Friday, August 31, 2007

the truth you need to know

"far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. i may not reach them but i can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow them."
- louisa may alcott

these last four weeks - work and play in delectable balance - have made my days frantic and my nights fitful.
but i decided, and i did, and now i'm done.
for now.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

my lessons well

the great wall negatives are plump squares, with soft, sweet edges.
the minolta autocord negatives trail pretty triangular tails in their lower right-
hand corners.
the bronica negatives slide, in two sprightly half moons, off the celluloid; the yashica mat negatives dangle, from diffident, delicate threads.
i have learned many things from this month of six-by-six's. most concern my limited self-discipline and my diminished ability to deal with deadlines....
but i have also learned to identify my exposed film in a single glance.
i am pleased.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

just around the bend

"life is like riding a bicycle: you don't fall off unless you stop pedaling."
- claude pepper

i'm almost there...
in more ways than one.

they linger in the twilight

between his work, and my work, and this-old-house-which-needs-so-much-work, there has been little time for sunday drives lately, little time for strolls along windy dikes, for my beloved old cameras, for sunny-sixteen.
there has been no time at all - either - for late-afternoon glasses of wine and broodjes kroket at the oude taveerne in durgerdam.
memories must make do, for now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

if it were but caught

they couldn't be more different, these two signs, and - undoubtedly - these two venues: like perch and plaice, like trout and tarbot.

one is sublimely up-market, and the other...but, i wonder, is "down-market" an actual word?
i consult the online thesaurus.
"no results found for down-market" it informs me, and then asks, "do you mean denim jacket?"
you know what i mean, i'm sure.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

on an old golden rule

"most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in our own sunshine"
- henry ward beecher (liberal u.s. congregational minister, 1813-1887)

i wonder, sometimes - doesn't everyone? - what it's all about, and i wonder it more - doesn't everyone? - during complicated days like today, when life flounders more than
it floats.
a thought, a pretty picture: it's all i can muster, for now.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

to offer or proffer

some words stroke my soul. say "caress", say "exquisite", say "tender": i see stars.
i sigh.
i smile sentimentally.
"hmpf", says my sensible friend."i rather think this refers to 'an auxiliary ship employed to attend one or more other ships, as for supplying provisions'".
i like my version better.

Friday, August 24, 2007

this crazy business

"insanity is hereditary. you get it from your children."

my mother - bless her 81-year-old heart - sought some kind of creative outlet a while back, and the next-door-neighbours-father-in-law set her up with a weblog.
this may sound rather wrong-way-round, but i am very proud of her.
she writes so well.
and oh my: her beef teriyaki is to swoon for.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

if it's tuesday, it must be...

"they want to do 'tourist stuff' today," said my daughter, dismissively, to her
perhaps she sneered slightly, perhaps not: i was too preoccupied - perusing our guide to the province and anticipating, finally, a day caressed by sun - to notice.
lunenberg was lovely, but blue rocks, our afterthought, was the nova scotia i had
hoped to see.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

even in paradise

all these travelling souls - phil to crete, daisies to victoria, b.c., amanda to boston,
rachel to ghent (which is just down the road, but i've never been there, so it's exotic to me.) - oh, my:
my feet itch.
so i book my october flight to london stansted (i love easyjet) and suddenly norfolk, and incomparable landscapes like this, and the company of my favourite friend, are within reach.
i promised peter at least one lopsided horizon. this qualifies.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

weak as it speaks

this is very apt.
it is awkward and off-kilter**, bright and ebullient despite its crookedness, clearly - and completely - stuck for words.
**i do apologise. i am compulsive about composition, but it was pouring, there, that may day, along the road to peggy's cove, and i dislike exposing my cameras - especially the ones with waist-high finders, for some reason - to miserable weather. i rushed.

Monday, August 20, 2007

accustomed to its face

for the longest time, amsterdams centraal station was where my working day began
and ended, a beacon in my daily routine. its busy familiarity buoyed me, and filled
me, somehow, with a feeling of simply belonging.
i assumed that the airport would never affect my senses in the same way, but a few
days back, approaching at dawn, i found myself sighing at the sight of the tower and the terminals and the sheen of the big machines.
it's taken almost two years, but better late than never.
as they say.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

bringing their tails behind them

i have been pulling the wool over your eyes: the dutch skies are not perpetually blue.
i choose my moments, you see.
and my film.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

dig down deep

i think i need some time to stop and smell the flowers.
none is imminent.

Friday, August 17, 2007


a decade ago, on a holiday in london, my daughter and i took the "scenic" route from waterloo station to covent garden, and, strolling through the royal festival hall, we heard a distant piano playing, and distant feet shuffling. we allowed them to lure us to the ballroom, and there, washed in wondrous light, a visiting dance ensemble was rehearsing for the evening's performance.
we settled into seats with a view, sipped tea, and so our day began: with the smile of a stop/start recital that felt exclusively, and serendipitously, ours.
i wish i'd had the cameras then that i have now.
(another agfa click image.)

immensity in which to dream

his shed? slightly ramshackle.
oh yes.

his garden? gently neglected.
but he nurtures his friendships utterly, and cherishes those he loves;
i am happy to be one of them.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

in one sitting

"you can't deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants."
- stephen king (american writer, best known for his horror novels. b.1947)

i rather hoped that this late shift - generally quiet - would give me time to weave a few words together, but it didn't.
i have been attached to my chair, and my headphone, all evening.
this, thus, will have to do.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

and it's closing time again

i have never considered myself a morning person, but i know this:
i would rather wake up a fortnight long at 4 a.m. than work just a single latelatelate shift.
my colleagues - each and every one - are aware of this. we switch and barter. the party animals get to sleep in, and brunch, and i get to avoid the distress of that final train from amsterdam and the contrition caused by a husband losing sleep to spirit me home safely from the station.
tomorrow - two poor souls off sick and the aforementioned party animals all off together to an ajax match - i suddenly have no choice.
i shall shut my eyes and think of england (norfolk, undoubtedly) and be thankful, at least, for the blessing, tomorrow night, of fine - even effervescent - company.

Monday, August 13, 2007

by the window and wonders

it was undeniably a sweet camera - seriously sweet - but it was downright ornery. it thwarted me from the word "go".
bits didn't fit, and when the bits were finagled into fitting, they fell off in a huff of ferocious ennui. every single crack and crevice obliged the lurking light. endless swathings in black tape proved futile. film refused to roll tightly, when it allowed itself to be forwarded.
the lab refused to print the negs.
i was undeniably a failure.
(aside: a few worked. true photogenicity - amsterdam! - overcomes all odds.)
i have always admired the photographers who work magic with toy cameras - like heather and lala, and the people at filmwasters - but my respect knows no bounds since my own - ahem - endeavor.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

said the man in the moon

"what's with you men? would hair stop growing on your chest if you asked directions somewhere?"
- erma bombeck (u.s. humorist, 1927-1996)

i am the navigator in the family, by necessity and by choice, and i excel at it, if i do say so myself. hand me a map - a good map, i do like michelin - and tell me where we need to be, and i'll get us there, with very little fuss and, if possible, some scenic - read photogenic - detours along the way.
a map, though, is essential.
when my husband and i picked up our rental car at toronto airport in may, after a
flight that had been delayed a tiresome eight hours, it was past midnight, and we had no map, just a little piece of paper with a few hastily scrawled directions, and those directions (if i remember correctly, they went something like this: hwy.401, hwy.115, cr 21, pontypool rd.) were somehow supposed to get us from toronto to the little hamlet of millbrook (middle of nowhere) ontario.
in the dark.
i was aghast. "no lefts? no rights? no straight aheads? how on earth am i supposed to work with this?" i demanded.
my husband shrugged apologetically; he'd been short of time in the panic of packing, and, to be fair, he'd counted on a drive in the bright light of daytime.
two hours later - we'd been awake for 26 hours at this point, and were as close to a domestic rift as only ikea, as a rule, can nudge us - he grumbled: "tsk! we've gone too far!
i can see the lights of peterborough!"
i bit my lip, about to tell him precisely what he could do with his poor excuse for
a travel planner, and at that very moment a pretty sign announced our entry into exactly the historic little town we were heading for.
within moments, even as we hugged our sister-in-law in the glow of her veranda,
even as we professed our longing for a cup of tea before turning in, the terrible tale of our trip shifted into positivity, became an anecdote for times to come, became a story-with-a-smile.
it's the way of the world.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

greater expectations

an old house is a grand, and frustrating undertaking; it needs endless - and tiresome - reconstructive surgery before the cosmetic nips-and-tucks can even begin.
i am sure that (some sweet day) my dreams - oak floor, fireplace, shutters, beams - will come true, but, for now, all we seem to tackle is the necessary and the invisible: window frames, ventilation, exterior brick.
the aesthetically-inclined-perfectionist-interior-designer-me is on total tenterhooks.
the practical-and-long-suffering-me simply sighs.
patience is...

Friday, August 10, 2007

and what's out

"we are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. but what we put into it is ours."
- dag hammarskjold (swedish statesman and united nations official,1905-1961)

just that.
because i have had a long day, and a tedious commute.
because i am not yet - as we say here - "the old me".
but also, and most important: because he says is wise, and true.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

(k)nittles and (k)nettles

plunk me down in a coastal town - preferably a windswept-tidal-blubber-beached-boats kind of town - cumber me with favourite cameras, and i am as content as i can possibly be.
seaworthy subjects, needless to say, swell my archives.
of those, this is the first of the august bunch - final shot on the roll, yes indeed, how'd you guess? - but i doubt it will be the last.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

and behold, what he made was good

i don't have a lot to say today, feeling iffier than i've felt in a long while, dangling between wellness and unwellness, and resenting the uncertainty.
this image? i took a garage-sale-coupla-euros-tops agfa click to the europephotobloggers meetup in london the year before last. it spent the entire weekend feeling insecure, surrounded by its state-of-the-art cousins, having little more to offer than a lens and a shutter release.
and then it managed this.
bless it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

time and transformation

"ever charming, ever new, / when will the landscape tire the view?"
- john dyer (british poet. 1699-1757)

i have lived in this cramped, congested little country for more than half my life now; it is home, it is fair enough, it is familiar. it is the choice i made.
but i can still be surprised: i can round a corner and be caught by a scene of such endless beauty that, at that moment, captivated, i cannot imagine contentment anywhere else.

Monday, August 6, 2007

the strongest form of magic

i remember this me well; awkwardly adolescent, dreaming grand , assuming small, dauntingly mixed 'n' matched, sporting silly slippers but no self-confidence
i don't remember the curls - i fear they were concocted for that 1962 christmas - but i do achingly recall that homely hi-fi, and the snap-swish-slap of falling 45's, and the sweep of a soundtrack i would later regard - from cliff richard through manfred mann and beyond - as totally, and specifically, and wonderfully mine.
"return to sender" was number one when this photograph was taken. "good vibrations" was number one when we waved the homely hi-fi adieu, and moved home to canada.
both songs - and all those in between - can carry me, unerringly, back, so that i relive as purely as i remember.
i can almost - cross my nostalgic heart - feel those pompoms jiggle.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

over sleepy garden walls

"dreams are the subtle dower/ that make us rich an hour/ then fling us poor/ out of the purple door."
-emily dickinson (american poet, 1830-1886)

i'm still getting the hang of scanning my own negatives (or positives: expired provia, in this case) and i suppose i could maneuver away the mauveness in this image if i really really tried, and if i really really wanted to.
but i won't.
and i don't.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

the eyes have it

the seller and i had agreed: i would run a test roll through the camera, and, should it disappoint, i would hustle it back to leidschendam, and my euros would be refunded.
two weeks later, though, i had encountered little more inspiring than the hydrangeas in my back garden, so i nudged my lovely - and sublimely photogenic - young colleague saskia down to the end of the corridor, and shot the eight remaining frames in half as many minutes.
sas can't take a poor picture (as they say) but i have been known - tsk - to buy a poor camera.
not often, though.
and definitely not this time.

Friday, August 3, 2007

like a bird released

we lowlanders spent the entire first half of this season optimistically anticipating true summer, trusting the meteorologists who promised - every single day - perfect weather starting (ahem) tomorrow.
yesterday, they finally got it right.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

in water, in butter, in wine

two of my colleagues are infectiously enthusiastic about this restaurant week in amsterdam: dozens of top dining venues are offering set three-course meals for bargain €25-per-person prices.
"set?" i am dubious, and slightly fearful. "does 'set' mean i have no say in the matter?"
"oh," they assure me, "you can have preferences. you can stipulate, for example, no pork, or no......"
"no fish, no eggplant, no mushrooms?"
"no offal?"
i have never been a great proponent of eating what's put before one: we are individuals, and we have individual tastes.
and i would rather peruse a menu, and make a slow and studied personal selection
than struggle through someone else's idea of deliciousness.
so there.

just spaces where photographs were

"only irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat."
- alex levine

ah. but this is not an irish coffee.
sipped at 11 o'clock on a norfolk morning, anything with more punch than a latte would numb me to my particular inspirational certainties:
east anglia, a best friend's company, a beloved camera, the time and freedom to appreciate all three.
i have endless square images.
i may try posting one each august day.