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!

Monday, December 31, 2007

Busy Weekend!

This will be what they call an "image intensive" post, because I saw some interesting things that I wanted to share! There are even more on my Flickr pages, if you are into rural Texas historical sites or something.

First, best wishes to Tina and Jared, who had a fun wedding on Saturday evening, even after they didn't come to our house Friday and have a rehearsal like they said they would. Of course, any excuse to clean up the accumulated clutter is good, and I am still enjoying the way the downstairs of our house looks.

Saturday morning I taught a mother/daughter pair crochet, which was a fun change from knitting. None of my knitting pals showed up, so I headed home fairly soon after answering the rest of the people's questions who needed help--it was a sale day, so I helped with the question-answering so the workers could help people buy yarn!

After getting duded up, it was off to LOUU for the Chemical Pink wedding extravaganza. We took some pictures at the wedding, but used those disposable cameras, and need to get them developed (and share them with the couple), but here's one the minister's husband took. We enjoyed spending some time with our tarot buddies Shannon and Royce, who brought the spousal unit I had yet to meet along with them. Bill did sound at the wedding, plus Rev. Kathleen's husband, Jon M. was there, so we had people to talk to other than the wedding party's relatives. The most fun part of the wedding was the wedding march, which was the Darth Vader theme from Star Wars. Only in this setting was that not unexpected. Both kids did clean up well, though, and they put together a really nice ceremony. It just took a while for it to happen. More time for me and Shannon to catch up, though! Our kids were really good, and Beccano blended right in with his Western jacket on. I wore my extra-organge dress with big purple pansies on it, along with the classy orange-ish dress shoes Pilar got for me last year, so I was Ms. Classy, I am so sure. Anyway, that was the beginning of our busy time.

We woke up long before the kids and headed to the rural breadbasket of Texas to give Lee's dad his Christmas gifts. Oh, did he love his socks! I was so happy to see his eyes light up, and to see the joy on his face when he tried them on and they fit! He is looking a lot healthier, too, and that was another good thing to see.

Once we got all presented up, we went to lunch in Yorktown. The top picture depicts where we ate, Aunt Di's Kountry Kitchen (apparently rural people all spell that way, ha ha). It's got a big dance floor and stage, too--I wish I could be there to listen to music some night. Lots of people are there on Sundays, and they all seem to know each other, naturally. What impresses me is the food is pretty good. I had turkey and dressing, and the dressing came out better than mine did this year, plus the mashed potatoes were divine. The turkey was REAL.

After lunch, I asked if we could drive around and see some of the things I hadn't seen in the area yet. This also made Lee's dad happy. We went to see the area where he grew up, and all the little towns that are still there, sorta, or used to be there. That's what the next bunch of pictures are of. The little white house looking building above was the general store/bar/restaurant or whatever in "Cottonpatch" (which used to be called something else) and was right across from the school Ernest Lee Sr. used to attend as a child. That's where they got penny candy after school. The school is no longer standing, though we did get a picture of the site where it was. He went there until high school, in a 3-room school, one room of which was reserved for the "Mexicans," who were segregated. There weren't any black people. Still aren't. Just Germans, Czechs, Poles and Mexicans.
The building that is larger and white says "Garfield" on it, and is the rural hall, where dances and such used to be held. They still have events there today, like turkey shoots and barbecues and all that. It's where the rural people went for fun when they didn't go into the big towns. At left is one of the "big towns," which is where the family used to hang out in the 20s and 30s, Nordheim. Now there is not much there at all, and few if any of the storefronts are used (there is a bank down the street, though, and it appears they are restoring the old bank building, that says "911" on it, because its 1 got lost). I like how they still have a Christmas decoration. The school (newer one) is still going, so there are still families around. Yorktown, on the other side of Lee's dad's farm, kept going and is more of a viable community still. It's rundown, but things are open, there are places to eat, gas stations. churches and such.

We came back to Lee's dad's place and watched football for a while, then I asked if we could go for a walk. That was the most fun part! We walked way to the back of the farm property, to parts I had not seen yet. At the back, there are trees, a pond and some old buildings, and a really nice view of a valley and some lovely woods that I didn't know was there.

Here you see Lee as a man outstanding in his field. Yes, that is his field. The sun was setting, so the light on all these pictures is interesting. The field has been mown for hay. We enjoyed listening to all sorts of sounds as we walked, and also ran into some neighbors who were sitting in their deer blind, pretending to hunt, but mostly looking at cool things, like the family of wild hogs that was walking around, and the five huge bucks in the next farm, way out of shooting range (whew). The man was mostly entertaining his disabled son. That was nice.
On our way back to the house, both Lee and I kept looking at a telephone pole, not wanting to ask the other if we saw what we thought we saw. We were right, it was not a transformer--it was an owl! You could see its pointy "ear" feathers when we got closer, and it bobbled its head up and down a few times for us. Pretty cool. I have to admit I had never seen an owl sitting still before--just the ones that have flown in front of me three times in the neighborhood at home.

One more picture of the farm to share, and I like this one a lot. It's the pond, which Lee's dad says he'd like to make into a 14-acre lake by building a dam. I don't think that will happen any day soon. It would be so beautiful to build a house on the hill next to the pond, where there are some big old trees, which are next to that beautiful view of the less intensively farmed parts of people's properties. Of course, getting utilities and the road back there would be "fun." But, it's a nice dream. We have lots of dreams of what we would do if the oil company found a bunch of natural gas on the property in February, ha ha. But, that is a slight hope, at best (better than none--they wouldn't look for stuff if there weren't a chance, I guess!).

The scary part of the evening came right after the sun set, when I looked out and saw something orange on the horizon. It turned out to be a HUGE fire off in the distance, and it grew and grew as we watched. A secondary one started, then they merged. We were a little concerned, but decided it would not make it to the farm. On our way home, we drove the long way, to be sure that the fire was as far away as we thought it was. It really was scary and big, though. I hope no one was hurt and that it got under control. There's a burn ban, and it is the traditional time for fireworks, which is worrisome.

Anyway, since we went home the long way, we drove through Cuero. There, Lee surprised me with a trip through their lovely Christmas light display. This is just one teeny photo from the display (hard to photograph at night from a truck). Many, many people and groups donated money and time to make a really fun display that you drive through. I guess it's a smaller version of the Austin Trail of Lights. Very well done, though, and a good ending to our tour of rural Texas at Christmastime.

Which reminds me, we did see a couple of cute rural holiday displays. One was three tires, big, medium and small, stacked on top of each other and spray painted gold, covered with lights. It made a really quirky "Christmas Tree." The other was 5 round hay bales stacked 3, 2, 1, spray-painted green, with lights and ornaments. Another great "tree"! I am glad we got to go on this trip, and wish the kids could have come. Beccano would have loved the owl and to hear the coyotes barking at night. But, they needed a rest, and Lee and I enjoyed our time together.

We hope to have a nice New Year at Janet's house (trying to get back into old traditions, but with better habits) followed by yummy food. Lee already made ham salad, so the yummy has begun!


Friday's Feast (Late)

Appetizer: Name 2 things you would like to accomplish in 2008.

1. Get full-time work with benefits and keep the job.
2. Have a nice wedding

Soup: With which cartoon character do you share personality traits?

Tina the technical writer on Dilbert.

Salad: What time of day (or night) were you born?

6:30 am, eastern.

Main Course: Tell us something special about your hometown.

Gainesville, Florida has excellent sinkholes all around it.

Dessert: If you could receive a letter from anyone in the world, who would you want to get one from?

My high school/college boyfriend. I miss him and wish he liked me.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Heart Sick

My heart is sick about what they did to Benazir Bhutto. I was not surprised--the surprise was that an intelligent woman was allowed to have any power or influence in a Muslim nation at all, ever. It took someone very special AND with the right connections.

But this is what makes peace advocates give up. It becomes completely apparent that whenever anyone or any movement becomes too successful and threatens to break the stranglehold of big business or extreme religion (the two factions I see at work here) they simply get eliminated. Usually some past indiscretion is brought up. That's the NICE way of dealing with it. If someone doesn't have any skeletons in the closet, they just get dead.

Doesn't leave you with much hope. Or incentive. I just keep clinging to my beliefs because they are ingrained. I sure don't see EVER living anywhere that supports them.

Yet another one of my infrequent political rants that generates a raging silence, I know. But where else do I get to say what I think?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

See This Movie!

Lee and the kids and I went to see the movie Juno last night. Paid full price, too. But, it was totally worth it. Juno has to be the most wonderful movie I have seen in at least a decade, maybe more. The writing and characterization were absolutely incredible--the screenwriter, Diablo Cody, got the teen viewpoint dead on. The dialogue sounds just like the kids on the band bus. And the adults in the movie were not stereotypes, but seemed like real people, with good and bad sides (just quirky, but then everyone in the movie is quirky).

And the subject matter, which is teen pregnancy, was dealt with just perfectly, in my opinion. You will not go away from this one disappointed, at least if you are a friend with similar values to mine. There is some cussin' in it. And implied sex (duh).

I also enjoyed the setting. Reminded me of my years in Illinois. Please go see this. It's not the usual Hollywood crap.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Obligatory Christmas Report (tissue alert)

I hope you had a great Christmas, if that's one of your holidays, and that at least you had a good day off! I had a fine time, with good food and my wonderful family, who are the best gift of all!

I am toting one gift around, all sniffly and sentimental. Tuba Boy, who is usually incredibly "gift impaired" stepped up to the plate and did much better this year--I think he had peer pressure combined with knowing girls who give "suggestions." He had asked me for $20 to finish paying for a present a few weeks ago, and I gave it to him. Turns out that at school they had a fund-raiser selling some plaques that you could get inscribed with whatever you wanted on them, and he made me one. That's it on the left.

And here is what it says (tissues may be necessary):

To Mom

So many times the appreciation I have for you goes unspoken.
I'd just like to take this time to thank you for all the encouragement, guidance, and understanding you have shown me throughout my years.
You've always been there when I needed you.

Love, [Tuba Boy]

That is something to treasure, isn't it? He sure has a big heart. And to see him opening his gifts with real appreciation in his eyes (even loved getting a watch, albeit a pretty cool one with a LIGHT and a COMPASS!) was wonderful. He even loved the hat I made for him and wore it all day--today I will reblock it a bit to make the top less pointy and then I think it will be a keeper. Sigh. No matter what happens to me, I feel rich just for having such wonderful young people in my life. Mrs. Tuba Boy is going to be SOOO lucky.

His brother earned his keep, too, by helping me cook dinner, since I had no other helper (Lee was not feeling too hot most of the day, having woken up WAY too early--perhaps anticipating Santa). Beccano was so cheerful about it and zestily cut up sweet potatoes and such. He wore his ninja boots (authentic!) and the Thor's Hammer necklace Lee got him all day. (Lee got me a celtic cross from Sacred Source, which was a nice surprise, too--the kids loved hearing how my friend's family works with the artisans in India to create the statues and other items). Here's Beccano, at last wearing the requested Lucha Libre mask that I knitted for him (in the book Son of Stitch 'n Bitch, which is also the source of Tuba Boy's hat, below). It really brings out his eyes, doesn't it?

Both boys got guitar straps as gifts, and here is Tuba Boy in his hat, rocking out standing up, which apparently is a big thrill to the almost-17-year-old set. He also loves his black t-shirt. I got him three black shirts and a jacket at Old Navy on Christmas Eve--for less than $50. He is so happy to have so much new blackness in his life, with long sleeves.
I think Lee had a great time, too. Said he'd never got so many gifts. Different families have different traditions! I always liked to get a bunch of little things in addition to a big thing--this year I just omitted the big thing. I'd say the biggest kick he got was from the "My Little Kthulu" action figure Beccano got for him (I am just glad it MADE IT here). The last photo in my extra festive collection shows Lee totally losing it when he discovered that Kthulu was in the box. If you go to Flickr, you will find photos of the dogs, of Lee wearing socks on his ears and much more holiday fun.

All in all, I had a great holiday, marred only by the BIG mistake of watching a movie labeled "Employee of the Month," not realizing it was not the light-hearted 2006 Jennifer Aniston movie, but instead the horrible, mean-spirited 2004 black comedy with Matt Dillon in it. I got nauseated and had to stop watching it. Luckily I felt better in time to eat the delicious dinner, and we did manage to find a more enjoyable movie to watch after dining. Whew.
My family liked all their hand knitted gifts, too, and I talked to Jeff and his mom in Florida. I know this is not the holiday either of them expected to be having, but both seem to be doing their best. We'll go see Lee's dad on Sunday, after Tina's wedding extravaganza is over. Something to look forward to!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Meme Thing

I don't have any brilliant Christmas Eve posting ideas, so here's a meme I found on Becca's blog, which she found on someone else's. At least it will be fun. And if I already posted this photo of the Christmas Tree,well, here it is again.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? We have recycled the same gift bags for many, many years. I do like to wrap, but especially this year, being frugal is good. And saving trees and all that. I hope to sew more cloth bags at some point.

2. Real or artificial tree? Real this year after a long time with the same artificial tree, which stayed up for a few years after its box broke. We would decorate it sporadically with the theme of the season and hope it looked quirky and interesting. The tree died last year (broke). This year's tree is really nice and smells good. Yes, we will have to clean up some needles, but at least Buddy only peed on it that one time.

3. When do you put up the tree? At some point after Thanksgiving when there is time. I wanted to get a good tree, so we didn't wait too long.

4. When do you take the tree down? Right after New Year's. I like the happy decorations.

5. Do you like eggnog? Very much, especially the eggnog my friend Austin used to bring to church parties. It was decadent. I miss that. He has a new family now and is way too busy for those community things.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? The china horses my grandfather gave me when I was very little. I still have the ones that haven't broken.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? No, we aren't (gasp) Christian. We celebrate the pre-Christian aspects of the season and all the love.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My dad. He doesn't need anything and there's nothing I can really knit for him.

9. Worst Christmas present ever received? Well, thankfully no one has ever given me a nose hair trimmer, so I am one up on poor Jeff. I must have blanked the worst gift out of my mind. I try to concentrate on "it's the thought that counts."

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I haven't done any the past few years, since times have been so hard and things keep changing. I hate to send out "lost yet another job, and have another new boyfriend." Goal: to be more settled next year, and able to send nice bland happy stuff, in whatever medium.

11. Favorite Christmas movie? I don't like them.

12. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I start knitting in September or October. Buying in late November. I love me them Internets.

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I can't remember doing it. I guess if I got something that I knew someone else would truly love, I'd do it, but I'd tell them.

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Fruit cake. Had none this year.

15. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored. Lots of purple. I like all the new shapes.

16. Favorite Christmas song? Oh Come All Ye Faithful. Yeah, I know, not my tradition but I liked that since I was a kid.

17. Travel or stay home? Stay home. I have always been home since I had the kids. Though they left last year (ick ick ick).

18. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Of course.

19. Star on the top of the tree? Yes, a really nice plain one I got at Target last year. For many years I actually used to have an angel that my former Lutheran theologian office mate Steve gave me. We took off her halo and called her the Yule Goddess.

20. Open presents on Eve or Morning? My family of origin had Swedish members, so growing up we opened family gifts on Christmas Eve and Santa came on Christmas. Now Christmas eve seems boring. Since I was an adult, we opened on Christmas morning, once all the adults have their COFFEE.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Losing my job. I had things I really wanted to get the kids and Lee that I can't. I am also sad that Jeff has to be in Florida and can't join us.

22. Best thing about this time of the year? Watching the kids get more into giving as they grow older. It is so nice to have them ask me what so and so would want, and to help them get things for others. I thought they'd never grow out of the "MEMEMEMEME" phase. Of course, that did not happen to Tuba Boy until this year, and he is almost 17!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Church Christmas Pageant

Church Christmas Pageant
Originally uploaded by sunasak
OK, two posts in one day, but it's the holidays! This morning we survived the Christmas pageant, which was Christmas-y as only a UU church can make it. I ended up actually having a lot of fun, mainly because I got to dress up all Bethlehem-y (actually looking like Ms. Bhutto from Pakistan, see below) and read a cute story, with lots of acting and hamming it up. Beccano drew a charming illustration for it, too, with his left hand--people loved it. The singing went OK and the kids did pretty well for small children. Beccano ended up having to be the Camel (that is him just to the left of the angels) because the original camel didn't show. He was tall, more like a giraffe, but was very good for leading the wise men around. They needed help! For some reason, this event really put the spirit of the season in me--all the weepy parents watching their kids, all the hard-working pageant leaders, the confused but pleasant kids. !

Our choir song was not too bad (picture below--sorry they aren't in very good order). All the quirky choir members in their individual ideas of appropriate attire were rather motley, but looked pretty seasonal. Well, we did all make an effort, which counted

Afterwards, I even got a nice gift from Saranda--a very cool calendar with dia de los muertes dudes doing all sorts of activities--really interesting art, in a very neat stand. I may take it to work, when I have a work to take it to. The November picture was off a guitarist skeleton, and I think I'll cut that one out and use it for something. Plus she gave me candy AND a re-usable fabric gift bag. I really want to do more of those myself. Getting a holiday gift really cheers me up for some reason, especially one not expected. So, hooray for friends.

Feel free to check out the rest of the pageant photos on Flickr, and I hope you get to do something fun over the next few days that brings you cheer and reminds you of the joy of giving and receiving.

We did a little family shopping after church, and we sure enjoyed the kids and their humor. This afternoon I do a chat with my long-term email friends who are exchanging their Yule gifts. That will be fun, even if I didn't participate this year. It's nice to enjoy their fun, even second hand!

Yule Greetings

Candles all lit
Originally uploaded by sunasak
We celebrated Yule last night as a family--the previous Yule Lee and I spent alone, and it was really special, but this was special in another really nice way. The photo is of the altar with the candles all lit.

Both kids had asked to "do something" for Yule, so I tried to make it special for them. WE had the usual 4 corner candles plus a bonus one in the south, and I put a Waterford glass with water from St. Brighid's holy well in Ireland on the west. The north had a pentacle and the east the athame a friend gave me. We had a reindeer standing in for the god as he goes from holly king to ivy king, and a white goddess statue. Around the candles were holly and ivy, along with white stones and nuts (pecans and acorns--these represented seeds holding potential for future growth). The full moon was represented by the altar cloth, which had moons on it.

In the ritual, we talked about our memories of Yule, then mentioned a struggle we were dealing with. Then we chose a nut, dipped it in the water and stated our intention to plant a seed of change in ourselves. We will keep the nuts to remind us. After that we each did a three-card tarot spread followed by a Yule message card. Mine was funny, because I got an anxiety chest pain as I was shuffling and thought to myself, "I bet I draw the three of swords," then I did, as my message (that card depicts a heart with three swords in it). Very amusing to me. Everyone interpreted their cards and enjoyed that part.

Finally I talked about how we used to exhange gifts in our family at Yule (one each), but that gifts didn't need to be tangible. And we then gave the person on the left of us an intangible gift, a trait of skill we hope they will grow to have. These were really wonderful to hear, and Tuba Boy even gave Lee a bonus--said he wanted him to be more transparent, because he can never tell when he's angry at him. Sweet.

After the ritual, we had cakes and ale (wine/soda and ginger cookies), and you can see that I was very happy with our holiday at that point (had not had wine prior to that, honest) and I did a longer tarot reading for Tuba Boy. It was overflowing with cups and love. Hmmm.

I will write more after the exciting church Christmas pageant, at which we will wear our ritual robes, but pretend they are Jesus-land outfits.

(There are more Yule photos on Flickr--feel free to go check them out)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Not an Awful Lot

It's a slow day since I decided to not camp out at the poor yarn shop again today. I've caught up on some things and will do more, waiting on 3:00 for my next interview (ALE). The highlight so far was finding faithful reader Katie's face beaming out of a famous knitting blog this morning. That was a good start to my day!

Yesterday was one long blur of events and such. I ate leftover beans and rice (Beccano's new favorite dish--he had four servings Tuesday night) for lunch, which caused a stomach ache--I think I won't eat the rest today, so the folks at ALE will be spared the consequences. I am SO considerate. And want that job. In any case, I got through the day, gave away the baby booties I had knitted (oops the kid is a boy and I made a pink pair), sang the dreadful Christmas pageant songs and really wished I was home. I did get the Norwegian Christmas bread recipe from the choir director. I wonder if you can make it in a bread machine?

I've wrapped all the gifts I could find to wrap, and will really enjoy watching everyone open them--some good thought went into them--Beccano did a GREAT job picking things! Only a couple of items are still on their way. Fingers are crossed! It will be a small but nice holiday, and there's even something in there that I don't know what it is for me--yay for surprises!

No other excitement, other than another phone interview booked for tomorrow, and the poor lady who bought a new car at 99 had an accident yesterday. My dad helped her, but she broke her collarbone and is really afraid she won't be allowed to drive any more. That will be bad--I worry that will start a decline for her, since being active and independent was so important to her.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Suna and Lee Go Out of Town

Suna among Her Friends
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Who would have thought that a week with no job would be more busy than a week working? Well if you had my old job you'd know why. LOTS of time to blog sitting there waiting for work to do. At home, there is always something else to do, plus there are all those jobs to look for or interview for.

I had the second interview at the place I phone interviewed with yesterday already. They have a really nice workplace, good colors and stuff. The people seemed pretty nice, too, and weren't quite so overly young as the Monday place. We will see what happens. I am keeping my mind open. Tomorrow, it's back to ALE to try again there!

This post is about that nice weekend Lee and I had, already three days ago. We spent Saturday between Fredericksburg, Texas and Kerrville. We shopped in all the quaint and touristy shops in Fredericksburg, including Suna/Lee Nirvana, a candle factory. We also found a place on the shopping strip that sold these lovely cores from yellow quartz or something like that, from Utah. They were SO interesting that we had to get ourselves one for Yule, even if we are not rich! That place had a resident golden retriever who was in love with bubble wrap, and kept chomping it then carrying it around like his beloved. Very cute. Lee also got us a really pretty silver star, very large, with little palettes on it. He hung it on the front door, and it catches the light from the Christmas lights and shines at night. I'll have to take a picture.

At the end of our Fredericksburg jaunt we stopped in the wine shop where we met the vintner referred to yesterday. He seemed like a sweet fellow who'd rather be out making wine than selling it. Glad we happened in there at the right time. We will go back to that shop!

I'd never really seen the city of Kerrville, just the folk festival site and one hotel. So, Lee drove me out there I am glad he did. It has some nice spots, hiding among the creeping blandness of all US stores being the same. Lee then took me to the next down down the road, the name of which escapes me, and it was way nicer. A long stretch along a beautiful river, and some neat houses were there. Then, he turned into a drive with really nice hand-made lawn furniture, which turned out to be made by a guy he knew from high school. We dropped in on them and had a very nice visit in their incredibly charming little cottage. It had the original door with a rounded top, hand forged hinges and old-fashioned lock. And lovely wood paneling, The people seemed very friendly and I hope they liked me OK. I really have not met many of Lee's old friends, and I just hope they haven't been told icky stuff by his ex or something.

We spent the night at a nice hotel, the new Best Western, which had nice views and was quiet. We ate cheese and crackers and drank a bottle of the lovely wine. What a nice evening!

I woke up in bad shape Sunday--one side of my head was all sinused out. My ear had sharp pains all day (finally got better yesterday). But, I was resolved to enjoy the day anyway, and we sure did! It was a gorgeous day--if you have time, please take a look at some of the pictures we took of Enchanted Rock. You know I love the pink granite around this area and Marble Falls, and Enchanted Rock is one HUGE hunk of it. No wonder the Native Americans revered it. There are very interesting plants around it, and microclimates. We hiked all around the perimeter of the rock, which wasn't too bad except for one bit that was very rocky. We were trying to take care of Lee's knees. I ended up more sore than him. The weather was great, too. It had been very cold in the night, but warmed up pleasantly during the day--cool but not unbearable (and the huge winds of Saturday had died down). What fun we had!

We came home and were happy to learn that XH had taught Tuba Boy to drive the car, though I let him have it yesterday to go to school and he stalled a lot and hit something. But it was just one gash in my bumper. Not horrible. He got a school parking permit and I am sure feels quite old now.

Yesterday, other than interviewing, I hung out at the yarn shop for quite a while, then I did wrap what presents we have, and put them on a table so Rose won't eat them. We will have a pleasant Christmas--everyone has at least a couple of things. I even have two so far! We rehearsed with Trey Bone in the evening, after a dinner that I loved of lima beans and rice. What touched me was how Beccano chowed down on those beans. He loves my home cooking--he also loved the gingerbread I made, too. Awww. Lee wasn't feeling well, but made it through the rehearsal.

Tonight at choir we have a little baby shower for two of the members, so that will be nice.

All is well. I am thinking of my far-flung friends and family!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Recipe: Beer Bread

Autographed Wine!
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Yes, this is a photo of wine. It's an autographed bottle of sweet red wine that we bought on our trip to Fredericksburg last weekend (blogging it next, I promise). We met the vintner and he was so sweet--said trying to sell wine in the wine shop was the hardest part of his job. I believed him. What fun to make interesting wines--he makes muscat and other sweet wines, which is different from most. The muscat was lovely, too--none of the usual aftertaste.

Anyway, after finding some of my grandmother's and mother's recipes recently, I decided to share some of them here (mainly so I can find them, ha ha). I made my grandmother's gingerbread recipe last night, which was interesting, because it did not list what size pan to put it in, what temperature to cook it at, or for how long. So it made a big cake that took an hour to cook at 350. Also, she called for "syrup" and I had to assume that meant molasses. Next, time, two smaller pans at 375. But, it was wonderful to see how much Beccano loved it.

Today we have beer bread, though. Because it is shorter. This recipe just came in from a yarn vendor, and I will make it tonight, if we have beer:

Beer Bread

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Measure two and two-thirds cups of Self-Rising Flour (self-rising, not
cake flour) into a large bowl.
Pour in one can of beer.
Scrape batter into a greased loaf pan.
Bake for 55 minutes.

I can do that! And I don't have to buy it from Tastefully Simple.

The recipe I found in my grandmother's handwriting was for Beer Rolls. Here it is:

3 cups Bisquick
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of salt
1 can beer.

Mix all ingredients until blended. Bake in greased muffin tins until brown in 400 degree oven. Makes 1 dozen large or 1 1/2 dozen small rolls.

At least on this one she said the temperature and the pan type. I may add the salt and sugar to the other recipe. What's interesting is how well my grandmother spelled. She must have had a really good education in Green Cove Springs, Florida. Her family owned businesses, and both her brothers ended up newspaper editors, so yeah, probably she did. My other grandmother, who was from very rural Georgia wrote like she talked and sometimes spelled things interestingly, but was amazingly literate for someone of her background--married early and not a lot of chances for enrichment.

Off topic! Must get ready for another job interview and blog that trip!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Heal! Heal!

I had a really good weekend, which I will write about tomorrow when I feel better.

Right now, please send healing vibes to me, as I woke up this morning with pain all over the sinuses on my right side, including that horrible stabbing ear infection kind of pain in my right ear. Perhaps I got messed up from walking around in biting cold and really strong winds yesterday. Or I slept very hard on one side in an unfamiliar bed.

But, whatever caused it, I really need it to GO AWAY by tomorrow so I can be in good shape to make the best possible impression on my first job interview! They want someone who is really energetic and motivated, so I can't be sitting there groaning and wincing from ear pain. It's a bit better after taking pain meds, so I can just take a bunch tomorrow if I have to, I guess--but what a bummer to feel awful on such a nice day, which today was!

Another nice day is what's in the picture: a lovely gift that came to me in the mail, as a complete surprise! A member of one of my email lists sent it to me, just to be nice, I guess, because I didn't sign up for any of the gift exchanges on any list I am on this year--I knew I had no money from the job situation, plus I am SO bad about putting things in the mail, no matter how good my intentions are. So, I was really surprised and touched. The gift came at the absolute peak of my down period, and I think it was the start of things turning around, truly.

The Lisa Souza silk/wool yarn (called Petal) is stuff I can't get at any shop around here, or at least I haven't seen it, and it's in a truly great shade of red. I can't believe how appropriate it was--exactly what I would choose for myself. Plus there is a sweet beanie baby bear covered in purple pansies, my favorite flower. And delicious-looking chocolates--and who doesn't like that, I ask you? It just makes me smile in my heart to remember that people really are kind.

I remembered that a lot on Friday, actually, when I saw how truly happy my former coworkers were that job possibilities were finally coming through. I felt really good on my last day, rather than all down and worn out. One of the managers stressed to me that NO ONE there thought the contract being cut had anything to do with me--it was all the business practices of that place, which they all hate. My manager was really nice, too, and I thanked her for the chance to learn so much new software. That was mostly what I got out of that job, since I really never got to work to my capability there, at all. I had help getting all my stuff in the car, and kind words from all. Not so bad, though the last job ending was easier, with Lee there to help.

OK, come back tomorrow and I will show you some pictures of Lee's and my lovely weekend escape to the Hill Country.

Good news: the XH managed to teach Tuba Boy to drive my car while he was here, so when Tuba Boy gets a stick shift auto, he will be able to drive it. Whew.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Start your vibing--I got two job nibbles within 30 minutes of each other today, both for jobs I would like doing and I think I'd be good at. One is actually THE job I wanted most at ALE. For really great pay with benefits, and in the organization I worked in before. I feel a lot better getting any kind of action at all before the holidays. This will definitely help my mood for the weekend, even knowing nothing's in the bag or anything. At least there are possibilities!

But Wait, There's More!

After lunch, another job at ALE came through, and they want to schedule me for interviews, probably in January. Same department. At least I think it's a different job. Very similar, though. No complaints from me.

And More

First job called back and has scheduled an interview for Monday. Dang, when luck changes, it really changes.

Friday's Feast

Appetizer: Make up a word and give us its definition.
Somnalipsis: An occasion when one of your dreams from the night before pops in and replays while you are awake.

Soup: What is currently your favorite song?
Choral part of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, "Ode to Joy"

Salad: What’s at the top of your Christmas wish list this year?
A job.

Main Course: Name a scent that reminds you of someone special in your life.
Zest soap reminds me of my high school boyfriend.

Dessert: Who is someone on television that you feel probably shouldn’t be, and why?
Ann Coulter. She is not only mean-spirited, she is not very bright.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Slow Day

It's been a slow day, but not a bad one. The person who was supposed to give me a ton of work isn't at work today, so not much to do but apply for jobs. I have done so with a vengeance, including a couple as an online community manager. I loved that part of my old job, so that would be great to do. I just hope there aren't thousands applying for each of these positions.

The boss took the department out to lunch today, though one was not able to come, "too busy," she said. Wah. Now I wish I had gone out last week when she took my friend who's already gone out to lunch--but that day I was just way too down. Anyway, we went to the Hyde Park Grill in the scenic part of Austin, where we people up on the northwest boonies never get to go (it's the restaurant famous for its sign that is a giant fork). I'd forgotten how good this place is--I stopped going to "good" restaurants while Jeff was around, and never got back to it since. Maybe when the "good" job manifests, I can start going fun places with Lee (who never wants to go in to Austin, but I miss places like Central Market and such). I really, really like to eat at upscale restaurants, and keep picking guys who don't like to do that--the XH and I did have some fun times with our fancy meals! I just love the ambiance and interesting combinations of flavors you don't get at barbecue spots and the ubiquitous generic Chinese/Vietnamese restaurants!

Our food was delicious but really copious. The new girl got a HUGE pork chop. I had meatloaf, with delicious homemade mashed potatoes and collards sauteed with bacon. The latter were delicious, but I believe have made me a bit sick to the stomach. I need to remember I have no gall bladder and can't do a lot of fat. Then we all had wonderful desserts. A peach cake/pudding and a chocolate brownie. Each of them was gigantic. We could not finish either, so will eat them tomorrow at lunch. Wow, if you go there, try one of those desserts!

As you can tell, I am still in a better mood. Doing what my tarot cards said and not letting stuff get to me. I am trying to assume the good things will happen, and stop the panic. I know it pleases Lee to see me happier, and I will be trying harder to do so, and maybe the bad downer feelings will abate for a while. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fun Is Free!

ELAB Supermodel
Originally uploaded by sunasak
We were goofing off last night before Lee and I left for rehearsing with the melodious Trey Bone boys. He and Beccano were following each other around with the camera trying to snap each other making a face, and this is the one Beccano got of Lee. We think he looks like a supermodel--look at those cheekbones--he could be Zoolander! And that flowing hair! And those wide eyes! OK, or he could be Weird Al Yankovic. Those two really make me laugh. Visit the knitting blog for a photo of Beccano looking like a leprechaun in a hat I knitted. He tried to put baby booties on his ears "to look like Shrek" but they wouldn't fit. See, all this fun and it's free!

We also had a quite fun rehearsal, very impressed with ourselves at how well we remembered our set list. The acoustics are nice in the remodeled living room o' Austin, which made it quite pleasant to sing. I just got tired at the end--the last couple of weeks I have not moved around much, just moped. Sure glad we have that performance to force us to get together and do music!

We will do more music at home as soon as our obsession with football ends. I think Lee and I went overboard this year just because no one told us we had to stop watching. We even watch bad, bad games, like New Orleans vs. Atlanta.

Another thing the helped cheer me was that I managed to find small but nice gifts for the family, and got them ordered in time that they will get here by the 25th, so we will have stuff to give out at Christmas. Beccano has picked out stuff to give, too. Don't know if it has occurred to Tuba Boy that he ought to be getting something for his friends and family. Maybe Debate Girl will remind him.

So, I am slightly more out of my funk today, looking forward to an evening at the yarn shop tonight, and a short choir. Maybe tomorrow we will bake Christmas cookies or something. Then this weekend Lee and I are going to escape our woes and go somewhere and do something while the kids are with their dad. That sounds like a plan! I hope he makes his supermodel face a lot. That will keep me grinning.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reminding Myself

Holiday Boyz
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Just reminding myself that there's always something to cheer me up at home. Look at these shaggy fellows, dressed as dark as they can get, with hair as long as they can manage. This is their "formal" attire for their band concert last week. Beccano DID tuck the shirt in for the concert.

They remind me that there's always some amusing conversation to be had, music to hear, or website to share with these guys and Lee around. So even when the job search gets me down (as it is today, as it did yesterday, as it will tomorrow at the rate things are going) or when the stress on me and Lee makes both of us less than fun to live with, we have goodness and abundance. If I type this enough, I will do a better job remembering it, I hope!

Friends are having so much trouble, too. I am sending out a lot of energy to people with relationship issues, illnesses, weird family stuff, and work issues (either too much or too little).

Back to withdrawing into myself, which was today's goal. Trying to gather strength to rehearse with the Trey Bone guys tonight. Haven't done that in a while.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Holiday Spirit

Lee bought me this little tree to put in the media room. It matches the red theme (and my coworker pointed out, makes it look like a bordello, but never mind her--she thinks my red fixation is impressive, actually). Since that's the room we are in the most, I thought it could use more than a couple of lights and some scary nutcracker ornaments. Now I feel a bit more cheery, though we will take down the topper--it's too big and falls off.

I am doing as much as I can to calm myself and bring cheer. I was losing the battle for a few days, I am afraid. Not getting that poorly compensated job put my anxiety into overdrive and I began having BAD symptoms--like chest pains bad enough to keep me from doing anything, and fairly severe dizziness/head tightness. The symptoms seem to have calmed down since yesterday afternoon, when I felt like, hey, at least I got my knitting goal done and I did some decorating. I even cooked soup. I just need to get through the next few weeks--I am sure something good will come up, or I will enjoy teaching knitting.

So, to add cheer, I took a meme off of a nice blog I read by Jo. She took it from someone else. I figure this will make me think about "other stuff" in the background while I do technical writing in the foreground.

50 Endless Answers to Questions

1. Elaborate on your default icon: It's a photo of me with my light-colored hair, where I look very, very happy. I was all in love and stuff. Still in love, of course.

2. What's your current relationship status? Engaged (tee hee hee) to the kind and wonderful Lee. Planning on a wedding around Halloween of next year. But you knew that.

3. Ever have a near-death experience? I was a bit concerned when I rolled my car after hitting a patch of black ice on a country road in Illinois. But, I lived. I am not really worried about it.

4. Name an obvious quality you have: I am not tall.

5. What's the name of the song that's stuck in your head right now? Sigh, "Let It Snow."

6. Any celeb you would marry? Pierce Brosnan. Nice. Handsome. Not available. Nor am I.

7. Who will cut and paste this first? Lee or Saranda.

8. Has anyone ever said you look like a celebrity? Sally Field. That's about it.

9. Do you wear a watch? Yeah, I have one pretty nice one and others that are for fun, but the fun ones are all running low on batteries. I like them as jewelry.

10. Are you pierced? Once in each ear.

11. Do you have any tattoos? Nope. I like looking at them, but don't need one for myself.

12. Do you like pain? Some would think I do given previous relationship choices. I do have a really high tolerance for pain. But I'd prefer to avoid it.

13. Do you like to shop? Yeah, but not too often.

14. What was the last thing you paid for with cash? Yarn for kids' Christmas hats.

15. What was the last thing you paid for with your credit card? Groceries. Whee.

16. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? Tuba Boy.

17. What is on your desktop background? On work computer, a photo of the Cliffs of Mohor in Ireland taken by Beccano. On the desktop at home, Scrunchy's giant head. On the new laptop some photo that came with the computer, because I have not decided what I want to make for that one.

18. What is the background on your cell phone? Autumn leaves that are red. Came with the phone but I liked it, and the phone is red. My theme color.

19. Do you like redheads? Oh yes oh yes oh yes. That's why I am one now. Best is the redhead I made for myself, Beccano.

20. Do you know any twins? My grandmother was one. And my kids have some twin friends.

21. Do you have any weird relatives? Now really, who doesn't?? There is a LOT of "eccentricity" in my family, especially on the maternal side.

22. What was the last movie you watched? In the theater, Pan's Labyrinth, at home, sigh, Shaolin Soccer. It cracked us up.

23. What was the last book you read? Other than knitting books...I am currently reading that book about Baklavah that I borrowed from Saranda. It is good, even if the exact title has escaped me.

24. Is there such a thing as love at first sight, or is it more likely to be lust at first sight? There can be some kind of recognition, like you knew someone before, or something, but to truly love them you need to get to know them. I recognized Lee pretty quickly.

25. What's your favorite book? The Robin Wood Tarot book. Well, it's the book I have read the most times.

26. When was the last time you visited the street where you first lived? Well, not since I was tiny. I visited the street where I grew up three years ago when Jeff and I stopped in Gainesville on the way to visit his mother. It smelled good. That is why I want to go home.

27. When was the last time you googled your own name? A couple of months ago--wanted to check to see if something was still on the web. It isn't.

28. What was / is your favorite subject at school? Chorus. Then Spanish. Then English.

29. What was / is your least favorite subject at school? PE and I HATED it. Made me feel so incompetent.

30. Do you like having your photograph taken? It's OK. I look nice in some pictures. In others, I like more accurate, ha ha.

31. What time were you born? 6:30 am Eastern time. Virgo rising.

32. Ever seriously questioned your sanity? I am weird, but I am fine.

33. How many phone numbers do you have remembered and can say off the top of your head? 8

34. Can you Limbo? No. Scoliosis doesn't help.

35.Have you ever killed your own dinner? Fish.

36. How long have you been living at your current residence? 10.5 years. Have been in this town 11 years at the end of the month.

37. What phobias do you have? Guns, motorcycles, nuclear holocaust, being forced to live in a religious society, roaches. Not too good with heights.

38. What's your ideal breakfast? Coffee, cheese grits, egg over easy. Usually just have coffee.

39. Where are you right now? Work. My last Monday.

40. Why do you blog? I like to write and it helps me clarify things.

41. What would you call your autobiography? What's around the Corner? Suna Wants to Know.

42. What's the longest time you've stayed out of the country / where? One Ireland trip was about two weeks.

43. Do you use ICQ, AIM, etc..? Trillion.

44. Do you have nightmares frequently? No, just dreams with ups and downs. Occasional nightmares, but not too many.

45. If you were another person, would you be friends with you? Yes - I am a good listener.

46. Which TV character could you be friends with? Meg on Family Guy. She needs a friend.

47. What's on your mouse pad? McNeil Mavericks logo on work computer. Better remember to take that home. None on others.

48. What is your ring tone? Depends on who's calling. Lee is "Wish You Were Here." Tuba Boy is "Sweet Child of Mine." Beccano is Darth Vader's Star Wars theme. Jeff is "Brown Eyed Girl." Everybody else is "Baba O'Reilly" (teenaged wasteland).

49. What did you watch on TV last night? The Colts p0wning on the poor Ravens. Mostly I knitted and talked to Beccano.

50. Scary movies or happy endings? Happy. I prefer comedies.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday's Feast

Good--I need a light-hearted distraction.

Appetizer: What was the last game you purchased?
Guitar Hero, whatever the latest version is.

Soup: Name something in which you don’t believe.

Salad: If you could choose a celebrity to be your boss, who would you pick?
Geoffrey Nunberg. Hey, he's been on NPR and has published a book for the popular press, not just academic, so he is a celebrity. If he were my boss I'd be working in pragmatics and thinking about metaphors, in the field I trained in, and not doing whatever the hell I am doing now for a living.

Main Course: What was a lesson you had to learn the hard way?
That no matter how stable and loyal your partner appears, they can discard you for their soul mate. Lesson: find your soul mate.

Dessert: Describe your idea of the perfect relaxation room.
Medium sized room, preferably with thick walls, with large window overlooking trees and water. Walls covered in books and yarn. Music available. Comfy but not-too-big armchair with high-quality natural-light lamp on a table that holds drink and snack and current reading matter. Ottoman, preferably one with storage in it for current knitting needs. Couch for soul mate or children if they join you, with afghan for napping. A fireplace would be nice. Plants. One dog, size medium-small. Internet available if a question pops up that you won't relax again until you find out the answer. Yes, it is a crowded room.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dog Eat Dog World

Doggie Fun 2
Originally uploaded by sunasak
OK, so I didn't show the picture where Rose has Scrunchy's head in her mouth, but you get the point. In any case, the doggies here were having so much fun--they really enjoy each other.

I've sure been experiencing the "dog eat dog" aspects of the world recently. I have above-average intelligence, work hard, am loyal, and learn quickly, yet I can't find an employer willing to give me a chance. I tried really hard to get that job yesterday, a job that paid barely more than half what I am making now, because it was in a small company where I could really contribute, and I'd be working with a human being with actual ethics and who cared about his employees (rather than laying them off last year, he made sure they all got new jobs). But, my salary history apparently scared him off--he was so sure I'd run away for something that paid more, and I guess I was not convincing enough that my priorities involve more than just rate of pay.

It would be well worth it to make a little less if I had some idea that a job was mine for a while. I know nothing is "permanent," but at least having a "permanent" position would make me feel less expendable. I no longer even dream of benefits. Wow, the world has become rough.

My boss has reassured me again that things will pick up in January. I wish I could believe that and enjoy the time I will have home with the kids over our gift-free holiday period. (OK, there will be a couple of gifts, but not many.) My coworker tells me that I am dressing right (power suit today) to keep my vibes going well, and I've gotten some nice mantras, tokens and such. But I know it is my MIND that makes the magic, and it is tired and feels more like giving up some of the time. Luckily, I can ramp it up at other times, so I am not a total loss.

Thanks for reading my whines. I am applying. Heck, I even applied at ALE. Where I'd be the first to go in the next round of cuts, I am sure.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Age Equals Wisdom

Mystery Man
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I found it funny that Beccano dressed up as an older Asian fellow right after my post about getting older. I guess he was trying to channel ancient Ninja wisdom. The picture is cool because the eyes look so realistic. That is a good mask!

I don't have a lot of news, but am popping in to request good vibes if you read this early enough for them to count. I have an interview at a place that sounded interesting to me, with someone who seems honest and in need or some Suna help. We'll see. One reason I liked the guy was that he said he'd had to let go of a bunch of employees to make ends meet this year, but didn't just fire them--he found them all other jobs with his competitors. So unlike faceless corporations. I am willing to take the big pay cut to be treated like a human and to get to do interesting work.

So, we'll see. Not the end of the world if I don't get it, since I have applied for jobs more in my field and with higher pay rates, but I'd love to get to stop looking. I feel like I can trust Lee to have work of good enough pay scale that I don't have to be the main wage earner. It has taken me a long time to feel safe trusting someone else financially.

I will add more to this post after I talk to the man about the job. I will try to impress him with my energy and enthusiasm, so he won't be thrown off by my age. Love the wisdom, deal with the age part!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Aging and Changing

Originally uploaded by sunasak

Here's a picture of my latest hair incarnation. I didn't get a picture of it, but the hairdresser styled it bone straight after the cut. It was very interesting (shiny, too) and maybe I can try to do it again, now that I got a flatiron thing for the kids. But, it was not "me." This hair is me. And probably how I should keep it. The extra long hair had begun to bug me (it tangled from the curling action). This is a nice color and a nice length. And if you don't like curly hair, too bad. It's the way my hair is!

I am looking at this picture, and have been looking in the mirror. Lots of aging signs, though I really should not complaint too much--I have fewer than a lot of people. But weird wrinkles are happening around my lips, and my chin is icky looking. Getting wrinkles in there. They eyes aren't too bad, but they do wrinkle up when I laugh. Of course, it is good to laugh.

There is a lot of age prejudice around job searching. I wish employers would realize that my life experience means I learn quickly, not that I am hesitant to learn. And that if I started now, I'd be able to work another 25 years for them, knowing the health histories of my relatives. I have to say that the job search makes me feel old and tired, though most of the time I feel the same as ever, only with one or two little glitches. Not bad, really for almost 50.

I want to age gracefully, but when I see that the jowls are starting, and the chin has no definition, I do imagine being wealthy enough to get tweaked. On the other hand, what's wrong with looking my age (other than people not wanting to hire me because of it!)?

GRR (added later)

I had gotten a call from a place, and they said they wanted to talk to me about getting a new job. It was downtown, and the info said dress business. Sounded like a much better place. But I thought it was odd that they didn't mention any particular job, and that there was no website listed in the email they sent. I stewed for a while, but decided I didn't want to waste my time if this was not a legit thing. So, I went to the www that matched the email address I got directions from. Son of a gun. It's a place that tweaks your resume and tells YOU how to go get a job. For a FEE (though they cagily do not mention that on their site). I thought I finally got some job action. But, at least I am not wasting my time going out there tomorrow, and missing work time on top of that!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Holiday Fun

A Real Tree!
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I guess we have decided to enjoy the holidays, regardless of what is going on in the job market. I feel a bit better having found out one of the jobs I really wanted but hadn't heard anything on still hasn't done interviews yet. Whew.

So, we have spent a lot of time this weekend doing holiday things. Lee and Beccano and I got this lovely tree at Home Depot. They were pretty proud of themselves for getting it set up (was not an easy task). It wasn't too expensive, and smells very good. It also is quite the prolific shedder. and leans a bit to the left when looking at it straight on. But it is soft and lovely, not all prickly like the fake tree we used the last ten years. This is only the second real tree we have had since we moved to Illinois. They mulch all the trees here, so I feel OK about it. That fake tree was pretty dead at the end of last year, and we did keep it up for like 3 years, which was sorta dorky (the box broke and we could not figure out how to store it).

Today we put on ornaments and decided to get rid of some decor stuff that was in bad shape. Yay for decluttering. I didn't make the tree as thematic as I usually do, but it mostly has purple ornaments, so my quirkiness is not totally absent.

I know Lee's having fun, other than getting a horrible splinter in his finger while looking for stuff in the attic. He hasn't decorated in a long time. He even went out and got about half the redbud tree covered in lights--his first ever! We will work on finishing it tomorrow. I also decorated the mantel in the family room for the kids, and put up a few things in the media room for me and Lee. There is a rather amusing red tree with red lights that I think will be a spectacular media room tree, so we will probably get that. And that shall be it for holiday decor, other than getting out the holiday dish towels. I am not going to go as nuts over it as usual, but am doing better than I did in the couple of recent years when I felt real bad.

I missed decorating with my sister. I even miss Jeff playing the Christmas CDs while he sat upstairs not helping. I know he really liked all the decor and stuff, and this year he will be with his poor sick mother. I asked him to get her a little tree or something. I am glad I have Lee and Beccano to keep the cheer in me.

The only other big activity this weekend was church stuff. We "inaugurated" a drive to get hymnal supplements by singing a bunch of songs from it. Jan and Joe played, and Beccano joined them on bells and percussion. I sang the opening song, which was Open the Window, a Harry Belafonte song. The minister even referred to it in the sermon. I think I sounded sorta dorky, but I did a good job acting like I was having fun and loving my hymnal. I also led the audience in a hymn where they sang with the choir, and that was way fun. The song the choir did for the offering was the most dismal, even though it was a song I liked. It was fun having Beccano playing along with us.

After church it was Yule Fest time, which always reminds me of how much I miss being a more involved person in the church, and being able to be in a women's group. Women's group meant so much to me. I just can't trust people that much any more (especially in church--the hurtful things people said to me and about me still sting, no matter how hard I try to ignore it or get past it), so I am working to find other means of support. Anyway, they had some good vendors, and a highlight was Beccano picking out a wand, which ended up being an ash one with Kyanite on the end. Really a neat stone that also works sort of as an athame. There was a vendor selling interesting stone jewelry, and there were some of the loveliest pieces of fire opal I ever saw. Sigh. But, I did get each child a nice Yule gift, so that's something.

I am still feeling a bit better. I am hoping my good attitude will manifest a good job.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Made a Movie

Really just testing, but here's a little video of the ever-talented Beccano demonstrating his double jointed thumb. We lead an exciting life around here. (Actually we lead a nice life--we had a delicious dinner of delicious and hearty lentil soup, sour cream, bread and tangerines, that included and much laughter, then Lee and I played Magic, or tried to, with Tuba Boy.)

Friday's Feast

Back to light-hearted fare, since I know the best way to kill any possible comments here is to write something serious or political. Oh well, I get to write what I feel like writing. But I know you missed Friday's Feast last week, and are glad it's back!

Appetizer: What is your favorite carnival/amusement park ride?
When I was young, it was the tilt-a-whirl. At this point in life, I am fine with never going to a carnival or amusement park again, ever.

Soup: How do you react in uncomfortable social situations?
Since I am "sensitive" my innards react hard. If at all possible, I leave the room so I can think about what to do next. I do try to be kind and helpful. I am quite capable of keeping my opinions to myself if I can see I would offend someone, but I am unwilling to pretend to be someone I am not, so sometimes things WILL get uncomfortable. I just try to be my "highest self."

Salad: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy discussing deep, philosophical topics?
9, usually. 2 when tired. 5 when it involves Tuba Boy or his father. I love a discussion with someone willing to listen and to have their mind changed, since I am usually willing to learn something new and have my mind changes. Dogmatic people, people who argue just to argue (and may not even really believe their position), or people who get angry if you don't agree with them turn me off.

Main Course: Did you get a flu shot this year? If not, do you plan to?
Nope. I am very healthy, so it is optional for me. I did last year, when there was a convenient place to get one. I really haven't had an opportunity this year.

Dessert: Approximately how many hours per week do you spend watching television?
Not sure. 15-20*? Right now, more than I used to, because Lee and I watch a lot of football. There are many evenings we don't even turn it on unless Beccano wants to watch some documentary or biography (I know a lot about John Lennon and Guns 'N Roses thanks to him). I only really watch network TV on Tuesday evenings. I enjoy Bones, House (unrealistic as it may be) and Boston Legal. I kicked the Grey's Anatomy habit last year. It is TOO addictive. And I watch the Daily Show and Colbert Report religiously if I am home (and I am TIRED of the writers' strike, even if I do agree with them). Some evenings we put on HGTV and don't really watch it, just look up occasionally to comment on something pretty or ugly. And if the TV is on, I am knitting. I can't just watch it. That used to really bug poor Jeff, for whom that medium is something to pay rapt attention to.

*20 would be if the Comedy Central fake news shows are new episodes.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Keep Thinking about that Poor Lady

A rant.

I keep thinking about that poor teacher who went to the Sudan to teach and now is in jail for naming a teddy bear the wrong thing. She asked the students what to name it, and they voted on Mohammed. Yeah, she did that all right. Heretic!

You know, Anglo Christians in the US don't like to name children or other representational objects after their Lord and Savior, but no one gets threatened with a public beating if they do. If someone from another culture showed up and named their dog or chia pet Jesus Christ or something, someone would probably just let them know, "We don't do that here--perhaps you could choose another name." And the person would regret the faux pas, but not be scarred for life.

Heck, one reason I hesitated to ever actually visit Japan after all those years of nihongo o benkyoo shimasu (studying Japanese) was that I worried that I would make a cultural slip and be embarrassed. Now, no Japanese person would run go find a whip or a katana and whack me--they'd probably bow and say something at the wrong politeness level, so I'd know I did something I shouldn't do. But, I wouldn't want to insult their culture. I am a well educated person who knows more about other cultures than the average American, yet I can't know all the rules--it's impossible.

And I have no doubt that poor British woman set out to offend Islam. Look, I have been in classrooms my own self, right here in Yee Haw Texas, with multiple students named Jesus and Mohammed (spelled more than one way). It might just give one the impression that people in some cultures name their children after deities. And since in most cultures, children name their toys with the same kinds of names they give themselves, I'd probably be guilty of thinking I could name a class toy Jesus or Mohammed--they are very common names that children are familiar with. It would be to me like naming a teddy bear John or Kamal (only nobody was named Kamal when I was a kid--the black kids and white kids had similar names until a bit after I showed up on earth).

This is what scares me. I could easily have made the same mistake as that lady in the Sudan, even if I had tried to learn the customs where I was, and was doing my best to memorize extremist interpretations of Islam. I guess I could have a cheat sheet under my burka (or whatever you wear to cover your lady-ness in the Sudan--I only knew frightened Sudanese Christians back in grad school).

We are all gonna make a cultural faux pas as the world becomes smaller and different cultures become more prominent. We will all be trying to learn the cultural taboos and lore of the new-to-us cultures the best we can. I think it's my duty to cut people from outside the US some slack if they mess up. Wouldn't it be nice if they could do the same? What is it with the intense drive to whip people in public? Scary. Scary. And ooh, if you get raped, well, you should not have let yourself get alone with a man, missy, never mind that he forced himself on you. 500 lashes!

As sorry as I feel for that lady who tried to do a teaching job outside her native country, I also feel sorry for moderate Muslims. I read on the CNN article a couple of comments from Muslims begging others like themselves to show that Islam is a compassionate and kind religion, to let others know that in most parts of the Islamic world people aren't treated like that (note to self: avoid Saudi Arabia and the Sudan). I know how they feel, when I hear people around the world denouncing the US and acting as if all Americans are power-hungry war-mongers like Bush and his cronies. I, too, want to get all my friends to yell at others, "We are not all like him! Lots of us disagree!"

Too bad all of us moderates seem to be slipping into powerlessness as we watch all kinds of extremists gain control of institutions and try to re-make society in their narrow-minded image.

PS: I am actually feeling a little better today, honest. No job leads, but I had such a nice time last night at the yarn shop and choir rehearsal (where Beccano helped us do music and we laughed a lot) that the cheeriness went all the way into today!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Where I Need to Go!

I saw this on someone's blog and gave it a try. This map shows in red all the US states you have visited. It is clear that I need a road trip to the Pacific Northwest.

create your own personalized map of the USA

My world map would be boring, so I didn't do it. Mexico, Canada, Ireland, England, Wales, Switzerland. The end.

Also, another blog pointed me to this fine article about Iceland being the best place to live. That may explain my fascination with Iceland, ever since I was pretty small (the Burnells, whom I blogged about as my early influences on one of my blogs not too long ago, were stationed there when they met, and loved it). I loved Ireland and Japan, but hearing about Iceland also intrigued me. You just don't read about it as much. Wonder if they need English technical writers there? MMM, hot springs. MMM, knitting. MMM, lovely winter darkness and summer light.

Yep, while I am stewing over the No Job for Suna situation you will get amusements from other people's blogs. Lee, no need for you to post your solid red map on your blog. (Lee's been everywhere, man, Lee's been everywhere.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm So Wonder-ful

Oh poopy, I would rather have been Supergirl. I still am her in my heart.

Your results:
You are Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman 95%
Superman 85%
Supergirl 80%
Robin 75%
Spider-Man 70%
The Flash 70%
Green Lantern 65%
Batman 60%
Hulk 60%
Catwoman 45%
Iron Man 30%

You are a beautiful princess
with great strength of character.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Nothing much else to write about other than I was thrilled to discover that Beccano has stopped biting his nails. I was his age when I stopped (went directly to talons and never looked back). The guitar did it. He wants to be able to pick.


Yesterday a year ago, Lee told me he wanted to make a go of it as a couple, and that he was putting things in motion to make it so. He was very brave, and I really admired him for making a difficult decision. Neither of us regrets it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My Poor Kids

A highlight of today is that I just about have my new laptop set up to where I can use it for most purposes. Lee was so sweet to get it for me. It is amazing what you can get nowadays for not too much money. This new computer is faster and has more features than the one I got for work a couple of years ago, but is less than half the price. And it's RED! Now I can type in the media room, though Poor Lee has done a lot of work to try to get the wireless connection better up here. We have a plan to get it all back up and pretty, though. Whoop!

Here's what I really wanted to talk about. Yesterday was a challenge to my poor boys. I know they are getting older and more competent at stuff, but they had to face a lot of things that would be no fun for a grownup. Sigh, I hate having to send them on planes to visit their dad, even though of course I want them to spend time together. Yesterday was a perfect example of why I worry so much about them traveling. They had lunch at an A&W place, then showed up at the airport in Raleigh-Durham with their dad. Tuba Boy then began to be violently ill--they think he got bad meat at the restaurant. Next, it turned out that their plane had a bird fly into its engine and needed a total engine rebuild. Yummy thing for the airline on a busy holiday travel day! So, their plane was delayed. Thankfully their dad was still there and could help them rebook on a new flight. I wonder how in the world they would have done it alone. I don't think Beccano really has the skills for it. They'd be at the mercy of airline personnel (most of whom are real nice, though).

So, they got significantly delayed and had to sit a long time, with Tuba Boy being so sick. And they had to go through O'Hare, which made for a lot more time on planes, too. Apparently Tuba Boy vomited his way across the USA. Poor boy, and poor Beccano trying to take care of him.

Tuba Boy looked just AWFUL when he got off the plane. He got home, barfed some more, and went to bed. He's still there. We decided to stay home with him and not go to church. I want to be here if he needs me.

My own day yesterday had many frustrations--trying to teach a difficult knitting task to someone with very little English, using my very little Spanish (I sound WAY better than I actually am). And I dread next week--I am going to try to get her started on the afghan she really wants to make. She's Peruvian and has only been here a year, taught herself to knit, quite painfully. But, it sure takes a lot of energy to help. At least I get to be helpful. I miss that aspect of my old job.

I also helped another lady figure out how to re-create an Aran poncho she had made many years ago. I figured out the whole thing! Go me! Now I keep thinking of how I could make a nicer version. It was in bulky yarn, and I do wish that I had enough of the very interesting bulky wool I recently bought to make a little poncho pattern up. It feels good to have some creative energy, since I have practically no other energy. Yow, this job thing has sapped my strength and confidence. I keep sort of breaking down at little things, like how unorganized the house is. I am glad Lee is patient. This is not my best time.

Send healing vibes Tuba Boy's way!!