Thursday, November 30, 2006


It's not that I'm uncool or anything. I am super-cool...icy chill, baby! My lobes sport a total of ten piercings. I have a tattoo ( a small lizard designed by my friend Lel for my thirtieth birthday). I'm planning on getting another. (celtic tree of'll be awesome!) I can still pull off a pair of low-rider jeans on the days that I remember to avoid salt and excessive sitting down. I'm all over the cutting edge stuff...provided I've had my nap an all.

But, not with the driving. In this, I am nothing short of everybody's favorite maiden auntie. I suspect that part of this has to do with the fact that I'm really not all that great a driver. I have to be a little more cautious than the other folks. The chances of my mistaking a tree for a stop sign are a bit higher than yours. I firmly believe that the speed limits were created specifically for people such as myself. We should all follow them, but I understand that some folks have the skills to pull off speedier commutes. I drive according to what the numbers say I am allowed.

Send your Thank You notes to The Sheep c/o general delivery. I'm doing you all a favor, really.

I'm all for supporting those who choose to ignore the signs and zip along at a clip that is comfortable for them provided that they can A) be safe, B) live with the consequences and C) not be jerks about it. Riding my bumper, flapping your arms, edging out periodically then passing me at the speed of sound on back roads is not any of the aforementioned. But there is always one. Every few weeks, I get to experience the fun of heart stoppage as I watch some flustered driver jerk out of the lane to pass a line of cars without regard for oncoming traffic. I wait with bated breath to see if I will get to be the one to call for emergency assistance after the head-on collision. There has yet to be one. Basically, we all make adjustments for the people who can't bear to be seen with us and will risk their lives to share their overall contempt for our law-abiding existence.

Someone did this just today. It was on a foggy back road and involved passing two of the cars ahead of me. And yes, there was on-coming traffic. Just one car, really. But it was a near thing. Just another day on the road...

Except the oncoming car was a police car. Heh-heh...

The lights came on and this Sheep pulled over just to make sure that Officer At-The-Ready could make the u-turn to go take a piece of Mr. Rushy-Rushington's dignity. To his credit, he didn't fight it. He was pulling over even before the lights came on. I give him full marks for, at the very least, owning it.

A good start to the workday...a very good start, indeed!

It inspired me to put a little spring in my Sheepie step, go the extra mile with the whole teaching thing and take charge of a few items on the to-do list. I made it through the morning meeting with great aplomb and even sounded like I knew what I was talking about once or twice. I managed to finish the paperwork for the meeting within an hour of its completion and ran off about fifty pages of curriculum stuff for the project that is due for job #2 on the tenth of December.

The yarn for Amy The World's Greatest Stylist's handwarmers is dry and happily blocked. It will take a little ride on the swift tonight and be ready for marathon knitting up over the weekend. I kinda need to have them done for next Saturday...forgot to add that little task to yesterday's list of "Stressful Things That I Am Ignoring Right Now Because I Lack The Fortitude To Deal With Them."

I even braved the stores this afternoon and did a little of the holiday shopping! I managed to pull into the parking lot by 4:00 and was home by 5:30, thus avoiding much of the traffic that comes with the after work crowd. Which is good...

Those people have the road rage. Not good for the Maiden Auntie Sheep's nerves at all...


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What? Me...Worry???

There are many things over which I could be stressing right now. Many. Very, very many. Scads...oodles...bunches.

On the lesser end of the Stress-O-Meter, there is quite a bit of the holiday knitting that is yet to be finished. Or started, really. There is also that pesky matter of the Christmas shopping. I've done a grand total of "a little bit." One thing, to be exact. One might say, I need to "get on" this little task.

Moving up the scale, we have tomorrow's meeting. This is scheduled for 8:00 in the morning and requires that I have scads of information on a child to share in a coherent and teachery kind of voice. I'm pretty sure I remembered to get the file out before I fled the work environment today. I think...

Leveling up another notch, there is the Parenting Education curriculum I agreed to write back in August. The one that I honestly wasn't all that fired up over, but said I would do because it is a pet project of my boss'. I like my boss. But she's something of a steamroller when she gets excited about something and I'm one who is easily flattened by other's dreams and aspirations. This masterpiece has been simmering on the back burner of my overworked brain for months now. I somehow have to produce a full program for parents of unique and challenged learners, complete with citations, hand-outs and professional language by December 10th. And it must be in a binder. Why a binder? I do not know...but I have been told this is rather important to the whole process. I probably should get started on this thing. It sounds like it might be a lot of work.

Then there is my upcoming appointment with the plastic surgeon to have my Mole Of Disturbing Dimensions removed. I somehow managed to lose all the paperwork on this little event and really had no idea when I was scheduled for the slicing and the dicing. Turns out it was next Monday. But they had to change it to Friday because the doctor will be in surgery on Monday. I can see how I might forget an appointment. Forgetting things is, after all, what I do. But it makes me just a wee bit nervous that an appointment scheduled since August might slip the minds of the slicers and dicers until the week before it is to happen. Eh...I'm sure they know what they are doing. And, in any case, I don't have to worry about it for another week, after all.

Yeah...there's a whole bunch of stuff I could be thinking about right now. Big stuff that is really important and meaningful. Some of it is stuff I even get paid for. But that is not what has me all in a dither right now. No, The Sheep does not pay any mind at all to that which might be really important. My thoughts are occupied by the event that sends me right up into the stratosphere every year at this time:

Putting Up The Christmas Tree.

I do it every year during the first weekend in December. It kind of snuck up on me this year, I must admit. I'm normally near hysteria at this point. I call this phenomenon "Tree Stress" and it consumes me. I worry about whether I remembered to wrap the breakable ornaments and place them on the top of the ornament box or if I inadvertently crammed them in the bottom, crushing them and ruining Christmas forever. I worry that I will have forgotten how to put the tree together and will have to look at an upside-down holiday fir for the duration. (note: I went artificial after the year I became trapped under a downed pine in the middle of my living room and was unable to free myself. I feared that I would be stuck there until Easter...)

I also worry about whether the cats will remember that we put up a tree each year and if they think I am insane. I worry that they will chew on the lights and become all electrified.

I get to thinking about how the living room will need to be rearranged and where I might store a room full of furniture in order that I might accommodate my festive tree. I wonder about what my insurance company might think if I have to file a holiday related injury claim after throwing out my back moving a recliner.

I wonder if I may have left a candy cane hanging on a branch near the back and if this sugary treat has been feeding an army of ants. I try to think up creative battle plans for dealing with a large group of ants hopped up on aged sugar. (note #2: this is actually a baseless fear given that no candy cane goes unconsumed in the Sheep household)

I worry that people think I am insane for putting up a tree in the first place since I worry about the whole thing so much.

I often think about skipping the's not like I need a tree. Santa knows to make the trip to Mommy and Daddy Sheep's house rather than mine. I even leave a note, just in case. But I like having a tree, despite the angst. So, I will spend this week having fits over the whole affair. Then I will come home Friday night and move the furniture. I will locate the tree and assemble it incorrectly. I will see this immediately and correct it. The ornaments will be intact and ready for hanging.

The cats will, in fact, have forgotten about the whole tree thing and will think I am crazy. But they tolerate me and my holiday ways. They like to nap under the tree...I think they feel like lions or pumas or something.

It will all be fine. It always is. And the lovely glow from the lights will be nice for knitting. And preparing for meetings. And writing 200 pages of curriculum. And healing after MODD removal.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Once Upon A Time...

...there lived a lovely little maid and her dear, sweet Mama. She was not a princess or anything 'cause, contrary to popular fairy tale tradition, not everyone can be a princess; some of us have to be ordinary people and that is just the way it is, so deal with it. But they were quite content with their lot, living as they did amongst the frozen pepperoni pizza trees (the good kind with the self-rising crusts that taste like delivery, but don't require dealing with overworked delivery people) and pie fields blooming as far as the eye could see. Truly, theirs was a blessed existence. They had one another and felt no need to question life or its possible meaning.

One day, however, the little maid grew pensive and lost her interest in frolicking amongst the pie blossoms in the height of spring. Her mother, ever the attentive parent, took note of this and queried as to what might be the matter.

"Dearest Mama," spake the maid, "why ever must there be vegetables?"

"Ah, My Precious One," said her mother, "It is true that the vegetables be quite nasty, but they are necessary in that they provide vital nutrients without which our nails will lose their strength and our hair will develop split ends that no amount of deep conditioner might heal."

The little maid pondered this answer and found it to her satisfaction. However, she soon grew thoughtful once more and another concern she did voice.

"Yes, Mama, the vegetables will certainly keep us shiny and unsplit, but what of the canned vegetables? Surely this cannot be that which Nature must only look to the pizza trees and fields of pie to see this!"

Her dear mother thought long and hard, for this was surely a wise question from one so young and lacking in basic life experience. This, of course, was a result of unrestricted access to Google and many hours per day spent in the company of satellite television. Dear mother had not fully read the manual and was having some difficulty with the whole system of channel blocking. However, after much musing and a couple of pulls off the bottle she kept in the back of the pantry for just such occasions, she was able to answer her precocious offspring:

"Vegetables come in cans because some Sheep are too cheap to buy a real yarn blocker"
They then clasped hands and went to harvest fresh pies from the fields. They ate five a piece and neither gained a pound for this is my fairy tale and I can tell it any way I want, so there.
The End
I just love that story. I'll probably read it again before I snuggle into bed tonight. I especially like the part about the pizza trees...that makes me smile. I'll probably read that section several times. The vegetable part is a bit scary, but fairy tales are supposed to be a little scary, so that's OK. All in all, I think this is one of my favorites.
Oh, yeah. The yarn looks pretty good, too.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Musings.

Sheep who want to survive the Monday after a vacation and avoid as much actual work as is possible under the circumstances will find other stuff to think about. I had a lot of material today, none of it really relating to the things to which I should have been attending. I think I still have some of that Turkey Daze going on in my brain.

Right off the bat, I started thinking that excuses are just sad. For example, you can say that the reason you are wearing your handknit sweater vest backwards is because it has no tag. Thus, there is no way on earth that you could have been able to tell which side is which. The fact that the vest is a v-neck and that it was nearly departure time from hearth and home before I actually processed the problem with my ensemble today did nothing to dissuade me from my excuse. The tag thing is my story and I'm sticking to it. See what I mean? Sad.

Next thought: The decision to wear the cool, new and so-very-perfect brown pants that have the cutting edge button fly is a poor one when returning to teaching duties after a vacation. The cutting edge buttons are still in the breaking-in stage of wear and a bit hard to operate. The average teacher's schedule does not always include bathroom breaks. When you get a chance to go, you go. That little fashion detail proved most inconvenient during my thirty second break between classes. These trousers will have to go back in the closet to await the reconditioning of my bladder strength.

And, then there is this: No amount of vest reversals or fancy buttonage will detract the eye from a pie-enhanced butt. I wore my Thanksgiving pie proudly today for all the world to see. And the stuffing. And the turkey. I believe you can also see some of the holiday meal in that upper arm-dangle thing I got goin' on these days. I ate naught but fruit today. Apples, pears and bananas...that's what you get after five straight days of culinary excess. Fruit.


But, another holiday looms and with it more of the feasting that has left me in such a state on this "Morning After" Monday. I'll muddle along with the fruits and veggies until the first batch of sugar cookies shows up in the teacher's room.

Then all bets are off.

I also should probably see about finishing up another project for the gift-giving. I started another scarf over the weekend seeing as these are the most likely to be finished within the time frame the calendar is allowing me right now. I'm going with a straight-up garter stitch in Classic Elite Commotion since I'd already wound a ball of it as a possible contender for the traveling project I needed during last week's teacher workshops. It is a very fine yarn and the going is slow, but the whole garter stitch thing is making it nice and mindless. I need that right now.

I seem to have a lot on my mind...and my waistline.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Random Things Of Note:

I'm no dietitian. Nor am I a physician or anything really that ends in "ian." Despite my lack of formal training, however, I have determined that it may be time to get rid of the leftover pie. I am of the opinion that, once you have stopped eating it off a plate and regressed to snarfing it directly from the pan 'cause it's so much more convenient, that it may be a sign of some sort. The fact that I am now doing this with the top button of my jeans undone is another. A middle aged Sheep parked on the couch eating pie out of the pan with a large wooden spoon and loosened trousers is like something out of a horror movie. It is not a good look.

Not good at all...

When not attempting to get in my recommended daily servings of fruits via the consumption of pastry, I managed to find a little time in the day to finish up a bobbin of the corriedale/metallic singles. It has a lovely cinnamon and nutmeg aroma about it now. And one or two sticky spots thanks to the whole pie-fest, but is really quite lovely, nonetheless.

Photographed while still on the skein winder...
Once removed from the skein winder, this yarn showed its true nature. All its soft and sparkly goodness curled up into a nice "sproingy" mass of overspun wool. It is blocking as we speak. Blocking in the most aggressive of fashions.
I'm sure it will be fine... I will not be ordered about by the likes of my handspun. That way lies madness. Soon the sock yarn will be demanding finer digs. The acrylics will begin lobbying for equal treatment under the law. The needles will argue that no knitting can occur without their cooperation and that they have a list of demands which must be addressed. All heck will break loose and the tentative grasp I have on control in my life will be lost forever. This cannot happen.
I still have Christmas shopping to get done.
And there is one last little item of note. A scant 365 days ago I first wrote these words:
Well, The Sheep has joined the herd and started her very own blog.
I remember them pretty clearly for a couple of reasons, the first being that I have a weird memory for certain written phrases and can quote them on command. Not that this little skill has ever come to the fore when I was studying for exams or anything. It is one of those random and somewhat useless abilities, frankly. The other reason I remember these words is that, once published, I realized that sheep flock rather than stumble around in herds. I didn't know much about the whole editing process back in those bothered me for a long time.
So much has happened in the past year, blog-wise. There have been numerous and horrific dental appointments, constipated cats, vehicular strife and a rather frightening bout with the Monkey Pox. The latter was actually pneumonia and came with high fevers and rather excruciating pain. The blog was really my only consistent link with the world at that time. It was actually a reader who put the symptoms together and made the diagnosis, although I rather enjoyed calling my disease "The Monkey Pox." It somehow validated the whole thing.
Then there was the knitting. I have to say that the very idea of regular posting of progress and pictures has made me a better knitter and spinner. I have made more of an effort to correct my errors, finish things in a more timely manner and even challenge myself once in the proverbial blue moon. The Feather and Fan Scarf that is blocking in the back room is evidence of this.
Lastly, there are the new friends I have made through the process. I still rush to the computer each and every day upon arriving home from work to see who has commented and which comment will make me chuckle the longest. I have made some truly wonderful connections through these here internets and am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to meet others who share my passion for the fiber and the laughs.
Tomorrow starts Blog: Year II. I look forward to what it may bring. Who knows? Maybe the oh, so scary lace knitting will happen. Or perhaps an actual finished sweater...with real, live sleeves! The possibilities are endless!
But there will be no pie for a while. The pie has to go. One more piece and I swear to you that the pie is gone.
Thanks for a year of reading and laughing together!!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


The Thanksgiving school break is a weird one. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining or anything. I likes me my vacation time and all. But it starts on a Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday made sense to me. I was baking for Thursday which was Thanksgiving and that gave me a little temporal hook upon which to hang my hat. Yesterday was Friday, but it had kind of a Saturday "vibe" to it. In theory, I should have awoken this morning thinking that it was Sunday, but I didn't. I thought it was Monday.

And that I was late.


Once I got that straightened out in my addled brain, I realized that I had neglected to do the grocery shopping yesterday what with all my fears of being trampled by bargain-crazed holiday shoppers. They are a vicious breed and will not hesitate to tear your arm off should they think you might have beaten them to the last of whatever item it is that they need to complete this season of love and giving. Thus, I headed out to do the Friday Shopping. But it is Saturday (I think) and this meant readjusting my internal clock yet again.

Now, for some reason, I seem to think it is Sunday again. I've been doing "Sunday" things like ironing clothes and planning my lunches for the week. This is confusing me beyond belief.

Maybe it's all the fumes that acrylic yarn is throwing off. I dunno...

Today was also a day of knitting confusion. It seems I need a new project. Three skeins of Koigu, many Feathers and multitudes of Fans have all come together to culminate in a scarf:

A scarf still in its stumpy, wiggly and unblocked state, that is.
There is actually a bit of the yarn left over, but I got nervous as the skein dwindled. Fearing that I did not have enough for one last repeat, I opted to cast off and call it a night. Now, I realize that this is not like "real" lace knitting and all...but I'm feeling pretty good about lil' ol' me right now. This is probably the prettiest thing that's ever come off my humble needles. I'm going to wait a bit to block it and will post a better picture once that is done. I don't think it really needs a full on block-a-palooza. Just a bit of "aligning" is all...
With this little project out of the way, I concentrated on the spinning today. I've decided that whatever is on the bobbin as of tomorrow is what I will skein, come what may. I really need to get cranking on Amy The World's Greatest Stylist's handwarmers. The request was made last spring and we are, shall we say, "behind" on this project. This is not surprising, really.
I don't even know what freakin' day it is anymore. How am I supposed to comprehend big things like "seasons????"

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sheep Confessions:

I am one of the pale people. I hide from the light and all that it reveals. I knit behind closed doors, away from the prying eyes of the other stitchers. I carry in my heart the secret that is kept by so many of my that we grudgingly acknowledge only with great justification.

Perhaps you are one of my kind. You know who you are. You might be a new knitter, unsure enough of your skills that you will go to the dark place where knitting is less risky. Your holiday project is, mayhap, intended for one who harbors an intolerance for wool or wool-like substances. Or, maybe like a certain Sheep, you have suffered something of a reversal of fortunes of late and are concentrating on the paying of the bills rather than the enhancement of the stash.

Whatever the reason, it is time for us to walk proudly among our fellow knitters. I stand before you to make a declaration. OK, I'm actually sitting. I can't type and stand. It's a metaphor or something, people. Work with me here...I'm having a moment.

Where was I??? Oh, yeah. The knitting confession. I like Caron's Simply Soft.

There. I said it. The world did not end. One or two of you may need oxygen, but you'll be all right after a minute. And I'm feeling pretty darn liberated right now!

Simply Soft, a very reasonably priced acrylic yarn, is readily available to me. It knits up well, with a rather nice drape and has a sort of sheen to it that is most purty. Best of all, it doesn't do that "squeaking" thing that acrylics do after a while. You know what I mean... All in all, it is a fun yarn and one that I purchase often for small projects like scarves.

So it is with head held high that I present:

A nice, even fringe....

And a finished acrylic scarf.
I'd like to say that this is the last time that I will feel the need to offer a lengthy explanation for my having knit something in budget yarn. But it's probably not. My superhero name is actually, "The Justifier." I can leap tall buildings in a single excuse. You won't be seeing much of me in hero-mode for a while since I ate so much at Thanksgiving, though. I sort of can't fit into my cape at the moment. But I'll be back and with an overwhelming need to feel better about any and all decisions that I make. Meanwhile, acrylic knitters, unite! We'll be starting up meetings in WalMart parking lots all across this great land of ours and spreading the word one knitter at a time. And we'll be serving coffee with that white powdered stuff in it. I like that, too.
How about tomorrow I post a picture of the Feather And Fan Scarf? That's in merino and should restore my good standing in the eyes of the other knitters.
I hope.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thankful...And Just Plain "Full." got yourself a pretty thankful Sheep parked on the couch this fine Thanksgiving day! There is just so much a gal has to put in the "win" column at this point! For example:

I am thankful that my family serves the big meal at the noon hour rather than later in the day. This allows a Sheep to change into her nice, warm, elasticized flannel jammies quite early and just let herself expand at will.

I am thankful that there is stuffing. And pie. And things made with butter. And more things made with butter...

I am thankful for leftovers. And when I say, "leftovers" I am talking about a whole apple pie. (among other things) Leftovers are the best part of the holiday. There was leftover stuffing. You can probably hear me giggling madly wherever you may be at this point.

I am thankful that Baby Brother Sheep brought New Girlfriend Sheep Who We Like to dinner and that she came with a chocolate/pecan/more chocolate/sugar/more chocolate pie. I like her more now than ever. Seriously...she is now my new best friend and we will be wearing matching outfits, friendship bracelets and doing the whole girly mani/pedi thing. This was gooooood pie, people.

I am thankful that no one is the boss of me right now and that I can go into outright denial with regard to the upcoming holiday season. I can throw common sense to the wind and decide to knit whatever suits my Sheepie fancy today. I think I may have eaten a wee bit more of the chocolate pie than was good for my brain functioning, but I opted to do a little of the "Me Knitting" today.

A sock. For me. Just me. For anyone who didn't get that, it's all about me right now.
And yes...those would be the lovely, soft, warm and elastic-waisted PJs. I really am all about the "me" right now and this is a pretty comfy ensemble. It is entirely possible that I ate my own weight in stuffing today.
That said, I am also quite thankful that we live in an age where medicine has advanced to the point where we have ample access to antacids in many easily ingested forms.
Happy Thanksgiving my fellow celebrants!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Modern Day Sheep.

I'm reasonably sure I'd have made a lousy Pilgrim. I don't think I would have "fit in" particularly well. All the other Pilgrims probably would have gone to great pains to avoid me much of the time. You'd have heard a lot of:

Pray, let us hasten to the meeting house for I see Mistress WhinesAlot approaching with great speed. She appeareth to be hunting for a stronger cell signal and has been expressing her ire at our having chosen this fine piece of land for our settlement given it's poor wireless access. Did I not say to raise the Mayflower's anchor before she boarded? I believe I did... But nobody listeneth to me. Nooooooo

Frankly, I doubt that the whole, "First Thanksgiving" thing would have happened at all. The local Native Americans would, no doubt, have gone to great lengths to find excuses to bow out of the big dinner in order that they might avoid the embarrassed silence following my inevitable rant regarding having been voted down in the matter of enjoying frozen pepperoni pizza for the meal. This would be followed by my lengthy dissertation on the subject of the whole "bonnet-wearing" thing and the resulting "hat head."

Awkward, to say the very least... I'm also guessing that I probably would have spent a great deal of time in those stock-thingies. It's just a hunch.

I don't say this because I'm a particularly horrible person or anything. In fact, I've been told that I am quite delightful. Well, at least that's what my Mom says... No, I base this premise on the simple fact that I could not have made more of a production of today's Thanksgiving Bread Baking if I'd had a full cast and musical score. The kitchen is covered in a fine dusting of both whole wheat and unbleached white flour, as is your humble Sheep. The trash cans are overflowing and the cats have not been seen for much of the day. They disappeared sometime around ten o'clock this morning after the discovery of the flour shortage, subsequent bellowing and grumpy grocery store trip.

Basically, with all the benefits of electricity, running water, and handily located stores, I have exhausted myself in an attempt to complete my contribution to the Thanksgiving meal. In fairness, I baked a decent amount of bread. The final tally is four dozen rolls, two loaves of The Sheep's quasi-famous cheesy bread and one loaf of whole wheat. By three o'clock, I was beyond tuckered out and collapsed in the deepest of slumbers.

I'm pretty sure a real Pilgrim could've pulled it off without the nap.

But, with the exception of the last loaf (which is rising as I type) I have successfully completed the required baking for tomorrow's big dinner. Sadly, this meant that the knitting was pushed to the back burner (so to speak) for the day. I did managed to knock out a few rows on the Feather And Fan scarf, but nothing in the way of real progress. Fortunately, I am a Sheep on vacation at this point and will have a one or two other opportunities in the next few days. Perhaps, I'll have something noteworthy to share in terms of knitting progress soon.

Meanwhile, here's hoping that all who celebrate the day have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. My your travels be smooth and your pumpkin pie plentiful. I'll be over at Mommy and Daddy Sheep's house spending some quality time with my flock and keeping the world safe from rogue stuffing.

I may have made a pitiful Pilgrim, but I'm a champ at keeping the stuffing under control!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Scarf Stats:

Two days of Teacher Workshops done and scarf progress is most satisfactory. The Sheep has used a systematic process for analyzing her knittage and has recording the following:

Working for her:

The Harlot's pattern. Most simple. Thinking not really required once the motor memory kicks in.

Two keynote speeches. A darkened auditorium lends itself quite nicely to under-the-radar knitting.

Two presenters who were "knit friendly." Today's presenter on current classroom practices for use with Autistic students was most receptive. Not only was she quite knowledgeable, but she encouraged the soothing motor activities. Very nice.

Worsted weight yarn and size 9 circs. Everything else on the needles right now is of the itty-bitty, skinny-thinny variety. This is a nice change of pace.

Things working against her:

Fewer knitters in the crowd this year. It is far easier to engage in what might be considered taboo behavior if others are doing it. ("awwww...c'mon. Everyone was doin' it, Mom!!)

Two workshops with boss-types as the presenters. One of these was with the superintendent of schools. He's like, "The Big Boss." The Sheep took the high road and participated with gusto in the practicing of grant-writing. For the record, it is highly unlikely that Big Boss was fooled on any possible level. We actually sort of respect him more for this...

Most presenters tended towards shorter presentations than the long versions. This was good as most of the crowd was really already on vacation in their minds. Not so good for the knitting, though. Transitions came early and often.

Considering all these factors, The Sheep has decreed the whole knitting/becoming a better educator experience a success. To review, we entered the first day of trainings with a four inch piece of knitting. At the end of day two, we had thirty two inches of scarfage. Here is what we have at the end of 14 hours of workshops:

That's 57" of scarfy-goodness! (what's that, about 145 cm?)

The pattern in "close-up!" Kinda cool!

I'm calling this one, "done!" And there will be fringing. It needs something. Otherwise, I'm loving this project. Two days and I've got me a Christmas gift all ready for the giving. Giddiness abounds here in The Sheep's little corner of the meadow!

Which is good, since I need the giddiness to fuel me during the Great Bread Bake-Off '06. There are a dozen rolls rising in the kitchen at this very moment and tomorrow will bring a flour frenzy of epic proportions. It is a well-known fact that Sheep crave carbs during the holidays.

And easy scarf patterns...


Monday, November 20, 2006

Day One:

The Sheep can now say that she is officially 1/2 way through her two days of Teacher Workshops! How did it go? Well, in the four years I've worked in this school district, I can honestly say I've had worse. Last year, for example, I had a staff meeting go horribly wrong and had to miss the second day to have a little date with my dentist. I'm not sure which was worse: the staff meeting or the root canal. At least I got some of the sweet, sweet Vicodin for the root canal...

Of the four sessions I attended today, one was actually pretty good. The rest were lackluster. The worst of this is that I signed up for much of the day's offerings. This little on-line registration process is one that I unfailingly screw up and I have never once managed to finagle my way into one of the more interesting workshops. I suspect that those with whom I attend these sessions are in the same boat and this does not for good behavior make. By virtue of our tardiness in registering, we are like those kids we all remember from high school: uninterested, tardy and shameless in our disdain for those who are actually enjoying the learning experience. I however, being a fairly decent human being/sheep, really do try to put a good face on the whole thing if only for the sake of the presenter. After all, I spend 5 days a week trying to impart words of wisdom to little minds that would rather be playing X-box. I can relate. Others do not necessarily feel this way. I spent a good chunk of my day wondering if the ladies behind me would consider ending their fascinating discussion over nothing in particular for a price. And what that price might be...a hundred dollars? A thousand? The opportunity to not be poked in the eye by a knitting needle?

But that's not what you're here for, now is it? You're wondering just how much knitting the average Sheep can get done while in these little educational concentration camps? Well, lemme tellya! I arrived at the high school with a four inch scarf. An infant, really.

And was able to add another twenty-six inches over the course of the day. I gots me a teen-aged scarf!
Yeah...there was a whole bunch of sittin' time. Loooooong stretches. I think I may actually have this thing done tomorrow! It seems a little "plain" to me, though. I may add a fringe or something just to jazz 'er up a bit. We'll have to see how much of the "oomph" I have left after tomorrow's day of professional development. I have to admit that I'm sort of wrung out right about now.
All that knitting and pretending to pay attention will really take it out of a Sheep.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ready? Set? Snore.

The Sheep's Pre-Teacher's Workshop Checklist:

1. Ipod charged, audiobook downloaded and earbud hiding hairstyle confirmed? Check

2. School issued laptop (that I am supposed to have for tech. based workshops that I may or may not have signed up for) charged? Check

3. Supply of granola bars and apples tucked into the tote bag in order to replace the lunchtime fare provided by the school district and which is guaranteed to induce a carbohydrate stupor? Check

4. 7 pairs of new underpants washed and ready to go in the event that the day is marked by an invasion of panty-stealing-terrorists and the 47 pairs I already had in reserve were not enough? Check (honestly...I thought I had this little shopping quirk under control. I don't know what happened!)

5. The Sheep's patented "I am so very interested in this topic and do not know how I survived without this knowledge until now and of course I don't mind if that lady in the back asks ten more questions that will result in our extending this workshop for another twenty minutes" facial expression rehearsed and ready for display? Check

6. Alarm clock set for correct wake-up time? Back-up alarm clock set for ten minutes after correct wake-up time? Remember last Monday? Do we want to oversleep on the day that we will be greeted by the superintendent of schools at the door? we??? Check

7. And, most importantly, knitting pattern and yarn decided upon, pattern practiced and enough progress made that it will look like I just scooped it up and stuffed it in my bag upon leaving the house rather than agonizing over the whole thing all weekend? Check

Looks like I've got the bases covered! I'm ready to spend two days trapped at the high school, developing a hatred of all things Power Point and knitting my little heart out, all at taxpayer's expense. It is a fair trade, though. I have their children for much of the calendar year. Think of it as my Thanksgiving present.

The scarf pattern for this little extravaganza was far more of a drama than I'd anticipated. I usually, at the very least, have a few thoughts for wanna-do's at this point in the year. At best, I'm well on my way with the holiday knitting and have several things from which to choose. This year, however, I was at a loss. Feather And Fan is lovely, but requires some counting and I can't do that while faking interest in something else. I can't knit socks because I need the freedom to cuss every now and again and this is frowned upon in the school setting. Frankly, I blame the whole thing on my having developed a few new skills since last year, none of which are secure enough that I can do them in public and all of which have made me a bit critical of the simpler projects that made me so happy in the way-back-when.

Thankfully, The Harlot posted a fairly simple pattern for a scarf not too long ago which features a one row repeat with pretty obvious "do this here" places in the stitches. Thus, I will not be sitting in the back row of the auditorium for half an hour after the last workshopper has left for his appointed session mumbling, "what was I supposed to be doing on the third stitch???" No scarf is worth having to explain to the principal why one of his teachers was found weeping and shaking her needles at the unforgiving knitting gods.

I'm pretty much exhausted from all this preparation. The amount of work I will put into avoiding actual work is really quite impressive. But I did it! There will be no other participant in these workshops that has more in the way of "avoidance activities" than I, your Humble Sheep. I will also have more clean underwear, but I'm not really sure that this is something about which to brag. It is probably more of a disorder of some sort, I fear.

I'm gonna go spin something now...


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Rolling With It...

It's almost Thanksgiving...rolls are a requirement.
Next to the rolls you will note the "Bread Blob" that is made by tossing the leftover dough onto a pan 'cuz there isn't enough to make a real loaf of any sort. It is a commonly known fact that eating said blob will not count towards the final calorie tally for the day as getting rid of it is merely cleaning up, not actually eating something. It's housekeeping, really...I don't make the rules here, people.
Other than trying to get some of the bread baking out of the way before Turkey Day, it has been a day of playing the hand dealt a knitting Sheep. The whole "Find Something To Knit At Next Week's Workshop" project has gotten off to a slow start. I've been playing with yarn all day and have wound up a ball of cotton in the event that I can't pull it all together by Monday morning. At least I can do a dishcloth of some sort. And, if I'm feeling really wild 'n crazy, I can dub it a "spa cloth," pair it up with the Chevron Stripes Towel and a pretty cake of soap. If nothing else, my hands will be busy during these 15 upcoming hours of sitting and pretending to be interested in whatever the heck it is that I'm supposed to be participating in.
I've been practicing my "sage nods," and "thoughtful eye-squints" since Thursday. I'm actually something of a champion interest-faker. In actuality, I haven't heard a word anyone has said since 1994 and I've forgotten what that little pearl of wisdom was at this point.
On the mitten front, we have had some changes in strategy as well. Mr. Mitten was coming along nicely, but was really going to be sorta tiny. (you will recall that I got all cocky and didn't do a gauge swatch despite knowing full well that my handspun yarn was much finer than the recommended worsted weight) Even with the tiny, delicate hands I sport at wrist's end, this wasn't going to be a roomy mitten. I gave some thought to turning it into a child's mitten, but I have very strong feelings about the need for washability in kidswear. The very idea of my handspun corriedale experiencing the harsh waters was enough to give me the vapors so I went a different route. I ended the whole mitten experience a bit early with a short bit of ribbing and now the too-tight mitten is a too-tight handwarmer. Which, as we all know is far better. I actually kind of like the look and think that it will be a nice use for the lovely DK weight Debbie Bliss Alpaca/Silk that Beth sent my way! We'll call this current pair, "practice." Yeah...that's it!
Perhaps, tonight, I will give the old brain a rest and do a little mindless spinning. I still need to finish up the corriedale for Amy-The-World's-Greatest-Stylist's handwarmers. I seem to spend more time talking about doing this than actually completing the task. But spinning seems appealing right now after all the mind bending that the day has required of me in order that I might make lemonade out of some quite lemony projects. I'm pretty much on schedule with the whole Thanksgiving dinner contributions.
But do you think anyone would mind if we just put off this whole Christmas thing for another few months?

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Sheep Is Shorter Today.

The forecast called for downpours today then clearing and a return of the big, yellow ball of fire in the sky that frightens us with its strangeness. I left the house with a bit of drizzle drifting down upon my head, but little was done in the way of damage.

My arrival at school was another story.

Just as I turned into the parking lot, the universe saw fit to dump approximately three thousands of gallons of water in a ten minute period. Having been so late on Monday, it didn't really seem like a good idea to hide in the car until it passed. Who knew how long the powers-that-be would continue the deluge in order that I might be punished for whatever slight I have perpetrated against them. I made a run for it. And thus, The Sheep lost two inches in hair height. I need the hair height. It balances off the holiday pounds.

Seriously...the hair was as flat as the Pepsi that has been sitting in the back of my fridge since last April. Not the best look for The Sheep, I must say.

With the arrival of the sun, however, I felt renewed to the point where a little shopping spree seemed in order after my day of teaching toil. I've been needing a new pair of pants to wear to work and had yet to find just the right ones. I also needed to do a little grocery shopping so it looked like a big afternoon out for this Sheep!

Well, there was much from which to choose and the whole thing got a bit overwhelming. I panicked and somehow ended up buying more underpants. Regular readers will know that this was not really necessary given that I had finally culled the underwear situation down to 47 pairs back in August. I don't really know what happened there...I may have blacked out for a minute. I now have 7 more pairs. I need help, people.

But, the whole process must have broken a blockage of some sort. I actually found the perfect pair of brown pants after months of searching. I suppose the whole underpants fix was enough to clear my pants-purchasing vision and allow me to see the perfect pair of trousers that also happened to be half-price. I may be doing a research paper on this phenomenon in the near future. Watch The New England Journal Of Medicine...

Friday is not my usual blogging day. I normally work on Fridays and take that night off from computer related activities. However, this week, I hit the office on Thursday night in order that I might get my timesheets in for that sweet, sweet recompense before my boss goes on vacation. My Friday night frozen pizza is fresh from the oven and it should be cool enough for This Sheep to enjoy her "start to the weekend" feast. But I would be remiss if I didn't send out a big, "thank you" to a couple of the sweetest ladies in the whole, wide blogosphere. Beth and Geraldine conspired to send a most timely giftie to this weary Sheep. I am so very fortunate to have met such wonderful people through these here internets. Behold:

Yes, that is chocolate there! And it is all mine!!

Would you believe that these stitch markers were handmade by Beth? And that she doesn't brag about this talent 24/7? I would...

Not included in the picture is the Georgia Voter sticker Beth sent to console me after my own heartless state refused to give me one once I completed the voting process. I'm making a pin out of it and wearing it forever. And if you think I'm kidding, then you don't know me. I love the whole sticker-after-voting thing. Now I will always have one!

I am a lucky Sheep. A lucky Sheep who has yarn, chocolate, knitting goodness and a brand, new cookbook that I was planning on getting right after the holidays! Now I can make some yummies just in time for the season. I am overwhelmed, grateful and giddy. A simple, "thank you" for a gift given simply because the givers wanted to do so seems almost insufficient. But it is the best I can do and I hope it expresses how incredibly thrilled I am!

May your weekend be a good one and may you have a few nice surprises in your day as well!


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It Didn't Rain Today...

And none of us really knew how to handle that. It feels like it has been grey and wet for years. We all just squatted on the ground, pointed at the heavens and grunted things like, "Big ball of fire in god angry!!!" There was something of a panic, followed by the general agreement that we should sacrifice a virgin to a volcano. We felt pretty good about that course of action until we caught on to the fact that this is Maine and we have no volcanoes to speak of in the area. A few of us thought it might work out if we could convince the lunch room ladies to loan us one of those big vats of chili, but none of us could really work up the courage to approach them to ask. After that we all kind of wandered off to watch the dust motes dance in the slanting rays of golden light or teach some kids something.

It's been a while since we've seen the sun... Fortunately, we will be back to our drizzly, dreary lives tomorrow and the big, yellow ball of fire will be removed from our primitive eyes for a while. It was fun while it lasted even if we didn't really know what to do with it.

I couldn't fully enjoy the brief sunny period to it's utmost, though. This work week is drawing to a close. The children have next week off in order that their mommies and daddies can be thankful for them (and the fact that they do not have to live with them for 7 hours per day during the school year) while the teachers spend two days in workshops before racing off to their respective vacations. Those workshops will consist of many, many brain-melting hours that must be filled with distractions. I decided some time ago that scarf knitting might be the best option for this series of educational presentations as there is less than can go wrong when the project must be hastily stuffed into a bag in order that principals and superintendents might see The Sheep looking highly interested in the grant writing process. I've narrowed down the yarn choice to some Classic Elite Commotion that I stocked up on last year when my LYS closed its doors to me forever. It is a fine yarn, thread-like actually, but looks awfully fancy-schmancy when knit up. I created a seed stitch scarf with beaded fringe for The World's Greatest Stylist last year and have been treated to lunches and presents ever since. I still haven't decided on a pattern for this year's masterpiece, but it will be a simple one and will be knit on circs since I have a tendency to forget to bring both needles when I opt for travelin' knittin'. It has happened more than once...

With any luck, I can get a head start on it over the weekend and have the old motor memory fully engaged by Monday. AutoPilot Knitting is really the best under these circumstances, methinks. I tend to resort to colorful vocabulary when I need to tink back a row or two and that probably will not be a welcome addition to the overall program.

Of course, the amount of rain that has seeped into my Sheepie brain over the last god-know-how-many days has probably resulted in some form of water damage. We'll hope that we can manage to count rows and remember our manners all at the same time.

But if the sun comes out, then I make no promises. Big yellow ball of fire is most distracting to Primitive Sheep...


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Many Forms Of Crisis Management.

Ah...the dry gas! A miracle substance, really. And one that is, apparently, not universally known, if my comments are any indication. Allow me to elucidate. Dry gas is a fuel additive that you put in the tank to help break down any water that may be lurking in there with the pricey gasoline. It is probably a more common little item in my neck of the woods due to the temperature fluctuations that cause condensation to form. For the record, water is not good for an engine due to the fact that it is not exactly "combustible." And I suspect that one of the local chains I was using last year due to it's convenience of locale had a bit of the H2O in it's tanks.

I've been keeping the dry gas makers in business over the last few months...

That question answered, The Sheep now moves on to other types of crises that can occur in the life of a workaday gal. The rain continues to pelt down upon us and is making for the mushy brain. It has also made one less likely to make the trek down to the dumpster to take out that bag of trash that has been sitting in the kitchen for two days now. Today, however, being the good little homeowner that I be, I made the decision to take care of that little chore. But the driving rain forced me to assume something of a "head down" posture when walking. This is good for keeping the rain out of your nostrils, but not really all that effective in terms of avoiding low-hanging pine boughs.

I took one right to the face. A nice, wet, "whippy" sort of branch that slapped me into a state of awakeness far earlier than I was really ready and left more water on my glasses than the falling rain ever could. Nice... Fortunately, I noted little damage aside from my pride since these things never seem to happen when there are no witnesses. What all these people are doing out at the crack of too-early-thirty in the morning, I will never know. They certainly seem to be able to sleep in on days when I am able to walk without incident. And I can generally pull that off at least twice a week.

The staff meeting at school was an interesting start to a gloomy day, as well. Understand, that most schools are now charged with being prepared for any possible thing that could start with the words, "in the unlikely event." For example, in the unlikely event that certain exits are blocked, we must know all means for evacuating the building in the case of fire, terrorists or textbook salesmen. In the unlikely event that a stranger is in the school, we must be able to successfully identify him and take appropriate action to have him removed. In the unlikely event that the coffee supply runs out in the teacher's room then we are allowed to panic with wild abandon. There really is no plan that will cover that.

Today's unlikely event was centered on the recent concerns with regard to pandemic type flu outbreaks and what might happen should we ever be quarantined with the children for any length of time. Now, please don't misunderstand me. There is not a single child in that building for whom I wouldn't take a bullet if I had to. But, it is with great shame that I admit to you that the thought of being trapped with them for an indeterminate period of time caused a small and petty part of my brain to begin calculating the amount of time it might take for me to begin tunneling under the wall to whatever plague might be lurking out there. I am further dismayed by the fact that I was calculating it in hours, not days.

And it is still raining. But I made it to work on time today, was spared a pine-induced concussion and am now fully aware of the lengths to which I will go should I ever have to choose between a killer flu and extended time with my students. All in all, I'd say things are looking up since yesterday!

Despite all the bad mojo coming at me 24 hours ago, I took a chance and knit a bit. I'm not really loving the mitten that is stumbling along as project #2. But the Feather And Fan experiment is a winner!

At least The Big, Fluffy Kitty seems to think so...
We'll keep plugging along on the mitten and see what happens. I suspect that it is going to be a bit on the small side. But that will simply mean that they will remain in my possession as I have the small and delicate hooves. Not such a bad thing, I suppose.
However, I wonder if I should be knitting some sort of protective garments just in case. I've got the bird flu and those killer pine trees out there, after all...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Curses...Foiled Again!

Sheep are not known for "luck." If they were then we might have their hooves on keychains or spend more time rubbing their wooly heads. Still and all, I like to think that the average Sheep about town might catch a break every now and again. Yesterday was just such a day. I was on a roll. My cup runneth over with the glad tidings and stuff. I was so full of my Sheepie self that I foolishly asked the question, "What could possibly go wrong?"

Well, lemme tellya! I could, for example, oversleep this morning. And not by a little. I overslept enough that I needed to call the school and "make arrangements." It was enough that I felt the need to perform the "Dance Of The Panicked Sheep" as I hastily attempted to pull my sleep-puffy self together in order that I might avoid frightening small children upon my eventual arrival in the classroom. Why is it that we think our moving faster and with flapping arms will somehow be more efficient in these situations? In reality, we are just pajama clad, wild haired, crease-faced beings expending energy that is not directed wholly at the actual problem.

And things get knocked over. Toes get stubbed. But we do it anyway. Moving at anything other than a frenzied pace seems to imply that we don't fully understand the depth of the crisis.

Adding to the morning's adventures was my inability to understand a simple sociological concept: If you're gonna put on a show then you're gonna attract an audience. Both cats could not have been more pleased to have some impromptu entertainment this morning. Had they the power of speech, they probably would have requested popcorn and a program. There was not a single spot where I tried to place a foot that was not occupied by an observing feline.

For the record, loud cursing and additional frenzied arm movements do not improve this situation. Although I doubt I will be able to access this little piece of information should the situation present itself again. Human nature will "out", I guess.

As I staggered out the door, coffee in hand and a half-eaten bagel firmly clamped between my teeth, I had an epiphany! It occurred to me that I might have a little ace in the hole on this one, something to encourage a little pity for my lateness. I am quite fortunate to have an understanding principal, but it never hurts to play the "girl" card every once in a while. And I have a doozy! An engine light, by gum! I can claim vehicular difficulty. That'll deflect the blame nicely. And I can prove it! I still have a good twelve hours before the truck realizes that the dry gas has been administered. And if I can maybe muster up a girl-tear or two...

And, guess what? The stupid light was out. Nary a flicker. Despite buckets of rain pounding on it's metallic head and seeping into it's every nook and cranny, the truck has decided that it will now behave.

Sheep are not known for their luck. Even when things are going as they should, there is always a twist to the plot. I'm not sure if I'm being punished for the cockiness of yesterday's post or for thinking of stretching the truth a bit with regard to my tardiness today. I'm just gonna lie low and drape myself in four leaf clovers and garlic to ward off the bad mojo for a couple of days.

Dare I knit tonight? Will I impale myself? Will a wayward strand of yarn somehow leap up and throttle me when I get up to get a drink? Will I sit on a darning needle? One must think of these things...

It was a good show, folks. I laughed, I cried...I was riveted. I'm planning on getting tickets to her one woman rendition of "Holy Crap, I've Forgotten To Bake The Christmas Cookies" next month. I hear good things...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Car Repair Secret Revealed!

Well, it has taken The Sheep a while to catch on to this, but there has been something of a revelation today. An Auto Epiphany, if you will. The Sheep has learned the secret to communicating with the "car guys."

I's amazing. I will be saving thousands of dollars here! I have been at their mercy for years now due to my inherent stupidity when it comes to the mechanical operation of motor vehicles. I know that you put gas in them. I know that when you turn the key the radio will come on. I have finally figured out how to operate the controls on my moon roof. But that is the extent of my automotive expertise. In the past, I have bowed to the mechanic's wishes. I figure that they probably know what they are doing. I mean, how else would they have gotten all those certificates that are displayed so proudly upon the walls? Today however, being somewhat beaten down by the sheer amount of work and dollars this truck has required of me, I tried something a little different.

I walked confidently into the car-fixy-place and said, "Good morning, fine sir. I am The Sheep. I have a 9:00 appointment for an oil change and alignment. I look forward to another hour of my life that I will never get back spent in your lovely establishment. Oh, and by the way, the engine light is on and we are choosing to ignore that, okey-dokey? Glad we're all on the same page. I'll just be in the waiting area."

(By the way, that sound you are hearing right now is Daddy Sheep having some sort of cerebral event and scrambling for the phone to revoke my status as an adult and demand that I surrender my vehicle until I am responsible enough to own one. DS is quite knowledgeable about cars and I fear that I am sometimes a bit of a trial to him...but I can explain this! Just wait a second!!!)

This stupid truck has been reduced to a simpering pile of wimpy-ness in the presence of rain on many an occasion. Until it is given dry gas, it will throw these little tantrums. As a counselor and teacher of children with behavioral and emotional impairments for nigh on twenty years now, I know better than to reward bad behavior. Yes, I gave it the dry gas. The light will go out in about 48 hours.

And yes, this is an issue with which I must contend at some point. And I will. But not until I have the resources to do it. I am a girl. I must factor certain things into the budget like frilly goo-gaws and hair ribbons. And food. And shelter. I like all the aforementioned. Despite the car guy's misgivings, there was little noted wrong with the vehicle during the once-over he insisted upon.

This is the first time in over a year that a trip to the mechanic has cost me less than a hundred dollars. It seems that they have to do what you ask. I did not know this... I will file it away under, "useful information to have."

While at the garage, I spent some quality time with the Feather And Fan scarf. This, in hindsight, might have been something of a judgment error as I was a bit preoccupied with the possibility of the mechanic guy finding something horrible going on with my vehicle like rats in the rotors or evidence of alien abduction. This seemed to impair my ability to count to six with any real effectiveness and several rows were tinked as I sat amongst the tire displays. But, more was gained than lost, so I suppose we can call this a, "win."

I returned home flush with success between the knitting and repair bill and blended some more of the black corriedale with the metallic sparklies so that I could continue spinning the yarn for my stylist's handwarmers. I also cast on for a mitten since I am clearly made of Teflon right now and can do no wrong. I might even have another Christmas gift ready to go come the 25th of December. And since the whole "denial" thing worked so well at the garage this morning, I am even going to knit blithely on despite the questions I have right now with regard to gauge on these little babies. What could possibly go wrong?????

All in all, not such a bad day, despite losing an hour of it to the car dudes and the ridiculous amount of rain that has landed on our heads up here in the great state of Maine today. Of course this means more dry gas for the truck...

Again I say, "what could possibly go wrong?" (and I am humbly requesting that you not answer that question)


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Why I Love My Stylist:

Today's Blondification of The Sheep went according to plan. The tresses are now returned to their state of suspended animation and I can resume pretending that the graylings lurking beneath never existed. I have mentioned my stylist, Amy, on several occasions and may also have mentioned that I adore her. She's a wee bit of a bully sometimes, but in the best possible way. A few of the reasons for the love are these:

My first appointment with her was due wholly to the fact that she was the one available that day. Luck of the draw, you might say. She knew instantly upon meeting me that I have no "hair sense" whatsoever and that she would need to direct me.

She brooks no nonsense. She is the trained expert and I a mere mortal. When, in that first appointment, I stated clearly (and perhaps a bit haughtily) that I simply wanted an inch taken off the ends and the bangs trimmed, she cocked her head and said in her inimitable way, "inch not much, I take more." End of discussion. I do not argue with tiny Chinese women. They will not stand for it. I have never had more complements on my hair.

She loves the handknits. I knit her a scarf for Christmas last year and I don't think I've ever had anyone respond so gratefully. The fact that she stole the one I'd knit for myself, forcing other stylists in the shop to intervene to retrieve it, was her way of telling me that she admired it.

She takes me out to lunch and heaps my plate with vegetables. She worries that I do not eat well (correctly, I might add) and is determined to make sure that nothing bad happens on her watch. I will not eat vegetables for my doctor. I will eat them for Amy.

After lunch, she insists that we shop and she makes me take a few risks. I am now the proud owner of a gold-tone handbag. Did I want a gold-tone handbag? No I did not. I bought it because she told me to. I have never gotten more compliments on my handbag.

She checks on me at the dentist. Dr. De Sade's office is right next door. They have a common wall. How such goodness can co-exist with such not-so-goodness I will never know. She thinks that Dr. De Sade is too rough with me. I would love her for that alone.

When she asks me how blonde I want my highlights and I respond by saying, "Well, I'm getting my truck fixed tomorrow and I need it blonde enough that it is done fairly quickly but not so blonde that they try to overcharge me....." she gets exactly what I mean!!!!!!!

And, ya know what else? When she goes to Thailand as part of her vacation, she thinks of me

And brings me back a pretty hand-painted box!
When you open the box, you find this:

A delicate flower. A delicate blue favorite color!

OK, so she's a little enthusiastic with the back-combing and I sometimes have the 8th grade prom hair going on when I leave the shop, but that has nothing to do with the cut. I will always know that the poof will die down and the locks will look faboo. Did I mention that I love my stylist?

To that end, I will be spinning like the wind in order that I might finish the yarn for her handwarmers and have them knit up for Christmas. And a hat...the woman needs a nice, warm hat. Oh, and a scarf! She should have a scarf! What else can I make...


Friday, November 10, 2006

No Holiday For A Blogging Sheep.

It seems that Debby and The Sheep are somewhat in "synch" right about now. She made a reference to my grocery store issues in her blog and I posted about the grocery store that very same night. In her comment regarding this happy little karmic "ko-inky-dink," she also referred to tonight's very topic! Perhaps there was some sort of weird "separated at birth" sorta thing that happened there... (note to self: check with Mommy Sheep on the whole twin possibility)

Today is an anniversary of sorts for The Sheep. Not my Blogoversary. Although that is upcoming. No. Today is a day that marks for this Sheep the beginning of 5 months of horror the likes of which she had never previously experienced. A time fraught with peril, anxiety and pain that has never been equaled. A period of my life dominated by a quite horrible fellow, one with whom I continued to associate despite the pain and angst he rendered.

It was on Veteran's Day, 2005 that I first made the acquaintance of Dr. De Sade, DMD. Also known as, "My Dentist." I wrote of him often. I filled the screen with descriptions of the horrors he visited upon my choppers and shared with the blogosphere many of his "insightful" comments regarding the state of education, child rearing, politics and any other topic he saw fit to expound upon while I was helpless in his chair of doom.

In the five months we spent together I endured a mechanical cleaning, 10 fillings, a root canal and crown placement. Much of this was done without benefit of pain killers as Dr. De Sade is not one to coddle his patients and does not necessarily believe them when they happen to mention three or four hundred times that novacaine does not always work well for them. Did I mention the root canal? Think about that for a minute...yeah. It was as bad as you are imagining.

He also may have dislocated my jaw at one point, but I can't prove that. I snapped it back when he was reaching for another pointy thing to stick into my gums and opted to keep that little piece of information to myself. I feared that pointing out what had caused the loud snappy sound might result in more chair time. I really didn't want more of the chair time...

Dr. De Sade was good for quite a few blog posts back in the early days when I didn't have a flourishing readership. (not like my twenty loyal readers now!) As the comment count began to rise a bit, I made the decision to pull back a little since I was sort of wondering if calling someone a, "souless demon from the underworld" might constitute some form of defamation of character. I also have to admit that my opinion of the dear man might be slightly influenced by the fact that my "relaxed" schedule of dental appointments in the past had led to a few issues to which he must attend. Not his fault, really.

But I still hate him. He did a freakin' root canal without working novacaine!!!!! He redeemed himself a bit with a hefty Vicodin prescription as a Sheepie going away gift after that particular visit, but it was not enough to bring back the love.

And it all began on Veteran's Day. Thus, The Sheep breaks her usual Friday Silence and posts. It has been a day of quiet reflection and flossing. It was all very spiritual and stuff...

When not lighting candles in memory of that carefree Sheep who did not fear the dentist and who is now gone forever (may she rest in peace), I knit furiously on the Feather And Fan scarf. I even have some "knitting pain" in my poor little thumbkin as a result! I feel just like a real knitter, by gum! Not that I have a lot of progress to show for it all, but in my little heart of hearts, I will know that I worked my digits pretty hard today.

Please...somebody tell me this looks longer. I beg of you!!!!
I hope that everyone took a minute today to thank a veteran, if only in your hearts. Whatever your political leanings, you gotta give it up for the men and women who serve in our stead. Policy is not set on the front lines. But that is where we see valor unlike anything that most of us will ever need to summon. Those who serve and their families have my unfailing gratitude for their willingness to sacrifice in our names.
And if you happen to have a nice dentist, you probably should drop him or her a big, old, "thank you" as well. You are so very lucky...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Two Favorites: The Grocery Store And The Cats.

Cuz The Sheep knows what you like...

I've posted often about my trips to the grocery store. More often than one might expect. I go there a lot. I need to shop more than the average person because I am one of those tragically affected by Listo-forgettingous. I make a list. I put the list somewhere. I lose the list. I cannot be bothered to make another list. I believe that I am above the list. I attempt to shop in a list-free state. I never remember the toilet paper. I have to go back to the grocery store where I become distracted and overwhelmed by whatever seasonal item is now past said season and half off. I return home with six bags of bargain priced menorahs/candy corn/easter grass/whatever. I still have no toilet paper. It is generally then that I find the list. There are at least five other things that I also forgot. I have to go back to the grocery store.

It is a vicious cycle...

At any rate, shopping is a big part of my life. As is my choice of supermarket. Now, I shop at a certain store for many reasons: location, a well-stocked frozen pizza selection, cute little bag boys...stuff like that. But, for years, I have had a greater consideration in mind. One that will cause me to forget all the aforementioned qualities in a grocery store and drive out of my way if necessary.

I am a cat-owner.

I don't make the rules. I just play by them. As a woman in her 40s who has never married, I am required to own at least one cat. Preferably more. I must display photos of them on my desk at work and give them stockings at Christmas. Their needs must dictate my social calendar and whether or not I can take a vacation at any point. My coat must sport a fine layer of cat hair. It's like a law or something.

Thus, I have shopped at the same grocery store for years now in order that I might attain one certain thing. Say it with me fellow crazy cat ladies:

Good quality poop scooping bags.

My grocery store had the finest in plastic bags. Heavy duty, resistant to tears, easy tie handles...they had it all, baby. Sometimes, I requested that each item be bagged individually in order that I might stock up on these fine litter receptacles.

No more. They have changed bags. My grocery store has reverted to the cheap, easily torn version and I will scoop with fear in my heart from now until the end of time. I have shopped high, I have shopped low. No other grocery store has had the courage to take a stand and say, "For all the middle aged ladies out there, we give you a poop scoopin' bag that will stand up to whatever your cats can dish out."

I'm gonna have to double bag. The Sheep is displeased.

On the upside of things, today is my Friday. Which is a handy thing to have happen on a Thursday. Veteran's Day is upon us yet again and I find myself with a three day weekend on my hands. Tomorrow is really the only day I have all to my Sheepie self. Except for a drug store run, the day is mine to do with as I please. The plan is to alternate between the knitting and the spinning and see if I can't make a little headway on this whole Christmas thing that is looming ahead of me.

Saturday, I must head out for a little date with my favorite stylist and see if she can't put the twenty-something back into this forty-something hair. I never actually intended to be a blonde...but Amy has spoken on this matter and I am now unable to revert back to the mousy brown that served me so well for so long. Hence, the highlights will be tended and the stylist will be appeased. What can I say? I am weak. And she is right...

Sunday is truck day. I will be taking care of that only-slightly-overdue oil change and alignment. I always enjoy trips to the mechanic for routine maintenance since getting this truck. There is always some sort of surprise involved. The last time I went in it cost me over $900.00. Surprise!!! I can't wait to see what they find this time around. But, by then, I will be a blonde again and that always seems to help matters at the garage if I match it up with the right sweater. I dunno why...

And so, The Sheep is off to begin her three day weekend! Who knows? There might even be one of those rare and elusive Friday posts this week! What with the upcoming blondification and auto expenses, I'm feeling all devil-may-care!

I might even risk a single bagging on the poop scooping tonight! Wooooooo Hoooooooo!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Choices, Choices...

November is a big month for The Sheep! First, there's the whole voting thing which I love. Or used to love back when I got to drop my ballot in the big blue box and was rewarded with a sticker. But, even without those nice homey touches, I still have a true affection for the process.

Then there's all the extra knitting time! This week is a short one for Le Sheep. Friday we will be celebrating Veteran's Day and that is a day off for this weary educator! There was a brief period where the project du jour was in question. But since Mommy and Daddy Sheep have chimed in with their thoughts regarding the Feather And Fan scarf and how lovely it would look draped about Mommy S's neck, I'm thinking that this might be the thing to work on during my day off. Fine with's a pretty simple pattern repeat and having an intended recipient will motivate me to knit like the wind. Well, perhaps a gentle breeze. But I'll have all day to work on it so progress will still be made.

Now, the week of Thanksgiving...that's something of a conundrum. You see, my school district gives the kidlets the week off and provides two days of mind numbing workshops for teachers to meet staff development requirements. The good news is that we have some choices with regard to what we get to attend. The bad news is that I have never once managed to get into any of the fun ones. While everyone else will be making jewelry and practicing yoga, The Sheep will be trapped in some endless Power Point presentation outlining the benefits of the no. 2 pencil. Or something like that... Lucky Sheep.

But, The Sheep is not all downcast about this. For, you see, she is a knitter! She has the ability to entertain her very own little self via the joy that comes from creating with naught but sticks and string. Ha!!

The Sheep also has a very tiny ipod into which she has downloaded several books and will be cleverly camouflaging the earbuds beneath her hair during much of the two days. But this we do not discuss...

The tricky part of all this is deciding upon the project. As we have discussed on several occasions, I am not exactly an accomplished knitter. If I focus reeeeeally hard and sacrifice a couple of jelly doughnuts to the gods of knitting then I have a shot at intermediate level projects. Workshops are not exactly conducive to this type of concentration for, at any moment, a boss-type might walk by or the presentation might spontaneously turn into one of those audience participation things. The savvy knitter must be ready to set aside the project at a moment's notice and look highly interested. A sock might be a good choice except that I must also avoid cussin' type projects and heel gussets can lead to sudden and inappropriate outbursts.

I'm going with a scarf. It seems like the safest choice. With this decision made, I am now at the yarn-choosin' stage of the process. This is coming along slowly, but there is still time. I'm leaning towards the corriedale that I spun up this past spring. This could change... And the pattern? Not even a consideration at this point. This could require a day off from work to peruse the possibilities. Whatever the final decision, you can be assured that it will be a nice, simple pattern!

On the homefront, last night's truce between the kitties was short-lived. My hopes for world peace through feline example were dashed an hour after posting my blog entry with great hissing and lashing of tails. The couch population has been reduced by one.

This couch is not a democracy!
I fear I may be ousted next. Good thing I have a job to go to...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sheep In A Booth.

Well, your civic-minded Sheep did her part to keep the wheels of Democracy running smoothly today and proudly cast her ballot. Sheep are known far and wide as supporters of "the process."

I am one of the lucky ones. I get to vote in a "small town." doesn't get any better than this. We all troop up to the local high school in order that we might make known our political wishes. And when I say, "all" I do mean all. My town is small enough that we only need one polling place. You actually know several of the people on the ballot and often base your vote on that knowledge. "How is that Bob thinks he can pull off being Treasurer? He doesn't even mow his lawn, fa cryin' out loud!" Good times...

Up until six years ago, our voting process went as follows. We all entered the gym and followed the hand-lettered signs to tables marked with other signs indicating where we should register based on our last name. We gave our names to the sweet little old ladies manning the first stop in our salute to the Democratic process, then gave them again as the sweet little old ladies really couldn't hear us what with all the echoing in the high school gym. We were then handed our ballots, given our voting instructions and sent on our way. And they always called us, "dear."

Once safely ensconced within the security of the booth with the red, white and blue canvas flap carefully positioned between us and any possible prying eyes, we were faced with the following: a metal shelf upon which to support our ballot, typed and laminated examples of proper ballot marking and a golf pencil. That's right...a golf pencil. And it was attached to the booth frame with fishing line. We then marked our ballots by placing an X in the correct boxes. The X must not go outside of the box or your ballot was null and void.

When finished, we took our ballots to "the guy." The Guy was positioned next to a large, wooden box. As you stood before the box, The Guy pulled back the sliding cover and you dropped your ballot into the box. Year after year it was the same Guy. Always in a plaid flannel shirt and always in a jaunty cap. Sure, after a few political seasons, someone needed to get The Guy a stool from the shop class so that he could rest a bit but otherwise, there was little in the way of change.

And we respected the process. No one challenged The Guy's authority over the box. In fact, great care was taken to avoid making contact with the box during the drop process as we all sort of believed that the mere touch of our hand might invalidate the ballots and cast us all back to the days of the monarchy.

When we were done, he thanked us kindly and sent us off to get our sticker. The nice, round one that says, "I voted today!" I mean, I vote because it's the right thing to do and all. But, seriously...I'll do anything for a sticker. I loves me a good sticker...

All this changed in 2000, however. My little town decided to upgrade a bit and I found myself faced with a "ballot-sucker" when I completed the voting process. Frankly, the missing golf pencil should have been a clue, but I didn't catch it. I guess I assumed that they ran out and replaced them with the black markers. My fellow voters and I were all somewhat flummoxed when it was time to formally cast our ballot. Gone was The Guy. The big blue box was no more. We were being asked to slide our ballot into a fancy, shmancy gizmo that sucked it right out of our hands!

Voting took a little bit longer that year.

In the intervening years, we have all gotten a bit more comfortable with the process and hardly anyone flinches when they put their ballot in the sucker-thingy. But I still wonder what happened to The Guy. He isn't standing there with that quiet air of dignity, monitoring the machine. My guess is that he took his box and went home after the 2000 election and just sits beside it reminiscing about days gone by come November. I miss him.

And no one gave me a sticker this year. Poop.

Here's hoping that everyone made it out today and cast their ballots. You may not get to elect the dude with the best kept lawn or watch leery locals attempt to get their minds around such new fangled technology as a ballot-sucker, but you get to be heard. And that does matter.

Like many folks, I sometimes wonder if there is a chance for peace in our time. However, tonight, I saw evidence of hope in this era of strife. Two creatures who have harbored utter hatred in their hearts for one another saw fit to unite in one awe inspiring gesture to warm their Sheepy Mommy as she knit on the couch.

Yes...the parties can work together for the common good!
Well, for ten minutes at any rate...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mojo Go-Go...

And The Sheep can't find it. Anywhere. And she's looked. High and low. The Sheep has been deserted by the knitting powers-that-be.

Not since the July Jaywalker Junket has there been such difficulty achieving a smooth join at a cuff. I cast on the first time and wasn't feeling the love. It was going to be all "gappy." Try #2 was no better. I felt a surge of determination and a desire to achieve that which is perfect. I tried several different methods. With each successive attempt, I found my jaw getting just a bit tighter. The hot flashes, which had been in remission for several weeks, began to cast their rosy glow about my countenance and my temper rose accordingly. Then it hit me.

When did I suddenly become such a perfectionist?

I mean, c'mon!!! Is it that you post pictures of the stuff now? We'll just do what we always do: turn the sock to the "good side, " snap the photo and call it done. In the event of an error so glaring that it transcends the whole "side" strategy, then we'll just find a big fluffy kitty to perch upon that part of it. The kitty has proven to be an effective distraction in posts past.

Perfection...blah. I really just want a sock. Two, if that's not too much to ask. And, having reviewed the status of sock #1 in this current project, it seems that there is a bit of a gap at the join in that one as well. It's not shoddy knitting. It is consistency. This is a good thing.

Maybe if I live in a humble manner and give all credit to the yarn, the needles, the stitch counter and any other knitting related item I can find, the knitting powers will see fit to forgive me my sins and dole out a measure of the mojo again.

I'll get back to you on that one...

Meanwhile, thanks to all who welcomed Mommy and Daddy Sheep as new blog lurkers. I'm sure they got a big kick out of it. Speaking of the 'rents, they are also the answer to the question that was asked a couple of times in the comments with regard to my wheel. My Jensen Tina II was brought to you in its entirety through a grant from The Parental Sheep Foundation. They did quite a bit of research then purchased it through The Woolery. Daddy Sheep then worked his magic and did the assembling and finishing in time for The Sheep to caper about it giddily on Christmas morning several years ago.

And no. They are not in the market for new Sheepie children. This Sheep don't share! I say this because I know what I am getting for Christmas this year. It seems prudent to plan ahead.

There will be adoption inquiries...I'm sure of it.