There's More to Life Than Knitting!

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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Fun with Mass Transit!

Getting ready to start the Exciting New Job (hopefully my LAST new job for the foreseeable future), my main concern has been getting there and back. So, I have been taking my last couple of "free" days to figure all that out, so I can have a nice weekend.

Yesterday, Beccano and I managed to find where I would drive to in order to catch the bus. At left is a photo of it, sort of, and you can read about it here. It was a bit hard to find, because it's off the main road. It's off the main road because it is ON the railroad tracks that I'd forgotten were there. It is at the end of a road I'd never been on before. The facility is beautiful, with lots of trees, and a really lovely station, benches and such. The lot was not completely full, but was not empty either, which is a good sign. People are using it! The best part? We found out the road the station is on goes through to yet another road I never went down (because I thought it dead ended). It doesn't, so we also found a new short-cut to lots of shopping, one that lets us avoid the toll road and some congestion. We were really proud of ourselves for finding all this.

I bought Beccano (home sick from school but better by the afternoon), AKA the Boy in Black, some new black jeans and a black dress shirt, because he really wanted them. He also picked out a really interesting dark purple tie. He will now look nice at any and all band performances and competitions. I also got myself two new pairs of jeans for work. Yay for working in jeans. Wednesday I had gotten my hair colored and a few new tops at Penneys, so I didn't go wild, but it was nice to shop again.

Today I called the transit folks to make sure I knew where to get the bus going back home, and that was excellent. It's very close to where I'll be. Practically as close as the parking garage was at the previous place. Still, I'll get some exercise, and that is nice. I also found out that YES, the bus DOES have wi-fi. How civilized can it get??? So I may still get to read blogs and write here!!

I IMed with my friend and former coworker who works at the Univ. of Illinois and we both had nothing but good job news to share. This shocked us both. We are so used to complaining to each other. What a nice change!! Apparently the change has made me use multiple punctuation marks, but otherwise I don't think it's damaged me.

Friday's Feast

Ooh, hope I still have time to do this next week...we will see!

Appetizer: Who was the last person you hugged?
That would be Lee, this morning before he went to work. He got all enthused.

Soup: Share a beauty or grooming trick or tip with us.
The way I get my hair to stay curly longer is to spray both curl enhancer AND a hairspray into my hair before blow drying with the diffuser. This way, even though my hair is fine, the curls do not wilt. My hair is not as curly as my kids' hair, so it needs a bit of help. The same technique with a smoothing agent will make it stay straight if I want to do that.

Salad: What does the color yellow make you think of?
The kitchen in my parents' house in Florida, which had yellow gingham wallpaper (and festive avocado green 70s appliances). Or the fact that our yarn shop owner doesn't like yellow, so at first she hardly ordered any yellow yarn for the store.

Main Course: If you were to make your living as a photographer, what subject would your pictures revolve around?
Flowers. I could look at flowers all day, every day.

Dessert: What was the longest book you ever read?
The longest book I ever read every bit of was probably A Woman's Book of Myths and Secrets by Barbara J. Walker. The longest book I own is a gigantic Kenkyusha Japanese-English dictionary.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


So, you remember I got a contract at ALE last week, which was a good thing, but really not my ideal job. And I told you what fun I had on Friday with the interview on the UT campus and my tour of the UT Tower. (Visit the link to learn more about the place.)

Well, woo hoo, I got a call today telling me I had the University of Texas job! I get to work in the Dungeon in the Sky! Imagine me, about 3/4 of the way up in the picture, in a tiny cubicle, not being stressed out or bored. That is what I am imagining right now. I was so happy to accept this offer. Even though the pay is less than what I was making contracting, it will be consistent throughout the year, and I will have vacation and sick days (those antiquated concepts). When I thought about it, I realized I was only working 9-10 months a year the last couple, so I never really earned all the money I could have. So, after negotiating, I accepted the offer.

I am so incredibly relieved. Many of you may not know I started out as a University employee. I was a graduate teaching assistant for a few years before quitting grad school, and after my really wonderful but brief stint at the National Council of Teachers of English, I worked a couple of years for the University of Illinois. I spent a LOT of my life on university campuses (4 years undergrad, 7 years grad, plus 2 at the UI job). I like being there, and I like the kind of people who do that kind of work. Things have changed a lot, for sure. There sure isn't any parking at this place, and nope, no health insurance for free, but it still has a feeling that makes me feel like I belong. I look forward to starting this job, rather than dreading it like I did the last two contract jobs at big corporate entities.

I even look forward to the long commute. Why? There's a park and ride place not too far from my house, and an express bus. I can knit on the commute and listen to NPR on my MP3 player!! Free knitting time! And at some point next year, there should be commuter rail I can take. Have I mentioned how much I love trains? I would feel so good to not be wasting gas. Plus doing work that I feel good about.

Folks, I am so relieved and happy that I can hardly express it. This was a long wait, but worth it. I can start as soon as my security clearance comes through. Even though it may mean I don't get to spend as much time with my dad when he visits as I would like, I think it will be good. I have told a couple of potential employers that I am set. I have to tell the recruiter for the contract job "thanks but no thanks" tomorrow. I hate to bug out on them, but ya know, I really would prefer to not work at that place, since they were not too good to my man.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Woeful Ignorance

I think of myself as fairly well read, up on history and current events, and aware of the world around me. Thus, I was really shocked to run across an article in my denomination's usually pretty stodgy and hard-to-read member publication about what are called Sundown Towns. I'll wait while you go check out this article, which is by a guy named James Loewen, who also wrote Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.

I felt so ignorant and foolish, not realizing that very near me for much of my life were these...places...entire cities that were populated exclusively by people like me, plain ole white caucasians. Others were specifically barred. I guess I thought if that happened, it was in the past. Or not in MY back yard. And don't get all smug and think, well, what did Suna expect? She's from the Deep South, after all. No, the all white all the time places I lived near were all in central Illinois, or the Chicago suburbs. Shudder. Some of them places I have BEEN.

Lee pointed out that there used to be towns in Texas that were all made up of a particular group, usually whoever settled there. But all the little places I have been had more than one group--there are always ethnically Mexican people, who interact better with the Germans and Czechs than in many parts of Austin, from what I can see.

I am just shocked that there are still places that ban people of color today. Part of this is that I grew up in places where there were always blacks and whites. You didn't get very far in northern Florida without the black people--even in "separate but equal" times, people did business with each other (my grandmother, in the 40s, had a black business partner, for example, in a boarding house). Where my dad grew up in the Georgia hills, there were all kinds of families, and he always told the story that he obeyed the black mother down the road just like his own mother. They were all poor and struggling, and that made them have more in common than not!

Since I became an adult, I have lived in very diverse places, and have always been so glad that it was so. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois was certainly not a Sundown Town at the time I lived there, if it ever was. With a large university in town, there were people from all over the world, many of whom settled there after their schooling was done. And while there were predominantly black and white areas, there was no banning of selling houses--we were told over and over it was illegal. And we had all kinds of neighbors--if you could afford the house, you could live there! And I wanted to know Indians, Moroccans, South Americans, Koreans and Americans of all colors.

When we came to the Austin area, I checked to be sure I saw brown and yellow faces in our neighborhood. Too bad they didn't have their voter registration cards displayed, because they turned out to mostly be darned conservative people of color. But, that's OK. That's diverse, too. The worst thing here is the segregation of poor Mexican-Americans and illegals--the people who have little education and don't speak a lot of English. They don't get the same level of services that other areas, including the ones with lots of Asian immigrants, get (we even have a shiny new "Chinatown" consisting of mostly Vietnamese people). But my kids go to school with people whose parents came from all over the world (mostly engineers, though). We have lived next door to black people for 11 years. Tuba Boy's debate partner's parents are from India, and his main attraction is his delicious vegetarian lunches. We see the neighboring Muslin family holding meetings in their home and are NOT afraid. We know them!

So, I guess it's no wonder I had no clue there were Sundown Towns in the US today. I feel sad for the residents. They'll have a lot harder time learning that people are people underneath their exteriors. They won't get to have the fun and diverse potlucks we get at our church, or I got in graduate school. They won't get to have their children exposed to different family traditions that are equally good as their own, just not the same. Ugh.

Interestingly, I have read in the past about all-black towns that there were in the southern US. Many are abandoned now, but it was an interesting phenomenon begun during the Reconstruction time. Odd I hadn't heard of the white versions. I can see the attraction--to be around people like yourself can be comforting. I do understand why families can want to live in areas where there are plenty of others of similar backgrounds or traditions. It keeps the community strong (here in my neighborhood, we have lots and lots of Mormons, for example--we are near their place of worship). And I know how painful it can be when a formerly homogeneous population begins to diversify (see Ireland now, or many parts of Europe for that matter).

All I am intending here is to raise awareness and to suggest you read the interesting article in the UU World. If you are in the US, have you ever lived in a place like this?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday's Feast

Appetizer: Have you ever played a practical joke on anyone? If so, what did you do and who was your victim?

I can't remember doing one, unless it was a group thing. I am not really fond of them. Party pooper, huh.

What do your salt and pepper shakers look like?

My favorite ones were two cute pigs, but one broke. Right now we have three sets we use in the kitchen and dining area. All are plexiglass or plain glass. Two have grinders. Boring but functional.

Salad: Where is the next place you plan to visit (on vacation or business)?

I guess it will be Lee's dad's house. If I am truly back to being a contractor it means no vacation, and ALE does not send contractors anywhere.

Main Course: What kind of lotion or cream do you use to keep your hands from getting too dry?

I have some rose cream from L'Occitane d'Provence or however you spell it. I like that best. There is also some nice rosewater stuff from Crabtree and Evelyn that I like. Mostly anything rose scented. Living in Texas, dryness isn't often a bad problem. Humidity.

Dessert: Make up a dessert, tell us its ingredients, and give it a name.

Essence of Nummy: It's a calorie-free wafer that tastes all gooey and rich like a chocolate-covered caramel. A dieter's dream. It's what I want right now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Job Seeker Blog #9

New Office Blinds
Originally uploaded by sunasak
This picture is of the new wood blinds we put in the home office. We really needed them, especially while I worked from home for all those years. But I won't need them as badly now.

Because, at last, I have a job, at least for a while. I got offered the ALE position I interviewed for yesterday. They didn't even do the second interview, just called and said did I still want it. Since no one else has begged me to show up and certainly not at that rate of pay, I said, "Sure." I've already got all my paperwork faxed in, and will start on March 2, just before my dad's visit, which is sort of a bummer. But, he'll be glad I have at least 9 months of work!

I do hope a permanent position comes along, but this is something I know how to do and isn't terribly stressful. I am truly relieved, because, folks, I about lost it yesterday. The clutch went out on Tuba Boy's new car, and the thought of having yet another large expense that my dwindling savings would have to cover, plus a whole lot of obligations I was not able to work out to a good compromise, plus the worst sinus headache in recent memory...alll that just about made me go BOOM.

I sure am glad I can write a happier post. I really appreciate how Lee has helped me through this. It's been hard. And he installed those wooden blinds nicely, too.

She Started It!

My Maternal Grandmother
Originally uploaded by

Lenten Ventin': Sometimes I wish that people with child-related issues would not try to raise children anyway. They treat their children oddly, which then causes them to have emotional issues, which they then pass on to their children. My grandmother, the lovely twin who viewed herself as "not good enough" because her sister, 20 minutes younger, was "the baby" and got all the good presents, preferential treatment and such, started a trend in my maternal line (or probably continued something: all but maybe one of her siblings had some pertty strong mental illness symptoms). My grandmother resented her sister her whole life. Then she married a Swede who showed up on a white horse and had a baby, who apparently was quite the wonder baby, until he died around age 2, in his sleep. This did not help matters. She began her history of "nervous breakdowns" at this point. A few years later, she had a daughter, my mother, who was endlessly compared to her dead sibling and found wanting. Her brother would have been smarter, he would have been athletic, he would never have "talked back." My poor mother was treated pretty horribly by my grandmother--some sounds pretty abusive (the grandfather was apparently quite nice, but worked a lot).

Fast forward to my mother trying to escape this family by running off and marrying a dashing alcoholic/drug addict (in the 40s!) after her beloved died in Pearl Harbor (starting HER on her "nervous breakdown" history). She gave birth to my sister, then fled the abusive fellow and went back to live with her parents. So my sister was raised by two women who were constantly told they were not "good enough." She was raised as the Golden Darling of Perfection, which was hard to live up to, since she wasn't a great student and had other normal human elements. She quickly learned to kiss up to her two maternal figures, to survive.

Well, eventually, my mother met my dad and they got married. Due to me coming along. My sister tried to move in with them, but the grandmother had a "nervous breakdown" and she had to go back. I showed up, and was not blonde, thin or doe eyed. I didn't kiss up either. So, I was endlessly found lacking in comparison to my beautiful half sister. I compensated by trying to be smart and not screw up. So, to this day I am really hard on myself if I mess up, don't get the job, disappoint someone, or otherwise exhibit a flaw. Which of course I have plenty of.

So my vent is that I really wonder if my mom and grandmother ought to have raised kids, seeing how they came from a long line of people who compare children and TELL them they find them lacking. (My sister, of course, feels lacking in comparison to me, and my brother's jealousy is pathological.)

Right now I am dealing with having kids who don't have self esteem issues, so are just fine not over-achieving. I love that I seem to have broken the cycle, but dang, it's so hard to watch them not try to be the valedictorian! However, I can see that by being the best person they can be, they will grow up much more well balanced than their mom.

And their mom is a real mess right now. All the job and money stress is taking me farther than I can cope with. And now Tuba Boy's car has broken (I think he may have hit a bump too quickly that broke a clutch cable). I had hoped the car would not IMMEDIATELY become a money pit. And I am having trouble helping the kids, doing what Lee would like, and fulfillling other obligations without disappointing one or more people. Trying to get all the things done that needed done yesterday was quite a challenge, and it still ended up awful, even though I did my part and was everywhere I was supposed to be.

Job Seeking: I applied for some more jobs yesterday, did a phone interview with ALE, and talked to a couple more people. Tomorrow is the big university job interview. Of course, campus will be crazy due to the Presidential Debate later in the afternoon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Two Steps Forward

Garage Perfection
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I've been looking for some happier stuff to post here, and it occurred to me that we are making some progress on the house, even with no funds to do big stuff.

Look at what Lee did to the garage workroom! You couldn't even get into it when he moved in, since the previous user just dumped things in it, and the one before that had taken a few tools then just left stuff lying around (like old bicycle tires that I did finally get rid of). Lee added a second wall of pegboard and moved the workbench to another wall, then put all sorts of storage items up. All the gazillions of roaming screwdrivers are finally hanging on a wall, as are sorted nails and screws and such. So nice to be able to easily find tools again. He's making more progress in the rest of the garage, too. It is getting VERY close to being able to hold both his motorcycle and a car. I sure would like to be able to park in the garage again! I really do appreciate all Lee's work. It's my "love language" I guess. Acts of service.

Indoors, the guest room is finally usable (will take pictures today) and we have new toilet seats (previous occupant was hard on those). And Lee has been slowly using wood putty to build up the stairs that cute li'l Rose chewed on as a puppy. Sigh, if only the furniture could get fixed...and the holes in the wall (two) that she made will get fixed when we finally get the downstairs painted--Lee is waiting for warmer weather for that. We have picked out curtains for the living and "dining" rooms, too.

The plan is currently to convert the dining room into rehearsal space, so Beccano will have a space for drums when we can get him some. We put the keyboard rack in there, and yesterday I arranged the furniture so that guitars and giant amps will fit. I will move away some of the delicate china in that room, too.

Beccano and I have been cleaning in high places, like the shelves above the high windows in the front of the house, and the light fixture in the "dining" room (now music room). That makes me feel better, somehow.

New wood blinds are in the office (bought with holiday gift cards) so winter sun blindness is a thing of the past, and Tuba Boy's computer is out. That room now has way less junk on the floor and is much more usable. Doesn't look like that job working from home will come through, but, I am ready if that does happen!

There is still a lot that HAS to be done around the house. The carpets downstairs need to be removed, thanks to dogs digging at them (not just Rose--Scrunchy did it when he was a baby, too). I would like bamboo. And the trim on the house is in bad shape. It's nice that we got the roof re-done, but the trim MUST be replaced and painted. It's what I was about to do when the job went away. That has happened twice now. The garage doors also need to be replaced. One doesn't work at all, and the other is somewhat scary in action.

Wants? There are plenty! New countertops are the biggest "want." I'd replace the kitchen floor when the others were replaced, too. Both of those are lower quality--laminate and plain. I got them with an eye to replacing later. It's almost 11 years later. Time!

But, we HAVE made progress, and I will remember that when I start to feel overwhelmed with the to do list and how dirty things keep getting (I must say, things sure are clean now that I am home so much).

Lenten Ventin': I wish all the political calls that came in were at least from the party I will vote for. I have only had ONE Democrat call. All my friends are getting calls from the Presidential candidates, but I guess I've been to quiet here in Texas! Maybe next time I will be able to do some volunteering, if they have a headquarters closer, anyway.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Not much to blog about

Just a lot of miscellaneous stuff is going on. Got more new platys and mollies, now have baby fish swimming in the tank. Lee's niece and friend came for lunch yesterday, which was nice--he had wanted to show her the house. Tuba Boy works a lot. Beccano and Lee have been doing chores and having fun taking apart electronic equipment. I've been thinking a lot about my "business" and am happy to report I have another chance at an ALE contract.

Lenten Weekend Vent: The darned HEB pharmacy. Jeff always had trouble with them. The last few times I've tried to use them they have been troublesome. This time, they told me they could not fill my prescription for my anxiety meds because they didn't come in the strength prescribed. Said they would call when my Dr. sent in a right prescription. No call. I went in Sunday and they acted like they had never seen the prescription. Then finally someone came in and apologized. Oh, the person on Friday was wrong. Didn't realize I would be halving the pills. Grrr. Oh well, now I have a lot of meds, cause they thought I was taking one pill a time rather than a half. Good. Don't have to go back there soon.

Today's vent: That I have gotten three calls in the past week from recruiters wanting me to work that job in San Antonio. Look at a map people. Please. I feel bad--I could get work there.But it is more important to me to be there to see the kids. They are only kids once. And teen years are important. Crap.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday's Feast

Appetizer: Name one thing that is unique about you.

My DNA. OK, and my odd little nuclear family, depicted at left in like 1963 or so.

Soup: Fill in the blank:

My favorite pastime is knitting but I like reading too.

Salad: What type of wood do you have for your home’s furnishings?

Pine in the bedroom. Actually lots of pine in the inherited stuff. The rest is a mix. Inherited or Lee's, so not much matches.

Main Course: Who do you talk to most often on the phone?

Lee, or a tie with Tuba Boy if you count text messages.

Dessert: What level of responsibility do you have in your job?

I'm in charge, baby, since it's just ME. Read about my job idea on my knitting blog. I need your ideas, too!

Lenten Ventin'

Dogs and their habits. I am not happy with Rose for trying to hide in her crate rather than be subjected to one of those scary "walks" today. I wish every time I took her out something scary didn't happen. Yesterday, Lee scared her on the motorcycle. Today another DOG came up (a neighbor dog that is as scaredy as her, so they were funny together). Maybe next time it will just be normal. the other tiresome thing is why their little digestive systems go overboard on walks. Scrunchy went THREE times. Nearly half a pound of poop came out of him (yes, I weighed it on the handy scale Jody gave me). Now I remember why I quit walking him last time. But, I need the exercise and so does he. I'll have to be a super duper pooper scooper.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lenten Ventin' Wednesday and Thursday

Lenten Vent for Wednesday: Why can't people who bring treats to the yarn store space them out better? We had so many DELICIOUS treats at the yarn shop yesterday that I am sure I gained two of the many pounds I have gained since my job ended. Hee hee. Actually, the home-made pecan caramel sticky rolls were totally divine. And it WAS nice of Starbucks to bring over all the muffins and scone packages that expired yesterday, so we could enjoy them.

Lenten Vent For Thursday: The totally crappy communication skills of the Texas Workforce Commission, who could not be bothered to tell me how much I would make on unemployment, how long it would last, or why they'd just cut me off this week. I was only allowed to earn $3,000 in the year starting last March, when I lost the PREVIOUS job. Oh well, let's all go eat dirt now. I hope they enjoyed the Valentine's gift of making me cry and cry. At least I can stop obsessively counting every email and phone call and job applied for, and just write them down to keep track for my own records. And at least I went to the doctor and got some nice, helpful medicine. Or will when she fixes her prescription that she wrote wrong. Sigh.

OK, other stuff. The dog Rose,* who is pictured here along with Lee's lap and is 100% mutt of the somewhat border collie somewhat lab somewhat shepherd variety, went on her first REAL walk today and was just great. Now I just hope she doesn't keep panicking every time I try to take her outside. And I am up for that position where I was before. We will see. The lady there didn't seem to like me when I worked there, but maybe she's just...shy.
*The dog in the earlier post this week, as we recall, was Shannon's dog, the Germanic rather than Nordic one. Shannon can tell us what breed he is.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Job Seeker Blog #9/Tuesday Ventin'

Finally there's some job hunting action to report. Every day, it seems, I send out all kinds of job applications, and some of them have been quite complex, the State of Texas and the University of Texas, especially. So, let me tell you that I was quite surprised when my cell phone rang during my shower this afternoon (I showered after a lot of cleaning) and it was the University, calling to schedule an interview! I get to go in the building where the famous UT Tower is, so that will be fun, I think! The interview isn't until the 22nd, so I have plenty of time to figure out how to act enthusiastic about a job as documentation specialist in the accounting department!

But heck, that isn't all! Earlier in the day I got a call from a health services company, and did an initial phone screening for a training job. I got approved and passed on to the hiring manager, so I got through a step, anyway! This job sounds pretty good, a lot like what I was doing at the previous job, though it will require quite a bit of travel. I can stand it.

Such a relief to get some activity going again. Even though people are telling me that jobs are taking ages to get back to people, the silence was killing me.

A Little Pet News

I am very happy with Rose. Until today, she refused to walk on a leash. She'd first take off at a dead run, then get jerked by her collar, which then caused her to just lay down and tremble. Last weekend we got her a halter, after seeing that Scrunchy really walks better since he got his (I walked him for a half hour today without one jerk or other irritating doggie action). So today, I snapped her new pink leash on Rose's pink harness (after giving her a day or two to get used to it). At first she would not go outside. Then she tried to run back in. Then she lay down. Finally I got her to walk and at first she darted and ran, then, when I told her she was good every second she walked normally, she GOT IT. She was able to walk to the end of the cul-de-sac, then go halfway down the block. I got her to turn around and come back, and by then she looked pretty happy. She didn't try to run or stop walking. She was great! I am so proud of her, because I know she will have fun going outdoors, getting to see people and smell things. Plus she needs the exercise. I'll keep at it. Now, of course, Buddy is looking sad that I don't take him out, so I guess he will get a turn, too. That's a lot of poop bags, ugh.

Lenten Ventin'!

First, thanks for all the fan mail on these--they cheer me up, even when I am feeling venty!

Today's subject is those things that people put on their blogs that make little summaries pop up every time you go anywhere on a link or photo. Ah, I have discovered they are called SnapShots. Here is a blog with examples on it--go anywhere near anything with a hyperlink and BOOM a thing will jump up. I think I would like them a lot better if they waited a bit before popping up or if you could ask for them. As it is, they can really interrupt my reading or enjoyment of the layout of a site. I have to be really careful to not move my mouse anywhere near a hyperlink.

Perhaps I am just easily startled. Or maybe it's just my contrary desire for freedom of choice. If I want to see what's on a hyperlink, I'll click it. If I am not interested, I sorta resent being forced to look at it anyway. Granted, I should probably look at this service and see if there are settings that would make it more Suna-friendly. And give myself the satisfaction that someone isn't making money every time I click, and bloggers are just voluntarily handing money over to third parties. Wow, I have become Little Miss Suspicious of the Big Bad Internet lately.

Anyway, I just don't like those darn Snapshots, and tend to not stay very long on blogs that use them, unless they are from people I really like (and I do like the person in the blog I linked to, so I read it, even trying to decipher the Dutch).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lenten Ventin' Monday

Today's Picture: a Cute Li'l Doggie. A real break from kitties! This is Shannon's nordic dog Leif (nope, make that Lief, see comments). He looks a bit perturbed actually, which is good because so am I.

Lenten Vent: Grr. I am so tired of people who think that just because they are white and male they should automatically be obeyed and the world should bend to their desires. I had to watch the very nice African American dudes at the oil change place deal with one of those today. Thought he was SO special he should be allowed to jump in front of me in line. And SO special they should run extra diagnostics for him, on a car that failed the emissions test 6 times already because he'd modified the exhaust. What a jerk. I just don't get it how some people really DO feel like the world revolves around them.

PS: I am not thrilled that spell check still doesn't work on Blogger.


Long-time readers of this blog may now wish to point out to me that photos of a child playing a tuba are the "cute kitty" of my blog. I know I have a lot of them in here. But, I still can't believe my own offspring can play a tuba!

So today's thrill was the Dixieland band playing at church. There's Tuba Boy along with a nice visitor who plays trombone and the offspring of another blog reader on clarinet (not sure if I am allowed to give her pseudonym or not). The picture at right shows the whole group playing. There was piano, trombone, tuba, clarinet, electronic thing that acts like a trumpet or clarinet or sax, real trumpet and guitar. The ages range from 16 to almost 70. I love it that the older couple pictured takes the time to mentor young people and give them a chance to play their instruments in styles they may not get to in band.

Another significant feature of the day is that our church had the largest attendance ever. Even more than Christmas Eve, which usually draws in a lot of visitors. One reason they came is the guitar player, who you see at left was also the minister of the day. He's our ministerial intern, and I have to say the church was really lucky to get him. I wish he could work here while Rev. Chuck goes on sabbatical, because he is a really good sermon writer and very engaging as a person, even if he sorta looks like he's Tuba Boy's age. He talked about the first UU principle, which deals with respecting the worth and dignity of every human being. Now that sounds dry, but he did a great job with it--you know that IS hard to do--it means respecting Bush, Kim Jung Il, Osama, murderers, etc. Not liking them, but acknowledging their humanity. Also (and this is what made me cry) he reminded us that we are all worthy of our own respect. That was what I needed to hear yesterday.

I hadn't really wanted to go anywhere in the morning. My tarot cards hinted I should stay home. But I am glad I went to church. I got to give one lady a scarf I made, I got to show another friend the socks I am knitting for her sick daughter, and I got to have a great conversation with one of my favorite "youth" from church (now a college grad) who had just come back from doing work for Obama's campaign in New Mexico. It was a real stretch for him, but he did it, and to see him so happy from doing valuable work as a US citizen made me feel great. I am so proud of this kid, who once babysat my boys.

The rest of the day I cleaned pet-related things. We got a few new fish and I cleaned the tank, always a challenge. Then I washed the pug. He had some disgusting encrusted poop on him, plus bread batter I'd dropped on him (duh, he stands under me when I cook). THEN I cleaned the bird cage. It was, shall we say, a bit overdue. Bird sure looks happy now with her new toys and cuttlebone and seed treat. Lee worked hard, too, and put up one of the blinds in the office. Of course today it isn't sunny, so I don't get to try out their sun-blocking power!

Lenten Ventin': Today it's me. Why do I get so weepy? I got all weepy at Tuba Boy Saturday night because I don't get to see him or his friends much and I worry that they don't want to hang around us. I wish I could not let my stress spill out on to the kids.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lenten Ventin'

Today's photo is a KITTY!! It isn't even my kitty! It's my friend Shannon's. Looks at its cute li'l eyebrows. It is doing Cat Pose #10: Sitting with my back to you, but turning my face toward you. Shannon has threatened to initiate an "All Kitty All the Time" blog in response to my Lenten Vent on Kitties in Blogs. I'll show her. Next I will post her DOG's picture.

Today's vent is about mysterious tiny bugs. I can't figure out why tiny bugs always appear in the same spot in my kitchen. It would be reasonable if at least it were the same kind of bug. But no, it shifts. For years we would get very small ants coming into the house through the electrical outlet in the kitchen. One time Tuba Boy taped all the openings shut to stop the endless lines of anty-ness from marching to and fro, enjoying the sink water. The pest control dude put some goop in the outlet and stopped them, after the third episode. Different tiny ants still come in, but not so badly. They all want to congregate in the same area, to the left of the sink. I guess that's food and water intensive (though, honest, I clean the kitchen a lot). Then, day before yesterday NEW tiny bugs showed up. Dozens and dozens of what appear to be very small gnats. Most of them seemed to die right off. A bit of bug spray did the rest in, and I cleaned it up. Then yesterday a new batch showed up. All I can think of is that perhaps there were gnat eggs in the dirt I planted the plant beside the sink in. That is odd, since it was commercial plant stuff and I thought they sterilized it. Guess not. The plant has been there since August, though, so it's strange that the bugs suddenly showed up. I hope we have seen the last of them. They are really hard to clean up. ICK.

Not much else to report. We did get some nice wooden blinds and (ooh, hope you're sitting down) two sorely needed new toilet seats last night (now you can sit down in style at our abode). That was our combined Home Depot cards from Yule. It's so hard to see this time of year at certain hours in my office, because of the sun angle. The blinds will help. We'd hoped to use the money for something more special, but as unemployment drags on it doesn't look like I'll be able to buy home improvement items any other way.

I'll probably be taking my lace curtains down. They were from a garage sale, but were once really nice netted lace, not cheap stuff. But, they have holes in them. The poor bird will be really scared when we are working on the blinds. But I plan to get her a new bird chew and some toys, so that will make up for it!

PS: My lovely fiance read my Friday report, so he brought me both flowers and chocolates just now. And even more welcome: Baileys!! I have missed having an after dinner drink occasionally!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday Questions

Friday's Feast is having technical difficulty, so I am answering the questions Stephanie answered from the "Five on Friday" site.

1. Cake or pie?
I am a big fan of very moist cakes with rich frosting. And pound cake.

2. What is your favorite kind of candy?
Milk chocolate caramels.

3. Do you actually like conversation hearts?
Nope. Didn't like Necco wafers much either as a child, though I loved their colors.

4. Would you prefer chocolates or flowers from a loved one?
Ooh, that's tough. Probably flowers. I know they are ephemeral, but I get such enjoyment out of them. Even all the dried ones we have all over the house now. The roses hold up really well. I think the dessicated alstroemerias need to go. Bonus photo is of non-dead alstroemerias.

5. What is the sweetest thing someone has ever done for you?
That covers a lot of years and a lot of sweetness. I can remember some unsolicited gifts I received when I was going through a rough time...none was sweeter than any other. I guess, though, that Lee agreeing to be with me was the sweetest thing anyone ever did, though that plaque Tuba Boy gave me for Yule this year is WAY up there among the Sweetest Thing list, too!

Lenten Ventin'

Why are males incapable of removing their socks without forming a tightly scrunched ball? Today is laundry day. This means at least 30 sweaty, dirty socks in balls (assuming Beccano actually changes his socks) that I must touch quite intensely in order to straighten them out for cleaning. I know how to take off socks and shake them out flat to put in the hamper. I don't think it's my X chromosomes that taught me that.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Lenten Ventin'

Hey, it's not my religion or my tradition, but what the heck. I'll do something for Lent, too. All my pals seem to be doing it. OK, so, like three people whose blogs I read are doing it.

What will I do? I will vent about something EVERY day of Lent! What fun! And hey, I'll probably offend people, too. So let me say, even if the thing I vent about closely resembles you, if you read this, I love you and think your foibles are cute.

Today I get to do two things. One for yesterday and one for today.

So, Lenten Ventin' for Wednesday: I am incredibly effing tired of filling out employment applications that feature duplicate information that I have to re-type many times or re-write by hand. I honestly think that one of the ways they prepare you for the tedium of State jobs is by making the application process as mind-numbing as possible, and sprinkling in little surprise requirements in small print.

The photo below of a much younger Beccano proves that an alpaca is endlessly fascinating, as opposed to the subject of the next Lenten Ventin'.....

Lenten Ventin' for Thursday: Why do bloggers, especially ones who knit, think we want to look at photos of their kitty cats every single day? No matter how incredibly cute or talented a cat is, every single one of them has exactly one "Look." Cats don't have expressions. They just stare at you, occasionally yawning or yowling. Yes, they sit or lie in different positions, but there are only approximately 7 of those for each cat: standing facing the human, standing showing its butt, sitting staring vacantly, sitting while licking its parts, lying in a ball, lying stretched out (on an inappropriate surface or a person), lying cutely in some container. That's a week of photos, 8 days if you include a precious close-up, 9 if it eats something cutely. So I just want to say, to cat owners, "Dear Friends, your kitty is real cute. I looked at it that first day I read your blog, but after that I skim the precious cat photos. Please also include other stuff. I can look at balls of yarn all day!"

Note: I feel the same about dogs, though they have more expressions. Even I realize that every picture of my dogs looks pretty similar. So, I try to limit them. They're just way more endlessly fascinating when barking, snorting, farting, and barfing on things in person. Gosh, I actually DO like pets. I think my bird is real cute right now, tweeting away and hanging upside down in her cage, and chewing frantically on her cuttlebone.

Ah, that felt good. Now I have a reason other than reading Craigslist job ads and seeing my precious Lee-n-kids to wake up every morning!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Suna Reviews Television Shows

What does the woman of forced leisure with no funds available for fun do? She listens to music, she walks the pug, she knits until her hands hurt, and she watches television. Since many of you have lives, I thought I'd let you know what I have found out about daytime television in the last month and a half.

As Usual, Suna Detours

First, a detour into nighttime television. We don't watch a lot of network shows, but we do love to watch television on Tuesday evenings. First we enjoy Bones (when it's on and not scary shows about people with or without some talent), and then our favorite, House. After that we watch Boston Legal. It's my most guilty pleasure--but I find it totally hilarious to see all these dudes from various incarnations of Star Trek playing totally messed up lawyers. So one day a week, I succumb to the lure of television. Last night we forewent (hee hee) a trip to Home Depot just to watch House.

And yesterday, House really impressed me. The writing is always pretty good, even when the characters turn into parodies of themselves. But the writers actually get you thinking about serious topics occasionally, right in the middle of the totally messed up doctor action. Last night, they tackled religion in a way that was refreshing. People expressed their opinions of the Lubovitch Judaism movement, religion in general, and religious people, but the characters who were religious were not parodies--they seemed sincere and to get a lot from their beliefs--enough to impress some of the other people on the show. Now, since I have a lot of baggage on the topic of evangelical Judaism and extreme orthodoxy in any religion, I was pretty impressed that they were able to convey the positive aspects of the Lubovitchers even to me. So, kudos to the people who write that show.

(Mostly in the evenings we don't watch television or watch HGTV or some dang educational thing Beccano wants to see. He's big on History Channel, National Geographic and Discovery HD).

Daytime TV Opinionism by Me

Mornings I listen to NPR until the show where the guy starts playing weird music comes on. As soon as he gets on one of his overly "eklectic" themes (that's an Austin radio jab), I leave the office.

Often I start with the lovely Ellen Degeneres. I like that she comes across as a fairly "regular" person and always seems like she's in a good mood. And her dancing is so natural. Lately she has been investigating funny television products. The one that had me about to bust a gut, all by myself other than the pug was the Tiddy Bear, a product consisting of a small toy teddy bear with a strap and fastener on its back. You attach the precious li'l fellow to your seat belt wherever it bugs you and you have a wonderful driving experience. Well, you can just imagine one of the places ole Tiddy can end up. And he looks like he's hugging it, too. Of course, on the commercial, only the MAN driver puts the bear on his chest. But, it looks plenty dorky. And with Ellen running around yelling "Tiddy Bear" over and over, I about lost it. She threw one to every member of her audience, too. So, in general, Ellen amuses me.

Next I enjoy the View. I didn't think I would, but I do. If they'd just take that insipid football wife who is the conservative young one, it would be great (however, she DOES breastfeed, so she has good features). Of course, they need fodder for their arguments. I do like how they put Whoopi really far from that lady. What has surprised me is how much I enjoy listening to the three older women on the show. Even Baba Wawa. They are smart, funny and interesting people. Whoopi and Joy seem really honest and will admit to mistakes. That is refreshing. Some of the guests are pretty snoozy, but that's OK--I have a lot of blogging to do.

After that, if I have not found something useful to do like clean something or go to the bank, I'll watch local news. They are pretty dorky, but it's nice to see people talk rather than just read the things online. News digression: Last night on election coverage, Katie Couric called the man running for Democratic candidate "Barama." Sounds like a fun band name.

For the hours when soap operas are on network television, I will watch HGTV, though there are a lot of reruns. So, well, hell, no one else is home but ME so well, I do it. I watch all the jewelry shows on the shopping networks. Yesterday it was aquamarines and pearls. MMMM. If there is stupid stuff I would never buy on, I have discovered the Nirvana of Suna viewing pleasure: Jewelry Television. All jewels all the time. I haven't bought anything since last year's job issues started, but I can look. I just like shiny sparkling things. If only there were a Yarn Channel.

If I am not busy in the afternoon I enjoy an entire hour of Jeopardy. That's a winner. Sometimes I feel smart; sometimes I feel stupid. Then more news. If STILL not distracted by family, cooking or something useful like that, I will "enjoy" Wheel of Fortune. I like words.

The good news is that I don't think I have ever watched a whole day of this soporific blend of entertainment options. There's plenty to do around the house, or I can take a walk or go to the yarn shop and see real human beings. Please, come and get me if you find out I am sitting in my bathrobe watching television for an entire day. That just isn't good for me.

So if you are ever sick or at home, consider enjoying Ellen and the View. They are OK. Honest.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Thing I Think Is Funny

You may know that the only television shows I am a real devoted fan of are The/A Daily Show and Colbert Report.

Well, they have had a pretty funny running gag with Conan O'Brien, trying to prove who "made" that Huckabee dude* who is running for President, which culminated in a hysterically amusing (to me) brawl last night. See, who needs writers, just call up your other host friends and do a loony fight scene. Here it is, I think, if you want to see it.

*By the way, Huckabee always confuses me because we have neighbors who are the Huckabees, and they are really old Democrats, whose daughter lives two houses down from us and is married to the scary Sheriff who parks his car in our cul-de-sac and makes us feel safe.

American Fun/Job Seeking

I am enjoying watching election results for "Super Tuesday," but I sure think we have a weird system. Wouldn't it be fun for all Americans to get to vote and have it count, both in primaries and the general election? Wow, that would seem so...democratic. Like in democracy.

I'm thinking maybe if I can't get a job I will try to figure out something to do that will work toward turning the US back into a democracy. Good luck, me.

I am glad that at least the people running on one side are listening to what people's actual concerns are and will try to address them if elected. I know it won't be easy. Both major parties are really controlled by lobbyists for rich corporations, and that includes drug manufacturers and insurance companies--health care reform will be hard to achieve. And defense contractor lobbyists are also very rich--it will be hard to transition to a less war-mongering system. And on and on.

Job Crap

There isn't enough job news for a separate job seeker blog entry. I have applied to a few jobs in the past couple of days, one of which seemed pretty up my alley. I also wrote the HR director at a new local hospital and suggested I'd be good to administer their training programs. Why not. I got her email address from a knitting friend (thank you, if you read this blog in addition to my knitting one), so maybe it will do some good to just write the lady. I am very good at community education, with all my work with that Dysfunctional Nonprofit, so I might be someone they could use.

Then there are the dog sweaters. This dog rescue place in money-filled California is interested in having me knit up luxury dog sweaters. I guess, if it pays well enough, I could do some of that. I keep telling them that it will take a while to knit these things. So, we will see--they are sending me a sample of what they want, so I will be able to figure out if this is remotely feasible. Hey, it would be a knitting career, right? Not all bad!

Off to put on my mardi gras beads. I made jambalaya last night. I am an equal opportunity holiday celebrator!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Imbolc Greetings


Buds, as pale green lunar moths
Land overnight on the naked birches
And comes the warm Spring light
They will unfurl their sticky, verdant wings
And shed Winter's dark shell

(poem by: Silver Dragon )

I found this poem here. I chose it because it reminds me of the little sprouts I was spotting all over the garden today.

I am participating in the Bloggers Silent Poetry Reading that Stephanie the Yarn Harlot mentions every year. It's a nice way to honor my favorite goddess. And it makes me like the famous blogging knitter more, too.

Yesterday I got a lovely Imbolc gift--Lee sent off for this beautiful statue from Sacred Source, which I have mentioned before is run by my friend Liana's family. It was so cool to get it on the right holiday. The statue is just chock-a-block with Brighid symbolism, too. She has scrolls with ogham on them (poems), she is standing at her well (note resemblance to ACTUAL St. Bridget's Well in photo), she has lots of shamrocks and celtic knots, she has sheep that make knitters happy (she is goddess of the first milk, i.e. when the first lambs are born), and not shown in the back is a cool forge with a St. Bridget's cross on it, and a sword. Gotta remember she's that goddess, too! I love how detailed these statues are--the original artist knew her stuff.

Beccano wants to inaugurate his ritual wand he got at Yule tonight, so we will probably do a little tarot, a little ritual and some hopeful invoking.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Friday's Feast

Appetizer: What is your favorite kind of cereal?

Hot cereal: tie between oatmeal (real) and grits. Cold cereal: Special K with Berries

Soup: When was the last time you purchased something for your home, what was it, and in which room did it go?
At IKEA last week I got a press coffeemaker for $12, because Lee stopped drinking coffee in the mornings and I don't want to waste it. It is in the kitchen mostly, sometimes in the office. We also got some candles. We always need candles. Crazed spending for our very careful household right now.

Salad: What is the funniest commercial you’ve ever seen?
Absolutely no clue. I enjoy the Mac vs. PC series. That will have to do.

Main Course: Make up a name for a company by using a spice and an animal (example: Cinnamon Monkey).
Tarragon Tse Tse Flies. OK that cracks me up.

Dessert: Fill in the blank: I haven’t ______ since ______.
I haven’t worked since December 14. Not obsessing. Not me.

And in the work department, I think I have applied for 7 or 8 jobs today. One or two seemed really good. Others well, honestly, were stabs in the dark. Some of the systems, especially the State of Texas, are real pains in the butt to fill out. Over an hour, not kidding. This applying for jobs really IS a job! And I assure you, I dread the idea of working downtown. But, as they keep telling us, there are great benefits and stability in those state jobs!