Sunday, September 30, 2007

Remember, the brick walls are there for a reason.
The brick walls are not there to keep us out,
they are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

Because the brick walls are there to stop people who don't want it badly enough
They are there to stop the 'other' people.

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor

Life Lessons ...

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues.

He motioned to them to sit down. "Make me earn it," he said.
What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? For Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, the question isn't rhetorical -- he's dying of cancer. Jeff Zaslow narrates a video on Prof. Pausch's final lecture.

They had come to see him give what was billed as his "last lecture." This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama have mounted "Last Lecture Series," in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?

It can be an intriguing hour, watching healthy professors consider their demise and ruminate over subjects dear to them. At the University of Northern Iowa, instructor Penny O'Connor recently titled her lecture "Get Over Yourself." At Cornell, Ellis Hanson, who teaches a course titled "Desire," spoke about sex and technology.

At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.

Thanks to Laura and Andrea ... both were running it so I couldn't ignore it.

Robert Capa Exhibition

PDN has news of The ICP exhibition "This Is War! Robert Capa at Work" which displays some of Capa's most important war stories from the 1930s and 1940s, including the D-Day landing, the Spanish Civil War and the Sino-Japanese conflict.

A highlight of the Capa show is a wall displaying all the known photographs Capa and his partner Gerda Taro shot the day of Capa's famous "Falling Soldier" image, also called "Death of a Loyalist Militiaman, Cerro Muriano."

Three concurrent exhibitions at ICP also deal with the Spanish Civil War.

One exhibition is devoted to Taro, who had a romance with Capa and worked by his side as a photojournalist. At times, the two credited their photos as a team, "Capa & Taro." (Both their professional names were assumed. Capa's birth name was André Friedmann and Taro's was Gerda Pohorylle.)

Taro died in 1937 when she was sideswiped by a tank in Madrid. Capa was killed by a mine in 1954 while covering the French Indochina War.

ENOUGH Project

ENOUGH's mission is to stop and prevent genocide and mass atrocities by promoting Peace, providing Protection, and Punishing the perpetrators. They use field and policy analysis and strong policy advocacy to empower a growing activist movement for change.

Reads interesting.
You can find more over on their website here.

Getting busy ...

I start work next week and I'm a little bit stressed. The world is going on without comment from me, writes she who is researching all that she needs to know about life directly related to the tasks in front of her.

I'm not sure that I'll be around much before mid-October but we'll see. Perhaps I'll find the time and wifi connection. Political or news researched comment will be thin on the ground, apologies to those annoyed with me for failing to comment on Burma.

I went searching, to catch up on the news and found this rather good article in the New York Times.

It opens with AS they marched through the streets of Myanmar’s cities last week leading the biggest antigovernment protests in two decades, some barefoot monks held their begging bowls before them. But instead of asking for their daily donations of food, they held the bowls upside down, the black lacquer surfaces reflecting the light.

It was a shocking image in the devoutly Buddhist nation. The monks were refusing to receive alms from the military rulers and their families — effectively excommunicating them from the religion that is at the core of Burmese culture.

That gesture is a key to understanding the power of the rebellion that shook Myanmar last week.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ashely, you almost made me cry with homesickness ...

Ashley Kirker sent this link to my home back in New Zealand and my eyes filled with tears as I watched it and 3 viewings later, I still can't watch.

I'd like to go home. I miss New Zealand. I've been to these places, lived in them, visited them or know of them ...

Here's the behind the scenes youtube.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mums Stuff

She has been described as “a triple shot of espresso in a decaf
world,” but there isn’t a latte cup big enough to hold the party that
Anita Renfroe brings.
Thanks Alison.




Granma, come here'





Why do you want me to come over there?



I want my blanket.

It was next to her on the floor, within reach.

Did your arms fall off?


Walking away I hear, Granma, I want you...

Little Miss 3 is fighting return of the disgusting cough, with associated fever.

She took 17 and a half years off my life while she was sleeping this afternoon, eyes open, mumbling things. I had to think about whether this was a wee special of hers because she is special or consider the fact she was delirious.

Cool face cloth and stripping her down to her sleeping diapers did wonders and now she's found my motherly achilles heel ... nothing is too much for the sick one.

Earlier she called me over with the words, 'Granma, I need a hug'.

I'm glad her mum is coming back tonight. I've been here and done this, it's a slippery slope for me, I can't over-ride the mothering thing that lurks in my body.

Meet a new love in my life ...

the new love of my life, originally uploaded by - di.

See that little HP Pavilion dv2000, it's mine and I adore it in the nicest possible way ...

Change of plans ... regarding the exciting photography job

So first there were 8 in the house ... 7 New Zealanders and Gert, then there were 5 as the three 19 year olds have headed for Amsterdam, although not before an impromptu photo sitting with Di Mackey Photography.

Dropped the photography session with the rather superb New Zealand singer as things changed ... such is life as a freelance photographer. Never-the-mind.

Meanwhile our remaining guests are out on Flanders Fields today, via the tram and two trains on their way to Ieper. It's the first time we haven't had guests stay over a weekend and so we couldn't drive them there. Anyway, I was really impressed by the extended tour this company was offering - curious to here how it went tonight.

Since that first 24 hours there have been no more 'missing in action' type events and we feel confident they'll be home for Turkish food and Belgian beer tonight. I picked out a selection of my favourite beers for them this morning.

My favourites?
Hmmmmm, if I must drink beer then Duvel is my favourite and surprisingly enough, it has 8.5% alcohol content. A little tricky if you don't note that fact the first time you have it. Then there's the Rodenbach with it's slightly sour apple taste. All guests are always offered the cherry beer called Kriek and the Framboise or Raspberry beer. And finally an abbey beer called Leffe.

That's more than enough, as it's only a tasting and our guests don't drink very often.

I had to postpone my volunteer work today. I was photographing an African group but little Miss 3 has had a relapse of her cough and fever and my daughter doesn't return from her travels till tonight.

Tomorrow is action-packed ... photography, the foreigners market, Middelheim open-air sculpture park and then a sad farewell to the last of the kiwis as they head off to Amsterdam.

Tuesday and I'm back in Brussels airport picking up an old and treasured friend from New Zealand ...

So yes, alles goed in the flatland of Belgie.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Towns Rethink Laws Against Illegal Immigrants

An interesting article in the New York Times.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill

Gert and I often 'discuss' politics.
He sent me this quote and it's too delicious not to post on.

New Zealanders found safe and sound, resting on a mound of luggage at a tramstop in Antwerpen

Last night was full of conversation, laughter and more than 3 years of catching up.

I met Clare and Hunter in my Te Anau life. We had moved from the airforce base in Marlborough down to Fiordland New Zealand and were still taking the first steps towards the very small population of the small town nestled in the mountains on the edge of a massive lake, massive in both terms of size and beauty.

Hunter has a lifetime of stories of growing up in and around the mountains and knows the places he knows like the back of his hand. He was also the man who later brought me fresh venison steaks after I moved to the peninsula in Dunedin city.

Amongst his first words yesterday were' Sorry, I didn't bring any venison this time'. Not only did he used to bring the venison steaks, he also used to cook them, creating sumptutious pieces of yum with those steaks.

However, they had brought two huge jars of Vegemite which is almost as good when you're living in Belgium, cut off from anything but the occasional, very expensive small jar of Vegemite.

Last night's dinner, for 8, was a massive feast of stoofvlees and frieten ... traditional Belgian food welcoming them to the flat lands of Flanders.

A few years ago, Hunter and I spent a few days on his farmhouse balcony while I interviewed him about his life ... a long and interesting one but I'll save that for another day.

Tot ziens.

Togs or Undies??

Marrying a European means that the topic of togs (swimming gear New Zealand style) versus underpants or underwear (= undies in New Zealand speak) has become a huge topic of conversation in our Euro/New Zealand apartment, with me telling Gert 'There's no way that you can wear your Speedo's in New Zealand.

This ad had Gert and I giggling, thanks to Mark for the link.

New Zealand Icecream company, Tip Top, in their television commercial, “Undies”, help simplify the answer to the question, “When does a speedo become underwear?” All in the name of the Tip Top Trumpet , icecream served up in a waffle cone.

The advertisement features a male bather walking from the beach into the city and back again, testing a vital question facing many New Zealanders. As he does so, a voiceover gives us the clues we need…

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The story so far ...

3pm and still our New Zealand guests haven't arrived, despite them leaving Brussels around midday and despite me spending an hour at the designated meeting place in Berchem railway station.

My cellphone is away traveling and it's been one of those days when I really needed one.

At first the trains were simply running late but time passed and still there was no sign of our party of 5 from Brussels.

Eventually I decided it was time to take action that didn't involve me catching the tram all the way home to pick up phone numbers. I approached the international ticket desk and confessed that I had lost 5 New Zealanders on their train service ... did they offer any kind of tracking service?

Of course he had me repeat it.

He asked where they were coming from. I told him Brussels and waited for his eyebrows to return to the correct place on his face.

I shrugged my shoulders and looked embarrassed saying, 'I know ... it's never happened before'.

Going by my last phone conversation with them before I sprinted out the door, I figured they must have gotten off at Mechelen, mistaking it for Berchem. We were planning on meeting at the Panos cafe in Berchem and they so weren't there.

So a message that Diane was waiting for the Shaws in Berchem went out over Mechelen's public address system.

I tried the public phone info line for Gert's number at work as I knew he could contact them but I didn't know what the word 'haak' was and couldn't get through on the info number I had been given. (No telephone books there, in case you're wondering) and the chick in the music store was very busy with a private phone call.

It was at that point I realised I had crossed over and was eminating pathetic vibes.

Home again, home again and a phone call to Gert.

It turned out one of the Shaws in question had asked the train conductor at Berchem Station if there was a cafe there ... the conductor, clearly not being the most informed person when it came to the intricacies of Berchem Station, assured them there was no cafe.

They jumped back on the train and headed for the other place we'd thought about meeting ... that would be the life-size elephant sculptures outside Centraal Station.

I have to go pick up little Miss Three and I'm hoping that we'll either find the Shaws at the new meeting place or that, armed with our details, they'll find their way to us alone ...

Beware of kiwi cyclists on Belgian roads

The day began with a bike ride to kindergarten after a long night where kiwi guests were lost enroute to Antwerpen.

This morning we realised that they probably hadn't allowed for crossing a timezone after leaving England for that short flight across the Channel. I never thought to tell them but was surprised when they thought they could make all their train connections easily.

We waited with baited breath as the last train to us left Brussels, wondering if they were on it ... finally the call came, and despite hitching a ride from the airport with a friendly stranger, they just missed the train.

We phoned the Sleepwell Youth Hostel just after midnight and no worries, there were rooms for the travelers.

This morning the English cellphone Courtney's using will only speak in a series of high pitched beeps so I've emailed the train schedule and left a message at the youth hostel.

Why didn't we pick them up as we usually do with our guests?
Ahhh that would be the fact that there are 5 adults, 2 large suitcases and 3 big backpacks and we have a little blue car.

But the bike ride to kindy, it's a grand way to start a day ... well except that I don't know Belgian road rules and have to think before turning corners and etc ... 'which side of the road am I meant to be on?'
'That would be the one that feels most wrong.'

Sahara and I giggled a lot as we made our way through small streets, quietly singing the 'We're going on a Bear Hunt' song ... as you do.

The bikes ... our bikes are two old standard black ones, like the ones my father was riding back in 60's New Zealand. I love them and we have a cane basket on the handle bars while Sahara is on the back in her very own seat.

She loves it too and it was a huge moment in her life when we bought her the bike seat.

Coming home I stopped at one of the many bakeries near home (sorry ML) and bought a 12 grain brown loaf and a white loaf for our guests, when they eventually get here. That was me, standing in the queue, muttering as I tried to remember which 'g' word is 'cut' and which is 'divorce'.

It's preferable that I say 'not cut' in the bread shop, as opposed to 'not divorced' but I hadn't said the word in a while and couldn't remember. I mumbled it, with an emphasis on the 'niet' and waved my hands a little in the direction of the bread slicer.

Meanwhile I'm on kindy run this week due to the fact my daughter has taken her first holiday alone in 3 years and is over in Berlin with a friend she met back in New Zealand. It's under 90euro return to take an overnight bus the 900kms to Berlin - not bad, not bad at all.

Okay, tot straks from the one who is waiting ...

Monday, September 24, 2007

I began the day in a rather grouchy mood and blogged about it then slowly but surely things came right and I deleted proof of my grouchiness.

And perhaps the reward for dropping the grouchy thing was a reminder that I have some really lovely friends. The reminders didn't just take the form of skype conversations or chats but Matthew mailed me the most remarkable BBC podcast and Mark made me laugh as we talked via my new laptop.

Two old friends from New Zealand arrive around midnight tonight - they're confident about making all the connections between Charleroi and here. It will be good to see them again, it's been more than 3 years.

The apartment is clean and I'm ignoring the grey skies and rain. Mmmm so it's Autumn Mark but we escaped being globally warmed during our Northern Hemisphere summmer. Happy clammy Auckland days to you ;)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Keith Urban, musician

I hadn't heard of him until tonight. I wanted to scratch his name on my blog so I could go back searching one day when I have time.

Preparing for the Ramazan feast

preparing for the Ramazan feast, originally uploaded by - di.

a man

a man, originally uploaded by - di.

Gerda Taro, war photographer

Gerda Taro was seen by many as the first woman known to photograph a battle from the front lines and to die covering a war.

She is perhaps more famouse for being the girlfriend of well-known war photographer Robert Capa.

The New York Times is running a story on an exhibition of Gerda's work ...photographs that were only discovered in 1980.

The story is an interesting one.

Shannon, you need to go see the exhibition and let me know about it ... if you have time and inclination ;)

Kitchen window, Normandy

Kitchen window, Normandy, originally uploaded by - di.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A brass band on bicycles ...

My legs still ache but less said the better, as per an exchange of email between v-grrrl and I that had me belly laughing as I read her reply.

An interesting day ...

This morning Gert and I wandered off to the foreigners market for fruit and vegetables, the shoe shop to pick up one of my little ankle high Italian leather boots that were repaired ... yet again. I love those poor little boots, the same ones that caused me to fly through the air on marble stairs in Turkey, that have heels replaced both in Sirinevler and Antwerpen and have now had the zip replaced. They've been traveling with me since I flew out of New Zealand back in 2003.

So were strolling through the September sunshine on 'the' fashion street in Antwerp when a brass band on bicycles made an unexpected appearance and treated us to a 'drive by' performance.

We caught the tram home for lunch, then out again on other neglected errands before trying to work out how to get kiwi friends from Charleroi Airport to us late on a Monday night. It's much more difficult than we'd imagined and there are 5 of them, so the complications have become interesting.

A fast dinner then we were off again, heading for Sultan der maanden (iftar + randactiviteiten) . I was taking photographs for the integration people I volunteer with here in the city and absolutely loved walking back into the Islamic festivities associated with Ramadan ... it took me back to the warmth and colour of similar festivities attended with Kagan, Nilay and other Turkish friends back in Istanbul.

But more on that another day, I have photographs to work through and will wait for them.

Brad Paisley, Online

First there was this

and then came the winner.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Parisian Birds, II

Parisian Birds- II, originally uploaded by - di.

The Ziekhuis

Different to the ziekenhuis which is the hospital here - our house is full of sick people today.

It began with Sahara, who came home with a rattling good cough a couple of days ago. Now Jessie's going down with what looks suspiciously like her old foe, tonsillitis, and here am I, so full of aches and pains that all I can do is stare vacantly at the computer screen, wondering if it really possible for my feet to be 'that' cold.

Off to find painkillers ...

Tot straks.

Loved this

"To be creative, you must be brave and allow yourself to take risks. You must also be a little crazy.

But have an appropriate degree of perspective. Reassure yourself that by doing a watercolour or throwing a pot you won't set off some chain reaction that destroys your entire universe. The whole reason you are feeling any sort of need to be creative is because you, as an organism, feel some need to adapt to changes in your environment. Your job may be too restrictive. Your relationship may be showing you new possibilities. Your daily paper may be reshuffling your deck. Your body may be changing. Or you may just be more sensitive that those around you, a canary in a coal mine, bellwether to changes that others don't yet sense.

Under all those conditions, creative change is no longer a risk - it's an imperative. Give yourself the chance to experiment and reconfigure your life. Start today. Before the volcano erupts or the meteor hits the earth, before you get hit by a bus, or your candidate loses, or your boss makes a cutback - before the changes erupt, and it's too late.
It's time to stop being a dinosaur and start figuring out how to be a bird.
Danny Gregory, The Creative License page 78.

Thanks to Meg

Belgium for sale on E Bay

v-grrrl sent me news of a disgruntled citizen who posted Belgium for sale on e-bay.

To understand why he did it, you need to know that it has been 100 days since the election and still the politicians here are squabbling over who will rule the country. It's becoming the stuff of farce as power-sharing agreements fail to be made in the coalition government. Politically, it's a complicated country ...

The article begins: Hidden among the porcelain fox hounds and Burberry tablecloths on sale at this week was an unusual item: "For Sale: Belgium, a Kingdom in three parts ... free premium: the king and his court (costs not included)."

The odd ad was posted by one disgruntled Belgian in protest at his country's political crisis which reached a 100-day landmark Tuesday with no end in sight to the squabbling between Flemish and Walloon politicians.

It ends with However, the company decided to pull the add Tuesday after receiving a bid of euro10 million ($14 million)

"We decided to take it down, just to avoid confusion,"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

Cheese Rolls, South Island Style

There was this recipe that never traveled very far north of Dunedin, the city where I grew up. I once gave it to Christine Kirker while we living on the airforce base in Marlborough but still it seems to have remained secret, to the point where I couldn't find the recipe online to confirm the amounts and ingredients ...

It's a stunning recipe.
A perfect warming feast on a winter's day.
Even more perfect with with a big pot of home-made pumpkin soup.

So that's what I did today, I introduced Gert to the delights of South Island cheese rolls and pumpkin soup made my way.

And yes, it was cold and grey enough to be eating a dinner like that.

You want the recipe only known to Otago-ites?

600ml milk
1 packet Maggi soup mix (we finally had some sent by a lovely friend in New Zealand)
You stir and bring the 2 to the point just before boiling.

whisk 2 eggs
1 cup grated cheese.
then I let them fall slowly into the pot of milk and soup mix, stirring continuously with a whisk, just to avoid the egg setting in lumps.

Bring that just back to the point of boiling then turn off and allow to set.

Once set, you spread it onto thin slices of white bread (really thin) and roll into thirds.

I couldn't find thin enough slices to I put two pieces of bread together.

Grill until golden both sides and then spread butter on the hot toast so it melts.

To be eaten immediately.


In Istanbul

I used to teach 23 hours in front of the classroom.

I had 8 classes and 165 pupils.

Only 2 of the classes were legendary amongst staff who taught them ... 7D and 7F.

Last night, in my dreams, I was back in Istanbul teaching BUT first class up was a mix of the most 'challenging' children from 7D and 7F.

After surviving the teaching of them, I realised my timetable book had left the room with them and I had no idea where the staffroom or my other class rooms were.

I was walking through a huge school that seemed more like a city when I woke ... it's been a long day already.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Paris 2007

Paris 2007, originally uploaded by - di.

A perfect photography website, according to Di today

It belongs to Phil Borges , a photographer who, for over twenty five years Phil Borges has lived with and documented indigenous and tribal cultures around the world. Through his work, he strives to create a heightened understanding of the issues faced by people in the developing world.

Through his exhibits and award-winning books, Phil attempts to create a relationship between the audience and his photographic subjects. “I want the viewer to see these people as individuals, to know their names and a bit of their history, not just to view them as an anonymous part of some remote ethnic or tribal group.”
A low day, a high day ... it varies by the hour.

Monday, September 17, 2007

And just by the way

Have you ever thought about the things that you love?

I'd like to work on something like this one day soon.

Click on the arrows ...

Kinga Freespirit, a traveler

Life is a journey - enjoy it.

Kinga Freespirit was a traveler, an extraordinary traveler.

Her site is worth sitting down to read through if you find yourself with some time.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The guiding hand- Paris

a guiding hand- paris, originally uploaded by - di.

We followed our Belgian all over Paris, through metros, down unknown streets and into restaurants and menus.

It was kind of superb.

Today was a good day.

When I woke up this morning, I had no idea that today would be full of good and interesting people ...

It began with a political breakfast where, by chance, one of the political folk had brought her new friend - which is the name given to boyfriends or partners over here.

It turned out that he was a stunningly good photographer and we spent most of the 2 hours that followed exchanging information about cameras, jobs, best places to go and all kinds of other interesting things.

We could talk because he was a Belgian I mistook for an English man, so perfect was his English.

From there it was home for one more look through the wedding photographs from 1st September before burning them to cd and handing them over.

It took a couple of hours to be sure then that was done.

Our next stop was Lut's and there we spent a marvellously relaxed few hours, talking of all manner of things with me surprising myself with how much Dutch I understood.

Home and I found an email that will take me to a South African commemoration in West Flanders as a photographer on Thursday and another mail that will take me to visit with a lovely friend over in Dendermonde.

Suddenly the week is filling up and I have two old friends flying in from New Zealand in a week on Monday for 4 days ... hmmm must fit a spring cleaning in there some place.

Today was a good day.

An interesting blog titled Cicilie among the Parisians

Cicilie among the Parisians . Her blog can be found here.

An interview with her begins with ...Anthropologist Cicilie Fagerlid had actually intended to study peaceful cosmopolitan existence in Paris. But a month after she had relocated there, on the day she completed her French language course, riots broke out in the suburbs. “There is loads of cosmopolitanism here, but when people around you are angry, it is bit inappropriate not to take their anger seriously, and just look at the things that are going well,” she says. This research fellow now wants to find out why France ended up in this situation- in large part by studying the poetry slam scene.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Shashikiran Mullur's Blog

If you are inclined towards reading some truly beautiful prose then I recommend visiting Shashikiran Mullur's blog. I was there just now and loved his post titled 'the next half-life'.

In an extract he writes: I’ve been making frequent excursions to the ghats, seeing farms and plantations and wild places. The roads to these places are new and jet-black, there are no pot-holes, and the shoulders and medians are neatly marked in yellow and white. The forests are shrinking, but at the moment there is enough green to lose oneself in, water furls and unfurls in lakes small and large, the air is crisp, and the hill-ranges are so mysterious they offer a sense, almost, of the sublime.

New Zealand versus Portugal, World Cup Rugby

New Zealand versus Portugal

LYON, 15 September 2007 - The All Blacks have defeated Portugal 108-13

Paris, Day 2 and a 1/2

The day was simple.
We planned on visiting the Pantheon and leaving for Normandy after lunch.

It had taken Gert over an hour to drive the 5kms down the road to our hotel on arriving in Paris at 2.30pm so we were certain we wanted to leave the city before rush hour.

People talk of traffic in Istanbul and Rome but Paris surely shares top billing. The motor scooters are death-defying poetry in motion and there seems to be a lot of laneless 'merging' at certain points.

I loved it.

So we metro-ed up to the Pantheon area then walked through really lovely streets in the Latin Quarter, passing close by the Sorbonne.

It was too expensive to go in but the exterior was impressive, the surroundings a delight and the cafe we had lunch in was purely delicious.

It was my first introduction to Paysanne omelette and I developed quite a bond with both that and the Paysanne salad as we traveled. Red wine accompanied lunches and dinners, the fresh bread was a delight and as I traveled I came to the conclusion that France is an incredibly civilised country.

Leaving the city was simpler than we could have hoped and 3 hours later we arrived at destination, the house of the gite called La Palmeraie.

'House' is misleading as, although that is what we were offered on discovering the gite was already booked, we ended up with an 'interesting' room, kitchen, pool room and a chalet out in the yard.

It's okay if you're expecting things a little bit rough but I've never had a toilet 'in' my bedroom bedroom before ... over there to the left, next to the clear glass shower cubicle.

The outside chalet went to our traveling companions and it looked truly luxurious in comparison although it was small and cold, according to reports but we did adjust and thought that next time we'd go look before booking. I photographed our 'room' before leaving and as you can see, it looks quite quite lovely.

Despite that, we had fun playing pool at the end of long days spent exploring Normandy. Breakfast was always about fresh bread from the village a few kilometres away, fresh orange juice, and a choice of peach jam and truly good cheeses - the brie being everyones favourite.

It was a lovely way to start the day ... around the pool table that was covered with an oak top, sitting on wooden outdoor chairs - multiple cushions piled on mine so as to minimise the locking up of my lower back.

I do believe my little HP Pavilion dv2000 laughed out loud when I turned on my wifi and searched for a connection. The closest city was Rouen - 60 or 70kms away and there didn't seem to be anything spare in the tiny hamlet we'd located ourselves in.

And so we had arrived in Normandy.

Friday, September 14, 2007

One of my loves ...

Noor - an exciting new photo agency

It speaks for itself so I'll let it speak.

Getty's $49 Prices Will Hurt Entire Industry

"Getty is unnecessarily giving up money from commercial and high-end advertising customers willing to pay premium prices for the most exclusive imagery..."

It's truly sad that yet again, the faceless suits are managing artists out of anything resembling a living while getting fat on the profits of those artistic works ...

Daryl Lang writes here about the fact that Lines are being drawn in the online pricing battle of 2007.

On one side: Getty Images, which just introduced a pricing plan that makes almost any Getty photograph available for almost any online use for the flat price of $49, drastically less than Getty's competitors.

On the other side: Trade associations representing photographers, who say Getty's severe price cuts not only mean lower royalties for Getty contributors, but will have a ripple effect on the entire industry.

It's not the first time Getty has faced opposition over a new licensing model, and Getty has a history of winning these battles (the classic example being the company's introduction of royalty-free stock). Getty is betting that its contributors won't jump ship over the price cuts, and that customers will license larger volumes of images at low prices.

On Monday, the Stock Artists Alliance sent a letter to Getty CEO Jonathan Klein asking that rights-managed images be excluded from the new $49 pricing scheme. The letter was endorsed by five other organizations, including the American Society of Media Photographers, the U.K. Association of Photographers, Advertising Photographers of America, Editorial Photographers, and the Canadian Association of Photographers.

Mail from Michelle!!

You cannot begin to imagine the pure joy and huge amount of belly-laughter found in the lines of an email from Michelle.

She is without doubt, one of the most cleverly amusing people I know in the entire world, as is anyone who can pull the voice and character of 'Black Adder's' Queenie out of thin air and go into a very natural performance mode.

A simple mail to her is immediately full of laughter and a certain personality pops out to play and without fail, that sublime creature replies with astounding hilarity - whether she is sketching the personalities of each of her 3 children, her husband and life as a PhD student, or talking of swimming in the sea someplace in Asia where her clothes may have been stolen from the beach (as I recall).

I would quote from her mail but I need permission so you'll just have to take my word about her. Gert was delighted by her short message to him and breakfast was spent laughing over her stories of her kidlets.

It was a good way to begin a day.
One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.

Loved this, found over at Ink on my fingers . A lovely blog to wander over to when you have the time to enjoy something beautiful.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A wee Tour de France

I'm not sure about the point where the tale of my travels becomes boring but blogs are all about choice and so if I give you fair warning, you can choose whether or not you read on ...

We're home and have spent most of the day settling back into the nest of our small world. There was a contract and a press pass to deal with, a lovely real letter from a special New Zealander called Carrick and blog comments I needed time to reply to.

My back is still isn't perfect but it's so much less painful that I almost feel cured.

2 nights in Paris,
5 nights deep in the countryside of Normandy
2500kms and so much good food and wine...

The details?
I'm completely in love with Paris now.

The highlight was our visit to Notre Dame, just a short walk from our hotel in downtown Paris.

It was stunning enough to simply be there and wandering but while inside Notre Dame a Mass began and it seemed like one they were singing in Latin ... maybe I'm wrong but whatever it was, it was truly sublime. I felt like I should have paid 200euro for a ticket to hear the glorious voices of the 2 singers. I leaned back on a pillar there in the church and realised I had never really known how to dream the reality of Paris back in my childhood days growing up in small town, New Zealand.

We walked back along the Seine as the sun was going down and the light made a beautiful evening that much more beautiful.

The following day was jam-packed in a relatively leisurely way. We bought 2-day metro passes and started the day at a sidewalk cafe with the best cafe au lait I've had in forever.

We visited the glass pyramids outside the Louvre, Europe's oldest, biggest, greatest and second-most-crowded museum (after the Vatican), knowing we didn't have time to visit the museum this time(they recommend at least a day when wandering there). We walked through Paris' grandest park, the Tuileries Garden ... once the property of kings and queens according to Rick Steve's and his very useful 2007 guide to France.

Then we were on our way to the Arc de Triomphe, rising above the huge concentration of traffic round its feet and that too was duly photographed ... it was about then that we realised there was dust either on the mirror of the digital camera (which depressed me immensely) or inside one of the lenses ... but which one because being immersed in Paris doesn't allow much space for rational scientific thought.

We strolled along Champs-Elysees which no longer seems like a place where horse-drawn carriage traffic might choose to cruise. Rick's description seemed about right, he wrote that it all seemed a bit hamburgerized.

Onto the metro and up to Trocadero for a light sandwich lunch before walking down to the Eiffel Tower, an approach I would truly recommend. Visually, the tower had much more of an impact on me from that side.

Montemartre was beckoning, so we popped over there via the metro and caught the funicular up to Sacre-Coeur and Place du Tertre's artists. The metro pass has all kinds of benefits, you can use it for the funicular and buses as well ... just over 14euro buys you two days of wandering as you please, often off the beaten tourist tracks.

Paris kept surprising me and I found the sublime often. It was up there at Sacre-Coeur in all kinds of things, from the view out over Paris (the hill is 420 feet high), to the peace found inside the 5-domed Roman-Byzantine basilica. Begun in 1875, it took 44 years to build.

There was the truly delicious sour cherry ice cream and the laughter inducing artists, trying to charm everyone into having a portrait done.

We had dinner at Jean Bart, a little bar tabac near our hotel. The food was good and the waiter hilariously casual. Our traveling companions disappeared off into the Parisian tour that promised a city of lights but they returned deeply disappointed. Apparently most of the city lights are out these days and the guide wasn't very informative.

And that was our first full day in Paris.

Alongside the Seine, Paris 2007

Alongside the Seine, Paris 2007, originally uploaded by - di.

You know when you're wandering alongside the Seine one evening on your way home from your very first visit to the slightly incredible Notre Dame and you notice the light ... ?

Well I was trying to capture the light in this photograph.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Paris, originally uploaded by - di.

Home from Paris and downloading 100s of photographs from the camera ...

This was one of the Paris series that I wanted to see on the computer. 600km's today but stunning sights seen and lunch ... well, more on that another time.

Tot ziens.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

An internet cafe, Versailles

I'm sitting here more than a little bemused by the fact that I'm making my way round a French keyboard, asking for the Dutch version of my Scarlet email account and etc ... so far from my old life back in hometown New Zealand.

I'm just in from wandering the gardens of Versailles, having enjoyed the summertime special ... classical music that accompanies the garden's many fountains at certain times of the day.

I adored Paris, and life in a small gite in the Normandy countryside isn't so bad either. My back is slowly recovering. It's been a nuisance but so far, France has kind enough.

Wifi isn't an option in the heart of the French countryside however the laptop has traveled and recorded all that I've seen, as has the camera.

It's good to be wandering again ...

Monday, September 03, 2007

A little news ....

You know when you hurt your lower back and you can't sit down or stand up easily, walk fast, climb stairs or lift things BUT you have a huge number of wedding photographs to process ...

The wedding went well, the family was lovely, a pleasure to photograph but then Sunday was no fun at all.

Sunday I hurt my back.

Monday and the Americans arrived, my lovely delightful friends from Ohio.

Tuesday I'm off wandering.
I may blog from the road, depending on how France is with wifi.

Why yes!!!!
I have a new laptop with wifi and once I recover from 'immersion Windows Vista 101' I do believe I'm going to love working with my very new, very delicious little HP Pavilion laptop.

That's all from me, I'm off to pop painkillers, load up my camera bag and pack some clothes for the road.

Tot ziens.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

the dog belonging to yesterday's bride and groom

the bride and groom's dog, originally uploaded by - di.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Moshen Namjoo, Musician

The wedding photography went well today but I'm exhausted. I was reading the NY Times and found this story on Iranian musician Mohsen Namjoo.

Curious, I searched youtube and found the following, one of many.