I have a top!

Getting too dark to get a decent photo, but I couldn’t wait until morning to take it in better light 🙂

Of course, there’s still a lot of work still to do – this is just the quilt top, I’ve still got to do the actual quilting part – but that’s going to wait for a while.  I want to practice my free-motion quilting a lot more before I tackle something this huge.

But yeah, think I’m reasonably happy with it.

Plumbers and earthquakes

As promised, the plumber came back this morning and replaced the newly-leaking pipe.  He showed me the pipe he removed, and I’m surprised it hadn’t leaked a lot sooner – it looked like there was only a thin coating of rust holding it together.  He said when he cut one end of the pipe to remove it, the other end basically just came away in his hand.  I got him to have a look around the other pipes while he was up in the ceiling, and he found another one that was looking near failure, so I got him to replace that too, just in case.  I’d rather pay now and get all the possible problems fixed than wait until they actually fail and have a much bigger problem.  The total bill for all three repairs was just over $600, which wasn’t quite as horrific as I’d feared it might be, and totally worth it to know that no more pipes are likely to suddenly spring a leak (touch wood!)

The good news is that my insurance is going to cover the damage to the ceiling (well mostly cover, less the excess and a further reduction of my no-claims bonus – in other words I’m going to end up paying for almost all of it).  I don’t quite understand the logic of why when a pipe bursts insurance won’t pay to repair the pipe, but they will pay to repair the damage the water does, but as I hadn’t even thought of it as being an insurance claim until the plumber mentioned it, I’m not arguing.

The dramas of the day continued this afternoon when we felt a decent-sized earthquake.  The earthquake (which was a 6.2), was centred up near Kaikoura, so it didn’t feel all that strong down here in Christchurch (it felt like about a 4) but it went on for a really long time.  Our office was a good illustration of the Cantabrian attitude to earthquakes these days – while Alex (who only moved to Christchurch a year or so ago) was looking quite nervous, Lucy-Jane and I were just making guesses at the magnitude and distance even while our building was still swaying back and forth.  Our estimates were pretty close too – I’d guessed it was Seddon again, and that it was about a 6 (just from the length of time the shaking went on for – bigger quakes shake for longer).

From the sounds of it there was no serious damage or injuries, but my sympathies are still with everyone up in the top part of the South Island who’ll be having a sleepless night from aftershocks tonight.

Why are these things never simple?

I thought I’d be sitting down to write a blog post tonight about how happy I was to finally have my leaking pipe fixed.  After all, I rang the plumber this morning to remind him that he’d promised me about a month ago that he’d come back with the parts to fix it in a week or two (it was only a slow leak, a drip every hour or so, and the damage to the ceiling was already done, so I hadn’t been too concerned about the wait), and he was very apologetic and came right round, and he and his assistant went up into the attic and there was much sawing and banging and they replaced the faulty pipe, and checked that there was no longer a leak, and away they went with a promise to email me an invoice.

So I went back to work thinking all was good.  And then I got home tonight and heard a dripping noise.  Not from the original leak, but from the hot water cupboard.  I opened it up, and there was water running down the back wall of the cupboard.

Sorry, slight pause there because the plumber just turned up – I rang him when I saw the water, and the poor guy had to leave his dinner to come round (don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll charge appropriately).  He’s been up into the ceiling and had a look, and the leak’s coming from a completely different pipe than the one he repaired.  He of course said that these things often happen, that pipes of the same age fail around the same time, but I suspect that all that banging to get the old pipe disconnected this morning may well have contributed.  But of course he’s not going to admit liability by suggesting anything like that!

Anyway, end result is he didn’t have any of the right parts left to fix it, and the shops are all shut now, so the best he could do was promise to come back first thing tomorrow.  And in the meantime he’s shut off the hot water which has at least stopped the leak.  Means I’ve only got cold water for now, but I’ll survive – I can just go back to earthquake mode and start boiling water if I need hot, and my shower in the morning can wait until he’s been back to fix the pipe (or if all else fails, I’ll nip over to the swimming pool at Jellie Park and use their showers).

Seems like a good excuse to go and get takeaways for tea tonight though, so I’ve got fewer dishes to wash 🙂

Ok, anyone want to bet how many times in the next 14 hours or so I turn on a hot tap and am confused by no water coming out?

Busy weekend

Haven’t had much time to work on my quilt, because the weekend has been so full of other stuff.  I’ve got about a quarter of it sewn together though, so that’s a start.

Yesterday’s outing was to Ashburton with Lytteltonwitch.  She’d heard there was a “Stash Re-hash” market being held, which promised lots of cheap fabric and craft supplies.  We got slightly lost getting there (no, not to Ashburton – it would be very hard to get lost getting there!) because Lytteltonwitch had somehow managed to combine “Sinclair Centre” and “Park Street” into the non-existent “Spencer Street”, which we spent a long time looking for before giving up and Googling the event.  Once we got the right address it was a lot easier to find 🙂

I was reasonably restrained in my purchases – I was tempted to buy a lot more, but the fabrics that had attracted my attention were all in huge quantities (like 2m lengths) which I’d never use all of, so it wouldn’t have worked out any cheaper to buy them than to just buy smaller quantities new.

On the way to Ashburton we stopped off at the Book Barn in Chertsey.  I’d never been there before, so it was a bit of surprise.  It’s in an actual barn, packed solid with bookshelves and boxes of second-hand books with narrow aisles between giving just enough room for you to move around and browse the books, and even more boxes of books stacked up behind waiting to be unpacked.  I didn’t end up buying anything, because it was so huge and overwhelming it was a bit of a “where do I start?”  Think I’ll need to make myself a list of books to search for next time we visit.

Then today we had a bookcrossing meetup, at Beat Street Cafe.  It was very well attended – Chuckacraft brought along a couple of friends (one of whom joined Bookcrossing on the spot), plus Alkaline-Kiwi was down from Auckland for the weekend so came along, and Rarsberry and her kids turned up too.  It was quite a crowd round the table! (And a crowd of books on the table – as usual, I promised myself I’d only bring home one or two, and ended up with half a dozen in my bag).

After the meetup, Alkaline-Kiwi, Lytteltonwitch and I gathered up the left-over books and took them along to the Gapfiller book fridge, which is only a couple of blocks from the cafe.  The fridge is obviously still getting a lot of use – there was someone there browsing the shelves when we arrived, and as we were leaving I saw someone else heading for the fridge.  Not many of the books are actually bookcrossing books any more, of course, but it’s still working great as a community book exchange, so who cares if they’re not all registered.

For Nancy: the mace and the dead sheep

Nancy commented about the mace and dead sheep:

I see why it’s called a dead sheep. It certainly doesn’t look very lively!

A mace? I’ve often heard teachers say they wished they could knock some sense into some heads, but this is taking it too far! What next? The “Board of Education” (paddle used by prinicipals in the olden days, 1950s, when school administrators were allowed physical punishment of unruly children).

The reply I was writing got a bit long, so I thought I’d write it as a post instead.

According to Wikipedia, universities’ maces represent their “internal authority over members and the independence from external authority”.  So yeah, basically used to hit over the head staff who don’t behave or governments that try to interfere 🙂

In trying to find a picture of our university’s mace, I discovered it has quite a bit of history to it:

The University mace provides a tangible link with Christ Church, Oxford, where it was designed and made. The shaft of the mace is of oak from a beam removed from Big Tom Tower when the bell was rehung in 1953. Even in 1680, when the beam was installed in the Sir Christopher Wren-designed tower, the timber was described as ‘well-seasoned oak’. The mace has been used for every graduation ceremony since 1957.

And the dead sheep on the coat of arms represents the fact that the Canterbury province became very wealthy in the early days of NZ from farming – wool was one of our main exports.  From the university’s webpage:

The “dead sheep” is actually a silver fleece symbolising the pastoral pursuits of the province of Canterbury, while the golden 19th century plough on the base of the shield symbolises agriculture. Both are set on a murrey-coloured (purple-red, derived from mulberry) shield. In the middle of the golden chief (top section) rests an open book with a murrey cover and golden clasps, representing learning. On the dexter (right-hand side, or observer’s left) chief is an azure bishop’s pall charged with four golden crosses with splayed arms, flat ends and a spiked foot. On the sinister chief (left-hand side, or observer’s right) is an azure cross flory. The two crosses signify Canterbury’s ecclesiastical connections. The wavy line separating the chief represents land overseas.

So in summary, tradition is weird.  But cool 🙂

Bearing the dead sheep

Graduation yesterday, and as usual I volunteered to help out – it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon (it’s so cool to be part of a ceremony that includes a whole lot of traditions straight out of the middle ages), and it’s always nice to see the students reach the end of all their hard work and get their degrees – it’s a good reminder of what the university is here for. Though as I was watching the students line up I realised that this is the first year I’ve not known any of the BA graduands – in previous years I’ve always recognised many of their faces, because most Arts students end up taking an English paper somewhere along the way, so most would have passed through my office at some point, picking up marked work or passing on messages for their lecturers.  But now I’ve been away from the English department for long enough that I’ve missed an entire cohort of undergrads while I’ve been on this secondment. Not that I’d want to give up my work in CEISMIC for anything, but it’s a weird feeling.

My job at graduation was to be a banner bearer (which I love doing, because it means I get to play dress-ups and wear academic regalia – I’m ever so slightly proud of having earned the right to wear the pink silk hood that represents my BA 🙂 ).  There’s a large silk banner representing each of the faculties, and they are carried at the front of the procession as the students and academic staff enter the venue.  It turned out that I was the only banner bearer at our ceremony (there’s four different ceremonies over the course of the week, each for different groups of faculties) who’d been a banner bearer before, so I was appointed lead banner bearer, and had to carry the banner with the university’s crest (familiarly known as “the dead sheep”).  Not only that, but it meant I had to lead all the other banner bearers, with only the Esquire Bedell (the academic who carries the university’s mace into the ceremony with much gravitas – it’s one of those medieval traditions that the mace has to be present for the degrees to be officially conferred) ahead of me in the procession.  And it was the Esquire Bedell’s first time doing the job, so he wasn’t 100% confident on where he was supposed to go, so I was told if he went the wrong way, it was my job to lead everyone else in the right direction and hope he noticed and caught up with us!  Luckily he got it right, but I was feeling pretty nervous at the idea that I was the back-up plan if it all went horribly wrong – especially because I’d never paid all that much attention to the route before – I’d always been further back in the procession, so I could just follow the person ahead of me and not need to worry.

Anyway, all went well, we didn’t get lost or lead the entire student body on a wild goose chase around the arena, and nobody fell over walking up the stairs to the stage (surprisingly tricky to do when your view is obscured by a huge banner).  Another graduation ceremony successfully accomplished, with all the proud parents only seeing the pomp and splendour, and not knowing about the chaos that’s going on behind the scenes 🙂

Apparently there’s a photo of me and my fellow banner bearers on the university’s facebook page.

So cold!

It doesn’t help that the heating isn’t on at work yet (no idea why not – normally they turn it on at Easter and off again at Show Weekend, no matter the weather in between those dates (something to do with how much it costs to fire the system up for the first time when it’s been sitting idle, so that it’s more economic to just run it continuously than to switch it on and off in response to outside temperatures)) and our largish open-plan office is not adequately warmed by the illicit fan heater we’ve been taking turns to aim at our desks.  So we’re all sitting here bundled up in many many layers trying not to freeze (I went over to the FGW office to pick up my academic regalia this afternoon, because I’m helping out at graduation tomorrow, and I was very tempted to wear my gown for the rest of the day, just because it would provide another layer of warmth).

Also not helping was the fact that although it was dry when I left home this morning, it started raining just as I was half-way to work, at exactly the point of my walk where catching a bus would involve getting wetter standing in the rain waiting for a bus to arrive than just continuing to walk would.  I was at least wearing a rain coat, but my legs got damp enough that it was mid-morning before I felt properly dried out.  It’s looking deceptively dry out there again now, so what’s the bet it will start raining again when I’m about halfway home?


All of a sudden the season has changed from autumn-that’s-really-late-summer to autumn-that’s-really-early-winter.  So cold today!  We didn’t at least get the promised hailstorm, but there was an icy wind all day, and some miserable drizzle just as I was walking to work this morning.  Hard to believe just over a week ago I was walking on the beach contemplating whether it was warm enough to go swimming (yes, that was in Golden Bay, which is a bit warmer than Christchurch, but still…).  Really must get the chimney swept so I can start using the fire again – if this weather continues I’m going to need it!


I think I’ve decided on a layout.  But then, I thought I’d decided on a layout an hour ago, until I took a photo of it to use as a reference, and it looked completely different in the photo than it had on the floor (probably because it fills so much of the floor that it’s hard to find somewhere to stand to get a decent view of the whole thing), so I had to swap a few birds around, take another photo, swap a few more… but I think this is it.  The final layout decided:

I didn’t have quite enough of the blue fabric left to provide a background for the whole thing (though I will once I cut it up into the appropriate-sized strips), but you get the general idea.

I based it on Tartankiwi’s layout for a 72 inch square quilt (!!! That’s 1.8m!!! How on earth am I ever going to manage to quilt something that big?!?), which relies on a 12 inch grid, but because I’d added in the extra seagull I wanted to break the symmetry a bit more so that it wasn’t so obvious that there was an odd number of birds (which is also why I made the buzzard 18 inch instead of 12 or 24 like the other birds).  So I’ve used a 6 inch grid so I could shift a few birds over by half a block and make the grid a little less obvious, but still keep a simple enough structure that measuring the background blocks and sewing them together with the birds won’t be too complicated (I’ve got a sewing diagram all mapped out for myself on graph paper, and I think it makes sense).

Now I’ve just got to figure out how I’m going to accurately cut rectangles of fabric that are 24 1/2 inches wide (i24 inches with a 1/4 inch seam allowance on each side) when my cutting mat is only 24 inches wide…