2017 in first lines, and in pictures

I’ve been doing the year in first lines thing for a few years now – I think it was a post on Wondermark that gave me the idea?  Anyway, the idea is to summarise the year through the first sentence of the first post of each month.  As always, I’m cheating slightly by sometimes including a second sentence where the first wasn’t very long, or very interesting, and I generally skip posts that are just lists (like most of my 1 January posts…)

And the year in pictures is always a fun challenge, trying to pick a single photo that sums up each month.  Sometimes that’s easy, but life events don’t always neatly segment themselves into months, so some months there’s too much to choose from, and others I struggle to find a photo (especially if it was one of those times when I just never seemed to get my camera out). And of course, sometimes it’s just a pretty picture, without any particular significance other than I took it that month, and I like it.

So, in case you’re not bored with lists yet, here’s two more summarising my year:

2017 in first lines

January: Emerging, blinking, into the light

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, I’m actually writing a blog post.  And that can only mean one thing: I finished my thesis!!!!!

February: The new project

I finally made it to the fabric shop this morning, so I started work on my new project.

March: Scrappy bits

So much for my good intentions of regularly posting to my blog – that seems to have fallen by the wayside a bit!

April: Progressing

This new quilt is definitely slower going than the jelly roll race one (mainly because the seams have to be pretty accurate for it to work properly), but I am making progress.

May: Quilts in progress report

With apologies for the terrible photographs – I keep forgetting that the lighting in the study in winter isn’t particularly conducive to getting colour-accurate photos.

June: Progress, and not so much progress

My plan to use spare half hours to sew failed the moment the really cold weather set in, because I’d forgotten just how cold the study can get in winter (for some reason to do with the way the hallway bends just before the door to the study, the warmth from the fire, which happily heats the rest of the house, never quite reaches the study).

July: Off with their hair

Those of you who know me in real life (TM) will know that for the past year or two I’ve been muttering about how one day I’m going to suddenly cut off all my hair. Well, one day arrived…

August: Films and Flight

I decided it was about time I got round to finishing off the Birds in Flight quilt (which I feel like I started about a million years ago), so I spent the weekend working on the connecting bits for the strip of birds to go on the back. I didn’t get it finished, but I made pretty good progress. At this rate I might even get it quilted this year…

(Spoiler alert: I didn’t)

September: Out and about in Wellington

Wellington was wonderful (despite the less than stellar weather).

October: Playgrounds and Poetry

Brother and family were up at the weekend to go to a concert.

November: Wisdom in overrated anyway

A week or so ago, I had a toothache.

December: Possibly not for the faint of heart

The conference went really well – our talk seemed to be well-received (my boss was in the audience, along with at least three other people I know as experts in digital archiving, and all were nodding at the right places, so I don’t think I said anything too stupid :-) ), and (once the stress of having to present was over with, so I could actually just relax and enjoy the rest of the conference) I met all sorts of interesting people, and learnt all sorts of interesting things.

2017 in photos





(Like I said, some months it’s obvious which picture to pick :-) )




(Yeah, two photos of me in one summary post feels a bit excessive, but cutting off my hair was kind of momentous!)


(I seem to have spent a lot of time photographing craft projects this year…)





So that’s my year.  A lot of crafts, a lot of trying new things, a few adventures, a few revelations, a few new friends, a few successes, a few difficulties, but mostly a lot of learning and a lot of fun.  Which is pretty much how life should be.

What I made in 2017

I started a new list this year, of the craft projects I’d completed. It was kind of an attempt to motivate myself to actually finish things, instead of always starting new projects then leaving them half-finished when some new shiny caught my eye, but also just because (like my reading list) it’s interesting to see where the year took me, creatively.  It’s a nice reminder, too, of how my skills are progressing, and what each project has taught me.

Projects completed this year:


Does a thesis count? :-)


Heidi Hedgehog

Crocheted dishcloth

And a knitted one


Flower Garden quilt


Upholstered footstool

TEU Rainbow Te Kahukura quilt


Ok, so I didn’t actually complete anything this month, but I started a lot!


Jelly Roll Race quilt


Embroidered insects

And a quilt for dolls


Little Squares quilt


I really must get round to finishing something one day instead of just starting new things…


Skeleton Quilt

and turning an old appliqué into a cushion cover


A Christmassy mini-quilt


Recycled wrapping paper and crackers, and a wreath

and another Christmas mini-quilt

What I read in 2017

Another year, another list of books.  Quite a short list, really, considering I wasn’t studying this year, but I think somewhere over the last few years I’ve lost the reading habit slightly.  (And yes, I’m aware that for a lot of people, reading 106 books in a year (even given my rather broad definition of what a book is) is an unattainable goal, but I’ve managed to get into the 150s some years, so it’s a major reduction for me.)

Total = 106 books

January (7)

February (7)

March (7)

April (8)

May (9)

June (10)

July (7)

August (13)

September (9)

October (8)

November (11)

December (10)

  • Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen (library audio book)
  • Ostrich by Matt Greene
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth (e-book)
  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (library audio book)
  • New Life Stories by David Attenborough (library audio book)
  • This is How You Die edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki!
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (library audio book)
  • Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman (e-book)
  • The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (e-book)
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (library audio book)

What I read in 2016 (92 books)
What I read in 2015 (112 books)
What I read in 2014 (93 books)
What I read in 2013 (129 books)
What I read in 2012 (128 books)
What I read in 2011 (133 books)
What I read in 2010 (137 books)
What I read in 2009 (150 books)
What I read in 2008 (154 books)
What I read in 2007 (123 books)
What I read in 2006 (140 books)
What I read in 2005 (168 books)

What counts as a book?

2016 in words and pictures

2016 was an interesting year. For me it was of course dominated by my thesis – I basically spent the whole year in hibernation, working 50+ hour, 6-day weeks juggling a full-time job and part-time study. Of course, I did take a month off for Greece and Italy, which was pretty cool (and I promise I will finish uploading my travel journal one day, honestly!). Then there was the health scare, and more earthquakes, and so many cool people dying (Helen Kelly, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Prince, John Glenn…), and we won’t even mention the whole American election thing.  Yes, definitely an “interesting” year!

2016 in first lines (for a given value of “first”)

january: random pie picture

The internet is fixed, but I didn’t end up having time to go through my pictures to pick out representatives for the year, because Mum got an unexpected visitor, the son of old friends of hers.  I haven’t seen him since we were about 12, so we spent a long afternoon catching up on each others’ news and sharing old memories.

February: So much news

I have a thesis topic! For a while there this was not the case, when it looked like my proto-topic was going to be completely unviable, but one of my lovely supervisors (in related news, I have supervisors!) came to the rescue and pointed out how my ailing proto-topic could in fact be resurrected into an actual topic.

March: Emerging blinking into the sunshine

Major thesis milestone passed: I finished writing my research proposal this afternoon!  A week late, though considering the interruptions of earthquakes (and earthquake anniversaries, which is a busy time for us at work), I think I’m doing pretty well to only be a week behind.

April: Two happy things

I had to go into town for a meeting on Thursday (it still amazes me that I have the sort of job now where I get to have meetings – and not the sort where I’m only there to take minutes!), and on the way back to work I passed a sign for Scorpios’ newly reopened shop.

May: Home

Got home this afternoon after 30-odd hours spent on planes and in airports.  I’m incredibly tired, but attempting to stay awake at least until dark, to ward off the worst of the jet lag.

June: NZEENZ and other excuses

Yeah, my good intentions to get my travel journal posted didn’t come to much, did they? Usual excuse – I’ve been too busy to sit down and write … My busyness has been of an exciting (to me, anyway) kind – on Thursday I gave a paper at a Linguistics conference!!!

July: Creativity and problem-solving

As usual, I’ve failed at keeping up with my blog (and my promise to upload the rest of my Athens journal), and as usual the excuse is being too busy with thesis stuff.  I’m kind of buried under an avalanche of data at the moment, and it’s taking much longer than I anticipated to dig my way through it, with the result that every time I have a spare moment I feel like I should be doing a bit more work on it.

August: Still alive

They kept me in the hospital last night (mainly because I was last in the queue for day surgery, so didn’t get out until about 6 pm, by which time it was easier to transfer me to a ward than wait round until I was awake enough to go home), so I’ve only just got home.

September: The gory details

Wow, time has sped by again, and it’s already two weeks since my operation (and already September, and spring!).  I did mean to come back and write something more substantial than my brief post-op note of stillalivitude, but for the first week or so sitting at the computer was painful and not conducive to writing blog posts, and then I’ve been back at work and trying to catch up with everything I didn’t get done while being distracted by bodily malfunctions, so just super-busy.

October: Bright lights, pretty colours

Only three months to go until my thesis submission deadline, so it’s very much nose to the grindstone around here.  I’m making exciting progress though – one of my data sets is complete and I’ve almost managed to construct a statistical model to describe it, and the other data set is almost ready (“almost” being a relative term – there’s probably another week or two’s work to do on it) to be added to the model, so very soon I should have something resembling results.

November: Shaky Isles

Well, it’s been an … interesting… couple of weeks since I last posted.  First there was the American elections.  We were watching the results come in in our office (it was early afternoon here), and, like the rest of the world, couldn’t quite believe what we were seeing as the map turned redder and redder.

December: Still modelling…

Actually, I thought I’d finally finished my modelling a few days ago, but I met with my supervisors today, and they’ve recommended I run a few more, so it’s back to sitting waiting for models to run.

Hmm, there’s a bit of a theme there, isn’t there? :-)  I’m just impressed that there was at least one post in every month – I was sure I would have had longer gaps than that!

2016 in photos

(A few more gaps here…)


February:  –



May:  – (actually, I have loads of photos from Italy, it’s just I haven’t sorted them out yet!)


(There is actually a photo of me giving my conference presentation somewhere on Facebook, but I couldn’t find it, so this will have to do instead)


August:  –





What I read in 2016

Yes, I’m a month late doing the year-end wrap-up things, but I was way too busy in early January so didn’t have time to do them then.  And I like doing the annual summaries, so even though they’re late, I’m going to post them anyway.

I didn’t do a lot of reading last year (well, actually I did, but it was mostly in the form of academic journal articles, not books), and most of my “reading” was actually listening to audiobooks while walking to and from work.  So it’s the shortest list since I first starting recording my reading.

 Total = 92 books

January (9)

February (9)

March (14)

April (8)

May (8)

June (7)

July (8)

August (6)

  • The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower (library audio book)
  • Daisy’s War by Shayne Parkinson (e-book)
  • Rosemary by Kate Clifford Larson (library audio book)
  • The Sad Truth About Happiness by Anne Giardini
  • The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne (e-book)
  • Toms River by Dan Fagin (library audio book)

September (7)

October (7)

November (6)

December (5)

What I read in 2015 (112 books)
What I read in 2014 (93 books)
What I read in 2013 (129 books)
What I read in 2012 (128 books)
What I read in 2011 (133 books)
What I read in 2010 (137 books)
What I read in 2009 (150 books)
What I read in 2008 (154 books)
What I read in 2007 (123 books)
What I read in 2006 (140 books)
What I read in 2005 (168 books)

What counts as a book?

2015 in pictures

(Only slightly belatedly)










Don’t be silly, I wasn’t taking photos, I had deadlines!




So the year started and ended with family. And despite feeling like I was too busy to do anything this year, I actually packed in quite a lot. Onwards to 2016…

2015 in review

2015 is hard to summarise.  I learnt a lot, I took on some huge new challenges, but mostly it’s just been incredibly busy, and has raced past in a blur.  So rather than try and write anything meaningful about it, I’ll use my usual trick of recycling bits of blog entries :-)

So, 2015 in first sentences:

January: It’s 2015 here in New Zealand, even if most of the rest of the world is still to catch up, and has dawned a lovely sunny day after yesterday’s rain.

February: I decided to use this weekend to skip ahead a bit in the In Flight quilt-along, in an attempt to have the whole thing finished a few weeks ahead of schedule, and avoid that nasty clash with the start of semester.

March: Ok, so Tartankiwi calls it a cormorant, but I’m a New Zealander – it’s a shag :-)

April: Parsnips has obviously been out hunting today, because when I got home and walked into the kitchen, I felt a lump under my foot.

May: Yeah, I know, it’s been ages since I wrote anything.  Can I use as an excuse the fact that I’ve been really tired, AND that I have a medical excuse for being tired, so it’s not just laziness, honestly it’s not!

June: Lytteltonwitch and I spent the weekend in Oamaru, where they were holding their annual Steampunk Festival.

July: Christchurch people (and anyone else who just likes to help preserve cool historic things): If any of you have fond memories of visiting the telescope in the Arts Centre Observatory on a Friday night, you might want to contribute to this fundraiser to help restore the telescope.

August: First term of the semester is over, and I handed my first big assignment in yesterday, so I can pause and relax – well, for a couple of days, at least.

September: Just very very busy.

October: There is a type of tiny quilt that is commonly called a “mug rug”.

November: Hmmm, according to my calendar, the last time I actually took a full weekend off was in August.

December: January and the start of my masters is looming large, so I’m trying to fit as much as I can into the rest of this year, before I have to be head down over the books again.

The internet here is playing up tonight, so I think I might have to leave the year in pictures part until tomorrow, when hopefully it won’t take 10 minutes just to load a page…

What I read in 2015

 Total = 112 books

January (13)

  • You Know You’re From ChCh When… compiled by Bruce Raines
  • Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters by Alan S Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa (library audio book)
  • Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan (e-book)
  • Drybread by Owen Marshall
  • The Chocolate Bear Burglary by JoAnna Carl (e-book)
  • Angel Sister by Ann H Gabhart (library audio book)
  • Clan Ground by Clare Bell
  • Christmas Short Stories by Charles Dickens (library audio book)
  • Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (e-book)
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (e-book)
  • A Slip of the Keyboard by Terry Pratchett
  • A Death in Kitchawank and Other Stories by TC Boyle (library audio book)

February (11)

March (6)

  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (library audio book)
  • The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares (library audio book)
  • The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart (library audio book)
  • The Algebraist by Iain M Banks
  • Bonkers by Michelle Holman
  • A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (library audio book)

April (13)

May (10)

June (9)

July (8)

  • The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell
  • My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein (library book)
  • Sleep, Pale Sister by Joanne Harris (library audio book)
  • Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (library audio book)
  • The Best People in the World by Justin Tussing
  • Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein (library book)
  • Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang (library audio book)
  • Linguistic Fieldwork by Claire Bowern

August (10)

September (7)

October (9)

November (10)

December (6)

What I read in 2014 (93 books)
What I read in 2013 (129 books)
What I read in 2012 (128 books)
What I read in 2011 (133 books)
What I read in 2010 (137 books)
What I read in 2009 (150 books)
What I read in 2008 (154 books)
What I read in 2007 (123 books)
What I read in 2006 (140 books)
What I read in 2005 (168 books)

What counts as a book?

Catch Report

Nothing much to write about, so it must be about time for a catch report (is it seriously 6 months since the last one???):

  • Nine Uses For An Ex-Boyfriend by Sarra Manning – released in the College of Arts waiting area (I’ve had some good catches from there, actually – I really must get round to releasing some more books there, especially as it’s coming up to that time of year when students will be coming in to get enrolment advice), caught and re-released elsewhere in the university.
  • Life As I Find It by Mark Twain – released in Dunedin in 2006, where it was caught almost immediately, but the finder didn’t make a journal entry until last year.  In the meantime, it’s been very well travelled (read the journal entry!), and has now been re-released (I assume somewhere in the US?).
  • Miss Purdy’s Class by Annie Murray – this is why I like staying at the Wellington YHA.  Every time I stay there I take a pile of pre-numbered labels and register as many books as I can on their excellent book exchange shelf.  And it always pays off in a good catch rate (with most of them then being re-released in other YHAs around NZ and Australia).  This one has travelled to the Wanganui YHA.
  • Faithful Gardener by Clarissa Pinkola Estes – a second catch for a book I released in 2008 in Christchurch, which then travelled to Auckland, and has now been found in Nelson.
  • The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff – did I mention how much I like the Wellington YHA?
  • The Tree by Deborah Ratliff – a catch from our Bookcrossing Christmas Tree.  And even better, the finder got the joke!  Themed releases are so much more fun when the finder recognises what you were trying to do :-)
  • Mean Spirit by Linda Hogan – a very brief journal entry on one of the books I released on a giraffe on Christmas Day. But hey, a catch is a catch, no matter how brief.
  • Life (and Death) in a Small City Garden by Philippa Swan – a second catch for a book I released in Alexandra in 2009.
  • Darkness and Light by John Harvey – remember what I said about the Wellington YHA? Yep, another catch.

2014 in review

In my 2013 in review post, I wrote “…instead of hoping that next year is a better one, I’m going to say that I’m going to make sure that next year I continue to make my life what I want it to be, and that I’ll keep surrounding myself with what gives me joy.” And I reckon I succeeded at that. I’ve made new friends, learnt new skills, completed another Honours paper, taken on new responsibilities at work, managed to fit in a bit of travel, and generally continued to build the life I want to have. And because of that, I’ve been recognised and rewarded for my efforts in big ways and small, and more importantly, I’ve been happy. It’s been a tough year (especially in the first half, trying to juggle study and work and life), and full of challenges, but it’s been a very good one.

So, 2014 in first(ish) lines:

January: Amazingly, I actually made a decision. And not only that, I sewed the blocks together, so now I’m committed to that decision (well, I suppose if I was really determined to change my mind I could always break out the quick-unpick, but yeah, nah).

February: Today marks 11 years since I joined Bookcrossing. Not that I’ve done a huge amount of bookcrossing in the last year or three – I got out of the habit with the earthquakes and never really got back to it.

March: Term started this week, and I’m already swamped with work (it’s worrying when the lecturer says she’s going to give you a nice easy reading for the first week, and it’s 40 pages long (and that’s not counting the two “optional” readings that go with it…). Yeah, I kind of forgot just how hard Honours is.

[April and May didn’t exist, according to my blog at least. Probably because I spent them head down among piles of research papers, interrupted by a glorious couple of weeks in Australia, which I never had time to write up because as soon as I got back home I was straight back into study.]

June: I’ve been getting the odd nudge and query as to my continued existence, so I thought I’d better drop in briefly and reassure everyone that yes, I’m still alive, and I’m not avoiding any of you, it’s just that I’m buried alive in a giant mound of journal articles to read and essays to write and approaching deadlines, so my life for the last month or so has been pretty much reduced to work, study, do the minimum to keep myself fed and healthy and the house vaguely clean, and repeat.

July: My birthday party baking went really well – the bread dough rose and baked up beautifully, the cake and eclairs were suitably chocolatey and decadent (even if I did slightly mess up the icing on the eclairs by getting a little bit too experimental and forgetting that adding orange zest to give it an interesting hint of jaffa also means you’re adding extra oils, which if you don’t adjust for will it make ganache come out funny… which absolutely nobody even noticed anyway, though they did notice they tasted good so that was all that mattered :-)).

August: Every few weeks at work someone in the office will declare it time for a cake run, and one of us will run down to the cafe for a selection of cakes and slices.

September: Yesterday was another very busy day (one day I really must have a restful weekend…) It started with a mad dash for the bus (after I completely miscalculated times) to get myself over to Heathcote.

October: Generally, I try to be a nice person. I even try to be polite to telesales people – it’s not their fault they have an irritating job to do, and they’re being paid a pittance to do it.

November: Lytteltonwitch came over this morning so I could help her tidy up her CV (hopefully the advice I gave her turns out to be useful – I did once have a job polishing CVs, but that was a lot of years ago and in another country, so I’m not exactly up to date on current HR trends).

December: First of December, so theoretically it’s the first day of summer today. So of course it’s cold and wet and miserable. I don’t know why I’m surprised, really, because Christchurch does this every year – we have a hot November and we all think summer has come early, then it turns cold again in December just when everyone starts planning barbeques for their end of year parties.

And in pictures (semi-randomly selected):





(Two for the price of one, because these never actually made it to my blog – they’re from the many convention and road trip photos from Australia that are still sitting unsorted on my computer waiting for that mythical “one day” when I get round to going through them. This is why you should never take a holiday when you’re busy!)


(No photos – just imagine me sitting at a computer writing frantically, surrounded by toppling piles of photocopied articles, and you’ll get an accurate image of those months).






(Oops, another batch of photos I never got round to sorting and posting…)


Yep, looks like a pretty good year to me :-)