Friday, February 15, 2013

In the key of B

Bad blogger

Naughty, irresponsible, slack-ass blogger. Yep, that's me.
By the end of 2012, after about 2 years of almost-constant deadlines & responsibilities, I took total advantage of the lack of external deadlines in January by ignoring all the self-imposed ones as well. It's not that I wasn't doing anything - I got all sorts of stuff done over the Xmas break - I just became temporarily averse to writing of any kind.

So, to make up (a little) for the deafening silence of late, here's a rather long and rambling update in the key of B.*

(*Why? No reason really, just 'cos)

Bouncy bouncy

I was in Sumner recently, the day we experienced our 11,000th earthquake. It's been relatively quiet for a while now, seismically-speaking, and it's nice to know the radar is still vaguely accurate... I guessed its magnitude to be 3 to 3.5 (it was 3.3), immediately qualified by the comment, 'but it depends where it was'. After 11,000 quakes we all know far more than we ever used to (or wanted to) about the importance of an earthquake's location, magnitude, duration etc, and how it all impacts on the felt experience.

Thankfully we haven't felt all of the 11,000 quakes - I remember reading that we probably notice around a third of that number, usually above magnitude 3. For example: number 11,000 was centred off the east coast of C-city (not far from where I was at the time) but my hubby, working on the edge of the broken CBD, didn't notice it at all.

When I set up my little manually-operated 'quake-free days' counter at the top right of the blog, I decided to set the bar at Magnitude 3 (or 'Moment Magnitude' (Mw) as NZ has since adopted). This means that when there's a shake of more than 3Mw according to Geonet, I reset the counter to zero even if I didn't actually notice the quake at the time. Conversely there are some quakes that we feel strongly here at home because there's a few faultlines up in the hills behind us, but are not large enough to trip the reset action.

In the beginning, I trawled the internet for pictures of the numbers 1 to 10, figuring that I'd find higher numbers when I needed them. What I didn't expect was that, in all the time since I started operating the counter, there have only been a couple of occasions when we've gone past 10 quake-free days. Both times there was another shake before I got round to hunting out those higher numbers, so I still only have pictures of 1-10. It may have been over a year between 'damaging quakes' but we've yet to go more than a fortnight without some kind of small to medium quake.

Two days after number 11,000 that not everybody felt, we had a moderate shake of 4.6 that you couldn't help but notice. The best bounce we've had in a while... rather unsettling for any recent arrivals but mostly just irritating for us hardened veterans, yet another reminder that it ain't over yet.


Bookshelves & Bric-a-brac

We love our new house. We particularly love the way the weather stays on the outside and doesn't come whistling in through ever-expanding cracks in chimneys, walls, doors and floors. However it is still a little bland, a bit monotonous in form and colour, but we're working on fixing that.

The first step of this de-blanding process started in the lounge and was a long time in the making. Early last year, when we were working with an interior designer to choose the colour scheme for the house, we also commissioned plans for a feature bookshelf. Of the three concepts that were presented, we picked our favourite and, after many emails and meetings, we ended up with a fully-spec'd set of drawings to give to a joiner for fabrication.

Fast forward to December, and we finally took delivery of our brightly painted shelf cubes. The paint colours were a fairly last-minute choice, made after weeks of indecision. In the end we went with the deep purple hues of Resene 'Paua', offset by the blue-green tones of 'Kitsch'. This new addition adds a massive blast of colour to the lounge, as well as providing some shape & much-needed storage space.

One of the best things about all the unpacking & sorting we've been doing over the last couple of months has been reacquainting ourselves with all our books. They've been boxed up for over 2 years, languishing in the garage all alone... welcome back old friends :)

Unfortunately, the more we unpack, the more books we find! Some authors have already over-flowed their allotted shelf space and I can see myself doing a major reorganisation at some stage in the near future. Here's the Terry Pratchett shelf: double-stacked, it already contains 34 Pratchett titles, including Nanny Ogg's Cookbook and an Unseen University Diary from 1998, and still we keep finding (& buying!) more.

And finally, we have places and spaces for some of the various items that have been collected over the last 20+ years. Knick-knacks & bric-a-brac now jostle for space among books old and new. We're trying very hard not to get buried in clutter but I suspect it'll take a while for the habits of many years to change and reflect this shiny, new environment we find ourselves living in.

Bingo & Boogie with the Buskers

We were so busy being virtuous and productive at home that we didn't make it along to much of this year's Buskers Festival. We headed out one evening with the intention of wandering through the Buskers area in Hagley Park but got diverted by an old favourite at the Pallet Pavillion before we made it there.
Golden Goose Bingo with Keith 'The Numbers' Preene is always a good night out... this faded star of years gone by is the creation of local performer, Shay Horay, and was a most excellent reason to halt our wander at the Pallet Pavillion.

Last time we played Bingo with Keith, I won the prized meat pack... not so lucky this time round but we still enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. The highlight of the night was the previously unseen Rheineck fountain - think Diet Coke & Mentos but with beer cans & mechanics.

The other Buskers' event we went to was the Hot Dub Time Machine, held at the CPSA. No pictures (which is probably a good thing!) but believe me, we worked up a real sweat while dancing our asses off for about 3 hours, almost non-stop. It was silly, frivolous and quite frankly, the most fun I've had with my clothes on for ages. I still remember the magic moment when I was awarded a 'power up' by DJ Tom Loud for joining him in belting out the theme tune to one of my (his too?) favourite childhood movies, The Neverending Story. Yes, we were right up the front, dancing like no-one was watching.

When I grow up, I wanna be this guy


Big Bangs

My mother & I first attended Classical Sparks about 30 years ago. It was a much smaller event back then but memories of the glorious 1812 Overture performed live, with cannons and fireworks, have stood the test of time. The event has changed quite a bit over the years and although it's not as crassly commercialized and consumerist as Christmas in the Park has become, it's a much glitzier & glossier event than it used to be. A while back, they stopped playing the 1812 at the end... it just wasn't right somehow.

I haven't been for quite a long time but this year, for the first time in 6 years, they announced that the 1812 Overture would again provide the finale for the evening's performance. After arranging to meet up with my parental units (who go every year) and some recent arrivals to Quake City, I packed my fleecy blanket & joined a few thousand others to sit under the stars enjoying live music. The cheesy banter from MC Dori I could've done without, but the night itself was pretty cool. Highlights were the gorgeous percussion-heavy piece from Gareth Farr and the technical brilliance displayed by two soloists from the NZ Army band.

Oh, and the finale of course - you just can't beat the 1812 Overture, performed live and accompanied by cannons and fireworks.

Now, given that most of my photos of fireworks turn out looking like this... was a good excuse to test out the rapid-fire function on my camera! At least, when there's a bunch of photos taken one after the other, some of them actually end up looking like half-decent fireworks instead of blurry blobs.
The camera operators must've had a good view from that cherrypicker :)

 I wasn't the only one trying to capture the action, of course

...and a rousing finale to light up the night sky, awesome stuff. 
I love a good fireworks display!

Belly up

Well, hopefully not but it was better than the other option - belly flop. Neither are quite right but there are only so many belly-phrases in common usage... and my brain has about run out of steam by now! But I just wanted to finish on a quick note about a new adventure: I've started belly dance classes.

I always enjoyed watching the performances of the SoCBD dancers who often performed at The Loons (before the war). I loved their grace and style, and the colourful costumes. Quite unexpectedly the subject came up one night recently, when a friend announced that she was looking forward to belly dancing classes starting up again. Intrigued, I asked for details, and when it turned out that the classes were held at a local primary school... well, I guess it was meant to be.

So here I go, one night a week down at the local school hall, getting active and wiggling it - just a little bit.

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