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.


“Rows and floes of angel hair…”


Afternoon cloud at Lucas Creek at Greenhithe Wharf. Su Leslie 2018

I seem to have acquired Both Sides Now as an ear worm; singing it almost unconsciously in the last few days.

It’s probably a sign that I’m ready for the annual Christmas Love Actually screening — Emma Thompson’s scene as a wife realising her husband is unfaithful (with Joni Mitchell soundtrack), being by far the best part of a patchy, yet strangely watchable, movie.

Posted to Six Word Saturday— hosted by Debbie at Travel with Intent

Culture, Heritage, and International Museum Day

Entrance, Te Papa Tongarewa -- Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2014

Te Papa Tongarewa — Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2014

Today is International Museum Day (IMD). Museums and art galleries have always been amongst my happy places — oases of culture, history and learning. Places to make discoveries, to connect with the past, and to dream.

The theme of this year’s IMD isMuseums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums.” According to the International Council of Museums:

This theme focuses on the role of museums that, by working to benefit society, become hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people. It also highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation. Media release for launch of IMD: ICoM, May 18, 2017

Like most cultural institutions, museums have traditionally represented culture and heritage from a particular perspective — that of the society’s dominant groups. Women, ethnic and religious minorities, and members of various sub-cultures have tended to find our stories either absent, or told through a lens not our own.

Definitions of “culture” are themselves contested, and in fact I can remember a time in New Zealand when there was widespread popular debate about whether this country could be said to have “a culture” — and if so, of what it might consist.

In 1980, Kiwi band, The Knobz, released the song, Culture, in response to then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s assertion that pop music was not “culture.”

Thankfully, New Zealand, and the culture sector has moved on a bit.

I hope that this year’s Museum Appreciation Day theme will encourage both dialogue, and popular engagement with cultures, heritage and museums.

And ok: I’m trying to cover a few bases with this post:

Daily Post Photo Challenge | heritage

Sarah at Art Expedition‘s celebration of the National Appreciation Days that take place in May. Please visit to see her creative responses to these Days.

NZ Music Month


National Alpaca Day — yes, really

Close-up shot of alpaca. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Stackables.

Alpaca love. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

So there’s that thing, right? Where you go through life oblivious to stuff (like National Appreciation Days), until someone (my friend Sarah, over at Art Expedition) makes you aware of them.

Then of course, they’re everywhere.

Which is why you’re looking at a picture of an alpaca.

According to a post I saw on FaceBook (no eye-rolling please), in which a friend was tagged, today is National Alpaca Day. At least here in New Zealand it is.

According to the National Alpaca Association of New Zealand, “… Alpaca owners throughout New Zealand open their farms to the public to promote alpacas, alpaca fibre, and alpaca products.”

So if I get off my bum quickly enough, I can spend today overdosing on camelid* cuteness.

Since that’s unlikely to happen, here are some I prepared earlier.

Close-up shot of two alpacas, edited to oil painting effect with Snapseed and Photolab. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

More camelid cuteness. Edited with Snapseed and PhotoLab. Image: Su Leslie, 2017.

Sarah is doing a series of posts this month around the daily National Appreciation Days that take place in May. Please visit Art Expedition to see her clever drawings and paintings, and wonderfully creative posts. Since I don’t have Sarah’s skill with a paintbrush, I’ve enlisted the help of the Snapseed, Stackables and PhotoLab apps.

Group of alpacas.Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited to painting effect with Snapseed and PhotoLab.

Not sure of the collective noun for alpacas? Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and PhotoLab.

A song to play us out?

How Bizarre, by OMC (Otara Millionaires Club) was released in December 1995. It was hugely successful in New Zealand, and unusually for Kiwi music, also charted (in 1996) in a number of European countries, as well as Australia, Canada and the US.

I first heard this while driving on the M11 near Bishop’s Stortford.

For those of you who remember the song, does it evoke any memories for you?

May is NZ Music Month.

* Alpacas, like lhamas and camels, belong to the biological family Camelidae, the only currently living family in the suborder Tylopoda. Camelids are even-toed ungulates classified in the order Cetartiodactyla, along with pigs, hippopotamuses, whales, deer, giraffes, cattle, goats, antelope, and many others. So there!

Thank you Wikipedia.


Regular random: five minutes with some cool fluffy stuff

Close up shot of burst milkweed seed pod on black background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Burst swan plant (milkweed) seed pod. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Photographically, the swan plants in our garden have proved to be the gift that keeps on giving: caterpillars, chrysalis, butterflies and now the plant’s decaying seed pods.

I’ve become quite a fan of photographing objects on a black felt background, and I think it works especially well with the slightly other-worldly fluff balls that emerge from the pods.

This week, as well as posting these images for Five Minutes of Random (the RegularRandom challenge), I’m adding a YouTube clip. I’ve had this song — Mud and Stardust — looping in my head ever since I took these photos.

Regular Random is a weekly photo challenge hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.