freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Last night I dreamed I looked out the glass door into the back courtyard, and there was a man (twentysomething, coloured, nearly shaved head) lying motionless on the astroturf in approximately the recovery position. And I was wondering if he was dead, or injured, but he apparently felt me watching and moved, so he was just sleeping. In the dream I was vaguely assuming he'd had a drunken rather than a criminal night, but was nonetheless a bit alarmed about finding him in my garden, and asked him to leave on the grounds of being somewhat scary, and he laughed at me a bit and obligingly did so. Possibly by evaporating, I didn't see him climbing any walls. It was all very odd, but as anxiety-related people-are-getting-into-the-house dreams go, relatively unthreatening. I think all the horrible insults to black bodies coming out of the current American fuckwittery are getting to me, there's a sort of subliminal protectiveness that kicks in.

I take back everything I said about Trump being lost and overwhelmed, incidentally. Trump is having the time of his life implementing fascist autocracy and wholesalely castrating any governmental bodies that could potentially restrain him. Even if his inner circle of batshit insane fascist jerks is leading him around by the piglike snout, the current fuckwittery has his big greasy pawprints all over it. Pundits are reading this as a trial run at an actual coup. We are all so fucked.

On the "fiddling while Rome burns" principle, possibly, jo&stv had a dance party on Saturday. This is a thing they do every couple of months, known as the Minimum Viable Party; they choose a day, send out invites, and if a minimum threshold of people is reached, they clear out the living room and hold it. Dancing starts at 8pm and finishes at 10pm sharp, because we're all old. (Even with the strict 2-hour limit I'm unfit enough that I'm usually achy for days afterwards). There's a theme to the playlist, which stv djs with great deliberation and not a little fiendishness. Saturday's was 80s cheese, unabashedly. He borrowed a chunk of my music collection to assemble it. I have a lot of cheesy compilations.

There's something about 80s pop music that's essentially, I think, innocent, possibly because people of my vintage were young when it hardwired our brains. It's also an iconic enough musical identity that it has familiarity value even to younger people, the ones who weren't in their teens or twenties when the cheese was prevalent, and familiarity with the music is a basic tenet of good dance parties. It was the largest MVP turnout we've ever seen, probably 30 people or so, and it had a lovely, joyous, uninhibited vibe which said we were all regressing like mad and completely unashamed about it. I spent a lot of it bouncing around the dance floor in a fit of giggles, because, honestly, Tiffany, "I think we're alone now". Or "Walk like an Egyptian". And my late 80s experience swung heavily Goth, but stv threw sops to the Gothy remnant of us with "Tainted Love" and "Love will tear us apart", and besides, I was also into Eurythmics and Depeche Mode. And it closed with "Wake me up before you go-go", because it had to, and alas George Michael. It was a lovely evening, I had a blast. In the current state of geo-political ramification one has to take one's pleasures where one can.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
So, this is 2017. *looks around vaguely* ... you'd think they'd update the decor. We had the usual lovely New Year's dinner chez jo&stv, with distributed cooking and a metric buttload of champagne, of which I drank very little as apparently I can't drink more than two glasses of anything these days without feeling sick the next day. I made duck. Because duck. I should record for posterity that I made something almost, but not quite, completely unlike the Asian marinade found here - I left out the coffee, added lime juice, and used honey instead of sugar, and the proportions were all different because my invariable principle is not to measure anything and to keep on flinging in bits until it tastes right. But the flavour combination is amazing.

I am still on leave, calloo callay, although it's a slightly hands-on sort of leave. With one hand I am examining a thesis which is forcing me to read more creolisation theory than my non-postcolonial-fondling soul is strictly happy with, sigh, although on the upside it's on Nalo Hopkinson, who is a groovy sf writer. With the other hand I am wrangling orientation leaders, curriculum advisors and random queries from my boss, as I'm apparently constitutionally incapable of going on leave without reading email, and am forced to ritually curse the terminal conscientiousness of my Lawful Good. With my proverbial third hand I am attempting to mend, alter and generally refurbish my wardrobe, and with a fourth hand I am playing Portal, which I had unaccountably neglected to play before despite being absurdly familiar with it via pop cultural osmosis. Dashed through the first one in short order, am nearly finished Portal 2 with enough puzzle-solving panache to have minimal resort to walk-throughs. Both games are elegant, intelligent, darkly funny creations, deservedly classics. I love the goo bits, so creative.

In between all of the above I am lovingly prodding my container garden, which is performing GREEN! with some verve despite water restrictions and the need to amble around with a watering can rather than sloshing about with a hose.

garden1.jpg

My subject line is a quote from Portal, early GLaDOS, before she gets passive aggressive. She gets quite spectacularly passive aggressive. So far 2017 is off to a reasonable start, but I darkly suspect it's also going to get passive aggressive, and possibly actively homicidal.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Hooray, I appear to have mostly kicked this ridiculous bug, although it had some slightly excessive death throes yesterday, in that I spent the day with a thundering sinus headache and nausea. Felt like a hangover, actually, although I don't think I drank enough at dinner on Saturday night to merit an actual requires-hair-of-dog scenario. (Dinner on Saturday night was lovely, usual excellent food at Frere's, and Claire's New Man has been duly met and subjected to rigorous scrutiny. She's allowed to keep him, although we reserve the right to suppression in the Carrollian sense if he keeps on inspiring stv to new depths of awful pun.)

The weekend was rendered slightly surreal partly by the need to spend most of Sunday horizontal and not moving much (which the cats loved), and partly because I'm suffering Mass Effect romance angst (ME2, narked all over again by Kaidan dumping me, but can't work out if I want to romance Garrus or Thane in the resulting fit of pique1) but mostly by the fact that I upgraded my home computer to Windows 10 via their spanky and slightly pushy auto-update download thingy, and liked it. I am not generally a Windows fangirl, but the update process was ridiculously smooth and took under an hour to download, reinstall and update, all quietly to itself and with minimal intervention from me. And I really like the look and feel, it's clean and spare in a way that grooves my personal aesthetic ploons no end, and word on the street is that it's less of a resource hog than earlier versions, although admittedly that's not saying much because bloatware. Also, its boot-up chime is way cuter.

There was, of course, the inevitable moment of microhomicidal rage when the install initialised with a range of tickyboxes all defaulting to "send Windows all the deeply personal information all the time including shoe size, favourite brand of tea and fanfic kink preferences as well as everything else ever", but there's a certain vindictive satisfaction in unticking the whole damned lot of them. I do realise that it's probably still reporting on my cat-macro preferences, celebrity crushes and typing speed quietly in the background, but Windows. And the penalty of being an uncharacteristically early adopter (Robbi made me do it) is that Chrome is bugged for Win10, although I have cunningly circumvented its complete refusal to load by accidentally clicking on "open new window", upon which it loads normally like a lamb. *jazz hands* Computers!

In other news, it's Monday, but I have brightened the morning by typing up a beautifully concise, pointed and slightly bitey rebuke to a more than usually flaky student who's been attending courses blithely all semester without actually being registered for them. Apparently she expected the actual admin realities to gradually coalesce out of the air and settle on her, like dandruff. In addition to the administrative satisfaction inherent in booting her off campus, it's calm and quiet and rainy after way too much sun and heat this weekend, and I have Earl Grey and a slice of coffee walnut cake, and a new coat my mother made for me, and I'm almost not snuffling at all any more. Also, this epic Twitterquest was still open in a tab from last week, and it made me laugh all over again. I'll take it.

(My subject line is a more than usually convolutedly related Inquisition reference which I shall leave in beautiful obscurity because I am Mysterious, or possibly too lazy to explain the multiple layered points of tangential semi-logic.)

1I'm very fond of Thane, but have a sneaking suspicion that going for the doomed tragic assassin is possibly a little self-destructive. Although at least it's not Jack. Or Morinth. In other news from The Department Of Computer Gaming As Therapy, I expect to grow as a person any moment now.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I'm not quite sure what it suggests, that we (or at least Jo) are apparently on hugging terms with the maître-d of Overture, which is the very nice five-star restaurant on the Hidden Valley wine estate in Stellenbosch. I mean, we know the staff because we go there at least once a year, and they always say welcome back and nice to see you again with a degree of enthusiasm which says they're either genuinely happy to see us or are very well trained - possibly both. They know us well enough to bring extra bread so we can mop up the sauces (that delectable parmesan thing on the oxtail crêpe, for example). And while they no longer do the wine pairing which was hitherto such a marvellous feature of their menus, the nice maîitre-d is always very happy to suggest suitable wines for our various choices, and the single "carafe" we ordered of that lovely chenin was suspiciously free-flowing for far longer than it really should have been, I think he nipped out back and refilled it while we weren't looking. Also, note to self, the Hidden Valley shiraz blend is ace, obtain more. Hidden Secret, I think. Yum.

Overture is a favourite hang-out because it's always a really good experience, and any food they serve can be ranked on the scale of very good, really damned good, amazingly good and wow my tastebuds just exploded in a good way. And damn the expense. It's worth it. Also, I have discovered that my superhero ability appears to be "reliably order the best thing on the menu", putting me mostly at the head of the field in our informal fork-sharing comparisons. That vanilla souffle, mmmmm. Also, while it sounds unlikely, the gnocci with roasted mushrooms and smoked aubergine pâté. I don't know what they did to the mushrooms - portabellini which I think were slow-roasted so they were slightly dried and a concentrated mushroom taste explosion of note. Must try at home.

Today's lunchtime jaunt was additionally pleasant because it was a weekday, stv and I both took a day off work just because, and I at least was sitting in the winelands imbibing quality food and booze instead of wrestling through the thickets of HR-speak which have characterised large tracts of my week. (My Cherished Institution's HR department has the bit severely between its teeth in the performance-review area and is burying everyone in labyrinths of over-documented, overly positivist HR jargon of the worst description. SMART measures. Aspirational career goals. Objective-centred self-evaluation. My boss called my role "student-facing" in cold blood yesterday. While carefully stashing the term towards my ongoing efforts in linguistically role-playing, with some verve, the kind of person who actually takes this shit seriously, I nearly bit her.)

It's probably a good thing, all things considered, that I solved one minor mystery just before jo&stv came to collect us for the Overture jaunt. I lost Pandora this morning. She's settled in very happily and seems to be an entirely self-confident and autocratic bundle of affection nicely balanced with demand (preferred affection mode: headbutt me violently in chin, or preferably in mug of tea), but for about half an hour this morning she redefined herself as an intermittent and disembodied meeping. I could not find her. I thought she might have been stuck on the roof or something, because I opened every cupboard I could think of to check if I'd shut her inside, and nope.

Eventually, careful triangulation led to the kitchen, where she'd managed to get herself shut in the spice cupboard, which I hadn't checked because there's simply no space for her. It has three shelves which pull out with the door, and they're stacked with jars and boxes and what have you, and completely fill the cupboard when the door's closed; she must have climbed into the space behind the shelves when I opened the cupboard to refill the salt, and I have no idea how she folded herself up small enough to fit when I madly closed it again without noticing her. Possibly the usual feline pocket dimension. The one which allows them to walk through walls. Except, apparently, cupboard walls. I'm a bit tetchy on the cat subject because poor Hobbit was badly beaten up last night by the beastly neighbourhood tom, and is all subdued and sporting a notch on his ear, having left a swathe of orange fur on the pavement outside the front door. If I'd accidentally bent, bont and splugged Pandora by leaving her stuck in the cupboard for four hours while we made merry, I would have felt considerably worse than terrible, and inclined to doubt my cat-parenting skills on all fronts.

Anyway. You were warned about the flow of consciousness. My subject line is of course Omar Khayyam, not for the first time. Overture was lovely, Hobbit is much less subdued, and Pandora seems to have entirely forgiven me. I have just downloaded the new Inquisition DLC and propose to spend most of the weekend hacking my way joyously through the Deep Roads. (With a pacifist Inquisitor, which will be interesting, apparently it's fairly intense fighting). Today was OK. I'll take it.

medium armour rating

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 12:24 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I had supper with jo&stv the other night, and Jo had recently acquired a cuddly and slightly Cubist blue velvet elephant approximately the size of an actual toddler, i.e. large enough for its trunk to curl lovingly around your neck when you hug it. Apparently I give off a "needs hugs" vibe, because after I'd spent the entirety of watching Interstellar ferociously embracing said elephant, she insisted on donating it to me wholesale. Now I have a blue velvet elephant. My lovely cleaning lady Margaret, who also works for the aforementioned jo&stv, appears to be somewhat taken with said blue velvet elephant, to the point where she invariably and meticulously centres it on my bed after she's made it, regardless of the fact that I habitually cluster it with my plush Cthulhu and fluffy snowy owl on the chest in the corner. (I'm really not a stuffed toy person. Those I retain have particular and specific meaning and have been given to me by particular and specific people, and their function is more memorial than adorable. They thus don't generally merit bed-space, even supposing I actually were an actual teenage girl.)

Jo and I theorise that Margaret is familiar with said blue velvet elephant from its initial days in their house, and is merely externalising her sense of its multi-household significance.



I have christened him Dorian, via an entirely logical if somewhat opaque process which will only make sense to anyone who plays Inquisition and shares my aesthetic, crafting and party composition proclivities to a reasonable extent. He really is the exact colour and texture of ring velvet. Presumably his Tier 2 additions to attack, willpower and electrical resistance will be of use when I need to apply hugs to my insomnia in the small hours of the morning.

I should add, for posterity, that the current Eskom incompetences manifested as load shedding, are particularly maddening to one whose current leisure hours are whiled away by computer gaming. Even though they're predictable under the fairly well-run load shedding schedules, the blackouts are putting a serious crimp in my gaming, and causing me to retreat into reading somewhat grumpishly. On the upside, I've read a lot recently. Reviews to follow.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
My mother is visiting from the UK, which is lovely, and Cape Town is even behaving weather-wise and giving her some sun. (She does not enjoy the British climate). However, the myriad grotty little buggers who comprise her charges at the school where she works apparently gifted her with a merry end-of-term chest infection, so she's been coughing a lot and losing her voice. She's coming out of it. Now I've got it. It hurts to breathe, and my voice is becoming progressively more throaty and baritone. Blargh.

I'm consequently even more spacey than usual, which means that I distinguished myself last night by (a) attempting to head off to a Secret Soirée gig at jo&stv's at 6.15 under the firm delusion that the actual time was 7.15 (fortunately mother restrained me), and (b) completely omitting to bring the ticket with me. Fortunately the nice girl on the door knew me (she's a Humanities student, apparently. Many years of curriculum advice do have their perks.) and let me in anyway. Secret Soirée is fun, you contract a favourite local band to come and play in your living room, encourage all your friends to buy tickets, and the organisers throw it open after a certain point for random strangers to sign up. This meant that the gathering was a lovely mix of strangers and friends, with the obligatory sprinkling of People I Taught Once, People To Whom I Have Given Curriculum Advice, People Who Were Friends Of My Housemate Lo These Many Moons Ago, and People Who Look Suspiciously Familiar Because I Have Probably Seen Them At This Band's Previous Gigs. Cape Town is a very small, very incestuous community, really. Anyway, Mean Black Mamba. Blues/rock, with an entirely phenomenal drummer. Lovely gig, I'm sorry I had to leave early on account of Lurgi. And I hope the dog has recovered, she is not apparently a blues fan and felt the need to give some of the songs an aggressive barking. Everyone's a critic.

I should also record for posterity the slightly surreal start to the week, which was the house alarm technical guy phoning me to cancel our appointment (I need to replace an alarm sensor with one which does not fire every time Hobbit yawns) on the grounds that he'd been bitten by a spider. This is somewhat close to the bone as I'm still playing Inquisition and its giant spiders have a characteristic scurrying motion which gives me the screaming abdabs, but the poor guy sounded completely weirded out by the occurrence. Spider bites hurt like hell and can be utterly debilitating, but presumably he feels that it's not entirely consonant with his manly dignity to be incapacitated thereby. Alas.

I should now resume my scheduled croaking-at-students, the angst levels seem unusually high this morning. On the upside, someone yesterday emailed me after a consultation to say they were "inspired by my professionalism", so there's that.

(Subject line from Belle & Sebastian, "Funny Little Frog", which occurred to me because of the frog in my throat).
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
This house smells of cake. Lots of cake. Really rather a lot of different cake, because I am (finally!) having a housewarming tomorrow, and the exigencies of space being what they are, have advertised myself as being At Home to visitors from 2 to 7pm, drop by when convenient, tea and cake if afternoon, booze if evening. This morning was very full of cake. I think I entered a sort of cake-baking fugue state, actually. I got into a rhythm. I looked up after a blurred and indeterminate amount of time and there was cake on every surface in the kitchen. There is blackcurrant jam in my hair, butter adorning my front, and a rather delectable Guinness/chocolate batter mix down what for want of a better word we'll call my cleavage. I am more than somewhat vanilla-scented and feeling astonishingly happy.

The laser-focus baking spree was partially motivated by fear, because in addition to the usual concerns (will anyone come? will there be enough food? enough glasses? enough things for them to sit on? will they all fit?) we currently face the merry South African challenge of whether or not Eskom, in its infinite inefficiency, will suddenly hit us with load shedding. They say not, but I don't trust them an inch. It would be just my luck to have something delicate in the oven when the lights die. The inscrutable gods of power are mostly quite good at pulling the plug punctually within their stipulated times, but only mostly.

You can also deduce from context that I'm on leave, calloo callay, and contemplate with joy three and a half weeks in which students can't get at me in person. Tomorrow is also one of those mad random South African public holidays, which is why I can plonk a housewarming onto it. Fittingly, my car system launched into Franz Ferdinand (inevitably, having gone from Eurythmics to Fleet Foxes) on my way home from work on Friday, my last day for the year. "It's always better on holiday!", it warbled. Hence my subject line. I hear you, Cosmic Wossnames.

Randomly, my At Home card for tomorrow. Because I had fun making it, and there's an offchance I left someone vital off the To: list, because it's the end of the year and I'm exhausted, so what little brain I have at the best of times has trickled sadly out of my ears. If you didn't receive this and are a Cape Town realspace friend who wishes to assist in celebrating my state of domicile, please email me!



Art evilly nicked from Brian Kesinger, whose Otto and Victoria are a whimsical steampunky delight. I hope he doesn't mind.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Some early impressions of Dragon Age: Inquisition, which I have played for about six hours today, with a break in the middle to go and upgrade my computer. (New graphics card, more RAM, now it doesn't give everyone plastic hair and the graphics have stopped with the momentary freezing. The fact that I am in a stage of life where I can randomly and wantonly go and spend a couple of thousand rand on an essentially inessential upgrade just because I feel like it, still fills me with wonder.)

  1. Inquisition pretty. And far more open-world, hooray.
  2. Story interesting, world-building ditto. Thedas politics is always pleasingly chewy.
  3. Combat seriously unpleasant. They've done away with auto-attack and click to move, which means you have to button-mash horribly. In my case, particularly horribly, because I suck at it.
  4. ALL CODICES AND JOURNAL ENTRIES ARE IN ALL CAPS IT'S DRIVING ME COMPLETELY ROUND THE TWIST!
  5. I have played for six hours and just finished the intro section. I'm not sure what this bodes, but it definitely bodes.

In a completely characteristic attack of the Cosmic Wossnames, my weekend is filled with social commitments. Notwithstanding this minor impediment, I should imagine that further dispatches from the inquisitorial front will almost certainly follow.

(My car music has moved on to the Eurythmics, which is appropriate given my fondness for her kick-butt contralto and my inevitable gaming tendency to play kick-butt women. Hence subject line.)
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
This is mostly for [livejournal.com profile] wolverine_nun and [livejournal.com profile] noirzette, although any of you witterers with a musical background I wot not of are free to enjoy it as well :>. Musical notation as described by cats. This has just made me giggle for five minutes straight.

In additional to felinious musical notation, the dreary grey cactus desert that is work is currently being enlivened by (a) teaching third-years internet eroticism, with added Powerpoint, Secret Diaries and clips from Avenue Q, (b) the memory of an excellent girls' night at Fork last night with the Jo and the aforementioned [livejournal.com profile] noirzette (tapas and that Black Pearl cabernet/shiraz blend), (c) the joyous contemplation of the metric buttload of public holidays infesting the next few weeks (if I play my cards right I can have a four-day weekend followed by a four-day week followed by a three-day weekend followed by a two-day week followed by a five-day weekend, score!) and (d) the next in the Chocolate Digestive Biscuit saga, which this week is the miniature Woolworths ones. These are generally a pleasing thing, although slightly chewier and less melty in the biscuit region than the larger versions, and surprisingly difficult to eat neatly. Even if you consume the whole thing in one bite you still end up with chocolatey fingers. I'm going to have to extend the experiment to find the optimal eating position. Darn.

Further to the Fork experience (Fork is great! lovely food and only very slightly hipster, as befits a Long Street joint), I note with some alarm that my driving skills have a serious deficiency. I'm significantly bad at driving a social expedition into town, which in hindsight is perfectly logical, since it's not something I've ever done. I've driven small/old cars for long enough that I'm never actually designated driver for social groups, someone else with a larger car always drives. I'm thus really bad at (a) navigating into town from friends' houses, and (b) concentrating on the road while chatting. Given that the Great DVT Debacle and associated Warfarin seems to have permanently shrunken my booze capacity, I end up drinking a lot less than most of my compatriots, which means it's only logical for me to be designated driver a lot of the time, which means I'll get lots of practice in. Score!

The subject line, as is only inevitable, is from the musical Cats, specifically the Jellicle variety. Jellicle cats sing jellicle chants.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
We've fallen into the habit of having a larney sit-down umpteen-course formal meal for New Year's Eve, on the grounds that it gives us something to do until midnight and keeps us all awake rather effectively. Also, we cunningly construct our immediate social circle with a high preponderance of really good cooks, which adds a pleasing level of quality to the proceedings. This year was eleven of us, which is probably the outside edge of numbers for this sort of thing, and, following the traditional French 75s, featured five courses: tapas, a mushroom salad, seared Aisany salmon with noodles, beef with cauliflower, and chocolate mousse. (I made the dessert, which as an experiment featured layers of white and dark chocolate mousse, a considerable departure given my personal belief that white "chocolate" is actually a sort of sad and misplaced cheese. I feel I have grown as a person in recognising, if not actually embracing alternative creeds).

I had originally offered baked Camembert for the second course, but it seemed too heavy for (a) the amount of food we had, and (b) the weather, which has really been ridiculously hot of late. So instead I constructed a mushroom salad thingy based entirely around my new-found addiction to truffle oil, and a vague inspiration which hit during a 4am heat-stressed insomnia bout, during which I lay awake randomly thinking "truffle oil... dark leaf salad... roasted mushrooms... chevin". This was refined on the fly into a fairly cobbled-together rehash of inspiration ingredients, fragments of recipes ganked off the internet, and the last-minute inspired addition of whatever I happened to have in the cupboards and garden. There is absolutely no way in hell I am a scientific cook. I shall proceed to blog the recipe because in defiance of probability it worked really well and I'd like to remember how to do it again.

INSOMNIA MUSHROOM SALAD STARTER

You need:
  • a couple of packs of dark salad leaves - I used rocket and wild rocket, but you could also use something like baby spinach. It needs a good strong flavour to support the truffle oil. We had normal iceberg lettuce with truffle oil dressing at a restaurant recently, and it was a complete travesty.
  • a handful of spring onions
  • about half a packet of pine nuts, more if you have as much of an addiction to them as I do
  • garlic/herb chevin, as in the soft goat's cheese, enough for a medallion per person
  • a couple of packs of fancy mushrooms, I used mostly shimeji with a few shitaki, but you could equally do this with black mushrooms or portobellini or even oysters. I wouldn't use white button mushrooms, you need something with a strong flavour that takes well to roasting.
  • four heads of garlic
  • half a cup of good quality mayonnaise and a dash of cream, no more than half a cup.
  • lime juice
  • a slice of ciabatta per person
  • olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, chopped garlic


  1. The dressing: roast the heads of garlic. This entails cutting across the whole head towards the top, so the end of each clove is exposed; drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper; place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast at 160o for about 45 minutes, or until the cloves are soft. Squeeze out the softened garlic from the clove cases and mash it with a fork; add to mayonnaise, with a dash of lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Thin with cream until it's a drizzlable consistency allowing you to do exciting nouvelle trails across the salad.
  2. The mushrooms: wash and trim mushrooms, put in roasting tray. Toss with olive oil and chopped garlic, season with salt and pepper. Roast at about 200ofor about 15 minutes, or until cooked and starting to brown. You don't want them too pale; you need the solid dose of caramelised flavour.
  3. The ciabatta: one thick slice of ciabatta per person; brush both sides with oil and a bit of garlic, sprinkle with salt, and grill to make toast.
  4. The salad: wash leaves, remove rocket stalks (I prefer the leaves without the stalks on grounds of texture and ease of eating). You'll need a handful of leaves per person. Use the equivalent of one small spring onion per person, and cut lengthways into thin strips, including some of the green end. Toast the pine nuts in butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly (they burn at the drop of a hat). Make sure you do more pine nuts than you actually need, it's completely impossible to avoid snacking on them as you assemble the salad. Mix greens and spring onion strips in a large bowl; drizzle fairly generously with truffle oil (if you toss this in your hands you end up covered in truffle oil which you are then obliged to lick off, possibly with pornographic sound effects), and season to taste.
  5. Plate the buggers! You need a small plate per person. Assemble salad on one half of the plate: a handful of greens, sprinkle of pine nuts, medallion of chevin on top. Place toasted ciabatta on other half of plate, pile with generous spoonful of roasted mushrooms. Artistically drizzle the garlic mayonnaise in long trails across both the salad and the mushrooms. (I didn't quite manage that, I ran out of cream and the mayonnaise was too glodgy to trail properly).
  6. Ideally you want the mushrooms and ciabatta hot, but it's a bit of a bugger to co-ordinate; it probably works best if you make the dressing ahead of time, cook the mushrooms first, assemble the salad while they're cooking, and leave the mushroom tray in the oven for the few extra minutes while you grill the ciabatta.

I wish I'd thought to photograph the course, it actually looked rather good and seems to have gone down rather well. It was a damned fine meal and a very civilised and appropriately sybaritic way to start the new year. Also, truffle oil. Totally made it to my annual list of Things I Discovered This Year. It's a tiny, expensive, mycorrhizal god.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Things you do not expect to see on a respectable campus while trotting off to the library for your important pile of Girly Swot books (subset: crash course in African cinema): live horses. Six of them. Tethered in the shade against the columns of the old Student's Union, peaceably chomping. There's something fairly major filming on campus at the moment, the place has been a madhouse: the stairs have sprouted fake extra columns and exotic greenery and weird screens positioned with arcane precision. I parked my car next to and partially under a giant cherry-picker boom sort of thing this morning, and there are approximately three million acres of random, presumably desperately important cabling snaking down the avenue, tended by skinny grip types in Bauhaus t-shirts. Actual African film, in fact. Curiously appropriate.

It's too bloody hot for serious thought (what's with February heatwaves before Christmas? Not Cricket), so have a random linkery round-up, I need to clear these tabs.
  • If you go to the UK Vogue page and type the Konami code, extremely entertaining things happen when you keep on hitting A. Random internet easter eggs ftw.
  • For some demented reason this ridiculous Boba Fett love story really amuses me, possibly because of the way the sarlacc is drawn. The rancor BFF one is also cute.
  • Sherlock fandom is in a tizzy because of the Caitlin Moran faux pas (I never liked the wretched woman, her book is actively irritating) - she had the inexpressibly tone-deaf bad taste to pressure/trick the lead actors into reading erotic fanfic aloud at a screening. Daily Dot has a good summary. It really isn't safe these days to try and taunt subcultures you perceive as geeky and pitiable, they end up having way more power and self-awareness than you expect. I cannot help but be amused, though, at the cosmic inevitability of Moran attempting to sabotage Sherlock and failing dismally. It is, after all, simply an enactment of the Doyle plot. (Sebastian Moran is Moriarty's sniper sidekick in canon, if your Sherlock geekery is a bit rusty).
  • Random fanfic recc! I am currently actually re-reading The Least of All Possible Mistakes, which is a rather well-written and often laugh-out-loud funny Sherlock fic featuring a Sherlock given to entertaining tantrums and a Mycroft/gender-swapped-Lestrade relationship which is both amusing and real. The fandom fascination with Mycroft fascinates me. I blame Mark Gatiss entirely.

I finally sent out the Boxing Day braai email last night, after more than average levels of procrastination and forgettory. If you weren't on the list but usually are it's probably because of my cheese-brain, please drop me a reproachful line.

The subject line is the Konami Code, which as a concept and a catch-phrase as well as a random bit of esoterica has always amused the hell out of me.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
It being Stv's birthday and all, we went out to Overture for supper last night. I feel that it is important and indicative that, if the Salty Cracker crowd could be said to have a favourite default restaurant at which to hang out and celebrate anything at all, it's bloody upmarket and one of the top ten in the country. The waitstaff know us. Stv got free champagne. At in excess of R600 a head for a four-course meal with a wine pairing, that's an expensive neighbourhood joint. (And a bit distant, too, being half an hour's drive away in Stellenbosch). It was a lovely evening, although slightly negative notes were introduced by the following:
  1. It's faculty exam committee season, which means I'd spent the entire day checking and annotating the 635 student records on a 364-page board schedule which is a fraction under 2.5cm thick. This puts me in a strangely zen state composed of equal parts of numerical trance, Machiavellian structural insight, advisor empathy and seething resentment, and incidentally renders me completely exhausted and glandular to the max. I was only really capable of conversation by the end of the first course and my second glass of wine. Overture was a kindly panacea to the day's ills, but conversely I wasn't really in the best state to enjoy it properly.
  2. We may be overdoing the neighbourhood joint five-star expensive restaurant thing to the point of over-exposure. The food was, as always, excellent, but I didn't think it hit its usual plane of dizzy high. Lovely tomato risotto (they always do great risotto), but slightly arb green bean salad with unidentifiable duck, and bland square chunks of mostly tender pork. Fellow diners' mileage may vary, you are perfectly free to blame my exhausted state rather than any diminution in quality, but I wasn't blown away. Beautiful evening on the terrace, though, exquisite dusk clouds, and as always the best sort of company.
  3. It is possibly fortunate that my tiredness was sufficient for me not to rise to the provocation offered by a fellow guest, who during the course of conversation incautiously offered a statement to the effect that she thinks Stephenie Meyer writes well. Them's fighting words, where I come from. It is my professional opinion that Twilight's stylistic and narrative infelicities are only marginally better than its gender politics in general loathsomeness. In default of the spirited debate and righteous suppression I would normally offer to such provocation, I present, as threatened, the blog which picks Meyer's grammar apart, with maximum snark. Fortuitously, today also gave rise randomly to this Slate article, which does statistical/linguistic analysis comparing three hugely popular texts - Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. It's a fascinating comparison, and in particular the tables which look at adjectives are extremely telling. Viz:





    The thing which immediately strikes me: Collins's characteristic adjectives and adverbs are generally more sophisticated, but they also relate to complex states and actions and very frequently to abstractions. Rowling's are very action-oriented, but you can see her younger audience intentions in their comparative simplicity, with a focus on straightforward emotional states which tend to reflect action. Meyer's are definitely less sophisticated than those used by Collins, but they're also almost entirely emotional, and when they're physical it's physicality which largely reflects or responds to emotion. This echoes the frustration I feel when reading Twilight (and, for the record, I've read the entire series twice and supervised a couple of graduate theses on the books, if I diss them it's from full knowledge and exposure), because really, when you get down to it, nothing much happens in them. You drift passively around in Bella's head while she angsts and reacts and feeeeeeeeeeels. The language is not accomplished at the structural level, frequently obvious and clumsy and weirdly unfocused (my undergrads can do better), but it's the pacing, characterisation and plot which are really problematical, and which are heartily outdone by almost any piece of fan fiction I have read recently. I stick by my assertion. Even without getting me started on the gender politics, Meyer does not write well.

Rantage and random analysis brought to you courtesy of my really rather strong feelings about this, did you notice? And by the sure and horrible knowledge that in about twenty minutes I go to meet my four-hour meeting doom. Doooooom! At least the energy from all that ranting has my blood buzzing enough to mostly compensate for my state of over-fed, mildly hung-over sleep deprivation. Now with extra glands. Sigh.

Subject line is still Arcade Fire, "Wasted Hours", from The Suburbs. It's a ridiculously catchy, lilting, gentle tune which was playing in the car this morning and which has thoroughly colonised my head. It's curiously soothing, particularly after losing a day to board schedule checking. One feels they understand.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
There's a particular kind of terminally vague student interacting with whom inserts unnecessary homicidal impulses into my working life. Girl child, wanders through door, encounters my standard bedside-manner query "What seems to be the problem, then?". (Usually followed by "Let's have a look", as I peruse their transcript. I'm totally an abstract sort of doctor). Says she wants to do {X broad admin process}, looks at me expectantly with deer-in-headlights gaze. I carefully explain she needs to do Y and Z procedures. Oh, she says, when I did that there was a problem with P. Gritting my teeth, I suggest she speaks to person Q who habitually sorts out P quite usefully. Oh, she says, she already spoke to person Q who couldn't help because U and V. Restraining my Administrative Laser Glare of Stupidity Vaporising only by an extreme effort, I say tersely, "Right, so actually the problem you want me to help with is U and V, why didn't you say so up front and save us both ten minutes of wasted explanation?" To which she has no response. So I vaporise her. Because really. First thing on a Monday morning and me insufficiently fortified with Earl Grey. What did she expect?

We braaied last night, it being now officially Summer and open to such shenanigans. I made an extra-specially lovely and entirely new salad using fresh broad beans, which I've never actually cooked before. A few months back the Evil Landlord had a burst of Germanic creativity and energy, and made me new veggie boxes for the back courtyard, in place of the old ones, which finally disintegrated after producing about five years' worth of unlikely quantities of baby tomatoes and what have you. It being the depths of winter when the new boxes were ready, I planted beans in a vaguely enquiring sort of way, just to see what happened. They didn't do much for a few months, and then the weather warmed up a bit and suddenly!, jungle. Viz:

DSCN2673

Broad beans are the most pleasingly Cthulhoid of creatures, they grow out huge and knobbly and vaguely tentacular, and when you open the pod all the little beans are nested beautifully in a sort of luxurious foam bed. Also, they are prolific like whoa and dammit, possibly at least partly as a result of the sunny hotbox of that back courtyard. This is the haul from yesterday, with a pepper grinder for scale. There's another batch of babies on the vine, maybe half as many, but still lots.

DSCN2681

Surprisingly Wonderful Broad Bean Salad

So, you need a bunch of fresh broad beans, the above wasn't quite enough for five people. Once you've excavated the beans callously from their beds, fling 'em into boiling salted water for two minutes, or until the skins just start to split. Skin them. The skins come off really easily, leaving a soft, green, nutty bean behind. Restrain yourself and guests from eating too many just as is. I had no idea fresh broad beans were so good.

Grab a handful of mint and chop finely. Fry up four or five rashers of streaky bacon until crispy, and chop finely. Mix mint and bacon in with beans, carefully, the beans break easily. Grab a double handful of cos or butter lettuce and tear into small chunks. Toss with bean mix.

Construct dressing using Dijon mustard, brown sugar, olive oil and white wine vinegar in your favourite proportions, seasoned with salt and pepper. Toss with salad.

Inhale. The recipe (which I actually pretty much followed, for once) says to serve with pita bread, which is probably worth a try sometime for a light meal in itself.

I am definitely planting broad beans as soon as seasonal wossnames permit. A+, would grow, harvest and enthusiastically consume again.

Subject line from "Poor Boy", also on the Byrne/Eno compilation album. I spent a happy half hour playing some of the songs randomly on the piano yesterday, which solidified my sense that they have surprisingly few actual chords in them given how textured and interesting the sound is. Then I read the blurb on the website again, and remembered, oh yes, the root of the album is explicitly in gospel, which explains a great deal. Vocals dominate, chords are simple, lyrics feature a sort of earthy, emotional reality in vivid images. Still my favourite album of the moment.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Things Which Feel Odd:

  1. Climbing back into your driver's seat after picking the car up from the car wash. Someone else has driven it. The seat and the rear-view mirror are in the wrong place, and it inevitably takes me about three traffic lights to adjust them so they feel right. But the whole car has a strange air of the indefinably alien. Something's different, but you can't tell what it is. It isn't your space any more. (Although it's certainly cleaner).
  2. Spending a happy half hour noodling around on the piano (currently I'm trying to play Arcade Fire, a project doomed to failure owing to their texture fetish, which means you actually need six hands, twelve people and a violin to have any stab at reproducing the sound) and then trying to type. I both type and play with some facility, fast, and without looking at my hands, and apparently cross-wiring happens. My fingers keep trying to do arpeggios instead of QWERTY. I have to consciously rein them in for a bit before all the right circuits click in. Very odd feeling.
  3. Christmas in July. Particularly when we're even more disorganised than usual, and it was actually Christmas in July in August in September in October. That is, last night. Roast chicken and ham and all the trimmings and Jo did barszcz and uszka for starters (garlicky Polish beet soup with mushroom dumplings, for both of which I have an unholy passion) and I made chocolate berry trifle (because Christmas pudding is of the divvil), and we ate and drank too much and pulled crackers and exchanged ridiculous presents in large quantities, and listened to Annie Lennox sing English Christmas carols. It feels odd and wrong, though, because it's all the good bits of Christmas, and none of its socially-mandated unpleasant ones. No enormous awkward obligatory extended family jamborees with added fighting and guilt trips, or expensive present expectations which entail battling the consumerist hordes through acres of tinsel and product-pushing. Although I did go forth and buy myself an actual Blu-Ray home theatre system this morning, to replace our almost-defunct hi-fi, which was a conscious decision to spend my November bonus early and thus was almost Christmas-shoppy. Except for me, not other people. Feels odd.

Subject line from Arcade Fire's "Wasted Hours", which is for the most part not actually thematically appropriate at all but was on my mind and is a gentle, wistful, beautiful thing. Also, I think googling how to spell "barszcz" has infected me, I keep trying to blockquote this paragraph by typing "blokqvote".
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I've been on a bit of a quest over the last year or so to update the artwork in my living space, which has hitherto tended towards slightly amateur block-mounting of random posters, some of which date back to undergrad and damned well look their age. This is something of a solitary quest: the EL's indifference to home furnishings of a decorative nature verges on the sublime, and his input stops abruptly at the heraldic shield over the mantlepiece. My own taste is very much towards pop art, often with a fan twist, and I have made merry hay with various internet art sites and the local framer, with results which would probably cause exquisite pain in anyone with actual artistic chops such as I do not in any way possess. However, I am deeply happy with my Ursula Vernon and Martin Leman cats, giant greeny-blue stylised owl, Firefly silhouette collection and those dreamy, alienated superheroes in the atmosphere above Earth. This particular picture is in my bedroom, generously sized and properly framed (the slightly small image is all I could include, because of the artist's completely legitimate protection of her work on her website). Noelle Stevens also produces Nimona, which is possibly my currently favourite web comic; I adore the slightly spiky, faux-naive precision of her images.

I love her art, but I also loved the theme here: happy introversion, with that fascinating colour inversion which puts all the madly partying people in sombre blues and purples, and the girl/cat/tea/book ideal in warm orange and peach. It encapsulates everything that is currently true about my ability to interact with people, particularly at the moment with the merry gang of depression/fatigue/glandular fever/sinusitis having its wicked way with my hapless form. (Not nearly as savagely as a few weeks ago, but there are lingering traces).

See, the weird thing is that I am predisposed to quite like people. My job requires that I engage empathetically with a continual string of distressed students, and after six years of this I still like students and wish to improve their lives to the best of my ability. I'm good at empathy. My therapist, poor lady, spends half of her life hacking through the thickets of what I think other people are feeling in order to get at my own heavily-protected feelings, and we still have that argument about the extent to which it is ok to prioritise other people's needs over your own. (For the record: more often than she thinks it is). I love my friends, and stand firmly by my assertion that I have the loveliest friends in the known universe - and in that I include the bunch of you who hang out here and who I have never actually met in person, or who I see only every few years when we coincide continents. I love dinners with friends, mutual tea-drinking sessions, role-playing games, movie evenings. I have been known to cautiously enjoy parties. But, ye gods, it has to be at carefully spaced intervals, and on my own terms.

Part of the problem is, I think, crowds. Students are probably okay because they come through my door mostly singly or in pairs; they don't overwhelm me with input. I don't deal well with having to force my way through herds of gazelles in those mad fifteen minutes between lectures, and generally try to time any movements out of my office not to collide with them. But even if I have to navigate campus crowds, I know it's temporary - I can psych myself up for it, and pace my endurance knowing that it's finite. That's the other half of it - having, in the immortal idiom of the internet, sufficient spoons. Dealing With People is a finite allocation of energy. At the end of the day it tends to be gone, which is why I don't socialise much during the week. I can do parties, particularly if they're full of people I know, and alcohol helps, but I need to get a good run-up at mental preparation, and I've left a hell of a lot of parties very early over the last couple of years.

So, this giant chunk of introspection brought to you courtesy of the fact that I told my book club last night that I'd be taking a sabbatical from it for a while, because I can't do it any more. Part of the problem is that I'm not reading book club books, which sit in my bookshelf reproachfully and weigh on my conscience, but it's also about energy and groups. It's only six or seven people, but there tends to be lots of wine and chat, multiple streams of discussion and catch-up and laughter, and while I enjoy it in many ways, it also exhausts me. They're lovely ladies, but over the last few months I've missed several sessions, and have increasingly had to exert supreme mental discipline to persuade myself to attend the few I did make. I don't use socialising to recharge; it drains energy rather than bolstering it. It also, regardless of how much I like the people, makes me anxious, often only subliminally, but when I get home after any social evening I always require at least an hour of something solitary and soothing - computer games or reading fanfic the current favourites - before I can actually unwind enough to sleep. This does not work well with either insomnia or fatigue.

So, yes. I love that picture. It shows the happy introvert. Better still, it shows the happy introvert quietly recharging, so that when energy levels permit, I can leap out into the world and engage with all the people I really like. Because introversion is not misanthropy, and there's only so much you can get from cats.

Subject line from early Eurythmics, specifically "Savage", which is what was randomly playing off my MP3 player in the car this morning, but which is one of my favourites of theirs despite its possible slight dodginess. You can play with me there sometimes, if you catch me in the mood.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Last night I dreamed that I was faced with the difficult choice between re-training as a doctor and re-training as a sailor. I went the doctor route (alongside Jo, sorry, Jo, it's probably about your family), and after a few slightly frantic scenes of digs cooking with fellow med students, woke up feeling vaguely terrified about having to learn chemistry again, and wistfully sad that I couldn't have both sets of skills. Something about knots and ropes and setting sails with technical verve. General hatred of my work life notwithstanding, it's not actually as bizarre as it sounds to say that wistful doctor dreams are almost certainly the result of reading really quite an unlikely amount of Sherlock fanfic over the last month or so. The strangely fetishised things that fic writers do to John Watson as a deceptively cuddly BAMF! are ... strangely fetishised, actually.

I also blame the fact that I randomly woke up at 3.30am on Monday morning and couldn't get to sleep again, as a result of which I wandered through most of yesterday on four hours of sleep in an exhausted daze which didn't, for some reason, prevent me from giving a really rather good double period tut on Dracula, to which even my cabbage class responded fairly well. Then again, I probably didn't need to demonstrate the fact that I can babble entertainingly about vampires and gender roles and Victorian anxieties literally in my sleep. (In this case with added postcolonialism at no extra charge, on account of dodgy Eastern European reverse invasion of London by degenerate lowlifes). However, it didn't help to be woken up promptly at 3am this morning again by Golux being heartily sick on my bedside rug. I did manage to get back to sleep this time, but the free pass she's currently getting on horrible behaviour on account of her nose cancer is wearing a little thin. Especially since the nose cancer has retreated, for its own inscrutable reasons, to a small black spot rather than a giant black sore, which is either sinister or encouraging, I'm not sure which.

We have set a date for the vetination of Macavity early next week, following a slightly drunkenly uproarious session of dinner and cat-fondling at our place on Sunday night. Currently the major challenge is going to be preventing Carlo from exiting stage left with a two-for-one ginger ex-tom deal, he seems rather taken with Hobbit. Put down the floofy ginger kitty and back away slowly, say I. He's a slut anyway, and doesn't mean it.

Subject line a quote from "Life on the Ocean Wave", which is one of those saccharine little Victorian ditties I blush to say I know entirely through the bastardised versions occasionally perpetrated by the Goon Show. On the other hand, a hasty lyric search suggests that them saccharine Victorians can seriously turn a stirring phrase.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
We had a Salty Cracker expedition on Tuesday night, to Kloof Street House, which was lovely (Jo will presumably review it sometime, although given that I only just put up my review from the previous Cracker, when we went to The Greenhouse almost a month ago, this is not to be construed as any sort of dig or pressure. Greenhouse was amazing, incidentally).

Kloof Street House was fun, warm and quirky and atmospheric, with excellent food in substantial quantities. (They do splendid things to hand-cut fries). What made the evening for me, though, was the waitress. She was one of those slightly off-beat arty-student people in a marginally hipster hat, with a sparkly attitude which absolutely chimed with the Salty Cracker vibe. She also looked faintly familiar, and I spent most of the meal vaguely thinking I must have taught her at some stage. Which was, in the event, not quite accurate. After the main course she arrived with a tray of fruity shooters of some sort we absolutely hadn't ordered, and which weren't actually a restaurant-standard palate cleanser: she'd begged them off the barman for us, on the stated grounds that the curriculum advice I gave her last year absolutely saved her life and she wanted to say thank you.

I'm still going "awwwww". Meeting one's students in random social settings can be a bit fraught (it was worse in my Goth nightclub days), but not if they're going to be all heartwarming about it. I must be doing something right. It's moments like these that I don't actually hate my job.

Today's fanfic rec is in the spirit of bouncy liberal arts students: Avengers again, but this time featuring Darcy/Steve. I really enjoy the things that the Avengers fandom does with Darcy, who's Jane Foster's pol-sci-student sidekick from Thor: she's presented as strong-minded, pop-culture-savvy and slightly iconoclastic, and a lot of fandom versions of her make her fairly kick-butt. She's not actually super-powered, which I think makes her a good point of fan identification, although quite a few fics put her, as does this one, as a recruit to SHIELD. Teand's Five Things Darcy Loves About Working For Shield. An amusing read.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Here is another entry in the Department Of The Approximately One Million Things That Make Me Cry. "Space Oddity" is a fairly emotional piece of music anyway, considered quite apart from its position in my pervy-David-Bowie-fancying lexicon: it's a particularly vivid and evocative rendition of isolation and loss layered on top of stirring human endeavour. Space is simply emotional, and humans in space hit a deeply-embedded science fictional nerve in my psyche. (Which suggests why it's taking me so long to get around to watching Moon, and also why I really ought to). I've also been following Chris Hadfield on Twitter and Tumblr, as he patiently and systematically humanises the space station project - not so much putting a human face on it, as skilfully using the immediacy and speed of social media to insert us into the experience. It's been wonderful, both exciting and moving - he's an amazing man. He also posts the odd photo of Cape Town from orbit, which makes me ridiculously happy.

He's coming back down to Earth now, and as a farewell has released a version of "Space Oddity" sung, rather well, by himself, in the space station. This is a perfect thing. It's been bouncing around my Tumblr and Twitter feeds all morning, accompanied by righteous squee. It also hits so many of my buttons simultaneously that I've just sat at my desk for ten minutes and cried like a baby.



I've had a rather madly social weekend - book club on Friday, Neil's birthday on Saturday, and a Sunday night dinner I cooked last night with Jo&Stv and Sven&Tanya featuring wine, hilarity and roast chicken with all the trimmings, not to mention a new recipe for chocolate mousse which ... seems to work. All three of these gatherings were not particularly notable in that they featured me, at some stage, babbling enthusiastically about fan fiction, as a result of which Jo was moved to suggest that I actually post some links to these stories for the general enlightenment or bewilderment of my readers. Which is a damned good idea.

As an opening shot, and in keeping with the Space Feels, have a series of really rather interesting AU fics re-imagining the Avengers in a space opera setting. I'm impressed at the creativity of this writer: the way they've managed to take the characters and relationships of the Marvel films and explore them via a rather different idiom but with a sensitive eye to emotional and political resonance. Also, bonus AI politics and Tony Stark as technomancer with nanotech, communicating with JARVIS via a neural implant. JARVIS is simply cool. icarus_chained, Space Electric.

Added bonus: I've managed to shamelessly use both "evocative" and "resonant" in the same post. I blame the Space Feels.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I have just found three CDs in the side pocket of my Ipad case. They are unmarked, save for a small, cryptic barcode sticker. They do not play when put into a normal drive. I have absolutely no recollection of these - where they came from, who gave them to me, what they're for. I have been reading enough dodgy fanfic that I am half convinced they're a sneaky hacker ploy, and the seven seconds the one spent in my drive making meditative and abortive read noises to itself is in fact the herald of my entire system melting into slag, because unlikely superviruses. This is ridiculous. I know my memory is bad, but this is ridiculous. Who's given me CDs lately? Why? What are they? How long have they been there? What is the meaning of life?

In the Department of Memory, Lack of, Total, there's also Bartholomew's Klip. We had that lovely weekend there over Easter - five-star luxury on a game farm with nothing to do except go on desultory game drives and consume early tea and muffins and biscuits shaped like rabbits, brunch, high tea, sundowners and godlike snacks, dinner, and the shortbread and decanter of sherry in your room when you went to bed. It was bloody marvellous. The group represented that happy confluence of 8 people any one of whom was interesting to talk to in their own right and who were downright hilarious in combination, which is pretty much the definition of a good weekend, although owing to the booze flowly-freeing more or less continually, it was also extremely argumentative. (In a more than somewhat entertaining way, although I do find myself wondering what the hapless staff thought). Jo and I don't agree about feminism, but a bottle of champagne soothes all ideological ills. The food was beyond excellent. Vi pwned me at Scrabble.

I've just remembered that there are a bunch of photos of the place on my camera, and have been since Easter. A full month later, here are some, in a spirit of memorial penitence. (There are a few more on Flickr).

DSCN2645 DSCN2644 DSCN2627

Lovely old farmhouse, lots of garden space, weaver nests in the tree outside the dining room, and if you hang around on the wicker chairs on the patio reading dodgy fanfic on your Ipad for long enough, someone brings you a gin and tonic.

The landscape is also very beautiful, in that sparse, self-contained sort of way I love about the Karoo.

barts klip stitch

There were inordinate varieties of buck, but my camera skills were not up to capturing them. Also, renosterveld, and heart-warming stories about endangered tortoises and invisible Cape leopards. And my dawn and dusk camera skills have not entirely deserted me.

DSCN2636

We slid in on an off-season half-price, and booked out the whole house (five double bedrooms for eight of us), and it was expensive but bloody worth it. A++. Will spend absurd money on again.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
It's clearly fatal to ever tidy up. Or do filing. Because if you do, in a burst of misguided enthusiasm, carefully file the last six months' worth of paper which are artistically piled in your in-tray as a Hobbit-bed, you run the risk of secreting important drunken scribblings so carefully that you can't find them for weeks. Fortunately said piece of paper turned up again this weekend in the course of a frantic scrabble for vital Morrowind cheat notes, and I am thus able to bring you the socio-chemical scientific conclusions which resulted from the entirely uncontrolled experiment of a Star Wars cocktail evening a couple of weekends back.

This was occasioned, by convoluted and lateral routes, by the Evil Landlord's company moving premises again (something they seem to do every couple of years just to test the path-finding abilities of their employees), and the mechanics of the move necessitating that he bring home temporarily his entire collection of Star Wars Lego projects. As he has a deliberate policy of acquiring a new, giant piece of Star Wars Lego every time a major client goes live, building them at work with the assistance of co-workers and keeping them artistically displayed on a spare desk in his office, there are a shitload of these things. We've had a Star Destroyer on the TV cabinet, a Death Star on the corner table and various other bits and bobs (TIE fighter, Millenium Falcon, Boba Fett's ship, etc) in odd corners for a couple of months. The cocktail party was a dual-purpose occasion to which a select group of proper enthusiasts were invited in order to (a) properly admire them, and (b) sample a dubious array of spontaneously-generated Star-Wars-themed cocktails becoming steadily more dubious as the evening advanced. I am cutting this, as it's long and full of photos which may clog Friends feeds. If anyone still uses Friends feeds. Does anyone still use Friends feeds? )

It was a very good evening. My drunken notes also record the following snippet of conversation:

ANDREW: "Where should I put these snacks?"
ME (distracted): "No idea, find a horizontal surface which isn't occupied by a model."
ANDREW (knowingly): "Ah, it's one of those parties."

It really was.

Tags

Page generated Sunday, 30 April 2017 01:06 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit