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!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On a Different Note

I didn't really report on the weekend, which was actually action-packed and fun. I did the usual yarn shop work on Saturday, then had a fun get-together with my long-time friend Janet, her two older kids, one of whom I had not seen since he was in middle school, and he's like 21 now, our friend Terry, who used to go with us to see Jeff play at Tavern in the Gruene, or whatever the name of that place was, and all their new love interests. It was fun, though Janet appeared slightly manic (I think it stems from having to see her nutty ex). But in any case, she was having fun, her kids were amusing, and the dates were all really nice people. We were at Artz, so listened to some bluegrass and watched a very old dude do some kind of country dancing, I think, or something. Jeff also joined us, since he needed to borrow Lee's bass to do some recording and he really liked those ladies when they came to listen to him play with Edge City and Danny Santos in the good old days when everyone got along.

At this party, Janet's daughter's boyfriend shared a chilling story. He works (or perhaps "worked" by now) at an Italian restaurant in the Triangle trendy shops in Austin. Janet and her daughter had lunch there, and he was their server, by request. He was very professional, by all reports, though at the end of the meal, Janet kiddingly asked if the margaritas came with free refills like the other drinks, and I guess he gave some joking answer. Well. After the family left, he got chewed out for his behavior. He asked, "How do you know exactly what I said? Did someone report me?" And his supervisor responded that no, they have microphones and webcams on all the tables. The employees and patrons were NOT informed of this (as far as I know--if there is a sign saying "your conversations may be monitored" no one saw it). I find it incredibly creepy, rude, and invasive to not let people know they are being eavesdropped on. I mean, people have private conversations at restaurants! For sure, I will NEVER eat at that restaurant or any other that engages in this practice.

I find it one thing to have tech support calls and the like monitored. They TELL you this, and they tell the employees, too. The restaurant thing is underhanded.

Anyway...on Sunday we went to a nice party in the evening. Coincidentally, it was the 25th anniversary of the fine couple who comprise Edge City. So, two days in a row we saw Jeff (who returned the bass after enjoying it greatly--and this is Lee's OLD Fender Jazz bass). We also saw good ole Danny Santos, too, so it was musical old home week. It's nice to still be included in the group of folks I met with Jeff, since I like a lot of them. I got to catch up on a lot of people, and to listen to some good music. I even met a couple of nice new music lovers or Edge City friends. It is good to have a wee bit of social life.

So, why is the beautiful, moody photo of Beccano in Ireland featured? Because the poor boy suffered over the weekend--Tuba Boy didn't shut the front door well enough again, so of course Rose and Scrunchy scooted out and ran as fast as their doggie legs could carry them. Beccano knows that they will get FAR if not caught quickly, so he ran out...with no shoes on. Even in just 5 minutes, the 100+ degree street and sidewalks burned the bottoms of his feet badly. He has a huge blister on one foot. Lee and I bought him a cheesecake to thank him. Poor kid. Now that I have a job, I think we need to fix the door.

I hope to share a couple more of the kids' Ireland pix. The ex got a few really nice ones.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I am very sad that two Unitarian Universalist church members have lost their lives, just because they belong to a liberal church. I am very sad that the kind of hatred that drives a man to shoot innocent people whose political views differ from his exists. And I am worried that the way things are going in the US more of this sort of thing will happen. I've just spent a couple of years having trouble finding work--I know how frustrating it is, and how tempting it is to blame others. But, you're not going to improve things by hurting others, attacking institutions or bad-mouthing huge corporations (and again, I know it's tempting!).

I'll be at a candlelight vigil at MY UU church tonight, thinking of the members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville who lost their lives, lost beloved friends or family members and lost their sense of safety in a place that should be a sanctuary from all the violence in the world. I hope you will light a candle, or send thoughts of peace to these people.

Update: Here is the UU World article on the shooting. The candlelight service was very good, and we had some helpful conversations there, plus good singing. Rev. Ellis did a great job planning the service. The most helpful conclusion we arrived at was that this news does give us an opening to talk to others about what a liberal religious tradition is all about, and to show that we are people, just like anyone else...people who value peace, reconciliation and forgiveness. Those are hard concepts to get across sometimes.

Later: Here is the collection of articles from July 29. It's updates on the families, the crazed right-wing stuff the shooter reads (and they say the LIBERAL media is scary, sheesh), and information on support for churches and UUism. I am saving this stuff mainly for my own reference, I guess.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hi, I am still here! After most of a week with no computer access during the day, I am catching up, and of course had to leap into the latest craze of making interesting things out of your photos on this site. All the cool knitters are doing it. I used this same photo of Beccano to make a billboard, and it looks cool as my screen background at work.

Yes, I am doing fine at the new job. I almost have the vital cubicle decorating finished (the package delivery gal was really impressed). It is nice having a big enough cubicle to put more stuff in. So, the work report is that I didn't have computer access until the end of yesterday--no one really knows why, just the signing on thing didn't work for the woman who's my supervisor's supervisor's supervisor. Or something like that. But, I am settling into editing online courses on fascinating hardware topics, and happy as heck to be earning money around relatively pleasant people. No complaints.

And it is raining today, so no complaints about that, either. Lee has been feeling under the weather due to allergies (we think it is mold, and I seem to have a much milder, yet rather irritating case of it myself), which has meant the family hasn't been doing much. Poor bored Beccano. I think he will be glad when band practice starts. Lee is getting bits of job action, so we remain hopeful about that.

This weekend brings gatherings and parties, so I should have more fascinating stuff to report soon. And I'll have some photos of fun stuff like rapidly growing sunflowers for your enjoyment. I just wanted to let y'all know I am still alive, just moving slowly until I get all adjusted.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday's Feast, A Week Late

Mutant Bluebonnet
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I never got around to doing last week's Friday's Feast, so we will have that one for today. At this point, there isn't one for this week posted. And also, here's a photo of a mutant bluebonnet on the square in Burnet, Texas. It is made out of some kind of foam and is quite a conversation starter.

Friday's Feast

Appetizer: When was the last time you had your hair cut/trimmed?

A week ago. As soon as I knew I had the contract job, I felt OK with spending the money to get my hair done.

Soup: Name one thing you miss about being a child.

The yard in the house I grew up in, which was two lots that my dad had covered in beautiful azaleas, camellias and other plants, all under huge oaks.

Salad: Pick one: butter, margarine, olive oil.

Butter. It makes everything yummy. Just use in moderation.

Main Course: If you could learn another language, which one would you pick, and why?

Mandarin, since I guess they'll be taking over sooner or later. And, slightly more seriously, because I never was very good with tone languages--I sucked at Thai.

Dessert: Finish this sentence: In 5 years I expect to be…

Getting ready to take Tuba Boy to grad school, moved out of this suburban house to somewhere less crowded, and enjoying time with Lee.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ooh! It drives me crazy!

Crazy Suna
Originally uploaded by sunasak
You probably are hoping for a report of my first day on the job. I would like to be reporting that to you. But, nooooo, after asking how soon I could start, and indicating I'd be starting early this week, the new ALE folks say the person in charge of me will be out of town the rest of the week, so I can't come in until Monday. That made me put on my Zoolander face, as depicted in the picture!

Oh well, I will enjoy a few more days off to do errands, knit and enjoy the kids. The boys and I went to Goodwill and the outlet mall yesterday, and I enjoyed spending time with them, and enjoyed getting a few new work tops and pants. I got Tuba Boy a new wallet, since he now regrets putting purple duct tape on the last nice wallet I got him (aww, my baby is growing up). And I got him a pair of sunglasses to wear in the car, which he really needed. Beccano just followed along and was silly. We enjoyed listening to a crazy CD, Gogol Bordello. Wow, if you haven't heard this zany band of Pirate Gypsies, give them a try. They play music derived from European folk music (like gypsie stuff) but the singing sounds like Popeye the Sailor, and the lyrics are decidedly modern, mostly political commentary. Quite a hoot! I love having all this new music introduced to me, and Tuba Boy really likes some interesting stuff.

I took Beccano to his guitar lesson again, since Lee was in his third interview at the time (all that interviewing wiped him out, too). There's one Indian family who shows up when I am there every week, and the mother talks loudly on the phone in Hindi, and lets the kids who are not in lessons run wild in the music shop, touching everything, playing hide and seek, and drumming on the drum kit. Well, today she left and the dad showed up. He was like, "Stop running, stop touching things, sit down--this is not a place for that sort of thing!" Go Dad! I really like the Indian lady who comes after them, who has cute, well behaved kids and is very friendly and fun to talk to. I may have mentioned her a few weeks ago, as we had a good conversation about the hair characteristics of various ethnicities. I figure guitar lessons are good. Any chance to meet new people is a good thing, and I have had some fun conversations waiting on Beccano.

And his guitar playing is improving SO much. His teacher is great. Yesterday he was messing around on Lee's acoustic guitar, and, sigh. It sounded like a CD, or one of the adults I know. A beautiful tone, phrasing and line. He later said he'd like to get an acoustic, too. That made me really happy. I could listen to him play around on that all day! His electric stuff is good, but like any young guitarist, he spends lots of time trying to see what weird noises he can get it to make!

I was hoping to have lunch tomorrow with my old and dear friend who is the state head honcho of the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization, since she will be on her way to the state conference (SIGH, I miss those). But, it looks like she will have a passenger, so we won't be able to really talk about our lives (she's a therapist, so we usually go deep into our personal issues, and it is usually very helpful). Darn, we really have to see each other more often. I wish someone going to the conference could put on a button that says, "Suna says HI" or something. It would be so much easier to put that whole organization behind me if I hadn't made such good friends.

Ahh, well. There, a little slice of my life. We are hopeful that at least one of the jobs Lee interviewed for yesterday will work out, so keep us in your thoughts!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Weekend at the Highland Lakes

Favorite Double Wide
Originally uploaded by sunasak
It has been a really nice weekend so far full of fun with old friends and new, and adventures in driving down dirt roads, too. I wish I could share more photos from the weekend, so if you want to see more, visit my Flickr pages!

First, I didn't have to work on Friday, so I took advantage of the last free day for a while by getting my hair cut and colored. I'd been tired of dealing with the length, so I went ahead and got it a bit shorter, and probably about the same shape. I was also tired of how my lovely red hair kept fading to a reddish brown. I had this vision of burgundy hair, but my hairdresser and his hilarious hairdresser pal both said, oh no, that was not good for my coloring. I ended up with pretty much my natural hair color, maybe a shade lighter, with some reddish accents. While not an "exciting" color, it looks more like "me" and I am happy to have a cut that doesn't take much maintenance and a color that won't grow out quite so obviously. I MIGHT get highlights in the front, since I was liking how my gray in the front was lightening up my face. So, the great experiment with blondish and reddish hair has ended. If I had a bit more gray, I'd leave it natural, but right now it's not at the "pretty" gray amount.

Then, on Saturday I did a lot of fun things! My ex was coming to town, and we invited him to stay here with the kids so we could go do couple stuff (it is hard for me and Lee to go anywhere, due to the dog care needs--no way to afford to board 4 dogs, two grumpy and elderly). So, first we drove to scenic (not really) Liberty Hill, where he dropped me off at knitting friend Jen's beautiful new home (really) where a bunch of the ladies from the yarn shop got together to dye yarn with Kool-Aid. I'll have pictures and descriptions on the knitting blog, but here I can say how much I enjoyed being in a group of women with toddlers/preschoolers running around in the mix--reminded me of my old life at the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization. Since a bunch of my friends from there are at a retreat this weekend, where the mothers and kids are doing lots of fun things, I was glad to get a little female bonding in, myself (though there was a very nice husband around, too). Besides, from what I can tell, that retreat probably would have been incredibly stressful for me. So, yay, I had a fun weekend doing something else!

While I was yarning, eating and gabbing, Lee explored Bertram, the next town down the road. He found a lovely nursery (to which we returned this morning to buy hanging miniature roses) and a little cafe where he apparently had the most delicious pie ever, chocolate oatmeal.

He came and got me with my finished, yet damp, yarn, and we headed out to Burnet and the Highland Lakes area. You may remember we went out here not too long ago and looked for houses for sale, then we went to Lake Limestone and looked. This time, we spent a while exploring Burnet (sadly, discovering the yarn shop had gone out of business). I was proud that I didn't buy any pansy items in any antique store, though I really would have liked to get a photo of a black vulture that was taken by the owner of a knife shop we went in--this guy does incredible bird photos. Bird lover, knife lover, surgeon, apparently.

After checking into a nice hotel on a beautiful creek, we bit the bullet and visited a realtor in Buchanan Dam, a lovely woman named Jeanette. After laughing at Lee's original budget, she did show us the more inexpensive options in lakefront property. Mostly it was undeveloped property, but there were also two mobile homes on the lake. Apparently all the mobile homes there are quite old, because all the neighborhood associations say if you replace one, you have to do a stick-built house.

We had quite a good time driving all over the lake looking at some nasty land on spits of mud, land with beautiful lake views but is almost perpendicular, lots of deer, lots of winding roads, and the mobile home neighborhood. It wasn't bad at all, and the place you see pictured at the top of the post is actually quite nice, especially if you love undiluted 70s decor. It's very well kept, has fruit trees, a porch swing with lake view, a very un-fancy dock (but one where you can catch large striped bass), a fence for the dogs, and tons of storage space. It is what I always envisioned in a lake house--not a palace, but a kinda run-down place to relax.

I've included a photo or two of the view of the lake, which is on a cove (actually where a creek joins the lake), not the main lake. This cuts down on screaming speed boats and "personal watercraft." This property is also not far from the nesting spots of a lot of bald eagles. I sure hope we can get this or something like it, once Lee's land is sold. Of course, it is sort of funny that selling 80 acres of farm land would only give a down payment on a trailer by a lake, but that's what that "location, location, location" thing boils down to!

It feels weird to even be considering a second house, but I know Lee doesn't want to pay the huge taxes that would happen if he didn't reinvest the bucks from selling his land. I think our idea would be to enjoy this place and fix it up a bit, then when the time comes to sell my house, we'd have plenty of money to put a nice new house (maybe with two stories, for more lake views) instead of the double-wide, which would be over 40 years old by then anyway. It's fun to dream, anyway, since just a few weeks ago I didn't know if I'd be able to pay the bills on THIS house. And even minor cosmetic fixes to the interior (it's all paneled in dark wood, with avocado AND harvest gold appliances) of the double-wide would bring its selling price up, if we did have to sell it at some point.

Let's move on...after all the house and land looking, we were hungry, so we decided to go to a restaurant called the Maxican, in Burnet. It's in an old house, and serves Mexican, barbecue, and steaks. Quite the mix. Well, it was a total hoot. When we walked in, an elderly lady greeted us with "would you like a back rub?" I was sure I'd misunderstood! But no, our second Jeanette of the day assured us that she gives everyone who comes in a back rub, because we are all special and all deserve one. Turns out she is the mother of the owners, and grandmother to most of the rest of the staff, or at least called grandmother by them. And none of these people appeared remotely Mexican, either. We had lots of fun with our waiter, a young college student home for summer break, and everyone there either knew each other or was just feeling friendly. Plus, the food was incredibly delicious. Even the Spanish rice, which usually I am not fond of, was yummy. The salsa was wonderful, the beans delicious, the pico de gallo not too heavy on the cilantro, and the chicken in our dishes so tender. There was a sauce on both of our dishes that was divine. And the staff was SO proud of the food. They kept saying, "It's really good, isn't it?" And I have to say that it's not every day that when you leave you hug the greeter and promise to come back and see her soon. We really want to show it to Beccano!

Today we ate breakfast, went and looked at more property, and viewed the double-wide again. Then we drove home, stopping first at one of those stores that sells concrete statues, because we wanted a new birdbath. They had the one that was in the real estate office's yard--shaped like a branch with a squirrel going up it. Lee even got me a little squirrel to put IN the birdbath. The prices were much lower than home depot, and we got to look at many amusing concrete "things," and to meet the sweet old couple working the store. They both looked like they'd had long hard lives, and didn't have many teeth between them, but they were very kind and helpful. The old lady even sent Lee back to the car after he paid with two bottles of water "on the house" because, "you two look hot."

I have no idea when I have spent a weekend meeting such a variety of nice people in unexpected places. Plus I got to hang out with nice friends, too!

I hope you enjoyed my lengthy travelogue! I am looking forward to teaching MS Word 2003 tomorrow (now THAT is some software I know) and starting at ALE either Tuesday or Wednesday. Of course they don't tell you when and where to report until the last moment. LOLZ, as the kids would say.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Income Returns to Our Home

Woo hoo. We have achieved income!

I did a second interview yesterday at lunch, and before I got home, I got offered a contract at good ole ALE, so there will be nine months of fine high income for me, and time for Lee to find a permanent position without too much stress. It is my strong suspicion that I'll like the coworkers and duties a lot--fer sure I will like the 9 mintue commute. I hope his job interview on Monday reaps good rewards--we are thinking VERY positive about it.

In the meantime, I enjoyed teaching MS Outlook 2007 to some nice folks who work for the state yesterday, and I am continuing to teach them an intermediate course today. We are all learning a lot and figuring out interesting uses for the software. I always like it when I get good ideas in a training.

Wow, I feel a lot better to be earning some money and getting out of the house a bit. I am even handling driving down I-35 at rush hour pretty well--it's not as bad as I thought it would be. Ahh, it is so nice to have that weight off my shoulders...again. This time I am thinking it will stick!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cute Things

Our Cardinal Nest
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I just want to show you a bunch of cute things this evening. First, here is a view looking up at the daddy of the cardinal pair that has built a nest in the tree right outside our house. He has been bringing in bugs very regularly since the babies hatched on the 4th (Beccano called to report this while Lee was playing in Point Venture). The mother helps, but mostly hangs out on the nest keeping them warm. It has been fun watching this nest, since it is both directly outside the guest room window (so you can see right in!) and directly above the gliding bench on the patio. We can watch from above and below. The nest is hilarious. it has hair from the dogs in it as well as big hunks of soda bottles that the dogs took outside and chewed up. Yes, a modern, plastic bird nest.

Moving on to more cuteness, Lee bought me a fountain today, for the back patio. We had liked its shape before, but thought it looked sorta cheesy with the fake flame on top of it. What silly people we were. That fake flame is just a substitute for the real flame that comes out of the tiki torch style burner that will burn citronella oil and keep some of the evil mosquitoes off us as we enjoy the trickling sound. Now we just have to get some citronella oil! I'm really happy with it. I have missed having a water feature since we got rid of the pond/mosquito breeding facility last year. And it's a cute fountain. Well, maybe it is more distinguished than cute, but I like it.

And last but not least, here is more cuteness. I had to share at least one photo of my little friend Miss T in her dress-up clothing. I took the picture with the phone, so it isn't great, but it captures her spirit. It's been fun watching this precocious little thing as she grows--her mom is one of the yarn shop workers/hanger-outers like me, and a very talented, vivacious person. The daughter has much of her spirit and spunk, with a tinge of "I know how cute I am" to top it off. What the picture shows is one very happy child, who has just received a large bag of dress-up clothing that she very much wanted. Some were rather big, and she was a tad disappointed, but this one dress was her favorite. She begged to have photos taken, so I agreed. This is just one of a number of very carefully chosen poses she engaged in to show what a versatile dress-up item this dress can be. It just did my heart good to see someone so happy. She literally jumped for joy when the yarn shop owner brought in her daughters' old dress up clothing. Little Miss T and her friends will have years of fun with these dresses!

Enough cuteness. Must read about Outlook 2007 some more.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Holiday Activities

Cowboy Musician
Originally uploaded by sunasak
For the first time in years, I actually did something for Independence Day. Our musician church friends asked Lee to play bass in their annual "Patriotic Band" that entertains at their little town's 4th of July celebration. They live in Point Venture, which is at the end of a peninsula jutting into Lake Travis's north side, down from Lago Vista (this makes no sense unless you live here, but will help Austinites). There are fewer than 700 people here, many of whom are weekenders or summer dwellers, but each year they get together for a pretty good celebration. The band that Lee was a part of consisted of folks ranging from a 14-year-old trumpet player (also recruited from our church) to a very enthusiastic nearly-80 flute player. Lee, at 50, was second youngest, though. Doesn't he make a fine holiday cowboy musician, though? I love that look!

The event was really cute. They had a parade, which mostly consisted of a fire engine, a bunch of old or classic cars, including one convertible with a 50+ lady in a ball gown waving from it, and probably every golf cart owned by every family in the neighborhood. They had them quite filled with balloons and streamers, which must have been fun. Many had dressed-up dogs on them (which then visited us after the parade). When the parade was over, everyone came in to eat lots and lots of hot dogs, chips, veggies and cookies--all provided by the Lions Club. There were clowns and moonwalks for the kids (mostly grandkids--this is an elderly kinda place). It was very small town, but nice. We got t-shirts.

Afterwards, our friends took us out on their "new" boat, which is actually a pretty old pontoon boat they bought with another retired couple at the church. I am also including a photo or two from the boat ride. It would have been a lot more fun any other day than this, because of course everyone in the greater Austin area was also on the lake. It must have been much more crowded over by Lakeway, where there are more people. There was a lot of bumpiness from all the faster boats' wakes. And wow, a LOT of those personal watercraft. We saw a kid hit a wake way too fast and go way up in the air. He then fell off. It was fun to look at all the giant houses along the lake, though, and it felt like a real holiday to do a real holiday activity! These friends are really nice people, so I am glad Lee could help out with their band.

We came home rather overheated, but happy, and took the kids out to dinner (Tuba Boy had worked all day, and Beccano had no interest in joining us, though he might have liked the boat ride).

The heat really messed me up, though, so I have not been feeling well today. Some odd sinus headache thing, or heat illness. Still, I went with Lee as he helped a knitting shop friend move boxes in preparation for leaving town after a sad divorce. I really appreciate Lee's willingness to help people just because I ask him to. And hey, we got two little lamps and a big candle holder out of the deal. And met some nice new people, which can't hurt.

After that, Lee bought some new plants for our next bed, including a phlox that smells great and my first roses. I am so happy about them. They are those really hardy roses that bloom a lot, not fancy ones. And he is also going to plant Beccano's beloved sunflowers. We don't know if they'll make it or not, but it would be nice to have them for fall.

I'll spend most of tomorrow getting ready for the teaching gig next week. I hope to read over all the materials tomorrow and Monday. I have 6 classes scheduled, which means at least SOME income. Hoping the contract job comes through, for which I have a second interview Tuesday at lunch. Cross your fingers.

The last photo you see is a close-up of the new bass, as a favor to those of you who asked to see it!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Jobly Update

Pug Up Close
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Hee hee, hope the ugly dog photo doesn't scare you away. Scrunchy tends to lie around with his tongue hanging out a lot, and Beccano likes to capture the moments.

Just a quick job update note. I did get invited to teach MS Office to state workers, the job that is 3-4 days a week with no guarantees. It will be money coming in, and should start next week, so I am going to do it, at least for a while.

I still haven't heard from the "good job" place, but did get a call from the recruiter about the contract jobs. I am the #1 candidate, but they have to interview someone else just in case. And that makes sense, knowing how I tend to flake out on contracts when a real job shows up. At this point, though, if I got the contract to work with the nice folks, I might go ahead and take it.

That's all from here. Lee's last day at his job is tomorrow, and they gave him a very nice farewell lunch yesterday, even giving him a certificate of appreciation. He also got himself a nice present, a lovely bass guitar, hand made by an expert craftsman in Mexico. It is serial number 6, which makes me think when this dude is famous, the guitar will be worth a lot! The thing is gorgeous. And wow does it play. I will enjoy looking at it and listening to it for years. Good thing we can still get stuff, now that money is going to come in.

More later, I hope.