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, December 29, 2009

End of Decade Philosophizing


I have been reading the blog of Lisa, a woman I knew from my old nonprofit work, who has had many challenges lately. It really reminds me of my years between 2002-2007, only her issues (cancer, for example) have been truly hard challenges. She posted this today, which I encourage you to read. Since I wrote a huge long response, and since I have been so down the past month or two that I haven't posted much here, I thought I'd share my comment here. As context, she talks about the topic of "why me"? Why does all this crap happen, all at once, to people who are trying to lead a good life, treat others well, and raise productive children? I said:

Well, my deep descent began right about this time ten years ago. At one point, I remember telling people the light at the end of the tunnel felt like it was only a few atoms wide. It all took me by surprise. I thought that since I was smart, tried to be kind, worked hard, and focused on helping others that good stuff would happen to me. I thought things that didn't go well were because I had made bad decisions, so I worked really hard to be kind and make good decisions.

What the years of partners leaving, friends betraying me, jobs that disappeared or stressed me to the max, and financial horrors told me was that I am NOT in control. No matter how smart or nice I try to be or how hard I work, stuff can happen. I can't make people treat me the way I want to be treated. I can't stop illnesses in myself or my family. It happens.

Worse was how long it took me to figure out that this stuff wasn't punishment for being a "bad person, bad friend, bad spouse, bad worker, bad parent, etc." And it didn't mean that the people who "did stuff" to me were bad either. Things just happen. Sure, it helps to try to make good decisions and keep living my life according to my personal values (treat others as you would like to be treated). But that won't make life easy.

All I can control is how I react to things. I guess this is the same lesson you are learning, too. It sure took me a long time. And still, occasionally I fall back into the panic mode and cry out, "Why me?"

I still work for peace in my home, my community and the world, even though I know there are huge groups of people and corporations who do not share this agenda. I will still fight for religious tolerance and appreciation of the wonderful variety of cultures in the world, even with all the forces who think anything "other" should be squashed. That makes me feel good. That keeps me going.

And I expect crappy stuff will keep happening. But I have stopped punishing myself and blaming others. That has not helped.

Hmm, I'll go put this endless comment in my blog, so it will have content this month.
[end quote]

I'll try to post more. Really, nice stuff has happened in addition to stress--the kids are great, I really enjoy my coworkers and work (when I have it). Lee is a great husband and very kind to me. I have some fine neighbors, knitting friends, church friends and online pals. We all have challenges. Just sometimes it's harder to cope than others, and this has been one of my harder times. Funny, though, I think it makes me appreciate the good stuff even more.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Been Gone

I've had a hard time writing lately. I type so much at work that it's hard to make myself write more at home.

And there have been sad things in my family--my step-mother's aunt (who was raised as a sister)'s husband died. (Interesting relationship, I know). George, who we visited many times. I felt so bad for them. And then my step-mother broke her arm the next night--badly, and missed the memorial service. My poor dad has been taking care of both of them since and it has stressed him out.

Then Lee's sister died. We have been riding in an RV for the last week visiting various relatives of his.

And I have been trying to work this whole time.

I will try to share some nice memories of the past month over the next few days.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Life Snippets

A lot has been going on, so it's been hard to fit in time to write about it. This post is just chock full of little things I've been thinking about or have enjoyed.

My dad alerted me to this article in the Greensboro, NC newspaper, about his long-time neighbor, Hilda Fountain. She just turned 101 years old, and as you can see, still has a great sense of humor. I guess I'll have to take the photo off if I ever make this blog public, but for now, enjoy this photo from the article!


Hilda is really an inspiration. She is so "with-it" and has such energy, even after dealing with breast cancer at age 98. It would be so wonderful to still be able to contribute to society, grow plants and harvest vegetables, and have all my faculties when I reach her age.

I debated long and hard about whether to do this, but in the end, I let Beccano have his Christmas gift early, even though he was once again slacking off on school work. I just could not figure out how to hide this huge guitar anyway. It's a Fender Jaguar bass. with an apparently very cool red head stock. To make it even cooler, he let me get him red Converse All Stars to go with the bass.



The good news is that because the bass is going out of production, it was deeply discounted. Better news is that I could get it at Danny Ray's rather than the big guitar store in town! Always happy to support local folks' businesses. Wow, Beccano is a happy boy with this, and he seems fine about not getting a lot of Christmas gifts, since this pretty much ate up his share, plus a bit. Now he has all the guitars I am going to get him for a decade or so, at least.

We had a stressful, yet fun, week at work last week. The Big Boss came to visit, so we all had to be in the office, looking busy. Of course, I don't think he even popped his head into the room where all the regular people work, but we had it looking good anyway. I even brought cookies, and the Ninja Genius guy made pumpkin bread. In the spirit of Halloween, Tuba/Train Man decorated our collection of buffalo using the office supplies I had lying around. One buffalo is going as the Easter Bunny for Halloween, while another has buffalo wings. The third is a pirate (that is an earring and eye patch on the left buffalo).


Sometimes we get a bit giddy after a lot of technical crapola. I was describing how there had been a mistake on a document, and my attempt at fixing it had made it worse, when I came out with this gem of a statement, "Two wrongs make a very wrong wrong." Everyone insisted it HAD to go on my whiteboard with another couple of little gems, after which Ninja Genius just had to add his two cents.

We survived one of those "team building" outings with the Big Boss, which mainly for me involved not eating fried food and watching the guys play pool in a smoky bar. I did at least get to have a free beer. I did my best to be friendly and act smart, since they are still trying to get me a permanent position. I tried to appear valuable.

At least all this stuff has helped the time pass waiting for Lee to get finished with his endless work trip. He got sick over the weekend, and I know that must have been hard. I hate being sick all alone.

I got cheered up a bit, anyway, with more enjoyment of the high school band. Here's a bonus shot of them in the stands playing the school song, which none of us parents have any idea what the words are, other than "O Shenandoah."




A real highlight of the past week or so came Saturday night. I decided I didn't want to spend Saturday night alone (Beccano had a date to see a movie with his girlfriend and a few other people). So I called Tuba Boy at the college and asked what he was doing. He said it was R's birthday--this is the girl from another country in their group, and it is her first birthday away from home. He was willing to eat with me, but also wanted to share her birthday with her.

So, his entire group of friends decided to join me at the Mexican restaurant near our house, where we had a very fun meal. She got sung to by the staff and had to wear the giant sombrero. Plus she got her first fried ice cream. It was incredibly cute. She is just one of those people whose adorableness quotient is very high.

Then they all trooped over to my house (8 kids in total) for tarot readings. They are all very interested (I had talked to the girls about it a bit in their suite last time I saw them), but one girl especially seems like she may be a real tarot person some day. It was a LOT of fun, though that many readings is tiring! They played with our dogs, which pleased the dogs a lot (they miss Lee). The kids paid attention, as much as college kids can, and asked lots of good questions. What struck me is how very lucky Tuba Boy is to have been assigned such a great group of kids to live and work with. Only one kid who was there was not a member of their "Living Learning Community," and he was the boyfriend of one of the girls--fit right in, though. I really enjoyed being around such a pleasant, intelligent and open-minded bunch of young people. Whoever assigned the living arrangements is a genius. They are like peas in a pod. What fun to get to know them all better!

I'm still trying to carve out time to write more. I just get real tired lately. All that reading and staring at the computer screen, I guess. But I really do like my job, so keep your fingers crossed that it stays!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Best Weekend Ever

According to the kids in the band, this was the "best weekend ever." Things did come out rather magically for them, and I actually had a good time, too.

Friday was the homecoming game. The tradition is for the cool kids to buy or make each other these "mums," which no longer have actual mums like they did when I was a teen. It's all plastic. Here is Beccano wearing one that his friend J. gave him to wear because he hadn't managed to give it to his intended recipient.

Here we see J's girlfriend, who although a freshman, seems to have gotten the spirit big time, huh? That is how you kept seeing kids--some had so many "mums" that they were weighed down, or had created special holders for them. Not my favorite tradition.


Another tradition is the homecoming football game. Tuba Boy and Debate Boy came to that and wandered around getting hugged. You had to find something to do, because the football game was just pitiful. Neither team had any defensive line (our team has three very large boys on crutches at the moment--so large they were in the newspaper!) which could explain our issue. So, there was lots of scoring and watching the quarterbacks run around looking for someone to throw to, since there was no one able to sack them. We enjoyed the other team's band show at halftime, and were thrilled when Homecoming King was the drumline captain.

And we were shocked when after the other team scored a touchdown at the last minute, their kicker missed the extra point, letting our team win their first homecoming game in 6 years. Not exactly a stirring victory, but it counts. Then, at the end, when it was our band's turn to play, their band LEFT (which NEVER happens--we watched the other team last week when it was their homecoming). And worse, their coach kept their football team on the field after the band was announced, and had them doing jumping jacks in front of the band. Then apparently they made threats and spit on the band. Yeah, like the band kids had anything at all to do with their defeat. I am still working on the letter to the principal of that school. What bad sports.

Saturday continued being good. I ditched the kids and spent some time at the yarn shop, which I hadn't done in a long time, and that was good. After that I had a "lunch/dinner" in the middle of the afternoon with two other band moms. We decided we did NOT want to eat any more stadium food, so we got Mexican and figured it would hold us all evening. It did. And I listened to a LOT of band mom gossip!

Then all us band parents loaded into buses and went to Kyle, Texas for another competition. Although it was not rained out, it sure was nippy out. We watched a LOT of bands, some of them with pretty spectacular shows. All sorts of props, sound effects and such. But, when they finally got around to announcing the results, we were sad. They announced all the people in our group through second place and still hadn't mentioned our school. We figured we didn't even merit a teeny little trophy. But, no! The announcer said our band was first in its class. What we hadn't realized is that the last three bands were in a larger category than us (didn't even know there WERE bigger high schools). Now, you may recall that in the last competition, our kids came in last. So, we were (and are) pretty shocked, but for once in a good way.

I must say they did look and sound better. Obviously practice helped, and I think the slackers were intimidated into trying (and some kids were taken out). I was really happy the color guard won, even though they had inadvertently left their sabers at the school. They looked very good with the "air sabers" and didn't drop a one of them!

Sunday I'd planned to spend with my friend Jody, but she didn't feel well. But, the yarn shop was open in the afternoon for the yarn crawl, so I headed over there for some laughs and that, along with working some extra, filled the day. I didn't go to church, because being out in the wind and cold for two nights had ruined my throat. I didn't have much voice!

The most fun I had, though, was getting to go to Waterloo Records with both my kids. I really treasure any time I can spend with Tuba Boy, now, so getting to do stuff with him on his fall break was nice. We all got CDs and listened to parts of them, then had a nice Chinese dinner. I was glad that Tuba Boy insisted I go, even when I hadn't felt like it. And I got more knitting in (I was making mitts for a band kid).

The other good part of the weekend was that I got to talk to Lee a bit more, since he wasn't working the night shift on the weekend. Three weeks is LONG. I hope he makes it!

So, that about catches you up from rainy and chilly Austin. Back to your other blog reading!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rain Rain for Homecoming

We had a few nice, if muggy days, but today it rained a LOT. Looks like it's drying off just in time for the Homecoming football game, which will be good! I am looking forward to having Tuba Boy home for a few days on his "fall break." I know he will be busy seeing friends and I will be doing a bunch of stuff too (marching band contests stop for no one), but it will be nice to know he's home for a bit. With Lee out of town, I will take all the large male relatives I can get to fill the house!

And here's a photo of him and Beccano from last week when we visited his college. Each of them had bought the same mirrored sunglasses, separately, and had wanted to show the other one their purchase. Cute. I know Beccano will be glad to have his brother around to go places with this weekend and Monday. I guess I don't have Monday off, but I can work from home, at least.

It's been another busy, busy week of meetings and more meetings. But, an advantage of them is sometimes you get to see newborn babies. This is Fiona at 11 days old. She is blurry because she is a Wiggle Worm! Flings herself back and forth all the time. I do love that name, and it reminds me of a friend we had when my kids were very little. Fiona was a great friend who moved back to England when her husband's time with the weird mathematical software company was over. But we sewed, cooked, knitted and chatted a lot while she was here!


I am excited, because next month I get to start a new tarot and spirituality group. I'll get to resurrect the tarot blog, I guess! Probably I should record the reading I did last week on there, too.

I am looking forward to the next week or so, because Beccano and I got some good food to eat at home, and I don't have quite so many meetings. That will be nice. I've been decluttering a little bit each day, but still, there is a lot to do. I can tell that my bedroom and the media room look better, though! And that is what counts.

I'll try to write more after weekend fun.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Still Here

I am still here. I think I am just feeling down, off, or something. But I have been busy and doing a lot of stuff--had a bunch of meetings last week and even enjoyed some of them. I am working on setting up a tarot group that will be a good replacement for some of the community I've been missing lately, at least I hope.



I took this rainbow photo before choir last Wednesday. It shows that it has been raining, at least a bit, here. That's been a relief.

Things are OK for Lee and the kids, though I am not looking forward to Lee's upcoming business trip. Glad for the job, though. It enabled me to order new glasses, which means I will see a lot better starting tomorrow or Wednesday.

Wish me luck--I have an in-person interview for an instructional design job I did a phone screening for last week. I really like my current job, but sure would like a permanent position, too! We will see how I do.

I will TRY to write more soon!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oh, Do Check This Out!

I forgot to include this in my last post. I may have mentioned my friend Steve Brooks, a local Austin musician and punster (and fellow Unitarian Universalist hippie liberal), here before. He writes some pretty funny satirical songs and poems, and he has a good one that is appropriate for today--about Tom Delay's debut on Dancing with the Stars. I have never seen that show, just heard the yarn shop people talking about it. But, I enjoyed his song. Hope you will, too!

Vacated

That means we went on a vacation.

You aren't hearing much from me because I am still a grumpy old woman (though nothing is horrible, just normal issues and some health challenges). But how can you be grumpy when a cute dog like Bella comes to visit the office? She belongs to coworker Ted, who just dropped by for a few minutes today to fill out some forms. This is a very interesting shepherd/greyhound mix dog (look at the size of those ears!), who was shy but is getting lots better. I hear about her a lot, so it was great to meet her.



Good news is that Lee, Beccano and I had a mini-vacation over the weekend. We went on the trip to Port Aransas/Mustang Island that has been sponsored by our church every year for a long time. We hadn't been able to go since high school started, due to football games, but this year McNeil had an off week on the right weekend. We decided to take the leap and go. I am glad we did.

We took zillions of photos, all of which are still on the camera--Lee has uploaded them but not me. So, here are the few I took with my phone, which are of people gathered at a potluck. Hello, church people.


It was nice to be around a compatible bunch of folks. It reminds me of what I have liked about the church, even with all the turmoil and issues. It's changing to a different type of church now, but these folks are still the old-school slightly weird people who are there more for community than for how polished the Sunday services are. I do hope the people who are there for a professionally smooth, generic service enjoy that...but I am working on figuring out how to get more community and less generic-ness without having to lose the community. It is nice to know I am not the only one with this issue.



Mostly the guys and I hung around with each other and watched lots of birds feeding (really close to the shore--a great view) and looked at what was in the water. I have never seen the Texas water as clear as it was this weekend. It was as clear as the Caribbean. We saw glowing jellyfish at night, which was also neat--they were little bitty ones that did not sting (though something stung me on the foot, or cut it--I have a moist healing band-aid fixing that right now).

We went to one of those sort of run-down family restaurants for some fish for lunch on Saturday, and it was delicious. Beccano gave the waitress and cook a bit laugh by answering the question, "How do you want your fish cooked?" with "Medium well." We laughed at that one for a couple of hours, and he was good natured about it. He got it grilled!

The birds and scenery were so nice. But the mosquitoes were really scary. I keep forgetting about them. But, not now. I am covered in red marks.

Sunday we beached a bit then went to visit Lee's dad for a while on the way home. Getting there was made stressful by a line for the ferry. Sometimes I wish I could fix things beyond my control, but I tend to just accept them. That doesn't work for everyone, though...and it did not help that I was not feeling well. But, once we got to Lee's dad's house, it wasn't too bad. Even Beccano had a good time driving around the little Mule vehicle that was hanging around. Good driving practice! I got to start the new tractor. That was good for me. I felt very tall and bouncy on the air seat.

The vacation was good. I even got relaxed by the end.

Work is fine, honest. I am enjoying what I am doing and getting to do a lot of new stuff. I think I still get to stay. And tomorrow I get to go to the eye doctor. With insurance. Wow, what a concept.

I am just trying not to worry about how I will do with Lee gone for three weeks soon. It isn't that I can't cope when I am alone. It's just that too many times when someone has gone away, they have come back and left for good after that. But, not all patterns HAVE to be repeated, right?

See why I am not blogging much? My mind is in a strange place. I miss Tuba Boy. I worry about Beccano and school. I get tired of people and politics. I dislike having to sacrifice time with people I like to avoid people who I can't handle right now. Mooshy old Suna. I feel sorta like Beccano looks. Wary and gun-shy. But not sure why.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Woo Doggies

It's been another emotionally rough week for me. I am still really unhappy with how people have been treating each other. I am watching less television news and blocking some people's Facebook feeds. That helps. And I had a great conversation with some coworkers at lunch one day that made me feel a lot better about how world events are going and what we can do about it. For the most part, I work with incredibly bright people who can share ideas without shutting down the conversation. I have learned a lot from them, and mostly am relieved that these incredibly bright people mostly see things the way I do.



Other worried involve losing communities I care about. My grumpiness has led me to avoid large group gatherings, so I haven't hung around the knitting shop lately. And the need for money has been leading my church community toward a much less unique format that focuses on growth and recruiting new members and less on the things that made it a unique oasis for people for whom a traditional church format didn't work. I am trying to find ways to handle it productively. I joined a new women's group (where I feel very young!) and am taking the classes required to start a "chalice group" (small group ministry). I hope to start a group that focuses on tarot and spirituality, so I will be able to grow close to a small group with similar interests. I hope this is a productive way of handling my issues, rather than whining or talking to the wrong people who will say useful stuff like, "oh, you are just not good with change," or "it's just an experiment." Hmm. I heard THAT at the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization, a lot. They're still firmly enmeshed in their craziness.



In good news, we decided to go to Padre Island next weekend with a small group from our church. I used to love to go to those weekends in the Olden Days. There are just 10 groups going, so it should be nice and intimate. I am so glad there is no football next weekend so we could do it! The months after that will be band and more band! This will be Lee's and my first "vacation" with at least one of my kids. And our first outing of more than one day, if we can get dog care!

The other thing I am sorta worrying about is that Lee is going to be teaching in Arizona for most of next month. I am glad he got the new job, but won't enjoy that much time apart. I guess I thought these things were a week at a time, at most. I am sure I can handle it--at least Beccano will be here. Guess I will knit a lot.

Well, I actually had a lot of things to write about, but the wonderful rain we have been having the past few days (yes, we sure needed it!) has really done a number on my poor sinuses. Take care, my 3 readers, and if you want to send me encouragement, you know where to find me!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day. Hmph. Building Dedication. Yay.

It is Labor Day in the US. This holiday honors workers. Well, some of them. It honors workers with traditional jobs that have paid holidays, benefits, and such. These lucky folks get a paid day off work every September to rest, shop and hang out with their families.

However, in the US, more and more companies are outsourcing the kind of work I do. That is how Lee lost the job he had when we met. Those of us doing instructional design, tech writing or editing who were laid off from that particular company (and there were more just a week or two ago) are now wandering around Austin looking for work. Most of us need to settle for contract work. ALE only lets you work 9 months at a time, then you must take three months off. Other places have shorter or longer terms. But you never get to relax a bit and concentrate on a job--you are either just learning one or winding down and frantically looking for another one.

And what do contractors do on Labor Day? We sit at home and lose money. No pay for us. I am not sure how Labor Day is honoring us. And gosh, I hope none of us get sick or hurt on Labor Day, since we have no insurance. And it feels so good knowing most of our country's citizens do not give a hoot if we have any or not. If we wanted insurance, we should just go out and get a REAL job. Um, do you have one for me?

I sound bitter. I am trying not to be bitter. It's hard seeing how people in the US are dividing themselves into factions and picking on each other. Respect has been replaced by fear. Fear of each other and our elected officials. Wow, I did not approve of practically anything our previous administration did, but I did not attack his fans, make up reasons to hate anything he did, or prevent my children from listening to him.

Let's talk about something else.

Look, here are some nice photos. This is Rebecca, our choir director at church, hoping she can avoid talking (she didn't) at a really nice ceremony we had that dedicated the music building (an old school portable building) at our church to our beloved founding member, Bill Sauber. He left us a good amount of money for our music programs when he passed away, so we decided to honor him by dedicating the building to him.


Joe, our music committee chair, read Bill's obituary (from 2005), and then 4 or 5 of us shared some memories.
Here I am with the sign we had made and a couple of pictures of Bill. He was a great musician and very intelligent man. I learned a lot from singing with him. He also was an original member of our church, back when it was a lot of fun and very family oriented. Sorry the photo is blurry--no one believes me when I tell them they have to hold the phone still when taking photos with it!

Ricky, the choir director's husband and official church carpenter, hung the sign. What you don't see are all the "helpers" telling him exactly where to hang it. That was pretty funny. Thanks to Sam for taking the picture when my camera filled up.


Lots of good stuff has happened this weekend, tempering my bitterness. Tuba Boy came home for dinner both Saturday and Sunday nights, and I really enjoyed getting to hear how he is doing, what fun he's having, and what he's learning. I really cracked up when he told me in great detail about how he and his dorm companions built a fort in the common area. What a hoot. They are all crawling in there and watching movies on their laptops. Lots of kid left in those young adults!

And as I mentioned on my knitting blog, I taught a bunch of people at a MENSA conference yesterday. Everyone was darned nice and they had some interesting sessions, like clock making. They also had a margarita machine, so they seemed like a fun bunch. I am glad a nice family from church invited me to do this!

Oh, and it rained twice this weekend. Unfortunately one of those welcome rain events (we are in the worst drought in like a hundred years) came during this Friday's football game. Lots of lightning kept the players and band in shelter (buses for us) for about 1.5 hours, but eventually they let us out and had the game. As you can see, it did rain. Don't we look festive in our yellow?

Not only were we wet, but the game was awful. Whew, our team was bad. That always makes sitting on hard aluminum even less fun! On the other hand, it has also been the hottest summer ever here, and the rain kept the temperatures down. So, it could be worse!

More updates next week!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Trying to Be Cheery

I was saddened to hear that a friend passed away this week. Worried about her husband, their future, etc. Anyway, thinking of Becky's loved ones.

So, to cheer up, here is Beccano's school percussion section playing in a contest. Sure, you can vote for them, if you'd like, but I thought you might enjoy the new band uniforms and his banging (he is the one with all the red hair playing vibraphone).



Yes, marching band season is upon us. The first game was last night, in far-away College Station. We took nice buses, so it was not too bad. The game was really fun--it appeared as if it would be a LONG night, as the other team just scored and scored in the first half. But, then, our team woke up and actually got ahead by a point. But, just for a few minutes. A last-minute try to go back ahead failed, but it was yet another exciting night of Texas high school football. You never know what will happen! The band looked fine, though from the back it was hard to tell what was happening with the show. Next week should be better, and they'll know more. I do enjoy hanging out with the kids. It was so good to be back with "my" bus kids, though I miss the ones that aren't there.

I am glad Lee started his new "real" job. It is a relief to have benefits again. I am wondering how it will go with him traveling so much, but I hope that won't go on too long. It sounds like he will be gone most of October, the big month of band festivals.

And I miss Tuba Boy. I did get to review his first college paper, though, and was quite proud of how well his writing has improved. Still a few too many big words, but I think I wrote like that at 18, myself.

Friday, August 21, 2009

College and Moving On

I guess enough time has passed that I can write about Tuba Boy (back to that name, since I think I may take this blog public soon) going off to college. We actually had a very good weekend, and I believe he and Debate Boy are having a good first week of first-year classes.

Below is a picture of the "learning-living environment," or whatever they are calling dorms these days, where the boys are now ensconced. Their room is the first floor room in the bend of the building, so you can tell they have a nice view of trees and a pathway out their window. We really lucked out in move-in--there is only one room in the whole school closer to the drop-off point, and that is their suitemates' room, which I think hears a lot of door openings and closings at night. I saw so many fathers looking exhausted from carrying their daughters' many possessions up to the third floor. We, on the other hand, took 5 minutes, since each boy had two family members to help, and hardly brought anything (they had us bring a few more things later, and we did go to Target for more supplies--along with half the school).

Here's a bit of an inside view of their room (right after we brought stuff in--it looks nicer now). The odd shape at least makes a room with cinder-block walls and industrial looking furniture slightly more interesting. To the left is the door to their bathroom, which they share with the suitemates (who have turned out to be their new best buds--real nice guys). Not bad at all. They have a small fridge and we got them a nice flat-screen TV, so they are happy. I am impressed, too, that they actually fixed up their rooms a bit. I think the idea that girls might drop by inspired it. The suite has a small sitting area, and one boy's parents got them a couple of chairs, so that is not bad. Anyway, it's a place a parent can feel comfortable leaving their kid near. There is a building under construction nearby, but it looks like they are close to being done with it, so that noise won't last long. Besides, any new building at that place is gorgeous and fancy, so it will be nice to look at when it is finished!
The school does things in a nice way. Kids move in on Friday, and there is a nice dinner in the very snazzy dining hall (featuring a "Dan Rather Room" that is quieter than the rest of the place). Then on Saturday, the kids get IDs and do other busy things, while the parents attend sessions, punctuated by more lovely meals. It is a nice way to gradually separate. Sunday there is more of that kind of thing (we skipped a couple of events, since we went home every night), and plenty of time to also hang out with your kid. You know, so you can give out last minute advice and such, as I am doing below.

Finally, on Sunday, there is a "convocation" ceremony, which is like the reverse of graduation. All the faculty show up in their academic regalia and file in, very solemly, followed by the new students. Then there are wonderful welcome speeches by the President of the University and others. They all pledge to help each other and abide by the honor code, and everybody sings the alma mater. It was really a nice thing, and I like the idea a lot. After that, we went home and I got weepy, but not too badly. Anyway, very dimly pictured below is the convocation (I forgot to put the camera on the "night" setting).


I have managed to get through this week, and have tried not to bother the boys too much. Just one call and a couple of emails. I just like hearing how they are doing, and what their seminar this week was like. Luckily we got all filled in last night, since last night they came to town to hang out with the kids who hadn't left for college yet. We were able to give them the giant remote control we'd bought them for their TV and used DVD player (which had lost its remote). It has camouflage on it and is quite oversized. They got as much of a kick out of it as the cashier at the electronics store did. The guys stayed at our house a half hour or so and filled us in on all they were doing. Between the two of them, there were lots of good stories!

And in the rest of life, Beccano is tentatively back in a band with Parker, and we will see how that goes. Mending fences. He's still in his other band, too. Can't be too busy. He may also start taking karate again, which I think would be good. He would trade for guitar lessons with his old karate teacher. This would mend fences, too. He left karate rather suddenly during his hard times, and it will be good to see them work together again. I hope this year school goes well for him. Fingers are crossed--you just never know, but I do know he's trying!

Lee's contract job ended on Thursday, with a whimper (no farewell) but that will be fine. He is really looking forward to starting his REAL grown-up job next week. How I envy that! I still love my job, but they have stopped mentioning bringing me on permanently. Oh well, what do I expect?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Parenting Milestone

Today is a big day, the day my first child "leaves the nest." It is the day you think will take forever to arrive when you look at that tiny infant they hand you after the birth. You envision an endless stretch of childhood, and way in the distance a separation. But, here it is. It's today. We will take a few boxes and suitcases up the road a ways and deposit Tuba Boy, whose name is you can see on the cake (I think that's OK since it won't show up in a search) in his dorm at college.

It's been a week of as much fun and bonding with friends as possible for him. Here's the cake he and his girlfriend made earlier this week. It surely appears that he has a healthy self image, anyway! They had fun, and I even got them to clean up the mess they made baking it!

While he and Debate Girl have been spending a lot of time together, he has also been doing a lot with his other friends who are moving on. A great deal of game playing has occurred, for example. Every night this week he has been at one friend or another's house playing mostly board games. Below you see my kids playing D&D again, with three other boys who are not pictured. They do seem to be having a lot of fun.

Kynan also went to a farewell dinner with his debate coach. He picked up some fine things to take with him to college, like coffee cups and coasters, plus a giant clock. I know they will all miss each other as they move on to new and fun things.

He's still a bit of a kid though. He just realized Lee was waiting for HIM to do his own laundry for two weeks. So he can't pack until that is done. He didn't know what button to push on the washing machine to get it started, so I had to do that in the middle of weird and wild work events.

Work, yes, it is weird and wild. I will be glad when I can get back in the office, since all sorts of roofs are being put on houses in the neighborhood. And I will be glad when the next couple of projects are done, because folks are getting testy. I am being up-beat, though, knowing that this job is WAY better than any of the others I've done the past few years. I actually enjoy all the hubbub.

Lee and I had a nice dinner with one of his coworkers last night. I am looking forward to more relaxing stuff like that once work calms down. I had to miss my knitting group on Wednesday because I couldn't stop what I was doing!

Well, only 3 hours until we leave. Whee.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hey There! Family Update

Hello from me and Lee! It's hard to believe we are so calm and relaxed with a child going off to college in less than a week and a whole lot of meetings and work stuff in the next week. But, there we were this morning, waiting for the church Steering Committee meeting, looking happy. We are, basically, a happy couple. In two weeks Lee's "real" job starts, and at least I am still working full time as a contractor, so we can smile.

Beccano is going OK, too. He did a great job finishing summer school, survived his visit to North Carolina, even if his attitude wasn't ideal, and he did not have anywhere near as bad of a time with his first week of summer band as he thought he would--he didn't want to play vibraphone, but he is coping. That makes us proud of him. How could you have a bad time looking this spiffy? This is him wearing a fun paisley shirt he found at the Goodwill store, and his favorite shiny belt that I think we got at the same place last year. Disco boy!

I am much happier with the family member below (Rose) than I have been in a long time. Why? Because Lee bought us a Roomba (robot vacuum cleaner), and it cleans up all the black hair without me having to do it. She is still a bit itchy, but Benadryl has helped a lot. She is shedding quite a bit less.

This family member, Buddy, seems to be feeling a lot better lately. He had been practically crippled for a while (we think he pulled out a toenail), but I saw him running today. I think the new dog food that Lee got for all of them has helped him lose weight, and he feels better. He is barking a LOT less, even at Tuba Boy, and the Rooma is also getting his hair. Yay.

And finally (at least for pictured members), comes Scrunchy. His hair is growing back in and he has lost a significant amount of weight. And he seems very happy and playful lately. I think all the itching was really making him grumpy. Next he will have to get his teeth cleaned, I guess. I am relieved that all the animals seem at least marginally better.

And while I have no photo of Tuba Boy, he seems ready for college, though we are all rather sad to see him and Debate Girl leave for college. They are so much fun to talk to. And it is so much fun to have the Roommate and Debate King coming over, too. I had so much fun listening to them playing Dungeons and Dragons last night. Debate King at one point asked me if it was "OK if I use the 's" word?" I told him they were all legal adults and they can say any word they want. OK, Beccano was there, but he's heard that word before. I will really miss all the new college kids when they go, but at least I have holidays to look forward to!

Lee's dad is feeling so much better that he got a new tractor (see his blog, in the sidebar, for more on that). And my parents are OK. Things are as good as they have ever been here. I am hoping for improved job news next week, but am just fine with things the way they are there. The folks are still fun, fun fun, and the work is hard. That is just fine!

Let's see what comes next!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

GOOD Stuff

See how happy this dog is? That's how everyone feels around our house right now. Even the dogs are feeling better, because the vet told us how much Benadryl to give them to actually help with all their itching issues.



Scrunchy got a clean bill of health at his return check-up, and had already lost two pounds. He is like a new dog. And even Rose and Buddy seem to feel better, though both are still worrying away at certain spots.

So, why are we so happy? Well, if you haven't heard it in person, let me tell you that Lee has accepted an offer of a permanent position at AppleCare (the tech support division of Apple Computers). He will be working with our former boss when we first met, and will have benefits, good pay and all that. The only downside is probably a bit more travel than I would like, but he hopes he won't be doing as much training as some others in that position. Still, he LIKES doing training--this job is doing all things he is good at and enjoys. It's a win-win situation. He was also up for another job, which initially paid better but was less in line with his interests, so it's great that this one panned out.

We are, as you can imagine, thrilled with the prospect of insurance and paid holidays. Perhaps the really long period of worrying about finances and stability will actually be coming to an end, at least for now. In the current economic situation, we consider ourselves incredibly fortunate.

So, what's this a picture of?



Why it's the view out of my office window. What office, you ask? Well, the folks at the slightly wacky contracting gig decided that I ought to come into the office more. And I have been there the last 9 work days. It's made a big difference, though cut into my blogging and knitting time considerably. That's OK, though, because they decided they like me in the office so much that they are going to try to make me permanent. Yep, that's right. If things work out, I might also have a "real" job soon! I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but so far the bosses' boss has said it's OK. I might have to do a wee bit of traveling, but at first it should not be too much.

I have really enjoyed the last couple of weeks in the office. It is honestly a very good bunch of folks to work with. I like everything they ask me to do, and am learning new things as I go along. The office is small, like about ten people, and they are all pretty darned fun and funny. And of course, all very, very intelligent. Scary smart, even. This is just ideal for me.

Plus, as you can see, I am stuck in the "bad" cubicle. Heh heh. The one with a wall of windows looking out onto a bunch of trees. This is NOT bad in my opinion! They've been just great about setting things up for me, and even played a practical joke on me. No complaints whatsoever about any of this. I will keep you posted!

The kids are just fine, and Beccano has finished 2/3 of his summer school. He actually seems to have enjoyed it quite bit. He did a bunch of driver's ed on the computer, too, and just has to get his learner's permit now. Slowy but surely we are making progress.

I have also been doing work on a church committee. Grr. That is less than ideal, but I am doing it well. I feel virtuous for at least trying again. Speaking of church, one of my favorite families is moving to Colorado, so I need to go to that party now. Mary, the mother of the family, was one of the first people to be nice to me and befriend me at the church, so I will miss her, and the rest of them all. I hope they have success and happiness there.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Auspicious Week's End

I don't get to say this too often, so I am going to relish it. Like relish made from the tomatoes at right, which are found ON MY DESK, which is AT MY WORK PLACE. That's right kiddies, I have been working at the actual workplace for three days this week. I'd begun to think they'd never let me back in the building. I like working from home, but it is easier to ingratiate yourself if you are in the room with people.

So yeah, I even got some tomatoes. Wow. And two free lunches. I will be in the office all next week, too. It sounds like, at last, things are coming together so that I will be able to earn enough to not just get by, but make it--pay off the repairs to Tuba Boy's car, and such, and maybe even SAVE. My fingers are crossed for a real job with those mythical benefits, but this one picking up a bit is the next best thing.

We have also gotten a lot of little bits of good news that have lowered the stress levels around here. Small mix-ups with the college seem to have been taken care of--and Tuba Boy did a lot of it himself. Beccano did his first week of summer school, and that was not as bad as he had feared, either.

Lee has strong prospects of good news about work, too, so our fingers, toes and imaginary other appendages are all crossed. Plus, it appears that his dad's situation may get taken care of by his niece and her husband buying out the farm and living there. His dad would have someone to take care of him, and they'd have some income to supplement their other work. That really does sound like a good plan to me. Who knows how it will all work out, of course, but at least things are looking up!

I'm not giving up my blog for Facebook, by the way. You get to share more deeply and be a bit more coherent on a blog. I love the immediacy of FB, and I am especially grateful to have re-connected with some old friends (and made new ones) there. But, I won't be giving this up any time soon. Now that I feel a little better about things, I may be writing more, too.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Waiting Game

There isn't too much going on here, but there is nothing wrong with that. Last week was LONG, since there was no work (contract hadn't been signed). But then yesterday they called begging me to work this weekend. Happy to do it at time and a half, but I can't do it until the dude produces work for me to do, so I spent much of yesterday waiting (finally got the work at 2 and had to rush and get it done by 6) and am now doing the same today. I missed a book signing (The Day-Glo Brothers, written by Chris Barton, who goes to my church) yesterday. Today I have missed church and am missing the Steering Committee.

At least last night I got to go out and hear my friends Jim and Sherry play music at a house concert. I miss their rock and roll act, but they sounded pretty good with just a fiddle player accompanying them. I enjoyed doing the harmonies from the back row (I learned all their older songs when Jeff used to play guitar for them for a number of months). At least I made it out of the house!

I've enjoyed having teen visitors. Beccano and the Debate King even got to jam on guitars Friday night. That sounded so nice. I love having live music in the home!

Beccano even grudgingly started his driver's ed again. Let's see if he keeps it up.

Lots of worrying about the elderly is all the rest of life has brought. Lee's dad seems ready to sell everything off and fade away. That is sad, but I can see why he feels that way. My stepmother isn't sounding too good, either, so perhaps it is good they moved into an old folks condo, though Dad is really not ready. Jeff's mother is planning to move into one of those, here in Austin, fairly soon, too, so we all have parental worries.

It is so hot here that you can't really do anything outdoors. It has been over 100 degrees every day for ages. It wears you out. So, I will go wait for work for a while longer and feel grateful for air conditioning. I am trying not to envy Kelli's extended stay in Paris TOO much...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hey, Look, It's July


I am an
Echinacea


What Flower
Are You?



So, my blogging friend and homeowner as of tomorrow, Dragonfly, did this one, and I am such a copy cat. Actually, I don't have much to yammer on about, so this assertion that I am some health-conscious fanatic will give you something to think about (if indeed, you are reading, since I am not sure anyone actually does!).

I would rather be a pansy. They are colorful, like cool weather, and every one of them is different. My kind of flower. So, what flower would YOU like to be? Post a comment and let me know. That would make me happy.

There is not much to post about, which is a blessing, I guess. No huge stresses right now, other than my poor spouse feeling so sick he couldn't go in to work today (contractors will drag themselves in when they feel pretty bad, thanks to no sick days!).


Scrunchy the pug is feeling better. He just licks his legs a bit now. You can see his comfy new halter in this photo. All the scabs are falling off from where he was scratching so much, and hair is starting to grow back, even. He still has a couple of days left of steroids and antibiotics, but he definitely is doing better.

The other two dogs seem to be itching less since I put flea medicine on them, had the yard treated, and sprayed all their bedding. We still have some freakishly irritating brown bugs in our upstairs, which we cannot find the origin of, but I think no more fleas. Both Rose and Buddy seem itchy still. Buddy licks and licks on his legs and seems to hurt, but we can't figure out where. Hopefully Lee will feel better soon and use the very expensive clippers I bought for him to clip Buddy and that will help. I am sort of at a loss for what to do with the dogs and their issues, though I think I may take Rose to the vet this week for a check-up, now that she will wear a collar (yay, she likes her comfy one).

The kids have been laying low and enjoying their vacation. I am having little success getting Tuba Boy to apply for jobs, or to do any of the other little things he needs to do. This week I will continue to speak strongly and not provide treats, I guess. Beccano is learning hard songs on the guitar, enjoying visits from his girlfriend, and eating donuts. Summer is so nice. Well, he starts summer school soon enough!

Lee's dad went straight from his second stay in the hospital to the local nursing home (not sure if I posted that or not). It's the quaint old one in his home town, so at least he is where he wants to be. I am sad that he has had to sell his cows. But, he made sure to sell them to someone who is going to keep them. They were SO tame. The plan is that he will only stay in the home three weeks, then he should be well enough to go back home and I guess start looking for a place to live in Yorktown. Without the cows, there isn't much reason to stay on the farm. This is rather sad.

So many of my friends are having pretty hard issues with their elderly parents. I am happy to know that Jeff's mother is probably going to move to a facility here in Austin. I like her so much and will enjoy being able to see her more.

I also have a couple of friends with health issues, family health issues or friend ones. Big ones. I am especially worried about a friend whose husband's testicular cancer seems to have spread. They are such a sweet family and have had so many troubles the past few years, but are always kind and giving to others. Most of you don't know them, but please think of a nice family in Michigan and send healing thoughts, good vibes, or prayers, which ever you do.

We had an incredibly hot Independence Day, a record 105 degrees (that will be 41C!). We managed to go listen to Jeff play at Lake Austin, and were joined by our friend Austin, who brought us some lovely figs. We got home in time to take care of Buddy while it sounded like a war was being fought outside our house. Drought? Who cares! Let's set of professional fireworks in a crowded neighborhood!



Flowers help me feel better, so to end on a happier note, enjoy these lilies from a bouquet Lee bought me last week. What a lovely shape. Another happier thought: my work is going well and another friend got her dream job and gets to escape a really bad work situation. All that is GREAT.

Life is a mixed bag, isn't it? That is comfortingly normal! Hey, leave a comment and let me know what flower you are, if you would like!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Some Wellness, Some Sickness

The good news here is that the medicine is really helping Scrunchy, and his skin is no longer bright pink. His horrible sores are healing and his licking is down to a normal dog level. I got both him and Rose new "clothing"--both made of hemp or something like that. Scrunchy has a dark green halter and Rose has a purple collar. They seem very sturdy but have incredibly soft linings, so even Rose isn't horribly bothered by hers. She still has it on after two days! For her that is a record.

I put Advantix flea stuff on all the dogs, and Rose and Buddy both seem to feel better. I also sprayed some stuff where they sleep and will have the pest control people spray the lawn. Maybe that will keep me from having to take the other two dogs in for killer drugs like Scrunchy is on.

The bad news is that Lee's dad relapsed and is back in the hospital again. They decided he wasn't completely rehydrated when he went home before, so is in there longer. It was scary because he got put in by his doctor and didn't tell anyone, so the family rushed to find him to see if he'd died at home, but luckily a relative found him at a hospital by calling all in the area until she found him. Gee whiz. He could have asked to have a relative notified.

But Lee stayed home this weekend to try to get work done in the yard, even though it has been 103-105 degrees all week (in Celsius that is "too hot for humans to survive"). I've had a bit of trouble with the heat so am staying inside. We did have a nice dinner with church friends last night, though again it was the "gluten free" bunch, so the food was interesting. All edible though, and they did eat my salad! It's interesting how many more people have a variety of food issues these days!

I guess I'll leave you at that, and see who else my age has died in the last few hours. Someone said that Facebook is becoming Deathbook, with all the "RIP" posts. I'm not surprised when sick people or people who live marginal and dangerous lifestyles die, but poor ole Billy Mays was just a nice guy who can sell stuff--he seemed pretty healthy...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another Sick Dog

We had to take Scrunchy in to the vet's today. His itching has gotten out of control. Usually he is itchy for a week or two and it ends, but this time he has it a lot worse. His skin is all pink and he has messed up a bunch of areas, including his rear and a horrid spot on the side of his neck. Of course, that is infected. I will spare you a photo of it. I have few enough readers as it is!

So, Tuba Boy and I took him in and the vet said it is probably allergies, but she also found a little flea dirt on him, so we had to get the flea stuff, too. We have never really had a flea issue here, but there's always a first time. I got flea stuff for Rose as well, but since Buddy has never been to that vet, could not get him any.

Scrunchy now has to take a complicated schedule of steroids plus a long course of antibiotics, all of which we have to magically get him to ingest without making him fatter. The dang pug is 40 pounds. I will have to beg Lee to feed him less, again. I swear we feed him less than the other dogs. A lot less. So, when we take him back to get his vaccinations and such, I will see if he has a thyroid issue. Yes, we couldn't get the vaccinations because of the steroids. Whee.

We need to get Rose in, too. The county we live in fines you $500 if your dog is found loose without a $5 permit. I got one for Scrunchy. Of course, since she won't wear a collar, I do not know what we will put it on.

The vet also said Scrunchy's corneas are hardening, but this is a normal thing as dogs age, not what Gwynnie had. I realize now that he is the age she was when she started to go downhill. Sigh.

Pets. You can't live with them and you can't live without them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hair Fun?

Today we had the excitement of getting up early and having our hair cut (mine colored, hardly cut at all).

Beccano is growing his hair (duh). Last year I cut his bangs, and he was not pleased, thus refusing to let it be touched until after school was out this year. His goal was to get rid of the two-tiered effect on the current look. This is about 6" being cut off, though it looks like less due to all the curling. You can see that it also looked pretty frizzy.
Here is an action shot of Robert at the JC Penney salon in action. Look how long his hair was when wet! It was down to the middle of his back! We knew that it would need to be 4 inches past his shoulders in order to be shoulder-length when dry, so it was cut to those specifications.

Here it is once it was dried. I was going to add a picture of the front, but Blogger is acting funky and when I cut the photo, it would not paste. I also lost some text because Ctrl-V is not working. Grumble. But doesn't the lovely red hair look better now? Less frizz and more organized. Still long enough for excellent rocking and rolling.

And this is me, showing all my chins, but also the attempt at getting my hair back to its natural color. However, this is some kind of goth looking black hair. It is my firm belief and hope that after a couple of washes it will fade to pretty much my original darkish brown and stay that way. I just got tired of how red hair dye turns that nasty color when it gets old, no matter how careful you are to wash with the right stuff, etc. I'm not sure why, but he hardly cut any off. I guess the hair dresser likes long hair. It's fine this way I guess!

Not much else is going on. I have spent some nice time with friends and knitted a lot while waiting for next week's intense work projects. Lee's dad is recuperating fine, and we are now hoping he won't have to leave the farm after all. Tuba Boy is still off in Alabama, but has received his roommate information and first-year seminar info for college. That is exciting to both him and Future Roommate.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Calm

Ah, it's a rare calm period right now. No school issues, no work issues (I have nothing this week, but they TOLD me about it, and I know I have stuff coming up...I can relax), a respite from Lee's dad's issues...I am soaking up the calm. The worst problem is that Scrunchy the Pug is really itchy and scratching himself up. Lee has tried Benadryl in small doses. We will see how that goes.

Of course, that does not make for fascinating blogging. I know it's fascinating that Deana came over yesterday and I helped her upload photos to Ravelry. And that she brought cookies, which are all gone now! Or perhaps you will be intrigued that Beccano and I went BOTH to the bank AND the grocery store yesterday and survived the oppressive 100+ degree heat. Well, that did result in a delicious meal including fresh vegetables as well as the most sweet and perfect strawberries I've had in ages (plus, I am dehydrating the rest of the berries and some bananas).

It's rather quiet without Tuba Boy, who seems to be having an OK time in Alabama, observing a debate tournament. I hope his friend does well!

I have a very clean house right now. We got the vacuum cleaner fixed, so I am keeping up with the dog hair, and being home more means I can keep the kitchen clean and keep down the clutter in other rooms. I always feel more calm when my house is clean enough that I don't feel embarrassed to have people over! I haven't felt OK about the house since that brief moment before the wedding when it looked good. We just have to get rid of an entertainment center and TV in the dining room and I will be A-OK. We just can't give the stuff away, so I guess it's Craigslist time.

All this gives me time to send a lot of empathy and sympathy to the people in Iran. I worry about them a lot. Every Iranian I have ever met has been a reasonable, nice and moderate person (OK a few were rather liberal, I must say). They've been the kind of Muslims that truly exemplify the peaceful aspects of the religion. I realize that the people in charge will still not be pro-US, no matter what happens, but I know a bit more of a moderate government would make things easier for women and moderates there. So, I am thinking of them all.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Worried and Hail Pix



Lee got a call this morning from his niece that said his dad was not doing well. Can't get out of bed and is shaking. So Lee ran off to the farm as soon as he could put together some stuff. I hope it is something easy to deal with--we can't miss work, being contractors. It is so hard being far from your elderly parents. Especially stubborn ones who won't TELL you when they need you.

It will be a lonely time here. Yesterday, Tuba Boy set off on his graduation gift trip to Alabama with his debate friends. So, today it's me and Beccano. He will play me some music to entertain me as I continue to mess up my knitting, I guess.

Think of Lee and his dad, please.

I also thought I'd share a few photos from the hail storm from Thursday. The top one is one of the bigger hail stones and this one shows how it really knocked all the leaves off the porch plants and decor items. Hail blew sideways--also there are a lot of dents in the garage doors. Sigh.

Update: Lee's dad made it to the hospital in Cuero and is getting fluids. They are checking to see if there are abdominal issues. I am glad the stubborn fellow let Lee take him in!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hello from Work, Which Is Home

And that's part of the problem--when you work from home, you get all of the stuff that goes with being home. Sometimes that's good. You can get food, take a break and clean something, watch TV, etc.

But for the past couple of weeks my work has involved recording audio for e-learning courses. To record sounds, you need to not have other sounds competing. I am very lucky that I am using my new computer, which has a stereo microphone that is very focused at only what is coming directly at it. A lot of sounds don't come through.

But, some challenges from the past couple of days have included:

  • The garbage truck, not only when it is on our street but when it is on the next street. And don't forget the separate recycling truck. Each sets off the dogs for many blocks.
  • The "lovely" people behind us and their screeching children in their pool. There is no way to go swimming without screeching, it appears.
  • Our avian friends. Mostly it is mockingbirds, which I love, but are very loud in a tree like 6 feet from your window. I have also "enjoyed" mourning doves, blue jays and warblers. The wrens don't register, thankfully. I hear a dove right now.
  • Freakin' dogs. Actually, mine are a lot better now that Gwynnie is gone, and mostly just bark if people arrive or (gasp) Tuba Boy walks down the hall. Buddy has to alert me to that. Right now they are outside and setting off neighbor dogs for unknown reasons.
  • The house cleaners. Yes, I am very lucky to have house cleaners--that's one reason we need two incomes. I've been vacuuming like a fiend anyway, but it's worth it to have the bathrooms clean. Only, well, between them running the showers and vacuuming, recording is a challenge. And I had to take my entire set-up to the guest room so they could clean my room.
  • Why am I working in my bedroom. That's right--as I mentioned before, Skylight thinks me reading aloud is an invitation to converse in Parakeeteese.
  • Sounds the computer makes. I have turned off my email from coming in automatically and making that precious mail noise, but my anti-virus software decided to ding at me during a particularly long stretch of reading earlier today. Sigh.
What's the good news? I think I'll have worked every day this week, the first time since I started the new job. This means that I will be able to pay college and even get the Visa back down to zero again soon. If it will just keep up a while, gasp...I may be able to SAVE money. I don't want to jinx myself of course, but I am really glad things have turned around for a while.

I'll write about other stuff soon. I just had to do something while all the vacuuming and shower running were going on. Ahh, the mockingbird has started up again...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Catch-up 4: Graduation

Yay, this should be the final "catch-up" post for today! I am sure the one of you who reads this is having a great day of staring at photos and seeing my descriptions. I am not at my creative peak!

But, the front door says it all. I guess I have reached the initial "goal" of parenthood: I have a child who graduated successfully from high school. I guess Tuba Boy has put down the tuba and is ready to pick up...um...the fancy laptop he got from his dad, I guess! I am very proud of his high school achievements, mostly gained without all that much effort, so I am hoping he kicks it up a notch in the fall. Right now, though, he gets to enjoy himself a bit.

The day started with me doing a bunch of work starting at 6 am, so I'd be sure to get all I needed to do done. Then the kids' dad came to pick me and Beccano up to go to the ceremony, which was in downtown, where we saw Bruce Springsteen. Lee had a bunch of work to do, since graduation was at noon on a Wednesday, and could not afford to lose the hours. So I took a lot of pictures. I was glad that the ex gave us a ride, since there was no real easy parking. We got a spot just fine, though. I'm glad I put on a skirt and top and made Beccano wear a shirt that buttoned, since the ex wore his suit. I think it is nice to treat graduation seriously, though. A lot of people's families did not.

Anyhow, the above is the empty auditorium. Space for LOTS of graduates: over 600.

I'll spare you photos of lines of matching teens marching in, or the cool thing the ROTC did by making living stairs for the flag bearer to climb. Here we have Snow, the saludatorian, delivering his speech. It was a really enjoyable one, very human. Turns out it was his original speech that he was supposed to change around and make more perky. While I felt badly for the nice debate coach who rewrote the speeches for the principal, I do think the kids' originals were fine. I am happy they stuck with their guns. Neither speech was lewd or crude. I mean, for heaven's sake, these were stereotypical brilliant Asian-American kids--they weren't going to incite a riot!
There is only one highlight to graduation that matters to each family, and that is seeing their kid shaking hands and getting the diploma. Here Tuba Boy is doing just that. (Photos I took sometimes were blurred because I used the "night" setting and had to try to hold still.) I can tell that's him, though, shaking hands with Dr. Chavez the superintendent. That guy had to be dead tired after shaking 3000 hands on Wednesday!
Afterwards, we tried to get photos of Tuba Boy in his regalia, but by the time we found him, he was already trying to strip it off. But, we did snag this lovely image of him and Brilliant Girlfriend (look at all the stuff she had to wear on top of her gown--cords, tassels, mantels, awards!). Tuba Boy had a medal for getting an A average and for completing some rigorous set of standards. Go him.
And just one final shot to show that Tuba Boy's parents are very proud of him. His mother wishes she didn't look quite so...rotund. And this is after losing at least ten pounds! Oh well, just look at those lovely kids, with wonderful futures ahead of them.

We had a very late lunch at Chuy's restaurant near our house after the ceremony and a lot of traffic. I know the kids enjoyed a chance to dine with their parents, and the parents survived quite nicely. I guess we are all happy where we are in life and can now enjoy our family, in whatever configuration. Maturity. It shows up eventually, I guess!

That night we enjoyed a really fun party at Future Roommate's house. I had a great time talking to all the kids, and so did Beccano, who got to talk music with some of the "good" older musicians. The seniors tossed water balloons and had all kinds of fun. I'm glad I got to go to a party. And Lee at least got to show up there and give greetings (the kids' dad went home after we ate).

Tuba Boy has been partying ever since, and just driving around and having fun, visiting the school, being with friends. He is really looking forward to his gift from us, which is a trip to Alabama to see his friend Morgan compete at the national debate tournament. If I have already blathered on about this, forgive me. I can't remember what I typed...