MrPloppy is not a hobbit

There have been doubts cast on MrPloppy’s ability to fit into such a small space in that photo yesterday.  No, he’s not a hobbit (he’d be much better cast as an elf), but he does have an almost inhuman ability to draw his knees up to his chin while sleeping, especially if forced to by cats.  A diagram might help clarify the picture:
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Anyway, have you guessed what the mystery cross-stitch is yet?

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Any clearer now?

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How about now?

Yep, it’s another of the Christmas Kittens, started two Christmases ago, I think, and only one more of the set to do and then I can decide what I’m going to do with them (they’re supposed to be tree decorations, but I think they’re a bit big for that (they’re each about 7 cm tall), so I’m thinking of sewing them onto a ribbon as a wall decoration).  Here’s the five I’ve done so far:

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Guessing Game

My turn to play "guess what I’m cross-stitching":
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I haven’t been doing any embroidery lately (yet another hobby to fall by the wayside while life has been busy), but yesterday I’d been studying for most of the afternoon (only one week until my big Spanish exam!) and wanted to do something other than stare at a book or a computer screen to relax in the evening, so put on a DVD (Shaun of the Dead – wasn’t so impressed the first time we saw it (we’re big Spaced fans, so had very high expectations, which weren’t quite met), but it’s definitely growing on me) and decided to settle down in front of it with some cross stitch and not think about anything too taxing for a while. I did get quite a bit further than what’s shown in this picture, but having seen SitsWithAnAddingMachine’s "guess what" pictures recently, it struck me at this point in the progress that it was similarly tricky to identify. I’ll post the more complete version tomorrow… maybe

Breakfast meetup this morning, and we decided it’s to be the last. The cafe where we’ve been going changed ownership recently, we think, because the standard of the food has fallen a lot, and now they’ve put the prices up (by about 30%!!!). Add that to the fact that attendance at the meetups has been steadily falling (only me, lytteltonwitch and natecull there today), and we thought it was probably time for a change. So I’ve put it too the yahoo group (where we organise our local meetups) to decide what we’ll do in the future – we might switch to a lunchtime meetup instead, and we’ll definitely be going to a different cafe. I passed a couple of books on to lytteltonwitch (Dervish is Digital by Pat Cadigan and The Winner’s Enclosure by Annie Caulfield) and got two from natecull (The Pride of Chanur by CJ Cherryh and The Steam-Drien Boy and Other Strangers by John Sladek).

MrPloppy was still asleep when I got up this morning to get ready to go out for breakfast. I went and had a shower, and obviously forgot to shut the bedroom door behind me, because when I got out, he was surrounded by cats:
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Ming had managed in that short time to push him into a small corner of the bed so Ming could take his rightful place in the centre, and Saffy had decided it was easier to just perch up on his shoulder. MrPloppy’s lucky George avoids the bed when the other two are on there, otherwise he might have been even more hemmed in. The amazing thing is, he hadn’t been woken up by all this manoeuvring!

Incidentally, you can also see a very small part of Mt. TBR in that picture. Somehow it just keeps growing bigger…

Talking of cats, George is a catnip lover, so we’ve been keeping him supplied with little catnip mice, which get well-loved. Ming and Saffy have never shown an interest, so we assumed they were just some of those cats that don’t react to catnip. But yesterday George left one of his mice in the hallway, and I caught Ming rubbing his face all over it very excitedly, and making those weird little mewing noises catnip addicted cats make. Of course, the minute I ran and got my camera, he acted all aloof and pretended he wasn’t at all interested in the mouse, he just happened to be sitting next to it:
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Too late, Ming, we know you’re a secret addict!

Cool catch the other day:  The Trojan Horse, which I released during the NZBC convention in March, was caught and is now in South Australia, and is going to be released in Melbourne.  Yet another reminder to never give up on a book.

Currently reading: Cuentos en español (I’ve finished the first three stories!) and Tracing it Home: Journeys Around a Chinese Family by Lynn Pan

Yes, it’s another diary entry!

Shocking, I know, three diary entries in nearly as many days, but I’ve actually got a bit of time to breathe this weekend, not having to worry that I should be spending every spare moment on study.

We spent last night listening to Radio Shropshire. That might seem like a bit of an odd thing to do, given that we’re quite a long way from Shropshire, but they have a regular Friday morning (for them, late Friday night for us) slot where they talk about Bookcrossing. It started off with just a small item about Bookcrossing on their morning programme, but the two presenters were so taken by the idea that they turned it into a regular thing. And as they have a live feed of their show on their website, it has also turned into a regular thing that bookcrossers from all over the world tune in and listen to the show, send emails to the presenters, and chat together in a thread on the Bookcrossing forums (here’s this week’s) while listening. No matter how much I take the internet for granted, there’s still something seriously surreal about chatting online to people in Australia and Europe and all over the world, and knowing they’re listening to exactly the same radio station as me!

The presenters (JimOnTheRadio and Laneycakes) are obviously reading along with the threads while doing their show, because they’re always saying hi to various bookcrossers who have commented in the thread (leading to shrees of "He said me!" from everyone who gets a mention, and sulks from anyone who doesn’t ), and last night MrPloppy’s discussion of toilet attendants (you had to be there) almost made JimOn (as he tends to be called around the forums) lose his professional demeanour and start laughing… There was lots of hilarity in our household last night while listening, because lytteltonwitch had come over to listen with us (because she’s only got dialup, which isn’t great for listening to streaming audio), so she was logged in to Bookcrossing on one computer, and MrPloppy and I were logged in on the other (on two separate browsers, so we just had to switch windows to swap from one account to the other), and we were having a conversation via the forums (despite all being in the same room – technology is much more fun than that whole boring talking to someone in person thing!) Loads of fun and lots of giggles, anyway. Lytteltonwitch brought a book over for me too: A Thousand Country Roads by Robert James Walker… oh, and a large bag of unregistered books – she’s been cleaning out her garage again

Otakuu was in Christchurch today, and there was a charity booksale on in Riccarton, so I met lytteltonwitch and her there. They had a sign saying "Fill a bag for $5" – obviously they hadn’t counted on bookcrossers turning up, because we are experts at cramming books into bags to get the best possible value for money out of such deals. I managed to get 30 books into one bag without even trying. Hmm, that’s 16c a book – not too bad! After we’d had our fill at the sale, we retired to a nearby Starbucks to chat. I released Psycho Cat by Derek Hansen in the cafe, and managed to convince lytteltonwitch to take home Sun Dog by Monique Roffey.

The copy of The Actresses that I released in the Town Hall on Wednesday night has been caught already! Only an anonymous finder, but they’re going to re-release it in Rangiora. I got another exciting anonymous finder journal entry for Monsoon, which was one of the books we labelled in the backpackers in Dunedin. It’s now in Lancashire, having travelled via Rome!

Currently reading: Cuentos en español, and The Winner’s Enclosure by Anne Caulfield

Shock, horror!

Actually, it’s more like shock, joy! I actually passed my oral exam!!! And not only that, I actually got a good mark – 92%!!!!!! I’m still convinced they must have made a mistake (or marked very generously), because I know how badly I performed in the test, but I’m definitely not going to complain!

And in other shocking news, the concert last night (the Schools Music Festival) was actually pretty good! I wasn’t expecting much of it, having had too much experience of children performing, but apart from the predictable horror of the recorder section (at least they had a range of different sizes of recorders instead of just the screechy ones that seem to be standard issue in primary school music lessons (sorry, I’m not musical enough to know what the different sized ones are called), which did add a little bit of depth to the music, but in the end, recorders are just screechy horrible instruments… although one of the three pieces they played sounded medieval (I didn’t get a programme, so I’m not sure what it was), and didn’t sound too bad (probably because that’s the kind of music they were actually designed to play!), but the others were just horrible)…(there will now be a slight pause while FutureCat tries to extricate herself from the mass of parentheses she’s got into, and tries to recover the main sentence…), the music was very good. There was a massed choir from about 20 primary and intermediate schools (ages approx. 8-12), which must have had nearly a thousand kids in it, and was incredibly well co-ordinated for such a large choir. There was the obligatory recorder bit (I’ve never understood why schools insist on children learning to play such a horrible screechy instrument – no wonder so few children enjoy school music lessons!), and then there were two smaller choirs (smaller as in about a hundred in each!) who were obviously the best singers (Meerkitten was in the junior choir, and awhina was doing the very proud mum act all night – and rightly so), who sang some lovely songs (some of them very amusingly choreographed too!). There was also a small orchestra (I think awhina (who knows about such things) said it was a concert orchestra – they didn’t have a string section, anyway) that played with the massed choir for a few songs. And then, after a short interval, they brought on a full orchestra, which was amazingly good – remember, these are 8-12 year olds, but if you closed your eyes you would have thought you were listening to a professional orchestra. Among the pieces they played was something from La Traviata, which the massed choir joined in on, and the effect was incredible! Probably helped that we were in the Town Hall, which has pretty fantastic acoustics, but I think it was mostly that the orchestra and choir were very good. Oh, and they also played a piece written by one of the orchestra members… who is in Form 1 (i.e. about 11 years old!!!). Don’t you hate talented people? Anyway, a very enjoyable evening, against all my expectations.

Oh, and of course I had to release a book in the Town Hall – I would have brought some children’s books to release if I’d thought about it, but I did at least have a suitable themed release (which will hopefully have been picked up by one of the teachers or parents): The Actresses by Barbara Ewing.

Currently reading: Cuentos en español, and The Winner’s Enclosure by Anne Caulfield

No estoy tan preocupada ahora

Well, one big worry is out the way now – I had my oral exam for Spanish yesterday morning. It went predictably badly (I always panic in orals, for some reason. I go in knowing tonnes of vocab and grammar, and able to construct wonderfully complex sentences in my head, then they ask the first question and it all disappears and I’m struggling to string even a few simple words together ), but I’ve done well enough in the written tests and essays that a bad mark in this one won’t hurt my overall grade too much. I’m just so relieved to have it over – I was getting totally stressed out about it. Only two more lectures to go now (and they’ll just be revision, probably), and then it’s two weeks until the final exam (which is all written, so will be comparitively easy). And that’s my Spanish course is all over… and then all I have to do is decide whether I want to continue with the next level course next year… (at the moment, the thought seems horrifying (it’s gets more difficult than this??? ), but at the same time it seems a shame to have put all this effort in, and to be at a point where I can almost communicate, and just give up. I suppose I should probably go and talk to my tutor sometime and find out just how much harder the intermediate course is, and then I’ll be able to decide whether I’ll have enough energy/enthusiasm for it… (actually, I suspect I will carry on next year – after all, I did go to the library the other day and get out Cuentos en español, a book of short stories in Spanish which conveniently has the English translation on the facing page – my Spanish isn’t quite good enough yet to read a real Spanish book, but with these I can attempt to read as much of each page as I can, and then read the English version to get the bits I couldn’t figure out. I’m planning on working my way through it over the summer (something to fill in the quiet patches at work) – I’ll probably have to get it renewed a few times before I finish it, but I’m determined to read it all! ) )

Meetup last night, which was very poorly attended – just me, lytteltonwitch, and non-fiction. Awhina and meerkitten were at meerkitten’s music recital thing (which lytteltonwitch and I are going to tonight – not really my idea of fun, listening to a load of primary school kids showing off their (lack of) musical talents, but when a child asks you to come to something she’s in you can’t really say no, can you? ), but I’ve got no idea where everybody else was. Oh well, we had a nice dinner anyway, and exchanged a few books – I picked up Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult, The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller, and Days of Starlight by Craig Harrison, and passed Off the Map by Derek Nelson on to non-fiction. I had taken a couple of other books along (Twisting the Rope by RA MacAvoy and A Rhinestone Button by Gail Anderson Dargatz), but they were both ones that lytteltonwitch had given to me, and non-fiction wasn’t interested in them, so I just released them into the wild on the way home.

Currently reading: Cuentos en español, and The Winner’s Enclosure by Anne Caulfield

Some useful advice for us all…

A friend sent me this link to some useful advice: if you’re getting tired of your blog, you may be suffering from blog depression (it does actually make a serious point about getting things in perspective).

So, I’m not going to feel guilty about the lack of activity in my diary over the last few months – sometimes life just gets more important than writing about it.  But as soon as exams are over, I’ll be back with more bookcrossing news and trivia… probably…

Currently reading: Twisting the Rope by RA MacAvoy