The Changing Seasons, June-July 2021

Wahine Toa (warrior woman). A note to self for the shitty days ahead.

I have ovarian cancer.

The provisional diagnosis, given a month ago, has been confirmed by an MRI. I am scheduled for a radical hysterectomy next Monday.

What happens after that will depend on pathology results.

The upside of all this is that T and I have finally sorted out Enduring Powers of Attorney and updated our Wills.

The downside is that we feel we have to.

On a positive note, the pulmonary embolism I was diagnosed with seems to have either cleared, or was never there at all. I no longer have to inject myself daily with blood-thinners, and don’t have to constantly wear the ugly compression stockings (at least until after surgery).

Bye-bye injections — for now. Image: Su Leslie 2021

On a less positive note; I’m still peeing through a catheter.

But I am starting to see the funny side of that — just not enough to write about it.

Something of an expert in the varying properties of medical tapes. Image: Su Leslie 2021

So does that sum up my life at the moment? Well, yes, ….


My father in law died a few weeks ago.

I’m grateful I was well enough to speak at his funeral and pay tribute to a man I really loved.

My son graduated from university last week.

And though we didn’t stay for the whole ceremony, I’m so grateful I could go, and see all his hard work of the last few years acknowledged.

The boy-child’s graduation. Image: Leslie family archive.

The Big T and I celebrated 35 years together at the weekend.

Every moment of every day I am grateful for his love and support and his fundamental goodness.

Even though he does make me laugh until I snort — and that is so unattractive.

So life is a bit weird right now, and will probably get weirder. But I’m fortunate to be experiencing this particular brand of weird in a country that still has a functioning public health system, staffed by people who seem efficient and are certainly kind.

Best of all I feel supported by friends and whanau; can’t ask for much more than that really.

Muriwai Beach; something to look forward to when I’ve recovered from surgery. Image: Su Leslie 2021

The Changing Seasons — this month hosted by Brian at Bushboy’s World

Stopping by to say hello

Home; where the coffee is great and no-one wakes me every two hours to take my blood pressure (which is fine, thanks for asking). Image: Su Leslie 2021

It seems strange now that when I decided to take a break from blogging it was because I felt I had nothing to say.

Life can change so quickly.

Last week a grumbling health issue tipped over from chronic to acute and I found myself at the local A&E department.

One thing led to another and I spent five days being scanned, examined and generally pondered over.

The doctors aren’t quite sure what’s happening, but seem to think it’s probably not good.

I’m at home now, waiting for an MRI to (hopefully) make the picture clearer.

I’m feeling well and taking a crash course in gratitude.

And I can’t complain I have nothng to write about.

Simple, but good


Homemade lip balm. Image: Su Leslie 2019

In her recent Changing Seasons post, Sarah at Art Expedition included her recipe for beeswax lip balm, along with some lovely photos of the finished product.

It looked sooo good, I had to try making some.


Beeswax lip balm. Image: Su Leslie 2019

It was easy to make, tastes nice (I added some vanilla flavour), and seems to work well. Even using mainly organic ingredients, plus buying flavouring and the little aluminium pots (which should be reusable), my lip balms cost less than half the price of the brand I used to buy.


Just poured. Beeswax lip balm. Image: Su Leslie 2019

But more importantly, I know exactly what went into them, and I understand the process — which means I can experiment with different flavours or oils.


Three main ingredients, plus optional flavouring. Image: Su Leslie 2019


An apology, an explanation and a song

Nothing seems clear at the moment, but there is defintely light in the darkness. Bokeh; pink, purple and yellow against a black background. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Nothing seems clear at the moment, but there is definitely light in the darkness. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

First things first; apologies to you all my blogging whanau. I have been pretty random in both posting and engaging with you lately. I’ve been neither fully absent nor fully engaged and that’s not a situation I’ve wanted to be in.

So an explanation. It’s so simple it’s almost funny. I haven’t been able to sit down comfortably at my computer for a few weeks. I have a couple of old injuries to my tail-bone which bother me every now and then, but I’ve been “too busy” to pay attention to the warning signs my body was sending out.

Yesterday I stood up too quickly and got stuck half way, unable to straighten my spine without the kind of pain that brings out the worst excesses of my somewhat colourful vocabulary.

Ironically, at the time I was re-organisng my office accommodate the standing desk that the Big T has kindly (and speedily and skillfully) built for me.

After a visit to the chiropractor and a day at my new desk, I am a convert. I’ve even incorporated a balance board to stand on while I work. Talk about multi-tasking!

And the song. It’s all in the title really. I’m a huge fan of Eilen Jewell‘s. Hope you like it.

Six word Saturday: trying to fight off a cold

Anti-social, but effective. Will be using a lot of garlic to try and get rid of a nascent cold. Photo: Su Leslie 2014

Anti-social, but effective. Will be using a lot of garlic to try and get rid of a nascent cold. Photo: Su Leslie 2014

Six Word Saturday is a blogging prompt from Cate at Show my Face. Here are some other bloggers’ Saturdays that I liked:

Posing with Sir John, no less!



In praise of peaches and living local

Golden queen peaches; my perfect breakfast.

Golden queen peaches; my perfect breakfast.

This is my favourite time of year. The weather here in Auckland is generally pretty fantastic; warm, sunny, settled, and way less humid than January. Add to that, we’re about to celebrate both my partner’s and son’s birthdays and (should I admit this), even better, it’s peach season.

I love peaches.

Actually that’s not quite true; I love Golden Queen peaches. And I love them best when they come from my favourite orchard – Boric Food Market in Kumeu, Auckland.

Boric is one of the central landmarks of my cognitive map of Auckland map. I remember as a child being driven there in the back of our old Vauxhall on what constituted a major day out. These days, Boric is a 15 minute drive from home along our snazzy new motorway, but when I was a kid in Bayswater, it was WAAY out in the sticks.

But still we went there at this time of year and bought peaches. In those days, they came in little rectangular wooden boxes that would be turned into “canoes” later that my brother and I would paddle around the lawn on our “last of the Mohican” adventures.

On the way to Boric, I pass six or seven other old style fruit and veg shops. Actually, I shop at quite a few of them on a regular basis and I’m pretty happy with the produce and the service. In some I’m well enough known that the women on the checkout can guess what’s for dinner that night in my house on the basis of what’s in my basket. We even trade recipes.

But although it’s further away and I know I’m burning fossil fuels to get there, as long as I live in Auckland and Boric stays open, I will shop there. It’s partly because it is such a part of my world and even though the old shed has been completely revamped into a fairly upmarket grocery shop, it’s still kept the same feel. That’s probably because it’s been in the same family for generations (since 1942 I think) and the current generation still works there. There are even staff members who I remember from 12 or so years ago when I came back from the UK and used to take my then toddler son shopping with me.

It’s a family business that has remained true to its community. It might look flash and sell gourmet meat and chocolates these days, but the fruit and vegetables are still fresh, affordable and best of all – in many cases grown on the property.

And that’s the other reason I will continue to shop at Boric. They grow stuff and sell it where its grown. Apples, peaches, plums; varieties you can’t find in supermarkets and shops that just buy in whatever is available at the wholesale markets. When I was a kid Auckland was full of orchards like Boric. In Albany, near where I now live, there used to be three fantastic orchards and a strawberry garden that let you pick your own berries. Most of the apples and pears I ate as a child came from land that is now home to several schools, housing estates and an industrial park. The junior high school has displaced the strawberry farm, and my son’s old preschool stands on the site that used to grow the best Braeburn apples – ever!

Sometime in the 1980s and 1990s, Auckland stopped growing food. Land that had sustained generations was subdivided and families moved onto their little piece, covering their yard with decks and patios and not even planting the odd fruit tree. More and more people have moved to Auckland and at the same time, the food needed to sustain us comes increasingly from other parts of New Zealand – and the world.

There are still ghosts of the old orchards. At the end of my street there is a reserve with 30-40 plum trees. Every January they produce masses of sweet, succulent fruit. Most of it falls to the ground and is eaten by birds. But every year some of it finds it way to my kitchen and the jams and sauces I make to remind me of how precious local resources are.

I’d like to say that the some of the Golden Queen peaches I bought yesterday might make a similar transition, but honestly – I’m more likely to just eat them fresh.

Toast and homemade plum jam; for when there are no peaches for breakfast.

Toast and homemade plum jam; for when there are no peaches for breakfast.

Around the world, people are starting to realise the value of growing the food they eat – where they live and eat it. I applaud that, but at the same time lament the fact we ever forgot in the first place.


Local food:


© Su Leslie, 2013.

Disclaimer: It occurs to me that some of this reads like an advertorial. It’s not. I’d like to make it completely clear that the only relationship I have with any of the businesses (or families) mentioned in this post is as a normal paying customer.