Todays blog prompt made me lol. Do I have any collections? Afraid so. And it started early. Heck I still have some of the first things I ever collected, porcelain horses from my grandfather, as I mentioned recently.
I come by this honestly. I love sorting and categorizing things, as did my mom. I guess it kept me out of trouble as a kid! I was so busy organizing piggy banks, making card catalogs for my books and lining up my Hot Wheels cars that there was no time to get in trouble.
So, I declare that collections are healthy and only a problem when you think they’re a problem. No, I’m not a minimalist.
I have collected things with pansies on them for decades. They still make me smile. Mom loved pansies. Mom also had some cool purple glass stuff. I recently shared my purple glass window in the bathroom. Here are teacups.
And there are still more horse statues. And rocks. And nail polish (I need to stop that one). And books, yarn, crystal, wine corks, dogs, horses, ugh. Too much. It makes me happy, sparks joy, or whatever.
If my collections become a problem later in life, I’m sure someone else will enjoy them when they go thrifting. It’s fine with me.
The vet came today. This is our annual reminder that having lots of animals is very expensive. But I’m glad we can avoid certain illnesses, know the dogs don’t have heart worms, and soon will know the horses passed their annual Coggins test.
The dogs were better than usual. That’s not saying much, since four had to be sedated. Goldie had a great time and volunteered to go back in the trailer numerous times, even though she got bonus shots for allergies and her leg sore she won’t stop licking.
Penney, the unstable one, managed to get her shots like a big girl. Harvey still growled through sedation, Alfred got real zonked, Vlassic had to be carried into the trailer, and Carlton was quite a challenge to catch. He even ran off while sedated. But they all did it!
I was too busy helping to take horse photos, but they were troopers, even when the assistant was learning to take blood and give shots. She did great! Mabel was deemed too thin, Apache was too fat, and the other two were just right. I’m glad to get that taken care of for another year.
We are still going through boxes from my old house. Lee has been bringing up things from deeper and deeper in the past. For example, he brought in a box I instantly recognized. It was a shoebox covered in contact paper that looked like wood.
The box contained my high school diaries, 1972-1975. See why it’s no surprise I like to write blog posts? I’ve always loved journaling. There have been very few years of my life that didn’t have journals, diaries, or some record.
I remember writing these diaries and I remember that everyone I knew was aware that I did. What I didn’t remember until I opened the later diaries was that I wrote them in Spanish. As I posted on Facebook, not only did I protect my family from reading it, but also future me.
From my reading of the exciting year of 1974, I came to a couple of conclusions about teen Suna. One, she was driven by hormones. I sure read a lot of details about what various young dudes said and did. They apparently spent more time asking each other who they liked than actually dating, however. I was insanely jealous of two girls my “dream date” seemed interested in. On the other hand, I had plenty of hormones left over for numerous high school band members.
In addition to my secondary theme of what Anita and I bought at the mall, I did something that I’m pretty sure I’m still doing today. I wrote things down partially to convince myself that they were true. Every week it was either “Dream Date is NOT for me,” or “I feel all gooey when I look at Dream Date.” I think I tried very hard to convince myself that person wasn’t important at all to me, but I was lying. I mean, shoot, that guy is STILL someone I am dazzled by even though we broke up in 1985 (all my fault).
Just reading the stuff I wrote gives me an impression of myself that isn’t very good. I don’t think I’d have liked me very much. We were all pretty mean to each other, we had horrible nicknames for teachers and fellow students, and we were overly cliquish. I’m glad I’ve spent the last 50 or so years trying to be less of an asshole, even though I still fail at times.
Any Other Memories, Suna?
Yes, I have memories that are less harsh on myself that showed up in these boxes. There were a lot of old photos that somehow missed my anal-retentive storage organization system. I was charmed to find photos of the playhouse my dad and maternal grandfather made for me and my brother when we were little. Those two mathematical geniuses decided to build it with no right angles, anywhere. Oh my gosh they had fun with their protractors and saws. We loved that thing.
The playhouse eventually became Dad’s tool shed after he built us a “treehouse” that we used as older kids. The playhouse still stands.
Another creation of my dad’s that I found pictures of the fishpond. He built this himself of his own design. The photos below were right after he finished. Later he added a pump and turned poor Saint Francis into a fountain. Water came out of the bird’s nest he held (Dad also thought it was Saint Frances for many years – hey, the saint had long hair and wore a dress, plus Dad had a sister named Frances). Lucky for Francis, dad later found a cool rock to be the waterfall, and the birdbath went back to its original purpose.
That pond was a real thing of beauty and a highlight of our home. We had huge goldfish and catfish Mom had fished out of Newnan’s Lake as babies. Mom’s favorite story was that a little boy came to visit, wandered behind the house and came running up to his dad, saying, “Good God, Daddy, they gots a LAKE in their back yard!”
On that note, I’ll just share some photos that gave me warm fuzzy feelings. First, it’s no surprise that I like horses. I unpacked my china horses and giant plastic draft horse and this photo of me embarrassing my dad and kids.
And we can’t forget my first dog, Gwynneth. I got her because that’s the kind of dog I thought would fit our family best. That dog sure barked a lot, but we did love her for 15 years. Even when she was blind!
After work and the horses getting bodywork done, Lee and I fired up Seneca and took off for another camping expedition, this time to Cedar Breaks Park, one county over near Georgetown, Texas. We’d camped on the other side of the lake from here before, but never at this site, which is a Corps of Engineers park (yay, free entry with my Senior Pass).
I was really excited about it, because I was going to get to see some of my friends from a previous stage of my life when I did lots of stuff with a Unitarian Universalist Church in Cedar Park. One tradition I really enjoyed were the camping trips they’d do a couple of times a year. We went to some pretty places from the time my kids were little until we got our original RV and camper.
My friend Jennifer (who is a regular reader of our chatty little blog here) has done most of the campout planning for years, and I really appreciate the effort she makes to decide on places and get things lined up. Now that we have Seneca, we can camp again, so we decided to go to the next one she scheduled.
So, here we are! It has been raining off and on all day, which is how Apache managed to roll in muddy spots and turn himself into an Appaloosa horse.
It alternated between sun and rain all the way over here. It was sunny when we went into the grocery store to get supplies, then rained hard while we were inside, then was sunny when we came out. Fun weather.
It stayed fun once we arrived, where Lee impressed the folks who’d also arrived today (official start is tomorrow) by backing into our space like a pro. I reminded the folks that he IS a pro, having driven “big rigs” for a living for a few years.
After hugging Jennifer a ridiculously long time, I caught up with other friends I’ve missed from church and toured everyone’s campsites, RVs and trailers. That was great fun. Our Cameron friends Mike and Martha also came along, as I’ve been camping with Martha as long as I have with Jennifer, since all our adult children were young.
Mike inherited a very cool vintage motorhome a while back and has restored it to functioning again. It’s quite funky and very well designed, I’m so glad he got it up and running so they could join us on this long weekend get together.
Other excitement for me and Jennifer was identifying a summer tanager using the Merlin’s Bird ID or eBird app, then finding it in a tree. I got blurry photos, but you can tell they aren’t a cardinal. This was a first for us, and it was just wonderful to find it with my very first birding friend!
While I was showing Jen Seneca, we realized the temperature had gone way down, really fast. Yep, the real front was coming through. It was also going through Cameron, and we have reports of frightened dogs at home. Lee and I went inside to watch the weather coverage on TV when BLAM! A boom louder than when Sandy the Squirrel hit the transformer rang out, I texted Martha and Jen. Were they ok?
Yes, they were ok, but lightning had struck a tree right behind the cute vintage motorhome. Mike reported that there was a bit of flame, but it went right out. When it stops raining, we’ll check into the damage. They’re pretty sure the power to their campsite also went out, so they are using generator power. Yow!
Next it started hailing. Lee is wishing Seneca was back under the cover at the ranch, but we’re here now enjoying the sounds and the light show. There will probably be more rain this weekend, but hey, I’m on a lake, there are birds and flowers, and more friends come tomorrow.
After the craziness of this week, of COURSE lightning struck!
This question made me smile. I’ve felt weird my whole life. I made up a club called the Weird Happys (sic.) in middle school and invited all my interesting, smart, non-traditional friends to join.
I’ve always been weird, non-standard and rather off center. That’s never been a problem except when I wanted someone I found fascinating and atypical to be my friend, but it turned out I wasn’t their kind of weird. Trying to fit in NEVER has worked. I eventually wear out my welcome and am shown the door. Like:
My previous job
My church (was informed I no longer fit their demographic because I liked small, community oriented congregations)
The animal welfare group I helped found (those of you who know, know why)
La Leche League (turns out I’m not a good cult candidate)
The yarn shop friends where I used to teach knitting and crochet (some individuals are still friendly, though)
My book group (they ghosted me!)
My marriage to my kids’ dad
I felt bad about these things at the time, but now I realize I don’t need to put my weirdness where it bothers others. I have choices, and it’s better to be true to myself than to try to fit in.
Anyway, my word is weird, and I’m happy now. I’ll enjoy the communities I have now while I can, and move on gracefully when it becomes apparent that I’m not a good fit.
But hey, I still feel accepted by most people in my Master Naturalist group (I don’t expect them to all love me, just to work together). And I’m doing okay in the little horse community I’ve found myself in, thanks to us all loving horses! That’s plenty of folks to be weird around.
Plus, my hobbies and family keep me happy and centered. I can be a Weird Happy!
This was today’s blog prompt. I know I already wrote today, but wanted to contribute. My name can be difficult!
My middle name given at birth is Ann. I’m one of the few people in my immediate family who doesn’t go by their middle name. My dad, mom, brother, sister, maternal grandmother and many of my dad’s siblings go or went by their middle names. My husband does, too.
I go by both my names, Sue Ann (when I’m not Suna, my self-bestowed name). I’m named for Bettye Sue (Aunt Pug) and Doris Ann, my dad’s sisters. I’m glad I got their middle names.
I think I wrote a post once about not calling me Sue. Yes. I did. So, go read that for more. I like having one of those Southern US two-word names. I do like them separated, so it’s vaguely annoying that Dell spelled my name SueAnn in their directory and what show up in email sent to me. It could be worse. Most of my Indian colleagues have some very interesting initials and truncated names in the system. You need to ask what to call them.
Names matter. Find out what people want to be called and pronounce it well. Folks appreciate it.
This is the daily blogging prompt. When I saw it, I immediately knew the answer. It’s really hard on me when people ask:
How is your son?
Every time I’m asked, I’m reminded that it’s been years since I heard from him directly. One day he said he needed some time before he’d talk to me again, and that was that. So, I really don’t know how he is, other than indirectly.
Maybe someday I’ll know what caused the rift. Maybe not. As I’m repeatedly reminded, it’s the estranged person’s right to do what they need to do, and that should be respected.
It’s not at all helpful to speculate about possible reasons for the situation, because I have no way to know. His father won’t talk to me about it, nor will anyone in his household. I’m glad they respect his wishes, and if the situation were reversed, I would be grateful.
Still, I’m human and a mother who loves her children unconditionally. So, it hurts to be asked how my son is doing. I wish him peace and love, and respect his wishes.
Whew, did it rain a lot for the past few days. There’s not much a person with no car can do in a downpour, so I did the thing I’d say I’d do and found myself a plan B. I had Wi-Fi, and the condo place had a DVD rental station, so I’ve taken a few days to be introspective and do something I rarely do: watch a lot of movies.
Why, you ask, don’t I watch a lot of movies very often? Well, this goes back a long way, maybe 50 years or so, when I fell hard for my high-school crush (also my college and most of grad school crush). He was laser-focused on cinema studies, even in high school. He was going to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, who majored in filmmaking at USC. But he wanted to write.
I, too, wanted to write, though I really didn’t care about what. Combine that with friends like Anita, who was also a writer type, and you can imagine how creative and eloquent the notes we passed around in school were. They were also very funny, since we also had cartooning skills in the mix.
Anyway, I figured the way into that guy’s heart was to love what he loved, so I watched lots and lots of movies. When we started dating, pretty much all we did was go to movies. No, not to do a lot of smooching, but to watch and analyze those films. We were fans of ci-ne-ma. You didn’t just go to a movie and enjoy it. Au contraire, you had to analyze the themes, dissect the camera angles, and make sure to note any editing flaws or continuity issues. This was serious business.
It didn’t get any less serious throughout college. He majored in English, with a concentration in cinema studies, and I majored in linguistics with concentrations in cinema and Japanese. Japanese cinema, that was my ticket to academic glory, apparently.
Well, by the time I got partway through my dissertation, which happened to use Japanese movies as its data source, and that relationship ended when I realized I was trying way too hard to mold my life after whatever that other person wanted, leading to regrettable rebellions…let’s just say I was done with the ci-ne-ma. I was over the dolly shots and the search for Marxist themes in every film (to this day, I could not tell you one thing about Marxism, even though I had a child who followed the same philosophical path).
Sadly, I also could not watch a movie without analyzing it. I’d see one thing that triggered my urge to analyze and I could no longer just be moved by immersing myself into the world of the film. That was not fun. So, I really don’t enjoy movies much anymore, especially old ones where I feel compelled to compare each film to its director’s “ouvre.” Poor Anita. She just wanted to watch Turner Classic Movies and I couldn’t look. High School Boyfriend had not ruined her ability to do ci-ne-ma.
Back to today, I guess all that introspection and shedding of old traumas has gotten me past some of my issues. I do better now, and try to watch movies with Lee. I’m just not good with horror and overly realistic violence, which cuts out a lot of the current movies out there.
Here, alone in my little space, I went out and rented every single rom-com, comedy, and wimpy family movie I could, and I watched them. I let myself get immersed in the story, the music, and the visuals and just had fun. What a gift to myself! I do have a couple of comments on some of the films I watched, though, in case you’re considering any of my wimpy choices:
Jerry and Marge Go Large: I’m not sure if I mentioned this one before, but it’s a lot of fun and based on a true story about people who figured out a lottery loophole. Any story featuring real-life mathematical geniuses and genuinely likable secondary characters is okay with me. ****
Addams Family 2: The animation was great, and the attention to detail in the scenery was wonderful. But that was one predictable plot. **
Jungle Cruise: I had low hopes for a movie based on a theme park ride, but I ended up enjoying all the references to the ride and the cheerfully campy plot. The stunts were fun, too, and it was nice to see the female lead portrayed as competent at jungle skills. The gay brother character was fun, too, as he reminded me of many people I know AND was a badass. This one’s worth watching if you want to just relax and watch something. ***
Elvis: GEEZ the guy who played Elvis nailed it. I love how this movie was made and edited (sorry, getting ci-ne-ma on you), and the soundtrack that mixed music from all eras was inspired. You literally see and hear the history of music since the 1950s in this one. Tom Hanks was creepy, though, as Col. Parker. But the rest of the cast, including the portrayals of influential black musicians, was inspired. The Little Richard guy was riveting. ****
The Lost City: This was way better than I thought it would be from the previews. It’s pretty similar to Jungle Cruise, so don’t watch them together. But this one’s one-liners were way more clever, and I found myself chuckling aloud at some of the asides. Sandra Bullock sure can do comedy. I had a blast watching this. *****
Marry Me: I watched this one with Lee, but I just wanted to say this was charming, sweet, and a perfect rom-com. *****
The Good House: Here’s when I ran out of big hits to watch. This one has nice actors and beautiful scenery, but the plot is a heavy-handed tale of a woman who’s an alcoholic and keeps reciting all the typical thing alcoholics tell themselves. It came out well-intentioned but a bit preachy. Kudos for showing realistic sex between older people. ** 1/2
Walking with Herb: This was literally the last film I could get that wasn’t a cartoon or part of a series I wasn’t interested in. Highlights of this one are the great scenery of Las Cruces and Palm Springs and the golf humor. I like golf humor, which is good, because it balances out the Christianity theme (as a non-Christian, I had to suspend my beliefs). Well, it was a sweetly Christian theme, and it was nice to see the Latino lead characters in a mainstream film. I did tear up at some points, so hey, it was okay. ***
I talked about King Richard, the film about Serena and Venus Williams’s dad in an earlier blog. But, I liked it a lot. ****
My solo time is coming to an end, though, because I’ve got my owl necklace (it’s a Superb Owl) on and plan to go watch the Superbowl with other folks at the little cabana bar downstairs. Then, if I can find transportation, I will head home tomorrow. All cabs are booked. Great. Uber is NOT cheap in advance, so I’m hoping tomorrow morning it will be better.
My spouse is trying his hand at book binding. He needed a needle he could thread dental floss through to sew the binding in. So, I went through my unorganized craft stuff to find something. I found a needlepoint needle, which was good. But I found many other things.
One thing I found was this pouch I made to test out felting an entrelac project. I ended up using it more than the very nice purse that was my main project back in the old Bluebonnet Yarn Shop days. Believe it or not, I stored tampons in it.
The necklace is one my therapist made for me back in the Very Bad Old Days when my marriage was painfully ending, as were the marriages of many of my friends. On top of that there was a horribly toxic woman who showed up at our UU church who ran around ruining marriages, breaking up friendships, and rampantly spreading rumors and suspicion everywhere. Many of my friendships never recovered, and though I stuck around a while, I never again felt safe at church. Victoria was making jewelry at that time, and she made me the mama bear necklace to protect me.
I needed it. My son was struggling, too. It was the start of so much stress, struggle, and growth. All that hit me when I saw the necklace. I’m sick to my stomach. No wonder it’s a good idea not to live in the past!
On a happier note, I found this UFO (unfinished object) in the knitting bag where the necklace was. It’s another entrelac project. I think it’s a table runner? It’s made of leftover sick yarn. Maybe I can work on it later.
The other UFO I found is this very warm shawl. I’m on the border of this one, too. What is it with me and unfinished borders? I should finish it before I start the other project. Sigh. It is very soft, too. Fancy yarn.
But wait, I found something else. I was in the Hen Haven or whatever I want to call it, and realized I didn’t know what was in a box under the work table. So, I opened it. Wow! Leather tooling supplies!
I immediately knew what to do with it, too. I ran to get Drew’s fancy leather lead rope. After practicing on an old belt, I got to work.
It’s Drew’s now! He fancy. I’ll see what else I can whack with a mallet. By the way, if the nephew is reading this, I did put the mallet back.
When I finally get a day off, I can cram a lot of fun into it, that’s for sure, and yesterday I even stepped outside my comfort zone successfully, more than once. I’m so proud.
One thing I’m happy with myself for doing is finding my own fun by myself. As Lee has gotten more and more into the Hermit Life, I’ve found myself slipping into it as well (and COVID helped form the habit of being solo). Since I wake up ridiculously early here, I usually have five hours or so to kill before Lee is able to do anything. I sit on the balcony, read, or knit, but I’m so used to getting up and doing a bunch of chores that I’ve taken to just leaving and finding stuff to do outside.
Admittedly, some of the stuff I do involves fruity drinks and beach chairs, but I wander around, take pictures, and talk to folks. I swear I’m turning into my dad with all this talking to folks stuff. Not very hermit-like.
When Lee was awake, he suggested we go take advantage of the free putt-putt golf we get as part of our stay. I think the hotel chain bought this sorta run-down course, since it’s right across from one of the properties and counts as an amenity. Here’s an admission. I had NEVER played putt-putt before, or any other golf-like activity.
A Chapter for My Memoirs
Backstory: In my horrible only year at Plantation Middle School, some person without much forethought had the great idea of having a bunch of young girls, many from backgrounds that didn’t include elitist sports like golf (back then, well-to-do white people played golf), learn the sport in physical education. Golf includes golf balls and golf clubs, both things that needed to be treated with respect. There were rules, like only swinging your club behind a certain line, not swinging without checking your surroundings, and not driving the ball while people were out retrieving their shots. Good rules. Who can guess what happened?
Yep. I had finally hit my ball far enough to get an extra point (a thing I needed because PE was my worst class) and was about to pick it up when WHAM, one of the little darlings in class swung her club onto my head. I was so focused on getting my extra point that I simply went back to the teacher to report my success. She asked me what was on my gym outfit. That would be blood. I had to go to the nurse’s office, which was hard to do when you had no idea where that was in the crazy building and you were dripping. I was so angry that I smeared blood on the exterior wall of the school, quite an act of rebellion for the rule-follower I was at the time.
The nurse washed me up and called my mom to come get me. Mom was in the middle of her nervous breakdown from having to move away from Gainesville, so she was not happy to have to drive down Sunrise Boulevard (she didn’t like four-lane roads) to come get me. She looked at the hole in my head and declared something like it was just a flesh wound and took me home with no doctor visit or anything. Mom was frugal and didn’t want to waste health care dollars on us kids when she needed so much (thus, we had no trips to the dentist until our teens, my brother’s lazy eye was not addressed until too late to fix it, etc.).
The results were that I had headaches for years and sharp pains if I moved a certain way. I have avoided golf entirely. I wasn’t the only one permanently damaged by middle school golf. Another classmate had a chunk of her chin removed by someone who didn’t check her surroundings, and as far as I know, still has a nasty scar. I believe that was the end of the golf program at Plantation Middle School.
Back to Put-Putt
Anyway, Lee likes golf and used to be really good at mini-golf, so I agreed to go. I’m so glad I did. It was great fun, and I was nowhere near as horrible at it as I feared I would be. In fact, I was even under par on one hole, and made par on a couple more. The first hole was pretty bad, since I had to figure out how hard to hit the ball to make it do what I wanted it to do, but after that, I found it most amusing to see where the ball would go and what it would do.
I declare that I would do it again, perhaps at a nicer course. But, we got a lot of laughs out of the outing and it was great to see Lee actually enjoying an activity on a trip.
Off to Calabash
We decided we wanted some good seafood, so we motored off to North Carolina (barely) to the beautiful little town of Calabash, where we’d had a great meal last year. Once again, I knitted a lot. I am trying to get that baby blanket finished before that baby is born. We tried the restaurant next door to the one where we ate last year, and were not disappointed.
I got a huge amount of food in my platter, unlike the small serving we had in Murrell’s Inlet a couple of days ago. And it was fried so beautifully that my grandmother would have approved (the great connoisseur of Florida seafood). The oysters were immense and the scallops delicate and tender. The shrimp were local (from right next door!) and the fish was glorious.
While the service was a little slow, I could not complain, since there was quite a show among the local bird population for me to enjoy. Grackles were mating and building nests, so they were in great form (and loud, being grackles).
The seagulls were also in squabbling mode, so there was lots of action. Plus, there were pelicans zooming around and catching fish. They are so beautiful to me.
After the meal, I went for a walk on the little boardwalk and boat docks, where I got to enjoy pelicans having some kind of bird party next to a party boat, which cracked me up (easily amused).
I also realized why all the birds are so dang happy right there in Calabash. The water was literally teeming with little fish. No shore bird could go hungry with all those fishies everywhere they looked!
While I was gone, Lee was paying the check, and since he was alone with our leftovers, the laughing gulls got bolder. He got a great shot of a laughing gull taking one of my shrimp.
Once we got home, I needed to burn off that fried food, so I walked on the boardwalk until I got all my steps in, then decided to enjoy an Old Fashioned and knit a table at the upstairs bar (I had been outside until a loud family arrived). A lady said I shouldn’t be sitting alone and invited me to the bar to sit with them. I ended up talking to them and another couple for a long time. Lee even came down for a while.
And in talking to the staff, I discovered that Kevin the bartender is also a history professor who specialized in my very own ancestors in Florida! His family is also from north Florida with deep roots there. Who would have guessed? This condo has the best staff, that’s for sure.
I ended up meeting another couple and stayed too long and had three drinks, so I was not at my best when I got home. Lee said I was cuddly, so I must have been out of my mind, ha ha. It was worth it, though. I truly enjoy hearing the stories of all the people I run into and finding our commonalities without ruining things by getting into politics or religion. Granted, anyone I meet here fits certain criteria or they wouldn’t be here. Hilton sure does check your credit scores and incomes. But I’ve met people from many places and backgrounds, and that’s what I like and have missed so much the past few years.
While I’m still primarily doing outdoor things (we’ve been eating on patios), at least I’m no longer scared to talk to people. I’m back to having a nice balance of being alone and in peace and interacting with others.
Today’s post is prompted by the happy coincidence that I found my very first volunteer nametag while unpacking a box today. It’s from way back in 1994 or 1995, when I was still living in Champaign, Illinois. Before THAT, I’d been an active member in the Champaign-Urbana Computer Users Group, where I met a whole bunch of wonderful nerdy people, including my PC mentor and close friend, Mark Zinzow, and the eventually famous eccentric genius Michael Hart, who was working on Project Gutenberg even back in the late 1980s. (I regret not having time to contribute back then.)
I did that, because I’d been the de facto PC tech person in every job I’d had since I got my first IBM PC (with two, count-em, two! floppy disk drives) to write my dissertation on, and I needed helpers! Yes, I actually knew how everything worked, back in those simpler days and times.
Time passed and I got a fine job working at Wolfram Research as a technical writer (career score #1) (where I got to work with my second eccentric genius friend, Stephen Wolfram). I stayed friends with the PCUG folks, though, hung out on Usenet to learn more. A few years later, after I’d left Wolfran Research to raise my two sons, I saw an ad for classes on the World Wide Web and websites, which was hosted by Prairienet, a community internet kind of deal where many of my old friends were volunteering. The kids’ dad said maybe this newfangled web thing would be a way to keep my tech skills up while raising the kids. I agreed.
I took a class from a wonderful woman named Karen Fletcher, and suddenly I knew enough about HTML to teach classes myself. This was my first technical training experience (career score #2). Karen was a wonderful friend, even keeping me in touch with horses way back then thanks to her partner who was a horse trainer. She was also a Master Gardener, so we hung around with similar folks.
So, while my kids were little and I was learning about breastfeeding from La Leche League (not linking to them), I was also learning about websites from Greg Newby, Karen, Mark, and others over at Prairienet. And hey, here’s a fact I love to share: the first website I ever made was for my LLL group. It didn’t have any images, though. Why? It was before you could put images in! Everything was text! We were lucky we had bold and italic to spice things up. And lots of asterisks.
One of the friends I met in Prairienet was also a coworker, Bruce Pea. What a nice guy. He got it into his head to write a user manual for Prairienet, since he was all techy and understood how it worked. However, he was not a writer by trade, so I stepped in to copy edit that 1995 book, The Prairienet Companion. I can assure you it was a lot easier than copy-editing the Mathematica Book (second edition), which I had also been working on.
I turned around and one day there I was, a technical writer and trainer specializing in software documentation and training who also built user communities. Careers are weird! It’s mostly luck and coincidence for me, not a path I was driven toward. But I sure had fun between 1985-1995 learning my webmastering chops!
Another fact: I am still friends with Connor Kelly, the first person to ever find out about a La Leche League meeting online. That’s career score #3, because I swiftly combined what I learned on Prairienet with what I was doing in La Leche League, and in just a year or two was on the real internet, making the website of the whole LLL organization (and many others on the side). That led to volunteer-organizational fame, no fortune, and a lot of drama. And in LLL I helped create a user community, like a baby Facebook that failed due to drama and infighting but looked good enough on a resume to keep.
Hmm. I think I just wrote my biography in a half hour. I can’t believe I dredged up all these memories of myself and the internet as we grew up together. I bet my own spouse hadn’t heard so much about what I did during the decade I just summarized. I’m glad I found that little pin.