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!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hey There...I'm Musing Again

I haven't written much lately, because I've felt extra introverted I guess. At least I've gotten over worrying that anything I write will offend someone or be taken the wrong way. Someone on an email list with me recently wrote a long, heartfelt post about feeling like she alienates people and they just disappear, which got people postulating ideas...and it boiled down to the fact that yeah, sometimes you upset people, but sometimes it's their problem for misunderstanding just as much as it's yours for subconsciously sabotaging things. And really, what do we get out of assigning blame? Not a thing! So, enjoy this photo of a nice flower bed.

Our side yard. Lots of basil and tomatoes, plus phlox and roses. Once full of nothing. It has never looked better.
I've been dealing with a "blamer" at work lately, too, and it's caused me to see that pointing fingers at others to distract people from your own failings is really unattractive and unappealing. I am trying to apply lessons learned observing this behavior to myself, ya know, to improve. I will always have the strong urge to "explain" things--to convey my point of view (for example, that I meant a particular sentence in a kind way, even if it came out snarky, etc.). But, I need to be careful not to veer into the area of defensiveness or finger pointing. In the end, sadly, I don't think the "facts" matter all that much. People have already perceived what they are going to perceive in any situation, so the key is to figure out how to deal with is in a positive manner that encourages friendship and support.

Yow. That all sounds hard to do. Let's look at flowers

Bouquet made from the last wildflowers in our front border, plus some pretty coleus leaves.
The flower picture reminds me that I didn't write at all during our kitchen remodeling process. Yes, we have a new kitchen, thanks to Lee's oil lease. It will give us a lot of pleasure now, and I hope make the house more appealing to buyers when downsizing time comes--sooner than you might think! Here is a before and an after shot.

Kitchen before remodeling. Note wallpaper, plain counter tops, and ugly floor

Kitchen after remodeling. Note cool backsplash, granite counters, new lighting, ceramic tile floors with glass inserts.

It really was not an unpleasant process at all, thanks to having a competent contractor. I can't say what my favorite part is. Perhaps the backsplash, which is natural stone with a band of brown glass. Or it could be the faucet in the deep stainless steel sink. Mmm. Here is a close-up of the backsplash.
Sink and backsplash. I like the detachable faucet head and deep sink.
Anyone of you who hasn't already seen these photos to death can see more of the kitchen remodeling process right here! We also re-tiled the front entryway and downstairs bath, and painted the family room the same color as the kitchen. I sort of miss my pansy wallpaper, but buyers hate wallpaper. Boo hoo.

What else is going on? Lots of family time this summer, which has been great. As much as I would have liked Tuba Boy to get a job, it has been nice having him home, when he is awake. Beccano is teaching my coworker guitar, so making a little spending money. Mostly we do things together and laugh--we've been enjoying having Beccano's girlfriend around, too. She really fits in--they have been together a year now!

And I have been Driver Ed instructor for Beccano. I am pleased to report that using the clutch has finally become clear, and that he is a good driver otherwise. We just have to finish up a few more driving hours and get through all the exercises in his book, and he will have a license in time to go back to school. Of course, that means insurance. Ugh. Everything is more expensive (my portion of college is more now, too), so I sure hope I can hang on to some employment for a while longer!

Since I have not been knitting much, I have turned my fascination back to my aquarium. The poor thing had been dealing with some bad water combined with bad algae. The kids and I totally cleaned it out, saving the two remaining fish in a holding tank, and have it back up and running. I got a new and expensive biological filter, new lights, and new plants (fake). We put starter fish in (mollies and danios) and are now patiently waiting for the aquarium to "cycle," so it will be safe for more fish. That is taking a while. The consensus of the fish experts at AquaTek  (go there--it is reputable and has some beautiful tanks) is that the Brushy Creek MUD water just is not good for tropical fish (as opposed to the water in Brushy Creek, which is). So, once it's all set up I will be using reverse osmosis water from the grocery store with some salts put in it. So there. I hope to heck that this week I can get a catfish and algae eater, plus a few more live-bearers to round out the school. The mollies are actually eating some of the new algae, which is good. And the algae that is forming now is "normal," not the scary kind. Fingers crossed. The new fish have now been in there a month and only one has died--a danio jumped out of the tank (glass top is on order!).

Rather than make this post un-ending, I'll close here and try to blog more soon. Say hi in the comments if you wish!

Addendum: I was thinking about what I wrote and want to be clear that the friend I refer to in the first paragraph has never said anything that offended me--in fact comes across as incredibly sweet and considerate. The things she said just led me to muse that sometimes what seems completely innocent or kind to one person can be interpreted quite differently by someone else. I was not intending to fault her. Hmm, am I over-explaining again???

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Achieved My Hair Goal

Since last October, when I had my friend Gina cut my hair and put some highlights in the front, I have been trying to grow out my hair to where there is only natural Suna hair, and nothing with dye on it. I think I finally got there.
In person, the more gray parts in the front look pretty cool. I had no idea I had "natural highlights." One of my coworkers said I look younger this way. Looking at those eye wrinkles makes me doubt that, but hey, they are smile lines, so that's not all bad, right?

I hope this will be the last "this is my new hair" post for a while. I think I'll keep it natural, and just grow it a bit longer. No new photos of hair will be needed!

I look a little tired, and that's because I am a little tired. I worked a lot of extra hours last week, plus I have been rehearsing for our choir service (that is over, thankfully) and another rock and roll service, plus working on fixing up our kitchen, and that sort of thing. And I am trying to teach Beccano to drive a manual shift. That isn't so easy in my car. There's just a lot going on. None of it is bad,  though! There is so much good going on that I say thanks every day for the fact that things have turned around a bit!

We've been spending whatever relaxation time we have sitting on the "new" front porch and enjoying the garden. This year, the wildflower garden has the perennials in all their glory. We even had some bluebonnets!

We have two of these beds between the street and sidewalk. Right now they are mostly Indian paintbrush and black-eyed susans, but there are also some Mexican hats and horsemints. The one in the side yard has huge coriopsis (OK I can't spell it or find it in spell check)  and English daisies. When the flowers are all gone, we'll just mow it, and it will look grass-ish.

Lee has put in lots of pretty things this year, and I have weeded a lot. This was the front yard a couple of weeks ago:
That front tree is the redbud, and the brown things are all its seeds. We have pulled up MANY seedlings this year. If you want a native redbud, we can set you up with one.
Here are some of the front flowers. Those pansies are about shot and are going to be replaced with some summer annuals tomorrow, we hope. But, they were sure pretty all winter. The roses are doing great, too. You can see the two by the front door. Here's our teeny miniature rose, as of today:
Next to it are the lilies from two years ago that will bloom soon. We will have to divide them next fall.

What I am not sharing photos of is the back yard. We had the huge tree back there taken down, but it looks pretty bad still. I hope that once the kitchen stuff is done we can work on getting that area looking better again. There is NO grass where the tree used to shade everything, but we don't want to put any in until we know where we are going to put a shed and another patio. So, it looks pretty icky.

I guess I have gone on and on about the garden as long as I can. It was just a great, long spring here. That is so rare. We really took advantage of it!

I should have lots to report next week. I just hope I have time to report it. Wishing whoever reads this well. I do want to say that I am thinking of quite a few people with issues in their families. You know who you are.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ya Gotta Wonder

I was just taking a walk around the wooded parking lot at work during lunchtime. I turned the corner, and there I spotted this.
The Monitor in the Woods

I had no idea the oak trees were networked. I did search Facebook, but saw no sign of "Oak Tree by Cool River Restaurant" or any similar listing. I wonder if it was blogging about oak rights? Watching YouTubes of forests in other places?

I guess I am sorta sentimental about oaks right now. I have always really loved them, so it was especially hard to give the OK to have the biggest tree in our yard taken down, the tree that is the reason our house sits slightly crookedly on the lot, the tree we bought the lot for, only to have a huge ice storm take down about half of it the next day. The tree the kids' tree house was in. Sigh. But, it completely blacked out the back yard, so only inland sea oats would grow there. We just can't get grass in once the oaks leaf out. Now we will be able to install a shed, maybe add to the patio and stick on my dream hot tub...and perhaps get some grass to grow, even though there still is a huge hedge of crepe myrtles along the fence, giving plenty of shade and privacy.

But, I will miss the tree. It will be firewood for many years to come, and the rest of it will become mulch and help other plants. We do still have 4-5 other live oaks, two Monterrey oaks and a lovely burr oak. All that on a fairly small lot (the "estate" size--the bigger ones in the neighborhood).

Otherwise, I sort of overdid things on Saturday, with exercise followed by an hour of hard weeding. I think I killed my poor legs! But, it was a fun day all in all, featuring a visit from my friend Carolyn, who picked out yarn for a shawl, and having dinner with Beccano and his girlfriend. They have been dating 8 months and that was our first dinner together. I think we all had a good time.

Things to do beckon, so I'll share any other weird stuff I see in another post!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gonna Be Brave

Things are going real well, though having work means less time to blog! I am feeling really well.

I hate it when "they" are right, but when "they" say that eating right and getting plenty of exercise makes you feel physically and mentally better...well, darn it, they are right. I've not had a soda in a long time, and no longer sweeten my coffee with Splenda, which means my intake of real AND fake sugar has plummeted. And my intake of greens and veggies has soared. Wow, I feel better.

And I have been making it to the community center around 4-5 days a week. Working late or having a lot of meetings makes it hard sometimes, but I am sticking with it, and managed to elliptical for 3 miles last weekend. That's not much for some folks, but a lot for me.

I am now trying to be brave and try new things. Lee tempts me with treats to get me to get on his motorcycle, which he has just outfitted with a snazzy luggage rack (no, really, it IS snazzy). Last weekend I got a really darling jacket and some fine motorcycle boots.
New boots and carpet in my office
That's as good as I can do with a phone and taking the photo myself! These are so incredibly comfortable. When I posted the picture on Facebook two people said they had the same ones! I can see why. I will wear these a lot in the winter as well as when and if I ever get on the bike. You see, we still have not located the style of helmet Lee thinks I should get in my size. I need vents, he says, knowing my propensity towards fainting in the heat. So, I guess tomorrow we will try again to find one. Then I will brave my fears and get on the bike, with helmet, boots, jacket and resolve!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


There's way too much nature to enjoy this time of year. Also, too much pollen, as I mentioned last time. I'll spare you photos, but just imagine a world that has a yellowish-green tint to everything, and you will have Austin during oak pollen season. Wow, this year there's really a bumper crop, too.

There's a bumper crop of cuteness, too. Or maybe, beauty. Yesterday I dropped Beccano off after picking him up from school, trying to get to my knitting group in Georgetown before the traffic hit on the Interstate. A couple of blocks from the house, the phone rang. It was him, saying, "Mom, come back! You have to see this!" So, I turned around and drove back. There he was standing anxiously by the front door, looking down. I came onto the porch and saw it.
Very Large Moth
He knew I wouldn't want to miss this beautiful moth on the porch. What a sweet boy--it's so nice that he still loves nature like he did when he was little and we'd stare at all the bugs and moths on nature hikes. Lee put the moth somewhere safer, though it was probably near the end of its life, anyway. Such a beautiful, delicate creature.

We saw a few other delicate creatures as we walked on the local greenbelt on Sunday. These dudes where hanging out and wishing we'd leave them alone.
Deer Hiding in the Shade
Mostly Lee and I just enjoyed even more wildflowers. This year they are spectacular. We have seen so many of our friends' children (and dogs) patiently posing amid the bluebonnets this year. We figured we didn't have any little kids any more, so we took pictures of each other!
Lee Bonnet
Suna Bonnet
We had a lot of fun looking at teeny little flowers that didn't photograph all that well--the karst formations in my neighborhood are host to many very delicate, tiny things, including some succulents that bloom pink--I hope to share those soon. However, there are some larger displays, like this honeysuckle gone wild along the path.
Unfortunately, this isn't the kind that smells wonderful (I did see some of that yellow kind way off the path), but it is pretty. Mine in the back yard has almost all died, so I am glad there is some elsewhere for all the hummingbirds! Hey, check out my new natural hair. Nice gray stripe, huh!

I hope someone is still here reading--I had lots of blog readers for a couple of weeks, but I stopped being controversial and they all hid again. I guess it's OK--I mostly write so I can have a fun record of what goes on in my life. And finally, it is a GOOD period. We've managed to pay the taxes, pay off the bills, start saving, and can relax. At least for a bit. I have been waiting for this day since 2002. About time.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Green-Tinged Season

I believe I have mentioned how much I like spring in this area. For a few months, there is something new and lovely blooming every day, as another thing fades. Of course, everyone's cars are sort of greenish, because the oak pollen is pretty darned intense, which is why I call it the "green-tinged season."

Right now, the redbuds are fading, after an incredibly spectacular showing, and the bluebonnets are in full force. It is traditional in this area to take photographs of babies, children, pets, etc. among bluebonnets. Here we have a depiction of our home "wildflower meadow" (which is the tiny patch of turf between the sidewalk and the cul-de-sac) and Lee's "baby" the motorcycle, which, unfortunately, ran out of battery and has been stuck there for a couple of days.
Flowers and Bike
Can you spot the bluebonnets? We have THREE plants in there, but you can only see two. The phlox have decided to establish themselves, and a bunch of those other green things are going to be something nice. I am not sure what. Last year annuals bloomed while the perennials established themselves. Mostly we have weeds, which I am patiently trying to eliminate so wildflowers can live. My main fear is that the absent neighbors will have their lawn crew come when no one is home and will mow the flowers. I scared some tree trimmers this morning by running out and asking them not to mow them. Oh well, they will work on our trees.

This time of year, before mosquitoes (unless you are my friend Ted, who said he got bit last night), we can really enjoy the yard. Our flower beds are coming back, even some stuff we thought had died. And look at all the wild anemones in the front bed!
Front bed with wild and not-so-wild flowers
Too pretty to pull up just yet. The pansies will not last too much longer, but I will enjoy them as long as I can. It's so nice to sit outside and see neighbors and look at things. It's also beautiful driving around. I really should have posted more photos from last week, when we went to see Lee's dad. Here's one more Lee took, of an Indian paintbrush.

Wait, one more. With a butterfly.

Oh wait, here is blue eyed grass.

Oh wait, here is a pink evening primrose. OK I will stop. I guess I liked all the flowers we saw, huh.

Now I gots to go shower after a hard workout--yes, I have lasted almost two weeks going to the gym! The elliptical trainer no longer kills me! And we have a fun party to go to, so I want to smell reasonably good and all that! Enjoy whatever holiday you are celebrating!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

5 Year Blogaversary Guest Post: Surprise

Today I have been blogging for 5 years. Yes, my first post was April 1, 2005. I just looked it up. Since I have been working this week (yay) and had a lot going on during the evenings, I haven't had time to post things that bring me joy for a few days.

Instead, I'd like to share some words written by my long-time friend, Liz T-G. You will find them on her very nice blog, but I am reprinting them here (with permission). She really summed up a lot of the kind of thinking I have been doing about recent faux pas, "learning experiences," and general screw ups I have been dealing with. And at the end, she sums up why I think I am going to be OK after all. So, read these smart words from Liz as I go to women's group and feel grateful for having recorded my ups and downs the past 5 years:

In real life, you can't take things back. In our minds and hearts and memories, we edit freely, changing history as we meant it to be, have learned it ought to have been, or wished it were. Nothing changes what we have done, or what we have left undone.

Life changes, though. People change, thoughts evolve. If we're lucky, understanding grows and deepens. The lens through which we--and others--view our actions or inactions is constantly shifting, growing more acute, or less interested or seeing with a different perspective than it did a few short years before.

Still what's done is done. Scurry as we might, we can't control what happens next and next and next. This helplessness gets scary, at times. Oh, ok. All of the time. I'd really like to come up with some pithy aphorism right here, demonstrating that I know where to place all of these f*&^%$ growth experiences, how to manage them, how to live through them.

Surprise. Not so much. My goal is continued breathing, intentionally with loving kindness toward all. Most moments, just breathing is a worthy accomplishment.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Serendipitous Coincidences

These always make me happy, serendipitous coincidences. And they are everywhere, if you look for them.

For example, on my way home from dropping my boy off at school, I looked at the cars lining up at the light to get on the toll road. There were 13 vehicles, and every single one of them was white or light silver. I've also seen big groups of red cars. It looked like a fleet or something.

Another happened day before yesterday, when I was trying to separate the icky, sticky weeds from the wildflowers coming up in front of the yard. The neighbor came home, and we were chatting. He said, "Sue Ann, come look at this!" I turned around and there were our friends, the cedar waxwings. About 50 of them had descended on his hedge, which has red berries in it. There were so many that the hedge looked like it was alive. They made that cool cedar waxing noise, ate for about two minutes, then flew away. He got a photo, but I didn't. Wow, I have enjoyed those birds this year--I'll be sad when they move on.
Cedar Waxwing in South Austin
Since I didn't get a photo, I am sharing these that Jeff took. Apparently they pooped all over his car, so there are negative aspects to the yearly visit!
Cedar Waxwings in Soapberry Tree
The one above is well worth clicking on. The colors are beautiful.

The conclusion: Keep your eyes open for little serendipitous moments. They are all around you if you keep your eyes open. Want to hear about moments from other people? I am loving the blog It Made My Day: Little Moments of Win.  People post little things that happen in their life that cheer them up, make them smile, or bring a moment of endearing oddness. It's hard to be down if you check that blog every so often!

Small Rant

OK, I have been using Blogger since 2005. I have always been able to upload images from my computer. Suddenly, yesterday, when I click on the "upload image" link in the blogger interface, I only get the options to upload from a Picasa album, a URL or an image already on the blog. Excuse me? So, to put images in, I've had to upload them to Flickr and paste in the URL. What the heck happened? Anyone else experiencing this? Did I fill my quota of images? I no longer see a notice of how much space I have left, but I had plenty last time I saw it. Is this a problem with Blogger in Draft? Argh.

UPDATE: I finally found the blogger list of current issues, and this was the most recent post:
Some users are experiencing errors when uploading images to Blogger in Draft ( We are working on the fix. Meanwhile, you can still upload images to your posts via

So, I can switch away from Blogger in Draft (which I really like, though) and post normally from the regular Blogger. Just thought I'd share in case anyone else is having the problem!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ms. Betterbody

Today's inducer of happiness is a word I have avoided for long periods of my life: exercise. I've definitely had a love-hate relationship with it.

As my old friend JD pointed out to me on Facebook today, I had quite an infatuation with aerobics in grad school. My friend Kay and I would go to a dimly lit gym and leap and squat for hours listening to the best of the 80s. I still think of leg lifts when I hear "When Doves Cry," by Prince. We were going 5 days a week at one point, and I got down to 110 pounds. I am short, but not small boned, so that was one thin girl.

But, I spent most of my life 15-20 pounds more than that, and was fine. After a brief foray into jogging that made my poor ex-husband think I was "athletic" I didn't do anything until after the first child. I went to a gym, rode my bike, etc. It was very frustrating, but I got back to my normal weight, only to really, really pork out with the second pregnancy thanks to eating the Bradley Method's diet. Whoa. A lot of food. I hit my largest for a few years after Beccano was born.
Suna at Her Weightiest

Lordy. It was really hard to exercise, because I got no sleep for nearly three years. But, eventually I took up riding a road bike, because that was my husband's hobby, and I hoped it would be a bonding thing. Cycling and a lot of Jazzercise, combined with an infected thyroid dropped 60 pounds. People began to say I looked "too thin." Here's a photo from a bit after that time:
Thin, but Tired
I was dealing with the end of my marriage and such, so not terribly perky. But, wearing size 6 clothing! I tried that belt on last week...not so buckly any more.

What this leads me to is that since then, I haven't gone up and down quite so much, but keep having to reign myself in. I do love food, and I have portion control issues. I keep eating as much as the men in the family, forgetting they are bigger and have a faster metabolism than me. So, when it appeared that I was growing out of all my better clothes, and when I read all those healthy food books, I got serious about eating right and exercising again. Yep, my exciting "diet" is eating less (and healthier) food and exercising more. What a formula.

I am ten pounds less (at least--I actually didn't weigh until I had been eating better for a few weeks) than I was in January. I had been walking a lot when the weather was good, but realize that I can't walk once it gets hot (I faint when I overheat). So, I finally joined the gym in the beautiful "new" community center that has probably been there 4 years now (I can't find info on it). It is only a mile from the house and has really nice equipment, considering what you pay for it--quite a bargain compared to the fancy place where Tuba Boy used to work. I don't hate exercise, really, just resent the time it takes, and get tired of having to change clothing and shower so much. I will focus on the positive. I get to look at nice trees and not be overly hot while I walk or jog!

Today I actually treadmilled and did weight machines. I always feel silly, like I am faking people out. But, I was the youngest person there, so if the older folks can do it, I can, too. I know I need to do all that stuff for my health and all. I want happy bones and muscles! I am just glad I let Lee encourage me, and forced myself. Now I just have to keep it up.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I've Got Mail

I have to admit that yesterday was not one of my best days. The disappointment I experienced was due to an error on my own part, so there's no one to blame but myself. "Learning experiences" are not a barrel of laughs while you are in the middle of them. But, I am pushing forward, realizing how much worse things can be, and regrouping. It's what you do. I am proud that I am getting better at dealing with things and have cut my wallowing time down considerably!

When I hit a wall of feeling powerless, I try to do something that makes me feel more competent. So, today I finally figured out how to organize my Outlook email into the system I used to use with my beloved Eudora. I'd save items by year (such as email lists, inbox, etc.) so that they never got too big. I was having trouble finding a way to quickly and efficiently do this, but this morning I realized an easy way (I just hadn't been thinking like Microsoft). So, it only took me an hour or so, and my inbox is nice and small, and email from friends and family is easy to find. Work (or former work) stuff is easy to find as well. I deleted a lot of stuff, like photos sent to me that I saved copies of elsewhere. That makes for a happier laptop.

Now I think I am going to go join the community center gym. That way I can exercise once it gets hot. Even if I just walk or ride bikes, I will feel better. Doing something for my health helps me feel better emotionally, too! Time to go for a walk and look at birds.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Music, Music, Music

It should come as no surprise that music makes me happy. I went through 19 years after high school where listened to music as a way to cheer up (or get further down, as the need arose), and didn't perform at all. I had sung all the time in high school, because I was in two choruses (hello readers who were Travelaires at Plantation High School in the 70s), and did some solos and ensemble work, too. I loved it all, from madrigals to popular stuff. But, something happened. I no longer even remember what it was, but it made me not want to sing in college, and avoid it for many years.

Only when I started going to the UU church here in Texas did I tentatively start singing again. I was worried I'd forgotten how to read music.I hadn't. And I have been singing with them for over a decade (I posted a choir photo one day last week, so am not repeating). I also have sung in two larger choruses, and have chronicled some of that back in the depths of this blog. Search for singing and you'll find them.

But I have to say that being a member of the rather large but happy group, Funkatonic, has really revived my joy of singing. I think it's fulfilled the rock and roll fantasies of a lot of us in the band, which is mostly over-thirty former musicians of one sort or another (plus  Beccano the teen bass player and our teen flute specialist). Here I am singing, as you can tell, "Ooh, Baby Baby" in my Linda Ronstadt-esque way. The words are up there because this was a "hymn" and the audience sang along. OK, fine. But I got to wear my shiny 70s belt and my t-shirt from an obscure Welsh 70s band.

Funkatonic, by J. Montgomery

We are all having a great time. And to prove it, here's the rest of the family, also having a great time.
The guitar dudes rocking out.
We are all just having so much fun. No, it isn't perfect. But it is fun. Music should bring joy, and I assure you, our music does. We all keep grinning about how great it is we get to do this in public! (Sort of public, anyway.) I am sure glad we've had the opportunity to perform rock in this setting, though I also know it can be too loud for some folks. Don't know how to please everyone, but they do provide a lot of different kinds of music at the church, which is fun! And fun is the theme to this entry. Glad there is fun in my life.

So, if you want to, indulge in this video clip, which I am grateful for Jon Montgomery for getting for us. The audience blocks a lot of us (poor Becano is behind the fellow in blue on the right).

Oh, and did you want to know more about the obscure Welsh rock band my shirt depicts? It's Budgie, and the shirt looks like the top one on this page. I definitely would have won the most obscure rock band t-shirt contest, if we'd had one. Of course, actual credit goes to my coworker, T., who remembered the band and pointed me to them, and my younger son, who got me the shirt.

Well, it's been a chilly beginning of spring, but I know it will be too hot before I know it. I am still working on getting some employment, and had an interview today that I hope went well. At least I met some nice folks and got to see an old friend today, so it was worth it. See what a great attitude I am getting from posting all these things that bring me joy? It's working! I feel better!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Visionary Post

Continuing with my drive to make myself remember the good things in my life that make me happy, this one just popped into my head as I switched from my regular to my computer styles. I am incredibly grateful that modern science can grind pieces of glass or plastic in such a way that people whose vision is not perfect can see well. Yeah, I am grateful for glasses.

I got a backup pair yesterday, hoping that their narrowness would put the up-close part higher, so I would not have to tilt my head backwards to look at my computer screen while using the new couches (being recliners, they put my lap higher than the old one did).
Ready to go out to dinner wearing new purple, sparkly glasses.
Now I feel like some sort of diva or Elton John, with a "wardrobe" of glasses (I have sunglasses, special computer glasses for work, and two pairs of regular ones). These are sorta fancy, to contrast with my retro horn-rims. OK, I wasn't going to post a photo, but these new purple ones (which claim to be "rose") are so different I thought you might want to see. I do want to point out that the gaudy sides are mostly hidden by my hair, so they aren't quite as over-the-top when I am wearing them. My own photo didn't come out well, so here's one from the company:
Jean Lafont Audaces frames, sparkly with stained glass effect on giant titanium flowers.
Yes, these are rather "out there." But, aside from my urge to have fashionable frames, I want to get back to my theme. What really makes me happy is the fact that I can see so well. I have a great eye doctor who understands that I knit and read all the time and NEED to see small things well. I had such great vision when I was young, that I think I'd be very sad if I had to go around with my vision now. It's not that bad--I could probably drive without my glasses, but not being able to read easily would hurt.

And I know that vision is a gift that can be taken away. I have a good email friend who gets shots in her eyes every month to keep them from deteriorating any more than they are. You just know how important vision is to her! And I feel so bad for Jeff's mom (in her late 70s), whose eyes have started to go downhill very rapidly. She just bought a cute little car when she moved here last fall, but can't drive it now. She gave away all her craft stuff, and has large print books to read. She says she really misses sewing, knitting and crochet. It's got to be hard living alone and not able to do your hobbies.

I'm glad one son has perfect vision still and the other can wear contacts with no problems. Glasses can be a pain, but I never could get used to contacts for astigmatism, and the eye doctor warned me that I'd never be able to see as clearly as I can with glasses. So, I'll just keep using them as fashion accessories that also enable me to do the things I love (reading, writing, knitting, looking at birdies and flowers).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A New Look and the Time to Get It

This blog is nearly 5 years old (on April 1!), and I had used the same template the whole time. I'd put a lot of customization on it, but it was still very recognizable as one of the standard Blogger themes. So, I bit the bullet, lost a bunch of my customized things, but got a new look. I like it. Maybe one day I will really branch out and use another service or get a custom template, but this will be fine for now!

So, I stuck in a photo of our little church choir from last week. That is one of the things in my life that I am glad I have time for. Sometimes it's frustrating, like last night when we had 0 sopranos (but it IS spring break and people are busy). I do love choral singing, and am glad to have this opportunity to do that--it complements my rock and roll fun nicely!

Really what I'd wanted to talk about today was being grateful for the last 4 weeks with no work. We've had some good luck and the pressure to work so bills will be paid is off a bit. Now I am looking for work I will enjoy and not stressing about it--and will be thrilled if the folks I have been contracting with are able to provide something to do, too. I still love them!

What's been good, though, is having the time to mindfully do some of the things I have been rushing through while I was working so much and spending so much time at yarn shops. I have been able to not only clean the kitchen, but work on getting it back to where I can enjoy working in it again. I've actually kept it nice and tidy for three weeks even though I have been cooking a lot more, and for some reason that really makes me feel good. I got the family room decluttered for my Pampered Chef party, and it has STAYED that way since then. Perhaps the kids are old enough to not create chaos wherever they go (more likely Beccano's just confining his chaos to his room). The dining room FINALLY does not have a lot of extraneous equipment in it (I lie: there is an upside-down bass amp in there right now, but it just needs to get its wheel reattached and it will roll back into its space). And there is just one pile of computer equipment to move out of the "parlor" and it will be nice, too!

I keep trying to declutter the bedroom, but it comes back. I guess that's next!

Cleaning lets me think. I had not had much time to do that recently. I was too busy panicking. I feel like, at last, I can make future plans that aren't in crisis mode. This helps a lot.

Having this bonus time to myself has also enabled me to meditate more. I have always meditated, since I was a teen, but sometimes I only get a few minutes. I have been able to spend more time meditating, which has always been a boon to my serenity and clarity of thought.

It's funny how sometimes a big catharsis precedes calm. A couple of weeks ago I had to face some issues I'd been avoiding (was really too embarrassed to meet them head on). It was painful at the time for me and a friend, but I got through that, and as a bonus figured out it is OK to not be beloved by everyone, it is OK to prefer to be around positive friends, and it is OK to mess up sometimes and not be understood. I now know who my friends are, bear no ill will toward those who aren't fond of me, and feel like a huge weight is off my shoulders. That's just peachy! I'm rested, relaxed, and ready to face the world!

A new look for the blog means for me, also a new phase in life has started. I think my birthday this year was a significant one. The long, scary phase of most of the 2000s may well be behind me, and I can enjoy my spouse, my children, my friends, my hobbies and my work!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kinda Fond of My Household

Continuing with my theme of things in my life that cheer me up, I'd be totally remiss if I didn't mention the members of my  household. Every day I find myself smiling at something one of them does or says. Between the things the humans say and the things the pets do, there's no shortage of grins around here lately.

The humans have been exemplary lately. Lee has been incredibly patient and kind to me while I have been dealing with interpersonal issues and worrying about my lack of paying work the past few weeks. He works so hard, but still has time to do music with us, joke with the kids, and do important church work. Beccano (new readers, that is the code name of the red-haired child) plays his guitar and sings all the time, which soothes my soul, then he will come out with some zinger of humor that makes me wonder where he got this genius--wow this kid has a quick wit! And Tuba Boy (who no longer has a tuba) has matured incredibly since going to college, and is a joy to converse with--he really holds his own on any topic. Plus I enjoy all the kids' friends as they visit.
Scrunchy in his favorite spot.
However, I spend most of my time with the non-human residents. Poor Scrunchy is less than pleased with us right now, because we got a new sofa and loveseat. Both are recliners, and the loveseat has electric up and down mechanism (yes, an indulgence, but I have a weak shoulder). I think he's spooked by the moving couches, plus not happy that there's a center console, so he can't glue himself next to me any more. Now he plops his immense pug self on the wing chair and arranges the pillow to his liking. He's apparently saving his best snoring for night, so he can serenade us while we try to sleep.
Rose prefers to sleep at the bottom of the stairs, so she can't miss anyone going up or down.
Rose amused me very much yesterday. Every once in a while she gets a frenzy in her head and has to run. She runs in that funny hunched down ways dogs do. I heard a noise and went out on the balcony to see her running back and forth downstairs. When she saw me, she charged upstairs, wiggled a bunch, then went back down. After 4 of these events (which also sent Scrunchy into a wiggling and snorting frenzy), she finally fell down, exhausted. I do not know what starts these events, but they are fun to watch.
Buddy had been watching the rain outside before I disturbed him to take a picture.
During this event, Buddy realized something was going on, hauled his poor ailing legs up, and "rushed" up to participate. By the time he was halfway up the stairs, Rose was done. I encouraged him to come up and gave him happy petting, so he'd think he got to play too. Poor old guy, he doesn't run downstairs every time there's a noise that gets the other two in an uproar any more, but every once in a while he decides to play, and it's really cute how he lumbers over and makes happy dog noises, which thrills Rose and Scrunchy.

I enjoy the stuff the animals do, from trying to go out and pee on the plants in the front yard when given any chance, to stationing themselves at intervals so you can't walk anywhere without stepping over a canine companion. Since Gwen has been gone (a year now!), the barking around the house has diminished incredibly, and they are much better behaved when we have guests. Lee also has them eating very politely. I know I have complained about the dogs in the past, but things are way better in that department now. I don't know how I'd ever get through a day without the love in Buddy's eyes, Rose's smile, and Scrunchy's wiggling devotion.
Skkylight says, "Hey, that's rather bright light!"
But, there's even joy to be had from Skylight. That bird is quite the entertainer. She has been doing all sorts of climbing tricks and doing weird stuff with her toys a lot these days. Plus, it cracks us up how she seems to love certain songs and television shows and sings along as loud as her little chirper can sing. When Jeff's mom was visiting, about halfway through the visit she said, "Hey, is there a bird in here?" and then good ole Skylight started singing away. She doesn't talk or anything, but has always been a pleasant companion for me. She's at least 12 years old, making her the oldest pet we have!

I'm thinking of people I know who are dealing with flooding right now. Our rain is pleasant and good for our lakes and trees. The storms up north are another story! Stay dry, readers!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring! OK?

Yes, perhaps does not come as a huge shock, given the long, cold, wet winter we are coming out of, that spring is one of the things that is making me happy (if you are a recent visitor, I have been posting things that make me happy for the past week or so). Practically everyone on Facebook is posting "I love spring" and some lovely photos, and my email lists are abuzz with posts about going for long walks and such. Who could blame people?

I tend to treasure spring, especially since I got to Texas 13 years ago, because it's pretty much our only pleasant season. It gets pretty darned spectacular in late March and April, but my favorite time tends to be very early, when the first flowering trees come out, the anemones bloom and the redbuds bud. Today I had a nice visit with Jeff and his mom, Rose, and then went out to sit on the new patio and look at the bird feeder. As I sat there knitting on a mitten, I began to think about all the things that have brought me joy this spring. Here's a list--what does YOUR list look like?
Bradford Pear Trees on Pocono Drive, scenic Brushy Creek, Texas

Bradford Pear Trees: Now, you must understand that in general, I am not the biggest fan of the Bradford pear tree. It's not a native species, in Illinois they don't hold up well under heavy snow (their branch structure lends to splitting), and heck, they don't even make pears. I like fruit trees that have fruit. However, this year, thanks to the copious amount of rainfall this winter, trees that usually sport a pathetic few blossoms each year and then immediately set their leaves out have been a glorious clouds of ethereal whiteness.

The picture above shows a row of trees that has started to leaf out. We took pictures after the peak, but it's been totally amazing this year. I have seen Bradford pear trees in this neighborhood that I didn't even know where there. There is some variety that makes white clusters that is peaking right now. Wow, they are just lovely. I have heard another couple of folks agree that this year's blossoms way outshine any previous year's flowers that we can remember. Usually the only nice white flowers I get to see in the spring are the native plum trees, because we have no dogwoods (I miss them). So this year has been wonderful in the white tree department.
Water Droplet in Cabbage

Serendipity in Nature: I just love looking at our plants and the things I see in my walks. We saw this lovely bead of dew on our ornamental cabbage  plant on our way somewhere. It reminded me of a pearl in an oyster, waiting to be discovered.
Mr. Sparrow gazes at his true love.

Looking at Birds: This time of year is always the best for bird watching. The migration path is right over where we live. As a matter of fact, geese were migrating overhead today. Lots of honking! I love our front patio because I can watch all the bird activity from the comfort of my chair. The European Sparrows you see here are sitting in the burr oak tree, which is blooming, and my kind spouse took the photo with his telephoto lens.
A whole bunch of sparrows at the feeder! And the red bud, budding.

While the sparrows were cute and quite hungry, and the mourning doves squabbling with each other were amusing, I was glad to see some interesting transients coming by, too. There were a whole bunch of chipping sparrows. They are so teeny. They blend so well with the grass, which is still brown from the cold weather, that they made it look like the ground was moving around. Later on some cute black-capped chickadees showed up to snack on the tree blossoms and check into the feeder, as well. As we were watching those birds, I heard a noise, and yay! I saw my first hummingbird of spring, sitting in the oak tree. Lee tried to get a picture, but you know how fast they are!
Sparrow coming in for a landing.

Lee did get this one picture of one of a sparrow in flight, which I enjoyed a lot. The sounds of their little wings going back and forth from my house to the hedge in the next yard is quite spectacular for such little beings.

Other spring fun things: The kids being home for spring break (and bringing all their friends around), pulling weeds, watching the roses grow, knitting outside, waiting for the oak pollen to descend and make everything yellow, and reading about other people's spring experiences. Keep sharing, readers. And enjoy the special aspects of spring where you live.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Eating Reasonable Things

The thing that makes me happy today is that I am finally making a move to eat more consciously. I have always been a fan of good nutrition, but often choose what is convenient over what might be likely to promote good health. We do eat a lot of meals as a family, and I know that is good, but we have gone through periods recently where most of that has been at Sonic or restaurants. Since I've been off work, it's been a lot easier to cook at home, but I think I will be able to continue it when work picks up again.

The reason I have been working on eating better is that all the reading I have been doing has finally sunk into my soul, and I can't just do nothing.

Quite a while ago I read The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. It opened my eyes to how food is raised in the US. Then more recently I watched the DVD and read the book of Food, Inc. That made me decide to never eat a LOT of snack foods I once enjoyed again. Gee whiz, corn, soybeans and that corn syrup are in everything!

Now I am reading Food Rules and In Defense of Food, also by Pollan. These books just make a lot of sense. They don't promote one diet or another, just eating reasonable foods in reasonable proportions. Food Rules isn't very long at all and can be boiled down to:

Eat Good. Mostly Plants. Not too much.

That means to eat things you know what they are (like a carrot versus whatever is in a Twinkie), eat more leaves, fruits and vegetables, and don't over-eat. It doesn't say never have cake. Just don't have cake every day.

I had put on a few pounds, so I started eating this way, and walking more, and it's worked fine--lost about 9 pounds in 3 weeks. I know it will slow down, but that's fine. We are trying to eat more organic stuff, and even have ordered our first batch of organic beef from our friends at Wild Type Ranch (if you live around here, check their website for when they deliver near you). That's one thing these books suggest consumers can do to change how the food industry in the US works: buy locally from people you KNOW.

I have watched a number of my friends change their diets in recent years. Some have become vegetarians. A number of people have gone gluten free, so I have seen how that diet can be quite tasty and varied. We also know people who eat an all raw diet. That sounds awful, doesn't it? But no, I can assure you that some of the most delicious things I have ever eaten have been prepared by my friends who eat raw. My friend Karen gave me a slice of pomegranate pie she had made for a birthday gift. It was wonderful. The crusts she makes from nuts and such are absolutely divine. And the agave nectar sweetener is great!

I might not ever got 100% vegetarian, but I already don't eat a lot of meat. I would like to bring a lot more fish into my diet, though I do worry about contaminants with that. And I don't think I'd ever switch to a raw diet, but I'd be tempted to eat a lot more raw foods if I had the time and money to prepare and purchase the beautiful, healthy and delicious ingredients. (The major flaw of the raw diet is the time and expense--you sure have to own a GOOD juicer and blender thingie, plus the nuts and such can get costly.)

I think we are all aware that food-related conditions are rampant in the US. Most can be prevented by changing eating habits. We don't have to go crazy. I am changing one thing at a time, and gradually switching to a healthier diet. For example, I have not had a diet soda (or regular) in weeks. Go me! I've been drinking water, tea, coffee and red wine, because, hooray, red wine is good for you in moderation if you don't tend to abusing it!

I do recommend the In Defense of Food Book to anyone interested in learning the history of the way westerners eat. It's quite eye opening. Even if you do not change how you eat, you will understand why you are finding the things you find in the grocery store, etc.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Brilliant Friends

Today's thing that makes me happy must be my brilliant friends. One of the things I miss most about not working has to be my coworkers. They are so funny and so smart. I am always intellectually challenged and learning new things when I am there. One reads constantly and is always referring me to new books on topics like language, religion and such, while another is "not a reader" but practically has the Internet memorized and has amazing musical resources. Yet another has brilliant political insights, etc., etc. A fun bunch of folks, and I miss them! But, they keep in touch. One sent me this brilliant video from "CNNBC." (Even if you don't share our political viewpoint you can appreciate how well done it is!)

Is that not a hoot?

I also get so much from my friends at Live Oak UU, too. I love how many different perspectives come up in our Circle Supper dinners and such! Even with my hermit tendencies (I must have gotten them from Lee), I realize I need to be around other folks so I can learn from them. Of course friends are good for support, for companionship and for doing things with, but always remember that everyone around you has something they can teach you, so be open to the chances to learn!

Before I forget--I've got great friends from the kids' school, knitting and of course, online! I have learned so much from email lists and my online work in the past! Thanks to all of you for being around and for sharing so much of yourselves through such a seemingly impersonal medium.

But wait, there's more! In the past few weeks I have learned a great deal in, of all places, my Facebook status comments. Wow, there are some insightful people all over the world willing to contribute their perspectives on issues I bring up. I wish I could save them all and write them up in an inspirational book.

Here's an example. I said, in the kind of self-indulgent whine that I am so darned good at:

Sue Ann Kendall is trying to have a good day, honest. But everything I say is not coming out right, things are irritating me, and my back hurts from moving furniture around. I wish I could say what I think about matters that are important to me without upsetting people. Yes, yes, sometimes it is THEIR issue, not mine. My issue is losing friends by inadvertently offending people, which I am tired of. Sigh.

Responses included (names omitted, of course):

A: I am sorry. I wish people would just get over themselves and deal with it. If you say something that offends someone maybe it was something that needed to be said and it is something they don't want to face, so it is easier to get mad or hurt. I speak from my own personal experience. Now, I just deal with it. I hope things get better for you today. HUGS!!
B:  there are days like that. some days it's just better to turn of the phone, close the door, and hibernate a bit. Or spend the day prefacing every comment with "I'm having a weird day and not trying to be mean or rude..."
C: Can you really inadvertently lose true friends? I agree with the saying "those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind."
D:  I agree with what Person C said. Friends can disagree. If you can't disagree, they're not friends.
Sue Ann Kendall: Good point, guys. I think sometimes I view people as friends who are more like acquaintances I spend a lot of time with.
E: Excellent saying, Person C. I need to remember that.
F:  They couldn't have been very good friends in the first place....
G:  I love the prayer:"God spare me from the desire to be loved, approved of and appreciated." BK
Not easy to do, but so freeing.. I ask myself, how many things do I do each day for 'LAA' (love, approval and appreciation'??
H:  One of my great lessons was that I don't really need to convince anyone that I'm right. (I talk about this in communications skills now; isn't it great when we really don't feel invested in someone else's decision?) I'm now working on no longer needed to be liked by everybody. At that point, I will stop trying to please my acquaintances and focus on my friends. I have very few true friends. Those I have love me and seem to think I'm perfect. I'm not, but they are. :-)
I:  "Be who you are, say what you feel, those who mind don't matter, those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Suess. Suna, you have a good heart and a good way of speaking. Don't take things too personally. Remember 2nd agreement of the 4 agreements: "DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY...Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering."
J: I agree with just about everyone who's written a comment here. I really like it when people speak their mind -- it makes things interesting.
Sue Ann Kendall: This is another one of those status threads that has really enriched my life. People who don't like Facebook should read this supportive and helpful stuff and see how it brings people closer.
K:  I love the Suess quote! I'm going to keep that one! And I agree with the sentiments here Suna. Being another "too sensitive" type ( can't be too're as sensitive as you are...some definitely more than others) I can relate. I like one of the lessons I learned from Starhawk (can't recall which book, Truth or Dare maybe?) that we all must speak our truth! Your particular voice cannot be heard in the world unless you have the courage to speak...and yeah, sometimes people don't like it, but sometimes too those things need to be said...especially if it is YOUR truth you are speaking. The only way that particular piece of truth can be heard is if you are the one to speak it.
L: True friends love you, anyway, anyhow. And I sure do. Sorry to be chiming in late and I think I missed some stuff-- doesn't matter-- I got your back.

Note how people who don't even know each other get support an insight from each other just by reading Facebook comments! And there is such a wide variety of perspectives. That is so helpful to me and I think to the others, too. I guess, no, I don't think Facebook is lame. I have had too many really interesting experiences and re-acquainted myself with too many people I care about to think it is lame!

By the way, I am going to turn on comment moderation on this blog, since I am getting some nasty comments on my other one (intriguingly enough, I believe it's one of those people I offended somehow without intending to, whom I should be ignoring according to the folks above, ha ha), and don't want to offend anyone here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chalice Circles!

Continuing in my new theme of writing about something that brings me joy every day, let's talk about chalice circles. I am participating in two of these at the Unitarian Universalist church I attend. I facilitate the Tarot and Spirituality group and participate in the Project Linus group (if you have seen that big square afghan I made, it was for that group). A Chalice Circle is like a covenant group or small group ministry (see this link to another UU church's definition) in many churches. A consistent group of people meet monthly or weekly or whatever they like, and create community based on some common purpose.

Some of them deal with generic topics, like "personal growth," while others are very specific (such as the group I am in that makes quilts and afghans for a nice charity). The UU ones ask that you have a set program so that people are reminded they are in something like a small church service. In the Tarot and Spirituality Chalice Circle, we light a candle, have a reading, and do a check-in, plus whatever the theme of the meeting is. The Project Linus group is more informal and likes to get right down to quilting (or knitting in my case).

What brings me joy is how healing the tarot Chalice Circle has been, not just for me, but also for all the participants. As churches grow, they change, and some of us have been less than pleased with some of the changes in our worship services. We missed the sharing and community strengthening aspects mostly. It has been great to share with the members of our group, learn about ourselves, and enjoy the insights of others while we learn about tarot. It makes me so happy to facilitate a group that helps others (I have missed that part of being in the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization). And as a side benefit, we can feel like active participants in the church we love even if we don't attend services often or at all (note that we do have a couple of non-church participants--that's another advantage of Chalice Circles--you don't have to be a church member to participate).

In today's society, it is hard to make new friends, and even harder to become really close to others. Where I live, the people like me (politically and socially liberal, agnostic, pagan, sorta New-Agey) are quite scattered. It has been great to get to know better a group of people I know with whom I have many things in common. Of course, we have enough differences to make it interesting and facilitate learning! I am so grateful to everyone who takes the time to come to the meetings (they are held in our home--that's the preferred setting). These people keep me centered, help me feel like I am a part of something, and keep my urges to hide at bay.

I encourage any of you who read this to seek out ways to build a close-knit community and grow closer to other humans where you live. A knitting group, a book club, bird watching...whatever your interest is, you can find a group of people and get to know them. It may take a few tries, too. Not every group is automatically compatible or grows close. But when it works, a small group can keep you going when times get rough, and share your joys when things go well!

For more on Unitarian Universalism or to see if there are Chalice Circles where you live, check out the UUA website.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Starting Anew: Loving My Music

I haven't been writing here much, because, well, I have had some issues with feeling rather down, and didn't want to just whine and whine and whine. Of course, the issues I have been dealing with are real and legitimate--not having consistent work, not getting any of the jobs I apply for, etc. That makes me feel incompetent, even when I know perfectly well they like me lots at work, there just isn't any work to do through no fault of my own. Other issues of friendship and such don't help. I'm working on it, and certainly Lee and the kids are not problems. They are lots of help.

What to Do about It

I've been dieting and exercising in my little hiatus from work, thinking that will help. It has helped my waistline and I've enjoyed the early spring so far!

And in blogging, I think I will use this space for a while to post as often as possible about a good thing going on in my life. That will give me nice stuff to review. So I will start.

Singing "Stop in the Name of Love" with Funkatonic.
I am really enjoying Funkatonic (website coming soon), the band a great musician at church put together to provide more "modern" music for church services. We have played twice so far, and are rehearsing for the March performance now (oops, not performance, service). What fun it is to play with so many talented people. We amaze ourselves at how quickly we figure out songs.

And it's a family affair. Beccano plays percussion and bass, and is holding his own among some very talented professional musicians. Lee is playing lead guitar, and I am one of the backup singers, or on a few songs the main singer. We are having fun working out harmonies!

If you are on Facebook, you can become a fan--just search for Funkatonic. You can see lots more photos.

Look for more highlights of my recent months in upcoming days!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Meme

I got these off the blog of a Facebook friend. Since I am still having trouble writing about my actual life, here's some generic answers to questions, and a nice photo of Beccano and Rose, Jeff's mother, when we went to visit her in her new west Austin condo for the elderly. She is doing MUCH better.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Voiceovers for online training courses.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No, I just keep trying to learn.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Two of my knitting friends.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Lee's sister died, though I didn't know her. And George, my dad's best friend, died.

5. What countries did you visit?
New Mexico. Ha ha.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 which you lacked in 2009?
A job with benefits. That has been the wish since 2006.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched in your memory, and why?
I am not clear on the date, but I will never forget the day I dropped Tuba Boy off for college. I was happy for him, but felt a huge loss.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I coped with an organization changing into something I didn't like much in a productive, proactive way. And I did not take it personally. I gained a new skill and made a positive contribution to my community. I wish I had managed that with the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Did not get a job I really, really wanted and thought I was very qualified for. I regret not getting to work with the interesting people and topics.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I managed to get through the years of no insurance without going bankrupt! No major illnesses or injuries!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Either my beautiful Dell Studio 17-inch computer or the two pieces of gorgeous, heavy Mexican turquoise jewelry I got for Lee and myself at the Yulefest.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
I have been very impressed with the behavior of the members of the Diamond Dachshund Rescue. They save a lot of puppy mill dogs and have been incredibly kind to animals. I don't really know any of these people, but admire their dedication.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
All hate mongers (deleted a list of names) and politicians who FLAUNT that they are controlled by businesses and not the interest of the people they represent.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Things that broke (air conditioners, cars, water heaters...blah blah).

15. What did you get really excited about?
Marching band, knitting, politics, learning my job

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Carol of the Bells (kid played it in band)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: Happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?
Neither happier nor sadder, a bit fatter, probably richer but the work keeps going away.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Traveled with Lee and the kids.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Applying for jobs.

20. How did you spend New Year’s Eve 2009?
Went to church friend Janet's house, as I have done most years since 1998. We ate and talked and didn't do anything embarrassing. Had a bit of fun, then came home.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
Still in love with the husband. Loved a few different yarns.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I'm not a big hater. But I grew to dislike some Fox News personnel more than I did before. And my disappointment in some former friends/colleagues of mine deepened greatly.

24. What was the best book you read?
I Am a Strange Loop, by Douglas Hoffstadter, which I am still reading.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Animal Collective

26. What did you want and get?
A job with nice, fun, and interesting coworkers.

27. What did you want and not get?
A permanent position with benefits.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Star Trek (didn't see a lot this year)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old did you turn?
I turned 51. I don't remember what I did. I looked back at this blog (back when I actually wrote stuff!) and see that we went to a Spanish restaurant with Beccano and Parker, and listened to Jeff's band play. Too bad that band never took off.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
That elusive job. I am not obsessed about that, just it is a priority--the economy is bad enough, and the instability is really hard on my issues. Hence, few blog posts.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
I am back to wearing a nice top and jeans, often with something I knitted. I guess I am slightly funky casual.

32. What kept you sane?
Lee, Beccano, accepting friends, knitting.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Fancy...Jon Stewart, I guess.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Health care reform. Affects me so much.

35. Whom did you miss?
Lydia. Tuba Boy. Dad (haven't seen him since our wedding).

36. Who was the best new person (people) you met?
My coworkers.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
You'll get by, but you probably won't get ahead.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I've been chasing grace, but grace ain't so easily found.

--New Year's greetings to those of you still following.