Days Full of Music and Laughter ... Genova

Saturday night and I was invited to Alessandra's place, with Barbara, Federico and Davide too, for aperitivo before heading out to Teatro Govi and a superb show by the Paul McCartney tribute band(not the best sample but it gives you a sense of their talent perhaps).

Genova is gifting me some beautiful music this visit.  2 nights in a row and there has been music that has had me trying not to  rock out of my seat and dance.

But it's more about the fact that I know some really good people here ... and I'm meeting more all the time. 

Barbara has been teaching me Italian in the quiet times and has actually given me hope that I might speak it one day.  She was surprised to realise I had the sounds required. (I was probably more surprised.  I'm so used to apologising for all of my languages that to be praised felt like some kind of magic).  I will go on with the work.  I think it's more than time I learned to speak here.

Today was all about a most divine Sunday lunch and yes, that was me, the New Zealander there in the midst of her beautiful warmhearted family.  Afterwards there was a family photography session and so much laughter that I'm still smiling.

It's been like that ...

Club La Claque, Genova

I love Genova. It's a city of secrets that can be difficult to find but they are so stunningly intense when discovered.

Friday night, Barbara invited me out to Club La Claque and for just 15 euro we were able to listen to Stefano Marelli sing with the truly talented trumpet player, Raffaele, accompanying him.  I would love to hear more of their music. 

Then came Marina Rei and her magnificent band and they played until midnight.  I can't even begin to describe her performance.  She drums as she sings, plays keyboards too, and her voice is divine.  Finding a youtube performance that begins to capture her is difficult.

Walking back through the city after midnight, some Palestinian/Syrian guys were giving the most delicious impromptu musical performance I've seen.  Somehow they radiated joy and pulled all those passing by into their circle of music. I ended up talking to their friend from Lebanon for a while.

So ... Friday was just another beautiful night here in Genova.

Gate-Climbing ...

It began harmlessly enough ... gate-climbing as soon as I worked out the 'how' of it. 

Another memory from long ago, quiet excitement ... a gap in the hedge that surrounded my childhood home.  They closed that up pretty quickly once they realised how I was slipping away.

Me and my trike, then my bike, traveled far and wide ... or as far as my lazy legs would carry me.  Then came the car and that seemed like the best freedom so far, until I flew over to Istanbul.  And zipped off to Rome.  Then ended up in Belgium, discovered France, Holland and every place else in Europe was easily reachable.

'Gate-climbing' on steroids.

Then Genova, Italy.  That place I keep on returning to ... since 2008.  That exquisitely ancient city surrounded by beautiful hills and the sea. 

These days I can wander where ever I want but I keep returning.

I'm flying this week. 

14 days in that city I love ...

Listening to The Sweet Remains these days, specially Ghost in the Orange Blossom Air.

Suspend all the doing ...

2 // take a break from your carefully packaged & organised life; suspend all the doing, sit amongst the shambles of half-read books and empty cups, let blessed rest find you.

Leonie Wise, lifted from her beautiful blog.

Murray left yesterday and I collapsed into a small pile of crumple today.  I can do stuff ... I can but oh how I pay.  Just till the iron medication kicks in. 

I'm so impatient for it to work though.  And so I was always going to love Leonie's wise words, suspend all the doing.

Although, rather than suspend all, I'm doing slowly and carefully, then resting.  Multiple loads of laundry have been done today because ... it's 17 celsius here in Belgium.  Unusual perhaps, or simply an Indian summer.  It's good, as so many of my very best people are arriving on Friday.

Shannon and Erik are zooming over from Holland, Teresa and Kim from the UK, Jayne is coming and her Steve is flying back from Dubai, Ren and her lovely Norwegian are coming too.

Steven and Isabel, Martin and Gaby, Ellen and Anna, Marcia and her man ... I'm happy.

My photography exhibition has its official reception/opening on Friday night.  Saturday night is the night of the birthday party.  But honestly, it's mostly about my pleasure in catching up with these people I love. 

I'm scared I've forgotten to invite some people and they need to contact me because I am haphazard at the moment.  The anemia has surely caused problems with energy levels but also with concentration.  And I thought it was enough to take the medicine and move slowly but it's the 'not doing' that is making me most crazy.  It feels like someone has removed my larger station wagon motor and replaced it with the engine of a very small scooter.

Or that's the way I'm explaining this loss of forward motion. 

Slowly, slowly ... let's see how it goes.

Leonie, thank you for the music too.

Rewilding ...

Of all the world's creatures, perhaps those in greatest need of rewilding are our children. The collapse of children's engagement with nature has been even faster than the collapse of the natural world. In the turning of one generation, the outdoor life in which many of us were immersed has gone....So many fences are raised to shut us out that eventually they shut us in.

George Monbiot

I absolutely borrowed this from Terri Windling's blog, Myth & Moor.  I wanted to note it some place ...


Leonie Wise & Waves

Leonie Wise lives in New Zealand these days, on an incredible heartbreakingly beautiful island called Waiheke Island. 

And she blogs, sharing small pieces of that country I love, allowing us all to drink in images ... text too.

I visited that island, once, long ago.  All indications are that it has improved over the decades since and that it offers lifestyle ... on steroids.  In a natural nature-enhancing way.

And she posted photographs today, and a song too, by Mr Probz called Waves.

So I went and found some waves I had photographed while we were out on a boat exploring Mercury Bay, up in the Coromandel, when I was back at home too.

Andrew Greig, Writer, Poet, Musician ...

I have 2 mountaineering authors I enjoy more than all others and one of them is Andrew Greig, author of the book titled Summit Fever.

Perhaps this write-up captures what I found so enjoyable about his book:  When poet Andrew Greig was asked by Scottish mountaineer Mal Duff to join his ascent of the Mustagh Tower in the Karakoram Himalayas, he had a poor head for heights and no climbing experience whatsoever. The result is this unique book.

Summit Fever has been loved by climbers and literary critics alike for its refreshing candour, wit, insight and the haunting beauty of its writing. Much more than a book about climbing, it celebrates the risk, joy and adventure of being alive.

But having 'discovered' Andrew today, beyond rereading his book and carrying it with me as I've moved towns and countries, I have truly enjoyed finding his poetry and everything else too.  He's a well-rounded artist it seems.

And I found Mal's Song (embedded below) ... beyond special.  I'm on page 38, rereading my paperback version yet again and Mal is currently introducing Andrew to the mountains ... in preparation for their adventure in the Himalayas.  Like in the song.

Mal Duff was an extraordinary man, a superb mountaineer, a good friend to many, and all kinds of other things that I can't possibly imagine, I'm sure.  He died at Everest's base camp back in 1997. 

Joe Simpson, who also had some epic times in the mountains with Mal, wrote of Mal's favourite quote in the introduction to Andrew's book, Summit Fever.  The quote:

He either fears his fate too much

or his deserts are small,

that dares no put it to the touch

to win or lose it all.

- the Duke of Montrose.

But of course.

And that would be Joe Simpson, that other writer/mountaineer whose books I love. 

A Poppy Kind of Day ...

It's a grey day here in Antwerp.  Grey in so many ways, and so a splash of colour didn't seem out of order here on the blog. 

I'm reading an exquisite essay by Rebecca Solnit - The Far North of Experience, In Praise of Darkness (and Light), cooking the first of two pavlovas, and I'm back on everyday school-runs for 2 weeks as of today.

My photography exhibition is coming together and I have some workshops to plan.  There's a Passenger concert to attend soon too.

Wishing you a lovely weekend

Mojave 3, Most Days

Liking the music embedded here tonight.  New music for me.

The Belgian bloke and I have spent the entire day moving our desks and creating a new office space.  Yes he has a swollen tendon in his shoulder, one that no longer moves through the bone without pain but he was careful, and I was helpful ... or tried to be.

I love our new space.  I haven't moved much but he did and the result is quite drastic ... to us.

Photographs to follow in the days ahead, if I work out how to capture it all.

Early Morning, New Zealand

... with an Erica Jong twist.

I found this beautiful image out walking, early one morning, at Cooks Beach, in the Coromandel, New Zealand.

Listening to favourite song, favourite singer, as I load this. 

It opens with a torrential downpour in the recorded version.  I think I love the sound of that rain, more than anything.

Whole Worlds Watching ... written by Moana Maniapoto & Paddy Free

"In the landscape of New Zealand music, one genre stands out: music by Maori artists, which is a solid cornerstone, and within itself powerfully diverse. One of the most distinctive, articulate and significant Maori voices is Moana Maniapoto who - first with Moana and the Moahunters and latterly as Moana & the Tribe - has taken her often politically conscious music to festivals across the world." (Graham Reid)

She has consistently pushed the boundaries of Maori music in both her recordings and live performances, fusing taonga puoro, haka, chants with soul, reggae and classical "to produce her own blend of traditional and contemporary styles without compromising either." (NZ Herald, 2003).

A tribute to people power written by Moana Maniapoto & Paddy Free. 

You can read more over on the website

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.

Hero, Family Of The Year

Miss 10 slipped a note into my pocket last night.  I'm famous for losing notes slipped into my pockets ...

This morning she appeared here, so excited, did I still have that piece of paper?  I wasn't sure.  She looked sad.  I wandered over and looked.  It was okay, I hadn't 'cleaned' my pockets, without thinking.

She had written 'Family of the Year', Hero.  I had to hand over my keyboard.  She's in love, with this song, and like me she plays favourites on repeat. 

She's delicious ... and needless to say, I have it here, playing, on repeat.

Jeff Daniels, and some of what he is ...

I first noticed him on The Newsroom when the first of this 'Best Scenes' clip flew round the internet.

Fiction ...

Flying home to New Zealand, after 8 years away, I found The Newsroom series on that Singapore Airlines flight BUT I didn't find it until just before landing.  I didn't ask them to circle.  I caught the series eventually.  And being home was good.

Tonight I found out Jeff Daniels sings too.