Part of History! #WomensMarch 0n Washington

20170121_115557

This young woman embodied the enthusiasm and spirit of the March. Another young woman had a sign that read “What Would Hermoine Do?

It was so thrilling to be part of history. This was the biggest worldwide march for women ever. It came together within just a few months with marches from Antarctica to Stockholm and all across the United States. My son and I went to the Women’s March on Washington, DC. It was the first really big march for either of us.

20170121_111205

We drove from Boston to DC on Friday. It was a very long day due to traffic and weather. My college chum Carole was hosting us and her nephew Cade (who was my other March buddy). We chatted briefly, made plans for the morning and then went to bed.

20170121_105556

With Carole’s local knowledge we were able to get going at 8:30 a.m. and beat the traffic. She went way round to the back of the Capitol and came back in, dropping us a few blocks behind the Supreme Court building. People were already streaming from everywhere–with pussyhats. So many pink hats!

20170121_104338

We were packed in tighter and tighter. Everyone stayed positive, but after about 4 hours we needed to find an edge of the crowd.

We joined the throngs and walked toward the Capitol. Cade has worked for an Illinois Senator one year, so he knew his way around. Really though, you just had to follow the masses. Like everyone else we collected signs, button, and stickers, and took pictures of so many clever signs.

20170121_095844

We walked past the inauguration infrastructure as it was being broken down. We kept expecting to have to go past some sort of security check. None. We never saw any police presence the entire day. They made no arrests at any of the dozens of Marches. The mood was good natured and even joyful at times.

The main stage was on Independence and because of the 500,000 participants we couldn’t get any closer than the Mall. Since none of us could hear the official program, people got creative and started their own chants. The most common was “This is what democracy looks like.” After 4 hours of crowd jostling I was hoping that Democracy might have a little more elbow room.

20170121_101511

We began to make our way across the Mall and up 4th Street. This took another hour. More and more marchers were arriving to replace the small stream that were heading to the sides. So many marchers filled the area that it shut streets down for blocks. There was a festival atmosphere everywhere we went.

20170121_125746

We noticed that some of the more expensive restaurants were closed for private inauguration parties, but we saw very few Trump supporters or school groups. We were getting peckish and Cade had been telling Tevis about District Taco, so I knew we’d end up there for lunch. It is delicious. My only suggestion is to add more seating!

The Metro became more and more crowded as the day wore on. We hopped on the red line to go to our friend Gary’s house and watch the speakers and music on CSPAN. We caught the end and then marveled at the many other marches around the USA–especially San Francisco. Beautiful.

The day held such a positive spirit. I still cannot get enough Facebook shares from family and friends who attended marches in Oakland, Sacramento (my grandson!), San Francisco, San Diego, Boston and my friend Mexicali Cindy who helped organize the very first March of the day in Auckland, New Zealand. Right on!

This is just the beginning of the Resisterhood!

 

 

 

 

“Penguin Professor” Must Read on Penguin Awareness Day

penguin-professor-2

When I was in Auckland in November, my friend Barbara and I dashed down to High Street to the incomparable Unity bookstore. I really didn’t have room in my luggage for more books–but when has that stopped me from browsing? I purchased a couple of books including a pocket-sized one called F*ck*ing Apostrophes for a friend. Then Barbara spied the Penguin Professor and knowing my interest pointed it out. Without even reading a paragraph to see if it was dull as toast or not, I purchased it and hauled it home.

I am thrilled to say it is a wonderful book. I learned new things about penguins and Antarctica. Each chapter begins with a brief Adelie penguin snapshot–from a penguins point of view. Then one of Lloyd Spencer Davis’ stories about his accidental penguin research career and then a profile of a colleague or mentor who deserves to share the title of “Penguin Professor.” Most of his adventures are set in Antarctica, so if that locale fascinates, you will find this book hugely satisfying even if you are not crazy for penguins.

spencer-davis

Wait! This post is to celebrate Penguin Awareness Day. Let me share some of the gems from his book. His early research in 1977 and early 80s helped to dispel the idea–at least within the science community–that penguins mate for life. They do not. Although he gives a good explanation of how this misinformation took hold in the popular imagination. Furthermore, the male Adelie penguins are not the initiators in the game of love: “Ultimately it is the females, however,that decide whom to mate with and whether a male can mount them. The fights observed within Adelie penguin colonies at that time of year had traditionally been seen-in the blokey way of science up to the 1960s and the women’s liberation movement–as males fighting with each other for access to females, as if the females were somehow the spoils of war. Our observations showed, to the contrary, that the fights were often female against female.” (p 116)

Spencer Davis is a good raconteur and the chapters fly by. He pays tribute to Bernard Stonehouse as his role model in popularizing science. Storytelling is a skill that seems to come naturally but actually takes practice and Spencer Davis has practiced. He also  introduced me to the Antarctic “classic” The Worst Journey in the World.

I highly recommend Professor Penguin. He has also authored an award-winning children’s book to raise awareness about penguins: The Plight of the Penguin.

Lloyd Spencer Davis: Professor Penguin (Random House New Zealand, 2014. 185 pages paperback, $__NZ) ISBN: 978-1-77553-725-0. This delightful book chronicles Professor Lloyd Spencer Davis’ adventures studying Adelie penguins in Antarctica. His storytelling abilities shine through combined memoir, light scientific information, and tribute to his penguin-expert colleagues. Available in USA as Kindle only for $16.99.

He has also authored a children’s book to raise awareness about climate change and how it is impacting penguins: The Plight of the Penguin.

Stocking Up on Fav New Zealand Products

tiora-tea

TiOra.co.nz

Whenever I leave New Zealand I make a plan in my head for a return visit, Lord willing. I also stock up on my favorite NZ products. The Dove roll on deodorant is better here, not sure why. I also bought a number of Lynley Dodd children’s books for my newborn grandson. Finally I bought manuka honey. It is a lot more affordable to buy it here than in the USA.

Manuka honey doesn’t taste distinct from other honey, but it has terrific medicinal properties. The Maori have long known the medicinal qualities of the manuka plant and of honey from bees collecting manuka pollen. In 2006 German scientists isolated the property that gives it antibacterial properties (methylglyoxal). I use a little every morning on my toast or in a bit a of tea if I’m feeling under the weather. The amounts are probably not enough to be more than a placebo effect. Nonetheless, I like to have some on hand.

Bees generally collect from one type of flower rather than sample many types. Manuka grows in groves (like manzanita or gorse) and once they start collecting the bees are able to recognize and return to the same flowers by sight and smell. Once the hive is committed to the manuka flower the bees use dance to communicate to the rest of the workers locations of blooms. Beekeepers can also test their honey to establish the level of “unique manuka factor”.

I am trying a new manuka product this visit. Our penguin guide swears that manuka tea will cure sea sickness. He’s used it and it worked instantly. I am skeptical since my seasickness is both severe and related to the convoluted shape of my ear canal. Nonetheless, I am going to try to find a way to test it because then I could go to Antarctica with less trepidation.

The final product I am bring home is chocolate. I mail Crunchie bars to my friend Mara. They are a Cadbury bar made with honeycomb and chocolate. I also bring chocolate fish (also by Cadbury)–fish shaped marshmallow dipped in chocolate. I also usually bring a Picnic bar for myself when I’m feeling low from missing the clean air and southern light of New Zealand.

I bought my AllBirds in the USA (from the internet: http://www.allbirds.com). On this visit I noticed AllBirds are trending in New Zealand, although Kiwis are more likely to wear them without socks. I also learned they are washable and I have subsequently washed them and they look like new! Check it out:  http://thisnzlife.co.nz/put-new-zealand-merino-allbirds-shoes-test/

Reading on the Go

Kafka’s statement, “A good book should be an axe for the frozen sea within us,” is actually something I read in David Whyte’s book The Heart Aroused whilst traveling.

img-20161222-wa0002

gratuitous photo of grandson reading! 

Many people travel to break open the confines of their perspective and cages of habit that can inhibit creativity. When people ask me to name times of my life when I felt most truly alive, I invariably think of times when I am abroad. So combine reading and travel and you have something powerful indeed.

First, there is reading to prepare for a trip. Before I went to Venice, Italy this year I read John Berendt’s City of Falling Angels. If I had not read this book I might not have prioritized Peggy Guggenheim’s exquisite museum. It also helped me gauge my expectations and I found myself liking Venice more for seeing it less romantically.

Second, there is reading while you are on the trip to better understand the people and culture. I am not talking about guidebooks, although they can be helpful. If you are in New Zealand, than any book by Barry Crump (whose short story inspired the wonderful movie The Hunt for the Wilderpeople) will help you understand any number of bastards* you will meet. To find those books you only need pop into an independent bookstore in the country you are visiting. My favorite in Auckland is the incomparable Unity bookstore. Or if you are going to a predominantly non-English speaking country, check out Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust To Go and take a few books with you.

Then there is reading to imagine that you are traveling when, in fact, you are not or cannot. This is the most important reading of all. In one of my favorite movies about CS Lewis, Shadowlands, Anthony Hopkins as Lewis tells a young student that we read so that know we are not alone. Yes, and we read so we don’t feel stuck. I am not brave enough to travel to the Middle East to visit the Christian holy sites, so I am reading James Martin, SJ’s Jesus, a Pilgrimage.

Finally, and perhaps best of all, we read to laugh. We laugh at cultural misunderstandings, travel mishaps, and more. The master of the travel book that will make you laugh is Bill Bryson. I laughed through The Road to Little Dribbling as I have through his other books.(The movie of A Walk in the Woods was wry and a good excuse to watch Robert Redford. Imagine being an author and having Robert Redford play you in a movie!)

What will you be reading in 2017?

*you will find “bastard” is not a shocking swear word in New Zealand, only mildly so.

The Giant’s House Finally!

I have visited Akaroa three times and finally I was able to see The Giant’s House. It seems it is more famous with foreign visitors than with Kiwis. None of my friends from New Zealand–even those who love Akaroa–had heard of it. This sculpture garden is an eccentric treasure.

I admire people with vision who develop the skills to execute it so masterfully. I am such a gadfly in my interests, I cannot imagine sticking with a project 17 years, let alone staying with it still. Josie Martin combines her love of horticulture with her artistic expression through painting and mosaic sculptures to create a truly original garden on the hill.

Someone in the village told us that she offered to create mosaic sculptures for the town of Akaroa, but the town council said no. She turned the no into a Yes! Yes! Yes! The hours are limited because she manages it herself. On the day we visited we paid the artist $20 each to visit her garden and gallery. We could stay until closing. We made sure to return and thank Jose for the experience.

img_0955

One of several ceramic self-portraits of the artist in the gallery.

I am so glad I finally got to see the Giant’s House. Find out more at Trip Advisor. (#1 of 27 things to do in Akaroa.)

Akaroa, Jewel of the Banks Peninsula

The road to Akaroa is a bit twisty, and yet for your effort you are rewarded with views, great restaurants, penguins, art, and more.

img_1003

Created by volcanic explosion and settled by French pioneers, Akaroa is a small village constrained by steep hills and water.

img_1023

We stayed at the Akaroa Criterion Hotel–great location and management. It is an easy walk along the waterfront to restaurants and shops. It is also next door to Sweet As Cafe.

img_1092

Entertainment, war memorials, and a great store for buying merino wool sweaters and other possum items at Woolworx.

This beautiful spot is in my top three places in New Zealand. Go already!

Hawkes Bay Museum Chronicles ’31 Quake and More

img_1271

For just $10NZ you can spend a couple of hours happily exploring the exhibits of Maori artifacts, and rotating exhibits of cultural history. My favorite gallery tells the story of the Napier earthquake in 1931 and shows a film on a continuous loop: Survivors’ Stories. It is 35 fascinating minutes.

napier-quake

“In 1931, New Zealand’s deadliest earthquake devastated the cities of Napier and Hastings. At least 256 people died in the magnitude 7.8 earthquake – 161 in Napier, 93 in Hastings, and 2 in Wairoa. Many thousands more required medical treatment.” (Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand)

There are many testimonies in the documentary that moved me, but my throat closed a little when someone remembered almost casually how most of the nurses were killed in the initial quake and so everyone had to help as they could do cope with the injured. Oh my.

img_1164If you look at Napier today you can envision how Christchurch can recover; however, not without suffering, not without suffering and hard work.

Postscript:  I watched the video on Sunday with my mom. Her mom was 6 years old and living in Santa Rosa, CA when the San Francisco earthquake struck. She remembers the ground rolling up to meet her as she ran out the door. We thought about the latest NZ quake. We live on the “Ring of Fire” too, so we cannot become complacent. Check your emergency supplies and make sure you are ready with water, flashlights, candles, matches, and other supplies. Click through to this article in SFGate for tips on creating your own earthquake preparedness kit.