Sunday, November 26, 2006

Imagine the Hidden World

This is the second of a series of vessels inspired from the microscopic landscape of plants. I enjoy seeing pollen grains and seeds that are imaged by scanning electron microscopy. The vessels in my "Hidden World" series are not imitations of the pollen or seed of particular plant species, but are inspired by the microscopic landscape one sees in SEM micrographs. The architectural features seen in seeds and pollen are mind boggling and beautiful - wonderful ideas emerge after studying nature in such an up close and personal fashion.

The size of this one is 3 X 2 5/8 inches. I first turned a small hollow form and then carved the design into the thick walls of the turned form. I'll post a couple of early progress pics at the end of this message to give you an idea of how I started this design.

Here are just a couple of early progress pics to illustrate the layout process for establishing the spiral design.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Last South Africa 2006 post

I can't believe how long it has taken me to finish the posting of my field season pics. I guess it's an indicator of how busy my life is at home. At any rate, here are a few miscellaneous pictures from my last few days at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. I'm also including an index at the end of this post to all my blog entries from my 2006 field season, as well as a few key ones from Dennis Laidler's blog.

This is the view of Table Mountain I had from my guest house at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. You can see Skeleton Gorge and the afromontane forest that follows the kloof up to the top of the gorge. I look forward to my next visit and walk up to the contour path.

The front side of Pearson House, one of the administrative offices for the South African National Biodiversity Institute. I spent a lot of time here using the wifi connect to do email and blog postings.

Gigi Laidler at work. Gigi is the PA for Brian Huntley, a director for SANBI. Gigi is amazing to watch when she's multi-tasking at work. She is able to make things happen!

Index to 2006 South Africa Field Season:

09 Oct 2006: Off to South Africa
11 Oct 2006: Andi arrived in Cape Town last night (Dennis Laidler's post)
11 Oct 2006: Andi's birthday supper in Cape Town
12 Oct 2006: South Africa Part I (how I spent my birthday)
12 Oct 2006: Penguins and tidepools
13 Oct 2006: Spotted at Kirstenbosch today
14 Oct 2006: An interesting tree walk with the Western Cape Woodturners
14 Oct 2006: Tree walk at Kirstenbosch (Dennis Laidler's post)
15 Oct 2006: First weekend in Cape Town
15 Oct 2006: Andi and I in the workshop on Sunday (Dennis Laidler's post)
16 Oct 2006: Dassieklip - another cool spot on the contour path
17 Oct 2006: Working at Koeberg Private Nature Reserve
17 Oct 2006: A visit to Rondeberg Private Nature Reserve
18 Oct 2006: Citrusdal to Ceres collecting trip
18 Oct 2006: Western Cape Woodturners Association meeting (Dennis Laidler's post)
20 Oct 2006: Another day in the field (playing in the dirt)
21 Oct 2006: More interactions with the Western Cape Woodturners Association
21 Oct 2006: Kirstenbosch walk with Andi and Esprit (Dennis Laidler's post)
22 Oct 2006: Table Mountain - one of my favorite spots in the world
22 Oct 2006: Table Mountain (Dennis Laidler's post, including aerial photos)
23 Oct 2006: Miscellaneous pics from Kirstenbosch and tortoise true love
23 Oct 2006: Kirstenbosch and contour path
24 Oct 2006: Beautiful Pelargoniums
25 Oct 2006: A visit to Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
26 Oct 2006: Collecting Hyobanche atropurpurea at Boskloof
28-29 Oct 2006: Backpacking in the Hex River Mountains (another Hyobanche hunt)
28-29 Oct 2006: Milner Ridge Peak (Dennis Laidler's post of this wonderful weekend)
30 Oct 2006: Still more than a week behind, but here are some pics
30 Oct 2006: A visit to University of Cape Town
31 Oct 2006: My college roommate lives in South Africa
1 Nov 2006: Leaving for home tomorrow

Friday, November 24, 2006

My college roommate lives in South Africa

On Tuesday, 31 Oct 2006, I visited my college roommate, Kathy Harrison (formerly Copelin, or is it Copeland - can't remember now). We roomed together at Northwest Nazarene College 1975-1977. After my sophomore year I dropped out of school. I was somewhat disillusioned about the Nazarene church after two years of a small Christian college environment. I think I just grew up a bit and realized that NNC (and the Nazarene church) and I were not a good match. However, I did enjoy my college roommate's friendship and we've stayed in touch over the years.

I was delighted to learn that Kathy had married Andre Harrison after meeting him during a missionary trip in Swaziland. They settled near Cape Town in the early 1980's. I've had a couple of opportunities to visit Kathy during my previous field seasons, but the last time we had a visit was several years ago. So, I was very glad that I could find the time to go and visit her this year.

Kathy lives in a nice area near Nordhoek. I can't remember the name of her community right now, but it's just across the valley from where she used to live in Nordhoek.

She and Andre restored a decrepit house and have made it into something very special.

The view from their living room is lovely.

The day Esprit and I visited, Kathy's gardener was there and Kathy made him lunch.

This is the entry way of the house. It also faces that lovely view you can see from the living room, and the kitchen has windows looking out that direction as well. The windows of the kitchen are on the left in this picture.

The upstairs is very open and all the windows take in the view, also.

I could get used to this, that's for sure.

The game room of the house on the main floor.

The view from upstairs.

Kathy invited us to go along with her to the township (Masiphumelele) in the valley below her house. She wanted to drop off some sheets to Hokisa, an AIDS orphanage.

I didn't take any photos inside the orphanage, but I have to tell you it was the kind of experience that had a tremendous impact on me. The AIDS pandemic is devastating in South Africa and we hardly hear a thing about it in the states. These poor children have lost both parents to AIDS and are also infected with HIV. These AIDS orphanages are the only hope for such children. If not for the NGO that sponsors this orphanage, the children would be on the streets and would die at a very young age. The orphanage provides care and antiretroviral drugs to these children.

I photographed the brochure Kathy had at her home. Click on the image if you want to read it.

There is also some information here about how you can help through donations.

This is the street outside the orphanage.

I took a series of photos from the car as we drove out of township. I don't have much information about the place except that it seemed to be much more prosperous than many of the townships I've glimpsed from the highways outside of major cities and towns in South Africa. There are a lot of small shops and businesses in the township, and more houses rather than tin shacks compared to settlements near the airport, for example.

I shudder to think that people pile into a vehicle such as this. The taxi services to the townships are notorious for running vehicles that are run down and subject to mechanical failures. Many of the worst road accidents involve these taxis.

Car wash, anyone?

You can get your hair done in a trailer.

Or take away meals from a tin shack.

I don't think I could manage my suitcase on my head like this.

Roadside beverage station.

Another tin shack hair salon.

Visiting Masiphumelele was interesting, but not exactly what I had expected. The townships nearer to Cape Town seem a lot scarier than this place, but my impression of that changed as we were pulling up to the main road. As we approached a stop sign, the truck in front of us stopped suddenly, pulling up on the street curb. The driver jumped out of the cab and pulled a black man from the back of the truck and proceeded to beat him up. That was definitely disturbing and scary.

We went back to Kathy's house after that and had a quiet lunch.

Here's a snapshot of Kathy and me. I find it hard to believe that 30 years have passed since we were roommates at college, but we live half a world apart and both have interesting tales to tell of the experiences we've had in the interim.

Kathy with her children.

On the way back to Cape Town I went via Chapman's Peak drive. This is a windy, twisty road cut into the cliff above the ocean. Very scenic, but also subject to rockfalls and slides.

I love the views of Hout Bay from this road.

Here's a view of the road. It also illustrates the rock strata of the Cape Peninsula. The road sits on the granite basement with the Malmsbury Shale formation causing all the rock fall problems. Atop that is the Table Mountain Sandstone formation.

All of the rock layers are visible in this image.

A Woodcentral Sighting Pic of Hout Bay.

And, last, but not least, two panoramas of Hout Bay from different view points along the road.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A visit to University of Cape Town

I have a couple of more days of posting from my South Africa trip. This one is from a visit to University of Cape Town on 30 Oct 2006. Nick Laidler gave us a tour of the geology building and areas nearby where he spends his days at varsity. Nick is defending his honor's thesis tomorrow, so it's kind of a good tribute to post these pictures in anticipation of a successful defense.

Here's Nick giving us some information on the commons area of campus. UCT is built on the flank of Table Mountain, so everything is up or downhill from here.

Normally, all the stairs on campus wouldn't be a major issue for me, but on the Monday we visited, my left knee was very swollen from the strain I had acquired in the Hex River Mountains the day before.

This is the back entrance to the Geological Sciences Building. We went in this way to avoid having to do even more stair steps to get to the building.

Esprit found the exit signs in South Africa very amusing.

Nick's cubby in the student office.

The geology building roof offers a nice view of the surrounding area, including the backside of Table Mountain. I wouldn't mind a view like this each day.

This and the next four pictures show a view from northwest to southeast.

Back to the commons area. The campus is lovely and I enjoyed seeing where Nick spends his days.