The Changing Seasons, July 2017

Staying aloft. Single crimson daisy bloom -- no stem visible -- in focus against green background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Staying aloft. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

It seems that July just hasn’t been a photographic month for me. Which I think is really a way of saying I haven’t felt inclined to lift my eyes and gaze upon the world.

It’s not that I’ve totally abandoned my camera. More that I’m disappointed in both the quantity and quality of the shots I’ve taken. Knee pain has kept me from the morning walks that provide both inspiration and some inner calm, while the struggles of those I love best have occupied my consciousness and spilled over into the darker recesses of my own psyche.

My July has not been a visual feast, but I’ve reached August knowing that I have enough. Enough strength and enough sunlight and enough support to stay aloft.

Like the flower, I am attached — though neither you nor I quite see how.

The Changing Seasons  is a blogging challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month.

These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

The Changing Seasons V1:

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

The Changing Seasons V2:

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

The Changing Seasons: June 2017

Close up shot of fallen Liquidamber (?) leaf against black background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The last leaf. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

It’s mid-winter here; although some days you would be totally forgiven for believing it’s still summer.

Days that began in heavy mist have ended with us barefoot and t-shirt clad on a beach.

If there is a theme (or perhaps an obsession) in this month’s photos, it is light. Harsh light, filtered light, reflected light — or just the focus on a single object in the dark.

Close-up shot of arum lily, against black background. Image; Su Leslie, 2017

Arum lily. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Changing Seasons  is a blogging challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month.

These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

The Changing Seasons V1:

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

The Changing Seasons V2:

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

 

The Changing Seasons: May 2017

Still life with symbolism. Still life of squash, onion, garlic, chilli and ginger with cookbooks, clock, toy car and autumn leaves. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Still life with symbolism. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Perhaps it because the cold has set in, but May has been a slow month; a still life heavy with abundance and oddity.

Rain and wind have turned fallen leaves to a slime covering pavements and lawns, while Antarctic air settling across the country has driven me to turn on the heating and unpack the winter duvet.

It’s time for indoor pursuits, warming food and dreams of adventure — just as soon as it’s warm again.

The Changing Seasons  is a blogging challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month.

These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

The Changing Seasons V1:

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

The Changing Seasons V2:

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

The changing seasons: April 2017

Water droplets hanging from bare tree branches. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Image: Su Leslie, 2017

April is usually my favourite month, and I’m still not quite sure how I managed to let it pass in such a blur. It’s not as if I’ve been madly busy, or travelling, or … well anything really.

How will I remember April 2017?

As the month that New Zealand suffered two huge storms that left whole communities cleaning up and counting the cost of floods and landslides.

The month that the Big T and I devoted much time and great care to our impromptu butterfly rescue project. With the last viable chrysalis now a shell, the wooden shelter has been deconstructed and we’re quietly congratulating ourselves that around 50 Monarch butterflies have emerged and flown away to their winter hibernation.

A month of staying close to home, of introspection and attention to detail.

A month where life feels alternately out of focus and strangely distorted.

A month I can best sum up in one image.

And since May is New Zealand Music Month, I’ll add this track — Run — from Shihad‘s 2002 Pacifier album

… so you run
whatcha holding on, holding on to
run
life is going on
all around you
run
whatcha holding on, holding on to …

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

 

The Changing Seasons: March 2017

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

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

I’m being a bit metaphorical with this Changing Seasons post, focusing on my road-trip with the boy-child last weekend.

Since he left home last June, I’ve only seen my child for more than a few hours at a time when he has been ill; in need of that special “mummy” care.

Last weekend we visited his grandfather in Whanganui; a road-trip of around 700km together. While it’s far from the first time we’ve traveled together, it was the first time we could share the driving and the costs. More importantly, as I quickly realised, we also had to share the decision-making.

My son is an adult now and the seasons of our respective lives have changed.

His road-trip ended at New Plymouth airport; with a flight back to Auckland and work. Mine involved a few more hours in the car (about half of them in Auckland traffic) — and a chance to get all nostalgic about New Zealand’s beautiful rural hinterland.

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

The Changing Seasons: February 2017

Cows and a bull grazing on a hillside against brilliant blue sky. Seen on the Awhitu Peninsula, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Another roadside attraction … Seen on the Awhitu Peninsula, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Big T was overseas for 18 of February’s 28 days, so it was a raggedy month where life’s normal rhythms skipped a bit.

A growing disaffection with Auckland’s rampant urbanisation, overcrowding and endless traffic congestion has driven me (at painfully low speed) from the city as often as I could get away. Trips to Karekare, the Awhitu Peninsula, the Waikato and even the Helensville A&P Show are all part of a quest to reconnect with the parts of Aotearoa New Zealand that the Big T and I love and feel connected to.

This post is my contribution to The Changing Seasons, a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

The Changing Seasons, January 2017

Sunglasses on picnic blanket, Rangitoto Island in background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Deceptive! Mostly this month it’s been too cold and windy to spend much time outside. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

2017 began for the Big T and me at Waitangi, in Northland, NZ. We were there to help old friends celebrate their marriage. The “proper” wedding had taken place earlier in England, so the celebration — on New Year’s Eve — at Waitangi was billed as a ratification of their marriage treaty. And where better to celebrate that than the site where our country’s founding document was signed in 1840.

As the groom is Samoan and the bride English, there was plenty of cross-cultural ceremony and tradition, including welcoming the English family into the Samoan, a powhiri by the marae kapa haka group to welcome us all onto the marae at Waitangi, and lots of energetic Samoan dancing.

And with the formalities over … let’s just say we partied hard and it was a great way to welcome in a new year.

First dawn of 2017, Waitaingi, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

January 1, 2017, Waitaingi, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The weather has kind of gone downhill during the month, but T and I managed to take advantage of a few sunny days to enjoy some beach time at Raglan where we watched some young surfers and the Big T got an impromptu salt water shower; at Muriwai where the gannets and their chicks continue to enthrall; and on North Head where our picnic attracted the attention of the local bird-life.

And as for the rest of the month? Some time spent playing in a friend’s art studio, lots of photography and a few glasses of wine.

After all, I have to begin the year the way I intend to carry on.

Wine glass on outdoor table, with trees reflected in the wine. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Image: Su Leslie, 2017

This post is my contribution to The Changing Seasons, a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

The Changing Seasons, November 2016

Glass of strawberries flavoured with a little lemon jest and rosemary. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

Strawberries flavoured with a little lemon jest and rosemary. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

November is the beginning of strawberry season here. Proper, fat juicy local strawberries.

One of my earliest memories of summer in New Zealand involves going with my mother and brother to pick strawberries. The deal was you turned up with buckets or other containers, which were weighted on entry. You went out into the fields, picked as many berries as you wanted and paid for them an amount based on the difference in weight between the empty containers and the full ones. Luckily, they didn’t weight the pickers — especially the children.

Close up image of strawberries and rosemary stem. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Fresh, local strawberries. Yum. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The site of that strawberry garden is now occupied by a school, but there are still some local producers and I think it is still possible to go and pick your own. These days, I’m content to buy them from my local green grocer — 2 punnets for $6 at the moment.

Strawberries don’t tend to last long enough to become ingredients in our household, but I am rather pleased with this little concoction:

I quartered berries, and sprinkled them with a little bit of sugar, which was mixed with lemon zest and few fresh rosemary leaves. I left them to absorb this bit of deliciousness before adding something creamy. I like plain yoghurt, but I suspect the boy-child and the Big T would prefer ice-cream.

I also sprinkled a few toasted almond slices on top, but if I’d been making this for dessert rather than breakfast, I might have made an almond praline with some of the rosemary-infused sugar. Next time perhaps.

Strawberries, yoghurt and sliced almonds in a glass. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Breakfast, or dessert? Image: Su Leslie, 2016

This post is my contribution to The Changing Seasons, a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

The Changing Seasons, October 2016

Perched on a rock above the Tasman Sea, one of the colony of gannets currently nesting at Muriwai, New Zealand. Close up shot of single gannet grooming itself.Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Perched on a rock above the Tasman Sea, one of the colony of gannets currently nesting at Muriwai, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Perhaps it’s the improving weather, but October has definitely been a more active month than I’ve had recently — dodgy knee notwithstanding.

A still morning at Greenhithe Wharf. Looking up Lucas Creek towards Albany.Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Early morning, Greenhithe Wharf. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Although there has been plenty of rain, it has seemed less relentless and the lowering cloud formations have often been photo-worthy.

Still water and lowering clouds at Otarawao Bay (Sullivans Bay), Mahurangi Regional Park, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

A quiet afternoon at Otarawao Bay, Mahurangi Regional Park, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Under the gathering clouds. Mt Ruapehu from the Desert Road, Central North Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Under the gathering clouds. Mt Ruapehu from the Desert Road, Central North Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I’ve managed to escape the city a few times this month; for a couple of afternoons exploring local(ish) beaches, and a road-trip to Whanganui to visit my dad and do a glass-art workshop.

Mahuia Rapids, with Mt Ruapehu in the background. Tongariro National Park, North Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Mahuia Rapids, with Mt Ruapehu in the background. Tongariro National Park, North Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

There are plenty of signs that spring is truly here; baby ducklings seen at Otarawao Bay, and nesting gannets at the Muriwai gannet colony.

Ducklings and adult duck. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Family outing, Otarawao Bay, Mahurangi Regional Park, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Close-up shot of nesting gannets, Muriwai gannet colony, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Nesting gannets, Muriwai gannet colony, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I love glass as an art-form and have long wanted to try my hand at some sort of creative glass-based activity.

Whanganui-based artist David Traub runs one day workshops in glass slumping and fusing — both techniques within the capabilities of beginners.

Over the course of the day, we made two brooches/pendants, two slumped bowls and a glass tile.

Coloured glass pieces laid into a mould lined with kiln paper. This is the first stage in making a fused glass tile. There is no real way of knowing how it will look when the glass rods and shards melt in the kiln. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Before. Making a fused glass tile was a total pitch in the dark. We laid coloured glass pieces into a mould lined with kiln paper, having no real idea how it would look when the glass rods and shards melted in the kiln. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Fused glass tile. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

After. Quietly pleased with the result. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Decorated glass disk ready for the kiln. This will slump over the mould and become a very handy little bowl. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Decorated glass disk ready for the kiln. This will slump over the mould and become a very handy little bowl. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The pendants aren’t quite finished — I have to glue on the bails, but the bowls have already been put to use. One of the advantages of the improving weather being that the Big T and I can enjoy a beer outdoors while bemoaning the size of the lawn we have to mow (ok, he generally does it), and planning our escape from wrong-sized living.

Slumped glass bowls holding nuts and olives. Perfect for pre-dinner snacks. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Perfect for holding pre-dinner snacks. Slumped glass bowls, decorated with glass powders. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

This post is my contribution to The Changing Seasons, a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

The Changing Seasons: August 2016

Early, foggy morning; Hobsonville Point, Auckland, NZ. Boots moored in distance. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Early morning; Hobsonville Point, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I hope I can look back and say that August 2016 was the worst month of my recent life. Really. Because that will mean that things have got better.

Of course “worst” is relative, and compared to so many people, I’m incredibly fortunate.But internally, on a scale of one to smiling, I’m barely registering a lip twitch.

It’s been a month of sadness; watching the Big T’s mother slip away from us.

A month of worry. About the health of our remaining parents, work issues plaguing family members, our boy-child’s living arrangements.

Of frustration. Too many things are out of our control. Without input from others for whom our issues aren’t that important, we’re left in a holding pattern, circling, running out of fuel.

Add a cancelled holiday, on-going back pain and a wicked cold, and I really am a grumpy little unit.

So my image for the Cardinal’s Changing Seasons challenge pretty much sums up how I’m feeling. I know the means to travel onward is out there; I can see it through the mist. I’m just not quite sure how I’m going to get to it. Pity I’m not a better swimmer.

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!