A Smaller, Quieter Life ...


My days here, are so different from those beautiful days back in Genova.

I miss the bars, and the lovely people who worked there, making the best coffe in the world.

I miss the noise of the city, and the quiet of the medieval centre.

I miss the musicians, and the everyday presence of ancient places. I miss passing by people whose faces look like faces painted in 400 year old paintings. I miss good pasta and sauce, pizza and walking. 

I miss the Genovese.

BUT, I am learning to love hanging my laundry out on Dad's old clothes line, in the garden that smells of roses and all the other flowers he has there. And it makes me so happy to climb into my bed when thesheets smell of fresh air & sunshine. 

I love the sound of the birds ... one of the only sounds as I hung out my laundry at 7am this morning.

I was always passionate about driving ... about wandering, and so I am happy to be driving again. Even if I enjoyed the kilometres I walked on Genovese footpaths, and the buses and trains. And I'm not sure how to avoid weight gain, other than via that boring path called self-discipline.

Reading. I have just finished 3 books, one after another. Reading late into the night, just as I did as a child.

My espresso machine is making me happy, I just need to go find 'the' coffee. 

I love 32 celsius days (yesterday) and sitting here in the kitchen, back door open to the garden, and working. 

Mmmhmmm, I called the plumber today. The bathroom tap is broken and it has leaked for days now. 
Another thing to love, after a life lived in Europe, I phoned the plumber at 8.50am and he said, 'Okay, I'm doing a job just round the road, I'll come to you after it'. It was the same with the washing machine repair guy. That's quite marvelous really :-)

Here I am, just trying to find my balance again, in this smaller, quieter life that I'm living. 
Buona giornata ...

Foto: these chairs, were just there, in this ancient ruin in Genova. I had my photograph taken in one, and couldn't resist the beauty of this still-life moment, Genovese-style.

The Things An Imaginary Princess Might Do ...

first espresso at home in nz.jpg

A woman who imagines she is a princess might arrive back in New Zealand, after so many years spent living elsewhere and, before she does almost anything else, she fails to resist the espresso machine being sold for below cost …

And is she ashamed?

No, she is not.

(Although she tried to be …)

I made my first espresso this morning, using Lavazza coffee, and it’s all been worth it.

Breakfast has long been my Holy Moment. It’s the only meal I truly love. Finding the precise ingredients, to make it Holy, in every country has been the Thing.

I love an espresso, I love good bread for toast, and butter too. And I’ve managed it in Turkey, in Belgium, in England and Italy but I was slow here, and suffered through some terrible coffee.

Life seems quite beautiful this morning.

What to Remember When Waking by David Whyte, 2013

In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk


Some Days, The Road is Long But ... so beautiful.

a way is long, some days.jpg

Friends have been writing, in the weeks since I returned, telling me how relieved they are that I am Home, and Safe, at last.

Not just one friend but many friends.

And it is nice to be cared about but … if I were given the chance to go back, I would. In a heartbeat.

In a world addicted to safety, to the illusion of security, and happy endings, it seems that the previous 3 years my life have been seen as a failure on every level but honestly, flying across the world … 20,000+ kms, with less than $100nz really was a Grand Adventure.

And never being sure of what was next, since the divorce … I have loved that too.

Sure, I have crumpled sometimes. I would even spend time on my knees but I felt so very alive. And so much stronger when I reached the other side of whatever challenge had been sent my way.

And I learned so much about people. About how kind they can be.

I also felt incredibly fortunate about the position I found myself in. So often, there I was, located somewhere between the craziest worlds, legal but only just … with the most marvelous people doing things like guiding me through the Swiss ER or moving me into their home as an employee … and then allowing me to become an odd little extra part of their family.

In this era of anti-immigration and fear-mongering politicians, I also came to understand I had the extreme privilege of dual nationality, and the freedom to roam, as a New Zealander, and a European. I never ever took it forgranted.

I never stopped whispering quiet ‘thank yous’ to whoever orchestrated this life that I live.

And sure, every now and again, I would get my arse so totally kicked … but I also felt so very alive. While feeling so very grateful.

Think about it for a moment. The story of Alice in Wonderland is a classic, known and loved by so many … and there was I, falling down rabbit holes and going on grand adventures, every single week, sometimes daily.

We live and we die. I love living big and … brave/crazy/passionate/put your own word. And if the price, is being vulnerable too, then that seems kind of okay because the rewards/results made it more than worthwhile.

But now, here I am, in this known world. Slowly I am fitting myself back into the official version of a life.

I had a doctor’s appointment recently, needing a script for the daily medication that I had been given back in Belgium during the final months of my marriage. The medication that was, without questions or script, given to me in Italy. The NZ doctor was horrified by my ability to procure that medication for my blood pressure but more than that, she wanted to run a million terrifying tests on my person.

She was laughing, as I tried to talk my way out of ‘yet more’ bloody blood tests, and kept writing down new tests I could have. I have the paper here. I will go when I am ready … maybe never. Although finding another doctor will be a pain.

Then, of course, I had to replace the glasses I lost back in Florence, Italy. So I had an eye test last week. They were so thorough that I actually developed motion sickness during the Extensive testing. It turns out there’s no sign of diabetes, and my eyes are quite healthy. Just a little short-sighted, long-sighted, and for computers too.

I told the optometrist, had I known how thorough they were, I probably would have opted to continue in my slightly blurred world. I see things there, that no one else sees … it’s like I see fiction sometimes, whole novels :-)

She wanted to give me a pair of graduated glasses, that would deal with all 3 forms of eye issues I seem to have. I struck a deal where she just made a prescription for driving and for those distant boards in airports, the ones that tell you when your plane is departing.

I promised I was fine with my supermarket glasses for reading, and I would simply move my laptop until I could see it.

She laughed at me too.

I actually have an appointment for my ears next month. Some claim I am a little deaf. It seems like a test I can stand … a piece of paper that proves those people wrong.

Re-entering a known world, ticking all those boxes. Driving Dad’s car - Percy Fish, the little red Mazda Demio. Going to movies without subtitles, having every conversation in English. I am living a strange, and suddenly simple, life.

But in good news … tonight I can report, with quite some joy, that I have found an Italian red wine … with a cork, (and not a bloody screwtop cap that is popular here). It’s a Sangiovese Di Toscana by Confini, and it is so good. It is a mouthful of Italy that takes me back there and makes me smile.

My beloved and familiar red wine, the Santa Cristina, is a screwtop in New Zealand, and honestly, it tastes so different. The anima is gone, somehow. I know nothing of the argument, or even if there is one, about screwtop versus corks but I know where I stand. Yes yes, without scientific backing.

So not only am I some kind of messed up princess, missing my perfect espresso, desperately pricing machines that will make my breakfast coffee , but it seems I need red wine with corks, shipped from Italy. And so much more.

I make myself laugh … I promise.

Life is all over the place here. I am meeting new people, creating new routines, walking new routes … I no longer have espresso at breakfast. Red wine is a huge, and quite wicked, occasional gift to myself. The pasta and cheese situation almost makes me cry, …even as I know I should get over it all.

At the RSA, I sit at the table where Dad sits, and the guys there have let me in.

the blokes table 2.jpg

They are ‘Kind’ in that way New Zealand blokes are kind :-) It’s the same in Genova, where mocking is a form of affection … or that’s what I tell myself. And they all tell me it is true. But anyway, believing mocking was a form of affection, is how I was raised, so if it’s not true, don’t tell me.

I am enjoying the evenings Dad and I go to his club for a drink. The bar staff too, they are special. It feels like an extraordinary privelege to be allowed a seat at their table, in their club.

Today, and yesterday too, were long days. Full of so many people and responsibilities but … I can do it, easily. I seem to have been programmed to nurture people, and I am so curious about each and (almost) every soul who crosses my path, that I can make a life any old place.

But please, never talk of my life as something I shouldn’t love. Every day has been a gift. Every bad thing has been something I have learned from. And the good things … they fill me with joy.

The divorces, where I tend to lose everything … they have been lessons in the beauty that emerges out of walking away without bitterness, no matter how badly they end. And the adventures I have had because of those divorces. My life feels so much richer as a result.

I am a woman, so full of stories from living that I feel wealthy …


It was a long day today. It’s been a long week.


Art ...


Art is not always about pretty things, it's about who we are, what happened to us, and how our lives are affected.

Elizabeth Broun