I can never remember if it’s centrifugal or centripetal

Apparently it’s some sort of obscure American holiday tomorrow 😉 so Jenny’s having a party. I promised to bring a cake, but when I got home I wasn’t feeling in a particularly cake-making mood. I really should have listened to that feeling, but I did promise cake, so I hit the kitchen.

I need to explain something about our kitchen. It was built in 1950, and has exactly three powerpoints (ok, five if you count the two on the oven, but one of those is up against the wall so inaccessible – so call it four). One for the fridge (and the radio, thanks to a rather wobbly arrangement of double adaptor and power surge protector), one for the kettle, one for the microwave, and one left for anything else that needs electricity. The only problem with that useful spare powerpoint is that it’s by the sink. And I much prefer working at my wonderful old wooden kitchen table. But the cord of my electric beater does stretch from the powerpoint to the table… just.

Anyway, I started making the cake, things were going well, and I was actually starting to get into a baking mood. And then as I was beating the eggs into the mixture, the beater suddenly stopped working. I looked behind me, and saw that I’d pulled the cord a bit too far, and the plug had come out. So I put the beater down, and plugged it back in… yep, you saw it coming, didn’t you? Pity I didn’t. Very important life lesson: *before* you plug a beater in, you really should turn it off. There is cake mixture all over the kitchen – on the table, on the floor, on the walls, in my hair… we’re going to be wiping it out of crevices for weeks.

The cake did turn out pretty good in the end though… even if it is slightly smaller than planned…

I’m leaving on a jet plane

don’t know when… actually, I do – I’ll be back on Tuesday night.

I’m off to Wellington for a few days, ostensibly for work, but as usual instead of flying up on Monday morning for a couple of days of exciting meetings I managed to change my flights so I get the weekend to enjoy more of the city than the inside of a hotel conference room. And of course I’ll be meeting up with the Wellington bookcrossers.

I’m all packed (I couldn’t quite fill my bag with 20kg of books because I had to leave a bit of space for some tidy clothes for work, but I got close :-)), and my taxi to the airport is booked, so I’m just filling in a few minutes here before I have to go.

I’ve had an interesting few days (for a given value of interesting). On Thursday night I went to a tupperware party. Yes, they still have them – I thought they’d gone out in the 70s. One of the women at work was hosting it, and promised I didn’t actually have to buy anything. A good thing too – their prices are astronomical! I went along thinking I could just buy something small, just to be polite, but the cheapest things started at about $30 (and that was for silly little gadgety things I’d never buy in a million years). Most of the actually useful containers were in the $50-$100 range. Sorry, but there’s no way I’m going to pay $50 for a plastic box, no matter how wonderful their lifetime guarantee is.

But other than spending the evening avoiding the saleswoman, I actually kind of enjoyed it – there were a few other people I knew from work there, who I don’t normally get the chance to just sit and chat with, and thankfully there weren’t any of those excruciating ice-breaker games so beloved by party plan salespeople.

Then last night I got a phone call from Mrs gwilk, inviting me round to their place to play Rock Band (or some variation of it) on their Playstation. She’d been telling me about it a while back, and thought I might like to see it in action. So I went round and had a go… and let me just say, I’m not destined to become a rock star! I was terrible! It was great fun though – we had me on bass, gwilk on guitar, Mrs gwilk on vocals, and gwilk jr on drums, and lots of laughs. Luckily the game can set different difficulty settings for each player, so I could struggle along on the absolute beginner level while they were all on expert.

Right, better get my shoes on and get ready to go. See you when I get back!

Curried cats and bird attacks

Sapphy discovered something important tonight: cats and curry shouldn’t mix. Every so often my ESOL student makes a bit extra of whatever they’re having for dinner and gives me some to take home for me and MrPloppy. Tonight’s dish was a rather spicy lamb curry. Really tasty, but with quite a bite. Sapphy could obviously smell the lamb, and was sitting under the table as we ate begging rather insistently for a bit. So in the spirit of scientific enquiry (and because I have a nasty streak) I gave her a little bit to try. Cruel, yes, but incredibly funny – you should have seen the look on her face as the chilli hit. She was trying to back away from her own mouth! Of course, I wasn’t cruel enough to make her suffer for long – I ran straight to the fridge and got her a bowl of milk to cool the pain. I’d like to think this will teach her not to beg from the table, but I bet she’ll be straight back tomorrow night.

Anyway, what I’ve been up to for the past couple of weeks (why does time always fly so fast between diary entries? I always have such good intentions, and then suddenly another two weeks have gone past unrecorded).

Ffuzzle went home (or at least, to her new home in Nelson) on the Tuesday after Labour weekend. Before she left I made sure she was well inducted into the world of bookcrossing and took her for a release walk around the Arts Centre. She released a couple of books, and I released… a lot more than a couple 🙂 We tried sitting and watching one of the books to see if it got caught, but despite several people stopping to look, nobody picked it up. Anyway, she seemed pretty hooked, and had plans of releasing a few books at the rest stops on the bus to Nelson.

I had a lovely surprise last week. We had an end-of-year party at work (yeah, I know it’s only October, but the semester is over, and a lot of people are heading off on research trips over the summer, so it’s the last point in the year when all the staff will be around). Nice boss gave the usual speech of thanks and congratulations to various people, and not only singled me out for particular thanks for all the extra work I’ve done this year, but presented me with a gift from the staff in two of my departments. And even better, Jenny had been in charge of picking the present, so I got something I actually wanted (as opposed to the kind of nice but non-specific gifts more normal to work functions): Terry Pratchett’s latest book, Unseen Academicals. Now I know why she asked me so many times over the last couple of weeks whether I’d read it yet 🙂

Saturday was meetup day, brunch at the Coffee Club OBCZ. Only rarsberry and me there. Theoretically we were supposed to be there until 12, but after an hour we decided nobody else was going to show up so we went for a walk instead to release some Halloween-themed books around the town. I inherited lytteltonwitch‘s stash of Halloween books when she left, so I had some great titles: The Ghost in the Picture, Skeleton Cave, Second-Hand Magic, Entombed, Twilight Ghost, Phantom Fear, The Ghost School, Family Phantoms, Journey into Fear, Strange Matter, Trick or Treat, Kiss of Death, A Ghost of a Chance, Ghost Twins, Mr Corbett’s Ghost, The Haunting of Grade Three, True Horror Stories, Twilight Ghost, Frankenstein’s Bride, Georgie and the Noisy Ghost, The Birthday Spell, and The Necropolis Railway.

I’ve already had three catches, too, for The Birthday Spell, Mr Corbett’s Ghost, and Second-Hand Magic.

We decided we must be being haunted by the spirit of lytteltonwitch, because we kept encountering weird things. First there was the hundreds of motorbikes that went past while we were trying to cross the road (which I later worked out was the rally protesting the increase in ACC charges). It was an impressive sight, actually (especially to see big guys in leather on huge Harleys riding happily alongside people on tiny scooters :-)), and an even more impressive noise. I’ve never been a great fan of riding motorbikes, but there’s something about that sound… especially when you get a large number of bikes together.

Then there was the kilted busker who offered to strip for us (put your tongue back in, lytteltonwitch, he only took off his jacket), but then told us off for sitting in the wrong place (I was more interested in getting a good view of the book I’d just released than of his show).

Oh, and Rars kept getting attacked by low-flying birds. First a duck flew between us close enough that we almost felt its wingtips, and then a sparrow dive-bombed her head.

When I got home I realised that having released all my Halloween books meant I didn’t have any to give out to trick or treaters, so I raced up to the dairy to buy some lollies. Halloween is kind of annoying, actually. I don’t mind *that* much that it’s an American thing that was never part of our culture until TV introduced it (although strictly the tradition of trick or treating comes from Scotland, so I suppose it should be part of mine – we never went trick or treating when I was a kid, anyway). Like it or not, American culture is sneaking into our lives in all sorts of subtle and not-so-subtle ways, and there’s nothing we can do about it. But what’s really annoying is that it hasn’t become a real tradition yet, so you don’t know what to expect. In America, everyone knows there’ll be loads of kids knocking at their doors, so they can prepare appropriately. But here it’s not that predictable yet. Some years we’ll be all prepared with lollies and spooky books and not have a single trick or treater, and other years we’ll just say forget it and not get anything, and of course then have a steady stream of knocks on the door, and end up having to give out boring stuff like fruit because we don’t have any lollies in the house.

Needless to say, after making a special effort to buy some lollies this year we had a whole two kids turn up. So we’ll be eating jellybeans for the next month.

Must be about time for a cross-stitch report. I got so frustrated with all those greens in the one I was working on that I decided to set it aside for a while and work on something easier. So while I was down in Alexandra I started on a nice shiny new project (yeah, I know I’ve got several on the go already, but new is good). And now I’ve nearly finished it – just a bit more back-stitch to go: