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Potpourri

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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Tea with Friends

Looking over Auckland Harbor, Gail, Alison Laurence, Hazel Foote

Looking over Auckland Harbor, Gail, Alison Laurence, Hazel Foote

After leaving Kelly Tarlton’s, Alison and Hazel drove me up to the lookout so we could look out on the Auckland Harbor and beyond to the volcanic islands that dot the waters.  Rangitoto Island is almost certainly Auckland’s most iconic natural landmark, with its distinctive symmetrical cone and location.  In the last few years this, and other nearby islands have been cleared of mammals and the emergent vegetation is brilliantly green.  I hope that I can visit these islands one day after they reintroduce the rare endemic birds found only in this country.

Auckland has 48 volcanos that make for spectacular scenery and if one is so inspired they can all be climbed.  New Zealand is part of the ‘Ring of Fire’ that stretches around the edge of the Pacific Ocean and where a large proportion of the Earth’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

Alison and Hazel

Alison and Hazel

During our 2014 New Zealand tour, you may very well meet either or both Hazel and Alison.  One of our stops is the home of Juliet Fitness, a well-known New Zealand quilter.  Her home is located in the hills west of Auckland on a 10 acre section of native bush.  It is nothing short of amazing.

Flowers in Winter

Flowers in Winter

After a lovely lunch at a beachfront cafe, we adjourned to Hazel’s garden and beautiful home to enjoy a cup of tea.  Her garden was full of blooms even though it was the dead of winter.

Hazel Foote's Quilt for the Tutor's Exhibit at Taupo Symposium.

Hazel Foote’s Quilt for the Tutor’s Exhibit at Taupo Symposium.

Hazel is a notable quiltmaker and designer.  I did not learn the name of the quilt above, but it is stunning!   Hazel also was a tutor at the National Symposium in Taupo.  I so appreciate the friendliness and camaraderie of my New Zealand pals!  It feels like my other home.

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My Other Favorite Country

It feels like I am coming home when I get off the plane in this beautiful city.

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We were off to Northland on the first full day, destination Marsden Point, accompanied by my friend and hostess, Diane Anderson and Melissa Gelder, my new friend and trip instigator. But first, we stopped at Warkworth for morning tea, a magnificent flat white, possibly the best coffee in the world and some sweets.

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You might begin noticing some images of my ringed hands. The three rings stand for the “three M’s”. That stands for Michele, Mom, and me. I wear my Mom’s wedding ring and I think about her every morning when I place her ring on my pinkie finger. Mom passed away last November after fighting degenerative dementia for 8.5 years. Michele is fighting cancer. She wanted to join me on this trip and share in my adventures. So, she surprised me with a gift of her retirement ring from PNM where she worked for thirty years, right before I left on this trip. The third ring is mine, a Navajo story ring that I purchased at a trading post. It is my favorite.

So, watch for some upcoming 3M image here and there in my posts.
Mom and Michele — I love you!

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Next up — Batik Heaven!

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Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Bosque Surveys

Bosque Surveys

Back at home in Albuquerque, I immediately morphed back into my bird girl persona, up at 4:30 or 5:00 each morning in order to count birds in the bosque (the riparian forest along the river).  Most of the songbirds are heard rather than seen, so photos are slim pickins!  But, some of my favorites are larger and more photogenic, like

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

this Great Horned Owl trying desperately to hide among the dense vegetation.  I would have never seen him/her except for the raucous calls and keks of the local Cooper’s Hawk who had discovered and was loudly objecting to his presence.

Cooper's Hawk nestling

Cooper’s Hawk nestling

But, Mama Cooper’s Hawk was merely trying to protect her three babes from a potential predator.  Being along the river at dawn is an amazing experience.  There are NO other people around, just me and nature.  It feeds my soul.  And, I see some extraordinary sights.  One day as I was trying unsuccessfully to photograph a Turkey Vulture, I nearly missed seeing this little fellow about 10 feet away and right at eye level.

Porcupine

Porcupine

I am a lucky woman.

Along the Rio Grande

Along the Rio Grande

 

 

 

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Inspiration

Black Spruce

Black Spruce

It was during a previous trip to Alaska and also Canada when I fell in love with these hopelessly tall, skinny trees.  It seemed, to my novice eye, that they were so fragile that any strong wind would simply blow them over.  At about the same time, I was searching for a Northern Hawk Owl, an elusive species that I had been told liked to sit in the very tops of these trees!  So, I drove around this very large state looking, and looking and looking.

Black Spruce Bog

Black Spruce Bog

Sometimes Black Spruce grow along the edges of bogs, like these little fellows.  However, this is a well adapted tree, perfectly suited to life in the northernmost portions of our continent where permafrost can and does alter the surface of the land on a regular basis through frost heaves and other dramatic climate shifts.  After looking for that blasted owl for what seemed like an eternity, I just gave up.  There simply must be billions of these trees in Alaska and not all of them are near a road either, not that there are many roads in Alaska.  Soon I began to enjoy them for what they were, a plant that thrives where others fail.  They became my inspiration!  Upon returning home (from that previous trip)

Tiny Trees (c) 2009

Tiny Trees (c) 2009

I could not resist turning them into a small wall quilt.  This is one of the patterns in my book, Flying Colors.  And,

Land of Midnight Sun

Land of Midnight Sun

they also feature prominently in Land of the Midnight Sun, also from 2009 and featured in my book.  However, this quilt was inspired more strongly by the discovery of a fabric called Aurora Borealis in an Alaskan Quilt Shop!  What fun!

I hope I get to return one day!  What inspires you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tide Pooling

 

The Tide is Out

The Tide is Out

The tides can range up to 20 feet in Halibut Cove. One morning, Michele and I signed up to go Tide Pooling with group leader, Becca, who doubles as the manager of Stillpoint Lodge.  At first glance, it looks like just a muddy mess, but

Anemone

Anemone

Right away, Becca found this small anemone, attached to a piece of the giant kelp that was exposed in the low tide.

Becca demonstrates the tactile abilities of a sea star

Becca demonstrates the tactile abilities of a sea star

What an exciting outing this was!  I learned so much, like the fact that these animals are not called starfish at all, but rather sea stars.  They don’t like being picked up and turned upside down either.  So, with little hairlike tentacles, they grab onto the hairs on your arms in an attempt to right themselves.

Sea Star

Sea Star

Much better now!  Here’s the not-so-little sea star right side up shortly before Becca returned him/her to the sea.

Sea Star Dining Opportunity

Sea Star Dining Opportunity

Sea stars are predatory echinoderms, members of the class Asteroidea.  This four-legged fellow must have lost one of his legs somehow.  Although it should grow back, it hasn’t yet.  Nevertheless, he was chomping on a mussel.  Sea stars extrude their stomachs into the animals they eat, sucking out the edible portions.

Michele and the sea star

Michele and the sea star

Michele was surprised by the grip of this sea star.

Sunflower sea star

Sunflower sea star

On another trip down to the tide pool, we unearthed two Sunflower Sea Stars.   These are the largest and possibly the and fastest sea star in the world.  It can move up to 3 meters per minute, and has been known to travel at least 3 km.  It has over 15,000 tube feet, the little tentacle-like protrusions that help it to move.  Found mostly in the north eastern Pacific, they are voracious predators, feeding on bivalves, snails, urchins, other asteroids, sea cucumbers, sand dollars, and crabs (in other words, just about anything it wants!).

Holding the Sunflower Sea Star

Holding the Sunflower Sea Star

Holding one of these sea stars is rather like holding a large handful of wet slime.  The little (yes, he’s still a little one!) one did not appreciate being out of the sea.

Upside down Sunflower Sea Star

Upside down Sunflower Sea Star

This one didn’t like being upside down either, but enabled us to see all the little feet trying to right the animal.  What amazing creatures these are.

Decorator Crab

Decorator Crab

Last, but not least, Lucas unearthed this Decorator Crab from the tide pool.  These little crabs ‘decorate’ themselves with various materials to help camouflage themselves from predators, like the sunflower sea star.  Our excursion introduced us to the wonders that lurked beneath the surface of the water right at water’s edge!  Definitely educational!

Stay tuned, more stitching ahead . . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fine Dining – Paducah Style

Caribbean Style

Caribbean Style

Better late than never – ‘Tis my motto! I got sidetracked these last two weeks and am WAY behind on blogposts.  Nevertheless, I wanted to be sure to mention one terrific restaurant, Flamingo Row, where we girls dined on our last night in Paducah.   A couple of blocks south of the main drag, Hinkleville Road, it is definitely worth the effort!  In this small midwestern town, Flamingo Row embodies all things Caribbean, from the menu to the drinks!

Cynthia enjoys a fruity concoction

Cynthia enjoys a fruity concoction

Cynthia said it was delicious.   But, not being of the sort to partake of these kinds of sweetened drinks, I passed and opted for a glass of wine. – a dry white to pair with my dinner of shrimp, grits and green beans, a.k.a. “Haricot Verts”.  The first time I saw these on a menu, I had NO idea what the heck they were.  Turns out that they are French green beans, slimmer and supposedly better tasting!  Now, lest you think this sounds like a not-so-great entree, just take a look below!

Shrimp, Grits, and Haricot Verts

Shrimp, Grits, and Haricot Verts

The shrimp were grilled to perfection, the grits full of chile and cheese (YUM!) and the verts, crispy and crunchy!  Try it next time you are in Paducah!  You will love this place.

Girls at Flamingo Row:  (l-r)Michele, Yours Truly, Cynthia, and Mary

Girls at Flamingo Row: (l-r)Michele, Yours Truly, Cynthia, and Mary

Oh, what fun we had!  We were sad to say good-bye to Paducah and look forward to our next trip there.  On our way out of town, we got one last image of the magnificent dogwood flowers.

Dogwood Flowers

Dogwood Flowers

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Art in Paducah

Museum Statues

Museum Statues

Paducah is an art-centric community.  Statues are sprinkled throughout the town, in front of restaurants, shops, and other establishments, supplemented by an abundance of flowering plants.  We were there right at the peak of the dogwood blooming season, although I didn’t manage to capture a good image of them.  Azaleas also were prominent along residential areas.

In 1999,Robert Dafford completed the “1873 Bird’s Eye View” of Paducah from the Ohio river.

The Floodwall that protects historic downtown Paducah from the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers overflowing their banks includes three city blocks of painted murals that capture important moments in Paducah’s history.  The murals were designed & painted by Robert Dafford and the Dafford Muralists of Lafayette, Louisiana. The project began in 1996; the last panel was completed in 2007. Each mural panel has an interpretative plaque with a short history lesson on the scene depicted in the panel. Each panel also has its own spotlight making the mural walk an enjoyable evening stroll and tourist attraction.  In addition to enjoying 45 attractive works of art, taking the mural wall tour serves as a multi-media history lesson on Paducah and NW Kentucky.

Something

Somethign

In 1938 the Ohio River froze solid completely across bringing barge traffic to a halt but providing a winter playground for Paducah residents and school children freed from school by the freezing weather.

Below are images of a few of the murals.    All mural images were taken by Mary Chappelle.

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The thriving community

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Paducah, the hub of river activity in the inland waterways, has been the center of the river industry for decades. As the 2000 painting season ended, the river section of the murals which span an entire city block, began to tell the story of life on the rivers. Several of the new murals are located directly in front of the River Center which includes the River Heritage Museum, the Center for Maritime Education, and Seamen’s Church Institute and include the Standing Watch View From the Pilot House, the Christening of the Eleanor, and the Visit of the Three “Queens” to Paducah. (The American Queen, the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen.)

Paducah is a city rich in its cultural heritage.  Although we saw only a portion of the art it has to offer, there was one final surprise in store for us.

Angel of Market Street

Angel of Market Street

We saw the ‘angel’ as we were parking in the downtown area.  Following a wonderful lunch, we returned to the rental car to find her still in place, posing in various positions.   This image was taken through the windshield of the car.

Next time you are within a six-hour drive of Paducah, it is definitely worth a detour through history.  Personally, I think it is wonderful at any time of year.

 

 

 

 

 

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