This and That & Everything!


If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday ...'

Alan Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

The extract was longer but perhaps this is enough to remind us to leave some time for our senses to do their work ... to smell the flowers perhaps.   There are more quotes from his book here.

These days find me rushing, like a mad woman, through life.  Cleaning, organising, packing, remembering, searching, sometimes finding. 

I am so tired I will probably sleep all the way to Italy on Wednesday.  Meanwhile the Belgian bloke is having a shoulder scan, this week I hope.  He's been in pain for far too long now and physio isn't helping at all.  It seems he has either torn a muscle or ... he needs something for inflammation of a joint somewhere in there.  We'll be so glad when he can use his arm again, and sleep without waking when he turns.

Jess has broken her finger.  Ignoring it didn't speed healing and so she's 'limping around' in terms of what she can do with that ridiculously painful middle finger.

Miss 10 has taken to lolling about and generally enjoying her summer holidays. And Sander is crossing Belgium 5 days per week for work, as usual.

I suspect, if we sat down together and talked of what we noticed yesterday, we might just be a small group of grouchy stressed people who noticed not much at all ... except Miss 10 who may have noticed things. 

I talked to my Dad this morning.  I wanted to wish him well for his hospital tests on Tuesday but, in good news really, his tests were on Monday and he had come through the actuality of them really well.  It was lovely to be talking to him as he had worried me with talk of having to go off his heart medication for the test.  He's staying at my sister's tonight.  They didn't want him to go home alone.

And so the new website needs fine-tuning.  There are emails to write and to reply to.  I'm behind on my writing course, yet again ...   I'm in and out with the laundry, packing ,and ironing while searching for some really important notes I had made.

But I did finish the family portrait series of shots I took last Sunday.  I'm so pleased with the results.  They were another really special family full of adorable little folk, as seen below.


I'm Back ...

There's no headache this morning!  It feels so unbelievably good.  I found this area in my neck at 5am ... because it was stiff and sore, so I rubbed and stretched it for a while and voila ... I woke with no pain.

Meanwhile everything continues to happen here.  My huge ring-binder folder, the one I use for my book-writing course, is full of assignments and we're only halfway through.  It's been beyond excellent having to work out things like defining your book's genre, imagining how it will look - ideally.  Hardcover or soft, photographs, text, binding-style, after learning about different options for bindings.

Creating a vision board, a mind map, a set of core values for the book and the process.  Listening to published author interviews, learning all that Christine Mason Miller knows from her publishing successes.  Writing a synopsis and so much more.

It's intense and although we only work with Christine for 6 weeks, the material remains available to us for 6 months.  This course is all about fitting a book in around real life and all the distractions that most people live with ... which is so realistic for a creature like me.

Last night I began trying to select books for the journey next week.  I love reading at night in Genova.  I'm still not an electronic book reader-type, although the Belgian bloke is working on me.  My camera gear makes me a little sad about the extra weight I can't really carry in books but read I must. 

I have Kay Cooke's 2 poetry books on my desk, and 2 of Ren Powell's too.  I'm thinking they would be a great study while I'm out wandering.  Gert found me another Claire Messud book, secondhand, and I picked up Christos Tsiolkas's book, Dead Europe while in France but I think that one might be a little bit darker than I expect.  Let's see it.

There's all that but then I adore La Feltrinelli's in Genova.  It's one of my favourite bookshops out here in the world.  The English selection isn't huge but it's good.  Really good.  Last time I didn't allow myself to go in.  This time, we'll see ...

Anyway, enough of that.  I'm behind with my photo-editing.  I was lucky enough to wander over to Brussels last weekend, to photograph my lovely colour therapist friend, Marcia's, beautiful family.  I need to get on to that now that my head has stopped aching.

They are a truly, madly, deeply exquisite family and I so love photographing them.  It took most of the day but it wasn't just about photography, there was also a delicious cooked lunch after the picnic captured below.

On Portraiture ...

I love the work of portrait photography ...

My idea is that portrait photography is an attempt to put someone so at ease with who you are that they give you something of who they really are.

I think everybody is capable of being photographed in a way that is beautiful. 

It's about letting the real self bubble up to the surface.  It can take time but it's more than worth it in the end.


A Remarkable Woman

Whether we know it, or not, we are all remarkable souls.  Individuals with stories, tapestries of individual beauty. 

Over the years I've realised that each individual carries so many stories inside.

I started moving house when I was 21 and newly married.  Over the years of the first marriage we moved at least 12 times.  And I remember watching and wondering, as we drove by old homes on the road between wherever we were living and 'home', about the people who might have been forever inhabitants in those houses ... wondering what their stories felt like.

I see people as beautiful stories, like books with their own individual covers, and I enjoy the privilege of 'reading' a little when we work on a portrait shoot or simply spend time together.  Some try to tell me that their lives are so ordinary but lives are never ordinary.  It's as fascinating to listen to someone who has lived their entire life in one place as it is to listen to a person who has traveled.

Like wine, we all have our own flavour, our own ageing-process ... depth, maturity, character are all words that can be applied as much to humans as to wine.

Back in Genova, I spent two days with Diny and it was an incredible pleasure.  The tapestry of her life was beautifully woven.  I can imagine her laughing as she reads this but it's less about perfection and more about the deep beauty of being real and present. Of being honest.  Of embracing life in a way that left me admiring her intensely.

And she gave me permission to post one of the photographs I took of her while we worked. 



And back to work ...

We arrived home later than expected, caught up in the air-controllers strike, fortunate to have our flight only delayed by 4-5 hours.

I can't complain and would rather that air-controllers were well-paid and happy with their working conditions.  Lyon Airport isn't the worst airport in the world to get stuck in either.  I would have preferred it was Istanbul, as that is surely my favourite airport so far - free wifi and good food.

Lyon had great food.  We took the risk and paid 14euro for a main at the brasserie there.  It was the best airport meal ever however ... we surely paid for it.  We had tried the cheap route earlier in the day but it was 7 euro for a bag of potato chips and 2 bottles of water. 

We knew Belgium had 22 celsius but, of course, that did involve flying through a bumpy band of grey cloud and into rain.  Kind of 'tropical', if you really want to stretch the meaning of tropical.

Today has been all about unpacking, cleaning the house, and getting back on task with the photo-processing I couldn't do on holiday.  I'm pleased with how it's going but missing Doussard's mountains and surrounds.

The work in process ...

Portrait Series

There were problems with the colour in this image. It's heading toward midnight, and I decided to play a while in Photoshop. 

I have a more natural, unprocessed image of the same child but photoshop can be so much fun.  It took me into a world that felt like art, beyond the art of photography.

Dandelions ...

The common name dandelion (/ˈdændɨlaɪ.ən/ DAN-di-ly-ən, from French dent-de-lion, meaning "lion's tooth") is given to members of the genus, and like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. Many Taraxacum species produce seeds asexually by apomixis, where the seeds are produced without pollination, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant.

Source: Wikipedia