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A Little Help for My Friends, Lynn and Skip

August Folk Dance Camp 2013

August Folk Dance Camp 2013

Shortly after I returned from New Zealand, I was on the road again.  This time my destination was less than 100 miles away, to Socorro, NM where I attended an annual Southwest International Folk Dance Camp!  We stay in the dorms at NM Tech, and dance our little toes into the floor!  It is so much fun and I get to reconnect with friends I see only once a year!  Such was the case this year too!

Lynn St. Pierre

Lynn St. Pierre

Lynn was showing off these handmade dolls that she was selling as a fundraiser for a project to raise funds for women in an rural community in Berekuso, Ghana, West Africa.  Last spring, Lynn taught at the primary school in the village, while her husband, Skip Ellis, taught at Ashesi University,  in Accra, Ghana.  Lynn’s school, in a small village, was constructed of cinder blocks with small or no windows (for security).  There, the children sit at rickety desks on chairs full of splinters and rusty nails.  The teacher has a book and blackboard or concrete wall to write on (if she has chalk) and the students have no books or any educational materials at all.

Lynn teaches her students

Lynn teaches her students

The educational system there is based on the U.K. model that the Ghanaian government continued after they became independent in 1956.  Unfortunately, caning was common when Lynn first worked at the school (the practice of corporeal punishment using a long stick 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter to beat the children if they give a wrong answer, are late, their parents have not paid their fees, or they misbehave).  After witnessing a caning of the entire first grade class, she spoke at length with the head master and was invited to do  in-service trainings for all the teachers, kindergarten through 8th grade.  The teachers learned respectful discipline and classroom management as well as engaging the children in active learning via a Waldorf curriculum.

Orphanage in Kpando, Ghana

Orphanage in Kpando, Ghana

At the end of the semester – the teachers chose Adinkra symbols, virtues from their culture, with stamps carved into calabash gourds and ink derived from native tree bark. Each teacher choose the symbols they wanted emulated in their classroom, and stamped them onto woven kente cloth (made in their village of Berekuso).  We then hung the fabric on their canes and placed them in the classrooms, transforming the cane into a meaningful piece of art and a reminder to use better ways of teaching and disciplining the children.

Like many African countries, a large percentage of the children are orphans, or are raised by their grandparents.  Nearly all of the parents of these children have died of AIDS which remains rampant in Africa.  Lynn and Skip are returning to Ghana to teach again in December 2013.  Skip will return to the university and Lynn will again teach at the  school in Berekuso. When I learned that they were taking up a collection to gather school supplies for the children in these schools, I just knew that I had to help!

Stay tuned . . .

 

 

 

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Fish Story

We headed back to the Manson’s beach house, hunger gnawing at our bellies.  Had the boys been successful in their fishing expedition?  Fullfy dark by now, there was no sign of them when we returned.  But, they showed up shortly afterward with stories of a bad fishing day!

The Fishermen

The Fishermen

Perhaps it was the smirk on Kerry’s face that gave it away, but I didn’t believe him even though his mates confirmed their lack of protein for our dinner.

Red Snappers a'la fillet!

Red Snappers a’la fillet!

Turns out that fishing had been exceptional with a take of 22 Red Snappers!  My mouth was watering as Kerry prepared the catch of the day.

Chef Kerry

Chef Kerry

The best part is that Kerry takes charge in the kitchen as well, cooking up the catch!  Dining was fine for my final New Zealand dinner along with loads of laughs and jeers as we all watched the rugby game on television – that was a first for me too.

Coromandel Sunrise

Coromandel Sunrise

Up early, the sunrise that greeted me was spectacular!  Kerry was up too, and invited me to accompany him on his morning task.

At the beach

At the beach

He told me that we had to hurry to get down to the beach while the tide was still out.  To my surprise, he drove right down onto the beach and parked close to this coastal formation, where he went to the back of the truck and pulled out a large tub.

Throwing out the Fish

Recycling the Fish

He waded out into the cold water with the tub, and returned to the sea the uncooked remains would feed others,

Southern Black-backed Gull

Southern Black-backed Gull

like this Southern Black-backed Gull.  I tried for better images, but the gulls were so intent on their meal that none of the images were in focus.

Thank you, Marion and Kerry, for a wonderful time in a magical land!

 

 

 

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Cathedral Cove

After a quick lunch, Marion and I headed back out, destination Cathedral Cove, one of the most photographed natural geographic sites in New Zealand.

Viewing the Cove Below

Viewing the Cove Below

Although it was a winter day, many people were present on the viewing platform and trails heading down to the iconic cove below.

Ancient Pohutukawa

Ancient Pohutukawa

This huge pohutukawa tree greeted us as we stepped onto the beach.

Looking Through the Keyhole

Looking Through the Keyhole

Massive doesn’t begin to adequately describe the wonder that awaits at the bottom of the trail.

Cathedral Tower

Cathedral Tower

The natural rock formations formed by the sea boggle the mind.

Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove

But it’s the scale of the landscape that creates the majesty that is Cathedral Cove!  It is so well worth the hike!  As we climbed back to the top of the cliff,

Sunset at Cathedral Cove

Sunset at Cathedral Cove

the sun was setting on this magical place.

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On the Coromandel – Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach - Return to the Sea

Hot Water Beach – Return to the Sea

Marion and Kerry took me to Hot Water Beach on my first New Zealand trip, in 1997. My memories of that day have remained foremost in my thoughts and I longed for a return visit.  So, when Kerry and his mates set off for afternoon fishing, Marion and I headed south a few miles.  So named because of the hot springs located right on the beach, each day of the year, humans are drawn to this place.

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach

They arrive in synchronicity with the departing tide, and they begin digging.  Digging what will become the soak pools.  There, they relax in the soothing waters until the sea returns to reclaim it’s rightful place as master of the coast.  If you stand on the beach sand and squish your feet down into the sand, depending on where you stand, it can be so hot that you must move on.  When the tide returns, it is then that the humans begin their frantic, and sometimes hilarious quest to defeat the inevitable, building their sand walls higher and higher in the hopes of soaking a little longer.  Inevitably, with each incoming tide, humans lose the battle.  I think it’s an extraordinary place, and . . .

New Zealand Dotterel

New Zealand Dotterel

so do the birds.  Above is a New Zealand Dotterel who calls Hot Water Beach home. The New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu is an endangered species found only in this country. It was once widespread and common but there are only about 1700 birds left. This serious decline in numbers is due to a combination of habitat loss, predation by introduced mammals and disturbance during breeding.

Protect the Nesting Birds

Protect the Nesting Birds

The Department of Conservation, fences off nesting areas and their observers protect them for the dotterel and other endangered species like the Fairy Tern. Pied Oystercatchers, the most abundant wading birds in New Zealand, also benefit from the protected beaches.

Pied Oystercatcher

Pied Oystercatcher

We found a couple of these little fellows too, foraging on the beach for macro-invertebrates hiding beneath the sand.  There’s room for everyone on New Zealand’s beaches.

 

 

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On the Coromandel – Morning Stroll

Atop Shakespeare Cliff, Marion and I were very distracted by the small birds flitting around us.  Kerry decided to head off for an invigorating walk along the coast (read Up and Down), while Marion and I tried to capture flying things with our cameras.  We first tried for images of the sweetly singing Grey Warbler, a New Zealand endemic, unsuccessfully.  But,

Fantail

Fantail

this little fellow was far more cooperative.  Fantails are the endemic flycatcher, and the little fellow just followed us around as we kicked up insects for him to eat.

Fantail

Fantail

In fact, he often was too close for a decent photo, plus he never held still for a second.  After 1/2 hour or so, Marion captured this image and we descended the two hundred steps back down the cliff, where we continued our morning walk along the coast.

Looking out on the Bay

Looking out on the Bay

When this very fun beach chair appeared right beside the water, we just had to stop to take more photos.

Baby Goat on Vacation at the Beach

Baby Goat on Vacation at the Beach

Our next mini-adventure was the encounter with a woman and her grandaughter,  walking a baby goat on a leash.  We stopped to chat, only to learn that since the family was going on holiday that they decided to take baby goat along with them!  Then, it turns out that

Inga and Yours Truly

Inga and Yours Truly

Inga was a quilter too, and she had heard that I was in New Zealand.  So we took another photo of the two of us, proof that her story was the ‘real deal’.  It was about then that Kerry called Marion’s cell to inquire as to our whereabouts, so we turned around and headed back to the beach house.

Picking Mandarins

Picking Mandarins

But, we had one last quick stop, to pick the Mandarin oranges that grow in the untended tree right beside the driveway to their home.  There is nothing sweeter than a fresh picked Mandarin.

We said hello to Kerry, who was off with his mates to try their luck, catching our dinner in the sea.  We wished them luck, and soon set off again.

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Last Few Days in Paradise – On the Coromandel

View from the Manson's Beach House

View from the Manson’s Beach House

My final days in New Zealand were spent with Kerry and Marion Manson at their beach house at Cook’s Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.  They were meant strictly for relaxing, something that I rarely get to do.

Lonely Bay

Lonely Bay

The first morning, the three of us set off for a walk to the Manson’s favorite haunts.  First stop was Lonely Bay where the Pohutukawa trees towered over the small beach.

Marion and the Pohutakawa tree

Marion and the Pohutukawa tree

I asked Marion to pose beside the behemoth tree for perspective.  Pohutukawa trees ring the coastline in warmer parts of New Zealand, clinging to every rock and crevice.  They bloom bright red flowers right at Christmastime and are called the New Zealand Christmas tree.

Lonely Beach

Lonely Beach

The beach at Lonely Bay is covered with shells.  It’s where Marion has collected the extensive shell collection displayed at both her beach home and her Hamilton home.

Shakespeare Cliff

Shakespeare Cliff

After a stroll to marvel at the geology of Lonely Bay, we headed for Shakespeare Cliff, where . .  .

200 Steps

200 Steps

we got to enjoy a Step Workout!  It’s about 200 steps, cut into the rock cliffside, to the top.  But,

View from Shakespeare Cliff

View from Shakespeare Cliff

the view was incomparable.  I could see our footsteps on the beach and I wondered if I could zoom in close enough with my Canon XS 40 to capture them.

Footsteps on the Beach

Footsteps on the Beach

And, this was just the prelude to my final, magical day in Paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taupo – Around Town

Schoolyard Art

Schoolyard Art

With Symposium 2013 at an end, I said farewell to new friends as well as long-time friends.   My next few days would be spent with Marion Manson, the woman who is responsible for my love affair with New Zealand.  Back in about 1990, Marion purchased a pattern from me.  It was my first overseas order and I was so excited that I wrote to her.  She wrote back and soon we were dedicated pen pals — this was in the days before internet!  Marion was on the organizing committee of Symposium 1997, held in Hamilton and I was invited to teach there, my first New Zealand Symposium.

Taupo Museum with Marion

Taupo Museum with Marion

Marion works in natural dyes on different fibers and it active in the art community throughout New Zealand.  First on our agenda for the day was the Taupo Museum, except that some shop windows beckoned along the way.  In honor of the Symposium many of the shop windows were beautifully decorated.

Kiwi in Store Window

Kiwi in Store Window

Without a doubt, this was my favorite shop window!  And, I left a goodly amount of cash with them for safe keeping!  I walked out sporting a new jacket.

Weaving at Woolshed

Weaving at Woolshed

We found this lovely hand woven piece at the Woolshed, where many of the woolens and possum-down items were on sale.  I left some more cash there!  It was beginning to look like an expensive day.

Flowers everywhere Taupo

Flowers everywhere Taupo

But, we soon returned to our mission of the day – the many special quilt exhibits at the Taupo Museum.

Red Heart

Red Heart

The first exhibit that caught my eye was right inside the front door.  Covering two free standing panels were row upon row of 12″ square little quilts, all done in shades of RED!  The Red quilts at Taupo were a challenge given by Aotearoa Quilters. The winner was the lovely gerbera by Sonya Prchal. There were 137 entries from all around New Zealand. The quilts were all for sale, cash and carry, and the remainder will be shown at the Stitches and Craft show in Hamilton 7th/8th September.  Many thanks to Janet Ryan, of New Zealand for the above information.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Red Flower

Red Gerbera Daisy by Sonya Prchal, Grand Prize Winner

Red Houses

Red Houses

Red Koru

Red Koru

Red Ribbon

Red Ribbon

If anyone knows the names of the quiltmakers of the other quilts, and their stories behind these little quilts, I would sure appreciate that information.  Back outside, another shade of red caught my eye. . .

Sparrows and apple

Sparrows and Apple

Laying in the wet parking lot, amid the parked vehicles, someone had discarded an apple core.  It seemed to be just the meal the local sparrows hungered for.  Although all looks peaceful in this image . . .

Sparrow Fight

Sparrow Fight

Guarding one’s feast might just make winter survival a little easier.  Marion also was attracted by the outdoor colors.

Marion Picking Leaves

Marion Picking Leaves

She began picking winter leaves for her dye pots at home.  Before long,

Marion's Leaves

Marion’s Leaf Bouquet

she had collected a lovely little leaf bouquet.  And through it all, in the mist of the winter day,

Magnolia flower

Magnolia flower

the magnolias bloomed wildly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Southward to Huka Falls

Southward to Huka Falls

Welcome to Taupo Symposium 2013

My stay in Auckland was all too short when it was time to move south to the mountain community of Taupo, home to the 2014 New Zealand National Quilt Symposium.  Faculty arrived throughout the day, many of whom had flown through the night to get here.  I was triply glad that I had elected to arrive a few days early.  The Symposium Team let everyone rest that first day and settle into our rooms, but the next day was set aside for touring!  And, our first stop was Huka Falls.

Huka Falls

Huka Falls – can you see the tiny people?

Living in the southwestern United States, it is hard to imagine so much water.  Huka Falls are a set of waterfalls on the Waikato River that drains Lake Taupo , the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand.  At Huka Falls, the Waikato River narrows from approximately 300 feet wide into a narrow canyon only 45 feet wide, making for an impressive display. The canyon is carved into lake floor sediments laid down before Taupo’s Oruanui eruption 26,500 years ago.

Below Huka Falls

Below Huka Falls

The volume of water flowing through often approaches 220,000 litres per second, regulated by the Taupo Control Gates as part of their hydroelectric system.  The uppermost falls are a set of small waterfalls dropping over about 25 feet, while the most impressive, final stage of the falls is a 35 foot drop.

Robbie Joy Eklow, Cara Gulati and yours truly

Robbie Joy Eklow, Cara Gulati and yours truly

In addition to learning about the natural wonders that surround Taupo, it was a great time to bond with our colleagues, with whom we rarely get to see as our schedules seldom allow for time to visit at a busy show.  We so appreciate the Taupo Symposium Committee’s efforts to build in a free day!  Here, Robbie Joy Eklow, Cara Gulati and I pose beside the mighty Waikato River below the falls.

I think I see a future quilt in this image!

I think I see a future quilt in this image!

Stay tuned for lunch adventures!

 

 

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