Seven Nation Army

band pre gig b&w Frostbite; getting ready for their first gig. Image: Gray-Leslie family archive, 2008

The boy-child is a talented musician, and for several years played in bands. Co-ordinated through the Auckland School of Rock, the bands gave our pre-teen and others a chance to not only learn how to work together to create music, but opportunities to perform in front of (some quite large) audiences.

The focus was on writing original material, but they also performed covers. One that I particularly liked was The White Stripes song Seven Nation Army. It has a very catchy bass riff (which apparently was actually played on a guitar and digitally lowered an octave). Since the boy-child was at that stage a bass player, the riff was heard a lot around our house.

I found a recording of the kids playing this song, which reminded me just how young they were (my son was about 10 I think).

And here are The White Stripes.

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs, and it is a great chance to stroll down some musical memory lanes. You can see her latest post here.

Pictures in my soul


The skim-boarding phase. Waiwera beach, Auckland. NZ. Image: Gray-Leslie family archive.

“The soul can not think without a picture. “Aristotle, Greek philosopher, 384–322 BC

If the human soul is the seat of principles, thoughts and emotions, then the prevailing picture in my soul is of two things I most want to cherish and protect; my son, and the natural world.

My boy is fortunate to have grown up with a vast natural playground all around him. Every child deserve this, and every single one of us needs to take whatever steps we can to protect, preserve and if possible restore our natural world for the good of our own souls, and for those yet to come.

Debbie, at Travel with Intent, hosts a weekly quotation challenge. Visit to see her stunning photos, and find links to other participants’.

Spread your wings

The Big T and I were talking this morning about the holidays we used to have when the boy-child was small. Looking back, they seem frequent and filled with sunshine, and I was reminded of these lyrics from Summertime

… One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But till that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
With daddy and mammy standin’ by

Summertime’, George Gershwin. From Porgy and Bess

I think we all dream of keeping our children safe, but know in our hearts we must give them space and confidence to take wing.

It’s a wonderful song, and this version by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong is probably my favourite.

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Why not join in — as Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind so brilliantly puts it “casual players welcome.”

Never too cold for icecream


The boy-child experiences his first ice-cream from the famous Berthillon glacier on the Île Saint-Louis in Paris. Image: Su Leslie 2006

I’m on a bit of a nostalgia ride at the moment — remembering family holidays especially.

In 2006 a conference the Big T had to attend took us all to Paris in early March. It was bitterly cold (particularly as we’d come from a very hot Auckland summer), but someone suggested to the boy-child he try ice-cream from Berthillion … and you know how it is, who could let a few (very few) degrees come between a boy and a sweet icy confection.

From memory the flavours were chocolate and blood orange.

Posted to the Ragtag Daily Prompt | temperature

When the packaging’s part of the present

Finished! Toy sack that doubles as gift-wrapping for the mokopuna‘s* Christmas gift.

I am trying to reduce the amount of packaging waste I generate, and while I can’t do anything about the plastic and cardboard encasing the little one’s train set, I figured I could at least deliver it in something useful.

‘Cos seriously, what boy doesn’t collect stuff?

*mokopuna (often shortened to moko) is the Maori word for a young grandchild, niece, nephew — or in our case, first cousin twice removed.

Isn’t moko so much nicer.

The loveliest distance

child drawing

“A curved line is the loveliest distance between two points.” — unknown. Children’s art class. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Art begins with the line; sketches, paintings, even three dimensional works.

It seems to me that the urge to mark lines on a surface is quite fundamentally human. From paleolithic cave art to toddlers “redecorating” walls with Mum’s lipstick (true story — but it was my brother, honest); in all times and at all ages we seek to explore, document and indeed change our world with lines and all that flows from them.

Or as art historian Sir Kenneth Clark put it:

The difference between what we see and a sheet of white paper with a few thin lines on it is very great. Yet this abstraction is one which we seem to have adopted almost instinctively at an early stage in our development, not only in Neolithic graffiti but in early Egyptian drawings. And in spite of its abstract character, the outline is responsive to the least tremor of sensibility. 

At a cultural level, line-making helps to define humanity.

At a personal level it makes us happy — and sometimes deeply unhappy.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” — Pablo Picasso

The joy children experience in making art can so quickly be extinguished by external — and internal — critics. “That’s no good” becomes “you’re hopeless at art”, which becomes “I’m not creative.” I actually heard a woman at an art workshop say that while introducing herself to the group.

I started writing this post for Debbie’s One Word Sunday, where this week the word is lines. Then I realised that when I talk about art, and about making art, I am also talking about happiness. So I’m adding the post also to the Lens-Artists challenge | happiness is.