The Changing Seasons, June-July 2021

Wahine Toa (warrior woman). A note to self for the shitty days ahead.

I have ovarian cancer.

The provisional diagnosis, given a month ago, has been confirmed by an MRI. I am scheduled for a radical hysterectomy next Monday.

What happens after that will depend on pathology results.

The upside of all this is that T and I have finally sorted out Enduring Powers of Attorney and updated our Wills.

The downside is that we feel we have to.

On a positive note, the pulmonary embolism I was diagnosed with seems to have either cleared, or was never there at all. I no longer have to inject myself daily with blood-thinners, and don’t have to constantly wear the ugly compression stockings (at least until after surgery).

Bye-bye injections — for now. Image: Su Leslie 2021

On a less positive note; I’m still peeing through a catheter.

But I am starting to see the funny side of that — just not enough to write about it.

Something of an expert in the varying properties of medical tapes. Image: Su Leslie 2021

So does that sum up my life at the moment? Well, yes, ….

Except.

My father in law died a few weeks ago.

I’m grateful I was well enough to speak at his funeral and pay tribute to a man I really loved.

My son graduated from university last week.

And though we didn’t stay for the whole ceremony, I’m so grateful I could go, and see all his hard work of the last few years acknowledged.

The boy-child’s graduation. Image: Leslie family archive.

The Big T and I celebrated 35 years together at the weekend.

Every moment of every day I am grateful for his love and support and his fundamental goodness.

Even though he does make me laugh until I snort — and that is so unattractive.

So life is a bit weird right now, and will probably get weirder. But I’m fortunate to be experiencing this particular brand of weird in a country that still has a functioning public health system, staffed by people who seem efficient and are certainly kind.

Best of all I feel supported by friends and whanau; can’t ask for much more than that really.

Muriwai Beach; something to look forward to when I’ve recovered from surgery. Image: Su Leslie 2021

The Changing Seasons — this month hosted by Brian at Bushboy’s World

Stopping by to say hello

Home; where the coffee is great and no-one wakes me every two hours to take my blood pressure (which is fine, thanks for asking). Image: Su Leslie 2021

It seems strange now that when I decided to take a break from blogging it was because I felt I had nothing to say.

Life can change so quickly.

Last week a grumbling health issue tipped over from chronic to acute and I found myself at the local A&E department.

One thing led to another and I spent five days being scanned, examined and generally pondered over.

The doctors aren’t quite sure what’s happening, but seem to think it’s probably not good.

I’m at home now, waiting for an MRI to (hopefully) make the picture clearer.

I’m feeling well and taking a crash course in gratitude.

And I can’t complain I have nothng to write about.

The Changing Seasons, May 2021

Storm surge, Tapeka Point, Northland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

I like visual metaphors, and the shot above does rather sum up my month.

Several whanau members are experiencing health and other crises; the most serious being my seemingly indestructable mother hospitalised twice in the last couple of weeks. It’s made me very aware how much on-going worry and helplessness destroy motivation and productivity; despite my best efforts to manage anxiety by keeping busy.

Eco-printing on silk with eucalyptus and pohutukawa leaves. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Work in progress; felt slippers for the colder weather ahead. Image: Su Leslie 2021

It’s only taken a year to get around to it … Refurbished telephone table. Image: Su Leslie 2021

The “before” shot, telephone table. Image: Su Leslie 2021

There have been some high points in the month, including a rainy, but relaxing weekend in the Bay of Islands with the Big T.

Russell, Bay of Islands, NZ. Once described as “the hell hole of the Pacific.” Image: Su Leslie 2021

Sunset, Russell wharf. Image: Su Leslie 2021

On the car ferry, Opua, Northland. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Late afternoon, Langs Beach, Northland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Langs Beach, Northland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Mangawhai Heads, Northland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

And an afternoon wandering around the Auckland waterfront, enjoying the last of the sunshine.

Viaduct basin, Auckland NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

I’d thought that taking a break from blogging would re-awaken my enthusiasm, but — perhaps because there’s so much else going on — I’m not really feeling more inspired or engaged than before. And while I don’t plan to abandon ZimmerBitch altogether, I suspect that posts will continue to be fairly infrequent.

I am happy to carry on hosting The Changing Seasons for a bit longer, but if there is anyone else who’d like to take it on, that would be wonderful.

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly project where bloggers around the world share their thoughts and feelings about the month just gone. We all approach this slightly differently — though generally with an emphasis on the photos we’ve taken during the month.

For many of us, looking back over these photos provides the structure and narrative of our post, so each month is different.

Others focus on documenting the changes in a particular project — such as a garden, an art or craft project, or a photographic diary of a familiar landscape.

But in the end, it is your changing season, and you should approach it however works for you.

There are no fixed rules around post length or photo number — just a request that you respect your readers’ time and engagement.

Tags and ping-backs

Tag your photos with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

Create a ping-back to this post, so that I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Natalie from Little Pieces of Me

Ladyleemanila

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Ju-Lyn from Touring my Backyard

Marilyn at Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Brian from Bushboy’s World

Sarah at https://secretartexpedition.wordpress.com/2021/06/06/the-changing-seasons-spring-edition/Art Expedition

Suzanne from Life at No. 22

LightWriteLife joins us this month

Friday flowers

Image: Su Leslie

April in Jude’s Life in Colour project is all about purple, and what’s not to love about a purple hydrangea?

As is becoming my habit, I’m taking inspiration from Tracy (at Reflections of an Untidy Mind), and bringing you some music too.

This is an intensely personal song written and performed by a beautiful young friend; a woman I’ve watched grow from infancy.

#fridayflowers

#nzmusicmonth

It’s all in the detail

Eco-print; feijoa leaf on silk. Image: Su Leslie 2019

This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge ask us to focus on the details, so I’m going to take you on a wee journey through a very cool fibre art process I learned recently. This is not a lesson in technique (I’m a total novice here), but a glimpse at some of the processes and outcomes. (1)

A couple of weeks ago, I did a workshop (2) on eco-printing — a process which transfers colour and shape from plants to another material (generally textiles or paper).

The theory

The basic principle is fairly simple. Many plants contain chemicals that will, under the right conditions, leach into other materials. Plant dyes are usually made by boiling leaves, bark, roots, fruit and/or flowers and then immersing fabric in the liquid.

Eco-printing eliminates the first stage; instead bringing plant and fabric into direct contact. The actual transfer process can apparently take place without water or heat — but takes weeks rather than hours to achieve. It is more usual to bundle plant and fabric together and either steam, or immerse in simmering water.

A disclaimer

Eco-printing is not for anyone who wants a precise result. It’s a process with so many variables that every piece made will be different — even if they use the same plants from the same source in the same water-bath.

The fun is in the detail!

Basically the same plant material; the same fabric, “cooked” at the same time. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

For someone like me — traditionally driven by results rather than process — that knowledge was oddly liberating. It meant I could simply PLAY.

Olive, feijoa, bracken fern, onion skin, layed out on silk. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The chemistry bit

Some plants — eucalyptus in particular — make excellent dyes while others need a little chemical help to release their colour into fabric. The “chemical help” is known as mordant. Mordants are often (but not always) metal salts. The one we used in the workshop was iron-based — made by soaking rusty nails and steel wool in vinegar. After a week or so, the liquid can be mixed with water and the plant material dipped or soaked in it before being laid on the fabric.

A jar of rusty nails; otherwise known as iron mordant. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Silver dollar gum leaves (Eucalyptus cinerea) give bold colours and definition without an extra mordant. Image: Su Leslie

Detail; silver dollar leaves on silk. Image: Su Leslie

Process

The transfer of colour and outline from plant to fabric happens when the two are in direct contact. The method we used to achieve this is called bundling.

We laid out assorted leaves, stems and bits of bark on our silk fabric, rolled these up, tied them and put them in simmering water to “cook” for at least an hour. The longer you leave the bundles, the darker and more intense the colours.

Happy with the layout. Image: Su Leslie

Practicing at home. Tied bundles ready for the pot. Image: Su Leslie

Slimy mess. Once the bundle is cooked, the leaves are removed to reveal what’s been imprinted. Image: Su Leslie

Finished product

Finished scarf. Image: Su Leslie

Finished scarf. Image: Su Leslie

Detail, finished scarf. Image: Su Leslie


(1) If you are interested, online resources abound (of the usual variable quality). I’d suggest you begin here. India Flint is widely credited with “inventing” the eco-print process.

(2) The workshop was taught by artist Birgit Moffat