Thursday, May 31, 2007
Tara has written up an interesting story over on her blog, almost amusing but for revealing the state of the U.S government today.
(Was the infamous McCarthy Era this bad?)
Anyway, she refers to an article in Wired magazine titled The Visible Man: An FBI Target Puts His Whole Life Online.
An extract: Hasan Elahi whips out his Samsung Pocket PC phone and shows me how he's keeping himself out of Guantanamo. He swivels the camera lens around and snaps a picture of the Manhattan Starbucks where we're drinking coffee. Then he squints and pecks at the phone's touchscreen. "OK! It's uploading now," says the cheery, 35-year-old artist and Rutgers professor, whose bleached-blond hair complements his fluorescent-green pants. "It'll go public in a few seconds." Sure enough, a moment later the shot appears on the front page of his Web site, TrackingTransience.net.
There are already tons of pictures there. Elahi will post about a hundred today — the rooms he sat in, the food he ate, the coffees he ordered. Poke around his site and you'll find more than 20,000 images stretching back three years. Elahi has documented nearly every waking hour of his life during that time. He posts copies of every debit card transaction, so you can see what he bought, where, and when. A GPS device in his pocket reports his real-time physical location on a map.
Elahi's site is the perfect alibi. Or an audacious art project. Or both. The Bangladeshi-born American says the US government mistakenly listed him on its terrorist watch list — and once you're on, it's hard to get off. To convince the Feds of his innocence, Elahi has made his life an open book. Whenever they want, officials can go to his site and see where he is and what he's doing. Indeed, his server logs show hits from the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, and the Executive Office of the President, among others.
He ends with this.
For now, though, Big Brother is still on the case. At least according to Elahi's server logs. "It's really weird watching the government watch me," he says. But it sure beats Guantanamo.
How do I know this?
Because of the laughter, the screaming and the running going on here in this space that I share with them.
But before she emerged for the day and when it was just Sahara and I ... I was trying to write a blog post early this morning when 'wheeeeeeeeee!, wheeeeeeeeee!' broke into my concentration and on looking up, I discovered a short creature sitting at my empty desk chair, spinning in circles and shouting.
A little later and I had the dancing-on-a-box creature wearing a hot pink t-shirt with 'dance' shimmering across it as she leapt about.
Then my little do-it-herselfer tipped the box upside-down and her drinking straws became drumsticks. A very serious drum session began and was duly photographed.
Things quietened some when she retired her 'drumsticks', putting them into the used battery bag and making them 'flowers for granma' as pictured here.
Shannon, now known as 'Shanty' by little Miss Two and her associates spent some quality Skype time with her and then later, while I was folding the washing, a fast-moving screaming giggling creature threw itself into the big duvet cover I had in my hands. The creature was being pursued by a second taller creature with a wet facecloth for face washing.
Maybe I'll have a wee nap after lunch ... or a big glass of red.
Interesting reading thought this blogger.
Laura, over on The Dragon Slayer's Guide to Life, has written an interesting article titled On Fear vs. Trust . It makes for thought-provoking reading.
Here's a small extract: So what if the way you define success isn't the same way the culture at large defines it and has been marketing it to you? Have you been allowed to really look at the question of what YOU want with a blank sheet in front of you?
If you are already at midlife, or a few years down a certain path, chances are that getting a blank sheet is going to be difficult to do. You likely have commitments, bills, a social circle based on a certain lifestyle and family members invested in the status quo. The general fears of change that we all carry to some degree and the cultural admonitions against wanting more than the "real world" is likely to give you can turn to real fears of actual costs pretty quickly.
If this cycle of fear is left unchecked, one can quickly slide into resignation. Personally, it was fear that I would fail if I left the nest that kept me in a restricting job for many years. Fear that was fed by lots of folks saying things like, 'it's not any better anywhere else!'. When we don't know what the answer is to get out of our psychological funk many of us tend to "let it ride" and stop talking about it (if we ever started), hoping that the phase will pass.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
So who cares about money anyway.
It will come ... one day.
Today I realised that I live a life rich in experiences and I'm grateful for that.
You see I'm just home from 2 hours spent learning how to make the Turkish Sarma ... the Sarma pictured here, They're my Sarma and yes, I'm so proud of myself. I'll cook them tomorrow ... there may be a follow-up photographs ;)
But it wasn't only about the Sarma, I had the privilege of spending time with a lovely Turkish family and we talked of Turkey ... of the food, the people, our experiences there and how much we miss it.
My Turkish slowly came back to me ... don't ask me how much, I'll only tell you that it's a lot for a girl born in Mosgiel.
(And a correction regarding my previous Dolma post.
Dolma is the 'stuffed' pepper and while I didn't realise it, Sarma means 'rolled' and it was the Sarma I wanted to make. Apparently the confusion sometimes occurs because some Turkish people call the Sarma Dolma.)
I posted the sister image of this over on my photography blog but there was something about this one that appealed too.
Life goes on here.
Many many dishes to wash while there are 6 of us living in the apartment this week, making me a little less resiliant when it comes to discovering yet more roadblocks in officially starting my photography business.
I think I'll write a book on the experience. The frustrations have been exceptional sometimes.
Would I have come to this Belgian life if I had known how frustrating it would be to 'begin again' ... ?
Some days yes but other days there is this quiet but definate no.
So you know how you go to your Turkish cafe on a Friday night here in the city of Antwerpen and talk with the owner in your own special mix of Turkish and Dutch, with his multi-lingual 13 year old son and Gert working on translating us for each other.
And you ask about buying some Dolma, laughing because you know that he doesn't sell it but then you talk more and find out his teenage daughter needs English conversation practice.
So you offer to work with her if his wife will show you how to make Dolma?
He phones her up and it's all organised for Wednesday next week ... which is today.
And so it is that later today I'm off to make Dolma.
Let's see how it goes.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The New York Times is running a story on Iraqi women who have fled a volatile Iraq and ended up in Syria earning money to feed themselves and their families in the only way left open to them ...
Many of these women and girls, including some barely in their teens, are recent refugees. Some are tricked or forced into prostitution, but most say they have no other means of supporting their families.
Aid workers say thousands of Iraqi women work as prostitutes in Syria, and point out that as violence in Iraq has increased, the refugee population has come to include more female-headed households and unaccompanied women.
“So many of the Iraqi women arriving now are living on their own with their children because the men in their families were killed or kidnapped,” said Sister Marie-Claude Naddaf, a Syrian nun at the Good Shepherd convent in Damascus, which helps Iraqi refugees.
I devoured Frances Mayes Under the Tuscan Sun as we moved off base and out of that airforce life down to Fiordland, in the south west of New Zealand ... through the crazy days of packing moving and unpacking.
It's a beautiful book, one that I dip in and out of when I'm looking for beauty and some kind of peace ... a book that takes me wandering even while grounded.
Some years later and I was flying between Istanbul and New Zealand on my summer holiday break from teaching ... Under the Tuscan Sun was there as a movie choice on Singapore Airlines. I had at least 19 hours of flight time ahead of me so I selected it as a movie to watch as I flew round the world ...
It's not like the book, never expect it. It's a nice enough movie but it contains none of the depth and richness I find again and again when I go back to my tattered copy of the book.
I've been reading it lately ...
An extract: I remember dreaming over Bachelard's 'The Poetics of Space', which I don't have with me, only a few sentences copied into a notebook. He wrote about the house as a "tool for analysis" of the human soul.
By remembering the houses we've lived in, we learn to abide within ourselves. I felt close to his sense of the house. He wrote about the strange whir of the sun as it comes into a room in which one is alone. Mainly, I remember recognising his idea that the house protects the dreamer; the houses that are important to us are the ones that allow us to dream in peace.
And this: 'Choice is restorative when it reaches towards an instinctive recognition of the earliest self. As Dante recognised at the beginning of 'The Inferno': What must we do in order to grow?
(The photographs are 2 homes I lived in after my divorce before flying into Istanbul, Turkey.)
Monday, May 28, 2007
3am and she's still out with Gert at the emergency doctor ... so I am here waiting.
The doctor was concerned that it sounded like a serious attack of angina. Fortunately Gert had already given me that fright, that diagnosing me with 'angina' one day in the elevator.
In a truly adult fashion, thunderstruck and worried, I had responded by sticking my fingers in my ears and telling him to 'hush!'...
Back home Angina is a condition of the heart and relatively serious eg: caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries
Here in Belgium our tonsillitis is known as Angina.
Anyway, I've been web-wandering as a form of distraction while I wait and wandered on over to Tewfic El-Sawy's Travel Photographer Blog .
He had written up photographer Felice Willat, linking his readers to her website over here , on a website called Tools with Heart.
It's worth wandering through ...
Update on the patient for those from back home reading this - she has tonsillitis, bacterial infection = strong antibiotics this time + strong painkillers. She's feeling slightly better this morning with all the meds in her.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I was one of 8 people to step onto the stage to read the poem in our mother tongue however the celebration was about so much more than that ... it was about remembering poet and author of Tram 11, Herman de Coninck and about celebrating diversiteit.
The organisers had pulled 2 beautifully restored old trams out and filled them with children and Pied Piper-type musicians.
Tram 11 is known as the tram of diversity here in Antwerpen because it travels through diverse neighbourhoods ... from the beautiful Cogels-Osy Lei where Herman lived through into the areas where the immigrants live ... the Turkish, the Africans, the Moroccans, the Jews and everyone else but you realise it when you read the poem. Herman captured it perfectly.
Although I have no memory of the actuality of my reading, I was assured that it went well, causing people in the crowd to comment favourably ... a relief, writes the woman who started to shake only after the whole thing was over.
Anyway, the poem ...
Tram comes. Tram goes. Going: a young Zairean
humming huskily with baby, plenty of time,
intimate with each other, in public
yet still alone. The tram looks on.
Tram comes: a Moroccan woman tries to quiet
her whining little tatty boy. The more she shakes him,
the more syllables fall from him.
Until an Antwerp woman's ta-ta-ta
brings him to himself. And to all of us.
Ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling through the town.
Public transport civilizes us, makes us festive,
maintains our confusion.
Herman de Coninck
Translated to English by Cedric Barfoot and Sonny Williams
And the conversations were so good that the wine slipped down without thought.
There was a small representation of American business folk talking of acquisition and mergers, bull markets, how they had met and where they had all come from.
These conversations probably weren't representative of their usual party talk, it was just that they had this inquisitive kiwi asking them many questions, curious to know how these new creatures from a different life worked.
They were lovely, reminding me of the America everyone admires ... the one where the son of Indian parents can end up in Washington as a lawyer and another, of Korean/African ancestory saw the opportunities available and is hugely successful at the age of 24.
The American melting pot, land of opportunity and etc
We talked briefly of Clinton versus Obama ... experience versus something new and interesting. No one seems to know for sure.
Enough though ... public poetry reading soon.
Tram 11 by Herman de Coninck, let's see how that goes. It's a beautiful poem so it's all about what this Kiwi does with it when she's reading it.
Friday, May 25, 2007
But even better than coming in out of the heat was the realisation that my new 'P.A.' had gone over my desk in my absence and filed my 'stuff' in ways that stun and delight.
Now I have labeled folders, trays and envelopes, with all contents identified.
It's truly a thing of beauty ... all the more beautiful because my daughter did it without me asking for help.
Other news: I've started a new photography blog called Di's Photography Blog here linking from my photography website over here .
Did I mention the heat ...
Thursday, May 24, 2007
War Criminals at Harvard , found over at Laila's blog ... intriguing stuff.
Before you get mad with me Paul, they have some basic criteria re: outing Harvard students as war criminals.
They write: We have some basic criteria for inclusion in our “Rogues’ Gallery.”
First, the individual must have a credible and publicly documented record of having committed or having command responsibility for war crimes or serious human rights abuses. We are not interested in mere opinions, institutional affiliation, or "guilt by association," but rather responsibility for specific acts, often with specific victims.
Second, the abuses and war crimes in question must have taken place before the individual came to Harvard. We are obviously not trying to hold the university accountable for admitting someone who later went on to become a war criminal.
Third, the individual must have had some sort of affiliation with Harvard University, either as a student, a faculty member, an employee, a research fellow, or a visiting scholar. We are not including mere guest speakers, who should give public presentations and should be similarly challenged in the open.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Today was the day that little Miss Two decided to slip her bare feet into two empty Pringle chip containers and attempt walking in them.
First time I looked up to the sound of someone stumping across the room towards me, there she was ... wearing a beautiful hand-painted dress with a white lace petticoat over her faded, knee-torn jeans with fairy wings on her back and ... a Pringles chip tube on one foot.
She looked like the entire Peter Pan cast in one busy little body ... a peglegged pirate, Tinkerbell and various other characters.
Our laughter fed her desire to entertain and she wandered off to find that other Pringles container we had floating around.
Next time I heard anything, it was the sound of sliding and scraping metal on our wooden floor.
I looked up and learned that it is impossible for a person to walk when both feet are wearing Pringles chip tubes.
She looked like a little mermaid ... but beached.
So it was a day of many things and the occasional falling-over-laughing-type incident.
Louis-Pierre Dillais, the French military operative who organized the 1985 bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, the famous ship Greenpeace used to protest French nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific, is a high-level executive at FNH USA -- the subsidiary of Belgian Arms maker FN Herstal that supplies weapons to various U.S. government agencies and departments, including the Pentagon, DHS, and FBI, Harpers' Ken Silverstein reports.
It goes on with He was never arrested for the Rainbow Warrior bombing, even though he drove the inflatable that dropped two bombers off in New Zealand's Auckland Harbor, near where the boat was anchored. When his role revealed he was apparently shielded from prosecution because of his high-level political connections. His father-in-law, for example, served as France's foreign minister in the late-1970s.
(The bombing isn't the only high-profile scandal in Dillais' past. A dozen years after the Rainbow Warrior bombing, the Times of London reported that he was suspected of diverting cash from Saudi arms sales to presidential candidate Edouard Balladur.)
One can't ignore the incredible hypocrisy of Homelands Security making air travellers lives difficult while apparently ignoring Greenpeace's request back in September to Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Julie Myers, to deport Dillais.
While DHS says they passed the information along to the FBI, so far no one has taken action.
I guess they're busy ...
I just read of this over on Anthony Falzone's blog.
The BBC wants to put nearly one million hours of material on the internet for viewers to watch, listen to and download and has already begun the long process of retrieving and transferring programmes.
A trial involving 20,000 users will begin next month, and the service could be available nationally in a year's time.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
There are two things the French will probably have to get used to. The first is the new president's tendency to intervene with his friends in the newspaper business to stop then printing unfavorable articles.
The second is that his personal life will give him plenty of reasons to intervene. It may be to Sarkozy's benefit that the French attitude toward private morality is generally more accepting than elsewhere. Things that the French tend to tolerate would trigger national crises in other countries.
But even more intriguing ... Ségolène Royal,the respectable loser in the presidential election, is no less aware of her power than her victorious adversary. Now that the election is over Royal, in a surprise coup, is claiming the leadership of her Socialist Party (PS). This would not be so extraordinary if all she had to do was push aside a few older gentlemen. But one of those men is the current head of the PS, François Hollande, who happens to be her partner and the father of her four children. Royal is currently spending a few days in Tunisia -- alone.
What do I find extraordinary?
Well it's more about her brother, mentioned here: It tells the story of the run-up to Royal's decision to run for the candidacy and it goes like this: her partner François had a close relationship with a female journalist, who was "attractive, blonde and lively" and had been assigned to report about the Socialists.
Ségolène first had her eldest son call the paper and then asked her brother Gérard to intervene. Gérard, a former intelligence agent who was involved in the notorious 1985 attack on the Greenpeace vessel "Rainbow Warrior" off the coast of New Zealand, was apparently successful with his intervention, and the young woman was reassigned.
It seems he is a man who still commands respect and if not that, he is a man with no small amount of power.
Gérard was involved the cold-blooded 'accidental' killing of a photographer on board the Greenpeace boat docked in the Port of Auckland, a major New Zealand city (not off-shore as reported here) ) - he and his intelligence comrades attached two limpet mines to the hull of the Greenpeace vessel detonated 10 minutes apart, at around 11:45 p.m., and the ship sank in four minutes.
Fortunately Wikipedia researched that particular story a little more thoroughly ...
One of the twelve people on board, photographer Fernando Pereira, drowned when he attempted to retrieve his equipment.
One wonders how death can be avoided when 2 limpet mines are attached so as to cause a vessel to sink in 4 minutes ... then again, that particular Greenpeace vessel was protesting the French testing their nuclear toys in the South Pacific.
For those still reading: On July 12 two of the six bombers, posing as Swiss tourists and carrying Swiss Passports, who had operated under orders were found and arrested. At trial they pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were eventually sentenced to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
Most of the others were identified and three were interviewed by the New Zealand Police on Norfolk Island to where they had escaped in the yacht Ouvea. They were not arrested due to lack of evidence that would satisfy the Australian authorities. Ouvea subsequently sailed, ostensibly for Nouméa, but was scuttled en route with the personnel transferring to a French naval vessel.
Most of the DGSE members remained in French government service.
I remember how stunned New Zealand was ... after all the nuclear testing in Moruroa Atoll was an ongoing horror. The atoll was the site of extensive nuclear testing by France between 1966 and 1996.
41 atmospheric nuclear tests were conducted at Moruroa between 1966 and 1974.
3 nuclear devices were detonated on barges,
3 were air dropped from bombers,
the rest were suspended from helium filled balloons.
France abandoned nuclear testing in the atmosphere in 1974 and moved testing underground in the midst of intense world pressure.
147 underground nuclear tests were conducted at Moruroa and Fangataufa. Shafts were drilled deep into the volcanic rocks underlying the atolls where nuclear devices were detonated. This practice created much controversy as cracking of the atolls was discovered, resulting in fears that the radioactive material trapped under the atolls would eventually escape and contaminate the surrounding ocean and neighboring atolls. A 1979 test conducted at half the usual depth caused a large submarine landslide on the southwest rim of the atoll.
The test site at Moruroa was dismantled following France’s last nuclear test to date, detonated on January 27, 1996.
Not that the French government was apologetic about the Rainbow Warrior incident.... instead they threatened to block New Zealand exports to the European Economic Community (EEC) unless the two of the 'intelligence' officers were released.
In June 1986, in a political deal with the then Prime Minister of New Zealand David Lange and presided over by the United Nations Secretary-General, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, France agreed to pay compensation of NZ$13 million (USD$6.5 million) to New Zealand and 'apologise', in return for which Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur would be detained at the French military base on Hao atoll for three years.
However, the two spies had both returned to France by May 1988, after less than two years on the atoll, Mafart having ostensibly travelled to France for medical treatment (without returning at the conclusion at the treatment) and Prieur having become pregnant after her husband had been allowed to join her.
That done, I achieved tremendous amounts for all kinds of reasons and at different points was inspired by kind words from both Shannon and Alison.
Serious moments often turn to laughter quite quickly these days and at one point, while feeling quite touched by something Shannon had said, I was dragged back to earth and laughter by the words 'I'm here Granma, I'm here!!' Looking down, I found Miss Two sitting at my feet in a large plastic salad bowl with a child's plastic safari hat in her hands as a steering wheel.
'Brrrrmm, brrrmmm!'she said, making me realise she was in fact a car and not a 2 year old child as first assumed.
Life got a little too much for Miss Two around 1pm and she was quite wicked at the supermarket. Oh the illusionary and misleading power of an umbrella when in the hands of a short person. The umbrella she pointed at me with, her face a mass of thunderclouds when I dared to tell her to go sit on the chairs as opposed to her seat on the crate next to the self-help sweets.
So she was encouraged into an afternoon nap ... then slowly but surely the apartment fell silent, as her mummy and granny slipped into siestas in different rooms.
I woke around 5 with an 'eek!', shared cake and milk with Miss Two when she wandered out, then we woke up her mum.
Now it's all about some fast footwork as we tidy the house and make it look like we were industrious souls all day long and not some sleepy siesta-taking types.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Who knows what possesses me when I say 'okay' but he's a favourite poet of Gert's and I had no real reason to say no.
I'm trying to be brave about losing my laptop and deleted my sad little desperate post written at 1am this morning.
Even if it didn't read 'sad and desperate' to anyone else, I knew it was sad and desperate so it had to go.
I crawled back into bed this morning and considered where to go with my life from this point ... well yes, of course the loss of a laptop can inspire this kind of life-changing feeling.
I think I'm back on track, let's see it.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Hours later and we've added 3 new photo collections and a few new images to the existing selections.
It's been a long day full of that kind of concentrated selection work, broken up by the frustration of housework.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new photographs ...
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Last night 5 New Zealanders sat outside in the dark, gathered around the dying embers of the big bar-be-que, drinking wine and reminiscing about New Zealand and how it had been to grow up there.
It was dark, light rain fell occasionally and when the Nature's Best cd couldn't be found, we talked our way through kiwi music we'd grown with.
The dinner crowd had been more international but some of the others found it simpler to ignore the lure of woodsmoke and memories. So the lone Belgian, the Welsh, the Americans and the Brits stayed indoors and discussed other things.
It was 2 days of families ... ages ranging from 1 through to 40-something and everyone came with their kids. It was madness and mayhem in the best possible way and little Miss Two loved all of it.
We drove home through Germany and stopped off in Prüm via back roads and windmills ... possibly an interesting place but for the fact that all was closed by 2pm Saturday.
It was a really nice way to spend a couple of days.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Thank you Mark - it almost makes up for you posting a photograph of your brother, 31 years after my last meeting with him.
My how he's grown ... I'm still dealing with it.
I had laryngitis when they interviewed me ... slightly humiliating to listen to tonight but otherwise I think it went well. I could have been slimmer, they could have discovered that slightly more flattering camera angle from the start and a make-up artist would have been delish but I didn't die of shame as I viewed it and that seems like a good thing.
Little Miss Two was briefly delighted to see herself there but Gert's daughter was horrified by a mistake she made in her English ... that would be the 11 year old who has never had an English lesson in her life. And therein lies the difference between the Belgian and I ... she's horrified by one mistake and I'm happy to get something right, and as for her English, it's superb.
I was the photographer for the Language exhibition that opens here in the city 1 June ... the presenter mentioned the exhibition (not me) tonight. It seems that the interview will be a part of that too.
The other interviewees?
Well there were two other families.
People with many languages inside of them and then there was me ... the more-or-less monolingual New Zealander.
-Michael McGriffy, M.D.
Maybe it's true.
It's after midnight here, the apartment is quiet and it occurs to me that I just need to shift my 'doing stuff' time some.
I can work while people are sleeping perhaps.
Everyone else was working on various projects tonight so I curled up on the couch with music playing through my odd little walkman, with my 'homework' ... the 'Getting Things Done' book and my massive Voices from the Summit book of essays by climbers.
I have a half-finished manuscript of interviews with New Zealand climbers and as I read my way into David Allen's Getting Things Done book, I'm finding so many parallels between the climbing and business worlds.
Mountaineers are perhaps the penultimate business people ... they have to create action plans and etc or it's quite likely that they will die on the mountain they're climbing.
I'm curious to see where David Allen takes me, wondering if it's over terrain that I've travelled via the words of the climbers I've met, read and interviewed.
I love the way that life experience trips over itself and bleeds into the next level of your life as you travel ... 4 years as an Airforce officer's wife gave me so many experiences and friends, and interesting conversations with people the world around, 12 other years with the same man while he was a teacher.
Two years as a English teacher in Istanbul ... 1 year interviewing climbers back in New Zealand - reading all the climbing literature that I could find ... university student from 1999 through into 2002; motherhood, stepmotherhood and grandmotherhood ... all combined in this new Belgian 'hood', each role approached from another angle, a new take on old experiences; a consciousness of an objectivity that I didn't have that first time I fell into a 'role'.
So now I'm learning how to 'achieve stress-free productivity' and smiling a little as I write of it here.
I'm serious, it's time ... I'm a photographer with an instinct for people and I want to do it this time.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
So, Photo Induced.com is a superb site about photography but that's not all ... they also have weekly giveaways and I won something.
I'm now the proud owner of a Photo Induced.com t-shirt but even better, they enclosed a fabulous little lens cleaning cloth in its own sack... one that hooks onto my camera bag.
Photo Induced.com promise to help their readers with everything from how to take better snapshots of the kids to reviews on the latest professional software.
Anyway, most importantly, thank you to Damon at Photo Induced ...
We weren't nice people today and we slept a lot.
As for Little Miss Two, she would do something naughty then shout 'I'm doeing' to my roomb!' and storm off up the passage. She slept for a couple of hours and just arrived here at my desk ... 21.45, fully dressed and ready for breakfast.
We were not amused ... but we did giggle a little after she was back in bed.
Monday, May 14, 2007
The boot-stealing fairy broke into a run as I pursued her with a camera.
Those boots are my boots and only a gazillion sizes too big for her.
The boot-stealing fairy makes me laugh many times every day and the boot-stealing fairy's mother isn't much better ... life is very unserious here sometimes.
I had to laugh when a Belgian man approached the table and warmly greeted me ... saying, quite proudly, 'Excuse me but she photographed me'.
It's about Jonathan Coulton, the singer/songwriter who quit his day job to attempt the challenge of writing and singing a song online every week.
They're saying that these days he makes between 3000 and 5000usd per month and spends up to 6 hours per day, interacting with some of the 3000 people who visit his website daily, in between writing and performing.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Five, maybe 10 minutes passed and there we were in the sun on my bed with my book and my pen ... that would be little Miss Two who was by then sharing my earphones, listening to music, lying in the sun on the bed in my room.
Or so my gmail account told me ...
It was mail from Orlando over at about the shuffle .
I had photographed his hands at a poetry reading here in the city and written a post under the title of the poetry reading and he had found his hands on an internet search.
A nice coincidence on a Sunday in Antwerpen.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
They write: "While the Internet still retains some of the “wild wild west” feel, increasingly Internet activity, and particular blogging, is being shaped and governed by state and federal laws. For US bloggers in particular, blogging has become a veritable land mine of potential legal issues, and the situation isn’t helped by the fact that the law in this area is constantly in flux.
Postscript: Peter, from Antwerp Calling has left an interesting comment regarding this post. It's worth checking out.
And once again, there was a point when I looked round our lounge and thought 'We're lucky, to know some truly excellent people'. I'm just hoping the neighbours didn't mind the many many conversations that floated down the stairwell ... as far as the third floor, or so I heard. We'll just have to invite the neighbours next time.
Last night we were light on kiwis (just 5 this time) but had friends from Belgium , America, Canada, Spain and Ecuador and I'm smiling this morning. At some point someone realised that more than a few of us had met via the internet. We had Alison and v-grrrl, Shannon with her myspace blog that I think you have to be a member of myspace to read (a pity because it's an interesting one). I met Helen and Heather via the NZIB, discovered online.
You know you know some good people when they arrive bearing food and gifts. The invitation read 'Please bring something to drink and we'll feed you' and many thanks to everyone for doing that but thank you also to those who walked in the took over the kitchen when I was caught running a little late with the preparation ... thank you to Raf for whipping up a delicious pasta sauce while I finished preparing for guests, and to Shannon and Alison for tidying the kitchen while I greeted guests, thank you to Cindy for what seemed like armloads of drinks and for her gift to little Miss Two. And thank you to Veronica and her family, who arrived with all kinds of unexpected treasures that delighted Miss Two and made her truly believe that the party was all about her, and to Dominique for the beautiful kete bag she brought me back from her recent stay in New Zealand. To Michelle for her famous Spinach dip ... I must get the receipe, it's stunning.
And people kept coming and I lost track of who came with what ... thank you to everyone for the food AND drinks but most of all thank you for coming. There's so much left over we should probably party again tonight.
Meanwhile I'm photographing a horse this afternoon ... he's being sold by a friend. It's still raining, let's see how that goes.
Friday, May 11, 2007
It is now to be known as VILLA KIWI.
The sign on our door reads: We have colonised the area beyond the door on behalf of the people of New Zealand in accordance with the universal Kiwi law that states ‘where ever 3 or more New Zealanders reside so shall the place be known as New Zealand'.
Note: This law it little known and quite possibly the invention of some enterprising young colonising kiwi however we have chosen to make use of it in this instance, believing the colonisation to be part of the greater good.
We working on surprising him with the haka when he gets in, just in case he has any doubts about whose country he's in now ... ;)
Thursday, May 10, 2007
This year has been an 'interesting' year.
The blog is the visible portion of my life ... the tip of the iceberg.
Anyway I've just started working with a truly superb woman called Laura. She's a business and life coach, a wise woman too and this week's homework is the book Getting Things Done - How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity ... if ever there was a time in my life when this book was required reading, it surely has to be now. It arrived in the mail today.
I'm launching my businesses ... slowly but surely launching the photography business.
Tomorrow is the 'neighbours special' mail-out ... I checked with many Belgians before pursuing this marketing plan. I'll let you know how it goes.
The Cafe Press project my daughter and I are putting together continues to undergo change as we work out 'dpi' and how to reframe photographs to fit products as diverse as clock faces and postcards ... all the time adding new images to our selection over at Instinctive Art.
My granddaughter alternately melts my heart and makes me wonder how a two year old can be so certain that she has a right to express her own views in a manner befitting a queen.
Her 'latest' is to point at her eye and say 'I' ... then she draws the shape of a heart with her hands over her chest and says 'love' ... then she points directly at the object of her affection and says 'YOU'.
We walked a million miles today, through rain and wind, searching the back streets of Antwerpen for the little fashion boutiques this city specialises in ... affordable fashion boutiques. My daughter had a need for new clothes and she was sent traveling with birthday gifts of money from family back home.
There was this little black knee-length coat I had fallen in love with last week. My daughter had tried and discarded it as 'too tailored and classic'.
It was 122euro down to 35euro ... last in stock.
It was stunning.
Today we made our way back to the store and yes, I was lost for quite some time while taking us there ... the back streets are tricky if you're neither a native nor a shopper but finally success came just as we felt we couldn't go on.
The coat was still there, it looked stunning on her and she bought it.
Triumphant we headed off to the supermarket Gert and I usually drive to.
('Usually drive to' is an important part of this story.)
We arrived eventually, shopped and were leaving the store when I remembered that I always go there by car ... that would be the car that we always have shopping bags in because 'TA DAAAA!, they don't give you shopping bags.
Sigh, little Miss Two had to give up her pushchair, we filled all available bags and made our sorry way back to the bus stop to wait for a bus that took so long to arrive.
6.30pm, finally home ... footsore, weary and cold, although priding ourselves on managing it all.
Not such a bad day, especially if I don't move my feet.
Oh and ... 4 massive sets of photographs were checked over a million times before they were burned to cd this morning. Delivery tomorrow now, it fell off the list of today.
2 more massive sets of images to work on then most of my free work is done.
Let's see if I can make the transition and start earning an income.
So yes, this photographer is surely for hire!
There is something mesmerising about the sleek lines of those large yachts as they cut through the water and shimmy-shammy their way across the course. The wind factor, the jives, the tacks, the statistics, the maneuvers ... all have me hooked. (Except it is on at 3.00 a.m. over here.) 'It's a rich man's sport' is the main criticism I hear. I dunno - I just like the poetry-in-motion factor. I'd far sooner watch boats than rugby players, I know that.
And have I mentioned that the NZ yacht is doing rather well? However, with the crews being as international as they are, which country the yachts are from is almost a moot point. NZ (with some American crew) and America (with a kiwi skipper) are the top two boats. So. Our teensy country pits itself against the Big-un. Again.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
They're the last minute dash towards house-wifely respectability before Bompi comes home from work because you see ... most of my day has been spent working on photographs; more than 600 photographs actually.
Erik's are done - to be burned to cd.
Habib's are almost done - to be burned to cd.
The ATLAS reception photographs are done and burned to cd.
Diede and Francien's party photographs are done, as are Eltje's impromptu family sitting, to be burned to cd and posted.
Joyce's are ready to be gone over with my new photoshop programme, burned to cd and posted to Switzerland.
So, as you can see ... singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight many times at the top of our lungs while dancing and trying to keep within the boundaries neighbours might stand ... was a bit of a release after a long day spent in the office chair here.
It's raining again here but after endless hot days it's not so bad. And I can see there may be a need for a wee glass of red wine with the chicken chasseur we whipped up for dinner.
You'd end up singing 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' of course, at the top of your lungs.
But not just any youtube of The Lion Sleeps Tonight ... no no no, it's the Granma and Hara version according to a less than discerning Miss Two.
Apparently I get to be the one in pink, meanwhile she's the cute little number in yellow.
Turn it up loud and dance your heart out.
Or conversely, ignore this, walk away from the screen and don't visit the song.
She loved it ... in a foot-stompin' hand-clapping, singing-along-to kind of way.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Belgium isn't like that.
Erin's my sole source of America's Cup .... well, mocking.
The landlocked yachtie is all but shouting 'Vive Espana' across the blogwaves to me, with less generous comments for my kiwis yachting heroes.
She's hilarious, and each America's Cup comment is slightly more outrageous than the previous one.
Finally I bowed to the fact that I have to be informed despite my location.
Erin sent me a link.
The rankings made me smile ... there's New Zealand in 2nd place.
Did I mention that there are only 4 million people in New Zealand and that we held the cup for two challenges ... despite having an incredibly small amount of funding from our tiny little fabulous country.
Lang leve Nieuw-Zeeland!!
i've been wildly successful and now i'm ashamed ... hence the lower case post.
i didn't do 'nothing' nothing, i simply didn't do anything i was meant to do ... nothing from the excessively long list that continues to grow.
however little miss two and i did run away to the city and spend money we shouldn't have spent on expensive latte and the 3 grapes (consumed) fruit salad.
(hours have passed and nothing more has been eaten of that very expensive eski fruit salad ... sigh).
i've talked to and emailed with friends i've neglected a while.
i've fallen in love with lays chicken and thyme crisps.
i've had coca cola and coffee ... avoiding water for no reason beyond not thinking of drinking it.
i've realised that i'm only wise about others ... and even that claim should be filed under 'doubtful'.
i've weighed the pros and cons of using my bedroom as my daytime workspace because there is no other spare space at our place.
i've considered putting a screen next to my desk when i'm working and i've written of gutting empty filing cabinets to create a post modern office here in the lounge.
perhaps it's best if it simply put on the headphones and crank up the music.
i washed a rude amount of dishes, completing the housework minutes before gert's ex-wife arrived to pick up the childrens stuff.
there's a lot that i haven't done but listing it here didn't look good, so it's best i just keep silent about it all.
i hope that your day has been or will be so much more organised than mine ...
Tewfic wrote that the British Library has focused on the Books of the Three Faiths for an exhibition titled Sacred, on at the British Library. The exhibition covers not only the diversity of faiths in Britain but also illustrates how much the main faiths have in common. We need to be constantly reminded how alike these monotheist faiths are, and how they all sprang from the same small area with the same customs, values and theology. As far as I'm concerned it succeeded, and reaffirmed my long-held belief that all religions are one and the same.
One of the most fascinating exhibits is an ancient Gospel written in Arabic whose opening verse reads "In the name of Allah...". Incredible but true. I wonder how our reactionary religious fundamentalists can spin this?
But that's not all ... Tewfic also has an interesting post on Flickr titled POV: No More Stock Photographs?
And finally there's the post about Ahmet Ertug , a truly talented Turkish photographer. You can visit Ahmet's work here.
After the visit, I thought we might catch the bus on in the same direction and see where it took us. It was fun and we ended up city centre.
McDonalds seemed like a plan by then and we wandered over however ... Belgium is special and McDonalds doesn't open for breakfast until 9.30am! And even then, it's only for coffee, tea and croissant type thingies.
I carried a distraught Miss Two from the store and headed for Exki where we bought a big coffee for gran and fruit salad for the noisy short one.
Conversation and counting from a table upstairs till we left, carefully carrying most of the fruit salad minus the grapes and caught a tram home.
A different kind of way to start my day ...
Monday, May 07, 2007
Life is good.
Meanwhile our Cafe Press shop made its first sale ... pre-launch!
I guess we should put news of it out there and mention that if there are any photographs of mine or Jessie's that you would particularly like to buy on a journal, a cup, a mousepad, a tee-shirt ... let us know and we'll see if it's possible.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Jessie went to work on a new blog header for me and I love it.
I had gone through my photo collection, pulled out a few favourites and left them with her.
And so it is that the small 'clothed' dog from Spain has officially bumped my Rome header for now.
If you're interested in a new blog header for your blog, then pop on over to Digital Art and Blog Headers and check out her work.
As is usual in this Belgian life more than one nationality was present at today's gathering ... we had lovely Aussie hosts, a few of their friends, a lot of Kiwis, some Brits and some Belgians and the guy from Malta.
The group is a loose-knit social crowd who are always a pleasure to see.
More than a few photographs were taken and there's hours of work to be done. Now it's about calming down an exhausted but happy Miss Two.
Friday, May 04, 2007
I blame Peter for this. I was over reading his blog, followed his directions and watched the aussieBum behind the scenes Patriot Underwear Photoshoot ... just for any photographic tips I might pick up of course and then out of curiousity clicked on the Otters Holding Hands youtube.
Dank u wel, Peter.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
I had to laugh, as I've been plagued by Blogger switching my language mode to Dutch automatically and okay, I can read it but I chose English. What I didn't realise was that it might be switching guests blogger settings too ... my humble apologies if it happened to you and you have no Dutch.
If not, then check out v-grrrl's post ...
She begins: Last night I watched the riveting debate between presidential candidates Segelene Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy. For two-and-a-half hours, it was the best of political theatre. In my opinion, whoever wins the election, Madame Royal won the debate, hands down. She gave a masterful performance, looking directly at Sarkozy as she made her case for changes needed in France. While she was talking, Sarkozy often looked at the moderators (who were hopelessly ineffective) or scribbled notes.
My throat is tight and heavy with this flu thing. I felt too miserable too sleep any longer and while I wouldn't say I'm terribly ill, I'm just not quite well enough to be happy either.
I've just been quietly reading my way around the blogsphere ... catching up on Kay's blog, taking a walk around my home city and getting a homesick for some Dunedin mist and drizzle in the process.
I spent some time over at Pam's blog, catching up with her life in a new home back in the States ... the same Pam who flew in from Austria and spent a couple of days with us a while back.
Erin , Veronica and Tara have all chosen sleep over posting this morning ... we share a timezone and friendship and it makes me smile when I realise I've spent time with all of these rather amazing women in real life.
It was good to find Kim the Canadian back, posting of her new house in Tirana and travels through Albania. It was reading her post that put the coffee thought into my head ... 'Boxes surround me now as I pull my laptop into bed and sip my morning coffee. I am truly happy right here .'
Today ... I'm photographing a reception at 11.30am and delivering a cd full of photographs, then perhaps we three ... my daughter, Miss Two and I will go city wandering.
Did I write that little Miss Two has renamed Gert's children?
It seems she has chosen names with a Finnish flavour and we've all begun calling them 'Itti' and 'Matti'. And no matter how many times you go over the real names with her ... she just smiles and says 'Kay', agreeing then calling out for 'Itti' to come play with her.
At one point yesterday, I looked up while talking Katherine, the woman who interviewed me, and there was Miss Two, running towards the lens of the camera man as he filmed the kids on the balcony. Both Katherine and Geert (the camera guy) ended up playing with her ...
Yesterday ended well. For the first time since crippling my laptop and turning it into the laptop requiring an external keyboard, I unplugged it and took it outside to the balcony.
I immediately began writing, like I used to before ... before I'm not sure when but released from the desk, I became Di the writer, again and it was a little delicious ... a glass of red wine, a warm setting sun, something like peace and the writing flow.
The horizon is glowing and sun's on its way ... 5.41am, Antwerpen, Belgie, on the other side of the world from home.
A retraction: a reliable source informed me that Tara was up writing until 2am - I take back any implied criticism ;)
Another retraction: Erin checked in and I'm noting it here that Spanish taxes (ugh) and the paperwork for her visa renewal came between her and her blogging.
the demanding blog reader.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
She listened to what I wanted to portray in my blog and then went through my photographs and designed my new blog header ... one that I love.
It amazes me watching her work. When she was designing her own blog header, she simply picked up my camera and went searching through my bookcase for the letters she needed ... photographed them, photoshopped them and voila, Digital Images was created and became her own blog header.
If you're interested in having your own custom designed blog header, either using your own photography, my photography or having photographs specifically taken then contact Jessica via her website over at Digital Art and Blog Headers
I was interviewed by Katherine and filmed by Geert and it wasn't so bad, probably because there was no sense of there being an audience beyond the two of them.
My stepdaughter was also interviewed ... her English is getting stronger and stronger the more time she spends with me, to the point where she has become a more than adequate translator for her younger brother and I.
She told them about the way I say 'sneeuw' ... oh the shame of it. Some things are best kept private but never-the-mind, everyone laughed.
It was okay I think although I guess that depends on how they edit and what they translate my words as ... I asked them to be gentle with me.
Sahara was the star of the show, charming everyone with her wild Antipodean ways ... she even had Katherine out on the balcony playing swingball with her.
Note: if you are ever to be filmed talking over dinner, don't cook stoofvlees, rice and beans ... so so difficult to eat in a tidy way.
4.30am and I was awake, feverish and taking cough syrup for the hacking cough, 7.30am and I was taking a panadol for the ache, 10.45am and I'm wondering how to pull it together for the people from television who come later today.
It's going to be all about timing ...
Sigh ... I typed in the Title once I knew what the post was about and my English turned into another language ...
It could be that it's simply going to be 'one of those days'.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Some of the questions in our minds tonight:
1. Can Miss Two be 'that' naughty two days in a row?
2. Will she want the cameras all for herself and her song and dance routines?
3. Will our daughters agree to be part of the whole 'language and life of a foreigner' thing?
And if you want to understand more about the present situation in Turkey, I recommend that you wander on over and read Erkan's Blog.
His blog header reads: This is a blog to register Erkan Saka's fieldwork days for his dissertation thesis project on Turkish journalism and the European Union (EU).
He is a Ph.D candidate at the Anthropology Department of Rice University and a teaching assistant at the Media and Communication Systems Department of Istanbul Bilgi University.
You will find here news, commentaries, casual analyses, documents, fieldnotes etc related to Turkey, the EU and his research as well as his posts on anthropology, journalism, cyberculture, football (soccer), reading notes and other field attractions.