Quilting and singing and games

I started the quilting!

I did get quite a bit further than that today, but by the time I thought to take another photo the light was no good.  So you’ll just have to wait :-)  I managed to get just over a quarter of it done, though, so I’m making good progress.  And the quilting is working out exactly as I envisioned it, so it should look pretty good when it’s finished.


I went to see the NZ Opera production of Carmen last night with Lytteltonwitch.  It’s actually the first “proper” opera I’ve ever seen, and it was really good.  I was very glad of the surtitles though, as otherwise I’d have had no idea what was going on (Lytteltonwitch summed up the plot for me as roughly “Boy meets girl, someone dies at the end, and in between there’s a lot of singing”).  It took me about half an hour to figure out what language they were singing in, let alone be able to make out any of the words… yeah, I probably should have bought a programme or something :-)

Anyway, I really enjoyed it, and was surprised at how many of the tunes I recognised – a lot of them are ones that are just in the popular consciousness, without you necessarily knowing where they come from.  The staging was really good too – they did some really clever stuff with lighting, like casting shadows of the actors onto the walls during the bar scene, which gave quite a threatening feel to it.  The bar scene also cleverly put the women in a position of power, so that it switched gradually from a group of drunken men demanding that the women (not sure if they were supposed to represent prostitutes?) dance for them, to the women totally controlling the men and making them perform – the confusion at the end of the scene when the men suddenly realising the roles had been reversed was quite lovely.

And of course, as you’d expect, some really powerful singing, especially from the performer playing Carmen.


On Friday night I went round to Dana’s after work (this is becoming a regular thing).  There was quite a large group there, so rather than play video games (as is usual on Friday nights – they have a Nintendo Switch connected to a projector, so the screen is pretty much the entire wall), we played a few board games.  One was totally new to me (and I can’t remember the name of it now), but the others I’d played before with the Gwilks – Dixit and Codenames.  A lot of fun, even if I did feel a bit old at times (most of the people there were in their mid twenties).  And I was on the winning team for two of the games, which is always good :-)

Dishcloth and pokebox

I finished my crocheted dishcloth!  It actually went pretty quickly once I got the hang of it.  Now that I know what I’m doing, I might have to go and buy some more wool (or cotton, or cotton wool… you know what I mean) so I can make another one to have as a spare. But this time in a plain colour that’s a bit easier to see!

My super busy and social weekend continued yesterday with the Harvestbirds coming over for lunch.  I’d promised this to the mini-Harvestbirds a few weeks ago when Harvestbird dropped by to pick up the wee sewing machine (which she’s borrowing while deciding whether she wants to buy herself a machine), and they were most disappointed when they weren’t allowed to stay.  So I’d promised them that on my first free day they could come over.

It was a very nice lunch (with way too much food, as usual, but that’s what having friends over is all about!), followed by several complicated games involving various dolls that I kept getting the names wrong of, and which had particularly disturbing body types (especially the ones that were (apparently) human versions of My Little Ponies, and wore unfeasably large boots) – I never thought I’d look fondly on Barbie dolls as having presented a comparatively realistic body image!  Then the elder mini-HB declared it was time to play “that drawing game we played last time”, which I eventually worked out was the simplified version of Pictionary we’d came up with on a previous visit (probably about a year ago!).  So we arranged ourselves into teams (after much discussion of the fact that having kids vs adults probably wouldn’t work very well when one of the kids isn’t old enough to be able to read the cards yet…) and took turns drawing a word from the cards (generally selected by the adult on the teams to be the easiest for the children to ether draw or guess).

I love seeing how kids’ brains work as they play Pictionary or charades, or any of those games that rely so heavily on theory of mind.  It’s often not until the word is guessed before you can actually figure out what the picture was supposed to be, and how that relates in any way to the actual word – like when younger mini-HB was tasked with drawing a boat, so spent a very long time drawing water, but never actually got round to drawing the boat.  Or, best of all, when elder mini-HB had to draw a box, so drew a pokeball, and then something resembling a cat. We spent a long time guessing various pokemon creatures (assuming she’d got bored with the word on the card and decided to draw something else, because I knew my edition of the game long pre-dated pokemon!) before realising that the cat-thing was actually supposed to be a box with its top flaps open, and the pokeball wasn’t capturing it, but being put in the box.  The logic of the drawing was impeccable.  To a six-year-old.

Thokk

No progress on (any of) the quilt(s), because I’ve been too busy the last couple of days being social and stuff.

Dad came up yesterday, because friends of his were hosting a mini music festival out at Whitecliffs (about 70 km from Christchurch) today.  He’d originally invited me to go out there with him today for the festival itself, but I already had other plans (see below), so plans were changed, and instead I went out there with him yesterday, supposedly to help with the setting up.  But when we got there, everything was pretty much done, except for putting up a couple of marquees that they’d decided to leave until morning in case the wind came up overnight.  So other than helping secure a few guy ropes, we pretty much just sat around chatting.  Which was fine, until I got stuck talking to some guy (a friend of a friend of Dad’s friends, I think) who just wanted to rant about the fact that Christchurch doesn’t have great facilities for campervans (yeah, we’ve had more important things to worry about for the past few years, actually).  I suddenly remembered I had my camera with me, and made an excuse about wanting to photograph the gardens (which were pretty spectacular, actually) so I could make my escape, and very shortly afterwards Dad similarly ran out of patience with boring ranty guy, and decided that I definitely needed a photographic assistant :-)

As there was no actual work that needed doing, and the rest of the afternoon was threatening to be dominated by boring ranty guy finding more things to complain about (or worse, he’d get onto politics, which I suspect we would strongly disagree on, and I was running out of things to rush off and photograph), so Dad (who hates sitting around doing nothing even more than I do) suggested we go back into town for dinner. I gladly agreed, so we said goodbye to Dad’s friends (and I promised that next year I’d stay for the concert), and we headed back to Christchurch.

I’d been telling Dad about the Friday night food trucks, and he wanted to know if any of them were open on a Saturday night (because last time he ate at anything resembling a food truck was back in the good old pie cart* days). I couldn’t think of any, but we did a tour round central Christchurch checking out the most likely spots to find them (the Commons, the Arts Centre, Re:Start, the Square…), but the only ones we found had already shut up for the night. So we ended up going to Mexico (the restaurant, not the country :-) ) instead, for Mexican tapas (yeah, I know, but fusion or something). Really good food, as it always is, but I didn’t read the menu closely enough when we ordered, so ended up eating lamb that had been infused with coffee, and which obviously still contained vast amounts of caffeine (or actually, possibly just a tiny amount, because I’m super-sensitive to caffeine), so I didn’t sleep for most of the night because my head was still buzzing.

* Sorry foreigners, that’s a bit of NZ culture it’s impossible to explain. But try and imagine the greasiest fried foods you’ve ever eaten, served from a caravan late at night after the pubs close, and patronised mainly by drunks, and you’d be getting close to what a pie cart was.

Dad headed back out to Whitecliffs this morning, and I tried to catch up on some sleep (unsuccessfully – I never manage to sleep during the day) before going over to the Gwilks in the afternoon to play Dungeons and Dragons.  They’ve had a game going for a while, and had invited me to join them, but I was too busy with my thesis previously, so today was my first chance to join the game.  I haven’t played since high school, so I was very rusty, and had to keep asking what dice I was supposed to roll when, but it was a lot of fun.  My character is Thokk, a half-orc barbarian, who communes with wolves, goes into a murderous rage whenever friends are threatened, and has a tendency to hit enemies over the head with a large hammer.  Not exactly playing to type :-) I decided it would be more interesting to just follow where the dice rolls led when creating my character, instead of picking and choosing to get a character I liked, and Thokk was the result.

I suspect this character is going to end up being a lot of fun to play, precisely because it’s so far from what I normally would choose :-)

Busy Weekend

This weekend was the last of my totally-booked-out weekends of November, and it was the busiest of all (well, apart from the convention weekend, of course).  First, on Saturday, after a quick attempt to clean the house, I went into town to meet up with Harvestbird and family for the Climate March.  There was a really good turnout (helped I’m sure by the lovely weather), and people of all sorts and ages – from families with small children to the very frail and elderly woman who asked for my help getting to Victoria Square from the bus exchange, because she didn’t know her way around town.  She told me she hadn’t been planning on going to the march, but decided it was important, so she made the effort to get herself into town.

A few random photos from the speeches bit before the march started:

Apart from a bit of mini-Harvestbird grumpiness at such a long walk (which I made even worse by offering to give her a piggy-back: I got her up onto my shoulders and she immediately panicked about how high up it was – the first time in my life I’ve ever been told I was too tall!!! :-) ), it was a great march – there was live music along the way, everyone was cheerful and enjoying themselves (despite the serious message being conveyed), and generally fun.  And rounded off nicely by a stop in New Regent Street for Mrs Higgins cookies on our way home :-)

When I got home, I just had time to whip up a batch of brownies to take as a plate, then it was time to head out again, to a games evening with the Gwilks.  For a change, all the games were ones I’d played before (didn’t mean I was any better at them, but at least I didn’t feel completely lost…)  As always, a fun evening, but a late one.

Then yesterday was devoted to a CEISMIC sewing bee.  Boss and his wife had their second baby a month or so ago, and the team and I were keen to make them another quilt to commemorate the occasion, this time one that we all contributed to making.  But we’ve all been so busy that this weekend was the first time we all had a day free at the same time – and as it was, Rosalee had to leave at lunchtime, because she had something come up, so Lucy-Jane and I had to finish off the sewing on our own.

Although Rosalee and Lucy-Jane are both experienced at sewing clothes, neither had done any patchwork or quilting before, so there was a bit of a learning curve, so some of the first squares they pieced weren’t quite as accurate as the later ones, and you can clearly see the differences between our tastes in the fabric choices for our respective squares, but I think for a cooperative project the end result is reasonably coherent :-)

Lucy-Jane had a cutesy fabric panel in her stash that worked nicely as a backing, so I quilted and bound it last night (even hand-stitched the binding – the boss better appreciate the sacrifice involved!), and voilà, one baby quilt, finished in record time.

Night caching

As predicted, the kids stayed up until the very early hours playing computer games – they tell me it was “only” until 1 am, but I woke up a couple of times in the night and could still hear them, so I suspect it was actually much later.  Which meant they didn’t get up until very late, but that was ok with me, because it meant I had a few hours of peace to get some stuff done around the house before they woke up :-)

Once both were finally awake, showered and breakfasted, it was lunchtime, so we went into Riccarton to watch a movie (Night at the Museum 3 – didn’t do a lot for me, but they were amused by it).  Then tonight I invited Mrs Gwilk and mini-Gwilk round for dinner, so that mini-Gwilk could meet the boys, seeing as they’ve been playing on the Minecraft server together.  They all got on really well, which was great.  Lytteltonwitch came round too, and after dinner and a couple of board games she took all three boys and I out to do a night cache, where you follow a trail of tiny reflective dots through the streets, and theoretically there’s a geocache at the end of it.  Theoretically, because although we successfully followed the trail for most of the way, we were stumped at the end, and never found the actual cache.  It was fun running around the street with torches trying to spot the dots, though, and a nice long walk.

Home again

Got home from Wellington last night, and almost immediately went back out again, to a games evening with Mrs Gwilk and mini-Gwilk – which was fun, but I’m feeling very very tired today.  And today has been taken up with those boring but necessary post-holiday activities like washing clothes and buying groceries.  Oh, and of course making release notes on books (which always takes so much longer than I expect) – I released 15 books in Wellington (yeah, not quite up to the 80-odd I’ve managed on some weekend trips, but good going compared to my recent efforts), plus labelled another 20 or so on the hostel’s bookshelf.  So yeah, I probably won’t be writing a full-on blog post today.  But I did write up vague notes as I went along over the past few days, so I promise I’ll type them up sometime in the next few days (yeah, where have you heard that before?)

 

What else I did at the weekend

Yesterday wasn’t all about the elections (the less said about the results of which the better).  After I finished my shift at the polling booth I walked down to Hands and stocked up on a few* supplies for a class I’m going to with MrsGwilk on Tuesday.  Then, as predictions of rain had been proved false by  a lovely sunny day, I caught the bus into town from there to catch the first Dorothy’s Pop-up Tearoom of the season.

I think I’ve mentioned Dorothy’s here before – it’s the creation of an ex-colleague (actually called Jan, just to confuse everyone), a tiny tea-room operating out of a caravan and serving proper English high teas (proper like the scones have actual clotted cream on them, not whipped cream!).  Every fine weekend over the summer she sets up her caravan on an empty site, sets out tables and chairs with proper tablecloths and fine china, and serves up tea, cucumber sandwiches, dainty little cakes, and of course, the aforementioned scones with jam and clotted cream.  She even has a selection of vintage magazines to peruse while you nibble.  It’s all very lovely and civilised and somehow made even more perfect by the fact that you’re sitting in the remains of a demolition site :-)  (wish I’d thought to take my camera with me!)

I got there a bit early, so I helped her set up so we could catch up while we worked – every month or two we exchange emails trying to make a plan to have lunch, but one or the other of us always seems to end up having to cancel, so it was great to have a chance to chat.  Once customers started to arrive (including a couple dressed up in steam punk, who she said are regular customers of hers – they’re a perfect fit for the tea-rooms!) I switched from assistant to customer myself and ordered a high tea and sat and read a book while enjoying it and the sunshine.  Every so often when there was a lull between customers Jan would come and sit with me and we’d resume our conversation.  A lovely way to spend an afternoon.  (Harvestbird, we really must take your small person there one weekend to have proper ladies’ afternoon tea!)

When I got home I quickly whipped up a batch of muffins, as a plate for a games evening the Gwilks had invited me to.  It was at a friend of theirs, and in theory was supposed to be an alternative to spending the evening obsessively watching the election results, but of course what actually happened was that at regular intervals during the night someone would be unable to resist temptation and go and check, then announce the latest figures to everyone, to sighs of disappointment all round.  But despite that gloom hovering in the background, it still managed to be a fun evening.

* And I really did manage to restrain myself to just a few – I only got what was on the class materials list, and didn’t even look around the rest of the shop!

PS. The first few blossoms have opened on the cherry tree!  It’ll be a while yet before enough open to get the full impact, but it’s a start:

Games and a new toy

The Gwilks invited me round for lunch with some friends of theirs (who included Gaby, who I remembered from the Chick Flicks group), followed (of course) by board games.  We spent a very enjoyable afternoon playing a wide assortment of games, most of which I’d never encountered before.  I won once, came absolutely last once, and the rest of the time came somewhere in the middle, so I felt I acquitted myself quite respectably, considering the others are all serious board-gamers.  The others had to leave mid-afternoon, to retrieve kids from sports and other Saturday afternoon type tasks, but the Gwilks invited me to stay on for dinner (to which I contributed the plate of leftover dumplings I’d brought home from last night’s lesson, which mini-Gwilk was sent to retrieve from my fridge (it’s handy that they just live round the corner from me!)), and another couple of games, plus the obligatory guided tour of mini-Gwilk’s Minecraft world (I think pretty much every child I know over the age of five has now identified me as “cool adult who actually appreciates Minecraft” :-)).

Mini-gwilk was very interested (and obviously a bit envious) to hear about the server I set up for the kids, so I’ve (with his parents’ permission, of course) given him the IP address so he can join the server.  He’s about Nephew #1’s age, and seems to be a good kid, so hopefully they’ll get along ok online.  I think I’ve made a friend for life, anyway – he was so excited when I offered to let him join!

When I got home tonight there was an exciting new toy waiting for me: Granny’s old sewing machine.  It’s a real beast of a machine, and was the latest whizz-bang model when she bought it.  That was probably 25-30 years ago, but that still makes it newer than the machine I’ve been using, and it definitely has a lot more features, so I’m looking forward to trying it out.  Mum inherited it when Granny died, but hasn’t been using it much, so she thought I might get more use out of it, now that I’ve been playing round with quilting and stuff.  So as some friends of hers were coming up to Christchurch for the weekend, she asked them to drop it off to me.  I haven’t had a chance to have a proper look at it yet, so I think I know what I’ll be spending a big chunk of tomorrow doing!