Thursday, August 31, 2006

Once upon a time ...

I was a wife and a mother, driving a station wagon with a golden labrador in the back and I looked out at my New Zealand world and thought 'This is my life'.

Ten years later I had a belated degree in literature and was living in Istanbul.

If there was one movie that inspired me, it would have to have been Shirley Valentine minus the Greek cafe owner.

I liked myself well enough without him ;)

Thanks Liz.

Otago Harbour III, New Zealand

Oago Harbour II, New Zealand

Otago Harbour I, New Zealand

Jim Borgman, Cartoonist

Jim has been the Enquirer's editorial cartoonist since 1976 and has won every major award in his field, including the 1991 Pulitzer Prize, the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 1993, and most recently, the Adamson Award in 2005 as International Cartoonist of the Year.

An interesting site .
The envied are like bureaucrats; the more impersonal they are, the greater the illusion (for themselves and for others) of their power.

-John Berger

Lieutenant Ehren Watada and the US Army

Pam, over at Nerd's Eye View posted a thought-provoking piece of news with these words: It’s a superb reminder that governments and people are not the same thing. And even when they are, they’re often less - and sometimes, much, much more - than they appear to be.

Read the whole story here , it opens with this: Lieutenant Ehren Watada seems to know his chances are slim. He is trying to convince the U.S. Army that the war in Iraq is illegal, a task that would be challenging for anyone, and is even more so for Watada, a 28-year-old officer who has, with much ensuing media attention, refused to deploy to Iraq.

Watada, raised in Honolulu, is now doing desk work at Fort Lewis, just south of Tacoma, as he awaits his legal fate. In person, he has a serene bearing and a hopeful, earnest face. It's the face of an idealist, a face that reminds of the great chasm between the way the world should be and the way it actually, disappointingly, is. In Watada's world—or, at least, in his world as it was in 2003—it's hard to imagine a leader betraying the trust of his people.

His first rotation took him to South Korea, where he received stellar reviews from his superiors, but while he was racking up accolades he was also developing a different view of the Iraq war, reading books and articles that led him to conclude that the U.S. attack on Iraq was "manifestly illegal." That transformation led to his refusal to deploy, and to his current confrontation with the military justice system.

There's an interview with him over at .

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

So ...

Der Spiegel writes about why I shouldn't have fallen in love with raw herring and anchovies and rollmops up here in the Northern Hemisphere.

Some 3,500 barrels of mercury have been found in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden. There may be thousands more to be discovered. Experts say the sea is full of industrial waste -- but nobody knows how much.

And just in case I didn't think that was bad enough ... 'And it's not just industrial waste. Following World War II, virtually the entire chemical arsenal of Nazi Germany was dumped, with much of it -- at least 35,000 tons -- ending up on the floor of the Baltic Sea. Hundreds of thousands of tons of chemical weapons from the Soviet Union, Britain and the United States were also chucked overboard in the northern Atlantic, North Sea, and elsewhere, including the Baltic. The poisonous weapons -- including mustard gas, phosphorus, nerve gas, and other highly toxic chemicals -- were joined by hundreds of thousands of unused bombs, mines and grenades.

Wandermuse, Artist

Wandermuse wrote a stunning piece about sitting out in Nature and letting it flow round her as she observed with her camera. The accompanying photographs are as interesting as her post.

She's an artist, photographer and traveller ... her site is a delight.

Sandy McCutcheon, Writer

Interesting things are happening in Morocco ...

Sandy writes on The View From Fez about things as diverse as the Fez Forum, which this year has the working title Giving Soul to Globalisation through on into subjects like the possible closure of Marché Centrale , with interviews and photographs of the shopkeepers who would be affected.

His site is a lovely place to wander if you want a taste of the reality of Morocco.
I can't tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that art has often judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past has suffered, so that it has never been forgotten.

I know too that the powerful fear art, whatever its form, when it does this, and that amongst the people such art sometimes runs like a rumour and a legend because it makes sense of what life's brutalities cannot, a sense that unites us, for it is inseparable from a justice at last. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts and honour

- John Berger

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It's difficult to know what to write at the moment ... sometimes things present themselves, other times I just write, trusting that people make their own choices about reading or not.

My blog is my electronic journal but because of its public positioning I have been cautious about what I made public just because 'all' can be boring and private is sometimes simply private. However the reward of the public nature of it has been, without doubt, the incredible people I've met out here in the blog world ...

A few years ago, I began a belated degree in literature and within months my mother was diagnosed with advanced and terminal cancer. Although married, I was fortunate enough to be living with my parents while I studied in the city and so I was there while my mother was dying, and then alone with my father a while before my (then) husband and my (always) daughter bought us a house and moved up to the city.

Life goes on but a death like that always changes things for better or worse and within a couple of years I had lost my marriage ... it's a story I once started to tell under the title 'A death, a degree and a divorce' - a title that covered almost all.

Degrees in literature are of limited use and divorce, even after 16 years, brings a certain poverty with it and so it was that I flew out to my new job in Istanbul, moving worlds after a year as a divorcee ... southern to northern hemisphere, leaving my 16 year old daughter back home with her dad.

4 years later and here I am living in Belgium ... making a new life, and creating a space for my daughter and granddaughter, trying to manage the complications of things back home in New Zealand while getting them here.

I might be distracted in the months ahead. Reasons will vary ... there's the sadness, the frustration; the occasional small moments of joy when it all looks like it will happen ... and oh, did I mention the entirely new sets of paperwork.

Let's see what happens.

Andrew Greig, Writer/Sometimes Mountaineer

I'm reading Andrew Greig's , Kingdoms of Experience , a delicious book about a poet making his second trip to the Himalaya with a team of experienced climbers.

Let me go back a little though ... his first book, Summit Fever , is one of my favourite books. Perhaps the blurb on the back says it best: When poet Andrew Greig was asked by near-legendary Scottish mountaineer Mal Duff to join his ascent of the Mustagh Tower in the Karakoram Himalayas, he had a poor head for heights and no climbing experience whatsoever.
The result is this unique book.

The world and mind of the climber has fascinated me for years, I started a book and the half-completed manuscript made its way through two publishing meetings ... a rare occurence that first publisher told me before telling me that they weren't sure they would find a big enough market back in those days.

Greig, poet and writer went a long way towards becoming a climber in that first book. I devoured it only to reach a point near the end where he wrote: 'So what's it all about? Why do climbers climb, why did I do it, what does it mean?'

And I thought 'Yes yes yes, tell me so I never have to go there!'

He continued, 'Somehow I no longer want to talk or think about it. I'd begun climbing eager to analyse my companions, myself and climbing; now I'm reluctant to draw any conclusions at all. There is no clear answer to these questions, and even if there were it would not be very important. It is in the experience itself that the value lies. I can only really talk about it with other climbers, and with them there is no need to explain.'

And so it was ...

Reading 'Kingdoms of Experience', it's 1985 and Andrew's back in the Himalaya, involved in an attempt on the then unclimbed north-east ridge of Everest.

He wrote something I wanted to note somewhere: 'I'm climbing on Everest and just being alive is being in love.'

Next page and he writes: 'It comes to me that this is what I've always sought - an experience that would absorb me entirely.'

Perhaps he's answered my question now.

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

The Iraq Press Monitor comes to my inbox weekly, I'm not sure I've written about as one of my sources but today it had news that surprised me.

(Al-Taakhi) Deputy Justice Minister Yusho Ibrahim has announced that
the Abu Ghraib jail had no more inmates as of August 15. The facility is
now completely controlled by the Iraqi authorities, who have yet to
decide what to do with it, he said. The United States military says it is
transferring 3,000 detainees to other American-run prisons.
(Al-Taakhi is issued daily by the Kurdistan Democratic Party.)

IWPR's Iraqi Press Monitor is a daily survey of the main stories in Iraq's newspapers. It features the top stories of the day, along with a political cartoon.

Although I receive news about Iraq, the source of the Iraqi Press Monitor is actually The Institute for War and Peace Reporting

The Institute's stated mission is to build peace and democracy through free and fair media

They establish sustainable networks and institutions, develop skills and professionalism, provide reliable reporting and build dialogue and debate.

They work in Afghanistan, Caucasus, Central Asia, The Hague, Iraq, Southeastern Europe, Uganda, Southern Africa, Zimbabwe.

An interesting wander if you're curious and have time.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Simitman's Youtube

Erkan posted this youtube made as a personal political statement by The Simitman on EU-Turkish relations.

Books Books Books

Chiefbiscuit challenged me to answer these questions about books some time ago. Life has been crazy but here I am, finally answering ...

1.One book that changed your life? 'Under the Tuscan Sun', Frances Mayes.
2.One book you've read more than once? 'Fugitive Pieces', Anne Michaels
3.One book you'd want on a desert island? 'Under the Tuscan Sun'
4.One book that made you laugh? 'The Wrong Way Home', Peter Moore
5.One book that made you cry? 'Paula' Isabel Allende
6.One book that you wish you had written? 'The English Patient', Micheal Ondaatje
7.One book you wish had never been written? .......
8.One book you are currently reading? 'Kate Adie - The Autobiography'.
9.One book you have been meaning to read? 'A year of Magical Thinking', Joan Didion.

I'm meant to tag 5 people but help yourself and tag as you please :)

On being a kiwi legend ... or 'Growing up in New Zealand'

Christine sent me this and made me smile as I read through a million memories of growing up in New Zealand. I wanted to make it shorter but couldn't find anything I could cut out ... it's all nostalgia.
Thanks Christine.

I'm talking about hide and seek/spotlight in the park. The corner dairy, hopscotch, four square, go carts, cricket in front of the garbage bin and inviting everyone on your street to join in, skipping (double dutch), gutterball, handstands, elastics, bullrush, catch and kiss, footy on the best lawn in the street, slip'n'slides, the trampoline with water on it (or a sprinkler under it), hula hoops, jumping in puddles with gumboots on, mud pies and building dams in the gutter.

The smell of the sun and fresh cut grass.'Big bubbles no troubles' with Hubba Bubba bubble gum. A topsy. Mr Whippy cones on a warm summer night after you've chased him round the block. 20 cents worth of mixed lollies lasted a week and pretending to smoke "fags" (the lollies/candy) was really tomato sauce was free!!).

Being upset when you botched putting on the temporary tattoo from the bubblegum packet, but still wearing it proudly. Watching Saturday morning cartoons:'The Smurfs', 'AstroBoy', 'He-man', 'Captain Caveman', 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles', 'Jem' (trulyoutrageous!!), 'Super d'', and 'Heeeey heeeeey heeeeeeey it's faaaaaaat Albert'. Or staying up late and sneaking a look at the "AO" on the second telly, being amazed when you watched TV right up until the 'Goodnight Kiwi!'

When 'After School with Jason Gunn & Thingie' had a cult following and 'What Now' was on Saturday mornings! When around the corner seemed a long way, and going into town seemed like going somewhere. Where running away meant you did laps of the block because you weren't allowed to cross the road??

A million mozzie bites, wasp and bee stings (stee bings!). Sticky fingers, goodies & baddies, cops and robbers, cowboys and indians, riding bikes til the streetlights came on and catching tadpoles in horse troughs.

Going down to the school swimming pool when you didn't have a key and your friends letting you in, drawing all over the road and driveway with chalk. Climbing trees and building huts out of every sheet your mum had in the cupboard (and never putting them back folded).

Walking to school in bare feet, no matter what the weather. When writing 'I love....? on your pencil case, really did mean it was true love. "he loves me? he loves me not?" and daisy chains on the front lawn. Stealing other people's flowers from their gardens and then selling them back to them...

Running till you were out of breath. Laughing so hard that your stomach hurt. Pitching the tent in the back/front yard (and never being able to find all the pegs). Jumping on the bed. Singing into your hair brush in front of the mirror, making mix tapes...

Sleep overs and ghosts stories with the next door neighbours. Pillow fights, spinning round, getting dizzy and falling down was cause for the giggles. The worst embarrassment was being picked last for a team. Water balloons were the ultimate weapon. Weetbix cards pegged on the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle. Collecting WWF and garbage pail kids cards.

Eating raw jelly and raro, making homemade lemonade and sucking on a Rad, a traffic light popsicle, or a Paddle Pop... blurple, yollange and prink!

You knew everyone in your street - and so did your parents! It wasn't odd to have two or three "best friends" and you would ask them by sending a note asking them to be your best friend.

You didn't sleep a wink on Christmas eve and tried (and failed) to wait up for the tooth fairy. When nobody owned a pure-bred dog. When 50c was decent pocket money. When you'd reach into a muddy gutter for 10c. When nearly everyone's mum was there when the kids got home from school.

It was magic when dad would "remove" his thumb. When it was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at the local Chinese restaurant (or Cobb'n'Co.) with your family. When any parent could discipline any kid, or feed her or use him to carry groceries and nobody, not even the kid, thought a thing of it. When being sent to the principal's office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited a misbehaving student at home.

Basically, we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn't because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat! Some of us are still afraid of them!!!

Remember when decisions were made by going "eeny-meeny-miney-mo" or dib dib's-scissors, paper, rock. "Race issue" meant arguing about who ran the fastest. Money
issues were handled by whoever was the banker in Monopoly.

Terrorism was when the older kids were at the end of your street with pea-shooters waiting to ambush you, or the neighbourhood rottie chased you up a tree! The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was boy/girl germs, and the worst thing in your day was having to sit next to one.

Where bluelight disco's were the equivalent to a Rave, and asking a boy out meant writing a 'polite' note getting them to tick 'yes' or no'. When there was always that one 'HOT' guy/girl.

Having a weapon in school meant being caught with a slingshot. Your biggest danger at school was accidentally walking through the middle of a heated game of "brandies".
Birthday beats meant you didn't want to go to school on your birthday!
Scrapes and bruises were kissed and made better. Taking drugs meant scoffing orange-flavoured chewable vitamin C's, or swallowing half a Panadol. Ice cream was considered a basic food group. Going to the beach and catching a wave was a dream come true. Boogie boarding in the white wash made you the next Kelly Slater. Abilities were discovered becauseof a "double- dare". Older siblings were the worst tormentors, but also the fiercest protectors.

Now, didn't that bring back some fond memories??

If you can remember most of these, you're a Kiwi legend. Pass this on to another Kiwi legend who may need a break from their "grown up" life... I DOUBLE-DARE YA!!!!!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Silvana Gandolfi, Writer

You know the type of Sunday night that comes after a rainy, sunny, windy grey cloudy day ... yes really, all of those things.

The kind of Sunday night where you wonder what you did with the day and want to kick yourself a little for not achieving more?

It's been one of those Sundays, and I was just looking around in the kitchen from some little Nigella Lawson-type tidbit and finding nothing I wouldn't regret 5 minutes after eating it ... must go to the supermarket one day soon.

Anyway, I chose to webwander ... when all else fails etc and found this lovely interview with Silvana Gandolfi, an Italian author I've never heard of but want to read now.

See for yourself ... Silvana is one of Cafe Babel's July Bruch interviews

Just some poems I love ...

Obviously I read the news of the world ...

Reading world events, of leaders, seeing the spin ... or not seeing it, taking sides while trying not to take sides is a difficult thing; not reading is worse.

And so it is that I slip into reading, writing, photography, film or music, occasionally taking a red wine cure, so-named by me back in those Istanbul days when my average student roll was 165, with 24 teaching hours in front of 8 classes per week.

One of my passions is poetry but often those poems are pages long. Erica Jong and Anne Michaels don't confine themselves to a polite page or two but I wanted to take note of the poems I love someplace in this electronic journal where I make notes for myself and so I've created another blog, simply titled Poems I Love .

It's there if you enjoy poetry, to be ignored if not.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Robert Fisk, Journalist

Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent of The Independent, is the author of Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War (London: André Deutsch, 1990).

He holds numerous awards for journalism, including two Amnesty International UK Press Awards and seven British International Journalist of the Year awards.

His most recent book is The Great War for Civilisation: the Conquest of the Middle East, published by 4th Estate on 3 October, 2005.

His latest article in The Independent is titled In the face of Bush's lies, it's left to Assad to tell the truth .

Rodeo Pony ... the child stayed on

Horseplay, Belgie

Bureaucracy ... it's everywhere and often so 'special'

Rob recently blogged his experience of being back home in Scotland after living in Australia for some years.

About living and learning

I learnt the perils of sms-ing while walking along Istanbul streets after I walked into the broken-off concrete post on the footpath.

Iain, a Scottish colleage, had had a similar learning experience with phones and extraordinarily low street signs. The cut on his head healed although he was mortified.

So we live, we learn and we get older.

Saturday night and I was out on the balcony here, watching the firework display put on by the city for the Tall Ships. It was dark but I was home and so I strode out along the balcony, without the glasses I so rarely wear but that do help in the dark, thinking 'Is there anything out here that I need to avoid?'

I had just reassured myself there was nothing when I walked into the concrete post-thing that sticks up on our balcony.

Coincidently, it seems to be the same height as the Istanbul post and so it was that I walked into it at a fast walking pace, just like in Istanbul, and I fell.

The crush injury is in the same place, over the scar tissue from last time and these last few days have been about watching a deep bruise spread down the front of my leg ... knee to ankle, just like it did back in Istanbul.

Some people live and they learn, others just damage old scar tissue ...

Amy Gahran, Journalist

I've subscribed to various Poynter Online pages and this morning I found an interesting piece by Amy Gahran in my inbox.

It's titled Get To Know Iran Via Blogs

On Aug. 23, Chatham House (a leading U.K. think tank on international affairs) published an intriguing assessment of the current and future role of Iran in the Middle East. The report, "Iran, Its Neighbours, and the Regional Crises" ( pdf download , Press Release) faults the U.S. for misapplied power:

"On hostility with the US, the report argues that while the US may have the upper hand in 'hard' power projection, Iran has proved far more effective through its use of 'soft' power. ...The Bush administration has shown little ability to use politics and culture to pursue its strategic interests."

Report contributor Ali Ansari, interviewed this morning on NPR's Morning Edition, noted: "Western policy towards the Middle East shows a complete lack of imagination. There is a world of opportunities between neglect and military action which has yet to be fully explored."

I was particularly struck by this perspective because I've recently started reading a fascinating new book, We Are Iran: The Persian Blogs, by Nasrin Alavi. It's a compilation of poignant entries from Iranian blogs, mostly translated from Farsi. Reading them, I see a stunning thoughtfulness and diversity -- as well as deep insight into world affairs, and hope for the future.

Amy also writes an interesting blog called Contentious .

How many mistakes is a president allowed to make before it's no longer amusing?

Thanks Shannon.
I can't watch more than a few clips ...

Friday, August 25, 2006

It depends whose 'spinning', oh I mean, 'writing' the story

Erkan's site offered up some interesting pieces today ...

Andrew Grice and Jonathan Brown at the Independent Online write: The positive impact of the influx of migrant workers from eastern Europe on the British economy has enabled Gordon Brown to hit his growth targets, according to a new study.

Roland Rudd, chairman of Business for New Europe, said the rewards could be felt across the economy. "As well as Polish plumbers and property investors, the UK economy benefits from Hungarians in hospitality, Estonian engineers, Czech caterers and Slovakian scientists. This is because of our open labour markets following the EU enlargement of 2004. We have reaped the reward of this approach. We should abandon it at our peril."

Whereas Melanie McDonagh wants to spin it another way ... Poles aplenty? Wait till the Turks arrive.

Well, it’s open season on Poles, by the look of things, what with half a million of them having had the bad taste to come here when the Government said that 13,000 at most would arrive. In fact, two years before Poland joined the EU, I rang the Home Office to check how many people ministers thought would be arriving from the new member states. They were expecting, said the press officer, 10,000 new arrivals. Even back then I could tell when I was being had.

If only these two arguments could be placed side-by-side instead of being something we need to hunt out.

Reporting on war crimes

The Dart Centre for Journalism have a newsletter that arrives in my inbox periodically.

They are a global network of journalists, journalism educators and health professionals dedicated to improving media coverage of trauma, conflict and tragedy. The Center also addresses the consequences of such coverage for those working in journalism.

Roy Gutman, foreign editor at Newsday, won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 1993 for his coverage of war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Gutman is chairman of the Crimes of War Project and is a member of the Dart Center's advisory council.

In a recent e-mail interview with the Dart Center, Gutman discussed the conflict in Southern Lebanon and the challenges of reporting war crimes ...

Excerpt:During the first of the Balkan wars, in Croatia, my editors at times discouraged me from continuing to report the story. I persisted, but with the self-imposed restriction: I would not go into harm's way—that is, head into a conflict zone—if the newspaper would not publish the story. There were times when I felt I had abdicated my responsibility as a journalist, when perhaps I should ask to be reassigned, since they did not seem to respect my judgment.

But later, in the course of the war in Bosnia, I discovered that one reason the editors were so wary—other than the fact the East Coast experts and the US government were so dismissive of the importance of the events—was that my own presentation was less than perfect. The individual stories may have been eloquent, gripping, and solid, but did not clearly relate the small picture I could report (and photograph) to the big picture. The little picture was individual suffering; the big picture was that it had been ordered by the government.

The broad lesson I draw from the experience is this: if you as a reporter stumble upon an enormous story that no one seems to want, never give up. Don't insult the bosses. Don't quit. Stick with it. The facts will convince in time. The editors will come around.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Another foreign partner bites the dust in Belgium

She was the only foreigner I knew who didn't have some bizarre story about trying to live with her foreign partner working in Belgium.

Today she was teling me that they were under suspicion, that she and her partner didn't provide enough proof of having a relationship in the time before his work brought him to Brussels.

What foolishness is this????

People from America, Canada and New Zealand are not trying to sneak into Belgium ... they are here because they love their partner and want to live with that partner.

They have given up a career or study, an income, a social life, family, possessions and language only to have these bizarre and stressful things happen.

I promise, it's love not some bizarre desire to return to the world our ancestors fled generations ago.

She was the only one who hadn't had problems and now she's under suspicion too ...

Cindy in Brussels, the American lawyer who followed her partner over here returned recently after her deportation from Belgium for ... well it's really simpler if you read her post about being deported
Journeywoman a travel resource for women ... seems good.

Other voices ...

'The theory of a free press is that truth will emerge from free discussion,
not that it will be presented perfectly and instantly in any one account.'

Walter Lippmann
Essayist and journalist , produced at KPFA, Berkeley. A hard-hitting daily investigative news magazine with audio archive of recent shows.

The function of truth, Lippmann said, was to bring hidden facts to light and set them in relation to one another to produce "a picture of reality upon which men can act."

Poetry Thursday

I wandered over to the website this morning and discovered that this week's theme was Time ...

I like the way the weekly themes are wide open to individual interpretation and so it was that while I was looking through my favourite poems I found a poem by the Palestinian poet, Mourid Barghouti, about his mother; a woman always waiting for her sons to be allowed to return to her home, their homeland.

Meanwhile I'm waiting to see if my daughter and her daughter will join me here, so this poem seems right on so many levels, even though I rarely make coffee alone.

Mourid's poem:

She wants to go to a planet away from the earth
Where the paths are crowded with people running to their rooms
And where the beds in the morning are chaos
And the pillows wake up crumpled,
Their cotton stuffing dipping in the middle.
She wants the washing lines full and much, much rice to cook for lunch
And a large, large kettle boiling on the fire in the afternoon
And the table for everyone in the evening, its tablecloth dripping with the sesame of chatter.
She wants the smell of garlic at noon to gather the absent ones
And is surprised that the mother's stew is weaker than the power of governments and that her pastry in the evening
Dries on a sheet untouched by any hand.
Can the earth contain
The cruelty of a mother making her coffee alone
On a Diaspora morning?
She wants to go to a planet away from the earth
Where all directions lead to the harbour of the bosom,
The gulf of two arms
That receive and know no farewells.
She wants airplanes to come back only.
Airports to be for those returning,
The planes to land and never leave again.

Mourid Barghouti
from, I Saw Ramallah

But there was another reason for me tying this poem in with the Time theme ... images in his poem took me back to when I was living in Turkey; the land where I experienced some of the most stunning hospitality ever. The mother, the family and home are important there and this poem captures so much of that.

Patrick Monahan in Cafe Babel

Cafe Babel is a good source of interesting people as seen in this interview writes: Some people realise from an early age onwards that they have a calling. For some, this calling is religious, for others, it takes the form of politics or business. For a select few, it is centred in the glamorous world of entertainment. Patrick Monahan safely belongs in the latter category. Coming from an Irish father and an Iranian mother, the laws of nature just about guaranteed that Patrick was set to be a bit of a joker. “Irish people are renowned for being great talkers” he tells me. “And Iranians make these huge arm movements. I have both these elements in me.”

Initially, he did not have to look far for a vast source of comic inspiration. Patrick’s mixed background, something which he takes pride in, is dominant in his treatment of contemporary geopolitical conundrums. He jokes: “When the neighbours argued we'd call in the police. When me parents argued we'd call in the UN.”

They have another interesting link at Riots, Blogs and other Happenings.

Goodnight Kiwi

Amanda has the best youtubes!

This one comes from our New Zealand childhood ... when the kiwi was the 'final show' after a night of television.

Thank's Amanda, it really made me smile.

You Are A Maple Tree

There's not anyone in this world quite like you.
You are full of imagination, ambition, and originality.
Shy but confident, you hunger for new experiences.
You have a good memory and learn easily.
You are sometimes nervous and always complex (especially in love).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Blogger burnout ...

I'm not sure how much I'll post in the days ahead. I'm trying to work out family stuff back in New Zealand and when there is about 20,000kms between you and your favourite person in the world ... life gets complicated.

And I'm tired of reading the news.
The leaders never seem to get better or wiser and the news isn't improving.

So there you are, imagining that you are teaching your children how to play nicely and share and then they grow up and become world leaders ... oh how ashamed some mothers must be.

I've watched other bloggers burnout and never imagined it happening to me but today I'm quietly destroyed.

Let's see how it all turns out.

Tot ziens.

Kevin Sites, Journalist

Dated August 21, Kevin Sites has posted one of his more personal diary-type entries, that take you beyond what he sends out for the news ... it's a part of his story.

Now, after covering conflicts in 19 countries for almost a full year, I am burnt out, feeding a residual anger at the senseless violence that plagues the globe. Nearly all of the places that I've traveled, with the exception of Nepal, have gotten worse rather than better. Heartbreakers like beautiful Sri Lanka's unnecessary conflict are particularly hard to take.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

An Interview

Found over on Amanda's site.

Daniel Barenboim, Conductor

Thank you Erkan

Erin had talked of Daniel Barenboim, a man who is doing what he can to promote peace and understanding in the Middle East, just a day or two before Erkan posted about him.

Argentine-born Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, center, presents the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at the St. Irene museum, a 6th century Byzantine church, in Istanbul, Turkey, late Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2006, during a concert organized by IKSV, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, and sponsored by Turkey's Jewish Community.

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which is composed of Israeli and Arab musicians, was founded by Palestinian-American intellectual Edward Said and Israeli pianist-conductor Daniel Barenboim in 1999 with the aim of developing peace and intercultural dialogue in the Middle East. The orchestra, consisting of 110 musicians from 17 countries including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, Spain, the Netherlands, and Israel.

I'm Glad I'm Not a Kennedy ...

New Zealander Shona Laing wrote the song, I'm Glad I'm Not a Kennedy back in the late 80's and it came to mind as I was reading der Spiegel just now.

An extract from the song, disturbingly pertinent today
...and is not peace basically a matter of human rights?
The right to live out our lives without fear of devastation?
The right to breathe air as nature provided it?
The right of future generations to a healthy existence?
Let us if we can step back from the shadows of war and seek out
the way of peace...

These days, I'm thinking 'I'm glad I'm not a person who might be suspected of terrorism by virtue of my travel or the ethnicity of my parents, grandparents or great grandparents'.

Der Spiegel wrote: After months of negotiations, the German government has secured the release of a Bremen resident who has been held at Guantanamo since 2001. German officials say Murat Kurnaz has no connection to terrorism or al-Qaida.

For the past five years, Murat Kurnaz has been living in a kind of purgatory. Snagged in Pakistan in 2001, he was captured by the United States military and taken to Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, where he has been held ever since without charges or a trial. Now, however, high-level negotiations have secured the release and transfer back to Germany of the man once dubbed the "Bremen Taliban."

I'm sure he's relieved to be reassured that he has no connection to terrorism ... I wonder who he writes the 'thank you for your hospitality and violation of my human rights' card to?

How some neo-nazis do business in Germany

An 'interesting' article from der spiegel It left me wondering why the neo-nazis can't be sued for fraud.

It's a game that has been repeated across Germany in recent months and years: The radical right announce that they are preparing to buy some piece of real estate to establish a training center or right-wing convention hall; the locals take to the streets to protest against the plan; and local politicians then do what they can to buy the over-priced properties before the neo-Nazis can. It's a game that is currently being played in the town of Delmenhorst, located not far from Bremen in northern Germany. Residents there have collected almost €1 million in an effort to prevent neo-Nazis from buying a hotel located right in the center of the town.

Their stated motivation ... Rieger (a lawyer in Hamburg who often represents prominent neo-Nazis) admits to having played this game before. Two years ago, an NPD member expressed interest in buying a building in the Lower Saxony village of Verden -- as an agent of Rieger's. Immediately, a citizens' group collected €230,000 and bought the building with the support of the town. "Of course I never wanted the hall," Rieger said later. "We were angry with the building authority and we wanted to antagonize the town of Verden."

Jill Carroll, Journalist

Poynter Online sends bite-sized pieces of news to my inbox. It's a superb free service that I signed up for some time ago.

Today, Amy Gahran wrote up and linked me through to the Christian Science Journal's piece on and by Jill Carroll.

It begins with an introduction : Some reporters see themselves merely as history's witnesses - scribes on the sidelines. They are uncomfortable in the limelight. Jill Carroll is one of those who prefer the anonymity of print journalism. She lost that when she was taken hostage, though she hopes (perhaps naively) to eventually regain it. Today, when recognized in a coffee shop, she stops going there.

Chip Scanlan, Writer

“Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.”

Steven Pressfield,

Chip Scanlan from Poynter Online wrote : Writing is a solitary act. We all know that. But how many of us know that we can fill the emptiness with the voices of other writers.

That's because, fortunately, writing, like all creative endeavors, is an attributive art. It has a long tradition of taking advantage of the way that greats writers inspire, not only with their stories, but the lessons of art and craft learned along the way.

Attached is a collection about 50 quotations from writers and thinkers of every stripe: journalists, novelists, poets, philosophers.
I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life -- and that is why I succeed.

Michael Jordan,
Basketball player.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

There is an art, or rather, a knack, to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

Douglas Adams

Thanks wandering turk .

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Us in Antwerpen

So what do a Belgian-based New Zealander and an American living in Spain do when out in Antwerpen ...

We wandered a little ... beginning with a tour of Rubens House . It's a superb starting point if you want a small taste of Antwerpen's history. Peter Paul Rubens was one of those rare painters who were successful while alive ... he was a businessman and painter.

The city restored his house, wanting to reveal something of the multi-faceted man that he was; a collector and supporter of the young and often unknown artists whose works now hang in his restored home.

There is a marvellous massive painting portraying an impossible gallery scene where paintings, coins, sculpture and scientific tools were being viewed and discussed by people who were never together in that place in that way. All the same, it's delicious because of the taste you get of the world Rubens inhabited.

Erin and I both have Canon EOS 350Ds and so it was that we spent time in Ruben's garden, photographing flowers, statues and things ...

We lunched. A quick call to Gert when I couldn't translate the entire menu ... I was missing two words and they seemed like the food we wanted to eat. They were important words, we ordered well after taking advice.

Afterwards, we explored some of the backstreets, wandering through the Zwarte Panter Kunstgalerij (Black Panther Art Gallery) where the bathroom sink at the end of one of the entrances into the basement gallery caught my eye, as seen in the photograph before this.

We popped into the Shoemakers Alleyway and photographed a beautiful street lamp at the entrance and then walked on and caught the tram out to Schoonselhof Cemetery on the edge of the city.

But the best of the day still lay ahead ...

So okay, I did get off the tram many many stops too early but Gert had forgotten to write that we had to pass THROUGH the city centre. One sheepish, 'Where in the world am I?' phone call earned me the answer ... 'About 20kms away from where you're meant to be!' ... (in my defence, this is a gross exaggeration however it was an 8euro taxi ride.)

Anyway, being a Chicagoan, Erin has previous experience in flagging down taxis, although we laughed quietly as the driver pulled over, turned off the engine and spent time leafing through a map of Antwerp, muttering a little.

I did a brief 'on-the-spot' interview and it turned out that our taxi driver had only been driving for two and a half months. She was a lovely older woman who wasn't quite sure whether she enjoyed it or not.

We three were probably equally relieved when we found our restaurant ... El Pintxo, Antwerpen's most stunning Spanish Tapas Bar. The Basque menu was sublime!

Erin introduced us to her lovely Belgian friends and we talked and tapas-ed the night away, eating and drinking, exchanging stories and enjoying that fact that as people become stories, then their stories create an understanding that people are people are people ...

Friday, August 18, 2006

A writer once said that angels can fly because they don't take themselves too seriously.

I borrowed this interview extract over at wind rose hotel . See the context I lifted it from ... it kind of delighted me.

Grazie Roberto.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Of all means of expression, photography is the only one that fixes forever the precise and transitory instant.

We photographers deal in things that are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth that can make them come back again ... for photographers, what has gone is gone forever.

Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Another wandering woman ...

Just a note to let you know that I'll be posting a little less in the days ahead because wandering woman has flown in from Spain and we've made plans explore Belgium.

We started well. I had received an invitation to follow and photograph an Alderman here in the city. I had said sure and so it was that Erin and I were able to spend a couple of hours viewing an exciting new real estate project in the heart of Antwerpen.

And one of the most stunning things about Belgians is surely their multi-linguist-icity. Not only were we visiting this site and meeting interesting people but the moment they realised we spoke English, they switched languages and answered our questions without difficulty.

We had a late lunch at het Elfde Gebod, otherwise known as the Eleventh Commandment ... my favourite pub. We admired the saints before wandering on out into Grote Markt for more photographs.

A dinner of doner is done and photos will follow once they're sorted and resized. Meanwhile I'm off to chat.

Tot straks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Belgie 2006

So there have been complaints from New Zealand ... where are the wedding photographs???

Belgie, 2006

These were two that we liked of ourselves, having asked Alison to keep the photography veryvery informal, in fact ... having told her that one photograph would be just fine.

I'm sure there are those who will thank Alison for taking more than one, despite a wilfully unwilling bridal subject :)

Our Wedding Photograph

Alison , our Canadian friend, wedding witness and photographer took some incredible photographs. This is the first of them ...

You can see more of her work here .

There's a story about my shoes ... the first test of our relationship. To be told on another day.

Wallonia, Belgie

Yesterday, Alison and Andrew came over with our wedding photo cd and invited us to go wandering with them ... down into Wallonia, in the south of Belgium, to a Bathtub Race in the pretty little village of Dinant.

I stared in open-mouthed wonder as we drove through Namur and then followed the Meuse River into Dinant. The architecture immediately reminded us all of buildings in Germany but it was all so stunningly pretty ... I never realised.

Nature is alive and well down that way and after the race we did what the Canadian couple do best on a weekend ... we went wandering, choosing to follow random signs in unplanned directions. We picnicked on the side of a small road in a forest, photographed donkeys and generally enjoyed the landscape and architecture of an area of Belgium previously unknown to me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On exile ...

For an exile, the habitual place and status of a person is lost.

One who is known becomes anonymous, one who is generous has to watch what he spends, one who is merry gazes in silence.

The fortunate ones are looked upon with suspicion, and envy becomes the profession of those who have no profession except watching others.

Europe, where I lived for years, was full of them, from all the Arab countries. Each one had a story I cannot record, perhaps nobody can record.

The calm of the place of exile and its wish-for safety is never completely realized. The homeland does not leave the body until the last moment, the moment of death.

The fish
Even in the fisherman's net,
Still carries
The smell of the sea.

Mourid Barghouti
from, I Saw Ramallah.

Monday, August 14, 2006

So ...

Not only did District Huis surprise us with gifts but this morning we found a congratulatory card in our mailbox ... from an extreme right party member, known to Gert via the world of politics and district councils.

I thought it would only be polite if I sent it back, confessing I am an immigrant and therefore unworthy of any kind of notice or congratulations, having stolen a full-blooded Belgian native out from under their noses.

To explain, this man used to be a Flemish Nationalist... a more moderate version of the neo-Nazi Extreme Right here.

Perhaps he just hasn't read his new party's Charter yet.

Tiziano Terzani, Travel Writer and ...

I was delighted to find news of my favourite contemporary Italian travel writer over at Wind Rose Hotel , the blog that makes me wish I was a good student of language and could learn Italian.

He wrote of the current discussion developing around the Italian journalist and writer Tiziano Terzani, who died aged 65, under the title 'A secular saint?'

He writes: There is a debate now going on in Italy: was Tiziano Terzani a secular saint, a Guru, or even “the lay Pope?” Terzani (see Wikipedia and The Guardian), before wearing a long white beard and robe and living in an Indian ashram, was a former war correspondent and an expert on China and Japan—he wrote for Der Spiegel, Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica—who covered wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

The Guardian has written that Tiziano was the the man who once said that his gravestone should be inscribed only with his name and the word "traveller". His approach to the final destination has certainly been followed in Italy with an attention rarely accorded to journalists, however distinguished. Last spring, his book on the cancer that killed him was a bestseller, and it is a mark of how unique a figure he had become that his death was marked by pages of tributes in La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, and by extensive coverage on television and radio.

I loved this extract from the Guardian article: Der Spiegel became used to both the gifts and the eccentricities of Herr Doktor Terzani, and there were tensions from time to time. But when Terzani proposed to spend a year covering the news without travelling by air, choosing, in a deliberately contrarian way, to pay heed to a warning by a soothsayer, Hamburg did not baulk. The result was A Fortune Teller Told Me (1995), an account of journalism in the slow lane and an examination of alternative values and beliefs. It was a huge success in Italy, and elsewhere in translation.

As Terzani later explained, "If you run a big magazine like that, you can afford a fool because maybe he'll deliver something different."

'A Fortune-Teller Told Me' was the book that won me over completely, it's delicious book that I've often gifted or loaned to friends.

Tiziano Terzani, journalist, born September 14 1938; died July 28 2004.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.

Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking.

Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice.

And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

Everything else is secondary.

Steve Jobs
- CEO of Apple Computers.

Found at Buried in the Sand

A snapshot from Beirut after news of the ceasefire

Obviously I read no news on my wedding day ... it was a choice about avoiding sadness but when I went wandering the next day, I found this ... and loved it.

Zena in Beirut wrote this and more :

on the eve of ceasefire
this morning, i woke up with a smile on my face. my husband had jumped on top of me, kissing me all over my face, saying that the war was going to end. that the UN voted... that things were going to get better now. i had only fallen asleep two hours earlier, but jumped out of bed with a kind of energy i hadn't had in over a month. it was a good morning.

everything changes this weekend.

things are supposed to come to some kind of end. one way or another.

on the eve of ceasefire, i have mixed emotions.

i am grateful that things are coming to and end.

The wedding day

What do you write after leaving a post that simply reads, 'Getting married today' ...?

It was a puzzle too difficult to solve the day after the wedding.
Perhaps it will come to me this morning.

How did it go?
It was the most deliciously low-key wedding that I've been to which was the way that we wanted it. It was the day we discovered that the people we've come to call friends here in Belgium, could meet up in one room and talk without ceasing ... it was also the day that we learned just how special our friends over here are.

Having specifically written 'no gifts' on the email invitation, we were blushingly surprised as people arrived bearing gifts, flagrantly disregarding our idea of 'more about people and party' and less about the formalities we had previously associated with wedding.

The wedding ... a Belgian wedding?
Ours was very informal. I had to return to the scene of many a defeat. District Huis opened it's doors to us and one of Gert's colleagues performed the marriage ceremony. It was very relaxed, with space for our laughter ... all in Dutch and ending with a surprise poem that Marleen, our celebrant, read out in English.

Those who have read my blog for a while might remember that District Huis has presented me with many a difficult and downright depressing challenge over this last year, so it was with some amusement that we accepted their gift of District Huis coffee mugs and chocolate, with a small wine reception after the ceremony.

Diede, an old friend from the Netherlands, drove over with his partner Francien. Diede is the man who endeared himself to me years ago by promising my daughter that 'yes, he would become her stepfather but she had to find herself a new mother first'. He came in the capacity of almost-family and old friend.

Alison was there as our witness, photographer and friend, bringing her husband for audience and porter duties ;) and reminding us, once again, of the many reasons we value our friendship with the wandering Canadians.

Amanda and Marlon came in from Brussels as the Kiwi members of the wedding audience ... 8 month old Marlon won the hearts of all who met him.

Freddy, Gert's Belgian friend, colleague and witness, was still recovering from gallbladder surgery, so he brought his parents with him, bumping our Belgian audience up to 4.

Socially, one of our aims in Belgium is to get the number of Belgians at our expat parties higher than just my Belgian. We were getting there, Saturday night we had 5 ... the best result so far.

Our planned balcony party became a lounge party as the weather fell to pieces, and it was fine as our lounge was easily big enough to fit in 13 friends and 5 nationalities. It was a night of conversations ... a delicious night actually.

So we did what we wanted to do and married very quietly and afterwards we were able to spend time with people we really enjoy spending time with. I wrote home with the details for my daughter but it would have been so much better to have had her there. She turned 20 the next day ... Happy Birthday Jessie!

Perhaps Gert and I will marry again over in NZ, another informal occasion for the couple who said they would never bother with marriage again.

Oh ... in response to emails demanding photographs.
They're coming. Our photographer has taken them away to work on them. I've asked that I be made to look like Sandra Bullock so she could be some time ... but I'll post one or two as soon as I have them.

Postscript: One of the highlights of the day, I'll confess, was Alison arriving with two jars of Vegemite ... a toast spread hated by people the world around, much-loved by many New Zealanders and Australians, much-missed by those abroad, especially me.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

Snails and Milk

This made me grin ...

Thanks Andrea .
Meg posted this poem.

I loved it, 'borrowed' it, posted it too.

This is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams

You know, it occurs to me that if I don't get Alzeimhers it will be because I move between Gert's Dutch keyboard and my English keyboard, touch-typing on both, sometimes completely forgetting where this @ is because on my keyboard it's here ".

On the other hand, if I do get Alzeimhers, it will probably because I wore out my brain with constant keyboard changes ...

Erica Jong, Writer and Poet

Did I ever tell you ...

Erica Jong, a favourite poet and writer of mine, has a weekly Tips for writers section on her website. She quotes someone and then writes a reply.

The main characters in a novel must necessarily have some kinship to the author, they come out of his body as a child comes out of the womb, then the umbilical cord is cut and they grow into independence. The more the author knows of his own character the more he can distance himself from his invented characters and the more room they have to grow in.
--Graham Greene

Is it autobiographical? they ask, they always ask. What a silly question! Of course it is and of course it isn’t! It comes out of your marrow and out of the blue. The more it comes out of your marrow the truer it is, and the more it comes out of the blue the greater the chance its truth will also be the reader’s truth.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

'This is mine'

The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying 'This is mine', and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society.

From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his felloes: 'beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody'

(Rousseau Discourse on Equality, 76, 1754.)

The quote preceding an essay titled On the Impossibility of Borders or Occupation as Disorientation by Ronen Shamir.

Thanks Erkan .

He also posted a link into antropologi info

Conscientious ... a blog about fine art photography

I discovered this site today and thought I would share with those interested in photography ...

Jörg Colberg, an astrophysicist and photographer from Pittsburgh, USA writes: Conscientious is a weblog about photography, art, and life in general. Predominantly, you will find contemporary photography, but I am not going to try to define what future or past posts will or did contain other than saying that it's photography or art that I like(d) or stuff that I was/am interested in. I am no professional photography critic, and I do not aspire to be one; hence there will be no long words. I think good photography doesn't need making too many words.

A. Raffaele Ciriello, Photojournalist

I found the work and website of photojournalist A. Raffaele Ciriello just after his death in 2002. I wander in and visit sometimes, enjoying the images and writings left by this remarkable man who started out as a plastic surgeon.

Ciriello, 42, began his new career photographing motor-cycle races and events such as the Paris-Dakar race before becoming interested in war photo-journalism. He had reported on conflicts all over the world, including Lebanon, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Kosovo, Eritrea and Sierra Leone.

His site still opens with this: Raffaele would surely like this site to continue to thrive as it did when he was alive and passionately nurtured it. So we're keeping it online as it was left by him before his last departure for Ramallah.

We just added his last footage and one more area, with his last photos and comments from his workmates and friends. (this doesn't seem to be available anymore).

Goodbye Raffaele... see you.

Reporters without Borders wrote up his death 13 March 2002:
RSF appalled by death of Italian journalist in Ramallah

Reporters Without Borders said it was "appalled" by the death of Italian freelance journalist Raffaele Ciriello as a result of Israeli gunfire in Ramallah today and demands an immediate enquiry into exactly how he was killed and, if necessary, the trial of those responsible.

"For months, we have been denouncing the impunity enjoyed by Israeli troops firing on journalists," said RSF secretary-general Robert Ménard. "We have frequently been concerned by the almost complete lack of investigation by the Israeli authorities into such shootings. It was bound to lead to this kind of tragedy. Today, what we always feared has happened: a journalist has been killed, the first since the start of the second Intifada. We are appalled."

A report by RSF after a visit to the area last summer said there had been 45 incidents of journalists being wounded by gunfire, mostly by Israeli soldiers, over the previous 10 months. Since then, at least two more have been wounded in Israeli shootings.

The day before (12 March), about 30 journalists were standing on the balcony of a hotel overlooking the Al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah when an Israeli tank opened fire on them. The journalists took cover inside the hotel. An Israeli army spokesman reportedly apologised to one of them by phone and said troops had mistaken them for Palestinian snipers and their cameras for guns.

Anne Michaels, Writer

Anne Michaels was born in Toronto, Canada and is the author of one novel Fugitive Pieces, which explores the possibility of love and faith alter the Holocaust, with language marked by power, elegance, and integrity.

Ms. Michaels, who has also composed musical scores for the theater, has said "when you put a tremendous amount of love into your work, as in any relationship, you can't know--you can only hope--that what you're offering will in some way be received. You shape your love to artistic demands, to the rigors of your genre. But still, it's a labor of love, and it's the nature of love that you must give it freely."

Her beautiful poetry can be found in The Weight of Oranges .

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Creative Kiwis ...

Manic a fellow Belgian blogger, left a note in my comments box with a link to this story out of New Zealand which reminded me of New Zealand story that Spanish-based Sal directed me to a while ago ... the one about the armless driver NZ police caught speeding.

Manic's find went like this :NZ warning over hearse tax dodge

Transport authorities in New Zealand have vowed to crack down on motorists who dodge taxes by registering their vehicles as hearses.

The scam emerged after a woman told a radio station that the manoeuvre saved her and her friends around NZ$125 ($77, £41) each.

Her car qualified, she said, because she used it to carry frozen chickens home from the supermarket.

As word spread, 40 people applied to reregister cars, a local website said.

Currently around 1,500 vehicles are registered in the low-charge "non-commercial hearse or ambulance" category, transport officials said.

Land Transport New Zealand has written to 937 possible scammers warning them to register correctly.

"Carrying groceries or dead animals in your car does not make it a hearse," spokesman Andy Knackstedt said.

He said offenders could be liable to a NZ$1,000 ($629, £330) fine.

Silvana, Photographer

I loved the photographic images at the Impulse Photography site.

Matthew Walker, Blogger

Matthew Walker is blogging down home in New Zealand and his site is always an interesting wander.

His categories are wide-ranging ... politics and media through into nature, science, vegetarian food, music and ecetera.

His photography takes me back home to places I loved .


You know when it's months since your last 'head-spinning-tongue-burning' experience with a large packet of M&Ms and you see them there on the shelf in the supermarket and you have cash on you and you have a reason to celebrate so you buy them and inevitably eat too many because of their perfect crunchibility and that delicate chocolate explosion thing that they do in your mouth and then the food colouring kicks in and you think 'Who needs to pay big money to fly to the moon' because that's potentially precisely the odd feeling excessive amounts of M&M's give you ???

A simply delicious site ...

Discovered via Andrea's site .

Chookooloonks offers a feast of images and words.

Karen writes: the Journal describes my daily life as an Englameridadian, being married to a Brit, and being the mother of a child so multicultural, she defies categorization. Occasionally, I’ll talk about adoption. Often, I’ll talk about writing and photography. Mostly, I’ll just talk about our lives here in the tropics.

In rare instances, I’ll talk politics, religion or rant about some injustice – but you’ll probably have to push me to do it. If you’re interested in my photography portfolio, you can find it here . If you’re interested in some of the things I’ve written other than this blog, you can find that here . And if you’re interested in seeing dirty photos, you can find that elsewhere.

Dude, it’s not that kind of website.

It's a numeric life ...

It is a numeric life is a site of numbers ...

As of July, 2006, there about 175,000 new weblogs were created each day, which means that on average, there are more than 2 blogs created each second of each day. Total posting volume of the blogosphere continues to rise, showing about 1.6 Million postings per day, or about 18.6 posts per second.

The graph on Available Men makes 'interesting' reading for those requiring one ...

The View from Fez

The View from Fez posted an interesting piece titled 'War zone fashion tips from Elle Lebanon' ... updating a previous post ... Elle launches Arabic edition .
Recording the details of our lives is a stance against bombs with their mass ability to kill, against too much speed and efficiency...A writer must say yes to all of life...Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of life as they exist...We must become writers who accept things as they are, come to love the details, and step forward with a yes on our lips so there can be no more noes in the world, noes that invalidate life and stop there details from continuing.
Natalie Goldberg,
Writing Down the Bones

I found this quote over on Laura's Musings of an Antwatcher blog .

Loved it, blogged it.

Colin Monteath, Photographer, Writer, Mountaineer ...

I was sending an email to a guy I still call friend despite his disturbing right-wing-leaning ways... smiling a little as I recalled a 'discussion' I'd had with my little brother last night; the one where I suggested he phone up Paul over in Melbourne and talk about how horrendously stubborn this big sister can be when she has an idea about wrong versus right.

Anyway, searching for Antartica-type links for my right-leaning friend, I wandered into Colin Monteath's Hedgehog House website and I thought to myself, 'I should post about Colin...'

Colin's photogalleries speak for themselves and are a diverse mix of Artic and Antartic shots, the ocean and the weather and wildlife shots and ecetera. His photo library is well worth a wander.

Based in Christchurch New Zealand, Colin Monteath is a freelance photographer, writer and mountaineer who is widely travelled in the polar and high mountain regions of the world.

In 1984 he started Hedgehog House photographic library and publishing company with the principal aim of " increasing the awareness of the need to look after the polar and mountain regions."

With nearly 100 wide-ranging assignments to Antarctica spanning 26 seasons since 1973 Colin has seen more of the Seventh Continent than almost any other New Zealander.

Colin has been an active mountaineer for 30 years. He has climbed New Zealand's highest peak 13 times by most of its routes including the notorious Caroline face and the first winter ascent of the East Ridge. In 1974 Colin was a member of the Commonwealth Andean Expedition which made 19 new routes in Peru's Cordillera Vilcanota.

Himalayan Expeditions have played a vital role in Colin's life - Australian Annapurna III Expedition ( Nepal 1980) , New Zealand Garhwal Expedition (Shivling - India 1982), Australian Everest Expedition (North Face - Tibet 1984), New Zealand Pamirs Expedition (Pik Kommunizma USSR/Central Asia, 1986), Australian Karakorum Expedition (first ascent Chongtar - Xingjiang China 1994) and New Zealand Tibet Expedition (Gurla Mandhata , 1998). In Irian Jaya Colin worked as a guide for Adventure Consultants during a climb of Carstensz Pyramid.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tahar Ben Jelloun, Writer

Cafe Babel has an interesting article on writer, Ben Jelloun, born in Fes in 1944. Educated in French studies, he became a philosophy professor at Tétouan and then left Morocco in 1971 to live in the French capital to do a thesis in psychology.

“I had not been educated in the ‘arabisation’ of philosophy and the teaching of Islamic thought instead of, and in place of, universal thought. That is why I left. For this reason I do not feel as though I am a writer in exile. Even though there have been difficult periods, I have never felt that I could not return; that the doors of my native country had been closed for me.”

IIlegal immigration is at the heart of a new book by Ben Jelloun and is the pretext for the ‘slow descent to hell’ of its hero Azel, a Moroccan exile in Barcelona. Whereas the deaths of illegal African immigrants on the barbed wire of the Spanish enclaves, widely covered by the media last September, reminded Brussels of the urgent need to find an effective solution to the immigration problem, Bell Jelloun laments that “a true community policy was not defined in any other way than in terms of exclusion and repression.”

In his view, certain European states manage immigration issues better than others. “Sweden, for example, has a good attitude, notably because it does not have historical links with the countries of Africa.”

Monday, August 07, 2006

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King

Another meme

I discovered this meme while wandering through paris parfait's blog and she ended it with the words:
Now, what about you??
So okay ...

10 Favourites
Favourite season: spring
Favourite colour: pale gold through the range to terracotta
Favourite time: early morning or late in the night; alone times.
Favourite food: carbonara, maatjes (raw herring)
Favourite drink: red wine
Favourite ice cream: peach
Favourite place: (lets make that places): Istanbul, Rome and Central Otago.
Favourite sport: cycling
Favourite actor: Ralph Fiennes
Favourite actress: Judi Dench

9 Currents
Current feeling: relaxed
Current drink: water
Current time: 11.28pm.
Current show on TV: it's off.
Current mobile used: Nokia
Current windows open: Bedroom window, the wind is up so the lounge window is closed.
Current underwear: New Zealanders don't talk of their underwear lol.
Current clothes: a skirt and singlet top
Current thought: I like Neil Young's 'Helpless' ... playing at the moment.

8 Firsts
First nickname: Annie
First kiss: Richard
First crush: Malcolm
First best friend(s): maybe Jan, first 'important and lasting' best friends were Fiona and Liz.
First vehicle I drove: my parents' Holden Kingswood column change ... oh oh oh.
First job: babysitting, raspberry picking.
First date: maybe dinner with Paul ... was that a date?
First pet: a Golden Labrador called ... Goldie (it took weeks to come up with that name when I was 9 years old)

7 Lasts
Last drink: water
Last kiss: Gert
Last meal: dinner - salmon lasagne.
Last web site visited: Paris Parfait
Last film watched: The Constant Gardener
Last phone call: Gert
Last TV show watched: Silent Witness

6 Have you evers
Have you ever broken the law: Well yes, but I didn't mean to ... I was driving a really fast rental car and relaxed into it and a policeman talked with me about it as he wrote out the fine.
Have you ever been drunk: Yes, but not until I was in my 30's.
Have you ever kissed someone you didn't know: Yes, the Turks and the Belgians all exchange kisses that stunned this hand-shaking New Zealander.
Have you ever been in the middle/close to gunfire: No
Have you ever skinny dipped: No
Have you ever broken anyone's heart: I don't think so.

5 Things
Things you can hear right now: The computer, Neil Young, the keyboard clicking as I type, the wind outside, the music just changed to Pavarotti ...
Things on your bed: A pale purple sheet, 2 pillows, my trousers from today and a book.
Things you ate today: 2 slices of toast, a cheese and ham omelette, salmon lasagne, a very small packet of M&Ms
Things you wouldn't want to live without: laptop, internet, digital camera, books, cds.
Things you do when you are bored: Well oddly enough, if I get bored I am filled with mischief and like to seek out company however, I'm rarely bored.

4 Places you have been today
Antwerp city centre
2 trams
The supermarket

3 Things on your desk right now
A small collection of stones and shells
Papers papers and more papers.

2 Choices
Black or white: black
Hot or cold: I prefer cool weather in summer and hot weather in winter ... it could be said I'm a contrary creature.

1 Place you want to visit
New Zealand ... I want to go home, it's been far too long.

Now, what about you??

Traffic accidents in Turkey

Erkan linked to this article : “2270 people lost their lives in traffic accidents in Turkey during the first half of 2006.

Rate of fatal car crashes rose by 2.4 percent while death toll in traffic accidents increased 3.7 percent in January-June period of 2006 over the same period of previous year,” Ismail Caliskan, spokesman for the Security Dept. said on Friday.

Speaking at the weekly press briefing, Caliskan said, “42 percent of all traffic accidents occurred between 2.00 p.m. and 10.00 p.m., while 29 percent occurred at weekends. Lorries and trucks were involved in 32 percent of crashes. Out of 1844 accidents, 188 occurred in Istanbul, 126 in Ankara and 90 in Antalya.”

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Last night in Belgie ...

All pony camp photographic cds were picked up at 10am this morning ... great news but for the fact that we arrived home from Brussels at 4am.

Life will be lived so slowly today, a siesta later I methinks.

One of the best things about travel and this expat life is surely the people met along the way.

Last night we were 2 Belgians, 2 New Zealanders, 5 Americans and a German ... from different places and positions in life; many of us had met via the net ... ahhhh, children of the 21st century, this is our fate.

People did what they do at small parties and broke off into groups, occasionally coming together when something too interesting to ignore was overheard ... we discussed the way New Zealand women dress, website design, the Lebanon situation and the Artichoke/Spinach dip ...

There were stories of 'first day in a new country', careers, and the colonial history of countries not our own.

Time always slides by unnoticed at Shannon and Gabe's ... it might be the wine but it's a beautiful apartment, with high ceilings, big windows and space, and without fail, the company has always been good.

A slow day today but such a good night.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Entire Day!

writes this princess from the South Pacific ... I've spent the entire day working and it felt good.

The second photography session at Pony Camp went well yesterday; the rain was intermittent, the children cooperated and did all kinds of delightful things ... from kangaroo ball races to just hanging out and being kids.

I'm rapt with the results and so working all day was no problem really. Gert has become my assistant who makes sense the mess and generally saves the day.

I'm still working on the copyright mark for my photographs ... a little more patience and I'll post them. I had over 300 images to work through and we have a party in Brussels tonight.

Ahhh, the stresses and strains ... summer's okay, it can stay.

Tot ziens.

... umm can someone tell them i am not a terrorist. please.

writes zena in her latest post from beiruit .

i wonder how we will feel, those who have read her, who know she's no terrorist ... i wonder how we will feel if she's killed in these bombing raids?

anne frank died so many years ago and she's still mourned today; her hiding home is a shrine now, visited by millions.

does the world need another 'shrine' ... another 'anne frank'?

but perhaps we haven't evolved; perhaps we don't understand; perhaps we still haven't learned that maybe the power is in the hands of the people.

Did we who watch vote these people into power; did we give them the right to do what they are doing now?

why are a handful of people allowed to take these actions in our name ...?

zena writes, 'and the world watches on...'

Friday, August 04, 2006

About that day out with the EOS

One of the things I most loved about heading out to the pony camp was that all of my favourite photographic subjects were there in abundance and they soon forgot about that woman with the camera.

There were more than 10 horses, 4 dogs, 4 cats and at least 7 children aged 5-12.

293 photographs later and I was exhausted but so sublimely happy.

Some of the images are pure magic ... the 5 year boy hitching up his pale blue jodpurs while walking ahead of me on his way to feed the chickens; the 11 year old girl with a hen in her arms, held much the same way as a cat would be held ... the hen becomes a delicious orange surprise.

There's the image of the tiny golden pony captured in a 'rodeo moment', complete with 10 year old girl on his back as he puts his head down to run, anything to avoid jumping a pole. I photographed horses play-fighting ... biting each other, eyes rolling, teeth bared, and another called Kafka having a joyous roll in the mud.

Favourites ... ?
So many.

Today it's all about trams, buses and cars, then a pony cart as I head back to take group photos of the kids after a week of horses and tents, and to deliver each child's cd full of images.

The work made my heart sing and for a little while it was good to forget about the pain abroad in the world in these days.

I hope all is good in your worlds ...

Till later.

Postscript: I forgot to mention the rain, grey skies and wind ... ahhh Belgie, how do I love thee?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

'My own instinct is to write longer poems. I tend to quest about like a dog backtracking & crisscrossing a terrain in search of an odour’s source.'
Ian Wedde, poet
"Pay attention to the beautiful and true things"
Doc Griffitt

I found this quote in a beautiful post written by jarvenpa on her blog titled 'outside the window'.

An interesting site ...

An interesting magazine, found over on Erkan's site ...

Mute magazine was founded in 1994 to discuss the interrelationship of art and new technologies when the World Wide Web was newborn.

But, as mass participation in computer mediated communications has become more integral to contemporary capitalism, its coverage has expanded to engage with the broader implications of this shift.

Mute’s investigation of the social, economic, political and cultural formations of ‘network societies’ maintains an accent on the relationship between technology and the production of new social relations.

At the same time, the magazine’s remit has grown broader and now includes analyses of geopolitics, culture and contemporary labour that, while necessarily inflected by contemporary developments in technology, go far beyond this.

Zena posts from Beruit ...

beirut will never die
after feeling so helpless all day... not being able to channel any energy into any work, i made my way over to a meeting we were having concerning the oil spill. there were about 10 of us there. i looked around the room and thought about how beautiful everyone was.

here we were gathered in a makeshift office in one of the relief centers... daring to meet up, under the bombs and threats... to talk about our environment and what we were going to do about it.

in the room next door, my sister who is only 24 years old, now head of the medical unit at the relief center, was organizing prescriptions and pills. it is so funny... people call her doctor now. she has a ba in liberal arts. because she has been at the center since day one and took charge of the medicine and distribution, she is now Doctora Lana. :) in a week she learned how to do stuff it takes people years to do at universities!

in the room next to her, people were meeting to set the plan of distribution of milk and diapers for the next day.

despite the threats of Beirut being blown up today, here were people working... here were every day people, coming together to help in any way they could. i was filled with so much love..,being around such passionate people.

something changed tonight. i guess when you are looking at death, straight in the eyes, you find a new kind of courage. you realize how important it is to hang on to what you have. you fight for life with a new kind of passion.

i have spent the last 3 weeks mourning the loss of Beirut... mourning the loss of my dreams and my work.

now, it's time to accept what is happening and take charge of the situation.

beirut, she will never die.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ponies and people

A small adventure today ...

My Canon EOS 350D and I have been invited out to a pony camp here in Belgie where we get to go crazy photographing kids and their ponies.

My daughter had a pony for a few years (Misty is the 'mum' in the photo) and I had friends who rode horses who, over the years, found horses for me to ride.

So I'm hoping we can ignore the grey skies and rain (rumoured to be part of the 'mixure' of weather expected today) and get on with a feast of photography.

I'm happiness-filled.

Tot ziens.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Nothing left to say ...

His fourteen-year-old daughter Lara says the nightly bombing campaigns began to take a big mental toll on her and the rest of the family. "We wished we were dead," she says, "so we could at least get a rest from these horrible crimes."

The daughter of dentist, Dr. Ibrahim Sabbagh, who escaped with his family from Bint Jbail.

"Bint Jbail is no longer," he says in English, brushing his hands together. "Everything was broken — my house, my office, my cars. All of it is no more."

Kevin Sites reports how it is in Bint Jbail

A small window on Lebanon

black dust : posted by zena

there is a black dust that is filling the air. we are breathing it in ... constantly. it has settled on my clothes, in my kitchen... it is everywhere. we are guessing it is from the Jiye power station that was bombed... it is still on fire... it is the power station from which the oil spill originated from.

today i had my first experience at queuing for gas. the shortages have arrived. so many gas stations have shut down. the few that are left have long queues.. i waited for 40 minutes.. and when my turn came, i was give $10 worth only.

i only have a few minutes left before the electricity gets cut. we are running on generator now and they usually turn it off at midnight...

everyone is talking about the depleted uranium in the bombs... it is everywhere now. in the air we breathe.. in the land... it will soon be in our crops... in our water... wow. every time i think that things can't get worse, they do.

i am already envisioning myself with cancer. i can feel it all around me. i don't know if i could be as strong as maya has been.

maya by the way is doing ok. she is now on about 5 different pain killers... they make her funny. whenever i call she answers... "hello. maya's house of pain.. can i help you." hehe. it's funnier when you hear it on the phone.

the sky is so dark tonight. there is no moon. beirut is quiet. death is all around me.

Life outside the window ...

Over the winter I cultivated a group of friends ... stand-ins for the dog and cat I'm not really able to have in this European apartment life.

First came the Woodpigeons and the Turtle Doves. Jackdaws called by very cautiously while Magpies exploded in barely viable crash landings, implementing a hit-and-run technique to pick up their portion of treats. A couple of small birds and a more exotic bird whose name escapes me also called by ... and voila, I had everyday winter 'friends'.

Over time a 'thing' formed between me and the Turtle Doves. They realised I could be called upon to rescue them from the 'big bird bullies' whenever the Wood Pigeons came to Balcony World.

It still amuses me to look up and find a Turtle Dove staring intently at me through the glass, seeming to indicate something along the lines of ... 'Hey Di, look what they're doing and we're just so little and so cute ...' needing me to chase the Wood Pigeons away from the bread.

Never mind that those very same Turtle Doves regularly chase away the Jackdaw, the Magpies and anything else that calls by ...

Eventually the Wood Pigeons realised that they weren't scared of me opening the window and asking them what they thought they were doing ... and now they don't move away either.

This morning I looked up from my desk, having heard a flurry of heavy winged fighting outside on the balcony ... two of the big pigeons are 'flapping' each other, whether it's love or war is unclear ...

News from the hot place ... 18 celsius (64F) with light drizzle outside and this time it feels so unbelievably good.