There's More to Life Than Knitting!

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

Monday, July 30, 2007

Grateful Monday, Dude

It's Monday, so I must be grateful for something--how about my hands and my eyes? The hands let me knit so I get to touch lovely wool and needles as often as possible, and they let me type fast as lightning. And equally erratic. My eyes let me see beautiful colors, patterns and shapes. I am so glad I am not going blind, at least yet. I love colors and patterns so much. No wonder I knit so much.


My children, especially the older one, have taken to calling me "Dude Mom." As in, "Dude Mom, are we out of Hot Pockets?" They call all their friends just plain "dude." I find Dude Mom to be pretty funny. None of the teen friends have called me Dude SAK, Dude Suna or Dude Sue Ann yet.

Are teens all over using "dude" all the time, or just in Texas? It's definitely a thing all around my vicinity, anyway. Dude isn't a new word. Heck, we used it in the Ancient Times (70s). But suddenly it's the new "homey" (thank goodness). But it sure seems to be peaking in usage. It's nice and gender-neutral, which is another good thing. No problem being a Lady Dude nowadays.

Suna and ELAB in a BandWeekend

It was a good, pretty restful weekend with both sunshine and the usual Texas Summer Rain (usual for THIS summer only). I did a lot of singing in Sunday's church service, so there was also rehearsing on Saturday. Lee did an amazing job on bass this time. He played a lot of lead lines to accompany Bill's rhythm guitar, and it was really cool. So, even though it was mostly Grateful Dead, I had a good time. At least I didn't have to figure out what the melody was, since I just did backup/harmony. And we had a teen drummer. He did not call me Dude. (I added the photo later)

I also enjoyed teaching two sisters to knit. Their mom had vowed not to learn, because she loves reading so much, but we sucked her in and will be teaching her next time. BWA HA HA, I will turn everyone on earth into a knitter. I really enjoyed the girls and their conversation. They reminded me of girl versions of my kids (same ages, approximately, and they are opinionated UU kids like mine).

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday's Feast!!!

Oooh, I remembered it was Friday and that I said I'd start participating in the Friday's Feast meme thingie that Stephanie does. Here goes:

Appetizer: Describe a toy you remember from your childhood.

Fury was a pillow kind of thing with a very large plastic horse head, supposedly the head of "Fury," a horse on a television show. I loved horses. (My other childhood toy memory is "Hee Haw," whom I believed was a stuffed horse, but apparently was really a stuffed giraffe. I carried that with me day and night as a toddler.) Anyway, Fury was wonderful. You could sit on his pillow section, which had the saddle printed on it, plus pillow feet and a yarn-ish tail, and ride him all day, never falling off! I am told I always sat on Fury to watch television (Lassie and Fury being my faves). I have photos of me in a cowboy hat riding Fury at about age 3.

Soup: On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest) how observant are you?

10. I would even venture to suggest I am overly observant. My son Beccano is like this, too. We spot all sorts of interesting things/distractions wherever we go, so hiking with us is slow. I notice details, patterns and groupings in everything I look at. And I am always getting a lot of subtle visual cues when I interact with people. It probably helps that I have some other senses kicking in that up the observant thing. I have often wished to be less observant.

Salad: Where would you rather be at this very moment?
At a knitting camp by a lake, or in a small cabin with Lee, by a lake, knitting. It depends on whether I want to bond with fellow knitters or my partner, I guess.

Main Course: When was the last time you learned something new?

I think we're always learning something new. Today I was learning a new piece of software to document at work. I learn new software every day. And vocabulary! And things about how the world works (or doesn't).

Dessert: Fill in the blank: I have ____________ but I haven’t ____________.

I have studied Japanese for many years but I haven't ever been to Japan.

There, festive.


I am mainly posting this to remind myself to always wear long pants to work, or if a skirt, wear tights with it. This place is FREEZING. I foolishly put on my capri-length jeans, a gauzy Chico's tunic and a camisole today, with my cute red little heels. (Love those casual Fridays.) My feet and lower legs turned into ice cubes, and my arms aren't much better.

I ended up wearing my finished sock plus its almost-finished friend under the fancy shoes, my arm warmers and my mohair shawl. Still cold. And rather overly colorful.

I look forward to a weekend of thawing out, and maybe drying out if the predicted let-up in rain happens. Driving in all this rain is tiresome, too.

Otherwise, everything is fine. I am feeling more on an even keel, and I let my urge to lecture others via my blog pass by not posting yesterday or Wednesday. And it's a good thing, because the blog-checkers are a-checkin'!

One more thing, please send positive thoughts to Jeff, who has come down with pneumonia and really wants to have a busy weekend at the NAMM show (music manufacturer convention) doing podcasts and stuff. I hope his meds have kicked in and he is having fun. I'm still his "emergency contact" person, ya know. I am very, very loyal to my friends, past and present. Present or absent.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Random Thinking

I've been thinking random thoughts, so here's a random--a fractal that's supposed to be a pansy, I think (my favorite flower for looks; roses are for smelling).

This nice quote came via my spiritual community's women's email list:

We should not seek revenge on those who have committed crimes against us, or reply to their crimes with other crimes. We should reflect that by the law of karma, they are in danger of lowly and miserable lives to come, and that our duty to them, as to every being, is to help them to rise towards Nirvana, rather than let them sink to lower levels of rebirth.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

This helps me a lot, and reminds me of how I try to live my life. Sums up those pacifistic urges of mine rather well.

The Dalai Lama quote makes up for this weird-ass thing that was posted on the blog of an email correspondent. It is an entire website devoted to the idea that the world will come to an end on December 21, 2012. Creepy, huh? I went to the site, thought the t-shirts were spiffy, then began to wonder, hmm, is this a collection of serious links or some very, very dry satire? Jeff seems to think satire. If so, it's even more subtle than Landover Baptist! So, I have spent a lot of the day wondering just what sorts of people surround me, and whether I can do anything at all useful when folks with beliefs based completely on conjecture, myth or legend (i.e., our evangelical friends) will just come along behind me and muck it up.

I've also been reading about this poor woman whose rape trial got set up by a judge so that she was not allowed to use "rape," "assault," and such in her defense. Led to a hung jury. Or the murder cover-up of a gay man in Indiana. (This was on another blog I read.) Downer, downer downer.

Still, I worked toward a balanced view. I wrote this on the women's group email list: "Living in today's world can be challenging, and sometimes you start to think that the people striving for peace, love and understanding of others are a minority too small to make a difference. I remind myself that sometimes we only make a SMALL difference, but that even a small positive change is a good one." I will try to stick with that.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Grateful Monday

Today I am grateful for the beautiful pink rose with ivory edges that is sitting on my desk in a cola bottle, which has slowly opened during the day and really cheered me up. It reminds me I am grateful to Lee, who bought me roses yesterday. I love flowers, and love to smell roses.

Another Weekend Comes and Goes

Nothing is horrible at our house, mostly been worrying about the health and issues of others. Jeff's been sick after taking some "bad" medicine, his mother is in the hospital, and that's just a start. A lot of people I know are having health issues or other challenges, so I am thinking of them all. And I haven't heard much from my parents for a few weeks, which is always worrisome.

At home everything was quiet, because the kids' dad was here so they were gone Saturday and much of Sunday. But, when they were home, Beccano was involved in a project of taking pictures of the canine pets. It ended up being a series of photos of their precious doggie heads. He has a way with the animals and can get them to hold still. Unlike me.

First is Gwynneth, the Welsh Corgi who lost her sight last year. The photo is of her good side, because while we were out of town, she seems to have gotten into an altercation with one of the four other dogs in the house at the time and hurt her left eye--it has healed, but the outer eye has a scar and is shaped funny now. Poor thing. She'd already had one of the dogs bite her ear. She doesn't realize where she is or what she is getting into sometimes. But, otherwise she is good.

Buddy is next. He is so sweet, but so scary when one of the boys walks into the room unexpectedly and he launches into his protective barking. That giant head makes a very loud, scary bark. I wish he wouldn't bark at the residents. But I have no doubt he is sort of confused about where he is and what he is supposed to be doing, having spent most of his life around one person, occasionally two, when he was just Lee's dog. At least his massive shedding season appears over. Wow, lots of hair on a giant dog, too.

Oh look, next is Rose. Beccano had a hard time getting a shot of her holding still. She is definitely full of motion most of the time. She is very well trained now except for chewing on things. Lee says he's never had such trouble with chewing. She digs a bit, too, but that isn't a problem unless she is trying to dig out of the back yard. Lee spent quite some time on Sunday repairing the fence so she will not succeed so easily at that. Rose is so affectionate and loving. And silky smooth.

Finally we have Scrunchy, who I already shared a picture of last week. But I found this one so funny that I could not resise. I swear he looks like a manatee in this photo. Not his best look. But then, he has few really "good" looks.

In other weekend news Lee and I did some music at Ye Olde Spiritual Community on Sunday. I sang "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" along with Lee on bass and Joe on keyboards/synthesizer. I felt sorta bad because Joe is the one who arranged it and spent hours working up the keyboard settings and sounds, but I am the one who got all the praise. All I did was go over the song a few times with them. Well, I did suggest that Joe not play the melody on top of my singing--I suggested he do some fun accompaniment instead. That worked better.

The nicest thing is that we went over to Joe and his wife's house Saturday night, to rehearse the music for Sunday. They live in Lago Vista, and I had never actually driven down in there before. It was really pretty. Their house had a nice Lake Travis view, and the neighborhood was neat, a mix of old regular size houses and those new McMansions. They took us to eat at the restaurant at the end of a pier near their community marina, which was a hoot. There were literally dozens of deer just standing around staring at us as we drove in--people were taking pictures and they were like, so what? The restaurant was a floating one, so we went up and down a bit from wakes. Most amusing were the channel catfish and ducks that lurked around, expecting to be fed. I think they give everyone extra fries to feed them. There must have been 3-4 dozen giant catfish (about two feet long, maybe longer) all in a big frenzied ball. When they had no food, you'd look down and their pink and white mouths would be all lined up, looking like they were about to launch into a choral number. We had a bit of excitement, too, when a strong rainstorm dumped itself on us (then hail) right as we were finishing. Just BOOM it began raining, no drizzled warning. It was fun jumping to shelter. And Joe and his wife moved pretty quick for retirees. All in all it was fun. I don't get to socialize as much with church people as I used to, since the Bad Times, so this was a special treat.

(For example, there was yet another couple marrying at the church that I was not invited to--so far, I was invited to one out of the 5 I know of. Oh well, it's probably because I am not very friendly.)

By the way, I must really love Lee because I made green bean casserole for him. A dish I usually avoid. But, we put fresh mushrooms in it, and used canned mushroom/garlic soup for an extra zing. Well, he DID buy me some lovely pink roses with cream edges. Aww.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Feeling Resipiscent

Yes, today I am feeling resipiscent, which was the Word of the Day at I will be more pleasant, and not upset any of my beloved friends, today, I hope. And I won't be grumpy at my beloved man, whom I am happy to have enjoyed the company for the past year.

I honestly don't know how I could be so down, when a face like Scrunchy's greets me at the door when I come home every day. Beccano took some really cute photos of him yesterday (go to the Flickr link in the left column to see more). I wish we had some nice pix of the other dogs. Poor blind Gwynnie isn't looking so hot, since she hurt her eye (exterior) and now it looks even worse, and her nails are really long because she is so upset whenever we try to trim them.

The poor puppy (only two months and she will be a DOG) keeps chewing stuff, as hard as we try to stop her. My chair, the stairs and an old magazine holder are the latest targets. And we can hardly ever catch her to discipline her. We put hot sauce all over stuff, which works for a while. And she is very hard to photograph, being so black. Her eyes and nose are extra black, too (but her teeth are so beautifully white in contract). You can't photograph what lovely, soft, shiny fur she has or how high she can jump, or how her little triangular head keeps poking up whenever any of us humans try to hug. I am relieved that she has turned out to be a nice, medium sized dog, and not the monstrosity we feared. One giant dog to trip over is plenty (Buddy is SO big, but at least his big shedding period is over).

So, anyway I am feeling more sane today (that's what resipiscent means, if that was a new one to you, like it was to me), just feeling sad when I read about all the fun folks are having at their conference, but I did feel a bit better when someone said "it just isn't the same." I don't know how it could be--things changed so much. But, I wish them all the best.

We have a fun weekend ahead, anyway. Dinner with Jeff tonight (he is doing just fine), dinner and music rehearsal at church friends' house in Lago Vista tomorrow night, and a lot of driving practice for Tuba Boy this weekend (he is ALMOST done getting his required stuff in to finish his course and get a license--eek).

Love to you all, readers. I'd love a cheerful hello from you!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Piscean/Virgoan Angst (self indulgent whining)

Today it comes as no real surprise to me that I am not feeling so hot. It's been a fine week, and I have been doing what I can to preclude this set of feelings from coming up by taking it easy and limiting my exposure to new people, etc. (For example, I didn't go with Lee and the boys to a coworker's house to play a role playing board game, because I wasn't up to seeing new people, only to find out there was a knitting person there!)

I was glad to give Lee and the kids a couple of chances to do things together without me around, like the Harry Potter movie and that get-together.

I sorta messed up by going to the yarn shop as usual after work yesterday. As I watched person after person arrive and walk right by the table where I and a couple of others were sitting and head to the back, I had to really fight of my typical paranoia that it was ME they were avoiding. Of course, I have no idea what I could have done to bug them, but it was very odd that a couple of people literally did not speak to me the whole time they were there. I know this paranoia that "no one likes me" is a ME issue that got reinforced with my bad experience at Ye Olde Spiritual Community a few years back and doubly enforced with how my nonprofit organization job ended. Plus the negative feedback that four years with a rather judgmental partner (with his own issues). That combined could make anyone feel unworthy of love or friendship.

And then there is the Piscean tendency to wallow in emotions and indulge in pity parties, justifiable or not! (The Pisces mandala above should have faces like on the Wheel of Fortune tarot card in Robin Wood's interpretation.)

Of course, Pisces is one of those dual signs. I have my logical and my intuitive halves duking it out most of the time anyway, assisted by really strong Virgo stuff (moon and ascendant, for any of you who give a rat's patoot about astrology).

So whenever I get these intuitions that send me into an emotional spiral, the other half of me starts internally poking fun at that, and then I get all irritated at my little irrational self. ("Of course people like you, and that personal and job stuff was not all your fault--other people had something to do with it, too! yadda yadda.")

So today I have ended up really weepy and drained, making perceived slights of any type feel worse than they normally would. My best friend from my old job hasn't answered my email and I haven't heard from her in ages, sniff. I was upset about not being able to help a friend when she needed me, due to someone else not being willing/able to assist. Etc.

At least I figured out the trigger. There is always some trigger that brings on these episodes. In the past few years I have realized that I can usually ferret the trigger out, which helps me deal with it. Often it's an anniversary of an event, someone's birthday...etc. And it is because I am reading on lots of blogs, email lists and such about how everyone's all excited about going to what will probably be the last big conference held by the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization I used to work for. These conferences were the most fun things I ever did until last Halloween. And this time I am not only not included, I am not welcome. I really, really miss the chance to see my really wonderful online friends. (Virgo half says: lots of people other than YOU will not be there, Suna, for the same reasons. Pisces half says: how can anyone go there, smile and be happy after all that has gone on? Am I just "too sensitive" and should I have hung on and kept volunteering no matter what? Summary: halves will have to duke it out I guess.)

I am just brimming with self-indulgent crap. Not feeling like a worthwhile friend, and getting lots of subtle confirmation of it (for example, I have posted two updates on my life to an email list, and the only response to either them was one person taking me to task for wondering if anyone reads my posts--but they can write about Harry Potter endlessly).

I should be focusing on the fact that right about now is the anniversary of meeting Lee. He was out of the office my first week at ALE, so I met him about a week after I started there. My coworker said, "You will like him!" and she was right.

And the good news is that as a Pisces/Virgo, I will have an up phase soon as this down phase is over. I am not suffering clinical depression or anything. Just whacky introspection and my usual tendency to over-analyze my flaws. Or think I am more important than I actually am. I need to learn to revel in anonymity and lack of authority more, now that I have it. It's what I thought I wanted! Why do I need to feel like I am important to others? That sounds like Freudian/Piscean/Virgoan angst, and that is too many slashes to be any good at all. So I will go think about something else.

If you are interested in the mandalas in this post, visit the artist's Etsy shop. It's a woman in Australia. I think I will be buying a couple of items!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Grateful Monday

I keep saying I will post more things I am grateful for, so maybe this time I will try to do it on Mondays!

OK, so today I am grateful that I have all my senses. I took a little walk into the woods outside work this afternoon, because the roaring of the "white noise" was driving me insane. I wanted to hear natural sounds.

Ahh, I heard so many. Crickets, bird wings, butterflies (if there are enough of them, you do hear them--Beccano and I discovered this yesterday in the garden at church!), cardinals, an angry wren, a happy warbler, flies, a very large buzzing insect, and (alas) mosquitoes.

And what I saw! 5 kinds of butterfiles, one really big, tattered moth, the cardinals, the angry wren and its companion (a very LARGE pair of wrens, bigger than the ones at my house, guessing these were Carolina Wrens, not Bewick's), a lot of moss and debris from the rain, and little bitty frogs. At first I saw what I thought were very small frogs, about the size of a live oak acorn, then I saw even smaller ones, the size of my pinky nail bed. The recent rain must have been very good for frogs, because I must have seen a dozen.

I felt all the slippery rocks, debris and moss, and unfortunately all the things that bit me. Oh well, that's the price you pay for solitude!

And it smelled GOOD. Very loamy and rich. Not the usual dry smells of summer. Lots of stuff rotting, but in the pleasant way (plants, not animals).

Taste was left out, but I came back in and had some delicious water, so all the senses got to enjoy something.

Grateful for my senses!

All Together Now

UNT Dorm
Originally uploaded by sunasak.

Woo hoo, Tuba Boy is home and our little family-like unit is reunited at last. The photo is of the dorm he stayed at, in Denton at the University of North Texas. Most of its buildings are this yellow brick stuff. It was a pretty nice looking campus, and bigger than I expected (I learned recently that is is NOT a small school, from my friend whose son is president of the junior class).

Apparently he had a great time, even when they had to go to all their classes in that horrible rain Texas had a few weeks ago. He made some friends and apparently is now the world's expert on Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucoult (will look up that spelling). He sounds like my high school boyfriend, and will lecture on schools of philosophy at the drop of a hat. Well, this makes me a happy human. It is wonderful to see him so excited about something that is not a video game. And something I also like!

Probably the most touching thing that happened when we went to get him on Saturday was that, the second we got in the car, he said, "OK, we have to go to this cool store, now!" And he led us in a meandering fashion (walking somwhere looks different from driving, he realized) to the head shop on the edge of campus. Mmm, incense. Apparently he and his friends had wonderful times going through those hilarious liberal bumper stickers and buttons they have in those places, and looking at all the statues of Indian deities, etc. It was just so sweet that he HAD to show us this place, because he KNEW we'd love it. We had a nice talk with the guy there, who said he knew these were debate kids the way they flocked to the slogans. And he said, "Your son was very well behaved," which was sweet. We got ourselves a few souveniers, which will be a nice way to remember the debate camp experience.

After all the fun in Denton, we took advantage of being in far north Texas to visit Lee's niece, the one whose wedding we went to on New Year's Eve. They live in a mobile home family compound outside of Ponder. And she has a lot of lovely peacocks wandering around. She said they just showed up, and now they stay there. The picture is of one of the daddy peacocks. We had a good visit, and the cigarette smell didn't kill us or anything. She has no kids of her own, but has four at her house this summer, two attached to her husband and two I think that are actually her cousin's children (Lee's family is hard to keep track of) whose parents are unable to care for them. We really enjoyed a couple of the boys, very cute. It was nice to watch Lee play with them. He reminded me of my dad, how he just thoroughly enjoyed playing with little kids. I was never good at "playing" (I talk to kids, but don't goof off much), so I enjoyed watching Lee.

My boys went outside with the oldest kid (very nice, articulate little fellow who's had a hard life but seems to have a good personality all in all) and picked up a bunch of peacock feathers. I know what I would like to do with them, but am worried the dogs will get into them, so alternative ideas are percolating up. They didn't get attacked by snakes or anything, so all was well.

I know Lee appreciated the chance to see his favorite relative, and since she is not feeling well, I know she enjoyed a chance to see him. It's good to get to know the family members, too.

The rest of the trip I knitted and knitted. I have really enjoyed all the car trips, because it's the only time I really get to knit a long time. I finished one pair of socks, and by the end of last night, was over halfway with another one!

Yesterday I just faded away. We made it to church, where there was a cool labyrinth laid out temporarily as part of a worldwide observance. Then I went home and spent the rest of the day napping or knitting and watching QVC (didn't buy anything, even though there was a lot of jewelry to chose from!). The men-folk went to the Harry Potter movie, but I stayed home. I needed a "me" day, and some recharging time. It was great.

I am just plain glad to have the boys both home and no pressing issues. That feels good. A real respite from issue after issue.

Last Tuba Boy Room Images

Finished Tuba Boy RoomFinally, here's a photo with all the stuff in the room, ready for Tuba Boy to come home and mess it up (maybe not??). We put the train photos on the wall at last, and they look so much better in this setting than in the old one. You can actually see the cool Irish steam trains, and I am relieved that they have matting that already goes with the blue wall in the room!

I was glad to get two bedside lamps in the room, and know he will sleep better on a much more comfortable mattress with a memory foam topper. Beccano is so jealous of the topper that I guess I will get him one, too!

Looking Out the DoorAnd here is a photo of the room looking out the door, so you can see the blue. There's a tea towel to the left of the door with a photo of a Great Western Railway engine. We got that in England, when we happened on an entire GWR museum, including cute little engines tricked out to look like Thomas the Tank Engine, Henry and pals. Beautifully restored trains. I would have bought a lot more at the store if I could have. I really enjoyed the years when Tuba Boy loved trains, because I could also enjoy my secret fondness for them, which started when I was a little toddler waving at the engines that went behind our little house in Sarasota, Florida.

Well, we are finished with the major home improvements, and ready to move on! Eventually I want to paint my room, but it can wait until Lee's old house is fixed.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tuba Boy's Room Is Almost Done

Tuba Boy's Room Almost Done
Originally uploaded by sunasak.
I am sure Lee and Beccano think I am trying to kill them, but I pushed them to get Tuba Boy's room in reasonable shape last night, so I could at least get a photo before he shows up on Saturday and starts flinging stuff all over the flat surfaces. Now we have almost everything other than the train photos that will go over the bed (same ones that were there before--they coordinate and look very manly) and shelves that will go over the desk we moved in there. Now the guest room is practically interesting--we did find the kids' old crib when we moved the bed--sigh, I guess when we first moved here I was still hoping for another baby. It is covered in Jeff's baby powder, so more cleaning is in my future. We have a lot for a garage sale now!

You can't see the blue wall in the photo. That is because it got messed up when we were moving the dresser and has to be touched up, sigh. The curtains are actually dark blue, not black, like they appear. They match the dark stripes in the bedspread. I hope Tuba Boy likes it that I included his afghan that I made him and his ancient "I love trains" pillow that I made when he was 2. He still loves it. His other "treasured" blankets and quilts are in the closet, if he wants them. And I just thought the gigantic stuffed tiger from my sister looked cool.

He should be happy that I put a phone in the room, and that we are pretty sure we can hook a television to cable in there. He should be able to do homework, relax and be a teen in this room. I hope. And maybe not destroy it.

Serious Note

I've been noticing fellow bloggers talking about how women are treated when they are victims of sexual crimes. A pretty sad story was posted on the Yarn Harlot blog where a judge wouldn't let words for what was done to the woman be used in her assailant's sexual assault trial (like he couldn't be called assailant, or her a victim, or the rape word used). A local blogger posted about her experience with being assaulted as a teen and how it greatly affected her.

It makes me realize that almost all of us have some kind of story in which we had to do things we did not want to do, or had liberties taken with us. I know I do (one story funny, where I bit a kid who tried to "do" me at a sleepover), two not). I am lucky that I have good boundaries and confronted all but one person who treated me unfairly, but I did have the typical experience where someone with power over me (a professor in college) touched me inappropriately, but I was afraid to say anything. Later I found out he had also done the same thing to a friend--if I had spoken up, maybe she'd have been spared the humiliation?

If women were able to talk to each other, and felt safe making it public when someone with perceived power over them took advantage of that power (parents, adults, teachers, bosses, spouses whatever), perhaps we'd have a lot fewer sexual assaults, rapes, and domestic violence incidents. But, it's hard. A start is sharing your own stories.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thoughts on "National Service"

Today we have a little lecture on my beliefs. As usual, this represents only MY opinions.

On the way to work, I have been listening to an NPR series on "national service." They have been talking to experts on topics like why the armed forces have been getting fewer volunteers recently, whether there should be a mandatory draft, whether there should be mandatory "national service" like there is in many places, and whether USonians are volunteering as much as they used to.

Yesterday I got a bit upset when some of the "experts" they talked to intimated that, if you don't volunteer to join the armed forces or encourage your (male) children to do so, you are not a good American and should be ashamed of yourself for taking and taking from your wonderful country and not giving anything back.

I thought, hey, where does this leave pacifists like me? I am not declining to participate in our defense industry because I am lazy and don't "love my country." I decline because I am fundamentally opposed to killing other human beings or doing work that supports doing so. I do not believe a human should kill another just because they live in the wrong place, have a government with oil reserves that the multinational companies running the current government want, or are of a different religion/ethnicity from their own. I'm not even comfortable with killing in self defense. Two wrongs don't make a right (helps that I sorta believe in reincarnation, sorta). So, I am not going to join any armed force, nor encourage my children to do so. I believe in working toward peaceful solutions to all disagreements (and in using the resources you have, not taking the resources of others, but that's another story).

They also talked about mandatory national service. I thought, well, that is at least not violent, but would I be comfortable with being forced to spend some part of my life in support of a government whose policies I disagree with? Hmm. Am I being some kind of selfish, unphilanthropic leach on society?

Then, this morning's feature was on volunteering. How important it is, and how 9/11 got folks here all involved in it again. Oh yeah, duh. See photo above. I volunteered to spend at least 5 years of my working life doing unpaid work for an organization that helps people. I even got a couple of awards for doing so (that's me, Sandee and some lovely Japanese mothers, with an award), back when they thought I knew something about them there Internets and was Mistress of the Series of Tubes. And after that I worked for that organization for very low pay because it was a cause I believed in. I still believe in their core philosophy.

And THAT is the kind of voluntary service I believe in and wholeheartedly support. Not mandatory service to your country or some specific government. But voluntary service to humanity/the planet. Everyone will do it in a different way, but it is important to give to your home in some way. Even chimps do it (according to research I just read in Science News, chimps will help each other, or humans, for no reward, just as toddlers will--it's an instinct I guess). I was lucky. When my children were small I had a spouse who could support us fine (not wealthily, but fine enough), and I could stay home with them and work as a volunteer. It was very fulfilling work most of the time, helping mothers have healthier, happier babies. And I helped all mothers, regardless of beliefs or geographic location. I did my years of service to the planet, and I hope I leave it a slightly better place because of the help I gave to millions of families. Sure, we went without some material things. But, we felt good about how we lived our lives.

I can feel good about that. Whew. I really DO live my life according to consistent principles and a reasonable philosophy. I hate it when something gets me all beset with self doubt on a topic so fundamental to my core! Pacifism is not an easy choice, but it's the only one I can make. But the choice does not mean I do not want to contribute to society--only that I don't want to choose killing or war as a solution, or support it, whenever possible.*

So, if asked, what I would support would be making it possible for everyone to take out some amount of time in their life to do something altruistic--to help other people, to heal the earth, to do some peaceful good. That might mean corporations let workers off with some pay to do so, or government support for young people taking time off (like for AmeriCorps, CityYear or Peace Corps--just with more options). There will be sacrifice involved, just not sacrifice of our children's lives or the lives of children of mothers elsewhere. The world would be better if we were all free to give more of ourselves to each other.

*I realize that by living where I live, paying taxes that fund a huge war industry, and other choices, I can't avoid inadvertently supporting institutionalized violence (I live in the US state with the highest death penalty rate, for example). But I vote. I speak up. I make careful choices. None of us is blameless and none of us is perfect. We do the best we can according to our own beliefs. And if you have thought carefully, and believe in your core that wars can be justified, and that there are good reasons for killing other people, that is your right. I am never going to be one of those people who want to impose my beliefs on others. I'd just like the favor returned.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuba Boy's Room, Partially Painted

Yep, we made significant progress on the room this weekend and yesterday! There is one coat of primer and one coat of medium denim blue on the accent wall, and one coat of light almond on all the other walls. In this otherwise unexciting photo, you can see the colors! All the more icky so the finished product will look even better!

Otherwise, Lee, Beccano and I are having a reasonable, quiet summer week. We hope to finish painting tonight, so we can make it all purty! Work's fine, no overly exciting stuff in any part of our lives, except my dysfunctional former employer, which continues to be a source of endless amusement.

Band starts soon, so then things will be hopping again!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Another Home Improvement Weekend!

Before Photo of Tuba Boy's Room
Originally uploaded by sunasak.
Here we see Tuba Boy's room in mid-renovation. We've already taken the pictures off the wall (going to re-use the nice Irish train photos), picked up the clutter off the floor and made there be visible surface on the dresser. Lee is taking apart the old squeaky bunk bed. After that we took away the incredibly old and gross other bed and mattress. I will re-use my grandmother's quilt, of course.

I guess the balloon lamp that's been in his room since before he was born can finally be retired as well. At the moment we plan to re-use the curtains, which I made myself, since there is a red stripe in the new bed coverings for the former guest room bed. which we got at IKEA. Of course, that is subject to change.

Note the large black trash bag, waiting to hold everything under the beds. And there was lots. I guess Rhonda and Vicki will like this tidbit: under the single bed, where Beccano used to sleep, I found evidence of a good thing, but wish I hadn't had to clean it up. Apparently the child WAS flossing his teeth fairly regularly...but WHY did he have to stick the used floss under the bed? I had to pick every little piece up, too, because I was worried it would mess up the vaccuum cleaner! Yuck!

Even though we had a party to go to, church, and knitting store work, we still managed to get a lot done. On the Flickr page, there's a picture of the room all ready to paint and mostly empty. We got the primer on the accent wall (it will be denim blue) and one coat of color on the other walls, which are a color called Light Almond, or something like that. It is very close to the color of my skin. We will try to avoid telling Tuba Boy his wall color is "flesh," however. It's a nice, neutral color that looks mature and masculine, befitting a young adult. We should have the paint done tonight or tomorrow night, then put in the major furniture.

Once that's done, we will figure out where to put additional shelving, since he requested some like the ones we put in Beccano's room. He has a lot of books now, so it would be good. We also found a cable TV outlet that I didn't realize was there. He will be VERY happy to hear about that! The goal is to put in a desk for homework and his laptop, and perhaps a small TV could go on that, too.

It's helping me deal with missing him to work on his room!

Lee and I had a nice dinner at Mesa Rosa, with our favorite chatty young waitress (she had kidney stones!) and spent a lovely evening together, with Beccano off visiting a friend. Life is good.

Yes, I said that.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Proud Linguist

I was taking a bunch of goofy online tests, and did great at this wonderful spelling test with ALL my "favorite" email/blog words on it.

I am also 75% addicted to caffeine.

And this blog is rated PG due to mentioning death and kill.

I Miss Tuba Boy

Tuba Boy in Ireland
Originally uploaded by sunasak.
Tuba Boy is still at debate camp. I have received two emails from him, so I know he is alive, anyway. But that doesn't replace his smiling face. I am really looking forward to some logorrhea when he gets back and spews forth tales of all his new debate knowledge.

At least with all the rain and flooding in north Texas (that is where he is), I know he isn't getting out to carouse much! I also hope he has called or emailed his dad. I don't think he realizes how much we worry about him, and with his phone not functioning (again) it's impossible to contact him!

Last night it was so nice to be watching TV with Lee and Beccano. It feels like a family to have a nice room to enjoy just "being" together in, and we don't have to all crowd onto my bed like we used to (for some reason, I have NEVER enjoyed watching TV in the family room--I can't really see it well, even though there is a big television in there).

Starting tonight we'll be emptying out his bedroom in preparation for painting and sprucing it up. Whee.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Chatting with Relatives

Barber Shop
Originally uploaded by sunasak.
Today I'll start off with some vacation stories. One thing I like about going to visit my dad is that I get to see the relatives who are in North Carolina. Here you see Beccano telling a story in Aunt Pug's barber shop, with Flo, my dad and Pug listening. This is the same spot where he got his first hair cut. His brother got his first hair cut from her, too, on Dad's back porch. Pug (whom I am named after--she is really Bettye Sue) is Dad's little sister. Of course, he says she talks too much, which he says about all the local relatives. I think he just doesn't like their conversation topics (their lives). She smokes like a chimney, but is in great shape otherwise, and is really sweet. She had a long marriage to an alcoholic, but she stuck with him and he did recovery. She's been a widow for many years, but still has the barber shop they opened together in Greensboro. I remember her loving dogs (can't believe she has none now) and ducks. This visit she told us how she used to always be carrying a chicken when she was a little girl, and the chickens loved her. Just like my grandmother. Beccano, of course, always liked her because he likes pugs. She, however, had mostly poodles and dachshunds in her later years (at one time raised pointers).

So, that is all about my aunt.

I also got to see my first cousin, Jan, and her daughter, Kendall. I have always gotten along well with Jan, so I am glad she's in town where Dad lives. Of course, he says she talks too much. I like how her daughter is so close to her (and they barely look related--Jan is teeny tiny and Kendall resembles her Clemson U football center dad). Jan also has a boyfriend named Lee. They seem to be bonded over the fact that they each have sons with "issues." Anyway, I like hearing about Jan's life and ups and downs!

Of course, when you go to NC you also get to talk to Flo's relatives, who are, I guess, step relatives. She has a very nice family, though her favorite aunt (who she was raised with like a sister) and her husband are both getting very frail as they get older. It is touching to see how Dad takes care of them. They have always been incredibly kind to me and the kids, so I hope they still have a few more years in them. As a bonus, we also got to see their daughter, who was in town.

Then there are the friends. It is cute to me how Dad and Flo always trot me out to all the neighbors' houses. Luckily, they have nice and interesting neighbors. Hilda who lives next door is 98. She still drives and volunteers at the hospital to "help the old people." She still has a lovely garden and is 100% all there mentally. I really admire her--a smart woman, and very generous. She spends little on herself, but gives a lot to worthy causes. Across the street are two other families, both very nice. I enjoy Ann, across the street, a lot.. I even taught her to knit. My parents are very lucky to have a caring community surrounding them.

They need the caring, because Flo is having a lot of health issues, and is a bit "off" right now. And her issues led Dad to feel pretty bad, really depressed. I don't blame him--I know he was remembering how hard it was caring for Mom when she was sicklier and sicklier. I think he'd hoped he'd found someone who'd outlast him. But he is loyal. He will stick with Flo, and has for 12 years as of last week!

That's about it for my family and their folks!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Vacation Photos

Cliffs of Moher
Originally uploaded by sunasak.
I have put up a sampling of our vacation photos on the Flckr pages. Click the Flickr info in the left column, and go to the Travel Set or the Beccano's Travels set (in the Family collection) to see them sorta organized. There are also a couple of family pix in the family collection.

Here is a photo everyone loves, of Beccano at the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. The boys enjoyed their time with their dad, and visiting with their cousins. I am really glad we sent Beccano with the camera!

I'll post more about our trip tomorrow. Today I am very tired from patriotically de-junking Tuba Boy's bedroom. Luckily Lee did some too or I'd never have managed. Bletch. Equally messy as Beccano's was (he made the bed today!!). We now have clothing hanging in the closet, and all underware and socks in drawers. I found at least 4 pairs of black socks ("Mom, I am out of black socks") and many more white, plus two lovelu pairs of underwear that had never been worn. And many deodorants. The boy will smell as good as he looks, now.

We'll paint the room and reassemble it this weekend, I hope, then show you the results!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Vacation Update

Chattanooga Cannon
Originally uploaded by sunasak.
Just a quick hello since there was no way to blog while I was in North Carolina last week. So, hello from a hotel in Tuscaloosa, Alabama!

The picture is of me and Lee on top of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My dad grew up here, so every year we went to visit my grandmother here, while I was growing up. The cool thing is that there are photos of me with these cannons from the Civil War since I was an infant. So, for 49 years there are photos of me here! Of course I had to get one with Lee, even though we were perhaps not at our loveliest in our travel clothing (but I have a nice shirt!).

Things were pretty good in North Carolina once Lee, Beccano and I got together and headed out to see my dad and his lovely spouse. We did a lot of resting and relaxing (I knitted; Lee played solitaire on his Windows Vista laptop). We did visit a lovely winery near Lexington, NC. It turns out that a lot of tobacco farmers are changing to grapes. Feeding one vice, then another, ha ha. We got what should be some yummy wines, though. The winery looked just like one of those fancy ones in California--like a Tuscan villa. They also make a lot of money on weddings and other events.

Otherwise, we ate with many old people, visited all the neighbors, and went shoe shopping.

I have a funny shoe story. I managed to leave my new black pumps at the hotel in Sanford. They were really interesting shoes, Naturalizers with a very fine mesh surface. They looked like leather from a distance and were incredibly comfortable. I wore them all day one day, over 12 hours and they didn't hurt at all. But, I left them in the dark closet. I called the hotel, but they said they could not find them. Grr.

So, I figured they have Macy's stores in NC, so I'd check and see if they had any. The first mall we went to didn't have any (that did not stop me from getting OTHER shoes, though). They called, and said there was one pair at another mall. So, we trekked from Greensboro to Winston-Salem (completing the Piedmont Triad) and actually did get another pair. So, I bought two pairs of the same shoes (still paid less than the list price of the shoe).

So, what happened next? I got a call on Saturday from the hotel. They found the danged shoes!! Now I will have two pairs! The folks at that hotel are incredibly nice by the way. So if you are in Sanford, NC for any reason, visit the Hampton Inn. End commercial.

I will post more tomorrow. I am sure I have things to say, but we must drive home!