Catching up and catches

I’ve been back from Wellington for three days, and so far I’ve failed miserably with my attempts to catch up with sleep, reading friends’ diaries, and writing my own. Maybe at the weekend…

I have managed (just!) to finish making release notes on all the books I released in Wellington though. A long slow process made worse by the fact that Wellington starts with W. That probably doesn’t make much sense unless you’re a bookcrosser (and a pretty prolific one at that), so maybe some explanation is in order: When you release a book, you first (after entering the BCID) have to select or enter the country, then the state or province, then the city, then the actual release location, and finally the date and time of the release. Each of the location selections opens a new page, so it can be a slow process, made even worse when the bookcrossing site is busy and pages are slow to load. To make the process quicker, there’s a nice drop-down list of shortcuts to places you’ve previously released books, which takes you straight to the last step.

A very clever solution, except that when they set up the site, nobody imagined just how much releasing some of us would be doing, so the shortcuts list is restricted to 250 entries. And there’s no way of editing them – you just get the first 250 entries on your list. And the list is in alphabetical order by city. Can you see now why releasing in Wellington could be a problem?

Currently my list only goes down as far as the Ds (about half way through the Dunedin entries), so to release in any city further down the alphabet I’ve got to go through all those steps of choosing the location. Every single time. And I released a lot of books in Wellington.

So no wonder it took me two whole days to do all the release notes. And no wonder one of the highlights of the convention for me was Skyring‘s announcement that the problem is one of the first things the site’s new programmer will be working on!

The convention was wonderful though, even if I haven’t had time yet to tell you just how wonderful. It was fantastic to see so many old friends again, and to make some new ones. And the secret projects went down very well πŸ™‚

One thing a convention does is re-inspire you to get back into releasing books. So last night on my way to my ESOL class I released Colour the Sky Red by Annabel Murray at the bus stop, and today I released King’s Close by Christine Marion Fraser and The Goodbye Summer by Patricia Gaffney at the university (term starts on Monday, so there’s loads of new students wandering around trying to get enrolled this week).

I came home to quite a few catches. There were all the “tame” catches from other bookcrossers at the convention, of course, plus three wild catches from books I’d released around Wellington (Puff the Blue Kitten by Pierre Probst, Born Indian by WP Kinsella, and The Spark by Raymond Bowers), a sort-of catch from the Christmas book-tree (Christmas Gift by Barbara Hannay – which gwilk‘s neighbour caught, but didn’t make a journal entry on themself), a catch from that time-warp cafe in Waimate (The Tomb of Reeds by Sarah Baylis), and perhaps most exciting, aleonblue found Personal Velocity by Rebecca Miller, which I released at the Brisbane convention back in 2005, in a second-hand bookshop!

No matter how many catches I get, they’re always exciting πŸ™‚

And now I really must try that catching up on sleep thing…

Christchurch to Picton in 11 hours

Most driving times charts will tell you that you can drive from Christchurch to Picton in 4 or 5 hours. Maybe allow 6 for breakdowns or if you want to stop for lunch. But they don’t take into account having three bookcrossers in the car, two of whom are also geocachers.

We were up bright and early at 5 am (well, early, anyway – none of us were feeling too bright after a late night the night before, plus I had kept myself awake most nights that week with a bad cough, so I was already feeling “end of convention” tired, and we hadn’t even left yet!), and after a quick breakfast got on the road by 6. Wombles and lytteltonwitch had their GPSs filled with geocaches they hoped to find along the way, and I had a large bag of books I wanted to release (this is in addition to the even larger bag I had in the boot of books destined for Wellington), so we knew it would be a slow trip up, and wanted to give ourselves the maximum time to get to Picton for our 5.30 pm ferry check-in. So it was just starting to get light as we left Christchurch (Wombles commented that she’s been to Christchurch twice now, and she still hasn’t seen it in daylight!).

Our first stop was at Amberly, where Wombles and the witch dashed around finding caches, and I followed behind releasing books: Letters from Cicely by Ellis Weiner and A book by Oliver Myrrh with an untypeable title consisting of the alchemical symbol for gold in Chamberlain Park, Croak by Roger Hargreaves in the recreation reserve, and The World Upside Down by Felix Donnelly on the statue of Charles Upham.

The rest of the day followed a similar pattern – our stops were mostly dictated by GPS coordinates, and Wombles and the witch would excitedly dig around under bushes looking for the hidden container of goodies, while I released a steady stream of books. I’m not complaining though – we got to stop in some really interesting places (including one stop under a bridge somewhere in North Canterbury where there were unsprayed blackberry bushes (which used to be a familiar roadside sight when I was a child, but are normally ruthlessly sprayed these days), so after finding the cache, we had a feast of fresh blackberries!) and see things we wouldn’t have seen otherwise, so it made for a fun way of travelling.

We turned off SH1 for a while to visit Glenmark (Wishful Thinking by Eric Kraft in the station for the Weka Pass railway) and Waipara (Unholy Harmonies by Elizabeth Pewsey at a lovely little country church), then it was back onto the main road to Cheviot, where we decided to stop for a toilet break (My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart) and a second breakfast.

When we went into the tearooms I was looking out for a good place to leave a book, and spotted a pile of magazines in the windowsill. I was just about to add Scruffy by Paul Gallico to the pile, when I realised there was already a book amongst them. Being nosy, I picked it up, and discovered it was a bookcrossing book! Someone had been there before us, and had released The Seeker by Jane Brindle in exactly the same spot I’d selected – great bookcrossing minds think alike πŸ™‚ Of course, I had to catch the book (only to have it caught off me a few minutes later by lytteltonwitch, who thought it looked good), and decided to release a second book in the tearooms to replace it: Foggage by Patrick McGinley.

There was another cache in the Cheviot Hills reserve (We Find Ourselves in Moontown by Jay Gummerman), which turned out to be a lovely spot that would have been nice to have a walk through if we’d had more time, as was St Annes Lagoon (Dividing Lines by Victor Sage) – a lovely bird sanctuary which I never even knew existed, even though you can see a glimpse of it from the highway.

When we reached the Kaikoura coast Wombles was wowed by just how close the road is to the sea (she hadn’t believed the map when it showed the road being right on the coast), and we stopped in a couple of places to watch the seals and find more caches (Three Cheers for the Paraclete by Thomas Keneally).

Just before Kaikoura we saw a sign for the Cave Restaurant, advertising cave tours. I’ve always loved caves, so as we were making pretty good time I suggested we stop and do the tour. We had 40 minutes to wait until the next tour started, so after releasing a few books on the benches outside (The Nutmeg of Consolation by Patrick O’Brian and The Hot Sun of Africa by Alan Caillou)we had lunch in the restaurant while we waited. As we were eating lunch, a woman at the next table was staring at my t-shirt (from the Dunedin convention), and eventually asked me about it. The best way to explain bookcrossing, of course, is to give the person a book, so I gave her All Day Saturday by Colin Macinnes.

Then we donned our hard-hats and started the tour:

(They didn’t have a hard-hat in Ballycumber’s size).

The cave (Maori Leap Cave) is a sea-cave, so it’s pretty small, but still has some nice limestone features – in a couple of million years more it’ll be pretty impressive πŸ™‚ One feature that did interest me (because I don’t think I’ve seen it in the more elaborate limestone caves I’ve been in on the West Coast) was flints embedded in the walls (see the first photo below).

(The tiny boots in the fifth picture are there because that particular feature is called “The Tooth Fairy’s Palace”, so someone placed some little boots and a few teeth in it to amuse the kids – give it a few thousand years and they’ll be covered in limestone…)

We stopped for a few more caches between Kaikoura and Picton (the total for the day was 16 caches, which is apparently a very impressive number), but by this time the lack of sleep was catching up with me and I was starting to feel ill, so I mostly stayed in the car napping while Wombles and lytteltonwitch searched. So my only other release was South by Javahead by Alistair Maclean on the Kaikoura waterfront.

At Picton (where we arrived at 5 pm, 11 hours after we’d left Christchurch!!!), we’d arranged to meet my brother and family so they could pick up lytteltonwitch’s car (we’d decided not to take it across on the ferry, because it was going to cost more to transport the car than all three of us put together, and we wouldn’t have that much use for it in Wellington anyway), but the mental effects of sleep deprivation were obviously kicking in, because although I’d seen their car drive into the car park, I spent several minutes watching a completely different car and wondering why they hadn’t seen us, when they were actually standing right next to me!

We had a few minutes to chat with brother and SIL and to play with the kids (and for me to stand in a daze looking confused by everything – I really was totally out of it!) before we had to board the ferry. We had a bit of trouble getting the “secret project” (lytteltonwitch’s Ballycumber costume) on board, because we didn’t want it to go as checked luggage in case it got damaged, but they said it was too big to take as carry on. In the end, just when we were starting to think lytteltonwitch might have to end up wearing it, they finally accepted our argument that although it was a large bag, it was incredibly light (5 year old nephew #1 could lift it with one hand!), and let us carry it on.

Once we got on the boat we claimed a comfy corner and piled up our bags, and lytteltonwitch settled down to get some sleep (I felt a bit guilty complaining about being tired when she’d been the one doing all that driving!). By this time I felt like I was about to pass out, but I knew if I tried to sleep I’d probably get seasick, so I decided to make the most of the calm while we were still in the Sounds and have something to eat, hoping some sugar in my bloodstream might perk me up again. It worked (only just, though – for a while I was worried I’d fall asleep face down in my food before I’d eaten enough for the sugar to kick in!), and I was able to join Wombles in exploring the ship a bit. We found a great spot out on the bow deck to watch the passing scenery, and soon the fresh breeze off the sea had combined with my increased blood sugar to wake me up properly, so I was able to enjoy the rest of the trip across. A good thing, too, because it was a lovely crossing – very calm, and the weather had cleared up again after the rain in Kaikoura. I even released a book on the ferry: Private View by Audrey Slaughter. The only disappointment of the crossing was that the clouds were still covering the Kaikouras when we looked back towards the South Island, so Wombles yet again missed out on seeing proper snow-covered mountains.

In Wellington we somehow managed to pile all of our bags into a taxi and headed for the YHA (which we weren’t entirely convinced the driver knew how to find, but we got there eventually). There was the usual confusion with their booking system (I don’t know if they’ve got a terrible computer system or they just don’t train their staff to use it properly, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a straightforward booking in a YHA), but eventually, after totally confusing the poor guy on the front desk, we managed to get everything sorted out and we checked in. Only to have otakuu arrive, and the confusion started again while he tried to get his head round the fact that there were now four of us (it should have been simple, because although the six of us who were sharing the dorm were arriving at different times and staying for a different number of nights, we’d booked the entire dorm for the whole four nights, but for some reason their computer just couldn’t cope with that). But at last we were all checked in, and headed up to our room for some much needed sleep… ok, for several hours of excited chatter, and THEN some much needed sleep.

We left Christchurch at 6 am, and arrived in Wellington at 9 pm, meaning it took us a total of 15 hours to travel a quarter of the length of the country. If we’d done the sensible thing and flown, we could have been there in 40 minutes. But it wouldn’t have been near so much fun!

Who knew getting to the airport would be so complicated?

The first part of our bookcrossing adventure was picking Wombles up from the airport on Wednesday night. We had it all planned: lytteltonwitch would pick me up just before 9 pm, we’d collect Wombles from the airport at 9, and then come back to my place where Wombles and lytteltonwitch were staying the night.

The first part of the plan went fine: lytteltonwitch arrived just before 9, unloaded her sleeping bag from the car, then backed down the drive. Now our driveway is very narrow, and the witch’s car is rather large. And she admits herself she’s not very good at backing. So the inevitable happened – she hit the mailbox. The mailbox has been hit by quite a few cars (like I said, very narrow driveway), so didn’t suffer much, but her car had a large scrape on the back to show for it.

She was understandably reluctant to try backing down the drive again, so came up with a plan B. There’s just enough room in our back yard to turn a car around (and my brother has done that with lytteltonwitch’s car before), so she decided to give that a try. It was looking good at first, but she must have judged the angle wrong or something, because somehow (and even though I was watching, I’m still not exactly sure how she managed it), she ended up at 90 degrees to the driveway, wedged tight between the fence and a tree, with absolutely no room to move in any direction. I so wish I’d thought to take a photo!

By this time we should have been at the airport, so I sent a text to Wombles (hoping she had roaming on her phone) telling her we’d be a bit late, then we tried to figure out how on earth we could get the car out. Our first thought was to see if we could get it bouncing enough that we could shove it to a slightly better angle (I’ve seen heavy cars moved using this technique by just a few people, so it *is* possible), so we called MrPloppy outside to provide some extra manpower and all started bouncing on the back. But because it was so tightly wedged against the fence we had to work from strange angles, and (even when we’d taken all the books out of the back to lighten it) we couldn’t get enough bounce to be able to move it.

The next plan was to cut back some of the ivy round the tree – lytteltonwitch and MrPloppy were doubtful that would help, but I reasoned that there was probably 5-10 centimetres’ thickness of ivy, and taking that off might just give enough leeway to be able to gradually manoeuvre out. So there in the dark we all were, armed with assorted garden shears and pruning shears, ripping ivy off the tree (I spotted one of the neighbours looking out his window at us about that time – he must have wondered what on earth we were doing!). Eventually we got the ivy cleared from in front of the car (an awkward process, because to get from one side of the car to the other we had to either clamber over the bonnet or in one door and out the other), and as I’d predicted, there was now a few centimetres of clear space in front of the car. So the witch got back in and tried moving again, and this time it worked! She managed to get herself unwedged… and pointing backwards down the drive again.

With some guidance from MrPloppy and I, she managed to back out successfully this time (with just a minor pause to disentangle herself from another plant that tried to reach in through the window and strangle her (hmm, this is making our garden sound like an overgrown wilderness – it’s not *that* bad, honestly!)), and we finally set out for the airport.

They’ve recently built a huge parking building in the airport which has changed all the roads in, so we got a bit lost and weren’t sure where the best place to park was, which meant we ended up parking quite a long way from the terminal. So by the time we got to international arrivals we were very very late, but reasoned she would have taken a while to get through customs and hopefully wouldn’t have been waiting too long. But the arrivals hall almost empty, and there was no sign of Wombles. We checked the monitors, but there was no mention of a 9 pm flight from anywhere. About then I realised I hadn’t asked her which flight she was on, or where she was flying from, just what time we should pick her up. I did remember she’d said she couldn’t get on the direct flight from Brisbane to Christchurch, but I had no idea which of the many alternative routes she’d decided to take. We decided we’d try the domestic terminal, and I should try ringing her, although I didn’t expect to get through, reasoning that if she was still on the plane she’d have her phone turned off, and if she’d already arrived then she would have texted me to let me know. We walked towards the other end of the terminal (at Christchurch domestic and international are at opposite ends of the same building) and I was just beginning to dial her number when we spotted her walking towards us. It turned out she’d flown via Auckland, so had been sitting in the domestic terminal all this time. She had got my text, but for some reason her phone wouldn’t let her send messages or make calls, so she’d had no way of replying, and after waiting nearly an hour she was starting to get worried and was on her way to find a taxi when she saw us.

That should have been the end of the adventure, except as we were walking back to the car (and trying to remember exactly where we’d parked!), lytteltonwitch discovered she’d lost the ticket to get out of the parking building….

Ballycumber waiting patiently by the car (showing off its war wounds from the mailbox encounter) while the witch was frantically searching for the lost ticket.

Eventually the ticket turned up, and we were able to pay the exorbitant parking fees, escape the car park, and finally get home for some much needed sleep before our early start in the morning. Except of course we stayed up late excitedly talking about the coming weekend…

Following in the witch’s footsteps

I thought it was only lytteltonwitch who attracts weird people, but it seems to be rubbing off on me.

Last night I was in town for my ESOL class (which was really interesting – among other things we talked about cultural differences and culture shock, and had a talk from a Chinese woman who emigrated to NZ eight years ago), and managed to miss my bus to come home, so had an hour to wait until the next one. There was a bus just leaving for Riccarton, though, so I decided to get on that and catch the Orbiter at Riccarton mall.

Technically, the Orbiter is supposed to run every 15 minutes in the evening, but when I got to Riccarton the display was showing 23 minutes until the next one. So I settled down with my book to wait. There were a few odd looking people around, but the bus shelters are well lit and it’s a busy road, so I wasn’t worried about sitting there on my own… until one of the weird people, a very large and obviously drunk man, decided to sit down next to me and start a conversation. I never know what to do in that situation – do I ignore him, and risk that he’ll be offended and get agressive, or do I respond, and never get rid of him? I decided talking to him was probably safer, but regretted it when he started pouring out all his troubles to me.

He told me he was depressed because his mother and sister had gone to Australia for his brother’s wedding, but he couldn’t go because he’d messed his life up (to which I’m thinking “on parole and not allowed to leave the country?”), and how sad his life is, and his father died recently… and I’m trying to be sympathetic in the most non-committal way I can, especially because he’s started calling me “love” and saying how nice I am to listen to him.

He actually seemed pretty harmless, just drunk and lonely, but when he started asking questions about where I lived (which of course I didn’t answer!) and what bus I was taking, and then said “you know I’d never hurt you, love”, I decided I’d better put a safety plan in place just in case. So I pretended I thought I’d heard my phone ring and excused myself to walk out of earshot and “answer” it. Actually I rang MrPloppy and asked him to meet me at the bus stop I’d be getting off at. It’s a reasonably long walk down a dark street from the Orbiter stop to our place, and just in case my new friend decided to follow me home I didn’t want to be walking along it on my own!

To my relief, when my bus finally arrived he didn’t get on it, but it was still very nice to see MrPloppy waiting at the bus stop for me. My hero!

Only one more day until we go to Wellington! Wombles is arriving tonight, and lytteltonwitch will be picking her up from the airport and staying here the night as well, so we can be off bright and early for Picton in the morning.

I still haven’t finished packing, of course…

Currently reading: River Thieves by Michael Crummey and The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory
Currently listening to:Dead Lines by Greg Bear

A Monday night meetup

We decided to change the meetup schedule for this month (partly because of my ESOL classes on Tuesday nights, and partly just as an experiment to see if we’d get any newbies along), and meet on a Monday night instead of Tuesday. Unfortunately, I forgot to advertise it on Yahoo until yesterday, so the experiment part was a bit of a failure, but Alithia did show up, along with lytteltonwitch, awhina, meerkitten, and awhina’s soon to be stepdaughter (who doesn’t have her own screen name yet).

Most of the talk, of course, revolved around the convention, with excited swapping of travel plans. We’d all packed most of our books already, so didn’t have many to bring to the meetup, but there were enough books on the table for the waiter to notice and comment that he had a couple of Bookcrossing books at home (we made him promise to go home and journal them!). I gave Legends edited by Robert Silverberg to Alithia, and left Frangipani by CΓ©lestine Hitiura Vaite on the table when we left.

When I got home, MrPloppy gave me some books that had been dropped off by a friend of Cathytay‘s: The Cat Who Saw Stars and The Cat Who Brought Down the House by Lilian Jackson Braun, Golden Deeds by Catherine Chidgey, and River Thieves by Michael Crummey. Cathytay is in Canada, so won’t be able to make it to the convention, so I’d offered to take the books up to Wellington for her. She’d chosen River Thieves because it’s by a Canadian author, and she’ll be releasing a few New Zealand books in Canada this weekend in honour of the convention, so thought it would be nice to have a Canadian book released in New Zealand at the same time. It looks really interesting, though, so I’m wondering if I’ll have time to quickly read it before Friday. (What was that about me running out of time to get everything done?)

Of course, the big worry now is that I’ve got no room left in my bags for four more books! I’d completely forgotten she’d said she’d get the books dropped off to me, or I would have left space for them. Oh well, so I’ll have to add another bag to my hand luggage…

Only three more sleeps!

Suddenly, the convention has gone from being weeks away to being this week. I think I’m almost ready though: both secret projects are complete, and one is on its way to Sherlockfan; the bags are sewn and lytteltonwitch has added the logos and sent them up to Wellington; I’ve sorted out which books I’m taking and packed them (one bag full for Wellington and a smaller bag full for the trip up); the quiz questions have been finalised (well, almost, I keep second-guessing myself about one section) and MrPloppy said he’d burn a CD today for the music bit; I’ve packed the various bits and pieces I’ll need for Saturday night (and just hope they aren’t too fussy about the amount of hand luggage they let you take on the ferry, because they wouldn’t fit in my main bag, so they’re in a shopping bag pretending to be essential stuff I need with me for the trip); and I’ve loaded up my MP3 player with a couple of audiobooks to keep me amused on the ferry (I know from experience I’ll get seasick if I try and read, and if it gets rough I’ll be spending a lot of time walking around the decks trying to convince my stomach that all that movement isn’t really happening), though I’m hoping the weather will be good enough that the passing scenery will provide sufficient entertainment.

Which means all I’ve got to do now is pack some clothes; print off some pre-numbered labels (we’re going to a backpackers’ – they’re sure to have a bookshelf with books that need crossing!); make a decision about those last few quiz details; put up the bed in the spare room for Wombles and try and convince George it’s not there for his benefit; clear all the old photos off my camera to make room for lots and lots of new ones; and try and get hold of my brother to arrange parking for lytteltonwitch’s car (they’ve just moved to Blenheim, which is not far from Picton where we’re catching the ferry, so leaving the car with them will be a lot easier (and cheaper!) than leaving it in long-term parking at the ferry terminal. They agreed to the idea in principal when they were down at Christmas, but we didn’t arrange the exact details, and as they’ve just moved I don’t have their address or phone number yet (we’re not great at communicating in my family!), so I’m hoping they’ll to respond to the message I left on their mobile). Oh, and finish off my ESOL homework for tomorrow night. I’m sure I can manage all that… in three days… when I’ll be out tonight and tomorrow night… and I’m really busy at work (ok, obviously not that busy, or I wouldn’t be posting this πŸ™‚ but I do have a LOT of meetings scheduled for the next couple of days)…

But who cares how much I’ve still got to get done – it’s three more sleeps until Wellington, and I’m seriously looking forward to it!!!

We had a games evening on Saturday night for some of MrPloppy‘s friends from the group (and lytteltonwitch :-)), and for a change we had quite a few people turn up! There was Tam*, of course, who hasn’t missed a games evening yet, and Norm and his wife (who, are wonderful people, because as well as a big plate of goodies, they brought me a couple of books!), and Ian, who MrPloppy hadn’t really expected to come, so that was a nice surprise. He’d invited awhina and meerkitten as well, but school started back last week, so awhina rang on Saturday afternoon pleading exhaustion.

Anyway, seven was a really good number for the games we played. The first, called “Excuses”, that Tam had brought along was kind of like “Apples to Apples” – everyone was dealt a hand of cards that had excuses written on them (“my dog ate it”, “I thought it was tomorrow” sort of things), and then another card was drawn with a situation on it (E.g. a customer complaining about a faulty product) and everyone had to pick the excuse from their hand that best fitted the situation and read it out, and the best (or funniest) excuse won the point. Then we played “Pit” (brought by Norm and Mrs Norm) which is based on the stock exchange and involves a lot of shouting and throwing cards at each other – great fun, but my already hoarse voice was seriously suffering by the time we finished! The last game we played was another the Norms had brought, which I don’t remember the name of but was sort of a cross between Gin Rummy and Scrabble. It took us ages to work out the rules (the game was a gift from one of their children, and they’d only played it once before), and we were all a bit confused by it at first, but I think if we’d had time for a second game it would have started to make more sense.

A fun night, anyway!

*After consideration of various naming conventions for people who don’t have convenient screen names or family relationship labels for me to use, I’ve decided to just use their real names. Yes, it reduces their privacy slightly, but really, what’s the chances of being able to identify someone just on the basis of their first name? Initials are just annoying (especially when one of them is I!), and I don’t really like using nicknames (other than screen names, obviously!) – they always seem a bit insulting to me, and I tend to forget which name I’ve attached to which person anyway – so first names seems the best solution.

Currently reading: The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory

Happy Anniversary to me!

Four years ago today I joined Bookcrossing. I first heard about it through an email list I used to contribute to – people were sharing interesting web sites, and someone mentioned this cool on-line book club they’d discovered. I’d like to say I immediately went and joined, but I actually didn’t even bother to click on the link – “book club” to me just meant a bunch of people all reading the same book and talking about it, which wasn’t at all my cup of tea.

It wasn’t until a couple of months later that someone else mentioned bookcrossing, and this time their description caught my interest a bit more, and it was a Sunday afternoon with nothing much to do, so I clicked on the link. And was immediately hooked. It sounded like such a neat idea – giving your unwanted books a second life, sharing your favourites with new readers, and generally reducing the number of books in the house (those of you reading this who are bookcrossers may now laugh loudly). I immediately started scouring our bookshelves for books I could register and release, and that night registered my first book, Skyfall by Harry Harrison.

The next morning I released it at the university, hiding it in a payphone booth. I can still remember how nervous I was about someone seeing me – I actually pretended to look up a phone number in the directory just so I’d have an excuse to go into the booth (a far cry from my release behaviour nowadays, which is much more casual – I just put the book down where I want to release it, not caring who sees me do it).

And that might have been the end of my bookcrossing experience, if it wasn’t for a PM from Mothercat that night: she’d seen my release notes, and recognised I was a new bookcrosser in town, so sent me a lovely message welcoming me to bookcrossing and inviting me to a meetup in a few days’ time.

I was even more nervous about going to the meetup than I had been about releasing a book – after all, these were people I’d met on the internet! But I gathered my courage (and a couple of books) and set off into town. I got to the cafe where the group were meeting… and it was shut (this was in the bad old days of when they used to randomly assign meetups to venues, no matter how unsuitable). Just when I was beginning to wonder if the whole thing was some sort of con, I spotted someone else walking towards the cafe carrying a book (the bookcrossing equivalent of a secret handshake :-)), and before I knew it, I was surrounded by bookcrossers, and we were eagerly swapping books and sharing release stories. By the time the next month’s meetup came round (this time at a cafe way out in Sumner, a suburb miles from anywhere), I found myself volunteering to set up a webpage where we could announce meeting venues so we wouldn’t have to rely on And the rest, as they say, is history.

So now it’s four years on, and I’ve registered 2,133 books, released 1,474 of them into the wild (and given who knows how many to other bookcrossers), had 996 catches (the latest just two days ago: The Private Life of Mona Lisa by Pierre La Mure), been given 684 books by other bookcrossers (no wonder Mt TBR is so high!), and found 5 books in the wild. I’ve also organised two conventions (and helped out with two others), been to Sydney and Brisbane and all over the South Island on bookcrossing adventures, and made some wonderful friends, both here in Christchurch and all over the world.

Thank you, for a wonderful four years! (And here’s to many more!)

The Secret Project

I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves (and yes, that’s me at the sewing machine, and no, I wasn’t hiding from the camera, that was actually the only way I could see what I was sewing!):

[album 128913 050207secret01.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret02.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret03.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret04.jpg thumblink]
[album 128913 050207secret05.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret06.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret07.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret08.jpg thumblink]
[album 128913 050207secret09.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret10.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret11.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret12.jpg thumblink]
[album 128913 050207secret13.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret14.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret15.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 050207secret16.jpg thumblink]

So, have you guessed what it is yet?

(By the way, this is being kept super-secret from everyone attending the convention, some of whom read my diary, so please keep comments to this entry private (or at least incredibly cryptic!). We don’t want to spoil the surprise!)

[Edited 21/2/07 to remove “friends only” status, now that the convention is over and the secrets have been revealed]

Long weekend

Waitangi Day tomorrow, so I decided to take today off as well and turn this into a long weekend so that I can actually get myself vaguely organised for the convention. I did have good intentions of getting up at my normal weekday time this morning and start work on convention stuff right away to maximise my use of my free day, but I’m afraid the lure of staying in bed with my book for an extra hour or two (ok, three) was too much, so I’m starting with things a bit later than I planned. But I really am going to get on with things soon. Just as soon as I’ve finished this, uploaded a few pictures to Hamipiks, posted a teaser photo on the official convention blog, read a few friends’ diaries…

We did actually get an important pre-convention task done yesterday. Lytteltonwitch came round in the morning and we finally got to work on the secret project we’ve been planning for ages.

We had a break for a couple of hours later in the morning to go and visit otakuu, who was in Christchurch for the weekend with her family. As always, we had an enjoyable time chatting about bookcrossing gossip and getting excited about the upcoming convention.

Then it was back to my place and back to work on the secret project. There was much hilarity involved (especially when I kept inadvertently insulting lytteltonwitch, first telling her I needed to find out how thick she was, and then saying she looked like a dog!), but we managed to get it almost finished in the end – there’s one or two more little things to be done, but lytteltonwitch said she’ll do them herself. So that’s one more thing I can cross off my ever-growing list of things to do before the 15th.