Blossoms and Snowflakes

A couple more FMQ squares for my experimental quilt (at this rate, winter will be over before I get it finished…):

This pattern is called Happy Blossoms, and it was a nice fun one to sew (even if I got confused on a few of the flowers) – it flows quite nicely.

And this is The Snowflake, another pattern that’s greatly helped by drawing chalk guidelines (just ignore the few wee places where I veered totally off the lines).  The snowballs were supposed to be randomly placed, but apparently I’m not very good at doing random, because I seem to have ended up with diagonal rows of them.

Other than that, and a bit of working on a wee secret project for an upcoming birthday party, I’ve had a very lazy weekend.  Last weekend was so full-on (as well as the Oamaru trip, I went to Alex’s farewell lunch on the Monday), and then work is still reasonably stressful while we wait for a decision on our future, that I pretty much ran out of go this weekend, and spent a lot of time vaguely mucking around on the internet and watching youtube videos.  Not the most constructive way to use my time, but sometimes necessary.

On Friday afternoon a few of us from work went to visit the Whole House Reuse exhibition at the museum.  Whole House Reuse is an amazing project – they took a redzone house that was scheduled for demolition, and salvaged as much of the material as possible (it was supposed to be all of the material, hence “whole house”, but they found asbestos in the insulation, so had to dispose of that), then asked artists and craftspeople to find ways to reuse the material in creative ways.  The idea being to show just how much material that normally ends up in landfill when a house is demolished is actually still useful.

We worked with the Whole House Reuse team at the beginning of the project to archive their catalogue of all the materials recovered from the house, so we were really keen to see the exhibition of works created from the material.  There’s some really amazing stuff, everything from a whole new building (a 10 square metre “tiny house”) down to jewellery.  There’s some incredibly imaginative uses of material, too, like light-switch casings turned into picture frames.  Hopefully we’ll be getting pictures and documentation from all of the artists to add to the collection in CEISMIC.  There’s going to be an auction at the end of the exhibition, and I’m very tempted to attempt to buy one of the smaller pieces for myself.  They may all end up being way out of my price range, but I’d love to have a part of such a cool project.

After the museum closed, I met up with Lytteltonwitch and we went over to The Commons for dinner.  The food trucks that were at the Square every Friday night over the summer are at The Commons one Friday a month over winter.  It was very cold, and the ground was pretty wet after the rain, so you had to be careful dodging puddles in the dark, but there was a great atmosphere and loads of exciting options for food.  Jan was there with her pop-up tearooms, doing bacon butties and puddings, so of course we had to sample both, and then we were tempted by several of the other stalls, so ended up eating way too much (and I still didn’t get to sample half the things I’d have liked to – I think I would have exploded if I’d eaten anything else, though).

I got to try out the new bus exchange on the way home (only half of it is open, but it’s the half my bus leaves from) – a huge improvement on the temporary one, if only because you get to wait for your bus inside and sheltered from the weather.  It seems a lot nicer than the old one, too, though that might just be because it’s new.  But it felt a lot more welcoming to me, and safer, too (though I’m not sure what exactly was making me feel that).  Nice to finally see one of the many promised anchor projects finally open, anyway.

A few of my favourite photos from last night

Nobody seemed particularly worried that we appeared to be in the middle of a scene from The Prisoner.

This may have had some influence on our decision to start dinner with cake 🙂

After the belly dancers, an aerobics session (complete with Jane Fonda workout tape), and the crowd starts to join in:

Not long after this I gave up trying to take photos and just joined in myself – everyone was having too much fun to just stand and watch!

Yep, those road cones get everywhere – apparently they even fly.

Street volleyball and extreme hopscotch

Lights, colours, and …aerobics?

Caught the bus over to Lytteltonwitch’s place tonight (conveniently, the bus that stops across the street from my house goes past the end of her street), and we walked into town from there to see the FESTA (Festival of Transitional Architecture) light displays.  It was a very cold night, but there were loads of people in town, and a great atmosphere.  They’d closed off a few roads, and as well as the artworks there were food stalls and games and music and just a lot of people having fun.  We watched bellydancers, joined in a mass aerobics class (well, attempted to, anyway – I’d like to blame the fact that I was carrying my camera and tripod for the fact that I couldn’t keep up with all the moves, but the truth is I’m just utterly uncoordinated!), played extreme hopscotch, ate dinner in reverse (it started with cake and ended with bacon butties), stalked a steampunk spaceman, and took a LOT of photos.  Which I’m too tired to sort through now, so they’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

A seriously fun night!

Flora and Otto

Harvestbird, the miniest mini-Harvestbird and I had planned to go to Dorothy’s this afternoon for tea and scones and cucumber sandwiches, but alas when we got to Cranmer Square there was no sign of the little green caravan.  So we went to the Coffee House instead, in anticipation of cake.  Unfortunately, in their reinvention they’ve obviously neglected the cafe side of the business in favour of the restaurant, because the food, normally good, was totally disappointing – the cheese scones were boring (and it’s very very hard to make a cheese scone boring!), and the slices were uninspired.  A pity, because that had been one of our go-to places for emergency cake, but it looks like yet another place to strike off the list 🙁

However, not all was lost of the day – we did get to go for a walk over to the new Gapfiller installation, a mosaic chair and ottoman (titled Flora and Otto respectively) created by Crack’d for Christchurch out of crockery broken in the earthquakes.  Totally gorgeous work, with so many amazing little details.

Random things

I 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!

Pallets and pop-up tearooms

The “Pallet Pavillion” on the site of the old Park Royal was opened today.  It’s another Gap Filler project, a venue for music or community events, or pretty much anything really.  It’s an amazing space, made almost entirely out of old packing pallets, complete with tables and chairs (made out of vege bins) and a pallet stage. It’s open-air, but the walls are high, and curve in interesting ways, so it kind of feels like being inside – quite a cosy space, really.

Pallet Pavillion

Pallet Pavillion

Pallet Pavillion

The main reason I was there, though, was because it was my friend Jan’s first outing in her new guise of a pop-up tearoom (she’s the blonde one on the right).

Popup Tearoom

I didn’t stay very long (just long enough to be Jan’s first paying customer, and to wish her well in her new venture) because I needed to get home by 1 pm, but first I wanted to have a wee walk through the CBD on my way to the bus exchange, because they’ve opened a few more areas up since I was last in town. I took hundreds of photos, of course, but I won’t bore you with them all, just a few points of interest.

Victoria Square is open now, and looks almost back to normal – if you ignore the cordon fencing in the background, that is:23 12 12 CBD

The view across the river to the Town Hall isn’t so pretty:23 12 12 CBD

For those of you who were at the Christchurch convention, you might remember our hangers-on dinner at the Oxford on Avon (that weird buffet place that turned off the lights before we’d finished eating). A parking place for demolition equipment is all that remains:23 12 12 CBD

Decorations from two Christmases ago on Colombo Street (plus a truck for carting demolition rubble):.

There’s so many buildings gone now you keep coming across unexpected views. This one is from the Gloucester Street bridge, from where you can now see the Cathedral:.

Talking of the Cathedral, they’ve opened up a walkway into the Square again, so I got to see it from a different angle:.

One for Lytteltonwitch – they’ve started demolishing the ANZ building:.

Kate Shepherd is still behind bars:23 12 12 CBD

but Punting on the Avon is back in business:23 12 12 CBD

Christmas decorations in the container mall:23 12 12 CBD

There was also a market on there, and this guy was doing a roaring trade in bagels and breadsticks:
23 12 12 CBD

I made it home in time to meet Jenny and Christian, who we’d arranged to go and see The Hobbit with.  I wasn’t all that sure about seeing it, after reading so many reviews, but it wasn’t as bad as I was dreading.  The first half drags on a bit, and the whole 3D 48 fps thing was horrible (3D gives me a headache anyway, and the 48 fps made everything way too real for a fantasy movie – very jarring.  Plus it made the fight scenes look totally chaotic – I had no idea what was going on for most of them.), but once the story got going it was quite fun.  Of course, it might help that it’s been quite a few years since I last read the book, so the departures from it weren’t as obvious as they could have been.