Happy birthday to you

“Happy Birthday!” is a phrase you might hear a wee bit more often today – 30th September is the day that most New Zealanders celebrate their birthday. According to Statistics NZ, the birthdays of about 14,200 people in New Zealand fall on this day – even if your birthday doesn’t fall on this day you can see where your birthday is ranked.

Since many of us have birthdays around this time of year – the 10 most common birthdays all appear in the 10-day period from 22 September to 1 October – it’s appropriate to tell you  how Christchurch City Libraries can help make a birthday a special one.

Happy birthday

Looking for some inspiration? Libraries offer a great range of resources to make the birthday of a loved one special. On offer is a wonderful range of books on birthday related topics such as party games, card making, gift ideas/projects and birthday cake decorating.

An eBook reader makes a fantastic gift for any occasion. Having one opens up access to a massive collection of eBooks that are free to download from the library (however be aware that the Kindle is not compatible with library eBook providers). The library also offers support in getting started with your eBook reader. An iPad or tablet can take this to a new level – these allow you to download not just eBooks but also services such as PressReader (newspapers and magazines) and eAudiobooks from the library.

Giving someone a framed family tree chart can make a superb gift – Central Library Manchester is where you will find the Family History Centre and staff are available to help you research ancestors.

Another unique gift idea that seems to have taken hold in recent years involves printing the front page of The Press newspaper on the day the said person was born. The page can then be enlarged and laminated and given to the person on the big day. The Press newspaper archive is located at Central Library Manchester.

Sewilicious birthday wishes

Cover of The Buys Girls Guide to SewingD’you know what I wanted to do for my birthday most of all? I wanted a day to sew – for myself! My family totally didn’t get it! They were all “You want to what?!”

I know it doesn’t sound like much of a celebration, but how often do I get to make something for me? Not often, I can tell you. It’s hard enough to keep up with the things I’ve promised to make for other people* let alone making anything for myself. So I took the day off, and  sewed all day, apart from when Mr K took me out for lunch. I actually finished a top that I had bought the fabric for about seven years ago. It was the best birthday ever.

Of course, I’ve still got fabric for Africa waiting to be made — bits I bought that were just too gorgeous not to, bits Mum gave me that I love but haven’t figured out what to do with, not to mention the bits I bought with actual projects in mind. All waiting, waiting…

Cover of Shape Shape 2: Sewing for minimalist styleWhat is a would-be-sewing-if-I-just-had-the-time-girl to do? Flicking through Shape Shape 2: Sewing for Minimalist Style by Natsuno Hiraiwa it occured to me that clothes that can be worn multiple ways would give me more bang for my buck. And OK, it won’t make much of a dent in my fabric stash, but I’ll have more wardrobe options for my efforts. (And a fabric stash is a good thing in its own right, isn’t it? Isn’t it?) And besides the designs are gorgeously simple and simply gorgeous!

So if I ever getting another day to just sew and sew, I know where I’ll be heading for inspiration. My favourites are the Double Circular Scarf, the Upside-Down Bolero Jacket, and the Long Vest/Stole. Do I have the right fabric in my stash to make them, though? I might have to go fabric shopping first…

*BTW, I managed to finish one sock for Grandpa…what’s the bet winter will be over before I get the other one done?

Ngaio Marsh – Crime writer now in eBooks

Ngaio Marsh was so much more than a crime writer. But remember we have over 30 of her crime novels as eBooks.

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Happy birthday Katherine Mansfield – born 14 October 1888

Katherine Mansfield at her work table, Villa Isola, Menton, France. Baker, Ida :Photographs of Katherine Mansfield. Ref: 1/2-011917-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23068083
Katherine Mansfield at her work table, Villa Isola, Menton, France. Baker, Ida :Photographs of Katherine Mansfield. Ref: 1/2-011917-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23068083

A New Zealand literary superstar was born on 14 October 1888 – Katherine Mansfield short-story writer, poet, critic, diarist, letter writer.

The first mention I could find of KM in Papers Past was in the Feilding Star, Volume VI, Issue 1669, 11 December 1911, Page 2:

New Zealanders will be, interested to hear of a new novel, called “In a German Pension,” by “Katherine Mansfield,” just published in London. Under her pen-name the writer will not perhaps be recognised, but she is the youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs Harold Beauchamp, of Wellington. Never before, it is remarked, have Germans, from a social standpoint, been written about with so much, insight, or their manners and habits described with such malicious naivete and minute skill as by this young Wellingtonian. “Miss Mansfield’s” style is almost French in its clearness. Her power of detailed observation is shown in numerous little touches of character-painting, which enable us (says a London critic) to realise almost as visibly as the authoress herself, the heart, mind, and soul of the quaint Bavarian people.

KM remains a fire to the imagination. Mansfield with monsters – a parody by Matt and Debbie Cowens, published by Steam Press – won the 2013 Sir Julius Vogel Awards for Best Collected Work.

Kirsty Gunn’s Katherine Mansfield Project has just been published. And gestating is the wonderful writer and cartoonist’s Sarah Laing’s new KM book. It will be “part-biography, part-memoir and part-fiction”  – you can follow its evolution, and see some of the beautiful illustrations –  by viewing Katherine Mansfield posts on her blog Let me be frank.

If you want to go further, NZETC – the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection – has a motherlode of Mansfield material – stories, diary entries, photos, commentary, and works that mention her.

More on KM

Let Us Compare Mythologies

Although today in Canada is yesterday for us, September 21 is Leonard Cohen’s birthday – a special one – his 80th.

Cohen is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist. His work has explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships and his 13th studio album will be released tomorrow.

In 1957 Folkways Records released the “Six Montreal Poets” album with A.J.M. Smith, Irving Layton, Louis Dudek, F.R. Scott, A.M. Klein, and Leonard Cohen – all reading their own poetry on the record.  Leonard Cohen reads the following poems (recorded in 1957):

  • For Wilf and his house (1955)
  • Beside the shepherd (1956)
  • Poem (1955)
  • Lovers (1955)
  • The sparrows (1955)
  • Warning (1956)
  • Les Vieus (1954)
  • Elegy (1955)

All poems are from “Let Us Compare Mythologies

Listen to Six Montreal Poets.

Happy Birthday Robert Zimmerman

Like A Rolling Stone Bob Dylan The Little Black Songbook
Dylan on Dylan The Definitive Bob Dylan Songbook Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus
Bob Dylan in America Down the Highway A Freewheelin' Time
Time Out of Mind Dylan's Visions of Sin Studio A

A strange young man called Dylan
With a voice like sand and glue

Happy birthday, Ngaio Marsh

Ngaio Marsh would have been 119 today. This world renowned crime writer and theatre director was born Edith Ngaio Marsh in Fendalton on 23 April 1895. Her father, a clerk, built Marton Cottage at Cashmere in 1906. This was her home for the rest of her life, although she spent significant periods in England.

Ngaio Marsh photographed during the 1940s

Ngaio Marsh photographed during the 1940s : “Ngaio in the spotlight” [194-], CCL PhotoCD 17, IMG0038

Many people know of Ngaio Marsh as the crime writer. But she also enriched the cultural life of Christchurch with her devotion to theatre production and mentored young people with dramatic aspirations.

Ngaio made a huge contribution to the community, and it seems appropriate her name lives on in a theatre – the Ngaio Marsh Theatre at the University of Canterbury (sadly closed due to earthquake damage), as well as in the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.

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