A little bit of festive sparkle

Christmas decorations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2104. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Christmas decorations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2104. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Now that the boy-child is no longer a child (and I may actually have to find another pseudonym for him), the impetus to manufacture Christmas has largely disappeared. We finally dispensed with the tree last year (we are all slightly allergic to pine, and a plastic tree was always out of the question); Christmas cakes are no longer baked as there’s no-one much left to enjoy them, and none of us has the desire to spend hours in carpark traffic jams to visit noisy malls full of s**t we don’t really need. Gifts have become small, personal and often home-made, and I think we are all happier about it. This year I even outsourced the production of the family calendars (gifts for the grandparents) to online photo printing companies here and in the UK.

Christmas decorations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2104. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Christmas decorations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2104. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

The main traditions that have remained are the boy-child’s advent calendar (who can say no to a daily dose of chocolate) and my need to have baubles around the place. Without a tree to hang them in, I’ve taken to filling large bowls and platters with tinsel and decorations. Sparkly and colourful, they are enough to remind me that’s it’s Christmas and that I really should go and buy some cards for the persistent souls who still send them to us.

Christmas decorations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2104. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Christmas decorations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2104. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

And if I sound like a Grinch; well perhaps I am. Without the anchor of Christianity, this particular holiday has little meaning for me. I hate the appalling commercialization that equates spending with caring; and without extended family around, I can’t even lose myself in the notion of seasonal familial bonding.

I think my little family a trois is secure in the bonds of mutual love and Christmas for us is becoming a time to look outward to see how fortunate we are. One in four children in New Zealand live below the poverty line. For a country that long prided itself on being a place of equality and opportunity, this is utterly disgraceful. This Christmas, as in the past, our family is supporting the Auckland City Mission, which has a long tradition of offering a positive Christmas experience to those who would otherwise have none. The Mission hosts a free Christmas Lunch for around 2,000 people, provides around 3,000 food parcels and distributes about 7,000 gifts to children  — as well as providing a huge range of services the other 364 days a year.

So I’m going to enjoy my baubles, and look forward to seeing how innovative my boys (and I) can be in creating gifts out of love rather than cash.

Christmas decorations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2104. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Christmas decorations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2104. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

This post was written for Sally’s Phoneography and non-SLR digital photo challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

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“How many kinds of sweet flowers grow …?”

Haven't a botanical bone in my body, but I do recognise this as a lily. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

I haven’t a botanical bone in my body, but I do recognise this as a lily. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Like most former British colonies, New Zealand has an abundance of Victorian and Edwardian-style public parks and gardens laid out in formal, symetrical arrangements of lawns, flower beds, gravel walks, and very often a central and very ornate fountain.

Dove Myer-Robinson Park – more commonly known as Parnell Rose Gardens – in the Auckland suburb of Parnell, is a lovely example, containing numerous beds of flowers other than roses, alongside the extensive rose gardens.

rose garden

A perfect day to stroll in the Parnell Rose Gardens. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Many of the rose varieties are cultivated by internationally-known rose breeders, and one could spend an awful lot of time checking out the enormous variety — if one knew what one was looking for.

Climbing roses; Parnell Rose Gardens. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Climbing roses; Parnell Rose Gardens. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

I'm not totally sure, but I think these are sweet peas. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

I’m not totally sure, but I think these are sweet peas. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

A park’s not a park without a fountain.

The fountain is not in the centre of the park, as I think is "normal" in such parks, but tucked away in a quiet, secluded area. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

The fountain is not in the centre of the layout, as I think is “normal” in such parks, but tucked away in a quiet, secluded area. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

This post was written for Sally’s Phoneography and non-SLR Digital Photo Challenge, at Lens and Pens by Sally.

And the title of the post … well for those who have never heard this song, all I can say is that you make me feel old.

Weekly Photo Challenge: curving towards reality

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” ― John Lennon

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”
― John Lennon

The delicate curves of this sculpture remind me of ballet; of a dancer rehearsing – probably something like The Maple Leaf Rag.

I can imagine the  upright piano in the corner, with a long-haired, wild eyed young man playing for a solitary dancer who moves about the floor.

sculpture2Of course, my image is not real. But neither is the sculpture. It is virtual; a clever piece of engineering design, mathematically modelled, rendered in 3-D and located in a photographic space.

The designer is my partner. He’s an engineer by profession, and an artist in his soul. His mastery of the technology allows him to imagine works of art, and create them in a virtual world – but one that can intersect with reality.

Weekly Photo Challenge: fleeting moments in a day; fleeting years in a life

The sun rising over Larkings Landing, Beach Haven, Auckland. From Hobsonville Point.

The sun rising over Larkings Landing, Beach Haven, Auckland. From Hobsonville Point.

The boy-child has now abandoned his photographic project involving sky trails, sunrises, late nights and ridiculously early mornings. I guess that means an end to those frantic drives across town wondering if we’ll make it to whatever beach he’s decided on in time to capture the intense colours of a new sun sliding up from the horizon.

I’ll miss those drives; fleeting moments of togetherness with a child who’s becoming a man faster than the night sky transforms into day (metaphorically, ok).

This week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “fleeting”

Weekly Photo Challenge: escape

I guess like a lot of people, my first response to this week’s Daily Post photo challenge – escape – was a vision of a tropical island (Tahiti probably). And we are in the process of trying to organise just such an escape for the next school holidays.

But while holidays on beautiful Pacific islands are a real, but infrequent form of escape, my first and best refuge has always been books.

stack of books

This photo isn’t of my all-time favourites, nor even the books I’m reading at the moment. It’s a pile of some of the books I have escaped into at sometime during my life. The size of the pile is determined by the composition of the photo, so don’t try to read more into it than that.

If I had the time (and all of the books) my escape photo would be of something that looked more like a hut made entirely of books. But I think that’s called a library.