Monday, March 31, 2008
This is one of the faces I was glad to see when I got home from visiting Lee's dad this weekend. I was also glad to see the other dogs, and especially glad to see the kids, because they had tales of hilarity and fun from their band trip. Beccano especially liked playing Scoobie Doo detectives as they searched for an item missing from their room. Cracks me up what they each deemed as highlights. Probably not what the trip planners intended. They were at a resort in San Antonio, where apparently the most fun thing was tether ball, but they had a blast, other than when a disc golf frisbee hit Beccano on the lip and made him bleed. A lot. That was his "battle scar."
It appeared that Tuba Boy mainly wanted to get home to his "cool" friends. Or friend. He immediately left to "hang with" Singing Girl, as I will call her now. At least she lives closer than the other one did.
Lee and I had a pretty good time on our trip, though I did not feel well a lot of the time. I thought maybe it was allergies, so I took allergy medicine and it knocked me out. Oops. We did help Lee's dad look at trucks, a painful experience for him, I think. And we ate at Furr's again. I got sorta sick to my stomach watching the dude in front of me pile on 7 main courses and every starch available. At first I thought maybe he was getting food for two people, but nope. All for him. I had a small square of frozen fish, canned beets and canned green beans. I think I am not fond of that place. At least Luby's stuff has been doctored up and appears more home cooked. Later we had a much more successful trip to Dairy Queen, though we kept Lee's dad up a bit too late, I think.
We did get to wander the fields a bit and look at flowers and such, and were awed by the new "Christmas Tree" across the way--a big oil derrick (or natural gas). We want one of those!! The drive home was especially nice--so many beautiful spring wildflowers to enjoy, and lovely farms.
Friday, March 28, 2008
I was trying to figure out why in the world I am so consistent about writing to my tarot blog daily. Even when I don't have time to write in my knitting blog or personal one, I get this one updated. I only miss one or two days a month, at most (usually travel days). Why is it a priority for me to put in images, index the cards, and write up my little daily reaction, when no one other than perhaps Lee and rarely Jody even looks at the thing? No one's hanging out at bloglines waiting for my tarot post to come through (other than Lee maybe), and I'm not exactly sure what I am going to do with many years of tarot data (we already have over a thousand posts in the blog).
One possible explanation is that it's a little bit of discipline, like people who write "morning pages" every day, no matter whether they feel like it or have a topic, or not. It's nice to have some order and predictability to one's day, something under your control. And it provides a bit of focus to that bleary-eyed waking up period (I usually remember to select cards first thing in the morning).
Also, it's a daily link to my spirituality, such as it is. A little daily ritual. Drawing the cards forces me to focus inward for at least a few minutes a day, and at the same time to think about the larger influences there are on my life. It's like lighting the chalice Beccano made before meals at home--it is a small personal ritual that reminds me that I am linked to the universe in someway I don't understand, regardless of whether I believe in some Official Deity. It's nice to know that there are ways to express the human urge for connection without bringing in the more narrow definitions of god and community that most religions promote.
I know my experience of tarot is not like that of a lot of people--I do it more at a gut level rather than "by the book" or following some rules, but then when I read other people's views, I often see a similar attitude, that it is more of a way of helping you see connections that you might consciously be blocking or missing for other reasons. I do have that intuitive streak, too, and it comes in as well. Still, I enjoy reading the interpretations other people have made for cards, because they can draw me back in if I've strayed far from a card's properties or message. As with most things, I take tarot as a blend of extremes, and aim for the middle ground. I have noticed that my failings and failures lurk way in the corners where I am still more extreme. I need to remember that!
Enough of that philosophical stuff, here's the feast:
Appetizer: What does the color dark green make you think of?
My first thought was that the dark green in the kids' school colors does not contrast enough with the dark blue to make it work in knitted items. Otherwise, it reminds me of a deep forest, which makes me feel safe.
Soup: How many cousins do you have?
I have 18 first cousins, all on my dad's side. No clue about more distant ones.
Salad: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how honest are you?
8. My urge to not hurt people messes up that total honesty thing sometimes.
Main Course: Name something that is truly free.
Human milk. Geez, just can't get away from the former career path.
Dessert: Using the letters in the word SPRING, write a sentence.
Suna pursued righteous indignation, not grace.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
And in more cuteness, I am incredibly pleased to now own a genuine Lexie Barnes bag. I got Jinx, the hobo shaped one, which looks like a big purse. It is in the purple and black Diablo colorway. But it will hold my knitting, my wallet, lunch and all the stuff I need to take back and forth to work. It will sling across my shoulders, which I hope will help my aching shoulder issue. These are very popular bags, and I see why. It looks like it won't stain, and is very sturdy (and reversible!). The knitting bags REALLY cost a lot, so I am glad I just got this. It is a perfect size for my needs!
On lunch break now. It's been a rough day (messed up a bunch of things) so I got a nice Greek salad for lunch and am now snacking on challah bread with chocolate in it, which I bought from people who claim to use the proceeds to help the poor in Darfur. Well, I hope they do.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Beccano had his first tutoring from our friend last night. It went really well, I think. He seemed truly pleased that he ended up understanding the problems. She has a neat mini-whiteboard that she can carry to work examples on. Smart. I hope we have him on a better path now. I am really glad he will get to go on the band trip this weekend, too. He is working very hard. Interestingly, we have watched television shows on what constitutes intelligence, and one on a savant over the past few days. It's a nice bridge for talking to him about how he is wired a bit differently from others and that causes academic angst, but still tests very high on most areas in an IQ test. I told him we are all perplexingly complex.
I hope Tuba Boy finds someone to sub for him at work so he can go on the band trip. No grade problems, just organizational ones. And he "forgot" to tell me I had to pay $54 each for him to take two AP tests, either. Ahem. Good thing his friend had that much cash on him (and scary that he was carrying it around school). Tuba Boy doesn't talk much, but hasn't mentioned the girlfriend I have not met in a while. He spent all last Sunday (when there was no OWL class at church due to the Christian Holiday) with another female friend, the li'l singer-songwriter with actual gigs. They seemed to have a great time in a friend-like way. It would be FINE if he dated her. They live close and I know her parents and their wonderfully pagan/organic values!
Tonight, as a reward for hard work, Lee and I are going on an actual DATE with some people we used to work with. It's one of those "free" comedy club ticket deals, where you win 20 of them and bring your friends, who do not know that there is a two-drink minimum and drinks are $10 each. Well, I actually DO know that, but it should be a fun evening anyway. I will be a lot more fun to be around than I was at winter holiday time, which was when I last saw those folks. Employment is good.
I am thinking good thoughts for a couple of friends' job interviews. Many fingers are crossed and much good energy is going out!!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
One thing that has been done is mostly by Lee, who has made a really nice flower bed where there was once an incredibly overgrown Texas sage and some very horrid VINES that had grown up around it. He got some nice concrete blocks to build with, and let me talk him into getting two colors, hoping that will blend a bit with the bricks in the house (the ones that look gray actually also have some tan in them). He got the bricks all perfectly level and has put lovely dirt in the bed. Right now he is planting a mix of red petunias and some vegetables. Why? Well, it's the only sunny bed in the yard right now, so we are hoping a tomato will actually grow!! They certainly did not like the shade in the back yard last year. (Really, really hoping we can get some trees out in the back so we have enough sun to grow grass--soon as Lee gets a real job and we don't have to keep saving for unemployment times). Lee also doesn't want to plant the good plants in there until he is sure we are really rid of the vines. Once we are sure, we want a nice rose bush or two. I want roses.
I hope to share a picture of the finished bed in a day or two!
What else is going on? Not much. Nice to have a calm few days. We have been enjoying the DVD about the Who that Beccano got me for my birthday. If you like the Who, you may want to get Amazing Journey. I think it was once only available at Best Buy, but Beccano got it on Amazon.com. We love all the interviews and all the music, too. There are some really interesting musical insights (the Edge and Eddie Vedder both give some really good comments), and some poignant stuff about the members who have passed away.
Friday, March 21, 2008
I am having trouble keeping up with things. Stuff's happening to online friends that I can't even manage to comment on, and I want to be supportive! But I need to focus on the family (that would be a good name for an organization, huh?). In family news we went back to a barbecue restaurant we used to go to when we first moved here, which was under new management. The pulled pork barbecue was incredibly good (really tender and flavorful yet not fatty), as were the very crisp sweet potato fries and an odd but delicious side dish of mashed potatoes, cheese and tortillas. Glad we went back. Even Lee's odd-sounding barbecue ranch chicken sandwich was good. So, that was a fun event for me, Lee and Beccano!
Tuba Boy had the night off and went to visit each of his friends, it appears. He is spending more time with a variety of friends, which pleases me.
OK, here's the feast.
Appetizer: Given the choice, would you prefer to live in the country or in the city?
Normally I'd say the country, but with gas prices now, I am wondering what to do.
Soup: Who is the cutest kid you know?
Salad: Fill in the blank: I couldn’t believe it when I heard ___________.
...the results of the most recent Board of Directors elections at the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization I used to work for.
Main Course: If you could star in a commercial for one of your favorite products, which one would you want to advertise?
Olay Regenerist serum, because it really has helped my face be less read and flaky, for years now.
Dessert: What type(s) of vitamins and/or supplements do you take on a regular basis?
None. I try to eat healthy foods and extract vitamins from them.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
And now the supposedly dead issue of Beccano's academic troubles is back. He has had trouble with math and history all year. He has nearly failed one or the other every grading period (and there seems to be one every week--they have "progress reports" at 3-week intervals that really compound the info. He is really stressed out, because he seems to be doing his best and still not succeeding. Of course, his reaction to being overwhelmed is to withdraw, which looks to teachers like "not trying."
I worry about him, mainly because he just does not seem to "get" math and never has. He has the issue I always had (making small errors even while doing it mostly correctly) but much worse. And the text books don't help. I can't ever understand what he is supposed to do in the history class. I have never read such ambiguous instructions in my life. They ask questions about maps and charts, asking for things not spelled out on the chart or map, for example. I think they want the kids to make inferences, but some of them they have to pull out of their butts.
I am working to get him some tutoring from home schooling friends, and hope that will help. I am a bit hampered in that I never had really bad issues in school. Even though math was hard for me, I managed to make As and Bs in it, and everything else was just no trouble at all. The most experience I had was trying to help my high school boyfriend get through Algebra 2 and the GRE math exam. He was much like Beccano with math. It just didn't happen for him, even though he was brilliant with words. It's so frustrating to have a gap like that when you are otherwise very intelligent (and Beccano IS very intelligent--you know it when you talk to him).
Well, I just don't want him to base his entire self-esteem on this one area. He can slip into that, just like I can, so I understand. And he gets so upset that he can't sleep at night, making it even harder to do math in the mornings. A downward spiral, as Stephen Wolfram used to say. You just hate to see your children down.
I'll write more on this later. Just needed to get it off my chest. All else is fine. Work is going OK, home is good other than Beccano. Trying to settle down. Then I will make a better plan for finding some friends. I hope the new church tarot group will help with that--of course, I'd need to announce it in order for that to happen. Go me.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Right now I am thinking that this is my favorite time of year now. It used to be autumn, but that was in Illinois, where the leaves were so lovely and the temperatures so crisp and fun. March here in central Texas is wonderful. It isn't too hot or cold, and all the trees begin to bloom like crazy. I am enjoying the lacy look of the Mexican plums, the intensity of the red buds and the heady fragrance of Texas mountain laurel now. Soon the crape myrtles will take over. Wildflowers haven't started up yet, but any day now I will get to enjoy the show of bluebonnets on MoPac on the way home. What a treat!
I am enjoying the best season for hanging out in the yard again this year. We have all red flowers and have lots to do, but no huge rush. It's the season where the live oak leaves fall like rain, and you can hear them fall and fall. Birds are very busy making nests. The mockingbirds are in the photynia at the neighbor's side yard, which makes them yell at us when we get in the truck. I watched a chickadee and a tufted titmouse family carrying around lots of nesting material today, and am amused at how awkward the mourning doves are when they try to make little babies. They keep falling off limbs that they make too heavy for two birds. Lots of flapping and weird dove love noises.
Butterflies have come out in droves, too. Sulphurs, tiger swallowtails and black swallotwails are among the most beautiful ones in our yard. The black swallowtails look spectacular when evening sun hits their blue bottom wings.
I hope we can enjoy the flowers, birds, butterflies and trees as much as possible before it gets too hot and too mosquito-ey. Maybe this year there will be fewer mosquitoes. We have worked very hard to get rid of sources of moisture!
It's going to rain early in the week, but I am happy. The plants will love it and I have festive new rain boots! Tonight we are having home made bean soup and fresh bread I baked. I hope Tuba Boy comes home from bonding with his girlfriend, whom we have still not met. Beccano and a friend have been working on a school project and playing guitar. Lee's been getting ready to make a flower bed and trying to dog-proof the fence. Everything is calm. I will not forget these good spring times.
Friday, March 14, 2008
And it was such a nice visit, only marred by a lot of rain that made it hard to do as much work around the yard as we'd wanted. Still, he and I pulled up a lot of weeds and murderized that evil grape VINE a lot more than it had ever been before. And he hung some pictures and other helpful things. I love Dad's visits.
It was too bad that I had to work the weekdays he was here, but it gave him time to hang out with the kids, who were on spring break this week, and with Lee. It is incredibly good that Lee and my dad get along so well. I know Dad is relieved that Lee is around and is a good guy, and I think Lee is happy to have a friendly in-law. Tuba Boy drove my dad around a bit, and no one died, which was excellent.
We ate quite a few good meals, too, between our cooking and restaurant jaunts. We enjoyed the local Mexican and Chinese places. It was South by Southwest week here in Austin, which means famous folks were everywhere in more central areas. We went to Artz Rib House for our combined birthday meal, and Jeff was there too (he was playing the break set, while Danny Santos was the main act, with our friend Eddie on guitar). Jeff came up all excited--he had spotted his literary hero, Harlan Ellison in the back of the restaurant. It was a really important evening for him! Ellison even said he remembered corresponding with Jeff. How cool!
(Jeff also played a local downtown hotel, where he entertained ZZ Top and the lovely Morgan Fairchild, but more thrilling: he got to sing a Beatles song with the star of Across the Universe! That cute English guy! Whoa! A good week for our local down and out singer, huh!)
So, how bout work. It is just fine. I am settling in a bit, and all my services are set up. I can eat outside and listen to carillons, which is very pleasant, and this week the traffic was great on the bus (spring break for the university, too). Today I got some software at discount prices, too. I recall that one of my last acts at Illinois was to upgrade my word processing software, knowing I'd not be able to afford it at retail!
I'll post some more tomorrow, I hope. I have a bunch more photos of the last week or so on Flickr, so click one of those links if you want to look.
On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 as highest), how much do you like your own handwriting?
8. It used to be a 9, but I have gotten less neat with my aging process. I love to look at old notes I took or papers I wrote by hand in high school or college. I certainly write better than my kids, who inherited a very illegible style from their dad's family.
Do you prefer baths or showers?
Showers. I want one of those showers with multiple shower heads. MMM.
What was the last bad movie you watched?
I remember watching something with Beccano that was absolutely awful, but now I can't even remember what it was. Flushed the memory, I guess. I'll see if he remembers and add it later.
Name something you are addicted to and describe how it affects your life.
Knitting. It makes me happy, relaxed and entertained. It is also an excellent substitute for my teenaged nail biting habit. I need to keep my hands busy, due to my preferred learning style or something, so until I started knitting constantly I bit my nails. Now I am pretty much knitting or typing all day, so it's good. Knitting satisfies my need to see beauty and feel it, too. I love to touch and look at yarn. Thanks to knitting I am never bored, and it has also led me to meet some really great people, my yarn shop friends and students!
Which instrument is your favorite to listen to?
Uilleann pipes (Irish pipes). The sound of these is hauntingly beautiful, not at all like the bagpipes of Scotland. You can hear them in some of Enya's music, especially on the Watermark CD. I wish I could remember the name of the beautiful song that is mostly on Uilleann pipes. Oh, here's a site with some samples to listen to.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Appetizer: If you could be any current celebrity for one whole week, who would you want to be?
Soup: On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how much do you enjoy talking on the phone?
Salad: Name a charitable organization to which you have donated (or would like to).
I have donated both my money and sanity to La Leche League International. Currently my money goes to Planned Parenthood.
Main Course: What is a food you like so much you could eat it every single day for a month?
Salmon sushi or butternut squash.
Dessert: Have you or anyone in your family had the flu this year?
I almost said no, but then realized that Lee nearly died from the pneumonia resulting from his flu repercussions not so long ago. So, yes.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
But today I am 50. Half a century gone, over half my life lived unless those Canova family genes really took hold.
I celebrated at lunch today by going outside to eat a sandwich and look at old things: all the turtles in the Turtle Pond near the UT Tower. They have moss growing on their shells, and seemed quite content to be blinking sleepily and enjoying the sunshine. It reminded me that there is good to reflecting on your life in a slow and thoughtful way. I saw a shadow and looked up to see a tiger swallowtail swooping up and down in the brisk wind. That reminded me that I am always changing. The butterfly led my attention to my left, where I saw a plant about 12 feet tall. It had no leaves, only huge thorns. But it also had a beautiful array of white flowers, the size of apple blossoms. The contrast of the thorns and flowers reminded me that there will always be beauty and danger in life.
With that little lesson all wrapped up, I was ready to face the rest of my day. So many of my friends have had huge parties, celebrations and events for turning 50. I honestly don't feel like it, and I know Lee isn't big on celebrations, so we will just have a nice dinner once my dad gets here on Friday. I'll raise a Starbucks toast to myself and Suzanne (tomorrow she is 50) at the knitting group, then sing in the choir as usual. A low-key, pleasant start to the next half century.
I did get a lovely freshwater pearl necklace and earrings from Lee, hand-made by his talented boss. I will TRY to share a photo of it, if I am home at the office desk enough any day soon to do so. Tomorrow will feature a lot of cleaning and straightening for the Parental Visit, but I'll try!
Have you been wondering how the new job is going? Well, it is just fine--there are a lot of details on arcane accounting mainframe applications to learn and I am trying to not be jealous that I am not on the web team. They have the fun jobs. Heh, reminds me of wishing I was on that other team at the previous place! But, here I will have lots of opportunities. It's a bit claustrophobic, but everyone is nice. Once I get a couple of books and plants in here, it will be OK, even though I can't turn around, the desk is so small.
The bus will take some getting used to, but is still better than driving all this way. I only have to drive 5-6 miles rather than 30-40. While the buses have wi-fi, they are so cramped I can't open the computer, so forget that. I have managed to knit some, though!
I think things will settle in just fine. I just need to adjust, which will happen.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
First, here's Tuba Boy, once again performing at the church, but look, he's using a different low-pitched instrument! Today was his first public bass performance. He is playing a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, along with the rhythm guitarist. There was also a fine drummer, lead guitarist, and vocalist. All in high school, all not usually in rock bands. But, they sounded great (I guess--we missed the prelude due to a combination of Lee's usually charming lack of urgency getting places and the fact that they started extra early). But, I did get to hear this song. The dad of the lead singer said he'd never heard the boy sing before--that must have been interesting! And lead guitar kid was worried because he's really studied classical guitar more than electric. But, they were all fine!
The high school students did their annual service this year, and I was glad that at least Tuba Boy participated. He also lead the "Joys and Concerns" section of the service, and was good, though he read at about twice the speed the words should have been said. It was a lot of fun to listen to the things the students prepared--they'd obviously put in a lot of thought to the puppet show about the 7 UU principles and the three little mini-services. It was a little hard for me and Lee, professional educators of adults, to hear the last speaker proclaim that grown-ups are all finished learning and just work, until they retire and someone takes care of them. Hmm, all those people who started to knit with me showing them how must have been doing some other activity besides "learning." And I am not sure why we waste our time with all those modules and exercises in our jobs. Actually, it was sweet to see how an inexperienced background could lead to such conclusions, but I am sure some "lifelong learners" in the crowd were glad, like we were, that the sermon didn't have a "talk back" feature.
Everyone was so nice to me about getting a job, and we met a very interesting new person, so it was just a fine church day. It was a fine weekend, too. I had fun teaching both an adult to knit and a teen to crochet on Saturday (and both seemed to "learn" something).
And last night Lee and I went to a house concert of musicians we enjoy, Karen Mal and Ken Gaines. (Of course, I had to endure my own internal trip down memory lane in the Karen Mal department...she sure has cropped up a lot for someone I barely know.) The concert was nice, and we got to talk to a lot of friends in a more relaxed than usual context. Lee may even get some bass gigs, himself!
Now we are off to our own gig in a bit. Going to do an open mike thing at BB Rovers in our "Trey Bone" persona. I am so glad that Austin set it up. He promised he would, and he did! Yay him.
I am getting ready for my big day tomorrow, too. Of course, the day I have to trek all over a college campus, it is supposed to rain. Just hope I catch the bus successfully! I will report back when I can, but probably not tomorrow since I appear to have something to do from 6 am until 9 pm.