Friday, March 31, 2006

Another Field Report: Chico

From sis-in-law Glo:

Mark got the job at Sungard Bi-Tech here in Chico. Actually across the street from where he works now. His last day at Flight Link is April 12th, and his new job starts April 17th. We are all very excited. It offers matching 401K, health benefits, etc. with lots of room to grow. They have over 200 employees.

Here's a pic of Ry last weekend. It's so cute how much he still likes to make believe and dress up.
[Here as George of the Jungle.] His hair is getting so long. I'm curious to see how long he'll let it grow. He's starting to say he wants a trim. He hasn't had a cut since last May.

Woo, go Bro'!


I've been visualizing numbers lately. Lower weight. Higher salary. More square footage to live in. Maybe an extra half carat thrown in for good measure. Can't hurt, right? Though after learning the results of a recent study which showed that prayer didn't help heart surgery patients, I'm not sure that visualization matters (though look what happened when I kept thinking of driving a Cadillac! It's just what I had to go through in order to be tooling around in the Monster Mobile that's the painful part).


Like Nancy, I'm so glad Jill Carroll has been released. But on a tangentially related note, I'm upset that tapes from 9/11 emergency calls are being broadcast. People should have access, but putting it out over the airwaves with so little warning…I feel defenseless.


God's been calling lately:

We had a long-winded local volunteer leave a message on our answering machine a few weeks ago, inviting us to his church, offering to come over to chat and drop off bibles, assuring us that no collections are ever taken.

Last week, Scientologists flaunted postal regulations and placed questionnaires in our mailbox. No assurances about lack of collections were on the questionnaire and I would have to expend my own postage to return the completed list, but I'm most curious. Some of the questions are so strange. To wit, a sampling for those of you not yet blessed by a visit from your friendly neighborhood Thetans:

- Do you consider the best points of most people and only rarely speak slightingly of them?
- Could you allow someone to finish those "final two words" in a crossword puzzle without interfering? [Whose puzzle is it?]
- Do you bite your fingernails or chew the end of your pencil?
- Does an unexpected action cause your muscles to twitch?
- Could you agree to "strict discipline"?
- When hearing a lecturer, do you sometimes experience the idea that the speaker is referring entirely to you?
- Do you consider the modern "prison without bars" system doomed to failure?
- Is your voice monotonous rather than varied in pitch?
- Would it take a definite effort on your part to consider the subject of suicide?
- Do you ever get disturbed by the sound of the wind or a "house settling down"?
- Are you a slow eater?
- Are you perturbed at the idea of loss of dignity?
- Would you use corporal punishment on a child aged ten if it refused to obey you? [Love the reference to "it"--and why the emphasis on ten year olds?]

Oddly, the question of monetary support was never raised.

I'm tempted to answer each question untruthfully, just to see what the results would be. Wish I hadn't recycled M's questionnaire, I could do a truthful/untruthful comparison. I am assured that "There is no obligation whatsoever. A test o this kind would normally cost you $500 and up. It is offered to you here free of charge [I typed, "free of chard" J] as a public service [!] by Scientology of Sierra Nevada. Whether or not you are happy with your life, you will find out why you are the way you are."

And then today we received a (postally legal) card from the local Lutheran church inviting us to an Easter party. Hm, skimming through it…"Join us for an Easter Celebration…We'll have great music, a free breakfast buffet, activities for the kids, plus an inspiring Easter message to breathe new life into your holidays. [Awesome riff on "He is risen," kudos to their marketing writer! More props:] So if you aren't sure church is all it's cracked up to be…" There's a graphic of an egg with rays of light beaming from a break in the shell…get it? Maybe Garrison Keillor's loving skewering of Lutherans has given them a little extra courage to be creative. Then again--why isn't there any mention of God or Jesus? It is a church after all. Perhaps they don't want to offend anyone or put anyone off.


Happy April Fools Day and Daylight Savings tomorrow!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Writers Night Out

PWG with Anne Lamott
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.
The writers group gals, Rebecca and
Julia and I went to our local cultural center last night to see a reading ("see a reading"--did I just write that? Well, it's accurate, I guess) by Anne Lamott, who was teaming up with Mary Chapin Carpenter for an evening of spoken word and song. I'm not a big fan of MCC, but I can appreciate her talent. And Anne was positively inspiring. She's so funny, and is a great role model for progressives of deep faith, which I hope to be one day. (As a step towards that goal, Julia suggested that I get a license plate frame that reads "Touched by His Noodly Appendage"--that and the FSM decal would go a long way towards being able to live my other life slogan: "Converting Pastafarians, one parking lot at a time.") We were giggly groupies after the show and had our photo taken with Anne!


Today Rob sez: "Please find projects that are truly worthy of your creativity, which is overflowing right now." And it is, kinda. I can't stop thinking about sewing projects, and I'm even (gasp) thinking about new things for work. What could be next--new writing projects?? Very little might come of any of my creative impulses, but it really is energizing having so many ideas whirling about in my little brain.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Past Life

Susi and tulips
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.

Isn't this a lovely picture my aunt took of her granddaughter? Susi and I share the same birthday, which pleases me exceedingly.


In my weight-training class this morning, I couldn't stop thinking about New York. I think it's that time of year--I remember Manhattan winters once the holidays were over as being very dark and grim, maddening, until the cherry trees began to blossom on Charles Street in the Village, just as the cherry and apple trees are unfurling their pink and white flowers here now. Early spring in NY were such a relief, and the longer days, warmer sun, and bits of springtime greenery seemed all the more intense for their seasonal absence and scarcity in such a concrete-filled place. It was safe to come out of my apartment cave, and there was an urgency since soon summer would come with its inescapable humid stinky garbage smell and seemingly endless days with no cool respite.

It's hard to remember specifics about my life in New York now. I used to run through the names of the pocket parks and locations of favorite buildings and shops in my head, trying not to lose their sacred place in my mind. But next time I return I'll be an estranged tourist. I had a wild idea this morning that if I come across a cheap airfare I'll just force my cousin to let me sleep on his sofa for a weekend, just a few days of New York in the spring, just to wander the streets and remember.

I wonder why NY is so important to me. Maybe it's my fountain of youth, where I was young and became more myself and where I could still evolve into another self if I so desired. It's not as though I'm unhappy now. I think I just miss the potential--of adventure, chance meetings, fun, inspiration--that seemed to just cross my path in NY. Here, I have to cross Its path.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Order of the Day

Last writing meeting at the Applebox a week ago, Julia and I discussed the prioritization of writing in our lives. I thought about that discussion a lot during the week and particularly in these past few hours as I engaged in the sweet suburban puttering of a sunny day. The patio has been swept, the Monster Mobile vacuumed, cashmere sweaters are soaking in the sink, dog towels tumbling in the dryer, Rex was walked (I think it's courting season for hawks--we watched three braiding up the sky above the field, circling higher and higher…we turned away for a moment and they vanished) and he now basks in the sunshine on the deck. I should be working on a new essay, or at least revising an old one, bring it up to submission snuff, but all I can think about is ripping out and redoing the side-seams on my dress and ironing the fabric that my mom brought down for me (the fabric pile is growing precariously tall--how did that happen in just under two months?) while listening to Patrick Tull read Patrick O'Brian. And I know that I'm blogging as a way to trick my brain into thinking I've been writing and so make me feel like I've accomplished "real" writing. Well, I have time for both sewing and writing today, we'll see how it goes.

One activity that has been sucking up way too much of my time lately, and I've been in denial about it: shopping. I do just too much wandering around in stores and poking around the racks and shelves. It's almost like TV--a pleasant way to put my brain on hold, but I don't really accomplish much. Yesterday for instance: I went hunting for a new sweatshirt at the mall. There is a bit of social anthropology study that I enjoy, watching the kids cruising for friends and "love," observing family dynamics as they shop together. But what did I get for two and a half hours of mall scraping? A pair of red boots ($8, how could I resist?) and two tshirts--and no sweatshirt. I could've just hit a store that I know would've had plenty to choose from, like Sportmart, but no…So there was a chunk of my afternoon gone with little to show for it. I have so many creative things that I want to work on, I really need to get that impulse under control and stop complaining about not being able to write.


My mom and stepdad came down on Friday evening. They took us out to dinner at a really good Chinese place that night. We did some tandem shopping yesterday and mom picked out a new digital camera in time for their anniversary trip to China in May. Here's her first digital portrait!

Gray kitty in the sun
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.


Have I mentioned M's dreams lately? The sleeping ones, not the waking ones. Sure there are the standard where's-that-thing-I-need-to-take-my-test scenarios. But there are others, a bit more disturbing. For instance, in one, Rex has been carried off by a hawk only to be dashed, bloodied and broken to the ground; in another he's dragged around his step-brother's headless body. I had a sort of nightmare myself last night--at one of our conferences, I was confronted by an obese PR flack who grew larger and larger until she smothered me. Hm, what would Freud say? (Think I'll start a bracelet campaign, WWFS.)

OK, enough of this bloggygagging, time to continue to the activities of the day.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Ry knitting

loving knitting
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.

Yay, my nephew is a budding knitter!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Reports from the Field

Today's post come to you from my husband and my brother:

M (who will be home in just hours, oh joy!) was in SoCal over the weekend. His best friend Eric has a Harley performance shop, doing so gangbusters that they moved around the corner to a bigger space. They marked the occasion with a bash. Wrote M on Saturday:

It's almost seven. What a day it has been. The weather ended up being perfect of course. I started grillin good stuff around ten thirty this morning. Did a grill basket of shrimp to start, then ribs, pork, chicken, then 20 pounds of sirloin. By 1:30 all of that was gone along with 2 10 pound bags of bratwurst, Eric went next door and bought 60 pounds more of sirloin and 100 hotlinks, I had forty pounds of beef cooking all at once.

It was so much fun!

Heath's band got crankin around two and three kegs were cached by then, we had to get more! There was about a hundred bikes and about four hundred people at the peak.

Eric's mom brought out 10 lbs of halibut and I kept cooking until about three thirty and then everything was starting to wrap up. I had to just go sit down for about an hour after all that.

Heath's band is absolutely incredible nowadays. We should make a point to go see them they should be in Frisco in april.

I think the best part for me was doing something so much fun and all consuming for a few hours and NOT thinking about school for that period of time.

I feel more tired now than I did yesterday even though I actually got a good night's sleep.

He apparently disregarded my advice to audion for Deal or No Deal. I'm sure he'll regret it.

My brother also had a good weekend:

Hi Sis,
Felicia is a very beautiful lady and a wonderful daughter--I'm blessed. She and her friends had their pre-prom dinner at home and they grandly posed for the cameras as all 12 parents took pictures. Then came back for a post-prom-party-sleepover! It was a lot fun!!

[Felicia was elected a Prom Princess too boot, notes her proud Auntie!]

Saturday, March 18, 2006

In a Pinch

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day. It used to be such a big deal in grade school--only dorks and space cadets didn't wear green, who wanted to get pinched by those mean boys? But I'm a 'dult now and thought all that was behind me. It's just not a big-deal day anymore--though the colcannon sample at Trader Joes was a good intro to their instant mashed potatoes--so I didn't wear green yesterday. And was pinched, hard, by one of my fellow cube-dwellers! I gave it my best school-girl scream-n-shrink, what the hell, it had been a long week.


After weeks of thunderstorms, today is a jewel of a day, all aquamarine skies and emerald hills. A relief from the muffled, puddled, smoky quartz days I've been moving through. I could almost see the iris stretching their leaves in the deck barrels, the rose leaves relaxing open. Perfect vacuuming weather. I can leave the doors and windows open, chasing away the damp, glowering smell. If I had more energy I'd wash the windows themselves, but I think that's a chore I'll have to tackle with my husband.


M talks about being a bad bachelor when I'm gone (it is disconcerting to return after a week of conferencing to three pizza boxes wedged into the trashcan and a refrigerator that shows no evidence of being opened). He mopes, he says. Now it's my turn to be a bachelorette. I was just dreaming out the window about dinner--homemade pumpkin ravioli? Something with peppers in it, which I rarely cook with since M despises them?

I do fine until bedtime. I get nervous closing up the house when I'm all by myself. I put off turning out the light until I know I'll fall asleep immediately. And I mope when I wake up alone--well, the only human anyway, canine and feline remain attached to me during all horizontal moments. Though the past two mornings it was actually kinda nice to wake up and rattle around, turn on lights, turn up the radio and not worry about waking M up. And I enjoy contemplating my activities--walking the dog, errands to the fabric shop and Target, clothing repairs I'm going to try to tackle today. And again, what will I make for dinner? There's a fancy Italian deli around the corner from where I'm blogging, maybe I'll stop in on my way home.

He's only going to be gone for a few days, but I miss him terribly.


That body image thing never goes away, does it? Discussing a dress pattern with my sewing teacher the other night, I had to actually divulge the circumference of my thighs, which is particularly difficult with her--she's not only petite, but has those slim boy hips with no bulging whatsoever. I felt so embarrassed about myself. Also during that class, we had earlier examined the sewing project of a 13 year old who had joined our class--the teacher was demonstrating how to enlarge her pants pattern, and was careful to point out that the pattern was for a size that the girl obviously wasn't , but that's how sewing patterns are--they run about two sizes smaller than off the rack clothes. How discouraging is that?


Speaking of clothes, stop the madness! I was leafing through my Victoria's Secret catalog and was stunned to see the return/regurgitation of cropped black leggings under a big layered sweater. What a howl for fashion help. I think I've seen leg warmers, too. Do not be assimilated!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Life Resumes

At least, I hope it does. Homecoming Thursday night was a distinct pleasure. I successfully avoided coworkers coming home on the same flight from San Diego--it added perhaps an hour or more to my journey but I was blissfully alone. Or did they avoid me? Anyway. Friday I reconnected with the cats, dogs, M, my own bed. M and I did our taxes; I crafted; slept. We went to a dinner party at one of his old car sales buddies' place, which was very pleasant. Not too many people and all were very nice. Delish food. Had a little too much wine so Saturday was not particularly productive, but the "enforced" sloth felt restorative. Witness the tote bag I finished today:

To the left: before felting. To the right, after felting. It's very small, so it can hardly be called a "tote bag," but the main thing is that I persevered and finished it. I'm tired of having unfinished projects cluttering my craft room and consciousness.


We watched the Fog of War this weekend. I have a much different--much more positive--view of Robert Strange McNamara, but the juxtaposition of his quoting poetry and emotional sensitivity to certain events while describing his role of basically being a war casualty statistician is depressing and chilling.


A busy week ahead: writers group tomorrow, ushering a piano trio Tuesday night, a return to the pleasantness of Thai food and sewing class routine on Wednesday, Friday back to the theater to usher a performance by George Lopez, then back again Sunday to usher a children's show. M leaves Friday morning for a visit to SoCal--his best friend is moving his business to a new location and marking the location with a big party. M is apparently in charge of grilling the pineapple, among other things, and won't return until Monday. Rex (and I) will be desolate.


Looking forward to: camping this August during M's summer break. And exploring more music. I'm doing pretty well on that 2006 resolution. I have a "radio station" that I listened to today while crafting and I've spent more money on CDs in the last three months than I have in the last three years. I also realized today that I've spent more time ironing in the last month than I have in the last six years…Which isn't saying much in either case.


During our conference, I did witness a demo of a Gocco printer, which I've been coveting for some time. Its applications are limited, but it seems like it could be such fun--I'm thinking of FSM artwork in particular. Wish I had thought of the Gocco for our wedding invitations, but maybe it's just as well.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

One more night in San Diego

So I've got to go back to the carousel tonight if I'm going to get a ride in. Haven't left the hotel for 48 hours anyway. But I'm so tired. Just want to treat myself to a nice dinner and snuggle up in bed. Got on a knitting and TV tear ("Independence Day," hardly worth the undereye bags) last night, and I could use more than the minimum hours of sleep tonight. Gotta pack, too. But it was a good day today, better now that it's winding down.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ballroom Blog

I'm sitting in the conference ballroom surrounded by 1,000 warm, breathing, other souls listening to the final speaker of the day. It's been a long one. Day, not speaker. Didn't sleep so well last night, but I muddled through the day reasonably well. I did manage to sneak out of the hotel for about a half an hour this evening to grab a deeply unsatisfying dinner. My goal was to take a spin on the carousel in the touristy mall by the hotel, but the young ride operator slipped off with her boyfriend for a break just as I walked up with the two bucks for a ticket in my hand. But I guess I have that to look forward to later. One day down, three to go…

Posted a few pix on my Flickr page, will post more soon.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Post Blog

[I wrote much of this last Sunday.] Well, for all the blog green lights Saturday morning, I didn't post much, did I? We didn't go to the beach. We instead went to a state park and picnicked by a stream that was so loud we could barely hear each other above the din. The banks had been torn up by the New Year's storm so there wasn't much of a place to spread out and get comfortable. We had a tricky time keeping the brie from falling into the dirt or into Rex's attentive maw, and my fantasy of a nap in the weak sunshine was dashed by damaged roots and boulders strewn everywhere. We had managed to pick up a very rich lunch and so a stroll on the nearby trail was out of the question. So we came home and retired to our respective crafts table, M to make a shadowbox in the garage, me to finish my pillow and pants projects and to start a potholder.


I've been thinking often about Nancy's Vday blog acknowledging what a wonderful life she's created for herself and her family. I'm so glad for her, and so happy that she's taken time to be conscious of this time in her life. I have similar feelings about my life now too--M and I are in a good place in our relationship despite his extreme school stress. We both have much to look forward to and despite my descent into middle age (he doesn't quite qualify yet), adventure still awaits it seems, it wasn't left behind eleven years ago in my single New York gal's apartment.

I keep a mirrored picture frame that my aunt and uncle gave me on my dresser and have three photos of M and me in it that I rotate. Two of the photos are of us early in our relationship--I can tell because our hair is long and we're both a little thinner. And while looking at the photos tonight I thought that maybe I would never wear my hair like that again, never gaze at a blue New York light streaming into a window that I called my own and somehow that made me sad, a vision of a life I've left behind, a youthfulness that I can never feel again…but there's nothing I can do about that save for lay plans for more adventures, because obviously there's no going back.

M and I are definitely in stage where we're trying to absorb certain apparent future certainties, however. Not having children, a decision that somehow just doesn't go away once made, but seems to need regular revisiting. And the fact that we may not ever be moving out of the house we're now in. Looking at desperately needed new kitchen flooring the other day, he asked about what we would do with a new floor now since we really must enlarged the house in a few years. I don't feel like we're in a stage to make the decision that we'll never sell this house for another--he needs to graduate first--but I just can't commit to that path. Yet. Maybe indecision is what keeps adventure alive.




I had a wonderful time with Mom a couple of weekends ago. We visited the fabric store for supplies for my sewing class (which ended last night, but I've signed on for another four classes so I can work on a dress), and paging through the pattern books with her brought me back 30 years. Ahem, 35 years. It was nice to share creative project planning with someone, particularly Mom. We researched digital cameras for her trip to China in May, shopped, ate well. She brought down her latest batch of pottery, which is quite lovely. She left me with a beautiful green bowl just right for cereal or a splash of ice cream, and a chenille scarf she knitted for me, my favorite color of blue. I'm lucky to have such a great mom.


I realized recently that I treat sewing like my writing. I love preparing for the project, buying pattern and fabric and notions, drafting up the first pages. But almost all of my projects are left dreaming in that stage, ripe in their potential, but unfinished. Because finishing means that I'll have to make a decision and cut into that beautiful green wool and ruin it for any other project. My lack of craftsmanship will show, logic and/or seams won't align, the finished product won't be fit to be seen in public. But for some reason, maybe age, this isn't as much of a threat to my ego as much lately. I've come to terms with the truth that I won't become an expert if I don't practice. And even if I practice it still might not live up to my own standards--but at least I'll get better.


I'm off to a conference in San Diego on Saturday. A long week ahead.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Happy Other Birthday, Paw

M celebrated four years of sobriety yesterday. His decision to renounce the sauce has had a profound effect on both our lives. It's transformed him, but in sort of an opposite way--he's become *more* the person he truly is. If he hadn't quit drinking, I don't think he ever would've decided to undertake law school, and if he did, I don't think he could have succeeded. If he hadn't quit drinking, I doubt we'd be together now, much less married, so to say I'm grateful that he's renewed his close friendship with Bill W. is an understatement.

So happy other birthday, Paw. And many more.