Paradise, Fantasy, Productive: Hamilton Gardens, NZ by da-AL

Chinoise Garden at Hamilton Gardens, NZ: How non-Chinese people think of Chinese design is not altogether authentic.

Without Vicky Apps’ (more about her here) recommendation that we visit New Zealand’s Hamilton Gardens and had we not followed it, I’d have missed what’s my new fascination: Chinoiserie, namely the idea of it. The term has to do with European imitation of Chinese design during the 1600s and 1700s, and then again in the 1930s.

Replication isn’t what fascinates me, however — it’s the revelation that I’m so accustomed to seeing European-ized versions of Chinese art — that the non-real stuff looks more real than what’s authentic!

In addition, thanks to the park’s Katherine Mansfield garden, I’ve discovered that she was a pivotal New Zealand short story writer, feminist, and activist for Māori rights.

Khashayar at Katherine Mansfield’s garden.

Vacationing from Auckland to Rotorua, from New Zealand’s Redwoods to Huka Falls, from Craters of the Moon and Waitomo Glowworms Caves to Taupo, my husband and I had the good fortune of meeting kind and wise Vicky in Pirongia. (Later in Australia’s Gold Coast, we visited familyand birds of Australia Part 1 of 2.)

Created in the 1960s on an old rubbish dump, 1.1 million people a year visit Hamilton Gardens! The ongoing mission of the park is to tell the International Story of Gardens as it relates to the evolution of culture. The result is an expanding collection of gardens inspired by various nations, arts including story-telling, and our use of plants on a day-to-day basis…

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What comes to mind when you think of gardens?

Learning from Cancer by da-AL

Photo of daisy wearing glassesPhoto: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

Years before I was diagnosed with cancer, an agency that facilitated emotional support groups for people with cancer hired me to produce a video for them.

The morning my partner and I gathered our camera equipment, I braced myself for an emotionally trying day. Listening to the stories of those battling to live, I did my best not to cry as I stood behind the lens.

By the end of the videotaping session, I felt uplifted by their strength — and mystified! How could many of them speak of cancer as a blessing?

In 2007, I too was diagnosed with cancer. At first, I was angry, sad, frustrated, and terrorized. It took time for cancer to reveal its lessons to me.

Photo of a group of mallard ducks walking Photo: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

Learning that happiness is worth fighting for has changed me profoundly. Early on, a sage cancer warrior recounted how a friend of hers dreaded when his cancer would kill him, yet he outlives many loved ones. The wise woman told me, “No one can predict how long they’ll live. We’re lucky for every day.”

Day and night, as I endured my illness being categorized, quantified, and treated, I obsessed over how I might have contracted it…how to get rid of it…how to never get it again…how it would hurt my loved ones…and on and on…

When I tried was hot yoga, the laser focus it demanded quieted my mind. The full length mirrors reflected how, if I dwell on what hurts and what I fear, then my yoga suffers. They showed me how, when I physically and mentally resonate words like ‘happy,’ ‘healthy,’ ‘joy,’ and ‘love,’ possibility becomes reachable.

Photo of bee at purple flowers Photo: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

It’s a wonder that my worrying didn’t kill me. Often I wondered if someone as ordinary as me deserved to live. Eventually, I figured that I’ve got as much of a right to breath as do cockroaches and fleas. And that I’ve got something to say, which is how this blog started (as did the two novels I’m writing!)…

Life is always a gift, and that includes all of our experiences.

Has illness taught you any lessons?

Kitty Enjoys the Last Days of Spring by da-AL

I don’t know of any creature who’s better at relaxing than cats — do you?…

Photo of tabby cat lying among plants and flowers
Our family cat.

Guest Blog Post: “When Fashion and Nature Collide,” in Roda’s exact words

photo of nature

Color everywhere! Blogger Roda shares her artful view of the world…

photo of Roda & donkey
Photos courtesy of GrowingSelf.blog

Guest Blog Post: “Seaweeds of the Irish Coast,” in the exact words of GaiaInAction

Photo of Irish seaweeds by GaiaInAction

Love eating seaweed (aka sea veggies)? They’re delish and massively awesome for us. Leave it to former branch librarian GaiaInAction to capture their beauty…

agoyvaerts

Yesterday saw a whole bunch of us interested folks going to explore the arboretum at Ardnagashel in Glengarriff, West Cork, but apart from admiring the wonderful trees we also received lots of information on the seaweeds and lichens along this stretch of coast. Ardnagashel was established by the Hutchins family and it was as part of the Heritage Week of Ireland that these activities took place, in memory of Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815)who was a remarkable Irish Botanist. The talks on the lichens and seaweeds were given by Howard Fox, who is the State Botanist (National Botanic Gardens) and by Maria Cullen. This ‘life’ introduction to the seaweeds and the lichens of the coast of Bantry Bay was so very interesting. a true first introduction in this field for me. Later in the afternoon Madeline Hutchins (Ellen’s great great grand niece) took us through the forested area of this garden and…

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Happy Earth Day everyone! by da-AL

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day is celebrated worldwide to heighten awareness about our obligation to protect the environment.

It was founded and created in 1970 by Iowan John McConnell, a devout Christian who believed it is essential for each of us to work for the common good. He committed his life to working for the relief of human suffering, namely peace and helping the environment.

John McConnell - Earth Day Founder
Earth Day founder and flag designer John McConnell. By Charles Michael Murray, Courtesy Endangered Planet, Laguna Beach, CA

Read more about Earth Day here and about McConnell here.

 

 

Costa Rica animals, food, money, and plants. Some videos too by da-AL

A mere 0.1% of Earth’s landmass, Costa Rica harbors 5% of Earth’s biodiversity. Environmental protection is Costa Rica’s middle name. Ecotourism rewards Ticos (Costa Ricans) with jobs and commerce. Other countries take note: caring for Mother Nature pays off in $mucho$ $dinero$.

25% of its land is nationally protected. Compare that to the developing world’s average of 13% and the developed world’s average of 8%. Each Costa Rican drains the Earth a third less than each North American does.

Crops include coffee and sugar cane.

Tap or hover over photos for captions and to enlarge them.

What do you think about when you think of butterflies?

Learn more about Costa Rica here and here.