Friday, December 24, 2010

The Things We Say...Part 32

X: Ouch.
V: Ouch?
X: I may have lost some of the hair on my knuckles.
V: Do we want to know how?
X: With fire.

I think it speaks for itself.

ClearSkies~V

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Things We Say...Part 31

Conversations with our parents, part 1:

Note: for differentiating's sake - V's mother is the V Maternal Unit, whereas L's can be the MotorCycle Mama or the L Maternal Unit or any derivate of the logical...you get the picture...


V Maternal Unit: I must've been a bird in my previous life.
V: No. You can't stand heights.
V Maternal Unit: (after a moment's thought) Right. So I can't have been a bird.
V: Unless you were penguin.
V Maternal Unit: Not likely. I don't like cold.
V: What about a lyre bird?

ClearSkies~V

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snow!

Obviously, I've made it in one piece out of the great beyond (aka. Australia) into the old world (aka Europe). Looks like Christmas stands a good chance at being white. Go figure.

ClearSkies~V

Friday, December 10, 2010

Doop doop doop

So I think it would be alright to call this week 'insane'. It has been. I should elaborate I suppose since most of you are not capable of hacking into my brainwaves and reading what's going on in there - and fewer still can navigate the levels of caffeinated crazy that's drifting around in there at the moment.

SO!

L left Canberra on Wednesday morning, which meant that Monday and Tuesday were rife with moving bits and pieces, sending last bits and pieces by post, and donating unwanted clothes to Salvo's and selling books to Canty's. Fruitful, if hectic. I might even go so far as to say that it was fulfilling, but I wouldn't want to stretch my sense of charity too far, that would be slightly hypocritcal.

I'm writing this entry from Sydney Airport's hectic and busy International Terminal, having travelling by taxi, plane, and bus to get to this stage, the first leg of my journey complete. I'm going 'home', to the Netherlands to visit family and friends for the Christmas season - not that Christmas is the primary reason for my going, mind you, it just happens to be that time of year is all.

It's strikingly odd, for someone such as myself who has been travelling in planes and across great distances since I was a year old, to have been this nervous about flying. Alright, let's be honest, it wasn't the flying - although I must say I will never fly the baby planes Qantas uses between cities. Either way, that's all done...now I'm waiting to check in for Singapore air to begin stage 2, which will happen in around 5 hours, at which stage I'll hop onto a plane for 9 hours or so, hit Singapore, then hop onto another plane and find myself, many hours down the line, getting off in Schiphol.

Anyways...I suppose it will be up to me - mostly - to keep you semi entertained until L regains her connection to the greater world of teh interwebs.

ClearSkies~V

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Things we say...Part 30

Second Life is a place where strange people sometimes come together, and sometimes you encounter other strange people who don't quite click with the strange of your clique. So we're at a club in world, dancing, myself, N, A and her partner, when the we get company, keep in mind that there are only the four of us girls there at this point...three of us are wearing wedding rings.

Random Stranger: I like my odds here tonight ladies.
A: Two of us are prego...one's married to a mass murderer and the other one is his sis.....so start guessing.........

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Random Pretty


As Nation Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes hold, L and I struggle to find some sort of rhythm so we can hit up the words and get them to work. Thankfully I have a colour-changing distraction on my table to help with any thought processes I might otherwise have.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Things we say...Part 29

After a string of swearing from my Second Life partner leads to the following conversation.

V: What did you do?!
X: I squashed a mosquito. Like ninja.
V: With your hurt hand.

Monday, October 11, 2010

All roads lead to....Facebook? o.O

Every now and then when I'm bored out of my mind (or unable to sleep for whatever reason) I end up wandering the vacated corners of the internet. In my case, this corner tends to be made up out of random wikipedia entries (what? I like researching random things!), various blogs, and of course my rarely visited facebook (no, I don't actually look at it all that much, my Twitter is just linked to it, it's a clever trick to keep people from thinking I'm dead).

The other night I discovered to my shock and horror (actually it was delight) that one of my old middle school friends, dare I say one of my better friends, is making headway in the music industry and has released his first album. Now, I'm aware that this might be viewed as advertising, but meh! If you're into R&B/Soul Ben-Harpery kinda music you might just enjoy listening to Yufi's album. I downloaded 'Diamonds' off his facebook page (as suggested) and I was going "Wow, someone's come a long way since Mr. Gallagher's music class!". Suitably impressed I'll be grabbing the rest of the album off of iTunes when I get the chance; what are friends for after all? I'm getting ahead of myself: the album you want is 'The Red Light' by Yufi Zewdu (there, it's all hyperlinked for you so you don't have an excuse!).

Moving along from musical advertisment, however, this got me thinking. So many people from 'that time in my life' - I'm talking Mozambique, for those of you in the know - have come so far! My best friend Alison is doing great, she's married (I still can't believe that, even though it's been years!), most of the others have steady interesting jobs and fledgling careers. It's kind of crazy when you think about it! I'm really happy that they're all living their lives. It makes me wonder what all my teachers are up to. Is Mr. H still surfing? And what on earth could Mr. McCartey be up to? I'd really like to know where the Phillipses are. Why aren't they on Facebook! *growl!*

There...I went and said it: Facebook, for all it's stalkertastic capabilities is quite useful for the diplobrat regime, least this way I can keep track of who's having babies and who's got a new PhD running.

Clear Skies~V

Friday, October 8, 2010

Potatoes!

I'll skip the whole 'ooh, haven't posted in aages thing' to say: Sometimes potatoes are exciting!

Anyway. Circumstances have *really* come together to create awesome lunch today, so I decided to share. To start with: Dutch Cream Potatoes.

These are the best potatoes ever. (Argh, if I type 'potatoes' too many more times, it's gonna start lookin' really funny. Heh. Potatoes.) If you've never had 'em, I highly recommend you fix that ASAP. 'Cause potatoes are awesome, and Dutch Creams are the best.

Right. So. My realisation of the day: there's Greek-style yoghurt in our fridge, and heaps of chives & mint in the garden. These are actually easier circumstances to achieve than getting hold of Dutch Cream potatoes, so don't go gettin' intimidated - if you have room for a couple of pots, you have room to have both chives and mint. They both grow like nobody's business, and require very little by way of gardening skill or intervention. Just water 'em semi-regularly and they'll be fine.

Right, so. Clean and cook some potatoes (heh, potatoes. Apparently 'potatoes' looking funny taps into the same part of my brain as fart jokes. Go figure). You can peel 'em, or not - if you're using something like a Lady Christl, don't bother, but the skin on Dutch Creams can get a little flaky, so if you don't like that... well, make your own damn mind up. Anyway.

Stick some yoghurt in a bowl, and finely chop in some chives & mint - enough to make it pretty obvious that they're there. You can stir some honey through too, but I like the tangyness of the yoghurt with the fresh oniony-mintness of the greens, so whatever. Keep in the fridge til you need it; this keeps fine for several days. It's also pretty tasty as dip, or used instead of mayo for tuna sandwiches. The possibilities, they are endless!

Hard-boil some eggs (obviously, proportions for all of this depends on how much potato salad you wanna make).

Wait til everything's cool; peel & chop the eggs, and combine. If you're going all out, cook some bacon til it's nice'n crispy, and crumble that in too. Feel free to also add some snow peas, or corn kernels, or whatever. You can also season this with whatever you like; sometimes I want chili flakes, and sometimes ground pepper, or maybe freshly grated nutmeg, or parmesan, or sometimes no seasoning at all, or... you get the picture. Be creative, it makes for tastiness.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Things we say....Part 28

D: This could be the onset of superpowers!
L: Or dementia.
D: I'm trying to be optimistic here!
L: Yeah, but I'm saying there are options.

So much for the onset of superpowers, sorry D.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Things We Say....part 27

A: Any more requests from the angry lesbian?


A Second Life joke...let's not dwell on the details.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Oh, really.

I have this variant of the 'I'm not a feminist but...' comment. It goes, 'I love Penny Arcade, but...' and it's because of strips like this. Actually, it could be extended to 'I'm a geek, but...', 'cause the standard geek reaction to criticism like this is to tell feminist geeks to get over themselves, and basically stop getting the icky girl stuff on other people's fandom.

Heads up, dudes - feminist geeks call you out on this shit for one very simple reason: not funny. Rape is not funny. Racism is not funny. Slavery is not funny. It is not funny, for several well-fucking-recognised psychological reasons to joke about things which cause actual harm to actual people, even if your platform is not real. Because one of those things that we've found out about the intersection of a culture of violence and humour is that it has very real consequences.

If your answer to this is '...but, that's not what people mean when...', then go learn some shit about psychological conditioning.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Food, glorious food

So. How d'you feel about cauliflower? It's very possible that if your answer is 'ew,' you're doing it wrong.

On the other hand, p'raps you love the stuff and want to convert someone. Either way, roasting is your friend - that goes for broccoli, to. In fact, there are plenty of veggies that benefit from this treatment, so experiment! It brings out a depth of flavour that can be pretty surprising.

Anyway. What you want to do here is roast your (dry!) veggies at a high temperature, so they caramelise (omnomnom). I'm a bit laissez-faire when it comes to washing veggies (shhhh), but if you do wash 'em, either leave them to air-dry for a good long while, or obliterate that surface moisture with extreme prejudice. You don't want anything going on here that'll make the veggies squishy.

Right.
Spray a roasting sheet with oil & put it in a hot oven (about 220 C) 'til the oil's nice & hot. You want it to sizzle when the veggies hit.
Carve your cauli/broccoli into florets - don't go too small. If you're using cauliflower, halve the bigguns. Toss with olive oil, salt & pepper - or any seasoning that takes your fancy- (get everything coated), then add some sliced garlic. Take out your hot baking sheet, chuck on the veggies (if you've got oil pooled from preparing them, don't add it) and return to the oven for 20 minutes or so. Don't panic when you start getting crispy brown bits - they're the best part.

This on its own makes a pretty awesome snack, but I'm also a fan of prepping soup veggies like this. It adds a nice depth to the broth, and when you hit a mouthful of veg, it's blissful. If you want to use it as a meal component, jazz it up a little more - drizzle a little more oil over the top, chuck in some toasted nuts (pine nuts or slivered almonds work really well), and some lemon juice. I'm considering going a bit crazy next time I do this and tossing a few currants in.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How DO you walk in stilettos?

Those of you who follow my twitter feed will know that  few months ago I bought a pair of stiletto boots. They're the only pair of stilettos I have ever owned; I'm very comfortable in my normal boots, which have maybe 3-4inch wide heel. Needless to say a 5inch stiletto heel was something I was not used to. I knew that it was going to take a bit of exercise and practice, I also figured out early on that if I didn't do this right I was going to do it very very wrong, and, with my ankles, that would be a really bad idea.

I sprained my left ankle quite badly when I was 11 and despite the ballet and the Tai Chi, it's always been a bit of a weak ankle - not helped by the fact that I've sprained the other ankle a few times as well. I didn't want to make matters worse, and I'd heard somewhere - or maybe it was common sense - that you could seriously damage yourself walking in stilettos, and in heels in general. I also remembered that it took me a long time to get used to walking in my brown boots, which had two extra inches in the heel compared to my now-retired black ones. 

In light of that, I dove into Google with the very simple search stream of 'how to walk in stilettos'. I was pleasantly surprised that I was not the only one curious about how not to get shin splinters and permanent damage to my feet. I was also pleased - though  not quite in the same way - to discover that I hadn't been wrong. You can do some serious damage to your feet without even knowing it! 

Sure, I mean, heels make a woman's legs look amazing - not to mention the added height advantage if you're short like me! - but the higher the heel gets the more it affects your posture and the pressure applied to your skeletal and muscular structure... and that's ignoring the fact that you're not exactly stable on 5+ inch narrow heels, one step wrong and you run the risk of breaking an ankle and falling flat on your face, the total opposite of the point of wearing the shoes in the first place. Check this out for more information, though if you're really interested just hop into Google and do some of your own research, there's a lot of it out there and it's not hard to pick out the bogus sites from the good ones.

All that aside, because we all know that you're going to opt to wear the heels anyways - well, most of us anyways, I know there are some very sensible people out there who know better - how do you walk in stilettos?  (Disclaimer: I'm no expert! This is just me sharing my Google findings with you!)

Instructions


  1. Wear a shoe that fits. Some salespeople will advise you to choose a half or full size larger when it comes to stilettos, this is usually so you have the option of wearing an additional non-slip sole inside the shoe for more support and comfort.
  2. Exercise your legs and ankles, espeically if you're like me and have weak ankles. The stronger your leg muscles, the more confident and comfortable you'll be. Before you put your shoes on, do some quick flex and point exercises with your feet and calves, get the circulation going and warm your feet up before subjecting them to the pressure of the stilettos.
  3. Before you try walking, practice standing. That may sound silly, but do it! If you can't stand comfortably - without wobbling - you're going to fall on your face whenever you stop walking.


  4. When you start practicing how to walk start out with a non-slipper surface, avoid tiles to start with as they're ridiculous slippery. Practice slowly, take plenty of breaks. Don't try to stand, walk, and wear those shoes for more than a few hours a day until you feel your feet don't hurt and you're totally at ease in them. SLOW, not fast, is the best way to go here. Once you get more comfortable, try different surfaces, like hardwood (when walking on wood, check whether or not you're leaving marks!).Walk with your back straight and walk toe-to-heel instead of putting your heel down first, put your toes down first. Think of it like aiming your toes straight in front of you. It'll be weird at first, but you'll get used to it and you'll find a balance and realize that you're quite comfortable.





The most important thing above all: IF YOUR FEET START TO HURT. STOP! Don't push, take it slow. I cannot stress this enough, if you try to do it all at once you could seriously and irreparably damage your feet and your legs, not to mention your spine, and you really don't want that.

Check out this video, also, I've put some links in at the bottom that you might want to consult if you find this at all interesting - or worrying.


Safe walking & ClearSkies~V


Further Reading

How to walk in Stilettos 
Walking in Stilettos
Advantages and Disadvantages of Wearing Heels
Wearing High Heels - Effects on the Body

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blah blah blabbity blah...

So. (Already) this week I have: systematically failed several goals; missed the O-week info session for the course that starts next week; realised how abysmal my budgeting really is, and accidentally gone cold-turkey from my happy pills.

(Insert 2 dizzy, nauseous, unbalanced days here.) That's right, I need to learn to fill my script BEFORE I run out of 'em. No shit, sherlock... (insert day of sleeping through re-adjustment here).

On the other hand, I've (finally) made some serious progress on the Knitting Olympics project, and cooked some pretty tasty stuff. We won't mention the raids on the mango/macadamia icecreams.

Anyway, it's not really news that we suck at that commitment thing (blog? What blog?), but anyway. Here are some things that've managed to entertain me.

EchoBazaar: FailBetter Games have outdone themselves, although it's still under development (still awesome to play, though). Escape from New Newgate! Befriend Urchins! A little bit Neverwhere and a lot awesome.

Anagrams are awesome. A certain someone is a Ninja Veld Wok.
Also, apparently Jesus is offended by rectangles. Go figure.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Composing a witty title is too taxing for my marshmallow brain.

My sympathy for those suffering from the flu is considerable, but the fact remains: being surrounded by sick people sucks. Today's tasty snack is brought to you in the spirit of cheering up the winter sickie (and making them less annoying) by feeding them tasty things. Feeding people tasty things fixes many problems.

So I present: Steamed Pumpkin (with whatever aromatics you damn well feel like).

Take a pumpkin. Doesn't matter how much. Peel & de-seed said pumpkin, and chop it into bits. Doesn't matter how big. Peel some garlic cloves (generally I use 1 head of garlic per pumpkin, but it depends on how garlic-y you want your end result, so experiment) and slice up some ginger - don't bother peeling. Steam the whole lot until the pumpkin is tender. Take the ginger bits out, but leave the garlic in.

Mash the steamed pumpkin-y goodness; depending on the consistency you're after, go ahead and add some or all of the steaming water (or not).

As a snack on its own, this is pretty tasty. It's also a good way of infusing pumpkin (or whatever) with flavour before you make soup out of it, and there are plenty of other options: it's pretty damn easy to turn into a bunch of other things (i.e. add to a hummus recipe for sweet-tangy chickpea awesome; hold off on the water, drain some salmon & add a beaten egg or two, & make patties... use your imagination).


Saturday, July 3, 2010

The flu's been kicking my arse for about a week now. I'm too lazy to actually work under this kind of duress, so in the absence of actual postage I offer unto you a lil ceramic elephant. He's pretty cute, no?

Right, now I'm going back to bed. I will say this for stupid bodyache - it's helping me get a lot of knitting done, now that I've reached my TV limit. Soundtrack for knitting: CANADIANS! (k. d. lang, Neil Young, Our Lady Peace, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Anna & Kate McGarrigle, Barenaked Ladies, The New Pornographers, Raine Maida, Tegan & Sara. It's a strange playlist.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cake!

In keeping with my apparent 'winter food' theme, here's the tastiest, most cold-day-satisfying cake I have ever come across. It's in my recipe notebook as 'Lydia's Gingerbread Cake' - I have no idea where the original recipe came from, but I have the esteemed Dr. to thank for it. Tēnā koe, Lydia.

100g butter
1cup milk
2 1/2 cups self raising flour
3/4 cup golden syrup
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp mixed spice
pinch salt

Oven - 180°C (NOT fan-forced)

Place butter, milk, syrup & sugar in a large saucepan, bring almost to the boil. It's a good idea to stir more or less constantly, to avoid burning the sugar & syrup. Add the salt & baking soda, stir well. When the mixture is frothy, turn off the heat, sift in the flour & spices, & stir until combined. Bake for approx. 45 minutes.

The sugar in the crust will caramelise, giving you a shiny, crunchy crust over a surprisingly firm-but-soft inside. I've only ever baked this in my good cake tin; 45 minutes gives you a ginger-bread-y cake that's springy & has an almost honeycombed texture at the edge, but stays pretty gooey at the centre. In a normal cake tin, it's impossible to get the centre cooked through without burning the edge, and since I like the changing texture anyway, I don't mind.

If you do mind, try experimenting (honestly, it's fun!). Best bet for even texture is probably a ring cake tin, the kind that look like a giant doughnut; spreading the batter across a slice tin will probably give you something more gingerbread-y, and I'm not sure what baking it in a loaf tin would do. Probably the centre would still be a bit gooey, but less than with a traditional cake tin.
In terms of recipe experimentation - a small handful of currants make an awesome addition, and it could probably take walnuts, too. Last night I discovered we had no ginger, so I used cumin instead - awesome variation, and I'll bet ground coriander'd be pretty damn tasty too. I also tend to be kinda freehand with adding the spices, the batter never quite tastes like I want it to.

Warm, this goes really well with thick custard, cream, icecream, whatever. A yoghurt-based sauce would probably suit it well, too. It really doesn't need any help on the sweetness, though. It's also an excellent accompaniment to tea or coffee.

...also the cats really like it, but they don't get any. Nyer nyer...
Go forth & bake!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Winter - soup time!

This is, for my money, the best vegetable soup ever. Well, the best stuff-in-broth veggie soup ever. Anyway.
I mostly make this with chicken stock of the home-made variety, although for years I made it using Massel's chicken stock powder, 'cause my sister's a vegetarian. If I'm feeling extravagant, I'll also add actual chicken to it. So it's not out & out veggie soup, but eh.

I cook in fairly large batches, but this is easy to make, say, 4 servings of; just scale down the ingredients. It doesn't freeze all that well, though - the texture of the veggies tends to get a bit weird. Anyway, I'm very good at over-catering, so I can't swear how many servings the following instructions make, but it's a large pot of very tasty soup - at least 12 servings or so

Ingredients:
2-3L chicken stock, 2-3 carrots, 1 head of cauliflower, 1/4 of a head of cabbage, 1-2 bunches of bok choy, 1-2 stalks of celery, 4 tsp minced ginger, 6 cloves of garlic (peeled but whole), soy sauce & sweet chili sauce to taste, 2tsp turmeric, 2-3 small cakes of rice noodles, 4-5 chicken thigh fillets, cut into strips.

The vegetable combination is pretty flexible (I don't like celery, & often omit it; if you're using stock cubes/powder, it might be an idea to simmer an onion in the stock to flavour it up a bit) and the flavourings are hard to measure 'cause the soup works best flavoured to taste. The ideal combination balances the heat of the turmeric & chili with the sharpness of the ginger, with the soy sauce rounding out the flavour. You really do have to add, taste & modify with the flavourings in this, so under-estimate at first & keep adding more of each in turn until it seems right to you.

So. Take the stock, bring to a low boil. Chop the veggies into whatever shapes you prefer, but don't cut them too small - the carrots work well in 1cm-ish thick rounds, the cauliflower in medium florets. You're going to cook them slowly, so the pieces need to be big enough not to fall apart, but small enough to soften through.

Add the carrots, celery & chicken to the stock, cook for 5 minutes at a very gentle simmer.

Add the garlic cloves, ginger, turmeric & cauliflower, maintain the simmer until the cauli has nearly softened.

While the veggies are simmering, soak the rice noodles in hot water. Add the noodles, cabbage, sweet chili & soy sauce, simmer for a couple of minutes - the cauliflower & cabbage should be cooked, but not mushy.

The bok choy will cook very quickly, so only add it at the very end - if you're making enough of this for leftovers, it's best to add the bok choy to each serving so it doesn't over-cook as the soup cools.

The flavour of the soup will change as the various veggies cook, and you don't really get an accurate idea of its character until you've added the cabbage and noodles, so it doesn't hurt to be conservative with the spices & stuff, and add more at this point if you need it.

You should be able to taste the characteristics of each flavour, but they should also be balanced - it shouldn't taste like GINGER soup, but you should definitely be able to identify the ginger in the flavour. Adding a little of the noodle-water also improves the flavour, but don't add more than a couple of ladles of it - you don't want it to taste starchy.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Rambling of the Sleepless (Part 2: Belonging)

So I'd been hoping to spare you all a second horrific blog entry, but insomnia it seems, has rallied against me. Perhaps I should amend that, because it's not so much insomnia tonight as it is the fact that I was murderously hungover all of yesterday and thus lolled around in bed until around 4pm and am now, as a result of that an the thought-encouraging events of the day, unable to sleep. I'm prepped for sleep, in my comfy pjs, logged into Second Life in our beautiful Clan gardens, my delightful SL partner snoring away in my ear (with my mic muted, and headphones volume down), and yet somehow...sleep has decided to vacate the building. There was a patch there, around 1am where it had seemed inevitable, to doze off and fall asleep, but that seems to have failed. Surprise anyone? In favour of thought, sleep has gone hiking.


I'm interested in the way my brain choses things to think about. Tonight aside, it tends to drift back and forth between things, touching on one thing before fading to the next. Sometimes they're totally unassociated ideas, sometimes they're linked. I imagine there's some sort of pattern of stimuli that encourages each thought to take its place. Wonder what that pattern would look like. Probably squiggly and incomprehensible to anyone except neurologists who have also made a thorough study of psychology and philosophy. What kind of degree would you call that anyways? Doctorate of Uber Brainnessity!

Okay, V, you're being silly now. Seriously. 

Tonight's brain game is circulating the concept of 'belonging'.
belong Look up 
belong at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., "to go along with, relate to," from be- intensive prefix, + O.E. langian "pertain to, to go along with." Sense of "to be the property of" first recorded late 14c. Related to M.Du. belanghen, Du. belangen, Ger. belangen. Replaced earlier O.E. gelang, with completive prefix ge-.
I said somewhere in a tweet once that I thought it would be grand to have some sort of sense of patriotism towards one's land of birth, albeit simply out of some sort of sense of 'This is where I belong''.I meant that in earnest, it is nice, for anyone, to have a sense being a part of something else. You see it all the time in religion, with patriotism, clubs, families, even genders - I remember in primary school, we had a 'girls team' that had 'fights' with the 'boys team' during lunch time, and I'm pretty sure that wasn't just an isolated scenario. 

What strikes me as interesting is that we seek to belong to things, even if its only a sense of belonging in our own minds. It's like acceptance, only more fundamental, and can obviously be very individual. Let me rephrase that thought: a person wants others to accept them, but a person wants to belong to something/someone. The former is extroverted, while the latter far more self reflective. Make any sense?

What I find interesting from my etymological quote thingy from up there is the 'Related to...' bit. In Dutch, the word 'belangen', is best translated to 'longing' or, less strongly, 'to desire for something'. That in itself I think enhances an understanding of the connotational meaning behind 'belong', incorporating some sort of psychological meaning in the word derived from its origins.

And...things...
Okay, V, admit it, you've lost your train of thought.

I suppose it comes down to the fact that humans are social creatures by nature, we like company, I suppose you could go so far as to say that we even need it. Even the most anti-social of us - and yes, I have bouts of sever anti-social behaviour, I know - need company every now and then, even if it's just a single person we can shout at for a while. Maybe it gives us the sense of belonging that we need? I have no idea, and maybe I'm completely off the mark, I'm not a good student of people, who continually surprise me, one way or the other, much in the same way that I'm continually surprised what people can weather, emotionally and physically, and come out on top of. People are weird, but they're also kind of neat. 

So if we're all striving to 'belong' to whatever or however or whoever, where does that leave those of us who are still in the drifting stages of our lives? Are we suppose to keep drifting until we hit something we fancy, or are we suppose to already have worked that part out, or maybe we just belong to the group of drifty people, all equally lost, some comfortable some not.

This is making my brain spin. I think I'd better leave it at that before I become more babbly and less thinky.

ClearSkies~V

Sunday, May 30, 2010

More Soup!

I can't remember which cookbook this one came from, but it's awesome - 'specially for winter.

Potato & Leek Soup

Ingredients:

60 g butter, 1 large onion, 2 large leeks,

750 g potatoes (cut into 1.5 cm cubes),

1/3 cup oats, 2 cloves garlic,

2 cups chicken stock, 2 cups milk, ground pepper, nutmeg, chopped chives for garnish (if you want). It's best to use waxy potatoes (like kennebecs) for soups & stews.

Method:

Melt the butter in a large pan, cook onions and leek til they're transparent. Add the potatoes & cook til they're golden brown. This can take ages, especially if you don't have a really large pan, so if it's irritating, just soften the spuds up a bit. Stir through the oats & cook for another minute or so; add the garlic & cook for another minute. Once you've softened the potatoes, make sure the pan isn't so hot that the oats & garlic burn, since that tastes awful.

Reduce the heat a little more, stir in the stock & milk. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the veggies are well & truly tender. Once it's cooked, season to taste with pepper & plenty of nutmeg; garnish with chopped chives to serve.

This is a chunky soup, so no blending (yay)! If you feel like adding bacon or ham chunks, just stick 'em in when you add the oats. There is no better home-food-y flavour combination than leek, potato & pig. It also works fine with low-fat milk or soymilk, and you can soften the onion & leeks in oil rather than butter if you want.

I tend to mix up the amounts of this a fair bit - when you add the oats, you make a porridge-y base for the soup, and I tend to put in more than the recipe calls for, 'cause I like the flavour. Do yourself a favour & use proper rolled oats for this, not the chopped up minute microwave shit. I once forgot to put the potatoes in, and it worked out well, so if you've got some anti-potato philistines you need to feed, it's very adaptable. This always gets eaten pretty quickly here, so I've never frozen it - I'm not sure how the texture of the potato chunks would be, post-freezing.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Random Pretty

Rambling of the Sleepless

Thought 1: Creativity is fickle. I would really like to know why mine kicks in around 4am every morning, irregardless of whether I'm sleeping like a baby, sleeping restless, wide-awake, or just woke up. Tis unfair, I declare, miserably unfair. Tonight for example, I've been poking - quite diligently - at the next installment for Valerian Night, my flash fiction blog, but the words failed me constantly; I just couldn't work out what to write. The words were dead, I tell ya! Yet now, if I sat down, opened a document, I could write, and I know I could write what I needed to write: what I want it to say. Standing in front of my bookshelf, trying to decide what to read and finally deciding upon attempting to reread Gathering Storm, I took two steps back to my room when I realised that I didn't want to read. Instead, I wanted to write. The next thought that popped up in my head was: that's lame, I should go to back to bed.

Thought 2: The other thing that puzzles me is this whole sleep thing. Apparently we need it, we can catch up on it, but we can't stock up on it? You'd think with the amount I've been sleeping these past couple of weeks that I'd be all for being able to stay awake, maybe pull an all-nighter here and there.

Thought 3: On the cute side of all things, both the cats are on my bed again, it seems to be their fave place to be. Hopefully they'll share that corner of the blanket. Signet is heavy.

Thought 4: I wish I really could put my mind in a hatbox at night, that way it wouldn't pester me while I was trying to sleep. Seriously, thinking can really suck. You're lying there, minding - ignore the pun - your own business when suddenly WHAM! THOUGHT! and you can count sleep derailed because you're thinking about how neat it would if XYZ, or how shiny it would be if ABC, or whatever.

Thought 5: ...this was a bad idea for a blog entry, even if it was random ramble...


ClearSkies~V

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Things we say...part 26

V: Don't be ridiculous, I'm a perfectly balanced individual!
L: Somewhere a kitten died for that lie.
V: Oh noes! If I clap my hands loud enough will it come back to life?!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Random Pretty

Oh god what a day. So damn TIRED.

The Things we say...part 25

D: Unless they're cookbooks, books about babies freak me out.

I think this one speaks for itself, don't you?

ClearSkies~V

Silver Linings

You ever get that feeling? You know, the one that makes you think you've hit the biggest obstacle in your life and you've got no inkling on how to tackle it? It's a lot like despair, if you had to give it a name. The deep, cold, dark despair that sucker punches you in the stomach with just thatuch extra oomph right after the silent numbness of shock has vacated your nervous system. All you can think is "Let it be before, take back this knowledge, this experience; let it be when everything was right".

We've all faced this, in some form or another, let's be honest, and if you haven't, you're either living lucky, not doing something right, or you've got it coming at you with extra extra oomph. It's the heartbreak of a breakup, the diagnosis of a incurable illness, the F you got on your math test, or the car accident you shouldn't have had. It's the decisions you've made, the path you've ended up on, by whatever means, fair or foul: if you're human, probably a bit of both. Whether it's a small thing or something that literally hold lives in the balance, the emotion is still there and one thing is universally true, irregardless of faith, ideology, class, or race: IT F***ING SUCKS. I totally dare anyone to disagree with me.

The question that really makes the difference though, is what you're going to do next. Sure, your gut's wrenched, eyes cried out of your skull, you've eaten a tub full of ice cream, ranted at someone, possibly written a really long letter (or hell, a blog entry maybe), set fire to photos, had a few too many drinks, etc. so forth and so on... That's great. Now what? In case  you hadn't noticed, that feeling is still there, and it's not going to go away on a hurry. You can't fix it by staying in the moment, can you? Or looking back longingly at yesterday thinking "Damn, they was an awesome day, I cans has plez?". It just won't fix that way. So what can you do? Look forward, when you can bare it, look ahead; think things through. Even the most horrid things give way somewhere; always a silver lining, if you choose to search for the right angle.

Optimism is rare enough to find in this world, but it's there alright, tucked away between cynicism and self-preservation. Sure, that thought killing pain won't go away, not right away, but it does help to remember that while time may not heal all wounds, if you'll let it, it will give you respite in form of a lighter perspective.

Just some thoughts from your friendly (sleepless) optimist.

ClearSkies~V    

Monday, May 3, 2010

And now, for your edification and entertainment:

It's very early in the morning, 'cause I had an epic nap today. Yesterday. Whatever. Anyway. It's very early, like I said, and since I don't feel like doing anything else, and I've been pretty awful with the posting thing lately, here's some more flash fiction - another 300 word adventure for you all.

My goal with these pieces is not to write earth-shattering literature, but to present what I think of as 'relationship set-pieces' in a child's voice. Let me know how I'm doing, please!

*ahem*



There was a mouse in the trap when I got up today. I let it out.

Nanna uses a crust of bread with peanutbutter on in the traps. They’re the kind that catch the mouse in a box, not the kind with the arm that slams down. Nanna says they’re more humane, but I don’t know why she thinks that. The mouse dies anyway.

She’d be pretty angry if she knew I let the mice out. I don’t like that she catches them; we keep all the food in containers anyway, so I don’t think she needs to set the traps, really. Nanna says it’s not healthy to have mice living inside, but we have a pet mouse at school, and she says it’s ok if I play with him, as long as I wash my hands after. Nobody touches the mice at home, so I don’t see how they hurt anyone.

I got in trouble at school when I told Beth that grownups catch mice to kill them. Her Daddy told her that they got sent to pet stores. She cried when I told her that mostly people drown them. Missus Armstrong said I shouldn’t ever talk about things being dead, ‘cause it might upset people. But our science project was to make a bug-catcher, and then use it to catch all kinds of bugs. We kept the really interesting ones, and a man from the museum showed us how to put them in jars so we could keep them. They’re on a shelf in the hallway outside our classroom, and we showed them in Assembly last week. Nobody gets upset about them being dead, not even Beth. I asked Missus Armstrong, but she said not to talk about dead things, ever, and that it was time for lunch.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Riding the productivity wave with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction.

I've already got a bunch of stuff done today. I posted some flash fiction earlier, in spite of my mortal dread of putting my baby out there for consumption (go nuts with the constructive criticism, folks!), did some tidying, made soup, fed the worms, gave the plants some love (& worm pee) & so on. I'm also finalising a back-to-school application by putting the finishing touches on a portfolio of writing, and I actually feel kindof satisfied with that.

It's 2.24 pm. So why the hell do I feel like I have accomplished nothing of worth today? This isn't even a rant. When I fail at ranting, I'm really failing. I can always rant.

I do not like my brain chemistry, because my brain chemistry does not like me. Fuck you, brain.

May I present...

So, apricot chicken is one of my all time favourite home-foods. I'd say 'dinners', but since I'm bad at actually having dinner at dinnertime and frequently eat this for breakfast, we'll go with foods. Foods is good.

Anyway, it's not just my favourite 'cause it tastes awesome (and it does taste awesome), but 'cause it's cost-efficient in many ways. I'm cheap, and pretty much always buy meat on special (and in bulk-ish amounts), and on top of the actual money cost efficiency going on here, this doesn't take long to prepare, and is basically a one-pot meal. It's also an incredibly easy way to feed quite a few people - the amounts in this recipe easily feed 6, and the last time that happened we still had plenty of leftovers (mmm, breakfast chicken). Anyway, this is how I do it:

Take enough chicken for the number of people you're going to feed. I prefer thigh fillets for this, but it's up to you. If you're using thigh fillets, chop 'em in half. Season some plain flour with whatever you like (my seasoning tends to be salt, pepper, cayenne, sage, basil), and coat the chicken pieces. Grab some veggies (enough to balance out the meal - I tend to use carrots & parsnips, root veggies seem to work best) and chop into sticks. Slice an onion and some garlic. Layer it all in a casserole dish, and cover it with apricot nectar. Or you can go half & half chicken stock / nectar, but straight apricot is very tasty. Put the lid on the pot (or just cover with foil) and stick it in the oven. Cooking time will depend on the amount you're making, but it'll take at least 45 minutes. The flour you coated the chicken in will cook into the liquid, & it thickens up into a really tasty sauce; the chicken won't dry out, and the veggies add some variation. You could even stir some bok choy or other suitable greens through and let it stand for a couple of minutes before serving, just to up the veggie content a bit.

I serve it with rice, but if you've used lots of substantial vegetables, you might not need the accompaniment. Rice does help with the sauce, though.

If you only want to make enough for, say, one or two meals, you can stick it in a loaf tin, cover with foil and cook - this doesn't have to produce a massive amount of food. On the other hand, it's an awesomely easy way to produce a massive amount of food. If you've got a slow-cooker, you could set this to cook overnight or before you leave for work, or whatever.

In the absence of rant, stories!

I'm trying my hand at some flash fiction - 300 word snapshots of story. Haven't decided yet if they'll be self contained, ongoing, both... we'll see.



When my dad comes home, I go to bed. Our driveway’s long – the headlights give me enough time to brush my teeth. When I was little, I’d be waiting for him, and I’d ask and ask for an ‘aeroplane ride’ to bed. Sometimes I got one, and he’d swing me up into the air between his hands and fly me around the house, and when he put me into bed he’d kiss me, and his beard tickled and smelt of books and coffee. Sometimes he’d buy a packet of jam tart biscuits at the servo on the way home, and mum’d make some tea and a little mug of warm milk for me, and I was allowed to stay up a bit longer for a biscuit, but I had to brush my teeth again before I went to bed.

I don’t wait for dad to come home any more. He doesn’t like me to be up when he gets home. Mum told Nanna once that he works late so everyone’s asleep when he gets home, but she didn’t know I heard. Mum doesn’t mind if I roller-skate in the hallway, ‘cause I cook tea when I get home from school, and the floorboards aren’t polished anyway. Dad doesn’t like the noise while he’s watching TV. Sometimes he checks where the roller-skates are, to see if I’ve been using them in the hallway. He says they damage the boards, but I don’t think they do. I hide them under the old shoes at the bottom of my wardrobe so he thinks I haven’t been skating on the floorboards. He hasn’t noticed yet.

When dad comes home, I pretend to be asleep. He looks in when he walks past my room, but he hardly ever checks to see if I’m still awake.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Things We say...part 24

So upon hearing that they are, in fact, making a new Free Willy movie - you know, the movie about the killer whale that gets captured and then set free...this comment was made:


X: if this whale gets caught one more time, we're going to give it to the Japanese for 'research'. I mean...really.

You gotta ask it too, I mean, what is up with that whale being captured. (I know it's the same whale for the first two movies...but even if it isn't, I thought killer whales were meant to be intelligent pack hunters...>.<)

Clear Skies~V

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Progress!


L: It's like having a baby bird on my head! And you can rub it!


This post could technically be labelled as 'things we say', 'things I think', 'things I overanalyse', or maybe just 'hyperactive sleep-deprived ramblings'. Think I'll just go with 'random'.

So. It turns out, I have a complicated relationship with my hair. Well, since my hair is only a few mm long, it's not so complicated right now, but it's anybody's bet where that goes from here. This is very likely an unwarranted piece of navel-gazing, but I feel like blathering about it, so there.


(Yes, I'm hiding behind my pillow, and yes, all my bedding is blue. Yes, I'm aware that blue is the favourite colour of depressed people. Your point?)

I didn't realise that shaving my head would enable me to examine my neuroses quite so effectively. I'd've done it years ago, except... well, I was to gutless to do it years ago, and I doubt I would've learnt much from it then, anyway. (Aw, L feels like she's gettin all growed up! Actually, that's a lie.)

Ahem. So. I started thinking about all of this when it was commented upon that perhaps shaving your head (especially when you are a person of the female persuasion) is not the most obvious way to go about being inconspicuous. This is apparently hilarious, since I loathe the thought of being noticeable - or indeed visible - in public. Since then, I've been thinking about this whole melange of stuff, including: why does it have to be so much more 'normal' to make a decision to alter your personal presentation for charity, than because you felt like it? Why does it have to be particularly weird for a girl to shave her head? Why must people assume that I'm broadcasting something about my status because of my hair? Why have I found it so bizarrely reassuring to realise that I can in fact tell when people are out-and-out staring at me? And why am I so much more worried about my Mum's reaction (when she finally sees it in person) than anybody else's?

It's anybody's guess. But these things are indeed occupying my brain-space. I'm finding it particularly interesting that shaving off my hair has enriched my life in so many random ways. It's cut down the resources I use - no more hair-washing showers or products, so the water shortage and my budget are both fans; no more agonizing over what to do with it, so more time and less image-consciousness, and a whole lot of interesting revelations about body image and public perception.

I have to admit that there was one downer - Empire Records lied to me. It is not that easy to shave your head.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

OMG I need a drink!

Wandering around town today, having run some errands, and I've got this thought running through my head as I'm sitting on the bus on the way home: 'God, I could use a drink'. This of course, made me go O.o, because I've rarely actually had the whole 'OMG I need a drink' thing going on, and this lead me to consider whether or not the I should have a drink when I got home. The funny thing is, I now understand the habit my father is in of having at least one whiskey-soda on the rocks every day after work; you'd think, having spent nearly a decade making them for him, I'd have gotten used to whiskey sooner, but no, vodka was always my preferable poison. Recent change of heart has lead that to shift towards the whiskey. Dad's birthday was yesterday...I was really tempted to include a 'Hey Dad! Whiskey rocks!' line in it, but somehow I wasn't sure if the tone would go down well, being just words and all. The last thing I want is to get an email (or a call!) inquiring into my drinking habits - though 'habits' might be a strong term, but lets not dwell on that.

I will always insist that being irresponsibly drunk is a bad thing, and it is; the first time I got drunk...yeah, let's not go there, that was a bad idea and I regretted it violently the next day (and I think L took particular pleasure in attempting to feed me banana muffins - which I'm sure were delicious, but OMG NO!). So yeah, nooot doing that again...seriously, mixing frozen berries with champagne is no go.

And thus I end my little randomnessity for the night...

>.>

<.<

Clear Skies~V

Random Pretty


This is RJ (A's adorable lil boy) giving Valerian (V's SL Avatar) a biiig smoochie!
Yayy I gots kisses!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Things We Say...part 24

X: brb. More zombies.
This is not something I expected to hear from my SecondLife partner.

Clear Skies~V

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Things We Say...part 23

(when I said something silly after shaving my head)

V: Are you sure you didn't shave part of your brain?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Things we say part 22

A: Hmmmm cereal
V: Hmmm JD and coke

A: Too early for me
V: Better illustration of opposite sides of the world? I think not!

Long story.


Clear Skies~V

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hey Ma, I'm a cueball!

So, for quite a long time I've toyed with the idea of shortening my hair... radically. Last night, after an Easter spent visiting family (not at all traumatic, oddly), the hair got the chop. I left it uber short & fuzzy for a while (and may have walked around the supermarket giggling and rubbing my head like a crazy/silly/silly-crazy person), and then decided to go the whole hog & shave it all off.

Behold, my shiny egg-head:


Good thing it's coming in to winter, 'cause the sunburn, I do not want!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ah, pets...

First thing I would learn to say in Cat: Dammit, I'm on the toilet. Stop watching me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Orange soup!

The colour that is, not the flavour.

So. Here's how to make excellent chicken-pumpkin soup.

First off, make your own stock, it's seriously easy and tastes amazing. Did I mention seriously easy? If you have a slow-cooker it's even easier, but if you don't all you need is a big pot and your stovetop. Man, I wish I had a slow-cooker...

So. Go buy a chicken frame (what chicken carcasses are usually called in butchers / supermarkets). Here they're about $3 a kilo, and a kilo of chicken frames will make you lots and lots of stock. You can also just use a pile of raw chicken bones, but frames usually have a reasonable amount of meat left on them anyway, which makes good tasty stock.

Did I mention simple? All you've gotta do is stick the chicken in a big pot & cover it with water & simmer the hell out of it & whatever you want to use for extra flavour. I usually peel an onion & quite a lot of garlic and throw that in. it doesn't matter if they get all bits-y and mushy, 'cause later you'll strain the weird stuff out of it anyway. If you get scum floating on the stock as it cooks, you can scoop it off with a spoon, but straining later on will take care of this anyway, so I usually don't bother. I also use a bouquet garni for flavour. (Generally I'd suggest about 3L of water to a frame.)

Let it all simmer gently for a few hours (this is where a slow-cooker is awesome - you can put it all in, set it to low and head off to work or whatever.), then let it cool. Once it's cool, stick it in the fridge (I leave it in the pot for this, but decanting is fine if the pot won't fit) and chill it. This will make the fat coagulate on the surface, and you can skim it off (now you've got flavour without grease). Once you've removed the fat, strain the liquid through a sieve. You'll get a bunch of grit & stuff out of it - just throw that away. Pull any meat still on the bones off, and return it to the stock.

You can use stock like this for risotto, soups, stews... whatever you want, really. It'll keep for 5 days or so in the fridge, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months. When you're using it, you can dilute it a little more if you want - it really depends on what you want it for, and the original strength you made it at. Another tip - if you don't have much freezer space, simmer the liquid to reduce it down, and you can freeze it as icecubes.

Anyway, getting on to the soup part. I didn't have much stock left, so the soup base was 1/2 stock, 1/2 water.

Ingredients:
1 butternut pumpkin
1 large sweet potato
several garlic cloves (I use about 6-8, to make 3L of soup)
chicken bits
1 onion
seasoning to taste
carrots, or any other hard vegetables you feel like using - can be chopped or grated...

Steam the pumpkin and sweet potato with several peeled garlic cloves. When cooked, mash (put the steaming water in, too). Put the stock & water, onion, & mash on to cook; when it's bubbling, add the chicken pieces and chopped veggies. Add salt, pepper, and whatever herbs / spices float your boat until it tastes right, and when the chicken & veggies are cooked, you have a meal!

Should keep for several days in the fridge, and freezes well, although the texture of carrots can get a bit funky once they've been frozen.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vacuum cleaners are scary.

Glock the boykitten had his second adventure outside the house today. He confirmed that dirt is, indeed fun, and that crunchy leaves are even better. The really awesome discovery of the afternoon, though, was that our worm farm (I built it out of a big plastic tray we had, and pizza-box lids keep the weather off the worms) had started sprouting pumpkins and potatoes. Said sprouts have now been transplanted into pots of their own, and all this accidental growth is making me feel all inspired and potentially productive (there are also a bunch of green leafy veggie-things in pots around the place), and I might just have to build myself a garden bed. We'll see.

Making the bed: boykitten says NO!

He also says no to productivity, and any procrastination that involves paying attention to something other than him. Go figure.



But it's hard to stay mad at something this cute (just as well, 'cause he's the only subject that survived this photo), even if he does dig in the potplants. 'Specially since he's still confused by his reflection.

Monday, March 22, 2010

And now, for something completely different!


I present: A boob joke that's actually funny. Many thanks to Kate Harding for being an awesome writer, amazing person, and sharing the news about this one. Anything that gives me an excuse to watch Marion Cotillard while making a point about misogyny is a win in my book.


Monday, March 15, 2010

The Things we say...part 21

L: Tiramasu is more important than huggles.
I want it on the record that she said that!

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's a public holiday, dumbo.

Which is why the doctor's surgery isn't answering the phone. Here was me thinking they'd just forgotten to turn the call divert off, which had me giggling about the time(s) receptionist L did exactly that. Professionalism, I has it.

These two only seem to care that I'm professional about feeding them. And changing litter. And playing. And giving up my computer chair when they want to sleep on it. And... well, we adopted cats. You get the picture.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Random Cute

This is Glock. Apparently he finds Guild Wars as entertaining as the rest of us. Go figure, I think we've adopted the right kitteh.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Away down the rabbit hole...

Generally, I don't pay much attention to film reviews - I've found that critics' opinions don't necessarily correlate all that much with which films I will or won't enjoy. I'm of the 'defend your right to your opinion' school of thought, but I have to say, I do have a problem with opinions expressed in a completely distasteful manner. Now, I know News of the World isn't exactly a top publication, but it's still disappointing to see crap like this peddled as a 'review' rather than being torched. I've no idea what kind of crack Robbie Collin is on (or why he seems to spend his time perusing the ads in London phone boxes), but any decent writer should be able to disparage a performance without accusing the actress of looking like she's on heroin, never mind making allusions to prostitution (see what I did there?).

Friday, February 26, 2010


So, I sort my sugar hits before eating them...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Things we say...part 20

L and I ended up having an...enlightening conversation about how my brain works...

L: There are little peoples in your ears.
V: There are not!
L: Yeah, there are. They're playing with the kittens that pull the levers in your head.

Clear Skies~V

Random Pretty

 
This is the Zombie Sheep Tea Cup.
It needs no further explanation...
'cept that it wants your BRAINZ!!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Words, and what we do with them.

Apparently I'm currently residing in a lightheatedness-free zone. But it's 2am and I haven't been able to sleep, eat or think properly for days (long story), so let's just run with it and see where it goes.

For several months, I have been making an effort to eradicate the word 'retarded' from my vocabulary. To my shame, it's been there for a long time, a casually dismissive (offensive) marker of everything that's wrong with the subversion of meaning. I'm ashamed of myself for not having gotten rid of it sooner, not just because it's awful but for two other reasons; one of my family members has suffered throughout her life from the pernicious damage this language and attitude inflicts upon those we apply it to, and also because my younger sister would have been teaching me about the violence of language since we were kids, if I'd only had the wit to learn.

I'm not exactly a paragon of virtue when it comes to language. I swear. Lots, actually. I've never got the hang of being detached when arguing over something that means a lot to me; I rail and shout and rant. I'm not great at finding ways to produce emphasis without doing violence to, or through, the language I choose. At the core of much of this, I suppose, is a combination of passion and laziness. Passion for the things I believe in makes it difficult for me to divorce myself from the emotion of explaining, or arguing them; laziness has led to a failure to completely interrogate the language I use to describe the world and my relationship to it. In spite of my own failings on this point, I do believe in treating language with respect.

Because I'm bizarrely idealistic (strange attribute for a cynic, but what the hell...) I find the the manipulation of language for reasons of political expediency incredibly disturbing. I'm still flabbergasted by the 2001 Australian Federal election, when the Howard Government, desperate for an election victory, spent ten weeks engaged in a "pervasively mendacious" campaign of racial vilification. I found the language of the 'war on terror' similarly depressing, and so I shouldn't be surprised that, in the aftermath of yet another episode of violence, language is the first casualty of reporting.

When an individual chooses to commit an act of extraordinary violence as a means to protest the nature of government regulation, and clearly articulates that violence is the only way in which to make that stand, clearly in the hope that it will encourage others to 'wake up' and make that stand, that individual has committed an act of terrorism. Words have meaning for a reason. Official definitions of terrorism exist so that we are able to define those acts which, in endangering human life, aim to "intimidate or coerce the government, the civilian population... in furtherance of political or social objectives."

When a man flies a plane into a federal building and leaves behind documentation expressing his conviction that such acts are a necessary step, that man has engaged himself in a terrorist action. It is utterly indefensible to suggest that because that man happened to be an American citizen, acting without connection to international terrorist movements, he did not engage in a terrorist act.

Language is a powerful tool, and it is for that very reason that we have an obligation to use it well. Joseph Stack was a white, anglo, non-muslim American citizen. These facts in and of themselves are not enough to excuse him from being labelled a terrrorist in that 'capital T way'.



Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Music...soundtracks of life? o.O + Soundtrack of V part 1

Okay so, I can't help but think, that the things I listen to tend to be directly linked to what I'm feeling, what I want to feel, or what I'm doing at the time. L and I may have driven through St. Helens with our windows rolled down blasting Disturbed's Shout 2000, 10000 Fists, and Prayer...maaybe, because it fit the mood. When I'm feeling particularly in need of something to think about, or write about, I'll play William Joseph's Within and Beyond - the albums, I mean, not just the tracks - maybe mixed in with some Josh Groban. If I'm hyper, you'll probably catch me playing some Pink. If I'm angry, there'll be Korn, Disturbed, Godsmack, Metallica. If I'm feeling romantic, or soppy, which might be my current mood, you'll probably catch me listening to a series of love songs - don't roll your eyes at me; the current favourites are Staind's Tangled up in You, Aerosmith's Don't Wanna Miss a Thing, Poets of the Fall's Stay, and another song I'm actually being a little possessive over so I won't mention here (ner ner ner). Anyways, what is it about music that gets people going - or not as is the case if I try to subject my mother to 'heavy' things (which by my standards nowadays aren't actually 'heavy' anymore).

(Side note: D and I actually discovered that our father liked Nightwish of all things, a few years ago on  a roadtrip. Go figure. Maybe the previous generation isn't a total loss.)

I suppose I started thinking about this today because I've got a playlist going with only 21 songs in it, and that's been the Soundtrack of V since last week. It's been playing over and over, and try though I might, can't seem to switch over at the moment. I go through phases - I think most of us do; I know that L does, though our taste in music is sometimes sporadically different, and sometimes matches up quite nicely. Depends on the week.

So let's take a look inside my brain shall we?


Soundtrack of V, part 1.

Tracy Chapman - Baby Can I Hold You
Bryan Adams - I'll always be right here
Staind - Tangled up in You
AeroSmith - Don't Wanna Miss A Thing
Alicia Keyes - If I Ain't Got You
LoneStar - Amazed
Tupelo Honey - Make Me Believe
Bon Jovi - Always
Nickelback - I'd Come For You
Bryan Adams - Let's Make  Night To Remember
Jessica Riddle - Even Angels Fall
Poets of the Fall - Stay
Tupelo Honey - Morphine
Chris Rhea - Loving You Again
Hinder - Heaven Sent
Santana (ft. Chad Kroeger) - Into the Night
Hinder - Thing for You
Breaking Benjamin - Stay in Love Forever
The Blues Traveler - Maybe I'm Wrong
Queen - I was born to Love you

Got over your shock of the weirdest combination ever?

Okay good. I'll just pick some songs at random to ramble about.

Let's start with Stay. The Poets of the Fall are probably one of my all time favourite groups. They've got the lyrics and they've got the melody, if you haven't heard any of their things, go to YouTube right now and just search for 'Poets of the Fall - Carnival of Rust' and you'll know exactly what I mean. Stay is a powerful song, but subtle. You know that feeling you get when you really want someone to stay at your side except you know that they might have to go and never come back? That's what Stay says to me. There is something extremely powerful in that single word: 'stay'. It means 'stay here, with me, forever' when it's said the way it's said in the context of the song anyways. One of my all time faves, no doubt about it.

Morning comes slow today
Memories push through from yesterday
Where will I be tomorrow
What do I have to show

From my life
Stay
I need you here for a new day to break
Stay
I want you near like a shadow in my wake

Flow with life down the drain
Memories and force of will sustain
Where will I be tomorrow
What will be left to show

From my life
Stay
I need you here for a new day to break
Stay
I want you near like a shadow in my wake

It's the little things
Little things
Little things
That make the world

Stay
I need you here for a new day to break
Stay
I want you near like a shadow in my wake 

Maybe I'm Wrong, is...bluesy. Those of you who know me, are going to have to get your jaws off the floor now, please. It's an awesome song. It's one of those songs that speaks to you on a 'yeah, okay, this is honest' but in that very poetical sense that only something with that rhythm can pick up. It's off the 'Blues Brothers 2000' soundtrack, in case anyone was wondering. I recommend playing it REALLY LOUD. *ahem*

I wanna show you that anything is possible
Said I wanna show you that your wildest dreams can come true
And I swear someday I'm gonna figure out how to do just that
But until then I guess tryin is all I can do

Maybe I'm wrong thinkin you want somethin better
Maybe I'm wrong thinkin you got no problem makin it through the night
Maybe I'm wrong about every little thing I'm talkin about
Maybe I'm wrong but just maybe maybe I'm right

No its none of my business but I think I can make you happy
But it really doesnt matter if its me or someone else
All that i know is that i think you're kinda special
And one way or another gonna see that i can treat you well

Maybe i'm wrong thinking you want something better
Maybe i'm wrong thinking you got no problem making it through the night
Maybe i'm wrong about every little thing i'm talking about
Maybe i'm wrong, but just maybe, maybe i'm right

You seem to think that lady luck just doesn't like you
Well, i've been trying to believe that the lady just ain't that dumb
Oh, just give her time to get here
And i'm sure that when she gets here
She'll be really glad to be here when she comes.

Maybe i'm wrong thinking you want something better
Maybe i'm wrong thinking you got no problem making it through the night
Maybe i'm wrong about every little thing i'm talking about
Maybe i'm wrong, but just maybe, maybe i'm right

Maybe i'm wrong thinking you want something better
Maybe i'm wrong thinking you got no problem making it through the night
Maybe i'm wrong about every little thing i'm talking about
Maybe i'm wrong, but just maybe, maybe i'm right

And third, let's see...Thing for You. I first heard this song because someone played it for me. There is something very...BOY, about this one. You could call it 'tacky', 'lame', 'silly', but if you really think about it, it's a damn honest song.  Lemme find the lyrics and stick them up here, so tha those of you who have not yet been subjected to it can kinda get a handle on what I mean:

Well now that it's morning,
Where do you want to go from here?
Well now that we're sober,
Are your thoughts of me more clear?
Woah yeah, now that your head is right,
Did you dig last night?
It keeps playin' in my mind.

'Cause girl I gotta thing for you.
And I think it's kinda crazy,
'Cause I know that you have someone true,
Wonderin' where you were last night.

For now I'll say goodbye
But don't think we're through,
I gotta thing for you...

Well now that you're home will,
he be the first thing that you see?
I know you'll compare us,
But how does he match up next to me?

Woah yeah, and now that your head is right,
Did you dig last night?
It keeps playin' in my mind.

'Cause girl I gotta thing for you.
And I think it's kinda crazy,
'Cause I know that you have someone true,
Wonderin' where you were last night.

Girl I gotta thing for you.
And I know the night was hazy,
But I still remember wakin' up
And kissin' your head one more time
For now I'll say goodbye
But don't think we're through,
I gotta thing for you...

Well I remember layin your head down,
I remember lovin' all your sounds.

I gotta thing for you.
And I think it's kinda crazy,
'Cause I know that you have someone true,
Wonderin' where you were last night.

Girl I gotta thing for you.
And I know the night was hazy,
But I still remember wakin' up
and kissin' your head one more time...
For now I'll say goodbye

But don't think we're through,
I gotta thing for you...

Now, tell me, if you've been in that situation before...how many of you can say you didn't at least think half of what's actually being said there?

...and so, after having inflicted my current musical taste on you along with the longest blog entry in our history (I think), I'll leave you with that.


Clear Skies~V

Disclaimer: I won't be held responsible for how you obtain any of these songs if you don't have them!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Things we say part 19

When asked by a friend over mic what kind of ice cream he was eating, D replied with...

D: Chocolate Creamy Classic
L: Just don't talk with your mouth full of chocolate creamy classic...

Uhuh...

Clear Skies~V

Random Pretty


So we had a blackout one night while we were in Tasmania. This is one of the candles we lit, beeswax flower. Was very pretty. L took this picture.

How to cure a hangover (and the 100th Post, ironically)

I suppose some of you are going 'what does innocent lil Miss V know about hangovers?' Let me put it this way: I'm currently nursing one, ergo, I consider myself intimately familiar with hangovers since I've had one pretty much every day since Saturday, not for lack of trying to avoid it. And no, before you all get up onto your high horses, I don't have a drinking problem, it's been a social activity, and I'm at that point where I feel like I'm quite capable of pushing my limits. So there.

So anyways, out of sheer 'I should be doing school work but I'm not entirely alive yet' syndrome, I've been trolling the net looking for random ideas people might have on 'how to cure a hangover'. I found a whole series of fascinating experience-proven methods, including anything from not moving a muscle until fifteen hours after you first wake up (I figure that'll get boring real fast), to having another drink (I don't know about you, but if I'm hungover bad, that just isn't going to happen).

(...my horoscope just informed me that 'mental activity is right up my alley today', somehow I beg to differ.)

The article I found that I figured might be the most practical use was this one, from the Daily Telegraph, aptly titled 'Hangover Cure Guide' I might, in the future, after I survive this current little hangover, attempt to work my way through that list and give you a verdict, but for the time being I'll stick with barroca, water, and toast...and maybe, if a headache manifests itself, a nurofen plus.

Till then, I guess it serves us right.

Clear Skies~V

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Things We Say part 18

So we were watching the Australian Open (tennis, not golf) while we were away in St. Helens 'n things, and during the Hewitt-Federer match it occured to me:

V: I think Jim Courier missed his calling; he could've bene a good poet. If Stephanie Meyers can sell books written badly, Jim would have no trouble selling poetic lines about ballets and flights of Federer's grace.

Ah, interwebs, how I love thee!

So! Those of you who I've talked to will probably know that I've been accepted into the University of Canberra's Master of Creative Writing program. Much excitingness, lemme tell you. This is just the start of it, so I'm not entirely sure if I've got a handle on things just yet. 

For all that I consider myself very 'net-savvy' taking an official online university degree online is a totally different ballgame. For one thing, I keep having to stop myself from saying things like 'zomg that is made of win!' and 'yayy! writingness ftw!'. (I got told on Friday night, funnily enough, that 'ftw' needed a dictionary sometimes, it's why I picked that example...um...oops?) Another thing that I'm finding interesting is getting my head around using Moodle; the Australian National Univerisity (where I did my undergrad BA) and the Canberra Institute of Technology (Library School) used a different online web interface called WebCT (which probably stands for something, but I has no idea what is it). Anyways, Moodle. Moodle moodle moodle moodle mooooooodle. *ahem* 
(Pssst...is anyone else having Final Fantasy flashbacks?)

So. IcansaythiswithoutcrackingupreallyIcan! MOODLE.

Moodle is...um...well, it's certainly a lot prettier than WebCT, and I'm slowly getting used to how it actually works. The layout is seriously different from WebCT, but I think it's probably more userfriendly. That's not really what my issue is of course; my issue is that I haven't used it before; moreover, I've never done 'fully online' courses before so it's all rather new to me. Sure, I've used forums before - as we are all well aware - but there's something different about doing it in a purely academic setting. I actually have to be sensible for one thing! Do you have any idea how hard that can be for lil V? I have a hard time being sensible in actual class, and now you're asking me to do it online?

...ah well, such is life, and we will persevere, because, let's face it, this is fun and this is, ultimately what I do. Write.

Clear Skies~V

Monday, February 15, 2010

Things we say part 17

Okay, so those those of you half familiar with my Second Life er...life, will know that I have the most wonderful SL sister and best friend in Buffy Shamen who is gonna be referred to in here by the initial 'A'.

A: When you are "making whoopy" online
V: 'Making whoopy'... really? roflmao
A: Ok so when you having sex online...geez. Just trying to be a lady here

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Summer dessert time!

I first came across this recipe in The Australian Magazine, in December 2004, I believe. That year I made around 7 and a half million of them for various christmas / new year's / random functions, by hand because my mother didn't have a mix master. Right before I left to come back to Canberra in Feb '05, she got one for the account-disabling sum of $12. I had amazing arms that year. It's all in the wrist.

*Ahem*

Anyway, the original recipe calls for you to make 3 large disks of meringue, layer them with whipped cream and berries and make a stack. This is a bitch to transport, and very difficult to serve without ending up with a huge pile of meringue crumbs and cream-and-berries goop, so over the years I've made some alterations to the original - healthier and much, much easier to deal with. Also, tastier meringue that has less of a tendency to have that sugar-syrupy thing happening, which is also a plus.

Without further ado, I present: Rosewater Meringue with Summer Berries!

Ingredients:

6 egg whites 1 tbsp (corn, not wheat) cornflour
440g caster sugar 500g cherries (halved & pitted)
2 tbsp rosewater 300g raspberries
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar 250g redcurrants
800g thick yoghurt

Oven - preheat to 180°C, turn down to 120°C while baking. (Not fan-forced.)

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar, 1/3 at a time, fully incorporating so you end up with a thick, glossy meringue. Fold through the rosewater, vinegar and cornflour (I often sieve the cornflour, just to eliminate the chance of lumps, but it's not usually a problem)

Line a few baking trays with baking paper (I use 2 layers, but that's just paranoia). Make small discs of meringue (approx. 10cm in diameter and 4-5cm deep) and hollow the middle out a little, so each disk will bake into a 'bowl'. Place in oven and reduce heat immediately; bake for 35-45 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave meringues inside to cool. The meringues should colour slightly, but not darken too much.

To serve, 2/3 fill each meringue with yoghurt (I use King Island Dairy 'creamy indulgence' yoghurt, either the plain or vanilla bean version. Any very thick or set yoghurt will do the job, but you're better off not using a strong flavour, as the rosewater gives the meringue a very delicate flavour which matches the fruit perfectly). Distribute the berries between the individual meringue bowls, and serve. The amount of fruit called for is from the original recipe; I tend to use whatever is on hand. I've never actually used the red currants, as I tend to make this when there are home-grown raspberries, cherries, strawberries and jostaberries on hand, and I put on as much or as little fruit as I like.

This will make about a dozen servings. The meringue is of the chewy variety, although you can lessen that slightly by baking them for a slightly shorter time, turning the oven off before they begin to colour.