Sunday, January 31, 2010

NZD: New Zealand Daily 12102009

Thanks to all who commented my plans for processing our images from New Zealand.  All were helpful in the process of defining how I’m going to try this.  I’ve decided to keep it in the same blog for my own simplicity – everything is in one place.  It may not have the focus of a separate blog, but it is more of a reflection of what my life is like – a melting pot.  What I will do though is to set aside these images in two ways: a prefix in the title (NZD for New Zealand Daily) and then the same in the categories.  I can pull all the images together if I so choose, and you can see the prefix to know if it is one you want to follow.  I welcome feedback!

This week’s images will come from December 10, 2009 while we were in LA. 

I am pleased with the fuzziness that hides the street and greenery.  In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d question if it’s even a photograph.  I’m also pleased with the slight sharpness of the petals of the flower that gives the picture focus.  I also like the diagonal of the stem to the flower to the sky.  The story for me is one of simply turning my face to the sun, letting all the busyness fade away, and being what I am created to be.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

What is this stuff????

I know…

image  I really do know…

image Most of you out there have had enough of this stuff, but I must tell you this is first that I’ve seen of it in a year (I think) and even if we do get it, it will only stick around for a day or so.  This can bring out the kid in me.  You can always tell who was brought up in the South.  We get a gleam in our eye and chat about it more than the latest gossip.  “Hey I got a call from Anderson and it’s started over there.”  Giggles begin and phone calls are made again and again.  “What are you seeing?”  This is a time to look forward to playing around, a day off, found time.  Growing up it meant hot chocolate, jigsaw puzzles and chicken ‘n dumplins.

It’s so rare, there’s no justification to invest in equipment.  We just hunker down at the house and watch how things change outside.  I’ve been known to sit and watch as every branch of a tree is outlined.  I’ve heard stories today of watching deer come up to the house to munch on the boxwood while a blanket grows on their backs.  Right now in fact, I’m sitting at the window with a pot of tea watching the cardinals, titmouses (or is that titmice), house finches, chickadees, and the Carolina wrens devour the black oil sunflower seed from the feeder in the yard.  image image I just learned a new bird the dark eyed junco that only comes here for the winter.  They are doing a nice job cleaning up the ground.image Shadow on the other hand could be having his first experience.  He first walked rather timidly through the yard, but soon ran excitedly from one to the other.  Then he decided that he must eat it.  (Oh he’s so much easier to photograph against the white!)  He’s now fallen asleep watching the birds.  Oh wait maybe not.  A female cardinal just came to sit on the window sill right at his nose.  Those eyes opened wide, but he was sensitive enough to not twitch a muscle. imageimage image In any case, it’s about time to start on the comfort food.  I think it’ll be a black bean soup with some sausage.  This is all supposed to start up again in a couple of hours.  I might just get some movies and weaving in!imageimage

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Zealand Daily Visual

For those who have been following New Zealand, you’ve readily seen that are many upon many photos.  In an effort to hold onto the trip, my plans for the rest of the year were to process these photos.  You may have also seen my plea for help in choosing a software package.  My thoughts are to take one day's worth of photos from New Zealand and spend an entire week with them.  I would then like to pull out one for each day and create a blog entry.  You may have seen Jane Dunnewold’s Daily Visual blog in 2009 where she journaled visually for a year about the world around her.

The focus for me with the New Zealand pictures is not so much about where, what, when and how from the trip, but about what strikes me about the image visually.  I want to practice or train my eye for being able to identify designs that speak to me and even explore why.

What I would love is to get feedback in these blog entries.  What do you see in any image or does it speak to you at all?  Is it the colors, the lines, the feelings stirred up or the first words that come to mind?

If this is of interest to you, I have a question at this point – would it  be better to place these entries in this blog or to create a new blog just for this exercise?  Hmmmm….  I can see benefits and confusion both ways!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January Colors Down Under

Sue from Life Looms Large has begun a great thing in looking around at the color combinations that nature puts together each month.  She just posted her January colors and talked of how she can’t get a picture that doesn’t have some snow!

I’ve only been around for the last week at home and I can tell you that taking pictures has not been part of my time.  BUT I can share the colors of New Zealand in January!  (I know it’s cheating…)

The Tui bird feeding on the nectar in the Harakeke bloomsimage Silica terraces and hot water algaeimage Thistle and Gannets at Cape Kidnappersimageimage I loved the green and gold of the Coromandel Peninsula image Reflecting light in a sea caveimage Bark of a Kauri treeimage Bougainvilleaimage Martins Beach near Opomereimage

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Photo Software

We are adjusting to being home nicely and Shadow is behaving so well, it’s rather scary.  Did he suddenly mature while we were gone – or is he still too tired to explode with energy????  Only time will tell!

I am looking for some advice from you all out there.  My intention is to spend the rest of the year processing all the photographs that we took in New Zealand.  While I have some basic photo editing software, I think it’s time to upgrade because there are some things I’d like to do that are beyond the capabilities of my software.  What I don’t know which software is right for me. 

I have looked at Photoshop, but I'm not readily finding a feature that I want.  It may be in Photoshop, but I'm not sure which version.  In any case - what I want to make sure I can do is convert a digital image into a cartoon for the tapestry weaving.  In one sense, I want to simplify lines and even the number of colors for a representative image.

For example, simplify the lines of this and possibly the number of colors or values.

image  In another sense, I would like to take a photo and really break it down into regions of color for a more abstract weaving.  I've tried blurring a photo for this abstract, but then I still need to pull out lines that differentiate the color transitions. 

For example, take this one, simplify the number of colors and values and return organics shapes of color.


Any advice???

Thanks in advance for your help!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tips from the Trip

We certainly have learned a few things along the way.  Here’s what we think would be good to look into and know if you want to do this too.

Campervans/Holiday Parks:

Check on picking up the campervan in Christchurch and dropping it off in Auckland.  Most people do the opposite, so the rental companies are desperate to get the vans up to Auckland.  One kiwi told us they were able to get one for $1/day and the company paid for the ferry crossing.

Know the size of the “bed” that’s in the campervan.  We were 1 foot longer than the bed and had to come up with some kiwi ingenuity to lengthen the bed.  It took us about 5 nights to get it just right, but in the end we had a bed that did not change = sleeping better.

Consider your use of Holiday Parks when considering what amenities you “need” in the campervan.  We chose to get a toilet and shower in our van, but never used it because of the holiday parks.  The parks we went to came with complete kitchens and laundry facilities.  Nearly every park had picnic tables between the campsites, so you may want to think before you rent those table and chairs, especially if the van has an interior set of table and chairs.

With the group traveling at the same time we were – showers were easily available at 7 am.  At 8 am, we could wait in line.

Wifi is variable from site to site.  You are going to pay for it wherever you go.  If all you want to do is check e-mail that can easily be done without having a computer.  There are internet cafes in the holiday parks and in any medium sized town.

We had to clean the campervan to turn it in.  You may want to give yourself a whole day to just deal with cleaning, turning in, getting to the airport. 


Credit and debit cards are accepted nearly everywhere.  American Express was good just as often as it is at home – just make sure you do have a Mastercard or Visa.

If it is a credit card, they will want to see the signature on the back of the card and will likely watch as you sign it.  So just keep the card out after you swipe it.

Tipping is not expected in New Zealand.  If you use a credit card for purchasing a meal, there will be nothing on the slip for adding a tip – if you so desire.  You may want to have cash handy for that.

Keep coinage – particularly $2 coins – you’ll need them for laundry and the internet.  There was even one place that had “chill lockers” for $1/day instead of a big fridge.


Many, many of the places you will want to call use toll free numbers (free phone).  If you do not have a international cellphone, you can readily call free phone numbers from anywhere.  You can also get a prepaid phone card from Telecom.  There are phone booths all over the place also – especially at holiday parks.  Note – holiday parks will make your reservations for the next holiday park in the same franchise. That eliminated most of the phone  calls we would have made.


USE THEM.  They are everywhere.  They are helpful.  They are friendly.  They are patient.  They will help you navigate all the options to make your decision.  They will make the reservations for you = eliminate more phone calls.

If you book more than one tour with the same company, you may get a 10% discount.  We found this through an I-Site. 

Global Positioning System/Maps:

Highly recommend it.  Get it updated for New Zealand.  It’s particularly handy if you are looking for gas stations or grocery stores that are not on maps.  I wouldn’t recommend always following it blindly.  If it’s taking you off the main state highway, consider why and if that’s really what you want to do.  You could end up on a gravel road that will add hours to your drive. 

I would supplement with the free maps one can get – unless you just feel the need to pay money for a highly detailed map.  We recommend getting the Kiwi Holiday Park locations map.  This is a good topographical map and it gives the travel times between various places in a graphical form – which is easier to read.  All others give the travel times in tabular form – which is wonderful to have also. 


A “Dairy” is a convenience store that sells ice cream.

A “Bakery” often is also a convenience store that does sell fresh bread and sweets.  Often you can find premade sandwiches.

A “Tearoom” is a “fast food” place that sells sandwiches, quiche, pot pies, etc. and of course tea, coffee, etc.  This is a great place for a light meal.

A “Cafe” is likely casual dining.

Eggs are not refrigerated.  Just get yourself mentally prepared for this.

Capsicum is a pepper, Kumara is a sweet potato, Chips can be french fries or bagged potato chips.

There are such things as butchers in the larger towns, but we found that the grocers has a good selection of meat and produce.  We still preferred to buy from a roadside stand or a farmer, but often the quantity was larger than the campervan fridge would hold – or more than we could eat before it would spoil.


The weather can be quite variable.  We had a wonderful go with all the weather, but we did occasionally get a taste of what it could be like.  You didn’t come all this way to be stuck inside the campervan, did you?  So be prepared for anything – take what will make you comfortable to get out there!

Consider outerwear – it’s going to rain sometime in the trip and you will be so much happier if you can stay complete dry.

A good pair of walking/hiking/tramping shoes, preferable waterproof – for the rain or the occasional stream you will need to cross.

Sunscreen, sunblock and a hat!!!!!  The ozone layer is much thinner down here.  Each time I checked the UV index was 9!  I honestly believe that sunblock only lasted half the time that it would at home.

Windproof jacket or vest – it’s going to be windy somewhere also – even if it’s just on a boat.  You want to be comfortable!


In general, activities and shopping are open 9 to 5pm.  Some will open later and close earlier.  About 10% of what we wanted to do would be open after 5 pm.  So we would often rearrange to “do more”.  Nearly all shops will be closed Christmas and many will be closed Boxing Day.  Then some areas will close for a loner period.

Still, there is always a grocery store open until 7 or 8 pm.

Prices include tax or GST.


You may or may not be one that likes to journal, but let me tell you in the case of this type of trip.  It’s hard to absorb everything. We often on one day couldn’t tell someone what we did two days earlier.  I am thankful for the blog for that.  It served as a reminder and all sorts of memories would come back. 

Thanks again for your following us!  Let us know if you ever decide to do something like this.  We’d love to hear about your trip!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Long Journey Home

Today’s the day.  We head down to Auckland and fly out.  First there are a few bridges to cross.

The campervan has to be cleaned.

imageThen there is the drive from Matakohe to Otohuhu to turn in the campervan.  There were still many great views.imageThen the taxi ride to the airport to catch the plane.  Starting 12 January, a second security point is now required for all flights entering the US.  This one includes a patdown and a physical search of all carry on luggage.  What have we come to?image And now the 12 hours in the plane to get to LA.  Goodbye New Zealand.  Thanks for all the memories.  I will always cherish this.image And thanks to you all for following along on the journey.  Your comments and e-mails have been a great connection and help.

For more pics, try this:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Can’t See the Forest for the Tree

Kerikeri was quite beautiful this morning.  We did a little shopping on our way out.  It’s actually amazing how much we have purchased this week.  Is it because we are about to leave or is it that we finally are finding what we want.  Either way, there is the test of trying to determine what all will fit in the luggage.  This is why we brought one empty piece!

The touring today was from the east coast to the west of the Northland.  Sadly, Kerikeri will be the furthest north we will go.  To go further really requires two more days and we simply don’t have the days left.  We crossed over to Opononi and OmapereKupe was the first Maori to find New Zealand on one of the war canoes we showed yesterday.  This harbor is where he landed.  It also is known for Opo the bottlenose dolphin who decided to live in the harbor from 1955 and 1956.  They don’t know why he left the other dolphins – maybe they were calling him names like stupid.  Here’s a look from just south of Omapere.
image The third interesting part of harbor is the opposite side is an enormous sand dune.  Yes – that is not deforested farm land.  It’s a sand dune!
image Not far south is the Waipora forest where the giant kauris are.  The literature said giant, the sign to turn off said big.  Ian our guide last night said the trees at Puteki Forest were matchsticks compared to these.  He was right.  Here is Tane Mahute, the Lord of the Forest.  In Maori legend, Tane Mahute is the son of the sky father and earth mother.  The lore is that he is the one that tore the sky from the earth which allowed life to flourish.  The Maori believe that all living things are his children.  He is estimated to be over 2000 years old and 13.8 meters around.  The trunk is 17.7 meters tall, but the total tree is 51.5 meters tall.  The volume of wood is 244.5 m3.  Look closely for the people at the bottom of the tree.image And here is Te Matua Ngahere, the Father of the Forest.  He is 16.4 meters around with a trunk height of 10 meters, a total height of nearly 30 meters and a total wood volume of 208 m3.  James in the font of Te Matua Ngahere is about 2 meters all and about 1 meter around. ;-)  There’s no wood in him….                                     image This baby of a matchstick is likely 500-1000 years old.  The bark peels and a gum will ooze out.  It’s quite good as a varnish and was harvested in the early 1900s.  What’s amazing though is the trunk itself feels and looks like a ceramic.image Our day ended at Matakohe and here is our final sunset in New Zealand.  Enjoy!
imageFor more pics, try these:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bay of Islands

It started to rain – no, I mean pour – before dawn this morning in Russell.  In a campervan, the roar was a bit louder than an home. ;-)  We were scheduled for a 9 am cruise in the Bay of Islands and I was not looking forward to a wet or confined to the cabin cruise.  We headed down to the harbour at 8:30 and at least the rain had stopped.  By the time we were out on the water, the sun was coming out.  At home a rain like that sits for days.  We’ve been here this full month and I still have a knee jerk reaction to think as I would at home.  The weather changes on a dime here.  And I am glad for it!

The cruise was a simple one through the Bay of Islands and out the the Hole in the Rock out at the Pacific Ocean.  The pictures looks similar to those we’ve taken before, but try to take a closer look.  Yes there is land over there across the water, but there are layers upon layers of land.  It was hard to capture.imageWe did stop to enjoy some bottlenose dolphins.  There were about 15 – including this baby - out in the bay feeding on all that lived on a nearby coral shelf.   They do jump about just like SeaWorld!image And here’s where we passed through Hole in the Rock.  image From Russell, we headed over to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.  This is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on the 6 February 1840 between the British and the Maori to give the British control of New Zealand.  The grounds then house a great deal of Maori and European historical artifacts.  The European is what one would expect to see in any early 1800s settlement.  What was different of course was the Maori artifacts.  Here is the 35 meter long Maori waka (war canoe) Ngatokimatawhaorua.  This canoe needs at least 76 paddlers to move through the water with any stability.   This one was made for the 1940 Centennial Celebrations and was actually launched at that time. imageIt was made from 3 massive Kauri trees from the Puketi forest – ones that were likely at least 1000 years old.  Two of the trees were for the hull of the canoe and the third for the carvings on the sides.  Here’s the stump from one of the trees.imageClasses, tours and other special events were offered.  We stayed around and took a workshop in weaving the flax.  Here is a flower I was in the process of making.   The class was held on a bank of the beach next to eh war canoes.  At one point, I was able to comprehend just a bit.  Here we are in New Zealand, on the Waitangi treaty Grounds, relaxing near the beach looking out at the Bay of Islands, learning how to work with flax that we harvested from the plants behind us, listening to the surf lap on the shore and the Tui makes its R2D2 calls in trees.  How more Kiwi can one get???image Kerikeri was our stop for the night.  Here are the Rainbow Falls there.image That night, we took at night tour in the Puteki Forest (where the kauri were taken for the canoe).  We did hear the Morepork owl calling, but heard no kiwi.  We did see the kauri snail completely stretched out from the shell.                                                             imageThe night was beautiful and our guide, Ian, was most patient and accommodating.  He’s with if you want to check out his blog.  I think my favorite part was coming back out of the forest and taking time to stand in the middle of field to just look at the starts.  There is no light pollution here and the moon was not up.  There were start in Orion I have never seen before and the Milky Way was truly clouding up the sky.

For more pics, try these:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Striving for Light

It’s Sunday and our last day here is Wednesday.  I can start to feel the tearing of life about the change.  My mind wanders more towards home and all that is there waiting for me.  We’re working hard to resist the tearing and the tug.  It’s hard though because we are feeling the deadline.  It’s less of living in the moment.  Many decisions have to consider the pressing future.  How much can we reasonably enjoy in this short period?  Are we going to be able to eat all this food?  Oooo – will all this fit in suitcases to take home????

After farms of sheep, cows and deer, here was a surprise.  You’ve heard of pink elephants – here you have pink sheep.  ;-0     Straight to you from Sheepworld in Warkworth.                                 imageWe were able to see more Kauri trees further north in Whangarei at the AH Reed Park.  This description was on one of the displays:

Te Kauri
O Te Iwi Tane Mahuta

Karui are a self supporting
life support system
they have
gardens in their branches
an extraordinary stalk
and delicate fibres down below

They start out as one of many
small flat seeds
travel 20 to 30 metres
from a round she-cone
in autumn on a good day

They give rise to two tiny leaves
striving for light
turning to gangly stalk
with many more
before a hundred years
of looking awkward

Kauri are a patient plant
they are shapely at a century
with a pyramid of leaves aloft
and branches that reach out
into the canopy before they move out
and take in lodgers

Insects in tens of millions over time
amoungst a mass of mosses and lichens
an entire worlds of epiphytes
and the likes of lizards and birds
dropping in the compost
or shedding with the bark or odd-branch
down around the ground

a mound of pukahu or thick mulch
stacked to a great height over hundreds of years
colonize in places by kauri grass astelia
a lily as a saving grace
for minding the roots

These are a few hundred years old unlike yesterday’s young ones.imageWe ended the day in Russell on an evening cruise in the Bay of Islands on the R Tucker Thompson.  She was built to train youth in Russell in the ways of sailing.  The proceeds of the trip go to funding the training.  These kids get to live on the boat for 7 days at a time.  This ship is 21 years old, has sailed 145,000 nautical miles over 7 oceans to visit 61 ports.  In those 21 years there have been 14 ship masters, 797 sail trainees and 67,500 passengers.  For this evening it was ours.                                                                    image We were invited to be part of the crew.  We both helped in hoisting a couple of the sails.  We did fly all of them that night – all 6…imageimageWe were then given freedom to explore the ship.  Here I am climbing up the rigging and James out on the bowspit.  image imageWe were having so much fun with the boat that I can honestly say that we didn’t take any pictures of the bay – we’ll do better tomorrow!  I think we’re still pretty much here despite all the thoughts on Wednesday.  We at least can still lose ourselves!
For more pics, try these:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cathedrals and Kauris

Low tide was at 8:29 this morning.  That means at Hot Water Beach, there is a small strip of area where one can dig a hole in the sand to create your own spa.  Geothermal water from about 4 kilometers below the surface will bubble up into the hole you dug.  The water is at 65C, so you may want to mix in some ocean water to cool it off!  The pheonmena only happens within plus or minus an hour from low tide.  We were there at about 9:15 just eeking it under the window.  It took about 10 minutes from the car park and this is what we found.  Lots of people digging and digging!  Some were even laying in their spas.  We did not have a spade, but checked out an abandoned pit.  It was sea water temp.  Maybe we were there too late.  But isn’t it amazing what people will do on holiday???imageWe headed up one more beach to Hahei Beach to pick up a boat for exploring the coastline.  There is about 14 km of volcanic rock on this coastline that has eroded into beautiful spires, towers and caves.  In fact this is where the Cathedral Cove is located which was used in the filming of Prince Caspian from the Chronicles of Narnia. imageHere is a good example of the swirling of lava as it cooled from the volcano.  Couls it have inspired the patterns in the Maori tattoos?image There were not only sea caves, but also arches that we could pass through with the right timing with the tide.imageHere is Cathedral Cove named for this arch.  Look closely for the people.  So now we can say that we’ve been to Narnia!imageAs we got off the boat, we ran into a couple that we had shared a table with at the Te Puis indigenous experience in Rotorua.  It’s funny how you sometimes run into the same people.  We did this on the South Island a lot and were surprised to do so also on the North.  There are just so many more directions to head up here.

From there we headed to a macadamia nut farm.  Have you ever had one straight from the shell???  Oh my those were good.  We bought 100g of them and if this were 4 weeks ago, there would have been 400g in our possession!

The Cormandel Peninsula has also been known for it’s kauri forest.  Kauri is dear to my heart because my harps are made of the ancient kauri.  Those logs fell into the swamps 50,000 years ago.  In more recent history, kauri like many trees were highly prized when humans found New Zealand.  In fact when the Europeans came, 80% of New Zealand was deforested in just 80 years.  Part of it was for the tress themselves, part of it was for creating farmland.  The kauri was sought for it’s straight, tall, strong trunks which made great masts.  Today we were able to walk through a regenerating grove of kauri also with a stand of silver tree ferns.  Do notice James among them.  This is a YOUNG grove.  Kauris readily live to be 500 years old and some are known to be over 1000 years old.  At those ages they will be over 1 meter in diameter.                                                 image image

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