June 2011


Perhaps I will!

We’ve been Red  Zoned and despite all the confusion, misery and dislocation that this implies for thousands of us, I personally am just blown away by the superior adaptability of the English language, which has moved these words from a noun phrase to a verb phrase in half the time it takes to spit out the word “liquefaction“.

Turns out that moving from one suburb to the next is almost as fraught as the move from country to country, and I should know. Gone all our dreams for our home, gone our plans for the future, gone our little bit of paradise. Instead we join the legions of pale, sad people driving slowly down your street in search of a replacement dream.

But in the interests of taking it one day at a time, we do know one thing: we will have to rid ourselves of piles of  useless **** (insert here rude word of your choice that rhymes with “trap”) that we have hoarded over many  years.

So, where else do you turn in situations like this other than to our fantastic libraries for help? I think I know what I need right now, but I lack the energy to track it down. So I’m turning to you to suggest some reads for me. What could I be reading that might satisfy at least some of the following requirements:

  • Help me clear the clutter;
  • Make me feel that this purging is a spiritually rewarding path to take that will result in a new improved me;
  • Transport me to a world of pioneers who relocated and lived to tell the tale;
  •  Make me laugh!

I’ve loved all the recent blogs on getting back your mojo, but have to warn you that I am about as far from bouncing back as I could possibly be and that on a good day a gentle seep is about all that I can manage.

The truth is, this could have been the world’s shortest blog yet – just three little words:

Red zoned – help!

coverWe’re a bloodthirsty lot if our TV viewing and reading habits are any indication. A recent survey of British crime novels found that the average body count per book last year was 8.38 and it seems to me that they get through that many in a CSI episode (with plenty of .38s floating around in the form of spare hands and feet).

What is it that draws us to murder and mayhem as a form of recreation? There have been all sorts of theories. These range from the Freudian idea that we need to sublimate our own violent impulses to the more obscure idea that we want to assign motivations to other people. Kate Summerscale, author of that wonderful exploration of the origins of both real and fictional detection The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, sees it as a comforting genre in which the detective goes into a scene of chaos and lays it to rest.

I’m in agreement with her. It seems to me that the more chaotic and threatening our environment becomes, the more TV crime shows fill our screens, and crime novels fly off library shelves. Deep down we want to believe there is someone out there of superhuman intelligence/terrifyingly clever technology/obsessive dedication, who is battling to sort it all out for us.

Perhaps that is why I can think of nothing better to do in the coming winter days than to curl up in front of a roaring fire (ok a whirring heat pump) with a good mystery. Vying for my attention at the moment are, the fast paced and entertaining Surrender by Donna Malane and set in Wellington, Ice Princess by Swedish writer Camilla Lackberg and a traditional British police whodunnit Water Like Stone by Deborah Crombie.

I have some more lined up on my “for later” shelves in the new BiblioCommons catalogue and I have my eye on these lists to keep me going till spring:

Why do YOU read detective fiction?

CoverReasons to love New Zealand writer Florence Preston:

  • Her writing is Good in parts.
  • She’s a Southland woman – Florence was born in 1905 in Invercargill.
  • I really like the cut of her jib:
    “My own pet hates are mostly the offspring of television: the wailings and wigglings and screamings and grimacings of pop singers, female and male; claque audiences in the wings; and ‘spectacular’ shows during which for no apparent reason the artists keep changing their clothes”.
  • She uses the word claque! What a great word – according to Wikipedia it is an organized body of professional applauders, and members of a claque are called claqueurs.

I’ve found this in the Source, which led me to this Literature Resource Center article on Florence.

If you feel compelled to read some of her books (I do!), search BiblioCommons for Florence Preston.

Have you read Florence? What do you think?

WorkersSpread this far and wide: The Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Reference Center is  full of examples of what has been tried before in different parts of the world which have suffered natural disasters.

My search for earthquake recovery found lots of articles like Economic lessons of the Kobe earthquake. Another useful extract I found was Test drive your disaster recovery plan – which included tips from companies that had plans in place before Hurricane Katrina – and the changes they made after this event.

Most articles are .PDF files that can be downloaded or stored for later use. There are also detailed technical drawings for structural engineers, costings of repairing historic buildings and much more.

LogoSo, if your business or organisation doesn’t have a continuity or recovery plan, this resource will help you create one. If you want to investigate detailed urban planning, or other aspects of disaster recovery, this is where you can do it.  All you need is your library card number and PIN.

Pile of boksWhile reshelving my bookcases after the last aftershock I stopped to look at the books I have collected over the years and realised that they reflect stories from my life.

The books I had to read for my Russian Literature paper at University (a few quick “easy” credits apparently), sit beside the forays into feminist theory shackled up with Marilyn French’s The Women’s room, and it’s easy to remember which book was read avidly from cover to cover and which was cast aside!

The next decade had titles reflecting life as a mother – breastfeeding, postnatal depression and the ever hopeful books that would inspire me to manage first the terrible twos and then the teenage years.

Scattered here can also be found various self-help titles promising eternal happiness and the perfect relationship. Looking back I remember books being my way of trying to make sense of all the changes in my life.  Recent years have seen the addition of craft, cookery books and more fiction with colourful jaunty covers than I probably would have bought in my 20s!

Our new BiblioCommons catalogue now gives the opportunity to keep a list of your own bookshelves, enabling you to keep track of what you have read but also giving an ideal space to keep lists of what you might like to read in the future.  You can also check out other people’s lists, follow readers who like the same books  and generally keep track of your bookshelves without having to pick them up after an earthquake!  Give it a go.

Photo

Sketching on the banks of the Avon, Oxford Terrace, near the Edmonds Rotunda, 1932

Christchurch loves the Avon, but our feelings about the river are now tinged with sadness. We just need to look  at how some of the land and properties on its boundaries have fared since the earthquakes.

This geologically young river has a rich history.  It was known as Ōtākaro – “the place of a game” – to local Māori, and was highly regarded as a mahinga kai by Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu.

Tautahi is the chief from whom Christchurch Ōtautahi derives its name. In his time,  few Māori would have lived in the Ōtākaro area itself. Those that did were known to Māori living outside the region as Ō Roto Repo (swamp dwellers).”

It was later named the Avon after the Avon River in Ayrshire, the home of pioneer settlers and farmers the Deans brothers.

You can find more about the Avon:

cover for The Bounce Back BookPrime has been showing a programme called Blitz Street. A typical English street of World War II vintage has been created and then blown up to simulate the kind of damage caused by bombing. Along the way survivors of the Blitz share their experiences. It’s finished now, but it’s the sort of thing that might resonate with Christchurch residents. Earthquake street could be our new reality show!

What the Blitz survivors talk about is resilience. How to endure terrible experiences and stress and bounce back up again. Resilience in the face of adversity can help with your mental and physical well being. So how do you build your resilience?

The other day the water went off in my house for half a day. It was the first time since any of the quakes and it really threw me for a while. I found it hard to concentrate or do anything. I had to remind myself about all the positives – power is on, house is warm,  house is weatherproof and so on. I went to have a look  around our neighbourhood and saw the comforting sight of men at work. Then I made preparations in case we were without water for some time. I tried to get through a crisis in a positive way but it made me realise I wasn’t as resilient as I thought.

I looked up the library catalogue to see what I could find and sure enough – resilience brings up a good list of titles.

Our earthquake information page also lists the help out there – asking for help seems like a pretty good sign of resilience. This web page is a good starting point for all kinds of help.

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