South Canterbury All Australian Day Car Show

Cover of Australian muscle car magazineComing of (driving) age in Australia infused in me a love of Australian-built cars. Young Italian-Australians used to cruise around and around Fremantle, Western Australia in their immaculate Valiants as slow as can be so everyone would see.

My first two cars were Holden Torana’s 1974 LH (186 bored out to a 192 engine) and 1971 LC (171 engine) models which in all honestly were total rust buckets but I loved them dearly. I cried the day my LH Torana was compacted in the crusher at the wrecking yard. My LC Torana was so full of bog (car body filler) that it used to sink on sandy roads and there was no metal to attach a tow bar onto. Our first cars are often our lifetime love.

Cover of It happened in a HoldenNext I saved up and bought a 1988 VL Commodore which was only about 5 years old by then. It was a beautiful sky blue with a 3L engine. I thought I was pretty swish. Since moving back to NZ I had cheap Japanese imports but still had a hankering for the bogan vehicles. After a failed attempt at owning a VL station wagon dubbed ‘the Golden Holden’ (too much rust for W.O.F), I’ve finally got myself the ultimate Aussie car: a V8 Commodore. This time a 1995 VR with a column auto and a cool-as bench seat, and in sky blue again too!

Cover of Hey ChargerIf you too love the Australian cars get along to the South Canterbury All Australian Day at Caroline Bay, Timaru on Sunday 6th September 2015, 10am-2pm. Gold coin donation to see some great Holdens, Fords and Mopars (Valiant/Chrysler). Organised by the Timaru Holden Club and the Timaru Falcon Fairlane Club.

Enquiries to Craig Trimmings 021-511-150 or Murray Stevenson 021-223-1772. All proceeds to Westpac Helicopter Appeal.

I will be taking my V8 to the show with the Holden Club Canterbury. I thoroughly recommend joining a car club. They are great fun.

The delusions of the aging

My 13 year old niece came to stay with me in the weekend. I had not been in sole charge of a teenage girl before so I planned shopping and physical activities to keep her happy.

I was told by her mother that the weekend was a success, but personally it left me feeling rather bereft. You see despite having turned 40 I still think I am young. For example I still believe that I am perfectly capable of performing any sporting activity I put my mind to. In this case it was at the YMCA’s Clip ‘n’ Climb where you climb up a variety of high walls in a safety harness. I felt perfectly confident that I could beat my niece in a climbing race, but half way up all I could do was stop and concentrate on not vomiting all over the colourful walls. When did I enter my decline? When did my strength and waist leave me? What can be done?

Well, luckily for us there is help at hand from our trusted health eResources:

  • Consumer Health Complete – has a great video showing liposuction using what can only be one of my Grandmother’s knitting needles. Ick!
  • Health and Wellness Resource Center – has risk assessment tools to estimate your chances of having a stroke, cancer, diabetes etc. It was almost enough to make me put down my peanut slab.
  • Health Source – learn about “stuck syndrome” where you feel like you’re hopelessly trapped in a meeting, at work or social gathering so you reach out for bad food for relief – the story of my life!

We have many more eResources for you to examine as well but in short they all say move it or lose it. This is bad news for someone like myself who wants to spend her life on the sofa reading books yet if I want to be able to scale great heights again without encountering my gag reflex apparently it is time to move!

New Zealand Fashion in Pictures: Our Image Collection

For New Zealand Fashion Week we’re sharing some of our favourite images of New Zealand fashion.

Over the years, Christchurch City Libraries has built up a collection of local images. Many of these are donated from private collections and capture the places and people of Christchurch, and Canterbury’s history. Some of these we’ve grouped into themed image collections, including one on Costume and Fashion.

Our image collection is mostly made up of early 20th century images but is less comprehensive in terms of more recent history. If you’ve got photos that you think we’d be interested in then please contact us.

In the meantime, here are some oldies but goodies in the fashion stakes –

Suits you

Members of the Christchurch Drainage Board and visitors present at the opening of the septic tank, Bromley sewage farm [4 Sept. 1905] CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0084
Members of the Christchurch Drainage Board and visitors present at the opening of the septic tank, Bromley sewage farm [4 Sept. 1905] CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0084
A group of Maori women dress reformers [1906] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0096
A group of Maori women dress reformers [1906] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0096
 Mr E. H. Hughes, Mr R. E. Alexander (Director of the College), and Mr Walter Macfarlane [1909] File reference P7030226
Mr E. H. Hughes, Mr R. E. Alexander (Director of the College), and Mr Walter Macfarlane [1909] Selwyn-P7030226

 The diploma winners of 1913. File reference P3051336
The diploma winners of 1913. Selwyn-P3051336

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Michael Robotham – The psychology of crime

Michael Robotham is full of stories. He had a crowd enraptured at South Learning Centre last night with his tales of crime, psychology, writing, and the Ozarks.

He is now a best-selling, award-winning writer, but started out as a journalist. Later he was a successful ghost writer, working on 15 autobiographies (including Ginger Spice, Rolf Harris, and Lulu – he turned down Bryan Ferry though!)

Michael started writing his first novel The suspect when he had some time off between ghostwriting memoirs by Lulu and Rolf Harris. There was a bidding war – he had arrived with a bang. When it was published, he sent a copy to his Mum. After a while, she still hadn’t read it and told him “I had three library books to get through”.  She won a Friends of the Library Award for that commitment to libraries. Her review of his first book? “It took me a while to get into and then I did”.

Michael and author Paul Cleave
Michael Robotham and Paul Cleave. Flickr 2015-08-26-IMG_8920

Michael talked about his road to becoming a writer, and his literary parent Ray Bradbury, as told here in Ray Bradbury is my ‘Father’.

He also shared stories about his dealings with Oz’s most wanted crim Raymond John Denning, It is a ripper of a tale and was sparked his fascination with the psychology of crime.

Michael told us about time with psychologist Paul Britton (who was the basis for the fictional character Cracker played by Robbie Coltrane). This was the man who went to Fred and Rosemary West’s house and when they found bodies in the garden said “they’re in the garden because the house is full”. Very creepy stuff.

His books all have a factual basis. The spark for his latest book Close your eyes was the murder of Janet Brown in Somerset. Life and Death was inspired by a man who escaped from prison the day before he was due to be released – and was never seen again.

I try so hard to write fiction that reads like fact.

Audience
Michael Robotham talk at South Learning Centre. Wednesday 26 August 2015. Flickr 2015-08-26-IMG_8919

Michael told us about his trip to the Ozark Mountains, scouting for a location for Life or Death. The locals were less than friendly. A burly Ozarkian Sheriff sparked good lines like someone being “dumber than shit on a biscuit”.

Not only did we get most excellent anecdotes, Michael also shared some writing tips. Find your own way. Do just enough research so the premise works, don’t let your research dominate.

Michael has just gained a new gang of Christchurch fans.

Michael Robotham and Dennis
Michael Robotham and my Dad.  Flickr 2015-08-26-IMG_8922

Search our catalogue for Michael Robotham.

Cover of Close your eyes Cover of Watching you Cover of Say you're sorry Cover of Life or death Cover of The suspect

Horticultural ‘Grand Designs’ versus ‘Harsh Reality’

Cover of Creative Vegetable GardeningStarted gardening – albeit in a small way – about 4 years ago when I decided that I needed fresh air and to give myself permission to wear a huge floppy hat like Greta Garbo (about the only similarity between us), whilst working on making various parts of my body vigorously protest at the unaccustomed exercise.

In that time I have tried growing all sorts of vegetables and flowers with varying degrees of success. Only this morning I learned a new gardening word  ‘Chitting‘, and, as instructed, have laid my Jersey Benne seed potatoes on newspaper in the garage waiting for them to sprout so that I can plant them in September.

Cover of Grow Your Own PotatoesLast year as Christmas approached, with barely contained childish glee (not called ‘Peter Pan’ in my family for nothing),  I dug deep into my potato sacks, ferreting around for my carbohydrate treasure trove to tumble out onto the patio; the reward for all my hard work.  The end result was pitiful – Nothing; Naada; Nein; Zippo – OK, slight exaggeration but certainly just enough for a plate at most.

Where had I gone wrong? Well, obviously I hadn’t done enough research on the subject… I needed a book devoted entirely to the ‘starchy’  issue and I hadn’t even thought to look in the Children’s section!

Cover of The Artful GardenGardens come in all shapes and sizes and there is an abundance of information via our library resources whether it be non-fiction books, magazines, eMagazines and library website. Personally, my garden area is small so I concentrate on pots, containers, raised beds, trying to get as much as possible – produce-wise – as I can.  I am still working on it, but have now got sidetracked by the necessity of colour in my garden and my search  for minimal, low-cost ideas designs has proved very enlightening.

Check out all the resources available to you with simply a library card and a PIN/password – it promises to be more bountiful than my last crop of potatoes.

4 September 2010 – 5th anniversary ceremony

Kia ora Christchurchians and Cantabrians, we thought you might be interested in this information from Mayor Lianne Dalziel on a dawn ceremony on 4 September 2015 – it will be five years since we all got shaken out of bed at 4.35am when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck.

The media release: Dawn ceremony for fifth earthquake anniversary

Mayor Lianne Dalziel is inviting Cantabrians to join her for a special sunrise ceremony in remembrance of the September 2010 Christchurch earthquake.

Residents are invited to gather on the beach outside the New Brighton Library from 6.10am on Friday 4 September 2015, the fifth anniversary of the first Christchurch earthquake.

A short ceremony will be held ending with a shared watching of the sunrise at approximately 6.50am.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel says, “This is the time, on the dawn of the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, to gather together as a community to reflect on our city’s journey. It is a chance to remember what we have been through since September 2010 and, as the sun rises, to look ahead to what the future may hold.”

Parking is available in the carpark north of New Brighton Library. Temporary lighting on the beach will lead you to the gathering point just past the pier.

Find out more about 4 September 2010 earthquake.

New Zealand Fashion in pictures: Our Flickr

For New Zealand Fashion Week we’re sharing some of our favourite images of New Zealand fashion.

The Christchurch City Libraries Flickr account is a treasure trove of local images. We have photos of library events and displays, things we see around the city (buildings coming down, and going up), but we also have photos that have been donated for digitising from members of staff and the public, often as part of our annual Photo Hunt competition.

And, my word, there are some great outfits captured in those photos. Here is just a selection  –

Fantastic frocks

Papanui High School Prefects and House Captains
Papanui High School Prefects and House Captains, 1948, Flickr File reference: HW08-IMG-FE066
Mother and Daughter
Mother and Daughter, 1951, Flickr File reference: HW08-IMG-HA081
Wendy & Ina Bradley
Wendy & Ina Bradley, Circa 1967, Flickr File reference: HW08-CE134
Debutante Ball, Akaroa
Debutante Ball, Akaroa, 1969, Flickr File reference: HW08-img-fe113
Three cousins
Three cousins, 1971, Flickr File reference:HW08-img-ce104

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Pride and Perversion

You are a sexual deviant.

Talk about opening a book with a zinger! I’m looking forward to hearing Jesse Bering in person –  6pm on Sunday 30 August 2015, a WORD Christchurch event in the Shifting points of view section of the Christchurch Arts Festival. His topic? On Perversion. Get your tickets now yo. This is not a session for kids or the squeamish; it’s definitely adult in nature.

I’ve just read his book Perv: The sexual deviant in all of us. As a librarian, I’m an index checker and this is one that’d make your eyes water: sneeze fetishists, autoplushophiles, formicophilia, Miley Cyrus …

This is a book that asks some great questions:

We’ve become so focused as a society on the question of whether a given sexual behavior is evolutionarily “natural” or unnatural” that we’ve lost sight of the more important question: Is it harmful? (p.21)

Jesse takes us right back to the origins of the term:

For the longest time, in fact, to be a pervert wasn’t to be a sex deviant; it was to be an atheist … So if we applied this original definition to the present iconoclastic world of science, one of the world’s most recognizable perverts would be the famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. (p.9 /10)

The book is a journey into the world of “erotic outliers” (doesn’t that sound much better than pervert). It contains a good dollop of the personal, as well as science, politics, history, literature, and psychology – and, of course, the nature of sexual arousal. There are also plenty of interesting examples of behaviours; you’ll never look at the yoghurt in your office fridge the same way.

Jesse quotes the Roman philosopher Terence (p. 8):

I consider nothing that is human alien to me.

More understanding. Less judginess.

Cover of Perv Cover of Why is the penis shaped like that? Cover ot The God instinct

 

Raging at road cones

When a letter from SCIRT arrived in our mailbox earlier in the year, detailing the works to be done to the underground pipes on our street and those on surrounding roads, it was greeted with pleasure. The prospect of being able to ‘flush without fear’ after days (or even merely hours) of rain looked to be close at hand with the remediation of the nearby earthquake damaged storm-water and sewer pipes.

The ever-present symbols of... progress?
The ever-present symbols of… progress?
Photo by F. Allison.

The road cones, signs, trucks and workmen arrived, did their job and departed. Or at least 3 out of the 4 of the traffic management crowd did. The little orange cones stuck around. Some of their whānau disappear for a bit, but still visit regularly for a party in the middle of our street or the neighbouring ones, for no apparent purpose.

Some days it seems my travel to and from work is book-ended by roadworks and the cones, and they appear on every second road in between. When I find myself faced with yet another un-notified unexpected detour, down a street going in completely the opposite direction to which I need to head (and of course I have allowed no time for in the morning rush of school and preschool drop offs), part of me thinks ‘suck it up, princess, the east side of town has been dealing with this for YEARS not just months!’ and yet I often still have the urge to scream and swear. I manage to resist, if the children are in the car. Usually.

Cover of JamI suppose I should be grateful I’m not in the traffic jam on the M25 in England, as depicted in the novel Jam. Or perhaps I should borrow some soothing, calming music from the library, and play it in the car during my travels…

By Cecilia Freire de Mance, Creative Clay Studio
Art by Cecilia Freire de Mance, Creative Clay Studio.
Photo by F. Allison.

Of course the primary purpose of the orange wonders has been subverted on numerous occasions in post-quake Christchurch: the annual floral tributes in individual cones on each anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake, which local artist Cecilia Freire de Mance has captured beautifully in clay ornaments; en masse as unusual artworks at Festa 2014. They even morphed into a giraffe during the Christchurch Stands Tall trail last summer.

Some residents in the city have even been sufficiently moved to write letters to the Press to express their feelings about the humble items.

What is your experience of road works? Have you found road cones to be little orange triangles sent by Satan to torment you at every turn, or are they bright happy indicators of important progress happening across our city?

CityUps - FESTA Festival of Transitional Architecture. Flickr, 2014-10-25-IMG_3044
CityUps – FESTA Festival of Transitional Architecture. Flickr, 2014-10-25-IMG_3044
Cone-raff, photo by Claire Levy
Cone-raff.
Photo by Claire Levy, published in SCIRT’s Road cone giraffe steps in for vandalised model St Albans – RoadConology 101.

Cute and fluffy fruit bats

I love big furry fruit bats. Their fur feels like a cashmere jersey and their wings are like suede.

On a holiday in Singapore I was lucky to get very close to bats at the Night Safari which increased my love of them. My upcoming Australian holiday has bat-searching and visiting a bat-hospital top of the to-do list.

Fruit bats or Megabats as they’re officially known, are essential for the seeding and regeneration of rainforests. They can have a wingspan of up to 1 metre. They feed on fruit, blossoms and nectar. They do not use echolocation to navigate at night but have well-developed eyes and a good sense of smell to help them locate food. They live in social groups in trees in ‘camps’.

Don’t believe that bats can be cute? Then check out this video of baby bats in an Australian bat hospital.

For more bat facts