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.

I Think I Have Stories to Tell Tonight ...

I'm almost sure I have things to say ...

I was accepted by the NYC gallery, as one of their photographers but I couldn't afford them.  There was a lot of money involved and, in the end, it seemed more about money than art.  I would have loved working with them but by the time Gert and I reached the end of the contract, it was clear.  And so very over.

Today a client ... a friend, the lines often blur, sent me a pdf of the book she's been writing.  It's full of my photographs from that time when I was working with her, having some of the most excellent adventures and wandering the world, photographing so many friendly and talented artists.

So I'm excited about that.

And I won a prize today.  Last Friday, I almost couldn't breathe for stress because I was two weeks behind on my rather intensive marketing course.  I sat here at the computer, Saturday, Sunday ... Monday, and mostly caught up.  And somewhere along the way, I posted news of my one-day photography workshop for women.  It sold out in 12 hours. So I won the prize that I had taken no notice of last week.  I was 'that' far behind.  I shared the winning with Chris, the one we all knew would win.

I transcribed two Genova interviews this afternoon, then wrote them up as short pieces for a most exciting new Ligurian website launching soon.  Photos were sent.   And now for the rest.  These were the shortest interviews.

It's been slightly manic of late.  Life is humming.  I'm attending a Māori hāngi in the months ahead.  Photos and stories shall surely be posted because I can see how that event might become one of those big old delicious stories, out there on Flanders Fields.

There's talk of Norway and a favourite friend at the end of summer.  Lots of photography.  And I'm organising a series of 5-day workshops in Genova.  If you have ever wanted to work with me then this is the one because I have a truly superb group of Genoese people willing to work with me.  However my webpage is still under construction.  It's all there, just not the 'Buy' button nor dates.  I'm currently looking at July, earlier if there's time for anyone to be interested, then September, October, November.

However, I will get that under control in the days ahead.

Amy Turn Sharp is one of the poets I love best and she has finally published her first collection.  I wrote. I have ordered.  News of that will follow.  Kay McKenzie Cooke is another favourite poet.  She has also published a new book.  I want to get there too.  And Ren Powell is writing and will publish again, I'm sure of it.

Life is good.  It's slightly surreal.  I'm busy.  I'm babysitting Miss 9 for this week-long crocus vacation, and sure enough, there are some little yellow beauties out there in the garden.  And in-between everything else, I'm reading my way through a most excellent book ... the Man Booker prize-winning book, The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton.  I shall be sad when it comes to an end.

Tram-Napping and Other Things ...

As I write this, the predicted snow is beginning to fall ... sigh.  We were all so hopeful when the temperature cranked up to 16-18 celsius last week.  So hopeful that Spring had arrived.  The current prediction is for up to 10cms of snow overnight.  I hope that they are so wrong and that it's less.

Meanwhile I've been holed up at my desk for weeks on end, or so it seems.  I have had all the photographs from Flanders Fields to process and get back into the world as quickly as possible for any publications that might have wanted them.  I had the wedding shoot too.  They are in-process and almost done.

One of the more difficult things about being the photographer is that your work can go on long after the event, long after those who did their work on the day ... in the moment, are finished.  It's a strange and lonely job sometimes, with 80-90% of the work happening after the event, in some lonely room somewhere.

However the adventures are grand.  And I'm pleased with the results.  There should be more than 200 wedding photographs by the time I'm finished.  Photographs that tell the story of a beautiful wedding here in Belgium.

Flanders Fields ... well, that's always about the people I find there.  Old friends, new acquaintances, and some delightful adventures.

I'm hungry to travel again but I am making myself sit still until I am organised here.  I have spent these grey freezing cold winter weeks organising my working life, exploring new directions, especially writing again. 

Old friends have appeared in my inbox and there was a whole lot of delight over the idea that Murray might pop over to visit.  Murray from those 4 years back when I lived on the airforce base in New Zealand.

One of my oldest friends arrives later in June and that will be grand.  It's been a long time since I've seen him.  And there's a wedding to photograph in France in August ... the photography workshop in Italy too.  The last being the pièce de résistance perhaps.

My life seems like a big old complicated tapestry.  I've been been woken at 5.15am these last few weeks, as my daughter wakes to go out to work.  Then I'm up and out the door, catching trams to get little Miss 8 to school on the other side of the city Tuesday till Friday.  It's a 2-hour round trip and definitely hasn't helped with the winter blues. 

Rinse and repeat, as I'm on pick-up duty Monday to Wednesday.  I'm dragging myself around by Wednesday, dreaming of open-roads and long journeys as I try not to fall asleep on the tram home.

I have been reading when not tram-napping.  Superb books ... two fictions based around actual lives: The Truth About Lou by Angela von der Lippe and Seducing Ingrid Bergman by Chris Greenhalgh.

Lou Salome seems to be a fascinating creature who first came to my attention in Irvin D. Yalom's book When Nietzsche Wept.  I am now pursuing Lou via various means.  The second book is about Robert Capa's affair with Bergman.  I have a few books on him so this dip into a kind of fact-based fiction is delicious.

And I picked up the second book by BBC journalist, Frank Gardener.  The first, Blood and Sand, was a fascinating read. 

Still to come is my big book review of True Vines, written by the multi-talented Diana Strinati Baur.  A delicious novel that came with me across the world when I flew home to New Zealand.  The same Diana I'm putting the Your Beautiful Truth Retreat with in August in Italy.

I love books ... rereading the best again and again over the years.  I've had Isabel Allende's My Invented Country tucked away in my handbag for emergencies.  It's small and packed with wise words.

And that's me lately.  Photography, reading, tram-riding, houseworking, winter me.

The image: a tray of champagne that floated past me at the recent wedding.  Random but beautiful is my idea of it.

Dinner outside in Wallonia ...

There are two Americans, both from NYC ... an Australian, a Belgian, and a woman from Rwanda, and me ... that New Zealander.

There is lasagna, red wine, lots of Belgian beers and there's this exquisite sheepdog creature who chases that ball that he drops at the feet of anyone who might care to throw it for an hour and two.

There's an excellent soundtrack playing and the air is warm.  We're out in the countryside, all cooking and talking and mocking some ... as happens sometimes.

Life is kind of beautiful really.


For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin… but there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid… at last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
Alfred D’Souza

Maya Angelou, Life

Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure....Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art: to bring all our energies to each encounter, to remain flexible enough to notice and admit when what we expected to happen did not happen. We need to remember that we are created creative, and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.”

Maya Angelou

Genovese Days ...

It's been up and down and all over the place ... but then again, that's the reality of my wandering life.

I love wandering.  It's been a passion since forever.  I must confess though, it's not all easy and fun.  And just like the good days, the bad days are kind of extreme. 

Saturday was sublime.  Sunday was spent out at Arenzano with the lovely Francesca, her children and Ashley, a New Zealander.  The sea had real waves, just like New Zealand, and the company was grand.  I'm hoping I convinced Ashley to come stay with us in Belgium at some point in the near future.

It was a delicious day that ended well.  Monday, I woke from nightmares and my mouth was sore.  I decided to walk them off.  I called in to buy salt from Francesca at Le Gramole, as I passed by on my regular walking route, and she was like this lovely ray of sunshine in my day.  Much-needed, although she gifted me the salt which was very kind ... on top of the whole making me smile thing. 

The first walk done, I returned and realised my usb modem, purchased 3 months ago, was about to run out of hours. Life without the internet ... incomprehensible.

I raced out again, all the way down the hill towards the harbour, weaving through the caruggi like an expert ... so proud until I realised I was in the wrong place.  Eventually I arrived at the right TIM shop and voila, they were closed on Monday mornings.

Back to the house, a quick shower due to the humidity here and the fact it's warmer than I'm used to at this time of year here in Europe.  I was meeting Francesca G for lunch and we wandered some more.  It's always lovely to spend time with Francesca.  She is my translator in this world but more than that, I consider her the loveliest friend.

Enroute in search of metal detectors for sons and lupini, we called by at TIM and I picked up a short term recharge on my usb modem for 9 euro.  I love TIM and their service.

Well, I arrived home about 6.30pm and realised my usb modem just wouldn't work in any way that was satisfactory.  I looked at the clock, wondered how late they were open and set off, at a brisk pace.  They were open and I can't say enough good things about the TIM assistant who worked for an hour, getting my usb modem up and running.

Dinner was cereal and yogurt because I'm terrible here.  And I worked late into the night.

Today ... the weather.  You probably cannot imagine how glorious a day can be here in Genova, Italy in the middle of winter.  I think it was about 17 celsius at one point, deep blue skies and sunshine forever. 

I could prove this, had I packed the card reader I need to transfer my photographs to my computer ... even if I had packed a spare usb cable but no.  All images remain safely here on my camera. 

You see, I don't have my everyday laptop with me.  I decided that the life of a sherpa was not for me, and I packed light.  I am regretting it but my body appreciated it on the long haul here.  The everyday laptop has everything I need on it.  This little travel laptop has very little ...

I spent a lovely few hours catching up with Karla, a friend and artist who lives here in the city.

Dinner tonight is pizza from the exquisite Pizzeria Ravecca.  The same as the one pictured in this post.  I'm kind of stuck on this one.

Things are going well ... well, except for the train strike scheduled for Friday.  That would be the day that I need to get from Genova to Milano for my 7pm flight.  It's 2 hours on the train from Genova, then another 50 minutes on a second train to the airport.  We shall see how that goes.

So ... a short round-up of news here in Genova.  I have some truly delicious news in the days ahead but let me get it all set up before I write of it here.

Ciao from Genova!

A Slice of Life

It’s been busy lately, for weeks and months really ... an odd kind of unpredictable busy but these last 24 hours or so have felt slightly exceptional.  Full of good people, but exceptional.

Sunday afternoon found me feeling unwell.  I tried sleeping it off but only succeeded in messing up my ability to sleep that night.  Monday, I was up, on 4 hours of sleep.  I was heading for Brussels and had it all mapped out in terms of train times and which tram to catch to this new part of the city.

My idea was that, somewhere along the way during the day, I would find myself a really good espresso for strength.

I arrived at Antwerp’s Central Station with not enough time to join the queue that had formed in the coffee place.  I wasn’t prepared to have just any old coffee, I needed a really good espresso.  This much I knew.

No coffee ... I had no sooner settled on the train than I heard the conductor announce that this train would not be stopping at North Station ... my destination.  Okay, it said it would on the website but it wasn’t and so ... I climbed off in Mechelen to catch something else.  As I was waiting, a young man came sprinting up the stairs, just missing the Brussels-bound train I had left.  He threw his bag down angrily.  I waited a moment and mentioned the fact it wasn’t stopping at north station and then, voila, we ended up chatting a while.

His English was impeccable.  He was a student on his way to a mathematics exam but better than that, he was studying law and politics.  After talking of his year in Australia, we boarded the next train, held our breath while it tried to break down and the train guy announced that it had ... before it suddenly and successfully pulled out of the station.  We talked about Belgian politics all the way there.  Interesting, so interesting, as we head into a second year without a government since the last elections.

We said our goodbyes, I wished him luck although he was very relaxed about it all, and I wandered off to spend some time with the loveliest family over there in the big Belgian city.  They had a son with the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen and a delicious black labrador, as per the photograph below.  Anyone who knows me will know how I’ve been yearning for a labrador here in my Belgian life but never mind, it was enough to get a bit of a dog-fix for now.

After time spent in the park, the lovely family dropped me off on a tram that would get me back across the city more quickly however ... they assumed they were dealing with a normal adult who had a reasonable knowledge of Brussles.  I was ‘misplaced’ for a while but amused.  It’s never really that serious and getting unlost usually makes me laugh at myself.  I climbed off at Parc and found Central Station by some weird kind of instinctive luck. 

I NEEDED a coffee by now. But every place in the station, open at 3.30pm, looked like a place that make rubbish coffee.  I know ... it’s about me being a brat but I’m still readjusting to life after the exquisite Genovese espresso. 

I bought sparkling water, sadly, washing down the brie baguette thingy for lunch and boarded the train home ... falling asleep along the way. 

By the time I reached Antwerp Central Station I NEEDED a coffee.  I wandered into Starbucks, hoping their espresso was at least decent, as I can’t stand their other coffees. I followed the queue of people waiting, right to the end and voila, I was at the other exit door, so I exited.  Tram home, falling asleep, aching. 

Made it home and found it full of Miss 7 and her mum. 
Dinner was cooked by my very kind husband. 
Miss 7 was storied up and put to bed,then I couldn’t resist downloading and going through some photographs.

Getting late, I wanted to do one last check of the wedding photographs, before burning the 1,000 to dvds for the different bride friends who have been patient as I’ve sprinted through life since their weddings.

I fell into bed. 
Jess phoned, ‘How is Miss 7?’
‘Okay’, I replied. 
‘Okay ... good’, she tells me ‘but keep an eye on her because I’m vomiting’.
‘Oh ... she did say she had a sore tummy, I thought she didn’t want to sleep’.

1.32am ... Miss 7 starts vomiting.
I’m so tired.  The only solution seems, in that moment, to carry her bedding and put it next to my bed.
I do it.  I almost fall down the stairs doing it and ponder how nasty that would have been as I continue down.
We sleep until 3.23am when she vomits.
We sleep until 6.20am when she vomits again.
I consider this an uncommonly civilised kind of vomiting, as usually sleeping between bouts is all but impossible.

Morning finds me here at the computer.  Miss 7 on the couch, watching tv, drinking powerade slowly, sleeping a little ...

So it has been an active few hours, and then some, but by crikey ... I did meet some truly lovely people.  And a really nice dog.