…and relax

I‘ve cleaned up after last night’s party, and I’ve made release notes on the books we left on the Christmas Book Tree, so that means all my “have to do” stuff is finished with for the year.  Now all there is left to do for the next three weeks is relax – I’m finally on holiday!!!

My list of Christmas-themed* books on the tree last night (there were a lot more contributed by Lytteltonwitch and Gwilk):

*Ok, some of them are a bit of a stretch to claim as Christmas-themed, but I did as best as I could with limited resources.  And we did tie them up with pretty ribbons so they looked Christmassy at least 🙂  And there are twelve of them, so there’s also a meta-theme of the Twelve Days of Christmas or something… yeah, I totally intended that. I didn’t just notice it now or anything.  Completely planned.

The return of the book tree

Lytteltonwitch and I attempted to revive our old tradition of the Christchurch Bookcrossing Christmas Party tonight – a limited success, seeing as so many people have moved away or given up on Bookcrossing, but Rarsberry (plus a mini-berry) and the Gwilks came, so it wasn’t a complete flop.  And we had some good food, and played a couple of games (supplied by the Gwilks, of course – you can always rely on them to bring a few games along to any party), and then after all had departed to get respective small people to bed, Lytteltonwitch and I revived another important Christchurch Bookcrossing traditon: the Christmas Book Tree.

Lytteltonwitch’s (in)famous little red Santa dress has been replaced by an elf suit, but otherwise the tradition is intact (complete with forgetting once again to bring a step-ladder, so being restricted to only hanging the books from the low branches that we could reach from the ground).

All is right with the world.

(Well, except for the fact that I’ve just realised it’s 5 minutes past midnight, so technically I didn’t post this on Saturday night, which means I’ve broken my posting every day streak.  But I reckon whatever the clock says, this still counts as a Saturday post, so I’m calling my streak unbroken!)

Our door won!

Another Christmas function today (almost the last one for the year) – this one for the College of Arts office staff, which they invited our office to, seeing as they share a corridor with us.  As well as a pot-luck lunch, the big event was the announcing of the winners of the Christmas door decorations competition.  And CEISMIC won the Supreme Award!

We have our trophy proudly displayed on the shelf next to our Open Source award – there was much joking that we’re going to have to get a trophy cabinet built for all the awards we’re winning 🙂

(Photo taken by Chris Thomson, used with permission)

One day I’ll figure out that “quick and easy” concept

Christmas presents for my workmates. The theory was I’d make something quick and easy that I could produce multiple of in slightly different designs so I wouldn’t have to think about it too much.  Except that, as always, I forgot just how much time cross-stitch takes (about an hour per letter, in case you were wondering, plus another hour to do the backstitching and cut them out), and that realistically, by the time I’ve got home, cooked dinner, eaten dinner, and done the dishes, I only have an hour or so’s free time per evening, so “a simple little project I can do in the evenings” takes a LOT of evenings to finish.  I *just* managed to get them finished in time.

Next year I’ll buy them chocolates.


No, not mine – that’s a couple of years off yet.  But I did take part in the ceremony today.  There’s a tradition that the general staff (i.e. non-academics) can volunteer to help out at graduation doing things like ushering parents to their seats, or helping the marshalls organise the students.  Or, as I was doing today, carrying one of the banners that lead in the academic procession.

I love taking part in graduation anyway (it’s a great way to reconnect with what the university is ultimately all about), but banner bearing is my favourite role, mainly because it means I get to wear academic regalia.  I’m very proud of having the right to wear that silly hat and pink hood (I really should have done Engineering, not Arts – Canterbury’s BA colour is a particularly insipid washed-out pink.  The engineers get a much nicer bright purple hood to wear. Of course, I could choose to wear the dark blue Science hood, seeing as I also have a BSc, but seeing as I work for the College of Arts, it seems a bit disloyal not to opt for their colours.) – it took me a lot of work and many many years to earn that degree! And plus, dress-ups is always fun 😉

As with anything to do with graduation, the job involves a lot of waiting around for a very brief appearance on stage.  First (after a quick rehearsal to make sure we remember from last year what we’re supposed to do) we line up at the back of the carpark with all the students (glamorous, I know – unfortunately since the Town Hall was damaged in the earthquakes, graduations have been held in an indoor sports arena), and get our photos taken many many times by parents who actually just want a photo of the banner for their child’s degree, and we just happen to be carrying it (I was carrying Antarctic Studies this year, which is a postgrad only degree, so only ever has a handful of graduands, so I was spared too many photos for a change).  Then once all the students are arranged into the correct order, and the academics are arranged into any sort of order at all (which seems to take longer than the students…), a piper leads off the procession across the carpark to the arena, followed by the banner bearers, then the students, then the academics.  When we reach the arena, we wait in the foyer while the students file in and take their seats (hopefully still in the same order they were put in, otherwise they get given the wrong degree…), then once they’re all settled and the excited parents have stopped leaping up to take photos, they play the impressive organ music and we lead the procession of academics in (cue lots more photos from the parents…) and up onto the stage.  The academics take their seats on the stage, but we just deposit our banners into stands at the back of the stage and then walk back out again, our job complete.

So yeah, all that dressing up and rehearsing for about 2 minutes walking down the aisle and across the stage 🙂  It’s fun though, and we get to sneak back in the back door and watch the rest of the ceremony if we want – I didn’t bother this year though, because I only knew a couple of the students graduating (compared to when I was actually working in an academic department, when I’d recognise so many names and faces!).  And best of all, tradition is that if you help out at graduation, you get to take the rest of the afternoon off 🙂

Another Secret Santa down

End of year party for Toastmasters tonight, with charades followed by one of those Secret Santa swaps where you get to steal gifts.  All the gifts had to be home-made, so there was loads of imagination in them – some were crafted, some baked, and one was a gift certificate promising a couple of hours’ work.  There wasn’t as much stealing going on as usual, I think because everyone was more interested in opening new gifts to see what they were.  I thought about stealing something (I had my eye on a biscuit jar filled with biscuits – more for the jar than the biscuits, although they looked good too), but decided to open a gift instead, and got a trivet made out of wine corks – very creative recycling.

A few people had contributed extra gifts, just in case, so there were some left over at the end of the evening.  We talked about drawing names out of a hat to have another round, but then decided it would be nicer to put them aside for the people who couldn’t make it tonight.  So we’ll have another round of gift-opening when we start back up in January.

A Reindeer on the Doorstep

Came home tonight to find a reindeer waiting for me on the doorstep.  He was adorning a gift from my Bloggers Secret Santa partner, who hadn’t been able to make it to the party on Saturday because she was sick, so she got her husband to drop the parcel off today.

Inside were two books – one a book of craft ideas, the other a tiny book of Christmas carols.

The craft book will I’m sure make for some inspiring summer reading, and the little one and reindeer are now living on my fireplace along with some other Christmassy treasures.

Books and computers

Lytteltonwitch came over today, and we went to investigate a charity shop she’d found that had the bookcrossing holy grail: three books for a dollar.  They had a really good selection, too, so I ended up investing $10 in stocking up with potential themed releases (I was punished for such extravagance when the pile fell off the counter onto my head as I was paying for them (the reason my head was lower than the counter was because I bent down to pick up a book that had fallen off the pile as I put it on the counter – as I bent down, the rest of the pile collapsed) – the volunteer who was serving us was so apologetic, but I couldn’t stop laughing at having been attacked by my pile of books).

Then I repaid the lift to the bookshop with some IT-geekery trying to fix Lytteltonwitch’s computer.  It wasn’t difficult (in theory), it just needed its old anti-virus (which had been causing problems) removed, and a new one installed, but it decided it needed to do a whole load of Windows updates in the middle of all this, which took forever.  So I spent the waiting time registering some of my new books, ready for our planned bookcrossing Christmas tree. And then hanging out the washing, and then making soup, and then…. yeah, I got a lot of useful jobs done while I was waiting – ultimate multi-tasking 😉

Bloggy party

The Christchurch Bloggers Christmas party was tonight, which means I can finally show you the project I was working on when I attempted to cut my finger off:

Such a simple little bag, you wouldn’t think it could have caused so much trouble, would you? The recipient was really pleased with it anyway, and with the wee bits and pieces I filled it with (a jar of home-made chutney, a Christmas garland made from those clay stars I made a while back, and a cross-stitched bookmark).

The party went really well. Illness and other life stuff meant that only three people turned up in the end, but that was ok – we had a lovely evening anyway, and the small numbers just meant that we could have a good conversation.

And, to be totally show-offy, I was very pleased with how Christmassy and welcoming I had everything looking. When you’ve got people you don’t know well coming to your house, it’s always a confidence boost to know the house looks really good 🙂

And a gratuitous food-pron shot just because:

Mystery solved

It was the neighbours.  When I left the house this morning, the green bin was sitting out on the roadside, filled to the brim with branches from the tree I saw the neighbours cutting down at the weekend.  As were all my other neighbours’ bins.  They’d obviously run out of room in their own bin and “borrowed” everyone else’s.  Oh well, at least they returned it before I rang the council to report it stolen.  Would have been nice if they’d left a note, though…