donatella and Luciano's cd playing.

But staying in on a Saturday morning in Genova ... you can see why in the photograph below.  The space where I work is an easy place to be.

Thank you, Air B&B.  I can't recommend them highly enough.  My cousin, Julie, introduced me to them and we stayed in them in Verona, Croatia, Budapest, Austria, and Lake Como last summer.  You get to meet interesting locals and live in local homes. 

My bedroom/office space in this beautiful apartment, downtown Genova.

It was an extraordinary day ... yesterday

I don't even know where to begin ... last night perhaps, when Alessandra organised a dinner for a few of her friends and I was invited along.  It was outstanding.  

Donatella Soranzio sang, with Luciano Susto on bass guitar, and they were sublime.  I felt so very fortunate to be there listening.  Video by Federico will follow, as it was he who packed his camera and filmed events as they unfolded but they are on youtube as Susto e Soranzo.  And you will see, it was one of those 'pinch me, I'm dreaming' moments, there at Stefano Di Bert's exquisite restaurant called Pacetti Antica Ostaria.

And Stefano ... what a host.  He brought out plate after plate of truly divine food, accompanied by the loveliest of wines ... so many divine wines that came along on that gastronomic journey.  Food and wines from both Friuli and Liguria.  Stefano, Alessandra, Federico, and Donatella are all from the Friuli region. 

1.30am saw Stefano, Barbara, and Alessandra walking me back through quiet city streets to my apartment. This morning, I have to admit that I woke, and lay very still ... checking for hangover damage.  It turns out, the story is true, there is no hangover with good wine and believe me, we had had a lot of very very good wine.

It was one of the most enjoyable evening's I've had in a long time.

Today I had appointments all over the city, ending with a Napoli pizza at my favourite pizzeria on Via Ravecca.

Actually, yesterday I also had lunch with Francesca.  'The' Francesca from Le GramoleWe laughed often but the dish below, the Troccoli, that made us laugh most of all because I told her of New Zealand's Huhu Grubs ...

I have eaten a Huhu Grub and if you clicked on the link you will have seen why I might have found my Troccoli slightly disconcerting.

I'm too tired to write of everything, although I must add that I also had the pleasure of meeting Sibilla Iacopini.  And I'm enjoying this new apartment in another part of the city.  I'm top floor, with a small balcony and french doors that I open each morning as a way of beginning the day.

I'll take some photographs when my days stop spinning but really ... I love the spinning.