Sunday, April 30, 2006

Another Sunday Morning Family Walk

to the park we go, Bucky rode the stroller most of the way, and the pug dad lost all his dignity as well. The two of them gathered plenty of ohhs and ahhs -- oh look at that puppy! now the dog has the right idea .... what a cute puppy dog ..... Dad even figured out a way to turn Bucky backwards when other dogs are approaching so we don't make a big scene. The pug got the idea that the stroller helps him carry his fat bellie instead of his legs, so he begged dad to put him in when he got tired walking. One day he might even understand a few commands, like "stay" and "be quiet". We are still waiting for him to grow up.

Spring Break Soccer

Henry was in a soccer camp every morning during spring break (April 10th week). It rained almost every day, but they were able to play indoor for couple of days, and braved the weather the rest of the time. Coach Bav is a pretty cool guy. Henry might take more lessons from him if we can arrange the schedule later on.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

My IQ Score

129, according to "Your Intellectual Type is Visionary Philosopher. This means you are highly intelligent and have a powerful mix of skills and insight that can be applied in a variety of different ways. Like Plato, your exceptional math and verbal skills make you very adept at explaining things to others — and at anticipating and predicting patterns. " Sounds like I'm reading horoscope, and my score would be much higher in the Chinese zodiac. And then I found this site about how to interpret IQ scores and listed professions for people with various scores: 140 Top Civil Servants; Professors and Research Scientists. 130 Physicians and Surgeons; Lawyers; Engineers (Civil and Mechanical) 120 School Teachers; Pharmacists; Accountants; Nurses; Stenographers; Managers. No wonder I'm stuck as an accountant.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Pat Ashforth Patterns and Books

Knitting and crochet patterns by Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer, the British pair of "designers of mathematical knitwear", in their own words. I bought them off eBay. I've always been interested in Ashforth/Plummer designs, and they don't seem to sell the patterns in many places. Recently they put out a group of patterns and booklets, these are my favorite ones. Their store on eBay is called Assign Design and Publications. These patterns are (from left to right): 1. Amazement -- A representation of the Chevening maze 2. Square Snowflake -- A "space-filling curve", surface crochet on a filet mesh grid 3. Walls of Troy -- A twelve-sided shape with surface crochet maze While I was at it I picked up couple of their cartoon booklets as well, fun drawings of dogs and sheep, and lots of creative word play. Three knitted afghan patterns I bought last year off eBay (from left to right): 1. Cubism -- A geometric optical illusion 2. Double Vision -- A study of colour and triangular numbers 3. Have it all ways -- Twenty four squares all different Their books that I have, also off eBay. Each time I won the bid I got a Thank you note from Pat Ashforth and a link to their site Woolly Thoughts. I traded couple of emails with her, sounds like they are in frail health and won't be coming to the US any time soon, if ever. Sad. I'll never have a chance to meet them.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Hanne Falkenberg Pagode

This is the new sweater that I'm getting from a seller on knitswap, Hanne Falkenberg Pagode, colorway #2 -- Khaki/Straw/Ivory/Blue green/Flax/Rust. Looks like an interesting contruction. I've never worked on a sweater with so much garter stitch before, but from what I hear, it's easy and mindless. And of course, all the sweaters look gorgous.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

How My Child Has Grown!

Henry has out grown the little kids rides at Bonfante. The maximum height is 48 inches and he is about 51. So I dug out this picture that I took the first time we went to Bonfante three years ago. His hair was still wet from running through the waterfall, and he rode on the goldfish ride so many times by the time he got off his hair was almost dry.

Bonfante Gardens

We always seem to take pictures in the Rainbow Garden ride, probably because there isn't much else you can do there. Henry is into this "big boy" thing, not too thrilled about posing for pictures. Henry driving me in the 1920s Model T. Very dedicated driver. Then I took him for a spin in a 1956 Corvette. Look at my tense passenger, do I have a bad reputation or what. For the record, I wouldn't mind a Lexus convertible, preferably red, black is ok too. It must be a mid life crisis thing. My guys have some height issue, as in, they don't like situations that put them way up in the air, like tall buildings, ski lift, and ferries wheel. So here we are on the ferris wheel. The attendant decided to stop the wheel when we were at the top to load and unload some passengers. It was like an eternity before we landed on solid ground. But later Henry announced that the ferries wheel was the best part of today's trip and that next time we visit Bonfante he wants to ride it three times. The Red Hat Society had an event in the park today. My, did we see enough red hats! and all that purple to go with it! Takes some guts to wear them together.

Profile Picture

Friday, April 21, 2006

Always want more .... or a hole in my head

It's Friday, the only day that I don't have any meeting and cut throat deadline in a long time. So I'm working quietly and decided to give myself a break. I'm an email junky, Yahoo Group junky, yarn collector, what does that all add up? Someone on knitswap offered a Hanne Falkenberg kit at $130 including shipping (retail $250). It took me all the self control to wait 5 minutes before reply to her - may I? And the answer came in a few seconds after Jocelyn's comment about yarn. Now I'm $130 short. But I will be dancing in my new sweater!!!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Three Strikes

The pug woke us up at 3am with heavy panting, the room stunk like hell, and I pleasantly discovered a big pile on my cover. That's three accidents in as many days. After a trip out to the back yard, change sheets, throw the comforter in the laundry pile (in the garage!), Bucky slept peacefully till morning. What's next? yawn ........

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sex in the City & Geisha

I got this promo DVD from work, with 3 episodes of Sex in the City. Plenty of sex, short on charactor, no plot. Don't know what people like about Sarah Jessica Parker. Memoirs of a Geisha, how can anyone find enjoyment in watching young girls being abused is beyond me. They should move their precious tush off the couch and go scrub the floor. I'm not a big Zhang Ziyi fan, she's not pretty and has no class, but I waited half the movie for her to show up. When she finally did, she's all plain and bitter, with this crazy accent. Why are all these Japanese speaking broken English amongst themselves again? Oh yeah, they are making an American movie. and oh by the way, those are Chinese actresses that don't know any English, trying to mimic English with a Japanese accent. You can really say: "they don't know what they are talking about!"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Aging is not a pretty sight

Bucky is getting older and now he leaks, from both ends. Yesterday we had a sitter over in the afternoon, and he got so excited he threw up. Today I got home there was a puddle of unknown substance behind the TV, now the house is full of the smell of carpet cleaner. We'll end up with a big stain on the carpet no matter how much we scrub. It's kind of our dogs' tradition, there has to be a stain on the rug. They need a target I guess.

My Version of the How We Met Story

It was actually quite simple, because I was very young and very naive. Three weeks after I arrived in this country, I filled out one of those little postage paid postcard that came in the mail. It had my address on it and was addressed to "Resident", they must mean for me to answer those questions, plus I thought the idea of meeting some new friends wouldn't hurt. Less than a week later Together started calling me, and eventually they talked me into signing up. They charged me $25, a confidential deal approved by their big boss. I wasn't too thrilled with the guys they sent me; to make a long story short, by the time my husband-to-be called me at work one day, I already gave up on Together and determined never go out with anyone from that place. How he talked me into changing my mind, I don't remember, but we are all glad he did. He can still talk me into just about anything when he tries.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Which Housewife are you?

I took this quiz and the answer is: Gabrielle!!! I thought I'd be Bree for sure, or Lynette. Here is what they say: "You could say that life is just about pretty dresses and expensive gifts to you, but you are looking for something more. You'll find it some day, as long as you can stay out of trouble. And away from hot young gardeners." We happen to have gardeners working in our yard today, not young, definitely not hot by any standard. Now, where is my diamond ring? (the answer, I never got one.)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Desperate Housewives Season 1 Disc 1

Here is a review I submitted to Netflix today: I never saw the original show, and just watched Season 1 Disc 1. It's a great show! Most of us all have some degree of Bree's perfectionism, but seeing it in a comedy gives us a good dose of reality. As a career woman and former stay-at-home-mom, I can totally identify with Lynette’s love and misery when it comes to her kids. I’m almost ready to assign the characters in my own neighborhood – there are plenty of Lynette, couple of Susan, Bree is just about everyone (shhh, I didn’t hear my next-door neighbor arguing with her husband), now who’s Mary Alice? Well, I’m sure there is no Gabrielle on my street.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

From Professor to Low Income Housing

My mom was an associate professor at an elite Chinese Communist institution. She didn’t stay long enough to earn her seniority for a full professorship. Instead, she went to Columbia to be with my dad, who was a diplomat living in Bogotá at the time. Later my mom came to America through her relatives. She came here for her freedom and a better future for her children. She gave up an established career, secure income, all rights to her published and unpublished books. There were some very happy co-authors for a few years. Since she doesn’t speak enough English to teach Russian or Chinese, and doesn’t write enough English to publish research articles, my mom worked odds and ends jobs. When I first came here, she was a research assistant for a “Chinese expert” at Hoover Institution. Some how she managed to pay taxes for 10 years so she can qualify for SSI. Section 8 is a county issued voucher for low-income families. It allows the holder to pay 30% of the monthly income for rent, and the county kicks in the rest. Only some apartments accept these vouchers, in fact, very few. There is usually a long waiting list for the vouchers, in Santa Clara county it’s like a 5-year wait to get Section 8 housing, if they can get on the waiting list. It’s a little easier to get it in Monterey County. In order for my mom to keep getting her Section 8 vouchers she has to maintain her low-income status. She recently gave up pursuit of a grant to finish writing her memoir. She fears that the additional income will change her situation, she’d have to move, arrange her own medical care, etc. and that’s just too much hassle to be worth the grant in itself. Maybe she just doesn’t want to write any more, who knows. She does have a good network around her, there is a social worker checks on her once a month, and they pay for a full time caregiver when she’s sick. It would be hard to replace that.

What makes me happy?

If I were Reed Hastings today, I would be comparing myself with Steve Jobs and feel defeated because my company is not as successful and my product is not as cool. If I were doing better than Jobs, I would think I am much older than the Google boys, which means I must not have done as well. Why am I never satisfied with myself? Why can’t I reach the level of comfort and contentment to be happy? Why am I always looking for more recognition and accomplishment? I tried to write a “things I like” list, it went something like this: These are a few of my favorite things: 1. Falling in love head over heels, feeling our hearts melt together 2. To be recognized for what I do best – creativity in literature and arts, or accomplishment in reaching a business goal 3. To be able to master a language, have a sensitivity and knowledge to the words Then I thought I should be more practical, and make better sense, and it went like this: 1. solitude 2. clean, well-lit, quiet place for thinking, reading, writing, knitting, being 3. snoring pug 4. Dr. Luka Kovach in ER 5. Julio Iglecias 6. hand painted wool from Ellen’s Half Pint Farm 7. enough time for sex Sure, these are things I enjoy, but what would be something that ultimately makes me happy? Something that makes me so completely, thoroughly satisfied that I’d die happy today? I don’t know. If I win the lottery today, will that make me happy? Maybe, there will still be the “one thing” missing. The “one thing” is up to me to find out.

My own knitting in progress

I'm working on another viking sweater by Elsebeth Lavold, my third one. It's called Frode, from her first viking design book. A drop shoulder pull over, very straight forward, and no design on the sleeves. As of last night, I'm almost done with the back. The large knot in the middle is called St. John's cross, it's a pre-Christian symbol of happiness. The serpentine braids on the sides are a lot of fun to knit. And a picture of the pattern. The pattern is purple in the book, and I'm using Patons Classic Wool in burgundy. My first large project in this yarn, love it love it love it!

Friday, April 14, 2006

The How We Met Story

I promised the husband that I'd explain this story before linking his blog with mine. So here we go: our How We Met Story written from the guy's perspective.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

New charity knitting from my mom

My mom brought with her some new baby sweaters she knitted for CIC (Children in Common)

Working on another sweater, with Bucky's help

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My Motivation Style

Here is a test in case the link in the title doesn't work: This is a very quick test, took me less than 5 minutes to complete. I scored 6 on Learning, 3 on Goal and 1 on Relationship. My primary motivation style is Learning. My secondary motivation style is Goal. According to the author: If you’re learning-oriented, the practice of learning, itself, drives you. You search for knowledge for its own sake and may become frustrated by anything that requires you to spend more time on procedure and process than on actual learning. I'm an accountant by trade, do I learn something every day? Nooooooo!! No wonder I'm not motivated!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

It is what it is

Henry and I sent my mom home in Monterey this afternoon, 150 miles of driving in less than 5 hours, I'm dead tired. The trip home was fun though, we took our scenic drive, on highway 1 and 17, through heavy rainstorm, even saw a mudslide, giant piece of rock sitting on the side of the freeway. Henry slept half way to Monterey, so the way back he was very chirpy. My ears are full of Potter talk. My mom lives in a senior apartment on the border of Monterey and Seaside. The building must be over 50 years old with little or no maintenance. The elevators sound like they are going to break any minute, lights don't work, sometimes the door is still sliding closed and the elevator is already moving down. My mom's patio door is broken and no one would fix it. The furnace blows out so much dust that she never uses it, and has to use a space heater. She had a few conflicts with the apartment manager and says that they don't talk to her. My mom gets Section 8 voucher, which means her choice of living place is limited. She likes this place because it's very close to the shopping centers, since she doesn't drive. She doesn't want to move to Santa Clara county even though there is a pretty good chance she can transfer her Section 8 stuff over here, but she'd have to change her medical care, etc. which will be a big pain in the neck. Thankfully, we get along well, from a distance.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Husband got me

Not what you think, well, maybe. He jokingly suggested that I should write down a list of things that I don't like, sort of reflect and acknowledge kind of thing. So I did, to show him that he fits in a few of the things listed. Now I see how crazy some of the stuffs sound when it's all written down. Poor man has to live with a grumpy ol' wife .......

Sunday, April 09, 2006

My beautiful pug baby

Bucky was born November 5, 1995, which makes him 10.5 years old. He's been slowing down a bit in the last couple of years; the nightly walk is like dragging around a bowling ball. To make everyone's life easier, I bought a used stroller in the flea market to take Bucky on walks, yes, a real baby stroller, not one of the new pet strollers. My husband told me my "lid flew off the head". 

Yesterday we took the whole family out down Los Gatos trail, Bucky in the stroller most of the time. Ahh, the looks we got, precious! Of course, the pug dad thinks Bucky had lost all his dignity, but I think the pug was pretty happy to be out and about for a change. After all, this was his first time to be out in a long time, all thanks to the stroller.

A few things I don’t like

I’m happiest when I’m sitting in a quiet library writing. I always prefer handwriting better than typing. There is something about holding a pen and watching words form ideas in black and white in a line, noiselessly. It’s clear, clean, peaceful, and very cool.

There are a few things I don’t like:

1. I don’t like people imitate me.
2. I don’t like being told what to do.
3. I don’t like people asking me too many questions when I don’t know the answer; or worse, when they ask questions and do know the answers, regardless if I know the answer or not.
4. I have a problem with clumsy people, people dropping things, or bumping into furniture.
5. I have a problem with people who have poor table manners.
6. I never admit I’m wrong.
7. I don’t like people talking at me.
8. I don’t like people talking to me when I’m busy, like when I’m reading or writing.
9. I don’t like people disrupting my schedule.
10. I don’t like dealing with illness.
11. I don’t like people complain and whine.
12. I have a real problem when people disrespectful to my pug.
13. I don’t like noisy environment and people.
14. I don’t like parents that treat their kids like babies and don’t teach them manners and responsibility.
15. I don’t like liars.
16. I don’t like white lies.
17. I don’t like arrogant people.
18. I don’t like people refuse to see the truth.
19. I don’t like a dirty, disorganized house.
20. I don’t like people make excuse for themselves.
21. I don’t like it when people push responsibility on me.
22. I don’t like repeating myself or others repeating themselves

Now even I would believe I have a serious problem.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I blog for myself

I'd like to say that I start blogging for Lesley. For the past couple of months we were hooked on reading Jennifer's blog every day, then Jennifer decided to pay her parents a surprise visit and Lesley went on blog withdrawal. While Jennifer is very generous to let others peek into her life and share her thoughts, I find her utterly inspiring. Here is someone so comfortable being her, so confident about what she thinks about the world and all, it's a breath of fresh air from all the political correctness abound.

In college my motto was -- Walk you own path, let others say what they please. Today when I'm supposed to be older and wiser, I no longer feel the courage to do so. So, just for the record, I blog for myself.

Recently my therapist told me that I have some co-dependency issues and that I need to find myself. As a wife and working mother, "myself" is about as far down the priority list as dusting and dental appointment.

As a Chinese living what seems like half my lifetime as a different person, "myself" was left in the old country when all of a sudden I was on Hong Kong side of the border en route to America.

About the name, I was English major in college in China and as a tradition every English student adopted an English name -- you don't expect an American professor to remember 20 Chinese names, we all look alike which is troublesome enough. Vivian is one of the characters in Sidney Sheldon's novel Bloodline. I like the sound of the name, didn't care much about anything else to it. Interestingly enough, in the book the character’s husband is named Alec. Later on when my mom decided to choose an English name for my brother, he became Alec. When I came to this country after college, the nice lady at DMV advised me that it'd be easier for everyone if I could just put my English name as first name, Chinese name as middle name, like most Chinese do when they arrive here, so that's what I did. Two short years later I got married and adopted a new last name. I, the Chinese girl, completely vanished.