Friday, November 30, 2007
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 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
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
You are Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman 95%
The Flash 70%
Green Lantern 65%
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
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!!
Friday, November 23, 2007
I don't mean to whine too much. It really was good to see Lee's dad and I know it cheered him up to have family come see him. We had a great time watching the Dallas Cowboys, and I think Lee's dad liked having someone to talk to about the game. And it let Lee nap.
At least knitting got done. I have done a bit today, but got all distracted when Lee emptied out the office closet and found the last of the books I had not unpacked since we moved here, and found all the missing knitting books from my collection. There were some really valuable and interesting ones there. Yay! I blogged a lot about it on the knitting blog. But I really am pleased he undertook the closet clean-up, though it was a lot more work than he had anticipated. Definitely the bright spot in the day.
Today was supposed to be my work at home day, I fired up the work computer, logged on and got started...only to find that everything was in place EXCEPT the drive with the files I work on. It did not mount and I could not find it to manually mount it. So, there goes bunch of potential money. That did not help my mood either. I am going to hope that tomorrow is a better day. At least the kids will come home late tomorrow afternoon!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Everything else is OK, long as I know my family is around. They leave tomorrow for time with their dad, and I worry when they are flying during crowded holidays. So, I'll look at these pictures and think loving thoughts.
I was going to be spending Thanksgiving alone so Lee could go be with his dad, but Jeff's coming home tomorrow, which means he will visit the dogs on Thursday and I can go with Lee. I have no idea what we will eat, but we will be together!
I left my phone at home and had forgotten to reset my email so I could read it from work. I was so worried I'd miss a job opportunity. Yay, Lee got the phone and fixed the email! What a guy! And he is staying home so our new bargain zoomy red laptop can be delivered. Maybe that purchase will help fund me another contract at ALE. Yeah, sure.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I hope eating will help with this one, so I can drive home.
The real focus is on the lovely concert the Round Rock Community Choir gave on Saturday. I am using the picture that shows the context of the stage--it is a beautiful sanctuary, only a few years old at the First United Methodist Church in Round Rock, where the director is also choir director. (Turns out there are a lot of choir directors in this choir!) We all look sort of like Pilgrims in our black and white, which perhaps makes a pre-Thanksgiving Christmas concert more appropriate. There are a couple of more photos on Flickr.
We had a good rehearsal Saturday morning, and I was happy to see the kids' middle school band director was the percussionist. Then I went to the yarn shop for a short while--only one friend was there, so I talked to her a bit and left. Most of the afternoon I rested--both Lee and I were feeling sad and icky, so sleep was a good thing.
The concert went very well Saturday evening, at least from my viewpoint. Other than my shoes killing my feet (next time, flats, not even the most comfy heels) and my left bicep rebelling from holding up a notebook for 4 hours in one day (I use the right hand for page turns). I did not mess up much at all, and was very proud of myself. All the singers did beautifully, and I enjoyed talking to more of the people than I had before. I wish I wasn't so slow to warm up to people! The music was so lovely. I got teary during the big crescendo on the Rutter Gloria, and the director got all weepy at two of the other songs, they came out so well. Plus, the 12 Days of Christmas in twelve different types of music went off very well. It is very funny, if you are a music person (Ha ha, that one was Strauss! Hee hee, that Wagner one was a hoot!).
Unfortunately, Lee and the kids had so much trouble getting to the concert that I doubt they enjoyed it very much. Forgotten cameras, flat tires in Debate Boy's car, etc. I do appreciate the photos, though. Sometimes Tuba Boy's frenetic personal life makes things difficult. But it was sweet of him to bring friends to see the second half of the concert, anyway.
Sunday was as full of music as Saturday was. Church choir was somewhat challenging, as I felt like the only one who knew the parts. But, there was an interesting composer fellow who did the rest of the music at church and he was VERY interesting. One piece was a long bass violin solo he did, and it was really modern, yet listenable. He got some very high notes out of that thing. The other piece he wrote was for piano, oboe and voice, and he just directed it. Our choir director did the piano, and the two other musicians were great--and really nice. We enjoyed talking to all of them.
After church, we listened to Tuba Boy play tuba with some fun others (including Saranda's daughter) learning some Dixieland music. I keep being impressed at how well he sightreads and plays. It was fun for those of us watching to just listen to the music and relax a bit. Relaxing is good.
And I did do some this weekend--other than being very frustrated at lace knitting instructions at first, I made good progress on that, and enjoyed seeing what I could make out of very fine silk. Plus I cooked what passes for our family's Thanksgiving this year. Lee bought turkey breast and I made Stove Top stuffing (ugh) but it was good. And I did make cranberry sauce from scratch and delicious sweet potatoes. I tried steaming collards. Nope, back to the old-fashioned southern way next time!
It was nice to hear what the kids and Lee were thankful for. Especially when Tuba Boy said he was thankful for his stable family structure. I think he was really, really relieved that Lee helped him and his friends with the flat tire issue. It has to be so nice to know you have someone to rely on in emergencies who won't yell at you. I know I am relieved to have someone in my life who will help all of us and is so generous with his time and energy.
And because of that, I know we will get by. If nothing else, I am always thankful for my wonderful little family. Happy early Thanksgiving, US people! Happy new week, international friends.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Anyway, if you find any or all of these interesting, you are welcome to post your own answers and let me know. I would really be interested!
1. What were you afraid of as a child?
As a tiny child, it was large construction tractors. My first nightmares were that they were coming down the street to get me and I could not move. This was before age 3, since I dreamed this in Sarasota. Later my big fear was roaches. Those giant black "palmetto bug" ones in Florida. I'd dream there was a sea of them under my bed. This dream had a basis in reality, since we sure did have a roach problem. The time I woke up to find one on me in bed traumatized me for years. The time I was awakened by scratching sounds, only to find roaches munching away on my Vacation Bible School rice mosaic was a rough one, too. Explains some of my issues with organized religion, too.
2. When have you been most courageous?
During childbirth, when I would not stop trying for a natural birth, no matter how many hours of back labor, demeaning interventions or pushing against a bone (see item 4) I went through, until finally I realized Beccano was not going out the correct exit. I did that all with no pain medication. With pitocin. I was very brave and strong.
3. What sound most disturbs you?
Easy: that horrid high-pitched "eeeeeee" that some small girls make constantly. Like the one who lives behind us and screeches as if she is about to expire, repeatedly, every time she plays outdoors.
4. What is the greatest amount of physical pain you’ve been in?
a. Childbirth with the second child. First there was 24 hours of back labor (I had a huge bruise from counter pressure). Then when I was pushing it felt like I was pushing a bone against a bone. Turns out I was. Beccano's giganto head was pushing against my deformed tailbone. Oh, if I had known about THAT before the VBAC decision. b. The time a not-very-well trained osteopath attempted to take a sample out of my cervix, then cauterized it. With no anesthesia. I could hardly drive the two blocks home. I was still a teen, in college. After I got home, all weepy, my dad drove over and read the doctor the riot act for hurting me so much. I think that is probably the moment at which I felt the proud of my dad, ever.
5. What’s your biggest fear for your children? (or children in general if you don’t have some of your own.)
That they will end up in a world dominated by religious extremists of some sort, and persecuted for their beliefs, or forced to conform in order to live. I fear more for their wives and daughters. None of the current extremist world domination candidates believe in anything close to equality for women. Or they have to live through famine and disease as a result of Western civilization's poor management of the only planet they have to live in.
6. What is the hardest physical challenge you’ve achieved?
The labor described in #2. Wow, I sound fixated on that experience. Really, I am not. I no longer think of it often (thankfully, a lot less now that I am out of the "new mother support" business), and I bear no grudge against the charming Beccano, whose inability to sleep through the night until he was almost three led to the second hardest physical challenge: parenting a baby and toddler through severe sleep deprivation.
7. Which do you prefer: Mountains or oceans/big water?
To be honest, living by a mountain (or hill) lake is my dream. I need the lake the most. I'm a Pisces and all.
8. What is the one thing you do for yourself that helps you keep everything together?
Hmmm, who can guess that one? OK, I'll tell you. Knitting! Surprise! I don't need to meditate as much any more because I can get into that state while knitting. And I do need that. I have to turn off that internal chatter and the bombardment of outside forces.
9. Ever had a close relative or friend with cancer?
Mom. Roberta. Etc.
10. What are the things your friends count on you for?
I will listen to them and not judge them. I will be loyal to them, perhaps to a fault. I will defend them if anyone puts them down or treats them unfairly.
11. What is the best part of being in a committed relationship?
Finding someone who truly understands you and loves you anyway. It seems like a miracle to me and I am always in awe of that.
12. What is the hardest part of being in a committed relationship?
Trust. So far every committed relationship I have been in has ended in a betrayal. The people I thought loved me most informed me that, no, that was a mistake--they never did--it was just the convenient thing to do, to be with me. And the way the story is so similar each time had me spooked (explaining why I got the roommate--not a committed relationship, no expectations beyond friendship). Both Lee and I believe we have changed out patterns this time. It's been almost a year since we agreed to try--and it is still good!
13. Summer or Winter? Why?
Winter. I am not made for heat or bright light. I even prefer Illinois winter to summers. I like fall best. This is a great time of year for me.
14. Have you ever been in a school-yard fight?
Why, yes, I have. In 8th grade, when I was still "the new kid" and did not fit in at all with any of the cliques. The girls who were nicest to me were the black girls (because I knew all their music), but apparently a couple didn't like her friends talking so much to pale ole Suna, and in PE class (bane of my existence--I had already gotten a concussion from a golf club there), the biggest one informed me she was going to beat me up. I said I didn't really want to do that. But, she came at me. While my father was a champion Golden Gloves amateur boxer, I had never really hit anyone in my life other than my little brother (hee hee). So, to get away from her I went to pull her hair, rather than hit her. Well, turns out her gigantic Afro was a wig. Off it came, revealing some not-very-well-styled nappiness, which made all the other black girls laugh their butts off. Then the rest of us did, too. End of fight. While most of those girls went to another high school, a couple remained friends until I graduated.
15. Why blog?
(I loved Barb's answer to this, by the way.) I have a couple of reasons. One, I am a writer and I like to write. I get really tired of technical documentation, and since I lost my job that let me email all day, I missed writing. So I started blogging. Another reason is I like to keep track of things. When did this happen? What was I thinking about at this time on another year? I kept a diary for years, just noting what I was doing on most days. I'm not overly concerned about the entertainment value of this blog, though I do try to put more useful stuff on the knitting blog.
I do like sharing stuff about my life with my friends, and reading their stuff, too--anecdotes, kid stories, important milestones. I like blogging as an exchange--a way to keep in touch with friends so you don't have to phone or email them each and say the same thing--probably blogging for me serves the purpose that personal letters did for my parents' and grandparents' generations. And a way to keep track of them. Of course, that would mean the friends would have to post to their blogs, too. Ahem. You know who you are. I truly love reading the words of people I care about, and responding to them. And I love my responses. Thank you to the commenters!
16. Did you learn about sex, and/or sex safety from your parents?
Not from the male parent. I think he preferred to think we fell out of the sky. He managed to pretend to not notice he had a gay child and stepchild until each were well in their 40s. But, my mother was quite cool. She did give me a book, but also talked about things--like mistakes she made when young and the consequences (one being my sister, ha ha, just kidding). Some stuff about sex safety perhaps I'd have preferred to not know--like how contraceptive failure resulted in ME. But, hey, it sure drove that "backup plan" concept home!
17. How do you plan to talk to your kids about sex and/or sex safety?
My children are 14 and 16, so that has already happened, and continues. We talk about things whenever concepts come up in life, or something happens on TV. They each got some good books to read, and did ask a few questions. And one of them took the Our Whole Lives sexuality curriculum the UU church provides. The other will eventually I guess. it sure is a GOOD curriculum. And there's an adult version, too, which I think is a great idea for most people who are not me (came at an unfortunate juncture in my life). I've had a number of really interesting conversations with my kids and their friends, too (mostly while they are confined to a moving vehicle). They seem really uninterested in contracting a disease or becoming a parent, and quite aware of how to avoid those things, without being all "saving myself for marriage" oriented. Whew.
18. What are you most thankful for this year?
OK, your turn. If you are a prompt li'l blog reader, you will see that I post-dated this. I had so many blog-able things come up today! So I am going to file this one under tomorrow, when I know I will be very busy singing and resting from singing.
Friday, November 16, 2007
The good news, though, is that when the service (which is an annual local event with many different faith traditions participating) was about to be canceled for lack of venue, the largest Jewish synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, offered space, and is including an area where the Muslim participants can do their evening prayers. As the local organizer said, "What a great testimony of inclusion." See, what's so hard about focusing on our common humanity and shared beliefs, rather than on our differences? Gosh, I hope pagans and agnostics are welcome, too--we all eat and like Thanksgiving, too!
It's another small step toward peace when acts of kindness like this get publicity. It reminds us that there are moderates and kind people in ALL cultures and of all religions. Not everyone, and not even a majority, are exclusionist extremists. I hope we can focus on the good part of this event, while always working toward more understanding and less bigotry and intolerance in the world. Little things like this give me glimmers of hope. I am grateful for that, as Thanksgiving approaches.
During college I worked at Atlantic Coast Electronics, a place that made printed circuit boards, which were much bigger in the 70s. For three summers and holidays I sanded their fiberglass edges, stacked them up, inspected them for errors, and (this was fun) drilled holes in them. My dad did some work at the place and liked the owners, so got me that job rather than some random thing. I had a friend who did the same thing--he was going to be a dentist, but his brothers owned the company so he got to work there when not at school, for barely over minimum wage. I learned that factory work is hard and I better get that degree. I also learned that factory workers are not stupid or boring, and can, in fact be really interesting, knowledgeable and kind people. I am so glad I got to know those working class folks--they had all kinds of wisdom and experience that I learned a lot from that I'd never have learned working with other teens in a fast food restaurant or something. I paid for 1/3 of my college costs working in factories. 1/3 came from a National Merit Scholarship. My parents could barely afford the other third, due to Mom's medical expenses. And this was when $3K got you through a year at a good state school.
Soup: Where would you go if you wanted to spark your creativity?
Salad: Complete this sentence: I am embarrassed when…
...I call someone by the wrong name, which happens to me in odd ways--I tend to get people named Karen/Janet confused and I tend to get people named Jessica/Jennifer confused. It's the similar vowel patterns that do it, I think. And it will happen with people I know quite well, and know many details about...just the wrong name slips out.
Main Course: What values did your parents instill in you?
Work hard and do the best possible job you can, and don't count on anyone else's help. Also that no particular group of people is any better or worse than any other.
Dessert: Name 3 fads from your teenage years.
Mood rings, platform heels, tube tops
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Finally Lee and I both have jobs and each have some prospects to work on.
But today I was told they are ending my contract early on December 21. Well, happy holidays to me.
Please send vibes that the possibilities I am looking into work out, or that the company I am currently working with finds me something else ASAP.
I am just TIRED of the constant stress of instability and the Unknown. I am sure these will all be hilarious stories...later.
Saturday was fun. Jody and I went to the Kid 'N Ewe festival in Boerne (after an endless time getting my car inspected, where I recruited two new knitters). It was a beautiful drive through the hill country and we saw a LOT of new development--looks like my dream of having a cruddy house all alone in the hills won't come true--there will be ranchettes with antelope running around them everywhere by the time Lee and I can buy anything. Every couple of miles along the road between Austin and Boerne, there is a new subdivision of houses with acreage, surrounded by very high fences. All the signs advertising these upscale locales have pictures of the antelope and other exotic African creatures that roam "free" throughout the place. It is apparently the latest trendy thing.
The only exotic animals we saw in person were angora bunnies, cashmere goats and the aluminum wildlife in Wimberly, where we stopped at one of those roadside vendors. This place was pretty funny, and I have a lot of photos on Flickr of them. Oddly, the vendor actually sells some very nice fountains, furniture and such on their website--they just chose to bring along the cheesy animal statues to entice the trendy semi-rural residents of greater South Austin. While the warthog was my sentimental favorite (it's a long story, but that was my nickname in junior high school), Jody was quite enamored of the enormous painted rooster. They are both pretty cute, huh?
We did not spend all our time hugging expensive kitschy statues. We bought yarn, and lots of it. Plus we watched the competition for best cashmere goat (these are the ones that make mohair yarn--confusing, isn't it?) , which is what the top picture depicts. Leftmost goat won, though we were rooting for the white one, who at least should have gotten "loudest and most reluctant competitor"--he was NOT interested in participating, but his elderly handler really wanted to win.
Mostly we stayed inside the rather plain facility and enjoyed touching lovely products (there was some crap, but not too much). I bought alpaca yarn that was hand dyed and came with a photo of the animal who donated it. Maisie. And some naturally tan wool whose contributors' names were also noted. I like that. Jody and I had an incident of "star struck" when we found the woman who distributed Jojoland yarn, who had brought all sorts of incredibly lovely shawls and garments that she had designed and made herself (yow). She was a very nice Chinese woman who seemed very humble but let me tell you, she overflowed with talent! I got a couple of her patterns and a LOT of the yarn. But, this is not the knitting blog, so I'll stop with this. You can read more on the knitting blog, when I get that done!
I got pretty wiped out once we got home, and was not as perky on dealing with family issues as I could have been, but it all worked out. We seem to be having scheduling issues, especially Lee and Tuba Boy. But, Sunday dawned another day, and it was "Suna Has Issues" day. I had to go to church, because I was supposed to lead some songs, but Lee felt bad and didn't go. I corralled the kids into going, but foolishly took an open cup of coffee. Which I foolishly sat on the slanting dashboard of my Subaru. Which then spilled all over the car, Tuba Boy and my hand knitted top. ACK. My Hero Lee took my car in and got it detailed (which of course, caused it to rain just enough to mess up the exterior). But wow, the inside is smashingly lovely now. And does not smell like coffee. You know, I think that was the first time I brought an open coffee container into the car. It will be the last!
The rest of the day was better, though I was a bit frantic about cleaning up in anticipation of dinner guests, but then Lee's poor friend Rick went BACK into the hospital again (he has been in an out with internal bleeding for months), so that got canceled. We fed Debate Boy and our kids the lovely meal, and it was excellent. I even made bread.
I'm all off kilter today due to taking the boys to a dental appointment. So, I am writing this quickly and in a blathering fashion at "lunch" so I can make up time at work. It's one of the last two rehearsals for the Round Rock Community Choir concert tonight, so I am trying to rest up and be ready for that.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Soup: What year did you start using the Internet?
I believe I started participating in Usenet groups in 1986.
Salad: What is your first name in Pig Latin?
Oosay Anyay / Unasay Endallkay
Main Course: Name something you are picky about.
Spelling and grammar
Dessert: Fill in the blanks: I ____ ____ yesterday and I ____ ____ today.
I felt cheerful yesterday and I feel wonderful today. (Not a sentence I come up with often)
Lee, who does have a wee bit of a mean streak, got tagged by me for a meme on my knitting blog. He seems to think it is "fair" to tag me on this blog. I would cry foul, except he hardly knows any other bloggers. However, since I already tagged 8 people, I am NOT retagging. So there. I am a scofflaw.
The Rules: Once tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you. Then post the rules before your list, and list 8 random things about yourself. At the end of the post, you must tag and link to 8 other people, visit their sites, and leave a comment letting them know they’ve been tagged.
1. My fingernails grow really well. I just had to trim them so I could type better.
2. My dad was born in a house with dirt floors. He was named after the doctor who delivered him, thus is "Prince."
3. I had a pet squirrel when I was a kid. Squirrelly. We shared her with the neighbors. She was a noisy one at night.
4. When I was young, my Ideal Man was a comic book character, Braniac 5. He is green and has blonde hair and is the smartest dude in the whole universe! I set high standards. I now think the Ideal Man for me may differ somewhat from B5, but I am glad I found him.
5. I think I may actually be a mezzo soprano, not an alto. This is messing up my self image and world view.
6. I am in complete and total awe of my children. I can't believe I helped make those people.
7. Other than my family's welfare, the most important thing to me is working towards a peaceful earth.
8. I want to live by a lake.
The people I tagged are listed on the other danged blog.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
We had SO much fun last night, just out of a fluke. I was looking on craigslist for something else and decided to see if there were any cheap banjos for sale (Beccanois interested in learning to play that, but luckily his stepmom may give him hers). I saw an ad for a whole bunch of guitars in a garage. Sounded suspicious, but I sent it on to Lee. We checked it out, and it turns out to be legit--a dude had started an online guitar store, sorta on the lines of Dell, which did OK but his business partner pulled out and he had to close up shop. He still has a bunch of brand-new guitars in his garage, and since he is moving, he needs to get them out.
So, they were bargain guitars, all with the same brand name. All Korean made in the same factories the brand name ones are made in.
We all drove over there and had a blast looking at things. (Also enjoyed the man's very nice wife and daughter and charming guinea pig.) I consulted on a kitchen re-do with the wife while the guys looked at guitars.
There was a wide variety of quality of parts, so I was glad Lee was there to evaluate. Some were definitely "starter" guitars, while there were also fairly nice ones. So, not "great" guitars, but "good" ones. The kids were pretty funny--trying to be cool and not act all excited.
But, when Tuba Boy saw this fretless bass, he just stopped looking at everything else. Turns out he doesn't like frets, and this was his dream guitar (even though it is not a fancy-schmancy one). All the guitars were at wholesale (some below) so it the fretless bass was hardly anything. Tuba Boy is in love.
Lee got a black dreadnaught acoustic for $100. It sounded surprisingly good--just wasn't one of the ones with fancy decorations and inlay. Perfect for outdoor gigs in the middle of winter (which we have one of, 3M Marathon again).
Beccano looked and looked, and tried a very nice one, which he could have had in green (with fingerprint dust on it--it had been stolen from the warehouse and returned! would have been a cool story). But, in his heart, he wanted one that looked "cool" --he was more interested in looks than feel. It cracked the guitar guy up when Beccano asked wistfully if he had something "pointy." (Since guitar man also has a kid, so he apparently understood.) He went in the other room and dragged out a satin-finish yet slightly shiny silver "pointy" guitar (if you are a guitar person, it is a BC Rich Mockingbird style--very retro rock). He said it was the last one he had of that style and he would be happy to just get rid of it. He GAVE it to Beccano. It is very basic but actually plays just fine, and Bec is thrilled. Here's what it looks like, only it has cloud shaped inlays, really pretty. There is a picture on Flickr of Beccano making a horrid "rock-out" face with it--click the Tuba Boy photo link and you will see the measley pix I took--none of Lee' so far.
The only guitar that actually cost us anything was the one Lee got for himself, which was one of the good ones hiding in the back of the garage. It's one weird looking thing, black with gold sparkles and lots of gold knobs and a great deal of quite attractive inlay, but it played great. I have found similar ones online for $1500 (or more) and he paid way, way less for it. It is like a fancier pimped-out version of this one. It was made in the same factory as the Gretsch guitars, according to the guitar man (who knows if this is true).
OK enough about guitars. I don't know ihow many of you play, but I have to say it was fun looking at them. But you know what was more fun? That Tuba Boy came home, said, "Can I bring the bass amp downstairs?" then got out his "learn bass" book and CD and sat there until I am sure his butt fell asleep. By the end of the evening, "Smoke on the Water" was wafting up. He really "gets" it (helps he reads bass cleff so well, being a tuba player, and that tuba and bass parts are similar). He'd been messing with Lee's bass, and had it leaning against a door. But the second thing he did was ask Lee for a stand for his new one. He loves it.
Beccano did homework like a speed demon when we got home, then sat patiently with his Wolf Mother songbook and plunked out song after song (no clue how well, not knowing my Wolf Mother catalogue very well.
Lee was just BEAMING at how happy he made the kids. I am beaming at how happy they all are. I love hearing the music (ask me if I still do in a month or two).
One more thing: when I typed in the subject line, I wrote "guitarts" instead of guitar. Hee hee--wouldn't that make a great Girl Band name???
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Dad's next-door-neighbor is Hilda (that's not her in the photo--it's one of my relatives but looks sorta like her). She is a tiny, yet formidable woman with an incredible memory, superb knowledge of current events, and deep pockets for the charities she cares about. For years she was president of the Garden Club in the town where she lives--one that has amazing homes with huge, incredible gardens, because it used to be where people who owned furniture manufacturing companies lived (of course, all the factories are now in China, not North Carolina, though some execs are still in the town). So, Hilda has always driven Buicks. Last week, for her birthday, she traded in her old one and got a brand new car. She needs a car because she drives to the nearby hospital a couple of times a week to do volunteer work like cheer up the old people, feed them, read to them, etc. The kicker is that she bought herself this new car for her 99th birthday. Isn't that the best? She is optimistic enough to think she'll get a few years out of that car! And I wouldn't be surprised. She didn't let breast cancer get her down year before last, either.
My mom's side of the family is a lot like Hilda's--we live long lives. Other than my mother, who killed herself from smoking, they all live well into their 80s and 90s. I didn't think Saintly Aunt Belle would EVER go--she was too tough to die (she is the one in the picture). My dad's mother lived into her 90s, too, and most of his siblings are still going strong (exceptions were the hard-core smokers, once again). This hints that I have good genes. I am optimistic that I could live another 50 years, so I am only at the halfway point in life!
BUT...I have trouble being optimistic that the world I live in will be here for me. When I see the effects of human practices on the planet, when I see the direction in which politics is going (I strongly suspect that Dark Ages II: The Age of Theocracy is just around the corner), when I see how people treat each other...I wonder what kind of world I will see when I turn 99 like Ms. Hilda.
To counter this, I will try to focus on some of the good things I see in the world around me--because being optimistic HELPS. Loving others helps create a loving world. Kindness begets kindness. Learning leads to wisdom. I will be looking out for these things.
Monday, November 5, 2007
I don't feel too well, physically, and my mind is almost as grumpy as Lee's, which is not a good combo, either. I need to be thinking of something to help move forward. Many things ARE moving forward. I need to get my head and heart to do so as well.
Wow, I really can't think of anything useful--no thoughts on life, no positive ideas, no real need to whine about anything. I am one big bundle of snooze!!! I guess this is one of those days I really should not feel obligated to blog, huh.
Later in the Day: I knew if I concentrated on technical writing long enough whatever was bubbling beneath the surface would pop up. And it did.
What has me so grumpy? Lee so grumpy? Beccano so grumpy? It's not having our unspoken expectations met! When we are going along, looking forward to something happening, then for one reason or another it doesn't happen how or when we expect it, we just get peevish, leading to irritation, and often culminating in grumpiness.
1. On Friday I felt yucky, so I left work early, sacrificing many dollars of income, so I could go home and collapse in bed and try to regain strength. I was so looking forward to getting home, going upstairs and falling asleep. Instead, I walked into the house, smelled something AWFUL, went upstairs and found a dog covered in poo. So I had to remove the crate, then wash the very heavy, reluctant, waterproof-haired and sickly dog. And then I had to wait and see if she was gonna roll around in the dirt when I let her out (no, she was too busy having intestinal distress, thankfully). Gosh, I don't know how the dog gets so sick. Could it be EATING HUGE PIECES OF WOOD AS A HOBBY??? Anyway, I got extra grumpy because my expectation was thwarted.
2. Yesterday we did a bunch of errands after church. We drove all over the place looking at drum sets, guitar music, banjos and such items, fueled by the boys' desired to learn. We ended up with a bass guitar manual and some fine Wolf Mother sheet music. I'd sorta hoped Beccano would show more interest in the things he had dragged us all over the place to see, and had a blister, so I was mildly messed up on expectations. Lee kept asking us what we wanted to eat and no one had a preference. We ended up saying we just wanted to go home and eat (me wanting to get the boots off, Tuba Boy wanting to bond with his peers as usual, and Beccano wanting to eat Halloween candy for lunch (guessing on that one)). Lee began acting more and more testy, and eventually snapped at all of us, because he wanted to go somewhere for lunch because he needs to eat every so often or he has an issue. He had the expectation that we would all want to eat at 3 pm, whereas we'd all snacked enough at church that we were willing to wait for dinner. If Lee had voiced his expectation, we'd probably have been more cooperative on the lunch topic. And if I had mentioned my shore feet, we probably would not have gone to Costco on the way home, which had me about crippled by the time it was over (but we got good stuff to eat).
3. Last night Beccano got grumpy, and he said to me, "I hate it when things don't go the way I was expecting them to." (He had forgotten when a test was, which completely changed his evening plans.) That's what originally got me thinking about how thwarted expectations cause much familial grumpiness.
4. Tuba Boy had the truck last night, taking a girl to get (once again, not a date, "She's a lesbian, Mom!") ice cream after she got off work at 9. He knew 10 was his expected home time. However, his expectation was that if something came up that caused him to be late, a phone call telling us would be sufficient. Lee's expectation was that he would be able to figure out how long it would take to get the girl home then himself home by ten (and not get lost--which he did do). Neither Tuba Boy nor Lee had voiced his expectations to the other. No, they'd both told ME. I tend to get in the middle. The good news is that Lee has talked to him about his expectations, so maybe less frustration will be had by all. He has also cleared up a "getting a ride to school" expectation Beccano had.
I think maybe all of us need to voice our expectations ahead of time, and things will go easier. Let people know what you expect and they will either live up to it or let you know ahead of time why they can't. And I need to not let my heart get set on things being a certain way--that is often how I end up upset when I get home from work. I drive home all full of expectations of a happy loving family doing x, y or z and when something else happens instead, I am disappointed. I should know better. You just can't know what other people will be doing or thinking unless you ask them.
Side note: this reminds me of those Saturday Night Live skits (or whichever show it was) on "Lowered Expectations," the dating service for people who are hard to match up.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Good question--no clue. This year I won't be on such a big budget as usual, yet we have been getting what we need all along, so there aren't any huge purchases I'd want to make. I just got an engagement ring, we are getting Tuba Boy a car, the kids have all the video games they wanted already, and have good MP3 players, Lee got the surround sound system AND bought us the TV, so there are not too many big needs. I'm knitting a few gifts, which cost more in time than money, too. But, we are so happy--I do want to have a nice holiday. I may spend more on a real tree and new ornaments than I normally would...
Soup: What was the last television show you watched, and was it good?
The last show I watched was the Colbert Report on Wednesday night, because we were at a Thursday football game last night. Yes, it was as good as usual. I do plan to watch last night's show about him not getting to run for President this evening!
Salad: If you had to paint the walls of your living room tomorrow, what color would you choose?
I would paint it a slightly more "tan" shade of gold than the one we painted it just last month.
Main Course: Name something clever or practical you have thought of that should be invented, but hasn’t yet.
Vacuum cleaner powered by dog hair.
Dessert: List 3 things you would like to receive as gifts this upcoming holiday season.
1. Niddy Noddy (winds yarn into skeins)
2. Gift certificates from the Loopy Ewe and Bluebonnet Yarn Shoppe, which I promise to take my time spending
3. Windows on my car tinted, car detailed, with seats and carpet cleaned
None of these are urgent. Just happy to have my family and friends with me, and wish the ones who are far away could be nearby.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
I came home from a fine work day featuring much candy and food and set out to make some lentil chili (too offset all that candy) and to finish decorating the exterior and interior of the house for the holiday. Beccano was a big help--he had brought home a really well done jack-o-lantern and was happy to help me string lights, set out candles and get the decor JUST right. The first picture shows how nice the front door looked, with bad lights and garland around the door and a black feather wreath on it, flowers and a black feather own, an axe, and hard to see, but behind the geranium on the right, a hand that moved its fingers when the door slams, or you stomp. ELAB had fun getting all those items! Beccano's pumpkin is the top one.
We still had one un-carved pumpkin. Debate Girl (who spent most of the evening in a pumpkin suit) was here with Tuba Boy, and she managed to convince him to stop playing Guitar Hero 3 and carve the pumpkin. He was a bit reluctant at first, and really did NOT like scooping out pumpkin guts (see photo). Beccano informed him that it was NOT all that bad, so Tuba Boy jumped in and scraped like a professional pumpkin-meister.
Then, Tuba Boy could not figure out what to carve. We gave suggestions, but Debate Girl really wanted him to come up with his own design. He started to make a ghost, but realized it looked more like the monster in the Pac Man game. So, he made a Pac Man jack-o-lantern. It came out great, as you can see from the happy two-some who made it! And he even admitted that he had fun playing with the knife, ha ha. Really, it was fun to be cooking and listening to their teen banter. The kids get along so well.
The older kids went out to get candy, while Ninja Beccano stayed with me to hand things out. Lee eventually came home, but really was not in the mood for the festivities, so we didn't do tarot or anything. Maybe over the weekend. In addition, at the height of the doorbell ringing time, my dad called. I really needed to talk to him, but no one else was answering the door, so it got quite disjointed. I'd have to stop Flo in the middle of a long, extended story, answer the doorbell, chat to kids, then come back. She'd pick right up.
Still worried about dad, but I made sure he would have things to do if they move to the Quaker old people village. It sounds like they are condos or apartments or something like that. He showed them to my brother last week, but he apparently didn't cope real well with it. The upshot is that I will end up with a lot more furniture at some point. Oh yes, my home will hold three households' worth...nope. Some things will need to go! But, that's for later. I do want to keep both my and Lee's heirlooms in the family, so we will work it out.
If you want to see more Halloween pix, just click here and it will be obvious where they start in the collection.