We tend to think of relaxation as a personal experience — the places and activities and moments that refresh and recharge us. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to find our attempts to relax utterly thwarted by the presence of too many other people with the same intent.
But sometimes it seems, relaxation can be collective. So many people arrived at Castlecliff Beach in Whanganui to watch this glorious mid-winter sunset, the little carpark ended up full. Families were picnicking on the beach, others in their cars, and a couple of groups lit driftwood fires. No-one played loud music or behaved badly; we were all too focused on enjoying nature’s theatre.
“All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.” ~Edgar Allan Poe. Image: Su Leslie 2018
The boy-child is studying digital media at university and recently made this video for an assignment. He’s really proud of it, and I think it’s quite professional, especially as video is a medium I haven’t really come to terms with yet.
He’s taken what was an exercise in using green-screen, and given it a very dream-like feel. The soundtrack song is Call Me, by Korean singer and DJ, Park Hye Jin. I have no idea about the surreal title.
‘Favourite’ is a word I use a lot. There is so much I enjoy in the natural world and amongst the fruits of human culture, that I find myself talking about favourite beaches, parks, bush walks, books, music, foods, museums, artists … the list goes on.
What I’ve come to realise is that communicating my enjoyment is a pleasure in itself — a favourite thing in fact.
For most of my life, communicating has meant writing, and I still take great care to craft words that will resonate with and spark a response in readers. But increasingly, my words are supplemented (and sometimes replaced) by images.
So on this day (if you ask me tomorrow I might have a different view), my favourite thing is photography. The photographer Elliot Erwitt conveys the feeling well:
To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. — Elliott Erwitt
The title of this post comes from the wonderful art critic and painter, John Berger
What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time. – John Berger
Waves hitting rocks during a storm. Muriwai Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2018
My phone has been pinging all day with wild weather alerts. It has been wet and windy here, but apparently over much of New Zealand high winds, lightening strikes and massive rainfalls have caused havoc.
There is much in nature that is fine and intricate. And as we humans are discovering, such things are also easily damaged, and require much more careful handling than many of the systems and institutions we have developed seem to permit.
Newly emerged Monarch butterfly dries its wings before taking off. Image: Su Leslie 2017
“Cooking is a language that express harmony, creativity, happiness, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humor, provocation.” Ferran Adrià — head chef of the elBulli restaurant
Harmony is all about combination. About striking the right notes to create something pleasing. This is just as true in cooking as music. Flavours, textures, colours, even temperature must be balanced.
As a cook, I definitely fall into the enthusiastic amateur category, but with practice (lots more hours than I ever put into learning guitar), I am beginning to create food that is closer to “well-crafted pop song” than “open-mic night at the local folk club.”
For which my boys are ever so grateful.
pan-fried tarakihi fillet with rosemary lime crumb, roasted butternut squash and watercress. Su Leslie, 2018
The ingredients: prawn and soba noodle salad with avocado, grapefruit mint and yuzu. Image: Su Leslie 2018
Prawn and soba noodle salad with avocado, grapefruit mint and yuzu. Image: Su Leslie 2018
Lunch; grapefruit, rocket, walnuts and feta salad, dressed with an orange mustard vinaigrette. Image: Su Leslie, 2018
Good together: aubergine, garlic, ginger, chilli and lime. Image: Su Leslie 2018
I think of simplicity in photography (Mies van der Rohe’s famous “less is more”) as more than the limiting of elements or a paring back of visual noise. I think it is also about creating space for the viewer to make their own story from the image.
What do you think? How much do you like (or loath) ambiguity in an image?
Thank you to Debbie at Travel with Intent for reminding me of Ansel Adams’ statement that “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”
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.
“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.” ― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
Words are ingredients that writers can combine in infinite ways. And as good cooks sustain and nourish and delight us with the products of their craft, so too will good writers. Sometimes it is the smallest phrases — the careful choice and arrangement of just a few words — that bursts into our consciousness and remains a delicious memory long after we put down the book.