Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Snapshot

I really didn't enjoy having my toenail removed - I YELPED as loudly as I could. But you must admit, it's a very smart bandage! Blue suits my black-and-white colouring, I feel.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Hare with the Amber Eyes

The Palais Ephrussi in Vienna via
"There are things in this world that the children hear, but whose sounds oscillate below an adult's sense of pitch. They hear the green-and-gold clock in the salon (which has mermaids on it) tick every slow second as they sit in starched immobility during visits from great-aunts. They can hear the shuffle of the carriage horses in the courtyard, which means they are finally off to the park. There is the sound of rain on the glass roof over the courtyard, 
which means they are not.

 There are things that the children smell that are part of their landscape: the smell of their father's cigar smoke in the library, their mother, or the smell of schnitzel in covered dishes as it is carried past the nursery for lunch. The smell behind the itchy tapestries in the dining-room when they creep behind them to hide. And the smell of hot chocolate after skating.

Emmy makes this for them sometimes. Chocolate is brought in on a porcelain dish, and then they are allowed to break it into pieces the size of a krone and these dark shards are melted in a little silver saucepan by Emmy over a purple flame. Then, when it is glaucous, warm milk is stirred over it and sugar stirred in."

This is an extract from The Hare with the Amber Eyes, a beautifully written memoir by Edmund de Waal, the pre-eminent British potter. An investigation of his uncle's collection of netsuke leads him down a path of family and European history. I loved the concept and the content of this book; I especially loved the way he writes, of which the above passage is an example. Many times I stopped and re-read a piece several times over, for the beauty of the words and the images they conveyed.


Monday, January 23, 2012

We are moving...

Carmi has set us off on this week's Thematic Photographic theme, Movement, with 
a fantastic bird shot. I thought zooming cars, etc, but then decided I'd put up a 
couple of photos from a day out in Auckland last week.

Here are four ferries manouevering in and out of the passenger wharves on the waterfront:

and a seal at the Auckland Zoo; it was such a hot day, I envied him his cool water.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thematic Photographic 179 - Glow

What a great theme for this week! I used up a lot of my night pictures for the 
After Dark theme, so these are going to be about glowing light, rather than glowing lights.

The official cat of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, basks in the warm glow of the sunlight coming through the windows. According to our guide, this cat is "famous throughout the world", because President Obama admired and patted it when he visited.

 In Gordion, also in Turkey, one walks through this tunnel into the 
 (possible) tomb of King Midas

In Santa Margharita, on the Italian 'riviera', the rising sun made the houses 
on the hillside opposite my hotel window glow

And in another early morning shot, the sun made the walls of the Vatican City 
a lovely mellow colour

 Closer to home, it was late afternoon sun on the Great Ocean Road coast of Victoria, Australia, which made the cliffsides and standing rocks named The Twelve Apostles a warm shade of glow

To see what others have posted for this theme, and maybe to take part, go here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Bulletin from The Dinosaurs' Club

Our morning paper runs a column called Sideswipe, which contains amusing little stories, anecdotes and so on. Often it includes photos which readers send in, of weird signs, 
strange people and/or animals, or unusual events. 

Here are a few of the photos from recent weeks, 
containing material I am sure will interest other Dinosaurs.

 Fancy a home with that little extra something?

 Maybe this one was trying to emphasise that they are especially good at 
one of the procedures that happens here:

 Don't worry, they haven't fallen off the back of a truck ~

 Please! Don't remind me!!!

Hope these made you amused, rather than apoplectic....

By the side one of my favourite walks there is a large Kauri tree, fenced to protect it from harm and with a plaque affixed which says 'Judges Tree'. Thankfully, some other pedantic nerd 
got there before me and inserted a large apostrophe between the e and the s.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

After Dark in Torino

This is a post for Thematic Photographic; Carmi over at Written Inc has started 2012
with the theme of After Dark. Visit there to check out other ideas for this topic.

In May of last year (not used to saying that about 2011 yet) I took some photos on an evening out in Turin. They're not great; I wasn't always able to hold the camera still enough, and some are taken through the bus window, but they do the job of bringing back those travel memories...

Firstly, a courtyard waiting for some diners:

Walking back to the bus:

~ and don't forget to look up!

Some interesting lighting outside a hotel:

~ it was late for us, but too early for many Italians to be out and about

Thanks for visiting.
"the goodness of the night upon you, friends"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Books of 2011

Last year I was determined to keep a track of all of the books I read. This is a break-down of the genres; it's possible I may have forgotten to keep note of a few, but this is more or less right:

My two top picks of the year would be:

Caleb's Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks, a fictional account based on a real person - the first Native American to graduate from Havard, in  1665. This was a stunning novel which was beautifully realised and kept my interest all the way through, even though I am not usually a great reader of historical novels.


The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal, an astonishing, beautiful and uplifting
account of the author's search to find out about his family's history.
This is one of the best books I've read in a very long time.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Trees and Art

Yesterday I visited the Waitakaruru Arboretum near Hamilton to see their current exhibition of sculpture among the trees. The arboretum was made by plantings in a disused quarry, and covers over 17 hectares (42 acres), with lovely walking tracks around the lakes, outcrops and gullies, and the plantings of many tree varieties.

The walk alone is worth going for, but it's really enjoyable and fun to come across 
all of the various sculptures around the park.

In the current exhibition, Sky above Earth below, there are 37 pieces, but there are another 35 or so 'permanent' pieces throughout.

There were lots of family groups around, and there are certainly many exhibits to appeal to kids, such as this old taniwha* in a pond:

or these birds of prey dealing with a kill:

The piece I liked best was this chimney among the pines, with its connotations of the past; in this country the chimney is often the only thing left standing when a house has been abandoned to crumble and disintegrate...

I also really liked this strange thing, caught amongst the  trees:

Because of the trees, the park has been declared a Permanent Carbon Sink under our government's carbon sink initiative - trees play a significant role in absorbing carbon and slowing the rate of climate change. So, there you go: intriguing, attractive - AND politically correct!

All in all it was a lovely thing to do on a holiday morning.

*taniwha - monster

Monday, January 2, 2012

Best of 2011 #3

In April of 2011 I spent 3 weeks in Italy. 
I posted this pic last year, of two little cherubs in St Peter's Basilica in Rome.