Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

FlugBug & Dan Brereton


It has been a flurry of flu (fince Friday), spent the night up and down, awake, frozen to the bone, then asleep, then Wide Awake, burning alive and kicking off the layers of blanketses. The fever is gone (thankfully), but left a calling card of sniffling, snurking coldishness to annoy me. I have occupied my time reading, sleeping, eating ham (when I could eat again) and colouring a few drawings (including the one that is on the upper right handside of the Blog!)

Finished Gaiman's Anansi Boys which was a very good read indeed; much fun. It is written so visually; I can see it in my mind, not just as a movie, or TV mini-series, but in colour and form very Sandman-esque as a comic (maybe with an accompanying music CD to go along with.) It also had a teaser at the back with Shadow, the character from American Gods.. kind've mean, tossing a chapter at you and then running off laughing into the darkness. Thanks anyway!

Slogged through a Teen novel of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in French by Gilman & Sherman, originally titled "Deep Water" but translated as Les Sirenes Demoniaques, which was also very good. I only had to look up the words in my French/French dictionary* 40% of the time.. then by the mid-point abandoned the dic entirely, as the plot drug me along and I didn't care if I couldn't remember what a "bouqin" was. It'll make my French classes better (so I hope.) I did see Subjunctive phrases popping out at me, which is good; cause we have our first exam on Feb 6th!

Next on the list was a stack of comics Clayton sent my way as I lay swaddled on the couch, covered in tissues (eww!) Dan Brereton's The Nocturnals. Ok, now I know everyone else is celebrating the Nocturnals' 10th anniversary... but for me, they were brand new! It was delightful reading such beautifully painted work, great characters, interesting story, nice meaty dialogue. (By meaty I don't mean intellectual or high-brow; I mean something gritty, tasty that you could sink your teeth into (and claws and what have you.) I will be keeping my eyes peeled for more Nocturnals stuff and checking on Mr. Brereton's web page frequently.

He has a nice little piece about how he sets out to paint, including a pic of his studio. I find studio pictures inspire me; they seem like such a great thing to share. It's intimate; it's a place where the artist or writer spends wayy too much of their time, away from friends and family (if they want to be successful that is.) I love visiting my friends' studios and work spaces; I don't know if it's a feel in the air, or the residue of creative energy and magic..but sometimes I feel like by just touching it I can take a bit of it with me to help inspire myself.

I should post a BEFORE pic of my studio to garner some sympathy. Although I only have myself and my innate laziness and apathy to blame. I've been drawing for over a year on a combination of the kitchen table, a clipboard and those ricketty little TV trays Clay has had for eons. Now, the art is fine... art is art, no matter where ya do it (I mean, "Night Heat", the comic I did for "aBraxIa IV" was drawn mostly on a pic-nic table in Summerside PEI.)

But having a nice studio, all sitting there, READY for you to enter and do your thang; supplies neatly accessible, paper, pens etc, niiice n'est ce pas? Anything that makes the process easier, is good. IMHO.


So; that's about it=-=-more later when I regain my blurred senses.
Cheerio,
Suzanne.

* Yes, a French/French dictionary only contains FRENCH. I can't find my other Larousse French/English... so it is another frustrating and illuminating experience involving language for the Suester.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Road to Hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs

Thank Ernest Hemingway for another jewel! The road to Hell is also probably paved with reams of miscellaneous unsorted ITS cards, which I would inevitably have to sort. I began my new life in a different department to which I had been transferred, yesterday. The "Rite of Passage" in the new area in which I find myself, is to sort International Travel Cards by hand, sitting basically in a hallway, with CFRA & Lowell Green blaring at you for 7.5 hours a day.

Hell indeed!

If Data Capture is the equivalent to Dante's Limbo, then sorting ITS cards is definitely on the edge of Hell; possibly in the 1/2 level between Pergatory and level 1. Maybe.. At least I can listen to my MP3 player, sip coffee, nibble on apples and fibre muffins and let my mind wander into happier pursuits. Like how to escape!

Thankfully, I think the Half-Acrage of Hell should end by next Monday. I was told that I would be back at keying by then, instead of sorting cards. I think that the sorting part of the job is to make you inordinately thankful when you finally get transferred back to keying. I mean, keying HRSDC is mind-numbing, repetitive, painful etc etc.. Catherine L. refuses to do overtime if it involves this (to give you an idea of how unappealing it is!) So, I figure by the time 5 days of sorting goes by, you are so desperate, bored, hopeless and depressed that the thought of keying HRSDC becomes instantly appealing (& even exciting. Good Lord!)

But, it must be all a mind f*ck.

I was going to go to bed, but I think I'll rant instead.

Two weeks ago, I was doing overtime for HRSDC because they are really behind. I've been keying this crap forever, and it is not a brand new thing for me. Now, if you had someone transferred into your department, who not only had keyed plenty of HRSDC but did it accurately and well.. AND you were really really REALLy behind...would you.. stick them in a hallway sorting ITS cards?

Or.. would you get them to the nearest computer, do-not-pass-Go, and get them keying your already overdue work?

Oh, and regarding overtime: Basically, because I'm "new" to the department, I'm not allowed keying HRSDC as overtime. Even though last week I was doing 3 hours of it after my regular shift each night. So, instead of getting back to Kanata at 7:15pm after 11 hours of work, in the dark, I got to come home early this week. Instead of crippling myself typing, I went to the gym, began reading Neil Gaiman's "Anansi Boys", baked muffins, cooked fish, made a whole wheat pasta dish, drew new art, inked & coloured things on the computer.....

Ok ok, I enjoyed my little bit of extra time.

But does all this make a lick of sense to anyone? It's nuts. It's Government, mostly it is my bizarre division (OID) at Stats which has some pretty crazy ideas about How To Teach Discipline To The Zombie Work Force.

I'm not even going to start IN on Lowell Green. Except that I might send him an off-colour drawing of several dyke feminists showing him what fists are really for :-) Nahh, probably too high-brow for the right-wing, redneck, troglodyte. I was going to call CFRA C--cks--king, F--king, Rectal, A--hole Radio.. but then I thought I might offend some of my gay friends. So, I'll just be sure to ram my MP3's headphones firmly in my ears before Theresa cranks Lowell and drives me to impromptu suicide via unsorted ITS card paper-cuts.

ACK.

Ooh, and I get to do more of it tomorrow!! WHhheeeheeeeeee!

Monday, January 15, 2007

-32 lbs. and counting

Had my weigh-in Saturday and that aggraving lb. that had turned up, much like an unwelcome guest when you're in the middle of doing laundry & are sporting your most embarassing ripped shirt, lumberjack socks and schluff pants, is gone at last. Since it's been awhile since I collaged, here is the 32 lbs. benchmark below. My pal Boo says her kids have weighed themselves, so I am looking fwd to when I hit the -40 and -51 lbs. benchmarks to include them here and help make their fame! (If not fortune :-))


Today wasn't too awful; except for the tricky weather and sketchier road conditions. I had to go and get my head drilled at ye olde dentiste. I'd been putting it off for about 3+ years (ever since my Doc had accidently struck a literal nerve and had scared me off for good.) I'd even had to postpone my appointment in December because of our work luncheon.

Now, although it feels like I've been socked in the head, I'm relieved that the work is over. For now. In a month, I get to return to the Chair Of Pain for round 2. Supposedly that is to be an hour's session where I believe I'll finally get my two lower canines seen too. Hard to be self-respecting werewolf with cracked lower teeth! URk :-P


Just finished the last of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" graphic novels last night with a bit of bittersweetness.. as is always the case when one gets to the end of a particularly good novel, or in this case series of stories. The last book "The Wake" was expertly drawn... it was pure pleasure after reading "The Kindly Ones", which although story-wise was 120% excellent character, plot, originality all that..the artwork, save for a couple of artists wasn't that great. Weak in fact. But that has been the only book that has let me a bit down, and the story carried it all anyway. It is fun to see different artist's takes on the Sandman, Death, Delerium and the rest.. I am tempted to shake my brush pen and get the ink flowing for a rendition of my own perhaps!


Also finished "A Complicated Kindness", the Miriam Toews book I'd borrowed from.... Moira? Jane? Possibly Marika? In any case, it will be returned when we four get together in Feb for our monthly luncheon I'm sure! It was a very satisfying read.. like going to the Green Door in fact. You are faced with the difficult delight of picking and choosing dishes, not because some of them are bad, but because you simply don't have enough room on your plate for all of them! You are hungry and all the food is not only nourishing, but tasty, piquant, alive to the palate. One is disheartened because the plate will never be big enough to hold all the food and you HAVE to choose. A bigger plate would lessen the wonders of the dishes you chose.

The book was like that; short, but to perfect length. Each chapter with the flavour of the writer's voice feeding your soul. The texture of characters developped, the delicate shades of the backgrounds, all served to reenforce the whole as an unquestionably solid read. Good!

Great now I want to go to the Green Door :-D I believe that a trip will be forthcoming.. possibly with Leah. That would be swell :-))

Next on the book list: Anansi Boys by Gaiman, a few magazines that have arrived, and another book I picked up from Singing Pebble Books: 52 Projects - Random Acts of Everyday Creativity, by Jeffrey Yamaguchi. Looks like fun.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Check it out

Hey ho...
If you haven't discovered my Art Flog, please feel free to wander over to Kunstpike and take a gander.. I'm going to try and post regularly there with what-all I draw, whether it's comics, funny-animals, erotica, etc. So, not necessarily for the kiddies; be warned! :-D And some stuff well, will be purty cute too (with luck.)

Today was allright I suppose. For a Thursday. I don't personally mind Thursdays, but some people can't get the hang of them (Dent, Arthur). I am officially a Term CR-03 as of like yesterday. My paperwork finally came through (this was the interview I had in August that I thought I bombed--just goes to show what a surge of adrenaline can do for your self-confidence.) So, I am no longer Census-exclusion, which means I can apply for internal jobs within STC. Which is cool... I guess.. although it could mean that I just get imbedded deeper into the labyrinthine siren-song of a gov't job with no hope of extricating my ass to do the art/crap I really need to do!

That being said, since my status has changed, I'm being moved next week from my cushy, comfy corner office which made work keying tolerable.. back to the Dungeon Below; a windowless maze of cubes, all pretty much the same, egg-cartons with keyers keying data. And, to top it off, I get the plum assignment of keying HRSDC (which I think I was bitching about a few months ago.) Although not as excrutiating as the TAMS, it is still a pretty boring piece of business to do. Some people absolutely hate doing it (Catherine L!) I don't know.. as far as I'm concerned, it's same sh*t different bag, eh? ;-)

Still, it's too bad; it'll be 2-3 months keying the same thing, day after day, week after week, month after--well, until they run out. Which they never will. You know those little travel cards you fill out when you return to Canada from some foreign land? That's what the HRSDC thingies are. So, unless everyone decides to stay home forever, Stats will never run out of these things. I guess there's something to be said for job security, eh?

I think I'm going to have to invest in some books on CD or something.. or be sure to remember my MP3/ radio so I don't go (even more) bonkers. Although I seem to remember that I couldn't pick up CKCU 93.1 or CBC downstairs. *sighhh*!

I'm not bitter really.. or resigned.. I think after awhile, even the most rebellious of slaves must realize that the collar and irons don't chafe quite so much, that the slop is pretty tasty when you've worked hard and that the company of your fellow drones ain't too bad, compared to isolation. The danger is to sink so deeply that one appreciates and enjoys the slavery.. never glancing at the sliver of window peeping over the miles of cubed work-space, forgets the dreams and hopes that once were the thick chewy sustenance of life.

OH! To never forget the wise words of George Eliot... aka Mary Anne Evans (1819-1880), my favourite of which is: "It's never too late to be who you might have been." I find it remarkable that synchronicity occurs in bunches.. what I'm reading, listening to on the radio, observing on the TV often yell at me to follow my dreams, be true to my heart and trust my talent. Even while my internal demons scream and rant that I am not good enough and cling to the safety of the Joe Job. Can there be balance between what one HAS to do to live and what one MUST do to keep internally alive? When the balance gets out of whack, things happen (bad things usually); reminding me of a quote from "Art and Fear" that goes something like this.. "The artist doesn't get down to work until the pain of not working outweighs the pain of working."

Gurrg..
Well, it's past midnight and I have to be up in less than 5 hours... :-P I must be nuts writing. Blame the Bridgehead coffee I scarfed.. a restless spirit.. a busy mind... chocolate fibre muffins... what-have-you.

Ok, I'll shush now :-)
nite.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Belly Dance classes coming up!

Hello all you lovely ladies (and/or partners of ladies :-)

Just wanted to post the info about Belly Dance classes starting in Feb. if anyone is interested. I usually sign up for the Wed. night classes and they are an absolute hoot. The cost is reasonable (usually comes out to be about $10 a class) and the teacher, a good friend of mine, is supportive, funny and can really move :-D Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions, or check Lisa-Marie's links too. Looking forward to shimmying with y'all!

hugs,
Suzanne.


Sha' Vega's 2007 Classes

Wednesday night in Nepean at Sir Guy Carleton H.S.

6:20 p.m. - 7:20 p.m. Tarot Card Interpretation
7:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Beginners Belly Dance
8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Intermediate Belly Dance

Registration begins in January 8 and will close on January 26.
Classes start on February 7 for 8 weeks.
No class on March 14 (spring break).
Register on line here: https://e-connect.ocdsb.edu.on.ca/
or call (613) 239-2751

Thursday nights in South Keys
at Hunt Club Riverside Community Centre on Paul Anka Drive

Call 613-521-1392 for registration information.

6:30 - 7:30 Beginners Belly Dance
7:30 - 8:30 Intermediate Belly Dance

For more on Sha' Vega, please visit:
http://lablanchepoterie.com/otherstuff.htm

Friday, January 05, 2007

What's the buzz, tell me what's happening

Afternoon dudes and dudettes; if the typing is a bit off, it's because Arlo has decided to lie in between me and the keyboard... a call for attention? Or... naw, he's just sleeping and using my left arm as a pillow. What a guy!

Another couple of recipes to post and then I'll get back to whining and kvetching about my life! I have to say that the holidays were very challenging food-wise. I tried my best to make good choices, and to really think before I ate.. but one can only do so much. I am only human after all.. in case you were questioning *wink*.

I've just finished reading Neil Gaiman's Sandman collections 5-7 and enjoyed them very much.. it inspires me to get the pencils out and get drawing again. Hurray! For that reason, my handle Apathienmadchen (Apathy Girl) has been changed to Eifriger (Eager) instead. I thought it might be a bit more uplifting and positive ;-) I also have just finished reading Charles de Lint's "Widdershins" which I enjoyed a whole bunch. All of these morsels were courtesy of the libleberrie at Hazeldean. I owe them $1.50 in fines.... sigh! But it's still cheaper than buying all these wonderful books myself. I still haunt garage sales, book sales and the Thrift store for books with success.. so there's no worry of my collection grinding to a halt. I just couldn't wait long enough for de Lint's latest offering to come out in paperback, let alone find it used. So... there ya go.

Ok, now on with the recipes!

This one is a muffin recipe that will help get you through the difficulties of dessert. I make these ahead, freeze them and bring them with me when I know that there's going to be a lot of sweets happening. Kids also really like them!
Chocolate Fibre Muffins

3 cups All Bran (cereal)
2 1/2 cups water
Mix the above together and let stand 5 min.
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 box Betty Crocker Low Fat Brownie Mix

Soak cereal in water for 5 minutes. Add baking soda and brownie mix (dry) to the cereal and stir. Put in ungreased or paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes. Makes about 24, freezes well.

WW info: 1.5 points per average sized muffin.

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Ok, now that your sweet tooths have been satisfied (and nigh guilt-free!) On to breakfast. When I began trying to lose weight and started exercising, my buddy Leah divulged a breakfast secret to me. First of all.. EAT YOUR BREAKFAST! This is very important. You need breakfast to get you to lunch without falling off the wagon and eating high fat doughnuts and muffins all morning.

Breakfast is the only meal you actually burn off during the day without any additional exercise! Just sitting around typing.. lying on the couch, existing; burn calories. Breakfast is like your freebie meal o' the day! (But that doesn't mean you can go hog wild and eat sugar-bombs or deep fried pancakes for breakfast.. well, not and try and lose weight anywayz.)

Leah recommended oatmeal for breakfast & it's pretty much what I've been eating since I started the Core programme.


Leah's Breakfast Oatmeal

1/2 cup large rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup frozen (or fresh) blueberries
1 eggwhite (Leah uses more, but I can't.)
1/2 cup light soy milk or skim milk

In the morning, stagger to your kitchen and begin assembling your brekky. In a microwave safe bowl, put in 1/2 cup rolled oats and mix with 3/4 cup of water. Microwave on high for 1 min and 23 seconds (the 1,2,3 rule.) While your oatmeal is cooking, separate an eggwhite from its yolk and whisk in a small bowl. Mix with the heated oatmeal and pop back in the nuker for another 1 min and 23 seconds.

While you're waiting, go to your basement where the freezer is, hop over the rabbit barrier that keeps him from pooping in the weight room and retrieve 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (or what have you.) Go back upstairs.

Mix blueberries with oatmeal/eggy mixture and throw into the microwave for another 1 min and 23 seconds. Pour your cold coffee from yesterday into a mug and wait patiently for your food. Exchange oatmeal for coffee and nuke that sucker. Pour 1/2 cup light soy milk over your lava-esque porridge. Mix it around so it'll cool enough to eat it. I sprinkle a bit of nutrasweet on top, but you can sprinkle what you like sweetener-wise.

Collect coffee from nuker and settle at the table to eat. You will never have enough time to make this and get to work on time, so resign yourself to being late, but feeling satisfied!

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Ok, enough with the recipes. I promise to post some art on Kunstpike soon and crawl back onto the good health wagon ASAP. Cheers!

Suzanne.







Thursday, January 04, 2007

By popular demand

Happy New Year everyone; we made it to 2007! The Holidays were fun, exhausting, filled with relatives, friends, presents, pasts ;-) And of course FOOD. Don't worry, I'm probably not just going to yack about grub in this Blog. Well.. maybe I shall. I guess I'd better start posting art on the Kunstpike Flog if I'm going to convince myself once and for all that I'm not a Junior Statistical Clerk! :-)

First, I must post a recipe that I made for New Year's Eve lunch. I thought I'd made enough.. I mean really, who is going to devour anything with parsnips and sweet potatoes in it? But devoured it was.. and now my buddies are clamouring for the recipe! This baby is from the December 2006 iss. of Weight Watcher's Magazine (pg. 126) and is Core friendly. Enjoy!


You will need:

1 (1 1/2 pound) butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1 inch cubes.
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (or 2.5 cm cubes for Keith)
3/4 pound parnsips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large Vidalia, Spanish or Red onion, coarsely chopped.
2 Tablespoons canola or olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 Tablespoons apple-cider vinegar (or half Umoboshi and red wine vinegar)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a large broiling pan with non-stick spray or olive oil.

2. Combine the squash, sweet potatoes, parnsips, onion, 1 Tbsp. of oil, 1/2 tsp of salt and a 1/8 tsp. of black pepper in a large bowl. Spread vegetable mixture in a single layer on the broiling pan (or baking sheet) and roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and starting to brown (22 - 25 minutes.) If you need to, roast the veggies in two batches. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Add the black-eyed peas, bell pepper, celery, vinegar and the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. of pepper to the roasted vegetables; toss well to combine. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature.

Per serving: 1 cup= 168 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg. chol, 332 mg. sod, 31 g carb, 6 g fib, 5 g prot, 69 mg calc. (For Flex plan folks, points = 3)

Good luck!

Ed. note: try not to do this recipe at midnight Dec. 30th after attending your niece's baptism and apres baptismal party. Try not to get snippy while you are peeling squash at 1am and your partner is helping to wrap presents. Rightly decide to roast ALL the veggies at once even though they don't really fit in a single layer so you can crawl into bed around 2am.
Do be sure to get at least a sample taste before it all gets eaten up!

Or make a double batch!

And now, for Leah, Lianne, Michelle, Vicki.. everyone who has always said to me: "Will you send me that hot rice dish Sue??"


"PATAK'S" BIRIYANI

You can make this vegetarian or not depending on if you decide to use chicken, a beef/pork tenderloin or large chunk TVP. I find that any of these work well; I've even used straight tofu and it tasted great. Whatever protein source you choose will soak up the curry flavour and taste delightful.

This is one of those weird recipes where you can add as many vegetables as you want. Keep adding them; the recipe sort've swells to accept it. Remember if you really go hog-wild on the ingredients, that you'll have to add more of the curry paste or you'll have a WIMPY Biriyani and that would be sad.

You can use brown rice instead of the basmati, but you will need to increase your cooking time. I found that my veggies got pretty flacid after awhile; so you may want to partially cook the brown rice in advance, or add the veggies later. Just a thought. Ok, now on with the recipe!

You will need:
1 chicken breast (boneless, skinless) or tenderloin (beef/pork) or chunky TVP or tofu.
6 - 8 cups (or more!) assorted chopped vegetables (green/red pepper, zuchinni, celery, carrot etc.)
2 cups rice (basmati)
2 onions (chopped)
1/2 jar Patak's Biriyani sauce/ paste (approx. 8 Tbsp.)
28 oz. tin whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 cups boiling water.

Wash 2 cups rice and soak in water for 20 minutes. While this is going on, saute pork/beef tenderloin or poach chicken breast (or rehydrate 1 cup TVP, or chop up 1 pkg. firm tofu) and slice into strips.

Saute 1 onion with rice in a frying pan. In a separate pan (dutch oven, large pot) saute veggies with the other onion. Add the biriyani paste and tomatoes to vegetables.

Combine the rice/ onion mixture with the veggies and add 2 cups (or more) boiling water.

Bake 375 degrees F. covered for 40-50 minutes (This recipe is doubled and makes LOTS of food. You can try halving in to make less if you like.)

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