Wednesday, June 27, 2007

By popular demand ...

Here is the recipe I use for the lemon curry vegetable salad, as referenced by Serdic. You can put this on any mixture of fresh vegetables you like -- I generally go for a mix of colours ... a green, a red, an orange ... and textures, but also what's in season and what looks good at the market. If you're using harder vegetables like carrots or asparagus cook them for a few minutes in boiling water first, just to soften them up a little bit. I usually double the recipe and cut up a big ass bunch of veggies, as this keeps nicely for a few days and is actually sometimes even better on the second day when the flavours have had a chance to mingle. This is a huge hit at parties and potlucks and I always have at least three people ask for the recipe any time I bring it.

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cumin (I substitute curry powder)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced

Whisk it all together and pour it over the vegetables; toss well. Enjoy.

Again with the book nerd thing

What a happy little librarian I would be if I could take a bath in my library bathtub and then climb between my bedtime story sheets.

Also, what a nerd I would be.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A plethora of pithy ponderings ...

AKA random crap, none of which is worthy of a full blog entry on its own.

Weekend Wrap-up
Had a lovely weekend, as usual. Dinner with a variety of the usual suspects on Saturday wherein I got to try Thai food for the first time. I give it a meh. But I'm also a notoriously unadventurous eater, so take it with a grain of salt. Also saw Ocean's Thirteen. Give that a meh as well. Better than the second one, but not nearly as good (of course) as the first one.

Also sang in a quickly thrown together concert Friday night -- a choir from California was in the midst of a mini-tour of Ontario, and in each city they invited a local choir to join them. So we threw together about five of our pieces that we already knew pretty well and things went off really well. It was nice to make some music again and see my choir friends, who I haven't seen in a month. The California choir loved us and they invited us to come visit them next year. We're thinking January would be an excellent time.

Manic Monday
Had yesterday off for St. Jean Baptiste day. One of the interesting things about working for the federal government is you're very likely to end up living in one province (Ontario) and working in another (Québec), even though it's all technically the same city ("National Capital Region"). Unfortunately, working in Québec means I get Jean Baptiste and Canada Day, but not the civic holiday in August. Which is fun in years like this, when they coincide to give me two long weekends in a row, but not so much fun in years when they're both on a Wednesday and I don't have any stat holiday long weekends between Victoria Day and Labour Day. Bitch bitch, moan moan. I'll have to suck it up, though, given I'd like to keep my cushy government job, thank you very much!

P-day is getting closer. The internet is going to explode. I love the Harry Potter books and, to a lesser extent, the movies, but they're just books. But there are a whole lot of people out there who take it a lot more seriously than I do (I'm not making fun -- I'm sure there are lots of things I take seriously that others would think I'm nuts to do so) and they have been pouring over the previous books looking for any clues about what might happen in the final book, and spinning ever more elaborate theories about what's to come. And they have a lot invested in hoping their particular theory is correct. I'm thinking about taking a couple of days off after the book is released just to watch the reaction unfold online. After I've read it myself, of course. No spoilers!!!

This animal recently won the world's ugliest dog competition. I'd have to say I agree with the judges.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A dream is a wish your heart makes?

So I have this recurring dream. It doesn't come around all that often, but it happens every few months. I'm staying in a luxury hotel -- the location of the hotel changes ... last night it was on a beach somewhere, other times it has been in a European city or even here in Ottawa -- and I'm obviously wealthy enough that when I check in I leave my jewels with the concierge to be put in the safe, after picking out the pieces I want to wear that evening. And then, and this is where it gets weird, I can never find my room. I have the room number and key, and sometimes I can find the right floor (it's always the 7th floor), but I have to go around and around and can't find the room. More often I can't even get out of the lobby -- there are elevators that go up and down but not to the right floor, there are escalators that take you half way up but then you have to walk to the another one to go the rest of the way, and when you get there there's only one that goes down. Last night I was even in the dream saying to myself "oh, yes, this is the hotel where I can never find my room."

I can't seem to tie the dream to anything in particular -- it doesn't seem triggered by anything that happens in "real" life. I think it's pretty obviously an anxiety dream, but I'm not feeling anxious about anything at the moment that I can think of. It's weird. It's not a bad dream, per se, not like a nightmare, but it does leave me feeling a little frustrated and discombobulated when I wake up.

So what does it all mean? Other than that I'm nuts, of course, but we already knew that.

On another note, the person who decided last night at midnight would be a perfect time to have the bells of the Peace Tower chime for fifteen minutes? Is dead to me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hey kids, let's put on a show!

So last night Serdic and I spent a couple of hours out on my balcony, watching them film a movie on the street below my building. Pretty cool. It was amazing to me how many people and how much set up it takes to film a 30 second scene. I was mostly amused by their efforts to turn a downtown Ottawa street into a downtown NYC street -- they brought in US Post mailboxes, NYC yellow cabs, and a hot dog cart, covered up identifying details on signs and advertising and, my favourite part, placed overflowing garbage cans on every corner. Heh. I guess Ottawa's just not dirty enough for them.

There were no BIG STARS OMG! in the movie, but two fairly well known tv names ... James Denton (Desperate Housewives) and Rob Morrow (Northern Exposure). We could only see the top of their heads from 12 stories up, but it was still kind of neat to watch them rehearse several times and then shoot a few takes. In between bouts of pouring rain, which I'm sure was just EXACTLY what the director wanted. [/sarcasm] The extras wandered around in the background, the two cabs circled the block endlessly, James Denton repeatedly checked his hair and reflection in the window of the limo his character was riding in, and Rob Morrow messed around with the cameras between takes.

Just another evening in downtown Ottawa.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Thanks, Daddy

Spent some quality time with my dad on Sunday, as expected, it being Father's Day and all. When I was a little girl growing up, I just assumed every kid had a dad as great as mine. I can still remember the day I found out that one of my friends had a dad who abused her. I couldn't understand it. It didn't make any sense, and it took me a long time to adjust my world view to comprehend a dad who threatened instead of protected.

Now as an adult, of course, I understand that there are a lot of not-so-great dads out there, and I have come to realize just how blessed I am to have the dad I do. A dad who is a great father, and also a great friend. A dad who has taught me so much about the world, and about the kind of person I want to be ... a person even half as good as the person he is. A dad who has a great talent that he is lucky enough to share with the world (as an organist, pianist, choir director, performer, musical director, teacher, and, yes, rock star), and who has spent thirty years giving the gift of learning about and appreciating and making music to the next generation. I can't even imagine my life without the joy of music in it, and that all comes from my dad. It's one of the greatest, and just one of many, gifts he has given me.

I was blessed to have two other father figures, to have two very present and loving grandfathers who have had a huge impact on my life as well. I know so many people for whom visits to their grandparents are annual chores, and again it is only as an adult that I have truly come to realize how blessed I was to see my grandparents nearly every day, and to have them as friends and companions. My Grandad is gone now, and I miss him every day, but I give thanks for the nearly 30 years I had with him and I know that he's not gone so very far away. And my Grandpa is still as vibrant and sharp and amazing at 94 as he was when I was a child ... I swear if I'm in half as good shape when I'm in my 90s I'll be doing well!

The lessons these three men taught me are what has prepared me for life, and I have big shoes to fill as I try to live up to their legacies. Sunday was a day to celebrate them, but I give thanks for them every day, and I try to live my life in a way that makes them proud every day. Thanks, Dad.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday serving of sap

Ok, so, here's some news: I'm a big ol' sap. ("This is news?" I hear many of you asking.) Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can't help it -- I think my tear ducts are faulty or something. Anyway. My dear friend Rusty alerted me to this video, wherein a lovely man from Cardiff blows everyone away on England's version of "You've Got Talent." Yeah, I know. Stop looking at me like that.

What's funny for me is that I started watching the video with my cynical side fully engaged -- the singing wasn't that great (he was good, yes, but untrained and that's a difficult piece), the editing of the piece was cheesy, the audience reaction shots were a bit much, and then about halfway through I started getting chills, and, yes, a little weepy. It just goes to show that you shouldn't, you know, judge a book by its cover. Beauty and extraordinariness lurk beneath the surface of the most unassuming-looking of people. Everyone has beauty, everyone has something special to share. Some people are lucky enough to get a chance to share like this, and get a reaction like this, when they never thought, or didn't believe, they were anything special.

Yeah, I'll be cynical again tomorrow. Today I'm a sap.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

These are not the droids you're looking for

I don't think I have all that common a name -- I mean, no, neither my first nor last name are uncommon, but it's not like Mary Smith or something. I haven't always liked my name (people never spell my first name right, my middle name is old-fashioned), although I love it now. I am fascinated by names and love to find out why people have the names they do, and it's always interesting to come across someone who has the same name as you. I remember once being in Grand Central Station in New York City, and the friend I was supposed to meet wasn't able to find me, so she had me paged. And three women, besides me, turned up at the information desk. What are the chances that three other people with my exact name would be in Grand Central Station at the same time? One of them was a stunningly beautiful, tall, elegantly dressed, obviously quite wealthy young woman, and I felt like asking if I could be that "The Singer" for awhile.

So, anyway, when I started getting phone calls about a year ago looking for another The Singer who had been a lawyer here in Ottawa, I was mostly amused. Slightly concerned about the amount of personal information people would leave on my answering machine, detailing their court cases and lawsuits and any manner of privileged information (I always called them back, if they left a number -- which a lot of people didn't! -- to let them know they had the wrong The Singer), but my reaction was basically a "huh, isn't that interesting." It got slightly less amusing when people would bitch me out for not having a forwarding address or contact information for her (what, because there's a big The Singer club out there where we all get together once a week and exchange phone numbers?), or ask me if I could take the time to track her down because it would be a long distance phone call for them but since I was already in the city ... Whatever. It became apparent that this person with my name had up and left suddenly, as many of the people who were calling believed she was still working on their cases, and they were quite distressed to find they suddenly couldn't get in touch with her, so they were calling every The Singer (or T. Singer) in the phone book.

Last night? The collection agencies started calling looking for her. This is suddenly a whole lot less amusing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What the World Eats

I was fascinated by this photo essay from Time magazine: What the World Eats Basically it is a series of photographs of families in various countries around the world showing what a typical week's worth of food in their house looks like. As someone who is trying to be more aware of what I eat, both in terms of what I spend and also in terms of what kind of food I am putting in my mouth, it was really interesting to look at how other people eat. The disparity between every other family and the family from Chad is not surprising, of course, but it is still pretty striking.

I think my favourite part is under the Italian family, where it lists "hot dogs" and "frozen fish sticks" among the family's favourite food. Having recently been to Italy and come home raving about the fresh pasta and gelato and how wonderful all the food was, that amuses me. I guess that's what having kids in the house will do to you!

There's a whole other blog entry in there, too, about the make up of the families (family is defined as a lot more than Mom, Dad and 2.5 kids, which is lovely to see) and the glimpse we get of homes around the world. Once again a great reminder of the wonderful variety of this world and all its many peoples and cultures. Many lessons to be learned, if we only take the time to realize they're being offered.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

HP Fever

I kind of feel like I should blog about the final episode of the Sopranos, since that seems to be what everyone is talking about this week. But considering I've never seen a single episode of that show and I spent Sunday night watching the Tony awards (*cough*theatregeekalert*cough*), I guess I'll skip the obligatory "wtf?" posting. Others seem to have it covered, in any case.

Instead, I'm going to blog about how excited I am for the final Harry Potter book. Why yes, I am a nerd. Why do you ask? I hadn't really been thinking about how close HP-Day was getting, but we've been watching the movies this week in order to get Serdic up to speed before the 5th film comes out next month, and it has suddenly occured to me how freaking excited I am about the final book.

I resisted the Harry Potter franchise for a long time. I'm not sure why, as I'm certainly not against the idea of reading "kids" books (uh, you all know what I do for a living, right?), and some of my all time favourites are things like the Narnia series or the Chronicles of Prydain. But for some reason I had it in my head that the HP books were more like those Goosebumps books, or other mass-produced-little-literary-merit-blantant-money-maker books you see publishers churn out. Now, I say that with the caveat that ANYTHING that gets kids to read is A Good Thing, but I'm enough of a book snob (between being an English major and a librarian, it's pretty much a given) that I'd much rather see kids reading "good" books (good being totally subjective, of course).

So, anyway. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me, I was home for a long weekend with nothing to read, and I borrowed my mom's copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. And didn't stop reading until I got to the end of Book 3 ... three days later. This was shortly before the 4th book was published, and I have since bought each one on the day of publication and devoured them within the day. I do think there is a, for lack of a better word, magic about the first book particularly, and even the first three, that J.K. Rowling hasn't been able to duplicate since, and the later books would definitely have benefited from some judicious editing (books 4 and 5 in particular!), but there's still something about this story that really speaks to me. And many, many other people, apparently.

And I have a great deal of respect for how carefully Rowling has plotted this entire thing, and the skill with which she has crafted so many strands and brought them together. I still remember sitting bolt upright at one point late in the 4th book when Voldemort says to Harry, "You do know how to duel, don't you?" Because yes, Harry did know how to duel, and we as readers had seen him learn how two books previously, in a throwaway scene that had a totally different meaning at the time. Everything has meaning in the books, no detail is plopped in there without it coming back to haunt you later. You can read the books a hundred times and still pick up on new things, and things that have a different meaning now that you know what's coming up.

It's going to be a wild ride. As a fellow HP lover recently said to me, this book is going to have to be 2,000 pages long to tie up all the loose ends and answer all the questions that have been raised so far. I can't wait, and I know Rowling is going to make it all pay off in the end.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lazy Sunday afternoons

Is there anything better on a Sunday afternoon than a big ass plate of leftover Chinese food, a comfy couch and a copy of The Cutting Edge on DVD (which you picked up yesterday for five bucks)?

No, I didn't think so.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

We interrupt this program for some of that culture stuff

Women in art

A reminder of the beauty of all women, in all shapes and forms, and the beauty of art.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Grizabella the Glamour Cat

This month marks the 2nd anniversary of Grizabella the Glamour Cat, aka Bella, aka the World's Most Talkative and Bossiest Cat, coming to live with me. Did I choose her or did she choose me? It was always hard to say. I went to the Humane Society knowing only that I wanted a cat very different from the one I had recently lost to cancer (I didn't want to replace Rummy, I wanted a new friend), and I wanted one who was distinctive, either in markings or personality. Or both. (I definitely ended up with both!) I must have spent a couple of hours there, wandering around the various "cat" rooms, but something kept drawing me back to this little calico with the funny black nose. So I took her home. And nearly killed her the first month, as she hadn't been spayed at the Humane Society, and as she had just had a litter of kittens the society asked me to hold off on having her fixed for a few weeks, to give her time to settle into her new home and to let her recover from the birth. Which was fine, until she went into heat. I have never made a phone call to the vet faster in my life.

But once we got over that little bump in the road she has been a great companion and such fun to have around. She's very playful and affectionate, and she really enjoys being around people and interacting with them, which is something my last cat did not like At. All. And since I'm a social butterfly and love having people in, this is a good thing. Although dealing with the cat hair is a losing battle, so I apologize to my future guests in advance. She's passed the Serdic test (or, rather, I should say Serdic has passed the Bella test!) so that's good as well. As a matter of fact, I have my suspicions she might like him better than she does me ... she tends to bypass my lap in favour of his these days!

I come from a family that has always needed a lot of animals around, and pets are definitely part of the family. And having lived on my own for many years now, my cats have definitely always been my babies. It's just nice to have that living creature to greet you at the door when you come home, even if you can't really tell her about your day. Bella definitely likes to tell me about hers, though, and she usually has a lecture or two for me as well if I've been away too long or something is not quite perfect in her kingdom. It is quite obvious that she feels she is doing me a favour by allowing me to continue to live in her apartment, and no matter how many times I tell her I have to go to work every morning in order to continue paying the rent so her majesty can live the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed, my grasp of Cat is still limited and I don't think she understands.

Oh yes, and her name? We have a family tradition of naming our cats after characters in T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" (which was later the basis for the musical Cats). I grew up with Rum Tum Tugger and Rumpleteazer, and now we have Grizabella. She's the character who sings the famous "Memory." Very fitting name for her majesty, as she likes to be the center of attention.

So here's to Bella's first two years of being my boss, and here's to many more.

Friday, June 1, 2007