Hit the ground …

… running as soon as I got to NZ. Mark L showed me around downtown Christchurch which is still feeling the effects of the earthquake from several years ago. It really destroyed a lot of the area and much of it is still being cleared and rebuilt. Hard decisions about what historical pieces to keep or take down. Still a long way to go for full recovery. Reminds me of New Orleans …

Mark is a patient teacher and is schooling me in his methods of papermaking. Everything from cutting up cotton towels and sheets for their color and making flowers from the resulting pulp, to harvesting NZ flax properly including the prayer to the plant first, to breaking/cutting the flax leaves, to cooking flax in bathtubs, to hydropulping, rinsing and spinning pulp. We will be puling sheets soon, weather permitting.

The weather started out beautifully sunny (very chilly nights) and has morphed into cloudy and damp with rain predicted for the next week. More bothersome is the wind that typically comes with the rains as they will pick up any drying papers and toss them around.

Starting to put up some pics on my Flickr site, so you can see a bit of what we have been doing.

Interesting things I’ve learned from Aussies…

… in no particular order of importance:

1. If you are having some slice, you are eating a piece of cake or even a bar-type cookie that was baked in a rectangular pan. Cake is higher.

2. Fairy pee is a very light misting of rain. I’m guessing that heavy rain might be classified as ogre pee…

3. The lupin bean is very similar to the soy bean.

4. Vegemite and Marmite are not the same and each has its own disciples.

5. Emus are able to eat a large seed that has a very poisonous covering without being effected; the actual seed eventually shows up again (minus it’s covering) and is harmless.

And from observation: most toilets seem to have enough water sprayers around the bowl that the water goes straight down and doesn’t have a chance to swirl, but when it does swirl there is a definite counterclockwise motion.

The RAM!

Have to fill you in on a detail from our drive back to Perth.

When we first drove to Lake Grace we used a route that took us through the town of Wagin (long ‘a’, soft ‘g’). Stopped in a park to use the public facilities with the great paper towels – very nice park, BTW, and ate a quick lunch. Bit of historical area to drive through and then out of town and down the road.

The return trip used the same route but in reverse, of course. This time … There was this sudden vision of a HUGE white ram’s head looming over the trees – the same trees where we had sheltered under for our lunch four days earlier! Had to stop again, but this time to check out the Big Ram that Wagin is proudly displaying. Sheep country, of course. EVERYTHING on the ram is HUGE!

Can’t believe we missed it the first time through!




Back to Perth…

…for the next phase of this journey.

The second day of mudcloth went well and everyone seemed happy when they left. Some lovely work was created with an array of amazing colors of the earth. (Pics up when I can!)

Actually got to see more than just the town after class. Kerrie led a few of us to her farm outside Lake Grace. Lots of acreage which included crop fields (they raise wheat, barley and rape seed, rotating the crops annually) and lots of the remains of ancient sea beds which are now salt lakes – all of which are dry and crusty on top/body-snatching muddy underneath.

From the house she drove through the bush to a reservation that borders her property. We parked next to the dam and walked up to the top of the rock from which we could see just about forever. No sunset to view due to clouds, but the chilled wine was good.

The rock, called Moon Rock, has something in it that reflects moonlight – which we also were not able to see tonight. But it was still, desolate, full of lichens and bush that will burst into color as soon as the rains come in earnest. Absolutely gorgeous in it’s waiting state.

After a full night of welcome rain (their last rain was October!) I am saying goodbye to Lake Grace early this morning – well, actually saying see you again as the invitation has already been extended to come back. Lovely spot of earth, rock solid people, abundant spirit – I will be back!

Map of Lake Grace hanging in the Inn.


Main Street Lake Grace looking due east.

To be or not….

The play definitely was the ‘thing’ last night!

After a full day of playing with mud, eating, laughing, eating some more (I quite like the custom of tea time mid morning and afternoon complete with sweets, savories and fruit and squeezed between breakfast, lunch and suppa) we took in the local production of ‘Harry Potter and the Total Ripoff’.

Performed by a traveling band of six thespians, they were aided by seven cute and talented local girls and boy, ages maybe six through eleven. A play within a play, it was a semi musical spoof on the Potter series with some Dr Who, James Bond and generic murder mystery stuff thrown in. What a hoot! Lots of cliches, sub texts, audience participation and one liners (the ‘cat scan’ by a stuffed cat was classic). The singing was terrifically terrible as was the portrayal of some of the characters. We just about laughed our socks off!

Plus, as it seems to be quite the custom, everyone brought food to share and there was a feast before, during and after the production.

With warmer air temps as night fell, it was a most perfect evening!