ETCETERA - Sorority's quilting efforts benefit school for blind, WW seniors

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Washington Odd Fellows Nursing Home residents are snuggling aplenty, courtesy of brightly colored, lap quilts handmade by Whitman College students.

Delta Gamma member Sarah Anderegg, who's in charge of the sorority's volunteer projects at Whitman, said her chapter has worked on the quilts every Saturday during the semester as part of its national philanthropy, Service for Sight.

Seven Delta Gammas visited with 20 Odd Fellows residents on April 18 to deliver the 3- by 3-foot quilts.

Each weekend 81 girls from the chapter gather to make either tactile quilts, which are donated to the Anchor School of the Blind in Colorado, or patchwork quilts for local nursing homes.

This semester alone they've crafted almost 100 quilts, 50 for the nursing homes and the remainder to the school.

"We try to make the quilts as colorful as possible to brighten up the rooms in the nursing home and put smiles on residents' faces. The back sides of the quilts are flannel so they have something soft on their skin," she said.

Members of this sorority are also responsible for funding two audible cross walks in downtown Walla Walla.

They co-hosted a 24-hour comedy show on April 20 in which the donations they make go towards funds for a third cross walk.

•••

A local ladybug flew far afield from the Walla Walla Valley and all the way into the virtual pages of The Los Angeles Times and beyond.

U-B Chief Photographer Jeff Horner's photo is LA Times image No. 47 in a series of 68 at tinyurl.com/7uempg8.

Jeff zoomed in on the wee red insect in full flight, its black-spotted red hardtop up and wings extended as it flew between grass blades in Rooks Park on a recent Monday. The Los Angeles Times included Jeff's photo in its Framework section online where it shows the world through camera and video lenses.

"The little bug has basically gone --flown (heh, heh) -- around the world. Seems like a day doesn't go by that someone hasn't informed me of a news website, paper, TV station, blog, that the happy little critter has showed up on," Jeff said.

That includes the Washington Post, ABC News and the Boston Globe -- a couple of times -- including its Big Picture post April 17 that was the lead-off photo in a group of 35 images to celebrate the coming of Earth Day April 22.

Just type in "Jeff Horner ladybug" in a Google search and many sites will appear.

By the way, it's one of the few bugs I'm willing to touch. They have a fabulous appetite for plant-eating insects, such as aphids. This makes them popular with growers as they help to protect crops.

Ladybugs lay hundreds of eggs in the colonies of aphids and other plant-eating pests. When they hatch, ladybug larvae begin to feed. By the end of its three-to-six-week life, a ladybug may eat some 5,000 aphids, according to nationalgeographic.com.

They come in red, orange or yellow and go by other names such as lady beetles, ladybird beetles, Mexican bean beetles, God's cow, ladycock, lady cow and lady fly.

Wikipedia notes that they're from the coccinellidae family of beetles. Scientists are leaning toward the ladybird beetles or lady beetles monikers because they're not just bugs.

Their average life span is two to three years and their colors and spots are designed to make them unappealing to predators. A fluid they secrete from joints in their legs makes them nasty-tasting, too.

•••

Shane Perkins gained an appointment to the U.S. Coast Guard Scholar program, according to parents Lee and Shannon Perkins of Lowden.

The Walla Walla High School senior holds a 3.7 GPA.

He's been active in track and field for two years, cross country for one year and 10 years in 4-H and currently is his club's vice president. He also served as a delegate to American Legion Boys State.

Involved in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps for four years, he is a cadet major and the battalion executive officer. A three-year Rifle Team competitor, he's currently range operations officer.

Shane is excited about the opportunity to shoot for the Coast Guard Academy, one of the smallest of the five federal service academies.

Competition to get in is stiff. For 2012, the academy made 265 direct appointments and 60 scholar appointments out of approximately 4,500 applicants.

Direct and scholar appointments are both fully funded opportunities.

Scholar appointments, such as the one Shane received in December, are given to individuals who show outstanding Coast Guard officer potential but need a little more preparation in one area to ensure success in the academy's fast-paced, rigorous academics.

Shane plans to spend a year at a military prep school, most likely Georgia Military College, then report to the USCGA as a fourth classman/freshman in summer 2013. At the academy, Shane plans to study mechanical engineering. Once he completes four years at the academy, he will commission as an ensign in the Coast Guard. Added to his studies and military training at GMC and the USCGA, Shane expects to compete on their NCAA precision rifle teams.

•••

Walla Walla native Bill Yeend made his final radio broadcast in the Seattle area, signing off the morning of April 13, after 44 years on air.

He spent the last decade waking Seattlites on Fisher News KOMO AM-FM, according to an item at allaccess.com.

Bill previously worked for decades at Bonneville Talk KIRO-FM in Seattle.

Seattle newsman Bill Rice told The Seattle Post-Intelligencer that "When I heard Bill make the transition to news, I guess the word that came to mind was prototype. (Bill) is the guy. That is the way a news guy should sound."

His KOMO biography described him as "arguably the most recognized news radio voice in the Northwest. For the past 32 years, Bill has been traveling the globe, bringing his stories back to the anticipating ears of the Puget Sound area. Bill has reported from Russia, China, Egypt, Israel, Hong Kong, Argentina, Scotland, Italy and Japan."

When he began his broadcast career in 1968, he played music at the all-instrumental station at KBBX. Two years later, he took the midday and late night talk show program at KIRO. Moving to mornings, he played a major role in winning five Edward R. Murrow awards for Journalistic Excellence.

An avid golfer, for eight years, he hosted "The Golf Club" and "Golf Tour Northwest," Emmy Award-winning TV golf magazine shows. Now that he has the free time, he plans to work on his golf game and travel with wife Cammy, whom he met at Eastern Washington University.

•••

Information from U-B reporter Maria P. Gonzalez (full name Maria del Pilar Gonzalez Maron) just goes to show how small our world is.

Her cousin, Maria Yamamoto Maron lives in Guangzhou, China, near Hong Kong, with a population of 12.7 million. She and her husband have two high school-age children.

The Marias share the Maron name on their grandfather's side of the family, through Maria Gonzalez's mother.

Despite Guangzhou's massive size, there aren't very many foreigners there. One recent day Maria Maron and a Chinese friend went to celebrate the seventh birthday of that woman's son in his class. The 21 first-graders are taught by an American, H. Lance Davis, at Huamei International School.

"My cousin was surprised to see an American in the class, so they exchanged greetings," Maria Gonzalez said. Both the Americans were amazed to find the other familiar with their respective home towns of Holland, Mich., and Walla Walla. And and even more surpised Maria Maron noted "her cousin (me!) lives and works (in Walla Walla)," Maria Gonzalez said.

Lance and two friends from Walla Walla work at the Guangzhou school. All three have family in Walla Walla and graduated from Walla Walla University.

Walla Wallan Ryan Wilkinson taught in Taiwan and the Marshall Islands. "I've had a chance to travel across most of the world and I'm very glad to now be living in China," he said on a poster on display at the school that introduces him in English and Chinese. "I look forward to learning Chinese and getting to know the area around Guangzhou."

The third Walla Wallan is Andrew Corson. His grandparents moved to Walla Walla so Andrew's father and his siblings could attend Walla Walla College. "Education is really important to me, and I love to share and help others learn," he said on his introductory poster. He's also well-traveled, including to Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia and China. "I am very excited to be here this year. I look forward to working with all my students so that they can become wiser and better individuals."

Lance expanded on his experiences in an email to Maria Gonzalez. "It was a bizarre surprise to meet someone here so randomly with connections to Walla Walla," he wrote.

He said he and Ryan learned about the teaching opportunity in Taiwan about 11/2 years ago. "We jumped on board as quickly as we could and went to Taiwan last March. In Taiwan, we learned that our friend, Andrew, was already there. The three of us worked at the same school and got an apartment together."

Six months later, the program ended, but their director told them about schools he set up in China through Griggs International Academy, including Huamei International School in Guangzhou.

"We agreed together that this would be a neat place to finish off a final year of teaching and moved into town in mid-August."

Guangzhou is a massive metropolitan area with nearly 13 million residents. The Pearl River Delta Mega City that encompasses all the neighboring cities has a population of about 40 million, which makes it among the largest metropolitan areas in the world, Lance said.

Their school is at the northern outskirts of the city. Lance's 21 first-grade students stay at the school and go home on weekends to see their parents.

"This isn't unusual. Our school has kindergarteners as young as 3 years old who live away from home to go to school. One of my students lives with her grandma because her parents live in Toronto." Huamei is the oldest private school in China, founded in 1993. It operates on a twin-track system that allows students to learn the required curricula of both China and America. Parents send their students there to prepare for American or Canadian universities.

It costs more than $10,000 per year, an expensive fee that attracts students from only the wealthiest families, Lance said.

The GIA program has students from first- through fourth grades this year, and will continue expanding each year as students progress.

Andrew, GIA director at the school, also teaches an international class with students from various parts of Africa, Russia, Venezuela and elsewhere. He manages six American teachers, including Ryan, who teaches third grade, and Lance.

The Walla Walla trio lives in a rent-free apartment and only has to pay for meals. A good meal near the school is usually about $1-$3.

"On weekends, or special occasions, we enjoy going into the city for a decent western meal at Oggi's or Tekila. These are great Italian and Mexican food options, but they come at a premium of over $10.

"Massages are inexpensive and fantastic, so we average at least one massage each week that doesn't really dent our paycheck at all.

They take advantage of an apartment in Zhuhai that belongs to Ryan's dad. It's in a neighboring city bordering Macau.

"This makes for very nice weekend excursions to the 'Miami' of China. We have another friend from Walla Walla, Tommy Poole, who lives in Hong Kong. Visiting him monthly takes a simple two-hour train ride. It is great to explore the area so simply.

"Our school has international teachers outside of our American program, predominantly from Canada, and we have made great friends with them. This adds to the amount of fun that we have after school hours."

Holidays fall at a different pace from American holidays. They don't celebrate Thanksgiving and only get Christmas day off.

"Some holidays come as a surprise -- maybe only a week's notice. And Chinese New Year was lengthened from three to five weeks. This was an especially nice holiday that we each took to explore various parts of the world. I visited Egypt, Ethiopia, and Japan over this period, all of which were fantastic in their own ways.

"It's nice to be here for now, but there are fantastic things from that town (Walla Walla) that I miss every time I leave. I look forward to being back mid-July," Lance concluded.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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