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!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Near Pea Crisis Averted!

As you probably know, I am originally from the Deep South in the US (scenic Gainesville, Florida, as I like to remind folks). My parents were full of southern traditions, and one of those was to have a delicious New Year’s meal of black-eyed peas, rice, collard greens and cornbread each year. Yes, tradition holds that the beans and greens bring you bucks and also some luck, but my main reason to do it is that I just LOVE this meal. (I looked it up on Wikipedia (source of the photo at left) and discovered that eating the black-eyed-peas started ages ago, and as recorded in the Talmud in 500 BCE. So it’s also a Jewish tradition. Well, what do you know?

Of course, I intended to honor this tradition this year. We headed out to the grocery store last night after work, intending to get those lovely fresh peas they always have. There weren’t any. But I did get some pre-cleaned collard greens, even though that’s cheating. I really am willing to spend a half hour chopping and de-veining greens. So, off we went to the dried bean department. Um. There were about 6 dozen packs of navy beans, some green peas, some lentils and some dried garbanzos. NO black-eyed-peas. I was not pleased. I do NOT want to eat canned peas, even those ones that claim they are oh-so-traditionally done. They put stuff in them that may not be what I want to put in MY peas. I warily bought some dried baby lima beans. Not the same.

We came home (after stocking up on 50% off Christmas candy to stock my candy bowl at work for the next couple of months) and I cautiously approached the pantry, fingers crossed. Would there just possibly be a bag of dried black-eyed-peas there? It’s hard to find anything in there, with the interesting collection of things that now dwells on the floor, but, I stumbled to the bean section and, lo and behold, my heart filled with joy. A bag of fine looking black-eyed-peas greeted me. I’ll put them on to soak tonight!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

PS: One thing I am very grateful for is that all my family will eat black-eyed peas. I do make them a pork roast to go with it, since the men-folk seem to think that a ham hock in the peas does not constitute the “meat” portion of a “balanced meal.”

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In between Holiday Happenings

Oh goodness, I just realized I hadn’t posted anything since Christmas. I am sure my two fans are just chomping at the bit for more (yes, perhaps I’d have more fans if this blog weren’t so well hidden, and I am thinking maybe it will be OK to let this be less hidden soon). I've added random photos of the kids' gifts. The one at left is Beccano after following a ribbon to find his acoustic guitar hiding in the closet.

The days right after Christmas would have been a lot harder except I spent a lot of time at the yarn store on Friday and Saturday. Answering knitting questions makes it easier to deal with a lack of children to hang out with. No one was pleased to learn that the boys’ flight out of Wisconsin was canceled Friday. They were ready to come home, and I think their other family was ready, too. The flight was canceled again on Saturday, but the step-grandparents graciously agreed to drive them and their dad/stepmom to O’Hare, so they could leave from there. It was a long drive. Very nice of them. I know two very grateful boys.

Saturday ended up being OK, because after the yarn shop, Parker came by to visit Beccano’s new guitar and show us her birthday guitar (1992, her birth year, barely, since today she is 16), and we did the usual laughing our heads off at the Internets stuff, and spent a lot of time texting the kids at the airport. We even cheered Lee up, though I think the two days he spent running limbs through the shredder and cleaning up the back yard had him fairly cheery. Yes, we had an exciting week off, folks.

At right Tuba Boy shows his favorite gift, a huge external hard drive, which he really needed to hold all his tunes (he is using a very small laptop right now, and running out of space).

The kids straggled in after 1 am Sunday morning, but we were all up mid-morning to open gifts. We had our traditional cinnamon rolls from a can, and as usual, all the dogs joined us in the sitting room as we opened. It really was great to see the kids’ faces when they got stuff they didn’t expect. Tuba Boy was giddy over a gigantic hard drive Lee got him, and Beccano was visibly tickled at a guitar effects pedal from Lee, as well. It sounds like a ton of fun, listening to it. Even Jeff liked it—he has the same model. Beccano had fun following a ribbon to find his acoustic guitar, which he proceeded to play for the next hour. So, he must like that. Tuba Boy’s guitar is still not here, sigh. Maybe today…(nope, now schedule for the end of January, DARN IT).

Yes, the day was topped off by a reasonably nice meal (hint, giant potatoes take forever to bake) at which Jeff joined us. He really liked Beccano’s new guitars, and he helped Lee install the BluRay player. I am glad, because I would have been much less helpful. It was really a pleasant evening and a nice day, even if Lee and I were both vaguely depressed and not sure why.


At left, Beccano is cracking up because "Bad Santa" gave him candy cigarettes. I knew it would amuse them to no end, since they aren't around a lot of smoking, and I don't think had ever seen candy cigarettes. A lot of posing has gone on, and laughing at the horrid taste--cigarettes aren't even good as candy!

Yesterday was our one month anniversary (and we still like each other). I went to work, but came home in the afternoon, since it was deathly quiet, and I can proofread from home just as well. Not quiet at home, with the dogs erupting every time a child goes outside to play. I was able to give Beccano a ride to the first rehearsal of his new band, Triskelion (ooh) which is really Parker’s new band, I guess. He is playing bass, so we had to get the gigantic amp in the car. I am glad he’s willing to play bass, so he can at least get some group music experience in. And he sounds pretty good on it (there is a recording they made for practice on their MySpace page and yes, I still am not fond of MySpace). He thinks other friends are forming a band that he can be guitar person on, which would also be nice. After all that practicing, he really should play with others more. That is a skill you need to get!

My entire evening (and much of the previous day) was spent putting wedding photos into a rather nonstandard size for the digital photo frame I got my parents. In the end, I put in 363 photos. I had to lighten a lot of them, since it got dark during the wedding, and our new camera’s flash isn’t too great. That added to the time. But, hey, they have over 6 hours of things to look at now! I am going to make them a copy of the wedding DVD and send it to them, hoping that it is a good enough gift that they will forgive it not showing up at Christmas. While doing that, I did a very long online chat with my email friends, who were in multiple crisis mode—glad I was just a consoler and not a crisis-haver. And I was listening to Lee try out the new harmony generator that I ended up getting him at least part of for Christmas instead of fixing his guitar (I also got him really, really nice knives). I expect hours and hours of harmonizing fun with that. It is easier to sing with than I thought it would be.

I can’t believe I spent this much space writing about not much going on. But, honestly, it’s nice to have not much going on. Tuba Boy is working a lot and has plenty of friends to hang with. Beccano is doing music. Lee is harmonizing. I can do whatever I want. Not bad.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holidays and More Animals in the Road


ELAB Sr. and Trumpet Music
Originally uploaded by sunasak
How we spent our Christmas. We cooked a nice meal that could be transported to the land between Yorktown and Nordheim, Texas, and we took it to Lee's dad this morning. We then managed to cook or heat up (without a working oven) ham, yams, mashed potatoes, that green bean casserole that people other than me eat, and ELAB Sr.'s favorite sweet and sour cucumber salad. Plus we brought two pies and some cookies. He seemed pretty darned happy to have a Christmas dinner.

He also seemed to love his gifts, which were trumpet music (including music from Pirates of the Caribbean, which of course he has never seen), and a new pair of house socks I made for him. Oh, and candy, which he claims to have "too much of" but I think he secretly would take all he could get of.


Ornery old men and ornery sons often get testy, so I had them drive me around to look at all the neighboring towns when they got to arguing with each other. Then we fed the cows, new heifers, which Lee's dad is training to be friendly, and which also will have little calves in March. I hope these get to stay a while. One cow was very suspicious of me and would not eat until I stopped taking pictures of them. All three are lovely, shiny and black, mostly Angus.

I took a bunch of pictures of the farm, which I always seem to do, including cool black vultures who want to nest on the farm, a scenic bucket of leaves, and some very artistic cow poop which you see on the right. If you click the top picture on this post, the rest are near it on Flickr. There are also lots of nice photos of the new cows.


Later on, Lee's dad was sure he saw a fire, so we drove off to check it out, only to encounter a bunch of cattle in the road, running loose. They weren't doing much other than eating that grass that is always greener on the other side of the fence, but when we stopped so I could take their pictures, one of them was positive we had food in the truck, so she came right up to check us out. Everyone else started mooing their bovine heads off. So, after a few parting shots, we departed before starting a stampede. So, this makes two exciting encounters with livestock in the road in a few short months! I do lead a life of excitement, don't I? Oh yeah, and there was no fire. It was just haze or something. The long distances in the empty, vast countryside can fool with your eyes.

But seriously, it was nice to take some Christmas cheer to someone, and it reminded both of us that Christmas is a time for giving to those you love. I am glad we could make Christmas nice for Lee's dad.

I miss the kids though. Thank goodness they are scheduled to come home tomorrow. Send good weather vibes. And I hope your day was good.

Merry Christmas!

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a day of rest and relaxation with friends and family. I am heading off with Lee to the empty part of Texas to spend the day with his dad. We are taking a holiday dinner to him, to avoid the holiday cafeteria experience. And because it is nice, and fun.

I will have much more to report tomorrow! And the kids get back tomorrow night, if the weather allows!

And to the non-celebrators--enjoy a day of very little traffic!!

PS: If you read both my blogs, forgive me for posting this twice. Gotta get in the car and go!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Rested

I am very well rested, since I slept most of the day, and when I wasn't sleeping I was knitting. I did finish the first of the socks for Lee's dad, so I should get those done in time.

I had a headache most of the day, perhaps due to drinking last night, though really I didn't have all that much. We did go to a very nice solstice/holiday party last night. We saw old work friends again, but I also got to meet some new people, which was nice. The hosts recently moved to a cool new house in east Austin, one of those "new urban neighborhoods." It was fun to see how the house was laid out. It was just like in one of those home magazines!

Today, like I said, had very few huge highlights, but it was nice that Lee came home for lunch and made tuna salad. One treat was that my neighbor noticed on my Facebook profile that I am a big fan of Legion of Superheroes comics, so he made me copies of some PDFs of old comics that he had. That makes up for all the comics I bought but have lost! I sure love my Legion of Superheroes!

The other interesting tidbit was that I got a call in the afternoon from someone saying they had a package of mine. I wondered how she knew my phone number, then I realized I AM listed! Duh. But, when I got do the house (same house number, street starts with the same two letters), she came out and we realized we were both band/guard parents. Duh again. I am glad my email list Yule gift arrived! And that it found me after being mis-delivered, because we open them tomorrow. Of course, mine is not mailed yet, due to a late arrival of one component. Darn.

My kids are esconced in a huge house in Wisconsin, surrounded by snow and cold. I miss them more than usual, I guess because I am worried about Tuba Boy. He sounds fine, though.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'll Have a Blue Solstice without You...

It's been a weird few days for me, emotionally. Really, there is nothing horribly wrong, but I am just having seasonal blues, I guess.

So...

HAPPY YULE OR SOLSTICE TO MY FELLOW CELEBRANTS!

We plan to celebrate by going to a former work colleague's house for a party, and maybe somewhere else. We can't stay too late, because, sigh, tomorrow my kids leave for 5 days in Wisconsin the the step-grands. I am glad they get to go, but I will miss seeing Beccano with His Precious Guitar (that's them in the picture), and I am worried about Tuba Boy, who seems to be separated from Lovely Girlfriend all of a sudden (they were perfectly fine when I last saw them at 11 pm last night, and certainly were ACTING friendly). And of course, he won't talk about it. I will certainly miss her cheerful presence, but more, I will miss HIS cheerfulness for the past month or so. It was so nice having him in a good mood. He even hugged me recently without me asking him to.

Of course, I'll still have Lee and Rose. They add cheer to the home. But I am also really sad at Gwynneth's declining ability to walk. I really feel bad for her, and she keeps getting worse, then getting better. So I don't know what to do.

Today we had the annual "choir service" at church, when we usually do some sort of lovely music full of holiday cheer. This year we had "the children" as they are always called at our church, to help. None of them would sing by themselves, so we also got "the parents." It was an entire program of the Best of Bing Crosby and the Muppets Christmas. Oh, and that Peanuts song. The program had a lot of hitches, drama, crying, whining and walking on the stage in tap shoes (what parent REALLY puts those on a kid to walk back and forth across a stage in?).

OK, so I am obviously grumpy, but I got a bad feeling during the whole thing, and I got less and less able to sing. I found out later that there was some upsetness off-stage that I was sort of tuning into, I guess. Nonetheless, I did a great job on a solo on the prelude to "Silver Bells," (which was supposed to be someone else's but she didn't show), and I did a really hilarious job making a horse whinny at the end of Sleigh Ride (the high school band should hire me next year). I just KNEW all those years practicing being a horse as a small child would come in handy later in life! Too bad I did not do as well on a descant later in that song, which the person who violently volunteered to do decided she didn't like the melody so she wouldn't.

What I have decided is that it is a GOOD thing I am not the leader of any group of volunteer performers. You sure get what you get. Choir members who skip most all the rehearsals then expect to be in the show. Ones who you can practically count on to get sick when they are the only one on a part, or the only member of their section who can actually sing. People who, when told what to wear to a concert, decide that applies to everyone BUT them. I am afraid I'd say something about these things, which of course does not encourage future participation. Glad I am just a grumpy over-achieving member of a small, not-too-talented church choir. And I am glad that for all their flaws, I am very fond of the choir members and their families.

Christmas Eve will be better. Lee has learned his part and I think I can start out "What Child Is This" on the right note. That is all I have to do. We just sing some carols, and the alto part is always d-d-d-d-d-b-d-d-d on those. Note that exciting "b" thrown in there!

I have two hours to get in a better mood, so I will resist the urge to do that by sampling the new Wild Turkey American Honey liqueur I got last night (after a lovely sushi dinner with Lee while the kids were at the Trail of Lights with the Tuba Section). (Tastes like Drambuie, only cheaper!) Heck, I have a lovely new red cowl-neck shirt and dark trouser-leg jeans (because that is what you were supposed to wear at church today), so I will look fine. Go me.

My solstice wish: that you take solace in friends and family during these challenging times and remember that there is beauty everywhere around you. Look for it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gots a Present

Every year the company I work for (temporary agency for high-tech people) gives out a holiday gift. Last year, my job had ended, but Lee was already in this job, so he got the really nice travel bag they gave out (which for some reason is getting all dirty and messed up in the garage, rather than being clean and ready for travel in the bedroom).

This year the lovely, blond, and professionally dressed woman gave me a nice hand-written card and a little zippered case, emblazoned with the company name. Inside were some nifty items: a fairly good quality pen, a tiny notepad, a very tiny mini-USB mouse whose retractable cord really isn't a very sterling retractor (haven't tried it as a mouse yet, since I have a fine standard-issue ALE mouse when I am docked, and when I am not docked, its clone can be found in my standard-issue ALE computer bag (btw, you, too could have one for like $5 or $10 at the Discount Computer store on Anderson Lane near I-35--they have all of ALE's cast-offs, it seems).

But the cutest item is the teeny, tiny digital picture displayer. It supposedly can be a keychain or attach magnetically, but I can't find anything metallic enough here for it to hang on. And after going through the instructions for using it, as well as trying to read the instructions on the digital picture frame I got my parents for displaying wedding photos, I have come to an insight. I think paying more for a frame may not bring you all that much better in a frame, but may give you an easier user interface and instructions. All the over $100 frames seemed to have intuitive touch screens and copious, well illustrated user manuals. This teeny one and the one I got Dad and Flo had either insufficient instructions (practically zilch on the parental one) or confusing ones (I think whoever did the layout on the teeny one was quite the jokester.

But, oh well, I figured it out anyway, and Lee figured out the parts of the parental one that I couldn't fathom. And other than washing all the photos out, the little one displays them quite cutely. Now if anyone asks for wedding, kid, or husband photos--boom! I can show them some!

Is there anything else going on in my fascinating life? Here are some highlights.

  • I am off work all next week as part of ALE's cost-cutting initiative. Some folks get a holiday bonus and a vacation; contractors get no pay. I hope this changes soon! In any case, local buddies, if you are free any day next week other than the 25th and want to hang out, knit, play music, watch TV or eat, let me know, because the kids will be gone, and Lee gets to work three days next week!
  • Beccano's guitar arrived yesterday, and I realized I posted a photo of the slightly lesser quality version of it--he has the "professional" model. And he is IN LOVE with it. He just loves how it plays and how smooth the neck is now that it got a little polishing...ahh. Every adult guitar player who sees it compliments him on making a good decision. And, if you read yesterday's comments, you'll know it goes over well with savvy younger guitarists, too!
  • Holiday gifts are arriving, and thank goodness I remembered where a gift I'd bought Tuba Boy had gotten off to. That is a real problem with buying things very early--I lose them! I am quite pleased with my scaled-down gift giving. It's so hard for me to do.
  • I made butternut squash soup last night. And Lee and Beccano gamely ate it. I will take them to dinner somewhere nice later in the week as a reward.
  • Give me ideas for stuff to blog about next week. I will have time...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Zamenhof Day, and BRR!

Well, I just realized it is Zamenhof Day, the birthday of LL Zamenhof, who invented Esperanto. And as someone who actually studied it for a while, I thought I should salute this fine man, who had a great idea, implemented it, and I hope was proud of himself.

We (my office mate Steve and I) studied Esperanto for a semester, I think, in grad school. We ended up able to have conversations in it and everything. And actually, the first genuine Unitarian Universalist I ever met, Bruce Sherwood (I think, hey, it was a long time ago), was an Esperanto fan, and one of our teachers. He was such an interesting man--wish I had gotten to know him better, but they moved away. I thought his family practice of trading homes with fellow Esperantists or UUs for vacations was such a fun idea, and I really admired him for being a pacifist and firm believer in the unifying properties of a universal language.

But, like my naive ideas on nonviolence, world peace, and kindness to all, Esperanto isn't something most of the world was or is ready for. Oh well, it's still a fun ideal and a worthy concept. Just like world peace.

Today also marks one month until I have a child old enough to vote and sign contracts and stuff. I feel so old. I sure am glad Tuba Boy has gotten more like his old self in the past few months, and is fun to chat with and laugh with again. It is just in time for Beccano to move into the moody phase, sigh.

Oh, but Beccano is still a pretty great kid. He spent his savings on a guitar, finally, and didn't get the expensive dream item, but instead bought an interesting vintage guitar, a Gibson 335-S "Firebrand" guitar. Solid mahogany and a lovely color. It's having a little work done on it, and we should have it on Tuesday or Wednesday. From everything I have read, this will be an instrument to enjoy for a lifetime. He likes its neck and how it feels. I like how he made the more adult choice and got the quality thing, rather than the glitzy alternatives. I look forward to hearing this one (and the acoustic one I got him for Yule--shh don't tell), and soon hearing it on the amp that Becanno has immediately set off to saving his money for. Good kid.

The only other thing going on here is the weather. A cold front blasted through this morning, and for all I know it may snow tonight. It is a biting, damp cold, and darn it, I had to go out in it early this afternoon and am still chilled. (Of course, it was nice of the folks at work to let me go to their holiday celebration as a guest, and I had fun--but it's cold.) The weekend was lovely, though, and Lee got lots of outdoor work done, and we have even more lovely edged flower beds now. Our holiday decor is complete, and we still have a week or more to go!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pondering/Optimistic

I was pondering a few things today. One is why do certain songs get stuck in your head and not others? For me, a VERY frequent one is the theme song from The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. It is apparently the catchiest song I know. It pops into my head with great regularity, even though I have not seen the show in over two years, since Lee likes to go to bed much earlier than I used to go to bed. Anyway, always remember, "Tomorrow's just your future yesterday!"

Then in a more somber vein, I was pondering why so many completely able-bodied individuals insist on using the handicapped toilets at work. Sure, if you have hip issues, obesity, or the more usual use of a wheelchair, it makes sense. But the last few people I have seen exiting have been perky, thin and quite spry of foot. And no, they weren't obviously changing out of gym clothing or anything, either. Perhaps they are using mental handicaps as justification? I mean, really, what if someone who truly has trouble getting up and down from a regular toilet came in and had to wait? I would be so embarrassed.

In optimism, my boss once again mentioned to me that they hope to make my job permanent. Even in today's climate! They do have enough work for me. And I do like this job. I just had to type this, because regular readers have been subjected to my work whines for so many years now--I just have to share positive work news as well. I have had a great week of alpha testing a curriculum with my two coworkers, and the people who helped were really great--we are actually going to end up with some training we can be proud of, not just something "good enough."

Tonight brings the kids' winter band concert. Ah, the traditional rendition of "Sleigh Ride." I hope the director doesn't get pissed off again and not read the Cajun Night before Christmas like he did last year. I was so disappointed to miss it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

601! And My Yule Tree

Wow, I just looked at my blog post listing and saw it said 600 posts on this blog! Hard to believe I could come up with that much to say over the past few years! I should have done something for the big event, but I don't think my readers are the kind who'd want to enter some contest or something. So, hey, send a congrats if you feel like it. It would warm my heart, which needs it, due to the fact that it is SNOWING outside. That's right. OK, more like SLEETING. Still, it was over 70 earlier today!

So, I was actually going to write about our lovely Yule, or Christmas, if you wish, tree. It is really different this year. We got a nice big tree thanks to generous Home Depot gift card wedding presents. It's a sort of strange tree, because its leaves have not opened up or anything. I guess it's uptight.

So, we can't find the ornaments, or the tree topper. Just a few of the things have showed up, so I decided to make things. We got bright new multicolored lights, which are a departure from the golden and purple ones I have favored in the past (I always have had slightly odd trees). Anyway, I found a bunch of the purple ball ornaments from last year, and covered them with the squares of cloth and tulle we'd used on our pansy favors from the wedding, tying them up with the left over curling ribbon. They look sort of quaint and rustic. I also (as seen in top picture) covered some shiny gold ornaments with just the red or gold tulle. They look nice, too. I added ribbon left over from the wedding, and Lee and the kids keep saying how nice the lights look shining off it. Not what I'd normally do, but it looks fine.

In this picture you also see an ornament sent to me by an email friend, which she made. It's a little glass container full of shiny beads, with beaded cord around it, and cute li'l shrinky dinks with nice sayings on them. It is really shiny. And sweet. She also sent an ornament made from felted sweaters and some llama roving. Very soft.


This picture shows the ornament we got at Yule Fest on Sunday. It's a Christmas spider, which is based on some German legend about a spider that spins a web that turns gold for Christmas. We thought it was a nice story and a really pretty spider, too. It's not very itsy bitsy. Below that is a fish ornament, which came from the set of bride's ornaments that Parker gave us for our wedding gift. We put the fertility bunny in the back, 'cause we really could do without any babies in the near future. Ho ho ho. All the ornaments are really cute, and each one symbolizes something about married life. I like the lovely rose and the big heart with the wedding rings on it the best. They are the only shiny ornaments I put on, at least so far.

So, here is what the tree looks like.

To me it is a little sparse, but I tend to over-decorate. Lee and the boys seem quite taken by it, so I will leave it like it is this year. Like Lee says, I need to try to make some new traditions for our new family and such. I'll have to. No kids with us this Christmas, so it WILL be different. We have a very happy lit-up redbud tree in the front yard (we are the only people on the street with colored lights, not to mention jumpy blinky ones).

I have a bit of a sad note. You may remember all the things that have been going wrong with my corgi, Gwynneth. She went blind two years ago, and a few months ago began having trouble with her back legs. Tonight she seems a lot worse. I don't know how much longer we'll be able to keep her. If she can't walk, she won't have any quality to her life, and that will make me sad--she is the first dog I've ever had from puppyhood to old age. A number of my friends have lost pets recently. It is never an easy time.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Morning Surprise

I was reading email and looking out the window, when I saw something in the tree. As I checked to see what the "cute li'l squirrel" was doing, I realized it did not have a fluffy tail. It was a pretty durned big rat. Not as big as the Florida swamp rats, but big enough, thanks. I hope THAT is not what we sometimes hear in the attic.

On a happier note, we got a Christmas tree yesterday, so it smells good in here. The tree is taking its time to "relax," but we will light it up anyway this afternoon. I will put wedding ribbon on it, I think. I may make something out of our left-over cloth squares from the wedding, too, and of course, we'll put our wedding ornaments on it!

We also got Lee a planer saw thing with our Lowe's gift certs. He really wanted one. We tried to get blinds at Home Depot, but could not get waited on. We will have to try again.

And here's another wedding photo, of me and my sister. Nicer than a photo of a rat, I'd say.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Nice Lull

I am happy to report that there isn't much going on right now. It's a lull. I have Yule gifts for the family all picked out, and that is about all I am doing gift-wise. I am all out of discretionary spending after throwing that big party/wedding last week! So, all my friends got the gift of a potluck then! I may throw in a couple of family surprises, but not too much. You know, the economy and all. I'll make Lee's dad a pair of socks pretty soon, because I know he will want some.

The week has been good and calm, mostly involving saying, "Yes, I AM happy," and looking at wedding pictures. Speaking of which, here is a link to some of the better ones taken by a professional-level friend. This is a good link, because from it you can buy prints, or if you wish, coffee mugs, aprons and such with Lee, me, or one of our attendants emblazoned on them. Sure, you want to do that...anyway, the hilariously Photoshopped photo of us and the cake came from that batch. I was bored, OK?

I have been enjoying watching the Canadian political stuff, and enjoying not having to have an opinion on it, too. Just seems vaguely "bad." And otherwise, I am sending vibes for people with sick family members and pets. Ahh, how nice. I guess this weekend we will get one more good vacuuming out of the borrowed cleaner, then give it back to Tina. Then we'll get a tree and decorate it. Maybe with a LOT of red and gold ribbon, since I have so much left over from the wedding. Gosh, maybe I can make something out of red and gold plates and paper napkins (having so many people who planned to come get sick or have traffic issues, means lots of leftover stuff--still, we can use it all). For some reason, I feel like making things. Stop me before I craft again!!

Have a good weekend, and I will be back to more regular posting as soon as things rev back up to normal speed!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wedding Day! We did it!


Note: more photos here and a slideshow here. See Lee's blog for more links.

At last the wedding day came. It really was a good day, with very few mix-ups or mess-ups. Really, my only disappointment was that illnesses and traffic meant a few people missed the event who wanted to be there. The highlight, for sure, was seeing so many friends, family and coworkers in the circle, beaming their love to us. It really choked me up.

We had a very busy morning of packing up all those flowers, including the ones from the florist (sigh, the wind blew over one arrangement and cracked my vase. Grr.), all the utensils and stuff plus decorations into a variety of cars and trucks. Parker and I headed out to the church in an ominous drizzle. We were a bit worried. But, by the time I got out of the hair salon with my NICE and REASONABLE fancy hair-do, the sky was clearing. Yes, Robert did a great job on my hair. It was very flattering and curly, and looked good with the dress. Whew. And I got to wear the fancy barrette, too. Gregory, the other hairdresser, brought over one of the lovely Indian cloths from his wedding, and it looked beautiful on the altar with the big flower arrangements and our home-made chalice. (It will make a great Yule decoration, too.) When I got back from the hair place, Parker, Sis, Katie and the boys had decorated the church hall beautifully. They did a GREAT job. Katie was quite the trooper, with her pregnant belly not getting in the way of organizational skills too much. She was really cute. Once we were under control with the indoor and outdoor decorations, we went to hide in the dressing room. That all went well, other than Sis burning a hole in a chair with her iron. Her hotel iron. Hmm. Bet we don’t get back our security deposit!

Some of the best times of the whole day were spent getting dressed, enjoying the beautiful outfits everyone was wearing, and taking pictures of all the attendants, officiants and helpers. Parker’s outfit looked great, but was probably still too chilly, even with the warm cape. Each of the attendants very sweetly wore makeup, even the ones who don’t usually do so. Susan’s yellow outfit was cheery and set off her dark hair so well. And she held the peacock feathers like a pro (additional photos are on my Flickr page!). Carolyn got her face done at the mall and was very proud of herself. Her red candle was perfect, as was her pretty red dress. Suzanne’s blue dress suit was very watery, and she didn’t drop her bowl or anything. And Deana’s green ensemble was so nice on her. It was nice to see her holding the quartz crystal my friend Barbara in Arkansas gave me so long ago.

Both Linda and Rev. Kathleen wore rainbow stoles, so they fit in with all the colorful attire! Linda decided to ask Kathleen to help with the ceremony, which was a good idea. It really added a lot. And they looked cool walking down the path together. Anyway, after LOTS of picture taking from ALL the photographers, we finally got to do the ceremony.

Other than the cold (it was probably around 55F), it was perfect. It was incredibly moving, even if I did know what was coming. Jeff’s music was beautiful. He played an original song for us to walk the labyrinth to (we went out this way: ministers, Lee, attendants, then me and the boys). And he sang an original song partway through. Bill my singing partner (Carolyn’s husband) also sang a song that I had chosen near the end, “My Stunning Mystery Companion,” by Jackson Browne, though he “fixed” the lyrics a bit. Both of them sang and played beautifully.

Lee and I managed to say our vows well, and everyone kept telling me how beautiful his were. The highlight was probably Tuba Boy, though. He read a tribute to me and Lee that was both touching and hilarious. It was nice to see everyone laughing. That was what was good about the service, it was very majestic and moving, but also had a family atmosphere and lots of love.

We had hoped Lee’s stepson would make it to be his best man, but he had traffic issues and arrived after the ceremony. I am glad I had a chance to meet him, though. I also got to see my friend Donaldo, whom I have known since 8th grade (we took Spanish together for years in high school, and sang in the extra-curricular choir, plus he was the ORIGINAL tuba player I sat with in high school!). How nice of him to drive up for the wedding! The guests were so varied. Of course there was my family, plus Lee’s niece and nephew were there. The debate team and band were well represented, plus friends from Lee’s various phases of work at Dell. I had knitting friends galore, and lots and lots of dear church friends, too. Just seeing them all together made me incredibly happy.

The reception was over in a flash. I think people were tired from Thanksgiving. Plus Parker got sick, poor hard-working thing. The food looked great, but I missed it other than a bit of cake. And the cake, for all the incredible effort Cake Girl put into it, looked wonderful. The roses Sis had painstakingly wired looked beautiful, and my topper was a great addition. I have a wonderful photo of her and the cake somewhere, but can’t locate it, so here is at least a cake photo.

I am even glad I got to be there for most of the clean-up, because the knitting folks stayed a while, which allowed little Tiegan to help my dad and Beccano put away the chairs. She was so cute, diligently bringing over one chair at a time. I am glad Dad got to meet her. And she was SO excited to be at the wedding, and had the cutest outfit on. All resale, said her mom! She just melted my heart. Well, all the kids did. Lovely Girlfriend made it to the end of the event, and was so helpful, too. Tuba Boy is one lucky child.

Finally, Lee and I were authorized to depart, so we fled (without my pants, LOL, so we had to go home first) to the honeymoon. The Marriott sure had comfy beds. We relaxed, watched football, drank champagne, ate and honeymooned in a most happy and joyful way. It was the best ending to the best day ever. We are one lucky and happy couple!

More later…

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Preparation Frenzy

It's been busy. As you can see from the photo, my friends and I are so tired we can't even manage normal functions like drinking (this first photo is me trying to drink from the bottom of my wine glass and Janet trying to drink with no glass. We were tired. Actually, I have no idea what was going on, but we were eating Thanksgiving dinner in this photo. We had ten people, which isn't huge by most people's standards, but is a lot for us. My sister and I did our usual thing, and other than wasting $21 of oysters by making the dressing too moist, we did well. Great, moist turkey, yummy veggies, all that. And grafting my two dining tables together did make a nice ten-person table. Other lucky stuff is that our new curtains arrived early, so they were up in time for my dad to arrive. That made me happy. I hope to post some pictures of how nice we have the living and dining rooms looking now. After the wedding!

The next photo is my sister and me getting giddy or loopy or something. I think we were trying to convey our cooking expertise. You may be getting the idea that we got no real good pictures that day. You may be right. Mostly we have photos of people chewing or closing their eyes. But it was fun. In addition to me, Lee, and the kids, we had my sister, my dad, Jeff, and my friend Janet and her daughter, "Cake Girl" and boyfriend "Chef Boy." (Tuba Boy wanted me to give them nicknames.) Cake Girl brought two totally homemade pies, and Chef Boy brought duck dressing. It had pomegranates in it!! Both of them are recent culinary school grads.
Here they are with me crouching under the kitchen eating area light. I put the stool there so people wouldn't walk into it while the table had moved to the other room. The kids had put some monument to junk on the stool as an attempt at humor. Called it an altar. Lee and Janet think we are all very cute.

Yesterday was Arts and Crafts Day, and we had lots of helpers in making the decor plant items, flower arrangements and such. Lots of running around also happened as we searched for the right flowers (we failed, but they will be fine).

Parker came by and helped, as did Tina/Chemical Pink, who made the big contribution of a working vacuum cleaner (GRRRR that ours is broken). It's a Dyson. Wow. Janet came to help Cake Girl work on the wedding cake some more. Wow those are a lot of work. And Deana came to cut fabric, thankfully. She was great at that. We had so much help. The kids helped Lee and my dad do some gardening, too.

Well, my little break is over since I just remembered some more signs I want to make. The next time I post, Lee and I will be Mr. and Mrs. SunaLee!!!!! No, I am not changing my name. I didn't last time...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Goats Don't Know How to Pay Toll


Goats Don't Know How to Pay Toll
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Traffic alert! This was the sight I saw coming home today, as I was exiting the toll road, which is elevated at this part. How on earth a herd of goats got on the road is beyond my understanding. I drove up and saw all the cars stopped, so I carefully slowed down, only to see goats darting hither and yon. By the time I got up to the goats, people had surrounded them with cars, so they were contained. Someone was on the phone calling for the goat-busters I guess. Or goat wranglers. That was really good thinking on the part of the people in those cars! I know there are goats in the wooded area adjacent to the road, but it's a ways down there.

So, a little excitement on the ride home!

Whirlwind Continues


Tuba Boy and Lovely Girlfriend
Originally uploaded by sunasak
The countdown to the wedding and the accompanying whirlwind continued yesterday. We had fun at church showing people the remnants of the fancy hair thing, then ran home where I cleaned and baked an absolutely awful cake (cake mix and diet soda--I think I messed up on the "recipe" somehow) that the kids like anyway.

Then I ran off to Deanna's house to a jewelry party. I certainly do like that kind of thing. It was good quality costume jewelry, and I got a couple of rings that I know I will enjoy, even if they aren't "real." One is a very dainty pearl. She had mighty good food, but I was good and didn't eat too much, thinking ahead to my need to fit into that dress.

When I came back, I tried to do more chores but was incredibly frustrated to discover that I could not get the vacuum cleaner to work. The brand new one. It simply won't come on. What on EARTH did the maid to do THIS one??? We can't afford a new one with all the other expenses right now, and besides, we JUST bought this. So, at some point in my busy week, I will have to call customer service.

While trying to clean the birdcage and discovering the vacuum didn't work, my cake baker and her helper arrived with tons of stuff. They had made a sample rose-flavored cake, and it was very good. The proceeded to bake the chocolate layers, and tried to do a fancy white/rose layer, but it didn't come out too well. She is going to try to get that one last layer to work right at home. But they sure worked hard on the project, I must say!!

Meanwhile, I was helping Beccano with his history project, and Tuba Boy and Lovely Girlfriend came by to hang out with us. They sure were a lot of fun. I enjoy listening to them interact--at one point they said they were completing each other's thoughts, which just made my heart melt. It's nice to see them having such a positive influence on each other. And they are so funny! Beccano took a bunch of pictures of them goofing off, which you can see by clicking the top picture and going to Flickr. Mostly I find it weird how similar they look--if Tuba Boy had straight hair they'd look like siblings.

Being around young love and appreciating the relationship Lee and I have developed made me quite happy. We had a delicious dinner of ham, sweet potatoes and carrots cooked in maple syrup in the slow cooker, which let Lee do a lot of work outside in preparation for the Big Day. He got me some more pansies (awwww) and some purple petunias, too. He expanded the bed in the side yard and it looks super.

To top the evening off, Beccano and I laughed our heads off at the Colbert Christmas special. Man, that was funny (especially Willie Nelson), but the ending song, where all the guest stars harmonized, was beautiful. I hope it repeats, since Lee had a bunch of phone calls and missed it (his family suddenly realizes he is getting married--it is so funny how mine wanted every detail months in advance, and he didn't even start telling his until recently--that's family dynamics, huh!).

We were tired from cleaning and yard work, but very happy by the time bedtime came.

This week we both have a lot of work to do, and want to earn money since we will miss two days of work this week and one next week.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

One Week to Go!


You know, I thought it would never be today. I had been waiting and waiting to get to the "real" wedding stuff and here it came! Things have just been plain fun the last day or two, especially since the work worries went away.

Last night I sat around with Parker (who had brought over our lovely wedding nametags--if you come to it, please use one!) looking at teen clothing websites, which, as people who don't shop at those often, we both found them quite amusing. Some of the dresses resembled inanimate objects more than clothing, but we did find her something to wear to the wedding that wouldn't turn her into Teen Icicle. Meanwhile, Lee and Beccano set up their new Arkanam Horror game, and Parker joined them in its inaugural run. I got to knit while they did stuff I didn't understand, but it seemed fun.

Today was my final wedding dress fitting. So, OK, you can see what it looks like. One with my shawl and one without it. Lee drove me to New Braunfels, so I could knit, but horror of horrors, I realized I didn't have enough beads. So, after getting the dress, which is very well packed in its hanger, we went to Hobby Lobby in New Braunfels. Wow, it is way more better than the one here. It is all clean and has tons of stuff. I got different beads, and we also got some 90% off fall decor garlands to make the house even more festive than it already is, if possible. The house looks good now.

We went to our favorite ethnic shop, Things Celtic, and Lee got some celtic earrings. Why? Because he went and got his ear pierced this afternoon. He should be able to wear the new earring at the wedding. My dad will LOVE that. He used to pick on High School Boyfriend about his earring and long hair for hours and hours. At least he is good-natured about it.

After a rather rushed lunch, I went to my Wedding Hair Appointment (look! random capitalization!). Robert the Senior Stylist (he even has a Golden Scissors Award!) went crazy with hairdresserly creativity, and carmelized my hair. I think it probably looks really great, but I can't see it because he then turned my hair into a helmet of curls. He rolled it, sprayed it, then dried it for a half hour. I had rocks for hair. But, he floofed it out and there were really nice loose curls. He then proceded to do an "up-do" because apparently that is what people are supposed to do for weddings. We wanted to see if that's what I want. Well. It is actually a beautiful hair style, and wow, he was amazing in putting it together. It just isn't beautiful on ME, as you can see in the photos. I sort of look like one of my aunts in the 60s. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, land of big hair. Or I look like Minnie Pearl, of you know who she was (which is fitting, knowing that I descend from of a proud Hillbilly Comediennes). The style really looked funny when I was wearing my frumpy hand-knit sweater and jeans, but it does look better with the wedding dress, so Lee took some pictures for me. Still, I think a style with perhaps just a bit of the hair up, but with those nice curls, is in the future for me. Robert said he would not be offended if I wanted something else, so it should be OK. He was really sweet and wanted to take pictures on my phone so there would be a record of it. I will have to email him some of the other pictures. I go back next Saturday and he will do his thing again!

I'd promised Pat at the yarn shop I'd show her the hair, so Lee took Beccano to Goodwill and I paraded my hair around. We all agreed that the up-do was better as a concept than a reality. After a nice Starbucks coffee that turned out to be hot chocolate, we came home and had a relaxing family evening of history projects, bead knitting, blogging and college football. It is always good to get a little rest. I will be treasuring any rest I get in the next week. I am sort of glad I am working, because otherwise I'd be cleaning and straightening every single moment!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Wedding Week!

I can now go enjoy my pre-wedding week with my wonderful friends and family, because I am not losing my job at this time! My boss asked if that sorta counted as a wedding gift, which I said, of course it did. The stress reduction alone is quite a gift.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hormones

Tuba Boy is getting quite hormonal as he approaches his late teens. Makes sense, he is less than two months away from what was considered adulthood at his age (I could drink AND vote at 18 in the Good Old Days). Yesterday, as I was texting him warnings to not hang out in his bedroom with Lovely Girlfriend when Lee and I were at choir, he told me he did not intend to do anything potentially harmful to her, but then informed me that, "It's hard to control my charm. And you know, it is entirely possible to be TOO sexy." This, of course, made my screech at my desk.

Then last night, after The Daily Show and Colbert, he came into our room, bearing his laptop. He said, "Mom, I know what you could get your teen son that would make him very happy!" I laughed, knowing exactly what it was going to be, since I'd already said to Lee, "I bet Tuba Boy wants one of those." So, I did order him one. I figure it will remain a souvenir. This is my kind of political memento! And besides, it implores one to, "use with good judgment," so I think it's a fine product.

Speaking of good judgment, Lee and I are most bemused or amused by the souvenirs we got while at the courthouse today. Not only did we get a very fancy, suitable-for-framing marriage license (which then got all folded up and put in an envelope), but we also got a handy photocopied brochure about whether or not to get an HIV test. Geez, they really should just make you get one. But, you should have gotten one long before you filled out the license. We are relieved to note we don't have it, by the way. But, now I know where to get anonymous testing.

We also got a much nicer, glossy booklet with a beautiful wedding cake on it, called "When You Get Married..." (the ellipses are in the title). It talks about why people would want to get married, then there are a bunch of questions for you and your prospective spouse to discuss. What is your definition of husband? Name some ways you are alike! Name some ways you are different! (He eats a lot more salt.) It tells you how to deal with conflict, with handy illustrations of wooden artist models. And the image they use to discuss children is a baby bottle, which does not incline this former breastfeeding advocate to view the rest of the booklet fondly. There is a lot of space devoted to chastising you if you don't pay your child support (we are fine there, as is the kids' dad). Then you get to plan your budget! Actually, that is good. I hear lots of people get married without knowing their spouse's actual financial state or bill paying habits. Don't do that, single readers!

I uploaded the photos a few days after originally posting this. We didn't dare bring the camera into the building, with all the security and such. Of course, Lee made the alarms go off like crazy, even after taking off his coat and belt. He had to be lightly searched. I say lightly, because the fellow did not spot the actual source of the metal detected: Lee had a spoon in his pocket. Sure, every guy carries around a spare spoon! I think it got detoured on its way to the dishwasher!

All in all, it's been a nice few days. I hope that keeps up as the frenzy builds, and the guests start to show up. Who knows if I will have blogging time then? Rest assured that LOTS of photos will be taken in coming days, though!

Party Time, Excellent


A quick post before running off to get our marriage licenses (I take a lot less time to get ready than Lee).

Yesterday was total fun. First we had a Thanksgiving party at work, which was one of the best potlucks I have been to in a long time. All the food was extremely tasty, including the squash casserole I made. It took a while, but was totally yummy. I am saving that recipe from Southern Living, for sure! My friend who had never made cornbread dressing did a wonderful job, too. And everyone ate all my homemade cranberry sauce.

Then at the yarn store after work, they gave me a little celebration. Like a bachelorette party. They had a nice cake, pictured here, with a bride and groom and red roses on it. Pat always remembers that stuff. And some gifts, mostly of the amusing sort. They included a thong knit from fuzzy pink yarn (yarn shop owner) and a "honeymoon kit" with whipped cream, chocolate sauce that dries to a shell and an assortment of "massage oils" (two of the younger, more creative types). I also got some nice stuff, so it was well rounded. That made me happy, anyway.

So, two parties in one day make Suna happy in a big way!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Two Clean Rooms, and Weekend Hilarity

The task for this past weekend was to get the formal areas of the house in reasonable shape. Both had been beaten up pretty badly in the recent painting and freeze warning--plant debris everywhere, all the nick-knacks spread all over the place, and things not where they should be. Parker volunteered to come over and help (earning some kind of high school girl sainthood award or something), so after my time at the yarn shop on Saturday, we got to work. Some of the pieces of china and stuff were really disgusting, so it took quite some time to clean it all. I do feel good that all the things on the wall have been cleaned, and the areas BEHIND furniture are in good shape, even. The picture here shows her and Beccano taking a break to pay attention to Rose, world's neediest dog.

And not only did we deal with dust and dirt, but we put away some things. Yes, I actually decluttered. You'd probably not know it to look at the space, but there are way fewer "things" sitting out now. All the glass coffee cups emblazoned with the logo of the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization that I received as thank-yous over the years are now packed away, along with a number of small items and the scary collection of dusty nutcrackers from Becanno's previous obsession with them. Ahhh. I let the kids decorate the corner hutch, and it is a festival of fall harvest vegetables, which I'll let stay until after Thanksgiving, I guess! The photo of that shows poor Suna trying to untangle the incredible mess the workers made of her blinds in the dining room when they replaced them (sorta backwards--Beccano fixed it).

I really hate dusting and decluttering, so it truly helped a lot to have someone to chat with while I did it. I need to rent a helper more frequently, then the house would look way more better. Becanno helped some, but was rather busy sulking because his brother was so busy texting the out-of-town Lovely Girlfriend that he didn't help at all. Kids, sigh. But, we stopped eventually, and dealt with some frustration with the Avery website, which tried to hold the correct template to the nametags we want to print customization on for the wedding (photo shows Parker rather disgusted with the site, and Suna trying to navigate).

To reward Parker, and so I wouldn't have to cook, we went out to dinner at the very local and quaint Catfish Parlor (food was good, waiter amusing, and conversation grand). I have to say, three high school kids discussing relationship issues is most entertaining. They were talking about Lovely Girlfriend, every single person Parker ever dated, everyone the band had dated, why Beccano hasn't dated, etc. It soon became clear that Beccano had a reason why he didn't think this person was compatible with that person for about every past or potential couple discussed. Parker brought that up, and then Tuba Boy said, "Yeah, Beccano, you are like the Johnny Appleseed of doubt, spreading it all over the world."

At that we about wrecked the truck from laughing. And Beccano has a new monicker. That Tuba Boy, when in a good mood, certainly has his way with the words. It is a lot of fun going out with those young people, though sometimes they do ask some weird personal questions of me. That's what I get for being honest and open, I guess. I do think servers in restaurants enjoy us, too.

Let's see, I dragged the boys to the mall on Friday evening. They survived the dreaded spot and were only seen by a couple of people they knew, I think. They ended up really enjoying the staff at Men's Warehouse, which consisted mostly of people barely older than Tuba Boy and equally thin. I was very nice and got Tuba Boy two nice ties and dress shirts so his debate wardrobe would fit better. I didn't get him a new jacket, and sure enough the new pants do slightly differ in blackness from the old jacket (old being just a couple of months old). And of course, when I got home I found the "lost" dress pants all balled up in his desk chair. Ahem. I believe I know who will pay to dry clean those pants...not Suna. I guess I got him the shirts to make up for kidding him about having evidence of his dating life on his neck...which he immediately told to Lovely Girldfriend. Who was embarrassed. But, then they seemed gleefully ready to share a story about getting caught making out by her mother last night. They could not be cuter, and seem to be showing signs of good sense.

Sunday Lee and I were very bad and ditched church after Joys and Concerns (where, because this is right around our two year love-a-versary I said how happy I was to be marrying such a nice guy, and he later said he agreed, to which someone shouted, "What, you agree that you are a nice guy?" and sent the church into gales of laughter). Just too much "stuff" to do. Like get my engagement ring inspected, buy a lamp to replace the one the dogs broke, and oooh, order curtains!!! I am really happy with the formal living room now that we got a new lamp and replacement shades for the teeny lamps a departing friend gave us as she was moving. When you turn on the switch, the room now lights up! What a concept! And Lee installed stuff that makes it impossible for crazed barking dogs to tear up the electrical cord by the front window, I hope. He can be so "handy"! I think that once there are finally curtains in those rooms, I will feel completely moved in (after 11.5 years). Lee also planted some pansies for me in the new flower bed. I love pansies. Have I mentioned that???

We did get a little chance to rest and watch football last night, which was very nice. Tuba Boy came home from greeting his returned girlfriend (photo shows him texting her every few minutes while she was out of town), and informed me he had gotten her roses for their one-week annivesary. He said that was what you have to do in high school. I think he is just a very nice young man, whom any girl would be happy to date. Sniff. Reminds me of my high school boyfriend and me. Sniff.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Not Too Bad


Little Moth
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Here's a picture of the little moth who's been hanging around in the media room the past few days. It is very friendly, for a moth. Oddly, I do not hate this one like I hate those Evil Moths that ate the pantry stuff and took THREE YEARS to get rid of. This is a different kind of moth. It is actually greenish, not brown. I think it's pretty.

Things are pretty OK. Work is good, though no official word on whether I get to stay or not. Seems likely. We even decorated our area yesterday, with the boss as ringleader. We will see how long the tiki borders get to stay, but they look festive and it's harder to get lost now. Our area is demarcated.

Lee and I both skipped work happy hours, which ended up being at the same place, oddly. I needed to pick up Becanno from school (where he has brought his grades up and is not failing anything I think). Then Parker (who doesn't get a pseudonym any more, since you can tell who she is when she comments) and I went to the Office Depot, land of shiny objects and idea fodder, to figure out how to make signs for the wedding. That was today's agenda, signage. I flitted from shiny object to shiny object while she used her budding engineer brain to locate inexpensive yet useful tools, such as the 3" red plastic letters we ended up using to make a VERY legible two-sided sign to help the lost and confused locate the wedding spot. We are using poster board "jackets" that we will slip over leftover political yard signs. See, those come in handy and can be recycled!

Before the signage, we got Beccano and met Lee at Mesa Rosa for Mexican yummies. The kids cracked me up, as usual, Beccano by finding a Mexican painting that matched the wedding colorings, and declaring, "That could be your wedding Mexican!" which gave me visions of displaying a matador somewhere on the edge of the labyrinth, making us look even WEIRDER than we already will. Then, because at the restaurant we happened to run into a large, burly football-playing kid I used to know when he was small(er), I managed to pass off the bonus lacrosse helmet that came into my possession from the lady whose afghan I fixed. Whew, now I don't have to talk to the lacrosse coach. The young man was very gracious and said he would be sure to get the helmet to another burly young fellow who is on the lacrosse team. Bless his burly heart. His parents were amused.

We came home and worked on signs, trying to not breathe too much permanent marker fumage. My gigantic black marker was quite the fume producer. But it draws good lines. Beccano drew some hearts on the signs, but mostly us girls measured and stuck letters on, and drew arrows and such. Lee helped me not make my lines crooked, so he helped, too.

Eventually we will attach ribbons and balloons and such to the signs. The second sign will go near the church door and point people the way around back to the labyrinth.I am sure people will notice where all the other people are and go there.

In more wedding progress, we got the outline of the service back from Linda and it looks good. I will return it this evening, then work on a program for the whole thing. Parker is in charge of printing on our "My Name Is" labels so they will have the wedding date and our names on them. Lovely souvenir, huh. After wrestling with the Avery Web site, she got the template to work, so we are rocking.

Tonight we are just having a relaxing dinner at home, and maybe I won't do too much wedding stuff. Saturday, after a knitting thing, Parker is coming back and we are doing home decor fix-up and clean up, plus perhaps a few more crafts--or buying red and yellow M and Ms or jelly beans! I do keep feeding her, so I hope that makes up for all the work she's doing! It is good to have an assistant, anyway.

Lunch is over, so this post must be, too. More endless wedding stuff later, I am sure.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Great Accomplishments, Fun and Such

Wow, this was one busy weekend. But, it was a good kind of busy and it means the next couple of weekends will be a lot less frantic. So, what was going on?

Friday was the last football game of the season, quite emphatically so, as the other team trounced ours quite soundly, so no playoffs. I will really miss the band bus kids, and hope they are all getting along well enough next year to mostly reconvene on the same bus. It was really cute when Attention Hound raised his hand and asked what busy I'd be on next year, and I said, "Whatever bus you all are on," and they mostly seemed to agree to try to be "Bus 4 4 Ever" or something like that. One kid also asked, after I told them they were welcome to come to the wedding, "Who are you getting married to." So, I pointed to Lee, who had been on the bus nearly every time we went anywhere, but I guess was invisible because he didn't say, "Attention band students!" at the top of his lungs like I did. I'm glad I got to know these kids, and am happy I even made a genuine friend out of it!

Saturday was very, very long, but productive. I got up earlier than usual and headed off to Deana's house to pick her up for a long drive. We went to New Braunfels to get my wedding dress alterations taken care of (dang, the alterations cost more than my previous most expensive dress ever). But, it will be pretty. We were rather late because I took the "Seguin" exit and not the "Seguin Ave." exit. Close, but not exactly right. But, we lived and it got taken care of, and managed to eat an early lunch at perhaps the most clueless Dairy Queen ever. I did better finding the next thing, which was the Kid 'n Ewe alpaca, mohair and other fibers festival. I went on and on about it in my knitting blog, so read about it there if you wish. It was a lovely drive, though, and even though it meant no time to work on my sock, it was worth it.

After an equally lovely drive home, I actually had some time to relax and enjoy my yarn before Lee and I went on a genuine date. We saw the group Chanticleer, which is an a capella men's chorus from San Francisco. They are mind-boggling, to put it mildly. Not only are the harmonies perfect, the timing incredible and the songs beautiful, but the voices are unworldly. There are genuine male human beings with vocal ranges higher in the soprano range than anyone in the Live Oak UU Church Choir, that's for sure! It was really nice that Edgar from choir let Lee buy his tickets, since he couldn't make it. We may go to another concert in this series, which is at First Presbyterian Church in Austin. It's a really lovely church, with wood walls and a really nice feeling. All the Jesuses in it are kind looking.

Sunday started off with a bit of a challenge, because XH wanted to be fully briefed on Tuba Boy's college plans, since Tuba Boy had not been very forthcoming on this topic. I foresaw that he would not do the work needed for this, so I went to the websites for the five colleges I decided he's be applying to (well, someone had to decide) and found the links to how to apply as well as to the application forms. I then made a little bulleted list of the main points about applications. So, when we all got together in one big happy family at a coffee shop, Tuba Boy was able, after some prodding, to adequately address his dad's questions. To be honest, the man has every right to ask--it is HIS money that will be paying. So, now everyone is perkier on this topic, I hope. I also will be making sure the boy does not get distracted by his newly improved social life to the extent that he misses his deadlines. Stuff must happen this week.

Once that was out of the way, it was smooth sailing to church, where there was a nice sermon by the Good Young Minister followed by a very fun sale of interesting paper bead jewelry made in Uganda by women there. The organization is Beads for Life. You'd never know the beads were paper unless you were familiar with the process or someone told you. There were some very nice designs. I got some as gifts for my sister and stepmother, and I know they will both like that they go to help people feed their families. The great news is that you can buy some from their website, or host a party--it would be a great women's group activity. The beads are really pretty!

Following that extravaganza of spending, we headed off to Lee's least favorite spot, the mall. There we spent more money. But, it was on pretty wonderful stuff! Lee got new glasses so he can SEE better. The new frames blend well with his hair and are very unobtrusive. Next, we went to the lovely Men's Warehouse and got him a wedding suit. Actually, he got two, cause they were on sale. Certainly was more than the Penneys models we'd originally intended to get, but these are going to be tailored to fit him, just like my wedding dress. We will be recognizable as the people whose clothing fits perfectly, not the bride and groom! He has a beautiful shirt, new dress shoes and a nice gold tie, too. He will look fine, I tell you!

You'd think that shopping would have exhausted us, but no, we were on a roll. We next headed out to a brief, yet yummy, Asian-style lunch and then to Sam's Club and the gigantic Garden Ridge store near work. I wanted to get the odious task of buying serving items, vases for the wedding flowers, and the rose garland to mark off the parts of the labyrinth we are going to walk around OVER with. And we did it. Quite serendipitously, we discovered at Sam's sturdy paper plates in red and white, and dessert plates in a gold and white pattern. Whoa, our colors. So we got massive quantities of the plates, clear cutlery and clear drinking glasses (smaller, to hopefully save on soda/wine consumption). We also found a perfect base for a chalice and a really cool lazy susan thing that will be great for serving appetizer things and for Thanksgiving.

Garden Ridge was more of a challenge, but by the time we were finished, we'd managed to NOT buy bunch of Christmas stuff, yet get lovely gold vases, a red candle holder for the chalice, a blue/gold bowl to hold the water element, a satin thing to cover the altar, nice red napkins, a bunch of red and gold tulle and ribbon for decorating stuff...and stuff like that. In the end, I think we have all the decor items we can get until the last-minute Friday workday purchases (flowers, drinks, etc.) and the Saturday barbecue and such. What a tremendous relief to not have to worry about it all next week. I just need little things like name tags and disposable serving spoons and such.

I have all the speakers at the wedding lined up--Rev. Kathleen and my sister will do readings. And my sister and dad will be "greeters" (telling people where they can set their food down, and where the nametags are). I hope the kids will help with that, too, until just before the ceremony. Parker will cheerfully force people to sign the guest book. Katy will also be there to direct traffic, I hope. I am going to make signs out of our old political ones directing people behind the church for the wedding. That should help, too.

I am exhausted just from describing all this wedding planning. It is a good thing that we had a nice relaxing evening looking at guitar websites with Beccano, chatting with Tuba Boy's visiting friend, and yelling at football on the television. I wasn't up for much else!

Today I have been working on a confusing project, but making progress. And I had a nice lunch at an Indian restaurant with my new contact at the company I technically work for. She said they ARE having writing jobs come through, so not to be in too big of a panic mode. And I am not. Every time this happens my panic period is shorter! And lots of people are in the same boat. I am a little scared--I keep hearing about friends getting laid off or having to lay off staff. It's really a sad time. How come Obama hasn't fixed everything yet, huh? (Insert nervous laughter here--nobody can fix this quickly, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, superhero or deity.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fall Is Passing


Milkweed
Originally uploaded by sunasak
You know, you have to capitalize "is" in title case, 'cause it's a verb.

This milkweed seed blowing off the pod reminds me that time is indeed passing. But, it's a reasonably good autumn other than the job fear.

Last night Lee and I went to Linda W's house to pull together the wedding ceremony. We ate very spicy chicken from a fast food place and planned away. We mixed two ceremonies that she had shown us, one labyrinth-themed and one vaguely pagan, plus some stuff of our own. We came up with a multi-media extravaganza featuring color, music, poetry and verse. Whatever. There will be some nice stuff, anyway. And even if it rains, we are covered, because Linda has her own portable labyrinth! We can move the whole deal indoors. Lee and I were both pleased with the outcome of the evening--we each had good input, and Linda had all the bases covered, like seating for the elderly and handicapped, how we plan to exit, etc.

It's the last football game of the season to ride the band bus, unless by some miracle the football team wins and we are in the playoffs. I will really miss the kids, and am sorry we didn't get to go on any fun long trips like we did last year. I am really fond of a lot of these young people--their passion and strength of conviction reminds me of what I could be without a lot of my crusty oldness. Whatever they believe, they really believe it and do not hesitate to say so! I love that! I do hope some of them come to the wedding. That would be nice.

I have found a few more old friends on Facebook, and that has been fun. I just love seeing what they are doing now, their current interests and such. Facebook was a good idea. It is nowhere near the scary online community some are, because it is a lot easier to control who sees your stuff.

I am working with Tuba Boy to get all his college application stuff together. We will work on those all next week. There is a LOT of stuff, but luckily a lot of the private schools use one common application. That does simplify a lot. He will be busy with essays, though! I wish I weren't so busy worrying about having money to live on, and doing wedding doo-dads--I'd have spent a lot more time on this process, and made his dad a wee bit happier. Only so many hours in the day, though.

Darn it, I had a lot of other little things I wanted to talk about. All have escaped me, though. I guess I will just go, enjoy the lovely fall coolness, and look forward to a fun trip to New Braunfels tomorrow to try on my dress, followed by a fiber festival in Boerne. That will entail much Hill Country scenery. That is never a bad thing. Texas in the fall is more subtle, yet as lovely as Texas in the spring.

More Sunday, I guess!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Muted Happy Dance


Yes, oh yes, it was a good evening last night. I got teary a couple of times, and was incredibly proud of the people in a few states, like Virginia, Florida and North Carolina. I have to say it feels weird being on the "winning" side of anything. It just doesn't happen to me often. But, I do have hope. There is a LOT to be done to get our little world back on an even keel, but at least this country will have a calm, rational and intelligent leader for once. He can't fix everything, but at least a crazed hidden agenda will be less likely to hurt things. And I am no longer embarrassed at the leader my country has selected. That is like a weight lifted off me. I can hold my head up around my friends in other countries again!

I hope the people who are upset that they lost feel better soon and can see that we are wanting to listen to them, work with them, and be a whole society. We are tired of "us vs. them," which was so much the way their candidate phrased things. I was saddened when someone I know posted on their Facebook status: "[name] is depressed that Americans have voted against capitalism, democracy, life, and the Constitution." Oh my. How in the world can people actually, seriously hold those beliefs? What Americans voted against was people who want to tell you what you can believe, what religion you must have, how you must dress (Must have that flag pin!), and whose sole agenda is profit for multinational corporations with no regard for the country's citizens. Just my opinions, and Vicki said I have a right to express them in my own blog, LOL. (Note that I do think there are rational reasons one could be for the other party, and I respect those.)

But, my happy dance is muted thanks to ALE. I have been told they are trying very hard to keep me and the other contractors in this department. But, if they can't, I'll be out of work AGAIN the week before the wedding. GREAT timing, huh. But, I will work hard and hope for the best. Some day, things WILL go right in the job department! Everything else is just fine.

Monday, November 3, 2008

It doesn't last long

Kids, this is getting old. The economy is bad so it looks like ALE may dump all the contractors, and that is according to the Big Cheese. Please, please send vibes that it isn't true and that maybe I can stick around. I hardly have words to express how awfully tired I am of looking for work. And this is just not the time for it. I keep feeling like I jinx myself by openly declaring that things might be OK for a while, like I did in here yesterday. So tired of this. Just so tired.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Improvements, of All Sorts

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Today I have too many things to blog about. We'll see how far I get!

Samhain was not the usual festival of pagan fun and frolic it usually is in our family, due to a football game's interference. But, there was an improvement: the football team managed to win--finally they found an offense worse than our defense and vice versa. Oh well, the other team's band was good. The highlight for me was that there was a feature of the drumline and percussion pit, where they all wore sunglasses. The lowlights were twofold: first, one of my little charges fell and hurt his head, which made me worry about him, and second, the cuteness of senior recognition night was marred by not seeing my own senior in the group. Sniff. At least there's one more game, and I am proud that he took a lot of responsibility in the debate tournament our school hosted.


The church grounds got an environmental improvement award today. Hella has worked very hard for the past few years, and I have showed you photos of her gardening work before on these pages. Well, today she got an award from the county native gardening society (I totally forget the actual name of the folks, but they were real nice) for her work on the grounds of our church, from the beautiful front garden to the wildflowers, to the perserved woods around the labyrinth (where the wedding will be!). We are really proud of her. The photo shows Hella, minister Kathleen and the organizational representative at the ceremony in the gardens this afternoon (below is a butterfly from the garden--it's just full of monarchs right now). We also celebrated the 90th birthday of a church member and the purchase of a tent for people in Darfour by our youth group. All of that is fine stuff!

My wedding prep is also improving. Today I met with Elizabeth, the newly minted chef who volunteered to make our wedding cake. She is taking it very seriously, with her notebook and list of recipes from the culinary academy. Unfortunately, she doesn't own the pans and stuff, so I will get them for her (she needed a graduation gift anyway, LOL). And her kitchen is cramped, so she is going to bake the cakes at our house. We'll be seeing a lot of her that weekend, since she, her boyfriend and her mom are also joining us for Thanksgiving. That leads to another improvement: that doesn't stress me out at all. I think we will all have fun, and with my sister to help me cook, it should be OK. See, what a great attitude! The cake(s) will be really nice, too, especially if I find the great cake toppers I hope to find. (I did find one, which will be a surprise, thanks to Jennifer in Florida's suggestion to check Etsy for them.)

And finally, there is home improvement. Most of our projects are finished, and we are very happy with the work the contractor and crew performed. There's a little paint on the carpet, and some stain on the inside of the door that should not be there, but otherwise it's great.

I am including a bunch of photos here for your enjoyment or snoozing, as you see fit. Here are some of the things to look for (not using bulleted lists because Blogger's photos and bullets don't interact very well on some browsers):

***The walls are a nice shade of light tan, no longer orangey. It is slightly different from what it used to be, but if you don't have a sample of the old color, you'll never know.

***We have gutters. We used to only have them in the front. They even put those nice ending things on them, so the rain won't mess up the flower beds or lawn.

***The main trim is a nice deep green, and that scary rust color is the under-trim, and what you see around the windows. I really, really like how it looks on the back of the house. it used to be extremely bland and ugly. Now it looks warm and inviting, at least to me, so don't ruin my illusion, OK? The colors almost make it look "craftsman-like" around the back door and side.

***Around the front door there is more green than there used to be, and what you can't see is that they painted the porch ceiling, way up there, the rust color. Quite a touch. And the front door is stained a much darker brown than it used to be. I am not sure if it is my ideal color, but I picked it, so it's my fault! At least it no longer looks sad and worn out.

***The garage doors are the only part of the house with a lot of the rust color. But I think it looks great. Unfortunately, part of the door broke, so they are having to replace some of the panels. There is extra paint, whew. What pleases me most about the garage is that some horrible-looking warped boards from our house's initial cheap trim are GONE. The house looks great from a distance, or will when the construction debris is gone and the motorcycle no longer decorates the lawn. I hope we can get it in the garage one day!

***Then there is the new patio! I am so happy to use the bricks left over from building the house for something other than my endless poorly constructed flower-bed edgings. The guys still are going to stain the concrete and edge the Texas paver in the rust color. Everyone thinks it is oh-so-cleverly U of Texas, but well, I am not too fond of that place right now, so I am hoping it adds to resale value!

It's hard to describe how good I feel about these repairs and improvements. I was really worried for a few years that I would not be able to keep the house up without the help of the big salary of my ex. What I have made has let me cover utilities and the mortgage, but not left a lot of savings for these kinds of things--those of you who have read for a long time know that every time I have saved a bit, something big has broken--like an air conditioning unit or a roof. I really appreciate that Lee is welling to join with me and get this stuff done! I feel like, even in these hard times, we can make it. We are a team! And I am not going to lose the house, at least for a while!

Another improvement is my self improvement. I have actually enjoyed the last few days of presidential campaigning. McCain was funny on Saturday Night Live, and I have been so happy to see some of the folks coming out for Obama...it is moving. I just hope all our votes count.

I've been reading my book on highly sensitive people and work. I figured out why I stopped reading it before--it was hitting the nail on the head about my March-May job a little too precisely. No wonder I was miserable. Sometimes it helps me to remind myself about how my personality works. Not that it's bad; it's just different from the majority. Other people's personalities and attitudes affect me more than some people. And doing meaningless work where you don't feel like you are contributing just doesn't work for me, at all. I am going to try to figure out how to do what is best for me--which seems to be a rather more independent set-up than I've had since I left the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization. But for now, I have found a nice spot in ALE where I do feel like I am making a contribution and am doing one of my favorite things. This is enabling me to recover a bit. The book says that a really bad job can make an HSP get post-traumatic stress syndrome. I don't know about that--it seems a bit much, but, I do relish the chance to rest and recuperate, on my way to the next adventure!

Well, it is late, and I know I have forgotten some things. Oh, here's a plug for Guitar Girl's guitaring. Go see how well she did in a windy outdoor location last week!