X marks the cat, and other expenses

So it seems I can either write blog posts, or I can record videos.  Doing either one seems to sap my creative energy for doing the other (or maybe it’s just that doing one makes me forget about the other).  Which is a roundabout way of saying I’ve been even more terrible than usual at keeping up with this blog.  I have been having a lot of fun with YouTube though 🙂

In the meantime, life has been a combination of busy, exciting, and expensive. Especially expensive, and especially this month.  At the same time as various opportunities arose to spend vast amounts of money on cool things, various existing expensive things decided to break and need immediate replacing.

Cool thing number one was that I finally got all my paperwork together to get my passport renewed.  Which was a bit more paperwork than normal, because I took the (some may say sudden and drastic, although I have actually been thinking about it for a couple of years, ever since they announced the law change to make it possible) step of getting my gender marker changed to an X.  I am now officially, at least in the eyes of the Department of Internal Affairs, outside the gender binary!

(Hopefully I’ve successfully blurred/obscured all of the important identity-theft-enabling bits of that photo!)

It actually was much less complicated a process than I expected.  All I had to do was sign a statutory declaration in front of a JP, and then go through the process of a complete new passport application rather than just a renewal.  The most difficult thing was getting the photo done, because you have to use the paper forms (because they haven’t updated the on-line process yet), so I needed to find somewhere I could get old-fashioned printed passport photos, instead of the digital format most places do now (it turns out Post Shops still do them, in case anyone else ever needs one).

It’s hard to describe just how happy I am to see that one little letter in my passport! (Though also a tiny bit nervous about whether it will cause any problems at borders – in theory it shouldn’t, because it’s a perfectly valid passport issued under NZ law, but who knows what border officials will choose to be nit-picky about.  Oh well, I’ll get to test it out in November… which brings us to the next exciting expense…)

The next cool thing was (now that I finally had my new passport so I could) booking flights to go to the NZ-AUS Bookcrossing uncon in Tasmania.  It’s going to be a small, very informal uncon along similar lines to Stewart Island – basically just hanging out together on a (slightly larger :-)) island, doing a few touristy things, but nothing too planned.  Just a long weekend, but I’m really looking forward to it.  Plus I get to add another Australian state to my list of places I’ve visited (only Northern Territory to go…).

The third cool thing is I bought myself a GoPro!  It hasn’t arrived yet, but I should get it in a week or so.  Totally stupid thing to buy when I’d just spent a lot of money on Tasmania (it’s not the cheapest place to get to from NZ – even though it’s closer to NZ than the rest of Australia, there’s no direct flights, so you have to fly via Melbourne), but I’d been looking at them longingly ever since I started playing round with the YouTube thing, and the opportunity came up to save a couple of hundred dollars on one, so it was too good to miss.  So once that arrives, expect me to get even worse at blogging than I am now… (you might as well just give up following me here, and subscribe to my YouTube channel instead)

And then, having spent all that money, the Word Festival programme came out.  And there were so many things I wanted to go to.  And last time, when I managed to miss out on some of the best sessions due to indecision, I told myself that next time I’d just book tickets to everything that interested me, and take time off work if necessary, and see all the things.  So I did.  Including a day-trip to Kaikoura to go whale watching with two whale experts on Tuesday, and something like eight other ordinary festival events between Thursday and Sunday.  Plus I’ve got a few more free events I may go to if I haven’t completely exhausted myself dashing around all the events I’ve booked for.  So it’s going to be a very busy week this week!

And then there were the less fun expenses.  First, my lawnmower died.  Mini-Gwilk, who does my lawns for me, came in looking sheepish one day and said something along the lines of “Um, was I supposed to put oil in the lawnmower or something? Because it’s stopped working, and there’s black smoke coming out.”  Luckily, it didn’t turn out to be *too* expensive to repair, but it was a bit of a pain, because I don’t have a car (and taxis for some reason aren’t keen on carrying dirty old garden equipment in their nice clean cars), so had to beg lifts from friends (many many many thanks, Mr Harvestbird!!!) to get it to the repair place and picked up again afterwards, and the repair place is only open on Saturday mornings, which required a lot of coordination with said friends.  But all was managed in the end, and I now have a nicely working lawnmower (and instructions from repair guy about what to tell mini-Gwilk what not to do next time).

And then, because black smoke is apparently not dramatic enough, I turned on my oven and the fan unit started shooting out bright white sparks and flames.  Cue FutureCat scrambling to switch it off at the wall!  Luckily all of the dramatic stuff was confined to the inside of the oven, so there was no risk of the fire spreading, but it was still pretty exciting for a moment there.  And then depressing, when I contacted my friendly electrician, and he confirmed that it probably wasn’t worth him even coming out to look at it, because I almost certainly needed to buy a new one (and that 18 years is actually pretty old for an appliance).  And then he improved my mood substantially by offering to source a new one for me (and even better, only charge me cost + his time, with no extra markup), which was a great relief, because I really wasn’t looking forward to devoting my entire weekend to trawling through whiteware shops with no real idea of what was good vs what was just marketing hype.  He managed to find me a decent brand (Westinghouse) at trade prices, which even with his time plus the installation cost still cost me way less than it would have to buy retail (and I’d still have had to pay installation anyway), so I was very happy with that, even though it’s an expense I would have rather not had at all (or at least, not this month – though I wasn’t going to wait any longer to replace the oven – even just the couple of weeks I was without it while waiting for it to be delivered was much longer than I ever want to eat microwaved meals for ever again!)

So that was my horrifically expensive August.  I haven’t added up everything I’ve spent this month, and I don’t think I want to!  Oh well, this is why I have an emergency savings account, for times exactly like this. Just hope nothing else expensive happens for a while, so I can top it back up again…

In crafty news, the main thing I’ve been working on are quilts for the two mini-Harvestbirds (who have declared their official internet pseudonyms to be “Harmony” and “Millie”). It started off as a fun idea – I’d design a couple of simple quilts, let them pick the fabrics, and participate in the layout process so they’ll feel like they’d had a hand in the design, and, as a bonus, turn the whole thing into a series of YouTube videos.  I should have remembered that old rule about never working with children or animals though, because things didn’t entirely go according to plan.  Harmony’s quilt went perfectly (despite me messing up my initial calculations for the block measurements) – she was so excited about the idea of being in a YouTube video (suitably anonymised, of course) that I think she would have agreed to anything I suggested.  She was totally happy with the design, with the fabric choices I offered, with everything, really.  All went smoothly, we sewed the first few blocks together, and then after the kids had left, I was able to quickly whip up the rest of the blocks over a lazy weekend. The blocks are now sitting waiting for a free weekend when I can invite the kids over again to help me design the final layout of the quilts.

Millie, on the other hand, was a different matter.  I forgot just how much she has very much her own tastes and opinions on things, so she rejected my first few suggestions, and there was much scrabbling through half-thought-out sketches in my design book before we found one she liked.  Which I then had to turn from sketch into actual design on the spot… which was a fun challenge 🙂  I have to say though, she’s got very good taste – the colour combinations she wanted are going to look amazing, and I suspect I’m going to be very pleased with the finished quilt. The only problem is, it’s an incredibly complex design (it’s one I had in my book as a “one day, when I’ve got time” idea), so it’s definitely not one I’ll get finished in an afternoon.   So far I’ve managed to cut out all the pieces, and sew the 96 (!!!) half-square triangles it needs for the main stars (and that doesn’t include all the snowballed corners I’ll need for the sashing stars).  And I haven’t even begun to sew the actual blocks (other than the one I quickly sewed on the day the kids were here, so she could see what they’d end up like).  Given how busy the next couple of weekends are going to be, part two of the video might not happen for a while.

It is going to be a gorgeous-looking quilt, though:

In case you haven’t already seen it, here’s the video of part one of the process:

In the meantime, I gave the girls another mini-quilt for their dolls, while they wait for their actual quilts. Once again I had one of those practice quilt sandwiches I’d been trying out various FMQ ideas and exercises on (you might be able to identify a few recent projects on there), so I squared it up and stuck a quick binding on it.

I actually reckon it looks not bad for a bunch of random practice stuff 🙂

(Oh, and if you were wondering, no, I haven’t abandoned the Block of the Whenever – I’ve just been distracted by other things. Once I get these two quilts finished, I’m definitely going back to it)

Otherwise, I have as usual been busy with all sorts of interesting things, none of which I can remember off the top of my head right now.  I feel like I’ve been being excessively social this year!

Just this weekend I went to a feminist poetry reading with Harvestbird on Friday night (which was being run by step-sister, so I also caught up with her briefly before the show), which featured some really amazing local poets (Tusiata Avia being the most notable, and also the most incredible to listen to – I’d forgotten just how much I enjoy hearing her perform her poetry).  And then last night I played D&D with Gwilk and some other friends.  I was playing a wizard for the first time ever, which meant a lot of new rules to learn, but was fun to try out – I can see a lot of potential in the character (though I think Thokk will always be my favourite).

And last weekend was another D&D game, plus going out for dinner with the LGBT+ meetup group, and the weekend before that I went to the Botanic D’Lights festival (see video below) with Lytteltonwitch, and a stash swap, and in between there’s been various work events, and I’m exhausted just writing this, but it’s actually all been a huge amount of fun. I feel like I’m finally figuring out the right amount of social stuff that stays enjoyable without making me want to go and hide in a corner for a few days 🙂

Progress, and not so much progress

My plan to use spare half hours to sew failed the moment the really cold weather set in, because I’d forgotten just how cold the study can get in winter (for some reason to do with the way the hallway bends just before the door to the study, the warmth from the fire, which happily heats the rest of the house, never quite reaches the study).  So dragging myself away from my comfy chair in front of the fire into the inadequately heated by a small fan heater study was a struggle – one which the warm and comfy chair usually won.

I also haven’t been feeling all that creative anyway – we’re still attempting to recruit new staff at work (I won’t go into the details of why the process is dragging on so long, because it reflects badly on the professionalism of people in certain parts of the organisation, but let’s just say there have been some unnecessary delays), so I’m still trying to juggle the work of three people on my own – thankfully everyone else involved in the projects I’m working on has been very understanding that I can’t do everything at once (and in some cases have just had to put projects on hold for a while), but it’s still pretty stressful and exhausting keeping everything going, so I’ve been pretty much feeling like crashing when I get home (not helped by being out being social three nights out of four last week!).  I am so looking forward to getting some new staff!!!

Anyway, as a result I haven’t got very far on sewing all those nine-patches together (also, sewing them together is a very slow process, because there are SO MANY seams to match!  I really didn’t think about that when I was designing the quilt!).  But I’ve got a few rows sewn together at least:

And I have made good use of sitting in front of the fire time to put the binding on the jelly roll race quilt. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out:

My quilting is still a long way from perfect, but it’s definitely improving, and basting it on the kitchen table definitely worked, because there’s no stray tucks or pleats in the fabric on the back.

The being super-social last week was probably a bad idea, considering how tired I was, but it was fun.  On Tuesday night I was the Toastmaster (ie Chair) for our Toastmasters meeting, which not only involves a lot of work during the meeting introducing speakers and keeping the meeting running to time, but also meant I spent most of the weekend emailing back and forth with people making sure that all the speaking roles were filled, and finding replacements for last minute apologies.  The meeting went really well though, and finished almost exactly on time, so I was happy with my efforts.

Then on Wednesday night there was a quiz night for the College.  Seeing as we didn’t have enough staff to put together a team from the Lab, I joined my former colleagues from English, and despite a not great start (and the fact that the quiz was one of those franchised ones that are never as good as when the organisers just put the questions together themselves – very heavily skewed towards rugby and pop culture, and of course never any science questions, which incites me to rant about the state of society and why are people so scared of science…) we somehow ended up winning.  Despite my reservations about the quiz format, it was a lot of fun. It definitely helped that nobody was taking the quiz too seriously (first prize was a “gold” cup from the $2 shop, and some coffee vouchers for one of the campus cafes, so it wasn’t exactly high stakes 🙂 ), so there was much silliness going on, and attempts to bribe the judges, and much friendly rivalry going on between our table and the History department table next to us (they came second in the end).

Then on Thursday night I went to the crafting meetup group, which I probably should have skipped seeing as it was the third night in a row I was out late, but I hadn’t been able to make it for a few weeks so thought I really should go along.  It was over in Linwood, which is always a pain to get to (especially as they’d had some sort of power outage or something at the bus exchange, so the real time arrivals system was down and you just had to guess when your bus would show up and at what end of the bus exchange), but I made it over there eventually, and did actually have a nice evening.  Luckily someone offered me a lift home, so at least I didn’t have to battle the bus exchange chaos again getting home, but I think I might skip the meetups on that side of town for a while, at least until the evenings get lighter again so that I can just catch a bus that takes me in vaguely the right direction and then walk, rather than having to find the combination of buses that will take me close enough to not have to walk too far in the dark.

Anyway, talking of walking, it is actually a nice day today, so I think I will abandon my computer now and go for a nice walk and enjoy the sunshine for a while.  The way the weather had been lately, it could be weeks before I see the sun again!

Selling Out?

Well, that’s a first for me – I was contacted by a PR person offering me a free ticket to the upcoming Christchurch Food Show – presumably they’re hoping that I will encourage my millions* of readers to attend the show too, and it’ll get all viral and social media-y and other buzzwords.  I’m also working on the theory that they think this is a food blog, because the post from Dad’s birthday party is still showing up on my front page, featuring photographs of cake and venison burgers. Totally food-blog-worthy. Anyway, no matter what their motivation, I’m not one to turn down free anything, so this is me officially selling out:

Go to the Food Show**.  It (hopefully) will be good.  I will be there (probably – I haven’t actually got my free ticket yet.  PR person said they’d mail it to me, so, assuming they don’t decide they made a horrible mistake offering it to me, it should arrive sometime next week).  I will probably take pretty pictures, and maybe even if I have time post some of them here.

Does this mean I’ve made it as a blogger?

*This may be a slight exaggeration.
**Unless you don’t want to.  Or if you don’t llive in Christchurch, of course, in which case you can’t.  Unless you go to the one in Wellington or Auckland.  Or if you come and visit.  I have a couch you could sleep on, but you have to share it with Parsnips***.
***Who has developed weird bald spots which I think are due to her over-grooming**** , but make her look like she’s suffering from some horrible disease, so you might not want to wake up with her snuggling up to you.
****Which yes, I should probably take her to the vet about – it’s on my list of things I will definitely do as soon as I can find a spare hour or two (yeah, it probably should be the hour or two I’ll be spending at the food show, but somehow going to a food show where there is the distinct possibility of free tastings seems like a much better use of my time than spending vast amount of money to have the vet tell me that she’s probably stressed by the existence of other cats, and there’s not much I can do about that except move to a new house where there are no windowsills that she can sit on and watch the neighbourhood cats daring to exist within line of site of her.)***** But I promise I will take her to the vet soon.
*****It occurs to me that discussing a diseased-looking partially-bald cat is not something you’re supposed to do in a post that’s encouraging people to attend a food show.  But I blame the PR guy for not reading my blog properly before he offered me the free ticket. Does it help if I promise not to take my diseased-looking partially-bald cat to the show with me?

Right, that’s the selling-out part done with.  Except now I’m going to sell out on behalf of work, which isn’t really selling out, because they already pay me: Look at CEISMIC’s shiny new Facebook page!  We were told by the people who are helping us do fundraising that we need to have more of a social media presence, so we set up a page and are trying to post interesting stuff to it reasonably regularly.  We need to get as many likes on it as we can, so if you’re a facebook-using type of person****** we’d greatly appreciate a like!

****** (I can hear Yetzirah’s punctuation from here, complaining about my over-use of footnotes in this post.  Sorry, (), but sometimes I just need to communicate in footnotes.) Which I am not.  Although, if you visit the page, you may see some likes and comments from a person greatly resembling me.  Do not be fooled by this into thinking I actually use facebook – it’s just an account I set up ages ago because I needed it for a work thing, and have resurrected slightly to use for CEISMIC stuff.  But despite its existence, there’s not a lot of point in friending me (and chances are I won’t friend you back anyway – I’m trying as much as possible to keep it work-related) – I never post anything there, other than occasionally sharing CEISMIC posts, which you’ll see anyway if you like the CEISMIC page.  All the interesting stuff goes here in my blog.

In other news, it’s been an exhausting few days.  I would say it was self-inflicted over-scheduling, but actually it was totally sensible scheduling until a last-minute opportunity came up at work, and I stupidly said yes without thinking about everything else I had in my calendar.

Thursday was Red Rose Day, which is the Red Cross’s equivalent to the Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day, but not as well known.  Ages ago they’d asked me if I’d be interested in helping out again, seeing as I’d done collecting for them last year, so I decided to take the day off work for it.  Because I had the whole day off, I said I’d be happy to do as many 2-hour shifts as they needed, and they took me at my word, because they scheduled me for 3 shifts at Northlands Mall, from 9.30 until 3.  Of course, on the day the person who was supposed to take over at 3 didn’t turn up, so I ended up having to stay on until 5, which was a very long time to be pretending to be extroverted and chatty and asking people for donations (in return for a rose, which we had buckets full of).  They’d scheduled two people on for each shift, which was good, because it’s a lot easier doing that sort of thing with another person than when you’re on your own, but it also meant that in the quiet times I’d have to make small-talk with my partner, so I didn’t get any down-time at all in the day (except for the 15 minutes break I took to quickly grab some lunch (hmm, it seems I’ve switched from too many footnotes mode to too many brackets mode)).  I can do a convincing act of extroversion when I have to, but I find it completely exhausting, so really really need to have some quiet alone time to recharge my mental batteries afterwards (I once heard someone describe this as the difference between extroverts and introverts – it’s not that one is always more social than the other, it’s that when they get tired, an introvert recharges their batteries by being alone, and an extrovert recharges their batteries by being around other people).  So yeah, by the end of the day I was feeling pretty shattered.

Which normally would have been fine, because Fridays are always pretty quiet days at work, so I’d planned to just spend the day doing nice menial tasks that required the minimum of human interaction, and I’d be fine by the evening, so I’d be able to go to the quiz night I’d been invited to by one of the postgrad students.  No problem.

Except that at the beginning of the week we got the opportunity to attend the Seismics in the City conference, which is a very business-oriented conference about Christchurch’s rebuild and recovery, so of inherent interest to us for the archive, as well as being a perfect opportunity to network with the sorts of people who have the potential to get us funding.  So an offer we couldn’t really refuse.  Except that it meant a long day (the conference started at 7 am!!!) of more socialising and smiling inanely at people who were saying things I really don’t agree with, and pretending to be extroverted (and even having to get up and give a short presentation myself (very short as it turned out – the organiser had said we’d be allowed a 5 minute slot to promote the archive, but he wasn’t sure when during the day it would be.  My boss was only able to be there for the morning, so if the slot turned out to be in the afternoon, it would be my job to talk.  So I prepared and memorised a really good 5-minute talk that fitted in all the important points we needed people to know, and was actually feeling pretty confident about giving it.  The morning came and went without my boss getting a chance to talk, so after he left at lunchtime it was all down to me.  So I waited to hear from the organiser, who finally came to see me just during the afternoon tea break to tell me he’d get me to talk straight after the break, but that he could only give me one minute, not five.  So I spent the rest of the tea break frantically trying to work out how to condense my talk, which meant I had to drop some of the key points, and instead of the well-polished and professional talk I’d planned ended up sounding garbled and way too rushed, and I’m not sure anyone really understood what I was saying.  Very annoying!  (But I’m still kind of proud of myself for being able to get up and talk in front of a room of very important people, even if I didn’t do as good a job of it as I would have liked.)))  So between the 5 am start (because I had to catch a 6 am bus to get into town on time) and being “on” all day for the second day in a row, I was so exhausted by the end.

And then I still had to go to the quiz night.  Which I probably could have pulled out of, but I didn’t want to let the team down, plus it was a fundraising night for the Labour Party, and although I don’t entirely agree with their policies, I’d still much prefer to see them in government than the current lot, so it counts as a good cause.  (And anyway, having spent the day in the company of a large number of business people (actually, mostly businessmen – as you’d expect, the conference was very much dominated by middle-aged male Pakeha), the idea of spending the evening with Labour Party people sounded incredibly refreshing!).  Anyway, despite being tired, it was a really fun evening.  A couple of the people on my team knew Megan Woods (the MP who was hosting the evening) really well, so there was lots of banter with her, and although we didn’t win, the only round we did embarrassingly badly on was the sports round, so we were all reasonably satisfied with our efforts.

LJ (who had also been at the conference) had come to the quiz too, so offered me a lift home afterwards so I wouldn’t have to catch a bus.  But first, the drunker members of our team proposed we go to the McDonalds across the street from the venue.  I have about the same attitude to McDonalds as I do to Facebook, as in I avoid it as much as I can, but sometimes I am forced into it by necessity, so when LJ indicated she was keen to join them, I tagged along.  It was actually fun, even if the food was no better than I remembered, but it made a late night into a very late one, so it was nearing midnight by the time I got home.

Then today was the bookcrossing meetup (which I’d forgotten about when I agreed to go to the quiz night), so I couldn’t even really have a long sleep in this morning, because I had to get up and get the housework done in time to catch the bus into town (which in itself was a bit of a drama, because I lost my bus card on Thursday (I think I must have dropped it in the mall), which meant I’d been having to pay cash fares (which are much more expensive than using the Metrocard), so on the way from the conference to the quiz I’d stopped off at the bus exchange to get a new one (and because of complicated reasons, they weren’t able to find my old card in the system, so couldn’t transfer the balance to my new card, so I was down $20-odd, plus the $10 fee I had to pay for losing my card).  But then when I caught the bus into town for the meetup today, it turned out they’d given me a child card instead of an adult card, and even though I explained it was a mistake, the bus driver treated me like I was trying to cheat him by using the wrong sort of card.  So instead of getting off on Victoria Street for the meetup, I had to go all the way into the bus exchange again and get them to replace the card with an adult one, then get back on the bus to go to Victoria Street, so I was late to the meetup anyway).

So yeah, a very busy few days with way too much social stuff going on.  And I need to spend tomorrow studying, so I reckon it must be time for bed now.  I’m so glad next weekend is a long one!

Practice makes …better

For the last few months, when I was way too busy to do anything crafty, I indulged my need for creativity by watching YouTube videos on quilting, and looking forward to having the chance to put some of what I learnt into practice (oh, and by buying fabric.  Lots of fabric. (See, this is why I should never be let loose on a new hobby – I do have a *slight* tendency to the obsessive…))  So there’s about a million patterns clamouring for attention in my “must try this one out someday” file.  I’ve especially been looking forward to trying some more traditional quilt blocks, to expand my skills a wee bit from the paper piecing which I’ve mostly concentrated on.  So I decided to try a wee Christmas project, based on this pattern.

This kind of patchwork involves a lot more careful measuring and pre-cutting than I’m used to with paper piecing (where, despite appearances, the only part you have to be really precise with is the actual sewing), but I thought things were going quite well at first:

But then, when I tried sewing the four blocks together to get a star, it was all a bit wonky:

I could either get the inside angles between the legs of the star to line up, or the edges, not both. I went with the angles, because they’d be most noticeable, but that means I’ll have to trim the block down to get it square, and I’m pretty much guaranteed to chop off some of the points of the star in the process 🙁  Plus of course, it’s really obviously out of alignment in the centre.

However, I figured out what I’d done wrong – ironically, it wasn’t my measuring or cutting, it was that the quarter-inch mark on my sewing machine isn’t accurate, so it was my sewing that was off!  This has never been an issue with paper piecing, because there you’re always sewing along a line on the paper, but with this kind of patchwork you need to keep your seams totally consistent, which mine weren’t, because the mark which I’d assumed was a quarter-inch seam is actually slightly more than that, which was throwing everything out.  Luckily, that’s a problem easily solved with a ruler and a sharpie, so I now have an accurate quarter-inch seam line marked on the sewing machine.

Armed with a new appreciation for accuracy, I tried again, and this time I was *much* happier with the result:

There’s still room for improvement (plus, did you spot the deliberate mistake?), but I feel like I’ve learnt a lot today.  I’m all inspired to try another one, but I really should spend the rest of the afternoon baking a cake to take to tomorrow’s presentation (we’re putting on afternoon tea for the Vanuatu community after our talks), and running through my presentation a few more times for good measure.

In other news, when I got home last night I found a mysterious envelope in the letterbox, from a New York publishing company.  I couldn’t think why they’d be writing to me, and was even more mystified when I opened it and all that was inside was a square of paper with a signature.

Then I looked again at the signature: J Lawson.  As in The Bloggess.  And memory clicked into place.  Ages ago, when she announced her new book, Furiously Happy (which of course I immediately raced off to pre-order), she said that she’d sign bookplates for anyone who couldn’t get to one of her signings, and her publishers would post them out.  I assumed it would only apply to US residents, but there was nothing on the publisher’s website to explicitly say so, so I thought it was worth a shot, and put my name down.  I got the book ages ago, but had completely forgotten about the bookplate, because I’d just assumed they’d never send one to NZ.  But they did!

(It’s a very good book, by the way.  You should read it.)

Sometimes I really love living in Christchurch. Other times, not so much. Yesterday was one of those times. I went to the supermarket on the way home, planning to catch the bus home from there. But when I got to the bus stop (carrying several very heavy bags of groceries), I discovered they were doing road works on that street, and the bus stop was surrounded on both sides by road cones (though the bus stop itself didn’t have any cones). I wasn’t sure if the stop was operating, so I checked the sign, and there was nothing to say it wasn’t (normally they put a little bag thing over the sign to hide it, and put up a temporary stop further along the street).  So I assumed the bus must still be stopping there, so I waited for the bus.

Which, when it turned up, went straight past.  The driver definitely saw me, but he just shook his head and gestured to the cones, and kept driving.  I was a wee bit annoyed, because it’s half an hour between buses (plus, did I mention heavy bags?), but I picked up my bags and walked along the street to see if there was a temporary stop.  There wasn’t (even though there were plenty of stretches of road where they could have safely put one).  I got to the next proper bus stop, which was also surrounded by road cones (and this time obviously wasn’t in use, because the road workers had parked their equipment on it – there was still nothing on the bus stop itself to say it was closed, though).  So I had to keep walking.  Still no temporary stop, but I did eventually get past the road works, and found a third proper bus stop, by which time my arms were almost falling off!

At least the bus did stop for me at that stop, but I was very annoyed that there hadn’t been signs at the other two stops to say they were closed, and that there were no temporary stops.  Needless to say I sent a very snotty email to ECan when I got home – I know there’s a lot of road works going on across the city, but ECan get plenty of notice about them, so you’d think they could at least put signs up if they’re going to close a bus stop.  Grrrr.

How to lose a sale

Dad was in town yesterday, so I took advantage of having access to a vehicle to go round a few places over on Blenheim Road and investigate wood burners (as my one has been declared too old to live by the dreaded ECAN, so I need to replace it before next winter or face a fine).  All went well at the first place we visited – the guy there was really helpful and gave me lots of good advice, and I left with a stack of brochures and useful information.

At the second place we visited, the woman was equally helpful, and equally forthcoming with advice and brochures.  Except that she directed absolutely everything she said to Dad, not to me.  Even though I was the one who’d approached her and said that I was looking for a log burner, and even though Dad was hanging back letting me do all the talking, she still kept talking to him and ignoring me.  Every time I asked her a question, she’d turn to Dad and tell him the answer!  The single time she directed a comment to me was when she demonstrated a feature on one of the fires and said “We girls like this, because it makes lighting the fire so much easier.” GRRRR.  I’ve just been asking you intelligent questions about kilowatt outputs and clearance requirements, and you somehow think I can’t even figure out how light a fire???

So yeah, guess which company I’ll be buying my new log burner from?

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.

The Mystery of the Green Bin

Someone has pinched my green bin!*  I came home tonight (after yet another end-of-year function at work) and went to empty the wee compost bin I keep in the kitchen, and the green bin wasn’t in my driveway where it normally lives.  The other two bins are there, so obviously whoever took it only needed one.  But as you get them free from the city council, I don’t know why anyone would need to steal one in the first place.  Or why they’d walk to the end of the driveway to steal mine (the bins are visible from the street, but it’s not like they’re right by the gate or anything) when it’s bin night tonight, so there’s plenty of them sitting out on the street much easier to take.

I did think at first that maybe a kind neighbour had put it out for me, but it wasn’t out on the street.  Then I checked the alleyway, thinking maybe it was kids being silly, but no sign of it there either.  So I suppose I’ll have to phone the council in the morning and ask them for a new one, and in the meantime I’ll have to be naughty and put my kitchen waste in the red bin instead.

Very mysterious, and very annoying.

*For non-Christchurch people: we have a system of three wheelie-bins for our rubbish, a green one for organic waste, a yellow one for recycling, and a red one for everything else.  The green one gets collected every week, and the other two on alternating weeks.


First of December, so theoretically it’s the first day of summer today. So of course it’s cold and wet and miserable.  I don’t know why I’m surprised, really, because Christchurch does this every year – we have a hot November and we all think summer has come early, then it turns cold again in December just when everyone starts planning barbeques for their end of year parties.  It never gets reliably summery until after Christmas, yet we’re all always so disappointed that it’s not hot in December.

Of course, the really horrible bit about the warm November/cold December trick is that all those spiders that came out of hibernation in the hot weather are looking for somewhere warm and dry to hang out now that it’s turned cold again, so they come inside the house.  I found the most enormous spider sitting on the couch when I got home tonight (I think he’d been watching TV and generally making himself at home).  Needless to say he was escorted back outside very rapidly.  (Yes, I know you would have kept him as a pet, Lytteltonwitch – just be thankful I didn’t hit him with the dictionary!)

That was incredibly stupid

I just got back from spending two hours at the emergency clinic, having managed to cut a lovely big slice into my finger.  The culprit was my lovely rotary fabric cutter, which I was enthusiastically wielding while starting a new sewing project, when a moment’s inattention meant that my little finger on the hand that was holding down the ruler slipped over the edge a bit just as the blade reached it.  Result, a big slice into my finger (and nail – that blade is impressively sharp), and lots and lots of blood (it’s ok though, none of it got on the craft project – that wasn’t *quite* the first thing I checked, but it was close ;-)).  There was enough blood that sticking plasters were completely ineffective, so I suspected it might need a stitch – I did have a moment’s thought of should I try and catch the bus to the hospital, but then common sense kicked in and I figured out that this is one of those times when it’s ok to call friends and ask for help.

So I rang Harvestbird (actually, I rang the Gwilks first, but then remembered they’d be at church) and she came and picked me up and took me to the 24-hour doctors at Church Corner, where I was seen by a triage nurse who put on a temporary dressing (to replace the old towel I had wrapped round my hand in an attempt not to bleed on everything), then by another nurse for a tetanus shot, then by a doctor who decided I didn’t need a stitch after all, but I did need part of my nail removed (which he did without anaesthetic – he commented as he was doing it that “this is a well-known torture technique” – thank goodness for the FutureCat family’s ridiculously high pain tolerance…) to prevent infection, and finally by yet another nurse who taped the wound together (eventually – it was still bleeding badly enough that she had to put a tourniquet on my finger to stop the blood for long enough so she could get the tape to stick down) and put a proper dressing on it.  She said it should have healed up enough in a couple of days that I can replace the dressing with just an ordinary sticking plaster, but for now that finger’s pretty much out of action – I didn’t realise how much I use my little finger when I’m typing until now…

Oh, and because it’s Sunday so I couldn’t go to my ordinary GP and had to go to the 24-hour clinic instead, it cost me $75 for the privilege.  But hopefully I should be able to get that back from ACC.

So yeah, lesson learnt: pay more attention when you’re using the rotary cutter, FutureCat.  That wonderfully sharp blade is very good at cutting through all sorts of things, not just fabric.

I can has sleep nao?

Very tiring day today. It got off to a bad start when I was woken up at 3.30 am – I’m not sure what by, but I suspect boy racers.  And of course, having been woken up at that horrible hour, it took me forever to get back to sleep again, so I felt like I’d only just got back to sleep when my alarm went off and I had to get up.  And then I spent most of the day writing up sections of a proposal we’re working on.  Which, although the proposal is for something that will be very exciting if it comes to fruition, was a particularly tedious job to do (writing reports and proposal documents is definitely the part of my increased responsibility I least enjoy – it has all the pain of writing essays but without any of the fun research stuff to brighten it up), and not at all suited for keeping myself awake (and unfortunately we’re working to a very tight deadline, so I couldn’t even put it aside for tomorrow and work on something more stimulating instead today).  So I was seriously fading by the end of the day.

Think I might try for an early night tonight…