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.”

In the pink

The pink onsie

The boy-child; healthy, happy and rocking the pink onesie. Image; Su Leslie 1998

Don’t you love looking at old photos of your kids?

I remember taking this shot, and more particularly remember my mother’s reaction to me dressing her grandson in pink (and lavender, lime green, red …)

That was over 20 years ago, and I had thought such outdated notions of gender-based clothing (not to mention toys, games, behaviors, etc) was steadily being consigned to the dustbin of history. Then last week I had a conversation with my sister in law about how her mother complains that my four year old niece is always dressed “like a boy” — in blue!


Posted to the Ragtag Daily Prompt | pink

Getting creative with an old desk


Refurbished; old writing desk bought from a charity shop. Image: Su Leslie 2019

My student son lives in a shared flat, which means he has to keep most of his belongings in his bedroom, and work there too when the shared spaces get too busy or noisy.

So when I saw an old drop-front writing desk, it seemed a perfect solution to his need for both a workspace and storage.

In its original state, the desk was a bit dull and sad-looking, but it’s amazing what a few coats of white paint can do!


As bought. The wooden finish was a bit shabby, and too dark for a small bedroom. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I remember from my flatting days that rented houses never have enough lights or power points, they’re always in the wrong place, and there’s generally nothing you can do about it. So with the Big T’s help, I’ve fitted power and lighting to the desk itself, with a four-outlet power board (with USB ports) and a LED light above the desk area.


Integrated power-board makes it easy to use/charge laptop, phone, etc. Image: Su Leslie 2019


LED light attached to the desk should make the work area usable in any room. Image: Su Leslie 2019


Imagining how the desk would look as my workspace. Image: Su Leslie 2019


Image: Su Leslie 2019

Having brought the desk indoors to photograph it, I’m realising how useful I’d find something like this. And it does look good with the black & white chair.

Posted to the Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge — creativity

Pleasant to the ear

little tom guitar

Still one of my favourite photos. The boy-child with his first guitar. Photo: Su Leslie, 2006

My son is a talented musician who finds little time to play anymore — which is a shame as I’ve always enjoyed listening to him (even in the early days when his repertoire consisted of riffs from Crazy Frog and Smoke on the Water).

Yesterday he told me he’s going to a concert and sent me a link to the act performing. Given the recent divergence in our musical tastes, I wasn’t expecting to like it, but (and I won’t name names) it was better than I expected, if a bit repetitive.

Pleasant-sounding — but only in small doses.

Ragtag Daily Prompt | euphonious

Neither flossal failure nor tote-all success

Trying to convince myself that my small acts can still count. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I found this infographic which quantifies the reduction in waste that can be achieved with small behavioural changes. It focuses on trash, but in a closed system it’s not just what’s discarded that counts; it’s what we make in the first place (and warehouse, transport, merchandise, etc.)

I don’t use straws — metal or plastic — so my main failing is in the floss department.

I did make some reusable beeswax food wraps though, so between that and assorted jars and bowls for leftovers, my clingfilm consumption is zero. Bonus point perhaps?

I’m not kidding myself that wandering around with a glass water bottle and a bunch of calico totes is going to save the planet. I doubt even if we all did that we’d reverse the dreadful march towards catastrophe.

For me it’s about becoming more conscious of everything I do. Every “ooh, shiny thing” I choose not to buy; every bit of produce I grow in the garden, every appliance the Big T repairs rather than us replacing. It’s about us re-defining ourselves as people who produce what we need, rather than as consumers of the “stuff” that underpins the world’s dysfunctional economic system while simultaneously destroying it’s natural capital.

It may be that all my efforts are utterly futile, and I’d be as well just taking to my bed with a mega supply of wine and chocolate and a subscription to Netflix.

But I couldn’t look my child in the eye if I don’t at least try.

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.

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