What happens in Vegas

Toastmasters tonight, and my fifth prepared speech, which means I’m half way through the first qualification, “The Competent Communicator”.  Each speech is supposed to focus on a particular skill, and tonight’s was on using body language.  I was instructed to pick a topic that would let me use lots of body language while talking, so I wrote a speech reminiscing about visiting a casino in Las Vegas (loosely based on this blog post, but exaggerated a bit for effect), which afforded plenty of opportunity for acting out the spin of the roulette wheels and the concentration on the faces of the gamblers.  The speech went fantastically well, and I got a really good evaluation for it (and there was an American in the audience who told me at supper that my description had captured it perfectly!), so I’m feeling pretty happy about my efforts.  Plus it was just fun revisiting those memories 🙂

Can’t think of a title

Had dinner last night at a Vietnamese restaurant in Fendalton with a few of the women from Toastmasters.  Our original plan had been to grab a quick dinner then go to a movie, but the conversation (and the meal – seriously good food) turned out to be much too enjoyable to rush, so we cancelled the movie plan and just lingered over dinner, and then adjourned across the road to a cafe for dessert.  A lovely night, but a later one than I’d intended – my plan had been to skip the movie and just head home after dinner, to try and get an early night before the horrors of First Monday of Daylight Savings (why is it just an hour’s difference seems so huge when your alarm goes off in the morning?).  Oh well, the best laid plans and all that – I’ll just have to try for an early night tonight instead…

Random swirls or a cat’s tail?

Lytteltonwitch asked if my mosaic was going to be a cat. No, just a random swirly pattern, but if you squint your eyes the right way it might be a cat’s tail…

It may look complete, but actually I didn’t have enough of the yellow tiles to finish the sides:

Plus of course it still needs to be grouted. Both will have to wait until next weekend when I can get to Hands to buy more tiles and the grout. I’m pretty pleased with how it’s looking so far, though.

The Gwilks came round for dinner last night, followed by a few games (of course!).  They’ve just acquired a new cat, an SPCA rescue.  I popped round to visit her today (and to borrow MrsGwilk’s tile cutters), and she’s gorgeous – a little grey shorthair that’s probably got a touch of Russian Blue in her ancestry.  Very friendly too – they only got her yesterday, but she seems to have settled right in, and was sitting comfortably on mini-Gwilk’s bed and accepting tickles from all visitors.  She’s tiny though – she’s 18 months old, but looks about the size Pushkin and Parsnips were at half that age.

The cherry tree survived the hail, and is now in full glorious bloom.

I love spring!

Aerosmith just saved my soul

Or rather, it just saved my soul from being saved, which is even better in my book.  As is usual on a Saturday morning, I’ve got on some very loud music while I clean the house – this morning’s choice is Aerosmith.  And I just had a visit from some Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They were starting to go into their usual spiel, which is always so difficult to extricate yourself politely from (and somehow extricating yourself rudely never feels like an option), when the song changed to one with rather sexually explicit lyrics (‘Pink’, from the Nine Lives album, if anyone wants to try replicating the experiment – the verse about “I want to wrap you in rubber” seemed to have the strongest effect).  And the words could be very clearly heard from where they were standing on the front doorstep.  It was amazing how quickly the conversation suddenly came to an end as they realised what they were listening to – it was basically, “Here, have some literature,” then they took off down the driveway, not quite at a sprint, but I’m sure they were thinking about it!

So there’s your answer if you’re plagued with religious people trying to convert you: just play them a little music! 😉


Wisdom from afar

Yetzirah said, in response to my anxieties about the community archiving course, “All you have to do is ask a few questions and let people talk. They will. You learn. Win win!”  And she was absolutely right.  I spent the first couple of hours just listening, then I started asking questions, and was rewarded with some really exciting ideas and new ways of thinking about what we’re doing, and (most importantly) some great practical advice.  About half the people in the class yesterday were proper professional archivists types, and the other half were in a similar situation to me – suddenly in the position of running an archive and very much having to learn on the job.  And that made for a really good mix for the class, because there were so many different experiences and points of view.  And, as the lecturer pointed out, sometimes it’s actually an advantage not having a traditional archiving background, because it means we’re more likely to think outside the box, and be open to things that “proper” archivists maybe wouldn’t, which is really important when you’re dealing with community archives, where the emotional value of material, and the stories tied up with it, is often more important than traditional archival criteria.

So, yeah, it was a really valuable day, and definitely worth going.  A long day though – I was up before 5 am to catch the plane, spent the whole day in the class (including lunch – we had a “working lunch” while we workshopped various problems), then raced back to the airport just in time to catch the plane home again (which ended up being delayed anyway, so my panic to get there on time was needless!), and finally got home about 7.30 pm.  And then was so buzzing with all the cool stuff I wanted to get down on paper so that I’d be able to tell the team about them today that I couldn’t sleep… so I’m very very tired today!

Stupidly early in the morning

As promised, photo of the work in progress:

Gotta go now, need to get to the airport (flying up to Wellington for the day always seems like such a good idea – after all it’s just a 40 minute flight, hardly any time at all.  Until you add on check-in time, and getting to and from the airport at each end, and everything else, and you find yourself having to be up at 5 am…)

It’s not a new hobby, honestly (yeah, I’m not convinced either)

You know how I keep saying I have too many hobbies? And that I really really don’t need any more, especially of the crafty variety that involve a large investment in tools and material (not to mention time)?  And that I’m really really really going to stick to just quilting and cross-stitch and lace making (oh yeah, and decoupage, and there’s a bag of knitting sitting in the cupboard, but that’s it, honestly (the odd bit of card making/papercraft when I’m at Mum’s place doesn’t count, because that’s her hobby, I just have a play sometimes)).  Yeah, I failed again.  It’s really not my fault though, it’s MrsGwilk’s.

See, what happened was that a couple of months ago the Gwilks were at my place and MrsGwilk was admiring my coffee table with the fabric decoupage fake mosaic.  And she mentioned how she’s always wanted to learn to do mosaic, and suggested that we go to a class together sometime.  So last night we did – we spent the evening at Hands learning to cut tiles (actually, “cut” implies way too much accuracy – “break in vaguely the direction you want and hope for the best” is a lot closer to reality) and break crockery, and all about glues and grout and other exciting stuff, and made a start on our own projects.  Actually, MrsGwilk, being sensible enough to choose a small project and use large chunks of crockery for it, pretty much finished hers – she just needed to wait 24 hours for the glue to cure, and then she’d be able to grout it.  I, on the other hand, being my usual over-ambitious self, came up with a large(ish) and complicated design which necessitated many many many very small pieces of tile, so only got about a third of the way through all the breaking and gluing before it was time to go home.  So yet another project needing a weekend devoted to finishing.

At least I haven’t actually invested in any tools yet.  MrsGwilk has a set of tilecutters she acquired ages ago as part of a box of random tools, and she’s promised I can borrow them whenever I want, so I can continue to pretend to myself that I’m just dabbling, and really haven’t acquired yet another hobby.

Photos of the work in progress will follow if I manage to get home tonight while it’s still light enough to take them.

Santa’s Spurtle

Very weird dream last night. I was walking with a group of people (no idea who, but it seemed very important to me that I impress them). They were talking about how wooden spoons are made, and that it’s necessary to heat-temper the wood that’s used to make them (yes, I know that makes no sense whatsoever, but dream logic). I mentioned the spurtle Granny used to have, and one of them asked what that was, so I described it as a porridge-stirring stick. Suddenly, a woman with a Scottish accent turned to me and told me I was wrong, that wasn’t a spurtle at all, because “spurtle” actually means the elbow patches made out of coal sacks that are worn by Father Christmas (!?). I was worried that everyone would think I was stupid, so I started peppering my speech with random Scots words, trying to convince her that I really did know what I was talking about, and getting more and more anxious.

Not difficult to figure out where the anxiety came from at least (if not the subject matter) – I’m going up to Wellington on Thursday (just for the day, sorry Wellington people, so I won’t have time to meet up with any of you), to a workshop on community archiving at Victoria.  I’ve been reading the suggested pre-reading material for it, and getting more and more worried that everyone else there is going to be a proper professional archivist with qualifications and stuff, and that the whole thing will be way above my head and full of theory I don’t understand.  I’m sure it won’t be, and that even if it is, I’ll learn huge amounts just by being able to talk to professional archivists about what we’re trying to do down here, but obviously my subconscious isn’t quite so convinced…

Hail and toilet doors

It alternately irritates and amuses me that the locks on the toilet stalls at work have the brand name “Axess”.   Irritates because wanting a trademarkable word is no excuse for mangling spelling like that, and amuses because it sounds like something used to describe a character in a Victorian melodrama, some sort of deranged madwoman locked up in the attic for the attempted decapitation of her husband – The Axess of Wildbury Hall, coming soon to a library near you.

Winter has returned with a vengance – it’s been cold and wet and miserable all day, with bursts of hail that seemed specially timed to hit every time I had to go outside (seriously – 5 minutes before I had to leave the house to catch the bus, it wasn’t even raining.  In the time it took to cross the road to the bus stop, it had started hailing, hard, and the wind picked up so much I couldn’t even shelter under an umbrella.  Then at lunch time when I went to meet Harvestbird for lunch, the same thing happened – no rain before I left the building, and half way to the carpark the hail started again.  The universe is out to get me.)

This really has been a disjointed entry, hasn’t it?  I blame the fact I’ve been watching Doctor Who (not the new Peter Capaldi version – I’m still a couple of series behind.  I reckon by the time I’ve finished re-watching up with the rest of the Matt Smith episodes the new series should be out on DVD and I’ll be able to see it then) – spend too much time listening to Matt Smith talking, and you start thinking in his speech patterns, bouncing madly from topic to topic…  That’s my excuse, anyway 🙂

What else I did at the weekend

Yesterday wasn’t all about the elections (the less said about the results of which the better).  After I finished my shift at the polling booth I walked down to Hands and stocked up on a few* supplies for a class I’m going to with MrsGwilk on Tuesday.  Then, as predictions of rain had been proved false by  a lovely sunny day, I caught the bus into town from there to catch the first Dorothy’s Pop-up Tearoom of the season.

I think I’ve mentioned Dorothy’s here before – it’s the creation of an ex-colleague (actually called Jan, just to confuse everyone), a tiny tea-room operating out of a caravan and serving proper English high teas (proper like the scones have actual clotted cream on them, not whipped cream!).  Every fine weekend over the summer she sets up her caravan on an empty site, sets out tables and chairs with proper tablecloths and fine china, and serves up tea, cucumber sandwiches, dainty little cakes, and of course, the aforementioned scones with jam and clotted cream.  She even has a selection of vintage magazines to peruse while you nibble.  It’s all very lovely and civilised and somehow made even more perfect by the fact that you’re sitting in the remains of a demolition site 🙂  (wish I’d thought to take my camera with me!)

I got there a bit early, so I helped her set up so we could catch up while we worked – every month or two we exchange emails trying to make a plan to have lunch, but one or the other of us always seems to end up having to cancel, so it was great to have a chance to chat.  Once customers started to arrive (including a couple dressed up in steam punk, who she said are regular customers of hers – they’re a perfect fit for the tea-rooms!) I switched from assistant to customer myself and ordered a high tea and sat and read a book while enjoying it and the sunshine.  Every so often when there was a lull between customers Jan would come and sit with me and we’d resume our conversation.  A lovely way to spend an afternoon.  (Harvestbird, we really must take your small person there one weekend to have proper ladies’ afternoon tea!)

When I got home I quickly whipped up a batch of muffins, as a plate for a games evening the Gwilks had invited me to.  It was at a friend of theirs, and in theory was supposed to be an alternative to spending the evening obsessively watching the election results, but of course what actually happened was that at regular intervals during the night someone would be unable to resist temptation and go and check, then announce the latest figures to everyone, to sighs of disappointment all round.  But despite that gloom hovering in the background, it still managed to be a fun evening.

* And I really did manage to restrain myself to just a few – I only got what was on the class materials list, and didn’t even look around the rest of the shop!

PS. The first few blossoms have opened on the cherry tree!  It’ll be a while yet before enough open to get the full impact, but it’s a start: