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Feb. 3rd, 2013

The sorting hat says that I belong in Hufflepuff!

Said Hufflepuff, "I'll teach the lot, and treat them just the same."

Hufflepuff students are friendly, fair-minded, modest, and hard-working. A well-known member was Cedric Diggory, who represented Hogwarts in the most recent Triwizard Tournament.


Take the most scientific Harry Potter
ever created.

Get Sorted Now!


There are 600 different types of garlic

Mastering the recumbent bicycle is harder than it looks.

You may be excused for thinking it will be straightforward. After all, there's that whole saying about riding a bike. And you have three bicycles, and can handle them all without incident (barring snow and alcohol. The bus was not your fault. Even the insurance company agreed). So, when presented with a recumbent bicycle, you proceed with confidence and enthusiasm. You mount it, wait for the instructor to adjust the pedal distance, and can't wait to set off.


Setting off requires putting one foot on a pedal, giving a big push, taking your other foot off the ground, placing it on the other pedal, pushing that, keeping your eyes on the horizon, steering, and not falling over. When you say it like that, it sounds just like what you do with an upright bicycle. You know how to do that. Have known for decades. Easy-peasy. Right?

Except it's all different. You can't explain how, and you can't make your body understand how, but it is. It's like you need to remind yourself that up is up, and how to steer, and you feel four years old again. Can you bear to ask for training wheels?

Six tries later, with everyone watching and waiting to get going. Still no dice. On try number seven you slowly, ignominously topple. Good thing you weren't moving yet, or you could have hurt something. Other than your pride, that is.

So, pick up the damn bike, walk back to the group, and request an upright bicycle. Not one of the e-bikes. You're not elderly.


Happy Birthday to my lovely friend Neesh!

I hope you have a wonderful and stress-free day nysha63 *hugs*


On a random Saturday

A scheduled MRI. Why do all my bras contain metal parts?

The sounds of the MRI machine remind me of drilling a hole in a reluctant wall, the alarm at my office going off, the diesel engine of the boat taking me to a paradise island.

Mustn't move.

Walking to the exit I pass a hallway used for an exhibition. Travel photography from India, Nepal, China. Striking images taking me back to the hypnotic effect of a prayer service in a Nepales buddhist monastery.

Sometimes far away can be so near.

And now we wait for the results.

Westerners are so impatient.

Less than two weeks...

Until I get on a plane to Cambodia, and they're having some of the worst flooding since 1990. Cambodia is a very poor country, and it lacks the resources to deal with these kinds of disasters. Being Dutch, I'm used to flood precautions and aftercare being swift and efficient. We have good infrastructure, plenty of money and all kinds of plans in place for when (not if) the waters rise. We are the lucky ones.

And now I'm wondering if it's wise for me to get on that plane. Will I be an oblivious tourist getting in the way, or worse: will I get in trouble and end up appropriating limited funds for my rescue? Will I notice anything (most of the travel blog writers I found don't mention any problems, even the ones updated in the last few days)? Is the damage limited to remote areas that tourists don't visit?

There is very little info to be found about which areas are affected. I can find a dozen news articles reporting that so far 184 people have died, but nothing more specific than "in Cambodia". The news media probably figure that since so few people can even point to Cambodia on the map, naming a specific region will not mean anything to their readers so why bother?

Sometimes I feel like such a privileged asshole when travelling, and this is why. I can simply decide to stay at home and all I'll have lost is the price of my plane ticket and the malarone pills. The people affected don't have that luxury, and they've lost everything they have.


Writer's Block: Get in my belly

What is your mother’s specialty dish? In other words, what food makes you salivate at the thought of it?

My mother's speciality is delegating kitchen duties to my Dad. And let me tell you: she's good at that! Not that I mind, because Dad likes to cook, isn't bad at it and doesn't mind sharing the results with us :p I certainly got my talent and appetite for cooking from my father, and so did my brother. We all like to cook, try out new recipes, have dinner parties. One of the great things living with my brother last year was surprising each other with a meal the other never had before. My brother's Moroccan lamb stew is simply to die for.

And I got a real kick out of him eating my stirfried brussels sprouts, turning to me and saying, "Wow, this is really good!" :D

The only thing Mom makes that she does better than anyone else is meatballs. And she insists hers are not as good as her own mother's. Of course, Grandma is long dead so there's no way to check that.

South Beach Diet, Phase 1, Day... Eleventy

I did warn you I'm crap at posting daily!

Yesterday's menu:
Breakfast: egg muffins
Lunch: Salad with feta cheese and tuna
Dinner: ratatouille with spicy sausace (both were absolutely yummy! I substituted the parsley in the ratatouille for dill and mint, and the effect was quite simply wonderful)

I had asparagus with a slice of ham and cheese for lunch, delicious! And tonight we're going to a Turkish restaurant with a group from work as a good-bye-for-now-party for one co-worker who's going on pregnancy leave.

It's actually amazing how often I've gone out to dinner since I started this: last Friday was my parents' 40th wedding anniversary (fancy restaurant), Sunday was my brother's birthday barbecue (his super-duper-not-so-secret chicken marinade), tonight, plus on Saturday my neighbours are cooking Indonesian for me (I'll have to end Phase 1 a day early I guess, because There Will Be Rice). How lucky am I?! And the wonderful thing is that it's really easy to stick to things I'm allowed to eat. Desserts of course are out the window, but apart from that? No problem at all! (it does help that I love veggies)

Then again, maybe I'm just a spoiled brat who eats out whenever she gets the chance. Did I mention we're having Turkish tonight? We're having Turkish tonight :D I love that almost as much as Indian, or Thai, or Italian, or...

Hey, I just like food. There's a reason I need to lose weight.


South Beach Diet, Phase 1, Day 2 + 3

Me and daily blogging, are you kidding me?

Day 2:
Breakfast: egg muffins (one of them had tuna and olives in it)
Lunch: omelet, broccoli, shrimp and smoked salmon (leftover from dinner yesterday with added salmon)
Dinner: steak with spiced spinach

Day 3:
Breakfast: egg muffins
Lunch: Thai fish soup
Dinner: large salad (I wasn't in the mood for anything heavy as lunch was quite filling)

In other news: I am forbidden to eat fish for lunch at work, ever again. I opened the tub of Thai soup and my boss - standing 4 feet away - exclaimed "Oh my god what is that smell?!" Honestly, it wasn't that bad. And I love spicy food, so most things I eat are going to be more smelly than boiled taters, meat and veg.

In really other news: Max has an ear infection and my wallet is € 160 lighter. Yay. Plus, on the way home from the vet we got rained on and I don't like it, but that's nothing compared to how Max felt. He thought he was being punished (water is usually used when he's been bad) on top of having a sore ear and being manhandled by a vet, a vet's assistant and his Mommy while they stuck something down his ear tube. By the time I cycled up to our appt. building, he was doing his patented what-did-I-do-to-deserve-this mewling. Awwww!

Never mind that he was only mildly damp while I was soaking wet. Cats don't do sympathy, they have staff for that.


South Beach Diet, Phase 1, Day 1

Breakfast: two egg muffins with... oh dear I can't see what's in them from the outside. I made some with ham, tuna, broccoli, courgette, olives, cheese, and spring onions. Slightly overdone.
Lunch: mediterranean chicken stew. Co-workers are eyeing my plate with a mixture of envy and apprehension. Dutch lunch is bread, yo.
Dinner: omelet with broccoli and shrimp. Nicer than it looks, needs more salt. Will add some smoked salmon to leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Haven't died, haven't killed anyone yet. Score for me, I suppose :)
Seriously missing my 4pm glass of cola light though...


Happy Birthday my Lovely!

I hope the year ahead of you is filled with love, health and endless possibilities!

Tying up some loose ends

My bathroom is ready, I am home1), my Dad vows not to do any DIY for at least a month (this might also be related to the fact that it is now tax form season and my folks are incredibly busy), and does this look worth the wait?

Went to see the Reduced Shakespeare Company with my parents and brother this weekend, and boy did we have a blast! A few years ago I thoroughly enjoyed their show Completely Hollywood. Not a surprise as I'm a bit of a film geek :) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged... luckily) did not disappoint. There was a surprise visit by Godzilla, there were more men in drag than you can shake a plastic sword at2), and finally we had Hamlet in 30 seconds... backwards. Oh yes indeed. Also, Hamlet might just be Team Edward. Oh dear.

Sunday I saw Incendies, for which I cannot express too much praise. Such a powerful film. It's about a brother and sister who are sent to find their father (who they thought was dead) and brother (who they didn't know existed) by their recently deceased mother. They travel to her home country in the Middle East and learn some surprising things about their mother and the war that tore this country apart. Biutiful must be close to a religious experience to have beaten Incendies at the Oscars!

Also: I think I agree with this instalment of A Softer World...

1) I've been home for over two months already, I admit. I just failed to show you all the photos of my wonderfully renovated bathroom so far. Mea Culpa.
2) There were actually just three. But they were running around really fast!

Long overdue

Oh dear, it's been ages since I last posted... I'm afraid I have very little excuse, apart from being forced from my home by a very scary man. Yes: my father is renovating my bathroom.

What were you thinking?

It took about four weeks to undo all the damage the previous owners have done. While demolishing the place and taking out the bath (which my downstairs neighbours have now dug into their garden by way of a pond) we found several layers of tiles on top of each other, a granite threshold cemented into a wall, and more electric sockets hidden behind tiling than I would ever have thought possible.

The demolishing done, Dad's started building up the structure (there's a narrow wall to which the shower wall will be attached, and a ledge below where the mirror will sit) and has begun tiling the walls. Most of the back wall is finished, except for where the pipes still need to be put inside the concrete.

Meanwhile, I've moved in with my brother. We haven't killed each other yet. He complains that I put too much stuff in the fridge, I complain that he turns on the television almost before he takes off his coat, but the good outweighs the bad. He likes my cooking, I like his (like, a lot. His Moroccan lamb stew is a thing of beauty, and his cheesecake (!!!!) isn't half bad), we have sort of the same routine, and I climbed ten feet in his esteem when I found him a website that sells Big Bang Theory's Sheldon's shirts. Did I mention we're both geeks?

We're both geeks. And sometime before Christmas, I'll be a geek with a gorgeously renovated bathroom.


My folks were on vacation to Cyprus these past two weeks. They sent me a text shortly after arriving that Mom wasn't feeling too well. This is not unusual: she has vacational acclimatisation syndromeTM, which means that the first day of every holiday she'll be sick to some degree. It takes a day, sometimes two, three if there's donkeys, and then she's alright. Until of course she's bitten by a dog, falls off the pavement, or drops her glasses. Did I mention my Mom is a bit accident-prone? My Mom is a bit accident-prone. She's learned to take it in her stride and so, in time, have we.

So when I didn't hear from them again I assumed that things had returned to normal, and they were busy sight-seeing, trying out cute little sea-side restaurants, and getting lost and being rescued again by little old men named Michael who feed you oranges and ouzo. After all, this is what generally happens (including Michael1)).

Not this time.Collapse )

When I grow up, I want to be a sloth

They just don't seem to have an evil bone in their body. And they're so content!

Meet the sloths from Amphibian Avenger on Vimeo.


As promised:

A goldfish in a bowl bird cage!

Photobucket Photobucket

Photobucket Photobucket

Design by Abby Glassenberg, handiwork by me. Any errors are mine, because I seem to approach stitching the same way I approach a new recipe: "Ooh, that sounds great! Uhm... I don't have that. I'll just replace it with XYZ! And that isn't going to work because of ABC. Well, if I do CBA I'm sure that'll be all-right..."

I should have titled this post "How LadyD couldn't follow instructions about how to put her socks on without improvising!"


One of the good things (for a given value of 'good') about being short is that you have plenty of random pieces of fabric available from all the trouser legs that get cut off.


I'm stuffing a goldfish made from trouser legs with cut-up bits of tights.

Thought you might like to know.


A song like drowning in a chocolate jacuzzi

Have any of you heard of the band The Gossip?

I keep hearing their song Heavy Cross on the radio1) and... I can't even explain how this song makes me feel. Something about how it sounds2) make me want to drink it up, swim in it, run my tongue all over it. I'm overrun with associations with food, drink and warmth and I'm loving it.

So. Is any of the rest these guys do at all comparably awesome? Is the CD this song is on worth buying?3)

1) When I say "keep hearing" I mean I heard it a couple of times few months ago, was blown away by it, then didn't hear it again for ages until today. Mainstream radio sucks.
2) I freely admit I haven't even been paying attention to the lyrics. The singing (quite a bit of which consists of oohing and aahing) and rhythm probably shut down all that higher-brain stuff.
3) And of course the all-important: am I just plain nuts?


LJ rearranged my living room


Why are the recent comments no longer on my home page?! I had to bloody search all over to see where I could find them.


Edit: okay, they're all the way over in the righthand bottom corner. Still don't like it.


Do you think the government should have the right to censor the media? If you're generally against censorship, are there any circumstances under which you feel it might be warranted?

I find censorship extremely problematic. Who gets to decide what is and isn't acceptable, on what grounds, and who are the censors accountable to?

There will always be people who say things that are offensive to someone somewhere. Maybe you would prefer to remain unaware of the existence of tentacle porn. But does that mean that no one else can watch tentacle porn either, just because you don't like it? Or you are a devout Christian and feel offended by people using God's name in vain. Does that mean that blasphemy should be outlawed? And even though you're not a Hindu or a Muslim, would you include swear-words that are offensive to them in your censored list? If you outlaw people denying the Holocaust, do you really think that they will stop saying these things in private where you can't hear them? And wouldn't you rather have them saying these things in public, rather than only accidentally find out your children's teacher has got swastikas plastered all over his bedroom?

If child pornography is illegal because it hurts children, is it only illegal if children were hurt making it? What if it's a drawing (which doesn't involve real children), or a text. Is something child porn now if it was written centuries ago when child brides were a more common and accepted phenomenon?

Should hate-speech be censored? Will this stop the people doing this from feeling hatred towards gays or blacks, or only aggravate them because they're being ignored? Can you control what people think by controlling what they say? And if you can, is that right? It's a cornerstone of democracy that everyone has a voice. How much is this worth if we can only say things that no one will take offence to? Would you forbid a political party based on their beliefs, or would you rather engage them in a public forum and debunk their claims?

I have no definitive answers, and I doubt I'll get them anytime soon. Still, this quote illustrates well how I feel:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
I'm a mother-fucking ninja when it comes to giving my cat his antibiotics.

That is all.



Lady Deirdre

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