So far

Because I couldn’t quite make up my mind what fabrics to use for the next bird, this afternoon I laid out all the ones I’ve done so far, hoping seeing the overall effect would help me decide.  It’s the first time I’ve actually looked at them all together, and they look pretty impressive:

They also look huge. Considering there’s still four birds to go, and three of them are going to be on a larger scale, plus there’s going to be some largish areas of plain background between them in the final layout, the finished quilt is going to be enormous!

Oh, and my pride in how good my versions of the birds look is completely shattered when I browse Tartankiwi’s Flickr group and see what other people have done.  Like this perfectly-shaded duck, or this gorgeous batik kestrel (which has a perfectly straight seam along its wing where mine wouldn’t), or this dramatically-coloured seagull.

Oh well, my quilt might not end up looking as good as theirs, but it’s going to be colourful and fun, and I’m having a lot of fun making it (which really is the whole point of the exercise 🙂 ).

Rant of the day

I really wish on-line booking agents would just tell you the actual price of a ticket up front, instead of advertising one price and then adding on a pile of (unavoidable) additional fees.  For example, today I booked a ticket for a seminar Harvestbird and I are going to in a couple of weeks.  The advertised price was $10, with the note “service and transaction fees apply”. Which turned out to be $2 booking fee and 30c credit card processing fee.

Now, I accept that there is some administration involved in selling tickets, which has a cost.  And banks charge retailers for processing credit card payments.  And $12.30 isn’t exactly expensive.  But what annoys me is that there were no alternatives – the only way to get the tickets was through the booking agent, and the only payment option was credit card.  So if absolutely everyone is going to have to pay those additional fees anyway, why not build them into the ticket price in the first place, and advertise the tickets as costing $12.30?  Or even $15 if you like round numbers.  I’d much rather pay a flat $15 for an event and know that that’s going to be the total amount I pay, than pay $10 plus mysterious extra fees that I won’t find out the actual cost of until checkout.

Of course, I don’t mind paying extra if I’m requesting an additional service – say if I was opting to have the tickets mailed out to me instead of emailed.  In that situation, it’s fine to add an extra fee – but only if it is *genuinely* an additional service, not just the minimum you need to do to get a ticket.  Otherwise it just seems like lying to tell me I can buy a ticket for $10 when there is no way to actually get it for that price.

And that’s my rant for the day.


My shiny new YHA membership card arrived today. It is shiny, in fact, because when my membership expired last month the reminder came with an offer to upgrade to a lifetime gold membership for a reduced price. And when I did the calculations, I worked out that over the years I’ve renewed my membership enough times that a lifetime membership would have already have paid for itself. And I stay in YHAs often enough that having a membership is definitely worth it, between the hostel discounts and free wi-fi. So I took the plunge and upgraded.

Now I just have to plan lots of exciting trips over the next few years to justify paying all that money for my new shiny gold card.  Lytteltonwitch and I have a wee road trip planned for Easter that will give it a bit of use, so that’s a start…

Harvestbird and I actually managed to have lunch together today, for the first time in what seems like forever. She’s been teaching summer school, so hasn’t been able to get in from Lincoln in her lunch breaks. But now that we’re into first semester, her schedule has freed up a bit, so we went to our favourite yum cha place today and enjoyed much steamed bun and fried squid goodness.

Oh yeah, and some good conversation too. But really it’s all about the food 😉

In the ongoing saga of the eaves, theoretically the work is all finished, because the painter came and painted the repaired section a few days ago. The building company (that is project managing the repair) sent me a form to sign to say the work was complete, so I thought I’d better have another look at the repairs before I signed it off… and I discovered that the new section was painted cream, while the rest of the soffit (which I’ve learnt is the proper name for what I’ve been calling “that underneath part of the eaves, you know what I mean”) is white. So much for colour-matching the paint. So I emailed the administrator at the building company and mentioned this (in a really nice “I was just wondering” sort of way, because I feel a bit guilty complaining about it at all, given that I’m going to have to repaint the entire thing sometime soon anyway, because the paint is starting to flake in another area (and it’s probably 20 years since it was last painted), but the scope of works did say that the paint was to match the existing colour), and she replied with a rather weak excuse that the painter hadn’t been able to take a paint sample to do a proper match because of the asbestos danger (yeah, right – I reckon he just had half a tin left over from another job and thought he could get away with it. I know when it comes to paint there’s a lot of shades of white, but surely you don’t need to take a sample to tell the difference between white and cream), but they’d be happy to send the painter back to try again. So I suggested just good old fashioned “brilliant white” would be an acceptable match.

So it’s back to waiting again now to see how long before the painter comes back, and if he manages to get a closer approximation to white this time… (Harvestbird and I were contemplating at lunch what the painter equivalent of a waiter spitting in your food if you send it back is – maybe “accidentally” dripping white paint down the brickwork?)

I can’t remember if I mentioned this the other day, but my call for Friends of CEISMIC volunteers has already paid off!  I got an email the other day from someone who works as an archivist and wants to get some experience in digital archiving, asking if she could come and volunteer with us!  It’s very exciting, because we’ll be able to learn just as much from her as she does from us (none of us have any formal archiving background), plus it’s a fantastic endorsement of the project that someone like that would be interested.  So I’m feeling pretty proud of my wee idea 🙂

By the light of day

I had another look at the kestrel in daylight, and having let enough time pass for the frustration at not getting it to work right to subside, and I’m feeling a lot happier about it now. The misalignment isn’t nearly as bad as I’d thought, and (as a couple of you pointed out) hardly even noticeable if you don’t know it’s there.  Must learn to be less perfectionist! (yeah Mum, I know, I’m turning into Granny…)

Daylight produced a much better photo, too (funny that):

Last night was our club contest night for Toastmasters.  I hadn’t intended to enter (because I’d rather just enjoy the learning environment at the club than get competitive about it), but when I got there the contest chair was in a panic because there were so few entries that it was embarrassing (especially because the judges, invited from another club, were looking like outnumbering the contestants).  So after standing chatting with a couple of other non-contestants feeling increasingly guilty while Ellie kept casting pleading glances at us, I said to Ben, who I’d been talking to, “I’ll enter if you do”, and we both signed up for the evaluation contest (which doesn’t require a prepared speech – instead, the competition is on how well you evaluate (critique) someone else’s speech, which you hear for the first time on the night and then are given only 5 minutes to prepare a 2-3 minute speech saying what the speaker did well and how they could have improved it).   I probably should be put out that after me prompting him to sign up, Ben won third place, while I didn’t place at all, but he totally deserved it – his evaluation was really cleverly done (while mine was good, but not great – see above about lack of competitiveness).  I did get a certificate of participation, though 🙂  (and more importantly, relieved Ellie’s panic about not having enough contestants).

I give up

I unpicked the seam on the kestrel, and very very carefully lined the two halves back up, and pinned and basted it, and checked again that the crucial part of the wing matched properly, and sewed the seam… and it still doesn’t quite line up.  So that’s it.  I’m giving up and accepting the fact that the kestrel is doomed to have a slightly wonky wing.  I just can’t face unpicking it again (and anyway the paper pattern is completely falling apart after being sewn and unpicked and sewn again, so each attempt gets harder to keep accurate).

Sorry about the rubbish photo – I took it late last night when I gave up in frustration.

This totally counts as a blog post

I just finished writing a post for our CEISMIC blog about yesterday’s anniversary (well, actually, editing it – I wrote the bulk of it yesterday sitting in a cafe eating lunch after the memorial was over).  I was going to write a post here as well, but then I realised that everything I wanted to say about yesterday I said in that post, so I’ll just link to it instead.

Hate it when that happens

Nope, that definitely doesn’t line up. Even though I spent ages checking and double-checking and was sure it lined up properly before I sewed the final seam, I must have moved it slightly while I was sewing it and now it is just off enough to be totally noticeable (to me, anyway), so I’m going to have to unpick that really really long seam (of really really small stitches) and try again.

It’s probably a sign that I should get over my aversion to hand-sewing and actually baste the important seams before I sew them…

Oh well, I don’t have time to worry about it right now anyway – I’ve got to catch a bus into Riccarton shortly to go to an earthquake memorial event (it’s the anniversary today), because I promised to take some photos for work (and just because I like the annual opportunity to reflect and remember).  Though there might not be a lot to take photos of – I suspect the turn-out will be pretty small given the drizzly weather.

Like old times

It’s been a very long time since we had regular Bookcrossing meetups in Christchurch, what with one thing or another, but with Lytteltonwitch being back in town, we decided to give them another go.  So she emailed a few new members, plus some of the old-timers, and arranged a meetup for this morning.

And we actually had two people (besides the two of us 🙂 ) turn up!  Both newish members (well, one has been a member for a while, but is new to Christchurch), and both seemed keen to have regular meetups, so this could be the beginning of a revival for the Christchurch Bookcrossing group.

I released quite a few books (some to the new bookcrossers, and some to the book exchange shelf in the cafe):

and (of course) I picked up a book: The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide.

Nice to have meetups back 🙂

Assorted things

I think Mum is having as much fun with my new patchwork/quilting obsession as I am – she keeps sending me little packages of fabric to feed my ever-growing stash.  Yesterday a parcel arrived from her via Trademe, with this fantastic selection:

None of the pieces are huge, but they don’t need to be for paper piecing, and those nice little patterns on the fabric are ideal.  (Plus I love the name of the trader: ThumpaCat Fabrics 🙂 )  Good find, Mum!

The builder was scheduled to come and fix the eaves on Tuesday, so of course didn’t actually turn up until yesterday.  But the work is finally done, the hole is gone, and the security light is back up.  All that remains to be done now is the painting (which I doubt will happen today, because it’s looking like it might rain), plus I need to get up on a ladder and adjust the lights so that they’re pointing in the right directions again.

It’s the 4th anniversary of the February earthquake this weekend, so Te Papa have launched a temporary exhibition about the earthquakes and their aftermath (there’s also an article about the exhibition in The Press today).  They’ve used quite a lot of material from our archive, which is exciting for our team, because the more exposure CEISMIC gets the better for our long-term funding prospects.  But exciting for me personally is that the curator mentioned to me that a few of my own photographs are included in the exhibition.  So I can now say my photography has been exhibited in our national museum 🙂

The exhibition is only running for a month, so I doubt I’ll get up to Wellington to see it, but Wellington people, make sure you drop by Te Papa and have a look!

Meeting the class of 2015

Even though I’m not actually taking a paper until next semester, I’m still considered part of the Honours class for the entire year, so I’m being invited to all of the class-wide meetings and events.  I attended the first this afternoon, the introductory meeting where the Head of Department alternately scares you with how hard the year is going to be and reassures you that the staff are there to help.  And, of course, where you get to meet the rest of your class (always a very small group in such a tiny department as Linguistics – there’s six of us this year, and everyone was commenting what a huge class it is 🙂 ).

For a change, I actually knew one of my fellow students (because I’m studying part time, my classmates from the year before have always moved on) – Kirsty, who started Honours at the same time as me and was also studying part time.  She completed two papers and then went to Japan for a couple of years to teach English, and has now come back to finish her degree (and have a baby – it’s due at the end of the first semester, so sounds like she’ll be in a race to get her work finished before it arrives).  We’re not taking any of the same papers, so won’t be in any actual classes together, but it’ll be nice to see a familiar face around the corridors.

The meeting achieved its purpose of getting me into a panic thinking I should get started on some work straight away… except that I don’t actually have anything to get started on until July.  I need to bottle this motivated feeling so I can pull it out again then 🙂