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!

Saturday, October 1, 2005

What have I been knitting?

afghan in foliage
What have I been knitting? Trying out the Blogger for Word feature, I’ll write in Word and see if it uploads. So, here we go.

As I said earlier, I made LOTS of scarves to sell at a boutique on South Congress that features only the work of local “artists.” I am enjoying being thought of as an artist. However, in order to get me a reasonable amount plus their commission, the price is, well, to me, pricey. I hope some rich people came by this month. I made a combination of Eros scarves and various types of fluffy yarns, plus a few with textures. It was a great opportunity to try out a variety of yarns. One, Foliage, made me so happy that…

I have made two things from that yarn already! One is a very bright afghan out of mitered squares, which I am sending (any second now) to my friend, Marcia, who has a new house with brightly colored walls. The pattern is in the Berocco book that has a dog sweater on the cover, but I just read the instructions and winged it from there, and I added a crochet border. The other item is a rather interesting looking vest (from the Berocco web site) in blues and greens and purples that I just finished today. I hadn’t planned to actually make the border, then said, “Oh, what the heck,” and I ended up liking it.

I’ve also made quite a few felted items, most of which have already been given away. One very large bag has taught me that perhaps Lopi is too thick for the Lucy bag. I think its intended recipient will like it, once I surgerize the extremely long main strap that didn’t felt too well (not surprised at that). The bag is for a man with MS, who needs both hands to go up and down stairs. He will use the bag to carry items up and down. I am considering asking the friend who commissioned it if she wants me to try again in Cascade.

black and white sockAnd of course I have made lots of socks. They are so nice for sitting on busses, sitting at football games, waiting at doctor’s offices, dealing with church meeting stress, etc. I will just show one here—the rest I will add to my knitting portfolio page eventually (maybe today if I am not totally exhausted from high school band parenting).

And booties! Cute little baby booties that will be given away at a shower tomorrow. I am very proud of the blue ones, which I used to learn how to do figure 8 cast on. That let me make the entire thing in one piece. Ooh, ahh. Both bootie patterns are from the Knitting Pattern a Day calendar. I think both are in the 2006 one. The 2005 calendar had the pattern for the socks in the picture from September 30.

Friday, September 30, 2005

As promised, a photo

As promised, a photo. This is the most beautiful sock ever created. The yarn is Trekking XXL in color 100. The yarn has three strands in it, and each one changes color randomly. I love this yarn and will wear these socks a lot. See, I posted.


Gosh, I am sorry it has been so long since I posted. Work really got in the way, plus I was in knitting overdrive trying to stock a boutique with items to put on commission, only to have them priced a bit high and not sell...hoping for better news this month on that front.

I will post some completed project pix ASAP. And write about what I think about hurricanes and the world.

In good news, I found my lost friend from when I was a wild and unprincipled college rhetoric instructor. He didn't die in a submarine like I thought he would!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Still Here!

I was out of town much of June and early July in a combo of vacation and work off site. I was busy teaching my dad to use a computer (yay dad, at age 74 finally got online) and working in a room full of computers at a big conference. We had a blog at the conference, so you can read my posts there [if they are still there]:

I spent a lot of time with my oldest son at the conference. It was a highlight of both our lives. It was pure joy to see him interacting with my friends and colleagues at meals and evenings. He fit right in and cracked everyone up. He met a friend, a girl much like himself, and they had a great time running around and having fun, as well as helping out. They really impressed others with their behavior. I was proud of both of them.

I am learning Picasa, which claims it will upload photos to this. I'll see what I can do. I promise to write more, and to show you my beautiful poncho I finished and wore at the conference!


Stephanie said...
Hiya Sue Ann. You should be a proud momma. What a great boy you have raised! I have been using Picasa since I got a digital camera two years ago and it is easy as pie. I expect you will master it quickly and be littering the web with your beautiful photos. :-)
Wednesday, July 20, 2005 5:06:00 PM

Monday, May 30, 2005

Latest Knitted Item

Ta da, I finished my cardigan. I probably knitted 1.5 cardigans, given how many times I messed up the pattern or otherwise didn't do it right. The collar isn't "right" either, but I ended up liking it, so now it is my own design. Go me.

Everyone says the green color will be "neutral" and match lots of stuff. I think so, too. It is a wool/raw silk blend that feels wonderful. It was such a joy to work on, other than the fact that I didn't have enough yarn and panicked until I could phone the yarn store and reserve some! The pattern is from "The Queensland Collection," and the yarn is Queensland Aran Tweed. It has little purple specks in it. There is a larger view at if you want to check out the pattern. It's a garter stitch basketweave.

Now I am working on the most beautiful poncho. In shiny silk in amazingly intense colors...ooh.


Vicki said...
Very comfy looking!! I think I'm gonna have to get me some of that Queensland Aran Tweed... anything that has flecks of purple in it is fine by me.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005 8:33:00 AM

Jennifer said...
You look extremely dignified. Also warm.
Thursday, June 02, 2005 2:51:00 PM

Friends and Flaws

Last week, I had an interesting conversation with an old friend (a young person, just an old friend, LOL). We know each other pretty well and are fairly intimate in our knowledge of each others "bugs and features." Part of the conversation involved how to deal with someone who "rubs you the wrong way," other than fleeing. I thought to myself how the things that bug me most about other people are often things I, myself, still need to work on or have spent years trying to address and feel like I have improved (say, passive aggressive behavior, which I am way down on compared to say, 5 years ago). And I remember how a couple of women who are very good friends of mine today really bugged me when I first met them [edited insert: people I knew in real life, not online friends, OK???]. I am thinking of two people who talked and talked and talked in group situations, to where others never got a chance. This is one of those "things I work on a lot" so I am particularly sensitive to it in others. I really had to force myself to continue to be with them, and as I result, I did get to know their complex life stories, their many wonderful positive features, and so much more--I gave them the chance, and got to know the "whole person." They have both influenced me greatly--so glad I gave them the chance!

During this conversation, my friend had another very useful insight. She said that she tries to embrace the little quirks her friends have, and to simply observe them rather than react: "Oh, look at Suna, she's doing that little thing of hers again. Isn't that endearing?" While that may sound sappy at first glance, it really is significant to me. Heck, we ALL have quirks and idiosyncrasies (ack, no spell check). Knowing that our friends know us, love us, and embrace our flaws as part of what makes us who we are can really be freeing. If you are close enough to a friend or group of friends that you don't have to constantly self-censor yourself, you can, perhaps learn and grow more and reach even deeper degrees of intimacy with others.

The result of this conversation is that we shared the idea with a few others, and then practiced saying, "Oh, look, she's doing that again; how loveable," or whatever. It felt FRIENDLY and loving, not like anyone was being picked on or singled out. It let each of us laugh at our own foibles, knowing no one was holding them against us. And you know, it helped! Rather than being peeved at a few things last week, I was able to say to myself, "That's just how So-and-so is," and grant her the grace to be herself, even if it momentarily bugged me.

I am so grateful to my imperfect friend for sharing this idea with imperfect me!


Jennifer said...
And now I am terribly, terribly worried that y'all are or were talking about me. Isn't it adorable when I'm paranoid like this? ;)

Vicki said...
I sympathize with J... today I found out from another mom at my son's preschool that she used to think I was "really snotty" before she found out I was shy, and that she and another mom had been talking about me after the school "spring tea party" where my husband and I felt so awkward and shy that we didn't speak to any of the other parents. Gee, I wonder what they were saying about me.

Suna said...
Well, I did let J. know it wasn't her--and that by the end of the meeting, I was viewing the person I had difficulty with in a new light, thanks to the conversation with "my other friend." I guess we can't do anything about what others say about us (I recently accidentally spotted an email ALL about something I said in a public forum), but we can do our best not to be so quick to judge--and I think that is a GOOD lesson! Thanks, friends.

Jennifer said...
Vicki -- doesn't it suck SO BAD when people think you're snotty when actually you're just shy? We need to wear big signs that say "SHY" on them. ;)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Mom Moment

Wow, it is hard to believe that 12 years ago tomorrow, I gave birth to this beautiful thing. On the other hand, since he does look like someone in my family, I guess I can believe it. He had his birthday party last night (it should be over ANY second now--parents coming to pick up their 6 interesting young fellows). The boys were so well behaved, after the one who likes to shout and brandish a wooden sword got it out of his system. They even went to bed when we told them to at 1 am!

One thing I have noticed about both my boys is that they have excellent choices of friends. The older one's friends are such high achievers and so darned polite to adults, yet pretty funny with each other. And this one's friends are more of the "learning problem" set (makes sense, as he was in the section with the children with behavior issues this year), yet they are tons of fun, but not too much fun--nothing was destroyed. It is so nice to meet so many different pre-teens who have such kind spirits (under the bluster). I am watching one young fellow enjoying our pug, sliding down the stairs with him, and talking to him like he was a close friend.

I am really enjoying both my boys right now. They are still talking to me, yet growing and changing every time I turn around. I am really looking forward to a week at a conference with the older one this summer!

Comment from Vicki: He's gorgeous! :-)


I am considering whether or not to be brave. So I have linked here a photo of my "group" from the workshop I was at last week, as they helped me become brave. What wonderful women--I felt so lucky to be in this group (which is missing my pal, NJ, who had to go home a day early). In the workshop we practiced the meeting techniques that I think I mentioned in the previous post. This showed me that you can really get a lot accomplished if you take the time to really get to know the people you are working with, and to listen to them. We spent many hours after the official workshops were over, in our rooms, just talking and listening. One night, a group of us from very different backgrounds shared our spiritual path stories. The range went from pagan to liberal Christian to LDS to Catholic (liberal). What I loved about the discussion was how respectful we all were and how well everyone attended to the others' stories. In the end, I really could see how each of us ended up in the place that was right for HER, and I think the others shared this experience. What a contrast from the knee-jerk reaction we often have, "Oh, she's an X, so she must be an idiot." (A thing I have done in the past, don't get me wrong, not perfect here.)

Back on the home front, I may have mentioned that things have become painful for me again at my own spiritual home. Some circumstances I thought I was handling well (thanks to years of wonderful therapy, which, yes, I will go back to when I am not so effing busy) resurfaced, and I was disappointed to see that I had a very hard time coping. I became fearful, distrustful and uncomfortable around the people even tangentially involved, like I used to be. Afraid that if I said anything that could be negatively interpreted by a group who was looking for me to make mistakes, it would be reported and exaggerrated to put me down. As this has happened a number of times in the past, I knew it was possible. I had spent two years being very careful what I said and to whom, but had been feeling more relaxed this year.

I had decided to withdraw again, and have not been back in many weeks--thanks to travel and other circumstances. But, the group of people working toward change kept asking me to stay involved. And the ministers called in a mediation team (whew, was out of town for THAT painful meeting), and when one of the ministers phoned me to find out if I could go to a later meeting...she began to tell me what she was looking into as ways to improve the situation. She actually mentioned World Cafe and Appreciative Inquiry. So I had to say, "Hey, you should look into Open Space Technology, too."

It occurs to me that, after this training, I actually have something constructive to offer. I could help. And that has been my goal this year--to not focus on negativity, but on what positive things I could do to help. I had been unable to figure anything positive out until that conversation. So...maybe I will be BRAVE and see what I can do to bring these useful techniques for conflict resolution and deeper understanding to this community.

To remind me I can be strong and brave, at right is a photo of me at the workshop, explaining my grand plan to start a couple of helpful and positive email lists for my organization.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Consensus Fun

I am now in Illinois at a lovely resort where a bunch of women are gathered to look into various ways of facilitating conversations among groups. We used "appreciative inquiry" yesterday and today are doing something called "world cafe."

We have been sitting around talking about how to help our organization value our diverse membership and their disparate perspectives. It was so exciting when, after hashing out many variations of "valuing each other" or listening, or whatever, we finally came to a pithy, short summary of hours of conversation. We decided we can facilitate change and honor diversity this way:

All important conversations occur in the open

Why? Because so many issues are ONLY raised in the hallways, or in our rooms after hours, or in private email lists--which means there ends up being lots of "elephants in the room." If we could create more opportunities for this sort of thing, MAYBE conflicts could turn into constructive conversations...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What is it with people?

It's my last day in California, and I had a good time here! Even the work part has been great so far. I don't look forward to getting home at 3:30 am only to have to teach knitting to many small children at 8:30 am but am prepared to crash.

But, what is it with some people? Email seems to make folks feel free to write just about anything about people they don't know--making things up, calling them names...isn't it still slander when you do it by email for hundreds of people to read? I see so many of the volunteers at my organization engaging in this behavior, over and over, with no consequences, that I seriously am considering becoming just an employee and not a member as well. I don't want to be associated with this type of behavior--I feel guilty by association.

Just a little vent. Really, I know everyone has good intentions. They just don't realize people they don't know are human beings, too. And that they don't have the facts (or choose to ignore it).

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

California Hello

Hi from San Francisco. I am in a jaunty nautical themed hotel near Fisherman's Wharf with my friend BE. We are on vacation for a couple of days before work meetings that start tomorrow. It is, however, really hard to keep our conversations away from work, so I am perhaps not as rested as I could have been.But, we have eaten some wonderful food and seen some great knitting stores. My kind of holiday. Today we are going south and I will see my brother for dinner. Glad I have a third party there, as he is charming when there's someone else there. I did find the knitting book I had wanted to get, Elizabeth Zimmerman's old newsletter writings. She had a great quote I may add to my .sig: "Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises!"

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

An exchange based on a previous entry

One of my online friends sent me an email yesterday in response to my earlier post about "Distributed=Republican?" -- I wish she'd posted it in a comment, but I can understand not wanting to write all her views down for all friends of Suna to see!

However, I can share what her email led me to start thinking about, with regard to factions that seem to be developing in all our communities, social, political and others, recently. Here is some of what I said to her (edited to remove names):

"We really do seem to be in a similar "spot." And I think asking questions of ALL the parties who confuse you or you need more information from is the only way to get accurate info to make a good decision about things. And the more you learn, the more you see NOTHING is black and white, no one is pure as the driven snow or pure evil, etc. If people honestly interact, share their opinions and why they formed them, you can usually learn something from them, and vice versa.

"Where I fall down is when I see people deliberately trying to lead people astray, misinform others, or insinuate things that are not true (without coming out and saying them--classic passive aggressive behavior). I get really angry at this tactic, probably because I see it as a tactic I used in the past before I realized it was NOT a good idea (best thing I got out of therapy). You always react more strongly to flaws in others that you also see in yourself, I think. I guess this is why, right now, I don't think I could be in the same room ten minutes with [a particular colleague], someone I used to respect a lot, even though I don't agree with her politics, etc. But I also feel sorry that she and a few others seem so upset that they need to "fight dirty" or "fight" at all about ... stuff. That "war" metaphor that creeps into SO many American interactions is NOT a useful way to solve differences or work toward solutions."

I know it's been said before--I remember reading a book by Suzette Hayden Elgin many years ago talking about how the "war" and "battle" metaphors used in American English perpetuate the idea that we are always battling each other. I am now trying to make a concerted effort to use peaceful language and will fight to get war metaphors out of my speech and writing (ha ha ha, I crack myself up). I must note that I think SOME use of competition metaphors or the sort are needed--competition itself isn't a bad thing--it just becomes counterproductive when every single thing becomes a battle, a fight, or even a "game" you are trying to win. It scares me when I realize I have slipped into "game mode," and realize I am participating in a discussion or a debate just to prove I am a better arguer than someone who rubs me the wrong way. That's why I have stepped away from a number of passionate discussions lately.

Yow, it's hard to keep trying to become a better person!

Monday, May 2, 2005

Exciting Project Update

Well, yay, I finally got my new project pictures uploaded. Here is the tie I knitted for my dad. Go to my projects page on my web site to see a neat close-up of it, as well as photos of the felted bags I have made over the past month or so: -- new stuff is one sock in the sock section and the first two rows in "parade of past projects." Knitting is really keeping me sane lately.

I have just a week to go before my San Francisco vacation, so I need to finish a scarf for one of my outfits (quite do-able, today even) and get the knitting store's website done. I hope I get to vacation during my vacation...

I could do a lot more web stuff if only I didn't have yet another dental appointment tomorrow (cleaning, yum) and a rather distant podiatrist appt. for a young man whose ingrown toenail is disgusting. I hope he is OK through that, poor guy. Hint: don't bite your toenails, EVER. I think I can, I think I can!!

At least some of the work stuff I am doing is going great--I love it when the volunteers get all enthused--it helps enthuse me up, too. We are planning some really good things for the conference we are holding in July! We even started a blog for it, trendy folks that we are.

I will philosophize some more later--must go knit.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Mundane Stuff

I had fun today working on a new blog for work--our team of volunteers is going to write one detailing how we prepare for a room we are hosting at a conference. We hope it is fun and maybe generates some interest. I did all sorts of interesting work and was on the phone a lot this week, when not at dental appointments--eeek, don't YOU ever go over 5 years without going to the dentist, even if you have no insurance and are a single parent (I now have insurance, it will pay a whole one third of the extensive work I need)!! Ka-ching $$$$$

I finished the tie I was working on for my dad, and a cotton/lycra cloche that I crocheted a raffia flower and attached to. Today, it's a black and white scarf out of microfiber. If I stop typing. The tie is really, really interesting.

Photos of all knitting projects are coming, honest.

I also got my hair done. The highlights now have some red in them and look lovely, but she did a number on my bangs, oh eek eek eeek. The closest to the edge ones are real short, but she didn't cut farther back ones. I fear they will continue to fall in my face. I will attempt to glue them down with hairspray until they can grow out. Yum. Women and hair, what can I say???

Anonymous Comment: See, I was right. Writing it on the internet makes one look busy and competent

Monday, April 25, 2005

Proud Mom, Progress

my tuba manYesterday my older son participated in a little orchestra at church, which they do once or twice a year. For someone who isn't really "musical" in many ways, I have been surprised at how well he's done in band. He reads music very well and is quite confident in his playing. His low notes really contribute to the sound of the orchestra. Since I will miss his final middle school band concert (have to be at a workshop), I was glad to be able to go to this one.

He's also participating in the church play, which I may have mentioned before. It's God's Favorite, by Neil Simon, and he just loves the play. He never would try any of these things at school, so it is nice to have a smaller setting and more compatible people to try out new things like acting. It's stuff like this that make me want to stick with the church community, even with all the "difficult people" issues it has.

In good news, I got most of last week's to do list done, even the dreaded dental appointment. I am not sure why it was so hard for me to go find a dentist--I had gone faithfully the entire time I lived in Illinois. Now I just have to get yet another toe doctor appointment for D, who sure has an ingrown toenail issue, sigh.

It was a rough weekend for me, as issues among volunteers at the organization I work for have deteriorated more. I am separating myself from it and have resolved to work for these folks, and not try to consider myself one of them any more. I am in the middle, and I feel really apart from those on both "sides" of things. Not a fun place to be. Off to work now...

Friday, April 22, 2005

Knitting Progress

I haven't written about my knitting in a while, mostly because I have been waiting to put up pictures of the felted bags I've finished lately. I made two mitred square bags from a class at the LYS. They use that lovely Noro variegated yarn with some festive novelty eyelash on top I made a scarf from a while back, and came out just incredibly cute. I keep having to show them to people every time I go into the store. The triangular one, I think, would have been cuter without the trim (purple and silver)--it was too much. Ah well, live and learn, I'll make more!

I just finished a "Lucy Bag" out of deep red/maroon wool with stripes of leftover winter hat yarns. It was IMMENSE when I finished knitting it, and its long strap was as tall as me. It took just ONE felting session (with too much water, too, which I thought might have slowed it down) to get it the size of a normal purse. And it looks spectacular! Felting sure makes a person feel good. The end result always looks way fancier than the actual product you knitted looked like. I am carrying my current silly knitting project in that bag. I am making (I guess) a baby blanket or something like that out of mitred squares made out of leftover sock yarn. It's like a memory quilt from yarn--all the socks I made Connie and gave away can be remembered in the blanket. I even have a diagonal pattern going (now that I am on row 2). Not sure how this will come out, but it is plain fun. Knitting should be fun.

I am also working on a cloche hat out of weird nubby cotton yarn with a lot of lycra in it that is almost like a rubber band in the amount of stretch it has. I am thinking of giving it to my friend's daughter who is going through chemo and might like a soft hat. I may crochet a flower to put on it. The hat looks rather interesting. Almost not knitted.

My final current project is the necktie out of Diakeito yarn calle Dailent. I can find nothing about this yarn on the Internet. I am knitting two strands together and it is the gauge of sock yarn. I'm using a Knitty pattern that originally was for sock yarn, actually. This yarn has 6 different types of strands: acrylic, cotton, viscose, polyester, ramie and nylon. It is the texture of dental floss. The nylon is shiny. It is dark "manly" colors. I hope to give it to my dad for Father's Day if I finish in time (hopefully will get a lot done on the plane to California in a couple of weeks). This is a MOST unique looking item and when I do finish I hope it photographs well.

Last but not least, I went to the lovely knitting store (LYS as knitters say) last night and talked to the owner's husband. Even though I do not NEED another web gig, I am going to do their site, as I get an exciting employee discount and, well, I think it will be fun. I was relieved to see that the sites Pat liked best were well within my capabilites and agreed with MY web principles. And that all the things Steve had learned in his "marketing your yarn shop" session at a trade conference were things I already knew to do. Whew, we're a good match. After talking to Steve, I helped out with a knitting class for beginners that consisted of women who just showed up, expecting a class, so Pat taught them. They were the cutest young women, all SO thrilled to learn to knit. We had a lot of fun picking yarn for their first real projects, and they all thanked me for being there. What a fun experience!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

More on Metaphor

Since I haven't really said too much about myself in this blog, you wouldn't know I spent many years studying linguistics. I specialized in pragmatics (Japanese women's speech to be specific, but whoa have I stopped thinking about THAT for close to 20 years). I always admired the work of George Lakoff, at Berkeley. I am happy to find that I am still admiring his work today, especially now that he is taking is work on metaphor and applying it to US politics. I am finding it also applicable to situations in the organization I work for, which is really fun.

His work also dovetails interestingly into spiritual things--and it was interesting to read a review of a book by Lakoff (Moral Politics) in the most recent edition of UU World, the magazine for members of the Unitarian Universalist church. It talks about how he perceives the conservative and progressive movements in the US as both basing their metaphorical frames on parenting models. The difference is that the conservative movement uses the "strict father" metaphor (the same one used in many religious organizations today), while the progressive movement uses what he calls the "nurturant parent family" (and what the people I hang around with would call "attachment parenting"). I can easily apply this to two factions in the organization I work with, as well--especially in the frustrating fact that the two different "frames" make it really hard to understand each other because their views of common sense diverge:
"Contemporary American politics is about worldview. Conservatives simply see the world differently than to libarals, and both have a difficult time understanding accurately what the other's worldview is."

I think this really hits on the big problem: we can't understand each other because we don't understand the underlying basis for our disagreements. It takes a lot of talking and listening to get to that point, and we'll never get there if either side refuses to participate.

Other good reading: Don't Think of an Elephant, by George Lakoff. This is a really short book about the elections of last year, but it makes points that are still applicable today and will be for a long time. And they also apply to other things in US culture, and world culture as well.

Knitting Metaphor!

I am on a large knitting email list (which I have never posted on), and the subject had turned to knitting in the media. One member reported a knitting them on a Joan of Arcadia show. Thanks to Lindy for letting me share her description:

There was one particularly poignant moment when Joan, in a fit of frustration and anger, threw the knitting down and it began to unravel. "God" told her that even if she unraveled her scarf it was still there - just in a different form. The message, using yarn and knitting as the metaphor, was that everything in the universe is connected and always will be - even if the form changes.

Ah, how nice it would be to frame current events in knitting terms, rather than in battle terms or the parental model Lakoff describes in his work! That will give me food for thought for a while.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

This Week's To Do

I need an attitude adjustment--having some impatience rearing its head. So, for this week I will try to:

  • not be impatient with people who ask me to do time-consuming things that have very little impact on others
  • get some people to help start some of the projects I need to get going
  • translating the community network
  • organizing the technology room at our upcoming
  • getting that sligtly irritating new committee up
    and running with a diverse selection of
  • get travel plans concrete
  • not let people with personal agendas drag me in and cause me to spend more time than necessary dealing with their issues...that happened way too much to me last week
  • be there to help friends who are having troubles of their own
  • enjoy the kids
  • make the appointments I need to make
  • dentist--kids
  • dentist--me
  • vet--dogs
  • doctor--D's toe

Distributed = Republican?

Tonight I was watching Now formerly with Bill Moyers, and there was an interview with Christine something with a W. (Oh yeah, Todd Whitman...I get it confused with Christine Whitney Sanchez) who used to be in the Bush administration. She was talking about how California should have the right to set higher standards for auto emissions than the US, and how it isn't right for the Bush administration to give in to automaker pressure to not do this (technicality, only the EPA can regulate fuel efficiency and they say any law on emissions really does this). She then said states should always be allowed to set any standard that is higher than the US standard, and what's more, it is in the Republican tradition to let those closest to the source of an issue set the policy--getting away with over centralized government, too much centralization, etc.

Well, how bout that, I thought. All this stuff those in my workplace are being asked to do in the name of distributive systems is not the Commie, Socialist evil those in the more "conservative" faction lead us to believe--it's right up there with Republican founding principles. And now that I think of it, it sounds pretty Libertarian, too, and that's another faction that has been complaining about new ideas about how organizations can function that are being introduced at work.

Where does this leave me? Even more firmly entrenched in my apparently novel approach of trying to evaluate ideas that are new to me based on their merit, independent of what kind of political folks would advocate it. Of course, I realize you can't really separate your philosophical leanings from what you are learning about. You always interpret new things from your particular cultural context--and there come those problems again.

In other news, I spent all day alone today other than a brief visit to church to sing old hymns with Unitarian lyrics. J.. went away to visit his brother in some desert where they were supposed to kill wild turkeys with arrows, but they had gotten chased off. I guess the Great White Hunter came up empty. I am glad I don't have to eat some freshly dead turkey. At least he's a "good" hunter and all involved in conservation and protecting the wilderness.

I get really down on weekends when the kids' dad comes and entertains them. I sometimes miss the family I had tried to hard to establish and lost. I'm sure everyone's better off now, but I hate having to "share" the kids. I didn't get to go to K's solo and ensemble competition, and he had been SO worried that he had no accompaniment for his tuba solo. It went OK, though, and I am relieved. That's also a problem with all the fun travel I now get to do for work. I miss kid events, like I won't be at their final band concert this year due to a conference. SIGH.

Enough personal stuff! At least I am blogging away.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I Have Missed You All

I have been trying to post something for a few days, but the ole blogger interface would not let me in. All those treasured thoughts lost forever! I have something I want to share, which a friend got from a woman who attends my church.


...I, along with several other UU's, and an auditorium full of people of faith attended the informative conference "Whose Faith? Which Morals?: Religion, politics & Values" Co-sponsored by UT's Humanities Institute, Program on Religious Studies, AAIM and the LBJ Library. Following the Texas Freedom Network's Conference on "Religion & the Media" last fall, and looking forward to Live Oak's hosting Fall Conference: "Getting the Message Out, and Getting the Message In," now is a critical time for people of liberal faith to actively engage in the public "morals" debate.

Folks who study and think about this issue, addressing our seeming polarization (polls show US citizens are as in the middle as they have always been - the 'elites' are the ones becoming more polarized and who get media attention - remember, it's NEWS) say we must engage those, especially who's perspectives are different from us. One minister noted that 'conversation' and 'conversion' have the same Latin root. So to engage honestly in conversation, we must be open to be converted - to changing our minds through understanding. There's much more, but among the highlights, Rev. James Forbes of New York's Riverside Church, whose incomparable voice is difficult completely convey, gave a 10-point prescription for curing the malaise and fear being propagated in our country. In short:

1. Cultivate a spirit of trust
2. Regularly participate in a community of faith to overcome isolation and find a sense of purpose and meaning.
3. Renew a vision for a healthy society, and a vocation for our nation.
4. Provide a 'truth serum.'
5. Nuture a mature an enlightened self-interest.
6. Call for a commitment to minimum standards for basic human needs for all.
7. Encourage sacrifice as an investment in a new order of humanity.
8. Invite new citizens into the dialogue.
9. Forgiveness - we need to face our own history, our own Truth & Reconciliation Commission.
10. Love the children - stop playing politics with their future.

I liked this a lot, because it applies to so many areas of my life--the organization I work for, my spiritual community, and the US as a whole.

More soon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Nice Day; I am in an Office, though

Oh it isn't so bad being in an office (still in Illinois). I can look outside and see cars, a large building full of Baptists (another nonprofit's headquarters), many fire trucks, and usually a couple of geese. The geese get angry a lot and stick out their big goose tongues.

I have many quirky features. One is that I work best in a very stimulating environment. I need lots of stuff to look at, colors I enjoy, and things I like to look at. So, I probably have the most decor-intensive office in this building. There are brightly striped rugs, table cloths and table runners on the walls (all from a very festive Target theme). I have a collection of images of carp (to capture the "crap" and take it away from me), including 2 ceramic carp, size large (one that broke falling off a shelf), 1 wooden goldfish, 6 goldfish cocktail picks that are in one of the table cloths, and a big statue of a carp-esque dolphin that was the only decor item in the least decorated office here--now that guy has nothing in the room that is not black or white, and nothing purely decorative. I have two perky strings of lights. I even got a coordinating pillow yesterday, for my 70s burnt orange guest chairs. I like my office a lot, and it negates some of the negative energy and lethargy this place exudes. Of course, the coughing woman who says her old office made her sick, who is now next to me keeps reminding me of my friend Dave's theory that there is some horrid organism in the walls or ceilings here. Yummy.

To remember for today, from an intense meeting I participated in:

  • No one is irreplaceable
  • No one should be the only repository of information on a vital project
  • People who feel powerless hold on to perceived power way longer than necessary
  • Insecure people tend to want to control their environment more than secure people
  • Leadership skills take a long time to develop--it's fun to watch a good leader at work.

Comment from Stephanie: Sounds like a really good meeting, Sue Ann. Why don't I get to the interesting and productive ones like that? Hmmm.

Monday, April 4, 2005

From Sunny Illinois

Bad former Illinois resident--I am typing this during the Big Game (this is basketball in case you are not a sporting person). Last time I tried to watch Illinois in a "Big Game" was the Rose Bowl in 1984, right after my mom died. It certainly didn't help our mood at the time to watch a huge blowout and big loss.

So I am in Illinois and managed to put my office back together pretty quickly--had to plug in the phone and the wireless router, had to find the chairs that had left...but that's all, not too bad. I even found cute little presents in the office from my friends who visited after I last left.

The usual frustrations--can't directly send email from Eudora, this blog site would not work at the office, and my friend who was gonna give me a ride (and I hoped take me to get some lunch!) had her car die, and I didn't even hear from her most of the day, wah. Didn't hear from any of my friends, actually, but that was OK, as I was really sick from some bad buffet food last night, and had barely slept last night. When I finally got to my hotel (no reservation made) I was so tired I nearly went to sleep at 6! This hotel is pretty funny now--they redecorated and it is all beige. Not a color in sight. I guess it is supposed to be soothing. But, there's the Internet, so I am happy.

I predict more fun tomorrow!! And hey I got everything done, even though a lot of it required a complicated sending of materials to my assistants. They are real troopers!

Today's highlight was getting to see my old pal Dave, who has gone from someone I was in touch with all the time for a few years to someone I barely hear from and hadn't seen in a year. We both had rough years last year, I guess, especially money-wise. It was nice to at least catch up on him and his family. It's always sad when someone you really care about and with whom you worked closely for a long time drifts away from your life, but that seems to be the way things go so often these days. Friendships are based more on activities than human connections, it seems. Ah, my work organization and the church have probably soured me on this topic.

So I'll stop. I'll go on and on about my kids or something tomorrow.

Sunday, April 3, 2005

A Sane Sunday

I am proud of myself. Today looked like it was going to be absolutely crazed. I had something I had to do every moment of the day. And tomorrow I have to be up early to fly to Chicago. So, I decided to cut some stuff out. I realized I did not have to sing in choir, the children are with their dad this weekend so aren't able to go to church, I do not WANT to hear about the minister's opinions on Terri Schiavo's death and life, and the music committee could stand me missing ONE meeting. So I skipped church. Since we "sprang forward" last night, when I slept in, I really slept in and it was nearly noon when I awoke. But I feel better.

So I will manage to get a bit of work done that needs to happen before I leave, finish the church web page update, pay bills, AND go to the Big Austin Kessler Birthday Party Bash for a while. Yay. And take Kynan to his play rehearsal (I am so incredibly bummed I do not get to play "Rose" in God's Favorite by Neil Simon because the ONE weekend I was scheduled to be out of town was the play weekend. And now I have to get Kynan to rehearsals somehow for nearly two months). Ah well. It is good Kynan is getting the experience. I think he's a natural ham.

Last night, I got to go to the wedding of people I do not know, 50-ish folks who had a lovely wedding at Green Pastures, the restaurant in a big old house in south Austin. The day was perfect. Not hot or cold. Blue skies. The horrid winds were over. Jeff was the drummer in the band for the event (and shared singing duties), which was organized by my friend Eddie Collins ( The groom is a banjo student of Eddie's. There was also a wonderful fiddle player and a very good bass player, to round out Eddie's rockin' guitar (really, Eddie ROCKED--I am so used to him doing bluegrass and country that I had no idea!). Anyway, Eddie got spouses/girlfriends of band members invited, so Ann would not have to sit by herself at the meal. Ann and the girlfriend of the fiddle player and I had a wonderful time. The food was delicious, and we got to bring home a centerpiece. OMG, the most beautiful roses, orchids and hydrangeas!! I am so sad I will miss looking at them when I am out of town! The band sounded great--the fiddle player did Charlie Daniels-ish stuff on the rock songs and it was neat. Everyone had fun. I enjoyed the conversation with my dinner partners--the new lady teaches at an interesting alternative school for children with learning disabilities, and she integrates art and music into the curriculum.

Highlights: the centerpieces, the Italian Cream Cake's icing (it was weird knowing the ole Pope died today and we had his favorite dessert), and the albino peacock (the place has a lot of peafowl). The peacock was pretty all day, looking like he was made of lace when he displayed, but at night he went and roosted in a giant oak tree that had some lights in it. The lights shone down on him and he looked like a ghost bird, with feathers shimmering. It was a most beautiful and amazing sight. Everyone kept saying, "thanks for showing me that," when I pointed it out to them. There were lots of babies and children at the event--8 teen/adult kids between the couple getting married alone. One poor little girl baby has some disease that means her muscles will not develop, and is expected to have a very short life. She was happy, though, and obviously so beloved by all. The couple who got married, rich people, were very nice and kind to us, total strangers eating their expensive food!! It was so sweet of the bride to give us centerpieces--they were in beautiful, heavy bowls, too!

Today I look forward to good food and music at Austin's party. I hope the margarita machines are well stocked. My fingers are crossed for my work meetings this week. I hope we make good progress on the computer system and get everyone all on the same page.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Weekend Goals

Watch this--I will try to not work today. Too late, I already wrote a long email and posted it in my work Wiki.

Other goals I may actually achieve:

  • Be calm in coparenting even when I disagree with decisions of former spouse
  • Finish church web update for
  • Update Live Oak Coffeehouse page
  • Go shopping
  • Enjoy wedding I got invited to because my friend got the musicians' spouses invited along to the meal. Smooches to Eddie. It's at Green Pastures, a lovely old home turned into a restaurant. There are peafowl there.
  • Work on the amusing mitred squares made from leftover sock yarn (hasn't turned out too pretty so far)
  • Think longer and harder about how my attitude affects others--I got some nice validation yesterday from friends, and one said I am an agent for good in the world. And you know what? That is, I think, my primary goal.

Now must take boy and tuba to a rehearsal.

Friday, April 1, 2005

And What about Knitting?

I promise I won't write three times every day, but I am practicing getting started here!

Knitting is what I do when I am not doing anything else, and has been my hobby since I was about 8 I guess. I am not the world's greatest knitter, but I've tried most things, and I sure enjoy it a lot. To practice putting in a photo link, here's the ribbed cotton top I knitted for my "easter" outfit last week. Usually I am knitting socks for fun or scarves for money, however.

I wonder why all my hobbies have so much fine motor skill involved. I type all day then I go knit socks on teeny weeny needles. Go figure.

What am I currently working on? I am in between major projects, though a knitting bag to felt will be upcoming soon and I am taking a class on a mitred square bag at my fine new local yarn shop (oh whee, happy happy day--finally a shop on ly 10 minutes away, not 40!).
  • a light blue scarf that is one big ole ruffle, featuring short rows, from a pattern Courtney the Prolific Knitter at Church gave me. It is in cotton twist. I don't like it much now, but figure I bought the yarn so I better finish it.
  • a hilarious lime/avocado green narrow scarf in an eyelash and a yarn that looks like worms or squiggles. Someone said it looked like I was knitting seaweed, or making Oscar the Grouch. It will go nicely with my green shirt that I got chapstick stains on the first time I washed it (grrrrrrr).
  • ribbed socks on teeny needles (000) in a color called "pansy" by the nice folks at Knitpicks ( They are gonna be so nice. I figure I will finish them in Illinois next week. I always get to knit more when I go out of town to work.
  • oh yeah, a scarf just for fun in a yarn that mixes blue eyelash with something that looks like little blobs of color. I can't remember the name, but I figure I can wear it a couple of times then sell it to someone. It is cute but I don't own much in royal blue so I am not sure why I got the yarn. I need another skein. Yay, excuse to go to the yarn shop tomorrow.

To Concentrate on Today

Periodically, I want to remind myself of what I am concentrating on so that I don't get all bogged down and take things personally that are not meant that way, and to distance myself from negativity so that it does not eat me up. Here are today's items, which are coming out like Stuart Smalley affirmations or something, but that can't be helped:
  • I can model behaviors you would like to see in others (peaceful, nonjudgmental, thoughtftul, pro-active).
  • What I do is helping others (thanks, Barbara).
  • I am not the organization I work for.
  • I can implement policies and represent points of view I do not agree with.
  • I can separate my personal philosophy from the work I do, and expect others to do the same.
  • My current projects are exciting and positive.
  • I can learn new patterns (i.e., figure out how to disagree without either disappearing or fighting back too hard).
  • My children love me so much.
  • Every faction in a disagreement has legitimate points of view. Usually each has a contribution to the problem, as well (see Difficult Conversations)

Gotta Start Somewhere

Yeah, you have to start somewhere. I have been thinking of things I'd like to write down, to perhaps unload some of my cute li'l frustrations in a productive way, and in a completely unrelated focus, keep notes on knitting stuff. I hope this will help me practice being more random and not so obsessed with form that I forget what I am writing about.

Notes from Today So Far

It is incredibly windy, which always makes the windchimes I got as an independence present to myself (ex hated them) go crazy.

The coffee is really good today.

I slept better last night and so far, no stress symptoms.


from Jennifer: I am glad to see you finding more safe places to "unload" and work through some of this crap. I worry about your stress level!! :)

from Suna: I am not enjoying the chest pains, myself. I wonder why the comment number didn't increment?

from Jennifer: I guess *snif* I just *sniffle* don't coooouuuunnnttt!!! *waaaaaaahhhh*No, seriously, I think it's a problem blogger comments has some times. :P

I really want to write a long thing about how distributed organizations can work out, but with flexibility. That's my goal. Let's see how many days it will be until such a thing appears here.