A private entry to show off a bit of embroidery that won’t be able to be made public until February:

[album 128913 091205cackles.jpg]

Cackleberry is one of the lovely Brisbane bookcrossers I met when I was over there for the ABC convention. Last week his wife, jawin, sent me the following email:

Hello FutureCat,

I have received an intriguing note from DiamondLucy, a bookcrosser from Austria, who has become a special friend of a certain well-known feathered fiend.

Here is what she said:

“Heya jawin,

Since I know now that you’re mrs berry, I have an unusual request! Please make sure that the Chook is nowhere around when reading this pm!!

I’ve decided to “write” a cackleberry birthday book with the help of various bookcrossers. I’m doing this because he and others really cheered me up when I was having a bad time … it’s my way to thank him 😉 There are so many wonderful people out there and I guess now it’s my time to spread some vibes. I found out that his birthday is on the 3rd of February but I’m still lacking the year! I think it’s a milestone but am not sure for he deleted this information on his profile! Can you help me out? *conspiratively blinking* These fellow bookcrossers are already involved: constantweader, luz-de-luna, cartref, mrjiggs, milly1401, pepita-di-Corfu, apapsa. Do you think some Australians should be on the list too? Please tell me what you think about my idea!”

Lucy is right – 3 February 2006 is a special milestone in cackleberry’s life – he will turn 60. So of course I think some Australians should be involved in preparing a birthday book for him – we can’t let the foreigners have all the good ideas!

Lucy has subsequently come back with some more detailed instructions for those who would like to participate, and the list of players has expanded too. So far, there are more than a dozen volunteers from Australia and New Zealand.

If you would like to be part of this surprise for a special Chook, let me know and I will pass on the next set of instructions. The only catch is that all submissions must be here with me in Brisbane by Friday 16 December by email or snail mail. Or you can send it direct to lucy in Austria by mid January – I have all her contact details.

Oh, and if you think of anyone else that may like to be part of this, feel free to let them in on the secret too – but remember it is a secret!

I feel like I am in a James Bond movie!!! *slips on sunnies and trench coat and sidles out of the room*



Intrigued (and wanting to repay Cackles for his generousity on my birthday), I replied to Jawin saying I was interested in helping out, and got the secret instructions sent to me:

Hello FutureCat,

Thanks for agreeing to be part of the Great Chook Book conspiracy!

Here are the next instructions sent by spymaster Lucy. Read them carefully – they will self destruct in 30 seconds (or something like that)

1) take at least one sheet of paper, size A4, different colours would be nice too
2) leave 3 centimetres on the left side free for the binding
3) go create your constribution for the “cackleberry birthday book” and be creative!!
4) send the sheets to Jan who will send them to me
5) when I get all of them, I will get the book bound!
6) I will register it in January, not earlier to make sure he won’t see it by accident on one of our shelves! Then I will mail the bcid to you!

Lucy’s email is [email address removed for obvious reasons] if you have nay questions.

The cut off date for mailing from Australia is Friday 16 December to give them time to make it all the way to Austria for binding in January.

My snail mail address is:

And if you don’t already have it, my email address is [email]

Happy creating!!!!


I immediately had a brilliant idea – I’d cross-stitch a chicken as the centrepiece of my page (note for those foreigners who are wondering what the connection between cackleberry and chickens is: “cackleberry” is antipodean slang for an egg (think about it), hence him being referred to as “the chook” in Diamondlucy‘s email (“chook” is slang for chicken/hen)).

So I got out my vast supply of cross-stitch books and magazines, searching for a suitable pattern… and couldn’t find any chickens! Hundreds of ducks, a few geese, but not a single chicken. Finally, just when I thought I’d have to go and start searching the craft shops for an expensive pattern, in the second last magazine in the pile I found a selection of border patterns, one of which was a stylised chicken. It was a bit small for what I had in mind, but then I remembered I had an aida patch with a decorative edge (aida is a type of fabric used for cross-stitch) that I’d originally bought thinking it might be useful for making a bookmark, but it hadn’t been the right size for the design I’d had in mind, so I put it aside. So I dug out the patch, and discovered that with a tiny bit of tweaking of the pattern it would fit three chickens on it, and even better, the lacy edge was large enough to fill enough of an A4 page to look good, leaving just enough room for a happy birthday message (it meant I had to design the page in landscape format, but I reckoned having to turn the book sideways to see my contribution wouldn’t be that huge a hardship).

A couple of nights’ work and I had completed the chickens, and last weekend I went into town and found the perfect colour of paper to mount the embroidery on, and it’s now been safely sent off to Jawin – just hope the post isn’t delayed and it reaches her in time!

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