Friday, December 30, 2011
I learned to sew from my mum. We did do some home ec' classes in sewing, but my attendance of them was interrupted by Dad taking us on his sabbatical to another country. When I returned, everyone was ahead of me and the teacher (a dragon) didn't want to spend the time on catching me up. Frankly, I wasn't that interested in sewing a pillowcase while everyone else made pyjama pants anyway.
So - Mum taught me stuff. The rest I learned from trial and era and some intense reading of patterns.
In my House of Dreams, I have a craft room where my sewing machine can stay put up and all my scrapbooking guff is available neatly in suitable storage. I'd have a place to do felting and store my wool too. Mind you, I have four 40L bins full of fabric, plus two 40L bins of wool so there would need to be room for this. But this is my House of Dreams we're talking about, so the craft room is a bit like the Room of Necessity or a Tardis.
As I've got older I've found myself attracted to 50s style dresses more and more. They suit my body shape and I like how I feel when I'm wearing them. So I took the plunge and purchased one of Butterick's "retro' patterns and found some cotton poplin with a vintage pattern on it. I'd really like to get it made up before I go back to work but if the weather clears up I'll be back on one end of a paint brush!
Thursday, December 29, 2011
This isn't something I would want to do full time. Burnt my arm and finger, and my munted arm kept waking me up with pins and needles all night. Then the rain started and we had to abandon the job.
What is interesting about this job is discovering what lies underneath the paint. In some areas the wood looks like matai (same as our floorboards) and other places it's different, quite red looking. Almost like totara which is curious, though it might be cedar. There are numbers written on the window frames that the original builders have put there. Our house was built in the 60s. The is a reddish primer on the frames too, which is most likely (and disturbingly so) a lead based paint.
We've also had to remove some rot here and there. FIL is pretty handy with this and takes great pride in making the right sized wood bit to stick in the cleansed hole. We've some boards downstairs that came from DH's home he grew up in - pure totara - that FIL has been using for this job. It seems quite poetic that they are being used again in a house that DH is living in.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Whenever I paint things I manage to get paint all over me, in my hair and today I even managed to get it inside my shirt on my b**bs. Yes really. *facepalm*
If I didn't have to work I'd like to pursue painting ... as in art sort of painting. Along with fibre arts like felting, I feel an affinity with these media.
But perhaps not body painting...
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Year of wonders : a novel of the plague / Geraldine Brooks
This is the story of a young woman's struggle to save her family and her soul during the most extraordinary year of 1666, when plague suddenly visited a small Derbyshire village and the villagers, inspired by a charismatic preacher, elected to quarantine themselves to limit the contagion. ~from blurb
Loved this book! It stays in your head. Great story based on a real event.
Three cups of tea : one man's mission to promote peace--one school at a time / Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Story of Greg Mortenson philanthropic work in Pakistan and other Islamic countries in this area whereby he seeks to promote education and independence for local villagers, especially for young girls.
I felt quite moved by this book. It's one I think everyone should read before making grand sweeping statements about the war in those troubled areas.
Plague child / Peter Ransley.
"The first instalment of a page-turning trilogy set against the backdrop of the English Civil War. September 1625: Plague cart driver, Matthew Neave, is sent to pick up the corpse of a baby. Yet, on the way to the plague pit, he hears a cry -- the baby is alive. A plague child himself, and now immune from the disease, Matthew decides to raise it as his own. Fifteen years on, Matthew's son Tom is apprenticed to a printer in the City. Somebody is interested in him and is keen to turn him into a gentleman. He is even given an education. But Tom is unaware that he has a benefactor and soon he discovers that someone else is determined to kill him. The civil war divides families, yet Tom is divided in himself. Devil or saint? Royalist or radicalist? He is at the bottom of the social ladder, yet soon finds himself within reach of a great estate -- one which he must give up to be with the girl he loves. Set against the fervent political climate of the period, 'Plague Child' is a remarkable story of discovery, identity and an England of the past"--Publisher description.
Quite good, somewhat frustrating character who gets above himself at times. Not sure I'll seek out the rest of the trilogy.
The soldier's wife / Margaret Leroy.
"A novel full of grand passion and intensity, The Soldier's Wife asks "What would you do for your family?" "What should you do for a stranger?" and "What would you do for love?" As World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the enigmatic German soldiers who take up residence in the house next door to her home. As their relationship intensifies, so do the pressures on Vivienne. Food and resources grow scant, and the restrictions placed upon the residents of the island grow with each passing week. Though Vivienne knows the perils of her love affair with Gunther, she believes that she can keep their relationship — and her family — safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger." --Publisher comments.
I loved this book too. I found the conflict between Vivienne, her conscience, her family and her lover very realistic.
Caleb's crossing : a novel / Geraldine Brooks.
"Caleb Cheeshateaumauk was the first native American to graduate from Harvard College back in 1665. ‘Caleb’s Crossing’ gives voice to his little known story. Caleb, a Wampanoag from the island of Martha's Vineyard, seven miles off the coast of Massachusetts, comes of age just as the first generation of Indians come into contact with English settlers, who have fled there, desperate to escape the brutal and doctrinaire Puritanism of the Massachusetts Bay colony. The story is told through the eyes of Bethia, daughter of the English minister who educates Caleb in the Latin and Greek he needs in order to enter the college. As Caleb makes the crossing into white culture, Bethia, 14 years old at the novel's opening, finds herself pulled in the opposite direction. Trapped by the narrow strictures of her faith and her gender, she seeks connections with Caleb's world that will challenge her beliefs and set her at odds with her community."-- Publisher description.
I am in two minds about this book. I did like it, but felt it wasn't quite as good as some of her earlier novels.
Where Earth meets sky / Annie Murray.
Where Earth Meets Sky takes us from Edwardian England and the British Raj, through the darkness of the Great War to the glamour of Brooklands Race Track in the 1920s. Spanning two continents, it is a story of enduring friendships and two hearts which cannot be kept apart. ~from blurb
Didn't finish it. Think I ran out of time and was really busy with work that I couldn't be bothered sticking with it.
The great filth : disease, death & the Victorian city / Stephen Halliday.
"Victorian Britain was the world's industrial powerhouse. Its factories, mills and foundries supplied a global demand for manufactured goods. As Britain changed from an agricultural to an industrial economy, people swarmed into the towns and cities where the work was; by the end of Queen Victoria's reign, almost 80 per cent of the population was urban. Overcrowding and filthy living conditions, though, were a recipe for disaster, and diseases such as cholera, typhoid, scarlet fever, smallpox and puerperal (childbed) fever were a part of everyday life for (usually poor) town- and city-dwellers. However, thanks to a dedicated band of doctors, nurses, midwives, scientists, engineers and social reformers, by the time the Victorian era became the Edwardian, they were almost eradicated, and no longer a constant source of fear. Stephen Halliday tells the fascinating story of how these individuals fought opposition from politicians, taxpayers and often their own colleagues to overcome these diseases and make the country a safer place for everyone to live" -- Publisher description.
In the mid-year I got a bit obsessed with the era around WWI and Victorian era too - partially as a result of the Downton Abbey series which I discovered. Also I like reading about the discoveries of cures for disease. I know, call me odd, but this book was a good introduction to the general situation of the time and easy to read.
Below stairs / Margaret Powell.
"Arriving at the great houses of 1920s London, fifteen-year-old Margaret's life in service was about to begin... As a kitchen maid – the lowest of the low – she entered an entirely new world; one of stoves to be blacked, vegetables to be scrubbed, mistresses to be appeased, and even bootlaces to be ironed. Work started at 5.30am and went on until after dark. It was a far cry from her childhood on the beaches of Hove, where money and food were scarce, but warmth and laughter never were. Yet from the gentleman with a penchant for stroking the housemaids' curlers, to raucous tea-dances with errand boys, to the heartbreaking story of Agnes the pregnant under-parlourmaid, fired for being seduced by her mistress' nephew, Margaret's tales of her time in service are told with wit, warmth, and a sharp eye for the prejudices of her situation. Brilliantly evoking the long-vanished world of masters and servants, Below Stairs is the remarkable true story of an indomitable woman, who, though her position was lowly, never stopped aiming high."--Publisher description
Another example of my obsession and link to Downton. Also very interesting.
Keeping their place : domestic service in the country house, 1700-1920 / Pamela Sambrook.
In 1851 there were over a million servants in Britain. This book reveals first-hand tales of put-upon servants, who often had to rise hours before dawn to lay fires, heat water and prepare meals for their employers, and then work into the small hours. For aristocrats, the world of the servant was often a distant realm. The Duke of Bedford, who had 300 servants, thought toothpaste arrived on the toothbrush until his valet was away one day. Yet there are also heartwarming stories of personal devotion, and reward, and of how the servants enjoyed themselves in their time off. At Christmas the Earl of Shrewsbury drew up a long list of presents for his staff, from an umbrella and crocodile bag for the lady's maid to a blanket for a more menial servant. A butler at Stamford in the 1820s recorded dances which a fellow worker's 'fancy woman' attended, and how the morris dancers attempted to steal one of the Hall's horses. ~from blurb
This one was referred to by Joanne Froggatt, the actor who plays Anna Smith as background reading for her so I also got it out to read. It's a good introduction to the kinds of attitudes and events that were prevalent during this time.
The great silence : 1918-1920 : living in the shadow of the Great War / Juliet Nicolson.
Peace at last, after Lloyd George declared it had been 'the war to end all wars', would surely bring relief and a renewed sense of optimism? But this assumption turned out to be deeply misplaced as people began to realize that the men they loved were never coming home. The Great Silence is the story of the pause between 1918 and 1920. A two-minute silence to celebrate those who died was underpinned by a more enduring silence born out of national grief. Those who had danced through settled Edwardian times, now faced a changed world. Some struggled to come to terms with the last four years, while others were anxious to move towards a new future. Change came to women, who were given the vote only five years after Emily Davidson had thrown herself on the ground at Ascot race course, to the poor, determined to tolerate their condition no longer, and to those permanently scarred, mentally and physically, by the conflict. The British Monarchy feared for its survival as monarchies around Europe collapsed and Eric Horne, one time butler to the gentry, found himself working in a way he considered unseemly for a servant of his caliber. Whether it was embraced or rejected, change had arrived as the impact of a tragic war was gradually absorbed. With her trademark focus on daily life, Juliet Nicolson evokes what England was like during this fascinating hinge in history -- book jacket.
And another one! This one was rather poignantly interesting. It also led me to investigate the origins of plastic surgery. :-P A bit random perhaps.
The people's Bible : the remarkable history of the King James version / Derek Wilson.
The story of one of the most ambitious, provocative, influential projects of its day: a new translation of the Bible, a Bible for the people.
Excellent, easy to read historical treatise about the KJV.
The dressmaker of Khair Khana : five sisters, one remarkable family, and the woman who risked everything to keep them safe / Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.
"The life Kamila Sidiqi had known changed overnight when the Taliban seized control of the city of Kabul. After receiving a teaching degree during the civil war—a rare achievement for any Afghan woman—Kamila was subsequently banned from school and confined to her home. When her father and brother were forced to flee the city, Kamila became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings. Armed only with grit and determination, she picked up a needle and thread and created a thriving business of her own. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana tells the incredible true story of this unlikely entrepreneur who mobilized her community under the Taliban. Former ABC News reporter Gayle Tzemach Lemmon spent years on the ground reporting Kamila's story, and the result is an unusually intimate and unsanitized look at the daily lives of women in Afghanistan. These women are not victims; they are the glue that holds families together; they are the backbone and the heart of their nation. Afghanistan's future remains uncertain as debates over withdrawal timelines dominate the news. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana moves beyond the headlines to transport you to an Afghanistan you have never seen before. This is a story of war, but it is also a story of sisterhood and resilience in the face of despair. Kamila Sidiqi's journey will inspire you, but it will also change the way you think about one of the most important political and humanitarian issues of our time"--Publisher's description.
Heart-warming true story.
Falling glass / Adrian McKinty.
"Killian makes a living enforcing other people's laws, collecting debts, dealing out threats and finding people who do not wish to be found. Retired hitman Michael Forsythe sets Killian up with the best paid job of his life: Richard Coulter, a prominent, politically connected, Irish businessman, owner of a budget airline, needs someone to find his ex-wife and children. He offers Killian half a million to track her down and bring his children back"--P.  of cover.
Listened to the audio book of this one, and had to get out the book to finish it off since the Overdrive one expired before I finished. Good crime story.
Songs of love & death : all-original tales of star-crossed love / edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.
In this cross-genre short story collection, authors of fantasy, science fiction and romance explore the borderlands of their genres with tales of ill-fated love. From zombie-infested woods in a post-apocalyptic America to faery-haunted rural fields in eighteenth century England, from the kingdoms of high fantasy to the alien world of a galaxy-spanning empire, these are stories of lovers who must struggle against the forces of magic and fate. ~from blurb
I don't normally seek out short stories, but I wanted to read A leaf on the wind of All Hallows / Diana Gabaldon that was in this anthology. In fact I liked most of the others and it's renewed my interest in some fantasy.
Irma Voth / Miriam Toews.
The stifling, reclusive life of nineteen-year-old Irma Voth, recently married and more recently deserted, is turned on its head when a film crew moves in to make a movie about the strict religous community in which she and her family live.~ from blurb
Kind of strange, strangled book. Not sure I liked it especially.
Epigenetics : the ultimate mystery of inheritance / Richard C. Francis.
Epigenetic means "on the gene," and the term refers to the recent discovery that stress in the environment can impact an individual's physiology so deeply that those biological scars are actually inherited by the next several generations. For instance, a recent study has shown that men who started smoking before puberty caused their sons to have significantly higher rates of obesity. And obesity is just the tip of the iceberg—many researchers believe that epigenetics holds the key to understanding cancer, Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, autism, and diabetes. Epigenetics is the first book for general readers on this fascinating and important topic. The book is driven by stories such as the Dutch famine of World War II, Jose Canseco and steroids, the breeding of mules and hinnies, Tazmanian devils and contagious cancer, and more. Time to worry again—our lifestyle choices do impact our genetic code and that of our children (and even grandchildren!). ~from blurb
Reasonably easy to read book about this topic, which explains why high school genetics can't account for everything.
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time / Mark Haddon.
A murder mystery like no other, this novel features Christopher Boone, a 15 year-old who suffers from Asperger's syndrome. When he finds a neighbour's dog murdered, he sets out on a terrifying journey destined to turn his whole world upside down. ~from blurb
Great book! Don't know why I've taken so long to get around to reading it.
The circus of ghosts / Barbara Ewing.
New York, late 1840s, and in the wild, noisy, brash and beautiful circus of Silas P. Swift a shadowy, mesmeric woman entrances crowds because she can unlock the secrets of troubled minds. Above them all her daughter sweeps and soars: acrobat and tightrope-walker. But in London memories fester in the mind of an old and vicious duke of the realm who plots with an unscrupulous lawyer against the mother and the daughter: to kill one and abduct the other across the Atlantic. ~from blurb
Took me a while to finish this book - it was good, quite involved really.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Had a pleasant festive lunch with the rellies today. The children jumped in the pool there - it looked freezing. They also jumped in the spa too.. hee hee.
My MIL helped me by finishing off a skirt I've had cut out for ages while I prepped food to take to the lunch.
Once we were home again the men got on with more painting jobbies. They've almost done all the window prep on one side of the house.
Once again I feel like my fridge - waaaaay too full of food. Hoping tomorrow won't be quite so bad. Plus I do get some exercise tomorrow since I need to clean out the garden under our bedroom window. This involves me wrestling with my kaffir lime plant which has thorns on it 5cm long. Slightly nerve wracking.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Mr8 was up at 6am and had opened all his presents by 6.10am. Then he came to see if we were awake! He'd told us the night before that he'd only open one present before breakfast..... Hahahahaha! Yeah right.
Miss4 was still snoozing but he soon changed that.
DH had purchased some model train equipment which was inspected with great interest. The pyjamas I'd got him were heaved aside in preference for the toys! Miss4 was much more receptive to clothing though. In fact, once she'd got some more from her Aunty we were treated to a fashion show whereupon all garments were modelled for us.
Miss4 also got a bike. She's been asking for one for a long time so we've been stringing her along with respect to Santa bringing one on his sleigh, how was he going to get it down the chimney etc etc. We left it in the garage, and I put a note on the wrapped up bike helmet explaining Santa had to leave it down there.
The festive table was groaning even though I'd been restrained in my catering. I didn't count on one of the guests bringing 3 boxes of special cakes and treats for zert so we had waaaaaay too much in the sweet department! :-)
Miss4 persuaded her Aunties to go with her up to the school to practice riding her bike twice over the period of the day.
Monday, December 19, 2011
In addition to Plans, there has been significant time put into Making Things With Power Tools and Visits To Building Supply Shops.
All this activity is watched over with great interest by Mr8 who has a vested interest in The Project.
From the boxes in the basement, DH has been bringing out Treasures Old and New including these models he built back when he was younger.
You may notice that this shop has suffered some damage - the window has fallen in. DH suggested to Mr8 that it was because the police station is entirely flattened in the box so robbers broke through in the absence of the law. Mr8 was somewhat sceptical at this explanation. The cathedral also has been damaged - perhaps by an earthquake?
Come Christmas morning, Mr8 is going to be very happy because Santa is bringing a brand new engine for him which will join 2 others that DH already has. It's a project for the long term and I'm looking forward to seeing it develop, seeing the bonding between the two males of the family and seeing the stories that come out of it. I did suggest to DH that I could contribute some of the scenery. He didn't seem to think much of my suggestions though. I mean, what model railway shouldn't have a naturist colony as a feature now?
Thursday, December 08, 2011
I'm dreaming of a dry Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the sunshine glistens,
on the surf waves rolling
and pohutakawa flowers grow
I'm dreaming of a dry Christmas
With crispy barbeque and pavs
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be dry
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Old papers of course! I'm so out of the loop when it comes to the "new" stuff in scrapbooking these days. Anyway, it's good to get these in the album. The kids do love looking through it and they don't care about the techniques or fancy papers.
Made this for Roo - it's a journal cover.
Dressed as a pavlova for a conference dinner my colleagues and I went to. We won a prize! I felted the kiwi fruit decorations on our dress and made the other smaller kiwis out of Fimo.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
She loves to colour and draw. She also likes to make cards with me, especially when it involves using punches or stamps. I've given her a bunch of stash that I no longer use and she keeps that in her cubbies in her room.
Her drawings from daycare often have writing on them from the teacher who asks her what the picture is about. Some of them are hilarious! The picture she's drawn for those fund raising calendars involves the family taking Mr8 to the Dr. Mr8 is coloured green because he's feeling sick. :-)
Her depictions of her family can be quite amusing. Mostly we are round things with facial features and suitable appendages. I feature quite a lot in her drawings. She often borrows my notebook during our church meetings to do drawing. The other week I told her off for some misbehaviour and she responded by drawing this "angry" mummy picture in my notebook.
Saturday, October 01, 2011
In preparation for the Wellington felting class I've been making up a few kits to send down for participants to purchase if they want. I needed some silk to use for embellishment but didn't have some of the colours that would work so my cunning plan for this weekend was to dye some!
The top three rows are synthetic dyes. The bottom row are natural dyes. I used an Usnea sp. of lichen for the bottom left silk cap and onion skins for the bottom right. I must say I'm impressed with the depth of colour for the onion skin one!
The kids made paper. It looks disgusting, like cow pat paper! Of course, once they'd made 2 pieces each their interest waned so I dumped the rest of the pulp into some cupcake moulds and turned them out to make paper shapes.
School holidays are coming up. I have heaps to do at work before the end of the month and can't afford to take leave this time, so Mr8 is heading up north to stay with his grandparents for a week. Miss4 has daycare of course. I really dislike having to work through - it just adds to my working mother guilt.
We've joined a karate dojo! I did karate about 10 years ago so it feels good to get back into it. We thought it would help Mr8 with his confidence, motor control and self-discipline. He really loves it which is great, and the exercise is so needed for me. Now that daylight saving has begun I'm trying to do the C25K program ... again. Maybe this time I'll make it to 5K!
Monday, September 12, 2011
On the weekend I made this for the Scarves for Japan project. I'm planning to do some more. If you're a knitter or felter or other sort of fibre crafter, you may like to check out the project information page and join in - http://scarves4japan.jimdo.com/english/
From the project page:
"What is this project?
Our project is to collect handmade scarves from all over the world and distribute them to the victims of Japan's earthquake and tsunami. This is one of the best ways to help Japanese people directly because what you send is brought directly to the victims. Monetary donations are a good thing, but sometimes you do not really know what your money is used for. Direct aid makes people happy and smile, and you know how it is used very clearly. "
I like the idea of sending something tangible, unique and made with thoughtfulness and empathy. The process of making it is meditative as I lay out the fibre and imagine the person who is going to receive it. The physical effort of rolling, and the fiddly embellishment with beads becomes imbued with more meaning.
I hope the person who gets this scarf will realise there was someone on the other side of the world who was thinking of them and cares about their well being.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
On the weekend I did some more felting. The wool I used was some dyed merino from a Felt member Lynn to make this scarf.
A lattice style scarf (close up)
Modelled by moi - I'm tossing up whether or not to felt some flowers to add to it.
The other thing I tried was some dyeing with lichens. On our southern holiday I picked up some handfuls of lichens that had fallen onto the path. I had a rather ancient book from the library Natural wool dyes and recipes by Ann Milner which has instructions for dyeing with this plant (and many others). Most natural dyes are quite muted colours so my expectations weren't high. But I was pleasantly surprised with the nice tan colour that resulted. I'm not totally sure of the lichen species as they are quite hard to identify without a flora, and even with one it can be tricky! But I think the one I used comes from the The original colour is the cream on the bottom right. Not entirely sure of the specific lichen name but I think it's one of the Pseudocyphellaria sp.
Now for some exciting news!
I have been fortunate to secure funding to attend a library conference in Wellington 29 Oct-2 Nov where I'll be presenting two posters. A while back Beverley commented that should this occur, she'd like to do a felting class with me to learn to make these scarfs etc. So, we've begun the arrangements for the class.
It will be held 29th Oct - most likely at CraftHouse. My plane gets in at 8am so I am hoping to get started 9.00am-9.30am or so. Do you think I'll get my pool noodle I use for rolling felt into the overhead locker? Hmmm...
There will be a cost for the class (something like $30), and I will make up some kits for participants to purchase should they wish it. I'll also be providing a list of required materials and suitable vendors for participants who'd rather sort out their own. Some sample scarfs will be heading down to Beverley for display purposes too.
It should be fun! I don't claim to be an expert in felting but it is a forgiving medium and I am confident we can make something beautiful together.
Maybe I will see some of you there?
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Blossoms and shadows / Lian Hearn.
This is the story of the birth of modern Japan, told by Tsuru, a young woman who breaks every stereotype of the Japanese lady. We meet her on the day of her sister's wedding, and soon realise that she will not accept the same domestic role that her sister is about to take on. ~ from the blurb
Found this interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's set in a period of Japan's history that is critical to it's development. Secondly, the cultural mindsets and the conflict between the old and new ideas in parallel with the conflict between the gender stereotyping provides a fertile ground for story lines. It keeps you reading to see what is going to happen.
A red silk sea / Gillian Ranstead.
Cam and Laurie's teenage years in a small South Auckland town are full of illicit sex, parties and quite terrifying brawls. In spite of this the girls go to university and are successful. At 25, Laurie commits suicide and it is up to Cam to face the painful memories of the past. ~from the blurb
Let me make one thing clear - this is not a "nice", easy read book because of the subject matter. I continued with it though. The culture and lifestyles portrayed in the book are so alien from my own upbringing in the western part of Auckland, that it was almost like reading about another country. Some aspects of the story were disturbing. The writing is great though.
Death and the devil / Frank Schatzing ; translated by Mike Mitchell.
In the year 1260, under the supervision of the architect Gerhard Morart, the most ambitious ecclesiastical building in all of Christendom is rising above the merchant city of Cologne: the great cathedral. Far below the soaring spires and flying buttresses, a bitter struggle is underway between the archbishop of Cologne and the ruling merchant families to control the enormous wealth of this prosperous commercial center - a struggle that quickly becomes deadly. Morart is the first of many victims, pushed to his death from the cathedral's scaffolding by a huge man with long hair, clad all in black. But hiding in the branches of the archbishop's apple orchard is a witness: a red-haired petty thief called Jacob the Fox, street-smart, cunning, and yet naive in the ways of the political world. Out of his depth and running for his life, he soon finds himself engaged in a desperate battle with some very powerful forces. Most dangerous of all is the killer himself - a mysterious man with remarkable speed, strength, and intelligence, hiding dark secrets that have stripped away his humanity and turned him into a cruel, efficient hired assassin who favors a miniature crossbow as his weapon of choice. But who is he killing for? Jacob the Fox - uneducated and superstitious - fears the killer is the Angel of Death himself. But the wily Fox makes an alliance with some of the strangest of bedfellows: a beautiful clothes dyer, her drunken rascal of a father, and her learned uncle, who loves a good debate almost as much as he loves a bottle of wine. Can this unlikely foursome triumph against the odds and learn the truth of the evil conspiracy before their quest leads to their death at the end of a crossbow arrow? ~from the blurb
The funny thing about this book is that I picked it up wanting to read about Cologne having visited there as a young teen. I didn't realise it had been translated until I had finished and then I realised why some of the content seemed so Germanic. ;-) Funny to me anyway. The story was okay - I tended to identify with the women in it, so having the main protagonist as a doozy male who mostly appeared idiotic was kind of strange.
Poison : a novel of the Renaissance / Sara Poole.
In the summer of 1492, determined to avenge the killing of her father, Francesca Giordano defies all convention to claim for herself the position of poisoner serving Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, head of the most notorious and dangerous family in Italy. Francesca pursues her father's killer from the depths of Rome's Jewish ghetto to the Vatican itself. In so doing, she sets the stage for the ultimate confrontation with ancient forces that will seek to use her darkest desires to achieve their own catastrophic ends. ~from the blurb
Enjoyed this one. A crime story basically but with poison :-)
The last Maasai warrior / Frank Coates.
"For so long as the Maasai shall exist as a people - this is the land tenure promised by the British government in their 1904 treaty with the Maasai. Seven years later the promise is broken and the leader of the Maasai warriors has just two options - to confront the whites superior power, or to bow to them and make the perilous journey to the new reserve. In the meantime he struggles to resist his forbidden desires for another man's wife. George Coll, arrives in East Africa to begin work in the new administration but finds himself in an impossible situation. Should he toe the government line and watch an innocent and previously peaceful people be unjustly thrown out of their homeland, or help them to resist? Coll also has a very personal decision to make. Hilda Wallace will share whatever life has to offer him, but can he accept knowing a ticking time bomb hangs over his head? As the Maasai gather to make their historic decision, the white settlers and government forces are determined to seize the land they need."--Provided by publisher.
A bit laboured and basically sad, almost futile.
Outliers : the story of success / Malcolm Gladwell.
"The best-selling author of Blink identifies the qualities of successful people, posing theories about the cultural, family, and idiosyncratic factors that shape high achievers, in a resource that covers such topics as the secrets of software billionaires, why certain cultures are associated with better academic performance, and why the Beatles earned their fame"--Publisher's description.
Really interesting take on success and why some people succeed and others not.
The thirteenth tale : a novel / Diane Setterfield.
Vida Winter, a bestselling yet reclusive novelist, has created many outlandish life histories for herself, all of them invention. Now old and ailing, at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. Her letter to biographer Margaret Lea - a woman with secrets of her own - is a summons. Vida's tale is one of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family: the beautiful and wilful Isabelle and the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline. Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling, but as a biographer she deals in fact not fiction and she doesn't trust Vida's account. As she begins her researches, two parallel stories unfold. Join Margaret as she begins her journey to the truth - hers, as well as Vida's. ~ from the blurb
Gothic, secrets and mysterious! I liked it.
I have also been availing myself of the Overdrive collection at Auckland Public. Listening to some of the audiobooks has been a good way for me to unwind. They are good for the commute too. My only complaints is the limited number of audio books available for particular formats (e.g. the iPad or Android phone) that can be downloaded from the actual device and the fact all the ones I want are usually "out". I know it's an Overdrive thing but with electronic media like this the concept of something being "out" is obsolete. It's a file! It should be able to be downloaded many times! ok, rant over.
Valley of the lost / Vicki Delany
Constable Molly Smith and Sergeant John Winters know little more than the dead woman’s name. Who was she? Was this just a drug deal gone wrong, or is there something more sinister at play? Does her orphaned baby boy hold the key to solving his mother’s murder?
Meanwhile, a controversial resort development is ripping apart their close-knit community. Has the disagreement pushed a member of this quiet community to murder?~ from the blurb
Winter of secrets / Vicki Delany
It's Christmas Eve and the snowstorm of the decade has settled over the peaceful Canadian mountain town of Trafalgar, British Columbia. Constables Smith and Evans have a busy shift, attending fender-benders, tumbling pedestrians, and Christmas-tree fires. At the stroke of midnight, they arrive at the scene of a car accident: a vehicle has gone off the snowy road into the icy river. It seems to be an accident. But when the autopsy reveals a shocking secret, Constable Molly Smith and Sergeant John Winters are plunged into the world of sexual predators, recreational drugs, privilege, and high living.
Meanwhile Charlie Bassing is out of jail and looking for revenge, a handsome Mountie is giving Molly the eye, and her mother, Lucky, is cheerfully interfering in the investigation. ~from the blurb
Happily enjoying this new crime series for the setting and the characters.
The Seance / John Hardwood
London, the 1880s. A young girl grows up in household marked by death, her father distant, her mother in perpetual mourning for her child she lost. Desperate to coax her mother back to health Constance Langton takes her to a séance. But the séance has tragic consequences. Left alone, her only legacy is a mysterious bequest which will blight her life. That bequest comes in two parts: a house, and a mystery. Set in the world of apparitions, of disappearances and unnatural phenomena, of betrayal and blackmail, black-hearted villains and murder, Constance must find the truth behind the mystery of Wraxford Hall - even if it costs her life. ~ from the blurb
I wasn't sure what to think of this one to begin with. At first I thought it was going to be quite a horror sort of novel, but then it turned more into a mystery/crime story. There are several different narratives in the story giving different perspectives. Some of it is quite spooky - and unlike a written book I couldn't easily skip forward past descriptive bits to get to the action. *spanks hand at bad habit* The narrator of the audio book does an awesome job of the different characterizations.
At MPOW we just launched a new collection for recreational reading. It's intended to assist in our institution's impetus to promote literacy. So we're buying for young teens and upwards. So far, the graphic novels are looking like the most popular! No surprises there - and it's great to see our students reading. Personally I'm looking forward to having access to stuff to read for fun too. We took recommendations from staff and also from students.
At the launch yesterday, a few of us hired some costumes to get dressed up as book characters to help promote the thing. We got a fair amount of positive feedback, an article in the student magazine and even issued a few books out there in the Hub. It helped we put ourselves next to the free sausage sizzle!
Here is me all dressed up as Lizzie Bennett (more on my Facebook). I even wore a corset - though I realised afterwards that as a result of the squishing I should have got the next dress size down so my dress fitted better. Ah well...
Monday, August 01, 2011
And now it is the end of July. It's been a bit of a stressful month, and while I know it's not been as bad as other people's stresses, I've felt it.
- I had to write a paper for a conference
- I had two abstracts accepted for poster presentations
- I submitted a research proposal to the ethics committee
- I revised (twice) the research proposal for the ethics committee in response to their feedback
- Miss4 got chickenpox
- Mr7 got chickenpox
- Mr7 got nits
- I had a birthday
- I got chickenpox for my birthday
- I applied for the permanent version of my job
- I had an interview for the permanent version of my job
- I was successful in getting the permanent version of my job
- I felted another hat (photos to come when I get some good light and a chance to take it)
- I dyed some wool (ditto)
- We went on holiday
I haven't done a Reading Round up for ages, but then I haven't been doing much in the way of leisure reading, apart from a few audio books.
Our holiday was much needed.
Husband has been processing some of his photos from the holiday - you can see some on his Flickr stream or his website. Incidentally, if anybody wanted prints of his stuff they should contact him via his website and inquire.
We flew into Christchurch and headed off to Lake Tekapo for two nights. The lodge there was ok, although a little basic and rather noisy. There was one frying pan in the kitchen and no sharp knives.
Then we went on to Mt Cook where the lodge cost more but was more luxurious and had nicer cooking facilities. They had had a good dump of snow so we got to do some sledding :)
Then we went to Wanaka to some very budget accommodation. Luckily only for one night.
We crossed over the Haast pass the next day, missing all the snow and bad weather the eastern coast of the South Island got. It was gusty and chilly in the pass, but we made it up to Fox to catch a sunset and then went over the hill to stay with friends in Franz for 3 nights. It was great to pull into their place and see the excited welcome from two girls!
From Franz we went on to Lake Brunner, stopping at a few places on the way, like the Dorothy Falls near Hokitika. We really should have done a bit more research before we left because we would have liked to have spent more time in the Hokitika area and in fact the West Coast in general. It reminds me of West Auckland in many ways - less people and more mountains though.
We crossed over the Lewis pass from Lake Brunner to Hanmer Springs to visit the hot pools there. Can't say I found Hanmer particularly interesting. It's a nice town, and probably good for older children who are interested in mountain biking and hydro slides etc, but for younger ones not so much. There is a farm park that we went to, but not a lot else. The walks are mainly through forestry plantations so of little interest to DH.
Finally we drove back to Christchurch, spent the afternoon at Orana Park and flew home.
Back to work today, and all seems to be ticking over there. It's orientation week so I spent some time in the Hub blowing bubbles and wearing alien eyes on a head band in order to pimp the library to students!
And that's the update for anyone who is interested.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
In the afternoon, I attended Nethui and spent most of the time in the Education stream, briefly venturing out to hear about the social media response to the Christchurch quakes. Se if you can spot me in the Livestream video they had running - I'm talking to my former colleague Li.
I was a little disappointed that the focus, or perhaps more correctly, the participant dominance in the Education stream was from primary and secondary levels. I was not disappointed that they were present - I think it is great - but the disappointment lay in the lack of tertiary level education participants. I think the only tertiary level people there were librarians. Still - there were interesting discussions, and of course, much overlap in terms of issues at every level of education. E.g. Infrastructure, resistance from overwhelmed teachers to eLearning, need to focus on the learning not the tools and so on. It's hard to know where to start but I think the answer does lie in the carrot & stick model, plus opportunities to hear from others about success stories.
One thing that is so necessary is the perceived freedom to "play" and to have risk friendly environments in which that "play" can occur. This isn't easy - in the tertiary sector one is so conscious that students have paid large sums of money to be there and "playing" with a new approach can seem irresponsible. Yet, I've witnessed some great exemplars at MPOW where technology and social eLearning has been very effective in courses that you would think it would fail - such as construction and automotive classes.
This was hardly a normal day in the life for me, but it was a nice interlude. And there was Oreo cheesecake.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I did have a little giggle at the paper you wrapped the soap in J9 ;-) Looking forward to using them! As soon as I opened the package I could smell the lovely scent - thank you.
Today I didn't get anything done on my paper but I did watch the live stream of Nethui which began today. I had put my name on the waiting list for attendance but didn't hold out much hope of getting a registration, but lo! the library's PA came in to tell me I did and so I'm attending tomorrow afternoon and Friday morning. Looking forward to being there in person. I have to say that Ziln did a great job of live streaming and were responsive to tweets about sound etc from those watching which does them credit.
There was some interesting discussion today and the tweet stream for #nethui is representative of what the sessions were about.
One thing that struck me in the Digital literacy session and the session entitled 21st Century Parenting - Challenges and Solutions, was the focus on Facebook and privacy/safety issues. It would appear that Facebook is held up as an example of what can go wrong in terms of safety online and lack of digital literacy. It bothers me that there are those out there that a) don't bother to dig deep into the settings on their Facebook profile b) let kids younger than 13 use Facebook and c) use ignorance as a cop out to ignore modelling good online behaviour.
Another thing that bothered me from the digital literacy session was the focus of some of the contributors on the basic computing skills such as word processing. I guess I'm more at the information literacy part of the continuum where I feel it is important for people to have discernment when it comes to evaluating where information comes from rather than basic "How To Use Auto Sum In Excel". Clearly, these basic skills are important but I fear for the ability of people to be good digital citizens if all we're teaching them in terms of digital literacy is how to use the functionality of a programme effectively.
Anyway, there was lots of food for thought.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Additionally, I am relieved to have resurrected a family tree file I'd made back in 20004. I'd saved it, but the software used to create the file had gone back to Mum's and we no longer had it There seemed to be no easy way to convert the file to something useful. Fortunately, Mum still had the software running on her machine so DH converted the file to something more universal and we've downloaded some open source family tree software and I can now update it. I wanted to check the tree to see if a connection existed - not sure that it does but hooray for having the data workable again! I'll be backing up the GEDcom file now and also uploading the info to a cloud based genealogy site too (I think) to ensure I've got the data. Some lessons there about digital continuity!
This is Pusscat - he was made for me by my grandma.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Harvesters harvest grain, in a big field in a group. Because there are usually groups of them harvesting one part.
[Harvester approaches by Mostly Dans]
Harvesters pour out the grain out of the auger into a special trailer with an auger that can fold down and fold up.
[combined harvester by Mostly Dans]
[evening harvest by Mostly Dans]
There are different brands of harvesters that are John Deere, Claas, and New Holland.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
1. Miss4 has chicken pox
2. Miss4 has chicken pox
3. I had to look after Miss4
4. My head spent the afternoon/evening surging around trying to get out of my skull.
So all in all I didn't feel like blogging. The head appears to be mostly settled. I have taken ginger tablets for the dizziness and panadol for the associated headache. There is something going on with my inner ears - I can feel it but not a lot one can do about that. Sleep is good.
As for Miss4, she's mostly very good if a little subdued, telling me she is a spotty dog. But the virus flares up in the evenings and it all gets itchy poor kid.
Today I worked from home. I did a lot of reading and am feeling a bit better about this paper I'm writing. I needed to get into the "academic writing" mode I think. I have now revised my plan of attack. Sure wish there was some support at MPOW for this stuff though, especially for first time conference presenters like me.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
- Submitted my edits for my ethics application for some action research I'm doing.
- Edited some more of a paper I'm supposed to present at ICELF (& wished I never submitted for)
- Edited a policy document on Student Voice for which I am on a committee for
- Did a desk shift
- Listened/watched a Youtube presentation by Stephen Abram and made notes of bits relevant to my ICELF paper
- Was emailed to say my two abstracts submitted to LIANZA2011 have been accepted as poster presentations
- Felt panicky
- Thought about all the other stuff I need to do before the end of the year
- Felt more panicky
- Got into a long discussion on Twitter about an unconference
- Went home and made dinner
- Discovered Miss3 came home with spots helpfully circled in pen by daycare teachers indicating potential chicken "pops" as Miss3 calls them
- Dried dishes
- Continued Twitter conversation
- Read 3 chapters of the BFG to washed, dried and pyjama-ed children
- Made a wiki
- Wrote this blog post
- Played with the settings on the webcam
And so to bed.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
I should have said no to doing action research this year. It seemed a good idea at the time to be involved in it but then I said yes to submitting some abstracts to conferences too. Which means I'm doing a lot of writing and reading when I would rather be doing more practical stuff.
The difficulty I have is I see the opportunity and I don't want to miss it in case it doesn't happen again.
Some layouts from the weekend:
And a video blog for today for Jo who wants to see my kitchen! Well, here it is in all it's messy glory!:
Here is a catch up post.
Some linky love:
Random Romance Novel Title Generator (thanks to @seanfish) - my current fave "The Scottish Vampire's Insatiable Nurse"
Which makes me think of two things.
1. Romance novels are always better when they involve men in kilts, preferably with an accent. ;-)
2. A lesson I learned back in the dark ages when I worked part time at a public library.. one should not judge a book by it's cover. We had a regular customer who would come in every weekend to borrow a handful of Mills & Boon romances. In my rather immature,Improving Librarian state I looked down my nose at this predilection. I imagined this elderly lady sitting in her flat salivating over the racy bits. One day I decided to be helpful and nicely suggested some other books I thought she would like. She listened to my suggestions and agreed that they sounded interesting. Then she said, a little apologetically, "I get these because I can't sleep at night and they don't require any brain interaction on my part. They help me get through the night and back to sleep." Oh my, I felt about 2 mm tall. So after that I had to revise my opinionated attitudes. People read what they read for many reasons and it is okay. I still make suggestions to people, especially if they ask, but I no longer put on that Improving Librarian hat and look down upon people's choices of reading matter. While I mightn't like their choice, it's not up to me to make that snobby judgement call.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
My first boyfriend gave me a bottle of Paris as a gift. I still like that one, but not on me! The whiff of certain perfumes can bring back interesting memories. I still associate Tommy with the early dating days with DH. My Grandmother liked 4711. An elderly friend of ours also liked it and would put it on my hanky for me, so I associate 4711 with handkerchiefs and old ladies! Only my grandma would call it "scent" rather than perfume.
When I was in Wellington for my library degree there was a perfume shop on Lambton Quay that I would go past on my way to the bus. I would spend time looking in the window at the display. I think I went in once or twice.. Never could afford anything, but sometimes would sample one.
Then once I started work on Greys Ave back in Auckland, I was dangerously close to Smith & Caughy's so that when they had their famous sale I was able to purchase a few of my desired perfumes.
Some of my favorites that I actually own are:
L'air du Temps
I prefer light florals and some orientals or chrypres styles.
I haven't bought perfume for years now. After I had kids, I wore it less for some reason. Now I have decided I shan't buy any new bottles until I have finished what I have.
I prefer to buy my own perfume than have it given to me. Perfume changes once it is on the skin so it is best to try before buying. What one person likes isn't always what another chooses.
I am also fond of simple essential oils such as lavender, neroli and rose.
Do you have a signature perfume? What ones do you like?
Friday, June 17, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Google didn't find where I'd used the photo. Other photos I tried would show me places where the photo had been posted or used. For this photo it did make some suggestions of visually similar images - I think this is based on colours. Some of those suggestions were surprising...
Especially the one on the bottom right corner. I look like a bare bottom? I shall run away to bare bottom land!*
*You need to read Bad Jelly the Witch to get this reference.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
So I made cheesy mite pinwheel scones and ninja bread men (actually ninja short bread men).
Hence the lack of significant blog post.
And the lack of parental unit lunches made. We're going to "order" tomorrow.
Remember ordering your lunch at school? We hardly ever did, so it was a treat. These days the offerings are almost sophisticated. You can get pies of course, but at Mr7's school they offer soup and bread, pasta bakes and quite a range of other stuff.
In my day there were pies, sandwiches and sausage rolls. One sandwich option included vegemite and potato chips on white bread.. A dreadful combination that I still indulge in now and again. There was a particular way you had to eat your pie too. First you peeled the flakey pastry bit by bit off the top. Then you ate the top. Then you scooped the filling (with your fingers) and then you ate the rest of the pastry. The pies were Big Ben brand.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
What is on yours?
Monday, June 13, 2011
I eagerly downloaded it. I like the quality of the scanned books - in some you can even see squashed bugs! I do however wish for a search function within the books. Call me geek but that's how we librarians roll. :-) Also, I do object to the kangaroo featured on the front page of all Australian/NZ/Pacific books. Don't get me wrong. I like kangas, but there aren't any here, nor in the Pacific Islands. Perhaps something more ..um.. ubiquitous would have been better. Don't ask me what though. Vegemite perhaps?
Anyhow, it is neat to be able to read publications by the Rev. Richard Taylor about early New Zealand. Incidentally I feel quite friendly towards old Rev Rick - because I spent a summer photocopying transcripts from his diaries. I feel I got to know him a bit as I read his musings in between passes of the green photocopier light, surrounded by the stink of toner and heat from the cooling vent. Those were the days before scanners were any good.
And it is curious to see the books they've chosen to scan too.
Sacred songs for British Seamen? Check.
The London Burial Grounds: notes on their history from the earliest to the present day? Check. (The which has a chapter entitled Private and Promiscuous Cemeteries - I did read the chapter but didn't see what was promiscuous about them.)
The book of the cheese: being traits and stories of 'ye Old Cheshire Cheese'? Check.
The children of the mist; or, the Scottish clansmen in peace and war? Check. (This title slightly disconcerting in the light of a modern day title, "Gorillas in the mist")
If you have a Pad of I you may wish to try it out :-)
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Bad photo this one - the light had gone by the time I finished it. Will take another.
I did make creme brulee and used my blow torch on it, but no photos because both my cameras had their batteries on the charger. And now they are eaten. But I did learn that despite the recipe I used, brown sugar is not a good option, white sugar is better and preferably caster sugar (which I didn't have). So... more learning but nevertheless tasty. I know there are more people wanting to eat creme brulee so there will be further opportunity for perfection! Ha!
Mr7 got creative too. He wanted to make a movie of his creation so here it is. It is also the reason my cameras are now needing their batteries charged.