This time…

Ok, I’m determined to get my diary up to date this time. Possibly… πŸ™‚

I’ve had quite a few good catches lately (probably because of my recent increase in releases, although a few are from books I released ages ago): Kiwi Dads by Jo Malcolm, which was one of the books we left on the Hermitage’s bookshelf on our ill-fated trip to Mt Cook was caught by a tourist who seems to be a bit confused about what country they’re in (though I suppose by saying “Love Australia” they could just be making a subtle criticism of NZ…); Queen’s Royal by John Quigley, released on Queen Victoria’s statue, and caught by someone from Victoria (it’s not often you get a themed catch!); three of the wedding books we released in Dunedin, Death by Marriage by EG Cousins, The Brides by Gila Berkowitz and Born to Wed by Gina Wilkins; Satisfaction by Rae Lawrence, caught at the Rakaia fish; Translated Accounts by James Kelman, one of the books I released at the university during my releasing blitz a few weeks ago (which I’ve given up on for now, because the semester is over and exams are in full swing, so most people around the place are too stressed to pick up books πŸ™‚ ); and Galactic Patrol by E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith, which I released last weekend, and was one of the books from the great OBCZ cleanup last weekend (which I’ve just remembered I haven’t written about yet, so this entry is going to be all out of order. Oh well, you’re all intelligent people, I’m sure you can cope…)

So, the great OBCZ cleanup. Last time we were at Trattorie, we noticed that the bookshelf was looking pretty ugly. Most of the books looked old and tatty, and many of them had been sitting on the shelf for over a year. It wasn’t at all attractive, so it was no wonder none of the books were moving. And it was obvious the cafe owners weren’t happy with it (the cafe is reasonably upmarket, catering to the “ladies who lunch” crowd), because they’d shoved the shelf off into a corner out of the way, when it used to have a much better position.

So we decided it was time for a cleanup. We put out a call on yahoo for Christchurch members to come along to a brunch meetup at Trattorie with some nicer looking books, and to take some of the old scruffy ones away with them and release them into the wild somewhere they might have more chance of travelling.

The meetup was a great success. It was very well attended, for a start: me, MrPloppy, lytteltonwitch, TheLetterB, angela7715, and awhina – that’s the most we’ve had at a meetup for ages. And between us we had enough books to completely restock the shelves, so they’re now looking much more attractive (in fact, while we were sitting chatting afterwards, a couple of women came in and started looking through the books on the shelf – I haven’t seen that happen for ages!)

My contribution to the shelf (I tried to select books that would appeal to a broad range of reading tastes) was:

We sorted though the books we’d taken off the shelf, and found a few in good condition that could go back on, and a couple that were in such bad repair they had to be binned (pages missing, or no cover), and then the rest we divided up amongst us for release (I went out for a walk on Sunday and released Galactic Patrol and Grey Lensman by EE ‘Doc’ Smith, and Skeen’s Leap by Jo Clayton. I’ve got a few more still to release, but I want to do some repairs to them first). A good morning’s work.

On Saturday afternoon, Ian came round with a friend, and offered to take our car to get its WOF. If I’d been organised I would have taken some books to release in the waiting room – I’ll have to remember that for next time. It almost passed, except it needs something done to the brakes – something about fluid and lines, I think (FutureCat reveals her utter lack of knowledge of all things mechanical – I would have asked Ian lots of dumb questions about it until I understood, but his friend was a “real bloke” type, and kept looking at me funny when I asked questions, so I gave up), that according to Ian won’t be too horribly expensive to get fixed. I was expecting much worse, considering we got the car for free – you don’t expect a car that’s being given away to be in perfect condition.

Anyway, we’ll get that sorted in the next couple of weeks, and then we’ll have a totally road-worthy car. It’s even got insurance now, because I thought we’d better get some before it had to be driven across town for it’s WOF. Now all we need is someone to drive it… πŸ™‚

MrPloppy organised a games evening on Saturday night, but half the people who were going to come cancelled at the last minute (that’s what happens when you have friends you met through a Social Phobia group!), so in the end it was just us, Tam, and lytteltonwitch. We had a fun night, though, even though I lost miserably at every game we played!

And finally, a warning. Blame MadameUrushiol. She posted this in her LiveJournal:

(a.k.a. NoNoNoNo)
Non-National Not Writing a Novel Non-Month

They say a picture is worth 1000 words. So in response to those individuals who participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – which encourages people to try writing a 50,000 word novel in November), you are invited to create 50 pictures between November 1st and Nov 25th.

You can do paintings, drawings, pencil sketches, collages, digital photography, print photography, graphic design, ink-blots, pastels, watercolors, pencil-crayons, Crayola crayons (Hey – get your kids involved!), or whatever tickles your fancy.

Just do 50 images in those 25 days (which averages to 2 images per day). The focus is on quantity, not quality.

Post your works of art to your website, or blog, or just show ’em to your friends at coffee. Be free. Express yourself!

I’ve always liked the idea of NaNoWriMo, but I know I’d never have the dedication to do it. I’m sure I could write 50,000 words in a month (hey, I almost manage that in a single diary entry some days ;-)), but stringing them together coherently into a novel? With a plot? Nah, can’t see that happening.

But pictures? Now *that* I can do. I imagine the bulk of my images will be photographs, but I’ll try and drag out my art supplies from whatever dusty corner they’re lurking in and attempt a few sketches from time to time as well (assuming I can actually produce anything I’m not totally ashamed of showing in public – it’s been quite a while since I picked up a pencil or paintbrush, and I’m ever so slightly rusty…)

So be warned. From tomorrow this diary will be getting a bit image-heavy for 25 days, so those of a bandwidth-sensitive nature may wish to look away.

This could be fun πŸ™‚

Still failing to keep up

Um, so where did I get up to? Oh yeah, we were at rarsberry‘s hen night.

The other thing we did to celebrate was to release some appropriately themed books around Dunedin (and a few leftovers on the trip back to Christchurch):

As usual when visiting a backpackers, I brought some pre-numbered labels with me intended for the book exchange shelf. I didn’t have time to do as many as I’d have liked, and some of the books suited the wedding theme so were snarfed for release, but I did manage to label a few and return them to the shelves: HjΓ€rtat Γ€r bedrΓ€gligast av allt by JT Ray, Gray Eagles by Duane Unkefer, Monte Carlo by Stephen Sheppard, and The Cardinal Sins by Andrew M Greeley.

On the way home, we stopped off at Oamaru for lunch, which turned into a bit of a mission, because it seemed that every cafe we tried was shut for the weekend. In the end we went to a cafe in the historic district called The Star and Garter (where I released Primary Colours by Anonymous), which turned out to have the slowest service in the known universe. The food was fabulous, once we finally got it, but it took SOOOO long! The woman who served us seemed incapable of doing more than one thing on any trip into the dining room, so she’d bring a plate of food in for someone, then wander off to the kitchens again, and *then* come back and take the orders of the people at the next table… (and half the tables were being served by the chef, because she obviously couldn’t keep up). Catching her attention to get the dessert menu was a real challenge, but we managed πŸ™‚

At Timaru, we made a slight detour out to Richard Pearce Airport, just so I could release Mister P and His Remarkable Flight by David Martin (and then realised that there was a monument to Richard Pearce a bit further down the road that would have probably made a better release location). And of course we made our usual stop at the Rakaia fish, where I released Satisfaction by Rae Lawrence.

And that’s the end of our Dunedin adventure.

So, what else have I been up to in the last few weeks?

Well, there was meerkitten‘s concert (starring Steph as well this year), which was the usual mix of the merely ok (the recorders – they were particularly bad this year!), the great (the kitten’s choir sung a song about books that we think should be declared the bookcrossing anthem), and the completely fabulous (the orchestra and massed choirs did Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, which is one of my favourite bits of classical music anyway, and sounded utterly incredible, especially the loud bit at the end (technical term there πŸ˜‰ )). I had intended to take some books to release, and even had some suitably themed ones all picked out, but I was running late and forgot to pick them up πŸ™

Labour weekend was reasonably quiet. Lytteltonwitch and I had talked about going down to Pleasant Point for a craft/train festival (what do you mean, weird combination? πŸ˜‰ ), but Dad rang to say they’d be up on Monday, and lytteltonwitch was leading a tramp on Sunday, so we ran out of time. I did manage to go for some long walks to deliver flyers for MrPloppy (and release a couple of books on my way (though once I had my bag full of flyers I wasn’t too keen on carrying a lot of books as well – it’s amazing how heavy little bits of paper can be!) – Man and Boy by Tony Parsons, So Far, So Good by Paul Eddington).

Most of Labour weekend, though, was spent playing The Sims 2. That’s because I managed to finally (ahem) *acquire* a copy of the latest expansion pack, Bon Voyage. Yes, that’s right, I’m now officially a criminal – I’ve pirated my first game. This is not something I’d normally do, because I consider the digital sort of theft to be as much theft as any other kind. So despite virtually every game being available on the internet within minutes of its release, I’ve always been good and waited until I could buy a legal copy. But Bon Voyage is different. I was intending to buy it for myself for Christmas, but wasn’t sure if it would be worth it (because I found the Vacation expansion pack for The Sims 1 pretty boring) so thought I’d check out what was being said about it in a fan site I lurk around sometimes. There, to my surprise, I found a discussion about people whose computers had been killed/compromised/slowed down by Securom, a nasty bit of DRM/Spyware software EA kindly had included on the installation disks.

That would be bad enough in itself (I seriously object to software that installs extra stuff without asking me first), but when I went to the official Sims2 site to see what they had to say, I discovered that they were basically telling a lot of lies about Securom (the usual “you’ll only have problems if you’re a pirate” rubbish), and giving players very bad advice, and, even worse, banning people from the forums who tried to correct the information given. So about then I decided if they were going to treat their customers like idiots and criminals anyway, then I might as well act like one, so I went back to MATY, where it was pretty easy to pick up clues as to where one could acquire a nice Securom-free copy of the game…

And so, I’m now a criminal. All because of software that’s supposed to *stop* piracy! And I know I’m not the only one – talking to other Sims2 players, it’s amazing how many have been inspired by the whole Securom thing to seek out an “Arr-ficial” copy of the game instead of buying it. And as someone on MATY pointed out, it’s ironic that not only did Securom not stop the pirates (Bon Voyage was available all over the net hours after its release), but because the pirated versions bypass Securom, they’re actually *better* than the ones you can buy in the shops. So the pirates are releasing better software than the game manufacturers. No wonder so many people turn to piracy…


(PS. It did turn out to be a very good expansion pack, much better than Vacation.)

(PPS. I’ll probably feel guilty eventually and end up buying a copy anyway, but for now I’m still filled with righteous indignation and feeling good about ripping off a company that’s trying to rip off its customers)

No more time to write anything now, so more catching up to follow… eventually…

Too long without an entry

Isn’t it annoying when life gets so busy that you don’t have time to write diary entries, and then when you do get time, there’s so much to write about that you don’t know where to start, so you keep putting off writing anything at all, which means the amount of stuff you need to write about gets even bigger, which means you want to put it off even more, and… or is it just me?

In other words, it’s probably about time I wrote a diary entry πŸ™‚

So, the bit most LJers have probably been waiting to hear about is rarsberry‘s hen night.

Amazingly, lytteltonwitch and I managed to travel down to Dunedin with the minimum of stops and detours – ok, so we did stop at Rakaia for a geocache or two, and to release No Highway by Nevil Shute by the side of the highway, and Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry at the fish; took a wee bit of a detour to Cave (well, I had Foxbat by Peter Cave, so where else could I release it?) and to visit a really cool old stone church,

and a war memorial (War Story by Derek Robinson); stopped for lunch at Oamaru (First Among Equals by Jeffrey Archer); more geocaches and releases at the Moeraki Boulders (Rings of Sand by Tom McNab) and Palmerston (A Domestic Animal by Francis King) – but we made it to Dunedin to under 8 hours, which is pretty good going for us! (“Normal” people do it in 5)

In Dunedin, we met awhina at the backpackers, and had a giggly time blowing up condoms to make balloons to decorate the presents. Which we then had to carry down the street to the restaurant… of course, I’m sure nobody actually noticed the um… *odd* shape of the balloons, but awhina was still very embarrased about carrying them πŸ˜‰

We met boreal at the restaurant put on our princess hats and arranged the balloons and presents decoratively on the table and joked with the waitress about hiring the manager as a stripper.

(The extra hats are because boreal had invited a few other Dunedin bookcrossers, but they all cancelled at the last minute for various reasons.)

Eventually Rars and Richie turned up, and the look on Rarsberry’s face when she saw us was priceless.

For some reason she wouldn’t believe Richie when he said he knew nothing about it πŸ˜‰

Rars was presented with her veil, bouquet and sceptre, with instructions they were to be worn for the rest of the night. Richie stayed to open their present from the BC/LJers (the framed embroidery), then we chased him away so Rars could open the other presents lytteltonwitch and awhina had brought – penis-shaped chocolates, a candy g-string, and an unfeasibly large number of condoms.

I’d arranged for otakuu to ring us during dinner (seeing as she’d been unable to come up to Dunedin in person), but of course I completely forgot, and left my phone in the bottom of my bag so I didn’t hear it ring. But eventually I remembered, and we called her instead, and the phone was passed around the table. A pity she couldn’t make it, but at least she got to be part of the party in a way.

After dinner, we got kicked out of the restaurant (no, not because of our inappropriate remarks about the manager πŸ˜‰ but because they needed the table for another group), so we decided to take the party back to the backpackers, where we were pretty much the only guests, so we wouldn’t be disturbing anyone. Of course that necessitated a detour to the supermarket for supplies of wine, chocolate, and crisps (still dressed in our hats and veils, of course, which got lots of smiles from the other customers).

The rest of the night was spent sitting in front of the fire trying to out-shock each other (I’m not giving details, because what happens in hen night stays in hen night, but rarsberry did a pretty good job of shocking awhina by taking great pleasure in eating her special chocolates, though I think lytteltonwitch was the winner overall). A really fun night, and I think rarsberry enjoyed her suprise hen party.

And now it’s getting late and I wanted an early night tonight, so the rest of the story will have to wait for another day.

The Finished Product

Lytteltonwitch went and picked up the embroidery from the framer yesterday, and brought it round last night to show me her choice of frame and mat:

I think it came out really well (and the fact that the mat colour is called “raspberry” is definitely a bonus!).

It’s all wrapped up now and back in lytteltonwitch’s car ready for the trip down to Dunedin.

No plums this year

I’m sure there’s some sort of conspiracy going on to make sure we never get plums off our tree: this is the fourth year in a row that just as the plum tree has come out in a mass of blossom we’ve had huge winds that have blown it all off again πŸ™

The weather has been weird in general for the last week or so – in one day it’ll go from rain to blue skies and sunshine to hail to gales (strong enough to blow the cap off our chimney the other day – at least it’s a relatively easy one to put back on) and then back to warm again. Dressing for the weather is impossible when it’s like this – you look out the window in the morning and decide what to wear, and by the time you’ve got dressed the weather has completely changed…

Weird weather has also limited my releasing opportunities, because I’ve been catching the bus to work most days (the fact that I wasn’t organised enough to get the rest of those books I registered labelled might have had something to do with it too, of course ;-)), so I only released a couple of books last week: From a Native Daughter by Haunani-Kay Task in the Anthropology department, and The Ancient Solitary Reign by Martin Hocke in a vending machine.

Taking the bus led to another wee adventure on Friday – I caught the bus across the street from our house, and it broke down. We sat at the stop for 5 minutes or so while the driver tried various things to get it going again. Eventually he gave up and called the depot for a replacement bus to be sent out, but it was going to be at least 20 minutes until it arrived (in fact, it would be a race between it and the next timetabled bus as to which would get there first). There were only half a dozen people on the bus (school holidays, so it wasn’t full of school kids like normal), so I invited everyone over to my house for a cup of tea while we were waiting (the driver said he’d sound the horn if the replacement bus arrived before we got back).

As it turned out, only one person took up the offer (a few people decided to walk the few blocks to catch a bus on another route, someone else lived close so wanted to run back home and get something she’d forgotten, a woman with Down Syndrome was crying because she’d be late for work, so someone else sat with her to comfort her, and a couple of Japanese girls were too shy and stayed sitting at the bus stop), but me and this one woman went home for a quick cup of tea and a nice chat – it’s funny, we both felt like we knew each other because we’ve both taken the same bus for years and knew each other by sight, but had never talked before (I saw a documentary once where they called that phenomenon being “familiar strangers”. Apparently it’s something that can only happen in communities over a certain size – when we all lived in villages, it would have been unheard of to recognise someone but not know them to talk to).

The other exciting thing that happened on Friday was I had my final assessment for the ESOL-HT course. Once you’ve done the course, you have to do 12 weeks of actual tutoring, keeping a written record of everything you do, and then have a session with one of the instructors to go over what you’ve been doing, and make sure it’s all going ok, and that you’ve been applying the stuff they taught you in the course. Because of the complications with my first learner, it’s taken me a long time to get the 12 weeks done, but I finally managed it, so on Friday evening had my assessment session. The instructor said I was doing really well, and was very impressed by my write ups (I knew that wasted year at teacher’s college would come in handy for *something* – at least I know all the jargon for writing impressive-looking lesson plans ;-)). So I’m now a fully qualified ESOL Home Tutor. Doesn’t prove anything, but I get a nice shiny certificate to hang on my wall.

I spent most of the weekend trying to distract myself from the fact that I’m not in Melbourne πŸ™

On Saturday I had to go into town to get a few bits and pieces for my latest project (I’m not telling what it is just yet – all I’ll say is that my new desk is perfect for sewing on, but I don’t think I’ll ever get all the glitter out of the keyboard…), and released a few books around town as I went: Sein Language by Jerry Seinfeld in Starbucks, Peter Pan by JM Barrie in the Square (where a cultural performance was just getting started – if I’d known, I would have brought more children’s books, because there were loads of families around watching it), Queen’s Royal by John Quigley on a statue of Queen Victoria (where it was caught by someone from Victoria – a themed catch as well as a themed release!), and A Woman Like Us by Nicola Thorne in the Coffee Club.

Tam came round for tea on Saturday night, and helped me with my project for a bit. We tried to get a LAN game going, but the computers just wouldn’t cooperate (typical – they were talking to each other fine the other day!). We did eventually get it going, but my computer kept crashing and kicking me out of the game, so in the end we gave up and watched a DVD instead (actually, MrPloppy and Tam watched the DVD, I piked out and went to bed – all these nor’westers have been doing lovely things with my allergies, so I haven’t been sleeping all that well lately).

I’d planned on going out for a walk on Sunday to distribute some more flyers (and check out some more local parks for releasing – it’s amazing how many of them you come across when you start systematically walking the streets), but the weather wouldn’t cooperate, being too hot and windy in the morning and too damp in the afternoon. So my planned walk turned into a quick dash up to the supermarket (and released Mix and Match by Tegan James). Hopefully there’ll be some nice evenings this week when I can go flyer-delivering instead (although it’s not looking promising so far – it’s tipping down this morning).

Another catch from the past: Wishful Thinking by Eric Kraft, that I released on our way up to Picton for the Wellington convention, was caught by an anonymous finder, by the sounds of it not far from where I left it. Eight months is a long way from being the longest time between release and catch I’ve ever had, but it’s still always nice to hear back from the books you’d given up on.

I don’t do a lot of trading any more, because the postage was getting too expensive (and Mt TBR too high), and most of the PMs I get requesting trades are more along the lines of demanding books so I ignore them. However I had a couple of really nice ones lately – bookworm76 saw that I’d just registered Worst First Sentence of a Novel by Brian Edwards and offered me Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk in exchange (which I’ve had on my wish list for ages), and then
teuffi offered me The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (also on my wish list) as a RABK. So my letterbox has been excitingly full of parcels recently!

Only two more weeks until the end of semester! And I don’t even have a final exam for this course (just another essay due this week, and then a test next week – eek!!!), so by next Friday I’ll be completely finished with study for the year and be able to relax* a bit (*also known as “frantically try to catch up with all the stuff I should have been doing but kept putting aside because study was taking priority). This year has just whizzed by so fast!

Currently reading: Forensic Fingerprints by Hugh Miller and Chronicle of the Unsung by Martin Edmond (yep, still slogging my way through it!)
Currently listening to: Half Moon Street by Anne Perry

And here’s what it was supposed to look like…

I tend to treat cross-stitch patterns as more of a guideline than something I have to strictly follow, and like to add my own personal touches, especially when I’m making a gift. And this secret project was no exception. Here’s the photo from the magazine I took the pattern from:

As you can see, I made one or two wee changes πŸ™‚

The first change was to the fabric colour – I thought the cream on cream look was just too bland, so chose the blue-grey because it made the other colours pop out from the background (oh, and it was kind of because I already had that fabric in my stash, and was too impatient to get started to go and buy something different πŸ™‚ but mainly it was because I liked the effect, honestly!)

Then I removed the angel wings. Sorry, I just don’t do angels. And even if I did, the wings look kind of tacked on in that picture. Plus, isn’t there something sort of creepy about the image of bride as angel? Maybe it’s just me, but I read it as “floating around heaven in a wedding dress because she dropped dead on her wedding day”, which isn’t really the wishes I want to send to rarsberry!!! And once the wings were gone, the dove had to go too, to keep the composition balanced.

I thought the cross-stitching over the front of her dress was a bit ugly, so that was next to go. Then I made a few changes to the rest of the back-stitching. It’s a bit hard to tell from this photo, but a few of the roses were supposed to have pink back-stitching, but I didn’t think it really worked, so I just carried on with the dark olive. And I used a dark brown for the backstitch in her hair instead of black – I don’t often like black back-stitching, because it tends to be quite harsh, plus I had rarsberry’s hair colour in mind. Oh, and I removed the french knots round the edge of the heart, because they just look silly.

The last change was to remove the borders, which I’ll admit was mainly motivated by the fact that I was running out of time πŸ™‚ but also because without the wings there is a large empty space in the top of the picture, and I thought the borders might draw attention to that a bit much. But it was mainly the time thing. And at 11 o’clock last night, the thought of all those additional french knots was just too much.

So, that’s the FutureCat thought process in going from pretty picture in magazine to finished cross-stitch.


At 11.15 last night, to be exact. It took a bit longer than I expected, having planned to finish it last weekend, but Sunday’s visitors, then a headache brought on by a combination of a strong nor’wester and lack of sleep (%$&# daylight savings!) knocked out Monday evening, so it was a rush job the last two evenings to get it done in time. But I finally finished it:

And, though I say so myself, it looks great!

Lytteltonwitch has kindly volunteered to take it to the framers for me in her lunch hour today (I can’t get into town in a lunch hour to do it, and MrPloppy doesn’t like having to make colour decisions), so hopefully they’ll be able to get it done by next Friday, in time for us to deliver it to Rars on Saturday night.

And tonight, I sleep!