sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
I vaguely heard that the US was getting an eclipse (as in this was all over my FB feed) but assumed it wasn't going to affect here, but I found out yesterday that, no, indeed, we were getting 72% of an eclipse. A woman's paycheque worth of an eclipse. So I made last-minute plans with [personal profile] metalana. She is an A++ good influence on me as she makes me shoot RAW, so they came out slightly better than expected, and also made pinhole viewers since getting eclipse glasses at the last possible moment is not a thing that can be done. At any rate, we didn't need to bother, because during an eclipse, the usual rules of capitalism and urban living get suspended. Everyone came out to the beach and people were happy to share their eclipse glasses and show off their homemade viewers, which ranged from two pieces of paper to someone's modded-up telescope. The telescope people invited us to hang with them and gave us Coke and were generally lovely. Pointing a DSLR at the sun is not as dangerous as pointing your eyes at the sun, but is kind of pointless unless you have more sophisticated gear than either of us have, but I did get some awesome shots of shadows and things we found whilst wandering around.

Pictures that are not pictures of the sun )But let's be honest here; cool photography and socializing with your neighbours is not what makes Eclipse Day great. The best thing is that, after a number of my friends joked that Cheeto Benito was going to look directly at the sun like a fucking moron, CHEETO BENITO FUCKING LOOKED AT THE SUN LIKE A FUCKING MORON. This is the actual best thing to happen and I am so overjoyed you have no idea.
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
We're heading out for lunch as soon as the dude can get the AC working, but in the meantime behold the "VIP suite," in which we will spend our last evening in Kiev. We are pretty sure Soviet dignitaries stayed here and they haven't touched the room since:

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
We rolled into Vilnius, Lithuania just before 10 pm last night after a four-hour long bus ride. It was pouring rain, which is typical for here (apparently the weather is awful in one way or another at least 60% of the time), and late, so we grabbed dinner at a vegetarian bar and crashed out at the hotel. Today, it was supposed to pour--our cab driver assured us that this time, the entire city would be flooded--but our luck held and we were able to do a walking tour of the Old Town and the Republic of Užupis.

Vilnius has a messy, dilapidated charm. I think, perhaps, my lack of bonding with Riga was due to the fact that it's kept in such good repair; letting a city crumble a bit is much more aesthetically pleasing. It's slightly less Westernized--people here speak Russian as much as they do English, though mainly Lithuanian--and just, well, weirder.

photos )
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
Here are a few last glimpses of Riga before we hop a bus to Vilnius. We went to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, the Art Nouveau district, and I shot a few more pictures of the hotel.

under here )
sabotabby: (sabokitty)
I don't have a ton of spoons left over tonight for a long post, so have some photos around and about Riga.

After the aesthetic exuberance of Odessa, Riga seems much more restrained, even dour. It's impressively old (founded in 1201, and there were settlements well before that) and lovely, but also more orderly, less lively, less organic. And, of course, much more expensive: welcome back to Western Europe.

This said, it's gorgeous and fun. Everyone speaks English here, which is relaxing. I don't mean this in a chauvinist way; mainly that I don't need to bother Anya to translate everything. Actually, where we're staying in the old town, it doesn't seem like anyone other than people working here are from here; it's pretty heavily touristy.

Which also means that it's incredibly easy to find vegan food. Including an entire vegan restaurant. I was like, "GIVE ME ALL THE PROTEIN."

The most important story I learned today was this: There were two powerful guilds in Riga. One was for skilled craftsmen, and admitted every eligible craftsman who applied to join. The other was for merchants, and only admitted Germans. A wealthy merchant from Riga applied to join and was rejected on the basis of his nationality. Accordingly, he built himself a giant fuck-off house across the street from the guild building and put black cats on the roof with their asses facing the building, as if shitting. The guild immediately sued to have the cats removed, but because lawsuits take time, WWI broke out, and no one gave a shit about cats' asses. The cats were mysteriously removed anyway in the 1920s, and replaced just as mysteriously in the 1950s, this time facing towards the guild, as it is now the home of the Riga Philharmonic, and no one has any quarrel with them.

photodump )
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
So the performance sucked so hard we walked out. Like, possibly the worst thing either of us have ever seen, which is saying an awful lot. The tickets were suspiciously cheap, but tbh most things in the Ukraine are suspiciously cheap. But in this case I think it was because they knew it was terrible. We'd actually gone in to see if we could get a tour or just wander around the opera house, but the lady said that there was a show that night, so we decided to give it a shot.

She described the show as a sequel to The Nutcracker but also a crossover with War and Peace, and a musical. A "wonderful spectacle," in fact. I have to admit that we were basically morbidly curious, and it would get us inside those gorgeously ornate doors.

Anyway, we made it two songs in. The thing was in Ukrainian so we don't know what it was about but I don't think it would have made a lot of sense even if we did understand the language. It was kind of embarrassing to listen to.

But! It meant that we got to sneak out and take unobstructed photos of the glory that is the Odessa Opera House, and that was worth the ticket price alone. I hope you appreciate how hard it was to narrow these down. They don't half capture the actual, real spectacle that is this building, but I've given it my best.

pretty! )
sabotabby: (magicians)
Sorry-not-sorry, but you will be getting a load of pictures of Odessa because it is fucking magical. My intention at the moment is to retire, sell my house, buy one of the dilapidated old buildings and restore it to its former glory, learn Russian (it's another city where most people speak Russian, not Ukrainian, much to our joy), and wander around the glorious streets at night in a fashionable dress, drinking an open bottle of champagne.

Life goals, amirite?

In all seriousness, though, not for nothing is Odessa called Paris on the Black Sea. It has all the architectural splendour and literary tradition you could hope for, it is cosmopolitan and fashionable, and it is lit. I have never been to Paris, granted, but from what I understand Odessa is much cheaper and not as crowded. In Kiev and Lviv, people are pretty much the same as anywhere else, except with a penchant for wearing poorly translated English t-shirts bearing inspirational but nonsensical slogans, expressions of general hatred towards anyone viewing the shirt, or just vague weirdness (my favourite so far was a picture of a cat made out of ramen noodles sitting in a bowl with the caption "Pet Food").

Here, though, everyone looks like a model. The women are all tall and thin and wear flowing striped dresses, and the children prance around in tutus at all hours of the night. The streets are alive with music and performers and what I'm pretty sure is a unicorn (i.e., incentive to look at the pictures under the cut).

plz appreciate how much I had to narrow these down )
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
We're in Odessa, about a 10 min walk from the !!!!!!!! Potemkin Steps.

Expect incoming photos for every day I'm here.

Srsly, I didn't even like Battleship Potemkin but I don't think a movie needs to be enjoyable to be arguably the most important movie ever made, with which we would not have our current cinematic vocabulary. I mean. I teach film. So naturally the first thing I had to do (well, after we had lunch and coffee because we were up at 4 am to catch the flight from Lviv) was brave the 30°C weather to bring you the following:

Don't mind me, I'll be over here geeking out hard/memorizing the angles in the scene so that I can do horrible imitations of them amongst all the tourists.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Our last day in Kiev until the end of our trip. Here's a few quick glimpses of things we've seen, as we walked and walked. This is going to be a bunch of tiny pictures 'cause I'm writing from a café before we get on a night train for Lviv.

click for larger versions )


Jul. 16th, 2017 04:37 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Viktor Yanyukovitch was president of the Ukraine from 2010-2014, until he was fairly dramatically deposed and fled to Russia as he is currently wanted for treason here. By all accounts, he was incredibly corrupt, and acquired the massive Mezhyhirya estate with public funds. As wealth and corruption is no guarantee of taste, when asked which architectural style he wanted to build his massive palaces in, he must have replied, "fuckin' all of them," because when protestors walked in and took over the place in 2014, they were appalled not just at the excesses (which included a car museum, a zoo, a golf course, several tennis courts, and orchards), but at his alarming taste in decor.

It now belongs to the people and is a destination for Ukrainians to have weddings, bike around, and generally point and laugh. Also there are gigantic thrones and Greco-Roman ruins for no apparent reason.

pictures! )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
As promised/threatened, here are a buttload of pictures from the road trip [personal profile] the_axel and [personal profile] the_siobhan and I took to POW Camp 30 in Bowmanville. For reference, this is about an hour's drive from Toronto. It's a former school for delinquent boys that was converted into a POW camp during World War II. It's since fallen to ruin, squatters, and graffiti artists—which tbh makes it approximately 10,000x more awesome from the point-of-view of a photographer or aspiring author of post-apocalyptic fiction—despite being guarded by surveillance cameras and one intimidating as hell pre-recorded loudspeaker message.

There are No Trespassing signs all over the place, but let's be honest; if they wanted to keep people out, they'd put some barbed wire or guards around. We ran into two other people wandering around the premises who had the same idea we did.

Narrowing down which pictures to show you folks was brutal—I hope you appreciate that I got it down to around 20 from over 100. (Okay, so more because Photobucket has ceased to work for me and DW's image hosting is brutal, but also to spare your browsers.

camp 30
+22 )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
I went on an Exciting Photography Adventure yesterday. There are 100 or so photos to go through and edit, but here's a teaser of the incoming photo dump.

looking out a window into...?
sabotabby: (sabokitty)
 Cocoa turned 13 yesterday! My baby is officially a teenager! It's also, by default, Sabot's birthday. They got to celebrate with a meat cake made from four different animals, catnip, and new toys.

meat cakekitties eatingkitties eatingsabot checking out her toycocoa eating

I think they had a good party. They're currently sprawled out, blissfully content, on my bed.

sabotabby: (sabokitty)
>made it to the Women's March for about 45 minutes yesterday. Turns out I wasn't needed because there was such a phenomenally huge crowd—60,000, by best estimates, which is far more than the lawn and surrounding roads outside of Queen's Park could hold. I tried to take photos, but there were so many people that this was practically impossible.

here are my attempts )

I was pretty glad I got to go and be a part of this moment in history, even if it was just for a few minutes. I've been essentially away all weekend, but I've been passively enjoying looking at everyone's pictures, from all over the world, suggesting a nascent movement to resist misogyny, racism, and fascism.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
Last night, [ profile] the_axel and I went to the Kensington Market Festival of Lights. Inexplicably, he'd never been before, and I hadn't been in about eight or nine years, so it was Necessary. It's a Solstice celebration and one of those weird, beloved Toronto traditions where you sort of wonder how this became a thing in the first place.

I was going to bring my camera, but at the last minute I was le tired, so all I have are crappy cell pictures. Still, you can see a little of what goes on there and why I adore it so:

warning: clowns )

Today was my last teaching day of the year. Then I rushed home to finish up the Christmas baking to distribute to neighbours, co-workers, and friends tomorrow and this weekend.

all the cookies )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
You guys you guys I did it!

I made the chocolate caramel shortbreads vegan. I usually make chocolate caramel shortbread as one of my Christmas cookies but that was Before. Now I had to re-learn how to do them.

This was a massive triumph of baking engineering given that my first attempt to find a recipe was a total clusterfuck that ended in literal tears. This is some advanced shit and it took two recipes + substitutions to create something that worked. But it worked! And it tastes like joy.


How'd that last picture get in there? Cocoa, you are not a foods even if you are the same colour and named after a foods.

Anyway I am really proud of myself so here's what I did under the cut.

om nom nom )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
More Ethiopian cooking!


I made some misir wot. Here's the recipe. I basically followed it except I added more garlic (obvs.) and berbere. Also I doubled all the ingredients, because I have an aversion to leaving half a can of tomato paste around.

Verdict: Tasty! Not as mindblowing as the d'ba zigni I made the other day or as good as Hirut's misir wot, but solid yum, and the more you eat, the more you want to eat. Also the most cost-effective, healthiest thing I've made—I think the whole thing cost about $10 in ingredients, and there's enough for 2 weeks to a month, and it's basically pure protein with nothing unhealthy in it. It's quite easy as well.

So this will definitely go in the repertoire.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
OKAY KIDS LET'S TALK ABOUT PUMPKIN PIE. Canned pumpkin (shut up) was on sale at the Valu-Mart, so I bought like four cans and made two pies and still have lots of pumpkin left over. Pumpkin all the things! I fuckin' love pumpkin pie and all things pumpkin, excepting the pumpkin spice latte I had at Timothy's the other day that tasted weird, and not at all like pumpkin.

But I digress. This is the first time I've attempted a vegan pumpkin pie, and it went pretty well. I used a combination of two recipes: this one had a crust recipe that made sense, but used unnecessary silken tofu* in the filling and had insufficient spices. This one had a better sounding filling but committed an abomination by requiring a pre-baked shell. I mean really.

The combined recipe )

Oh yeah I topped it with this whipped coconut cream that is fantastic but I can no longer seem to find. Anyone have any leads?


+ It totally held together. There are bits off of it because I did a shitty job of rolling out the dough (I made it into a ball when I froze it, not a disc, and so it took forever to defrost and I got impatient) which is my fault, not the recipe's. Following the recipe will result in a structurally sound pie.

+ It tastes great! I might add a bit more maple syrup or some brown sugar to the filling next time.

- It looked kind I don't know whether that was because of anything vegan that I did to it. I think it's a clove-meets-pumpkin issue but anyway if anyone knows how to make pumpkin pie come out a more appealing colour, do let me know.

- I used up the last of the aforementioned coconut cream. Need moar and I am worried the grocery store has stopped stocking it.

- It takes fucking forever. I was baking until 8pm last night. Again, if anyone knows of a way to make pie that is faster on schoolnights, it is relevant to my interests.

Overall a win; it got devoured at the school barbecue, unlike the storebought and prettier apple pies. No one knew it was vegan until I told them, which is my hobby atm.

* I love silken tofu, but why does it need to go in pumpkin pie? Pumpkin is already a binding agent and I couldn't figure out what it was supposed to replace. Condensed milk? Anyway.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (kittensquee)
I totally crashed the Guinea Pig Picnic for reasons. It's basically the cutest thing ever, and yes, I took pictures. Copious pictures.
DSC_5195 copyDSC_5199DSC_5202

Behold )


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