That Fountain in Piazza De Ferarri, Genova

I am quite in love with the fountain in Piazza De Ferarri.  I consider it the heart and soul of the city ... then again, I am only a sometimes guest here and I might have that quite wrong.  But have you ever heard the sound of it early on a Sunday morning, when the city is still sleeping.  It's something to hear.

Anyway, there are the rules of photography and then  there are those moments when a photographer simply plays with the light and the subject.

This was one of those moments.

Playing in Piazza De Ferrari, in Genova

I was racing off to the birthday party of a friend here in the city this afternoon, a little late because my beautiful boots bought only last year, were falling to pieces.  Another friend had loaned me her hiking boots made of leather, as they were all she had in my size, but they were a little too small and were destroying my feet.

Traveling on my usual shoestring budget I couldn't replace them however ... it occured to me that if I slipped my sock-covered feet into plastic bags (cut to fit no less) and then put my boots on, they could leak all they wanted but my feet should stay dry. 

Yes, I had taken them into a shoe repair shop but he could only attempt to glue the sole back to the leather however he couldn't promise that it would hold and anyway, the stitching was giving way in two other places and there was no fixing that.

They're only one year old. I had marked them as boots meant to last many years and yes, I only packed one pair of shoes.  I imagined them sturdy.

So I risked being slightly late to the party but I couldn't go past the fountain in Piazza De Ferrari because it was looking spectacular. 

I stood on the edge of it and played with the light a little.

Terry Windling, on Blogging

Here's what blogging is to me: It's a modern form of the old Victorian custom of being "At Home" to visitors on a certain day of the week; it's an Open House during which friends and colleagues know they are welcome to stop by. I'm “At Home” each morning when I put up at post. Here, in the gossamer world of the 'Net, I throw my studio door open to friends and family and strangers alike. And each Comment posted is a calling card left behind by those who have crossed my doorstep.

Terri Windling, extract from, Reflections on Blogging.

I love when this woman writes.  She's wise and her blog posts are another of the places I go when I'm searching for those things I lack here in my world. 

She has a dog, a forest, some hills.  She writes, I'm a writer, artist, and book editor interested in myth, folklore, fairy tales, and the ways they are used in contemporary arts.

I loved today's essay on blogging and can only say yes.

Yesterday I was working with photographs and history of that beautiful fountain in Genova ...


Conformity ...

If you eliminate that private realm, you breed conformity. When all your behavior is public, then you’re going to do the things that the society insists you do and nothing else and you lose so much of who you are as a human being.
Glenn Greenwald, an interview with an interesting man.

I put this quote up on my facebook page today and it sparked some interesting conversation.

Women called by to comment, women I respect, and in the end we decided that the journey is the destination ...

It came up because we're all out there, either self-employed artists or living in countries not our own and the temptation, on the bad days, is to simply put down our passions, our impulses, our work, our funny little dreams perhaps ... to put them all down and turn back into that world where a weekly pay cheque is guaranteed and our souls aren't so tied up in our work.

But I suspect we gave one another courage and voila, I'm back at work here again ... in Belgium on a Saturday night but remembering that beautiful fountain in Italy.

Long Ago, I Lived Here ...

I lived on the edge of Otago Harbour, out on the peninsula, and scenes like this were everyday kind of scenes. And I often slipped out of the house, usually with my dog, and wandered out into those early mornings ... any season.  It was always stunning.

I never took them forgranted, I loved every day that I spent out there.  It was only that I needed to see the world.  It was good to go home and visit it all again.

The Simplest Things ...

I woke at 5.30 this morning ... again.  Then again, I was dragging my tired self around at 10pm last night.  So much earlier than happens in Belgium.

My body clock has changed, possibly inspired by this small passion I have developed for lying in bed and listening to the dawn chorus here in New Zealand.

Today we're still on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand.  This morning, we'll hunt down a glacier - Fox or Franz Joseph Glacier, although access isn't what it used to be since 2 young men were killed by falling ice a year or two ago. 

I remember the awe-inspiring feeling of getting up close to those lumbering icy creatures but I'm happy to remain safely at a distance with my telephoto lens.

The telephoto lens has been the lens of choice (as usual) on this trip ... even when it comes to the intricacies of capturing fern fronds.  I carry my wide-angle lens everywhere but it's rare that I use it.

This morning I was lying here in bed thinking about the air and the water here in New Zealand.  I've been loving them both.  The air ... I presume the quality is all about low population density and the extreme number of trees and plants, most especially as we have traveled through these massive national park areas.

The air is like air on steroids, good steroids.  And finally Gert understands why I struggle so much with his world in Antwerp.  He has seen me in the context of the place where I was born and grew.  But more than that, coming home after 8 years away, I am seeing myself in context too.  It's almost recommended ... that length of absence.

I finally understand why I like wandering so much. What it is about packing a car ... any old car, and just going.  And I see that I am a creature who works with her senses.  Here, where there is so much to see, smell and listen to, I feel like all of me is operational again.

Each region here in the South Island has its own scent.  Fiordland is mostly about the scent of water and intense beech forest-type vegetation, although the Cabbage Tree was in flower while we were there, and it sweetened the air in the most exquisite way.

Westland is more about mountains and forest, with huge sweet bursts of scent from the sea.  The coast here is owned by the Tasman Sea, where waves arrive from their beginnings hundreds of miles away.  Often the beaches are littered with huge pieces of driftwood and the trees on the coast bend inland, twisted by the powerful winds.

The sights ... Gert gets it now.  There is a visual smörgåsbord on offer out there.  We have stopped so many times along the way ... that mountain, this beach, those trees, that view.  I'm driving the little red car, the one that is happiest at 90kms but the days have been longer simply because there is so much to photograph ... not that you would know that, as I work through my fern stage.  I pull over whenever someone comes roaring up behind us.  Traffic is rare and I love having the whole road to myself.

The birdsong has stopped me in my tracks so many times.  There are the dawn choruses but then there are the Bellbird and Tui songs throughout the day.  And last night, here in Fox township, I heard the magnificent mountain parrots calling to each other ... the Keas.  They were about but I didn't manage to find them ... I was mostly too tired to try.

It has been the simplest and most basic of things that have made me happy here.  I loved those things before but now ... now it is more intense and I find myself wondering if I could give up Europe for home. 

That thought is quickly followed by the realisation that I probably couldn't afford to live here and that has been the most stunning thing.  New Zealand's current government has some disturbing policies  that seem incredibly shortsighted in terms of the future here, confirmed by conversations I've had with friends and locals along the way.  Some see it now, some don't but that's for another day. 

This morning it's about finding a good coffee.  I've been rapt with the coffee culture here.  It's an excellent one.  New Zealanders have always been wanderers on a major scale, as seen in our history, and it appears there are some who have gone out and brought back the gift of good coffee.

Anyway, a good morning from this wild coast in New Zealand.  I hope your day is a truly delightful one.


A Saturday in March ...

Yesterday was  a day of reorganising the space that we have here in the 3-storey tall narrow house.  Gert and I ended up working right through the day, simply because I had decided to create a space of no distractions ... a place to finish this book I've begun.

I have two novel manuscripts started too, and another of interviews with New Zealand climbers.  That one went through two very positive publishing meetings before being rejected.  Back then, the public wasn't so interested in the crazy beautiful lives of climbers and mountaineers.  Other publishers were suggested, those who might take the risk of low sales, but then my mum began dying, I had finally started university, and somehow the manuscript has become another thing that I carry.

There are poems too. A new one that came on the train that took me across Belgium a few days ago.  A  poem that I like, and I am my toughest critic.

But anyway, photography took over as my dedicated form of expression.  You can slip everything into an image.  Sometimes it's like a poem, other times it's a novel and tells a story but mostly there is the pleasure is not being sure of what you have captured until you are done.

So I have a writing space now.  A  huge IKEA table that serves as a desk, and enough shells and stones to break my current desk collection in two while maintaining a beautiful pile of beach treasure on both desks.  Facebook, phones and non- related books are all banned from the new space.

However, in moving my writing stuff, in taking my favourite images up there, in moving all of my books on Genova... I created what seemed like a huge space down here in the 'everyday' office place.  But even that was fun, moving that bookcase there, those images here, that scarf-hanger too. 

We had Paola and Simon over for dinner last night and they were curious to see these changes, the ones I had earlier mentioned being in the midst of over on facebook.  Well ... here in the everyday office space, I realised, when looking through their eyes, that these huge changes weren't really so obvious despite the fact that they had felt like a major upheaval.   My new writing space was approved of though.

So that's how we spent our Saturday.  Dinner was delightful ... aperitivo by Paola and Simon, an Italian rib and sausage casserole by Gert, followed by one of his delicious cherry Clafoutis.  Excellent conversations, good people ... a really excellent Saturday.

I'll leave you with one of those photographs that surprised me.  I saw this tap dripping in Istanbul, in one of the many ancient places there.  I photographed it, ignoring the hustle and bustle of people around me, in that city of 14 million people.  Today, I have it here next to me, in a 30x45cm format ... I have to rehang it later but just having it here, so close, made me really see it again.  I really love it but couldn't have imagined this capture at the time of taking because it was so beautiful and how do you capture beauty ...