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

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

The Changing Seasons, April 2021

“The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing.” — Kenneth Grahame. Image: Su Leslie 2021

It’s a strange contradiction that while April has been my most sociable and outward-looking month in a long time, I’m remembering these thirty days mainly as a time of introspection.

The month began with a trip to the theatre. Dreading the CBD’s nightmare roadworks, T and I caught the ferry from Devonport, had a meal, strolled around the waterfront and sat down to one of the most interesting productions we’ve seen in a long time.

The Haka Party Incident was visually stunning verbatim theatre (1) that tells of a few moments in history which changed race relations in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In 1979, after enduring several decades of Auckland University Engineering students staging a highly offensive mock “haka” as a capping stunt, a group of young Maori activists confronted the engineers during a rehearsal. Punches were thrown, arrests were made, and institutional racism was laid bare.

But the engineers never again performed their “haka”.

T and I are both graduates of Auckland University (T of its Engineering School) and though the haka party incident was before our time, it is part of our collective history. To see events that we understood from the perspective of Pakeha teenagers, re-told 40-odd years later was a sobering and quite empowering experience.

An evening in the city. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Carved entrance to Te Wero Island, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Really, April has been all about a road-trip to visit my father and attend a workshop on eco-printing/dye on fabric. I love solo travel, and having seven days to visit people and places I love — and learn a new skill — was absolute bliss.

I’ll write a separate post on what I learned in the workshop, but here a few shots of my efforts on the day

Laying out the plant material to be “printed”. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Bundled, “cooked” and then unrolled to reveal what’s been imprinted. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Hanging the results out to dry. Image; Su Leslie 2021

Looking back on the photos I shot while away pretty much confirms my obsession with desolate landscapes, lowering skies, quirky buildings and food.

Celeriac soup at The Kirk, Hamilton, NZ. Delicious! Image: Su Leslie 2021

Homemade preserves for sale at The Creel Lodge Cafe, Turangi, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Carrot cake and a flat white. The Black Stump Cafe, Pahiatua, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

You know you’re in the country when … Reading material at The Black Stump Cafe, Pahiatua. Image: Su Leslie 2021

“By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities.” — Socrates. Seen in Whanganui, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Love the name! Probably just as well they were closed. Whanganui, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

A great Arts’ Centre, and ‘Ghost of the Huia’, sculpture by Paul Dibble. The Square, Palmerston North, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

What were they thinking? Brutalism in The Square, Palmerston North, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Tui Brewery, Pahiatua, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Pohuturoa; volcanic rhyolite plug. Waikato, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Because … why not? Replica Dutch windmill in Foxton, NZ. Opened in 2003. Image: Su Leslie 2021

It didn’t seem as run down when I stayed here in 1980. Gretna Hotel, Taihape, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2021


(1) Verbatim theatre “uses pre-existing documentary material as source material for stories about real events and people, frequently without altering the text in performance.”


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

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Tish from Writer on the Edge

Marilyn at Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Natalie from Little Pieces of Me

Mick at Mick’s Cogs

Suzanne from Life at No. 22

Ju-Lyn at Touring my Backyard

Brian from Bushboy’s World

Out of the Cave joins us this month

A tea party road trip?

Image: Su Leslie 2021

I’m heading out of town next week, so this month’s virtual afternoon tea will be brought to you by wherever I’ve found the best cuppa (and cake?).

I’ll post as usual on Thursday 15th April; at around at 3pm-ish NZ time (GMT +12), but at this stage I’ve no idea where I’ll be or what will be on the menu.

I hope you can join me.

The Changing Seasons, March 2021

Image: Su Leslie 2021

For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.

Douglas Adams

Well, that pretty well sums up my month.

Ok, so that’s not quite true. It’s more that my days seem to contain fewer moments I want to photograph. That’s partly about the rhythm of my life, and partly that I’m increasingly focused on photography as an expression of creativity, rather than a place-holder for memory.

In other words, I still want to record the fact that my scarlet runner beans are growing, but damn it, I want the shot to look pretty!

New shoots; scarlet runner beans. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

Robert Louis Stevenson

So perhaps my month has been less a Douglas Adam’s quote than a Robert Louis Stevenson one.

Almost literally.

With the temperatures dropping a little and a bit more moisture in the air, I’ve been spending more time in the garden, and it seems to be springing back to life (ironic, given that it’s autumn here).

Flower buds are appearing; beans are offering us a second crop; figs and feijoas are ripening — and we have so many chillies I’m in serious need of some new recipes (or more freezer space).

Poblano chilli. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Scarlet runner beans. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Feijoas. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Feijoas. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Fig. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Just picked. Image; Su Leslie 2021

Chrysanthemum buds. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Hibiscus. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Cosmos bud. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Chrysanthemum buds. Image: Su Leslie 2021

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. (1)

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

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Ju-Lyn from Touring my Backyard

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Tish from Writer on the Edge

Margaret at Pyrenees to Pennines

Marilyn from Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Natalie at Little Pieces of Me

Ladyleemanila

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Joanne at Following a Bold Plan

Suzanne from Life at No. 22

A change of scenery

Mt Ruapehu, North Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I live on an isthmus; about 700 metres from the sea at high tide. I can’t see the water from my house, but it’s impossible to travel far in any direction and NOT encounter the Waitemata or Manukau harbours which define and enfold Auckland.

In this, I know I’m extremely fortunate.

Well, except for a couple of weeks ago when three large off-shore earthquakes had many New Zealanders scrambling to evacuate their homes and head for high ground, while the rest of us spent a tense day listening to the news and checking our emergency supply kits.

But tsunami risk aside, living in Auckland means that “the beach” is the backdrop to everyday life. So when I need a change of scenery, my favourite place is the mountains in the central plateau of New Zealand’s north island.

The road to Whakapapa village and ski-field, and the Chateau Tongariro, central North Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The road to Whakapapa village and ski-field, and the Chateau Tongariro, central North Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I’m sure part of my longing is tied to memory. My first visit to the area was to attend a conference held at the Chateau Tongariro — a wonderfully grand hotel nestled in the foothills of Mt Ruapehu.

The Chateau Tongariro, built in 1929 to encourage tourists to visit the newly opened Tongariro National Park. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The central plateau, more accurately the North Island volcanic plateau includes three active volcanoes; Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu and the Rangipo Desert. Not that Auckland doesn’t have volcanoes too, but ours are much smaller, never snow-covered and tend to erupt only once. Mt Tongariro last erupted in 2012; Mt Ruapehu in 2007.

Mt Ngauruhoe, Central Plateau, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

Rangipo Desert, Central Plateau, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

And just as the macro landscape is vastly different to my “normal”, the flora is too.

Close up shot of small green/red plant growing around the snowline at Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Alpine flora, Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Close up shot of four-leafed alpine plant growing around snow line on Mt Ruapehu, NZ. Leaves bright green with white, fuzzy edges. Two of the leaves are beginning to brown. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Alpine flora, Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Close up shot of spreading yellow-green succulent-type plants growing amongst white moss. Seen at the snow line on Mt Ruapehu, NZ. Image: Su leslie, 2017

Alpine flora, Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Small white flower clusters mixed in with green mosses seen on Mt Ruapehu, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Alpine flora, Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Although I appreciate the benefits of living in a city, the noise and bustle and sheer number of people and cars exhausts me. I’m not sure I could live in the shadow of the mountains, but it brings me joy to spend time there.

First light on Mt Ruapehu, Central Plateau, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Morning light on Mt Ruapehu, Central Plateau, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Early morning under lowering skies with low cloud around Mt Tongariro, SH1 south of Turangi, North Island, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Desert Road, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Storm clouds, Central Plateau, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

First light Central Plateau, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | A change of scenery

Last shot on the card, February 2021

Brian at Bushboy’s World had the fun idea of posting our last photo of each month, without editing or explanation.

The rules are simple:
1. Post the last photo on your SD card and/or last photo on your phone for the 30th November.
2. No editing – who cares if it is out of focus, not framed as you would like or the subject matter didn’t cooperate.
3. You don’t have to have any explanations, just the photo will do
4. Create a Pingback to Brian’s post or link in the comments
5. Tag “The Last Photo”

The Changing Seasons, February 2021

Image: Su Leslie 2021

“Try to represent … the notion of time without the processes by which we divide it, measure it, or express it … We cannot conceive of time except by distinguishing its different moments.” — Emile Durkheim, French sociologist

I quote Durkheim here because I’m struggling with the experience of time right now. In the seemingly relentless cycle of hot dry days and humid nights, time is hardly more than arbitrary changes in the calendar date on my phone, and a slowly increasing number of images in the folder labelled February.

Those images tell me that I’ve baked quite a lot, visited a couple of cemeteries to research Headstones and Hidden Histories posts, and enjoyed a couple of spectacular sunsets.

Coconut cookies. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Raw caramel slice. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Scottish oatcakes; recipe here. Image: Su Leslie 2021

After a bit of experimentation, I have an oatcake recipe I’m happy with. I’m posting it separately here, so if you do want to try it, you won’t have to wade through my ramblings first (one of my pet hates with online recipes).

I’ve been meaning to write about Ellen Melville for a while. She was one of the country’s first woman lawyers, a city councillor for many years and a powerful advocate for women’s participation in public life. I’m still doing research to add colour to her story, but will post it as a Hidden History when I’m done.

A story to be told. Image: Su Leslie 2021

The stories of Freda Stark and Thelma Trott could hardly be more different to that of Ellen Melville — but are totally fascinating. This post may take me longer, as there seems to be a resurgence of interest in Freda Stark, and I’m determined not to just re-hash old material.

As a clue to how interested I’ve become — T and I made a 200km round trip last Saturday to see a play called Freda Stark — The Musical.

I hate musicals.

And to be honest, I hated this one more than most — but that’s another story to be told.

A story to be told. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Freda Stark — The Musical may have been disappointing, but we had a really good lunch at Saigon Noon in Hamilton.

Ok, not as interesting as our food, but when it arrived I was too busy eating to take photos. Image; Su Leslie 2021

And a stop at Mercer on the way home offered a beautiful sunset.

Sunset, Waikato River at Mercer, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

The following evening, a walk on Auckland’s Tamaki Drive produced a similarly spectacular sunset.

Auckland CBD from Tamaki Drive, Orakei. Image: Su Leslie

And a little later … Auckland CBD from Tamaki Drive, Orakei. Image: Su Leslie

Sunset, from Okahu Bay Wharf. Image: Su Leslie

Sunset, Okahu Bay Wharf, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

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. (1)

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

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Tracy from Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Suzanne from Life at No 22

Natalie at Little Pieces of Me

Marilyn from Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

XingfuMama

Ju-Lyn (who you’ll know from All Things Bright and Beautiful) has a new blog, and shares her month here, at Touring My Backyard

Tish from Writer on the Edge

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Sarah at Art Expedition