Monday, February 28, 2011

Charity auction: Red Cross funding for Christchurch Earthquake Relief

This weekend I've been busy.  Louise has organised a charity auction on Facebook to raise money to give to the Red Cross in response to the devastating earthquake in Christchurch.  So these are the things I'm donating to the auction.  If you are interested in bidding on them, you can join the group.  If you aren't a Facebook member but still want to bid, email Louise and see if there is some way you can nominate a proxy (or something).

Donation 1

Blue & green felted merino bag

Blue & green felted merino bag

Blue & green felted merino bag

Donation 2 (three jars of this so three opportunities to win)

Sweet Orange Marmalade

Donation 3

Fig & Ginger Jam

Donation 4

Fig & Ginger Jam

Donation 5

Fig & Ginger Jam

Donation 6 - Kisses for Christchurch: Nuno felted merino wool on polyester chiffon wrap

Kisses for Christchurch

DH's relatives from that area appear to be safe though I haven't heard about how their houses etc have fared. It seems our friends down there are alive but some have lost material things. One family has lost their house & pets and they have evacuated to here in Auckland to one our other friend's who lives locally.

It has been a strange sort of time since the earthquake happened. On the one hand, we've had to keep on about our daily business, but myself and others I've spoken to have found it hard to focus on anything in particular. The news coverage has been extensive but I've had to step away from it at times just to keep myself on an even keel. It has been so touching to hear of people, organisations and countries contributing to helping those affected.

[for the believers]... On Sunday, someone mentioned Psalm 46 which I found encouraging and restorative:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

(New International Version, ©2010)

I don't find it profitable to ask why these things happen or make dire predictions about the meaning of natural events. We live in a world governed by physical laws like gravity, plate tectonics and so on so it is inevitable that we'll see this stuff occur. But it is a strength to me to know there is grace and peace within these experiences.[/for the believers]

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

12 books for 2011 | invitation to photo essay

  1. Water for elephants / Sarah Gruen
  2. The Thirteenth Tale / Diane Setterfield
  3. Three Cups of Tea / Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin 
  4. The Secret Life of Bees / Sue Monk Kidd
  5. Outliers / Malcolm Gladwell 
  6. And then there's this : how stories live and die in viral culture / Bill Wasik. 
  7. Strength in What Remains / Tracy Kidder 
  8. The 10pm Question / Kate De Goldi
  9. Year of magical thinking / Joan Didion
  10. Her fearful symmetry / Audrey Niffenegger  
  11. Atonement : a novel / Ian McEwan.
  12. Blindsight / Maurice Gee
Let me know if you'll join me in this list!

My other book related project is to photograph the library book pile whenever I get books from a library.  This is going to be a like a photo essay of my reading for the year.  It will be books from whatever library I borrow from, public or academic.  If you'd like to join my project, I've made an open Flickr group you can join.  It's uncompetitive, no pressure and doesn't have to be artistic in any way.  I like seeing what other people borrow.

My first photo is this one:

2 Feb Library Books

Libraries (particularly public libraries), are being threatened by budget cuts and closures around the world.  In New Zealand we are fortunate that we haven't suffered the drastic cuts like the US, and now the UK where 400 libraries are planned to be closed.  That is 400 libraries worth of staff and collection that will no longer be available to the tax paying community.  Tomorrow there will be a day of protest in the UK over these closures.  Check out this scary map of libraries affected produced by the author of Public Libraries News.

View Larger Map

I think it is worth pointing out that this is more than just books we're talking about.  The printed book is an enduring physical entity and it'll be around for a while yet.  E-books are great and are becoming more important.  I'm anxious for them to mature past the issues relating to digital rights management and the multiplicity of ereaders available on the market so that we can really get our digital teeth into using them especially in the academic library world.  Libraries supply other resources like magazines, local history collections, newspapers, resources for family historians.  Have you tried the audio books available from your library?  Auckland Public libraries has great collection that you can access online and put on your mobile device via Overdrive.  Great for when you're sick, for kids, on long road trips or just to chill out.

It is worth pointing out that it is more than just resources we're talking about.  Libraries are a physical space too where people come to meet, work and relax.  They are warm and relatively safe places to be.  Public libraries are open to everyone in the community regardless of race, gender or ability.  Academic libraries provide a much needed physical sanctuary for students and even staff of their institution.  The digital space should not be disregarded either as much interaction can take place between the user and the library in the virtual realm.

So use your library.  Don't let it be taken away from you.

Daddy, what did you do?
By Phil Bradley

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

January Reading Round Up

Zoia's gold / Philip Sington.
A novel based on the hidden life of Zoia Krukovskaya, the last-known survivor of the Romanov court and an artist who learnt the secret of painting with gold. ~from the blurb
Found this one intriguing from the mystery point of view, and also the art history behind the story.  I wanted to find out more on this artist, but haven't managed to yet.

January Blogosphere Book Club Book of the Month

Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress / Dai Sijie ; translated from the French by Ina Rilke. New York : Knopf, 2001. ISBN: 037541309X

During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, two boys, both sons of doctors, are sent to the top of a mountain for "re-education". An education that involves carting buckets of excrement up and down precipitous paths. But their lives take an unexpected turn when they meet the beautiful daughter of a local tailor and stumble upon a forbidden stash of Western literature. ~from the blurb

This is a short and sweet book which I really enjoyed.  The struggles of the young men seemed so poignant and dare I say, romantic. I wanted to know more of the seamstress though.  I particularly liked the imagery of the Chinese country-side.

The timewaster diary / Robin Cooper.
The year starts badly for Robin, losing his job for sending so many letters in work time, and for his wife Rita, who sprains her ankle (yet again). But Robin has a cunning plan - his marrying of the crossword and sudoku into his devilish 'crossoku', which might just make their fortune. ~from the blurb

I laughed dear readers, I laughed over this book.  It was also an interesting read in juxtaposition with The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith (which has been recreated as a blog).  They have much in common! 

Secrets / Freya North.
"They drive each other crazy. And they both have something to hide. But we all have our secrets. It's just some are bigger than others! Joe has a beautiful house, a great job, no commitments -- and he likes it like that. All he needs is a quiet house-sitter for his rambling old place by the sea. When Tess turns up on his doorstep, he's not sure she's right for the job. Where has she come from in such a hurry? Her past is a blank and she's something of an enigma. But there's something about her -- even though sparks fly every time they meet. And it looks as though she's here to stay!"--Publisher description.
Typical chick lit but good stuff.  I liked.

The Detective Branch / Andrew Pepper.
A robbery at a prawnbroker is a headache for Pyke and a valuable religious artifact appears to have motivated the robbery. Then several suspicious murders later Pyke must face up to forces within the police and the church who would rather the secrets from the past remain buried forever.~from the blurb
A good crime novel - winced a bit at some of the dodgy behaviour of the detective but it was all in aid of a good story.

Singing saltwater country : journey to the songlines of Carpentaria / John Bradley with Yanyuwa families.
John Bradley's compelling account of three decades living with the Yanyuwa people of the Gulf of Carpentaria and of how the elders revealed to him the ancient songlines of their Dreaming. ~from the blurb
Started this one with high hopes but didn't completely finish it.  It was a bit repetative to totally hold my attention but I can see for people who live in that area it has valuable insight into the values of the local tribes.  What was interesting was trying to get my head around some of the different ways of knowing described in the book.  It was also interesting to see again how important story telling is to the human race for information transfer as well as entertainment.

Nine dragons : a novel / Michael Connelly.
The murder of John Li, a South L.A. liquour store owner, hits LAPD Detective Harry Bosch hard, and he promises Li's family that he'll find the killer. As he uncovers a link to a Hong Kong triad--a lethal and far-reaching crime ring that follows many immigrants to their new lives in the U.S.--his world instantly explodes and the person he holds most dear is taken from him. ~from the blurb
Typical crime thriller genre but still enjoyed it.

Ruso and the demented doctor / R. S. Downie.
Army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso is waiting for the gods to smile on him. But, on a posting to the hostile North of Britannia, he’s in for a long wait. Not least because the locals have a new hero who likes to strap antlers to his head and scare the Romans silly, while Ruso’s slave girl, Tilla, is stubbornly refusing to identify the culprit in a police line-up. But when Ruso is waylaid at the Fort of Coria, where a fellow doctor has confessed to a grisly murder, it’s a case of out of the cauldron and into the fire. With Tilla thrust outside the fort (and into the arms of a former lover), Ruso is landed not only with Doctor Thessalus’s patients but also the tricky task of getting him to retract the confession. Something smells fishy about this murder and Coria is miles from the sea … Ruso faces a nightmarish investigation trailed by the secret police, hunted by the Stag Man and betrayed by Tilla, is it any wonder he’s seeking solace in the rather-too-watery local beer?~from the blurb
Interesting mystery story with some twisty bits and great historical flavour!

Whither the Blogosphere Book Circle? | Parties and Nuno Felting

Well folks - I think the Blogosphere Book Circle has died a natural death and should be laid to rest with suitable pomp and ceremony.  For whatever reason, it's been tough for people to join in and read and interact over the books we voted for.

Instead I'm going to choose 12 books I want to read this year and post them on the blog here.  If you want to join me in reading those 12 books, then please do so and please share your thoughts and reactions. I won't have a particular month assigned to them, they will just turn up in my Reading Round Up posts as and when I get hold of them.

If you have any suggestions for books to include on that list I would love to hear them!

The other thing I'm thinking of doing is posting a photo of the book pile each time I go and get some from the library.  I think it would make an interesting photo essay of my reading in 2011.  If you like to join me, let me know.  Maybe we could make a group on Flickr. :)

In other news....

Miss 4 had her birthday party for her daycare friends - she enjoyed it immensely and didn't seem to stop bouncing the whole time.  The "Twinkerbell" cake turned out okay despite some naughty words on my behalf while rescuing expensive Tinkerbell sprinkles from a leaky Spray 'n' Wipe bottle that had fallen on the packet. I was pleased with my Green Tea and Chai French Macarons though (in the photo to the left of the cake).  So were my work colleagues when I brought in the left overs.  Note the hands-on-hip attitude my daughter has... she has so much self-assurance that I'm torn between admiration and horror.  Is this a 4 year old girl thing?  I don't recall Mr7 being like this at all. We seem to be having quite a lot of 'tude going on at present with answering back and general you-can't-make-me-do-it snarkiness.  Where has my sweet girl gone?  She does make an appearance here and there... enough to give me hope.


I felted another nuno scarf - this one for a colleague, very much like the other one I did.

Nuno scarf for Fran

School starts for Mr7 tomorrow, can't believe he's in "middle school" now... no more junior syndicate! I've got all his stationery and his uniform sorted. I don't think I'm going to bother covering it this year, unless he particularly asks. Must remember to take a photo of him tomorrow. I really hope this year is a better one for him academically.  He has a male teacher this year, so I'm curious to see if that has an affect on his attitude and learning (as sexist as that may sound).