My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Slow down and smell the library books...

People often remark that I seem to fit a lot into life.  Maybe it looks that way from the outside - I write a blog, produce a podcast, write for a newsletter company, make art, make hand-made goods to sell, work as a midwife, raise two kids and run a houseboathold - but I always feel as if I could do more, be more efficient, stop sitting around, stop losing myself in social media...I'm sure you've had those feelings too at some point.

In an attempt to be the person I want to be, I can get really caught up in the 'busy' syndrome, and I realise that that has some big downfalls.  This was brought home to me the other day when I was in my local library.  

I'm a big fan of public libraries.  It starts with fond memories from when I was a kid.  The family loading into the van on Saturday mornings, going to the library and being allowed to browse and bring home five books each (there were six kids and two parents, that's a lot of books and I'm guessing we all had to carry our own!).

Photo from Pixabay
The library was a favourite place of mine in primary school too.  Mrs Hammond, the librarian, was a kind, gentle woman who let kids help with the library tasks and I enjoyed books so much that I was a librarian at high school for a year or two as well.  

The Wellington public library was an amazing place when I was working at my first job in the city.  It had a great cafe where I'd meet my sisters for a coffee and then find a couple of books to take home.  It was always a warm refuge from the sometimes vicious Wellington weather and I spent many happy hours among the shelves there.

Back to the present day, and busy Me makes use of the on-line library catalogue.  I'll search for the books I want for the kids or myself, request them and then run in and grab them when I'm in town checking off my errand list.  I use the audio book service to download and listen to audio books when I'm multitasking and I use the after hours return slot when I'm on my way to work.

But I don't 'enjoy' the library anymore.  I don't go in with time to spare and browse and sit and soak in the knowledge and run my finger along book spines and flick through a book at random.  And I realised how much I missed that when I did it the other day by accident.  I went in to find a couple of books for my son and then I looked at my watch, realised I had a spare 30 minutes and so headed upstairs to the non-fiction section with no set plan or checklist or even an idea of what I was looking for.

And here is what I came home with:

The Unburnt Egg by Brian Gill - stories from a museum curator, 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - fiction I had been recommended for my 12 year old son, 

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson - more recommended fiction for my boy,

Living Wild by Bear Grylls - I thought this might appeal to my son, who is into hunting and sticks and fires and outdoors in a big way,

Dracopedia by William O'Connor - this one is for me!  A guide to drawing dragons.  I'm thinking of making another dragon quilt,

Making Pop-Ups and Novelty Cards by Trish Phillips and Ann Montanaro - one for my 9 year old daughter who loves crafty things,

Weta Workshop by Luke Hawker - Weta is New Zealand's amazing design and special effects studio and workshop that (among other achievements) did the costuming and digital characters for The Lord of the Rings movie.  My daughter thinks she might like to work there so this book seemed appropriate!

And lastly, Possum on a Cold Tin Roof by Charlie Janes - hunting and bushcraft adventures and mishaps written by a good keen kiwi bloke with a sense of humour.  This is for my husband who doesn't read much, but I think I picked right.....

I took this sneaky picture of him reading this afternoon. Don't tell him!
The other thing I came home with was satisfaction.  I had found books to appeal to everyone.  I had let the library work it's magic and turn up gems that I wouldn't have found electronically.  And I had enjoyed myself.  That's what the 'busy' syndrome can do if I let it take over.  It can suck the pleasure out of life because I'm so busy trying to cram in everything I 'should' be doing that I forget to have fun while I'm doing it.

So here's to libraries, and here's to slowing down and smelling the pages!


  1. When my kids were younger we used to go to Wellington Librarby on a Sunday afternoon as a family. There's no li it on the number of books you can get out, so sometimes we would get 30! We always took our recycled shopping bags to hold all the books. And then we would go upstairs for afternoon tea at the cafe. You've bought back happy memories.

  2. Love the sneaky husband photo! Occasionally I get a book for my husband too. I'm a school librarian so I do love Libraries, but I have found myself just ordering off the online catalog, and rushing in and collecting my books too. Last time I stayed longer at the Public Library I discovered they had moved all the non-fiction books!

  3. Like you as a child I was always in the library but now I hardly ever go, life is so busy even though I am retired. When we are in NZ we do visit the library - Motueka Library is super! - and we often go in just to browse and read the magazines. Must try harder back home in the UK.

  4. When I lived in Wellington and was being careful with my money, I would catch the bus into the city and spend part of Sunday at the library reading all the magazines, a wonderful way to spend a cold wintry day in the warmth.

  5. Very good advise. I find that same gentle pleasure in playing with fabric - stacking it up, and putting it into order. It's probably a Zen sort of thing. Maybe.

  6. My mom always reminds me not to 'should' on myself. Don't 'should' on yourself. Do what you can do well and don't make yourself crazy about the things that don't get done. They might get done tomorrow. Or they might not need to get done at all. Make more quilts, produce more podcasts. Those are the things leaving a mark.


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