Not here today #17

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With the boy-child, Cambridge, England. Image: Leslie family archive 2006

With the current lock-down over, technically I am able to leave Auckland. However, as there are still cases of Covid-19 being transmitted within the city, I think I’ll be staying put a while longer. My desire for a holiday isn’t greater than my respect for the health of other New Zealanders.

So today’s #notheretoday is a little different. It’s certainly true that I can’t currently ravel to England, but the physical and geographical barriers are less in my mind than the temporal one.

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” — LP Hartley “The Go-Between.”

No longer is my son small enough to pick up and hold in my arms. He now has a full set of (beautifully regular) adult teeth, and there’s a different aesthetic at play in his choice of t-shirt.

But the smile is the same; he still has the dog, and I love the twenty-two year old boy-child with as much intensity and absolute joy as ever.

The Changing Seasons, August 2020

dance me to the end of love Art play. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Well, August. A month of two halves.

It started well enough; a visit to the hairdresser, dinner with the boy-child and his partner at a new restaurant, preparing to host a dinner party — even checking flights and accommodation for a trip to Christchurch.

Then Covid-19 re-emerged in the community and Auckland returned to Level 3 lock-down for 19 days, ending last night. Today we begin a period in Level 2.5, and wait to see what will  happen next.

Confinement to barracks meant I had no excuse not to embrace my “Arty August” project. If I’d been hoping for 31 finished pieces of work, I would have been disappointed. Luckily my goals were more about process than product and I’m happy. I’ve played a lot with watercolours — trying to understand washes and blending; experimented with some air-dry clay that’s been in the art box for a while, and transformed a pair of thrift-shoes into a … 3D collage?

Embracing process doesn’t come naturally to me; I am very goal-oriented and naturally tend to become incredibly frustrated when my output doesn’t match my vision.

A few years ago my friend Claire — who is both a talented artist and a very good teacher — said something that stuck with me and helps me find value in everything I make, even when it’s simply marks on paper. She suggested that in each piece of work there is something good; maybe just a tiny part of a sketch that really works, or a blob of colour that’s pleasing. The trick is to find that one thing and enjoy it, celebrate it, and use it to move forward. In the last month I’ve covered lots of sheets of watercolour paper with blobs of colour. None screams out to me as the basis for a work in itself, but together, they suggest materials for a collage.

And if that’s good enough for Eric Carle in The Very Hungry Caterpillar –it’s definitely good enough for me.

As always, when I’m at home a lot, I cook a lot.

I am finding more and more that I want to eat a largely plant-based diet, and mushrooms are not only a favourite food, but work really well to provide the texture and depth of flavour found in meat dishes. I also love miso and am experimenting with making a miso glaze/sauce for mushrooms. The first attempt was pretty good, but needs tweaking.

And continuing my obsession with scones; I went right back to basics with a recipe from Maw Broon’s Cookbook. If you’re not familiar with Maw Broon (i.e. if you’re not Scots), she is the matriarch of a comic strip called The Broons which has appeared in the Scottish newspaper The Sunday Post, since March 1936.

Maw Broon’s Cookbook contains recipes that have formed the basis of Scottish cooking for generations. Many were handed down from mother to daughter, and on again.

I was interested in the recipe for Puff Scones because it uses buttermilk, and because it calls for plain flour, baking soda and cream of tartar — instead of the more usual self-raising flour. I’m not sure if it was the combination of ingredients, or the fact of adding the acid and alkaline raising agents as separate entities, but the scones were amazing. Seriously; they were the lightest, fluffiest scones I’ve ever made (and I’d thrown in some cheese which often makes them more dense).

They have the Big T’s approval, so now I have to try Maw Broon’s treacle scones … and maybe a wee Dundee cake.

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Please visit these bloggers to find out how July played out for them:

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Suzanne from Life at No. 22

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Joining us this month is Ann-Christine, or Leya, who many of you will know as a host of the great weekly Lens-Artists challenge.

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Little Pieces of Me

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

A Wonderful Sheep

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Not Here Today #14

blossom havelock north

Blossom, Havelock North town centre. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Thinking ahead to spring, and some warmer, if not drier weather.

A couple of years ago we visited Havelock North in Hawkes Bay. The pretty town centre was planted with dozens of trees, all in blossom.

Bing Dawe’s sculpture is one of three in the town, which draw attention to the loss of wetlands and consequently the life that depends on it.

eel sculpture havelock north

‘From The Draining. Diminishing Returns, Eels.’ Bing Dawe, 2008. Sited in Havelock North town centre. Image: Su Leslie 2018

With few flowers surviving the wind and rain here, these blossom are also my #fridayflowers

Portraits of the mundane

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Image: Su Leslie 2020

I started 2020 with, if not resolutions, then written intentions. One was to take more portraits — partly to improve my technical skills and partly to force me to engage with people more.

Oh well, there’s always next year for the people part. And in the meantime, I am using this week’s Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge with its theme of everyday objects to make ‘portraits of the mundane.’

Not here today #13

fabric shop paris

Remembering the wonderful fabric shops around Montmartre, Paris. Image: Su Leslie 2006

Riffing on family holidays. In early 2006, the Big T’s company needed him in Paris for a week, so the boy-child and I tagged along (as you do).

A visit to Sacré-Cœur took us past streets lined with shops selling beautiful fabrics. I was in heaven — the boys, not so much