Saturday, June 30, 2007

I'm an Aunt ...

and here are two of the best reasons for going back to New Zealand.

Thanks Mark, much appreciated.

About 3rd birthdays in countries not your own ...

turning 3, originally uploaded by - di.

What we didn't realise until it came time to organise the party was that little Miss Two hadn't had all the normal experiences lately ... she can't go to Kindergarten and we don't really know the neighbours, who are mostly elderly.

I panicked and sent out 'party in the park' invitations but key people were going to be out of town ... in other countries really and then came the weather prediction ... rain, rain and more rain on the day.

We cancelled the party in the park, all but defeated.

But she's 3 and she's loved and as long as there's a bit of a fuss, we're sure she'll be fine.

It began with a gift and a card from New Zealand during the week, then today Gert's children are coming over for a birthday tea and tomorrow we have another much-loved friend of Miss Two's coming to dinner and then next week ... well let's see, perhaps on the day we'll have a day at the zoo with a picnic and cake.

'THE' day ... ?
4th of July no less

Tot ziens.

Alexandra Boulat, Photographer

I was intrigued by the work and words of Alexandra Boulat and saddened because I only discovered her because she is undergoing treatment for a uptured brain aneurysm.

She said, Being a photographer is more exciting than being a painter because you get to see the world and you get to meet different people. And I can see life as it is. I can see history as it grows, as it proceeds, and I find it very, very interesting and very exciting to be there when things are changing.

There is more on her at CBC's Beyond Words .

Friday, June 29, 2007

Let your motto be resistance.
from, an address to the slaves of the United States of America,
August, 1843

Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits explores the history of African American achievement from the mid-nineteenth century to the present through the changing roles of photographic portraiture. The photographs, many by noted photographers and portraying distinguished subjects, establish a sense of place and identity and explore both aesthetic and vernacular styles. Among the subjects are such luminaries as actor, singer, and activist Paul Robeson; trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis; legendary singer Nat "King" Cole; performing artist Eartha Kitt; opera legend Marian Anderson; jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong; vocalist Sarah Vaughn; choreographer and dancer Judith Jamison; and Harlem Renaissance poet and writer Langston Hughes. The exhibition includes portraits produced by both well-known photographers such as Berenice Abbott, James VanDerZee, Edward Weston, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Carl Van Vechten, and lesser-known or anonymous photographers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

One of 'those' days.

You know those days where you've achieved incredible amounts, powering through an ancient to-do list, making time for all outstanding tasks, tidying your desk as you go putting things on the floor as you discard them and then the doorbell rings unexpectedly and you consider ignoring it but realise you probably shouldn't so you answer and there's someone talking Nederlands, as is the way here in Belgie, and when you ask who it is, he replies that it's the police ...

Sigh, they had come to check if my daughter and little Miss Two were really living here, as per our paperwork which was fine, I don't mind but for the incredible mess we had made in the apartment during today.

I buzzed him in and ran.
I dressed properly, as opposed to the improper-not-fit-for-the-general-public way that I had been dressed and then Jessie and I sprinted about trying to put things into some semblance of order.

We pretty much failed, some of our failures seemed to pulsate as the lovely policeman walked passed them.

Yes, that was a basket of dirty washing next to the laundry door ... it was waiting its turn, the 3rd load today.

And please, don't go into the kitchen ... there are dishes you know and they might just bite. We had a roast last night and we're negotiating about who will be washing them (I later lost).

And no, I never ever wear my hair up like this when I step outside.

I swear he was laughing, not even entirely on the inside.

No matter, that part of the paperwork is done.
We weren't lying, they are living here ... I believe that was made clear.

cycling, belgium, originally uploaded by - di.

"Perfection is the enemy of done."

Also found on Andrea's blog .
Perfect thought I.
Andrea over at Superhero, posted this rather lovely poem:

Love after Love

The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other’s welcome,

And say, sit here, Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you

All your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

~ Derek Walcott ~

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

on stage, 2007, originally uploaded by - di.

Saturday and I was told not to use flash while photographing the people onstage. I was curious about what my camera could do in the dark, relying only on stage lighting ...

So, we have this.

Woman Enough

Because my grandmother's hours
were apple cakes baking,
& dust motes gathering,
& linens yellowing
& seams and hems
inevitably unraveling
I almost never keep house
though really I like houses
& wish I had a clean one.

Because my mother's minutes
were sucked into the roar
of the vacuum cleaner,
because she waltzed with the washer-dryer
& tore her hair waiting for repairmen
I send out my laundry,
& live in a dusty house,
though really I like clean houses
as well as anyone.

I am woman enough
to love the kneading of bread
as much as the feel
of typewriter keys
under my fingers
springy, springy.
& the smell of clean laundry
& simmering soup
are almost as dear to me
as the smell of paper and ink.

I wish there were not a choice;
I wish I could be two women.
I wish the days could be longer.
But they are short.
So I write while
the dust piles up.

I sit at my typewriter
remembering my grandmother
& all my mothers,
& the minutes they lost
loving houses better than themselves
& the man I love cleans up the kitchen
grumbling only a little
because he knows
that after all these centuries
it is easier for him
than for me.

Erica Jong

Monday, June 25, 2007

“We asked for workers, but we got people.”
A famous European lament about those people they brought in as guest workers generations ago.

The Age of Migration

“I cried, but I wasn’t sad because I knew she needed to go,” he said. “ She went to give us better conditions.”
11-year-old Steven Ramos
talking of his mother leaving him behind in Cape Verde 5 years ago.

The New York Times had an interesting article about immigration ...

An estimated 200 million people live outside the country of their birth, and they help support a swath of the developing world as big if not bigger. Migrants sent home about $300 billion last year — nearly three times the world’s foreign aid budgets combined. Those sums are building houses, educating children and seeding small businesses, and they have made migration central to discussions about how to help the global poor. A leading academic text calls this the “Age of Migration.”

Despite current alarm, migration is likely to grow. Rich economies with aging work forces need labor. Workers in poor countries need jobs. Border crossings are hard to prevent, and the rewards of moving have never been greater. The average pay raise awaiting today’s unskilled migrants, in inflation-adjusted terms, is about twice as high as that which greeted migrants a century ago, during the last great period of global migration.

Economists generally argue that migration has helped rich economies expand by supplying needed labor, though some low-skilled domestic workers may suffer wage reductions because of increased competition.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

something beautiful, originally uploaded by - di.

Veronica spotted this pigeon ... or dove? as we wandered back through Middelheim Sculpture Park.

found in the forest- antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

I hadn't been drinking and anyway, no one could conjure this up and then photograph the figment ...

Playing with props backstage in Antwerpen

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Actress- Belgie, originally uploaded by - di.

Backstage, Belgie

Peek-a-boo, originally uploaded by - di.

Hanging out with v-grrrl, having a superb and excellent time. Met the lovely Peter too and got some truly fabulous images from my day with the people at PINA.

Poppy, Zele, originally uploaded by - di.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ironing or dishes ... ?

It could be that little Miss Two isn't the only one who can cause me to fall over laughing ...

I was pondering the question of what I hate more - ironing or dishes, when my daughter wandered into the kitchen behind me.

She loves ironing and we've spent the last few hours on our self-assigned tasks with her ironing her way through today's freshly dried washing while I laboured through the rest of the housework ... I had decided I hate washing dishes but I truly intensely dislike ironing.

A question for opening the door into interesting conversation at parties back home was 'why educate women if you want them happy as wives and mothers in the house?'

It always earned a response, many responses really, many varied responses ... so back to me doing the dishes and thinking. Jessie coughed in that way that makes you know something is up.

She had SOMEHOW found herself with a plastic coat hanger stuck round her neck ... a possible morality tale for women who get bored while doing the ironing and distracted by good television viewing.

I ran for the camera and heard 'ow, ouch, uf' behind me.

Sure enough, said coathanger was off before I could get proof is this hilariously idiotic action by a woman of intelligence.

Disclaimer: I had permission post, with muffled laughter and the words 'Just so long as you don't have pictures'.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

3 flags- belgie, originally uploaded by - di.

Three countries at today's ceremony ... 3 flags.

Wandering in Belgie.

The day after writing and it seems a spell check was in order. Hopefully the worst has been fixed. I fell into bed just after writing it.

I've been running for two days ... doing fabulous things, yes really darling, simply fabulous things!

Yesterday Shannon picked this sad blogger chick up out of her little sad place, dusted her off and ordered her to Brussels where she bought me the best carbonara I've possibly ever had.

We wandered down through the Bourse/Beurs (Stock Exchange) and sat at an outdoor cafe, drinking cool drinks in the heat. I then found a boutique full of photographer clothes that I needed and said I would be back for a few items after selling a kidney.

Because my taste runs to expensive, since moving to Belgian I have dressed like a street person ... however, I have had the most excellent adventures.

It was a lovely day that ended mid-evening after homemade pizza and a little chianti.

Thank you to Shannon!
Oh, and did I mention my eyebrows?
Shannon is the queen of shaping beautiful eyebrows, I was lucky not to be picked up by a beautiful stranger on the train on the way home.

Today dawned and I had things to do 'oh so urgently' before running out to catch trains across Belgium - Antwerpen, Lokeren then Zele.

There I met with my writer friend and we were off on a grand adventure to a small village on the border with France ... in Warneton, a place that sounds simply delicious when spoken aloud by a French speaker.

She delivered me to her friend Eric and drove her parents to the location of the ceremony leaving me to interview Eric all the way there ... Eric the stunningly superb world traveler, just back from biking to Rome, having been traveling all over since the 70s.

We met up with the Italian ambassador in Belgium, an ex-Italian ambassador, the New Zealand Deputy Head of Mission and all kinds of other interesting people and the ceremony began ... out in a field somewhere in Flanders.

I'm delighted with some of the images from the day, I have 'results' despite strong sunlight and a tree full of bees (I'm still a wee bit nervous after last week's bee sting).

9.10pm and it was back across Belgium on the train at Zele, then Lokeren then home.

It's a soft warm night here tonight and alles goed in my world.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ben Folds, Still Fighting It

Thanks Mark.

So today ...

Today was a rough day, as we say back home in New Zealand but I discovered I know some incredibly good people ... I also learned that if you delete a post, those who receive RSS feeds of your blog still get to read it.


But on to more exciting things, Little Miss Two received a postcard from her Uncle back home. Little Joseph had covered a kiwi postcard with little round stickers ... and yes, that would be those little round stickers in the photo here, the same ones that Miss Two pulled off and put all over her legs.

I had nothing to do with it, I was merely the photographer.

You can only be sad for so long around this creature before there's some kind of 'incident'. Today it was her walking in with a plastic trash can, tipping it upside down, spreading her arms wide (much like a highwire trapeze artist at the end of a successful quadruple somesault) and shouting 'Ta Dah!'

Upon asking 'Wablief?' I was told ... 'I have wibbons in my hair!' Ta Dah!!!!!'

Sunday, June 17, 2007

the forest imp ii, originally uploaded by - di.

and the forest imp told wondrous tales of searching for bears with her bompi ... they barely escaped.

A link about going on a bear hunt ...

a forest imp- belgie, originally uploaded by - di.

we met an imp out there in the forest.

belgian cyclists, originally uploaded by - di.

and there were cyclists too.

alexander beatle

alexander beatle, originally uploaded by - di.

an unexpected guest joined us at our picnic in the forest ...

Listen, are you breathing just a little,
and calling it a life?...
For how long will you to continue to listen to
those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?

Fall in! Fall in!

- Mary Oliver

Thanks to Megg over at More to Me.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

To market ...

It's been one of those Saturdays that began at the Market, wandering with Gert, filling our bag with fresh juicy rhubarb and peaches for stewing, and lettuce, spring onions and tomatoes for salad tonight, and a sliver of really good salty brie from the Frenchman there, then a crunchy brown baguette for our lunch.

It's a good way to begin a day here in the city of Antwerpen.

The Market is called the Foreigners Market because most of the stall holders come from other places ... I love it because it takes me back to the market close by my house in Mecidiyekoy, Istanbul.

We came back for little Miss Two and headed into the world's of Makro and Carrefour with a shopping list ... the New Zealand lamb that was on sale, some ice cream for stewed fruit and that everyday very drinkable Chilean red wine on sale for just over 3euro a bottle.

Little Miss Two is shaping up as the integration points-gatherer for an entire city back home in New Zealand ... she loves the pickled herring.

Not only that but she simply adores the raw pickled onion that comes with the fish.

But even more disturbing is the fact that she loves to eat those raw pickled onions WITH her lovely Belgian pastry, discarding the remains of said pastry once the onions is finished.

What have we created?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Wild flowers, Belgie

wild flowers, originally uploaded by - di.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

~ from Sweet Darkness by David Whyte, 1992

Thanks to Susannah over at Ink On My Fingers.

"You know, there is something extraordinary, Robert," he said. "You can tell a soldier to burn a village and he will do it and commit a war crime. Or you can tell him to rescue people and he will do that and he is a humanitarian hero. Isn't that extraordinary?"
Adrien Jaulmes speaking with Robert Fisk.

What you should do when visiting a beehive

You know when a beekeeper offers to show you a beehive and you're curious because you've never seen the inside of a working beehive before so you follow your friend and this beekeeper she so kindly introduced you to, and really you do listen intently when they both say 'Now if a bee lands on you, don't brush it away because you'll make mad' and I was sure that, as an adult, I could follow instructions but ... the bee landed on my face, directly between my eyes and I wasn't keen on having it there so I tried to guide it gently off and ... well it stung me.

Lut picked out the sting and the beekeeper (imker in Dutch) told me it would hurt for 5 minutes then swell.

It did hurt actually but the swelling wasn't so bad and we stopped at a outdoor cafe where a coke restored the energy lost during my quiet mostly internal panic attack ... as in 'Dammit, am I allergic to Belgian bee stings - I really don't know?' and 'Did it get me in the sinus or someplace important because I'm feeling kind of strange now'.

But it was a lovely afternoon out with a lovely friend.
Dank u wel Lut.

Postscript: Thanks for the spellcheck, Meneer Manic :)
Maybe it was phonetic ...

Active duty

on active duty, originally uploaded by - di.

Today's Photo Friday challenge was simply titled 'active'.

This seemed appropriate ...

June 7th, 2007 in Mesen (Messines) Belgium.

Life with Di

life with di, originally uploaded by - di.

There might be a reason why little Miss Two was shouting 'No papparazzi!' the other day ...

Life with Di isn't easily if you don't like being photographed, writes the smiling woman.

Nothing ...

a poster of nothing, originally uploaded by - di.

I photographed a very ordinary poster then this happened in photoshop.

I'm still just playing on the edges of photoshop, preferring reality over creating a construction of something perfect however the software does this kind of crazy stuff too.

The copyright takes something from the effect but google image search comes to my blog quite often ... I presume people are searching for photographs and while I don't mind sharing, I didn't like reading that there are those who resell images to stock photography libraries ... and so it is that I copyright everything these days.

The English Patient, an extract

.. Just the Bedouin and us, crisscrossing the Forty Days Road. There were rivers of desert tribes, the most beautiful humans I've met in my life. We were German, English, Hungarian, African - all of us insignificant to them.

Gradually we became nationless. I came to hate nations. We are deformed by nation-states.

Madox died because of nations.

The desert could not be claimed or owned - it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names long before Canterbury existed, long before battles and treaties quilted Europe and the East.

Its caravans, those strange rambling feasts and cultures, left nothing behind, not an ember. All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished to remove the clothing of our countries.

It was a place of faith. We disappeared into landscape. Fire and sand. We left the harbours of oasis. The places water came to and touched ... Ain, Bir, Wadi, Foggara, Khottara, Shaduf.

I didn't want my name against such beautiful names.
Erase the family name!
Erase nations!

I was taught such things by the desert.

... By the time the war arrived, after ten years in the desert, it was easy for me to slip across borders, not belong to anyone, to any nation.

Michael Ondaatje
from, The English Patient.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Flanders 1917 Website

They're using my photographs over on the 90th commemorations page.

I was delighted when I saw it tonight.

More than you ever needed to know about me ... ;)

All men are world citizens by birth.
Every man has the right to go and settle anywhere and to live like a human being.

-Shrii Prabhat R. Sarkar
Indian poet, linguist, and philosopher

A quote I surely believe to be true ... found over on the Expat Interviews website.

Expat Interviews is a website run by Lizza and Victor. They write: You can look at Expat Interviews this way if you will. Our site is like a bridge, something that people who need information on what it's like to live in another country, can cross to get first-hand feedback and insights from one of the best sources that exist: expatriates, or expats.

These people have made the big move themselves and are in a position to tell others what life is like for them as foreigners in another land. The expats featured here share their observations on a gamut of topics: from getting a job to dealing with homesickness to the traits of the local population. They also give tips that they think will be helpful for would-be expats.

Anyway my interview is over here ...

A piper's hat, Belgie

a piper's hat- mesen, originally uploaded by - di.

So I discovered the Tullintrain Pipe Band playing out back of the reception at the Irish Peace Village in Mesen and had to smile when I spotted the 'hat rack' practice field central.

A documentary about Gaza's underground economy

Mostly I try to avoid reading Palestinian journalist, Laila El-Haddad's blog these days but I was intrigued by this and thought I'd pass it on ...

I've been on the move again, this time out of Gaza with Yousuf and my family, after a gruelling two days on the crossing attempt to pass, and a week waiting for the crossing to open. I've been exhausted and thus the delay in blogging, but I promise to post pictures and more about the trip soon.

For now, I leave you with one of the finished products of my journey, a short documentary my colleague and I made in Gaza about Rafah's underground economy, which aired on CBC last week (yes, the voice is mine ...)

In the Footsteps of the New Zealanders, Belgium

"In the Footsteps of the New Zealanders", a newly developed battlefield walk at Messines was launched on Saturday June 9.

A special walk for invited guests on the Saturday morning was led by the New Zealand military historian Dr Chris Pugsley after an introduction by Jeff McNeill, a New Zealand specialist on the battle who has developed dynamic 3D maps. Three public walks followed in the afternoon - one in English and two in Dutch. A number of New Zealanders did the first of these.

The walks, which have been developed jointly by Belgian and New Zealand experts, can now be booked at any time through the Messines Council (please see Bookings page) at a small charge per person. Five more free walks will be available during the Commemorative period:
Sunday, July 15
Sunday, August 19
Sunday, September 16
Saturday, October 6
Sunday, October 7
Anyone wishing to go on these walks should register their names with the Messines Council. These five walks all start at 10 am outside the Town Hall.

Guided tours of the Passchendaele battlefield and general tours of the Ypres Salient are available through the Zonnebeke Tourist Office and the Memorial Museum Passchendaele.
Please see the booking page for details.

Britannica Blog

Erkan had news of an interesting website over on his blog ...

Britannica Blog describes itself as a place for smart, lively conversations about a broad range of topics. Our aim is to have discussions that are both stimulating and civil.

El Sueño de la Razon Produce Monstruos

The sleep of reason brings forth monsters.

I was webwandering and came across this article titled The Sleep of Reason

The author, Michael Gorman wrote: The Spanish artist Goya (1746-1828) experienced the turmoil of the Napoleonic years and the war that ravaged Europe, including Spain.

His vision included a private world of nightmares. One of the most famous products of this vision was the etching Number 43 of the series Los caprichos (The Caprices, 1799); the etching is called El Sueño de la Razon Produce Monstruos - The sleep of reason brings forth monsters.

Goya is widely credited with having the clairvoyance of genius, and this image of the sleeping artist surrounded by the winged ghoulies and beasties unleashed by unreason has been seen as a prediction of, and warning about, the state of civilization in the two hundred years since.
Alison had posted this over on her blog.

Perceptions, constructions of reality, the disconnect ... an interesting day seems to be taking shape.

Poppy- Tyne Cot Cemetery- Belgie, originally uploaded by - di.

I found this tired poppy as I wandered between the headstones at Tyne Cot Cemetery, one of many commonwealth cemeteries that dot the landscape on Flanders Field.

Tired it might have been but it's still full of life as the bees come for honey ...

In the interests of maintaining civil order we must ...

The disconnect between reality as opposed to the theory of how a society should run has always fascinated me ...

America's working its way through a disconnect situation at the moment. Belgium plays with it too, as does any country that cracks down on immigrants working illegally.

Why do I say that?

Here you can see the results of some public figure, usually a politician looking for a solid election platform, applying a constructed law to the reality of everyday life: Border crackdowns had already made it harder for employers in Painesville (America) to find workers this year.

The raids infuriated Larry Secor, a third-generation farmer who is short of labor for his tree, flower and fruit farm.

"The public in this country has no idea who's feeding them," said Secor, 50, as he sorted fruit at his roadside store.

"People already complain that strawberries are $4 a quart. Do they want it to be $10?" he said. "If you don't let these people come over here you'll get food from the same place we get our oil -- overseas."

The suggestion that immigrants take American jobs and lower U.S. wages angered Secor further.

"Americans are not raising their kids to work on their knees in the fields. My daughter's in college -- she's not going to be a farmer," he said.

But it's not only about that, it's about ignoring human nature. America was first populated by the Indian, then later by the world. It's as if the powers that be are now saying, forget human nature, migration was for other times, in the 21st century it's illegal, controlled, an unnatural act.

But a wise man in Spain said it simply: The direction is changing, but migration will always exist," says Pater Andres, "after all, migrating in times of need is a fundamental right of free human beings."

And perhaps it's more than a fundamental right, maybe it's a fundamental need because humans have been moving forever.

Sometimes I wonder if I missed something ... did God or some other omniscient figure hand each 'country' a legal deed entitling only that particular ethnic group the right of habitation and land ownership?

We live in interesting times where more than a few people reading this post have ancestors who immigrated, colonised or simply moved countries. Buying or taking land from earlier inhabitants and making it their own ... back then when God hadn't quite handed out those land ownership deeds.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Harrison's Flowers, a movie

I ended up watching the movie quite by chance tonight ...

Harrison's Flowers was written about in this way: As someone who had lived through this war [I live in Osijek, town frequently mentioned in the movie, only 30 kilometers from Vukovar] and have seen the atrocities first hand, I'll start by commenting the realistic value. To my surprise, the Harrison flowers turned out to be very accurate in portraying what it was like. The details, such as locations, army uniforms and equipment, names, places, scenes and the geographic and historic facts, are pretty much all spot-on true. There are few barely noticeable mistakes, but it'd be nitpicking on my behalf even mentioning them. So, to anyone interested in seeing what the end 20th centuries warfare really looks like, I highly recommend it. It's miles ahead of Holywoods cheezy Rambo-style war movies and by it's ruthless realism it really is a visual kick in the gut.

... Those interested in seeing the insanity of the eastern-Europe 1991. war conflict, the cruelty and danger of modern photojournalism - I can hardly think of anything better than this.

I remember watching this war on television, and like so many New Zealanders so far from the war, we couldn't understand why Europe didn't protect anyone ...

A scene from the 90th commemoration of the battle of Mesen, British Mesen Ridge Cemetery, Mesen (Messines) - 7th June 2007

A little of this and that,1.30am Belgie

Sitting here next to an open window at 1.30am, listening to 'Somebody's Darling' by Wild Geese.

I can't resist the lyrics, they take me back to my Central Otago life .... 5 years in Cromwell as a young wife and mother.

As another sunset steals across another day,
and shadows stalk the skyline as the daylight slips away
here beneath southern mountains
wrapped inside Otago clay
somebody's darling lies sleeping.

So these days I'm living with a daughter who uses my blog as a playground for her artistic self ... hence the parade of new blog headers.

Tonight I was handed this new poppy-themed header on a usb stick.
Promises were made that I could go back to my cat header as soon as this month of world war one commemorations was over.

Next month I'm photographing the Queen of England, writes this smiling woman.

I wish it was as I said but it's really about the fact I have the chance to be in the same place as her with my camera next month ... there's even the possibility of a very good position for me and my camera. We'll see about that and I'll be grateful however it pans out.

Anyway, my daughter ... she designs blog headers I simply adore so I guess the look of my blog might continue to undergo these regular transformations.

My grandfather had this little one-bedroom cottage in Northeast Valley that we loved to visit. He would put his long ladder down into the Leith Stream next door to the house and we would go searching for fresh water lobsters.

My grandfather George.
Without intending it, I've followed his war footsteps.
Initially living in Turkey with two visits to Gallipoli where the Turkish people were extraordinarily welcoming then later, this move to Belgium where I realised that his war on the Somme was only one country away ...

On Friday night I was given the opportunity to view previously unseen New Zealand wartime film from the archives. Dr Chris Pugsley narrated the silent movie while New Zealander John Broadbent accompanied him on piano ... in the tradition of all silent movies.

Imagine, I was sitting there in the darkness watching the young New Zealand men go through the draft selection, then training and on out into the war in Europe.

We reached the point where the battalions fighting at Mesen (Messines) in Belgium were marching past the camera and as I sat there, Grandad's crowd ... the Otago Mounted Rifles, rode by on their horses.

It was an emotional moment, despite the fact he came home after the war.
To see the vitally alive young men riding past somewhere quite close to the hall I was sitting in but 90 years earlier was the oddest sensation ... and so many of those men passing by went out and died on the battlefield.

The writer friend I was wandering with nudged me when she realised that the subject of her book was possibly up on the screen at one point. That moved me too because her man never came home ... he died and is buried here.

It was an incredible few days over in Mesen ...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wild Geese, New Zealand

Martin, a New Zealand friend living and working here in Belgium, introduced me to the music of Wild Geese as he organised inviting them to play over here, their music so pertinent to the 90th commemorations of world war one.

I was lucky enough to talk to a couple of them last weekend in Flanders Field and hear them play Friday night. I couldn't resist and bought one of their cds,'Promises to Keep'.

The title of the cd is also the name of my favourite track on the cd. You can hear it here.

And Martin has provided background information about the Wild Geese over on the Flanders 1917 website.

Promises to Keep is about the Featherston Military Camp, the last place New Zealand soldiers trained before being shipped out during World War One.

An extract from the lyrics:
You are all gone
And the flags no longer crack amid the cheers
It's been so long
And the memories are dulled by passing years
But here amongst these stony fields
Winter's weary shadow steals
And your voices linger on the breeze

March on march on
March on march on
Promises to keep
But miles to go before you sleep
March on march on

Monday, June 11, 2007

The learning curve ...

the tap, originally uploaded by - di.

A Swiss advertising agency contacted me about a photograph I had taken of this tap fountain at Ieper ...

Apparently they wanted it for a billboard campaign but they wanted a large image and mine, at that point in time, were only 3mb.

And so I learned to shoot raw images and now have 10mb images to play with ...

A timely lesson.

And Wild Geese played

wild geese, originally uploaded by - di.

you can read more about them here.

The stone mason

the stone mason, originally uploaded by - di.

And then there was the time spent watching the stone mason work on a huge commemoration stone ...

The Poppy, Flanders Field, Belgie

a belgian poppy- Mesen, originally uploaded by - di.

Back home in New Zealand, my parents grew the most glorious sweetpeas ...

I loved them both for their scent and how they looked and then I discovered the beauty of the poppy.

I spent about half an hour kneeling by these poppies, trying to work out how to best capture them.

Chesney D7 Bagpipe Tuner

Bagpipe Tuner- Mesen, originally uploaded by - di.

Who knew that such a thing happened ... the tuning of bagpipes by small black machine.

I was fascinated and later photographed his little Chesney D7 gadget.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Irish Pipe Band

Drummer- Pipe Band, originally uploaded by - di.

You can read about the Irish Peace Village here if curious.

That was the location of the reception that followed the June 7 ceremony. People mingled, drinking and eating. Gert and I wandered outside and my kiwi ears pricked up when I heard the sound of the bagpipes.

My Nana's sister was married to a bagpiper down in Invercargill, my mother adored the sound of them, I lived next door to McGlashan College's Pipe Band's practice room for a while, and my ancestors were a mix of Scottish and Irish ... I was programmed to adore the sound of the bagpipes.

After asking permission, I went to work with my camera and had the most marvellous time ... taking photographs while the pipe band played all around me.

Overlooking the Frickleton ceremony, Mesen

Overlooking the ceremony, Mesen, originally uploaded by - di.

I was delighted when I spotted this shot.

In the foreground you can see the 'lemon squeezer' hat on the head of the New Zealand military man - 'lemon squeezer' being the nickname for the New Zealand army cap and up above, overlooking the ceremony is the woman from Mesen who had the best view around ...

Mesen, June 2007

Mesen, June 2007, originally uploaded by - di.

New Zealand Commemorations of the Battle of Mesen Ridge

Gert and I arrived at the British Cemetery in Mesen just in time to hear the Maori welcome ringing out across the graveyard.

It's an incredibly moving sound for a kiwi so far from home and I felt my throat fill with tears of recognition.

Diplomatic cars pulled up, people hurried past and we wandered up the path just in time for the beginning of the New Zealand Commemorations of the Battle of Messines Ridge.

Without intending to, I ended up in a good position with the press ... going to work as soon as I arrived. The photo opportunities were stunning.

New Zealand Labour Party member, Annette King (her speech is here ) was there representing the New Zealand government, as were more than a few other dignitaries ... Ireland, Belgium, America, Germany, Canada and on it went.

Speeches were made, prayers were said, the Maori women sang again and maybe the ghosts of all the dead soldiers buried or named there looked on, watching us gather together to honour them 90 years after their deaths here in Belgie.

I'll post some of the images in the days ahead but I had gone there expecting something small and walked into an event far bigger than I knew to expect.

Ceremony over and we moved off en masse, through the town to Mesen Church where the unveiling of a plaque honouring Lance-Corporal Frickleton was to take place. Members of his family were there and his granddaughter cried as they uncovered the stone there in front of the church - his great grandson wore his VC and other medals with pride. Afterwards a group of Belgian school children stunned us by singing the New Zealand national anthem in Maori.

If curious, you can read of Lance-Corporal Frickleton here.

It was afterwards, at the reception in the Irish Peace Village nearby that I discovered the Irish Pipe Band pictured previously ... more on them later.
I wrote honestly about how a extreme right political poster board out in the country in the middle of no where but directly across the road from a world war one cemetery affected me and immediately received offended and negative feedback so ... in the interests of keeping this blog nice, I've deleted my post.

Not guilty but without a country ...

The New York Times is running this bizarre story about some Chinese Uighur's who spent 4 years in Guantanamo Bay ...

Ahktar Qassim Basit says he is not angry about the four years he spent as an American prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, before his captors mumbled a brief apology and flew him to this drab Balkan capital to begin a new life as a refugee.

It is this new life in Albania, Mr. Basit and other former Guantánamo detainees say, that is driving them to desperation.

The men, Muslims from western China’s Uighur ethnic minority, were freed from their confinement in Cuba after they were found to pose no threat to the United States. They have now lived for more than a year in a squalid government refugee center on the grubby outskirts of Tirana, guarded by armed policemen.

Imagine ... Only Albania’s pro-American government would give them asylum, but Albanian officials have since told the men they cannot afford to give them much else.

Things could be worse, the former prisoners note. At least 15 of the 17 Uighurs who remain at Guantánamo have also been cleared for release, but not even Albania will accept them — and neither will the United States. Instead, American diplomats say they have asked nearly 100 countries to provide asylum to the detainees, only to find that Chinese officials have warned some of the same countries not to accept them.

Irish Piper II

Irish Piper II- Belgie, originally uploaded by - di.

An incredible couple of days ...

Irish Piper- Belgie, originally uploaded by - di.

I'm back and exhausted but with a camera full of images and so many stories!

I was absolutely beside myself with joy when I discovered an Irish pipe band practicing out back of the Irish Peace village in Mesen on Flanders Field.

We were there attending a reception ... a story in itself and hearing the pipes I went off in seach of. I spent at least 30 minutes photographing them from every conceivable angle.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Last Post, Ieper

Last Post, originally uploaded by - di.

Gone Wandering ...

I'm off wandering ... a small adventure for a couple of days.

I'll get back to you with details but the journey involves New Zealander Lance Corporal Frickleton , some Wild Geese and an expert on the Battle of Passchendaele .


P.S: did I tell you I've started a small photography blog that links from my photography website ? It's completely about photography, nothing political or newsy ... it's just about the photography.

And I've updated my photography website with 3 new folders ... :)
Of course I'm flying the flag a little bit. I'd quite like to make some money this year.

On procrastination ...

Because I have many things on my 'to-do' list, I opted to check out my details using a Birthday Calculator.

It turns out my birth tree is the Maple, representing independence of mind.

Not only that but apparently I'm no ordinary person: full of imagination, self-respect, originality, shy, reserved, ambitious, proud, hungers for new experiences, sometimes nervous, many complexes, good memory, learns easily, complicated love life, wants to impress.

Thank you to Lisa for providing me with a vehicle to 'other' things.

Gefeliciteerd! U hebt het object gewonnen!

So my first foray into the terrifying world of online eBay bidding is over ...

I bought it!
I have a screen for my machine formerly known as a mobile Toshiba Satellite laptop.

It's so stressful, refreshing the screen as the final moments of the auction flashed by in Dutch.

I phoned Gert, checking on translations but it was okay, I was understanding.

It's all mine ...
Scherm in prima staat, uitstekend scherm,
15 inch groot.
Voet zwart en scherm zelf zilver.
Toebehoren erbij en de doos, alleen het boekje met installatie - cd heb ik niet meer, maar heel gemakkelijk op internet te vinden!!!
For the anger and rage to work aesthetically, the writer’s got to distance himself from it and write in what Frank O’Hara referred to in one of his poems as ‘the memory of my feelings.’ Rage is incoherent. Observed rage can be coherent.
Edward Albee

Oddly enough, it's a subject that interests me because I want to write of the things that make me angry without the incoherence that often accompanies writing about outrageous things.

Quote sourced from Felicia C Sullivan's blog .

eBay - 45 minutes and 36 seconds

Bidding on eBay ... in Dutch.
It's quite stressful, especially when you really really need what you're bidding for.

We have discovered that my laptop has become a rather expensive storage box for my hard drive as in, if I plug in my external keyboard and then plug in an external monitor ... voila! I can use my 'laptop'.

Of course it's no longer mobile, it can't even be moved to the balcony so the hunt for a laptop all of my own will continue but later, after I've worked some.

Reading through the 'Getting Things Done' book I came to the setting up your office section and realised I have to go mobile. My plan is to be a wandering photographer, interweaving my photography business with an exciting new website Erin and I have under construction but more on that when we launch.

But there are other more pressing reasons to go mobile.
I share my office space with little Miss Two and although it's entertaining to have her randomly and inexplicably call out 'No papparazzi!' from her perch on the radiator heaters across the room, it's also incredibly distracting, as is childrens television in Dutch.

And unlike Gert and so many other workers, I am the woman who comes in to clean my office before beginning my working day. On a good day I even hang out 2 loads of washing and mop all the floors ...

Many of my roles in this world take place in the room formerly known as my office.

Okay, off to refresh eBay and pray that nobody else bids me out at the last minute ...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

New Zealand music - 1987 I'm Glad I'm Not A Kennedy

The lyrics are here , including the extracts from political speeches like the words that follow this.

...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...

I can't explain this one ...

signage, downtown antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

I was waiting outside the tea shop while Jessie bought her speciality mix's ... a small bag of'Emperor's Choice' and another of 'Sweet Dreams' tea. I was holding my camera, just hunting a little,seeing what this photographer could see if she really really looked.

I had passed by this sign earlier, I must have rationalised 'warning' in my subconscious mind because it wasn't until I studied it again on it that I 'saw' the fly.

Reflections in the city

reflections in the city, originally uploaded by - di.

We went city wandering today, things to do, people to see when I noticed the reflections in this large window. Suddenly historic downtown Antwerpen looked kind of post-modern ...

through the glass, originally uploaded by - di.

We were out in the car and I was talking to friends when I noticed little Miss Two looking out at us ... and the reflection ... and what could be, and so I photographed it.

On a recent afternoon in eastern Baghdad, speaking English well and wearing T-shirts with brand names like Diesel and Ecko, they said they wished the world would remember that not all young Iraqis wanted to kill one another.

Mudher Rafid, 22
Ahmed Bahir, 22
Hasan Haitham 22
Graduates from the dentistry department, Baghdad University
NY Times article .

Monday, June 04, 2007

Kerri Smith and an artist's survival guide

I was web wandering, having done good work all morning, in between biscuit crumbs and dribbly 2-year old kisses ... and I found Kerri Smith's site and had to smile over her artist's survival guide , admiring that she got it sp precisely when she wrote:

For the really bad days, for the days when you want to quit, when you feel like everything you do is shit, when you feel your self-esteem plummet, when you decide that you would rather wait tables for a living, when you start to think you will never make a living making art, when you are working on something and feel like you hate it more than you've ever hated anything in your life, when someone makes an offhand remark about your work and afterwards you feel dejected, when you wish you had gone to school for accounting, when you start to believe that maybe your family was right, when you want to lie in bed for a month and eat chips.

It's worth checking out if you're familiar with this kind of dejection.

A small moment here in my world

HUG GRANMA, HUG!! accompanied the sound of little bare feet running towards me.

I quickly stopped typing here.

There was the scramble of a denim and pink t-shirt-clad creature climbing up onto my lap and then wet dribbly kisses all over my face.

'I wuv you, I wuv you!' I was told, then she laughed as she noticed that her chin dribbles had wet my face.

'I wuv you too' I replied and planted some less dribbly kisses on her face. Satisfied she was loved, she climbed down from my lap and went back to her red chair and the cartoons in Dutch.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I forgot Spain!

I loved Spain!!
What was I thinking ... I forgot to write it into my previous post.

Hmmmm, a city somewhere in Spain would be my 3rd city of choice and everything else would have to move down I think.

We were just contacted by Oscar recently ... Oscar will be our new Spanish teacher once Gert has the Belgian elections behind him and his boss next weekend.

And where would I live in Spain?
Well I loved Salamanca but what of the other places ... I think I would have to go wandering and find a city to love and live in for a year.

Brilliant language.
I almost died of pride when it was discovered I could role 'perro' off my poor little mono-lingual New Zealand tongue. I think they were bolstering my ego but hey, it felt nice to be told 'You said 'perro'! Perro is difficult for foreigners'.

Of course the Belgian will leave me in the dust when we learn but if I hold onto his coat tails real hard then he won't shake me off and I'll learn from him too ;)

Five cities I would like to live in for a year ...

Thanks for tagging me with the 5 cities question Manic. It's surely a license to dream some.

Without question my first year would be spent living in Roma.
I fell so deeply in love with that city and I'm hungry to go back and wander there one day soon.

I loved the language, the people, the food, the architecture, the light and the way history is all over the place, open and welcoming ... simply there, proof of times past.

My second year would surely be spent back in Istanbul. Another adored city of mine. I would rent a place somewhere near Galata Tower and spend every day out with my camera, collecting the stories of people who live there.

Life there was the best kind of adventure ... whether wandering through Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar with its 2000 shops or out on the Bosphorous with its mad crazy shipping traffic and magical breezes. The people, the food, the pulse of the city ... I'm not sure I could leave there a second time.

However if I did ... my third year would be spent in Paris. I had a day and a night there in April and was left wanting more. I'd like to wander and learn that city some. Her moods and her architecture, the streets and the people. There are photographs I need to go back and take and I'm curious about how Paris is now as compared to every book I ever read that was set there.

My fourth year in Tehran or someplace in Iran.
The culture there fascinates when you look beyond the political. The culture ... the food, the art, the society. I'd like to wander, know the people, take photographs ... live there a while.

I would spend my fifth year in India ... I'd need to take advice on that one as I don't know enough to know where to live, only that I'd like to live somewhere over there and taste that life I've often read of and wondered about.

My life has become about reading the stories of places and people, more than I realised ...

Rather than tag anyone, just help yourself if it's a question you would like to consider ...

Global Peace Index

Erkan always has interesting information over on his blog ...

I found this post most interesting, probably because New Zealand was there at second place in the world on the Global Peace Index.

How are they judged ... well you can check out New Zealand's details if you like.

Cows with Guns ... a song

Late last night Jessie and I were reminiscing over songs and tv show themes from our past. 'Cows with Guns' came back to us at the same time ... and we remembered sitting in the car back in Fiordland, with the radio playing quietly while we waited for her dad to finish talking to someone ... suddenly we 'heard' the lyrics playing and the more we heard, the more we laughed.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Missing home and Happy Birthday Dad

I miss beaches ...

I miss rivers and lakes and mountains and tonight I remember them so well that it hurts.

New Zealand is stunning.
It's almost 3 years since I was home and yet I still remember certain views, and then there's the smell of the air when I finally get off the plane that has taken me home.

My dad turned 71 today.
Happy Birthday Dad! Wish I was there ... sitting in the kitchen with you and Margaret, maybe having fresh eggs with you for breakfast, and tea ... always tea.

I can't phone him now, a throat full of tears don't make for happy birthday wishing I think.

And my beloved Auntie Coral, sister to my mum ...she's in her 70s too now.
They are the risks that I take even though we can lose anyone or be lost anytime.

I felt the compulsion to phone both of brothers recently ... thinking anyone can disappear forever and it's been such a long time since I saw anyone.

I have rested a little, loving how it feels to have my daughter and granddaughter living here ... revelling in having family around me again but one day I'll go home and I'll take all the photographs I never knew I needed to take.

Perhaps that's the reward for this long time away ... I'll see my country through new eyes and I'll know what I want to bring back with me this time.

And if anyone knows how to bottle the smell of a landscape, then please write to me ... I'm eager to know.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hadara Bar-Nadav, Poet

Twitches posted news of Hadara Bar-Nadav an 'astounding' poet ...

a portrait, originally uploaded by - di.

I am proposing that we reconceive the dream. That we consider what would happen if security were not the point of our existence. That we find freedom, aliveness, and power not from what contains, locates or protects us but from what, dissolves, reveals, and expands us.
- Eve Ensler

Er Hmmm

So ... plans for the exhibition on language had morphed since I handed over my photo series.

I found just one small version of my photographs on the rather superb series of wooden language displays that lined the wall of the building and the tv interview was playing ... but that was all of me.

I do wish I'd been told but I was lucky and caught Gert before he left from his job at the kabinet office in the city ... 10 days till his boss stands for reelection to parliament, so chaos is the order of his days spent in the city at the moment.

No matter, I'll publish 9 of the language series of images on my photography website over the weekend.

Di's Sarma, Part III and other news

My sarma was stunning once cooked (in my humble opinion).

Even better, I discovered a store selling Turkish yogurt yesterday and just believe me when I say you haven't tasted yogurt until you've tasted Turkish yogurt.

So I cooked the sarma last night, gently simmering them with a plate pressed on top of them, holding them in place and then crushed a clove of garlic into a few spoonfuls of the thick natural Turkish yogurt as a dip.

My cup runneth over this morning (and it could be that my breath is a little garlicky).

I'm off to the opening of the exhibition on Language this afternoon. I took a series of photographs of immigrants with Ahmed recording their 'passport type details' and I've yet to see how the photoswere used. Apparently my filmed recording of the ee cummings poetry will be playing as will the recent television piece I took part in on language and immigrants.

I'm curious.
They invited me to take my camera ... let's see what I bring home.
Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. That's what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most.

Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will...

Birdee Pruitt, Hope Floats