30 September 2011

i've started it kris

The next painting of the ruins. Watch this space...

And (about two hours later) finding my way in to the contours and structures:

Today I am grateful for clearer skies.

29 September 2011

bear with me please

Thinking "out loud"... sorry, perhaps I have been living on my own for too long!

The hydrangeas, which should have been painted in a few strokes, are driving me nuts! I'll delete some of these photos once I am happy but for now I need the objectivity of the blog comparative images to help me sort this.

The client likes a very impressionist style, and I am being pulled by my desire for realism; this is in acrylic and I am thinking like a watercolourist at the problem solving stage, and all in all this is simply not working for me. Yet on some level it is OK. (When I take my glasses off especially!)

I think the biggest problem is not the lack of depth and shadow but the fluffy nature of the petals. Most hydrangea petals are quite flat in their sections.
I am tempted to change the composition and put more emphasis on the lilies, but keeping in mind that this is going to be sitting directly over a flaming fire in the winter that doesn't really appeal. I had intended it being almost monotone like the first one, but somehow it took on a life of its own. The colour will all have to be cut back, with the colour of the bricks being the key factor in the decision making.
Now to focus on the foliage a little, and lighten a section of the background. Then I can get back to the lilies. The goal is to finish this today... And a check of measurements shows that I have long been painting outside the guidelines. How did I manage to do that? Cropped version above is correct sizing. Will it work in the space? Or are the objects too big? Time for some fresh air.

Today I am grateful for calla lilies.

28 September 2011

working, truly i am

It's just that I could be working better. This is one of those photos that is more for me than for you. More to come if I can keep up the momentum, but a siesta looks good too!
This is going far too slowly so it is time to have a complete break from it. Right now I am regretting not painting the dark background and adding the petals of the hydrangea over it, which was my original intention. I got a bit carried away by the light at the sketching in stage, and now my hydrangeas are looking a bit too solid.

See you tomorrow, I'm off to walk the dogs.


"Westering Home" lyrics and chords are here. The Scottish song was written by Hugh S. Roberton (1874 - 1952). You can hear The Corries version of it on Youtube, or you might prefer the lovely Scottish burr in this version which also has interesting images.

I wonder who coined the word "Westering"? (Heading west, reliant on the winds, I think). Presumably it refers to the times of great trade with the East... adventure and riches lay to the East, but West (home) was best!

I'm an Antipodean East Coaster myself, but find myself completely discombobulated (yes I like that word) living here in a valley on the western side of the divide, with shadows and compass bearings not where I think they should be. Perhaps I was a failed homing pigeon in another life?

Now back to work Kay, that was enough of a distraction between subject matters. Now to paint some hydrangeas and candles for a fireplace, and after that a landscape to complete, two name paintings to finish and a whole new series to start (and finish before the end of October!)

Yikes... runs to put the kettle on...

finishing details

This morning I finally phoned the client in England whom I was expecting out this month to collect his portrait. I needed to know what colour the subject's eyes were. The more I looked at the black and white photograph the more sure I was that they were likely to be brown. Sure enough, they were. Dark brown, although she was quite fair. I am sooooo glad that I asked! I really don't want to varnish this until he has seen it, but now it is likely that he wont be here until the new year and I want to get it to him sooner than that. Do I wait, in case I need to change anything? Yes, I guess I do.
I have widened her smile a little and softened her freckles. I know that it is a very good likeness, but have I caught her personality? I was used to her with the deep blue eyes I had painted. I'll have to get to know her all over again before I decide whether or not the work is finished. (I want to change her hair, it became too full on the right hand side in my excitement in the process of painting). She is a teenager, fresh and innocent, and the hair style reflects that.
And later: This one feels better, even if it might not be classical portraiture. It is a teenager with life and energy and a huge warm smile that I am painting. Now to put it aside for a while, if I can.


Painting the eyes again this morning reminded me of the song "Westering Home", a song that hadn't entered my mind for years. A light in the eye is such a wonderful thing, and often the last thing I add when I paint a portrait. Without that speck of light things don't seem so alive. Shining eyes are wonderful!

It crosses my mind occasionally when I work on this particular painting that I don't even know her name. I wonder if it would have made a difference as I painted. I don't really think so, as I studied the photograph so well that I felt that I knew her anyway.

The bottom photograph, taken indoors in morning light with no flash, is a good colour match on my computer.

Today I am grateful for clear international phone connections.

27 September 2011

and onwards...

This work is destined to be quite dark as well, but I am really enjoying playing wtih the light in it so far.
I suspect it will stay a lot looser and brighter than the first piece for the space. It has to match perfectly a beautiful piece of wood, and blend into a black surround. An interesting challenge to say the least, and I think that it has to be darkish to work.
When all the stalks and leaves are in the composition should sit together cohesively.

I must say I prefer the light and fluffy start, but when all the flowers are in and there is a bit of light around the candles I think it will come together and sit well in the black metal surround. It is to go as an inset over a built in fireplace so has black metal and bricks around it, and the beautiful piece of wood up quite high above it. I think the key is to tie them all together with colour, hence the almost monotone work to match the bricks and the dark to link them all together.

remember this?

Well, before it was finished, the client changed her mind. That's OK, it was only ever a test piece for a rather unusual commission and I hadn't poured too much of myself into it to be disappointed. In fact I think it could look stunning in our entry which is in similar tonings and needs a lift. The chunky, spartan look matches the strength of the structure of this building somehow. I put it aside to work on at my leisure, contemplating another piece to put with it in the foyer. However, today she asked me to finish it, add some green, and bring it back to her. OK... but now that it is heading in a different direction I am not sure about it myself. Let's see how it develops!
...and, some time later in the afternoon, I think it's close to "done". A few things to balance up, a few highlights, and I will be reasonably happy with it. It is not painted in "my usual style" but as the client prefers. I can still see my hand in it well and truly though!

In the meantime, we have agreed on the composition for the second version, which was put aside when the heat got to me (at least 38 degrees in the studio every day). I have started sketching it in. The white is acrylic gesso building up some texture to add a little life to the extensive plain background. The overall painting needs to be dark to work in the space where it is to go.

Today I am grateful for generous clients.

26 September 2011

so i tried...




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a scrap

A scrap is actually an understatement, but the word was chosen carefully. It was a full on dog fight. I couldn't work out what they were fighting for. It was pretty vicious, and it took a fair effort for me to get them apart.

It seems to be a tiny pink towel that is folded over twice, and which I had left on the floor once I had done the required balance exercise on it, that was the cause of it all.

All the mats are downstairs, and the dogs and I are in the studio which has the hardest of hard tiles that are 100 years old this year. These tiles look a lot like French tiles but apparently are typical of this region up until the 1930s. (The room next door, which I covet, has much older and more elaborate tiles. One day, one day...)

After the dogs retreated to (their?) respective corners Pickle slunk under my bed where the large box from a heater is folded, and she probably thinks that if she is quiet she can stay there all night. Zacchi says he doesn't care if she has the more comfortable bed (two expansive layers of thickly wadded cardboard), he has the scrap of pink that is closest to Mum at the computer.

Oh the perils of being popular! (Zacchi says "Mum, this is what love looks like...")

They are miffed that I am not walking them again tonight. It's trying to rain, and seems a particularly dark night. They had a very good walk this morning, but they don't think it wasn't enough.

And now the little scrap of a ragamuffin is curled up on the floor pretending to be comfortable, while the wounded ego is in the lap of luxury where I can't photograph her without the flash.
And now back to art...

Today I am grateful for cooler temperatures.

PS: Before I could shut down the computer and get back to work (or go to sleep) this had happened without me hearing a thing! Typical hot-blooded Italians, these two! It's no wonder I don't know where I am half the time :-)

forced to go shopping

We have had little water for two days. Now there really is NO water. Time to shop for drinking water, hand sanitiser, and perhaps stop in somewhere and fill a container... in New Zealand I could always bucket water from the closest trough to flush the loo. I'll have to try the bottom of the fountain but the neighbours could well have beaten me to what water is there.

I guess I'll be in good company; although I managed a wash this morning we must all be starting to smell!

Today I am grateful for water in the kettle and soup in the fridge.

25 September 2011

in the middle

Best not write a new list... I think it would scare me. I'll just keep crossing things off the old list, and hope that I'll be forgiven for being late with a few things that haven't made it onto the list. I'm in the middle of a few things, and usually I work well from lists. This time I think I will just muddle along. I spent far too much of today cleaning, then took time out for lunch and didn't quite pick up the momentum again. Tomorrow is another day...

I have put some new students off until the winter, in the hope that I will paint like crazy in the meantime and not regret losing that potential income. I've finally worked out that there are only so many hours in the day, and I've managed to say that special little word that was so hard to learn, "No".

There is a triffid growing onto my terrace. I am sure it is growing about 10 inches a day. I can't destroy it, it has the most glorious purple-blue flowers. (And yes, I know that the terrace railing is lying down and it's dangerous not having a railing... that's a whole chapter in a book one day).

The water supplies are down again. This afternoon there is no water in the upper half of the village, and those of us on the lucky side of the road have water to the ground floor only, nothing upstairs. Apparently we are receiving only a quarter of the normal supply. It is nearly 10pm and the water isn't back yet. Furry teeth, or go downstairs yet again?

Today I am grateful for time to cut my toenails.

24 September 2011


Another festa today, but I am home early. I lasted over five hours, and could have had a 6 euro meal and waited for the band to start playing but I'd really had enough by 8.30pm. Today was the celebration of volunteers, and our art group had a stand there. I now take something to paint at these events so I am not sitting wishing I were home in the studio, counting the hours as they pass.

This afternoon I took watercolours with me, as I think it is time to declare my passion even though I earn my living painting in oils and acrylic. I think that this little one is sold, when I finish a few details. (Photographed on my laptop to give you an idea of the size - and because that's where the lamp is!) The scene is a simpliflied version of what I could see from our position by the fountain.
Anyway, I toddled along dutifully and ended up having a thoroughly good time, chatting to old and new friends and even joking in Italian. That has to be progress, right?


Apparently I was on TV again this morning. I am yet to see any of the programmes I am in (there were three, and I was interviewed in two of them). This one was shown last night then repeated this morning according to the lady who said that she had been watching me this morning. I am really ambivalent about seeing them; curious to know how the programme is put together, and how a stray Kiwi appears amongst the Italians, and happy to avoid the cringe factor which must come with seeing me bumbling along trying to explain concepts way beyond my vocabulary range. It's a magazine type programme featuring food, wine, art and music.


Yesterday a villager offered to give me a two-dog lead. I didn't see him today, but tonight when Zacchi walked me I put his lead under Pickle's collar and had only one to hold on to. That way they can't get me tangled up. Little by little we are making progress. Zacchi is a dream to walk, but Pickle has a nose for cats and is not nearly so easy.


My laziness about shopping has lead to a new recipe. I still haven't made it to the vege shop, so it was soup made out of what was left today. Onions, pumpkin, frozen champignon mushrooms, some tomato puree, vegetable stock cubes and seasoning. When it was ready I grated in some parmigiano and to my amazement it was very good! It looks a bit suspect, a bit like a witch's brew possibly, but the flavour was just fine! A sprinkling of fresh parsley would have just topped it off nicely.

Today I am grateful for my place in this community.

23 September 2011


Tonight over dinner my friends were practising their English. Today is Freeday, said the husband. Fryday, I corrected (he had fried our mozzarella in carozza). Free day is giorno libero, I said. Domani, Saturday, is free day. No, he said, tomorrow is job day. Work day, I said. You do a job, you have a job, but it is a work day. "Every day is work day" sighed his wife in the sweetest accent. I noticed that the kids were slipping away from the table quietly. Enough with this English, the lesson finished half an hour ago.

The mozzarella in carozza is not too bad. (Mozzarella isn't really a cheese in my book. And somehow cheese in a carriage just doesn't do it as a name!) The carriage was a fine breadcrumb batter tonight, or was it fine slices of bread beaten with a few extras a bit like the schnitzel recipe I have?

I preferred the risotto with porcini mushrooms and pachini though. Little piglets? No, just rather special mushrooms. Pachini are tiny little tomatoes which are little bursts of flavour. Yummm... It's really hard trying to eat small meals here!

PS the letter i sounds like an e in Italian, using the same vowel sounds as the Maori language. You say freeday, I say fryday, I feel a song coming on...

Today I am grateful for a skype call from Melbourne.

22 September 2011




If I'd painted a sky like this you would tell me that it wasn't natural. Truth is often stranger than fiction.

Photographed at/from? Arce earlier this evening.

talking to new zealand

Today is a special day for some of us. It is good to keep in touch, to remember people we have lost.

Never miss an opportunity to let people know that you care about them. Life is too short, people too precious, and time flies while we are busy doing other things.

We never know what is around the corner, but if we step out with confidence and share smiles along the way then, even if we don't find what we think we are looking for, we can help other people as we pass by.



Yes, yesterday improved for both the dogs and I. Two unexpected visitors, and a very tasty gift for the dogs (or so their tails and eyes tell me) certainly improved it considerably.

After the interview (for a "peace paper") on International Day of Peace I found new energy to get back into Legato after being so lacking in energy that I had even considered taking a year off next year so I could focus on a bigger and better 2013 and 2014. Thinking you can change the world on your own gets a bit lonely at times. It's nice to know that other people are trying to do it too. This peace march must have started with just one person's thought, some time ago! Now thousands and thousands march from Perugia to Assisi to promote peace, marching against hunger, war, corruption... the list goes on. Today there is a "meeting of 1000" young people at the "peace table", sharing ideas and cultures. The great thing is that 4000 will be there!

I spent the evening updating the side panels of the Legato blog, linking to sponsors, listing the artists at different venues, and wondering how I could ever have contemplated abandoning the project for even a short year.

The visitor that I was expecting later in the evening didn't arrive, so there are still discussions to be had that affect my daily living here. Sometimes all the unexpected things make life just a little too challenging but somehow I seem to get through the tough times and emerge out the other side.

A visitor today helped me get a few things in focus. He is claiming back his weekends and refusing to work after 8pm at night. Teaching English to busy people is challenging, especially when, at the end of the day, they are as tired as the teacher is. The students he is discarding would be more than twice my income, but I live in the wrong town to pick them up.

I have to decide about returning to Italian lessons. It is a long drive, but the teacher is one well worth travelling to. Having the right teacher makes all the difference in the world! I know that I can pick up a student in that town to pay for the petrol, but do I want the commitment? Big sigh. It all takes me away from what I want to be doing.

Today's second decision: Facebook has to go. (Tui's advert?) FB is too time consuming. When the new version settles down I will look at it again, and figure out how to see only the posts I want to read. It is a distraction I can well do without, yet I find myself clicking "share" as I read newspapers on line...

OK, turn off the computer, take a break, drive to Sora and think about teaching and painting again.

Today I am grateful for choices.

21 September 2011

senza sale

We have the most wonderful bread here. Cooked in a wood-fired oven, crunchy crusts and a strong flour that holds moisture like a sponge. You can wring our bread out and it bounces back into shape again. I miss it when I am away.

But, just occasionally, I accidently get a loaf with no salt in it. They look the same in their round crustiness but the taste... the disappointment is huge!

In years gone by there was a tax on salt, and like cigarettes and matches it could be bought only at the tabacchi, not at the grocery shop. Up north the people rebelled, and began making bread senza sale, without salt (sale = saah lay). In some places that is all you can get. Don't try it. I prefer to eat cracker biscuits if I have to eat in those towns.

When my morning's Legato chores were done I headed to the market... just as it closed. Instead of choosing my own mouth-watering fruit - with free-stone peaches so juicy and flavoursome that I can smell them and am salivating just writing about them - I had to make do with a bland mix of pale, barely ripe stone fruit that had been selected then left behind. I missed out on vegetables completely as the truck was packed.

A good friend who doesn't drive has been wanting to go to the beach for a while. She even put a "pleaseeeee" on Facebook. Ok, I thought, I've done enough this morning, we'll go. It feels like the perfect day for the beach. I phoned her. "Guess where I am" she said in excited Italian before I could get a word in. Right. Someone else had read her plea and taken her to the beach for the day.

For lunch (thinking of the beach) I had bought bread and ham. Remind me that cooked ham here is not like it is in NZ. Each time I buy it I resolve never to buy it again... and then I see how good it looks, forget how flavourless it is, and have to make that resolve all over again.

Aah well, I thought, I'll enjoy the bread. Fail. How did I come to buy a piece with no salt?

Zacchi and Piccolina are being very good in their reduced yard (you can't bark at what you can't see, right?) But they'd rather be somewhere else. I know how they feel. I was actually looking forward to that walk along the beach, waves lapping at my ankles, sea breeze calming my soul.

So, so far, apart from a friendly interview for a newspaper, today has been one big tasteless day. A day senza sale. I guess that happens. You need the plain days to appreciate the spicy ones.

Now to have a siesta, and see if the second half of the day will liven up a little!

Today I am grateful for new horizons.

19 September 2011

the old home valley is shaking again

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Feeling bad about yet another earthquake in Christchurch I went to the New Zealand earthquake site to check it out. There I found that the old faithful earthquake zones are active again, including the shaky valley where I grew up.

I marvel at what can be done these days with internet. If it were not so wonderful it would be alarming. In fact, it is alarming. I load a photograph onto my computer and open Picasa. There beside my photo album is a map with every photograph pinpointed on it. Amazing, yet a little scary too.

But getting back to the earthquakes. I zoomed in on the one that sounded very close to home as I once knew it. Sure enough it was there, the centre of the quake being just over the hill from where I spent my childhood. Zoomed in, and in. And from feeling concern for Christchurch suddenly I am climbing hills in Marumaru and Opoiti, reliving watching dog trials while waiting for the school bus, digging for treasure, hiding in Maori fortification dug-outs... and not getting on with my work.

So if this link works, you can go to the spot just above Frasertown where the bigger green map says Tiniroto Road. (On the black and white relief map version it is Mangapoike Rd). Where there is a short straight piece of road with green fields between the river and the road you will find me, lost in memories. (Next to the "patchwork" land which is the next property to the north). I'm the tomboy, always in shorts and up a hill or a tree. I'm the one with hair so blonde her scalp got sunburnt regularly. Perhaps that's why I choose to spend my summers behind one metre thick stone walls these days.

Where is home? A friend once said that home is where you can have a dog. I've always said that home is where the heart is. There is noone left there for me to call Marumaru home now. Wairoa falls further and further away from my thoughts. I am constantly pulled back to read Fleur Adcock's Weathering. Home is here, when I can't be with my family. At least Zacchi and Piccolina would agree.

Today I am also grateful for happy memories and new dreams.

woohooo it's raining

A huge clap of thunder in the night brought a tiny bit of rain, not enough to wet under the trees but enough to dampen the concrete and change the smell in the air from smoke to that "dirt after the first rain" scent.

But now, at 9am, IT IS RAINING!!! I will probably lose my internet connection, it happens with odd weather, but let's celebrate! The rain doesn't look as though it is here to stay but it should be enough to stop the spreading fires if not put out the hotspots. It might even save my stressed trees.

But the fires were a worry. As my friend down in the valley wrote late last evening, on seeing three more glowing sites below the church on the hill, if you compare the size of the flames with the size of the helicopters, it was huge! Towards evening the wind came up, probably fanning it all anew. It's no wonder the helicopter monsoon buckets and foam plane weren't coping.

But, right now, although it is easing off a little, IT'S RAINING!

Today I am grateful for rain and cooler temperatures.

18 September 2011

no more noise

The helicopters stopped a little bit before dark. I have just been walked by the dogs and I couldn't hear the crackle of flames up on the mountain. Let's hope it is all under control.

Now to dust off the finest layer of ash and the occasional bit of floating burnt leaf - if it's not one kind of dust here, it's another!

It is still far too hot. I have dunked my head in cold water, yet that wasn't enough to cool me properly. I am not even going near the studio, it will be close to 40 degrees with the sun streaming in all day. I love the light airy space, but it is like an oven despite double glazing up there. Tomorrow morning will be soon enough; there is a change promised, so hopefully we will drop into the 20s.

Headache, be gone! Tomorrow if there are no helicopters flying past the window there is exciting work to do in the studio.

My neighbour has just arrived home... Piccolina alert time. It's just as well we have had our walk, short as it was.

Ciao for now.

and still we burn... closer and closer

Click on photo for bigger image.






We are already brown and grey out one side of the village, that fire was really close and went through the ruins and lapped at the village (view from my studio in third photo above). Now it burns on the southern side. Last night and today despite endless helicopter trips and the foam plane it continues to burn. It's still not as close as the first fire, but is getting closer all the time. The helicopters are draining a local lake; the swimming pools they usually use will be well empty. Some come over from the coast as well.

This morning I went to Monte Camino (south of Cassino, I live north of Cassino) to meet with a Kiwi and British veterans, and yes, there in the mountains were helicopters and smoke.

Today I am grateful for firefighters.

17 September 2011


Smoke rises in the hills across the valley, while behind me the fire approaches the church on the mountain top. Incredibly, as I type this, fireworks are going off nearby. I shake my head in disbelief. How can they be so confident, as they are, that fireworks will extinguish in the air, and that any wind blowing them off course away from ploughed paddocks will also blow them out?

I will water my trees and try to sleep tonight; there is nothing constructive that I can do. I am not in any danger, but I find this whole attitude to fire most distressing. I can smell the smoke outside, here but not here. Time to close the doors and read a good book. I have not the slightest desire to go to the festa along the road where the smoke will be hanging in the air.

and still we burn

The helicopters continue to fly over me. A blue haze fills the valley and I can barely see the other side in parts. This fire must be close, because the helicopter flies my way. I can't smell smoke, and there is no crackle of flames, so I am guessing that close is still at least two or three kilometres away.

The countryside has a bleached look, where it is not blackened. Wherever there is a drop of water there is a wasp looking for a drink. This weekend should be the last of our 35+ temperatures, but there is still no sign of rain.

Today I am having a down day, not a bad day but a quiet one. I should have gone to a ceremony for veterans in another town, but I had no energy to drive there. I have opted out of a street painting display this evening, and another one tomorrow. Zacchi sits at my feet, looking at me with worried eyes when I move. Pickle is being very silent.

I am missing my family, and wishing I could teleport myself to where each one of them is. It's 2.40pm. Time for lunch, some music, and maybe a spot of domesticity. This apathy is no good for anyone. So, cold water to cool off, hot water to boil some eggs, and then some uplifting music to get me moving again.

Today I am grateful for Fizzgig.

15 September 2011

hydrochloric acid

I would never have expected it to be, but hydrochloric acid is becoming one of my good friends. This potent brew, which caused all sorts of damage to my insides years ago, is an essential cleaning agent at the moment.

I am cleaning a bit, and running out for a break every 50 tiles or so. I started the job yesterday, and it took huge self discipline to make it to the half way mark. A few minutes ago I finished the bottle of 15% acid. Drat. But then, it was double drat. I still have an unopened bottle of 24% acid. I can finish today. No rest, but I'll get the job done.

But oh the difference to my sinus membranes. I am taking a break every 20 tiles now.

The gallery floor has had a slight grey film over it since it was completed, and a few spots of cement were stuck to the tiles. That was quite a problem at one end, as my worker took ill just before he had completed the job. He carefully told me not to walk on the tiles, but didn't tell me that I should clean them as best I could after a couple of days. Since then I have scrubbed and scraped, to no avail. But trusty google took me to hydrochloric acid, and I found the product quite easily in the household cleaning section of a supermarket!!!
A wooden chest on a wooden floor?

So now two thirds of the floor is gleaming, looking more than ever like timber, as I knew it should. So discipline Kay! Back to the grindstone. This is hands and knees work, but I am treating the second bottle of acid with a lot more respect than the first one! I still have about 200 tiles to go. No more FB breaks, it's take a deep breath of clean air (now where would I find that here with all the fires in the hills?) and nose down to the cement again, but this time with a mask.

Today I am grateful for quality cleaning agents.

14 September 2011

being/going local

Tonight at a book launch across the road I confirmed my next exhibition at the same venue. Dates to be negotiated, but I have the theme in mind. The space is small enough for the works to be "particular".

I'll keep you posted... I want the work to be less figurative, less predictable, but you can expect some poppies to be in there somehow.

Today I am grateful for a supportive community.

at the station

Another railway station farewell. Each one is different, and they don't get any easier. I wave and smile brightly, but really I am blinking back the tears. Sometimes my life has too many farewells in it.

This morning my Australian guests headed home. Their visit gave me much cause to reflect. I hadn't seen my school friend for 43 years. Am I really that old? But it was not only our school days or the gap in between those years that I have been thinking about over the last two weeks.

The fact that both my guests see themselves as Australian was a surprise. Fair enough, the "ragazza", the daughter, moved to Australia as a little one, and her accent gives no trace of her Kiwi origins. But my school friend, apart from the very occasional "i" sound, still sounds like the girl I used to know. When does one become a "new native"? If I live here for the rest of my days I will still be a Kiwi living in Italy. I know that I have adopted some Italian habits, that Italy has changed me a little, but I also know that I will always be a foreigner here.

Do we need a sense of belonging? It reminded me of a conversation with other NZ born Australians, working in Rome but already wondering where they will fit in when they retire. How long could they stay away before it became too hard to "go home"? New friends discussed similar issues with me recently. Their exciting international life prior to impending NZ retirement in a quiet South Island town might just be spoiling them too much, and home might never be quite enough again.

Occasionally I wonder which family will kindly tuck me into their corner in the local cemetery. Will I be here for the rest of my life? I guess this visit has unsettled me more than I expected. Looking back is not good for me. I prefer to look forward. But when my "forward" is only a few months at a time I have to admit that I have no idea what the rest of my life will look like. Daily living takes all my energy.

My friend heads home, very sure of how her life is going to be. I envy her that confidence. Her life has been full and exciting, going interesting places, having a successful career, experiencing things I will never know. But would I really trade places with her?

Today I will gather up my thoughts, tidy up and organise my space again, and get back to my own life. Or rather, I will when this heat wave finally ends and I have the energy to pick up life again. I like my life with its challenges and the little steps I make. I accept that there are no certainties for me. But just occasionally it would be nice to look ahead and know that all will be well.

I guess that is what faith is about. I do know that all will be well. I do know that I am where I want to be right now. How does the song go? Doris Day sang it so well. "... the future's not ours to see, Que sera, sera".

So enough with looking back, or looking forward and discussing stairs and knees and how I am going to cope or where I might live in my old age. Today is all we have. This morning I have already organised the firewood for the winter and the olive picking and pruning for October. I've put a few things back in their places, and am ready to wash the floors. The first load of linen is ready to go out into the sun, and the day is full of promise.

On days like today I enjoy doing housework, nesting again, making my own little space in the world. Maybe we all need to feel that we belong, and being right here in this ancient little village on a rocky hillside does it for me.

Today I am grateful for metre-thick stone walls.

13 September 2011

for sharon...