Taking over

Hi. Henry Lee here. MC’s been a bit slack lately about keeping in touch with y’all, so thought I’d have a go. Besides, I heard her muttering something about a mouse on the desk here the other day, which sounded kinda interesting. Still looking for it. Maybe I misheard.

Been really wet here lately. Means a lot more washing and drying. You know – wet feet, wet fur, need to clean, need to dry. Tedious. Yawn. Stretch. Next foot. Tail. Ears. Face. And so on.

She was on the phone the other night, telling someone she’d been busier than a cat covering up. Pffft. What would she know. Seems to be out at night a lot lately – yacking on about a bridge somewhere or something. Three nights a week. And a couple of Sundays lately. And another one coming up next weekend, so I hear. Thought I’d pay her back the other night, her being out so late, so often – didn’t come when she called. You should have heard the panic in her voice. Out with a torch she was. Out on the road. Up and down the drive. Into the sheds down the back. Round and round the garden. (No teddy bears, though). Boy, was she glad when I finally appeared. Bit of a softie, she is. ‘Spose I shouldn’t tease her like that. Whatever.

Anyway. She’s been wittering on about the beautiful autumn colours, so thought I’d better share some of her photos. And a moon shot, and some sunsets. Oh, and she’s been over to Lyttelton, too, so there’s a few of those. She needs to get out with the camera again, though.

Well. Time for supper. I’d better see what she’s up to – probably asleep on the chair in front of the idiot box. See y’all next time.

    Lyttelton ( a Lyttel Gap Filler project)

Tales at the Pallet Pavilion

In one of my previous blogs I told you about the Pallet Pavilion (see that post here), a Gap Filler project which was constructed on an empty site in Christchurch and opened in December 2012.

I learned from a colleague today (thanks, Sharon!) of a wonderful event coming up next weekend at the Pavilion, from Friday 5 through to Sunday 7 April, and thought I’d share some details of this fun event with you, just in case any of you felt like popping over/down/up to Christchurch for the weekend to join in 😉

Here’s a poster advertising the event:

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And here’s some more information (further details will be added to the Facebook page (see link below) over the coming week – check it out for the programme):

Story Festival: Tales @ the Pallet Pavilion, Cnr Durham and Kilmore Streets

Starting Friday 5th April 6.30pm and events continuing through to Sunday 7th April

Come on down on Friday with a picnic and your favourite stories, poems, jokes and songs to share – or just come and listen. Doc Drumheller will be sharing his poetry and getting us rocking and chilling with his original songs and covers from some of the great storyteller musicians: Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and more … Over the weekend there’ll be awesome performances by various local artists and you, too, can be part of sharing stories and creating collective stories with words and music. All ages and all experiences! Entry/participation by koha/donation. Wet weather venue: South Library, 66 Colombo Street. Check out http://www.facebook.com/TalesAtThePalletPavilion for programme details (you can view this even if you aren’t on Facebook).

So, will we see you there? 🙂

Yay, it’s Friday!!

Thank goodness!  Friday just couldn’t get here quickly enough for me this week – let’s just say it’s been a frustrating last few days …  However, I’ve made it safely through to today and now the weekend lies ahead, with time to relax and reflect and recharge 🙂

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Common Ground community cafe

Attended the opening today of a new community cafe for women (although there were plenty of men on hand at the opening as well), run by Riccarton Baptist Church and aimed at women who are socially isolated for whatever reason – perhaps they’re new migrants or refugees, women on their own at home with young children, or perhaps elderly and living alone – providing an opportunity for them to meet others in the local community and help them feel more connected and settled.  There was a real buzz in the room and it was great to see so many coming along to join in on the first day.  Riccarton has quite a diverse ethnic mix in its population, with a considerable number of non-English speaking residents for whom the language barrier can make it a struggle to get to know others, so it’s great to see a project such as this getting under way.  I loved the gumboot floral displays and welcome sign at the door  – each table also had a child’s gumboot on it, planted with a pansy or similar small flower – they looked so cool!

I have the second part of my digital camera course tomorrow afternoon, when we’re going to be looking at editing and manipulating our photos with programmes such as Gimp and Photoshop, so I’m looking forward to that.  I’ll probably take the opportunity while I’m out and about to check out a few more of the Gap Filler projects in the city – and I’m also going to sort out some books to take down to the Littlest Library in the World that I posted about a few days ago:  I walked past it again earlier this week and noticed that there were some new books there, but didn’t have time to stop and look (what’s the betting they’ll have taken that Cat’s Eye book I had my eye on … 😉 ).

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New Zealand fantail

Had a wonderful experience this evening after I got home.  My absolute favourite bird is the New Zealand fantail or pīwakawaka, which is a beautiful, cheeky little bird that flits around you with no apparent fear at getting up close and personal, as happened to me this evening.  They have a very distinctive call (which is reasonably easy to imitate by puckering your lips together, putting your finger in-between your lips and sucking in lightly, sort of like a kissing sound), so when I heard one outside I grabbed the camera and shot out onto the verandah.  I could see him (her?  I have no idea how to tell one from t’other!) in the shrubs alongside the creek, and then the next minute it flew over to me and perched about three feet away from me on the clematis!  Unfortunately, the light just wasn’t good enough – or else I was shaking so much with excitement – for me to take any worthwhile photos, so I’ve borrowed someone else’s to show you what a delightful little bird they are.  (I had a similar experience about three years ago in the garden here, but that time the bird actually alighted on my outstretched hand not once, but TWICE –  I was quite beside myself with excitement then, I can tell you! 🙂 🙂 )  I really love having them in the garden – I always worry that because they’re so friendly the cats are going to make short work of them, but I’ve never actually seen one being caught:  they do tend to flit about a lot and never settle for more than a few seconds at a time, so maybe that’s their saving grace.

And to finish off today, a few more photos to share with you – these are ones that have been taken in the last couple of years or so, after I bought myself a nice digital camera and got back into taking photos:  still learning all the time, but I like to think I’m improving slowly 🙂

Talk to you again soon – take care now!

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Slow recovery …

Since the 6.3 earthquake that struck Christchurch on 22 February 2011, I have been a reluctant visitor to the central city for a number of reasons.

Firstly it was the continuing aftershocks, each one bringing an adrenalin surge of fear and stress, not to mention many a sleep-deprived night (no wonder sleep deprivation is such a popular form of torture, it can turn even the most fortitudinous soul into an irritable, irrational and horribly fractious monster in no time at all!). I was simply too scared to venture into malls and movie theatres and any building over one storey high, in case there was another big shake and I was trapped or the building collapsed while I was in it. Then, as the months passed and the aftershocks and the shaking slowly lessened and we picked ourselves up again and said, what next, it was the shock and sadness at seeing so many familiar spaces and places ripped apart and destroyed or rendered utterly unrecognisable. I simply couldn’t handle the changes, the disorientation due to lack of familiar landmarks, and the feeling that I had suddenly landed in a place I didn’t know at all. Subsequent deconstruction and removal of damaged buildings only added to this disoriented feeling, as place after place became bare land, and I couldn’t even remember what had been there before the earthquake. It was an uneasy time for me, as I struggled to cope with my emotional response to the disaster and to come to terms with the fact that the face of Christchurch had changed forever.

Latterly, however, I feel I have made progress in achieving acceptance of what has happened, and realising that I’m not alone in feeling the way I do. Today I took another step along the road to recovery, and made a trip into town specifically to visit two of the new ‘landmarks’ in the city: the Pallet Pavilion (a Gap Filler project – http://www.gapfiller.org.nz/summer-pallet-pavilion/); and the new Cardboard Cathedral, which will temporarily fill the gap left by the damaged and now off limits Christchurch Cathedral in Cathedral Square.

Firstly, the Summer Pallet Pavilion. This opened at the beginning of December 2012, and was constructed over a period of 6 weeks from over 3,000 wooden pallets, plus other loaned, reused and donated material, with 250 volunteers putting in over 2,500 hours to build a fantastic venue which is available for community groups and businesses to hire. One of my colleagues had actually volunteered on this project, but I had absolutely no concept of its complexity or size, and to say I was stunned is an understatement: it’s much bigger than I thought, and such a fun venue! Here are a few photos to give you the flavour of this project:

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That sure is one heck of a lot of wooden pallets!!

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Don’t you just love the warning signs on the right?? And what about that state of the art crate seating!! 🙂

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Cool ‘window boxes’, and look, they even have a fire alarm installed!

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I think this is a stage area for performances – neat, isn’t it?

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Please note, NO climbing allowed! 🙂

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Just like any normal cafe, really! 🙂

Secondly, the Cardboard Cathedral. Work commenced last month on this $5.3M construction, with completion expected in April 2013. Much controversy has surrounded this project, with those for and against it being very vocal in their views on its suitability as a replacement, albeit temporary, for the much-loved Christchurch Cathedral. The cardboard cathedral was the brainchild of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who has been designing and building temporary structures for more than 30 years, many of which are now regarded as architectural icons: it’ll be interesting to see how it’s received once completed.

Here are a few photos to give you some idea of progress so far on the project.

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I’m going to reserve judgment on this one: I’m not religious, so I have no vested interest in what sort of building replaces the original cathedral, and I like the concept of the cardboard cathedral, but I’m just not sure it’s right for Christchurch … or am I just being an old fuddy-duddy? What do you think of the idea?

The Littlest Library in the World …?

I was walking down Hereford Street in downtown Christchurch today, on my way to a meeting, when I spotted this on the sidewalk at a property entranceway …

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Isn’t it a classic??! It must surely claim the title of The Littlest Library in the World, wouldn’t you agree?

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The sign taped on it says:

“Escapist Library> (don’t you just love that?!)
Please Borrow, Donate & Exchange books!
Tell your friends and family – let’s make this a community of readers.
Note
We are in desparate need of donations of books. This system only works if books are returned, exchanged and donated.”

I know there are a number of Gap Filler projects (http://www.gapfiller.org.nz/ – see note below*) scattered around the city, and there were many stories of ad hoc exchanges of various kinds being set up after the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, but I think this is definitely one of the cutest! I might just have to raid my home library and see if I can’t donate a few books towards it – and being the cat lover that I am, I also might have to investigate that book that’s presently in there entitled, “Cat’s Eye” …

Something else very funny happened while I was taking these photographs. A very sprightly elderly gentleman, nattily attired in sports shoes, sunhat, singlet and shorts (it was a hot day, after all) and obviously out for a brisk walk, stopped beside me and said in a loud voice, “Are you all right? You’re not lost, are you?” (I’m thinking, OK, he obviously thinks I’m a tourist and possibly no speaka da English …). I smilingly replied, “Yes, thank you, I’m fine, I’m just taking a photograph of this “library” – I reckon it must be the littlest library in the whole world!” To which he responded – wait for it: “Oh, that’s just a temporary library, the earthquake got the main one!” Bless him, he totally made my day, I smiled all the way to my meeting and all the way through it as well! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Do you live close to a library, or can you get to one easily? I just love visiting Christchurch’s libraries – each of them has a different character and ambience, some of them with lots of add-ons such as community meeting rooms and TVs and computers and courses and workshops and special play areas for kids, not to mention wonderful cafes and outstanding staff; while others are a little more laid back and gentile, not quite so brash and in your face. I’m not quite sure which I prefer … I guess it depends on what my mood is at the time – sometimes all I want is a quiet space where I can browse and savour what’s available without noisy children and high school kids chattering and the clatter of cups and plates in the cafe; but there are other times when I relish the ‘up-marketness’ and all the mod cons and high tech gadgets you can play with. What is always wonderful, and what I appreciate every time I set foot in the door of any library, is the opportunity to discover things I didn’t know before; find new authors or enjoy old favourites; learn a new hobby or pick up tips and suggestions on an existing one: there’s always something there to interest and entertain, and I feel very fortunate to have access to such wonderful resources.

So, librarians of the world, you have my support and thanks: keep up the good work! 🙂 🙂

* Gap Filler: Gap Filler aims to temporarily activate vacant sites within Christchurch with creative projects, to make for a more interesting, dynamic and vibrant city.