On Days Where Joy Bubbles Up ...

Perhaps it began yesterday ... that bubble of joy that floated up out of me as I laughed with my new hairdresser.  He's about 65 and he's a delight.

I took my long hair to him a couple of months ago.  I went in knowing it was serious, that I hadn't had a professional cut in a very long time, maybe 2 years ... and that the time of the supermarket, do-it-yourself, dyes had to come to an end.

He sighed, he worked for hours, he fixed everything, cutting away so much hair I wondered, over the days that followed, if I wasn't related to Samson ... that my strength hadn't disappeared with my hair.

But a strange thing happened.  It wasn't as short as it initially felt but, even better, I had more hair than I'd ever had.  He had worked some magic that made it all lively and almost wavy.  A miracle really but one that I hadn't thanked him for.

Some colour 'adjustment' is required and so I biked over to book an appointment and voila, before I knew it, joy was simply bubbling out of me as we talked of my hair.

Last night, after a very warm 27 celsius day, I slipped outside with my laptop and sat in the  garden a while.  The swallows were still screaming around like the kamikazes they are but as the sun went down, out came the bats ... on an insect-eating mission.  I didn't know we had bats but we do.  It was beautiful out there in the garden that Gert made.

This morning began with the arrival of a most exquisite and much-longed for book.  Eduardo Galeano's Children of the Days - a calendar of human history had arrived.  Thank you very much, Gert!  I opened it and fell in.

It's as beautiful as imagined, more beautiful than I knew a book could be perhaps.

29 January


Today in 1860 Anton Chekhov was born.

He wrote as if he were saying nothing.

And he said everything.

But there was still more joy out there waiting for me.  I had promised to phone Dave and Jude, another set of old friends from far-away.  We had enjoyed catching up with them when back home at Christmas. visiting just as they were just setting off on their grand return to Africa, with children.

Talking with them is like drinking from an ocean of joy.  Somehow they fill me up.  We talked for 2 hours and more about everything important and good.

The bell rang again and more parcels arrived.  Gifts for Miss 9, all the way from New Zealand, t-shirts for Gert, and voila, a  gift of music all the way from Australia.  I'm listening to that as I write this.  Thank you to Paul.

Tonight I have a 3-hour photoshoot.  I'm working with a friend who has pulled me into an exciting project of hers.  I suspect it will be intense but foresee more joy is entirely possible. 

Money ruins so much and while I need it, getting involved in projects that engage my heart and soul ... they're not to be sneezed at. 

In these days I tell myself that, okay, perhaps I'll die poor but by crikey, I feel so rich in stories ...

I owe email and phone calls.  Please forgive me.  Replies to follow in the weeks ahead. 

A New Post on the Antwerp page

There has been a real sense of storing impressions ... of really looking, as I walk city streets in these days before flying back home to New Zealand ...

This is the opening to a new blog post I wrote for Fans of Flanders, and posted on my Antwerp page but even as I write this here, I'm thinking maybe I need to create a New Zealand page.

I'll leave you with another image from New Zealand photographer, and good friend, David Wall.

Must finish packing ... tot later.


How do I write of these days ... ?

It's been like that ... and with New Zealand looming up in front of me, I'm kind of lost in these days.

There are things I want to do to wrap up the time spent with 4 incredible women on the photography workshop in Genova, Italy. 

And there are things I must do before arriving in New Zealand next week.

And then there are the things to do Now ... between returning from Italy and leaving for the 'uttermost ends of the earth'. (An inscription I remember reading on a world war one memorial to New Zealand soldiers who died in Turkey ... they came from the uttermost ends of the earth.) 

New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of Belgium and it's summer there ... meanwhile Antwerp is disappearing into the fog and freezing of November.

I am digging out summer clothes even as I have winter clothes repaired and readied for my return in  January.

I am so deeply deeply saddened by the deaths of so many Palestinians but that is my facebook self and not for here, in this politically-free zone.

We have someone to take care of our house.  And all is organised in terms of travel bookings.

I have some of the best people I've ever known waiting for us to arrive in New Zealand.  I'll see my sister for the first time in 8 years.  My dad too.  One of my brothers, and my beloved Auntie Coral.  I will take that Belgian bloke on a road trip round the South Island so that he knows me in the context of the place I was born ... so different to where I am now.  I love that 2000km drive, past so many different beaches, stopping to visit with Hunter and Clare in Fiordland, with Rozanna and David in Marlborough, catching up with Dave and Jude, Corryl, with Abe, with my nieces who are 8 years older.  With my ex-mother-in-law, the one that I kept and who stayed with us a summer or two ago.  With my sister-in-law, Sue, whom I adore.  I will see nieces, old friends, and people I have loved since forever.

Fiona ... she is the friend of myth and legend.   Surely the best kind of friend you could dream of finding in a lifetime, friends since we were 13 ... she and her kiwi  bloke have found us a car. 

I can't wait to see all that has changed and revisit those things that have remained the same ... but I will, as there's 23 hours in the air before I get to see them all.

Peter and Christine ... how do I write of what good people they are ... they're waiting to meet us in Auckland and wanted to drive us through the North Island to their home in Wellington.

My cup overflows.

Can you tell?

These days are extreme.  Just a few more then I fly to the country pictured below.  David Wall took this photograph.  I love his work, so much and this ... it's New Zealand.  I'm looking forward to going home.  It's been far too long.


Going Home ... and Missy Higgins.

I found the music of Missy Higgins today, just after finding an old favourite of mine ... Paul Kelly's song, Midnight Rain, via youtube.  I've been searching for it online for years.

He sang with Missy and, curious, I went wandering through her world and found Everyone's Waiting ...see the clip below.

And I watched it and remembered swimming in New Zealand's oceans.  I remembered how good it felt to walk my dogs on the beaches.  I remembered startling one of my favourite dogs out on Long Beach, in Dunedin, when I ran into the surf with her ... fully clothed, one day when I just needed to swim.

Then I hit replay and listened while I wrote to a friend.  Not seeing the flim clip, I heard the familar roar of the surf, the crackle and slosh of the sea ... and something clicked, in my soul perhaps.

And I cracked open a spare moleskin notebook I had here. 

I wrote New Zealand there on its front page, and started a list.

- find a copy of the movie 'In My Father's Den'.

- swim in the sea

- stand and walk in the surf, (photograph that to bring back to Europe when I leave).

And finally, so long after booking the tickets, I let my mind sift through the possibilities ... sunrises with coffee, outside, someplace beautiful.

Seeing my nieces, the Georgia and Katie creatures, who were 8 years younger when I left and now, well ... they're both teenagers. 

And my much-loved favourite sister, Sandra, and my dad ... and one of my brothers, Steve, will be over from Australia.

There might be sunsets and wine, and long conversations ... with friends, like Dave and Jude, Christine and Peter, Fiona and Barry and others ...  but I talk of them here.

Anyway, I'll be letting this song of Missy's take me home in the meanwhile ... and maybe I'll play up loud as we wander New Zealand ... letting Home sink back into my bones and fill me again.

Recollecting my Life Lived in Other Places, with a Dog

I spent years wandering within the confines of whatever worlds I found myself in, with a dog by my side ...

In Cromwell, New Zealand, Sandie-dog and I would travel through the gorge to the Arrow River, or disappear to a favourite bend on the Clutha River.  In Blenheim, we were just as likely to wander over to Anakiwa and spend hours in the cove there.

In Te Anau it was McKay Creek, on the edge of Fiordland National Park, our secret destination, with its backdrop of mountains just a kilometre away,  Or Lake Manapouri, Lake Te Anau ... a chocolate box selection.  

In Dunedin, it was a case of mood leading us to whichever beach - we had a huge number of choices.  Long Beach was a favourite, even though it took us off the peninsula where we lived and back up the other side, then over a hill.  On the peninsula, we were careful not to bother the sea lions found lounging on those rugged beaches, and other times, there were penguins.  But Sandie was a dog of great wisdom, with an overwhelming passion for water.  She would even swim amongst ducks, caring only for the swim, willing to share with anything else that was out there.

Dogs are succour for the soul, companions of the heart ...

It's quite difficult not having one yet.  I've been 10 years lonely.

Note: all but the Anakiwa photograph were taken by my lovely friend, and talented photographer, David Wall.