changeling: (Default)
I got to the train station this evening three minutes after a train had left. Since this meant that I had almost twenty minutes to wait until the next one, I pulled out my melodeon (Friday night is jig practice night).

I practised a few things, including Banks of the Dee (which I've never practised before, just fudged my way through at performances, which is not particularly cool). Then I decided to try something new.

There's a few people who jig and play an instrument to accompany themselves simultaneously. I've seen a video of a man who did that with a violin. Richard and Dave, both friends of mine, reportedly did a double jig with a whistle – one whistle, that they passed between them as they swapped over (wish I'd seen it).

So I decided to try it. There wasn't anyone on either my platform or the one opposite. No-one to see if I stuffed up. I tried Highland Mary, because that's one of the jigs we're learning at the moment, and I really need to get better at remembering the tune.

And I fumbled my way all the way through just fine! I was actually able to keep playing while I danced, even if a bit creakily, with more wrong notes than usual and much more stilted than usual, but I have proven to myself that I can, in fact, play and dance at the same time (this is the morris equivalent of rubbing your belly and patting your head, only much harder. Many of us struggle to be able to talk and play melodeon simultaneously). I have found this so exciting and encouraging that I may keep practising when I have time. I am nowhere near being able to dance out doing both, of course. But the fact that I can do it at all I find very impressive. It will take a long time until I'm doing much more than stepping through the dance rather than properly dancing it, though, of course.

It was funny, though. My housemate was out when I got home, so I had a go in our music room, which has a mirror on one wall. There I am: lovely scoop-neck top, strings of pale pink beads, a large rose pinned in my updo, and dark lipstick ... with a melodeon strapped to my front, attempting some very unladylike moves. It made me feel much more like myself after some 'girly' make-up shopping this afternoon.
changeling: (Default)
Argh, I so have to upload more icons to my dW account. Not that I have many to play with.

***

Went to Daylesford today, to the yearly lavender festival my morris side dances out at. We worked out today that next year will be our tenth year of dancing there.

It was hot. It's always hot at this gig, but it hasn't been quite this hot for about five years (the last time was the year before my first time). Today it reached at least 39°C (102°F) where we were dancing. Later, when driving to the pub, Julie's car claimed it was 41°C outside (106°F). It was just stupidly hot. We danced very abbreviated sets, only two or three dances at a time, and made sure that there was always people not dancing. I was there mostly as a muso; normally I'd be trying to get some more dances in but today that suited me fine. As it was I got very nauseous with the heat towards the end of the day and felt like I was going to throw up.

***

Delicious food things (mostly from the market at the festival):
  • The provodore was there again this year. So for lunch I had trendy-cafe quality garlicky hummus, tomato and native oregano dip (also chickpea based, actually) and lightly fried bread with rocket (arugula) tossed with a little oil and salt piled on top. It was amazingly delicious and the salt was just what I needed.
  • Henry of Harcourt, they of the award-winning perry, were there again this year, and this year they brought apple juice. Since I'm not a big hard cider fan, this made me very happy. And it was amazingly good apple juice. Not quite as good as Kalangadoo (that apple juice tasted like caramel, I'm not kidding), but fantastic nonetheless. Also it was very cold, and you could have it over ice if you wanted.
  • The berry place was back again this year! Last year they'd just given a few berry boxes to friends who were going to be at the market. This year they had a full presence. No marionberries, alas (I discovered marionberries two years ago at the same festival. They are my favourite), but I bought a box of silvanberries, a box of boysenberries, and a box of blueberries. They'll probably go into my green smoothies that I have thankfully started having for breakfast again, now that I own a blender. Unless I turn the silvanberries into icecream, which is something I'm still tossing up about. After all, I've never had silvanberry icecream. OMG YUM.
  • I bought a loaf of sourdough olive bread from Himalayas bakery in Daylesford. So that's what I had for dinner: toasted sourdough olive bread with leftover dips from lunch. It was exactly what I needed on such a hot day; not too fussy. Thank goodness for Julie's esky...
  • I made friends with the sourdough bakers at the festival. We discussed bread and I admitted that I killed my last sourdough starter. I told the bloke, who was the baker, about my favourite and only bread book, and the delicious crumpets I made from it. He didn't have a recipe for good crumpets, so was interested. I discovered that they also run sourdough workshops, which you get to take home the starter you make. They're one-day workshops, run on a Sunday, so I'll probably go up the Saturday night (or day) and make a bit of an event of it. I'm hoping to go with Sean, because I know he'll get as much of a kick out of it as I will. So we'll see what we can organise.
***

It was lovely to have such a warm reception from The Dog when I got home tonight. I felt terribly sorry for her, being locked home by herself today. Worse because she was stuck outside (though The BOM says it didn't get much hotter than 30 in Melbourne, at least), but I didn't want to lock her inside for 12+ hours either.

She highly approves of the couple of crusts of my sourdough bread that she got tonight (no dips for her, though. Far too much garlic for dogkind, I think). She's wandered off to sleep on one of The Family's beds now, but for most of the first hour that I was home she was following me around a bit, to make sure I didn't sneak off again on a silly morris trip.

She was quite difficult to get outside this morning. She recognises morris kit all too well and knows exactly what it means.

***

Went to the supermarket on my way home tonight to get some icecream ingredients (soy milk being chief among them). I managed to get the candy canes I wanted, which is good. $3 for 100 small canes. I was nervous they'd have cleared out their stock already from Christmas. I hadn't had any this past year. This was doubly good since apparently no Melbourne supermarket stocks peppermint essence anymore. Why not?? Other essences are around, but I want PEPPERMINT. I am a peppermint fiend, dammit. Also peppermint essence is good to add to water to make up a little spray bottle for ant dissuasion in the kitchen. It's multipurpose! Can anyone else find any? I've been looking for a few years now, without success. (Maybe I only look when it's out of stock...?)

So, anyway, I will have chocolate icecream with chocolate chips and smashed candy cane, which will be nice (though not quite as nice as peppermint icecream with peppermint chips and chocolate chips). I also have biscuits for cookies and cream icecream, and enough milk for a third round of icecream, maybe my silvanberry. Of course, if I had remembered to put the silly icecream machine in the freezer, I could be making icecream right now, dammit. Oh well. It will be very nice to make it tomorrow morning, when Australia plans to move a foot and a half away from the surface of the sun and it will be FORTY-ONE DEGREES. Man was not meant for such temperatures.

Meanwhile, apparently the US (according to Neil Gaiman) and the UK (according to a uni friend, via Facebook) are reaching temperatures of about –25°C, which just boggles my mind. Surely you'd just snap freeze to the spot when it's that cold?

Sing it with me: CLIIIIMATE CHAAAAANGE.
changeling: (Default)
Songtapper.com is not useful if you're trying to find out the name of an old folk tune to morris-dance to, and not a modern pop song. I'm pretty sure "Churchtown" isn't danced to "Radio" by the Alkaline Trio*.

Dammit.

 

* No, it really isn't. "100 Pipers" was the tune I was trying to remember.
changeling: (Default)
I'm trying to inject a bit more of a routine into the three workdays of the week I'm home. Part of this will include some exercise (finally!). As part of that this morning, I dusted off my old one kilo handweights and ranted up and down the hall, holding them up as if they were a garland. Oy, my arms ache. But at least if I do this once or twice a week I ought to be able to get to the end of a garland dance and not have my arms want to drop off, even if I've been dancing all day. It will be awesome.

(P.S., I'm dancing not to actual morris music, but to Warren Ellis's 4am #9. I'm on his mailing list, but haven't checked out any of the 4am posts yet. This one was quite awesome. Makes a change from Speed the Plough.)

We danced out at Lavandula Harvest Festival yesterday. It was quite awesome. Perfect morrising weather: only about 25°C. Last year it was in the high thirties, I believe. No fun with black tights and black shirts. Danced two of my favourite dances twice each: Ducks in the Privy as Duck, and think I gave it a reasonably entertaining go both times, in spite of not being in peak morris fitness, and our new dance Aldgate Rant, which I called both times. I called Lancaster, as well. Calling is still novel and scary – I've only ever called one other dance before, and that only once or twice.
changeling: (Default)
I'll travel all over this big broad land
With a band of men to find me
Decent chaps with flowery hats
And socks so white they blind me

Waistcoats, baldrics and bells and sticks
Tradition gives me kindly
So I'll dance and clap with a flower-head chap
And I'll leave the blues behind me
changeling: (Default)
Prompt: morris dancing

I always said that I'd write a story based in the strange and often drunken world of morris dancing. Here I believe I can claim to have been the first person in the history of ever to combine morris dancing and the Cthulhu mythos. I would like my prize now, please.

Cthulhu cheers me up no end. I actually feel sufficiently recovered that I might be able to sleep now. :D

May Day

They danced in the main street while stallholders did a brisk trade in toffee apples and sausages in bread. They danced back and forth, sometimes with white handkerchiefs flicking one-two, sometimes with staves of wood that thunked and clicked against each other. They did Ducks in the Privy, Shave the Donkey, Portsmouth, Pershore and Queen's Delight, and Tom did four jigs. Finally, as sunset started in, they started on the first dance in their final set, called Innsmouth Hey. They followed on with Hastur's Fancy, Flowers of Arkham and Madness in the Mill.

The onlookers who escaped before the Old Ones rose from the sea and came upon the shore could not ever afterwards hear the sound of bells without screaming.
changeling: (Default)
It's a good thing I didn't have work today, because I am Sick.

I felt fine (though exhausted) until we went to morris last night, and I got a really bad stomach cramp in the first dance (Amadeus, from memory). I put it down to the lemon, lime & bitters I had consumed with regret from the bar when we first got there, and made sure to sit out the next dance. After that (and a proposition from Kirsty that I sew her a harp case – I'm really not sure that I'm skilled enough to move into such industrial construction), Claire, our kindly yet firm Foreman pulled us up to dance the next dance (Gisborne, one of our "beginner" dances). I wasn't in my favourite spot (the front couple of a set half, either 2 or 6), but I was on the right side (coincidentally, the right-hand side, which I think of as "off-squire"), so I was able to muddle through. I marvelled at just how much two weeks off morris dancing had affected me. I was struggling to remember the dances, and I felt like a bad puppeteer in charge of a tangled marionette.

After Gisborne we started Mortenwell Hill, which Steph and I have only done once before, and so we had to dance it. Claire started teaching us from first principles again, which annoyed me a bit, because I wanted to see how well I'd retained it – I just wanted a read-through and then an attempt. On the other hand, we must have done it a month ago, because Steph was having killer cramps and only danced it once.

It was probably best that Claire took it slowly. Mortenwell Hill is a ranted dance, as opposed to a skipping dance, and that means lots of bouncing. My stomach started lurching. We ran through the first few figures, and my stomach tried to join in at Star.

Not good. But I thought I'd just struggle on until the end of the run-through. Unfortunately my stomach had other ideas, and halfway through Diamond I almost lost my footing and my lunch in one go. I finished the figure, but Steph sent me off after that. She said I'd gone all white.

I spent the rest of the rehearsal (that we stayed for) carefully lying on the ground. Any attempt to sit up was misguided. All my muscles felt like they'd been replaced by bits of string. We made it home, though. We left after Steph finished Mortenwell Hill, and I managed to drive us home with no accidents at all (Steph still doesn't have her Ps).




So that's where I am today. I have an interview at 1pm I was going to go to, right up until just then, because I also have to go to Brunswick St and try to get a hat for our party this Sunday. I was feeling guilty about doing that and not the interview, but right now I'm feeling worse than I was before. Dizzy, ill ... I'm sure I won't make a good first impression if I retch halfway through (my body's incompetant at actually throwing up, for good or ill).

Truth to tell, I'm not really feeling up to a bus ride to the station, train ride in, and a tram ride out, then some wandering up and down Brunswick St. And I don't want to drive again (last night was a scary, scary experience). What I need is a local friend who has a car and is kindly enough disposed to drive me there. It's a shame that I'm the one with the car in our group of friends. Sigh. Guess I'd better shower, dress, and go.

What sort of illness is this, anyway? Dizziness, muscle weakness, nausea ... that's not a diagnosis, those are secondary symptoms. Bah. Bollocks to this. And yes, babe. I'm drinking lots of water today.
changeling: (Default)
Argh. I'm stinky, but it's not yet safe to shower, because I didn't get up at 6 (I got up at 7, I'm not that much of a lazybones), so there won't be any hot water until about midday. I'm not sure I can stand it much longer. I may have to risk the sudden Ice Age 1 1/2 minutes in.

Ah, I love The Age. It has good articles in it (even when they're nicked from The Guardian). Mostly, though, I love the weekend magazines and the "A2" (or whatever they call it these days) supplement during the week. You know, the arty sort of stuff. OK, I do end up reading a selection of articles on the website, especially now Steph emails them to me (admittedly I'd frequently read them all when I was working at the nursing home). It's everything I might read a women's mag for, without, you know, the stupid. Now the Age website has blogs on it. It's great. Steph sent me a link to this post in "Chew on This", one of their resident bloggers. It's about the relative cost of veges. Kind of interesting, but blatantly obvious if you happened to think about it. I suppose part of the aim is to get people to think about it. Some interesting comments, though. Steph's commented, as has [livejournal.com profile] daharja (see "Leanne" towards the bottom). And check out Moron Gordon. You still need full-fat meat and dairy my arse. That's not what the research I've done has suggested. It's not even what his comment suggests! Just tacked on at the end, apropos of nothing. Even I commented this morning (as a response to Gordon), but The Age reviews comments before posting, so I don't know when/if it's going to be up (it was very civilised. I may post it here if it doesn't get approved). Gordon really got my back up, though. Fine, be a meat eater. Just don't claim that being vegan is somehow a lesser dietary choice. Pretty much the only thing we're deficient in is B12, and that's due to the crappy quality of our soils – it's a microbial by-product, hence why meat and dairy still contain it. It's from the animals' guts. Even human gut passengers make some B12, just don't rely on it as your sole source.

I'm a bit worried about next week. We were away last weekend on a morris dancing trip (check out Steph's journal, [livejournal.com profile] earlymorningair for photos), and before that we were out every night, right back to Sunday, except for Thursday, on which night we packed. Next week we have morris dancing on Monday, potentially dinner with my family Tuesday, Steph and I are hoping for a date Wednesday, Thursday we're having our Friday night swim, because Friday we have Nat's birthday (at Veggie Bar. YAAAAAAY!). Then Saturday day we have the Britannia Morris Men's ale (yearly footup ... no, wait. That doesn't translate into non-morris speak either. Yearly party) and Saturday night my best friend Jess's birthday. At least on Sunday we just have a Litha practice with Hedda and Liam. Then on that Monday, we'll have morris dancing again. Argh! At least we'll be home again on the 21st. I may have to put a note in our Google calendars. It will read: "VERBOTEN. No leaving the house." Busy, busy, busy!

I've just started my first piece of embroidery since year seven or eight, when we were supposed to do a sort of sampler, and I think I just mastered chain stitch. Just like any Google-enabled crafter, the first thing I did was search for and print out instructions and photos of stitches. Last night I did a lovely curly thing in outline stitch, which is like stem stitch but the other way around. Apparently, according to my stitch site, outline stitch was widely used in the Bayeux tapestry. This makes me happy.

Yesterday was a day of good food. For lunch, I made myself a wrap. I was craving the fake-chicken schnitzels Steph's sister eats, so I dry-fried one and had half in a wholemeal wrap with avocado, chickpea pate and sundried tomato tapenade spread on it, and fresh tomato, cos and purple lettuce and roasted pepper inside. Bloody fantastic. I had the other half of the schnitzel in another because it tasted so damn good. And if I hadn't been so lazy, I bet you could chuck some eggplant in instead of the schnitzel and it would taste even better.

Then, for dinner, I made a varient of Pim's "Rena's Aubergine in Tomato Sauce". I used one whole large eggplant, and fried it in water and some mushroom ketchup. Then used the half red onion in the fridge, and then I was lazy and used two tins of tomato instead of fresh (I was running a bit behind time). I was planning on making this a pasta casserole, but the only short pasta in the house was the stuff Mum-in-Not-Law bought with "Added Omega-3!" which means, yep, you guessed it, that it has fish oil in it. Still, I chucked it in a small casserole dish, and put the ground-up pine nuts and some wheat bran/husk stuff on top (what's it called? I've blanked), which is my default substitute for breadcrumbs. Absolutely delicious. Steph's only complaint was it wasn't sufficiently filling (we ate about two serves each), but that would have been solved by the pasta, or, failing that, some good ole bulky quinoa.

Then, as I was cooking that, I managed to get a apple crumble (I've been craving crumbles since Sean/Jenni served it to us at Y—— the Monday after our Penola morris trip) prepared and in the oven so it was ready after dinner. I subbed out some of the flour and put in some oats, because I wanted that texture, dammit. Then I took out some of the butter/nuttlex, since that was there to make the flour "crumby". And I used wholemeal flour, because white flour is for pussies. I also upped the apple content. It was very nice, especially when served with vegan custard. I used brown sugar instead of white, so it actually looked more like a caramel sauce. I also halved the amount of not-milk used. Overall, very, very decadent. There's even enough left over for another tonight, even after I halved the recipe! Yummyyummyyummy. It's only a modified recipe, not a brand-new one, but I might put it up on Reynard's Feast just so I can make it again. And next time, I may even increase the oats further ... I'll have to decide after I have it again tonight. Yum, dessert!

Oh, and yesterday I steamed the two smaller Christmas puddings I made Tuesday. They're my own recipe – I used the two vegan recipes I found and combined them a bit. I wanted to make sure that Steph and I have vegan treats to eat on Christmas day, and puddings are traditionally made far ahead of time. We'll probably get down to vegan rum balls and things closer to the time. I'll probably write up the pudding recipe in Reynard's Feast if they work. I have another pudding to steam today. I made double quantities of the recipe, and this will be the "full-sized" pudding for the morris Christmas. The other two are half-sized, for Steph and me as we'll probably be spending Christmas lunch apart. :(

Still, it's exciting! I bought the calico yesterday, and boiled it as instructed. The water turned this weird brown colour, which was off-putting. Still, calico-y water is good enough to flush loos with, so I tipped it into the bucket in the bathroom. The small puddings were boiled for four hours, and they went very soft! The calico was oily to touch, which I didn't expect, never having made puddings before. Still, it's just copha, so is probably very good for my hands. I'm glad I spoke to Steph's grandmother on Cup Day. She let me know about grating the copha (lard substitute) and getting the cloth wet beforehand (then I Googled and found out about boiling the fabric - makes sense, makes it sterile). The little puddings have been hanging up from the indoor clothes line all night. I just got them down. The fabric's stiff from having been essentially waxed, and the cloth around the puddings is stained dark, as it should be. They smell fantastic. After I'd bought all the ingredients (which set me back about $60–70 or so, $30 of which was the brandy), I found out that Steph's parents were planning on buying us a vegan pudding (they'd already bought a normal one)! Oh, well. It was partly the tradition (every family member stirs the pudding and makes a wish for the coming year) that attracted me, anyway. I was a little sad that Liam and Hedda ended up not being very interested, as they don't like pudding. Still, maybe they'd like MY puddings! ;)

Steph looked askance at her parents' pudding after she saw mine. "You can tell it hasn't been cooked in the fabric," she said. I'd noticed the same thing. That pudding's calico was pristine. A little poking showed plastic underneath. Hardly environmentally friendly, and NOT the way Steph's Nan used to make!

I should probably put the big pudding on soon. I have to boil its calico first. I want to get it on early, though. It'll be bigger and will require longer cooking. If only the various recipes I read could agree on a cooking time! Or at least on a cooking time per weight.
changeling: (Default)
A quote appeared on my Shakespearean Insulter Google toy that seemed to describe much of modern society:

Your means are very slender, and your waste is great.

This amused me immensely. P.S. I rock Derby Garland. Also Lostock.

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