Friday, August 31, 2007

A wedding

I'm photographing a wedding in the morning.

I'll get back to you about it ...
The more articulate one is, the more dangerous words become.
May Sarton

Much giggling ...

and my hair has been trimmed.

My daughter came into the bathroom and said 'Oh mum, what have you done?'

It might have been the chunk of my hair in my hand.

She fixed up what I had attempted and I like it.

My return to proper hairdressers will be announced with much fanfare and excitement sometime before Christmas.

Just thought I'd share ...

The New York Times has a story about a giant spider web ...

It starts like this: Most spiders are solitary creatures. So the discovery of a vast web crawling with millions of spiders that is spreading across several acres of a North Texas park is causing a stir among scientists, and park visitors.

Sheets of web have encased several mature oak trees and are thick enough in places to block out the sun along a nature trail at Lake Tawakoni State Park, near this town about 50 miles east of Dallas.

Paris Set Me Free Photography

I found this site called Paris Set Me Free and had to blog it forward.

It's a lovely place to wander ... from the blog and the photography through into the tours and more.

If you have a little time and a need for for Parisian air ...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mutterings from the office of Di

Advertising and ideas are flying out in every direction and meanwhile, back home, I'm trying to streamline my life into some kind of order ... hah!

Why I would pull all of my papers and files out two days before I'm photographing a wedding, 4 days before friends fly in from the States and 5 days before I go wandering is truly beyond me except that it feels good and maybe it looks a little more manageable.

The further I travel down the road to my own business, the more I learn and the less I need.

A mobile office only really requires a laptop, a phone, my camera gear and an ipod.
Must buy that ipod.

My paperwork only really needs to be about what needs acted on, what is in process and who might be an interesting interview ... okay, that's a little too simplified but it's close to the necessary.

Today everything seems possible and vaguely impossible or unbelievable in the same moment ...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nikos Laskaridis Photography

Interested in a stunningly exquisite photography website?

Make sure your sound is on, it adds to the experience.

Nikos Laskaridis Photography .

37 Days, a blog

I found a blog called 37 days today, via

And I loved her reason for so naming her blog.

Read for yourself if you're curious.
It's an idea.

Perhaps I'm not so normal ...

"Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it."
Ellen DeGeneres

Diane Arbus, Photographer

I was researching her life out of interest and discovered this recording made of her talking about photography.

Thanks to the Almanac Magazine.
Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day.
Dalai Lama

So the maths of it is ...

If you are awake until 4am on the Monday night, due to an army of mosquitoes conducting guerilla warfare on your person and then you sleep until midday on Tuesday (shameful I know) then chances are that come Tuesday night, you'll still be wide awake 2am ...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Learning Italian

The Pimsleur Language Program is about to become my constant companion as I embark on a journey aiming at speaking Italian well enough to be occasionally understood in Rome in November.

Here I am, sitting at my computer, trying to work, repeating all after the speaker on the cd ... a huge mistake but fun. I'll wander off an concentrate.

Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they're yours.
Richard Bach

Just playing in photoshop

playing in photoshop, originally uploaded by - di.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Writing requires, for me, not only the actual time when I am writing, but a span of time for dreaming, taking notes, reading, meditating in the bathtub, walking alone.

That peripheral time is just as crucial.

Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun
- interview extract from Salon Travel .

Nina Berman, Photographer

The New York Times has published an article on a photographer who is one of the few people who are getting out and photographing American disabled veterans from the Iraqi war. Its title is Words Unspoken Are Rendered on War’s Faces .

An extract: Ms. Berman adds no direct editorial comment to the presentation. She has said in interviews that she started photographing disabled veterans soon after the war began mainly because she didn’t see anyone else doing so. In what may be the most intensively photographed war in history, the visual documentation has been selective. The fate of the injured veterans was not a public issue until news reports about substandard treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

This background provides the context for Ms. Berman’s photographs, which are themselves tip-of-the-iceberg images. No matter what the viewer’s political position, the images add up to a complex and desolating anti-war statement.

Mr. Acosta makes that statement outright: “Yeah, I got a Purple Heart. I don’t care. I don’t need anything to prove I was there. I know I was there. I got a constant reminder. I mean like all the reasons we went to war, it just seems like they’re not legit enough for people to lose their lives for and for me to lose my hand and use of my legs and for my buddies to lose their limbs.”

Di Mackey Photography Website Relaunch

Translates as 'I have a clever man who knows html and is fine about giving up a weekend to help me'

Dank u wel Gert!

So feel free to wander on by and see the results of a weekend's hard labour on Di Mackey

the musician plays his music

the musician plays his music, originally uploaded by - di.

another musician making music

another musician making music, originally uploaded by - di.

Australia turns its back on its recent past and raises the bar on people wishing to move to Australia

Some elements will almost certainly be beyond the knowledge of many ordinary Australians, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney.

I remember a Canadian friend and I sharing a moment of bemused horror when realising that we probably wouldn't pass these citizenship tests about our own countries for no reason other than it's not information we've ever needed to know to live at home.

God help the intending immigrants.

I wonder if Johny will try to get the Aboriginal people, that would be the original inhabitants of Australia, to pass these citizenship tests and deport them if they don't pass.

Australia has unveiled details of a new citizenship test for immigrants.

They will be asked questions about history, institutions and culture - as well as committing to Australian social values focusing on "mateship".

The aim of the test was to get "that balance between diversity and integration correct in future", said Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews.

Critics believe the requirement of an English language exam discriminates against non-English speakers.

The new citizenship test is expected to be introduced later this year.

The details were unveiled in a 40-page draft guide that is to be given to all applicants.

For a moment I forgot the serious implications of failing this test and giggled my way through it, thinking about things like the fact that Australia is a country where a woman is still called a 'sheila. They write ... For the first time, the draft guide lists 10 essential Australian values every citizen must embrace - focusing on "mateship and a fair go" and including tolerance, compassion, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and secular government, equality of men and women and peacefulness.

I imagine some groups in Australia don't know whether to laugh or cry about this governmental perception of self ... much as I love my Aussie friends and family who live there, even they, if my post isn't too offensive, must be bemused by this turn of events.

Maybe we should all sit these 'citizenship'tests about our own countries ... including those who deem them necessary. Perhaps those who fail can all be sent someplace else ...

I think the IKEA catalogue was a mistake ...

One should never give a 3 year old an IKEA catalogue to read in an attempt to have her sit quietly next to her Bompi who is trying to read his Sunday newspaper.

Although I made great inroads into the whole 'I want' thing and turned it into a version of 'May I please have', the excitement quickly became too much and conversation turned to 'I paint mine like that' and 'Can you please buy' ...

She's reading a gardening magazine now.

3am and sleep isn't happening ...

So, after working for hours on revamping my photography website (yet to go live) and posting some photographs on various blogs, I thought it might be fun to phone Shannon ... she who recently moved back to New York city.

I was right. Amusing it was.
She was down in the subway on a hot New York evening, surprised to pick up her cellphone and find a perky-sounding New Zealander laughing and saying 'G'day' or whatever I said via my skype phone from here in Belgium.

She's the star of my new-look photography website (that one yet to be launched) and I needed permission to use an image of her on the front page.

Permission was granted by my bemused favourite model.

You know when you work really hard on something you're passionate about and then there's no way of sleeping?

That's about where I'm at tonight.

I've written 'about me' and 'why you would hire me as a photographer' texts until I can't write anymore about me because I don't know what else to say.

I've written for permissions to use various photographs from political receptions through to the big commemorations down on Flanders Field, the pony camp even and I've asked for testimonials from those who have worked with me over the last few months, just to let potential clients know how it is to work with me.

I have to have my photography out there and advertised before I start teaching English mid-September, and then I need to have that running smoothly so that I can get on with my interviews for the delicious website that is still with the web designer but that will one day be set free and need loading with much interesting 'stuff'.

Hmmmm, so now I come close to why Di isn't sleeping, add the 'to-do' list to the fact that this house has been a red wine free zone for quite a number of days now ...

Okay, hoping you slept better than me.

Tot straks from the kiwi in Europe.

Photo from the Castle

photos from the castle, originally uploaded by - di.

I was checking out the venue for a wedding I'm photographing next weekend ... it was an hour of wandering. I wanted to see what could be done with the 'in house props'.

My good-natured long-suffering model posed sitting on seats, leaning against stairwell walls, sitting on other stairs, standing in doorways, standing in undergrowth artistically framed by trailing vines, then next to windows in a flood of natural light (as per the photograph over on my photography blog ) and then peeked through this gap on his way back.

Dank u wel, Gert.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Antwerp, 24 August 2007

Antwerp- 24 August 2007, originally uploaded by - di.

Welcome to my world at 9am this morning.

We've had a few days of autumn then this morning dawned sunny. I noticed a massive condensation cloud over the nuclear power, quickly followed by the realisation that the pollution layer was slowly rising up into the sky. We need strong winds or heavy rains to disperse it.

All of Europe passes through Antwerp on a ring road round the city ... you see the results. Other countries are opposed to road taxes being placed on these roads while I think they're a good idea if they achieve something in terms of producing safe air for ourselves and our children.

After two years of living in this bowl of pollution, I'm hoping something is done soon.

The things you discover when you put your name into a search engine ...

Someone had searched their way into my sitemeter via a comcast search and ever curious, I put my name in for a search.

I discovered that the Governor-General of New Zealand has a website and that one of the photographs I had taken of him out on Flanders Field in July had been used on it.

It's not my favourite one of him, probably the one published with this article is but still, it was nice to find me over there.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The world of newspapers in Britain according to Yes Prime Minister ...

आ रैन्य बेल्गिए कंद ऑफ़ दय

You know those disasterous days when you can't wake up because you couldn't sleep and then when you do wake at 10am, it's with that headache, the bad one that comes occasionally.

And then there's the heavy rain that you love but it has stolen your sunshine and the sunshine might have saved you a little.

There was the phone call, the superb phone call asking you if you were available to take photographs for a guide book of the city's various groups ... the Turkish, African, Moroccan and etc at some of their meetings.

And I realise again that volunteer work gives me some of my best gigs.

Europe is slowly waking up after its long summer slumber, taken in spite of the weather here in Belgie. September is beginning to fill up with all kinds of appointments and plans and October is all about Corryl and Passchendaele's 90th commemorations.

And I have permission to use those photographs and that testimonial in the revamp of my photography website, just a little more work and I can get everything tidied up there.

I'm photographing a wedding in September, traveling through France with American friends, having New Zealand house guests and taking photographs for this guide book, oh and English classes start mid-September too.

Just a hello from the kiwi, sitting at her desk next to an open window where the rain is softly soothing her, Nora Jones is doing her 'Come Away With Me' thing and the Detective Frost is trying to lure her back into its pages.

And yes, I believe the title might be in Hindi.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Poppies, originally uploaded by - di.

Experiments in Multi-tasking

My life wheels are spinning at the moment and I'm experimenting with 'just how good is Di at multi-tasking'.

Part of the problem is that I keep having rather good ideas that involve work and my team of little helpers doesn't yet exist in a reliable-drawing-a-wage-kind-of-way, and everyone knows, many mother/daughter relationships are fraught especially when said daughter suspects that she is being used as cheap labour.

So I'm grinding away, making copious notes and contacts, trying to keep the directive to OPEN THE FACTORY in mind.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Eduardo Dávila Miuram Bullfighter

For him, a relationship with the animals is essential to being a good bullfighter. 'As a torero you have a deep connection with the bulls,' he emphasises. 'That’s exactly what most people don’t want to understand.'

The intensive dual with the bull inevitably reveals the soul of the torero. 'The way you fight reveals who you are,' Dávila Miura quotes the famous Andalusian bullfighter Juan Belmonte. 'As a bullfighter you’re completely alone, even if thousands of people are watching your fight. It is an unimaginable loneliness. The only thing you can sense at that moment is the bull.'

The aim is to read the animal’s character; there are different types of bulls and you have to fight in a different way with each one. 'There are also dishonest bulls, real actors,' he laughs. If you heard Dávila Miura talk about bulls, you would be able to sense the love for the animals he grew up with, and of which he has killed so many in the arena.

Eduardo Dávila Miuram

There is an interesting article on this man over at Cafe

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Oudenaarde, Belgie

The history of the current municipality of Oudenaarde starts in 974, when Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany, built one of its three fortifications on the Scheldt at Ename to protect his kingdom against possible attacks from France (the other two frontier posts were at Valenciennes and Antwerp).

From the 15th to the 18th century, but especially in the 16th century, Oudenaarde was a world-known centre of tapestry production. The town's name, meaning “old field”, still lingers on in “outnal”, an obsolete English term for a kind of brown linen thread. Today, Oudenaarde is known as the pearl of the Flemish Ardennes.

- wikipedia

And that's where we were Sunday, visiting a friend who had offered to show us his town. Allowing that said friend might want his privacy left intact, I will give no details beyond the fact that we had a lovely day and that Little Miss Three thought he was quite the lovely person :)

I'll write more when I've researched all that I saw ... there was the famous door in the town hall and the priceless woven carpet and silver collections.

It was a good day.

Poetry falls upon hard times ...

Dan Chiasson is the author of three books and teaches at Wellesley College. In today's New York Time he wrote an article, condemning a short book of 22 poems by detainees at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He notes, poems that have been cleared for release by the United States military.

He writes, ... reading “Poems From Guantánamo” is a bizarre experience.

In what sense could these poems, heavily vetted by official censors, translated by “linguists with secret-level security clearance” but no literary training, released by the Pentagon according to its own strict, but unarticulated, rationale — “speak”?

Given these constraints, a better subtitle might have been “The Detainees Do Not Speak” or perhaps “The Detainees Are Not Allowed to Speak.” But the best subtitle, I fear, would have been “The Pentagon Speaks.”

He goes on to say, But imagine a volume of Osip Mandelstam’s poetry released by the Soviet government in 1938, or an anthology of poems by Japanese internment prisoners released by our government during the Second World War. The government’s disingenuous resistance to this book’s publication aside (a wooden official statement denounces the book as “another tool in their battle of ideas against Western democracies”), the Pentagon ought to get an editor’s credit on “Poems From Guantánamo.”

Saturday, August 18, 2007

For Erin and for Cat in Rabat

Gert pointed me in the direction of the video of last nights Toots Thielemans concert.

So turn it up loud and it's almost like being there.
I found this fascinating youtube over on It's a Numeric Life.

Toots Thielemans in Antwerpen

So tell me, who wouldn't fall in love with an 85 year old jazz musician who fell ill last winter and said, someone up there told him:

Menneken, as ge veurzichtig zij meude nog een betteken spele.

Little man, if you are careful, you can play a little longer.

Toots Thielemans was an absolute delight onstage in Middelheim tonight. He played for an hour and a half and came back for one encore, then returned 3 times because the audience just wouldn't stop clapping.

We loved him, I might have even told Gert that I would consider taking Belgian citizenship based on Toots Thielemans being Belgian.

He moved everyone there tonight, his harmonica playing was sublime ... his band was a joy to listen to and I finally realised that music is a language and a psychology in ways that I had never seen before.

A bow to the man who considers the time when he played with Louis Armstrong, his hero, for 22 seconds as one of the highlights of his life.

Friday, August 17, 2007

So tonight ...

We're off to see Toots Thielemans perform tonight.

Every human being has his own particular web of associations for identifying and interpreting reality, which, most often, instinctively and unthinkingly, he superimposes on every set of circumstances.

Frequently, however, those external circumstances do not conform with, or fit, the structure of our webs, and then we can misread the unfamiliar reality, and interpret its elements incorrectly…

Ryszard Kapuscinski, “Travels with Herodotus” (2007)

The apple thief, Bokrijk

The apple thief, Bokrijk, originally uploaded by - di.

I wasn't sure what the deal was on 'borrowing' the apples at the village so I settled for capturing a moment.

He looked quite surprised when he emerged from the tree and found my camera and I. He ran a hand over his little hair-gelled head and ran off after his parents.


The Pig, Bokrijk, Belgium, originally uploaded by - di.

The farm was stocked with horses, hens, sheep and ... most delightful of all, pigs.

I had never been so close to the smelly muddy ones.

Bokrijk Open Air Museum, Belgium

Today we spent the day with the lovely Lut and her daughter Nele, wandering through Belgian time and space.

Lut is a native of Limburg and she had invited the 3 New Zealanders to Bokrijk, an open air museum very close to the place where she had grown up. It was stunning. Thank you so much for taking us there, we loved it.

There are more than 100 historic buildings taken from locations all over Belgium and restored to their original condition piece by numbered piece there in the park. The buildings are open to the public with original furniture, tools and authentic household goods inside and even better, often in use.

Note to anyone thinking of making the trip, the bakery food inside the village is truly sublime.

The history of Bokrijk goes like this ... in 1252, Arnold IV Count of Loon and Chiny sold a wood known as 'Buscurake' to the Cistercian Abbey of Herckenrode near Hasselt. The wood was situated between Genk, Zonhoven and Hasselt.

For two centuries Bokrijk was cultivated by lay brothers attached to the abbey. Then during the second half of the 14th century the abbey rented out its 'grangiae' to tenant farmers who worked for half the produce.

In 1447 Bokrijk became an ordinary tenant farm and the abbey remained the owner until the French occupation.

In 1719 the land first appeared in the registers under the name of 'Bouchreyck'. April 1797 and the land was sold for 90,000 francs to a resident of Maastricht. It went through frequent changes of ownership in the 19th century.

In 1938 Bokrijk was sold to the Province of Limburg by the Socialist Farmers Co-operative Credit Union. The person pushing the purchase was the then provincial governor H. Verwilghen, who had for many years cherished the idea of a project that would bring together culture and nature.

On 6 October 1953 the Provincial Council of the Province of Limburg decided to found an Open Air Museum in Bokrijk. It was an important and historic decision because of the post-war industrial revolution and the increasing prosperity of the Fifties meant the imminent threat that Flanders' lifestyle environment would be drastically altered.

The first conservator, J. Weyns, ensured that a scientific approach was in place for the development of the Open Air Museum. In the first instance, a building would be thoroughly inspected and dated on the spot before being disassembled by experts and brought over to Bokrijk. In less than 20 years some 100 buildings from the Flemish agricultural landscape were saved from destruction.

Creating an authentic reconstruction of a village was groundbreaking in the field of open air museums.

In 1960 work started on building up an urban area known as 'The Old City', with the intention of creating an overview of the evolution of urban architecture from the late Middle Ages to the 19th century. Some superb old houses from Antwerp give an insight into the development of the city in the late Middle Ages, namely the transition from timber to stone construction, and why people left the countryside to try their luck in the city ... and that was the village square where we stopped for drinks.

I took most of this information from the Bokrijk Open Air Museum website where you can also take a virtual tour in Dutch.

I can't do anything but recommend that you visit Bokrijk.

Working at 1am, listening to Love Divine

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Produce, Rubens Market, Antwerpen

Rubens Market- Antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

I have this thing about photographing market food. I find it quite beautiful sometimes ... a childhood deprived of markets back home in New Zealand perhaps?

Rubens Market, Antwerpen

And no, I didn't buy anything ...

Rubens Market, Antwerpen

Rubens Market- Antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

Despite being busy with work, Gert and I did wander into the city this afternoon ... it was a holiday here in Belgium.

In the first instance, it was Mothers Day. Apparently Antwerpen and Costa Rica are the only two places in the world where Mothers Day is celebrated on 15 August.

But 15 August is also Assumption day, the principal liturgical day of the year, dedicated to the Holy Virgin, who is the patron saint here.

I was told that this tradition of holding a Rubens Market was begun in 1977, 400 years after the painter was born. It was fun out there, with all of the stallholders recreating Rubens time by wearing costumes from the 1600s and the buildings doing their thing, looking noble and old as we milled round at their foundations.

Just wanted to say ...

It's finally happening ...

I seem to be picking up a life beyond the narrow confines created by waiting until I could do what I wanted with my life.

These last few days have been about getting past interviews in order, tidying up all recent photography jobs and making sure everyone has what they should, filing, filing and more filing, then creating more and more content for the new website that Erin and I are hoping to launch sometime soon.

Jessie and I are working away on an English immersion course for young kids called 'It's all about English' and then I'm preparing to photograph a wedding in September, just before welcoming much-loved guests from America 2 days later, going traveling, then working my way up into a big photography gig in October.

November is Rome and a truly delicious photography and interview project and perhaps that's about all the moment.

Crazy delicious days that occasionally require the red wine cure when it all gets too much.

I blogged 'Where the hell is Matt?' ... now for the outtakes

For those who haven't seen the original.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Memory and photography

Memory is very important, the memory of each photo taken, flowing at the same speed as the event. During the work, you have to be sure that you haven't left any holes, that you've captured everything, because afterwards it will be too late.
Henri Cartier-Bresson

Erin Brockovich rides again

Remember the movie Erin Brockovich ... ?

I had imagined that that kind of blatant industrial pollution no longer occured in countries like America and Australia, although there are days that are 'pretty polluntantly special' here in Belgium, located as it is at the crossroads of Europe.

But I had imagined that governments and big business could be trusted in countries like Australia ...

It seems I might have supposed wrong and that Erin Brockovich has found something bad enough. The full article is here in The Independent.

Ms Brockovich told Australian Associated Press: "We think we live in a big world, but it's really smaller than you think. Somebody from the area that was sick, from what they believed to be Alcoa, emailed me. I was intrigued with her illnesses ... and recommended one of our toxicologists see her. After he did some testing and researching, he said, 'this is something you should look into'."

Shine Lawyers may also sue the West Australia state government for allowing the refinery to expand and double its production despite a history of health complaints in the area. Residents claim they are being poisoned by the fumes from Wagerup's stacks and the red dust in its stockpiles of waste.

it's about following your bliss ...

Paul Potts was up against 6 year old Connie, and you can find out who won here.

Thanks Mark .

Happy 21st Birthday Jessie

3 days old, originally uploaded by - di.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I think I started seriously taking photographs because I wanted to meet people and I wanted to have a function.

Being a photographer made that possible, because otherwise I was very shy. I found it much easier to talk to people when I was taking photographs, as opposed to just going up to them and talking. Even today it’s fantastic being a photographer because I can call up people and say, “I’d like to take your portrait.” I do that because I want to meet certain people. It’s like meeting your kin, as it were.

Martine Franck

I loved this and the blog I found it on.
Thanks to Wayne Yang over at Eight Diagrams
Most people a very restricted circle of their potential being.

They make use of a very small portion of their possible consciousness, and of
their soul's resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using only his little finger.

William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

Found and borrowed from Erin, over at her wandering woman blog.

The very same Erin who has written some delightful posts on wandering in Spain and on life.

In Praise of the Grrrl

It may be that those who read me regularly noticed an increasingly loud whine coming from the direction of my blog.

My laptop, renamed by Shannon as the craptop was dying in fits and starts. I was having multiple gear failure just as the pressure to complete a lot of work was beginning.

I have 5 interviews in process and waiting to be finished here on my desk and sharing Gert's pc wasn't going so well. His computer is situated in the midst of the madness that is sometimes my home.

Then v-grrrl left a comment on this post of mine.

You can borrow my laptop until you get your own. E-mail me.

In Di world, that's the equivalent of someone offering me a body part.
I emailed her and said 'Yes please but are you sure?'

She was and the laptop was duly picked up, along with toys for Little Miss Three, passed on down by v-grrrl's children who are growing. Sahara's eyes grew big when the doll's pram and doll were unloaded ... she was silenced.
A rare event.

Life has taken a more mobile turn for the best and I have 5 interviews well on their way. I love that I can remove myself, with the laptop, to quieter places in the house and not have to queue during the quiet times here in the lounge.

So a massively huge thank you to the incredibly kind woman I know over in Brussels.

Thanks Veronica.

Happy Wedding Anniversary to us ...

We're just giggling here because a friend of Gert's sent us an sms wishing us a happy wedding anniversary ... and we'd forgotten!

Gert spent yesterday ill in bed and we were both so relieved he was feeling better today that things like wedding anniversaries slipped our mind.

Even writing this makes me smile all over again.

A photograph of the occasion?
Well sure ... favourite photograph by Alison .

My footwear ... my favourite shoes at the time and still he married me ;)
So you see, the imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering. The people who are always briskly doing something may have little, sharp, staccato ideas, such as: “I see where I can make an annual cut of $3.47 in my meat budget.” But they have no slow, big ideas.

And the fewer consoling, noble, shining, free, jovial, magnanimous ideas that come, the more nervously and desperately they rush and run from office to office and up and downstairs, thinking by action at last to make life have some warmth and meaning.
-Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write

Found over on Christine Kane's blog, well worth worth visiting just btw.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Yours, from suburbia

I live in a household with people who hate cleaning dishes ...

I despise doing dishes, perhaps more than any of them but somehow I've ended up with the task because they can all outlast me in terms of what I can bear or they have their very own righteous mountain to stand on while telling why they won't do dishes.

Yesterday I almost died of smirk.

It translates to the state of being created when I did something so outrageous that worked.

I had Gert's children dry the dishes my daughter was washing them.
This is novel and outrageous indeed.

My daughter had taken the laundry and ironing as her designated task in a beautiful sleight of hand a few weeks ago and okay, ironing is actually my most despised to-do task. I'll do many things to avoid it and had a glorious system of non-ironing while living alone in Istanbul.

However I had cleaned up the laundry after coming back to a backlog post-Brussels wandering and so in a sleighter sleight of hand, I gifted her dishwashing yesterday.

And the stepkids were lounging around in that limbo-like state of 'no school, let's just watch tv'. A state created in some children when they have parents who do absolutely everything for them.

I pounced and said in a matter-of-fact, nothing-out-of-the-ordinary voice 'Hey guys, will you do the afwasen?'

And they did.

Today Gert is ill with a stomach flu, the stepkids are gone, my daughter is sleeping off what might be a similar stomach flu.

Today it was just me and dishes.
I cleaned house all morning, avoiding the kitchen but nothing works, the dishwashing fairies never come anywhere near my place.

And did I mention how much I despise washing dishes...
There is no poetry where there are no mistakes.
Joy Harjo

and the giraffe looked other-worldly

and the giraffe looked other-worldly, originally uploaded by - di.

Ever wondered about a Beavers teeth?

Ever wondered about a Beavers teeth-, originally uploaded by - di.

So we went to the zoo, leaving the house in a very bad mood that was transformed as zoo magic overtook us all ...

I've read of the Beaver for years, never imagined he'd have orange teeth though ...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Just in case you haven't read about it ...

I stumbled over this in news.

Pearl Jam wrote on it at their site: This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media.

AT&T's actions strike at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media.

Aspects of censorship, consolidation, and preferential treatment of the internet are now being debated under the umbrella of NetNeutrality. Check out The Future of Music or Save the Internet for more information on this issue.

All I had forgotten about family outings

1 daughter
1 granddaughter
2 stepchildren

check ...

4 strausburg
1 salami
1 nutella
6 egg

check ...

Iced Gems
Orange cake

check ...

3 water
2 cokes
no wine

check ...

1 pushchair
at least one change of clothes for the littlest person
coats because it's a Belgian summers day today (resembles a NZ Dunedin summer day)

tram ticket
camera gear

Hmmm yes ... I'm off to earn points in the category of best huisvrouw and mama.

Tot ziens.

Graffiti in Brussels

Shining City, originally uploaded by - di.

Shannon and I were wandering back to her place around sunset and the light in the city was simply delicious ... then we found this and I loved it.

Musician, Brussels

Musician, Brussels, originally uploaded by - di.

When our spirits lift at the start of a journey, there is usually an element of relief to be leaving things behind. Travel releases us from the treadmill of domestic habit. Even if it goes no further than our choice of clothes, there is an impulse of defiance.
Ian Littlewood

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Belgian Service for Foreigners ... an update

Good news from the Belgian office for foreigners ...

Gert contacted various folk about the fax containing two very different reasons for putting on hold my daughter's family reunification with this mother who can't really go home for a few years.

The lawyers who advise on these matters were sure it was wrong, so Gert phoned up the office who agreed a mistake had been made and voila, things were changed immediately and now all we're waiting on is one more surprise police visit, to be sure that she's living with us, then she can stay here in Europe with me.

International relationships, moving countries for your partner, blended families and divorce orphans ... I've learned a lot

I was talking with a woman who has been through some of those things, and I've known Shannon throughout the ups and downs her international relationship ... there's surely a book to be written about it all ... even the odd helplessness the seeps into your life when you're living some place without job or income, dependent on your partner for more than you could ever imagine allowing as an educated independent kind of woman.

And did you realise that if you have a child with a (for example)Belgian, you can't take that child out of Belgium without the father's permission, even if he left you before the baby was born and didn't want you to have it? Quite a lengthy court battle can follow and lies can be told.

Indeed, there's surely a book that needs written.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Shannon, originally uploaded by - di.

Blogging from Brussels

Somewhere in Brussels work on building starts between 7 and 7.30am on a Wednesday, with raucous shouts of laughter and much ... was it Dutch?

I don't remember precisely, it was only that my bedroom seemed suddenly filled with many many construction workers ... which is what happens when you sleep with your window open next to a seriously big construction site.

So here I am, spending 24 hours in Belgium's capital, a farewell visit with my lovely friend Shannon.

Sitting here this morning and I'm realising that one of the constants in my life is the saying goodbye... from those days back in New Zealand - 4 regions in 16 years, through into my Istanbul life and here now this Belgian life there have been so many goodbyes, although never 'goodbye' and I won't see you again.

Shannon has given up on trying to stay here, 8 months after it became kind of inevitable. You see, she had given up a New York life of study and work for her Belgian-based man and here she is, 2 years later heading back to finish that life of qualifications because she is unable to stay in this European life that she's come to love. If you're the partner of the one with the work visa then you leave once that love is over.

I used to tease Gert that I was the perfect girlfriend because my situation was similar. Had we broken up then I was out of his house and the country.

So yesterday Shannon and I wandered the city, ate lunch in that place where the perfect pasta is made, on through the city and an hour spent in the big old fabulous secondhand bookshop. An English lesson with her lovely Turk in another cafe where he and I talked of Mecidiyekoy and Istanbul, Turkish food and Turkish people long after the lesson was over.

Home again, clothes changed, Michelle joined us and we walked through city streets made balmy by a summers day heat before passing through the door and heavy drapes into Morocco where we ate the best food I have tasted in an age. I'll blog on that another day as I'm going back for an interview one day soon ...

And Michelle danced with the waiter who came over with a burning torch while the restaurant sang happy birthday to her. I took the photographs and Shannon smiled with delight at surprising her friend.

Then there was the midnight stroll back through the city, the Grand Place, tourist restaurants and St Micheal's on the hill above it all ...

Another grand day spent in Brussels with that beautiful friend I will miss when she moves on and out next week ...

Monday, August 06, 2007

On travel ...

When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don't even understand the language the people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb. You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends on them. You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. And you accept any small favor from the gods with great delight, as if it were an episode you would remember for the rest of your life.
Paulo Coelho, from The Pilgrimage

You cannot even begin to imagine what the Belgian Service for Foreigners did this time ...

2 very different decisions on one day on ONE fax ...

1. They state that they can't be sure my daughter is living with us, so they postpone a family reunification decision based on that. However we did have the police visit very fast so that should have been cleared up quickly but then ...

2. later on the same day, on that same 8 page fax, further down somebody comes out of nowhere and decides that my daughter isn't a minor (despite having her birth certificate clearly stating she is) and they have demanded all the paperwork for someone over 21 years of age who wants to reunify with their family member in Belgium.

The required paperwork has to prove 'interesting' things like the fact that she had no income. I was left wondering how you prove that. We also have to prove she doesn't own a home ... I'll leave that one with you but it sounds expensive searching real estate records for a home in her name or not.

We also have to prove she was being supported by us in some way and that we are earning enough to support her ... as per the process for anyone over 21.

It is that paperwork that will now put her on hold and in process for another 5 months.

Oh but wait, I've done this before.

Could I promise him something better in New Zealand, if we left his kids with their mother and moved back to my world ...?

I really don't know.
This thing with God handing out pieces of land to specific ethnic groups leaves one in a quandary if one still wants to wander the world.

And then ...

At 4.13am, there's always Hootie and the Blowfish.


Charles, originally uploaded by - di.

and the inscription on the front of the stone.

Carvers Named

Carvers Named, originally uploaded by - di.

I met these carvers of stone back in June, when this stone was still being carved.

I photographed everyone.

I met both the carvers and the Italian side of the family for whom it was commissioned in July.

Last week, I cursed my inability to speak French as we greeted each other again and talked via translators. They are the carvers and the Maori side of the family were so delighted to meet them.

This is the back side of the stone but I found it beautiful too.

Paua and tattoo

Paua and tattoo, originally uploaded by - di.

I saw this beautiful mix the other day and photographed it before it disappeared ...

Lessons from an insomniac

When you are quietly moving through the house, just after 3am, think about turning on the lights and avoid almost breaking your toes on the wooden toybox that arrived in the hallway earlier.

And pay attention when, on starting up your man's computer sometime after 3am ... if it says 'One of your disks needs to be checked for consistency. You may cancel the disk check, but it is strongly recommended that you continue' then you should probably just let it happen.

I did and here I am.

Now emailing huge photograph files out to a rather well-known and superb New Zealand artist I met and photographed out on Flanders Field.

Tomorrow is a big day.
Daughter, granddaughter and 2 stepchildren all day ... school holidays here in the flat country.

Tomorrow my daughter and granddaughter find out if they have permission to join me here in this life.

The tomorrow that is already today.

And I have 3 interview/article pieces to work with and finish by the end of the week and a collection/selection of photographs.

Meanwhile it's still hot outside.
I've youtubed Suzanne Vega, for old timesake and starting with My Name is Luka .


I often run ahead of myself ...

It seems that I have picked up a big photography contract for the months ahead and I was dreaming of all I would buy with the first serious money I have earned in 2 years but ... I have to wait for the money to come, not spend it before.

I have to continue, just a little bit longer, with my serious shoestring approach to life. The woman who raced a snowstorm back across the world from New Zealand, 23 hours flight time without including the stopovers, and on into Istanbul with no credit card and just $30 New Zealand on her person ... she gets to live life in that seriously crazy way just a little bit longer.

I'll do the wedding with the camera equipment I have, lacking that big delicious flash that would have made me safe.

And why ... why did I imagine my life might become simpler immediately?
Again and again in history some people wake up. They have no ground in the crowd and they move to broader, deeper laws. They carry strange customs with them and demand room for bold and audacious action. The future speaks ruthlessly through them. They change the world.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Thanks Megg.

I smiled over this ...

Obsession grants the patience to really fine-tune the details.
Claudia Shear, Actress and playwright
commenting on a favourite line in a play she performed in.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Interesting media spin ...

This was the World War One commemoration I attended on Wednesday ... interesting story, one that falls into the realm of fiction in some places.

The story is so incorrect as to be stunning.
I wanted to see what made each one that one.
Gertrude Stein, on her desire to write about many lives.

Operation Vegemite ...

Yesterday, on our way to the party, Gert and I called in at the British Store over Brussels way.

I was on a quest for various things, including a new jar of Vegemite.

And quest it is ... a medium-sized jar costs 6.50euro, a million times more expensive than back home in New Zealand.

Belgian bread is quite different too, so I picked up a bag of English white toast bread ... a pause while all Europeans outside the UK grimace at the thought of it but I haven't been home in 3 years so the bread was a small taste of something like home.

Today has been spent in front of the computer working on photographs that have to be mailed tomorrow ... and it's hot here, really hot.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Shannon's Going Away Party and other things

Blogging in Brussels, pre-party at Michelle and Shannon's place and I checked out my blog on Shannon's computer and realised that setting my screen to best view how photographs will look when printed might not have been the best idea.

You see, I have my screen set at something different to what I would use if I was simply working with text and tonight I discovered that my photographs look so very different on the text setting ... sigh.

I'm sorry. I may have to rethink how I prepare my photos for Flickr and blogging.

But back to the party about to begin.
Happy summer to those in the Northern Hemisphere ...

Tot straks.

Friday, August 03, 2007

All about me ...

I've been a little absent due to workload these last few days ...

I'm working on multiple projects, there are the photographs from the commemoration ceremony in Comines-Warneton - they need to be organised, burned to cd and sent out by Monday, with a small piece of text being written to accompany the photographs I was asked to send back to a New Zealand newspaper.

Then there's the new website, finally coming close to the launch but needing material reading to load.

Then there's the English classes we're setting up because it seems that there is a quiet need for English teachers in Antwerpen, it only took a fateful meeting with a woman in a secondhand bookshop and another request for private tuition for me to find those people. It will be so much simpler to implement all that I was doing without having 5 hours travel time to and from Brussels.

And then there's all the other stuff. The mother and stepmother and grandmother stuff ... my 'office' is situated at the hub of the house until I am in possession of my new laptop.

So I'm available as required, thinking that I couldn't imagine a man allowing these types of goings on in his office, then again, nor would a sensible woman.

Yesterday was a meltdown kind of day for me.
The bridge back from the madness came in the form of a lovely Australian red wine and a movie.

Today was a better day.

This weekend is a mix of working as many hours as possible but taking time out for the party in Brussels ...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thanks Mark.

Lest we forget

remembering the past, originally uploaded by - di.

On August 1, 1917 Charles Rangiwawahia Sciascia died on a battlefield here in Belgium.

Ninety years later, his extended family from New Zealand came to pay their respects in a moving ceremony in Warneton - close to the place where he died during the battle at La Basseville.

The man pictured is the man who carries the memory of Charles in his name which has been and will continue to be passed through the generations so he is never forgotten.

It was an incredible day.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Instinctive Art, the Cafepress Store

Instinctive Art, originally uploaded by - di.

My daughter and I are busy with many projects and we're in the process of adding new images to our Cafepress Store ...

Watch this space for more sunflowers, cattle in the Ardennes and a few more Spain images.