A problem (without images)

I am more than merely the “big” that my beloved second-eldest sister was wont to tell me – I am fat. Have been for nearly all my life – apart from those times when the need not to be over-rode everything else; but they were short-lived. I am a distinct A shape; I can often wear tops that are 3 sizes smaller than my pants – and it is always pants, for I never wear skirts (if you’d inherited my mother’s ankles, you wouldn’t either !)

So here I am, trying to make myself garments because I so detest shopping for them that 95% of my ‘wardrobe’ is roughly 17-22 years old – going back to when Chic was with me and would drag me off to buy some new gear. Then, I was unenthusiastic about it: now, it fills me with fear and loathing.

Consider this poor crocheting person: her shoulders are nothing like a swimmer’s, so there are many patterns I could use that fitted me from the top down to the waist. Thereafter they would fly apart and become useless in terms of protecting me from cold; and certainly any kind of button of toggle would be screaming in a tiny voice (like Boodie’s) across the vast tundra of my tum to its matching thingy on the other side – which would be screaming back “WHAAAT ?” – and never the twain would meet. Sighh ..

Now, were I clever enough to find a pattern that fitted my arse, its shoulders would be falling off mine, and the rest of its top half would be hanging in a wrinkly muddle almost down to my midriff.

What to do ?

There ! – I added an image, anyway. Reams of text are off-putting.

I had reached farther than midway point on one of those hexagonal granny-stitch cardigans by following instructional videos from the dearest bloke who works very hard to be as helpful as possible (and he is !) – the point where the tops of the inverted Ls have been joined and they have been crocheted together, and I tried it on. Same old same old. Of course.

So: am I going to frog it all – approx. 6 balls of Stylecraft Special DK, which is a shitload of wool – because whereas my instructor’s hexagons required 18 rows, mine required 24 – in a rage ?

I am not.

I am going to invent how to add an inverted V of short rows – yesyes, I do realize it won’t be in granny stitch ! – to each front edge. I shall make it as fancy as I can; but short rows’ being hitherto unknown to me I am not sanguine about the ‘fancy’ part. The gussets (sort of) will probably end up as garter stitch. But if they can achieve two straight edges that will meet, I shall be ecstatic, regardless of their total unlikeness to the rest of the cardi.

I shall post a photo or two along the way. You are at liberty to shudder and turn your eyes away ..

I am becoming ill with jealous rage !

Tonight I was watching a crocheting lady on YouChoob rabbiting on about her new “dreambox”. I mean like on and on and ON ..

Foolishly I decided to find out what a dreambox is.

How I wish I hadn’t !

Go here and look ..

Unless I win PowerBall or the Lottery (for neither of which I have ever bought a ticket) I shall not be able to afford one of these extraordinary and fascinating and WONDERFUL things. But come to think of it, I couldn’t even were I to suddenly come into a fortune: they’re made in the US, and sold there and in Canada and in the UK (for Europe). I have calculated that were I to persuade them to ship me the version I wanted, I’d be up for something like – oh, AUD8K.

[M.R. swoons away]

Il Rifugio Perfetto

Yes, it means exactly what it looks like: the perfect refuge.

I’m referring to the YouTube cooking site that seems to’ve grown hugely since I first became aware of it. But my impressive degree of ancientness means that I really don’t understand whose site this one actually is: it seems to be divided among 2 or 3 women .. I leave you to sort that out for yourselves.

This is how the title arose:

and in fact there are cleaning videos early on. I know this because, as I often do, I sorted the videos from oldest to newest; and at a sort of mid-point, I found these two side by side:

and from then on we appear to have abandoned the cleaning and taken with enthusiasm to the cooking ! (I wonder if she just exhausted cleaning topics, or if her husband said  – in Italian, of course ! – “Oh fer crissake ! – will you STOP vacuuming under my feet and .. and go and do something in the kitchen ?!”  [grin] In truth, there are a few cooking videos slotted in among the cleaning ones, but not many.

The place-marking video for the cooking ones has V/O and post-production; but, I am very happy to say, thereafter there’s no voice-over at all – just sound effects and some basic captions, deo gratias. She includes ingredients underneath every video (you know, above the comments), so it’s up to the viewer to note down the method for later. Or learn it off by heart if you’re clever like that.

Her particular schtick is (apart from the meals’ being Italian) low-cost cooking. She doesn’t ever use high-falutin ingredients: even the vegies are completely familiar. She’s largely vegetarian, but not entirely; and she does heaps of baking cakes and bikkies.

Check it all out: you won’t often be lucky enough to find cooking videos without dialogue – which is, in my opinion, a bloody blessing !

My music: the Soundtrack

There aren’t too many that stand out, imnsho; but one is head and shoulders above the rest:

with music by John Lurie.

(I’ve always found Danny deVito extraordinary: not only has his highly successful career included many amusing ‘little guy’ roles, but in movies like “Other People’s Money”, he is the protagonist to whom not a single reference is made regarding his height. And it works !)

Anyway ..

I was working for a Sydney group run by the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, and sent to attend a talk about Citrix networking given in a theatre not far from our building. In fact it was somewhat farther than I thought which resulted in my having to rush, but they were late starting; and I puffed in from the street, relieved to see all lights still on and hear ‘warm-up’ music still playing. I stopped at the back of the theatre, rivetted ..

“Chili Hot” ..

Happily for me, I was standing next to the bloke who was operating the sound desk whence came this super music, so I hissed urgently at him “What is that faaaaabulous track ?” and he grinned and said simply “Get Shorty !” Turned out he’d been asked that question roughly 100 times by people more conscientious than I, so there much earlier ..

Later, Stringer and I bought the DVD of the movie and enjoyed it enormously. Still more did we enjoy the soundtrack; and I can’t resist giving you one more example:

“Stink” ..

(The imagery fronting that track is fascinating: every famous mafioso features, among all the stills shown.)

 

Absolute aural joy

Thanks to my friend ST’s excellent book review site Whispering Gums I discovered the writings of Tasmanian Heather Rose.

My first Rose novel was Bruny, and I could scarcely leave iTunes, once I started listening. So much did I like it that I sent an email to her publisher to express my absolute pleasure in this terrific novel. (I got an acknowledgement from the Publisher, but I doubt that my email was passed on ..)

To me, that’s a somewhat underwhelming grab, even if all those things are true: they seem, somehow, to reduce the book to something less than it is. I have, I must admit, no alternative to present to this (to me) unsatisfying statement. Just be assured that this is my favourite book since Truth*, and that’s saying something !

So, with 1 credit available on Audible, I searched under Rose’s name and came up with The Butterfly Man. Audible’s précis is attention-grabbing, and I very willingly rendered up my last current credit. I must confess here that I am avoiding Rose’s The Museum of Modern Love, simply because I read of it when I was in Cluny mode, and was put off. (No, there’s no way of comprehending how my mind works: heaven knows, I’ve tried ..)

It’s really difficult to describe this book. Maybe if I tell you that it caused me to wonder how in the name of all the gods someone can put together such amazing fiction – so intelligent, so fascinating, so creative, so .. appealing ! .. then you might get some idea of the effect it had on me. I listened to it with awe for Rose’s skill – but that came after the actual listening response; and that was utter enjoyment.

I’ve often discussed with other audiobook ‘readers’ the importance of a book’s narrator. In Rose’s case, both Bruny’s Zoe Carides and The Butterfly Man’s Humphrey Bower are – well, ideal. Perfect choices, happily for me and for their other audiobook listeners. In fact, it’s my firm opinion – yes indeed, they are all firm ! [grin] – that listening to Bower’s gentle Scottish accent provides a better all-round experience that merely reading the book could. Mais chacun son goût.

I don’t intend to start posting book reviews, many will be happy to learn; but I haven’t experienced such pleasure in ‘reading’ two books by the one writer since the wonderful Peter Temple – all nine of whose novels are up there on top of my list.

 

*Peter Temple is now and always will be my favourite writer in the world. The news of his death hit me like a blow and took me a long time to recover from. 

Crikey – another FO ! (smirk)

Here’s a photo S took of herself the moment she’d sewn on the buttons she bought for the cardigan I knitted for her:

I do not for a moment criticise her selfie: I’m unable to produce a selfie that doesn’t look as if I was falling over at the time.

The buttons are all identical: it’s just that the bottom two aren’t in the same fill-light that the top ones are ..

I am never going to knit in stocking stitch again. I have spoken.

I shall be blocking !!

Here is a cardigan I am in the process of making for my friend S, who wanted one done in stocking stitch – aka ‘stockinette’.

She chose the pattern (Berroco) and also the colour of the yarn: I had to point her in the direction of Bendigo Woollen Mills’ “Luxury 10 ply” as the only locally available yarn that could replace the Berroco “Tuscany Tweed” (hope I remembered that right).

It has to be rigorously blocked, of course; so I’ve told S she must come over tomorrow and help squeeze. And as I have no blocking materials, she’s bringing over an old blanket and some pins – the special nickel-plated ones I ordered from Spotlight have bloody gone missing somewhere. In the post, I mean. Bugger it !

And once it’s all been blocked, I have to assemble it and then knit the button band. No rest for the wicked ..

No more pretending

“The violence of police officers at protests reveals their true role

The job of law enforcement officers, according to the authorities who have called on them in recent days, is to keep the public safe. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, for example, said in a press conference on Sunday that officers are “here to protect people and property.”

But the police, in many situations, have appeared to actively work against public safety. It’s hard to imagine how macing a child, or driving a car into a crowd of people, could possibly be intended to keep anyone safe.

Instead, the police seem clearly to be treating protesters — members of the public — as adversaries. As Mara Gay writes at the New York Times, “an army of public servants entrusted to protect Americans treated them as an enemy instead.”

This seems to be happening not despite the fact that the protests are about police brutality, but because of it. Previous research shows that police are more likely to use force against protesters when the subject of the protest is police violence, Shaila Dewan and Mike Baker report at the Times. Police are also more likely to use violence against protesters of color than against white demonstrators.

Now “there’s deep resentment on the part of the police that so many people are angry at them, and they’re lashing out,” Alex Vitale, a sociologist at Brooklyn College, told the Times. “Look at what we saw — people sitting on their own stoops getting hit with pepper balls. Anyone who looks at them funny, they’re attacking them.”

{ … }

The protesters attacked on camera by police in recent days have been unarmed. They certainly haven’t been carrying rifles up the capitol steps. Yet the police have treated them not just like a threat but like an opponent.

It’s clear that for many officers around the country, what’s happening in the streets right now isn’t an effort to protect public safety. It’s war.”


That Vox article shows up one of the great conundrums of our times: society needs a police force, but any police force becomes a body apart from society.

There is no group in the world like police. They have a culture that says hurt, blame, point out, accuse, wound or kill one of them, and the perpetrator is marked for life by all of them. They say this is a necessary attitude in order to protect themselves.

It looks as if that culture is now in play up there in the good ol’. In most places, they’re carrying out their cultural fight. Or, as the Vox article says, their war.

A new oldie

Here’s a recipe that is in my .. erhmm .. history ? rolladex ? Whatever. It’s a recipe known to me and not one to bring sweat to my brow. It claims to be a curry, but you’ll need to hot it up if you like real curry.

Chickpea Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, halved and sliced finely
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped small
  • 1 long red chilli, chopped fine (2 is better !)
  • thumb-sized piece ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds*
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 dried curry leaves
  • 1 tsp fenugreek*
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tbs coconut flour

*if you have a mortar and pestle, these should be ground together; but if you don’t, see if you can buy ’em already ground

Method

  • Place a large saucepan on medium heat and add the oil.
  • When the pan is hot add the onion, garlic, chilli & ginger, cook for 10 minutes stirring often. (This is the most important part of making the curry: getting your base ingredients lovely and golden will insure the finished curry has a powerful flavour. So says the AvantGarde Vegan — quite cute, if you go for that hair shaved up the sides thing ..)
  • Add all the spices & cook while stirring for another 3-4 minutes to let the spices roast & release their aromatics.
  • Throw in the tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute before adding the chickpeas: stir well so they are coated.
  • Shake the can like mad and pour in the coconut milk and stir well; then bring the pan to a simmer.
  • Let the curry bubble away gently for around 10 minutes.
  • When the rice is cooked, just before serving stir the coconut flour into the curry to thicken it up a little.

I didn’t make this one for a long time, thinking in superior fashion that a curry of nothing but chickpeas would be, like, BORING ! – channelling Villanelle .. [grin]  It isn’t: the spices give the chickpeas a super burst of flavour.

Of course you can add any vegies you like: the harder ones come to mind. I think partially-cooked potatoes and cauli are great – you need to pre-cook ’em a bit to avoid having to cook the shit out of those yummy spices while waiting for the vegies. Just saying ..

Ahimè !

A couple of weeks ago I did something that astounded me – I joined the ranks of the twitterati. BUT ! – it is for the sole purpose of keeping up-to-date with the wonderful antics of Sarah Cooper – I do not tweet and I follow no-one but Sarah. And there is a side effect that’s useful: the online newspaper I subscribe to, The Guardian Australia, and also the ABC’s news site, often reproduce tweets in news articles; and being a member enables me to instantly see the whole thread.

Today I’d been reading something in The Guardian that had caused me to go to a Twitter link, and that led me off to something else, and so on; and then I found this:

Struth ! – Chic’s favourite building in the world, with a small sinkhole (voragine – isn’t it a fantastic onomatopoeia ?) in the ground outside !

Following this up led me to the story in The Smithsonian’s site, with the full story linked to the photo below:

Roma la bellissima, the city my husband loved most of all in our several European journeys, is apparently sinking all over the place. Only when there are cavities below, reporters write ! – that means bloody EVERYWHERE !!

What is going to happen to this fabulous (in the true sense of the word) city ?! Will restorers do the kind of thing they’ve done at Pompeii ? – spero di no ma credo di sì …

Ahimè .. Alas !

Hand sanitiser: are you a fan ?

Here’s a video of interest. It should actually be viewed by everyone.

It came as a great surprise to me when it arrived in an email from my serial emailer mate R, over in Perth (my home town).

Tell me if you have trouble with the audio – not that I can do anything about it, but I want to know if I’m having trouble with my sound card (do we still have sound cards ?) !

Soup season has begun !

No anxieties about making soup ! I shoulda been doing more of this, as I have several thousand soup recipes. Well, OK, several then ..


Broad Bean, Pea and Rice Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 shallots finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen broad beans
  • 700 ml vegetable stock
  • ¾ cup long grain rice
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • seasoning to taste

Method

  • In a large saucepan sauté the spring onion and garlic in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes
  • Throw in the oregano, peas, broad beans and seasoning. Mix well and cook for 5—8 minutes, until the beans take on a little colour
  • Add the vegetable stock and stir; bring to a boil, add the rice then cover and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Place the baby spinach on top of the soup and let it simmer until it wilts
  • Do your best to get it into the bowls with the spinach still on  the top
  • Serve with crusty bread

My very dear friend the-Goanna-up-in-Sydney (where I lived for 41 years) was telling me on the phone that she makes a lot of soup; and it reminded me that I should be doing that, too. You can make a perfectly yummy one by throwing a chopped vegetable into some stock, adding seasoning and a bit of cream if you have it or perhaps a drop of Tamari or balsamic vinegar – depending on what you’re cooking – and then using what Stringer and I used to call “a whooshoo” .. you know, one of those hand-held stick choppers ? .. to blend it. Of course, the more vegies you put in, the better; and who doesn’t often find a bit of broccoli, a zucchini and half a butternut lurking in his/her vegetable keeper ?

Just remember that, were you using precisely that trio, you’d need to put the pumpkin in first for a while then add the broccoli and last the zucchini: vegies do need different cooking times.

But yes: soup of the evening, beautiful soup ! – the Mock Turtle knew what he was singing about.   :)

Ah. P.S.: the original recipe called for half a cup of broad beans. I really like broad beans, so I doubled it.

I’ve allowed myself to be influenced by media !!

All through this dreadful time the world – and, of course, the US in particular – has been living through the (ugh !) Trump years, I have been dragged further and further down in my outlook on things by the various publications I read online. (This is because I don’t actually READ any more: I cannot. Too much time spent on the Web has removed my capability to concentrate or focus. Of this I am not proud, not a bit: but it is a fact.)

For instance, I check Politico, Vox and Slate; and occasionally I read what The Hill is saying. I very often watch what MSNBC anchors are saying, and also CNN. I have favourites among them, and tend to check those first. As to why I occupy so much time on all this, it’s because I long to see the end of the Trump era.

The media’s influence on me has been that they’ve never let me understand what the people, the ordinary people up there just like me – meaning not the right-wing maniacs – think about this frightful man. Throughout these 1,211 days (Brian Williams of MSNBC never lets us forget and names every telecast) of ghastliness I’ve been influenced only by what the media can say about Americans’ reactions to Trump.

Today I read a totally wonderful article about a young woman on TikTok who’s taken it by storm, and the scales fell from my eyes !!! It’s been re-posted on Twitter to an apparently endless set of joyful congratulatory comments, and FINALLY I know what the ordinary, normal Americans think !!

Oh do read about Sarah Cooper: she will not only have you falling off your chair laughing, but it will be laughing incredulously at the madman who carries a title he has never for a second deserved. Apparently she’s on Twitter .. although maybe that’s just her TikTok posts being reposted .. I’m not up at all on social networking.

This has made me a happy old fart, realizing at last that there are lots and lots and lots and lots and lots (etc.) of Americans who hate Trump, possibly even more than I do ! I am now praying that every single one of them will get out and VOTE in November ..