Loads of folk on here are talking about moving away form LJ to dreamwidth because of some LGBT filter crap.
Does this basically mean I can't post about my life here at all??!! Is this account not allowed impicitly? What about this userpic?
What should I do? I've had an account here, regulalry updated, for 13 years, and I do want to keep all that, comments and all. Should I leave? What IS dreamwidth?
Loads of folk on here are talking about moving away form LJ to dreamwidth because of some LGBT filter crap.
So much stuff!
We moved house this week - hopefully for the last time in a long long while. That's pretty much dominated the week.
1. The actual move was done on Friday, with a little leeway into Saturday morning to clear some final bits and pieces and clean - not quite to the standard I would have liked, but as it was we overlapped with Joanne and Giolla by about half an hour.
Fortunately, Dora was in nursery all day Friday. We are also so incredibly lucky for all the wonderful people who've helped with this whole thing:
Andrew Ducker, who arrived in Burntisland early to help Jo with her moving. He messaged to ask if we needed help and we threw ourselves on him in 'omg yes'ness. (Our main problem is heavy lifting - because I can't, that puts it all on Ari, and apart from the fact there's so much, some things are two person jobs.)
Alex Rodgers, who took the day off work and arrived super early for super hefting.
Most of all, Erin, who got up even earlier to come straight from Glasgow, with a suitcase, to carry and clean and strategise and plan and execute. She even cancelled early evening plans to stay later. She is a superhero (and commander of the flag).
2. The kids - Dora and Cedric - have both coped amazingly well with the move. For Dora, I think it was actually great to have the first night in the new house followed by a final trip to the old house. We said goodbye to all the rooms, and now it's "We live at the beach now, next to the dragons."*
Cedric was much the same - a big investigation followed by "cool; this'll do". We need to get a cat flap put in in, but it looks like there was one in the back door that's been filled in, so fingers crossed that won't be too hard. In the meantime, we're just letting him in and out. He went for a long trip outside yesterday - I wonder if he maybe wandered to the old house.
* there are some dragons who live at the beach. Some of them eat rocks and some eat lettuce.
3. The folk who sold us the house, aka our new next door neighbours, are just lovely, too. They did lovely thoughtful things like chopping us some extra firewood, and setting the fires for us all ready to go. They've been so kind.
4. Mum arrived the day after we moved, which in retrospect was a terrible idea. There are things *everywhere*, and we keep abandoning her to unpack etc :(. Once everything is properly unpacked (I give it 1-2 months) things will be able to properly be awesome. Plus, the weather will be on the mend. (Talking of which: Housewarming/my birthday party on March 4 - save the date!)
5. I had (possibly still have?) a UTI. That was a fun addition to moving. #tmi
However, it did give rise to Dora's comment: "Stop weeing, Lizzie's brain!“ Other classics this week include:
On coming down the stairs to find us yesterday morning, because we woke up before her:
"Mummy, there was a person in the bed!"
"Really? Just now?"
“They were looking for you."
"OK. Was it you?"
During a discussion about what we all liked most about the new house (the fireplaces? The view? The Narnia room?):
"What's your favourite bit, Dora?"
[thinks for a long time]
(No, it wasn't even a particularly interesting lightswitch.)
6. She's also captivated by her new doll's house. I saw this listed on Freegle a few weeks back, and it turned out to be the person selling the house - so she just left it for Dora, who *loves* it. It's great; she will properly play with it for ages, while we get stuff done.
Other stuff... maybe...
Tomorrow Ari’s parents arrive, and that and unpacking composes all of our plans.
My annual 'I like numbers' post. (Although I actually didn't do a separate post last year)
I updated Happy Mondays for 48 weeks out of 52 in 2016 - 29 Mondays, 12 Tuesdays, 4 Wednesdays and 3 Thursdays.
2015: 52 weeks - 45 Mondays, 5 Tuesdays and 2 Wednesdays.
2014: 52 weeks - 41 Mondays, 10 Tuesdays and a Thursday.
2013: 49 weeks - 43 Mondays, 5 Tuesdays and a Wednesday.
2012: 52 Mondays
2011: 52 weeks - 51 Mondays, 1 Tuesday
2010: 46 weeks - 35 Mondays, 5 Tuesdays, 3 Wednesday, 1 Saturday, 2 Sunday
2009: 10 updates - 7 Mondays, 1 Wednesday, 1 Friday, 1 Sunday (14 September being the first ever).
I have updated 361 times in the last 416 weeks - ie 351 times in the last 364 weeks, 13 weeks missed in the last 7 years, an average of under 2 missed a year, which isn't bad.
77% of my updates have been on Mondays, 11% on Tuesdays.
This is likely interesting to no-one but me, but then that's mostly why I write them.
Last year, I updated 49 weeks - 43 Mondays, 5 Tuesdays and a Wednesday.
2012 was my perfect year: 52 Mondays
2011: 51 Mondays, 1 Tuesday
2010: 46 updates: 35 Mondays, 5 Tuesdays, 3 Wednesday, 1 Saturday, 2 Sunday
2009: 10 updates: 7 Mondays, 1 Wednesday, 1 Friday, 1 Sunday (14 September being the first ever).
So, excepting October 2013, I have updated every week for 4 years. I have updated 251 times in the last 276 weeks, and posted on 220 of the last 276 Mondays.
It follows a few conversations I've had about how many different jobs people have had. For example, I believe the gentleman currently covering my maternity leave has had only two, depending on how you count it, whereas I have had over 50.
The rules: list the jobs you have had, including approximate time you worked there and approximate age when you were. The same type of job with different employers counts each time, self-employed type jobs pretty much count as one, but it's up to you how separate you regard(ed) them. You don't necessarily have to have been paid in cash; a job is defined as anything for which you were either paid, aspired to be paid (eg commission or self -employed stuff that never actually made money) and/or had regular responsibilities towards (eg ongoing voluntary work, internships).
I was going to say 'tag as many people as you've had jobs, but I'm not tagging 53 people, so just tag as many folk as you like. I tag everyone reading this on LJ, in an attempt to re-energise LJ.
( my-jobs )
(Most of the very short-term stuff here is when I was temping so was just short-term – sometimes as little as a day - some I quit. It's interesting how the jobs become fewer but longer as I've got older. I might make a graph.)
An hour out of Birmingham the train stopped, for an hour, as the track was pointing the wrong way. That's when 2 weegies, Rangers fans* who from what I can gather spend all their time travelling round the country to Orange marches and getting drunk, moved into the table in front.
- a rousing song of [drunk no 1]: "Kill all the Catholics and the Jews!" [drunk no 2] "Come on, Jimmy, the jews are no that bad" (yes he really was called Jimmy)
- a delightful anecdote about how they should all go to Belfast for the next Orange march, as last time they were there the hotel messed up their mate's reservation so he kicked the crap out of a black guy**. He himself didn't intervene nothing cause it was 'nothing really to do with him' and quite funny.
They were being nice to me, which was at first comforting and later verged on disturbing. When I was trying to sleep they tried to keep it down and spoke to others on the train about how they could just give me a cuddle, and drunk no 2 had to stop drunk no 1 from getting his coat out to put round me. They thought it was crying shame a woman was travelling by herself. I doubt they saw I was pregnant - if they had I suspect I'd have been treated to more nice-but-creepy.
Given the position I was in, I had to option but to be nice back. I told them my name (when asked) and gave polite banter. I batted off questions like 'Can you tell these cunts to fucking move?' with 'Oh, I don't think I have that kind of power'. I gave them my shortbread. Any other option: pointing out that most of my family was Catholic, that I considered myself a Celtic fan, that maybe beating up black guys for no reason was a wee bit unfair; or even just gathering up all my spread-out stuff and noisily and obviously moving carriages - was just too risky. Given they tried hard to get me to sit with them, they'd have only followed me.
Despite living in Scotland for 15 years, I'd been largely shielded from direct experience with sectarianism like this, but it really brought home to me why no drinking on certain trains, and recent moves to combat sectarianism in football, is a bloody good idea.
* I mention this as it was hugely relevant to them. I know plenty of Rangers fans who are decent, reasonable, people and I don't meant to imply any tarring-with-the-same-brush here. Similarly: they were from Glasgow, but I prefer to think of incidents like the Clutha aftermath as my weegie yardstick.
**and a bizarre attempt at PC when drunk no 2 said 'a black guy?' and drunk no 1 corrected him said 'African', but drunk no 2 later referred to him as a 'Negro'. Goes to show that labels hurt, but not half as much as having the shit kicked out of you.
Me: ...Tilda Swinton?
Me: Yes! That's who I mean.
Me: Hey, that probably *was* Tilda Swinton.
Me: Oh yeah.
Me: I wish I liked Tilda Swinton enough to be excited about that.
Me: Yeah. Tea?
(it equally might not have been I suppose. She had a small child with her, is she small child-equipped as a general thing?)
Two things: Recently, my facebook page has been taken over by a group I was added to. This group contains many professional contacts, and is therefore useful. However, it is also a woman only group. It posts lots of humourless, hectoring articles about perceived discrimminatation in its industry. It also has other, more helpful items about competitions. However - at least one of these competition articles has had a comment by one of the group's founders to vote for the women who are taking part, because they are under-represented. Not, hey, vote for the most talented individual. Vote for a gender.
Second: An exhibition at Summerhall has advertised itself as not allowing any men in. NO MEN it says. It doesn't give a reason for this. It could easily have said it wanted to experiment with an all-female environment to produce some interesting art. But it didn't. Instead it produced the kind of badly written copy you usually see done by bigots - NO IRISH - NO JEWS - NO BLACKS. No men. Pfft.
Any kind of discrimination fills me with rage. I hate seeing harm done to people, and I also hate stupidity.
Today I am angry because equality is being set back decades by people who are too stupid to allowed to be vocal. And who are, unfortunately, too vocal to be ignored. Now people will think all feminists are exclusive, arrogant arseholes. Whereas in fact most feminists include men, in some cases are men, and know that the only way to true equality is to include everyone.
Reassuringly, many of the things I already liked are in fact vegan. For instance, chocolate. No, not the milky, fudgy crap you find in dairy-milk bars. I mean proper, bitter stuff, that releases a thousand flavours of various depths as it melts in your mouth. I like to have it with black coffee and fresh oranges.
You know what else is vegan? Crisps. Most crisps, even bacon-flavoured ones, are vegan. Hot chips are vegan. Thank god the mysterious brown stuff you only get in Scottish chippies, only known as ‘sauce’ is vegan.
Jam doughnuts from the co-op are vegan.
You might be sensing a theme by now, which is that my particular brand of veganism is not necessarily about good health. For me, it’s only about the squeamish feeling that eating bits of animals is a bit icky, as well as being fundamentally unkind.
It turns out it’s as easy to eat total crap from this end of the dietary spectrum, and just as well, or I might have run off to eat an entire cow by now.
It’s also remarkably easy to use takeaway leftovers to make huge, beautiful meals at home. Just remember to chuck in some spinach or seaweed.
LEFTOVER DEEP FRIED TOFU WITH NOODLES OR RICE
1. Order deep fried tofu from Ricebox. It comes in a proper Chinese-style paper box and is hot fluffy golden nuggets of total badness mixed with spring onions and garlic.
2. Chop up some ginger and capsicum and stir fry it with a bit of oil. Add some beansprouts, chopped water chestnuts or whatever you like.
3. Boil up some noodles or rice. I prefer noodles because they’re more fun.
4. Add the tofu to the ginger/veggies mix, and while piping hot, throw in the noodles and continue to stir-fry for a minute or so, until thoroughly mixed and coated. Add a splash of soy sauce and stir in some very fresh young spinach till just wilted.
5. YUMBO! You now have a gigantic pile of noodles which, while not exactly healthy, are full of flavour. And you remembered to add spinach. Good.
It's been about a week since we started this vegan malarkey, and I must say I've reached the point where it's not easy, not at all. I don't miss cheese, I don't miss meat. But I do miss milk. I would kill for a frothy coffee not made of soy milk (yuck) and I miss pots of strong builder's tea, and I miss breakfast cereal.
On the other hand, porridge made of oat milk is a blinking revelation. It's lush. It is the smoothest, most luxurious porridge in the world, and the best thing is that Lizzie, who is lactose-intolerant, can finally eat porridge with me for breakfast. WIN.
Here are a couple of recipes. Lizzie invented this one. It's full of umami and noodles. Very moreish, and will blow the socks off your cold.
MISO NOODLE SOUP WITH MUSHROOMS, TOFU AND BROCCOLI
Ingredients: 2 little packets of miso soup stuff
1 evil little green chilli
Some vermicelli noodles
Some cauldron smoked tofu
Some spring onions
Stir-fry the mushrooms, ginger, chilli, and tofu. When they're crisp, turn the heat down and stir in the garlic and spring onions. You'll just need a couple of seconds to release the flavour. Whatever you do, don't brown the garlic, or you'll ruin the whole thing and you'll just have to kill yourself. Then chuck in some water and the miso paste and stir. Chuck the broccoli in and simmer until bright green. Meanwhile, boil the vermicelli noodles in a separate pot. Drain, rinse, and add to the soup. Serve the soup in bowls and drizzle in a little bit of soy sauce if you feel like it. You could also put some freshly chopped coriander or fresh spring onions on top if you want the presentation to be particularly beautiful.
Calories: Oh, hardly any, I expect.
Dough: Yeast, water, strong white flour, olive oil.
Mix yeast with a little warm water and flour, and leave to rise. When it's risen, knock the air out of it and add some olive oil. At this stage it'll be a bit sloppy and messy. Turn it out onto a floury surface and knead very gently, adding more flour as you go until you end up with an elastic, beautiful, firm dough. Use the pads of your fingers to press the dough into an olive-oiled pizza dish. Preheat the oven. Put your tomato sauce and toppings on, and bake at 160.
Tomato Sauce: 3 onions, 1 tin tomatoes, 1 bay leaf, fresh rosemary, garlic.
Chop the onions into long strips and simmer in olive oil - lots of olive oil - until tender and transparent. Add garlic and tinned tomatoes, along with the bay leaf and rosemary. Tomato sauces are always a bit rubbish without a bay leaf. Plus, whoever gets the bay leaf in their dinner gets good luck. Simmer down until it's dark and sweet. Use whole tomatoes if you can - they'll be sweeter than chopped. Let it cool down before you put it on the pizza dough.
My pizza is basically lovely sweet bread with lovely sweet stuff on top. This one has a topping of the sauce, black olives, mushrooms and pineapple pieces. When the pizza's out of the oven I'll dress the top with wilted spinach.
Wierdly, pizza works very well without cheese. This is because the already very sweet sauce roasts in the oven, and with no cheese to obscure it it becomes even more caramelised, especially if there are lots of onions in it. When this vegan madness ends I'll keep this recipe and use dots of goat's cheese instead of smothering the whole thing with cheddar cheese.
Calories: Loads and loads.
Next week: Cheating, and eating like a pig!
Our trip to New Zealand was slightly easier. We ate fish and sushi but we were also fed stews, soups and roasts. And scones with jam and cream, three times, and scones containing cheese and bacon, drizzled in honey. It was lovely. But something had to give. I could no longer begin every meal by silently thanking the pig that laid down its life for my bacon, or drinking frothy coffee while trying not to think about the mastitis of the cow clamped to a machine.
We decided to become vegan.
I have been resisting veganism for a long time now. Partly it's because I associate veganism with hippies who can't cook, who, faced with all the fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes in the world, choose to produce inexplicable mush. How many times had I been kindly offered a vegan wrap smeared with white stuff pretending to be mayonnaise made out of god knows what? I had encountered food which was bland and tasteless and above all joyless. I realised my problems with veganism could be overcome if I just bloody well did it myself, cooking the most bloody fantastic food in the world. It would be easy. All I had to do was not eat any fluids, muscles, fats, sweetbreads or ovulations of any animals. Easy.
We've been doing this for a few days now, and I have made some startling discoveries. The first and most alarming is that we are not spending any less money that we usually do on food.
This is because we are buying, and eating, on the same day, a ton of fruit. And fruit is expensive. But this is wonderful. I don't mind spending money on fruit. Before, if I was hungry, I would just put a biscuit in my mouth. Now I'll have an orange, or a banana, or an apple cut up and eaten with crunchy peanut butter. All of these things are delicious. I can already feel my gut thanking me. Plus, an apple with crunchy peanut butter is really filling, and full of protein. This isn't me gloating about how few calories we're incidentally eating, by the way. That's an accident, a biproduct of eating raw food. It's brilliant, but it's not our primary concern.
The other reason we're not really spending less is because we were more or less vegan before - we just didn't think of ourselves as such. We made curries with coconut milk, and never once, in all the rich flavourful joy did we ever congratulate ourselves for being vegan. We thought we were being vegetarian. When we made pasta, it was tomato pasta with tons of vegetables. Yes we put cheese on top, but it didn't really need cheese, because properly concentrated tomatoes and onions are sweet and caramelised and olive-oily. It really needs no other embellishment. In this regard, I will not miss cheese. The same goes for pizza.
Good god I'm going to miss milk in my tea. I've been drinking herbal tea and black coffee, and coffee made with frothy soy milk, but it's not the same as sitting down and consuming a pot of tea in one go. It just isn't. I will experiment with rice milk, and oat milk, and all the other pretend milks, but I think I'm going to have to radically change my drinking habits instead of trying to simulate my old ones and pretending it's just as nice. Peppermint tea and black, strong coffee might be the way forward. It will change the way I consume caffeine, and that, more than anything else, will physically affect me. I suspect this might be the cause of the headache I've had for two days.
So far, being vegan is easy, and pleasantly surprising. We're giving this a month, and then we'll see. We might cautiously eat fish. We might order milk from a guy who delivers it from his farm, where we know his cows are nicely treated. We might buy ethically produced cheese from the farmer's market. But I'm wondering if a return to this is as inevitable as I once thought. We're doing very well with our miso soup and our rice noodles, our fruit and vegetables, our sushi with tofu and avocado, our hummus and good fresh bread. Just for now, we're ok ta. I know it sounds smug. I know. That's because we've only been doing this for a couple of days, and haven't yet turned into the incredible hulk because we miss macaroni cheese and bacon. Give it time.
Next week: recipes!
Ari's mum is doing one hopefully shoudl be the first year in a very long design course. At 50+, she is reclaming her life and retraining as an architect. Hurrah for her, woman power etc. Honestly it's such a good thing.
She is however facing the following:
1. Her computer is more shit than any of you can probably imagine. To be honest, she needs a Mac for the sort of work she's doing, but at the very least needs a new PC (laptop)
2. She really really needs the most recent Photoshop.
3. They have no money. Like, spent a year in the desert paying all their money to the Middle East kind of skint.
4. She deserves only good things.
So, how to get a state of the art Macbook with Photoshop and oh also Office 2010 by the way (she can probably get this from software4students) for no more than £400 at the OUTSIDE - or what to compromise on and what possible thing can possibly be done for her?
Help greatly appreciated darling folkses.
Edit: Additional clarification: She has started the course (academic year starts in Feb here) and this is based specifically on what it is she needs. Office is a slight side point, so leaving that aside for now, she specifically needs the latest version of Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. She's currently using trial versions and even they are frustrating her.They do have computer labs but there's a lot of work she needs to do from home.
She needs to have a laptop, because of a) mobility and b) her lack of space for a desktop. They're free to use PCs or Macs but have been advised that Macs are the optimal OS. For some context, her current PC was bought in 2006 (maybe second hand). It has no battery, something very dodgy about the wireless card (internet keeps cutting out), is very slow, and has a 13" screen! ANY improvement on that really would be something!
She's limping along with what she's got and *can* probably get through the course if she has to - though I think her current laptop is at risk of sudden death - but she's wasting a lot of time and frustration. Essentially, what she NEEDS is:
* Abode Photoshop latest version
* Adobe Illustrator latest version
* A laptop computer that actually works in the way that the average person would expect it to.
Ari's Dad's been looking at the deals in Barry Norman and whatnot but that's exactly what we told him - something a computer shop tells you is a good deal is probably going to actaully rip you off a lot. Also, computers are generally much more expensive over here, so we're wondering if the thing to do might be to get hold of one in the UK and send it over. (Ideally, if anyone knows of anything going second hand but still perfectly fine...?)
Does anyone have any of the following Ari and I could briefly borrow?
It's for some research we're doing.
This Christmas, I was sitting with my wife and her mother, and we were forcing food into ourselves. We’d eaten a lot of turkey, and still had to get through all the cheese we’d bought. After spending weeks yearning for chipolatas wrapped in bacon we found them to be an encumbrance to well-being and happiness. The tree was twinkling and the fire was going and it couldn’t have been more Christmassy, but none of it was right, because we were chomping through it with bovine-eyed duty, in a farting fug of too much. 88% of the world doesn’t have the basic requirements of food, shelter, clean water, clothes, fuel or heating. And it wasn’t that I was feeling guilty – this isn’t a Christmas guilt post, never fear – but rather for the very first time I realised that I am rich.
It was a massive revelation. Not the terrible, starving lack in the rest of the world – that’s been obvious to me since I was old enough to watch the news. But I didn’t feel like I could do anything about it, because I knew that I was also poor. How did I know I was poor? Because I am surrounded by media which is constantly telling me I am.
Why? Why would a government and its media collude to tell its population that it doesn’t have enough, that it must strive for more acquisition, that it must get itself into debt?
I’ve got a couple of ideas.
1: Money is power.
2: Poor people have no power.
A population which believes itself to be powerless will not protest, and will vote to put power in the hands of people who are rich enough to protect them.
My family was poor for many years and as I child I understood poverty very well, and the shame that goes with it. There was hopelessness, embarrassment, and outbursts of violence. I am in a very lucky position now, in a different part of the world. There is a world of difference between having only one pair of underwear and this faux poverty I am in now. The minimum of a roof over my head and a partner who loves me and all the underpants I want and too many sausages at Christmas and presents I will never need.
I wonder how many people are, like me, in a mind-set of poverty which is in material fact illusory? What if we realised that we are rich? That we do have power? Would we spend our time differently, vote differently, and interact with the world differently?
There are loads of people I could have gone to help this Christmas, but I didn’t. I sat munching food as though I actually needed it for winter fat.
I’m not thinking about giving away everything I have. I’m so pleased to have things. I still hoard underpants. But I don’t want to be over-stuffed any more. We all have the power to move worlds. We really do. And we could probably start by deconstructing some of the structures which hold us in this docile, fat-chewing position.
In other Christmas news, I went to a wedding with Lizzie, and told the man I was sitting next to that I was going to beat him to death with his own spoon.
It's been a bit of an epic year. I did a master's in creative writing, which sounds like a jolly old wank but in fact turned out to be the most practical thing I've ever done for my career. It taught me all sorts of stuff and gave me enough industry insight to go ahead and start a not for profit organisation called Graphic Scotland. Lizzie is my wing-lady and without her I would undoubtedly be dead. I rediscovered my love of comics and did pretty well overall, getting a distinction for my dissertation, and a distinction for the master's overall, which I was surprised by. I'm graduating on Thursday. We don't get to wear a mortar board, because, apparently, there is a health and safety risk that we might poke somebody's eye out. I am considering making a pretend mortar board and bringing it along for the students to take turns wearing.
Lizzie's Ma was coming up to see me graduate but she's had a fall. My brother can't get time off work to come, and I'm feeling a bit sad about the lack of family. I'm fed up with being so spread out. My whole adult life, since I moved to Edinburgh at the age of 19, I've never just been able to go home for a couple of days of Mummy-comfort. Usually it's a bonus having them far away because they're annoying old parents, but every so often I just want to jack the whole thing in, and go home to sit on the veranda and have a smoke with my dad. My mum makes the most fantastic pizza. And she makes these marmalady, burnt-around the edges puddings that are out of this world. I feel this stuff pretty keenly at times like this.
We're selling the house and things are changing. It's wonderful change, but it's an uphill slog and I'm quite tired.
Next up: A blog where I don't slide into self pity and melancholy!
I love you all.