There's More to Life Than Knitting!

Join Suna as she stops knitting long enough to ponder her life, share her joys and concerns, and comment on the goings on in the world.
You are very welcome here, so feel free to comment and contribute!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Hello

I have thought about posting here many times in the past few months. This year has been the kind of series of events that is hard to write down and hope to make any sense whatsoever. The ups have been very high and he downs very low. Since I am someone who dwells most comfortably in the "neutral" range, that means it's been rough on my fascinating collection of issues. Perhaps the most interesting discovery that I have made is that when things get unexpectedly better than I ever expected them to be...trying to figure out what to do about it is really stressful! Of course, I can learn to cope!

Holiday Stuff

First, let me share with any of you still reading this blog my little piece of holiday cheer--the kids playing music together for Lee's dad.

They had never played together before, but I sure hope they do it again. We spent Christmas with Lee's dad, who is dealing with some bad health issues. We have been visiting there at least monthly since we got Ursula the RV (he values his privacy, so staying in the trailer is a real invasion of space). I have grown to really enjoy the visits--it is fun watching Lee's dad enjoy his fancy new tractor and watching Lee and his nephew, who has been mostly staying in the area since Lee's dad has needed someone around these past few months, do stuff with each other. The farm has become a lot more organized, and a lot more fun.

For example, when there was a scary brush fire caused by a welding spark, a bunny got injured by the tractor. Lee's dad has been caring for it for a couple of months. It has really grown!

Bun Bun wishing it had more of that gourmet lettuce Suna brings
They lost half the hay crop that had just been baled, but saved the buildings! Yeah, stuff like this happened all year. But fun also happened. I got to play with the cows. Of course, the friendliest two are now someone's dinner. But one bull calf did get to become a Daddy Bull at a friend's farm. More cows are coming, too.

He was a sweetie pie.
I got a real Stetson hat. That is because it's the only thing that doesn't blow off in the heavy winds, and I can't see without a hat, due to my hair growing out. I look very official, don't I?

Why I Have So Much Western Gear and More Ups and Downs

I said there were ups and downs this year. Maybe it will be easier to just enumerate things. Then move on.

1. Jobs. I really loved working in the small office with the wonderful view and the wonderful coworkers and the wonderful lunches together. However, I did not love never knowing if there was actually something to do on any given week. When people began to leave, I decided to stop ignoring all those calls about other jobs and go for them. I had turned down one job this time last year, and resolved to not repeat that. I told myself I would take the first thing that came up, even a contract. There seem to be more jobs out there now, so I had more confidence I could find something else. So, I took a job at Dell. The pay was most excellent, and I learned about Agile Project Management and Oracle products. However, in the entire time I was there, no one ever said "hello" or "goodbye," or asked me how I was doing. I was spoken to about work and that's it (they were perfectly nice and very smart people, but sitting in a cubicle staring at a 200 page technical document with no breaks was more than a little tedious). So, I kept applying for "real" jobs and ended up having two offers at the same time--one for the job I didn't take last year and another very similar job that had more training to it. It was hard to decide, since the people were nice at both places, and while the second one paid more, the first one was much closer to home. I decided I would lose all that extra money in gas and traffic sitting hours, so I took the first position as contract to hire. Hip, hip, hooray they actually liked me and I am now full time there. It's a really nice company with good ethics, and I am doing better than I thought I would at doing nothing but making one e-learning module after another. They do let me do a bit of editing, too. So, ups and downs, yes, but it has ended on a big up. The people are fun, and I have made more good friends!

2. Life and Death. After a truly wonderful 80th birthday party, I hugged and hugged my dad before I left. I am glad I did, because 5 weeks later, his best friend died at the wheel of the truck he was driving. Dad was the middle passenger. They veered straight into Interstate traffic. The next two weeks were unbearably difficult. I went to NC and stayed as long as I could with him in ICU. That was horrendous. Since people read this, I will omit some of the reasons, but it is sufficient to say that emergencies bring out the worst in some people, and Dad married into that kind of family. Dad's funeral was not quite as bad, because I had my wonderful husband and kids with me, and my wonderful husband did a great job easing things for everyone. The ensuing issues with wills, property and other stuff were difficult, but my brother did a good job executoring. Hopefully at some point the remaining little bit of bucks in Dad's checking accounts will be taken out and that will be over with. Sigh. I cannot tell you how much I miss my dad. There are a lot of things that come up internally when something like this happens!
Dad's 80th Birthday


And it hasn't stopped. There have been some deaths of friends' family members that have been very sad, too. But, it's a part of life, and most of the time I bear that in mind and do OK.

3. Spirituality. The church I have attended for well over a decade continues to be a big ole source of stress, strife and difficulty. There are also good parts, which is why I have so much trouble separating myself. I guess it is a good thing we spend so much time camping, farming and ranching these days--being in nature settles my soul much better than crabby infighting ministers, power plays, political maneuvering and public displays of all of the above! They way people have treated fellow church members in the past few months appalls me. Much like how people on different ends of the political spectrum just say awful stuff about each other. Why on EARTH do that? These are your friends who have a different perspective from yours, not enemies. I have tried really, really hard to listen to everyone, act according to my conscience, and plug away, but it is very, very hard. I had loved singing in the rock group, but the leader moved away, and while choir is OK it is no longer much of a challenge--I feel like more of a hindrance than a help there these days (to be proactive, I have rejoined the choir I sang with a few times years ago, and hope that will be a fun experience over the next few weeks.)
Fun with Funkatonic
4. Windfalls. There have been opportunities opened up for us that we never foresaw, thanks to the concept of "mineral rights." Trying to figure out what to do with unexpected income? Save! But, savings have no interest nowadays. So, we are planning to invest in a place to retire to, part of a lovely ranch. We go there often. I hope to share more photos when we start making improvements.
Ranch, looking toward woods.

I love looking at the birds around the tanks (ponds), wandering in the woods, and exploring the fields. The place feels good. That's what counts. Obviously we are still working, so we won't be moving anywhere for some years, but it will be great to have a place to retreat to. I need it. The world is such a contentious, unpleasant place these days. I can cope better with some "hermit time."

There is more, way more. But at least I have sort of caught up on this year. Next year I hope will be calmer, with more travel (RV and otherwise) and fun with friends and family. Because for sure, friends and family are what counts most. It's been a transition period for friends, but the ones who remain are treasured all the more, and I feel fondness for the good times with those who have moved on to new adventures!



Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer of No Moisture

We are going through a really bad drought here in the middle of Texas, even as so many people are dealing with so much rain and flooding elsewhere. The inch or two of rain we got last week was the first in many weeks, and it doesn't appear that more is on the way. Temperatures have also been very, very high for days on end. Temperatures like 104-106 day after day. That cannot be good for plants.

Yet, I went for a walk around the block yesterday, after it got down into the almost-bearable 90s. I passed yard after yard with perfectly manicured, green lawns. There were two or three that looked barely green and with some brown on the edges (like mine). But I was surprised at how well watered everyone's plants appeared to be. And to be honest, I haven't been hearing the usual exhortations to conserve water, to water only on your designated day, etc., that I remember from previous dry spells and long droughts. I guess this is the new normal, though of course, no climate change around here. Just lots and lots of above-average hot and dry years (plus one wet one not too long ago!).

As I came back home, I realized our house looked pretty nice. For once there weren't four cars in the driveway, and the wildflowers have been mowed down. I realized the burr oak is finally taller than the house--I knew I had planted a slow-growing tree, so that's fine. The edgings ELAB has put on the flower beds look very nice. The ones on the right of the driveway are new this year. So, this is how it is during our summer of no moisture.

Our house, summer 2011. Thanks to JGT for PhotShopping out the street light pole that is really in the middle of the crape myrtle on the right.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Just a Quick Link

I'll try to post more tomorrow--I will have a car repair and a crown to report on. Oooh.

But until then, I wanted to share that I did start a blog for RV fun and learning. If you would like to know more about where we go, what we see, and the (sometimes physically painful) lessons we learn, check out Lumbering along with Ursula. She'd appreciate it. Maybe she won't be so temperamental if she knows she has fans.

And to tempt you, here is a pretty picture from this past weekend.

Sunset Saturday night. Photo NOT found on other blog!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Decision

I think I am going to start a new blog about driving around with the RV. I will link to it, so any of you who are interested can follow along.

I will keep this one for personal writings, which I will try to do more of these days. I think maybe it's not so overwhelming now.

So here is a picture of my dad, in honor of Father's Day coming up. He had a really crappy 2011, and lost his life in April. He was finally feeling better and hadn't counted on his friend dying at the wheel of the car he was riding in...in Interstate traffic.


 I just found out I will be inheriting his car soon. Not how I wanted to become a two-MINI family. 

Ethel meets Princely. Princely has been very lonely since March.
My Work Buddy (well former work, still buddy) and I were talking today about his parents and ELAB's dad and how they don't want to spend any money, even though they are quite elderly (his mom won't buy a book for the Kindle--would only want free ones). I realized that one reason I went along with the plan to buy the RV was that I I have been putting off doing fun stuff, having adventures, and seeing the world around me for a long time. Oh, I had no money in grad school. Focused on the kids and expensive trips to visit the Irish relatives when the kids were small. Was struggling to make ends meet or had no vacation as a contractor after the divorce. Well, I can take a day or two off now.

I'm still saving for the future, and not planning to go wild, but it will be nice to go relax in places I've never been before. Now's the time to enjoy my husband and my kids, while I can. Off I go. Follow me on Ursula's new blog...soon as I figure out where it will live!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hey there

I am thinking of taking this blog and using it to chronicle our trips with Ursula, our new-to-us RV. So look forward to some traveling travails.

I am still alive, by the way, though it has not been a terribly fun period. Lost a bunch of friends, lost my dad, changed to a job with no friends...but it's not all bad! Beccano managed to graduate from high school, we have a fun house guest all summer, and the house is always full of happy chatter. Not bad. And when the chatter gets too much, ELAB and I head out in Ursula.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hey There...I'm Musing Again

I haven't written much lately, because I've felt extra introverted I guess. At least I've gotten over worrying that anything I write will offend someone or be taken the wrong way. Someone on an email list with me recently wrote a long, heartfelt post about feeling like she alienates people and they just disappear, which got people postulating ideas...and it boiled down to the fact that yeah, sometimes you upset people, but sometimes it's their problem for misunderstanding just as much as it's yours for subconsciously sabotaging things. And really, what do we get out of assigning blame? Not a thing! So, enjoy this photo of a nice flower bed.

Our side yard. Lots of basil and tomatoes, plus phlox and roses. Once full of nothing. It has never looked better.
I've been dealing with a "blamer" at work lately, too, and it's caused me to see that pointing fingers at others to distract people from your own failings is really unattractive and unappealing. I am trying to apply lessons learned observing this behavior to myself, ya know, to improve. I will always have the strong urge to "explain" things--to convey my point of view (for example, that I meant a particular sentence in a kind way, even if it came out snarky, etc.). But, I need to be careful not to veer into the area of defensiveness or finger pointing. In the end, sadly, I don't think the "facts" matter all that much. People have already perceived what they are going to perceive in any situation, so the key is to figure out how to deal with is in a positive manner that encourages friendship and support.

Yow. That all sounds hard to do. Let's look at flowers

Bouquet made from the last wildflowers in our front border, plus some pretty coleus leaves.
The flower picture reminds me that I didn't write at all during our kitchen remodeling process. Yes, we have a new kitchen, thanks to Lee's oil lease. It will give us a lot of pleasure now, and I hope make the house more appealing to buyers when downsizing time comes--sooner than you might think! Here is a before and an after shot.


Kitchen before remodeling. Note wallpaper, plain counter tops, and ugly floor

Kitchen after remodeling. Note cool backsplash, granite counters, new lighting, ceramic tile floors with glass inserts.

It really was not an unpleasant process at all, thanks to having a competent contractor. I can't say what my favorite part is. Perhaps the backsplash, which is natural stone with a band of brown glass. Or it could be the faucet in the deep stainless steel sink. Mmm. Here is a close-up of the backsplash.
Sink and backsplash. I like the detachable faucet head and deep sink.
Anyone of you who hasn't already seen these photos to death can see more of the kitchen remodeling process right here! We also re-tiled the front entryway and downstairs bath, and painted the family room the same color as the kitchen. I sort of miss my pansy wallpaper, but buyers hate wallpaper. Boo hoo.

What else is going on? Lots of family time this summer, which has been great. As much as I would have liked Tuba Boy to get a job, it has been nice having him home, when he is awake. Beccano is teaching my coworker guitar, so making a little spending money. Mostly we do things together and laugh--we've been enjoying having Beccano's girlfriend around, too. She really fits in--they have been together a year now!

And I have been Driver Ed instructor for Beccano. I am pleased to report that using the clutch has finally become clear, and that he is a good driver otherwise. We just have to finish up a few more driving hours and get through all the exercises in his book, and he will have a license in time to go back to school. Of course, that means insurance. Ugh. Everything is more expensive (my portion of college is more now, too), so I sure hope I can hang on to some employment for a while longer!

Since I have not been knitting much, I have turned my fascination back to my aquarium. The poor thing had been dealing with some bad water combined with bad algae. The kids and I totally cleaned it out, saving the two remaining fish in a holding tank, and have it back up and running. I got a new and expensive biological filter, new lights, and new plants (fake). We put starter fish in (mollies and danios) and are now patiently waiting for the aquarium to "cycle," so it will be safe for more fish. That is taking a while. The consensus of the fish experts at AquaTek  (go there--it is reputable and has some beautiful tanks) is that the Brushy Creek MUD water just is not good for tropical fish (as opposed to the water in Brushy Creek, which is). So, once it's all set up I will be using reverse osmosis water from the grocery store with some salts put in it. So there. I hope to heck that this week I can get a catfish and algae eater, plus a few more live-bearers to round out the school. The mollies are actually eating some of the new algae, which is good. And the algae that is forming now is "normal," not the scary kind. Fingers crossed. The new fish have now been in there a month and only one has died--a danio jumped out of the tank (glass top is on order!).

Rather than make this post un-ending, I'll close here and try to blog more soon. Say hi in the comments if you wish!

Addendum: I was thinking about what I wrote and want to be clear that the friend I refer to in the first paragraph has never said anything that offended me--in fact comes across as incredibly sweet and considerate. The things she said just led me to muse that sometimes what seems completely innocent or kind to one person can be interpreted quite differently by someone else. I was not intending to fault her. Hmm, am I over-explaining again???

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Achieved My Hair Goal

Since last October, when I had my friend Gina cut my hair and put some highlights in the front, I have been trying to grow out my hair to where there is only natural Suna hair, and nothing with dye on it. I think I finally got there.
In person, the more gray parts in the front look pretty cool. I had no idea I had "natural highlights." One of my coworkers said I look younger this way. Looking at those eye wrinkles makes me doubt that, but hey, they are smile lines, so that's not all bad, right?

I hope this will be the last "this is my new hair" post for a while. I think I'll keep it natural, and just grow it a bit longer. No new photos of hair will be needed!

I look a little tired, and that's because I am a little tired. I worked a lot of extra hours last week, plus I have been rehearsing for our choir service (that is over, thankfully) and another rock and roll service, plus working on fixing up our kitchen, and that sort of thing. And I am trying to teach Beccano to drive a manual shift. That isn't so easy in my car. There's just a lot going on. None of it is bad,  though! There is so much good going on that I say thanks every day for the fact that things have turned around a bit!

We've been spending whatever relaxation time we have sitting on the "new" front porch and enjoying the garden. This year, the wildflower garden has the perennials in all their glory. We even had some bluebonnets!

We have two of these beds between the street and sidewalk. Right now they are mostly Indian paintbrush and black-eyed susans, but there are also some Mexican hats and horsemints. The one in the side yard has huge coriopsis (OK I can't spell it or find it in spell check)  and English daisies. When the flowers are all gone, we'll just mow it, and it will look grass-ish.

Lee has put in lots of pretty things this year, and I have weeded a lot. This was the front yard a couple of weeks ago:
That front tree is the redbud, and the brown things are all its seeds. We have pulled up MANY seedlings this year. If you want a native redbud, we can set you up with one.
Here are some of the front flowers. Those pansies are about shot and are going to be replaced with some summer annuals tomorrow, we hope. But, they were sure pretty all winter. The roses are doing great, too. You can see the two by the front door. Here's our teeny miniature rose, as of today:
Next to it are the lilies from two years ago that will bloom soon. We will have to divide them next fall.

What I am not sharing photos of is the back yard. We had the huge tree back there taken down, but it looks pretty bad still. I hope that once the kitchen stuff is done we can work on getting that area looking better again. There is NO grass where the tree used to shade everything, but we don't want to put any in until we know where we are going to put a shed and another patio. So, it looks pretty icky.

I guess I have gone on and on about the garden as long as I can. It was just a great, long spring here. That is so rare. We really took advantage of it!

I should have lots to report next week. I just hope I have time to report it. Wishing whoever reads this well. I do want to say that I am thinking of quite a few people with issues in their families. You know who you are.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ya Gotta Wonder

I was just taking a walk around the wooded parking lot at work during lunchtime. I turned the corner, and there I spotted this.
The Monitor in the Woods

I had no idea the oak trees were networked. I did search Facebook, but saw no sign of "Oak Tree by Cool River Restaurant" or any similar listing. I wonder if it was blogging about oak rights? Watching YouTubes of forests in other places?

I guess I am sorta sentimental about oaks right now. I have always really loved them, so it was especially hard to give the OK to have the biggest tree in our yard taken down, the tree that is the reason our house sits slightly crookedly on the lot, the tree we bought the lot for, only to have a huge ice storm take down about half of it the next day. The tree the kids' tree house was in. Sigh. But, it completely blacked out the back yard, so only inland sea oats would grow there. We just can't get grass in once the oaks leaf out. Now we will be able to install a shed, maybe add to the patio and stick on my dream hot tub...and perhaps get some grass to grow, even though there still is a huge hedge of crepe myrtles along the fence, giving plenty of shade and privacy.

But, I will miss the tree. It will be firewood for many years to come, and the rest of it will become mulch and help other plants. We do still have 4-5 other live oaks, two Monterrey oaks and a lovely burr oak. All that on a fairly small lot (the "estate" size--the bigger ones in the neighborhood).

Otherwise, I sort of overdid things on Saturday, with exercise followed by an hour of hard weeding. I think I killed my poor legs! But, it was a fun day all in all, featuring a visit from my friend Carolyn, who picked out yarn for a shawl, and having dinner with Beccano and his girlfriend. They have been dating 8 months and that was our first dinner together. I think we all had a good time.

Things to do beckon, so I'll share any other weird stuff I see in another post!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gonna Be Brave

Things are going real well, though having work means less time to blog! I am feeling really well.

I hate it when "they" are right, but when "they" say that eating right and getting plenty of exercise makes you feel physically and mentally better...well, darn it, they are right. I've not had a soda in a long time, and no longer sweeten my coffee with Splenda, which means my intake of real AND fake sugar has plummeted. And my intake of greens and veggies has soared. Wow, I feel better.

And I have been making it to the community center around 4-5 days a week. Working late or having a lot of meetings makes it hard sometimes, but I am sticking with it, and managed to elliptical for 3 miles last weekend. That's not much for some folks, but a lot for me.

I am now trying to be brave and try new things. Lee tempts me with treats to get me to get on his motorcycle, which he has just outfitted with a snazzy luggage rack (no, really, it IS snazzy). Last weekend I got a really darling jacket and some fine motorcycle boots.
New boots and carpet in my office
That's as good as I can do with a phone and taking the photo myself! These are so incredibly comfortable. When I posted the picture on Facebook two people said they had the same ones! I can see why. I will wear these a lot in the winter as well as when and if I ever get on the bike. You see, we still have not located the style of helmet Lee thinks I should get in my size. I need vents, he says, knowing my propensity towards fainting in the heat. So, I guess tomorrow we will try again to find one. Then I will brave my fears and get on the bike, with helmet, boots, jacket and resolve!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cuteness

There's way too much nature to enjoy this time of year. Also, too much pollen, as I mentioned last time. I'll spare you photos, but just imagine a world that has a yellowish-green tint to everything, and you will have Austin during oak pollen season. Wow, this year there's really a bumper crop, too.

There's a bumper crop of cuteness, too. Or maybe, beauty. Yesterday I dropped Beccano off after picking him up from school, trying to get to my knitting group in Georgetown before the traffic hit on the Interstate. A couple of blocks from the house, the phone rang. It was him, saying, "Mom, come back! You have to see this!" So, I turned around and drove back. There he was standing anxiously by the front door, looking down. I came onto the porch and saw it.
Very Large Moth
He knew I wouldn't want to miss this beautiful moth on the porch. What a sweet boy--it's so nice that he still loves nature like he did when he was little and we'd stare at all the bugs and moths on nature hikes. Lee put the moth somewhere safer, though it was probably near the end of its life, anyway. Such a beautiful, delicate creature.

We saw a few other delicate creatures as we walked on the local greenbelt on Sunday. These dudes where hanging out and wishing we'd leave them alone.
Deer Hiding in the Shade
Mostly Lee and I just enjoyed even more wildflowers. This year they are spectacular. We have seen so many of our friends' children (and dogs) patiently posing amid the bluebonnets this year. We figured we didn't have any little kids any more, so we took pictures of each other!
Lee Bonnet
Suna Bonnet
We had a lot of fun looking at teeny little flowers that didn't photograph all that well--the karst formations in my neighborhood are host to many very delicate, tiny things, including some succulents that bloom pink--I hope to share those soon. However, there are some larger displays, like this honeysuckle gone wild along the path.
Unfortunately, this isn't the kind that smells wonderful (I did see some of that yellow kind way off the path), but it is pretty. Mine in the back yard has almost all died, so I am glad there is some elsewhere for all the hummingbirds! Hey, check out my new natural hair. Nice gray stripe, huh!

I hope someone is still here reading--I had lots of blog readers for a couple of weeks, but I stopped being controversial and they all hid again. I guess it's OK--I mostly write so I can have a fun record of what goes on in my life. And finally, it is a GOOD period. We've managed to pay the taxes, pay off the bills, start saving, and can relax. At least for a bit. I have been waiting for this day since 2002. About time.