Today marks the first anniversary of the February 22 earthquake, technically smaller than the 4 September one, but so much more destructive, being centred almost directly under the city. 185 people dead, countless injured, and most of the central city destroyed.

One year on, it feels like only yesterday yet also feels like we’ve been living with this “new normal” forever. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what the city used to be like – images of rubble (and now, of empty sections slowly growing over with weeds) overlay memories of buildings and streets. It’s hard to imagine that it’s less than 18 months ago that we could just pop into town to go shopping, or to a movie, or the library… But at other times something will trigger a memory of that terrible Tuesday, and I’ll be transported back, feeling just as sick now as I did when I heard the first reports of casualties come over the radio as we crept through the traffic trying to get home.

Naturally, today has been filled with memorials. There was the official one in Hagley Park, attended by the predictable politicians and (self-)important figures. The university also held its own service, and stopped lectures for a couple of hours to allow staff and students to attend either service. I instead chose to commemorate the moment in a more low-key way, attending one of the many unofficial community events, River of Flowers.

The nearest site was at Dean’s Bush, so I went down there at about 12.30 and joined the small group of people sitting quietly on the riverbank. The atmosphere was like a strangely subdued picnic – several people had brought blankets to sit on, a few had brought their lunch, and many were in groups, chatting quietly to each other as we all enjoyed the stillness of the gardens and the river (well, stillness apart from the ducks loudly demanding a handout). As more people gathered, one of the organisers handed out flowers to anyone who hadn’t brought their own, and explained a bell would be rung at 12.51 to mark the start of the two minute silence. As the time approached, everyone stood up, then the bell rang and silence fell.

I found myself not thinking of the earthquakes, but instead of the Christchurch of happier days – memories of crowding into the back room of Cafe Bleu for the pre-convention dinner, of Friday night movies in the Square when I was a student, of shopping expeditions to Scorpio’s when I’d come over from Westport desperate for books and culture, of graduation ceremonies in the town hall, of introducing MrPloppy to my favourite haunts. And I realised that although I always tell people I’m not a Cantabrian, deep down I’ve become one. I’ve spent more time living here than in any other town, and I’ve developed a deep connection to the city. Despite everything, I love Christchurch.

After the two minutes were up, we all threw our flowers into the Avon, as people were doing all along the length of the river.

A “tree of hope” had been created beside the river (and repeated at other sites further down stream), supplied with luggage tags and pens for people to write messages on. I’ve heard that the museum will be collecting the messages and storing them for posterity alongside the more official mementos of the day.

And all across the city, people had decorated the ubiquitous road cones (which have become such a symbol of the ongoing problems) with flowers.

These little gestures of community mean so much more than all the official ceremonies could ever do. I’m glad I chose to go to the river – it was exactly the sort of peaceful, thoughtful moment I needed today.


The kittens and I managed a truce this afternoon in the battle of the embroidery threads, so they slept on my feet while I managed to add a bit to the cross-stitch project:

It’s still going to be a very long time before there’s anything worth seeing in these updates.

A week of firsts

Well, not really, but I couldn’t think of a more interesting title.

It was the first meetup of the year, though. My threats to stop organising obviously worked, because we had a good turnout for a change: Rarsberry, Otakuu, Kiwiviv, and Bruce, Stephanie and Linda (one day I’ll remember their bookcrossing names!). The venue was voted a success too, which is great news for me, because it’s so easy for me to get to after work.

As usual, many books were exchanged: I passed on The Benefits of Passion by Catherine Fox, A Cameo Role by Sarah Grazebrook, On The Run by Gregg and Gina Hall, and Amazing Rain by Sam Brown, and picked up Silent Snow by Steve Thayer, Odd Hours by Dean Koontz, and Three Men In a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

And I *almost* managed to complete Xanthi’s birthday challenge to eat a vegan meal, but the lure of the garlic naan’s butter was too much. At least it was vegetarian, though – that has to nearly count, right? 😉

The kittens had a first: their first vet visit today, for booster shots and a general checkup. They were both declared fit and healthy, and in a few more weeks (Parsnips needs one more booster, being a couple of weeks younger than Pushkin) will be allowed to start going outside.

They (as all kittens do) alternate between being evil and angelic. One minute they’re chewing through the cord to my phone charger (just when my phone’s battery was about to die, of course!), and the next they’re snuggled up sweetly together and the cute outweighs any annoyance.

No cross-stitch update – kittens and long strands of embroidery cotton really don’t mix (the kittens might beg to differ – they’d really like them to mix!), so unless I lock myself away in the bedroom I can’t get anything done. Maybe if it’s a nice weekend I’ll take it out into the garden.

In other bookcrossing news, a few recent catches:

Vixen 03 by Clive Cussler travelled from Dunsandel to Nelson for a second-generation catch, and The Power-House by John Buchan went on a similar journey from Twizel to Motueka. And another catch from my BC Birthday releases: Prized Possessions by Avery Corman.

I can’t remember who it was who was searching for the elusive 8-no-cover-pics in the recent releases and catches bar, but I spotted one the other day, and screenshotted (screenshot? I don’t know how to verb my nouns) it for posterity:

Sometimes spam makes me smile

The spambots have obviously discovered the new DD, posting weird random comments to random entries. Sometimes the total disconnect between entry and comment is amusing, in how blatantly obvious it is that a human reader was not part of the process.

A couple of examples from today:

“That is a thing I must find more information about, appreciate the article.” And the article in question was? Pictures of kittens. Yeah, not sure how much information you’ll find there…

“Could be difficult to find skilled people about this issue, but you sound like you understand what you are posting on! Regards” Bet you can’t guess what the issue was. Oh yeah, you can – it was pictures of kittens again. Pity about the world shortage of experts in pictures of kittens, but it’s ok, because I understand what I am posting on (unlike the spambot).

Amused me, anyway. For the 10 seconds before I deleted the spam.

(What’ll be really funny is to see what the spambots post on this one :-))

9 Years

I realised this morning that it’s my BC Birthday – 9 years exactly since I joined Bookcrossing! So I quickly filled a bag with books, and between walking to work, a quick trip to Riccarton in my lunchbreak, and walking home, I managed to release 20 books in honour of the day. I couldn’t theme the books (I hadn’t planned far enough ahead for that, so I just had to grab whatever I had in my release pile), but at least I managed to theme a few of the releases.

And I’ve already had one catch, for The Lilac Bus. I really should do these bulk releases more often!

Kitten Update

MrPloppy somehow managed to fix my camera, so now I’m not so annoyed at the kittens for peeing on our bed (and then waiting until we’d spent all day washing the bedclothes before repeating the performance). But more importantly, it means a new batch of kitten photos! (yeah, tell me when you’re getting bored with them)

This is a typical sequence of events in our house at the moment:

1. Parsnips finds something to play with (in this case, my shoelace)

2. She notices that Pushkin has a toy too, and it’s obviously much more exciting than hers

3. Pounce

Step 4 is either two kittens chasing each other madly around the room (which my camera is never fast enough to capture), or Pushkin gives up and finds herself another toy… at which point the process repeats.

And just so she doesn’t get jealous at how many pictures I’ve posted of Parsnips, here’s one of Pushkin:

And the winners are

I’d like to formally introduce you to:




Not quite the original names we’d planned on, but these ones somehow fit better (though don’t ask me to explain exactly why!).

A few more photos, just because:

I would have lots more, but not long after that one of the kittens managed to pull my camera off the table, and it’s broken :-( Hopefully it’ll be repairable, but it’s definitely not usab

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(sorry, that was Parsnips wanting to contribute her own particular viewpoint – I think it translates as “It’s not our fault, you shouldn’t have left that camera strap hanging so temptingly off the table edge.” – or maybe it’s just “Keyboards are fun to walk on!”)

Anyway, as I was attempting to say, it’s definitely not usable at the moment, MrPloppy’s camera isn’t great at close-ups (or anything, really – it was a super-cheap one we bought as a temporary camera and never got round to replacing), and my cellphone camera won’t talk to the computer. So no more kitten photos for a while, sorry.


Actually, we haven’t quite settled on their names yet, so I can’t introduce you, but I can show you photos of the two little additions to our family:

They’re both girls (or ex-girls, having had their bits removed a few days ago). They’re not littermates, but are young enough that hopefully they’ll bond with each other as well as with us. The tabby had been someone’s pet briefly, but they decided they didn’t want her after all, so handed her in to the SPCA. The tortiseshell was found as a stray.

The tortie is the brave one, immediately dashing out of her cage to explore her new world (and MrPloppy’s lunch!). I thought I’d taken loads of photos of her, but when I looked through them almost all are actually of her disappearing out of frame just as the shutter clicked.

The tabby is shyer (we’re actually wondering if her previous family had small children who mishandled her or something), and spent the first couple of hours hiding, eventually falling asleep in the back of our box of camping equipment (which is stored under the desk in their room). But she’s gradually getting more confident, and the array of cat toys has even lured her out of hiding a few times.

When we first saw her she was busy playing with the paper lining her cage, so I suspect she’ll actually be just as playful as the tortie once she gets used to her new home.

Now we just have decide which of the several dozen names we’ve come up with we’re actually going to stick with…