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!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday's Feast

Appetizer: How are you today?
Thank you for asking. I am shaky. Been dealing with a lot of negativity today.

Soup: Name 3 television shows you watch on a regular basis.
The Daily Show, the Colbert Report, House

Salad: What’s the scariest weather situation you’ve experienced?
The tornado that came through when we first moved to Austin, May 1997. We were on a third-floor apartment, and my 3- and 5-year-old and I could find no safe place to hide. If our house had been finished, we would have watched it go by, about 5 miles from our house, after destroying Jarrel, Texas and head to Cedar Park to mess up a grocery store and some houses. The construction workers saw it and fled.

Main Course: If you could wake up tomorrow morning in another country, where would you want to be?

Dessert: What do you usually wear to sleep?
The softest possible pajamas with a short-sleeved top and 3/4 length legs, if possible.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Beccano and His Cymbal
Originally uploaded by sunasak
There you see an example of my first priority. My family. Isn't Beccano beautiful, concentrating on his cymbal? And isn't the swirly cymbal cool? This photo was at last Friday's football game at halftime, and was taken by a band parent.

When I get upset at how the world treats me, I need to remember to make decisions based on what is best for the kids and Lee, and not by my own issues. For example, I was pretty extra peeved to find out that Lee still wasn't allowed to chaperone on band trips (I figured it out when I looked at the list of people and saw vacancies but no him), but the committee person would not tell me why. So, I called the band director.

What he had not made clear to me was that he had decided to stick with the "you must be a biological parent or married to one" rule until a band parent meeting where they would bring up the concept of getting background checks, or come up with a guideline to stick with. I pointed out that this made it look like we were not welcome as a family, and such. I suggested that a less weird thing to do would be to stay with current policy (anyone is welcome as long as they are adults) until the new policy is established. As far as I can tell he agreed, and said he would tell the chaperone chairs that.

Then he suggested I not go to the band parent meeting so they could talk about me/us and I wouldn't be there. I can only hope they don't use my name. I guess they don't do that. I hope not. Ick.

We'll see how this turns out. I just about decided to quit volunteering, since it seems to be bringing me the same angst church volunteering, elementary school volunteering, and my work with the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization did. Maybe it's ME that is the problem and I should not try to help.

But, thinking back to my priorities, the people who would be hurt if I just quit would be the kids in the band, my own children, and Lee, who wants to do normal parenting activities he missed out on with his stepson. So, I will swallow my pride and show up tomorrow and ride the bus. At least it's a home game and Lee won't have to drive miles to get to it.

I hope my priorities are right. I skipped the performance by the new chorus (I wasn't in it) and church choir rehearsal to go to Parent Night at the school. I ended up going to all of Beccano's teachers (only the art teacher seemed thrilled to see me) except band, since I knew those guys. So I only got to see two of Tuba Boy's teachers (I already know his band and debate ones, so that means I really only missed three). Tuba Boy's science teacher went on and on about how much she enjoys his participation and good question asking. It helped to hear something positive.

That school is big. Running all over it made me pretty sore!

Lee couldn't come last night because he had to take Beccano to see his old middle school counselor in private practice. She is going to try to help with his memory issues. I hope so. It's money I don't really have to spare. I sure am glad I have Lee around to help!

It was all worth it to come home to a cheerful greeting from Tuba Boy and Debate Friend enjoying the new Halo 3 Beccano bought, then Beccano having finished his homework, filling me in on all his daily details, happy and relaxed. And Lee making me a nice dinner and sitting with me as I wound down. These guys make it all worthwhile, and no wonder they are my priorities.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fall Is Here

Front of House, Fall 2007
Originally uploaded by sunasak

Yes, we've equinoxed, and what is amazing about this photo is that the grass is green and all the plants growing and healthy. All that rain in June really made a difference.

Our house is spruced up inside, for the most part, but we have to get moving on the outside. We should be getting a roof in the next week or two, and if Lee gets a job soon, I'll bite the bullet and contract to get that nasty looking trim replaced and painted. I want it to look nice and be in good shape.

Lee has a good prospect for a job back at ALE. They have changed the rules, so he can be a contractor. Seems to me that it isn't all that fiscally brilliant to lay someone off, then beg them to come back as a contractor at higher rate of pay (more than making up for the lost benefits). It's just moving items around so it LOOKS like the head count is reduced. They still have to get the work done, and need workers. Sigh. But, I'm all for anything that pays well at this point!

Long night ahead. First a week bit o' knitting then Parent Night, and I have to see all those teachers who have issues with Beccano. I really don't want to be at that school (doesn't help that I noticed Lee is not listed as chaperoning ANY band trips the rest of the year). It's also Beccano's first day with the therapist to help him with his issues. Hope that works out. She is really good and helped him a lot in the past, so I have hope that with all the techniques the school district wouldn't let her use when she was there, he will do better. On his own. I am helping but not doing stuff for him!

If you want to see a sweet photo of my boys and some nice words by Lee, check out his blog post from a day or two ago. Actually, his blog has been really nice to read recently, so I do hope you will check it out if you have time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eh, Not So Hot

My mental state hasn't been too good lately--long-time readers probably recognize that when Beccano is having trouble, it really eats at me. I don't know--maybe I blame myself for the problems, since they all seemed to come to a head when the Ex left. Then I remind myself he was always a bit different, even before (recalling the year he was terrified of wasps, for example). I blame myself for having too-high expectations of the kids (that they sail through school like I did, that they be organized, that they try their hardest even on things they don't want to do...gee, just because I was an over-achiever doesn't mean they will, or more importantly SHOULD be).

I feel really disengaged from my work--it's boring to me, even when actual events are better. And I am simply overwhelmed. I had cut down on things and gotten some rest over the summer, but with new activities and all the school stuff popping up, plus trying to remember all the repairs and bills needed--my head gets overly full and that makes me really edgy.

Must be that I need a simpler life. I crave a chance to earn a reasonable living doing something I am good at AND enjoy. At lunch today Bill drew me a Venn diagram of that--where there were circles representing what you love to do, what you do well, and what pays well. The intersection was small, but it was there. I need to find it and focus on it.

I am enjoying writing up instructions for teaching people to knit. Maybe that will do it.

Physically I do not feel well, either. Just random age-related things. Back hurts, stomach hurts, ovaries hurt, head hurts, hands hurt often. Gee, really I am quite healthy. Just little irritations bother me.

That's the deal with being highly sensitive. Little things bother you. Then you tell yourself you "should" not be bothered. Well, you feel the way you feel, darn it!

Happy news is I got on the Ravelry knitting community at last. It looks fun, from my poking around. I am SunaSAK there.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Snoozy Sunday

Gwynnie and Rosie Tug Away
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Sunday of this weekend was pretty calm for me other than whacking a small child on the head opening the bathroom door at church. It opens out, right by the entrance, and you know how small kids cling to the edges of passageways. I felt bad about that. But, i managed to sing soprano, and very much enjoyed our choir director's son playing complex jazz piano improvisations before and after the service. Dang, that child is talented (guess having two pro musician parents helped). He plays oboe, guitar and piano that I know of, all rather overly well. Glad he's a music major.

The photo today is of Sunday morning fun for Gwynnie and Rosie. It just warms my heart to see the old blind dog with someone to play with. Her favorite game has always been tug-of-war with one of these chew toys, and Rose is so sweet about it, bringing her the toy and helping her find it when it drops. I am also pleased at Rose's chewing on this item for the last couple of weeks. If you look closely at the furniture in the photo, you can see what she was chewing on before. I hope we can fix up my nice chairs, sigh.

My Sunday was mostly spent knitting and watching football (which is good--I needed to recharge, very much), while Lee and the boys went to get more stuff from Lee's old house. I think I hadn't quite realized I was going to have to figure out some way to incorporate so much additional stuff into the house. I must have conveniently blocked that fact from my mind. But, I will keep moving things and getting rid of some of my stuff so we will have space. I think there's just one giant china cabinet left. I think I can rearrange things so it will fit. I know there's room in the cabinets for the china, anyway.

Bang-Up Saturday

Here we see Beccano's drumline in a competition in Belton. They came in third, but did very well--they were quite overpowered by the 50-piece team from Cedar Park, which also had a fabulous drum major directing them (amazing job for a high school student). Our piece was "interesting" musically, but the alien touches they were supposed to be giving it didn't really come through, so that was the main issue. Musically, they sounded great. And it was the kids' dad's weekend in town, so he brought Tuba Boy over to see it, too. I know that made Beccano feel good.

We'd been in Belton Friday night for an unexpectedly exciting football game (both teams were not at their best, so there was much fumbling, intercepting and drama, though our school did "win." At least we knew where to go for this event, having been there already! There are lots more photos on Flickr, so click the image to see more, including some of the other schools.

After this, Lee and I wandered a bit in trendy and kitschy Salado. It was a bit late, so a lot of stores were closed or closing. We did look at some pretty jewelry, and I found a lovely ring I wish I could get for the engagement signifier, but being made of 18K gold and lots of it made it one expensive ring. And well, this is not the time for such purchases! I'll post a photo eventually (I have to find it again). I like the designer's style a lot, modern yet warm.

We did go to the lovely outlet mall and get some necessities and a couple of clothing items for my "fall wardrobe." Nice basics. It was good to spend some time together.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Smile at This News

I read this on the World Wide Words Newsletter:

Smile, please: Wednesday 19 September was the 25th anniversary of the invention of the smiley character in online communications, also known as the emoticon. The :-) symbol, necessarily created from standard ASCII keyboard characters, was invented on 19 September 1982 by Scott E Fahlman in a post on a bulletin board at Carnegie Mellon University. It formed part of a thread on the way humorous remarks could be tagged to avoid misunderstandings. His message was brief, though a trifle ungrammatical: “I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-) Read it sideways.” Scott Fahlman is these days Research Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

Well, I think I will mark my calendar for future observances. Does anyone know who invented LOL? And can I call that day "Black Tuesday" or whatever day of the week that occurred??

I survived the football game, though Lee got an injury from stomping on the stands too hard. Still no apology from Intolerant Woman. But she spoke to me. I was politely distant. And our team won, without the wonderful Aaron Williams. Neither team played exactly "well," however. I never saw so many spectacular fumbles and interceptions.

We're off to watch Beccano bang on a cymbal shortly! Back to Belton High School! Which reminds me. I always get sort of nervous being near military bases, like, dang, if they start bombing, I am near a major target. My mind does work in odd ways at times.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fun Is Where You Make It

A Successful Prank!
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I think I mentioned that we tee-pee-ed the boss's office earlier this week. This is all its glory (since the toilet paper effectively eliminates any way to tell where the heck this is as well as the poor woman's face, I figure it's OK to post). I had the most fun strangling her Elvis Presley figure and hanging him from the blinds. He's fine now, btw. She left it up all day yesterday, and even showed her boss, who was visiting. I have got to say that the department across from mine sure has a lot of fun. They also work hard. That is perfect.

It hasn't been all that fun at our house, but we are trying to make fun as well. I completely lost it yesterday, though, when I got a phone call from Beccano's English teacher saying he was failing English due to not doing his homework. NOT that AGAIN! To his credit he had already approached her himself, looking for ways to remedy things. And he has already remedied math issues. But, on top of Lee's job situation, the massive bills, the drama of Lee selling his old house (it was sad for him--lots of work had gone into it by both him and the ex), the school bus thing (still no apology from the intolerant woman and I have to ride the bus today)...anyway, this incident was the last straw.

I cried at my desk, but thankfully no one was there at the time (lunch combined with the guy across from me having a crown done). Then I cried at Bill when he called wanting to go to lunch. Then I cried at Lee. I got it all back together, but developed a massive headache and sore muscles from being so tense. Thank goodness I had a nice juicy task to do, which kept my mind occupied.

By the time I got home, having managed to do an errand for Lee, avoid an accident two cars ahead of me, and not run out of gas, I was dead. Luckily Beccano agreed to all the things I wanted him to do until he got back under control, and we had a fairly nice time doing homework. I managed to help with Algebra 1, too. It is still hard, but I gave him some tips that seemed to help. All this teaching experience comes in handy at home!

We were supposed to have a committee meeting for the church coffeehouse, but once again, no one showed. So, that looks like we will have one more concert and put it all on hiatus or call it quits. Yay, one more web site I won't have to do any more. I used to really love this coffeehouse, and will be sorry to see it go, but if no one wants to work on it...I guess my friend who booked all the acts will be able to just book them into house concerts at his newly renovated house from now on, so he will still get to be a mover and shaker on the folk scene. Good for him. We need venues for quality folk music up in north Austin still!

So, lots of endings these days. But, Lee and I have our new beginning to focus on, Lee has a new job beginning to hope for, and the kids are still happy...even with all the new homework rules for Beccano. Could be worse. At least no one has tee-pee-ed the house. So far.

Tonight, ugh, long bus ride to Belton for a game, then tomorrow we will drive right back up there for Beccano's percussion section competition right where the game was. Lee will get to come to that, anyway. So will the kids' dad and Tuba Boy, so it should be quite the family event. We will make it fun, in keeping with this entry's theme. I hope we can get up there fairly early and see some of the other competitors. Then, sigh, back to old house or new house work.

Friday's Feast

Appetizer: What is your favorite type of art?
There are lots of favorites. I guess impressionist landscapes are what I could look at all day every day forever and not get bored.

Soup: When was the last time you got a free lunch (or breakfast or dinner)? Who paid for it?
On Wednesday there were leftovers from some United Way event for "real" employees at work. There were leftover breakfast tacos and fruit salad. I had them for lunch. They were still pretty good, though by the end of the day the remaining tacos became footballs.

Salad: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how emotional are you?
75. INFP, Pisces, Highly Sensitive Person.

Main Course: Approximately how long do you spend each day responding to emails?
Thankfully, less than I did when I worked for the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization. Probably an hour or so, and most of that is optional, fun stuff. AAAAAH.

Dessert: To what temperature do you usually set your home’s thermostat?
I usually don't set it. My guess is that it is 77 or 78 in summer and 70-ish in winter. Trying to save energy. But, I get all sweaty if we make it more than 78 in summer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Randomness and Moth ID

Random Topics for the day...

1. Good Work, Lee! I am proud of how Lee keeps plugging away at looking for work, and doing his best at interviews. There's another one on Friday! Yesterday's sounded hard, but like he did a fine job on it. And he is taking care of me and the kids as I hyperventilate over paying for things like roof deductibles, insurance, and cars (the latter not bought yet, thanks to all the other bills).

2. Grr to the Irritating. There's a lady on an email list I am on who thinks that she has every right in the world to insult people who's opinions differ from hers. I like how others on the list are simply modeling ways of stating opinions that don't put others down.

3. That Darned Bug. Yesterday I had fun showing two little girls the pretty moth I had found on the corridor to the work parking lot. As I left, I heard their dad or granddad telling a group of other people walking down to come see the cool moth. I think my moth is famous now. And this morning I saved another little warbler who was beating her wings at the glass doors. I had to scoot her out with my hands, but she's free now. I realize that she is probably endangered, so I did a good thing (we are in golden cheeked warbler habitat, which is one reason why all the woods around here were preserved). I sure like all the wildlife around here.

Anyway, hooray, here is the moth's bio:

Common Name: Great leopard moth
Scientific Name: Hypercompe scribonia (Stoll)Order: Lepidoptera
Description: The great leopard moth, Hypercompe scribonia (Stoll) (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae), with a 3-inch wingspan, is white with black open-circular spots on the forewings and a metallic blue abdomen with orange markings. Caterpillars grow to about 2 inches. The caterpillars are fuzzy black caterpillars with the underlying body color of red to orange.

Teamwork. I finally figured out that the reason work places do United Way is so that people can actually talk to each other and have some fun, for official purposes. The official employees are having great fun planning things, selling each other raffle tickets, and on and on. Heck, even the rest of us are getting to do some of the stuff! This afternoon I helped the other department tee pee my boss's office in retaliation for some humorous thing she did to their team. That's what she gets for going off on a boat ride with the visiting dignitaries, I guess. Nice to see these people loosening up a bit.

Thanks for all the good thoughts for Lee: he has another interview Friday, so be ready with good thoughts then!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Random Fun and Good Thoughts

Scrunchy Smiles
Originally uploaded by sunasak
No, the blog is not turning into the "daily photo of Scrunchy" like some of the knitting bloggers do with their precious kitties. I just smile when I see this smiling Scrunchy, and hope you do, too.

I feel much better today, and am spending most of the day sending good thoughts to Lee for an interview, then working hard. But, here's some fun for your day. I wasn't going to do this one, however the kids and Lee thought it was funny, so here are all my names:

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car) - Maggie Forester

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie) - Caramel Macaroon

3. YOUR "FLY Guy/Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name) SKen

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal) - Purple Horse

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born) - Ann Sarasota

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first) - Kensu

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink, put "The") - The Green Cuba Libre

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers) - Edward Oscar

9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy) - RoseViolet Turtle (LOL)

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names) - Canova Prince

All's well, otherwise. I did have a couple of strange experiences yesterday, when two people I met (a woman selling raffle tickets at work who wanted knitting help, and the woman next to me in choir) turned out to be closely connected to the former yarn shop coworker who died not too long ago. These weren't even the first random folks who popped into my life with a connection to her--strange how lives intersect.

The other highlight of the day was finding a really neat bug on the walkway to the parking garage. I was happy this morning to find another one that had died, so I can show it to Beccano. It is a beautiful moth that is completely white, covered with round, black circles. It's legs are a festive black and white. A most striking insect. OK, so I like bugs. Lee and Beccano saw a big tarantula on the road yesterday, too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Need Attitude Adjustment!

Scrunchy Says Hi
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Whenever I need an attitude adjustment, I look at one of the pets, so here's a picture of a pet looking at me. Scrunchy is actually peering through Lee's legs here, which is a very common occurrence. At least you usually know when he's there by all the snorting. Both Lee and I are often startled to look down and see a black head with very white smiling teeth poked between our legs, which means the very stealthy Rosie has come to ask to have some attention, please. She is a very silent animal, so she can sneak up on you easily. Suddenly, under my knitting is a happy, shiny dog head!

Speaking of Rose, no longer a puppy, I think I finally have her attached to a toy that she LIKES to chew on, one of those knotted ropes. So she is getting praised when she carries it around or chews on it. The idea is to give it to her if we find her doing "other" chewing. She knows she can chew on ice, doggie chews, her nylabone thing, and this toy. Maybe that will be enough.

So, about this attitude adjustment...I am simply in a bad mood, and have been since yesterday morning. I have no clue whatsoever what brought it on. I am feeling very Jeff-like, in fact. Like I am crowded in the house, like nothing is set up MY perfect way, like no one is listening to MEEE. While the clutter is a bit high right now, which leads to the crowding feeling, none of the other feelings are based on any truth. I just feel edgy. I am pretty sure it is money and job worries that are being misdirected to being irritated at the kids and Lee.

I have to get the roof replaced, which will be covered by insurance, but there is a big deductible I do have to pay. And I hope to also get the trim on the house replaced, since it appears to be CRAP. And I can't keep waiting. This, on top of more band trip expenses and a car for Tuba Boy eventually...would all be fine if both of us had jobs.

So, let's all think extra happy positive thoughts with a positive attitude toward Lee getting the job or jobs he has an interview for this week--he is working very hard on a presentation for one.

In other us news, we announced that we were engaged at church. Got some nice congratulations plus more than one person who said, "I thought you said you'd never get married again." So, I STILL have to explain myself. It's all my fault, though. I really resent the whole patriarchal ownership aspect of marriage, and the folks who think that doing this one thing makes God like us now...not to mention that I feel pretty resentful that my gay friends who are just as committed as Lee and I are can't do this magical act that suddenly lets you get insurance, buy stuff together, ride buses and do all sorts of other useful things.

On the other hand, it's a good excuse for a party. Whenever we can afford one...that's anybody's guess right now!

So, if you know me personally and I have acted snappy or peevish, please accept my apologies, because I rarely am in a genuine "bad mood." I am trying to crawl out of it and be the sweet, supportive friend, mother and future wifey that I usually try to be.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Update, the World

Texas Sage at Dawn
Originally uploaded by sunasak

In updates, no word from the band director last night, so I guess we really aren't wanted on the bus. Oh well, that is sad, but we can now leave early if we want and won't have to swelter at any point.

UPDATE to Update: OK, the band director just called and apologized and said all my points were reasonable and right. They are going to work on handling things differently, and we are welcome on the bus. (That will depend on if I feel like going, but I will try.) I think the deal is that I will wait to see exactly how well the parent who instigated the campaign against Lee on the bus grovels. Because I am most displeased with her behavior. She apparently asked about people bringing casual boyfriends on the bus, and when the director said no to that (thinking she was referring to something else entirely), she interpreted it as the legal guardian issue and immediately had my friend email me that Lee was not welcome. Hmph, wouldn't even direct her intolerance at me personally. The band director is a nice man. But there sure are some communication issues among the parents.

Back to the story...

Lee has some good job prospects, and almost had a shot at doing my old job at ALE, but he hadn't been gone long enough. Think good thoughts next week when he interviews for jobs with benefits!

Jeff's mother's health is slowly improving. And we saw him last night at Artz playing with old friends Danny Santos, Steve Brooks and Gerry Burns. The latest incarnation of Bluegrass Vatos, I guess. Beccano and Lee seemed to enjoy it a lot. I mainly enjoyed the updates on Steve and Danny, whom I hadn't talked to in a while. The band wasn't so hot (I missed Jeff's harmonies and guitar on Danny's songs).

The kids are going to go over to Singing Partner Bill and Carolyn's tomorrow to help Bill work on his New Fence Project (they built a huge road where the edge of his yard USED to be, long story). Tuba Boy is still earning points from the text message fiasco. Beccano just likes to smash rocks and get money. I am glad it's a home football game tonight so they will not get home too late.

The World

I have been thinking a lot about how there is so much hate, intolerance and sadness in the world. Having a wee bit of intolerance aimed my way didn't help, but I am also thinking about people in other places.

On NPR this week they had an audio diary of a young dentist in Iraq. I am glad they did this, because hearing a real person's voice makes things far away seem a lot more real and immediate. To hear his happiness when his team won a soccer championship, his fear when he talked about how people in his profession are targets, his ambivalence at perhaps leaving for safety but then losing contact with his family and friends...and then his tears and sadness when his best friend is kidnapped, tortured and beheaded...this really helps you remember that the VAST majority of people in all the war-torn, conflict-filled places are just folks like yourself. They just got born in the wrong place at the wrong time.

How can people treat each other the way the Iraqi factions do? The Palestinians and Israelis? The Pakistani factions? US gangs? (The list goes on...) I think it all boils down to fear. I really and truly believe that many, if not most, of the people doing the kidnapping, shooting, raping, bombing and all that do it from fear. They fear that if they don't hurt others, they'll get hurt. If they don't follow orders, the people in charge will come after their own families and friends. If they question authority, they won't get a chance to ask another question, ever.

I know we will probably never get to the Peaceful World Suna Envisions, just like a candidate with my political beliefs would never get elected. There is good and bad out there and always will be. But I sure wish there were some way that just the people wanting the power and the glory (the ambitious??--see Friday's feast) would be the one involved in conflicts. The ones putting their lives and agendas on the line. So that people who want to live and get along with their neighbors, even those with different beliefs, could just live their lives, raise their families and live without fear.

A lot of the time I am feeling sad for people who are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I never forget that not much at all differentiates them from me. Not much at all.

Enjoy the photo of the plant in front of our house, taken at dawn this morning.

Friday's Feast

Appetizer: When was the last time you visited a hospital?
A couple of months ago Lee and I visited his friend Rick, who has some pretty bad heart issues. It is very, very hard for me to go to them. The many visits when first my boyfriend's mother was dying of cancer, then my own mother died of it were very hard. The smell makes me sick. And I worry about germs. I worry more now, after Jeff's mother getting an infection in the hospital.

Soup: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how ambitious are you?
Most of my life I was an 8 or 9. I wouldn't let ambition cause me to do anything unethical or immoral, but I always wanted to get good enough at something that people would be impressed enough to let me have some authority, or be an expert and share my knowledge. So, I guess I didn't ever want to rule the world, just to help others become rulers. But, I wanted to be a decision-maker, that's for sure. However. The experience I had in my volunteer job as well as my experience with being a church leader took so much out of me that I am taking time off from ambition. I am in the position of least authority at work. I do what I am told in my choruses. I teach whatever class the yarn shop owner wants me to. I'm not even working to get my blog to be one of those mega-blogs everyone in the world reads. BUT, I know I will get ambitious again.

Salad: Make a sentence using the letters of a body part. (Example: (mouth) My other ukelele tings healthily.)
Friends in need get extra reassurances.

Main Course: If you were to start a club, what would the subject matter be, and what would you name it?
I'd start a club of yarn collectors and call it the Excessorists. What a fine idea.

Dessert: What color is the carpet/flooring in your home?
Deep green carpet. Tan floor tiles downstairs, green tiles in upstairs bathroom. Mottled Berber in media room. People say to always get neutral colored carpet for resale value. I knew that by the time I moved, I'd need new carpet anyway, so I chose a color I LIKED.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Today's Update, and Wee Announcement

I have spoken or emailed with a few of the parents involved in volunteering with the school band, and so far everyone is in total agreement that Lee would be fine as a chaperone--even that he probably qualifies as a guardian, since he is on all the school forms and is the adult male in the household the children reside in. Of course I made my points rationally and calmly.

I was encouraged to phone the band director, who is the person who made the not-so-hot decision based on not-very-good criteria, so I did (thank goodness I got voicemail). I was all reasonable, but I hope sounded hurt and upset. I made it clear that he has, at this point, lost long-term qualified volunteers.

I have not heard back yet.

The other thing is that Lee and I decided that we are now officially engaged, which I hope will help with some of the discrimination and negative vibes I keep getting. Doing stuff like that always makes me feel a bit like I have sold out to peer pressure or something. We do not love each other any more or less now, nor are we more or less committed to spending our lives together. But, a public declaration might legitimize us in the eyes of some--whose opinions really don't matter to me until they infringe on my ability to live my life (like ride the bus).

All along we talked about doing a ceremony, but I think we'd hoped to wait until a year past our personal commitment time, and to be honest, I'd like to wait to spend money on a nice party and such after the current set of car and house expenses is settled and Lee is gainfully employed again. This just doesn't seem like a great time for optional spending, and if I am going to do something, I want do so something nice. I have already lived through two low-budget weddings. Not that I want a high-budget thing now, but I could perhaps make a few nicer choices. Well we can work on all that later. At least it sounds like something fun and positive!

And in that vein, I'd like to ask you to please send good thoughts to Lee, who has more interviews coming up. And to Jeff's lovely mother Rose, who is very, very ill, but improving last I heard.

I think we are going out to Artz again tonight to hear some music and maybe see Lee's old friend. We can celebrate the new status.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Update on Just a Sinner

Because I am really a reasonable sort, the only email I actually sent was a short one resigning from a committee position. The volunteer chair wrote me, asking if things were OK, and I told her that Lee'd been told he couldn't ride on the bus, and because of that, I figured he shouldn't help on the other committee, either, since it had responsibilities.

She was really nice about it, said she'd be upset, too, and has looked into things a bit (hard to when we both are working, too). She did find out that this wasn't directed at us, like I eventually figured, and that the band director had been asked about "boyfriends" on the bus. Not me in particular. So, I feel slightly better about that.

Still, I hate intolerance. As you can tell.

Just a Sinner, That's Me

Remember that nice post about how much we enjoyed the football game last Friday, and how nice it was to chaperone together? Well, scratch that. We live in sin, so we are not welcome on the bus.

Here is my original pissed off email, which I am not actually gonna send, of course. I will engage in a reasonable dialogue and make my points calmly, and appear to "not take it personally." Because, of course, it turns out someone else's past behavior is why we are being singled out.

Dear Band Directors and Band Boosters,

Today I was informed by email that my Domestic Partner, Lee [surname deleted], was not welcome to chaperone band students or travel with them to and from events. The insinuation was that because we are not legally married, he is not their guardian and thus unqualified to sit on the bus. I listed Lee as guardian on the forms I turned in to the band and to the school. My children’s biological father lives out of state and very rarely is in town when a band event is occurring, so Lee does the day-to-day parenting. You can scratch Lee’s name off, however, if you also deem that listing inappropriate.

I am sure that whoever complained about Lee chaperoning will rest much easier now, knowing that neither of my children’s guardians will be at future band events, nor serving on the scholarship committee—how could unmarried adults with a lifetime personal commitment competently judge the character of middle school students, anyway?

Seriously, though, I suggest that basing qualifications for chaperoning our children on marital status alone might not be the ideal practice.

For example, the church we are members of allows domestic partners and even single people with no children to teach religious education classes. However, they run a background check to make sure these people are not registered sex offenders, convicted felons, or whatever. I feel good knowing that the teachers have been checked out. You could be a sex offender, a convicted felon, a drug addict or who knows what, but as long as you have that marriage license in your hot little hand, you can ride the bus for [deleted] High School.

I’d feel much safer knowing my children were being taken care of by people whose character and qualifications had been checked, not by people who qualified merely by giving birth or entering into a legal contract with someone who gave birth to a student in band. Could you please consider something like this in addition to the legal qualifications you now have, since they seem important enough to alienate potential long-term volunteers and former dedicated band boosters?

And here are some interesting facts. Lee has passed many drug tests as conditions for employment, and since he is looking for work right now, is passing background checks right and left right. No convictions, tickets, warrants or anything are on his record. He is also qualified to drive a school bus or semi truck. Wow, wouldn’t that come in handy some day? Too bad he isn’t MARRIED!!

While being treated as second-class citizens means you have lost me and Lee as band volunteers, you may wish to consider more appropriate criteria for determining future chaperon qualifications. I know we’re in Williamson County and all that, but I find it hard to believe that there are not others in the area served by [deleted] High School who aren’t fans of marriage but are committed partners. Heck, I think we even have a couple of gay families hiding somewhere. I hear they care about their kids, too, but our state doesn’t allow them to marry.

Thank you for considering my suggestion.


[my name and address deleted]

PS: Maybe you’d better ask other band parents to show their marriage licenses—you wouldn’t want any other unmarried couples sneaking on buses!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Trying for Gratitude

Of course, today reminds me of a lot of things to be grateful for. Heck, I am ALIVE, so I get to enjoy the beauty of flowers in the church garden. And Hella, the gardner is alive, though dealing with breast cancer.

I am always grateful on September 11 that my friend Nancy Jo was there for me and got me out of O'Hare airport, despite her own anxieties and crowd issues. And she stayed with me as we watched horrible things on television in my stark, silent hotel room. Her steadfast friendship is something to be grateful for my whole life.

Today it's flooding again. I am grateful that my children were not in the school bus I saw in a ditch on the way to work. It looks like the kids who were in it all got out and onto another bus. Whew.

I am extra, extra, extra grateful for how different things are for me personally today than they were in September 2001. In just a couple of months, I would hit rock bottom in my life and get stuck there for quite some time. I'm human again now. With love, a family, and relative prosperity.

Yet I am deeply concerned at how things in the world in general have ended up.

Today's Quote:

I see all the different religious traditions as paths for the development of
inner peace, which is the true foundation of world peace. These ancient
traditions come to us as a gift from our common past. Will we continue to
cherish it as a gift and hand it over the the future generations as a legacy of
our shared desire for peace?

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Monday, September 10, 2007

My Presidential Candidate. Who's Yours?

Jeff found this candidate picker website, which is on some military forum, so I have no idea how he found it. You answer some questions and it tells you which candidate(s) match most closely with you. Doesn't it figure I am just like the most fringe of the candidates? Sigh. By the time I get to vote on anything, I doubt Gravel or Kucinich will even be there any more. In any case, I figured I'd be close to Dennis, but I hadn't read much about Mike.

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel (D) - 91.30% match
Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich (D) - 82.61%
Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D) - 82.61%
Delaware Senator Joseph Biden (D) - 73.91%

I wouldn't base my voting on this little quiz (personally I am nowhere NEAR making any decisions), but it was well designed and hit all the big topics, I think. And of course, you don't have to say who your candidate is unless you feel like it. I know politics is such a sensitive topic! This is just for your personal edification (my large liberal vocabulary item of the day).

My new slogan: I'll grovel for Gravel!

I was just thinking some more about this. My first reaction on seeing who I paired up with was, "Gee, isn't that the weird guy?" Then I realized that my personal beliefs aren't necessarily the ones I want to see in a political candidate. Or the one I'd vote for. I think in a lot of cases I lean toward more moderate candidates, because I try to vote for who I think would be best for all the people (in the nation, state, city or whatever), and that is usually someone fairly moderate. Not someone who'd tax you out of your livelihood or send everybody off to a war. Anyway, I found that an interesting insight into me.

Nice Family Weekend

You can see what we did Friday night--what thousands of Texas families did: traveled somewhere to see their children participate in the great Texas high school football ritual. Beccano and I rode an unairconditioned school bus to Temple, over an hour away (takes even longer in a bus convoy). Tuba Boy was on a better bus, while Lee got a ride up, but suffered with me on the bus home.

But, I love chaperoning the kids, and I love sitting with the band and enjoying the pageantry and fun. The sousaphone section made the lovely "Go Mavz" (that's teen talk for "Mavericks") out of water bottles, and we let it stay until the end, when they very kindly cleaned it up and put it all in garbage bags, without being asked to. It was Beccano's first game as a band member, and you can see that he was having a blast, though not working on his posture.

And we won against a team we were predicted to lose badly to, even after 5 interceptions in the first period. My favorite player, a very enthusiastic and fast kid named Aaron Williams, ended up playing on defense, offense and special teams (he took over as QB for a while) until a late hit on his amazing touchdown run hurt him. After that he "only" played defense. Both teams actually played with impressive energy, especially since it was pretty darned hot. Neither team ever gave up, and they mostly had really good sportsmanship. So, we had a lot of fun.

I must say our band was better, even though our show is a bit weird. Nightmares is an odd theme for a marching presentation.

The boys cheerfully helped Lee move more stuff out of his old house on Saturday, leaving me lots of fun yarn store time.

Sunday we survived singing a rather atonal round, livened up by recorder solos, then had a family photo taken for the church directory and a rehearsal for Tuba Boy, who is playing (duh) tuba in some patriotic medley later this month. I'll share a photo of that later.

Lee worked his buns off straightening up the garage and organizing all the stuff he's brought in, though we did a bit of football watching in the evenings. Our house is eventually going to be really nice, if we can just fit everything in.

Keep your fingers crossed for Lee's job possibilities, please. We hope to hear stuff this week. And I hope it is good stuff.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Positive Teens

We have new stuffA coworker brought in a short article from the current Smithsonian magazine. Here's the longer version of it. It is about Richard Lerner, who has written a book called The Good Teen. I think I should get it when it comes out next month.

He makes some very good points, such as that we define a good teen by what they are NOT doing (not doing drugs, having unprotected sex, whatever). But what I really liked were the ingredients he named for what makes a good teen, and his information on how to foster those things. Here's a quote from his interview:

Tell us about the "5 C's."

The 5 C's are competence—not just academic but social, vocational and health competence. Confidence. Then character, that it's fundamentally important to do what's right. Connection, or working collaboratively with parents, peers, siblings, teachers, coaches. Finally, caring, a sense of compassion or social justice.

How do we foster these?

Through programs that embrace three characteristics: sustained relationships between adults and young people, teaching knowledge and skills to navigate the world and—this can be the most difficult—allowing kids to use those skills in valued community and family activities. Let your kids plan family vacations with you. Let them help set the menu for dinner. Or, if the parents give resources to charity, let young people help make that decision. And even though school administrators wince when I say this, let young people be on school boards. Let them sit on the Chamber of Commerce.

Such a Big BoyI could not agree more with his list of characteristics, and think Lerner's ideas for building them are so important. It's why I make sure to really talk to my children's friends, and let them know I'm a person too, who will listen. And why we do let our children have input in decisions.

Certainly, it makes me very happy to see how these traits show up in my own children. And it's how I know that, even when they are scattered, lack planning ability, and are incredibly focused on their peers to the exclusion of all other things, I live with two very good teens.

Friday's Feast

Appetizer: Using only one word, how does grocery shopping make you feel?


Soup: What is your favorite part about the season of Autumn?

When I lived in Illinois it was the incredible beauty of the autumn trees. In Texas it is the cooler weather. I have always loved autumn.

Salad: Have you ever had any bad experiences online?

SPUTTER! COUGH! SPEW! Like Stephanie said in her Friday's Feast, if you work for a nonprofit organization filled with women, you will have bad experiences. If you're the Internet admin, multiply that by a large number. So glad to be spending my days cowering in a cubicle now.

Main Course: Name three things that make you happy daily.

My partner, my children, knitting

Dessert: What one household cleansing or organizing item would you not want to be without?

Rose/Violet scented Downy Fabric Softener

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cheery Gratitude

Rose's Poses
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I wasn't feeling too grateful earlier in the week, but today I'd like to say that I am grateful for Rose the Dog. She will no longer be Rose the Puppy in a few days, since she is just about 1 year old. Here she is in her hilariously relaxed position, revealing all her nether parts to the world. Even her gums are relaxed. Nothing is bothering her!

I really am glad she is around, because her loving ways do cheer me up, and if it weren't for going to get her one fateful weekend, who knows when Lee would have gotten around to asking me to go steady (hee hee). She is so fun to watch running up and down the stairs, putting her head in funny positions to try to get petted, and playing with the other dogs. And she ended up such a nice size--not too big, not too small.

Other than the destruction she has caused among my prized wooden furniture and the couch, she's been great. She sits, lies down and comes when called. She goes into her crate upon request. She even let me bathe her after her little episode with doggie pooparama. And, I THINK she is chewing less. I hope so. We have finally caught her a few times and let her know in no uncertain terms that it is NOT the thing to do.

So, I am glad Rose is in my life. She is something Lee and I sort of share.

Other Stuff

I guess everything's OK. Had to chat with Tuba Boy about running around with friends and not letting me know where he is. He genuinely didn't seem to realize he should let me know, but was grateful that we cared--compared us to friends' parents, one set of whom he labeled "not very good parents" and the other "they don't get along." I think he is glad to have people who care about him.

I worry about Lee a lot. It is a really rough time for him. Having to see his lovely former spouse (who seems to believe I am after him for his money, snort--she told him not to give me anything for three months--where does this come from???). Having to close on his old house. Having to keep trudging along looking for work and waiting for interview calls. All has to be pretty stressful. And he keeps helping around the house with the endless band errands, cooking, painting and generally being supportive. That's a lot. Well, at least he knows he's appreciated, 'cause he is!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Football Faux Pas?

I am the first to admit I don't have any strong college football fanaticism. I attended the University of Florida AND the University of Illinois, yet on college day I had no orange and blue clothing I could wear (those were the colors of both schools).

But I did feel sorta bad last night when we were watching Florida State University, supposedly the arch rivals of the Flahda Gatahs (as my grandmother would have said). They said something like, "What a tough break for the scarlet and gold," and I looked up. WOOPS. I painted the whole media room in FSU colors. Well, I guess my mother, who was very proud of her one semester at FSU, would have been proud. And certainly I will not be repainting in orange and blue any day soon!!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Looking at Things the Right Way

Originally uploaded by sunasak
Yesterday wasn't too great for my mental state, at least at first. The day started out with dealing with a huge, and I mean HUGE cricket infestation at the yarn shop (think walls and sidewalk of SOLID cricket). Luckily a customer recommended cedar shavings, so Pat went to the grocery store and got some hamster bedding to strew around the place. It did help.

Then Lee needed me to get him paint supplies, so I went home. When he finished his painting for the day, we went out to his old house to try to get stuff to bring home. I just don't do that well. The highlight of the visit was counting the number of types of bees and beetles at the garlic chive blossoms, which was also the goal of the praying mantis in the photo. She is on the fence, hoping a bug strays a wee bit closer.

I'd drawn one of the sneaky cards in my tarot yesterday, the one where the person thinks they've gotten away with something. And when I am feeling down, I feel like I took away Lee's old life, his family, his wife, and such. Even though he assures me I did no such thing; that he was looking for a way out all along, but too lazy to do anything. He'd given up on life until I showed up. And I believe him. But I still sometimes feel bad that he and the ex didn't get to finish fixing up the house they'd worked on, that he won't ever hear from people he's known most of his life, that his son doesn't contact him at all. So, being there with all the memories attached to it made me feel sorta sick (think it also was a virus or something; Lee got similarly sick this morning). I was not much help with packing. The place brings up a lot of grief for me--I think it is a sad place.

Sigh. So, I realized I was thinking about things in a not helpful way, had a bit of a cry, then allowed Lee to cheer me up by taking me on a ride through the area surrounding the San Gabriel River, which runs through Georgetown, Texas, and has two branches. I've been on a lot of it before (there are dinosaur tracks!), but not this part.

We took some pictures on a low water crossing road or two, and you can see a slide show by clicking the link below. (Note: click the back button on your browser to return to the blog)

View slideshow

You can see how high the early summer floods were in some of the pictures, and all the water is way higher and more rushing than usual this time of year. Very lovely and healing.

(The traditional UU church water ceremony went on and on about the healing properties of water this morning--by then I was tired of the image!)

My point is that you need to look at things the right way. And usually I do--that Lee and I both lost some things when we committed to each other, but what we gained is immeasurable. A chance to have a truly compatible life partner and enjoy all the good and bad life will bring us. And, by not being stuck with us, our previous partners also get that chance. My ex already has enjoyed it since he left; I hope Lee's finds someone compatible with her, and that Jeff finds the life of steady work (of the kind he wants)and friendship (of the type he needs) that he is looking for.

Looking at things positively I can see that our decisions are really good. It will be OK.

In happy news: it's not hot today!