There's More to Life Than Knitting!

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Don't Know What to Say

I have been both ill and down the past few days, so I am not up to writing much.

I'm feeling sorry for Beccano who lost both that lovely girlfriend I posted the photo of AND his lovely band on Monday. Separate incidents. The girlfriend one has resolved positively.

I'm really disappointed about the other one, because it means I also lost a friend I had thought better of.

The good news is that the new job started and I seem able to do it, so far. But I haven't had to do Articulate Presenter yet, and I just hope my version will work. The new job had some quick deadlines so I worked a lot the past few days, so much that I just couldn't see well enough to blog. My one concern is that the graphic design person is no longer on the team, and I am worried that I might be expected to be the creative one now. I do WAY better with a creative partner like my old pal Dave!

I have some kind of really bad issue in my head--have had ear-aches, weird feeling sinuses, dizziness...just not feeling right. I only had three hours of sleep Monday night from a combination of the sickness and Suna's patented Highly Sensitive Person Emotional Outrage that always comes with I or a person I love gets treated with disrespect publicly.

Oh well, moving on. Not my best week, but at least I will get paid.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cuteness and Not Much Else

Not much to write about, so I am sharing a cute photo stolen from Parker. It's Beccano and his girlfriend. I am glad they have had such a happy two months with each other. They have done some fun things, and I guess spent most of their time in this van, doing this. And I hope not TOO much else.

I have been waiting for my new project to ramp up, and have done fun stuff like get a webcam and learn some new software. I have managed to spend every day of "leisure" so far doing frustrating errands, though, so none of the big cleaning up I had hoped got accomplished. I did wash 50 pairs of hand knit socks, though.

My phone got broken Tuesday, which meant an entire day of running to various AT&T stores. I did get Beccano a new phone, which was fun--I hid it in a bag of discounted Easter candy, so he was surprised. He keeps thanking me. It is a nice phone. Meanwhile, I had to go to a special place and get a replacement Blackberry, which would have been OK except that the guy couldn't transfer any of my things due to Bluetooth being stuck on and the "OK" button being the broken part meant it could not turn off. So, I spend the rest of the day talking to both AT&T and Blackberry tech support to get things back to normal. I have to say both had good technical support staff once I got off the queue for the masses. I really should not complain. I still had a month left in my warranty so I am lucky I was able to replace the phone rather than having to buy one.

Yesterday I waited and waited for work, then went to the yarn shop and had a reasonable time with the folks there (it got a bit too loud and crowded for me at one point). We also had a nice time at choir. I am enjoying learning the Mass we are going to sing for our spring concert.

Really, that's about it other than unbloggable things having to do with finance. Just send me good thoughts on that topic, OK?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Everyone Got Rest but the Dog

We had a pretty nice and restful weekend. I know I felt good because I was between jobs. No stress over the one that ended (other than surprise they didn't even give me a thank you card), and I got a half day off Friday, which I happily spent at the yarn shop. Saturday was another fun day of yarning, so that wasn't stressful, either. Lee and I both had some sort of allergy issues going on--my throat was really in pain most of the weekend, and he mowed the lawn and stirred up pollen to his detriment. But, we watched some nice shows that we'd recorded on the DVR, and ate good meals. No complaints there.

Sunday was really a fun day, other than the pouring rain it started with. I got rather soaked picking flowers for the Flower Communion. I did get the kids to go to church with us, and I think Tuba Boy enjoyed getting to see some of his old friends. I really like the Flower Communion service that UU churches do. Beccano got a rose that smelled quite citrusy. I made everyone I saw sniff it.

Since it was a holiday for most people I decided we should do something involving nature in the afternoon, so Beccano and I dragged Scrunchy the Pug to a nearby park. He's been walking with me most days for the past month or more, so I figured he was ready for something a bit more entertaining.

Well, I knew we were in for a "different" kind of experience when he got so darned excited just driving to the park that I thought he was going to implode. His snortling was in full crazed mode, and he would not settle down. In retrospect, I probably should have taken him to one of the closer trails, but I wanted to go by the lake, so...

We arrived, grabbed some poop bags and went exploring the trails. The pug had a great time and frolicked quite happily as you can see in this rather blurry photo of Beccano in the Bluebonnets. They were pretty cute together.

Soon Scrunchy wore out and we had to get him a drink of water. Luckily I brought my port-a-bowl, which I dipped into the lake. He drank a lot. And I let him. Hmmm. But he was thirsty.

We walked a little more, then sat and had a rest. He was panting like crazy. Then on the way back, he barfed up a lot of what he drank. And then he flopped into a puddle near the water fountain, to be sure he was filthy enough, I guess. He did lost more liquids closer to the car. I hoped and hoped that he had barfed up all he had in him, but alas, that was not the case. Thankfully, I had an old towel in the back of the car, and we thought to spread that on the seat. That caught SOME of the ensuing vomit. Sigh.

So, after my lovely walk, I got to clean the car interior. I am not sure if he got overheated or not--it really wasn't that hot, and he really didn't walk any further than he usually does around the neighborhood. I think he was just over-stimulated. We hadn't taken the dogs anywhere in a long time, since Gwynneth had gone blind and crochety. If any dog left, she just had a fit and would not stop barking, so we kept them all at home.

I'll try taking him somewhere a little closer next time. I know he enjoyes smelling new smells and seeing new sights.

So, as for today...I met my team for my new contract. I think it will be fun. I sure hope so. Everyone seems nice enough, anyway. At least it's something different, and there will be breaks every so often. I might even be able to go somewhere during a break, who knows??

Tonight I've been listening to Parker and Beccano play some music. We have had some musical equipment "issues" in the past couple of days--not keeping track of borrowed items, but things seem to be getting better. And Lee practiced with Parker's dad--maybe to be in a band with him. That would be cool!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wednesday Wonders #14: Cherry

VroomI don’t know why I decided to do the wonders on Wednesdays, which are invariably my busiest days of the week. It’s been busy at both home and work, so no time to sneak in much writing, anyway.

The only inspiration for a wonder this week is not a person, but, as my friend Bill pointed out, something as beautiful as a woman, with curves in all the right places. This is Lee’s new baby, a Victory Vision Touring bike, 2008 model. What, a motorcycle? I know, not what I expected, either. But one that looks exactly like the side view photo now graces our driveway (still haven’t managed to get it home in the daylight for photo ops).

But look at that front, that side, that amazing back (at the bottom of the post)! The choir director had to drag us all in to sing last night, because we were out staring at its black cherry beauty. Reviews I have read also indicate that Cherry (as I call her) is great to ride, runs well and gets reasonable gas mileage for a behemoth.

Why is Cherry the Wednesday Wonder, especially if you know me and how much I dislike motorcycles? There are a few reasonable reasons.

  1. This has made Lee really happy, and he has been one worried fellow lately. Being able to buy the new Man Toy means our tax situation isn’t horrible, and he can now figure out what to do with the proceeds of selling some property. This is all good. It means we have a little security cushion. And he didn’t run out and get the most costly thing he could get—this was a good deal, came with a 5-year warranty, and was not too expensive considering he traded in the Honda. It’s just great to see him happy, and I feel better knowing some of the safety features in this one—I’d like to keep him around.

  2. I’ve had an interesting reaction to this thing. It symbolizes me trying to deal with some of my fears. I feel like, properly armored and after a lot of deep breathing, I just might be able to try riding this. That weird looking back end looks like it would keep me from falling off. And there are hand grips for when I am terrified (Lee asked the salesperson if he thought I could bend those handles). I have never gotten on a motorcycle, even a stationary one. But, since it doesn’t look like I will ever get that horse I always wanted, this may be the only dangerous saddle I’ll be having the chance to get on. I had a good talk with the guy at work who races cars, bikes and boats. His perspective on the danger aspect was good. He confirmed that the biggest danger was other people, assuming you are riding sober (which I assume we would). He said as long as you are always vigilant, you should be able to get out of situations. Then he said he’d had three wrecks on his bike. Yum. But it is red, fast and scary. I notice he always wears a full helmet, jacket, boots and gloves, so he is a reasonable risk taker. And he was right that life itself is risky, and that you are fooling yourself if you think riding in a car, walking in icy weather, etc., aren’t also dangerous. He said you just have to decide what degree of knowing risk you can put up with. So, I have been thinking about that, and think I might try this. I mean, I tried a roller coaster once and didn’t die. I just decided not to ride one again!

  3. Another interesting thing is that I like this motorcycle. I mostly find them pretty ugly, loud and irritating. But this one makes a nice, throaty sound and it is, from an aesthetic stand point, a work of art. The designers deserve many, many kudos for this thing. I can see why it has been so universally praised. I keep imagining Luke Skywalker coming over to ask for his ride back. It’s just a wonderful blend of form and function, with a low center of gravity, heated seats and hand grips, a windshield that goes up and down, and a fine stereo that I can’t see why anyone would want, but hey, that’s OK. It has a place to plug in your MP3 player, too. I guess somehow the womanly curves of Cherry make her seem less threatening and scary. It’s an illusion, but at this point I will take it—anything to I can share Lee’s family hobby with him and not feel so much like a stuck-up stick-in-the mud when I am around them.

  4. The thing gets weird reactions. Everyone thinks it’s pretty. But a few of the choir people really looked stricken at the thought of riding it. More than one person has said, very self-righteously, “You ARE going to wear a helmet when you ride this, aren’t you?” I hope I have never said that to anyone. It’s like, “You ARE breastfeeding, aren’t you?” to a new mother. Even if she is, she feels like you must think she’s a dork if you have to ask. Have I told the story of how my kids thought the definition of the word “idiot” was “person riding a motorcycle without a helmet”? That’s because their dad and I consistently used that word in that context, and really didn’t call anyone else an idiot. I guess now I just call them “organ donors.” I really value my brain. And, I do understand people’s fears. I am that way, too, and fighting it. I just really didn’t notice all the non-bike people out there when I was one of them—I have been feeling like I am the only one who isn’t an enthusiastic fan, with so many friends riding. Interesting to change perspective (and I’d rather change on this topic to see how it feels than, say, politics).

  5. We helped the economy by buying something. And it is made in the USA, too. I am not an isolationist, but I do feel good whenever I can buy something that supports folks like me, trying to make a living here. Any big purchase we make from now on has to be significant in more than one way. If I’m buying things made elsewhere, I prefer to get things that can’t be made here (like lovely Danish or Japanese yarn, ha ha, and I certainly buy enough US yarn as well).

I will let you know if I actually try riding. I’d hate to have Lee buy equipment and then not use it. That’s probably why I rode my road bike so long—the ex had invested so much in the bicycle, the helmet, the outfits, the shoes, etc., that I felt like I needed to get my money’s worth, even if he only rode with me once, ever. So, huh. How about that. Cherry the motorcycle.

Monday, April 6, 2009

BS Can Be Good! Excellent, Even!*

I guess yesterday was a nice relaxing Sunday…well other than one of the best evenings of my life, that is!

You see, I love rock music, and there is a particular sound of rock that can’t help but make me feel really, really good. I’ve talked before about how I like “layers” of sound, and the “wall of sound” effect that was so hard for Bruce Springsteen to achieve on the Born to Run album is the pinnacle of the type of sound I love. And I got to hear it live last night. For me, it’s a spiritual experience to listen to the E Street Band perform certain songs (and, well, all the other ones are pretty good, too!).

Yeah, Lee and I were really lucky to get the chance to see Springsteen last night. I hadn’t seen him since the 80s—once I had the kids I either wasn’t comfortable leaving them alone that long or couldn’t afford modern concert ticket prices. Plus, it’s so hard to get tickets! The ones we had, which were scored by our hostess, were very high up, and sort of to the side, but tickets had only been on sale 20 minutes and those were the best available! Wow! I guess the “in crowd” has other methods (as I have seen on some fan sites), but us regular people have to fight and scratch. Still, after what I saw last night, I think I’d spend the bucks again for a select few artists.

But this wasn’t “one of my favorite bands.” This was one of two bands that I love above all others (Bruce is tied with the Who—I wore my Who shoes to the concert). Two of our party had never seen Springsteen before, and I am pretty sure they both liked it (perhaps too noisy for Lee), but Dan and I were quite obviously rapturous. There are some songs where the sound just fills you up and you have no idea where you are, what you are doing, or who you are with. You become part of the experience. I realized after “She’s the One” that I’d cried through the whole song. I also cried the first time Steven van Zandt appeared on the big screen with Bruce. It was just so nice to see them.

I loved the “theme” of the concert. It was hope, and the set list did focus on hopeful songs for the most part (thankfully not ALL of them, or we’d not have had “Outlaw Pete” or “The Wrestler”). He gave a talk about turning pain to joy, hurt to healing, etc., and how music can do that. I swear Obama gave him an agenda!

I’m not going to review the whole thing, since that’s easy enough to find online. But, here’s a song or two to enjoy, and under that are some highlights and lowlights for me.

Here's "Sherry Darling," which someone filmed while they shouldn't have been.

And this is a snippet of the beginning of Born to Run, just to show you the sound I'm talking about.

  • I loved it when Bruce took a request on two gum wrappers from someone and showed it to the camera. It was "Sherry Darling," and as you might be able to tell from the clip, not all of the band remembered it completely.
  • Another wonderful highlight was when he brought a little girl, like 9 years old, on stage to sing along with him on “Waiting on a Sunny Day.” She did admirably, and was seen onscreen jumping up and down with glee afterward. He even gave her a harmonica. He also had a little boy sing with him—and that kid did great--sang right into the microphone. It’s so obvious Bruce likes kids (his are around the ages of mine, by the way).
  • Miami Steve’s guitar solos were a bit on the screechy side—rather overly loud and on some way distorted setting. Nils did all sorts of cool stuff, though, and I enjoyed his work.
  • At one point there were TWO accordions on stage. And Steve on mandolin. Quite the folk scene. One song had FIVE people playing tambourine, too. I do like the jangly parts of his songs, though.
  • Clarence needs a chair, but he can still blow, as long as he remembers what the song is. He also did a neat whistle part on the folky ending song…"Land of Hope and Dreams.”
  • [added later] I forgot this part until just now--Bruce had an acoustic guitar, in black, with a tarot symbol on it, the 3 of Swords. The one that means a broken heart. Of course, this further endeared him to me. So, I Googled his name and "tarot," and lo and behold, I found this video on Bea Nettles, the person who designed the image on the guitar. And I realized that Springsteen uses tarot a lot--he has the Devil on the cover of his Devils & Dust album, and the 3 of Swords is on Magic. I guess I'd forgotten this.

We had a great time, and enjoyed talking with our fine hosts on the way down and back. (So if you live near me, consider buying your next musical instrument, strings, accessories or lessons from the fine folks at Danny Ray’s Music. They make Suna happy. End of unsolicited testimonial.) The traffic wasn’t even too awful getting in and out of the Erwin Center. I have no complaints, and I dreamed of the beautiful music all night. I will hear it for months and months now. Any hearing damage I experienced from refusing to wear my earplugs is worth it.

*Lee said that in his Facebook status today. And Bruce Springsteen is the best BS there is!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fun Times!

There's been a lot of fun going on lately, and the stress levels have plummeted for at least the moment.

First, I did accept a contract job on a project-by-project basis at a place that does IT Consulting. I will call it "IT Place." I am not sure how it will work out, or how getting paid works, but the rate is great and I will be doing stuff I really like to do, so it all sounds good to me. I'll also be able to keep doing training, if there's time. I am happy to have finally managed to transition between gigs with no gap. Maybe I am getting better at contracting.

Besides that, our income taxes are done and Lee is happy with how they came out, which makes me happy. I understood my own taxes, but have no clue about his, so the merged thing is a mystery to me. I do think this system of income taxes is rather overly complicated for the average person!

But the fun part is that we have been concert-going, traveling fools this week. On Thursday, we went to a restaurant I've never been to, called Sam's Boat. I'd seen it many times. Turns out it's another place where young professionals go to get blitzed more than a restaurant. We went there to see friends of Jeff's, one of whom I had met when Jeff and I visited San Diego (actually a fun trip). They have a Jimmy Buffet cover band and came to Austin for an annual Buffet event here. We brought along Parker and Beccano, so they could hear how they did harmonies and watch the really talented lead guitar player. All the band were really good, though, and they made even songs I don't like enjoyable! One interesting note: those nasty boat-tailed grackles were all over the place, doing their irritating noises and flying all over the diners. You could even hear their shrieks above the sound of the band. And the band was loud. These make pigeons seem sweet. The photo is of the band, plus Parker. I will spare you the other photos I took, where everyone is making faces. We missed Jeff playing with the band--kids had to get home to their homework. But I am sure he had fun!

Then on Friday night, Lee and I went to our friend Janet's house to see our friend Eddie Collins and his band. They were Billy Bright on mandolin, Mike Montgomery on fiddle, and Tom Ellis on bass, and all were great musicians. Tom Ellis even built all the mandolins played on stage, which impressed me, even if he says it's easy! It was a lot of bluegrass, but I enjoy listening to that, as long as it's not a solid diet. There was some fine jamming and good humor, plus we got to see a lot of our friends as a bonus. House concerts are a good thing. I need to go to some of my friend Austin's Mountain House concerts!(Warning, MySpace link with music in it). I didn't get any pictures of this, because the lights were really dim, but I did get a nice photo of one of Janet's goats, who live in her back yard. They are former FFA project goats her daughter refused to send to slaughter.

Yesterday there was no music involved, but Lee and I took the day off from our usual stuff (yes, I did not go to the yarn shop) and drove all over the place looking at scenery and flowers. We made a stop at the Old Oaks Ranch, a fiber arts haven near Wimberly, where they have alpacas, a yarn shop, weaving stuff and spinning stuff. Oh, and a sculpture garden that I really didn't get a chance to look at, but maybe I can if I ever get to go back. It was their open house day, and we just missed the alpaca shearing that I'd wanted to see, but we did get to see the results: animals with very thin necks! I bought some lovely yarn with three plies, each from a different animal. And because I am me, I asked one of the owners to show me which animals the yarn came from. She was really sweet and showed us all of them, and talked to us a lot about the ranch, the animals, etc. She admitted (as did the other owner we talked to) that they picked alpaca ranching because they are cuter and sweeter than sheep. They really are lovely animals.

I'll probably go on about the yarn more on the knitting blog, so go there for more. The other thing we did at Old Oaks Ranch was watch a demo of making a felted hat out of raw alpaca fiber. They do workshops on that, too (amazing workshops at that place). It sure looked like fun, and was a lot more hands-on than knitting a giant hat and throwing it in the washing machine, which is all I have done. I think it would be fun to play so directly with the fiber like that, but wow, it could be an expensive hobby! If I ever grow up to be a rich person, alpacas will be in my future. Otherwise, they are nice animals to visit, and incredibly nice animals to get fiber from.

Today we are decadently skipping church and doing home stuff as we await what should be a highlight of the year for me: Bruce Springsteen! I have never been to a big concert in Austin (combination of having small kids then not having bucks), so this will be fun. We are going with Dan and Lisa, so we get to ride in the Danny Ray's Mobile. I have my only remaining Bruce t-shirt ready to wear, but I think it's going to be so cold that I will have to wear a jacket. At this time I wish I hadn't let Corey have my Asbury Jukes jacket. That would have been a fine piece of memorabilia from the old Southside Johnny days!

Next week I may be rather busy, so expect fewer posts as I transition from one job to the other. I am very much looking forward to working from home again, though.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wednesday Wonders #13: The Blog

I wrote something very similar on my knitting blog today, but what the heck, I want to honor the same Wonders on both blogs today!

Today’s Wednesday Wonders aren’t people, but they are the ways I communicate with people: My blogs! Today is the 4th anniversary of my blogging adventures. This personal blog goes back to April 1, 2005. It is always good, I think, to start a Fool’s Journey on April Fool’s Day! I mixed my everyday life with my knitting adventures until May 2007, when I had to separate into two blogs, one that shows up on search engines and that I give out links to strangers to, which is for my knitting thoughts, and one for life updated, chatting and opinionating for an audience of just friends. If you’ve read for a while, you know why that happened. If you haven’t, well, I found out the hard way how innocent statements can be twisted and taken the VERY wrong way by someone who is upset!

I am really grateful that someone thought blogs up, because I have always been one of those people who kept diaries, journals, logs and other kinds of personal records. I don’t have the best memory for details, so it’s helped me that I wrote a lot down in my past (and grrr to the ex husband who threw away my graduate school journal). It helps remind me of what I have learned from my mistakes, and what joys have popped up among the sorrows and drudgery. I love having these bloggy records of what I’ve been going through the last four years. I get a lot of laughs looking back! I am glad I wrote down so many fun and funny kid stories, and glad they aren’t publicly searchable, though!

This personal blog, especially, has a lot of meaning for me. It has helped me avoid repeating mistakes and shows me how much I’ve learned about job searching, which seems to be the topic SO darned often! I am happy that so many of my memories will be here to read in the future…at least I hope. Something has been nagging me in the back of my mind lately, saying maybe I ought to print out all my blogs. Readers, do you see your blogs as permanent or ephemeral? I am I weird to worry about losing this stuff? I am trusting with my life here!!

And of course, there’s one more reason that my blogs are Wednesday Wonders: they have introduced me to people I’d never have gotten to know otherwise, and I treasure the chances I’ve had to get to know some of my readers, and to at least get glimpses of some of the others. Where else but in the “blogosphere” (which I think of as the place mean and somewhat ill-educated people who pick at newsmakers live, but I realize also includes US) can you keep up with the daily lives of fascinating women and men from California to Wisconsin to New England, or from Denmark to Pakistan…to right down the road! I know I’ve said it before, but it’s time to do so again: thank you all for reading, and to those of you whose blogs I read: thank you for writing!
I really enjoy blogs. They are as dramatic as novels, but they feature real people. They are as educational as textbooks, but funnier and more “real.” Blogs are human, and they bring people together. There’s so much that separates us today—so much “us vs. them” thinking, so it is great to see how people with different views , of different backgrounds and from different places do share so much in common. We love our families, we love saying what we think about world events, AND we respect others. I am glad I have respectful people reading!

Hmm, on an email list (another thing I like!) today someone asked what makes us happy. I guess my answer is my blogs, who are four years old, and the blogs of all my friends, mentors and knitting companions!

Leave my blog a happy anniversary greeting if you’d like to! I thank you all for reading commenting, and sympathizing.