Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Saga of the 'La', formerly known as my Laptop ...

So to recap: Wine on the keyboard in Istanbul meant I used an external keyboard forever after. The screen died recently so I have an external screen. Then external keyboard took offence and it died too so I was reduced to one-fingered typing using an onscreen keyboard.

Never do this ... it's wrong wrong wrong and for so many reasons.

So we were in the supermarket the other day and unexpectedly found me an 8euro keyboard, allowing me to limp on towards September when I'll have the money required to replace my Toshiba-on-life-support.

Hah, how foolish was that.

The mousepad on my keyboard decided to come down with some startling issues that involve the mouse racing all over the screen, not responding to touch and usually resulted in the laptop shutting itself down.

So ... I dug out an old and infirm external mouse and here I am, working on the many pieces that make up my 'laptop'.

Monday, July 30, 2007

...I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” – a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself….then truth will not be withheld from you.” Or so I’ve come to believe.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Love Pray

Toots Thielemans, Belgian Musician

What do you do with a man who comes home with the news he may have VIP tickets to Toots Thieleman

Fingers crossed ...

Busy here ...

Some really nice things happening here. It seems that I have the contract for a big photography gig later this year and then there's a wedding in September too.

Meanwhile today is all about doctors and getting my daughter healthy again. She's had some kind of flu for more than a week and things aren't improving at all.

Little Miss Three met Gert's family yesterday and as we were leaving after much feasting and fun she was heard shouting 'I wuv you!' and waving furiously at everyone she's decided to love. I think we could call it a success.

Tot straks.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

"When I was very young and the urge to be some place was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.

When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age.

In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job.

Nothing has worked. . . In other words, I don't improve, in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable."

John Steinbeck

Erin, over at wandering woman posted this quote and I love it.

I had to note it down here on my blog because I recognise that 'urge to be some place' ... I remember dreaming at 12 of getting my drivers licence because then I could go anywhere. At that point I was relying on my bicycle to take me all over the Taieri Plains of my childhood.

Now I live a million miles from that place and the urge is no less ... probably more because I've realised just how big the world is and that there's so much more to see.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Playing with Photoshop ...

Paris and travel, originally uploaded by - di.

Forgive me but it's so much fun ...

fairy wishes ...

fairy wishes ..., originally uploaded by - di.

There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein

I loved this quote, found over on Maddie's Blog.

Somewhere in the Ardennes

somewhere in the ardennes, originally uploaded by - di.

My favourite time of day in my favourite type of weather ... those cool foggy mornings that remind me of home.

Salamanca, Spain

Pigeons, Spain, originally uploaded by - di.

It has been strange to go back through my work from Spain and fall in love with the memories all over again.

I love the stone there.
If I had to choose the thing that made me most happy in that beautiful city I would have to reply that it was the stones that were used to build in the old city.

The Queen

The Queen- Tyne Cot Cemetery- Belgie, originally uploaded by - di.

It's too cute a story not to share ...

The Queen looked directly at me, across the empty few metres of lawn between us and what did I do ... well I got camera shake and the resulting image isn't sharp.

I was more surprised than anyone, then again, I guess the same might happen should I find a unicorn in my viewfinder ... another rare and unexpected subject.

Are we?

To become oneself is so exhausting that I am as others have made me.
Henri Cole, from Self Portrait.

Borrowed from Roam to Rome blog .

Iraq's fixers, the people who now struggle to 'fix' their own lives

Ayub Nuri, an Iraqi fixer has written an interesting article for the New York Times. In it he tells us of the reality of those people who bring the news out of Iraq, that stuff that we read while eating our breakfast at home - a week's work for a 4 minute soundbite ...

I supported the war, as did many of my countrymen and pretty much all the fixers. We thought that only a powerful outside force could take on the job of ousting Saddam. The war also brought an economic boom. People began to refurbish their houses. In some streets, the sidewalks were piled with boxes containing TV sets, air-conditioners and other appliances.

People thought Iraq would become a kind of 51st state. Everyone wanted to find a job with a news agency, a foreign company or the U.S. Army. Speaking English was a key for success in “the new Iraq,” so English schools sprang up around Baghdad.

He ends with this. Many of the fixers fled Iraq and are now refugees in neighboring countries. Those who remained risk their lives every day. Some of them have big families to feed, so they stay. But some fixers I know refuse to leave the country merely out of loyalty to their trade.

We welcomed the U.S. war with a lot of hope. We changed careers and became fixers to help Iraq. Some of us paid with our lives. Now we are no longer sure we will ever be able to fix anything.

What artists need ...

An extract from Elif Shafak's interview that resonated within me: So she's happy to be back amid the inspirational hubbub of Istanbul after a couple of years of teaching in the "sterile, quiet and tidy" liberal enclave of Tucson, Arizona. "This can be good if you want to write a book," she reflects. "But if you want to establish a lifestyle, I don't think it's good for art, for literature.

Art needs conflict, and other forces... Cities like Istanbul, or New York, or London: they might have more problems, they might make life more difficult, but I think these are the right places for writers and artists."

Istanbul is one of those cities you should experience before you die.

And then she said this: For Shafak, art must struggle to safeguard its space of free enquiry from the dead hand of doctrine: "Because the world we live in is so polarised and politicised, many people are not willing to understand that art and literature has an autonomous zone of existence...

I'm not saying there is no dialectic between art and politics – there is, indeed – but art cannot be under the shadow of politics. Art has the capacity constantly to deconstruct its own truths... That's again why I think there's a link between Sufism and literature. For me, both of them are about transcending the self, the boundaries given by birth."

Elif Shafak, writer

I think human beings need a combination of memory and forgetfulness.

from an interesting interview with Elif Shafak

Friday, July 27, 2007

And then there are the days when I remember living in Istanbul ...

remembering istanbul, originally uploaded by - di.

And the sun went down slowly

And the sun went down slowly, originally uploaded by - di.

Church in the evening light- Mesen

Church in the evening light- Mesen, originally uploaded by - di.

Flickr and uncredited use of peoples work by major companies

PD Online has an interesting article titled Creative Commons Is Bad For Photography.

A mobile phone company grabbed a bunch of photos from Flickr and used them in an Australian ad campaign. Some Flickr members are furious that the company used the photos without asking first.

This is bad, but it gets worse. Some of the blame rests on the Flickr photographers. When they uploaded their personal snapshots, they attached a tag saying it was OK for anyone to use the images as long as credit was given. The phone company and its ad agency, Host, dutifully gave credit. However, no one bothered to get model releases from subjects who appear in some of the pictures, potentially opening the door to lawsuits. Some of the photos in the online component of the ad campaign have been changed so they don't feature identifiable people.

Some interesting angles are covered in the article and they tell you 'why Creative Commons is bad for people who publish photos' and how 'Creative Commons is bad for photography'

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Toro, Spain

Toro, Spain, originally uploaded by - di.

The light in Salamanca was divine ...

Just looking ...

Doorway- Salamanca, originally uploaded by - di.

I've been trying to select photographs for the new website but I am distracted while doing things like going through the December photographs of time spent in Spain.

'Who can tell with absolute certainty the difference between the sounds of those who are in despair and those who want desperately to believe.'
from, an interview with Anne Micheals .

Thanks Laura.

David Wall Photos, New Zealand

I was catching up on David's latest work ...

One can always rely on him for homesick-making images and sure enough, I found the Kaikoura Peninsula, a place I've driven by so many times over the years while traveling between Blenheim and Dunedin.

The road travelled

Flanders Field- Belgie, originally uploaded by - di.

Slowly slowly I'm winding down on the work associated with my 5 days spent in Mesen with Chilton St James Seraphim Choir.

I've sent photographs out to many of the individuals I photographed, to the Last Post Association and the New Zealand Embassy and the Governor General's photographs went out to the NZ Defence Force.

The list still isn't quite done. There's the choir member who moved to Dubai at the end of the trip and the superb New Zealand artist who paused for a moment once or twice which, quite frankly, is the only invitation my little EOS Canon requires.

It's been fun to be able to give freely; something a digital camera makes entirely possible and it's been so good to test myself on this huge workload alone.

I've become fluent in the use of small elements in photoshop and learnt how to talk the photographer's talk as I walked the road.

It has been a little superb and I'm almost well again too, just the cough.

Tot straks.

Francesco Renga, a San Francisco

Found and enjoyed over at Roam to Rome.
Francesco Renga a San Francisco

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Tis done ...

5 dvds
871 images on each

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The BBQ in Brussels

Home at 2.35am after spending an evening with a small group of truly lovely people ... I haven't laughed so much in a long time.

At one point we raised a toast to absent hosts, as in the v-grrrl who is currently back home visiting family and friends in the States.

Veronica's niece and her niece's friend extended the same warm hospitality as Auntie V and despite some people having work in the morning, no one was in a hurry to leave.

v-grrrl's niece revealed her previously hinted at ability with alcohol was true and went on to ply us with more alcohol than was wise and also managed to cook up a really delicious bbq.

We had the girls from New Jersey, the guy from Pittsburgh, the Washingtonians, this Kiwi and her Belgian. Conversation, laughter, food and wine ... it was a perfect night out.

Thanks Kathryn and Cindy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Something to think about ...

Mark posted this ...
And I find I'm afraid to inform myself about Africa ... it was bad enough when I immersed myself in a little of the situation in the Middle East. I suspect I could drown in the sadness of these stories.

From wikipedia In 2007, Green Day contributed a cover of the song to the Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, which was released on June 12, 2007, proceeds from which help support Amnesty International's campaign to focus attention on the conflict in Darfur, Sudan.

When asked why they chose the song, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said, "We wanted to do 'Working Class Hero' because its themes of alienation, class, and social status really resonated with us. It's such a raw, aggressive song -- just that line: 'you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see' -- we felt we could really sink our teeth into it. I hope we've done him justice."[3]

Almost 2am, Belgie

daises ii, originally uploaded by - di.

It seemed like a good time to post a photograph of the daises while working alone in the night, listening to Sarah McLachlan.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Thinking about some things

I'm antsy today ...

Finished the big job and now it's all about the clean-up phase.

Preparing contract details for an incredible new project.

Organising English classes in the meanwhile.

Waiting for the webdesigner to get back with 3 more mock-ups of the new shared website still in development.

Thinking about my dad who said he's about middle, in reply to my 'how are you?'
He's 71 and they're having a cold winter down there in the South Island of New Zealand.

Trying to work out if Sahara (aka little Miss 3) has my flu which seems likely, going by her nose and her level of grouchiness at the moment.

Realising that while the red wine on the balcony last night was lovely, this morning was less than lovely because of it.

Pricing both laptops that do what I want within an affordable price range and looking at EOS 30D camera bodies on the basis of the new job which will require that back-up body if anything fails on my little 350D during working hours.

Wishing that Sahara hadn't poked her little 3 year old finger through the last of my coffee pad thingies because I could really do with that coffee about now.
The answer is always ‘no’ if you don’t ask.
Tony Robbins

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Found - Swirly Girl

I found this beautiful image over at Swirly Girl's Blog via Frida's Notebook , both are bloggers I'm happy to have found.

Commonwealth war cemetery- Flanders Field

We went wandering one night while staying in Mesen and the light ... the light was truly stunning!

I might not have captured it as I experienced it but this was an attempt.

The Photographic Essay of the Seraphim Choir on Flanders Field - 930 Images

the choir backpack, originally uploaded by - di.

It's done ...

All images taken while wandering with St Chilton's Seraphim Choir have been checked and kept or discarded, worked with and filed into a variety of people files. Now begins the burning to dvd and the mailing out.

It has taken a solid week to work through the images, with photographs going in many directions. Gmail is working overtime as I write this with 4MB images sending a few big files one at a time.

It's been a grand journey ... of people and place, of history and photography.

Tot straks.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A sad story, a beautiful quote

"A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens--second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter. Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives, from the small accounts of our day's events to the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths."
Reynolds Price

The story of filmmaker, Theresa Duncan and her partner, Jeremy Blake the artist is here.

Sunflowers, Flanders Field

Sunflowers, Flanders Field, originally uploaded by - di.

In a world of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
George Orwell

It's summer because ...

The paddling pool has been emptied and cleaned out on the balcony and the apartment smells of sweetly ripe peaches cooking.

Because it's hot outside and the doors and windows are all open and because I have more than 10 mosquito bites on my arms and legs.

Then ...

wanting to know who belonged to the voice I had loved since hearing it on Desert Rose, I searched further, as you do, and found Cheb Mami.

According to Wikipedia, Cheb Mami (Arabic:شاب مامي), real name Ahmed Khelifati Mohamed is an Algerian-born raï singer. He sings in both Maghribi Arabic and French.

About.com told me that Rai music comes from Algeria. It is pronounced "rye" or "rah-AY" and translates as "opinion". Rai music began in the early 1900s as a combination of popular music and traditional Bedouin desert music.

An old favourite

The visiting New Zealanders seem to have returned my body clock to New Zealand time ... or maybe it was simply the rotten flu.

I sleep in the afternoons, a sweaty little wreck that slept until 6pm today and then work here at the computer until 2 or 3am. I'm getting better, perhaps things will return to normal once the last of the flu is gone.

I was wandering looking for a particular song and found this old favourite ...

Friday, July 20, 2007

What Little Miss 3 did today...

Me: What are you doing there, little Miss 3?
Her: Being naughty.
Me: Oh ... what are you doing?!
Her: I'm drawing on the wall.

She was.

A small post

Tonight my world exploded with the most exciting work offer I've had since arriving in Belgium. It left me sleepless, smiling and wondering if I will ever slip back into normal sleeping habits again ...

It's almost 3am and I'm closing photoshop down for the night, having added a new blog header by Jessie and a new photographic essay titled 'The Piper' on my Di Mackey Photography website.

Once you click autoplay, select 9 and you're in the newest folder.

Tot straks from the kiwi in Belgie.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Peace Village, Mesen (Messines) Belgium

This was where I spent last week while taking photographs of St Chilton's Seraphim Choir. If you're ever thinking of visiting Flanders Fields then I highly recommend the Peace Village in Mesen as a place to stay.

Using information from the Flanders 1917 website again ... The tower formed part of a concept by "A Journey for Reconciliation Trust" established by two Irishmen, and since then an International School for Peace Studies, which provides courses for young people from both Irish communities, has been operating in part of the town's community hall.

In 2005, the Trust opened a "Peace Village" - a hostel with 128 beds and a range of facilities. The hostel is close to the Messines Ridge Cemetery and open to all nationalities.

The Irish Peace Tower, Mesen

The Irish Peace Tower- Mesen, originally uploaded by - di.

To quote from the Flanders 1917 website ...

We went on an evening walk through the fields and pathways surrounding the Irish Peace Village and this was one of the places we visited.

An Irish Peace Tower was inaugurated by King Albert II of Belgium, Queen Elizabeth of the UK and President Mary McAleese of Ireland some years ago and its quiet park and engraved stones attract a number of visitors.

During the Battle for Messines Ridge in 1917, the 16th Irish Division (southern and largely Catholic) and the 36th Ulster Division (northern and largely Protestant) fought side by side at Wytschaete, about three kilometres from Messines. It was the only time the two divisions went into battle together. The Tower commemorates this fact and those who lost their lives there.

Its construction was financed by the British and Irish governments together with private sponsorship. The inauguration was also the first public event undertaken jointly by a British monarch and a president of Ireland.

the medal

the medal, originally uploaded by - di.

I have to start work on the photographs this morning, I'm almost done now, 3/4's through however ... I foolishly fell asleep on the lounge floor mid-Detective Frost last night while he was solving a crime I never did quite put together because I missed the beginning and everything after the middle.

My family, being the caring people they obviously are, left me sleeping there on the beautiful tightly woven carpet and I didn't wake until my body was ready.

Sadly I woke so refreshed that my body was ready for that new day to begin...

I did some work here at the computer, a few photographs flitted off to New Zealand for a press release (that reads so nice) and I wrote to the lovely Al who is searching for a laptop for me someplace outside of Europe where these things are so very much cheaper. Any recommendations for a sturdy traveling laptop that doesn't cost a fortune are most welcome. We will consider all ideas.

And then I went to bed where I tossed and turned and coughed and turned and tossed all over again.

Eventually I gave into the fact that my nap on the floor had probably destroyed any chance of a normal nights sleep and returned to the computer via the orange juice carton (not the wisest idea I've ever had at 1.30am).

And I opened the photographs and went to work again, delighting in the peace and nice light that comes with working through until 3.30am.

Back in bed, I coughed and tossed and turned before suddenly waking to the alarm at 7.30am, well actually no ... suddenly waking 3/4's of an hour after the alarm when I was told it was time to get up.

It might be a longggggggggg day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A little of this and a little of that.

Spanish Sculpture in Mesen- Belgie, originally uploaded by - di.

Last week was a challenge because I was responsible for trying to capture every thing that the people I was wandering with might want to remember, might want to be captured doing. Needless to say, I loved all of it.

This week has been about opening each of the 1000+ images and going over them just to be sure.

I'm pleased, really pleased with the results ...

There have been all kinds of other tests along the way though ... this nasty flu that sees me slipping off to bed each afternoon and sleeping the tiredness off and Gert's children are here - school holidays in Belgie ... so I get to be mother and grandmother and stepmother this week, the cleaning is astounding.

This morning, some late rising children had to make their own breakfast. Nobody died from it. I can see a new way of being ahead of us all ...

This week has also been all about looking for balance and boundaries in my world, about learning to respect myself and my work, and about blowing my nose often, coughing and sucking back painkillers when it all got too miserable ... oh, and a little medicinal red wine in the evenings.

I'm 2/3's through the photographs ... back to it now. I just loved this image, taken on the grounds of the Irish Peace Village in Mesen.

Tot ziens.

The Menin Gate, Ieper

The Menin Gate, Ieper, originally uploaded by - di.

The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing at Ypres is the representative focal point for remembering those who died in Flanders during World War One.

The names of 54,896 soldiers of Britain and the Commonwealth who have no known grave are engraved on Portland stone panels in an arched memorial that is 36.5 metres long and 20 metres wide.

Sourced from the Flanders 1917 website.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Versailles taught Europe the art of living, good manners and well-bred behaviour, wit, love of truth, tolerance,human values, a love of beauty and of work well-done, the secret of being rather than merely seeming, and a concern that all should shine.'
Pierre Gaxotte

Dropping like flies ...

It's a quaint New Zealand/Australian way of describing all kinds of things, although in this instance I'm referring to the flu that all of us northern hemisphere-based folk who spent time working in Mesen last week are coming down with.

I'm hearing reports from Martin that Steven and Howard have also become'sicker than dogs'.

You know, it wasn't until I came out in the world that I realised how much of the way that we kiwis speak seems to come from the farm.

It hit me again when Belgian Patrick asked Kiwi Martin what he meant when he replied to Patrick's 'How are you?' with 'A box of fluffies'.

We could take that one further if feeling really good and reply with 'A box of fluffy ducks' when asked how we are.

And often as not, we can't explain where these things came from.

Me telling Gert that I was 'as happy as a sandboy' left him bemused and scratching his head, with me unable to explain where it had come from.

I'm presuming that those who went back to New Zealand have also come down with this flu. It's nasty, it begins with that throat full of chalkdust feeling that Gert has tonight.

Could be that he'll be as sick as a dog in the morning ...

World War One gas mask, Zonnebeke Museum, Belgium

Heard over at the dining room table this morning ...

Oh my dod! Pwetttty!

Bedford House Cemetery, Flanders Field

This image is part of the thunderstorm series ...

It was stunning out there on Flanders Field with a thunderstorm directly in front of us and another roaring up behind us.

The cross of sacrifice

the cross of sacrifice, originally uploaded by - di.

The Cross of Sacrifice was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and is the focal point of the numerous Commonwealth war cemeteries throughout the world.

It is a 4 point limestone Latin cross. On the face of the cross is a bronze sword, blade down. It is usually mounted on an octagonal base. The Cross represents the faith of the majority of the dead and the sword represents the military character of the cemetery.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 2 of the summer flu

I emailed Martin, the New Zealander living in Belgium who coordinated the Seraphim Choir in Flanders project.

I mentioned I was feeling quite ill.
He replied 'Ik ben ook ziek...' and I feel like death warmed up.

I've been dripping with a fever on and off all day, coughing whenever I try for a conversation.

It's miserable.

However in between 'feeling sorry for myself' bouts, I did manage to work through 300 of the photographs from last week, and I did look into teaching English here in Antwerp, and I did get the couch cover all but off to throw in the washing machine.

The big question now is whether I'm best taking painkillers with aspirin or red wine with whatever magical qualities it contains ...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, originally uploaded by - di.

There was something just a wee bit special about seeing the Queen and her husband.

Ik ben ziek

and it's horrible to be sick in summer on a 30 degree celsius day.

Yesterday I was denial claiming it was hayfever as I sneezed seriously and blew my nose but today I couldn't last more than 5 hours without painkillers for fever and joint aches.

My throat feels like I've swallowed a bucket of chalkdust and everything I drink has surely been lost via my nose. It's entirely miserable and I'm outraged that I can't do anything about it.

Okay, that's all.

A young soldier

The details made everyone sad when we stopped by his tombstone in a Commonwealth cemetery on Flanders Field.

Play the ball where the monkey drops it.

I was over catching up on Laura's website and had to post one of her pieces forward ... it's too appropriate for me and the way that my life goes.

You can read the entire post about the English colonists trying to play golf on a course they established in India over here but this is the piece that appealed to me most.

The rule is ...Play the ball where the monkey drops it.

As you can imagine, playing this unique way could be maddening. A beautiful drive down the center of the fairway might be picked up by a monkey and then dropped in the rough. Or the opposite could happen. A hook or slice that had produced a miserable lie might be flung onto the fairway.

It did not take long before the golfers realized that golf on this particular course was very similar to our experience of life. There are good breaks, and there are bad breaks. We cannot entirely control the outcome of the game."

You know how it is ...

When you meet a fellow colonial while hanging out in the VIP area waiting for the ceremony to begin and for the Queen to arrive.

We started off with the traditional Aussie Kiwi mocking, I confessed to having brothers married and living in his country, he talked of the rugby, I changed the subject quickly and so it went.

Last seen, he and his troops were marching off after the official party some time later.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Disaster at Passchendaele - October 12

To begin, Freddy Declerck, our entirely superb world war one guide, showed us the battlefield from the perspective of the New Zealand soldiers who had had to run up it from bottom to top as seen in the first photograph.

This quote from the Flanders 1917 website describes the conditions they faced and the results.
“Shoulder to shoulder with the Australians, the men of the New Zealand Division began their attack in gales and driving rain, faced with a morass of mud, uncut barbed wire up to 13 metres deep, an erratic and ineffectual artillery barrage to protect them and withering machine-gun fire. Slowed by the weather and struggling through thick mud, they died in their hundreds.

In four hours on the morning of October 12, 1917, New Zealand suffered a casualty toll of 60% of those who took part - 3,296 men of whom 1,190 were killed. It took two and a half days to clear the New Zealand wounded from the battlefield.”

He then took us up and showed us the view from the top down .... all so quiet and serene on our 21st century day.

And making it all the more real was the fact that we had a father and son traveling with one of the girls in the choir and they had lost family on the battle ground in front of us on that day.


First came the wine on the laptop keyboard episode in Istanbul, then came the broken laptop screen and here we are on episode 7063 of 'Di's Laptop on Life Support' ... my external keyboard died yesterday.

It's incredibly irritating.

Before the storm, Ieper

Before the storm- Ieper, originally uploaded by - di.

The title describes more than the physical ...

Meike, mother and solver of all problems that the Seraphim Choir had while on Flanders Field, took me out while we waited for the girls to arrive last Monday.

There were huge thunderstorms ripping through the area, they created a wonderful sky. This is Ieper's main street when you look from Menin Gate back towards the town centre.


war, originally uploaded by - di.

I dreamt photographs last night ... I guess that's the downside of being on-task all week. That was my sleeping state, my waking state was trying to work out how to begin processing and organising the images, and then who needs them most urgently.

I hope to have a small pile of dvds and cds to send all over by the end of the week but need to submerge myself in it all.

8.20am and it's time to get on with it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Seraphim Choir, Belgie

The Seraphim Choir, Belgie, originally uploaded by - di.

The Seraphim Choir gave a 70-minute concert in the Church of St Nicholas in Mesen on 11 July and I messed around with the ISO speed and no flash ...

The Governor-General of New Zealand

The Governor-General of New Zealand, originally uploaded by - di.

Today was a day ...

Spent in the company of interesting people ...

The morning began with sad farewells to almost everyone I had spent the last 5 days with. The Seraphim Choir departed from the Irish Peace Village, mostly heading home to New Zealand, leaving Martin and I to work on the next project.

We drove over to the New Zealand memorial at Mesen to join up with Steven and Patrick, two truly superb local war historians who work on things cultural in the village of Mesen. Chris Pugsley was there, he's New Zealander and ex-Army man who now teaches at Sandhurst Military School. The Mayor of Mesen arrived, as did Brigadier Southwell - the Head of the NZ Defence Staff in London, and the Air Vice Marshall of New Zealand.

Then came the motorcade transporting the the Governor General of New Zealand.

Our historians gave him a battlefield tour of Mesen and I was there as the photographer, the only one as it turned out ... it was a very nice way to end this visit to Mesen.

I was back in Antwerp and asleep on the couch by 5pm ... knowing that I have 100s of images to work on and send out round the world in the days ahead.

It has been a good week, I hope yours was too.

the woman in blue, originally uploaded by - di.

Here's one of the images I took of the Queen at Tyne Cot Cemetery on Flanders Field, Belgium.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Queen and I ...

It was enough that I had the opportunity to travel with the Seraphim Choir ... hearing them perform and sharing so many of their special moments here on Flanders Field. What I never expected was that I might have premium position at today's Passchendaele ceremony.

It began well with 'us' finding ourselves located next to the Australian Cadets, over the rope from the press. There's nothing like catching up with things Australian and a lovely Aussie bloke took my card after I snapped a few photographs of his crowd.

Then came the realisation that the Queen of England, the Duke of Edinburgh and various other dignitaries were going to be sitting directly in front from me across that empty 10 metre (at most) stretch of lawn. I was more centrally located than the press next door to me ... there's really nothing quite like being an invited guest and in possession of a special invitation.

Oddly enough, I was just a little shaky as the Queen arrived ... I didn't expect it but perhaps it was simply the result of a childhood filled with images of the royal family.

I was 'that' close to someone who almost seemed more myth than reality.

I took many photographs and I'm curious to see the results but I have to wait till I'm home. Tonight there's a farewell in the bar here, as the choir leave first thing in the morning ... one must attend ;)

Tomorrow I've been invited along on a wee jaunt as photographer, a few of the guys are showing New Zealand's Governor General round the battlefields here, afterwards Martin and I drive back to the big city.

It was incredible day ... truly incredible.

Tot ziens!

The 90th Commemoration of Passchendaele

There's a quiet calm on the western front today ...

Steven has just arrived to make sure we get to where we're going and the Mayor of Mesen is leaning on the counter nearby.

The choir is listening to a lecture by prominent New Zealand war historian, Chris Pugsley and this photographer is blogging, too ashamed to go far with her seriously wet hair.

We completed the mine and trench tours last night without loss of life and then the Saint Seraphim Choir gave a truly sublime 70 minute performance at the local church.

Pressing the shutter to capture the moment seemed sacriligeous but I have more than a few images that need to travel back to Antwerpen with me before being edited and downsized.

I was checking the contents of my memory cards this morning and ended up giving an impromtu show of 'photos so far', that would be the unedited 'photographs so far'. Every photographers nightmare ...

So that's a big 'no' to posting images yet, Meneer Manic.
I can't do anything with them on the computers I have access to here and they're too big to let blogger download.

Apparently our bus is part of the army convoy, so we should get to our destination without issue later today ... roadside bombs planted by local Belgians seem an unlikely risk.

We have passes to the invited guest area however whether that means I can get good photographs remains to be seen.

Hmmm, I'm well-positioned for eavesdropping ... as I sit here typing, the American press guy is talking of security measures they take for a presidential visit back in his world, as in welding the street manholes closed 2 days before.

There's quiet excitement out on Flanders Field really and a long day ahead of us.
Let's see how it goes.

The programme begins at 15.30 in Tyne Cot cemetery where an inauguration ceremony with Queen Elizabeth of England and Queen Paola of Belgium, the President of Ireland and the Governor General of New Zealand in attendence ... a few of the dignitaries.

New Zealand's Seraphim Choir, the choir I'm traveling with, will sing there and then again tonight in the Menenpoort or Menin Gate ... the huge memorial gate at the entrance to Ieper (Ypres). An area passed through by many of the Allied soldiers as they headed out to fight the enemy in world war one.

I feel truly lucky to be out here and part of it all.

Tot straks.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Reason 3012 for buying a laptop

8.30am Mesen, Steven pulls up in his car ... resident troubleshooter for all things World War One.

I jump into his car and we drive off to his office in the heart of Mesen village where he leaves me with his computer and my camera gear. The plan is that I download my 600+ images, organise them, burn them to various cds and hand them over at the end of each day.

Steven leaves.
I'm locked in the townhall office where I set to work, diligently ... as is my way.

Steven's computer is entirely in Dutch. I'm suspicious it's in local dialect Dutch because working my way around his computer is truly terrifying, bordering on the impossible.

I phone home many times for translations.
Gert is a patient man.

Then I lose the best of my images from that cemetery near Ieper, the one where the white stones had a thunderstorm sky backdrop.

Labelling them 'the ones that got away' I work on.

Many more phone consultations and I realise that there is no way I dare use his photoshop elements program on my images. I need a small familiarisation session and there I am, alone in his office and he's organising things for the Queens and various other VIPs on the morrow.

I start burning the images to cd anyway, just to be safe.
This goes badly initially ... 2 hours into the process now and I'm ready to cry a little.

There is a moment of complete trauma when I think that I've saved all images as GIMP images (don't ask). This moment passes and all good feeling is recovered when I discover those fish that got away and alles goed for a moment ... just for a moment.

The images are okay, they're jpg and the lost ones are found BUT THEN it takes 20 minutes to burn each cd on Steven's computer and I have 3 cds to burn ...

Many hours twiddling my thumbs and I'm back at the Peace Village waiting for the tour round the old mine craters before the concert tonight ...

Note: about the Dutch TV item

I was wrong about the date ... it's 8pm Thursday and I think the channel is NOS, if that makes sense to anyone.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day 2 on Flanders Field

So it seems that t' Kleine Stadhuis in Ieper is to be my blogging home away from home ... what's a girl to do but buy the wine that is the cost of computer use in this civilised European pub.

We've had a good day out wandering ... having left from the Irish Peace Village we drove to Zonnebeke where we picked up Freddy DeClerk (the spelling may be off but he's a Belgian writer and ex-Army man who knows the history of World War One here like the back of his hand) and he took us out through the history of New Zealanders fighting and dying in Belgium.

Note to self: send Deurne Districthuis staff on this trip.
There is a truly horrendous number of young New Zealanders buried here.

We were taken over the ground covered by kiwis on their bloodiest 2 hours of fighting ... a day when we lost over 2500 men in a very small window of time. It's unbelievably moving to be out there and see what they faced and how it was akin to suicide to try and take that ridge held by the Germans.

One of the girls from the Seraphim Choir picked up a live bullet at Essex Cemetery, the place where John McRae wrote the now famous poem 'On Flanders Field'.

And so yes, I'm official photographer (500 photographs and counting) for New Zealand's Seraphim Choir and day one has been slightly superb, as in 'she shall have music where ever she goes'.

You see Dutch television caught up with us at Tyne Cot Cemetery - Belgian and Dutch readers can watch the main Dutch channel at 8pm tonight and see some of us. I've spent the day as seat mate with the 75 year old New Zealander they interview and then ... and this was the best of the day, the choir performed for us all.

Suddenly everyone was wiping their eyes as they practiced the songs they'll be singing for the Queen of England and those other dignitaries and various members of royalty.

We toured the brilliant Zonnebeke Museum after eating our lunch in the Chateau grounds and here we are in Ieper on free time.

Okay, the wine is gone and it's best I don't have anymore ...

Tot straks from the kiwi in Flanders.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sometimes it feels like an Alison in Wonderland kind of life ...

Somedays it truly feels like I fell down that rabbit hole and into another life ...

Today was about getting my ironing board (long story) and luggage down our spiral staircase without falling ... about being driven through Belgium to Flanders Field and on into the Irish Peace Village where we're, at this moment, waiting for our New Zealand crowd to arrive.

In the meantime, I've had a red wine in a small cafe called Kleine Stadhuis, wandered through a magnificent Commonwealth war cemetery with dark clouds and thunderstorms happening all around but not over us ... white tombstones and black skies make for stunning photography and the light was simply superb.

So yes, as things go at the moment, you could say I'm having a slightly superb time ... we'll see how the week progresses.

Tot ziens.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Going wandering ...

Off on a rather grand adventure as official photographer starting tomorrow and lasting a few days, involving all kinds of interesting people and places, with the promise of some rather good opportunities for photographs.

I've spent the weekend running about ... yesterday touring Antwerp with two lovely Americans and today we were all deep in the Ardennes doing good stuff, with a 4km sidetrack into Luxemburg for cheap fuel ... 1.18 there compared to 1.43 here in Antwerp.

I have no idea whether I'll be able to blog in the days ahead but if I can pop in with updates about the Queen and I, then I will ;)

Tot ziens from the kiwi.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

About my laptop ...

I should photograph my laptop as it is today ... it's really more of a 'la' actually, undeserving of all six letters.

There's the external keyboard that was required after an incident that occured while living in Istanbul, then there's the external screen due to the screen recently turning black, causing me to imagine it dead, and now there's the usb stick that provides virtual memory because I lost a memory cell in my little Toshiba Satellite and it has to work so terribly hard when I ask it to do things for me that I have to wait a long while the internet opens for me.

It's too late to photograph it tonight but maybe one day.

Life is stepping up a few levels and my 'to-do' has become kind of interesting.

Tot ziens.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Today I need to go home ...

Failing that, I need to stop searching 'New Zealand' on youtube.

Just how homesick can I make myself ...

A favourite drive, I took more than a few overseas guests on this drive from south to north ...

Beautiful People, The Herbs

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Er hemmm, it's all about Lisa today ...

I've been meaning to do this when I had time to sit down and think ... I'm not sure that I'm at my best but I'll try writing this up now.

It's about Lisa again.
Last week she nominated me as a rockin' girl blogger and after writing lovely things about me she left instructions that I nominate 5 rockin' girl bloggers I know.
Clearly, Lisa would be the first rockin girl blogger on my list, simply because no matter what topic she is writing on, no matter how good or bad things are, Lisa more often than not makes me laugh ... except when she makes me incredibly sad. She's an intelligent, hilarious, wise and brave woman. It will be good to catch up with the real life Lisa one day.

Then there's Veronica, aka v-grrrl is the woman who can make me giggle like a naughty kid or almost cry when she writes from her soul- she surely meets the criteria.

Erin, the American wandering woman based over in Spain rocks when she blogs stories and photographs from her life and her travels from her Spanish city.

Laura, dragon slayer and life coach has a site that rocks because of the inspiration and challenges you find over there, and Laura shines out of it as someone you feel lucky to have found.

Rockin' girl blogs ... hmmm and Pam, over at Nerd's Eye View. A very cool blog written by a very cool woman. Fish, banjoes ,tech writing and travel ... it's worth checking out.

Lisa went on with her instructions ... After you’ve saved the pic on Flickr, Photobucket, or whatever photo-saving site you use, post it on your sidebar to let others know how fabulous you are, then tag your own nominees and give them a shout in the comments so they can come and see their names up in lights. It’s that simple.

And a small apology to the rockin boy bloggers I read but you know who you are ...

Better to avoid Lisa's blog ...

One can clealy lose hours when catching up on her posts.

But seriously, thanks Lisa.

And the report, well they wrote: You scored as English/Journalism/Comm, You should strongly consider majoring (or minoring) in Communication, English, Film, Journalism, Literature, or Writing.

It is possible that the best major for you is your 2nd, 3rd, or even 5th listed category, so be sure to consider ALL majors in your OTHER high scoring categories (below). You may score high in a category you didnt think you would--it is possible that a great major for you is something you once dismissed as not for you. The right major for you will be something 1) you love and enjoy and 2) are really great at it.

Consider adding a minor or double majoring to make yourself standout and to combine your interests. Please post your results in your myspace/blog/journal.

English/Journalism/Comm: 100%
Psychology/Sociology: 88%
HR/BusinessManagement: 75%
Visual&PerformingArts: 69%
PoliticalScience/Philosophy: 69%
Education/Counseling: 56%
History/Anthropology/LiberalArts: 56%
French/Spanish/OtherLanguage: 50%
Nursing/AthleticTraining/Health: 44%
Religion/Theology: 38%
Biology/Chemistry/Geology: 19%
Accounting/Finance/Marketing: 0%
Physics/Engineering/Computer: 0%
Mathematics/Statistics: 0%

You can test yourself at QuizFarm.com

Salma Hayek on Passion and Dreams

How do you recognise what’s your true dream and what is the dream that you are dreaming for other people to love you?
Salma Hayek

Lisa over at Amerideutsch blog wrote about an interview between Salma Hayek and Oprah.

There are 3 short audios from the interview titled:
- A big word in my life - 'accent'.
- Living with Passion
- Respecting your Dream.

If you enjoy the process, it’s your dream.
If you are enduring the process just desperate for the result, it’s somebody else’s dream.

Salma Hayek

About friendship

Mark has to be one of my favourite old friends in this world. We've come a long way from games of bullrush and tig played in the school grounds between his house and mine way back then ... the place where all of us neighbourhood kids gathered to play. And if he suspects me of struggling some in these crazy days of remaking my life or if he simply thinks of a nice thing to do, he goes ahead and does whatever thing he has thought of.

I found some of his music in my mailbox the other day which reminded me of how much I loved this song by New Zealand band Zed.

Thanks Mark.

With a little help from your friends ...

writing together, originally uploaded by - di.

Bompi and Miss Three worked on a card together ...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Talking to Jom

talking to jom, originally uploaded by - di.

Sometimes, all a girl needs to do on her birthday is talk with her 'Jom' back home in New Zealand.

The photography blog ...

Di's Photography blog is the place where I concentrate on photography, as opposed to everything else that you find here on this blog.

So today ...

We were thrown off the tram because of this ... and it was raining like I haven't seen since my life in Fiordland, New Zealand.

Peter added this better link to the news ...

And the America's Cup goes to ... Alinghi

Ernesto Bertarelli, on the 32nd America’s Cup: “Valencia has been a perfect venue for this first America’s Cup in Europe, surely team new Zealand helped, but I don’t think anyone can remember a more exciting match. Every single race was unbelievable. We will be thinking about the future shortly but right now its time to celebrate this victory.”

I've really missed the hype and television saturation that goes with the America's Cup now that I live here in Belgie. It was always delicious to 'take part' back home in New Zealand ... to be one of a population that held its collective breath as Team New Zealand fought it out on the waterways of whichever country was hosting the race.

It sounds like 'we' didn't do too badly ... country for 4 million people, with very little in the way of cash to invest in sailing. Passion takes people a long way and I like where it has taken New Zealand in America's Cup history.

A little of this and a little of that

I've been working on a million photographs, organising them then burning the best onto cds. Those cds are about to head off all over the world ... Ireland, New Zealand, Italy and Belgium.

Such is my life, just don't ask about income ... indeed, such is my life.

No matter, photography is my passion and I love the places it takes me.

My daughter and granddaughter have completed stage one of moving to Belgium. They have cards that allow them to stay while they enter into the process of family reunification. If they can stay, it's easier for me to stay which in turn makes it easier for Gert to stay here while his children grow up.

Little Miss Three's New Zealand grandad phoned up this morning, to wish his European-based granddaughter happy birthday ... it was good to catch up with news from that other life.

Blended families ... Marco Polo just might have been intrigued by the way business is done in these 21st century days.

Meanwhile I'm preparing for Flanders Field and the commemorations planned for July. Both the British and the Belgian royal families will be there so who knows what photographic opportunities will arise.

I've been offered the opportunity to wander over old battlefields listening as military experts talk of times past, I'll write it up.

Last week I had lunch with a member of parliament, his employees and friends then wandered into the Belgian parliament with everyone to watch the new crop of parliamentarians take the oath. Although we couldn't get into the actual ceremony, we were sent through the long corridors of power to the video room close by and watched all unfold with many other suited folk.

We were gifted a parliamentary glass and chocolates ... a little bit special writes this woman who was studying European politics back in 2002 while completing her English Lit degree with a minor in social anthropology.

Remembering back then to that time as a newly divorced, financially-strapped student ... there is nothing on this earth that could have prepared me for what my is life now.

The piper photographed here is from the Tullintrain Pipe Band in Northern Ireland. I loved these images of him but the landscape format doesn't fit on my blog as a big image so ... he is scattered throughout this post simply because the pipeband cd is one that I burned and will post later today and working on those images reminded me of how much I loved these photographs of him.

Tot ziens.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Little Miss Two and 3

turning 3, originally uploaded by - di.
Photographs and digital art work by Jessica.

An extract from Frida's Notebook

Frida wrote an interesting post titled Be the Change.

Here's an extract: This book has a beautiful introduction by the Bishop Desmond Tutu in which he talks about "ubuntu" which is a characteristic of goodness, the essence of what it is to be human.

In his culture, he says, the highest compliment you can be paid is to have someone say "Yu, u nobuntu", you have ubuntu.

I love this concept, which has two parts. The first part is about being friendly, hospitable, generous, gentle, caring and compassionate. It is about being someone who will use their strengths on behalf of others - the weak and the poor and the ill - and not take advantage of anyone.

The second part is about being large-hearted and open, about sharing your worth in every sense.

People with ubuntu understand that if I diminsh you, I diminish myself.

from Mahatma Gandhi's teachings on "Peace".