Sunday, May 08, 2011

Exploring London and other places

I am enjoying my time in London. There is so much to say and do here! Before I came I thought a week was a lot of time. Now that I am here and almost through the week I wish I had another week. So what have I done with my week?

Finchley Meeting House
Hammersmith Meeting House
John Milton's House
Liz Yeats, Terry SoRelle, Trish Carn, Warren Wilson-Reiner and I spent a day at two Quaker Meetings (Finchley and Hammersmith) and John Milton's House in Buckinghamshire. We learned that Friend Thomas Elwood was a student of John Milton's and influenced him to write Paradise Found. Later that evening we saw a performance of Alls Well That Ends Well at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. The Globe is an outdoor theater with a choice of standing or sitting during the performance. We had seats for which I was happy because the play was 2 and 1/2 hours long. It was also cold. I was glad that a had on my fleece vest, coat, hat and gloves. The others rented a blanket for 6 pounds. Trish provided the cushions we sat on. Watching the play took me back to my senior year in high school when I feel in love with Shakespeare's plays. We read on each year in English and it was that year when I really understood the statements his plays were making about English society.
Tree of Life
Liz, Terry, Warren and I spent an afternoon at the British Museum and several pubs! If you ever spend time in Britain, make sure you plan to spend at least a day at the Museum. We had a wonderful time but there was so much to see that we barely saw what was available. The most amazing part of the exhibit for me was the sculptures made out of gun parts by four artists in Mozambique. It was wonderful to see a Tree of Life and other items made out of items that took lives.

In addition to spending time with Trish, Liz, Terry and Warren I spent time with several other Friends in London. Margaret Fraser was in London for a couple days. It was wonderful that she spent one of them with me. We explored Brixton Market and Brick Lane. I was pleasantly surprised to find a gluten free stall The WAGfree Bakery, Cafe and Deli in the Brixton Market. Thanks to them I was able to eat a Leek and Cheddar pie (my first British pie) and A kitsch kirsch kiss: almond genoise, kirsch, mascarpone, cherries and thin crisp shortcake. I felt like a kid in a candy store there were so many options, something I am not used to experiencing. If you cannot eat gluten and are near the Brixton Market you must visit The WAGfree Bakery. I would loved to have filled up a suitcase full of their products and brought them home with me. Margaret and I walked along Brick Lane where we ate lunch at the Aladin, an Indian Restaurant. Both Margaret and my London tour book said it was a Bengali neighborhood, but times have changed and the community has gentrefied and become an artistic community with many Indian restaurants.

Gluten Free Fish & Chips
I also had a chance to eat the traditional Fish & Chips! The Mermaids Tail on Leicester Square has gluten free fish and chips. I was so excited to be able to order gluten free fish and chips. I have not had fried fish since I was a little girl. My dish came and the portion was hugh. I was sorry that Barry was not there to share it with me. In addition to the fish and chips there were mashed peas on my plate. Not only could I eat the fish and chips, but I also was able to eat the Heinz Ketchup because they use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Everything was delicious. I wanted to eat everything on the plate, but it was just too much food. If you want gluten free fish and chips and are in London I highly recommend The Mermaids Tail.

I also got a chance to spend time with Audrey West. It was nice to catch up with her. When I was in London four years ago I stayed with her. I met Audrey when she and her daughter Yola attended the Fellowship of Friends of African Descent in the mid 2000's. I wish we had more than a couple hours to spend together.

Spotted Dick
I was able to spend time with Harriet Hart twice over the week. I visited her one afternoon at Friends House. The second time Liz, Terry, Harriet and I spent the day at the ZSL London Zoo. It was a beautiful day and we had lots of fun. Trish and Roland joined us for dinner. We ate at their favorite fish and chips restaurant, Toff's. I was able to order grilled fish which was wonderful. The group shared a British dessert called Spotted Dick, it had both wheat and dairy so I could not eat it. They really enjoyed it.

I have enjoyed my time in London. There is so much to do here and I did not have time to do everything I wanted. The good thing is when I come back there will be many things still to see and do. I feel like I am finally getting oriented to London and it is time for me to go. I am looking forward to seeing my family. I have missed them very much! 

Friday, May 06, 2011

Travel to London

Warren and I travelled to London together. Trish gave us a ride from Woodbrooke with Sarah Hoggatt to the Selly Oak station where we caught a train to New Street. At New Street we said goodbye to Sarah who caught a train to Lancaster and had a couple more trains and buses to catch to get to Swarthmoor Hall, her next home for a couple days. I needed to purchase my train ticket. As I stood in line Harriet, who had caught the bus from Woodbrooke with Beth bounded up to me and gave me a smile and hug. I purchased my ticket and joined Warren. We found the platform and waited for our Virgin train to arrive.

When the train came we boarded with our suitcases. There was a place in the center that had a luggage rack next to a table. We put our bags on it and sat across from each other at the table. We also happened to be in the cafe car. I was impressed to see that they had a gluten free category with an item listed (vegetable soup) on the menu.

Our ride was uneventful. Warren and I talked. I took a few photos of the yellow fields of rapseeds and occasionally watched the young couple behind Warren who were kissing. Then She decided to sit on his lap while they kissed. We were waiting for them to begin ripping each other's clothes off. Fortunately they did not. Eventually we arrived in London, Euston Station.

Warren and I parted at the station and headed for our hotels. I got directions from the information booth at the station. I was surprised when I crossed the street and began looking around that things looked familiar. Of course they did because I was at Friends House. I forgot that Friends House was across the street from Euston Station. It was nice to see a familiar building as I walked by Friends house. After walking on Euston Road for several blocks I came to Mabledon, the street my hotel was on. I turned the corner and there it was.

I registered with the front desk and walked into my small first floor room with ensuite bath. The bathroom was bigger than the one at Woodbrooke, but the shower was smaller. I hung up my clothes, unpacked my toiletries and said hello to my new home for the week. I was happy to see the customary electric hot water kettle. I immediately fixed myself a cup of tea and sat down in the desk chair to relax. QUIP had been good, but very busy. I was tired and happy to have some time to relax. I ate some dried fruit and raw nuts for dinner. Woodbrooke fed us well over the past five days, so something light was a nice change.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

QUIP - Quakers Uniting in Publishing - April 2011

I attended my fourth QUIP meeting this spring. My first time attending QUIP was four years ago, the last time QUIP was in Britain. That year, 2007, we met at Glenthorne, the Quaker center and guest house in the Lake District.

I really appreciate that QUIP is an international conference. We had Friends from Britain, France, Ireland and the United States of America attend. It is wonderful being with other writers and sharing our experiences with each other. Two members of the Spirit Rising Editorial board, Sarah Hoggatt and Harriet Hart were with us. Some of the British Friends who shared their work and writing experience with us were Gerard Benson, Ben Pink Dandelion, Cathy Benson, Peter Daniels, Alex Wildwood, Gil Skidmore and Harvey Gillman.  It was nice to have them with us. Last year the volcano prevented British Friends from attending the conference. This year I also had an opportunity to try writing some peotry and later during the conference wrote a short story.

I learned about a program that Jeanne Henriette Louis and Be Pink Dandelion have put together for the french town of Saumur. William Penn was a student there from 1662 to 1664. As a result the town is naming a square after him. The municipal authorities and the association "Saumur et son histoire" are planning two days of events May, 20-22 on the theme of William Penn and Saumur. Stephen W. Angell, William Frost, and Thomas Swain will be three Friends from the USA who will join them for the celebration.

Irish Friends, Ian Kirk-Smith, editor of The Friend, shared his life with us through participating in a conversation with Trish Carn on Saturday night.

The conference this year was different because British Friends flowed in and out of the conference, unlike last time when because of the location they remained for the full conference. It reminded me of when Philadelphia Yearly Meeting meets at 4th & Arch. Philadelphia Friends flow in and out of the sessions fitting parts of it in their daily schedule when they can. However, it was nice to catch up with some British Friends I had not seen in four years even if it was only for a few hours.

It was nice hearing Hal Weaver share his experience with being one of the three editors of Black Fire. Even though our books are so different Hal and I shared many challenges and similarities that come with working with different cultures and collaborations. I also realized that Harriet, Hal and I all are using the books we have written as tools to futher our ministries.
Harriet Hart and Sarah Hoggatt organized a book launch of Spirit Rising for Friends in Birmingham. They performed a special slide show for us and along with several older Friends read pieces from the book. They sold several books that night. Harriet has planed to give two more presenations here in Britain., one in June at Friends House in London and the second at Britain Yearly Meeting this summer. Each night we end our day with Epilogue. Saturday night I was asked to give the Epilogue. Since the focus that evening had been Spirit Rising, I decided to read a piece written by a Young Friends from Britain. I noticed that none of the pieces read earlier in the evening included Friends from Britain. I wanted to make sure their voices were included in that evening.

Next year QUIP will be meeting back in the United States of America at another Quaker Conference Center, Pendle Hill. This is the closest that QUIP has been to Philadelphia since I have been attending. It will be nice to attend the conference while being able to go home every night and sleep in my own bed. I know Barry will appreciate that as well! I am looking forward to connecting with the writer in me again next year.

Britain - Woodbrooke - April 2011

Rear view of Woodbrooke
Where do I start? I arrived in Britain on April 28th. I flew from Philadelphia to Brussels, spent two hours in the airport then flew an hour to Birmingham. As I was waiting on the runway at Philadelphia airport I began to ask myself why most of the time I travel abroad I go to new places and by myself? Of course the answer is money. I usually have just enough funds to cover my travel let alone a companion. It helps me appreciate the time I am able to travel with an elder with whom I can explore new places. I thank my parents for providing and environment that supported me taking leaps of faith. I could not do the work I do without that trust they nurtured in me.

Some of the Gardens at Woodbrooke
When I arrived in Birmingham I took a train from the airport to the New Street Station. When I arrived at the station I had the option to take another train to the Selly Oak station and then a bus to Woodbrooke or a taxi. The taxi was more expensive, but after the long trip it was the option I chose. It gave me an opportunity to rest and get to meet someone who told me a little about Birmingham.

Sunning butterfly
I arrived in time for a delightful lunch at Woodbrooke and time to explore the gardens and lake before the conference began. A part of me REALLY wanted to take a nap in my room, but I know the best way to adjust to a time change is to go with the local time. I was fortunate to have a sunny day, so I spent some time enjoying it. The gardens are beautiful. Spring had sprung everywhere. The first part of nature I interacted with was a butterfly sitting on the path basking in the sun. It remained there long enough for me to take several photos before moving to another location. There were Canadian Geese and several BIG birds (Crows and Magpies.) The trees and flowers were blooming. I even had an opportunity to walk across a stream on stepping stones and swing on a tree swing which I have not done since I was a child. There are so many special trees on the property.

Walking stones in stream
Woodbrooke is a lovely facility. My room was small, but it came with a private bathroom. The first room they assigned me was cold. It was on the shady side of the building and the window was wide open. The first thing I did was shut it. The woman who showed me to the room let me know that the heat would come on in the afternoon and I could get a space heater if it remained cold. I checked the room right before dinner and it was still freezing, so I approached the Friend in residence who checked my room and determined that the heater was not working and offered me another room. I had unpacked, but was happy to repack and move to a warm room on the sunny side. Even though the temperature in the new room was warm the Friend in Residence left the space heater with me just in case.

Tree Swing

Western Red Cedar
Lilacs - My favorite flower
This was my first trip to Woodbrooke. The facility is huge! I imagined the number of staff it took for the Cadburys to run the estate. All of the Woodbrooke staff were very helpful. The food was fantastic. They were able to make delicious meals that met mine and several other Friend's dietary needs. I was amazed. There was only one meal, ironically my last one, that they had to fix something special for me. They fixed a batch of corn fritters which I could not eat, so was given a piece of chicken from a previous meal. I did not mind because the chicken was so flavorful. I truly enjoyed my time at Woodbrooke and would love to return there as a sojourner. It is a facility where I would love to take a retreat to write or just rejuvenate.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting Fundraising Letter

Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting
1515 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
January 5, 2011
Dear Friends,
I write for your financial contributions to the Ministry of Vanessa Julye once again. Many of you have given generously in past years, and it is deeply appreciated. Your gifts have helped sustain the work of this ministry and will ensure its continuation. We want you to know that Vanessa's work continues to be fruitful and Spirit-lead, the results tangible and vibrant.
Ten years ago Vanessa Julye received a call to minister with a concern for helping the Religious Society of Friends become a more welcoming community for people of Color. The overall vision of the ministry to which she has been called by the Spirit is to help humanity remember its wholeness.
We celebrated the publication of "Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship; Quakers, African Americans and the Myth of Racial Justice" in 2009. Vanessa and her co-author, Donna McDaniel labored for seven years on this expression of their leadings. The publication of the book has opened new avenues for ministry on racial healing.
This year we are trying to raise $2,000 for Vanessa's ministry so that she can participate in Quakers Uniting in Publications Conference in England this spring where she continues to feel led to share her leadings with fellow Quaker writers. She is also planning on attending FWCC's international conference the following year.
Please be generous with your contributions. Share this letter with your monthly meetings. Her ministry truly speaks to a need in our religious society. While it remains important to celebrate our differences and our common humanity, healing from the hurts of racism and removing the barriers that unrecognized privilege constructs are essential to the wholeness of our beloved Religious Society of Friends. Your prayers, your participation, and your financial contributions are all needed and most welcome.
All contributions should be sent and made out to Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. Please write "Ministry on racism" in the memo section of your check. The Meeting's address is above.
Yours in the Light,
Yoko Koike Barnes
Clerk for Vanessa Julye's Ministry Committee

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Hawai'i stole my heart!

Tonight is our final night on the Big Island. As I sit in our hotel room listening to the ocean waves break on the rock and feeling the warm ocean breeze cover my body I feel sad and happy. Sad that we have to leave this fabulous island tomorrow and return to cold, depressing winter. I am so happy we came. Hawaii feels like home. It has the ocean, the sun, warm air, warm ocean water, exotic fish and animals, nice people and good food.
Today Barry and I spent time in the ocean. We went to Kahalu'u Beach in Keauhou. The beach was mostly rock with a little sand. I brought my water shoes so it was easier for me to walk over the rocks into the ocean. Barry forgot his so his feet were bare. Despite his cautious walking he still slipped and cut his toes and leg. They are minor cuts but I wouldn't recommend swimming there without shoes. It is a popular beach for snorkeling. There were many people snorkeling. They were looking at the coral and tropical fish. We did not rent snorkel equipment. I did not need it. I could see the tropical fish with my eyes in the water because the water was so clear and the fish so bright. They were yellow, orange, black & orange, brilliant blue, bright green and tiger fish to mention a few. It was wonderful to swim with them in the ocean where we both were free and not confined in a tank.

Since the beach was close to our hotel we were able to return to our room for a quick lunch then headed south to Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. On our way we stopped at the Donkey Ball Chocolate Factory so I could buy some Donkey Balls. I purchased a few items, but couldn't resist asking if their chocolate was fair trade. I knew the answer, but was planting a seed. The cashier had to go to the back and ask. When she returned she said they did not know. I told her that if it were fair trade she would know. I explained to her why fairly traded chocolate was important to me. I was glad that they had white chocolate (which I cannot eat), but bought as gifts for family.

Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park (Place of Refuge) was such a rich experience. The park contains ancient temples, royal grounds and a place of refuge (sanctuary.) We spent hours walking around feeling the sacredness of this site. The park provided refuge to Hawai'ians who were able to get there. Non royalty who broke Kapu (strict ancient Hawai'ian social system) were killed because Hawai'ians felt breaking Kapu angered the Gods who would send tidal waves, earthquakes, famine and volcanic eruptions. Kapu breakers had to swim through violent and shark filled ocean to reach Pu'uhonua.

The park encompasses royal grounds as well. Kona ali'i (chief, royalty) lived there with their warriors. One of the temples there was built around 1650 and contains the bones of 23 chiefs. There is also a stone wall that was built in 1550 which is 10 feet high and more than 1000 feet long. Also several ki'i (statues) carved out of Ohia trees. One actually stands on the rocks in the ocean. It was a wonderful place to watch the sunset.

Barry and I have been here for a week and there are still so many places and things I want to do here on the Big Island. Barry keeps telling me that it gives us a reason to return. I DON"T WANT TO LEAVE!!!!!! I will miss the call of the ocean. She calls me through all of me senses. My eyes see her beautiful inviting shades of blue, my ears hear the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks reminding my body of the times she has rocked me. When I smell, taste salt, sweat or cry I am reminded of her gentle saltiness.

Hawai'i, especially the Big Island is a place I highly recommend visiting at least once in your life. They even have snow way up on the mountain for those who want that experience. The Island has something for everyone. You can visit a ranch. Ride horses on a ranch or beach. There are magnificent waterfalls and tropical gardens, which we did not get to see, in the mountains. We only had time to explore half of the volcano. Don't forget the green, black, beige (white) and multi-colored sand beaches. If you decide to come to Hawai'i we found the Lonely Planet's The Big Island travel guide to be an excellent resource. We had both the 2002 and 2008 editions thanks to two wonderful friends who loaned us their copies. We used them frequently.

I love you Big Island. You have stolen my heart. I will miss you tremendously when I am back in the cold and barren wilderness of Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Change in Plans!!

Yesterday we spent the morning rearranging our travel plans. After talking with family in Philadelphia we took advantage of USAirways travel advisory, relaxed change fees, and rebooked our flight home from Monday night to Thursday night. Then we needed to find accomodations since the condo we were staying in was expecting us to check out the next day, February 1st. We also had to make arrangements for the rental car.

It was a very windy day which meant that the sky over the mountains were clearer making it easier to see and photograph the mountain ranges. Incase you are wondering, yes there is snow here in Hawaii. I even took a picture of it. Later in the afternoon Barry and I drove to Waimea. On our way there we were treated with seeing two rainbows. We saw the first one as we drove to the town. The second rainbow appeared as we were leaving the town. It was brighter and gave Barry a good laugh because it appeared to end at the Burger King. He said Burger King was definitely someone's gold at the end of the rainbow. Upon our return to the condo we once again went to the pool where both of us got into the spa pool. It was so nice and warm. I floated on my back for a while and looked at the stars. If only I could take the hot pool home with me.

This morning we checked out of Kings Land and drove to Kapa'au to visit Kamehameha's statue. The statue was originally lost at sea and recovered. It was repaired, repainted and place on the Big Island in 1880.

As life would have it we are having a second vacation in a new hotel in a different area, Kailua Kona. We returned the rental car and got one from a different agency. So it was like starting over because we had to return to the airport to exchange cars which meant unpacking the old one and packing the new one. Then we drove to our new home.

Our new hotel is closer to the ocean, but the beach is rocky not sandy. The surfers and buggie boarders like this area. It was nice to watch the sun set over the ocean from our hotel room. I just wish I felt safe getting in the water here. We began walking to a beach that the hotel clerk was better for swimming, but turned back when the liquid sunshine showered down on us.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Our visit to Ka Lae

Yesterday Barry and I went to South Point (Ka Lae,) which is the farthest south you can get in USA. There were rocky cliffs along the coast which created some beautiful spray. There were people jumping off of the cliffs into the ocean to swim and snorkel. I know you are wondering how they got out. There was a very long rope ladder attached to a wooden platforms on the edge of the cliff. South Point was the site of one of the earliest Hawaiian settlements.
We drove by a windmill farm on the road to South Point. Actually there were two an old non functioning one and a new very active one.
After our time at South Point we decided to visit Green Beach. It turned out to be more than we could do. There was a 2.5 mile hike one way from the parking area to the beach on very rocky and pebblely terrain. We got about half way there and decided to turn around. It was a beautiful walk along the ocean. The I was disappointed, but we decided it would give us something to do when we returned. However, next time we will do what most people did is drive there in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. We drove north, back to Waikoloa. When we got back to Kings Land I really needed to get into some water so we walked over to the pool where Barry went swimming and I got into the heavenly warm spa pool. It was fabulous!!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Yesterday Barry and I drove over to Hilo. It was a 2 &1/2 hour drive along the coast and through the mountains. The variety of terrain on the Big Island is spectacular!
Hilo was a cute little city. We did not spend much time there because we were actually on that side of the island to visit the Volcanoes. We stopped in the Big Island Candy store and Two Ladies Kitchen. There were lots of people in both store. Big Island Candies had very interesting candies. They actually had potato chips and Macadamia nuts in chocolate. Two Ladies Kitchen had fabulous Mochi. We purchase several different types. So far we have eaten their strawberry mochi. It was delicious!!!! A fresh strawberry with mashed red bean filling is covered with mochi. If you are ever in Hilo you must go to Two Ladies Kitchen. It is a small store, but their service is fast. You can also call your order in ahead of time. This is the best mochi I have ever had!

Then it was off to the Volcanoes. We stopped in the Kilauea Visitor Center where we were treated with a presentation by one of the rangers. He gave us a map, told us where we could see the latest volcanic eruption at the Jaggar Museum. He explained that we could not get too close because of the dangerous sulfur dioxide gases it was putting out. He recommended that we stop at the Steam Vents to get follow the Hawaiian custom of getting purified. The ranger also recommended walking through the Thurston Lava Tube. The terrain was varied between rock and rain forrest. We could have spent two days at the volcanoes. There was more to see, but not enough time to see them.
We used our GPS to get us back to the condo. The GPS (Gabby) took us the shortest route which was clearly through the mountains. We saved time, but it was a challenging route. It was pitch black and there were some areas where the road was no longer paved, just gravel. At one point according to Gabby the car drove off the road and she kept telling us to take a left turn to get back on the road. We were actually still on the road, there was no place to turn left and if we had we would have gone off the road. Fortunately later our car and her road reconnected and we arrived back to the condo safe and sound.