Small people and musicals

I’ve been using a couple of random bits of fabric and batting as a practice quilt sandwich, for checking tension and trying out new quilting patterns before I actually start quilting something. I’d completely filled up the piece with stitching, so I was about to throw it out and replace it with some new scraps, but then I realised that it was exactly the right size to make a quilt for a doll, so I quickly put some binding on it, and presented it to the smaller mini-Harvestbird today as a consolation prize for not being able to come to a show with me and her big sister:

It’s very random – different patterns and thread colours, and lots of squiggly bits where I was trying to figure out what was wrong with the machine speed before I got it repaired) with absolutely no plan to it (not surprising, considering it was never supposed to be anything), but hopefully mini-Harvestbird’s dolls won’t be fussy 🙂

The reason I was taking the elder mini-Harvestbird to the theatre was that I got a text last night from Ade saying she’d double-booked herself, so had two tickets she couldn’t use for this afternoon’s performance of Beauty and the Beast at the local high school (not quite as horrific as it sounds, because Burnside High is known for its performing arts department, so their productions are usually pretty good), and would I like them. I said yes, and (reasoning that small children would be more interested in Beauty and the Beast than most adults I know) messaged Harvestbird to ask whether (assuming such a thing could be done without causing sibling disputes) she’d like me to take one of the girls. Luckily (?) the smaller mini-Harvestbird was sick, so the decision (and explanation to smaller mini-Harvestbird as to why she was missing out!) was pretty easy, so elder mini-Harvestbird and I spent the afternoon at the theatre.

It was actually a lot of fun – the show itself was pretty good for a high school production, even though Disney musicals aren’t exactly my thing (actually, I’ve never even seen the original movie of Beauty and the Beast (although of course I recognised about half of the songs just through how embedded in the culture they are)). What was the most fun though was seeing it through the eyes of a 6 year old. She was so excited by it all, hiding behind her hands when the Beast came out, and bouncing along in her seat to the songs, and turning to me at key plot points to whisper that I shouldn’t worry, because she knew it would have a happy ending. It was fun too seeing her learning the social conventions of theatre-going (which you forget have to be learnt), like when to clap, and she was very confused by the overture – when we were waiting before the lights went down she was exploding with impatience, and kept asking me when it would start, so I explained that everyone had to finish sitting down first, and then the doors would close, and then the lights go down and everyone would get quiet, and then it would start. When the music started and the curtains stayed closed, she turned to me and asked “why haven’t they started?” like she was being cheated – it hadn’t even occurred to me that to a child, an orchestra playing to a closed curtain wouldn’t seem much like anything had started!

Anyway, I think the show was a success. While we were waiting outside theatre afterwards for Harvestbird to come and pick us up, she chattered away to me about her favourite bits, and how she would have made the transformation of the Beast into the Prince so much better (flashing lights and smoke effects while the actor ducks down behind the scenery and removes his mask doesn’t quite measure up to the morphing that can be done in a cartoon, apparently 🙂 ), and how much she was looking forward to getting home and telling everyone all about it.

It’s been a pretty social week all round, actually. On Thursday night I hosted the craft meetup (it normally rotates round a few different people’s places, interspersed with meeting in bars, so I put up my hand last time the organiser was planning the venues for the next few weeks). I think 8 people turned up – if there’d been any more it might have been a struggle to squeeze them all into the lounge, so that was a nice number. The evening went really well, and I even managed to get a bit of sewing done (putting the binding on the doll’s quilt, actually) in between making people cups of tea and passing around cake. Plus it was nice not to have to venture out into the horrible weather myself, so I think I’ll offer to be put into the regular rotation of venues.

Talking of craft meetups, I forgot to post a picture of the insects embroidery I’d been working on at the meetups, which I finally finished last week:

As always seems to be the case with me and embroidery projects, I’ve got no idea what I’m going to do with it now that it’s finished. Maybe I should do another giveaway – if you want it, let me know!

This month is Diversity Fest at the university, with all sorts of talks and other events themed around various forms of diversity. Last night I went to a screening of Intersexion, a documentary about intersex people, followed by a panel discussion. The film was really interesting – though horrifying to hear the experiences of people who whose genitals were mutilated in childhood without their consent, all in the name of making them “normal”, and the effects that has had on them in adulthood. And even worse to learn that this is still happening to many intersex babies born today 🙁 The discussion afterwards was great too – the panel was made up of an intersex person, a non-binary person from Qtopia (the student/youth LGBTI+ group that was hosting the event), and a gender studies/cultural studies lecturer, plus there were some really insightful questions and comments from the audience.

And finally, a video. Ages ago (the day I submitted my thesis, actually), I, along with several other students, was asked by the Head of the Linguistics Department if I’d be a talking head for a promotional campaign they’re doing for the department. So of course I said yes, and was interviewed, and then completely forgot about it, until this week when the videos went onto YouTube, and I get to see how badly I stumbled through describing my research (actually, they’ve done a good job of editing it together in a way that almost sounds like I know what I’m talking about!)

Ok, let’s see if I can get this embed code to work…

Bitten by an Australian

I’ve always suspected being social is a dangerous thing.  I proved it on Tuesday night, when, waving to my neighbour as we always do when I happen to arrive home while she’s in her front yard, I thought I’d actually stop and say hello for a change.  As I was talking to her, I leant on the fence, and felt something pinch my arm.  I thought it was just that one of the palings had moved and pinched me, so I just shifted my position and thought nothing of it.

Half an hour later, I realised my arm was still hurting (yeah, I know, blame my genetic propensity to high pain tolerance – I’m really good at not noticing that something hurts), and had a look at the spot where I’d pinched it.  Which turned out to have a very obvious raised white lump, surrounded by a big red patch, and, when I looked closer, a definite puncture mark in the middle.

We don’t have a lot of poisonous bitey things in New Zealand, and of the ones we do have, two thirds have been (accidentally) imported from Australia.  There’s the native katipo spider, which is very rare and pretty much only found in sand dunes, the Australian redback spider (which is also rare in NZ, and anyway, I knew it wasn’t that, because I was still standing), and, the most likely culprit, the Australian whitetail spider.  Whitetails technically aren’t poisonous, because they can’t seriously harm humans, but their venom does cause a painful reaction in most people, and the photos Google showed me of whitetail bites matched my arm exactly.

The white lump shrank within a couple of hours (the photo below was taken later that night, when it had almost disappeared), but it stayed painful enough to be annoying (i.e. what a normal person would call “very painful”) for the rest of the night, and even now, three days later, it’s still a bit tender to touch (and incredibly itchy!), and the red mark is only just starting to fade.

I now feel totally justified for all the whitetails I have killed over the years whenever they’ve dared to make their way inside my house. And even more justified in avoiding gardening – there could be hundreds of the horrible little things lurking out there just waiting for the chance to bite me.

I’ve been going along to the weekly craft meetups reasonably regularly. I quickly got bored with my knitted dishcloth production line (it halted half way through my third attempt), so instead I pulled out a long-abandoned embroidery project (ok, I just looked back through old blog entries, and I bought it at a craft shop Sherlockfan took me to during a trip to Wellington in 2010!) as a nice easily-portable craft I could work on at the meetups. I’ve made pretty good progress (although some of the stitching is a bit rough – we rotate between several different venues for the meetups, and some of them don’t have the best lighting!):

Ironically, I was working on the spider at this week’s meetup…

Random stuff

The last few weeks have actually been a bit less frantic work-wise, as has the union work, plus of course I finished my psychology paper and we’re in mid-year break so no study to do. Which theoretically should have meant I’ve had a few weeks of peace and quiet to rejuvenate and restore myself (or at least catch up a bit) ready for the next onslaught. But being me, as soon as I slow down in one area, I find a million ways of keeping myself overly busy in other areas, so suddenly it’s the end of the quiet bit (semester starts again on Monday, work is about to get stupidly busy, and the union stuff hotted up again a couple of days ago) and I’m not at all ready for any of it. Oh well, at least I’m not bored…

Anyway, not much hope in this state of me writing a coherent and meaningful diary entry, so instead, here’s some random highlights, in no particular order:

Lytteltonwitch has been back in NZ for a few weeks, so it’s been a pretty busy time socially. Lots of meetups (including one memorable one with The-Organist, which culminated in a hilarious torchlit geocache hunt through Hagley Park), a birthday dinner at Santorini where the owner sang Happy Birthday to me, and an expedition (via Darfield and Timaru, because we can’t do anything in a straightforward way) to Fairlie to meet a bookcrosser who’s set up a bookcrossing zone in his camping ground. Loads of fun, and a reminder of just how much I’ve missed her company while she’s been overseas. She leaves for the UK again tomorrow, this time on a one-way ticket, so that’s the end of our crazy adventures for a few years 🙁 Oh well, I’ll just have to start saving my pennies for Dublin in 2012. If I can make it we’re planning on an extreme bookcrossing road-trip around Ireland either pre- or post-convention.

MrPloppy made me a birthday cake:

Isn’t it gorgeous? (This photo, incidentally, was taken just after breakfast on the morning of my birthday. I had to work that day (boo, hiss!), and we were going out for dinner straight after work, so MrPloppy got up early so he could decorate the cake and light the candles and surprise me before I left for work. So I had a slice of birthday cake for a very early morning tea :-))

And in other random photographic evidence, this is why you shouldn’t use the microwave to reheat those little pottles of chocolate sauce you get with the brownies from Domino’s Pizza:

Or at least, why, if you do use the microwave, you shouldn’t set the timer for more than 5 seconds at a time, even if your microwave is useless at timing such short bursts…

I haven’t done a lot of crafty stuff lately (except for a wee project for rarsberry’s upcoming arrival, more on which later in a friends-only post), but here’s the latest on the African embroidery I got in Wellington:

Lots of catches recently, but I can’t be bothered going through and listing them all (and you probably can’t be bothered reading through a long list), so you’ll just have to trust me on that 😉 Some of them are attributable to actually getting out and doing a bit more bookcrossing while lytteltonwitch has been here, but quite a few have been from releases I did ages ago, all of which are suddenly turning up. Maybe newbies really like the new site or something 🙂

Pretty colours

The new project I got in Wellington:

It’s very different from my usual embroidery projects, with no chart or instructions – all you get is the design printed on the fabric and a bundle of brightly coloured threads to use as you wish. So plenty of room for creativity and for learning a few new stitches (being mainly a cross-stitcher, the most complicated thing I normally use is a French knot, so I’ve got a lot to learn!).

Of course, given that I’ve got an exam in a couple of weeks that I need to start studying for, plus everything that’s going on at work, don’t hold your breath for a lot of progress reports any time soon…

In Wellington

Greetings from Wellington… well, Upper Hutt, actually. I’m staying at Sherlockfan’s place, and being fabulously well looked after by her and MrFan (whose computer I’m using).

After a boring day in meetings on Thursday, I met Sherlockfan in town and she whisked me off to Upper Hutt and dinner, after which I almost immediately fell asleep – 5 am starts to catch planes don’t agree with me! The next morning I was a little more awake, so we went to visit a craft shop with 30% off sale (like I said, Sherlockfan really knows how to look after a visitor! :-)). It was a fabulous shop, too – Hands now has a serious competitor for my affections… if only I lived a little closer. I could have spent a serious amount of money, but I managed to restrain myself to just one kit (which I’m sure will be revealed here when I start work on it (assuming of course I actually find some free time in my life to start doing real craftwork again…)).

Next stop was the Fig Tree cafe, where Sherlockfan had set up an OBCZ. Unfortunately although its location was originally ideal, the owners have since shifted a couple of large drinks fridges in front of it, so it’s now really hard to get at, and pretty much invisible. And as the shelf is built-in, it can’t be moved 🙁 I did leave a couple of books there though, and the amazing chocolate brownie I had made up for the disappointment of the OBCZ.

After our morning tea break we headed off to Lower Hutt, to the New Dowse gallery. A couple of the galleries were closed while they were installing new exhibitions, but there was enough to keep us entertained for an hour or so. First was a fascinating exhibition of innovative technology and design, including an office chair that shifts to support different postures without you having to manually adjust it (pity it had a no-touching sign – I would have loved to sit on it and test the truth of that claim!) and a clip-on garden room for the outside of apartment buildings.

The next gallery had a video installation. Outside the room was a sign warning of nudity, and they were right – we walked into the room to be confronted with a giant screen full of full-frontal from a man floating on his back in a pool. He then slowly sunk under the water, with the ripples distorting his image more and more, then (after what seemed like an incredibly long time) rose to the surface again and the cycle repeated. I could kind of see what the artist was trying to do, but I’m afraid my sense of artistic appreciation was being overridden by concern over how long he had to hold his breath for!

Upstairs were the real treasures. First a wonderful exhibitions of sculptures by Andrea du Chatenier that had a gorgeous sense of humour about them. They were women (based on classical works) carved from polystyrene, kind of roughly carved but at the same time with incredible detail (you can tell I’m not an art critic, can’t you :-)), with blonde wigs and gold clothes or shoes. My favourite was a nude based on the Wollindorf Venus, with real butterflies pinned to her and wearing a pair of delicate gold high heels (which the notes said were Jimmy Choos). There was such a lovely sense of the ridiculousness of vanity about her.

The notes said the other upstairs gallery had photos of local teenagers, so I wasn’t expecting much, but it was fantastic. The photographer was incredibly talented, and had captured perfectly that weird half-child, half-adult state of teenagers, with that teenage egotism of being certain that they are unique in the world and destined for greatness. Each portrait was paired with a photo evocative of what maybe the teenager was really destined for – a glamourous girl next to a supermarket, a boy in uniform next to a dead sparrow. It’s hard to describe, but the photos had incredible impact.

Oh, and especially for TexasWren, we spotted these dolls in the gift shop, and thought they might inspire you:

(sorry the photo’s a bit rough – I was trying not to been seeing using my camera!) They were made of leather, with big buttons for eyes, and zips down their fronts, so they looked like they were wearing leather jackets 🙂

In the evening, we went into Wellington and met Edwardstreet and Newgirl at The Library – no, not an actual library, but a library-themed bar. The walls are lined with bookshelves, filled with books donated by customers (in return for a free drink). Of course, the clever Wellington Bookcrossers have commandeered a shelf as an OBCZ, and are slowly expanding it to take over adjoining shelves.

After a drink we walked round to Oriental Bay to a seafood restaurant overlooking the harbour. Nothing posh, but the fish was really good (says me, who’s not normally a huge fan of fish), and a good time was had by all.

Today we’re heading over to the Kapiti Coast for a bit of an explore. The weather, incredibly, has stayed good – after two solid weeks of rain it’s amazing to see all this blue sky – so should be lots of book-releasing opportunities.