Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where was I?

It seems like it's been a while since I've posted.

Must mean I've been delving into the online dating thing again. There's only so much screen time to go around. But now I'm doing what I usually do, paddle around for a while, and get out and sit on my towel for a while. The clincher this time was a person that wasn't quite my type, but hey, I'm trying to keep an open mind, right? So I replied to his email and he responded. With seven separate rambling emails over the course of about an hour. Seven.

So, you're kinda new to this business. eh? I sent an email this morning saying I didn't want to pursue that match, and best of luck. I try hard to be nice about it. There's no reason to be mean. But I blocked him, too, which feels weird. I haven't had to do that before. I did converse with some nice people this time around. Met BW, who, while fun and nice, is clearly not my path, so to speak. The search continues. I was reading an online chat yesterday written by a matchmaker in Washington, DC, and thought, will it come to that? I'm hoping not. I'm going to shift back to socializing and see what happens.

And speaking of socializing, I need to get my costume ready for the biggest bike parade in town, the Tour de Fat, that happens this weekend. I'm going to volunteer, so will be there doing something and I'm sure I'll run into people I know.

And Mr W and I attended our church's start up breakfast this past weekend. I got caught up with some friends and left with the sense that I'd like to get more involved there. They're all about putting their faith money where their mouths are, so to speak, and it's a good community.

And the banjo lessons are going great! But slow. Teaching my hand the chord positions has been a slow go of it, but I see progress. I love how it's been pretty much as I've expected, that practicing will make me better at it, and as I don't really have any expectations as to how fast I progress, there's no pressure. I like the idea that at 46 I can learn something new like this.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cephalopodic camouflagic craftiness

So I've got a thing for squid. Octopi and Cuttlefish too, but have always been fascinated by how colossal Giant Squid are and how so little is known about them. When I worked as a seasonal naturalist during summers between college back in Ohio, we showed campfire films, and one that I loved (I think the audience did, sure they did...) was on cuttlefish, and their ability to change their skin texture and color so they blend in with their environment.

This is a 4.5 minute video, but the cool part is in the first 30 seconds. The rest is about this guy's research. 

Cephalopods are colorblind, yet are able to use their vision to change their skin color - go figure. And they do the same with the texture of their skin. They look at their surroundings, and change their skin texture based on what they see, not what they feel. Wicked cool.

Video from Science Friday. Ira Flatow rocks!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Garden 8-24-11

This is the front corner of my house on the alley side. Things kind of converged and I like how it turned out. Someone should get out there and weed, though...

I have had a bunch of car issues this week, and while it's been a pain, nothing's really wrong, just a lot of shuttling and money changing hands. The van waited until I got back into town to have its water pump fail, which I am very thankful for. My other car died at a stop sign after being fixed once and returned to me. There was some talk that what they fixed the second time probably should have been fixed the first time, so they're making it right and will have my business for as long as I have that car. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

My father's child

My work involves genetics. I consider pieces of DNA that are passed from parent to offspring, and use that to characterize populations of the mosquitoes we study.  You might say I have a professional interest in heritable characteristics.

I've also been trying to get out more to meet new people, now that my job is secure for another year and... and what? I don't know, it seems easier to get out and mingle without having to say, "I'm unemployed, but I'm not here trying to make connections that might get me a job. Really." I now am mingling partly to see if I can make those kinds of connections, but also to simply not have to work so darn hard to have a group of people to hang out with. It does seem like work lately.

It's interesting and odd to me that, just like I've not been able to ever really say, "It's OK that I don't have a partner", I've not really been able to be content saying, "I'm OK staying at home instead of going out and being social."

And then, while waiting for the elevator at work last week, I had the thought, "This is my dad's doing." I thought of how, after my mom died, I could never picture him (not in a million years) growing old by himself. He simply would eventually find a partner, and he did, and they've been together for 15 years. In the same way, my dad has a reputation for being a really social guy. When her son got married, the son's friends would come up to my dad, to say hi and remark about the time they were all at some bar or club. He needs to take a little snooze in order to stay up til midnight now, but still likes to go to the American Legion on the weekends and dance to the live music and have a few Bud Lights.

So I wondered the extent to which this need to be social is genetic. Just about impossible to quantify as it's such a complex trait, or set of traits, but it was interesting to think that this drive I have to find Mr Right for Me, and to get out and do things might be inherited. Could just as well be learned, as these things go. Either way, something's making me keep trying.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wasn't I just saying...

While I was out with the van yesterday doing errands, I came out of a store and saw about a cup of antifreeze had leaked out in the 20 minutes I had been in the store. My first thought was, "Crap! Two cars down, how am I going to manage the logistics of this?" The second thought was, "I'm SO glad this didn't happen when I was off camping." Isn't that strangely weird in a good way? Things held together just fine while I was off by myself, and sort of waited until I got back to home base to go kerfluey.

But this leaves me with some scheduling to do. I can ride my bike to work tomorrow. I'll have the Honda towed to the repair shop today, and I hope they can fix whatever's wrong with it and be done by the end of the day. Mr W's first day of school is tomorrow, so I can walk over and get him when he's done, and I can ride my bike to Spin class. The repair shop is good about giving me rides, so it will all work out. The weather's supposed to be warm and dry, so I won't worry about getting rained on for the moment.

It's funny, the community center where the Spin class is held has been closed for the last week for maintenance, so I haven't had class for the last week. I miss it!! It's funny how things become routine, and I'm looking forward to getting back to it. Yeah, I can't believe those words just came out of me regarding exercise either.

So it remains, what do I do today? No car, but of course have the bike. I was at the store yesterday to buy canning supplies, and while I got some jars, I balked at buying the big pot for the water bath. The one they had was so big, I thought it would be hard for my sort of basic stove to keep boiling. Then I remembered that I had an Amazon gift card that I could put toward a pressure canner, so I did that. I got a 23 quart Presto. It should be here in a few days, which is fine, because the main things I wanted to can, tomatoes, have been so very late this year. I have had three grape tomatoes, and every thing else is still green. Crazy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A funny thing happened...

A funny thing happened when I was camping with the dog. I realized that, while I am good company, while I don't mind my own good company in the least, I don't want to camp by myself at this stage of the game. It wasn't about safety, because I do tend to pick places that will have some people, and it wasn't about being lonely, really. I had a perfectly good time, hanging out, reading, knitting, playing my banjo. Yesterday, the dog and I hiked about six miles, a nice hike through some pretty country. I just don't feel like it.

With the shot in the arm that I've gotten by knowing I'm keeping my job, I'm doing more stuff at home and in town. I'm keeping busy, and didn't really feel the need to get away from anything by going camping. It was more like I felt I should go camping, and that's why I'm going to sell the van.

But not before I get my other car looked at! I went out to use my other car, my trusty 1995 Honda Civic, which I bought new and has been the most awesomest car EVER, and it wouldn't start. I really did laugh out loud. It's making this screechy sort of noise like the engine wants to turn over, but it just can't get there. So I'll get that issue taken care of before I start the process of getting the van sold. I'd like for the Civic to last a couple more years (it's not too much to ask, is it?) so I can buy a Prius C, which is a smaller hybrid slated to be released next spring.

Other than firming up my opinion that I don't need to camp by myself again anytime soon, I felt what I can best describe as a slight shift in my perspective. I feel like I'm settling into feeling a more appropriate level of gratitude for what I have. How does this translate? I'd like to have more fun, thanks. Continue to try to meet new people, continue the search for my half-orange, follow through on getting work done on the house, that kind of thing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Go? Gone

I'm gone this morning on my camping trip with the van. I picked a nice spot that's about 4 hours away, and have heard it's bee-u-tiful. The dog and I will leave when I get packed up, no huge hurry, and we'll get back on Friday (just in time for the weekend!).

I'm going to sell the van. Thanks Mama Pea and Ruth for the comments. It's true, it's more work than pleasure, so it needs to go.

And Mama Pea? Pot. Kettle. Black. Just sayin'.

I had my third banjo lesson last night. I am having a lot of fun with it. I don't know why it took me so long (or why it has been so long) but practicing has really shown me how practice makes one incrementally better. It's been so cool to put some work in and see the results. Satisfying.

I'm also getting fed up with this old computer, and will likely spend Saturday backing things up in order to reformat the hard drive. The plan is to give this computer then to Mr W, and get a new one for myself. I'm tired of sharing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Stay? Go?

I've been putting off camping in my campervan all darn summer, and I'm trying to figure out why. Maybe I don't want to go alone? Maybe the prep is daunting? Concerned about the thing breaking down? Whatever, it's the end of summer, I've made reservations to camp for a couple of days this week, and I'm waffling.

Do I need to go? Not in the the "gotta get away" kind of way, no. I'm really enjoying myself at the moment. I've got stuff to do, places to go, and don't feel the need to escape from anything. But I've got this van, and I'm paying for this van, and it's fun once I get there.

There's already two things that I'll miss/have to reschedule if I'm gone this week. My boss is fine with me going, so work is not the issue.

Well, at any rate, this is the situation that will determine whether I keep the thing. It has been nice to have something big enough to haul stuff, and of course the camping is fun. Lately, though, I've been considering that if I would sell the van, there would be enough money to update my kitchen. What would I use more? Does the van add more value than work to my life?

If I knew more about maintaining and fixing it (and I'm not really interested in learning) I'd be more comfortable, I suppose.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beer and Knitting

Ha! What could be better, right? Wonderful thing that Facebook is, I saw yesterday that my local yarn shop (LYS) was going to be partnering with a new microbrewery in town to host "Pints and Purls" on Wednesdays. Better yet, it was a hop, skip and a jump from where I work out, so I headed over there yesterday (in my workout clothes, but no one cared) and had a root beer and chatted with some knitters. Yes, I'll have a beer next time...

I love this idea, and I noticed something very interesting. Attending a social event where I don't know anyone is getting easier (as in over the last few years it's getting easier), and I can do it, but it is work sometimes. I did this at an event last Friday, where it seemed everyone knew each other but me. My solution to that kind of thing is to go up to the nearest group and say, "Hi all, I'm new and don't know anyone, so can I stand here for a bit?" That is really all it takes to get going, but sometimes feels like work. The person I happened to talk to knows my new next door neighbors. Go figure.

Not so with beer and knitting. OK, I did know the owner of the LYS, who said hi, so I technically knew one person. But showing up with my knitting bag, and having them know I was a knitter gave me some instant cred that -bam!- I was part of the group. Granted, I was able to get into a discussion about turning heels on socks, so I could hang, but still, that feeling of "these people are part of my tribe" was a good one. How fun is that.

And I am feeling like knitting again. I've got my eye on a new sweater pattern, and vow this year to start making my socks two at a time. The sweater is plain - but functional! Here's the Ravelry link. I have, I am ashamed and sad to say, 4 single socks where I have not started the other one of the pair. Maybe I should wear those as two pairs and be done with it.

In other news, I had my second banjo lesson on Tuesday, and my fingertips on my left hand are still sensitive. What a pansy. My instructor is still a hoot, and I'm hoping, because now I'm dragging Mr W along with me due to a parenting schedule change that he'll decide he wants to take up either banjo or guitar. We'll see. He thought she was funny, too. I'm so glad I did this banjo thing. I've already gotten a lot of pleasure from the process.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The sleep experiment

So I've been taking some steps to get myself a better night's sleep the last few days. My thinking was that I wanted to see how it felt to actually be rested after a few good night's sleep, because lately I've been having trouble sleeping.

And you know what? I can feel the difference. It manifests itself as optimism, and also as the desire to create something. That last one's been especially strong lately. It doesn't feel like I want to start knitting yet (too warm), but I feel the need to make something with my hands.

I KNOW I have so much to be thankful for. I WANT to feel appreciative for all the things that go right in a day. For all the ways that my life works out as one that I'm happy leading. I WANT to be content. Getting enough rest is such a simple concept, but I feel like it's hard to get at these things if I'm not rested at some minimal level.

In other news, I've not gotten the closure email from BW yet. I don't know, it just a courtesy thing that would be nice to have. The "thanks, I liked getting to know you, good luck in your search" blurb. I agree that we do learn something from each person that we have a relationship with, and I have several nuggets of wisdom from him (from just the way he is, not anything he's trying to sell) that I have learned. If I don't hear from him in a couple of days, I'll send an email to that effect and close it out. 

I need to take pictures of my alley garden today. It's coming along better than expected and looks really nice!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

LindaCO, you are such a nice person, but...

I knew there was a chance this might happen. I knew that BW wasn't all that far along in the process of getting over the last person he was dating. And so, last night there was "the talk". The talk about how his ex had recently contacted him and he feels like there's unfinished business there and he has to follow his heart and I'm a lovely person and he needs a couple of days to sort this out.

It stings, but I appreciate his honesty such that he rates high marks in my book and I think we'll be friends regardless. I've kept saying all along that he's different, not my usual match, so it feels a little like I've been turned loose to find someone more like me? I don't know, we still got along fine.

In a weird turn of events (but not so weird when you live in a smallish city) BW and I went to an outdoor concert last night, and I see a kid walking by in a yellow shirt - it's Mr W! So I follow the line of sight and there's my ex, and his fiance. The ex later gets up to go, sees us, comes over to say hi. We chat a bit, and he says that they went ahead and got married over the weekend. Not all that shocking, I knew it was coming, but... Mr W hadn't seen me up til this point, and as he walked back from playing, he saw me and I have to say it still makes me smile, his face lit up and he literally ran over to me. How nice for his dear ma.

So I'm back in the pool, the dating pool, that is. Better for having had this experience with BW. I tend to go introvert without a partner, and this was a great exercise in why it's important to keep getting out and doing stuff. Before I met him, I also was without the job renewal, so was in a funk about that. Now, I feel like I'm in a better position to socialize.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

To be able to laugh at oneself

Here's my new banjo. It's a basic, starter model, nothing fancy. It got here last Wednesday, but my first lesson wasn't until last night. I love the teacher, she's so enthusiastic. If you look at the picture, you'll see in the middle of the round white part (the head) there's a little piece of wood. That's called the bridge. Well, they don't ship the instrument with the bridge in place, because it props up the strings, and I guess the strings would be too taught. I learned this the hard way, by taking the banjo to my first lesson without the bridge installed. I get there, and she looks and says, "where the bridge?". Um, what's a bridge? 

So while she was still rolling around on the floor laughing (I was too, it was so silly), I dashed home and got the bridge, which had come with a couple of little tools to maintain the banjo. Sheesh. I had a good laugh at my own expense.  I think that pretty well established just how much of a newbie I am and how basic things need to be to start. She was very generous and gave me a full 30 minute lesson after I returned with the bridge, and I've been practicing the two parts to my 4/4 rolls. 

I'm glad I did this! 

I almost forgot. You can see that I have a nice case for my new banjo. I have former flame CB to thank for the "you need a case for your devices" mindset. There was a time when I'd just buy a thing, and then get bummed out when it got dinged, scratched or broken. Thinking that I had paid enough already, thank you. No more. Now I order the case alongside the thing, and don't worry about it. In fact, I just sort of factor it into the price of the thing. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Easy Peasy

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I fret from time to time about whether I'm providing enough enrichment/extracurricular stuff for my kid. I guess not enough to make it easy to find those past posts to provide the links here, BUT, I do. As a kid, I recall being bored a lot of time time, and wish my parents had provided/suggested some kind of art, music or sport for me to develop some skill on/with.

And it's not that I want to go overboard and have his schedule booked out and commit to having to get him somewhere for practice each night after school. I just want him to get excited about something other than playing video games, which have been his passion for a few years now. As I type this, it seems like perhaps removing them for a while would hasten the process of finding another "thing", and I might. But the point is that he hasn't found anything yet that he's said, "Mom, I want to do X, will you sign me up?'

In addition to that, my city's Rec department is top-notch. They have a ton of things going on, and put out a big booklet of activities once per quarter. And every time it comes out, I guess I see opportunities wasted or something.

But this coming school year, it seems like an easy solution has been found. At the end of last year, he participated (at my suggestion) in the after school Lego robotics club, which more or less saved him a spot for the "real" Lego club that he's eligible for now that he's going into (gasp) 5th grade.

Me: So, will you be doing the Lego robotics club this fall after school?
Mr W: No.
Me: Well, you did it at the end of last year, and this year you'd get to compete in the tournament
Mr W: OK.

OK? Oh, OK! Alright then, that's one thing. It was like his default answer is no, until nudged a little otherwise.

Smelling blood in the water sensing an opportunity to get him to agree to a sport, I asked what sport he'd do if he had to sign up for something. I'm a little embarrassed to have had to put it that way, but there it is. And he said he'd like to do the Running Club. Huh? Oh, OK. He's tall and slim, maybe running could be his thing.

So, just like that, we've got activities lined for him for the school year. Easy peasy. And the best part is that it's all at his school. No shuttling. I really like that.

In other news, BW's still around. We seem to be seeing each other a couple of times a week, and that feels about right. He's in no hurry to meet Mr W, and I'm fine with that; my kid's got a dad in the picture. As these last couple of weeks have unfolded, it feels to me like the tide is turning, that some sort of hill (or valley) has been crossed and I'm heading away from the anxiety of the last few months. I'm happy to ride this for a while, and feel lucky.