cimorene: torso with hands on hips, wearing a black sweater with bright pink and orange stripes and trim (stylish)
We made this delicious bean and barley soup last night and I just had some for lunch too. It's so good!

What, you may ask, is significantly different from any other soup with a tomato-thickened broth and a combination of vegetables, legumes and grains in it?

It's not hugely different, but the foundation of a fairly large quantity of sauteed diced onion and fennel bulb is probably it. They pair very well together, and when browned get a bit stronger, and that aroma underlies the crushed tomatoes, beans, spinach, and parmesan which come later. (OTOH, this means it also can't be made entirely out of canned and frozen stuff, but fennel and onions are cheap and quick to sautee; dicing them is actually the fiddly part.)

We made it with chickpeas, as cannellini beans aren't popular here, and with plain crushed canned tomatoes - I've never had the privilege of tasting the fire-roasted ones, but I assume they add smokiness. I also added a bit more seasoning than it called for, because a few teaspoons of dried basil seemed parsimonious for such a large quantity of liquid.
cimorene: closeup side view of a woman wifh very short hair and wearing a black-and-white striped shirt (serious)
The main interrogation in Smiley's People made me wish Smiley would study me and brilliantly determine the most psychologically effective way to interrogate me.

Not in a kinky way.

I still have plenty of other le Carré and even other Smiley-verse books that I haven't read*, but it was so great that I do feel a little bereft in case none of them are as enjoyable.

Though now I have the two Alec Guinness miniseries (I've never resented "series" for being its own plural before! I should treat it like Finnish maybe: 'seriekset'😐. At least that's fun to say) to look forward to (once we manage to get hold of them).

 

Though I will read something else first, because I always read at least one other book in between books of a series to minimize how much they blur together in my mind later. If I gulp it all down at once, the details will generally disappear from my memory after a few years.
cimorene: blue-green tinted monochrome photo of a woman with short curly hair holding one hand to the back of her neck and looking to the side (helen kane)
It really seems incredibly bizarre that Google Books uses some algorithm to suggest other books to me.

When I simply want to read one of their ebooks I can't even open the reader directly, I have to look at their stupid storefront, which insists on showing only five books, the two last opened and three terrible suggestions from the store. The suggestions aren't even weighted to show the next book in a series - in fact their default book page often doesn't even have that information so you have to know the title of the next and then search their disaster store for it!

Even if I charitably assume they've never heard of series, that's no reason to suggest random authors I have no inclination to read instead of things that could arguably interest me, like other books by the authors I've just bought! Yet at the same time nothing stops them from suggesting books I've already bought or "Top Selling" books based on location detection and hence in a language I've never bought a book in.

ETA at 9 pm: Actually this did inspire me to look harder for sources of DRM-free epubs, and it's not quite as bad as I feared, although I'm far from confident that I can find the specific books I want to read that way.
cimorene: scribbly sketch of an orange and white cat in an alert, friendly posture (curious)


This is an extremely common sight around here (the cats snuggling together and grooming each other) but made an unusually good looping animation this time.
cimorene: woman writing in a hard-bound book with a quill pen (writing)
[H]is smile went with him everywhere. The typists declared that he slept in it, and hand-washed it at weekends.

-The Honourable Schoolboy

Forty is a difficult age at which to stay awake, he decided. At twenty or at sixty the body knows what it’s about, but forty is an adolescence where one sleeps to grow up or to stay young.

-The Honourable Schoolboy

The whole house gently asserted an air of old age; it had a quality, like incense, of courteous but inconsolable sadness.

-The Looking Glass War
cimorene: 80s She-Ra using telepathy as indicated by glowing rings of magic coming out of her head (magic)
I don't remember being incredibly annoyed by how stupid Luther was while reading The Umbrella Academy, but then, I don't remember very much of it at all and will have to reread it soon.

This is mostly Mood Spoilers™ but in a quantity that kinda adds up to spoilers )
cimorene: Sheppard & McKay from Stargate: Atlantis standing in an overgrown field in tactical gear (pastoral)
As much as I would love to live plastic-free (or mostly plastic free), I, like most people, don't have the time and money to devote to it (not to mention the environment is still full of microplastics and everything else you buy was still made with plastics anyway). This article, which I read last night, had me thinking a lot about consumer activism (ie boycotts and petitioning brands for changes to their policies) vs consumer choice activism (the notion that you can 'do something' to save X simply by paying slightly more for a more morally pure alternative to something you were going to buy), and how this encourages the false impression that consumer choices can make a difference on a global scale when they really can't because the vast majority of use is driven by industry, and only collective action (= structural and regulatory reform) can significantly change them.

But it also reminded me of the plastics that I probably can dispense with and am now trying to replace in my life, namely: polyester fleece.

We use a lot of throw blankets because 1. I'm always cold and 2. cats hog blankets and 3. bunnies need blankets in their homes (4 per bunny right now: either ½ blankets or ½ bath sheets), and the nice wool ones are in the closet because they can't be washed in the washing machine, but our cats are genetically predisposed to barf on everything.

For the same reason, we can't have any rugs that won't fit in the washing machine, and a lot of them are cheap nubbly fleece bathmats because the pets all love them.

Problem: the winter is long, the air is hella dry, and the bunnies, who are about 75% hair by volume, spend their time exposed to lots of fleece blankets and rugs, and this produces so much static. You'd think that wool would be bad, but actually wool is way less staticky for them than fleece.

We can, and should, replace the rugs with rag rugs and other woven cotton ones and the blankets with hand-knitted washable wool blankets (and cotton towels for the bunnies), but that's a long-term goal as cotton rugs are more expensive and blankets take time to knit. (I'm not willing to buy ones that are the wrong colors. And not all rag rugs are created equal - they have to be the tightly woven kind.) Knitted cotton blankets are the best in the summer, but they don't cut it for Finnish winter, even indoors. At least not for me.

The last problem are those fuzzy chenille socks, which I wear whenever I'm at home. These aren't easy to replace because standard wool socks are meant to be worn over other socks, but the cotton socks that you put underneath them aren't warm and soft enough for me: cotton just doesn't feel warm on the skin. Sock yarn needs to be hard-wearing, though, and that tends to work against being soft and squishy. Synthetic fiber inclusion helps the yarn to wear better, and many fiber blend yarns are able to increase the softness, but they won't be warm or breathable enough if the synthetic portion goes above 25% or so, in my experience. I will have to do some research into the sock-knitting field and hope there are some good yarns for the purpose.
cimorene: very fluffy white and beige rabbit standing alertly on top of an upturned box (alert)
Japp is basically a model bunny. I don't mean an ideal bunny by that, but rather a bunny that the camera loves. As long as I keep aiming the cameraphone, he'll casually keep striking adorable and charming poses and he is often happy to keep doing it, because he's basically just a really chill dude. A really chill dude who has a burning heart of butthead underneath, but a chill dude. He's relatively calm, adventurous, docile, and unafraid (for a bunny). I can sit down near him and have a conversation from a couple of feet away and take a lot of pictures, and reach out and pet him on his head, and he'll stay there engaged in the conversation and continuing to give amazing angles.

Rowan, on the other hand, who is a very Sensitive Boy, is more affectionate and also more standoffish and highly strung. He is very, very cautious, and when they were still baby bunnies, he had to be taught to do things like how to jump out of a box with a 3" high side and how to climb the furniture and that it was safe to cross the threshold from the livingroom into the kitchen by watching Japp do it safely several times in a row.

So this is why (as I said before) all my pet blog posts with the most notes are photosets of Japp. Rowan is just as cute, but he's very cautious. He'll let me sit down near him and hang out and have a conversation sometimes (a minority of the time) without retreating to somewhere safer from the dangers of being picked up or put in the cage, but as soon as he notices humans studying him from close enough to take a good cameraphone photo he'll freeze (I mean if I had a big camera with a telephoto lens then yes, I could, but I don't know enough about photography for that).

I thought if I put him somewhere to explore on his own where he was forced to stay in good natural light for a little bit I could get some good photos of him behaving naturally, but when I covered the kitchen table (in the sunlight) with padding and towels and set him free on it, he reacted with intense suspicion. Granted, Rowan has not spent time on the kitchen table before and he chooses not to hang out in the kitchen very much, but the kitchen is not foreign to him. Nonetheless, he never stopped cautiously creeping around the table like he thought he could blend in somehow until I gave up, brushed him, and then set him free.

ro on the table

I got a few cute pictures obviously, but the little guy just would not relax. Later, Japp reacted with milder suspicion to the opportunity, but he did give me a ton of model shots before I gave up on teaching him how to jump from the table to a chair to the floor.
cimorene: minimal cartoon stick figure on the phone to the Ikea store, smiling in relief (call ikea)
So we started watching the newly released Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, based on Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance's award-winning comic books.

... Number 5, the time-traveling adult trapped in the body of a small child, was kind of my favorite in the comic book, and part of the weirdness was obviously how young he looked. They made him 13 in the series, and the actor who played him was 14 for filming (which makes him 15 this year).

He looked familiar to me (he wasn't, he just looks a bit like someone else) and so, trying to place him, I looked him up on IMDb and his biography hit me with this:

Within a few months he had booked two network pilots, a film starring Tyler Blackburn, and an episode of "Modern Family." [...] In June 2018, Aidan made history becoming the youngest United Nations Ambassador of all time after five years of working as an Ambassador to numerous environmental organizations. [...] Aidan is currently recording his first album as a solo artist and plans a world tour following the release between seasons of The Umbrella Academy.


After we paused the show I read it more carefully and found that all-important phrase, "[h]is father being in the industry". Since the author of this wordy, over-capitalized and eccentrically-punctuated tale had also written one other bio, I clicked and discovered from his dad's even more bewildering bio that he was in film production/finance (and a paragraph of other things, all after "Intelligence field"). LOL.
cimorene: stylized laurel wreath surrounding the Swedish phrase meaning "genius and taste" (snille och smak)
"We are all imprisoned by the dictionary. We choose out of that vast, paper-walled prison our convicts, the little black printed words, when in truth we need fresh sounds to utter, new enfranchised noises which would produce a new effect.”


—Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan
cimorene: closeup of a woman with very short hair lifting up her sunglasses to look more closely at something off to the side (glasses)
Since being gay was a 3000% improvement in the character of Peter Guillam, my thoughts returned to it frequently while reading and I think you could do it quite well in The Honourable Schoolboy... )
cimorene: A vintage nouveau illustration of a reclining woman embracing the enormous head of a dragon (love)
I was conscious of a passing pang for the oyster world, feeling—and I think correctly—that life for these unfortunate bivalves must be one damn thing after another.

- PG Wodehouse, Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit
cimorene: blue-green tinted monochrome photo of a woman with short curly hair holding one hand to the back of her neck and looking to the side (helen kane)
Solo was a decent action movie in spite of its flaws, and I think introduced Han, Chewie, and Lando in ways that were in character for them and fun. Other aspects of it looked a bit odd and I suspect suffered from having too many decision makers involved, or at least from having the plan changed partway through (even if those changes were for the better), like the decision to introduce droid rights and how it was handled, and the design of the whole gang of criminals where as several people have pointed out it probably could have been significantly tightened up by having Thandie Newton's character the leader and/or the survivor... . Anyway! The movie bombed and the toxic/entitled portion of male fandom hated it.

But while the movie didn't necessarily make me want to buy and rewatch it, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the note-perfect flirting between Han and Lando, which I fully expected to ignite a bunch of shipping when I left the theater. I guess the real reason it hasn't done is basically that hardly anyone saw it.

Which is really too bad. The bits that introduced Han and Lando were great - funny, full of subtext, and fully in line with the theory that Han and Lando had an on-and-off thing in the years between Solo and the original trilogy and that the reason Lando is wearing Han's clothes at the end of The Empire Strikes Back is that they had just fucked.

Of course, there also might be a lesser fannish enthusiasm available for a character whose tragic end is already canon, or a ship who aren't mfeo.
cimorene: two women in Regency dress seated in chairs, each reading a  hardbound book (reading)
...and I am so, so sick of these gross middle-aged male characters who are grossly obsessed with various women and/or with all women all the time, like so sick of them that I don't actually care that that's the point and they're gross on purpose and the obsession is potentially their downfall and it's not even really unrealistic. (At least I presume not.) Like, just let me out of this gross POV character's head.

UGH.

(And that's not actually the hardest part about the book. All the White Man's Burden stuff is worse.)

(But Smiley is great. My favorite Smiley moment so far in this book is when Connie Sachs and Peter Guillam are watching him reading files to himself in his weird little eccentric way and she mouths "Isn't he a love?" at Guillam, much to Guillam's strangely intense righteous fury [even though he himself has just been thinking how cute it is].)
cimorene: head of a woman with a short pixie cut wearing sunglasses, in profile (profile)
“Good God!” he murmured. “I don’t know what to believe.”

“In that respect,” returned Vance, “you’re in the same disheartenin’ predicament as all the philosophers.”


- The Benson Murder Case, SS Van Dine
cimorene: closeup of large hardback reference book held open in the hands of a woman in a light blue dress (working)
I'm having an unexpected problem reading the second Karla trilogy book: it's mostly focused on British Hong Kong (in spite of a solid dose of George Smiley and Peter Guillam in London). I don't think I've ever read anything set there before, and I just keep getting distracted by the colonialism - not the attitude of the author or even necessarily the characters (not always), just the... plausibly realistic facts of it, I guess.

Obviously this isn't a new issue - colonialism is a familiar subject of literature! - so I assume it's the new-to-me setting, and the context that I know comparatively less about, which had given me less opportunity to get used to thinking about it.

On the other hand, after this book and recently seeing Crazy Rich Asians I'm eager to read more about the region and this history.

And finally there's an element of personal curiosity - my paternal great-grandfather, a Russian jew, was recalled from Oxford by his White Russian father to fight the first Russian revolution and then fled Moscow to Hong Kong, where he spent years amassing wealth as an opium smuggler, winding up in Chinese prison. He emigrated to Canada and then New York thereafter and used his prison connections to continue smuggling opium to North America for some time before switching to other forms of questionably legal import. My great-grandmother had the sense to divorce him after only a few years and we know fairly little about him as a result, but my grandfather had a Chinese junk ship in a bottle from him, and having now encountered smugglers and Chinese junks and Hong Kong White Russians in the novel, my imagination is fired up.
cimorene: painting of two women in Regency gowns drinking tea (tea)
Her lips were tightly glued together, her chin protruding, her whole lay-out that of a girl who intended to stand no rannygazoo.

- PG Wodehouse, Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen


...this one's a definite favorite. Maybe it's the vivid and rather aspirational image.
cimorene: the words "oh, and did you actually hashtag-ok me, your own wife?" in insular calligraphy (note)
Can't settle on what book to read next: I've picked up and started, then put aside two so far...

Can't settle down to writing the post on the visual genealogy of (80s) She-Ra and He-Man I've been working on: I decided it needed a clear diagram instead of a verbal introduction and somehow spent like 5 hours yesterday making that diagram without writing anything...

Can't settle down to my next knitting project: I finished a lace cowl and haven't blocked it because I should do two loads of laundry first. Instead I started knitting some legwarmers and I've already switched patterns once and only knitted a few inches, but I don't like the texture and kind of want to start over.



On the other hand I can say with absolute certainty that I don't want to go hiking around tomorrow (we'll need groceries): it stayed cold for so long that there was a massive build-up of snow and now it's melting into dirty slush, the gravel is sinking through it, and it's not draining so there are enormous mud puddles interspersed with slippery snowpiles left by the snow plows. I hope we get another cold snap just so the view won't be this ugly until the end of spring thaw (going by recent years, should be sometime in late April).
cimorene: a small white-and-ginger long-haired creature with long feathery ear tufts posed against a background of draped fabric (mystical creature)

[personal profile] waxjism posted: Knittings

I started knitting again last year after leaving several projects on the back burner [...]

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