seem to have drastically expanded my social circles all of a sudden, joining two new groups in the space of just a couple of weeks.
For a start, I’m now officially a Christchurch Blogger. I’m even on their list of blogs! And there’s like an official-type button I’m supposed to put on my diary somewhere (once I remember where in the complicated DD dashboard thingy I found the option to add things to the sidebar). But most importantly, there’s a really cool and crafty group of women – potential new friends who actually (shock horror) live in Christchurch! Not that I don’t love all of you, my friends who don’t live in Christchurch (or indeed NZ, most of you), but I’m realising more and more that you seriously outnumber the very few local friends I have (it would help if people would stop disappearing off to foreign parts!), and sometimes it’s nice to have friends you can actually catch up with in person instead of over the internet.
I’d actually heard of the group ages ago, and had made tentative contact, but due to various complications they had a long hiatus in meetings, and only just got together again a week or so ago. I also had an ulterior motive for wanting to meet the group, as we’ve been looking for blogs about the earthquakes to add to the archive, so I’d been emailing back and forth with Tartan Kiwi, one of the group’s organisers, about that. So when the stars finally aligned and the group got together, I was invited along to talk about UC CEISMIC. So bonus, not only did I get to meet the group, but I was getting paid to do so! Mega win all round
It was a really lovely evening – they held the meeting at Make Cafe (which has an open crafting evening on Thursday nights), so most of the women had brought crafts along to work on while we chatted (I so wish I’d been organised enough to do that – I was feeling quite jealous of all the creativity going on). The short presentation I gave went really well, and there were several people interested in contributing (so I could take my couple of hours time-in-lieu off the next day completely guilt-free :-)), but more importantly, they’re just a great group, and I felt totally at home among them.
So I asked Miriam to add me to the mailing list, and next time they have a meeting I’ll be able to go along just for fun, without having to worry about working to justify being there.
The other group I joined is Toastmasters. I joined completely on a whim – we have a little community newsletter in my suburb that’s sent around a few times a year, and in the most recent edition there was an invitation to come along to an open evening the club was holding. As I had nothing in particular to do that night, and as the meeting was being held in the church hall just across the street, I thought I’d go along and have a look. And they turned out to be a really lovely friendly group of people, who seemed to have loads of fun at their meetings (while also learning some really useful public speaking skills), so I decided to take the plunge and join.
It should be really helpful to me professionally, because my job is more and more about having to give presentations and speak to pretty senior people in all sorts of organisations, so building my confidence with public speaking will be a huge help. Plus if I continue down the academic road I’m on, I’m going to end up speaking at conferences and things, so it’ll help with that too. And of course, again, it’s just a really nice group of people who I can have fun with.
Oh, and in line with all the people from my past who seem to keep popping up in my life lately, at the first meeting one of the speakers seemed really familiar, but I couldn’t figure out where I knew him from. At supper he came up to me and said the same, so we spent several minutes running through all the places we might have met. Finally, a light clicked on and he said, “Did you use to teach maths?” – It turned out he’d been in my third form class when I was teaching in Westport, many many many years ago. Definitely makes you feel old when someone you remember as a 13 year old starts telling you about his own children!
Talking of old friends, the Kimis popped by a couple of weekends ago, on their way home from a South Island adventure. It was lovely to catch up with them again (and of course to show off my new furniture acquisitions :-)) and we shared a very pleasant afternoon chatting over burnt-butter brownies (yeah, I know it sounds horrible, but they’re amazing – it was a new recipe I was trying out, where you brown the melted butter to the point of burning before mixing it in, which gives a really interesting nutty edge to the chocolateyness. I won’t post the recipe here, because copyright, but for NZers, it was published in The Listener a few weeks back (sorry, I didn’t keep the full magazine so I don’t know the exact date), so your library might still have it, or if you ask really really nicely I might share by email…)
I haven’t done a lot of crafty-type stuff lately (well, except for finishing off a couple of secret projects that will stay under wraps until they reach their intended recipients), but I did spend a constructive weekend sorting out all my bookcrossing books, and getting a pile registered and labelled. Some are destined for Queenstown, of course, but I’m hoping the rest will inspire me to start doing a bit of bookcrossing again (well, maybe once the weather improves, at least – it’s been horribly wet and cold lately) – I think a lot of what was un-inspiring me was the messy pile of boxes my release fodder had become. So I’ve now got a couple of shelves dedicated to ready-to-release books, sorted by theme and all labelled up and ready for the big wide world. Of course, there’s still the several boxes of unregistered books hiding under my desk I need to deal with, but one step at a time…
And talking of bookcrossing, it’s been a while since I did a catch report. This is not an exhaustive list (I usually put the interesting catch emails into a separate folder so I can find them later, but I’ve been forgetting to do that lately, so I’m sure I’ve missed some), but a few interesting ones anyway:
- The Other Side of Power by Claude M Steiner – released in Wellington, journalled three years later, and now in Canada (wow, I just noticed that was caught back in January – it really has been a long time since I’ve done a catch report!)
- 7th Heaven by James Patterson – a local catch this time, and much quicker
- The Princess and the Pea by Victoria Alexander – this is an exciting one: released in the Gapfiller bookfridge, and caught by an anonymous finder who took it to Antarctica!
- The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes – I think I remember seeing this one be caught, only a few minutes after I released it, but the journal entry didn’t come until a month or two later
- Cats by Peggy Wratten – released for my 10th bookcrossing anniversary, it got two anonymous finder entries before being “removed from circulation” due to falling apart (from memory, it was almost at that point when it was given to me – my temporary repairs obviously didn’t hold up)
- Wealth Addiction by Philip Slater – almost exactly a year between release and catch
- The Shack by William Paul Young – a catch from Dublin! Turned up in a charity shop, which is actually quite a rarity for me, strangely enough – you’d think more books would end up passing through them.
- Ein dicker Hund by Tom Sharpe – another Irish catch, this time from Newgrange, and proof that spending an evening registering all the books in the hostel’s bookshelf, even the ones in other languages, is well worth it
- McCarthy’s Bar by Pete McCarthy – a quick catch from our wee expedition to Invercargill to pick up mum’s cat
- The Hunt for Atlantis by Andy McDermott – the result of another evening with a hostel bookshelf, this time in Canberra, since when it’s been spotted in hostels in Adelaide and Perth
- Rommel? Gunner Who? by Spike Milligan – released in the Catlins in 2004, and only just caught. Yet another example of why you should never give up on getting a journal entry.
- And finally, just to get me in the mood for next week: Where the Heart is by Billie Letts – released in Dunedin and caught six years later in Queenstown, it’s now in Australia.
This is a pretty erratic entry – that’s what comes of leaving it so long between posting: I can’t remember everything I’ve done or what order it happened in, so it all just gets dumped out randomly onto the screen.
Oh yeah, one more cool thing I’ve just remembered – I went and saw Kathy Reichs (author of the Tempe Brennan mysteries and Bones TV series) talk when she was in Christchurch a few weeks ago. She talked not just about her writing, but also about her work as a forensic anthropologist – seriously interesting, and I could have happily sat and listened for several more hours. She did a book signing afterwards, and I did think of staying for it and buying a book or two, but the queue was enormous, and I had a long trek home on the bus ahead of me (it was held at the Addington events centre – not a great place to visit on foot at night, by the way – you have to walk a long way across very poorly lit car parks to reach the main road), so I settled for downloading a couple of e-books when I got home instead.
Right, I reckon that’s enough randomness, and it’s got you all mostly caught up on what I’ve been up to.
Welcome to any Christchurch Bloggers who’ve popped by! And for everyone else, see some of you next week!