Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Prac Exam

So today I had my Plant Practical Exam for my plant productions class. We had to learn how to recognize 67 different grasses, crop plants, legumes, weeds, and herbs. I have spent the last 2 weeks in the paddocks behind our campus and have been putting together a notes page with pictures and descriptions since the exam was open note.

Somedays I feel like I'm in some pseudo life that I could watch on the television... today was one of those days.

9:30am- I went to the library after breakfast this morning to print off my notes page and when I went to print it, I didn't have enough money on my printing credit.

9:55am- I spent several more minutes making all of the pictures smaller and then printing again.

10:13am- It was confirmed, so walked over to the color printer and there were 2 people in front of me; one who was printing similar pages as me, and one who seemed to be copying an entire textbook!

10:24am- It's finally my turn at the printer and it prints out 2 pages at a time...very slowly, but very vibrantly.

10:28am- I run out of the library and into the rain and hail and pull my two hoods on to keep my buzzed head warm and dry.

10:30am- I get to my room, grab my notebook, plastic bag, pencils, Pastures and Forage Plants for New Zealand.

10:31am- I bolt out of my room and back into the rain to the pastures. When I got there, I saw 5 people standing in a cluster, all dressed with gumboots and long trench coats and they directed me inside the nearest warehouse to the side of the pastures. Our professor handed me the question sheet and I headed back out the door with 49 of my classmates.

(Why oh why did I have to grow up under the curse of Brunner Time?!?)

The exam was set up so that every other person was at a yellow peg and the others were at a blue peg. The pegs were spread out across 3 different paddocks. I started at a yellow peg, so at the sound of the whistle, I looked to the number disk on the peg, read the question on my sheet that said something like "Name the dominant grass" so I wrote down "Cocksfoot" or something correct like that! When the whistle blew one minute later, I moved to the blue peg where I could think about the plant I'd just seen and make sure I wrote down the right name. There were 25 questions in all. It was quite a nice exam, compared to stinking plant science essay tests.
It totally rocked looking around at all of the other people in my class:

(8 June 2010: Never came around to finishing this post! We'll just stop it there and let your imagination go wild!)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My window

Alas!  A sneak peek into my day to day life at Lincoln Uni!!!
I have a window.  It's the most popular window on campus.  When I'm home, I open my window and people come to it to talk, play cards (we play a lot of cards), listen to music, hop through, and to check on how my broccoli plant is doing.
I have a broccoli plant that I am growing.  I got the seeds from the environmental fair and have had to repot it twice already!  We had a two week break starting on Good Friday and we headed South, so to make sure my broccoli wouldn't die, I brought it with us in the car!  He sat in the cup holder and my friend Nathan would make me bring my broccoli inside during the night so he wouldn't get a cold shock.  This picture is of the end of Mission:Broccoli when we almost forgot to get Broc out of the car before he got cold shock in Queenstown.  That's also our sweet car, High Voltage Legacy, that our friend let us use while he was in Australia.
During some point of the trip, we decided that my broccoli plant needed a name, so Hannah, Amber, Nathan, and I named him Broc James Smith Brunner Nathan.  We all became quite attached.  Julia and I left Broc in the car for 24 hours while we went to Stewart Island for a day and night and when we got back, BROC WAS INFESTED BY APHIDS!!!  I spent the next 30 minutes as Juila drove to the next town picking off aphids all over the stems and wrapped in the leaves and in the soil!  It was traumatizing, both for Broc and myself.  He was weak. Luckily he has overcome the shock of the aphid attack, I bought him a nice flower pot from the Bluff Market, and he is doing quite well.
Anyways, back to my window.  Here are a few stellar window pictures of my window:

Julia lives next door, so sometimes instead of walking over to her room, we just talk outside through our windows :)
For St. Patrick's day, everyone climbed in through my window, took a group photo, and then climbed out to go to the Irish Pub in Prebbleton (a town between Lincoln and Christchurch).
One day I was studying for an Economics test when Chui, a Kiwi who lives across the courtyard from me, started pouring things down from her 3rd story window to the windows below her, and eventually started "cleaning" them with laundry detergent and water, so I took a picture through my window.
On haircutting day, the razor ran out of battery, so Mandi (the hairdresser) plugged the razor in through my window in order to finish up her third customer of the day!
This is my friend Rosa who's family lives in Auckland and grows passion-fruit and flowers!
Jen's 23rd Birthday window picture!
This is probably one of the most exciting window events so far: Julia, Hannah, Mandi, Sarah, and I were studying for our Sociology test in my room and all of a sudden, I saw a car driving up through my window!  Our landscape architecture friends had been visiting a site and apparently Nathan had asked Britt to drop him off at his door, so he did. 
This picture is from the Sharon and Rachel photo-shoot; we took pictures of the two of us with hair, since we'll be shaving it off on May 10th to raise money for St. Baldrick's foundation for childhood cancer research.
Although I could go on forever about my window, I will stop there and hope that someday you may be able to pop your head in, like in the Wizard of Oz, I suppose... This leads into a quick story:
The other day I was talking to my family on Skype video and my friends Nathan and Britt came to my window since they had just gotten out of class.  They thought I was watching something on my computer but I told them I was talking to my family.  I suddenly found myself turn to my family and ask "Do you want to meet some of my friends?" and I turned the camera on my window visitors, who weren't expecting to meet my family and weren't expecting my mom to start laughing herself to tears and start talking about some scene in the Wizard of Oz where the farmers pop up in Dorothy's window (a scene that still escapes my memory...).  Mom then went on to ask my friends names and where they're from, and as soon as they could, Nathan and Britt said goodbye, ducked out of the window, and I heard Nathan mutter "close your window the next time you're skyping."  Ah man.  It didn't hit me until I had hung up with my family how incredibly intimidating it must have been for my friends to meet my loud, awkward, invasive family so suddenly over the skype machine.  Luckily it didn't scare them away too long and I have learned to skype loudly so not as many people come by, however I am still working on my mom's awkwardness during computer conversations...

ChCh Square and Gardens

Julia and I love the Christchurch Market and Botanic Gardens, so when we had a free weekend, we decided to take the bus to Christchurch with some homework and our journals, and a wee bit of money.
We ate our sack lunches on the square.
Then we walked through the market and bought matching satchels and scarves and made our way to the gardens, after passing one of many ridiculous New Zealand signs:
Here's a sweet as tree in the Botanic gardens.
Then we stepped into a wonderland greenhouse:
And smelled the stellar flowers:
Back outside, we walked through the rose garden, and, naturally, had to smell every single one.  These were supposed to smell like coffee, or something weird like that.
Beautiful beautiful beautiful.  Surprisingly enough, we didn't manage to get any homework done, however, I was able to rest up for the 5.5km Fun Run I participated in the next morning!  I dominated it in 33.24 minutes!  What a magical place this country is! 

Dolphins, Seals, and Kaikoura

So a long time ago, I went to Kaikoura and absolutely loved it!  When I first saw it, I named it the town where the mountains meet the sea.  Although now that I've been all over the South Island, it seems like all of New Zealand is where the mountains meet the sea.  Anyway, we went to Kaikoura to celebrate my friend, Alex's, birthday!  
On Saturday morning, I woke up before the sun at 4:45am, crawled out of my tent, saw the stunning stars above, and walked with Allison, Alex, and Brad to the Dolphin Encounter headquarters!  That's right; I SWAM WITH DOLPHINS!!! I got to wear scuba gear and had a snorkel and by the end, the dusky dolphins and I were playing around and swimming in circles together!

Later that afternoon, we started out on the peninsula walk, but walked towards the wrong peninsula, so we just stopped and played around on the beach!
Then we walked back to the town and hopped in a van that took us to another bay where we went kayaking through the treacherous Pacific Ocean to a seal colony at Shark Point!  Julia took all the pictures (since she was in the front of the kayak; we're kayaking dominators) but here's one of the surroundings:
We went back to the hostel and sat in the hot tub until dinner was ready :)  I know, lazy, but best day ever.  We had our big family dinner/birthday dinner for 14 people and then I did the dishes because I had done nothing all day but have fun :)  To finish the night, we went to the Strawberry Tree, a wonderful little pub that was lit by candle light and a fire because it was celebrating Earth Hour!  Awesome, I know.  We had a dance party and had a rad time.  Later, Mandi said that we could have a good time anywhere we go because we bring the party with us; there are 14 of us!!!
The next morning, I crawled out of my tent, once again before the sun, looked at the stars, and headed out to try to dominate the right peninsula walk at sunrise! 
Along the way to the end of the peninsula, we came across this entire wall of aloe plants!
As we approached the tip of the peninsula, we looked over to our left and saw a seal sprawled out on top of a big bush right on the side of the road!  It was another fur seal colony!  
We walked around them and took pictures as they posed for us.
Here's a picture I took through my stunnashades at the end of the peninsula:
I love Kaikoura.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Journey to Middle Earth

Last Saturday, we got on a bus at the square in Christchurch and met Rex, our tour-guide. Apparently he was previously a director for NZ television and such for most of his life and now he travels and gives tours through Middle Earth!  Our tour was his 455th time taking people to Edoras, Capital of Rohan (geographically known as Mount Sunday).
Rex talked the whole trip about Christchurch history, New Zealand info, and then got into the Lord of the Rings scoop.  He told us about the casting of the actors and who the director had originally wanted in the movies and showed us pictures of scenes, actors, and maps. We made several stops along the way, the first of which was at a gorge.  The water is so intensely blue because it is filtered by the rocky mountain sides as it runs down and into the valley gorge.
We had another photo opportunity at Lake Camp where 100 little vacation homes are nestled between two lakes at the base of towering mountains.  It was beautiful.
We stopped at a little tea shop in a tiny town to get our lunches for later and spend a bit of time outside.  Then back in our off-roading tour bus, we got onto a gravel road and found ourselves in Rohan at the base of Mount Sunday, where the Golden Hall of Edoras once stood. 
 Rex showed us pictures from the Two Towers so we could see the identical scenery. He told us that they had to take down the entire village and Golden Hall for environmental preservation reasons and that the Tolkien family had refused to have any of the scenes set up anywhere except for Europe.
Rex then pointed up to a white marker at the top of Mount Sunday and said he wanted to see us there in about 30 minutes.  Little did we know we still had to plummet through sparkling blue rivers and streams before driving up part of the mountain.  On our way through the last river before heading up the mountain, we rocked side to side and suddenly got stuck in the pebble bottom and buried half of the wheel into the river bottom.  The 15 passengers piled out of the bus and the women sat on the prairie land while the men set up a "come-a-long" and hammered pegs into the ground to get the bus out.
After about an hour we finally defeated the river and got back into the bus.  Rex then stopped up on the mountain, handed out swords and axes and we started our trek up to the top of Mount Sunday.  I got to stand right where Princess Eowyn stands on the deck of the Golden Hall.  We saw the identical marking on the mountain as in a still frame of the movie, Helm's Deep, and a peninsula where Aragorn pauses on his horse.  
The peninsula is to the right and Helm's Deep is to the left:
It was crazy windy on top of Mount Sunday; we could even lean completely into the wind and it would hold us up!  We took lots of pictures with Aragorn's sword, Gimli's axe, and the banner of Rohan.  Here's Julia as Eowyn in the wind:
Defeated by Julia:
It was an incredible trip, even though I hadn't seen Lord of the Rings for about 3 years.  On the ride back, Rex put in several inside the scenes DVDs about the making of the 3 films.  Peter Jackson, the director, filmed everything for all three movies in about 2 years.  He chose around 100 locations in New Zealand for all of the filming.  The next night, we crowded into the Stevens Hall Lounge and watched The Two Towers and showed all of our friends where we stood and told them all about the inside info we learned!  Now I can say that I have truly been to Middle Earth!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hokitika Wildfoods Festival

This weekend we went to the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival!  It's about 10 minutes away from Greymouth on the West Coast, so we left Friday early evening and drove the sweet sweet Chariot through Arthur's Pass.  Along the 4 hour drive, we stopped at the battle ground of where the battle happens in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  This is me screaming "For Narnia!!!" 
This is the sunset as we were about an hour from Hokitika.  It was quite nice.
We got to Hokitika and drove around aimlessly until we found our campsite on Beach Street.  It was dark and we were dreading having to set up our tents, but fortunately we ran into some of our friends from school and stayed in their 20-person tent! (I think it was technically an 8-person tent, but it had plenty of room with 15 people.)  Our campsite was right on the beach so we walked 10 feet from our tent and could see huge bonfires lining the shoreline with people clustered around the fire, the soft dark sand under our feet and the waves crashing on the sand.  It was an amazing sight.
On Saturday morning, Julia, Lori and I walked down the street to a nice eatery and I got a great hot chocolate (because New Zealand has the best hot chocolates in the world).  When we got back to the tent the rest of the group was starting to wake up and we got ready to go to the festival!  All 5 Mizzou girls wore tiger ears and tails, but that was nothing compared to some of the incredible costumes we saw when we finally got to the festival!  There were Ninja Turtles, Telletubbies, brigades of ballerinas in tutus (male and female), Power Rangers, and tons of other colorful people!
At the Wildfoods Festival I ate:
Waffles with blackberries and cream
A pickled Huhu Grub
Ice cream with strawberries and chocolate
Worm Truffle
Kahlua and Milk
Corn on the cob
Chocolate cupcake
Fresh scallops
Bacon and onion sandwich
There were bands playing all day at 2 or 3 different stages and we spent a decent amount of time lying in the grass and soaking up the west coast sunshine.  When we were finished trying weird foods, we went back to the beach and played around; Jen taught us the waltz and there was a dog that kept barking for us to throw rocks for it to pretend to chase.  
After dinner we went back to the beach and watched the sunset.
There was a dance later that evening back in one of the tents where the festival took place where we grooved and swing danced and flipped.  We spent the night on the beach again walking from bonfire to bonfire under the clear sky and bright moon.
In the morning we bought a much needed breakfast of eggs, toast, baked beans, sausages, bacon, and hot sauce.  I bought a nice sling purse and a ring at the market along the street and then we piled back into the Chariot and made our way back through the pass back to Lincoln (and got passed by a whopping 100 cars along the way!)
If you ever have a chance and are in New Zealand in March, you must go to the Hokitika Wild Foods Festival!  I hope all is well!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hanmer Springs, NZ

You know when you are stuck at school or at work and you start dreaming of wonderful things you could do that would make your life more exciting? Like road trips and unexpected visitors and great deals on accommodations and hot springs and climbing mountains and playing cards and doing really whatever you want?  This was that dream.
Hanmer Springs is about 2 hours away from Lincoln, although it is about 3 hours away if you get lost, and about 4 hours away if you get a flat tire.  
We left Saturday after breakfast with our backpacks, hiking boots, and sack lunches and soaked up each other's company, the iPod music, and the breathtaking view all the way to Hanmer.  Our first mission was to find a place to stay, so we drove to the one street with accommodations, compared the rates of about 4 different places, and instantly decided on an extremely inexpensive house for 7 of us.  We ate our sack lunches at our dining room table and headed out to tramp the Waterfall Track on the edge of town.  Here's a photo of me on our way up to the waterfall!
On our way down from the waterfall, we ran into another group from Lincoln and offered them our floor since our house was so stinking huge. We arranged to meet up with them later at the Hot Springs.
The Springs were right down the street from our house. We spent the evening hopping from pool to pool until we found which of the 9 springs we liked the most. Some were 39 degrees Celsius and the hottest one was 41 degrees Celsius and smelt strongly of sulfur.
For dinner, we made rice (we eat a TON of rice), chicken, teriyaki and curry sauces, mixed vegetables, bread, butter, and jam, and a pound of garlic in it all! Delicious. Jennifer served us a bottle of Pinot Noir, which wasn't terrible until I drank some along with my curry chicken! It intensified the spice by a million!
We went to the pub down the street for some drinks and ended the evening with some Hokey Pokey ice cream (a New Zealand favorite) and a game of cards.
The next morning, we had planned to wake up at 5:15am and hike up a mountain down the street to watch the sunrise...but none of us actually woke up. So I got up a couple hours later and got to soak up the scenery outside on our back porch.
Here's the family picture we took of the 14 of us who stayed in the house! Notice the beautiful mountain in the background, our cat, and the wonderful landscape architecture in the front yard.
After a breakfast of eggs, toast, and fresh fruit, we headed out to Jack's Pass.  It was a beautiful hike with a wonderful variety of terrain.  When we reached the end of the tree line, half of the group went back to the car and we kept going to the top of 3 different peaks.  Here's a picture of the last peak we reached before sprinting down the mountain so that the other half of the group wasn't waiting on us.
We had a quick snack at the house before packing up and looking around the town a bit.  This is a photo of the grape vines just outside of Hanmer toward Christchurch.
It was a beautiful weekend, even though it ended with a flat tire on the way back, but we made it home safe and sound for another week of classes!
Stay tuned for adventures at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival and I'll try to get around to some entries about Uni life, the papers I'm taking, and what goes on during the week!  Thanks for reading!