Busy as a very busy thing

The perennial problem of writing a diary is that when you’re busy, you’ve got lots to write about and no time to write it, and when you’ve got plenty of time to write, you’ve got nothing significant to say…

Anyway, now that the rush is over, I’ll attempt to catch up a bit.

Going back to the week before last: Flew down to Dunedin after work on the Wednesday evening (with much amusement at Christchurch Airport at all the rugby fans desperate to get up to Wellington for the big game, and all the monitors flashing “Wellington closed – no flights today” (can you tell I don’t like rugby?)), and was picked up at the Airport by Mum, who drove me up to Alexandra. Chatting as we drove, we got onto the subject of Bookcrossing, and Mum was quite fascinated by the idea. So, as I had a few books in my bag (of course 🙂 ), we stopped off in Roxburgh, and I released a book at the information centre. I think that’s the first book ever released in Roxburgh, so it’ll be interesting to see if it sparks any interest there.

Alexandra was even hotter than usual for this time of year (it hit 40 degrees on all three days I was there – the official temperature was a bit lower, of course, but all the locals trust the temperature displayed on the pharmacy in the centre of town more than the official temperature that gets on the TV news, which is recorded near the river so is always a few degrees cooler than it is in town), so we had a late barbeque dinner sitting in Mum’s garden, which looks more impressive every time I see it. Mum, stepfather, stepsister#1 and I sat there talking (and arguing politics – stepfather and I have diametrically opposed views, so we have some interesting discussions!) until the very small hours of the morning – it was just too hot to go to bed.

The late night was a bad move, because next morning we all had to get up very early so stepsister#1 could drive down to Dunedin Airport to pick up my brother (he hadn’t wanted to be picked up, he was planning on just waiting there until we passed by on the way to Dunedin later in the day, but we thought we’d surprise him). Or at least, that was the theory – a couple of hours later, we had a phonecall from her: “I’m at the airport, and I’ve looked everywhere, and there’s no sign of him!”. He was flying down from Auckland, so we didn’t think he’d have been caught up in the ongoing weather problems at Wellington, but I rang the airline anyway, and was told that there’d been fog at Dunedin earlier in the morning, so that flight had been diverted back to Christchurch. The phone rang again – it was my brother: “I’m in Christchurch, I’m trying to get on another flight to Dunedin, but it’s chaos here and nobody can tell me what’s going on”. He’d been planning on flying home again that night anyway, so after he’d been waiting a few hours in Christchurch he decided it wasn’t worth the bother, and decided to just head home. A real waste of a day for him – flying all that way just to sit in an airport 🙁

In the end, I decided not to go back down to Dunedin with Mum and stepfather – I decided I’d already had enough travelling, with another long trip planned for the next day, so I spent the afternoon sitting in the garden reading a good book (A Boy’s Own Story by Edmund White), and trying not to scratch my mosquito bites (Alexandra doesn’t normally have a mosquito problem, but a wet December followed by a hotter than normal January has brought them out in droves – very hungry droves).

On the Friday, (after another late night) Mum and I decided we needed a nice relaxing “quality time” day together. So, after signing Mum up on Bookcrossing (she’s now TopKat), releasing White Rose by Amy Ephron to her, and helping her to release one of her own (‘Tis by Frank McCourt), we headed off on a releasing expedition. First stop was the supermarket, where Mum released one of my books for me, leaving it on a display of plants outside the entrance. I stayed in the car and watched it while she did some shopping, so I was able to report back to her afterwards about everyone who had shown an interest. It was still there when we left, but had been picked up and put back down by quite a few people! Next we headed out to Clyde, where we released books at a dairy, outside the Masonic Lodge, and on a picnic table. We went back past the Masonic Lodge a few minutes later, and the book we’d left there was gone already (no sign of a journal entry yet though).

The real aim of going to Clyde was to have lunch somewhere nice, so we went to the Old Postoffice (now converted into a very nice restaurant), and sat in their garden. A few empty tables presented a perfect release opportunity, so I put ‘Tis (which I’d originally intended to take back to Christchurch and release at a meetup) down on one, where we could watch it as we ate our lunch. Not long afterwards, an elderly couple came into the garden and sat down at that table. They spotted the book straight away, and we could see that they were discussing it (they were just out of earshot), and carefully reading the “free book” sticker on the front, and the label and bookmark inside. The waitress came over to take their order, and they showed the book to her, and she inspected it too, then called over another waitress, who also carefully read all the labels etc. By this time, Mum and I had finished our lunch, but it was too much fun watching the reaction of everyone to the book, so we stayed at our table chatting and trying not to look like we were watching them. The book was passed back and forth between the couple several more times as they ate their lunch, and eventually they must have decided it really was a free book, because the man left with it under his arm. Success! Even if they never journal it, from the look on his face, that book has gone to a new home where it will definitely be appreciated – which is what Bookcrossing is really all about.

We headed back to Mum’s place, and I raided her bookshelves (with her help, of course!) for more unwanted books to take home with me and register, then packed my bags and went to meet Dad, who was giving me a lift back to Christchurch (he and stepmother were going up anyway to watch the Coast to Coast, so dropping me off would only be a wee bit out of their way). We didn’t get away from Alexandra until about 5.30pm, and by the time we’d stopped a few times along the way for food and ice-creams (I was wishing I had brought a few more registered books with me – there were so many perfect release opportunities I missed out on!) it was nearly midnight by the time we finally reached Christchurch and I collapsed into bed.

Of course, the busyness didn’t stop there – Dad and stepmother were coming back that night, to stay at our place for a couple of nights, so most of the day was spent cleaning up, changing the beds, and all that stuff you do before visitors arrive, even when they are family. It was stepsister#2’s birthday, so Dad and stepmother took her and us out for dinner that night, to a restaurant in New Regent Street. Our table was by the window, so after we’d placed our orders, I ran outside and released a book on a park bench in front of the window, where we could watch it. Dad was fascinated, and I think spent more time watching it than I did, commenting every time anyone glanced at it. When a street person picked up the book and dropped it again, so that it slid off the bench onto the ground, Dad even insisted on going back outside
to pick it up and put it safely back on the bench! It was still there when we left, and no journal entry yet (and it started raining later that evening, so it’s probably in a bin by now), but it did at least provide us with a lot of entertainment 😉

Dad of course spent most of the rest of the weekend doing stuff around our house (despite my insistence that he just have a holiday!) – so we’ve now got a new cistern on the toilet (he started off trying to fix the old one, but ended up going in to town to buy a whole new cistern!), the roses are pruned, the puncture on my bike has been repaired (I could have done that myself, but he just said “well, while I’m here…”), and we have several sacks of sand sitting in the garage ready for when we lay the brick paving (I did at least manage to restrain him from laying the bricks himself – I think only because it was starting to get dark!). In between all this, he was driving stepsister#2 around looking at houses – he really doesn’t do relaxing well! And of course, MrPloppy and I couldn’t just let him do all this work himself, we had to help, so by the time Dad and stepmother left on Monday morning, we were exhausted – going back to work was like a holiday in comparison!

Tuesday night was the monthly meetup – we were expecting new member mecka-antics to come along (not a new member to Bookcrossing, just new to Christchurch – he’s just moved here from the West Coast) to show us his designs for a logo for the NZBC Convention, but he never showed up (he told us later he’d got lost, and turned up at the Dux too late to catch us – I think he probably only missed us by about 15 minutes). But we still had a pretty good turnout – me, lytteltonwitch, BizzieLizzie and her husband and son, and Cathietay and daveytay. I picked up a couple of books – Twisting the Rope by RA MacAvoy and The Forest House by Marion Zimmer Bradley – and passed on quite a few: Between Friends by Kathleen Rowntree, A Boy’s Own Story by Edmund White, The Story of Language by CL Barber, a double-sided book of Nonsense Books by Edward Lear and A Wonder Book by Nathanial Hawthorne, and Son of Black Beauty by Phyllis Briggs.

Had a few books arrive by post this week as well, so my TBR pile is fair groaning. On Tuesday I got a parcel from GoryDetails – a RABK of three books, The Horizontal Man by Helen Eustis, Love on a Dark Street by Irwin Shaw, and Death is Relative by Edward Phillips; then on Thursday I got The Cat Who Moved a Mountain by Lillian Jackson Braun from petsnpeople (a trade for The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lillian Jackson Braun and The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth (not one of the “Cat Who” series, despite the name)); and yesterday I got The Worst Day of My Life, So Far by MA Harper and an audiobook of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells from Brendalc57 (a trade for Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz).

And I got a couple of notable catches this week. One is very well travelled – Medusa by Hammond Innes was released at the Dux after a meetup in November, and it’s just turned up in a recycling centre in California!!! I’d love to know how it got there! The other is in the “never give up” category – I released The Secret of Operation Brain by Dale Bick Carlson in Winchester in April, and it’s only just been journalled now, ten months later. Just goes to show you, just because you don’t get a journal entry straight away doesn’t mean the book is lost forever.

Currently reading: The Cat Who Moved a Mountain by Lillian Jackson Braun

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