Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sleepless night = A Plan

So work has been very stressful lately for a number of reasons. They involve staff issues, community partner issues, auditors, and funders. That would be pretty much everyone, does it not?

However -- I have a plan! After a sleepless night where issues and possible solutions ran around my head, I finally got up at 5am to write down my to-do list of solutions. Ah, feel so much better now.

I will have to 'fess up to Major Funder about my mistake, no way to avoid it, but I feel like it's no longer the end of the world because I have a solution that will get us back on track and still allow us to reach our client goals. Because client outcomes is really what matters, right? Right? Right.

Plus, I have come up with a way to get on track with Complaining Employee. It's clear that what she thinks of as leadership and what I think of as leadership are different. As part of our leadership program, we have an exercise that discusses the 8 kinds of leadership. I will ask her to pick the one that fits her definition of leadership and what kind of leadership she thinks I am using and see if we can't come to some kind of understanding.

As part of our board's strategic planning, they decided to really ramp up our leadership program, which Complaining Employee is responsible for, using my definition of leadership. This is sending her the signal that hey, this is the direction this whole organization (not just me) is going and she better get with the program or this unhappy situation will just continue.

The only flaw with my solution? It relies heavily on a Knowledgable Community Partner who is pulling out of the program because she has a new job that takes her out of town often, and is also scheduled for surgery.

However -- I have options for that too! Knowledgable Community Partner is not the only one in our city of 5 million people who have this knowledge. And I have contacts to at least 5 other sources of such knowledge. So, we're moving ahead, we still have ways of reaching those client outcomes.

As I lay in bed, listening to my heart pounding in my ears, and feeling the throbbing in my wrists from the knitting (danger, danger -- also possibly psychosomatic like the nausea and headache?), I thought about my pottery. Of the pieces that I have yet to carve with surface decoration. Of my favorite new glaze, dark transparent green, that really highlights carved decorations. Of the bonsai pot I'm making of Husband. Of the method I will use to remoisten a bone dry vase in order to patch the hole I poked in the bottom (see -- things are fixable!). Of the peace I feel when concentrating on centering and pulling clay on the wheel. And I felt myself relax.

As much as I'd like to dodge responsibility for this mess, I thought about Janet Reno saying the buck stops with her, as she took responsibility for the Waco disaster. My situation is nowhere near as bad as Waco. No one died, the worst thing will be having to return some money. Actually the absolute worst thing will be having the funding pulled, but I have a solution! That has to count for something!

Fortunately, I know I have my board's support. Plus on Friday, I was honored at another organization's luncheon for all that I've done for women's rights. No one said this would be easy, all the time, and this is just one of those times.

And I have solutions! Moving on!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sotto Sotto

Tonight Husband and I went to Sotto Sotto restaurant to celebrate.

But first, we stopping at Knitch where I bought a skein of Malabrigo in Ocean and the book Knitted Toys: 25 Fresh & Fabulous Designs by Zoe Mellor. I had store credit just burning a whole in my pocket.

Sotto Sotto is in Inman Park, Atlanta's first suburb, at the outer limit of the trolley car line. Tells you how far back that was. It's full of grand old Victorian houses, some antebellem mansions, and just nice big houses. When we first moved to Atlanta 13 years ago, Inman Park had fallen into hard times but now in the past 5 years, it's coming back up. Sotto Sotto's in a part that has new restaurants and condos and is really been part of the intown revitalization. Now with the subprime mortgage bust, I don't know how the area will be affected but it was really nice to visit.

Husband and I have been talking about moving to a condo and maybe we'll consider Inman Park now too.

Anyway, dinner was great. We had a bottle of merlot, and started with an antipasto plate with hams, cheeses, olives, and marinated mushrooms, and a plate of tuna carpaccio. Yum. As Husband ate the olives, he arranged the pits into a smiley face on the bread plate. We talked about how 16 years ago, we went to McDonald's and somehow he got a hold of a Ronald McDonald's puppet and tore a hole in the puppet to make Ronald a bit more anatomically correct with his finger. And he also picked out 2 bits of the bun to make his burger a puppet too. Husband would make a great dad.

Anyway, for dinner, Husband got the pasta with balsamic vinegar and I got spagetti with seafood. Both were very good. For dessert we got Pan di Spagna, which was a little round of vanilla pound cake (smaller than a cupcake) with whipped cream and roasted plums. All in all, a great dinner.

We also reminisced about past anniversaries. Last year we went to Miami and Key West. The year before, to Sedona, Taos, Santa Fe. Maybe next year we'll go somewhere too, but this year, work has been stressful and hectic, plus we're saving for me to buy a new(er) car.

And now, the Malabrigo is calling me. So soft! I plan to make Argosy out of it. But when that will happen, I don't know.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

8th Anniversary

Today marks 8 years of marriage to the most wonderful man in the world.

However, we have actually been together for 16. 5 years. We were juniors in college, met at a party, and have been together ever since.

He's the best part of my life.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dumbledore is gay

Here's the transcript to the JK Rowling talk where she answers people's questions, including if Dumbledore ever found love. The answer: yes, with Grindewald.

As JKR said herself, this'll be one more thing for the Christians to get all upset about. The rest of us will just take it in stride.

Now I really have to re-read the books.

Yay! It's raining!

So happy. In the SouthEast US, we are experiencing some awful drought. Total outdoor watering in half of Georgia. Lake levels extremely low. And so on.

But now it's raining! We won't get even one inch, probably, and we're deficit about 20 inches, but still, so good to have the rain.

We've been using a bucket in the shower to catch grey water and using that to water the outdoor plants. It's so dry, that if I water to fast, the water rolls right off the top, down the sides and out the bottom of the pot. The soil is so dry it won't absorb and the water's just wasted. But if it drizzles all day, then the soil should finally moisten up and be able to absorb the water.

In other news, I think I may have caught Husband's cold. Feeling sluggish and the overcast weather isn't helping. But I must power through today. Have the Kaffe Fassett lecture tonight next door!

Second Asian American Governor elected

Bobby Jindal, Republican, won the governorship in Louisiana this weekend. The son of Indian immigrants, the news keeps saying he's the first ever non-white governor of Louisiana.

What I think is more significant is that he's only the second Asian-American elected governor, after Gary Locke, Democrat,of Washington state. According to Wikipedia, however, when Locke (of Chinese descent) was selected to rebut GWBush's speech one year, he was brought to national attention and started getting anti-Asian hate mail. Nice. We've come a long way in some aspects, but not others, clearly.

On the one hand, I'm always happy to see an Asian-American gain state-wide elected office, especially in conservative areas. It's an indicator that Asian-Americans are gaining ground in acceptance.

On the other hand, Jindal's a conservative, supports "intelligent design" instead of evolution, and wants to use the free-market to fix the health care crisis. These are things I don't support, and if I lived in LA, these policy platforms would prevent me from voting for Jindal, as much as I'd like to support another Asian-American.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Kaffe Fassett's in town

Tomorrow night I'm going to hear Kaffe Fassett do a lecture on using color. It's sponsored by Intown Quilters. They recently moved but I haven't been to their new location. Probably just as well, as I already have a quilt fabric stash that does not need to grow.

All of Fassett's stuff uses a ton of color, many that I never would think of using together. One of his mottos is "If you're not sure what color to use, add 20 more!" or something like that. I have several of his quilting and knitting books (Kaffe Fassett's Kaleidoscope of Quilt's, Glorious Patchwork, Family Album, and Kaffe Fassett's Pattern Library) and will take them for him to sign. Conveniently, the lecture will be held at an office park right next to where I work.

On Wednesday night, he and Brandon Mably will be doing a book signing at my favorite yarn shop Knitch. But that's pottery night and I don't want to miss it again. Last time I missed pottery night was to see the Yarn Harlot speak.

There's only three pottery sessions left in this quarter and I have so many pieces to trim, bisque, and glaze. I still have pieces from the spring quarter that have yet to be glazed. This has been a great pottery class. I'm making really large (for me) pieces, using 8 and 10 lbs of clay, and now I've learned how to make teapots. Very fun. Next quarter I'm signing up for Mariella's class again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Another book from a favorite blogger

Monday night I stopped by a book store on the way home and saw that they had Crazy Aunt Purl's book "Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair." It was $16 even. When was the last time you bought something that didn't involve fractions of dollars?

When I got home at about 10pm, I read it straight through and was done by 12:30am. It was very much like her blog, not surprisingly. The biggest difference was there was that the book was a narrative of her divorce, use of knitting as a way to keep the hands busy and not calling up the ex, and recovery into a happier, fuller person. What was new to me, was the info about her romantic life, which her blog doesn't really address.

Her blog is more about the things she's doing to improve herself and her life, her friends, her knitting, and other random events in her life.

I really like CAP and think I like the blog better. There's more to the blog and no need to streamline it in order to fit a narrative.

Years ago I heard about blogs but didn't really know what they were. Then I heard that editors were reading blogs, looking for potential books. And now this week, I have two such books.

I think I like CAP more as a blog and not a book. Her charm, wackiness, wit, and wisdom, especially about letting go of her insecurities that so many women can identify with, doesn't come through in the book.

By contrast, Jane (Yarnstorm) Brocket's "Gentle Art of Domesticity" works very well as a book. Much of Yarnstorm's appeal are the pictures and the book is full of them. This book doesn't try to be a narrative and the different themes in her blog are organized by chapter in her book.

I haven't read very much of it yet. It sits on the side table and will be something I dip into a few pages at a time when I have time.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Gentle Art of Domesticity

Over the weekend, I received a copy of Jane Brocket's book The Gentle Art of Domesticity, which grew out of her blog, Yarnstorm. (See link at right).

Love. It. It's like having a copy of her gorgeous, picture-heavy blog to carry around with you.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

She'll be coming 'round the mountain

Spent the weekend in the North Georgia mountains up by western North Carolina. The mountains are so densely wooded, you could see how Eric Robert Rudolph, the 1996 Atlanta Olympic (and abortion clinics and lesbian night club -- seeing a theme here?) bomber could have hid out there and evade capture for years.
Anyway, Husband arranged a nice little getaway for my birthday. He knows I like the mountains, and lakes, and the crafting, so we went to Hiawassee, Georgia on Lake Chatuge. North Georgia is under drought conditions and all outdoor watering has been banned. Here's a picture why:
This is the view from the top of the boat ramp. Under normal conditions, you back your boat trailer to the bottom of the ramp, and the boat would float. You can clearly see that lake levels have dropped so much.
We were going to go boating but never did. We did a lot of driving instead (yes and adding more emissions into the air, making the global warming problem worse). All the roads in the mountains are very, very windy, hence the title of this post. Husband did all the driving, which gave me time to knit (carefully). My take along project was Cosmic Pluto's easy top-down raglan cardigan, using Manos del Uruguay yarn and size 10 US needles. By the end of the trip this is what I got done:
It's for Sister, who chose the colors. The blue and orange stitch markers indicate where to increase at the arms.
Husband chose Hiawassee because of the lake, and on the other side of Lake Chatuge on the North Carolina side is the John Campbell Folk School and it's annual fall folk art fair. We had a late start to the day Saturday because Friday night is grill out night, with the attendent beer consumption and gin rummy card playing. I won by the way.

Anyway we got to the Folk School at 4pm, the folk art fair ends at 5pm. What I wanted most was to see the facilities, because I've heard they offer great pottery classes. I did get a look at their facilities, which are fine. But they're no better, as far as I can tell, than the Cobb County parks and recreation facility 3 miles from my house that I use now. For cheaper.
For dinner we went to the Old Hiawassee Grill at the Ridges Resort. Husband looked up the Ridges' fancier restaurant, Sequoyah, but it was on the other side of Lake Chatuge, in North Carolina, where we just were. D'oh!
Still it was a very nice dinner, we sat outside and looked at the sad, low-water-level lake, and enjoyed prime rib and grilled trout. Both entrees, with salad and bread, came out to $15 each. $15! You can't get those kind of prices with the same ambiance in Atlanta! On the other hand, I'm not going to drive 2 hours to Hiawassee everytime I want a nice $15 dinner.

Sunday we went to Moccasin Lake state park where the water was higher, but the one jon boat was rented out. So we visited the attached fish hatchery. Unexpectly, I quite enjoyed that.
There are these long concrete troughs with swarms of different sized trout (all the 4 inch babies together here, the 6 inchers there, the 9 inchers ready for release in yet another trough). I took many pictures, but you can't really get the scale of the thing.

Here's a poor, dying fish -- see the white scales, unlike the others? Every once in a while, the other fish would attack it and all you'd see is a swarm of them thrashing around. Husband said they were speeding up the dying process, so they could eat it.

Here's the 9 inchers which will eventually be released into the lake:

And here's the one I want for dinner:
We finished the trip by going to Tallullah Gorge. Here's the entrance to the Jane Hurt Yarn center. Jane hurt yarn? What did the yarn do to deserve it? I just had to take a picture:

The falls in Tallullah Gorge were very pretty, here's the view of the second water fall, from Overlook 2. The trails, by the way, are paved/lined with recycled tires, making them nice a springy.

Now we're home and veging and having salad for dinner, to make up for all the vacation calories.
Another nice thing? No cell reception in the mountains. So I had time to compose what I wanted to tell the board members to give them a heads up about Complaining Employee. Fortunately, no one's freaking out about it, and we'll just see what happens.
Hey, you know, I'll be able to get around that mountain too.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Bad week, continued

So it's Friday, I'm feeling like, Whew! Week's almost done! This weekend Husband and I are going to the mountains to the John Campbell Folk School arts and crafts weekend. We might rent a powerboat and go out on the lake up there.

Every week, at least once a week, I think about firing Complaining Employee. Monday was no different. But as the week went on, I thought, okay, we have a little crisis at work, but she's coming up with solutions, we can do this and get back on track. She has the skills and drive to get it done and it'll be okay.

I also resolved to hire a permanent bookkeeper. Enough with the temp agency.

This morning Complaining Employee asks if we can talk. I finish what I was doing and in my heart I was hoping she would resign. I went over to her office, she does a lot of complaining, all the while saying she loves the work but then it's not really her life passion, she's not looking for public recognition but feels let down that I didn't come by her workshop back in June, and so on. What the f?

She said she has a draft of her resignation letter (yay!) ready to send not just to me, but also the organization's board of directors, an outside assistance organization who came a few weeks ago, and our major funder. Can you believe that?!? What a passive-aggressive, manipulative, blackmailer!

Well, I thanked her for sharing all this, mea culpa for my part in the little crisis, yes I need to stop being reactive and be more proactive, apparently I haven't been as supportive as clearly she liked, and that I was confident that she had the skills to do this job (whining aside). I mean, she often brings up her past accomplishments which shows she can deal with the situation. Apparently however she was able to accomplish those things only with copious amounts of complaining along with it.

She also complained about my judgment to continue using temps from the temp placement agency that sent people with criminal backgrounds. But then felt that I didn't give the temp with the criminal background a chance to defend herself. Hello! You're the one freaked out by the possibility of identity fraud! She also threw in a couple of complaints against other staff and comments about me being young(er than she is).

That was in the morning. This afternoon, I get a call from a project partner saying they'd like to make Complaining Employee project director, not just coordinator. This, from the project director who in the begining didn't even like Complaining Employee. This is quite the turn around.

Next week all the project partners, including Complaining Employee and I, will sit down and talk about next steps, who does what, etc. There is a way to get back on track, and everything will work out one way or the other.

But for crying out loud, what to do about the passive-aggressive, manipulative, blackmailing?

As my mantra has become in the last year -- I'll think about it.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Loving the Manos del Uruguay

I finished My So-Called Scarf in Manos del Uruguay in Bramble. I really like Manos and wanted to play with the Manos I bought a few weekends ago when visiting Sister.

So, last night I cast on for a hat, using Manos in Adobe, for Sister's boyfriend, using a pattern and yarn he picked. It's a simple stockingnette (mostly) pattern, but with such richly colored yarn, that's all you need.

I'm also going to make Cosmic Pluto's Easy Top-Down Raglan cardigan for Sister, using some of the Manos in Eclipse. Yes, yes, I know I still have the Bi-colored Cables cardigan to fix, but the Manos is calling me and I am weak (and possibly under the influence of a white Russian).

So I cast on.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What is feminism?

I love reading Yarnstorm's blog (see link in sidebar). She has a wonderful eye for color, and she celebrates a domestic life that I don't have. As she mentions on her blog, what she posts there is just a small sliver of her life, just as what I post here, and my friends post on their blogs, are selected pieces of a whole, complicated (especially these past few weeks, but anyway....) life.

She has published a book called the Gentle Art of Domesticity that was used as a springboard for a vitrolic commentary against home arts. There's a link to the article in Yarnstorm's blog.

Basically, the commentor says is that any woman who spends time doing handcrafts and cooking is lame.

As many commentors to the newspaper points out, the point of the women's movement and feminism is self-determination, and the ability to have freedom of choice. And all choices are personal. Though yes, the personal is politcal.

There's a great exercise that we do at work, called the Tree of Life. We ask people to draw a tree and label the roots (your history), trunk (your present), leaves (your influences), flower and fruit (accomplishments), and buds (hopes).

My tree is the crape myrtle, a multi-trunked tree, which I label social activism, art/craft/creativity, and family. All three are important to me, are fed by shared roots and the same leaves, and the crown of the tree are interlaced branches.

I would say that everyone's life it like that: many equally important aspects all tangled together. The great thing about crape myrtles are that new trunks emerge all the time, like new interests and priorities in life.

So my feminism is to live a life that allows me to value each of those trunks.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Criminal record part 2

Last week I learn that the accountant the temp agency sent had a criminal record, regarding fraud. So they sent another accountant.

I should have asked for a background check on the other accountant first. Because today, after requesting it, I got the new person's background check which showed a possible warrant for her.

What's going on with this temp agency? They advertise on the radio, talk radio as well as NPR, touting that they are an international company, and they send me 2 people without clean records?

I know that people deserve a second chance, but I want to make that decision myself first, and with due diligence and thoughtfulness.

I told the temp agency to send me someone who definitely did not have a warrant out on them and I am willing to wait until later in the week if necessary.

I have such a headache now.