… New Zealand in the wee hours of the norning. Well, actually it will be just about daylight when the flight takes off, but the getting up and driving to the airport for the required 2 hours before international flights happened in the wee hours. I must say, traffic was a breeze!
It has been a delight getting to know Mark, sharing his home/family/work/life. And a real adventure in papermaking during the wet, chilly weather we have been having.
The rains continue with short windows of sun. Low lying areas are still underwater which I am told hardly ever happens. The Southern Alps have their first crowning of snow and they are lovely. A nor’easter came through this morning with a welcome warmth – hopefully the plane will lift off before the strong winds that accompany that warmth start up.
Just two quick days in Melbourne to do laundry, reorganize and repack luggage and have a last (for this trip, anyway) outing with Anne. Then on to Alice Springs where I will be busy teaching a bunch of small classes during the Alice Springs Beanie Festival. (You might want to check out the festival’s site – looks like a lot of fun!) I am looking forward to the Red Centre’s desert dryness!
… and I am loving it!
Using that wonderful solar power, we got laundry almost dry in one day, the rest of the dozen of huge papers pulled, most of those sheets dried, and my feet warmed up! Of course, having a thick pair of woolen socks helps, too.
Movie night sort of fizzled out when we couldn’t get the DVD player working, but folding Matthew’s circulars for his new paper route filled the time sufficiently with a good amount of joking around. The boys are fun to be around – brings back good memories of my three growing up.i
… but it did not keep us from getting things accomplished. Although, without the floor heaters I doubt there would be anything dry. Paper flowers pulled last Friday were finally dry enough to pop off their wire moulds. Paper leaves made just Tuesday in the rain were also dry – these had the advantage of being pressed, so that helped the process. The inside of the studio was jerry-rigged to handle three different drying stations. Still have a few more flowers from last week drying out and then all that will be finished.
The really large sheets that Mark started pulling during Tuesday’s intermittent showers are still waiting for the sun – promised for tomorrow. And we will pull at least 6 more of the big ones. (See pics below for some of the process.)
The sun is being counted on for all sorts of drying tasks tomorrow – we have two loads of laundry that need to dry, too! And the yard really needs to dry out as we are starting to make some muddy messes with our gum boots.
The best part of the constant cloud cover has been the fact that the temperature has not gone below 40 degrees F (nor has it gone much above 45 F – my hands and feet can attest to the damp temps!). With clearing skies, freezing temps will return at night.
We’ve had plenty of hot water (heated by the wood/coal stove), very hearty and healthy meals (including freshly made bread and desserts) and my hands/feet are currently warm – so all is good!
… are just plain no fun for a papermaker who works outdoors! Although there are other things like correspondence, shipping and hollander beater making that can still fill the time.
While I listen to the rain on the roof of Mark’s small cottage – bundled in a thick comforter to keep the chilled damp at bay – let me fill in some details from the past week in NZ.
The recycling spot in town is a popular destination and a great place to pick up extra cotton sheets and towels that may be just the right color for a batch of pulp. Found the sweetest little aluminum tea pot – single serve with a great spout – that I might use to check out plant color potential while traveling. Or I might use it for hot water…
Nearby Frog Rock is on the scenic train route. Big limestone formations line Weka Pass in the valley through the foothills of the Southern Alps. The whole area reminded me of the scenery in the Hobbitt movies. Mark’s youngest sons were with us for the weekend and were delightfully silly. (Pics below)
We actually got up close to the railroad cars in their maintenance building. A crew of dedicated volunteers work to keep them in good order. The oldest engine they had was a steam engine from 1909. (Pics below)
A surprise visit from older son Sam and his family pushed Mark to make the two grandkids their own ‘wolf suits’. To help on cold nights in NZ in a wood/coal stove heated house, Mark made himself a giant onesy out of fake fur and calls it his wolf suit. Eight year old Christian and five year old Charlotte wanted their own to wear, so … The suits come complete with tails which Mark and I sewed on last night while watching the movie Cassablanca.
We watched the movies Philomena and Jane Eyre while popping dried flax ‘flowers’ out of their molds the other night. Both good shows. Between the movies inflight and those shared on the ground at friends’ homes, I’ve seen more movies lately than I have in a very long time.
… 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.