I must start this post from April 20, when I volunteered at the Botanical Garden again. With all but one of this year’s planned “Spring Cleaning” days canceled because of the weather and me still recovering from the flu at the time of that one remaining day, I was sure I won’t go back there this spring, but suddenly there was an announcement that volunteers were needed for a slightly different kind of work there, and that the schedule was different too, between 4 PM and 8 PM, and Friday and Saturday instead of Saturday and Sunday. So it allowed me to go before going to plant trees again, and without waking up early that day. Don’t want to push myself for anything other than running until after the half marathon now, plus that my back was already bothering me at the time and it’s still not quite fine, so even though there were other announcements about needing a small number of people at various times, including both in the morning and in the evening now, between April 28 and 30, I didn’t go again since, but at least I went once this time around as well, just like in autumn and last spring.
It did pretty much take up my entire day then, since I just woke up, grabbed something to eat, had a quick look on-line, got ready and left, easily getting there at 3:45 PM. That seemed to be right on time to me, since the previous times we had been told to be there ten to 15 minutes earlier in order to register, and in autumn also to draw our numbers for the rewards at the end, but now I just saw two others there at that moment and nobody waiting for us, the person at the entrance who stopped me to ask where I was going saying that she thought they were around the corner. But nobody was waiting for us around the corner either, and even though one of those waiting said she had called Anca and was told she’ll be there in a few minutes, we had to wait a bit longer than that before she arrived, saying the previous event, probably with employees from a company, had just finished at 3 PM.
There were still only a few of us there even then, and we were worried we won’t be enough to do much of anything, but Anca said that while anyone could see the post and come, she only actually sent the announcement to those who had taken part in both the spring and the autumn cleaning last year, because she needed people with some experience that day and not too many, saying 15 would definitely be enough, and either way only 24 had signed up and she usually assumes that 40% won’t show up, though in fact it’s usually more like 50%. We were a lot less than half of 24 when we started drawing the tickets with our numbers for the rewards at the end though, and still 11, so just shy of that number even though one who showed up wasn’t even on the list due to having signed up that morning, when we eventually started walking to the gift shop where the tools are, at 4:10 PM. Two more joined us there though, making for exactly half of those on the list plus the additional one, and even more came later, some having already announced that they’ll only be able to get there after 5 PM. I think I counted 18 at the end.
Trouble was that quite a number of hands shot up when Anca asked who was there for the first time, so she eventually said that there was a lot of work of different kinds to do, more than she can see being finished in any foreseeable future in fact, so maybe it’ll be better not to do what she initially had in mind, or not quite and not only that, under those circumstances. I guess a part of it was done, to mark a circle in the area where we were working that day, but otherwise those who worked there cleared up that place, pulling and digging out the plants growing in the area that was marked and leveling the ground there. Later, we were told to try to remove the bigger plants growing around that area as well. In addition, a simple but exhausting task was available as well, Anca asking for three people to carry gravel from a pile that was quite some distance away, as it’ll need to be used in the area being cleared and apparently tractors weren’t available anymore, so all we had were wheelbarrows and our arms.
Since it was something I could do with less people around and without actually working in a team, I volunteered to carry, even though I know I’m not exactly strong and I also risked my back getting worse… And we really had to carry the gravel quite some distance each time, since the pile was behind a part of the greenhouse and we couldn’t go through, even though there are doors there, so on top of covering the distance itself we also had to go around each time. That meant I tended to fill the wheelbarrow less than the others, and really struggled the one time I filled it more, and also couldn’t pull it up to dump the contents properly in the new pile, so I either ended up tipping it over on one side, which Anca said we should avoid because the wheelbarrow could get damaged, or dumping the gravel next to the pile, when she had said to do our best to make one tall pile. Also had some trouble simply filling the wheelbarrow, at first trying to shovel in gravel from the top of the pile until the girl who also volunteered to do this a good part of the time told me it’s easier from the bottom, which I had avoided doing because there were a lot of leaves at the bottom and we had been told to try not to take those too. Eventually managed to clear away that layer of leaves though, and then also found a better method, so filling the wheelbarrow was easier, but carrying and dumping the contents never got better.
Anca said none of us will realistically be able to make more than three or four trips, so when we tire we should get back to the others and ask for someone to replace us, but I did want to make five trips at first, especially since I was carrying less. That girl who also seemed quite determined to do this, and who also gave me the impression that she was doing it in order not to have to socialize more, did give up after three trips though, if I remember correctly, and while I know I wasn’t sure whether I had done four or five even then, I do believe I did four before giving up the first time as well. Did get back to doing that after some time spent helping the others, soon after that girl had left to do the same, and a very talkative guy joined us soon after that… Which was quite a problem, because I hoped I’ll be left alone and instead found myself with somebody always talking and asking questions, and after that girl gave up again there was even a moment when it was just me and that guy and he had arrived at the pile as I was about to leave, yet he rushed to partially fill his wheelbarrow quickly and then just about somehow ran after me, catching up on the way and saying he hates being alone, it’s the worst thing. Didn’t even say anything to him when I gave up again as well, so when he saw me leave the wheelbarrow he asked whether I was just going for some water and ran ahead, seemed to try to get me some, but I just muttered that I was just going to stop and, after actually getting myself a glass of water, got back to helping the others clear and level the area.
He was strong though, and that became even clearer when we moved on to the surrounding area. The plants we had to dig up had deep roots that the rest of us who were there couldn’t pull out even after digging rather deep holes around them, but eventually he came and pulled the worst ones out one by one once we had gotten deep enough with the digging, getting a fair amount of praise for it. I think he helped the other group as well, as some had gone a bit farther away to do the same thing, and while I’m not sure of this, it also seems likely that he was the one who went back to the pile of gravel to take the shovels back, since we had left them there after I said we should, since we were just carrying them back each time and adding that weight for no reason. Since it had been my idea to leave them, when Anca said that was it for that evening I ran back there, which was at least a bit easier since I was wearing my shoes instead of the boots that evening, to grab them without asking whether anyone else had already done it, but found nothing when I got there.
It was 8:10 PM at the end, and we got back to the gift shop to get our badges and certificates and rewards, mine again being a magnet. There was a much bigger chance to get something more useful this time around, since there were far fewer people and three t-shirts and two pots, plus one smaller one given at the end to a guy who had been left without what he should have received, and I’d have considered a keychain as somewhat useful as well, but I got a magnet back in autumn and another one now, even though just two were available among the rewards. Dad did end up putting quite a few over the years on the freezer door though, so I just added it there… And also added the pass with four free entries to the Botanical Garden next to the other two, meaning that, after using just one so far, I now have 11 free entries and not really anything to do with them, since the Botanical Garden is far enough that I need to take the metro each time and it’s better to go relatively early in the day, plus that it’s not something I exactly care to visit anyway.
Either way, I checked the time when walking out the gate and it was 8:23 PM, and as people scattered it was just me, that talkative guy and a woman seeming to head in the direction of the metro, yet when that guy started asking questions again she said she was actually going somewhere else and soon crossed the road, leaving me with him again, and within seconds each of us alone, as I picked up my pace significantly and I’d say quite pointedly, leaving him behind and breathing a bit of a sigh of relief when he didn’t try to catch up and keep talking. So there was no more annoyance of that sort on the way back, and I got here a little after 9 PM.
With the rest of that evening and the next two days covered in the previous post, I’ll now get to last Monday, when my digestive system seemed to have pretty much finished cleaning up and I first went to buy some things, also taking all the plastic bottles which had gathered to the recycling machine. Actually took the largest bag we have this time and was able to fit them all in it, and since that also has a zipper, albeit one that’s broken at one end, I managed to close it so what I was carrying wasn’t so obvious anymore, even though a bit was showing through one side, where it can’t be closed.
Could have picked up another 0.50 RON coin from a cart left at the free bus stop at Auchan when I left, but I saw a woman struggling to connect one to another that was there despite having placed her bags in it, so at first I just held that second cart so it won’t move away as she pushed, but then picked up her bags as well, to make room, which made her rush to tell me that one tips over and grab them from my hands, though after that she could at least connect the carts, since there was nothing stopping the second one from going in all the way anymore. During that time, however, a woman and a little girl, possibly with others with them as well, walked past and the girl grabbed the cart with the coin in it, which wasn’t connected to any other. The woman told her to leave it in case it’s the other woman’s, but I answered that it wasn’t, knowing that she had struggled with the other one, so they walked away with that one.
Other than that, since I did go to all three hypermarkets I tend to check and dad had asked me to look for cheap shoes for him, I didn’t just look but actually took some pictures, which I then showed him, so he’ll get an idea about what’s available at the very low prices he’s looking for and know where to go. However, he recently said he only had a look these days and couldn’t find what was in those pictures anymore, which would make some sense, since the sales change every week and most of what was in those pictures was on sale at the time I took them, but a few models weren’t and, either way, I spotted some at those low prices again when I went to get some more things yesterday. Maybe not in the same spot I had found them in the first time, but they were there, so not sure where he looked.
But the more interesting part of last Monday had to do with it being World Book Day and the events organized here to mark the occasion. One was organized by a bookstore, people being asked to go to one of their locations and read a book that day, some short ones being made available by them for this purpose, then being able to take one of the others made available by the bookstore for free once they’re done. The other was the book exchange organized on this day by a publisher from here for some time now, people being asked to bring a book and take another in exchange, whether from those this publisher makes available or from those given by others, those given and not taken by someone else when the event ends, at night, being donated. This time they actually said that this event will take place over three days, with the exchange between 7 PM and midnight and other events, apparently mostly for children, earlier during those days, and there was also a “library” set up there, where people could sit and read books from this publisher without taking them home, since each person was only allowed to take one book regardless of how many they had brought.
This was the event I went to first, grabbing three crappy little books that at least looked better, since they had said they’ll only accept books in good condition, from these boxes of books we really should get around to giving away at some point that are still in my room. They were from some collection of military thrillers, short and, like I said, not good for anything as far as I could tell, though I probably read them in my teens, so thought I’ll just get rid of all of them at once, even if only one will “count”. And it was a good thing that I brought at least one additional one, since one of the two girls who were behind me in line told the other several times how disappointed and annoyed she was that she forgot to bring a book herself despite being the one to tell others to do so, so at one point I just pulled one of them out of my bag and handed it to her, apologizing that it wasn’t good for anything. Heard her being quite amazed by the price label, I think even taking a picture of it, since those had been bought before the switch from ROL to RON, so they cost tens of thousands. Admittedly, with one RON meaning 10000 of the old ROL and books now costing tens or, in case of some hardcovers, hundreds of RON, it also shows how much more expensive they got.
Also about those two girls, a television crew that was there interviewed the other one, asking her why she came, what the book she had was about, what she hoped to get, insisting on a title when she said “some SF” at first, even though I can’t see how could one look for something specific at an event where what’s available has to do with what others bring and what just happens to be available at the time you happen to be there. The reporter actually talked to her for a few minutes, and after that she was saying she had been just standing there and thinking “not me” repeatedly when she spotted them, then saw them head straight for her, which was obviously much to my relief, since they didn’t pick me to talk to. And she got some more attention after that too, this time from another person standing in line, an older woman who asked to exchange the book she had for the one this girl had brought, since apparently her daughter really wanted that one, leaving both girls to give books they hadn’t brought themselves and knew nothing about.
But to return to the event itself, there was quite a long line already when I got there, at 7:35 PM, but it was moving quite quickly, so it wasn’t that long until I got to the front, seeing two tables with books on them that people were looking through in order to pick something. Nobody asked for what I had brought though, so I just dropped the two books I still had on one of the tables, though I later noticed that the books on the tables had stickers marking them as being from that event, at least in case of those not from that publisher, which were entirely wrapped in jackets made for the event, while some boxes with older books were behind the tables, and when I started looking through those as well somebody told me those weren’t for taking. That led me to believe that you were probably supposed to either give what you had brought to some people I didn’t see in time or simply drop them in the boxes and then they were going to check whether they met the criteria and, if so, put a sticker on them and put them on the tables. But since nobody said that, I just left them where I saw the others right away…
Either way, there was nothing there I’d have actually been interested in, didn’t expect it anyway, so I just grabbed something at first, then dropped that for something else, then just as I was close to finishing going around the second table I spotted a book I remembered seeing at the science fiction and fantasy fair I checked out in March. Not one of those I was interested in when I went there, nor one of those I had found myself taking a little bit of interest in after spotting them there, but I remembered the cover, and being written by a Romanian author at least means it’s not a translation, though it also means that, just as in case of a translation, I wouldn’t normally be interested in it “by default”. But it did seem quite out of place, compared to the other stuff that was there, and I guess I’ll see how it is when I’ll read it…
Should have headed straight for those who had the raffle tickets after finishing looking at what was on the tables and leaving that area though, but instead I went to the “library” area as well, having a look at what was available there and ending up without a ticket as a result. One of the volunteers having the tickets had also handed them out to people waiting in line while I was also waiting, but stopped two people before me at that time, when someone else wanted to fill theirs on the spot, so she waited, took that one and then didn’t get back to continue. I could have gone to the others to just take one then as well, but didn’t want to step out of line, thinking I’ll just do that once I’m done with the rest, yet it was only 8:15 PM when I did get to them, seeing one last person fill one in and drop it in the box but finding no more tickets there when I looked. One of the volunteers asked whether they could help me with anything, but when I said I was looking for a ticket they said they ran out, and I actually posted about it on the event’s page after getting back and was told that indeed the interest had been much greater than expected, so they ran out of tickets… But it sure seems odd to me to run out of them one hour and 15 minutes into an event lasting for five hours that evening and five more over each of the next two evenings as well…
The thing is that at first I thought that it was possible that it was simply a matter of those volunteers not having any more and needing to grab another stack, so I got back to the “library” area and had a closer look at the books that were available, glancing back at them from time to time. But in the time it took me to have that look, they didn’t seem to be doing anything and I didn’t happen to spot anyone else putting any more tickets in the box either, which would have indicated that some more were probably available elsewhere. So at 8:25 PM I shrugged it off and walked away, this actually being shortly after somebody asked those who were in the “library” to try to finish and make some room for those waiting, which seemed like a rather odd request when you make such an area available and definitely seem to mean to let people read an entire book there.
With the bookstore organizing the other event having a location nearby, I went there after that. Had also checked out their location in this nearby mall earlier that day, when I went there to go to Carrefour, and had found a spot with some pillows and a few short books, but on top of nothing seeming interesting, there was nobody else reading there at that time, so I didn’t care to stop and try to read then, nor to get back there later. But that location I went to after the book exchange is a major one, plus that it was evening already, so I expected things to be clearer there… Yet instead couldn’t even find a spot with books to read, making me wonder what was going on.
There was also a somewhat awkward moment after I left, as I bumped into a guy I know from protests and meetings with activists and he recognized me from a distance, asking whether I was taking Victory Square by storm, though we sure were some distance from that at the time, then where had I been and where was I going. When I mentioned the book exchange, he said he’d have wanted to go there too, I said it was close by so he could go then if he wanted to, but he seemed to be in a hurry. He stayed long enough to ask what I had given away and what I took instead though, and while “some stupid stuff” seemed to be an acceptable answer to the first question, he didn’t accept “what I happened upon” as an answer to the second, asking me to “reveal the secret” of what was in my bag. So I showed him the book and he seemed to have a slightly surprised reaction before telling me to enjoy it and running off. The fact that he insisted and got me to show him the book actually made me feel a bit violated, if I may use the term, probably also because I didn’t exactly feel comfortable with what I perceived as that book’s genre.
Either way, went to that bookstore’s main location after that, reaching it around 8:50 PM and looking on the door to see that it closed at 10 PM. Once inside, saw people coming down the stairs, some with books in their hands, and writing book titles and the hours between which they had read them in a notebook that was there. Also saw the handful of books that people could select one from after they finished reading, and since the notebook was there and people were coming down with books in their hands, I assumed the books to read were also there somewhere, but couldn’t see them, nor any signs explaining anything. Fortunately, somebody asked and was told the books were upstairs, and you had to finish before closing time, so before 10 PM.
That made me say out loud that there was little chance of that, but I nevertheless rushed there, found the “reading area”… And promptly hit my head on that low ceiling, as I do pretty much whenever I happen to go there. But had no time to dwell on that, so kept quickly looking through the books that were still available there and grabbed In Calabria. Still a translation, but the back at least mentioned some fantasy elements and it had 174 pages and the font was a bit large and with a fair amount of spacing. It would have been quite a test of my quick reading skills even so, since I had just over one hour, but I found a spot to sit down and started reading.
Matters got somewhat complicated a bit later, when a woman came with a child and the boy was talking loudly, wanting stuff, then occasionally calling for the mother to leave already when she decided to stay for some reason, talking on the phone, albeit quietly. Seriously, we were trying to read there, and it was actually a scheduled event, so the employees should have known to ask customers to treat that floor more like the reading area of a library that evening, yet they did not and those two stayed and bothered us until close to 10 PM.
Still, I pushed along, staying there while others either finished or gave up. First a girl who was there with her boyfriend seemed to finish and stay to wait for him, eventually getting up to have a look around and leaving together after she got back, the guy seeming to give up, since he definitely wasn’t at the end of the book. Then the girl next to me gave up about halfway through and also left, leaving me and three other girls there, one of them having returned for one of the others at one point, probably after having finished earlier herself. Heard one say something about two more minutes, then those two left together, leaving just me and the other one on that bench. I checked the time then and it was 9:52 PM, but I only had some 15 pages left, so after reading about 160 in under one hour, it seemed like I’ll manage just fine… Until she got up and left as well, leaving me all alone up there, without even any employees around, and worried that they’ll forget about me and lock up, since I was hidden behind shelves. Not that there’s any door to that floor, so as long as there was somebody left at least downstairs it wouldn’t have been a problem, but I didn’t exactly sit to think things through at that moment, instead getting up in a hurry… And hitting my head on that low ceiling yet again, a lot harder than the first time.
Had even less time to dwell on it then, however, so I just rushed downstairs and continued to read while pacing behind the others who were in the checkout area, finishing at 9:58 PM. Rushed rather too much through those final pages, and the circumstances made it even harder to understand things properly, but then again that part is rather confusing in itself and leaves things unexplained anyway. So I quickly took a couple of pictures of the ISBN with my phone, to be sure I’ll list the correct edition on Goodreads later, then wrote my name, the book’s title and author and the hours between which I read it in the notebook, though I’m not sure who’ll understand my handwriting when I was rushing like that, and left the book on one of the shelves in that entrance area as a guy was closing the door and turning off the lights in the other rooms, after telling a couple of people who tried to walk in that they were closed.
There was still the matter of picking a free book though and little time to do it, though a couple of others seemed to still be looking as well. Not that there were many titles available, and of course nothing interesting, though in some cases the problem was just that they were translations, since I seem to remember something from some fantasy series I had some interest in at least at some point. But I didn’t want something from a series, because it was a matter of making sure it was the first one and then, if I’ll want to continue, the fact that I’ll end up having read the first in Romanian and the rest likely in English, so I grabbed something that at least seemed to have science fiction elements and not only gave no indication that it was part of a series, but actually seemed to indicate that it was not. There was no listing of the titles in the series, the large title on the cover and spine matched what a note at the beginning said was the author‘s first book, there definitely was nothing stating that it was a sequel of something else, yet it is in fact the second in the series… Fortunately, the Library has the first, and also lists this one as wanted, so I was thinking to donate it once I’m done. But that is something for another post…