How did it get to be June already?

It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  Fuzzle was here for most of the first week – it was great to see her, and we had loads of fun (plus she cooked the most amazing enchilladas for dinner one night – who knew she’d turn out such a good cook after all those barely edible “experimental” meals we ate back when we were flatmates?).

She went home on the Thursday, and then on the Friday Dad arrived with the kids.  The main reason for the trip was to take Niece to see Disney Princesses on Ice (or something like that, anyway – no idea what it was actually called, but it was some combination of those things), but he’d also promised to help me with a few repair jobs around the house.  And the boys, of course, just wanted to play Minecraft with me (although ironically it was actually Niece who spent the most time playing Minecraft – the boys rediscovered Lego Star Wars on the playstation, and almost managed to complete the entire game in one weekend (which kind of tells you how little of anything else, including sleeping, they did!)

Combining a visit from the kids and Dad getting work done round the house was exhausting – I seemed to spend all my time jumping from computer to playstation to trying to actually help Dad (or at least stand there trying to get him to accept my help and maybe remember that he’s not 21 any more and has bad knees so really shouldn’t be trying to balance on top of tall ladders…) while the kids are calling out for me to come back to the game.

The most peaceful moment was actually when I took the boys to Laserstrike while Dad and Niece were at the Disney thing.  For the first game at least, I got to sit in the foyer and quietly read a book while the boys raced around with a bunch of other pre-teens trying to kill each other.  Unfortunately the peace was shattered shortly into their second game, when Nephew #2 managed to run full-tilt round a corner into another kid’s gun, resulting in lots of tears and a nasty black eye.  (I was very unimpressed by the staff’s reaction, by the way – according to Nephew #1, who saw the collision and went to look after his brother, the guy in charge just said “Take him out and find your parents”, and didn’t seem all that concerned.  And then when I asked at the desk for an icepack they didn’t have any such thing (Really???  With all the bumps and bruises that must happen constantly in that place?  Sometimes I think it would be nice to live in a more litigious society…)  In the end I bought a popsicle to use as a makeshift icepack (which did have the bonus of being a useful diagnostic tool – when he asked if he could eat it I figured he must be feeling better ;-)))

Then Nephew #1, who’d gone back in to finish the game while I comforted Nephew #2, came back out because his gun had stopped working.  Which happened again in his third and final game.  So Laserstrike, which was supposed to be their birthday treat (both of their birthdays were this week), turned out to be a bit of a flop all round.  They were given vouchers for a free game if they wanted to come back, but both had such disappointing experiences I’m not sure they’ll ever want to use them.

The rest of the visit was good though, and they had lots of fun (even though I made them do the dishes – mean aunty!)

Between kids and building work the house was a total mess by the time they left on Sunday.  After I waved them off I thought I’d sit down for five minutes then start cleaning up.  Three hours later, I woke up 🙂  So I didn’t really get the house back to normal until yesterday, when I could finally give it a really good clean.  Life feels so much more manageable when the house is tidy!


Big and scary news: I’m presenting at an academic conference on Wednesday!  And not even in my own field!!!

Our programme funded a load of earthquake-related research projects last year, so we decided to set up a mini-conference so the research teams could report back to our funding committee on their progress.  It was supposed to be just a little internal thing, only a handful of people, so when my boss asked me and one of the analysts to jointly do a presentation on the archive as a whole, we happily agreed.  Of course, then the marketing people got hold of it, and decided it was a great opportunity to let the public know about the great research coming out of the university, so they did lots of advertising and opened it up to the public and invited all sorts of important people, and our little mini-conference has suddenly morphed into something much bigger, and I’m suddenly faced with giving a presentation at a full-on conference!  Eeek!!!!

So, my first ever academic conference presentation, and it’s not even in Linguistics.  I feel like I should wear a t-shirt saying “I don’t even have a degree in this subject – please don’t ask me any tough questions!”


Random thoughts from a trip into Riccarton today:

The importance of customer service. 

I’ve been thinking of buying a wee CD player for a while, having given H the big stereo and the kitchen radio.  So, feeling slightly less poor than usual, I went into Dick Smith to have a look, and spotted a $50 one that looked ok.  I wanted to ask a question about it, though, so tried to get a salesperson’s attention, and waited, and waited, and waited… Eventually I got sick of waiting, and went to Noel Leemings instead, where a salesperson came up to me straight away, and gave me friendly and helpful advice even though it was obvious I wasn’t going to earn him a big commission.  As a result, even though they didn’t have the $50 model, only a $70 one, I happily paid the extra $20.

Losing a tiny $50 sale isn’t a big deal for Dick Smith, I’m sure, but how many other little sales do they lose because their salespeople don’t pay attention to customers unless they’re looking at big-ticket items?  It must add up.

The importance of a name.

I saw an ad on the side of a bus for the Women’s Refuge, which has just been rebranded as “Aviva” – something to do with their wider remit these days than just providing shelter for abused women.  A few thoughts sprang immediately to mind:

  1. If I was a woman suffering abuse who’d finally made the tough decision to seek help, would I really be in a state of mind to remember their new and exciting name?  I couldn’t even remember the name for the hour or so between seeing the ad and writing this, and had to look it up – if I was in a panic there’s no way I’d remember it.  I hope they keep a listing in the phone book under their old name.
  2. Because they’ve changed their name (and because of the problem above), they’re having to spend a lot of money on advertising to remind people of the new name.  Money that surely would be better put to use providing their services?
  3. What on earth does Aviva mean anyway?

Craft progress report:

Actually, I can’t show you any pictures of my latest projects, because they’re both intended for people who definitely do read this blog.  So you’ll just have to wait for the big reveal.

The weather hasn’t been brilliant, and as mentioned, I’ve been a bit busy, so I’ve only managed to put a couple of coats of varnish on my mosaic table.  The fabric soaks up the varnish enormously, so I reckon it’ll need at least 2 or 3 more coats before it looks right.


This has got to be the longest actual writing entry I’ve posted in a very long time – I seem to have defaulted to lots of pretty pictures and few words lately.  But I can’t let it go without at least one pretty picture, so here’s the cat drawing Yetzirah sent me, which I finally framed and hung.

It’s in good company, with a couple of my favourite cat prints (and yes, I know they’re a bit crooked – I’ve given up straightening pictures, because every time I do we have another wee earthquake and they all move again!)

It’s probably a bad thing to be this proud of yourself

but look at my table!

I’m so pleased with how it turned out!  It still needs to be varnished (probably not this weekend, because it’s raining so I can’t do it outside, and I don’t feel like stinking out the house with polyurethane), and like the other one, I need to figure out something for the base, but it looks so good, and exactly how I envisioned it.  I keep walking past it and smiling 🙂  I just hope we have a dry weekend sometime soon so I can get it finished, and start actually using it!

In other news, I’m getting a visitor tonight – Fuzzle is coming down for a few days.  I haven’t seen her for ages, and because she lives off the grid our only communication is via extremely rare texts when she can get her phone charged, so I’m so looking forward to seeing her again and having a proper catch up.

Of course, that means I should be cleaning the house and cooking and all those other things you do for impending visitors.  So I’ve so far spent the morning sewing 🙂

I finished my paper piecing square though:

It’s not perfectly aligned, but I’m pretty happy with it for a first try.  Now I’ve just got to decide what I’m going to turn it into (only another 20-odd and I could make a quilt… yeah, probably not.  I think it’ll end up as a cushion).

The almost alignment of the cats was completely accidental, by the way – I just cut the two pieces of fabric so that a cat was roughly centred in each – I didn’t realise when I sewed them together they’d match up like that!

Of course, being me, now that I’ve learnt the basics of a new skill, I want to jump straight into the deep end with it.  Tartankiwi has a few other patterns on her blog, and one of them struck me as having the potential to be turned into a present for someone, so I’m going to give it a go.  It’s a wee bit more complicated than the heart pattern, though.

This is the pattern for the heart:

and this is the pattern for my new project:

Over-ambitious? Moi???

Playing with Fabric

I went to another class at Make Cafe last week, this time on paper piecing patchwork.  Once I got my head round the technique it was lots of fun, and again the class (a bit bigger than last time) was full of lovely people, so we had a great chat over the sewing machines.  The tutor turned out to be someone whose blog I occasionally read so it was really cool to meet her (she also turned out to be a potentially very useful contact to have professionally, so a win all round!).

We didn’t have time to finish our squares during the class, and I’ve been distracted by other things (see below) since then, so I haven’t got round to finishing it at home either, but this is where I’ve got so far:

paperpiece1

Yes, of course it’s got cats on it!  Did you think, given an entire stash of fabrics to take my pick from, I wouldn’t find the one piece with cats? 😉


Remember that second table?  The one I had ambitious plans for?  Well, the reason I didn’t finish my patchwork square at the weekend was because I started working on it.  And quickly discovered my plans were very ambitious – definitely more than a one-weekend job.  I’m really pleased with how it’s going, though – it’s turning out exactly as I imagined it:

table2_1

Planning…

table2_2

table2_3

Pushkin “helps” by shredding the newspaper I put down to protect the carpet from glue splatters.

table2_4

“Yes, I am proud of myself. Why do you ask?”

table2_5

The moment of truth approaches…

table2_7

Yes, that’s fabric, and I’m making a mosaic with it. Cool idea, eh? I saw a decoupage mosaic done with paper, and then I read about using fabric for decoupage, so I decided to try combining the two ideas. And so far it seems to be working!

table2_6

table2_8

table2_9

table2_10

table2_11

table2_12

And that’s as far as I got by Sunday evening.  I’ve done a wee bit more in the evenings since then, but it takes quite a bit of concentration, so I haven’t got very far.  I’ll make another big effort this weekend (housework? who needs to do housework?), and maybe it’ll be ready to be varnished by next weekend.  I’m really please with how it’s looking so far, though.

Visions of Decoupage*

Well, my experiment in a new craft is going pretty well so far.  It started with a couple of cheap tables off TradeMe and an old dictionary (Warning to bookcrossers and other booklovers, the following images contain graphic scenes of book abuse. You may want to look away now.):

table1

table2

table3

table4

table5

table6

table7

It still needs another coat or two of varnish, and I have to decide if I want to do anything to the base, but I’m pretty pleased with how it’s looking so far!

As for the second table (modelled below by Parsnips), now that I’ve got the basic technique worked out, I’ve got even more ambitious plans…

table8


In other news, I went to Avenue Q on Thursday night – just a local amateur production, but it was really well done and great fun.  The actors did a great job with the puppets – I very quickly found myself watching the puppets’ faces instead of the actors’, which is probably a good sign they’re doing it right.  It’s still on for a few more days, so Christchurch people I highly recommend you go!

 

*Harvestbird reckons that’s my new band name 🙂