On ritual, music and chocolate fish

Twenty years ago, we had a naming ceremony for the boy-child.

It was a big, kiwi-casual, outdoors sort of event with family and friends — people we wanted to play a part in our baby son’s life.

Long on socialising and short on formality, we kept speeches to a minimum, and the closest we came to a blessing was a beautiful a capella version of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young, sung by the boy-child’s aunt, Anu Grace.

And the connection to today’s Ragtag Prompt — fish? Anu’s band at the time was called Chocolate Fish. You can hear her sing Forever Young on their album Live at Vino Vino.

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Attempting Mrs Oberon’s Cock-a-Hoop Honey Cake

One of my son’s favourite childhood books was Margaret Mahy’s A Busy Day for a Good Grandmother.

The good grandmother is Mrs Oberon, summoned by her son Scrimshaw to deliver one of her cock-a-hoop blue borage honey cakes — the only thing that will pacify his crying, teething baby son.

Her journey — by trailbike, plane, raft and skateboard — involves navigating rapids, and fighting off hungry vultures and alligators.

Arriving to find Scrimshaw at the end of his tether, she not only calms the baby but teaches her son to make his own honey cake.

I was reminded of the book recently by Amanda at Silkannthreades, and began wondering what a cock-a-hoop blue borage honey cake might look (and taste) like.

I did find a recipe, but not only was it missing blue borage honey, but seemed to lack the ingredients one might expect in a teething remedy.

This is my first attempt. It’s flavoured with blue borage honey (naturally), as well as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and chamomile — to soothe.

It’s ok. The texture is good, but none of the flavours emerge strongly enough and it looks disconcertingly like gingerbread.

Definitely not a six-word post this week — but bookended thus.

So, back to the drawing board.

Posted to Debbie’s Six Word Saturday

Playing for keeps

When the boy-child was at primary school, each year in around the second week of Term Three — maybe the first week in August — marbles started being played at school.

It wasn’t organised or announced. As far as I can tell, it was the most spontaneous, and in some ways the most momentous, event in the school calendar. For the boys anyway.

The craze usually lasted about two weeks before disappearing as suddenly as it came.

But in those two weeks, the boys experienced life intense and sometimes brutal: triumphs, failures, frustrations and anguish; rule-making, rule-breaking; bullying, humiliation and ranking — endless ranking. The marbles were ranked in value; the players even more so.

And always “playing for keeps.” Not just the marbles but the experiences too.

Posted to the Ragtag Daily Prompt | marble

A beautiful memory

Close up shot of cat sitting on couch back. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

It’s been two years since our very sick fur-baby walked out of the house and didn’t return. I believe she died on her own terms, but it took months, if not years, for us to stop seeing imaginary flashes of movement, and rushing to open the door to the sound of phantom scratching.

This morning I missed her particularly badly. Until my runny nose and sneezing began and I remembered how her (utterly wonderful) presence had started to trigger my allergies.

Posted to the Ragtag Daily Prompt | pet

2018 through my lens

In the final Lens-Artists photo challenge for 2018, Ann-Christine asks us to review our photos of the past year and share some favourites.

There are threads that run through all my photography: preferred subjects, lenses, and styles of composition. Food, flowers, beaches and art are always well-represented in the archive.

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The first plums harvested from our tree. Image: Su Leslie 2018

My enjoyment of food photography is a natural extension of my passion for food. What I like best about the shot above is that it was my first (and only) “take.” I don’t have a dedicated studio, and have to construct a set-up for every shoot. Because I’ve done the close-up-on-black-background style of photography before, I was able to set this up really quickly and got the shot I wanted first time.

What’s not to love about dramatic landscapes?

Manukau Heads, from Huia. Auckland, New Zealand. Su Leslie 2018

Manukau Heads, from Huia. Auckland, New Zealand. Su Leslie 2018

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Old garage, Whangaehu, Whanganui. Image: Su Leslie 2018

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Morning walk, Greenhithe. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Or beautiful flowers?

I like the shots below because they not only remind me of a great visit to Sydney to indulge in my passion for art, but about being in the right place at the right time.

This year, my interest in art has taken a new direction with an on-going commission to photograph the life of a friend’s art studio. Because it’s both a working and teaching space, I have suddenly found myself learning to take portraits — not only of a dear friend but also the many students she teaches, and a couple of events the studio has hosted.

I’ve chosen the portraits above, not because I think they are necessarily great photos, but because they represent moments in women’s lives that I was privileged to be able to share.

My favourite photograph of 2018 is another portrait.

 

The Big T, with whom I’ve shared my life for 32 years, doesn’t generally like being photographed, so allowing me to point my camera at him is an act of generosity, if not love. For which I am really grateful.

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The Big T. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Wishing you all a very happy and creative year ahead.

Halcyon Days

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The boy-child with Wham the wonder-dog, Ivinghoe Beacon, 2006. Image: Su Leslie, 2006

The boy-child is nearly 21, and proving to be a capable and resilient adult.

Which is just as well, as life seems to be buffeting him around a bit at the moment.

As a mother, I am incredibly proud of his independence and determination to solve his own problems, but I can’t help longing — just a little — for those days past when his greatest joys were to be had running around in the open air, and his tears could be dried with a hug and an offer of ice-cream. When I felt like I could actually make a difference in his life.

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Whamball — a most excellent game involving the throwing and catching of a wonder-dog. Invented on our English holiday in 2006. Image: Su Leslie

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | halcyon

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.