Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Sheep Is Like A Rock...

Except when she isn't.

People tell me that I am good in a crisis. And, you know what? I actually am. Give me a sudden disaster and I go right into the "zone." Go on...trip over a mislaid harmonica, land on a leprechaun and get a gold piece stuck in your ear. I dare you. I will be able to save you without missing a beat. Perhaps it is the nature of my work (teaching emotionally challenged kids and such) but I am always pretty darned good when the chips are suddenly down.

But the little stuff is what always gets me. Case in point: I didn't get my driver's license until I was 17. In my neck of the woods, that is a bit late. It took me three tries. The first was pretty normal in the failure realm; I don't really remember my error. The second was quite spectacular. I didn't even make it out of the parking lot once the road test began. I sort of hit a state trooper's car while trying to demonstrate my parallel parking skills. Not a police vehicle...the actual private car owned by a state trooper. And it was the property of none other than the lovely gentleman who was administering the test. A fast failure, that one. The third time, I passed with flying colors. I was a virtual paragon of driving skill. After the previous humiliating experience, I was quite thrilled to be told that I was now ready to drive like the other grown-ups. So thrilled was I that I managed to lose all sense of what constitutes a "full and upright" position and fell in the parking lot while running in to tell Mommy Sheep the good news.

It's never the main event that gets's the oft overlooked minor details.

Rarely does tragedy strike in my life. I'm actually pretty lucky that way. I could flip my car on the highway, roll the vehicle any number of times, have the engine burst into flame and then land in a bees nest and still emerge from the smoking wreck unscathed. However, when the disbelieving paramedics insist upon checking my vitals just in case, I can guarantee you that I will trip as I attempt to get into the ambulance, cut my pinky on a loose stretcher bolt and land in a bedraggled pile of now tetanus infected embarrassment. And there is no doubt in my mind that all this will occur in front of the one really cute fireman that came to douse my flaming car. It always does.

Thus, it was a somewhat nervous Sheepie who visited the plastic surgeon today to bid a fond farewell to the Mole Of Disturbing Dimensions. I had no doubt that the actual removal would go smoothly and that this minor procedure would prove to be nothing worse than getting a hangnail clipped. No...what I feared was the potential for the absurd. I know me...I'm prone to it.

Happily, none was seen, though. Despite all my worries about a sudden power outage during the proceeeeedure, an unpredicted nurses strike or (and this one has happened on many an occasion) the inability of the Novocaine to deaden the stubborn nerves, it all went quite smoothly. would be exaggerating to say that the Novocaine did its job completely, but it wasn't bad. Certainly better than the root canal of '05 that will forever live in infamy and be the basis for comparison for all future pain. There is still some swelling (more than I'd really thought there'd be) and I still don't have full control over the right side of the face, but it's all gone remarkably smoothly and the MODD is currently on its way to the lab where it can make new friends in the pathology department.

I didn't even have time to knit more than two rows of the Comfort Sock. I was in, I was numb, I was bleeding, I was bandaged and then I was home and away from the prying eyes of those who might mock a puffy, lopsided Sheep.

With extra time on my hands and a need to avoid the mirror, I did what any good knitter would do and knit me a sweater back. And a quarter of a sweater front. Somewhere in there I dozed off and lost a stitch, but it was easily located and wrangled back into the fold. And since I am unable to lie down fully for 24 hours I will have some extra knitting time tonight. I never really mastered the art of sleeping for any length of time while sitting up. And since I took tomorrow off just in case the most foolish of things should happen as a result of the de-moling, I guess I'll even have a little extra time with the yarn.

Yeah...there is still time for a rogue stitch to pop or for the phone to ring and a nurse to tell me that there has been a tragic mistake and my spleen was accidentally removed, but I'm feeling pretty optimistic at this juncture! I think I may have made it out of this one without any of the stupid coming my way. Thanks to one and all for the good wishes as I faced this minor procedure with all the courage and dignity of a toddler with boogie man nightmares. I really do appreciate your good thoughts and your patience with my tendency to let Hysterical Mind out of her cage and roam free on these here internets. Some of you actually seem to have a warm spot in your hearts for dear old HM. She seems pretty quiet at the moment, but take heart.

I'm going grocery shopping tomorrow. That rarely is an incident-free experience for me. Fertile ground for a little of the hysteria...


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kids Are Great!

Honestly! Just when you are starting to turn into one of those grumpy, old teachers who thinks of the students as little gremlins who just want to steal all your good pens and give you gooey, drippy colds, they suddenly go and become "givers." Who knew that they were capable of such humanitarian acts?

I didn't have high hopes for the day. With a mere 24 hours between me and my scheduled Mole Of Disturbing Dimensions removal, it was clear to me that there would be dissension within my beleaguered brain. Hysterical Mind had great plans for spending the day loudly listing all the possible tragedies that can befall one in the doctor's office, starting with slipping in the parking lot and ending with stretching out in a box whilst wearing an outfit chosen by strangers. Rational Mind has simply had it with the whole affair and is standing with arms folded and a rolled up newspaper in her hand ready to beat some sense into HM once and for all. (RM somehow managed to get a hold of some dog training manuals from the early 40's and has been a bit on the unreasonable side when it comes to overly dramatic displays for the past few weeks) I resigned myself to a day spent listening to the inner dialogue...

But those darling, precious students of mine...they must have known I'd need a little distraction today. I can think of no other earthly reason for their unprecedented poor behavior. There was really little time for me to give in to HM's latest obsession with the idea that the doctor might slip during our proceeeeeeeedure and inadvertently cut off our nostril. There were any number of little mini-dramas to which I might attend throughout the day courtesy of a few fifth and sixth graders who clearly wanted to give me something else to do with my time. And the subsequent headache has kept me pretty much focused on the throbbing of my noggin ever since.

Aren't they thoughtful little bundles of joy?

Now I just want to talk about knitting. I have started a new pair of softee-softee little sockies and they will be just the project to take along on my little field trip tomorrow. This yarn was a prize that came to me via Noolie and her donation contest a while back. It is 100% merino and I often have to look down to be sure that I am still holding onto it, so light and fluffy be its texture. It was dyed by La of JenLa fame in a colorway she called "Good 'n Plenty." Since pink is the color of choice for comfort knitting, I think these will work quite nicely as I sit in the waiting room at the plastic surgeons office and stare at the ladies in the reception area, taking bets with myself as to whether I will ever see their eyebrows move. In my last visit, I stared for a full thirty minutes and noted not a furrowed brow among them. I may have scared them just a bit with the non-stop gaping. But who can tell? I swear to you I've seen china dolls with more facial expression...

I should have them visit my classroom. That'll put a divot or two in anyone's forehead.


Monday, January 29, 2007

HM Is Not Nearly As Stupid As We All Thought...

The Sheep's Rational Mind has really been doing an heroic job of manning the helm of late. With the clock ticking on the removal of The Mole Of Disturbing Dimensions and the tendency of Hysterical Mind to blow these things out of any and all proportion, she has had to put in quite a bit of overtime in order to keep things running smoothly. She has been diligently reminding secretaries to locate substitute teachers, planning for two days worth of quality academic experiences, updating the teaching assistants and doing all those little things one must do when one is going to be absent from the classroom for two days. Yeah...I'm taking two days. We're talking about a "face mole" here. I'm not the most vain Sheep in the pasture. But, I'm not taking any chances. I'd rather have an extra day to practice smiling behind my hand like a geisha should there be any unsightly stitchery of any kind.

See what I mean? Rational Mind has been really thinking ahead on this one. All this activity has been most helpful in keeping The Sheep busy before she goes in for this minor proceeeeeeedure that she has blown into a drama of Movie Of The Week proportions.

But it has had it's drawbacks. We are not usually this on top of our game. We are generally planning no more than ten minutes ahead of any given event. We are not what you would call "organized" here in Sheepland. And so it was that Hysterical Mind became aware of the upcoming event. She is generally easily distracted by shiny objects and the threat of lurking zombies at the mailbox. We even had a lovely visit with Cousin Denial not too long ago and she often has a very soothing effect. Not this time. HM took note of the flurry of activity and is now in full-on "oh-my-god-do-we-have-a-living-will" mode.

Frankly, I blame the plastic surgeon for sending all that "helpful" information with regard to the procedure and the handy disclaimers with regard to what could possibly go wrong. Of course, this information is geared towards those who are having gastric bypass, aggressive forehead sanding and injections of bovine growth hormones. But that means little to Hysterical Mind. Once we got her to concede that this might be a bit of overkill on the worry-meter, she then went on a tangent about whether or not we will have to wear a hospital gown and if we need to take off our shoes. HM does not like to take off the shoes. She has foot issues.

Don't ask.

How does one handle an Hysterical Mind that has managed to work herself up beyond any and all reason? Well, the first thing one does is cancel the dentist appointment that was scheduled for the day after the mole removal. There was just no way on God's green earth that HM was going to be able to deal with that. It would have gotten ugly. There would have been a scene in the waiting room. There is little doubt in my mind that it would have made the local news...perhaps national. I'm sure that you all would have been highly amused by footage of a mole-less Sheep being led from the dentist's office in flex cuffs screaming, "Attica, Attica!" but I don't think that Mommy Sheep needs that visual. (and I don't know why I'd be screaming, "Attica," but I saw it in a movie...)

The second thing we are doing to ease the frazzled nerves is making sure that there is an ample supply of chocolate and pizza in the house. A well-fed HM is a quiet HM. I will also be using the chocolate to lure her to the car on Wednesday morning in order to make it to our appointment.

Lastly, one must start a new sock. It must be of merino and must have pink in it. It is a rule.

See? A very soothing sock.
And, if all else fails, then we are going to dose her up with NyQuil, throw her in the car and be done with it. Even a patient Sheep (and her Rational Mind) have limits to their tolerance.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

To The Victor Goes The Socks!

It was a fight to the finish. There were tears, tantrums and, at least once, a pile of yarn that almost found itself airborne in a fit of temper. It seems that my casual dismissal of the bickering between socks 1 and 2 was premature. Sock #2 was clearly more upset by the whole sorry affair than I had originally realized. It made its displeasure known in no uncertain terms and very nearly brought your friendly, easy going Sheep to her knees in despair.

Or I just wasn't paying attention to where I was putting the toe decreases. Whatever...

At any rate, it was a near thing. The toes were ready for the grafting, the yarn had been cut, the darning needle was threaded and I was looking forward to modeling my socks for the cats within mere minutes. I realize that blaming the sock for the decreases being on the top and bottom of the foot seems somewhat unreasonable and immature on my part. But, I've decided to go with that line of thinking. It is easier to believe that inanimate objects can take their revenge on me than it is to admit an error that is just beyond stupid.

Either way, you get the same result: socks that should have been done during the latter hours of prime time TV viewing were actually completed at 1:00 in the stupid morning. But they are done and there is little that sock #2 can do about it now.

Even the Big, Fluffy Kitty cannot look the misbehaving footwear in the eye...
For all the angst, they are really a nice pair of socks and, being blue, will see a great deal of wear. The pattern is my old stand-by. The yarn is Colinette Jitterbug and is yet another example of the exquisite taste of our friend April. Why she doesn't have a yarn shop, I'll never know. She knows the good stuff, that's for sure. And she's not shy about sharing! Thanks, April! These are beauties!!!
After all that yarn battling, one might think that The Sheep would need a day of rest. But that was not the case. I am supposed to be writing a paper for The Class That I Hate More Than Liver And All Vegetables as well as finishing that article for job #2 that my boss oh so gently reminded me about the other day. But I chose to do neither. Instead, I ventured over to Baby Brother Sheep's house to visit with New Girlfriend Sheep Who We Like (and who really isn't a new girlfriend at this point, I suppose). She was having a candle party and I thought this might be a nice way to also visit with my widdle doggy nephew, Sarge The Most Scary Teacup Terrier. It was also a nice way to get a chocolate infusion as NGSWWL is one of the best bakers I've ever had the great fortune to stumble across. I snuck in the sock knitting during the presentation portion of the afternoon and made a wee bit of progress on the latest pair of hoofwear. And, to top off a pretty good day, I won the door prize. All in all, a delightful way to avoid working on the boring stuff.
I'll have time on my hands this week to get to some of that stuff. I'm taking a little bit of sick time in order that I might get a little proceeeeeeeedure done on Wednesday. We are not speaking of this just yet as Hysterical Mind has forgotten about this little appointment and we don't want to get her all riled up too early. Suffice it to say that it involves The Mole Of Disturbing Dimensions and a scalpel. Shhh...little pitchers have big ears. You never know when HM is lurking and listening.
The plan right now is to pack up the sock bag, lure her to the car with the promise of treats and hope that she doesn't figure it out before we get to the surgeon's office.
Should be an interesting week...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sock Talk

Sock #1: Hmmmm...this is interesting. What exactly are you supposed to be?

Sock #2: Hi there! I'm Sock #2 and I'm going to be your new bestest friend!

S1: Really? Up until now I've worked alone. What exactly is it that you think you can bring to the party?

S2: Well, without me you'll never see the light of day! I'm the second of the pair. We'll be a team. You Starsky and Hutch. Or Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. Ooo, ooo, I know! We'll become superhero socks and fight crime!!! This is gonna be great!

S1: You don't even have a toe.

S2: I will. The knitter promised. She is working frantically, I tellya! Any day now, we will be a pair!

S1: Still not seeing it. And what the heck is going on with your heel?

S2: Um...yeah. That is something that the knitter said a few bad words over. Then she sighed and said something like, "Screw it. It's gonna be inside my shoe anyway."

S1: I see. How do you live with that? I mean, it so...glaring and unsightly.

S2: Really? She also said that my weirdly picked up stitches would match yours quite nicely.

S1: That was uncalled for!!! Besides, I think we know who the favorite is here. She finished me in just under a week, I'll have you know.

S2: Well, my cuff is longer!

S1: And that is something that socks of class do not discuss in polite society. Why don't we just agree to live on different sides of the sock drawer and be done with it?

S2: Fine by me! You first-done socks are all alike, thinking you're so much better than the second!

S1: And don't even think about the right foot. That is mine! I laid claim to the right foot a week ago and I won't have some first sock wannabe moving in on my territory!!!

I'm sure they will work it out. And, even if they don't, they will still be on my feet within days if I keep up the knitting. It has gotten mighty chilly up here in the great state of Maine and warm socks are called for. We are currently at 19 degrees Fahrenheit and that's not counting the wind chill. Every day I wander out and the cranky truck actually starts is further proof that the universe is not out to get me. This morning was particularly dicey. I decided to try another grocery shopping day experiment and was out the door at 8:00 in the morning to see how I might fare with the Saturday shopping. And it was cold!!! I'm talking hurts to breathe, boogers freezing in the nostrils, gosh-I-wish-I'd-dried-my-hair-for-another-minute-'cuz-now-I-think-it's-gonna-break-off kind of cold. For all that, though, the shopping was quite delightful. The parking lot was virtually empty and the aisles were free of stockboys and confused patrons. I think I may have a winner, here. I'll keep up with the experiments, but thus far this has been the best of the marketing trial runs.

Maybe next weekend I can take the socks out for a grocery shopping field trip. If they can behave, that is. Nothing worse than bickering socks at the supermarket...


Thursday, January 25, 2007


It's been one of those weeks. Not the good kind. The kind that is full of angst and stuff. The kind that makes you wonder if perhaps there is a hidden camera somewhere and that you will be featured on some sort of survival program. "The Endangered, Grumpy Sheep of New England" perhaps.

The coffee maker died on Sunday night. I lived with instant for four straight days. People could tell. There were comments. Fortunately, the situation is now resolved and there will be coffee flowing thick and dark through the veins of this Sheep tomorrow morning. Thanks to all for your suggestions and commiseration. And I'm giving a big shout out to Mel for his offer of his spare machine! Had I read my email sooner, I would have taken you up on that one, dude! That was unbelievably thoughtful. Knitters are the best kind of people no matter what the mean guy in my class might say. I'll bet no one has ever offered him a coffee maker...

Speaking of the AntiKnitter, I ended up taking the high road and not bringing my needles to his class today. I figured that this could maybe backfire on me should a random principal or superintendent of schools wander by to see if we were all hard at work teaching the masses. But I thought mean thoughts about him the whole time and made no eye contact whatsoever. The fact that he did not appear to notice this does not necessarily mean I was ineffective in my message-sending. I'm sure that, deep down, he was terribly contrite.

I need to believe this. It's been a bad week. Let me have this one thing, 'kay?

Frankly, it's been the kind of week where you just want to run away and join the circus. But I can't. I've been tagged and numbered. I'm no longer able to just disappear into the mists and become a hermit in the hills. The school pictures have come back to haunt me. If you were a reader back in September, then you will recall the school picture debacle. Instead of the usual skimpy freebie package that the picture company sends along with our mandatory school ID badges, we received about two thousand school portraits. I began sending them hither and thither to anyone who had ever mailed me anything. Bloggers stopped having contests for fear of my Sheepie visage showing up in their mailboxes. My family received multiple copies in various sizes and there were a few black and white "artsy" shots thrown in for good measure. Poor Mommy and Daddy Sheep had to feign the happy when they received a 2007 calendar with my face smack in the middle.

And I still have some left over. It's like a curse. And it is not finished with me.

Today in my staff mailbox I found two cards. Both have my picture on them and my name, Ms. Sheep, clearly imprinted at the top. It seems that, along with all the students who had their photos taken at school, I have been registered with a ChildFind service. Should I ever attempt to cast off the shackles of my day to day existence and go run with the radishes, all Mommy and Daddy Sheep have to do is call the phone number, give out the identifying information and my face will be posted all over them internets. It will only be a matter of days before I am dragged back, kicking and screaming, to my job, life and credit card debt.

Like I has not been a good week.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How Does One Respond?

Tonight's class was partially on the subject of school culture and how it affects the process of supervision in the classroom. The discussion was less than animated and dominated by the usual suspects. You know the ones...the sum total of their life experiences are so great that they simply must use any and all free air space to share them with the rest of us. Having had a particularly bad day at school and still feeling a little shell-shocked from the behavior of a colleague, I was sitting in something of a stupor. The endless drone of one classmate as he reviewed his own situation in his school was slowly lulling me into a gentle coma. Then I heard this:

I mean, like, I'm a man teaching in an elementary school. It's all women! It's hard to become a part of the group, ya know? I mean, like, what am I supposed to do, join one of their little knitting circles or something?


Where do you go with that? To pipe up over the audible gasps and, "Whoa's" of my classmates to point out that it is most likely his charming personality and tendency to categorize people by outdated gender roles that is keeping him from winning friends and influencing people seemed like too much effort at that point.

But I work in his classroom. Yesterday, I actually nodded off during one of his intellectually stimulating classes.

Perhaps I should bring some knitting along tomorrow. Just to keep myself occupied, dontcha know...


Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Well, I've reached a decision. Any snow that falls in my region that impairs my ability to drive safely yet does not result in a snow day off from school is just ridiculous. There is no point to it. It is just a white knuckler of a drive and six plus hours with unhappy students who feel exactly the same way about the whole thing as I.

It is a waste of precipitation.

Frankly, most of us were a little surprised by the actual amount of snow that fell last night and into the morning hours. When I tucked myself away for sleepy time last night, I don't recall any of the local forecasters saying, "Oh and by the way...there will be five inches of snow on your truck tomorrow and the roads will be lacking in traction of any sort. Good luck with that..." I might have taken heed. As might some of the local superintendents of schools. A delay in the start of many schools might have made things a wee bit safer. I did pretty well getting from my neck of the woods to the area where I teach. But things sort of took a turn for the absurd when I witnessed a hapless motorist surrounded by local police as they stared at the remains of her car. It seems that she had come out of a curve in the road at something of a wrong angle and managed to run into a building. Specifically this building. Not too much damage to the quaint, local theater...her quaint local vehicle was another story. Very much smooshed. Frankly, I was surprised to see the driver in the full and upright position.

Fortunately, the rest of the day went fairly smoothly and the weather cleared up early. The ride home wasn't nearly as eventful. Good thing since I'm still reeling from the lack of decent coffee in my home. The coffee maker continues to thumb its nose at me from its lofty perch on the kitchen counter. I do not think that it is aware of the consequences of this behavior. It has two more days before my schedule lightens up a bit and I am able to make my way to the nearest purveyor of all things domestic. If it hasn't made some better choices by then, it will learn the hard way what it means to cross a Sheep who is reduced to instant coffee.

I am finding the new schedule of working out, taking classes, doing my homework and remembering to eat on a semi regular basis to be somewhat daunting. The death of the coffee maker has clearly had something of an impact as well. I'm sure that it will all click into place before long. After all, I did manage to complete a 48 credit hour graduate program in three years even when I worked full time. But I was doing that by choice...this is just the most boringest of classes ever invented to torture a Sheep. Thus, I am not really finding the love in the reading and the writing of papers. They are greatly interfering with the knitting and the sitting. And, speaking of which...I have a few more words of wisdom to commit to paper before I can call this evening my own. And thus, I bid you all a pleasant evening and happy whatever you are doing.

I'll be up here drinking my tea, feigning interest in the professor's topic of choice and sending up a little prayer for some "legitimate" snowfall...


Monday, January 22, 2007

Cuppa Nuthin'

If you happen to be driving around southern Maine and notice a certain Sheep standing on a bridge or overpass weeping and sucking on a used coffee filter, don't be surprised. I'll leave it to your own good judgement as to whether or not you want to stop. This Sheep is a bit on edge and no one will blame you if you decided to depress the accelerator a bit more and speed away. It would probably be for the best.

It seems my coffee maker has died. And it was a good coffee maker. I've had it for just over a year. I am beside myself.

I have tried everything to rectify this situation. I cleaned it. I spoke encouragingly to it. I poked at various orifices with a size 2 aluminum knitting needle. Coffee no come out. I hit it. I shook it. I threatened it. I then apologized for the hitting, poking, shaking and threatening. Still no coffee for Sheepie. There is no reasoning with this machine.

Sheepie is sad. Sheepie is also drinking instant. Sheepie no function so good with the instant coffee. Others suffer when Sheepie no get coffee...

It's not like I'm a coffee snob or anything. But I do require, at the very least, "reasonable coffee." And instant does not qualify. Hence, the bridge scenario...

I am convinced that this whole sad turn of events is directly related to a karmic disturbance caused by my having done a gauge swatch for a sweater I am thinking of knitting up. The universe is just not set up for my engaging in this type of behavior. I'm not much of a swatcher. I've set off a whole chain of events that will probably be the end of life as we know it.

And, apparently, I went about the whole thing in the most wrongest of possible ways. After posting of my swatchiness yesterday, I have now learned that there was really much more to this than I thought. It seems that I am to knit the swatch, wash the swatch, photograph the swatch, catalogue the swatch, make dinner for the swatch and pick out china patterns with the swatch. I have failed utterly. I knit up the recommended number of stitches and rows, measured it, then unraveled it. It was like a swatch break up or something. I'm not all that good at long term relationships. Just ask my coffee maker...

But, I can justify this a bit. The sweater I'm looking at is called "Boxy Jacket" and is not a particularly fitted garment. The yarn is from a Lincoln Longwool fleece that gave me the fits two summers ago when it simply refused to accommodate anything that I thought might be nice to have in a yarn. In fact, it really only decided to work when I simply let it spin the way it wanted to be spun. Thus, I have something of a thick 'n thin thing going on. The gauge was never going to be spot-on under the best of circumstances. But I was able to come quite close and that was good enough for me. And this was back during that halcyon time when I thought I had access to coffee whenever the urge to have some overtook me.

Now that I know better, there will be no further swatching any time soon. Sheep need caffeine in order to do the higher maths. Or count. Or function in society. I'll be on the bridge if you need me...


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Beaten Off The Path

Well, that's it. It's all just gone south in a sock bag, that's all I have to say. Not that south is a particularly bad direction and going in a sock bag could really be quite a delight. Frankly, I can't think of anything better than a good sock bag...but I'm so turned around at this point that I can't even come up with an appropriate knitting-related aphorism.

I am a Sheep of habit. I eat pretty much the same thing every day. I leave the house with clock-like regularity for work or errands. I will only vacuum on Saturday. (it used to be Sunday, but I changed it and that has been the biggest shake-up in the Sheep household over the last decade.) Really, if I were ever the target of assassins I'd be a cinch as a mark. I like to think that the ne'er do well who ordered my extermination would actually feel a little badly about it and maybe even throw a bonus to the sniper as a way of making up for the insult to his skills.

But lately, that's all changed.

I didn't do the grocery shopping on Friday night like I always do. I switched things up due to a storm predicted for Friday and purchased the essentials on Thursday. I planned to finish everything up on Saturday, but I was so beyond confused from the Thursday shopping that I needed a day to recover so I went at 8:00 this morning. Truthfully, this wasn't a bad idea. Instead of the usual crowd of shoppers who are out to get me, there was a handful of overly perky seniors and bleary-eyed college students in need of hydration. The only real obstacle was that the store likes to use this time for restocking and there were a number of pallets and dollies around which I had to maneuver. But, I have long suspected that the grocery store delivery trucks are all lurking behind various buildings and trees awaiting my arrival at the local market as it seems that they are always doing some sort of massive re-stocking during my shopping time. I've learned to work around it.

But it still wasn't Friday shopping and it all felt so wrong.

Then there's the workout routine. For years now I have done the exercise thing on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I hate working out. A lot. So, a great deal of self-negotiating has gone into this schedule. I look at it this way: Monday is just a stupid day no matter what so you might as well add a work-out to it. By Tuesday, I'm actually a little bit motivated. On Wednesday, I am really just sick of the whole thing, but am heartened by the fact that this is the last one for the week. But now I have this class on Wednesday. I've known it was coming for a while so I've been trying to restructure the routine for a month or so now. At this point, I'm working out Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. I hate working out on the weekends. It feels wrong. And it interferes with my cartoon watching/pizza eating schedule.

And the knitting? My last FO was a crocheted project! A pretty cool one and one that will be debuted tomorrow when I leave for work. But it was crocheted nonetheless and this is just not the norm. And, as if that weren't bad enough, I happened to take a gander at the old sidebar today and took note of just how many scarves and socks have been coming off the needles of late. I've enjoyed each and every one of them and see nothing wrong with knitting socks and scarves until I shuffle off this mortal coil. Or at least I thought that was how I felt...

Because, all of a sudden, I 'm trying to recall the last time I knit a sweater. I've certainly knit them before. But I know that I have had little success with them since starting this blog. I don't think there's a connection...I've always struggled with the sweaters. But now I really want to knit a sweater. I've never "really wanted" to knit a sweater before. I've thought about it. I've casually or half-hearted started a few. But I can't honestly say that I've ever pined for the sweater knitting. Despite this, it seems I'm gearing up to knit a sweater. I suppose I could live with that. But there was an incident today. One that has taken my little trip out of my rut from merely "interesting" to something a little more concerning. In fact, I may need to do a little research. There is every reason to believe that we are in something of an apocalyptic situation here. I did something. Something so out of character, so beyond that which is Sheepish that we could interpret it as a sign or something. I guess what I'm trying to say here is this:

Smoke 'em if you got 'em, people. It's the end of days.

For this afternoon...I swatched.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Books 'n Hooks...

Despite a Sheep's best efforts (a disturbingly vigorous snow dance, the wearing of the pajamas inside-out and her most intense wintry thoughts), Friday's weather event turned out to be mostly rain. Thus, there was no snow-day for a weary teacher. Which was too bad since the low pressure system had the cats quite tweaked for most of the night and there was very little sleep to be had what with all the hissing, pouncing and Mommy nudging. We'll just chalk this up as one less day to make up in June.

Meanwhile, it seems I've been tagged. Bobbi, a bibliophile of the highest order, is interested in the reading habits of the average Sheep. Here's what I need to do:

Find the nearest book
Open to page 123
Type lines 6-8 of said book
Tag three others

Think you can figure out what The Sheep is perusing these days? You need to think fast since I read at least a book a week and this one is a, "re-read!"

The Cossack brothers' big-screen adventures appeared to last for three years, then they shifted gears and began making noises about bringing a football team to the Coliseum. Resurrecting one of their father's unfulfilled dreams. Assembling a "consortium" of financial types, the brothers submitted a proposal to the city council that ended up being denounced by the more populist members as a scheme to lock in taxpayer financing of their for-profit plan.

The sports venture fizzled as had the movie game, and for a couple years, the Cossacks were out of print. Then Garvey Cossack resurfaced with plans for a federally funded community redevelopment project in the San Fernando Valley, and Bobo garnered attention for attempting to demolish a Hollywood bowling alley that the locals wanted preserved as a landmark in order to put up a giant strip mall.

Their mother's obituary was dated three years ago. Ilse Cossack had died "...after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease...private services, in lieu of flowers, donations to..."

Any guesses? I can tell you that it is not the textbook for my class. I cracked the binding on that a few days ago and was so underwhelmed that I have not opened it since. This one's more for the fun of it all. Meanwhile, I'm tagging mrichme, Lorraine, and missemilysmom. Let's see what they are reading up on these days, shall we?

Even with all the reading and performing strange, mystical rituals to influence the weather in order that I might avoid working, I have actually complete a little sumpthin'-sumpthin' of a yarnie nature! No, it is not the second sock. I realize that my sock knitting speed has increased somewhat these days, but I'm not quite that quick with the needles at this point! No, this is something a little different. A while back, I commented on Cathy's blog and admired her incredible ability to design crochet items. I've been toying with the idea of resurrecting the old hooks just to see if I could still make knots and loops that reflected some sort of pattern. Cathy was most encouraging and I decided to give it a go. I happened to have some Lorna's Laces sportweight in the stash that I acquired through a trade with Sheila and it seemed to really want to hit the hooks.


And thus, a scarf is born!
I am considering a bit of light blocking as it is a tad on the smushy side, but I'm pretty happy with it, overall. The pattern is self-invented and, while I'm not entirely convinced that what I was doing at the end is what I was doing at the beginning, it looks fairly consistent. There was one stitch that seemed to get lost along the way and I never really found its exact location. Perhaps someday it will send me a postcard and let me know that it is alive and well. But the rest of the scarf seems to be happy without it so it will just have to accept the fact that its decision to leave the fold was not the attention-getter that it intended. Sometimes you just have to let go. If the stitch comes back then it was meant to be. If not, then you gotta cut the ties and accept that it is gone for good. Tough love for the crochet.
I'm a knitter at heart and probably won't be casting off the needles for the hooks, but this was a fun and quick little project. It was also a nice break from the sock knitting. My hand certainly appreciated the change-up in the repetitive motion action, that's for sure!
And, you know, I seem to recall buying a pattern book for crocheted socks a while back...hmmm.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

You Gotta Dig Deep.

Sometimes a Sheep finds reserves deep within her woolly self that she didn't even know were in there. Other times, not so much. I can be a lazy little critter. But I'm capable of surprising myself. Sometimes...

I was tired last night after my teaching day and the start of my new class. Too pooped to pop. Too tuckered to tango. Too weary to wander... But, apparently I had some of the git 'er done spirit left in me because I somehow managed to finish this:

One sock finished. And the cat is not impressed.
But I felt pretty good about it. And if my self-esteem is that dependent upon the felines of the household then I may have some problems. Okay. I'll admit that I'd hoped for a little more of the love. But you can't please everybody. You should have seen them when I came home tonight with a giant tub of fresh kitty litter. I was elevated to hero status.
I ended up doing a bit more of the grocery shopping tonight than I normally do on a Thursday. Shopping night is Friday. As I usually end up having some sort of, "incident" when I attempt to do my weekly marketing, I prefer to do it on a night when I don't have to be at work the next day. I need the recovery time. I often don't sleep so well after grocery shopping. I spend a great deal of time lying awake in my bed wondering why everyone is out to get me. Or at the very least determined to make me wait in line for endless hours in order that I might gain sustenance and fabric softener.
However, it looks like we might be having something of a, "weather event" tomorrow and I wanted to make sure that there was frozen pepperoni pizza in the house. As I pretty much eat nothing else, there is a very good chance that I will starve should I be trapped for even a short period of time with none of the chilly pizza goodness on hand. Tonight, I may lie awake pondering the behavior of my fellow shoppers, but I will do so knowing that there will be pizza in the house. In the best case scenario, I'll be having a snow day tomorrow. But, I 'm not thinking that's going to be the case at this point. I'll need to review the weather data before I feel comfortable making a solid prediction. Another three day weekend would be quite the coup, though.
Maybe the cats would be more impressed with a second sock?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The New Theme For Wednesdays.

Bullet points, people. The Sheep is now looking at drive-by posting as the midweek blogging for the forseeable future. Or until May. Or until I decide that getting recertification credits towards my teaching certificate is just not worth the trouble. Tonight was my first class in the oh-so-fascinating world of Administrative Supervision. While not an exceptionally demanding course, it will require some time on my part. And actual attendance. And participation.


So here's a few updates for you, generated by the three remaining brain cells that have not been completely numbed by the length of my day and the overwhelming desire to just come home and eat a Hot Pocket.

*While the course is actually one of those "participation and discussion count towards your final grade" type classes, there is great hope for the knitting. During the meet 'n greet portion of the class, the professor commented on my introduction-to-self by saying, "Oh, Sheep! And you are the knitter! What are you making?" I proudly held up my WIP and announced that it was a sock. The fact that this declaration was met by generally confused stares from my classmates did not dampen my enthusiasm in the least.

*My plans for project competion were further boosted by my seatmate leaning over and quietly informing me that the professor happens to be a knitter. I actually did a little dance in my seat. But not so's you'd notice... The Sheep can be discreet when she has to.

*I then learned that the cost of a small paperback textbook is $71.40. For those of you who might think I mistyped this, that is a seven in the tens place, a one in the ones place and a couple of decimal places. Now, don't misunderstand me. I understand the cost of textbooks. I finished grad school a mere six years ago. I've paid for my share of books and I know what they cost. But I'm thinking that the University of New Hampshire might be inflating the bill just a bit for those of us who are taking off campus courses and purchase them through the instructor. I have paid similar amounts for hardcover books that qualify as actual, "tomes."

*I will have a completed sock by week's end. Unless I accidentally sever a digit in the next few days, this will be unavoidable. Writing a check for a textbook that you will, at best, skim is clearly great motivation for the knitting.

*There is nothing better than a Hot Pocket (even if it is really a Lean Pocket) after a loooong day, super chilly temperatures and the first night of a class that you do not want to take. Well, I'm sure that there are many things that are better, but I can't think of any right now. I'm very tired. But my tummy is all warm and Hot Pockety.

And that is all I have to say about that. 'Nighty Night, Folks!


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Zombie Q & A

Some very interesting comments came about after the last posting in which I detailed how one might use household bleach to purify drinking water in the event of a long term zombie invasion. I thought it might be helpful to respond to a few of these.

In no particular order:

Mel: Well done! You will most certainly be on the short-list when I recruit my squadron of zombie fighters. You are correct in stating that we will have significant problems once the zombies begin munching on the maintenance workers. This will, in fact, be the main issue with the utilities. However there are also some secondary concerns. Zombies, when whipped into a feeding frenzy, are known to fling themselves at generators and transformers. They will also attempt to climb electrical fences, thus causing major shorts that will blow out the power in many areas.

Annie: Yes, I have seen the pattern for the I Heart Zombies motif. My initial response was going to be something along the lines of, " But I don't heart zombies. I am afraid of zombies. Very, very afraid. Thus, I probably would not knit this pattern." However, upon consideration, I have rethought this. If some of the zombies are capable of retaining any of their higher order thinking skills, it might be a useful entrapment strategy to wear a sweater that leads them to believe I heart them. They might wander over thinking that I am willing to offer them a little nibble and then I can cut their heads off. (this is the preferred method of zombie extermination) I'm not all that good with color work, but I suspect that, under the circumstances, no one will be too fussy about my having used duplicate stitch.

Beth: I can certainly see how having a cold during the zombie invasion might impair your ability to detect the slight odor of bleach that tells you the water has been correctly decontaminated. However, I strongly discourage your approaching a zombie for their assistance with the sniffing. First, zombies do not smell all that great. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to detect the bleach smell over the stench of decaying zombie flesh. Secondly, and I cannot stress this strongly enough, the zombies want to eat you!!!!! In the earlier films, they tended to eat the whole person. Later flicks had them in search of just the brains. Either way, I find it hard to believe that you will fare well. Frankly, I think that the water is going to be the least of your problems at that point. But, if you are concerned, simply have one of your hardy band of survivors do the sniffing for you.

Thank you all for your comments and questions. I am glad to see that we are all starting to take this a little more seriously. I am proud to call you my zombie warrior clan!!!

Now for some knitting content as it pertains to my soon-to-be-unmanageable schedule. Tomorrow afternoon I will begin a class. Not a good class that will teach me about interesting things like sheep shearing or spinning straw into gold. No. This one will be on the fascinating subject of Administrative Supervision. I have absolutely no interest in this topic whatsoever. None. But it seems that my teaching certificate is soon to expire and I need to pull down some credits to add to my portfolio if I want to continue in the glamorous life of a public school teacher. The class is free and worth 4 graduate credits. Hard to argue with that... So, I'll be feigning massive amounts of interest in this subject from now until May.

However, there is hope for my sanity. I'm thinking that such a dry topic might lend itself to knitting. I'll be bringing along my new little sockie and hope that the professor is one of those who likes to lecture and doesn't much care how we all stay awake. God help me if this is one of those group interaction type classes...I really need the credits! And the socks, for that matter.

Sadly the state of Maine does not grant recertification credits for Zombie Invasion Preparedness Training.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Brain Freeze

Your friendly, neighborhood Sheep is safe and warm and weathering the storm up here in Maine quite handily overall. But, having been stuck inside all day with no one but the cats to appreciate my acerbic wit has left me a little on the addled end of the spectrum. I've watched a steady stream of cartoons and crafting shows today, dosed my brain cells with far more coffee than is good for the average person and thought deep thoughts. Which would really only be problematic for my classroom assistants tomorrow when I arrive at school after a long weekend with no one to talk to and lots of stuff to share. But, I have a blog. So now you get to hear some of it. Cheer up. I'm the boss of my staff. They have to listen to me. You can change the channel should the urge overtake you.

First thought: Water purification

Annie (I think I'm linking to the right one...there are so darned many of us out there commenting all willy-nilly that I could be wrong) said that she thought it would be super-keen to be able to have safe drinking water should the supply ever become limited. As I am now completely unable to answer a simple query without putting the whole thing into some sort of context, I ask you to consider the following scenario:

Despite the fact that everyone laughed at the warnings of a certain Sheep who predicted this event repeatedly and has been preparing for it since the early eighties, no one was ready when the zombies finally did arise and begin their reign of terror on earth. You find yourself trapped with ten or so of your neighbors, family and the mail carrier with dwindling supplies but a strong will to survive this crisis. In between sitting around and lamenting the fact that you did not heed the wise words of the prognosticating Sheep, you take turns braving the hordes of undead to collect water from the birdbath in the backyard as all utilities have been cut off by the zombies. You wouldn't think that zombies could do this, but they can. Don't ask me how...they just can. We don't have time to get into specifics here! Had you listened to me in the first place then we'd all have been ready for this. But you didn't so now you just have to deal with the condensed version since I am very busy what with being the only person who took the time to research this matter and a lot of people are now clamoring for my knowledge.


Anyway...the water from the birdbath will certainly slake your thirst, but I think we all know that birdbath water is not hygienic water because birds are not necessarily ones to be counted on to use that water strictly for bathing purposes. Thus, you may want to clean it up a bit. Normally, I would advise you to boil it as this is really the best method for purifying water. However, we can't do that so we will strain the poopy water through paper towels or coffee filters to remove debris then add bleach in the following concentrations: 4 drops per quart; 16 drops per gallon; 1 tsp per five gallons. We will then let it stand for thirty minutes. If we can detect a faint odor of bleach, then we are good to go. If not, then we will add a bit more and wait another thirty minutes. We will not be concerned about the bleach smell because this is what tells us it is sanitized and we are in no position to be picky right now because contaminated water can be fatal and we certainly don't want anyone expiring within the confines of our refuge. That would defeat the purpose of locking the doors against the zombies according to most of the movies I've watched.

See what I'm saying? I've had a lot of time on my hands over the past couple of days.

But those hands have not been idle! No, indeedy! I was feeling a little anxious on Friday morning after being dragged into a particularly nasty conflict between two of my fellow staff members and sought a little comfort in the knitting. At noon, school ended for the students and I went to a three hour training. I have since been trapped in the house thanks to icy roads and a general desire to avoid slipping and falling on my keister. Here's what you can accomplish when a need to be distracted and utter boredom dominate your life:

Foul Weather WIPs

Not too shabby!
The sock was started Friday morning after "the incident in the school hallway" and the scarf began life on Saturday morning. Had this not been a three day weekend, I doubt that I'd have gotten quite this far. But, it was and I did. I even managed to get in a little bit of spinning. But I'm not showing any pictures of that...I think I need to get reacquainted with my wheel just a bit. Let's just say that this is not my finest work. But it was nice to be behind the treadles again, I have to admit.
I've also been merrily continuing with the light bulb replacement of '07. Bulbs continue to die dramatic deaths around my abode with aggravating regularity. Just to shake things up a bit I overloaded the circuits in the kitchen by accidentally installing a 100 watt bulb in an overhead fixture that wasn't really equipped to handle it. Fortunately, my condo has separate breakers for each room so I was able to get things back to normal in short order. But, I don't mind telling you that Hysterical Mind had a field day with that one. She was convinced that the zombie invasion had begun and that it was the end of life as we know it for all time. She is also afraid of the circuit box. It took everything Rational Mind had to get her to believe that we did not need to garb ourselves in rubber and call in a Master Electrician to supervise our flipping a breaker switch back to the "Let There Be Light" position.
So, all in all, it's been a pretty busy three day weekend for this Sheep. I was rather hoping to avoid tomorrow's almost certain continuation of Friday's work-based conflict through a bonus snow day, but that is looking less like a possibility. I guess I'll just have to put on my, "Now, I don't want to take sides here" hat and hope for the best.
But, if the zombie invasion were to start sometime around midnight tonight, I wouldn't be entirely put out by that fact...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sittin' & Knittin'!

Maybe it's the, "Maine-ah" in me. But, I do loves me a weather event! I love the planning, the anticipation and the "hunkerin' down." I get a weird sense of satisfaction knowing that I am snuggled in with the kitties for the duration. I am the person who always has the flashlights on hand, extra candles and knows how to purify the water with bleach if need be. I have a plan for salvaging the frozen food and once kept my fish tank at the correct temperature and oxygen saturation during a lengthy power outage. Of course, had I been as vigilant during the good times, the tank wouldn't have had to be declared "protected swampland" by the Environmental Protection Agency, but you see my point.

I'm handy to have around in a natural disaster. Blame Hysterical Mind. She forces Rational Mind to plan for the unforeseen. It's really the only way we get any rest around here.

You can imagine my giddiness, then, at the news of impending inclement weather for this holiday weekend. The plan for today was to get up bright and early, hit the stores for supplies (Mountain Dew, frozen pizza and matches), gas up the truck and then get ready to settle in for the storm. This probably would have worked out a bit more smoothly had I set the alarm before bedding down last night.

But, I didn't. Thus, I arose just after 8:00 this morning and that is really just too late to get a good handle on that nice smug, "I'm all ready, are you?" attitude. But, I was out of Mountain Dew so I pulled myself together as quickly as possible and headed out. It looked fine...just a bit overcast.

Not so... The freezing rain had already begun in such a fine mist that you didn't really see it from the windows. But it was there and the roads had already begun to get slick. A ten minute run to the store took about an hour and I actually had to pull over twice on the way to the corner market because the windshield had iced over. But I made the journey unscathed (although I blew off getting the gas) and have had a quiet day since. Good thing as the icing seems to be a good deal worse and I'm thinking that I won't be going anywhere any time soon.

Winter has finally arrived in the Northeast, it seems. I guess I'll be spending a bit more time here:

My knitting spot!
The Samurai Knitter asked her readers to post pictures of their usual parking spots and this is mine. I can pretty much run my entire life from that one area. The computer, phone and fax are all within arm's length as well as most of the knitting supplies. You can also see the little bike in the lower right hand corner peeking out from it's home under the coffee table. Not visible from this view (because I cleaned off the couch before taking the picture) are the television remote, GameBoy and PSP that I like to keep close to hand in the event that the knitting goes horribly awry and diversionary activities become necessary to avoid cerebral accidents. Also not visible is the coffee table because it is an utter disaster area although tastefully decorated in Post-It notes. I use a lot of Post-Its. Most of them are scrawled with cryptic notes that I made with all good intentions but are now just beyond my ken. I keep them until the sticky stuff wears out and they flutter to the floor. If I haven't figured out what deep, insightful thoughts I had recorded for all posterity by that time, I feel that it is acceptable to throw them away. But, I still think about them...I'm not make of stone, here!
And this is where you will be finding me for the next couple of days should my presence be required. I'll have to get up to go to the bathroom or move the truck so the plows can get through, but that's about it. I've got me a sock on the fast track courtesy of a lengthy training on Friday and the three day weekend and I'm taking full advantage of the time to keep the momentum up. It's preparedness at it's finest, people.
Pass me another Mountain Dew, willya?

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Yesterday didn't get off to a very good start. It had the potential as it was a half-day for students and the kick-off to a three day weekend. I even had two of my more challenging kidlets opt to take the day off so it should have been like Christmas, Halloween and Be Kind To Sheep Day all rolled into one. But it all fell apart pretty quickly.

I somehow managed to find myself smack in the middle of a good, old fashioned hollerin' match between two colleagues by simply attempting to touch base with one of those colleagues and plan for my activities in his classroom that day. In the interest of professionalism, we'll not go into detail, but it was a Clash Of The Titans. And I, being new to the building and not knowing some of the finer points of the social system, managed to throw a very small, but highly combustible, bit of fuel on this fire by simply not understanding that these two hold an uneasy truce on the best of days.

As the battle raged, I did what any mature, reasonable woman would do. I froze with my mouth agape, all the while clutching the composition book I use for note taking to my bosom, looking for all the world like a frightened maiden of yore. The teacher to whom I was speaking kept returning to me to continue our conversation, only to be drawn back in by his adversary time after time. I finally managed to unlock my knees long enough to take two steps backwards then turn and flee. In doing so, I nearly took out one of my teaching assistants who, upon hearing the ruckus, had approached to either save me or determine where to set up the bleachers and concession stands for this event. I'm unclear which...

I fled to relative safety, followed by my entrepreneurial staff person and grabbed my coffee mug for comfort. In breathless tones, I began to share with him the events leading up to the current, "situation" in the hallway. Suddenly, I heard a break in the action followed by the sound of a teacher on crutches making his way towards our hiding place. (yeah...for those of you up on the events of my life, it was that guy) Next, we hear, "Where is she?" The colleague with whom I began this drama had now decided it was time to finish our conversation as we'd been attempting to do in the first place and put this unpleasantness behind us.

Now this posed something of a problem. You see, at this point, I was sort of in a hall closet. I'm just going to let you sit with that image for a minute...

It's not actually as bad as it sounds. It's not like I picked the lock on the custodian's supply closet and was cowering behind the paper towels or anything. This is a small space where we keep the microwave and store the paper. But, I'm still hiding in a closet and there is the potential for looking a little silly. I could have rather handily solved this problem by simply strolling out with a steaming, freshly irradiated bagel or a couple of reams of graph paper, but I wasn't really all that quick on the uptake at that juncture. I also could have remained hidden except for a.) all Mr. Teacher had to do was turn the corner in order to ascertain my location which he was going to do anyway because b.) my teaching assistant was standing in full view while he got the low down from me on the whole situation and I couldn't quite justify allowing him to look like he was just talking to himself and c.) a very small part of this conflict, and I do mean small, came about due to Mr. Teacher's sorta-kinda defending my honor. I owed him the courtesy of pretending that everything was just fine and that naught but love and joy reigned in our hallowed halls.

But, you can bet your sweet bippy that I avoided that little stretch of hallway for the remainder of the day. Because a really good retreat is a thing of beauty and you don't mess it up by returning to the field of battle when you can cower in a closet.

Meanwhile, it looks like my knitting has become something of a retreat for me as well. Last night, I finished up yet another pair of socks.

Socks That Rock...They Really Do!

And I love 'em!!!!!
I made it to the finish line with yarn to spare, but not a whole heck of a lot. I sweated these right up until I started the toe decreases, at which point I knew I was going to make it. I prefer a longer sock so I went with the 8" cuff. They're knit in Socks That Rock's Fire On The Mountain and came to me courtesy of Trek. I suspect she may be an STR pusher. You know how it goes: your dealer gives you that first taste for free and then you're hooked! These are sturdy socks that can almost stand on their own. But the firm yarn also has a nice, "give" to it and your foot feels all cushy. I should know. I've been wearing these all day today.
As this is my second pair of completed socks in about a month's time, you'd think I'd be ready to try for something else. You know...switch it up a little. Nope. I've cast on for another pair. Perhaps you are thinking, "Well, I'm sure she's at least trying another pattern. We've seen these same socks about nine billion times now." Sorry. Same plain pattern. I like it. It's simple, comforting,'s a retreat from potentially conflictual knitting. I have a plethora of sock yarn right now thanks to some very generous donations and I'm sort of fascinated by how they each work up just a little differently despite using the same boring old pattern.
What can I say? It's, "comfort knitting." And I'm getting pretty good at knitting these particular socks. I can almost do them with my eyes closed.
Which is good because it can get dark in the closet...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Warning: Sheep May Attack If Provoked.

Why do people do it? Who, in their right mind, would take up a sharp stick and start vigorously poking a menopausal Sheep? There was a time when we could excuse the males of the species as we hadn't really clued them in to all the mysteries and wonders of being chicks. But I like to think we've made some strides in the education of the dudes and that they understand that we can be hostile at certain points. We have taken a lot of crap over the centuries. We bear the children. We wear the heels. We are a powder keg after the age of forty and any male who doesn't know this deserves what he gets.

So, I ask you: how is it that the teacher in whose class I am now stationed pretty much regularly in order that I might use my oh-so-powerful presence to quell the misbehavior of a certain student would chuckle evilly and say to the young man, "You don't know what a century is? Why don't you ask Ms. Sheep?"

I didn't kill him. Not then.

Later in the day, exhausted from eight billion meetings and two new students being added to my caseload in as many days, I was sitting in his reading class (drowsing, really...) as he read a passage to the children that included the phrase, "like a broken record." He then proceeded to explain that records were something that he and Ms. Sheep used to listen to waaaaaaaay back when.

I still didn't kill him. But I'm planning on punching him in the head later. He's currently on crutches. I can outrun him. Even in heels.

And I will get away with it. I am currently in the throes of yet another hormonal upheaval courtesy of the early onset of my menopausaly-ness. There is no middle-aged, female jury that will convict me.

In between meetings and being referred to as a haggard, old crone by my colleagues, I had a very busy day. I attended four meetings in between my classes and have quite a bit of paperwork that needs paperworking within a rather short time frame. I also work in a building that houses two different schools. Thus, I work two different schedules. I looked forward to a quiet evening at home with my cats and my imbalanced hormones.

But there was this noise. It was a high-pitched, keening sort of noise. I was already on edge from being all old and crusty so it cut through my senses like a knife through melting chocolate. And I can't have chocolate because I need to lose the holiday ham hips so this added to my overall sense of AARRGGHH!!!

I searched high and low for this noise. The more I listened to it the more it sounded like something right before it explodes in a fiery ball of death. I wondered if the still-unlit fluorescent bulb in my closet was reaching critical mass. I know that I certainly was by this time. I then questioned if the heater was doing the screeching. I turned it off, hoping against hope that this wasn't the case as the weather has made a change for the "seasonal" and we are below the freezing mark tonight. The noise continued and I was, at least, assured of warmth as I descended into madness.

Finally, after an hour of wandering around my tiny abode putting my ear to various objects around the house, I hit paydirt. The tinny wailing was coming from this:

Ipod case with speakers

My Ipod case

I got this for Christmas from Baby Brother Sheep. It holds my ancient Ipod mini and has the added benefit of speakers. Very handy. Except when the Ipod inexplicably gets turned on during the day when you are not there. I suspect that the Big, Fluffy Kitty and her Smaller, Less Fluffy Counterpart got a hankerin' for some tunes today while I was out earning the cash for their kibbles and catnip. They are not allowed to have wild parties while I am away and I thought that they were abiding by my reasonable rules of house and home.
Clearly this is not the case.
Does no one fear the middle-aged, hormonally challenged Sheep?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It Never Ends...

Well, I seem to be recovering from my ironing obsession. It will be a long process and there will be relapses. I know this and I am prepared to deal with recurring urges to iron things simply because I am the proud owner of a new drug store iron. I can only hope that, with the support of good friends and a supply of spray-on wrinkle releaser, I can become the proud non-houseworking type of gal I used to was... Thank you for all your kind wishes in this, my time of trial.

Meanwhile, a new struggle has entered the picture. For some reason, every lightbulb in my home has decided to burn out simultaneously. This would be handily dealt with under ordinary circumstances: Untwist offending, nonworking bulb. Discard. Twist acceptable, working bulb in the opposite direction (after ascertaining that the wattage is within the limits of the lamp's wiring, of course) and voila!! Let there be light!

But two of these bulbs are the fluorescents from the closets. They are in awkward places. They are in dark places. Fluorescent bulbs last a really long time so I've never actually had to replace one before. You have to stand on a chair while the cats helpfully jump up to paw at your pajama legs. Lights no go in slots. When lights do go in slots, lights no make light. Sheep is feeling stupid. And the closets are dark. I spent more time this afternoon dealing with this than is really necessary. Or that I feel I should share. It is a little embarrassing and lends itself to jokes that go something like, "how many sheep does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"

Clearly it is more than one. And I am but one Sheep. One Sheep who cannot see her clothes. For all I know they are wrinkled in there. They may need ironing.

You see the problem.

On the knitting front, sock #2 advanced by all of two rounds last night. There is a little reluctance on my part, I fear, due to the dwindling yarn supply. Deep down in my knitter's heart of hearts, I really think I'm gonna make it. But the chance that I will be left with a toeless sock has made it difficult to progress on the project. But, lemme tellya: if these work out then I'm going to have one stunning pair of foot warmers!!! The colors are bright, the yarn is dense and sproingy and the fit is quite something to behold. Perhaps I'll bit the bullet tonight and see if I can't make a little progress with a weekend viewing in mind.

Or, I could spend the evening trying to screw in a lightbulb. Insert whatever joke you feel is appropriate here.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Somebody Stop Me!!!

There are words that should never leave the mouth of certain Sheep. Things like, "I simply must get around to organizing my handcuff collection" spring to mind. Or, "You must excuse me as it is time for my weekly high colonic." These are things that you will never hear me say. Or if you do, then I have been taken over by aliens or zombies and you are to shoot me immediately.

But the words that I spoke today are, by far, the oddest. I'm not saying that this is one of those things that should send you scampering off for the family firearms or anything. We are not at that stage of panic yet. I am reasonably sure that this is just a phase of some sort, fueled by the giddiness brought on by having something new. But I am concerned. In some kind of out of body moment, I floated above my form and heard myself utter this:

I don't want to be at school today. I just want to stay home and iron things.

I know...this is not good. Not good at all. I am not one who is normally brought to my knees by the pressing of garments. I don't shudder at the sight of the wrinkles. I actually hate creases in my pants. In fact, I pretty much hate anything that relates to housework in any way, shape or form.

And ironing, for crying out loud? I am not good at ironing. Frankly, I tend to press more wrinkles into the item than I smooth out. But, sadly, it is a necessity. I have clothing storage issues. I have nowhere to hang things since The Great Closet Collapse of '96 and there is little hope of my remembering to remove things from the dryer in anything less than 48 hours of it's having successfully completing the drying process.

So, I iron. I've never enjoyed it, though. But, after yesterday's memorial service for the dear, departed iron from my college days and the hasty purchase of my drugstore iron, I have a renewed appreciation for this timeless art. It is exhilarating! It gets really, really hot and this truly speaks to my love of danger and possible injury. Then, just when you least expect it, it makes this delightful, "shhwwwwwp" sound and clouds appear as if I'm in heaven or something. I have consulted the manual on this and it seems that this is, "steam." And it is supposed to do this! I mean, honestly! Can you believe how far they have come in ironing technology? My old iron never did this!!

Now, the wrinkles that I press into my helpless trousers are crisp and smell like fabric softener! And the steam has just done wonders for my pores. I am a new woman, I tellya! I'm not saying that I necessarily love this new woman...she's a little obsessed with the ironing. But, I think she'll settle down a bit once the newness wears off.

All this ironing has taken its toll on the sock knitting, though. Poor little sock #2 has had to wait patiently for this phase to pass. It has really been quite good about the whole thing. I'm finding that Socks That Rock, despite its hard-core kinda name, is really pretty classy, overall. It knows its worth. And I think it knows that any other fancies are of a, "passing" nature.

Good thing. 'Cuz I'm feeling an overwhelming urge to iron the bedsheets...

My New Iron!!!

Yesssss, my preciousssss...Momma loves you!

Send Valium. I beg of you.


Monday, January 08, 2007

A Time To Every Season...

Guru Sheep, here. I'm gonna lay some wisdom on y'all. I'm a "giver." It is what I do...

In this life, you will have wonderful days. Days where you fight off a cold virus without having to write a check for medical intervention. There will be the highest of will make a suggestion to your stylist and she will agree with you. You will ride the crest of the wave called,"Wheeeeeeeee!!!"

Then, there will be days where your iron up and dies on you. This could, perchance, happen on a Sunday night around ten o'clock. And it might just happen when you are in desperate and dire need of de-wrinkling. This Sunday might be followed by a Monday and you will have to go to work in clothing that does not exactly reflect a competent and professional image. It does, however, make the wrinkles in your face less prominent by comparison. But it is still not a good look and then you will have to explain to people that your iron has died and that they have to be nice to you in your grief. But,this means that everyone will think that you are a person who cares about such things as knife-edged creases and that will lead to a whole other discussion about how you are anything but that sort of gal. And there will be nothing left to do but confess to people that your closet rod and shelf collapsed on a dark and dismal night ten years ago and that your clothing has resided in a pile on the floor ever since. Now everyone just avoids you and you are left wondering how everything could go from so wonderful to so icky-boo in mere days.

Yes, dear friends, there will be the joy of owning an iron that is older than most of your children. Then there will be the grief of losing that iron to...well, I actually don't know what happened. I just know that the iron is supposed to get a little hot or something. And that mine doesn't. I'm not like an iron specialist or anything...

But, with loss comes the joy of the new. And, when one of your staff decides that you have mourned steadily for three straight hours and that this is starting to get just a tad bit annoying, she might just say, "oh, for crying out have to get that prescription filled today; just get one of those drugstore irons and be done with it!!! And, thus, you will get a new drugstore iron. And it gets pretty hot. And it makes steam. Apparently, this is what irons are supposed to do.

Yes, there will always be ups and downs, dearest readers. One must learn to take the good with the bad. But we can seek comfort in those few constants. There will always be a sky. We know that there will be air. And, if you happen to know a generous goatherd...

Desdemona And The Sock Yarn.

...there will always be yarn.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

First Appearance Of The New Year.

Today's post features an unplanned appearance from your old friends Rational Mind and Hysterical Mind. I honestly wanted to keep them in reserve for a day when blog topics were thin, but sometimes circumstances dictate that they come forth and help a poor, befuddled Sheep process events. Humblest apologies.

Rational Mind: Oh HM, would you come here for just a minute? We need to talk.

Hysterical Mind: (Out of breath and sweating slightly) Whassup?

RM: What on earth have you been doing?

HM: Cat on the counter.

RM: Pardon???

HM: The Smaller, Less Fluffy Kitty is on the kitchen counter again. She won't get down. Since explaining the potential for disease that exists from dirty kitty rumps on the counter didn't work, I've been standing there flapping my arms and making hissing noises for the last ten minutes.

RM: How did that work out for you?

HM: Not so good. We are going out later to buy her some pants.

RM: I can't see how that could possibly end in disaster at all. Before we head out to the Kitty Trouser Store, though, we need to have a little chat.

HM: Okey dokey!

RM: Hmmm...that was easy! Glad you're feeling so open-minded today. Here's the thing: Do you remember yesterday when we were a little early for our appointment with The World's Greatest Stylist?

HM: I love her!!! Don't you just love her??? She is really great!! Isn't she great?

RM: Yes, a stay with me here. We've been having a little run of good luck lately and I thought that I'd let you enjoy it for a day. There is no shame in enjoying your good fortune, you know. Of course, that doesn't mean that there aren't other things going on. But, when nice things happen, you should take the time to appreciate them and all.

HM: You are soooooo right! "Live for the day!" That's my motto!!!

RM: No. That is incorrect. Your motto is: The Christmas tree lights are probably radioactive. And, for the record, I am taking away the NyQuil. You've been hitting the cold medicine again, haven't you?

HM: Oh lighten up!!! It's the holidays!

RM: No. The holidays are over. And we need to talk...

HM: Well, my tightly wrapped friend, it's a holiday somewhere! Dance with me!!

RM: Will you please listen to me!!! This is important. Yesterday, while we were waiting to go in for our appointment with Amy I was reading the mail. And we have received a reminder card. From The Dentist.

HM: What?

RM: Thought that would get your attention. We have a cleaning scheduled for Feb. 1st.

HM: I can manage that. I just need to move around my Groundhog Day anxiety attack and we should be fine.

RM: It's not quite that simple. Do you remember when we visited with the nice doctor to have The Mole Of Disturbing Dimensions looked at? The one you were so freaked out about having to go see?

HM: I know, I know. I'll be good this time, I promise. No more taunting the plastic surgeon out of panic. You were very clear on that.

RM:'s the thing: I sort of goofed a tiny bit. In my defense, there's been a lot going on around here and keeping you settled down is not an easy job. Plus there was the whole drama with managing the Christmas shopping budget and getting back to work. I guess I kind of mixed up a few dates. So, our appointments with Dr. DeSade, DMD/World's Scariest Dentist and the plastic surgeon are a bit close together. January 31st and February 1st to be exact. Now, I know that is quite a bit of stress to manage in a 48 hour period, but I think we can do it if we just buckle down and go to our happy place. What do you think?

HM: ....

RM: HM?? You OK there, little buddy? Do you want some chocolate? I can give you back your NyQuil...

HM: (Wordlessly marches to the phone and begins to dial.)

RM: Um, who are you calling?

HM: (glaring fiercely) I am calling our cousin, Denial. And I don't want to hear one word about it!!

RM: No argument here. I'll go fix up the sofa bed.

And with Cousin Denial winging her way east as we speak, I think that this whole dental/surgical nightmare will, in fact, be manageable. I'm just not going to think about having my face sliced open one day and the mean dentist looming over me the next. My first thought was to switch the dentist appointment, but I think that this might actually work to my advantage in the long run. I can work the sick days around the various appointments and not lose too much time in the classroom. Or, I can just pretend that the whole thing isn't happening and that will work pretty well, too...

On to happier things. How's this for cute?

Big, Fluffy Kitty and her new best friend.
It seems that this poor little lambie somehow found her way all the way across the country in a futile attempt to join the San Fransisco Ballet. When her dreams were dashed, it appeared that she might be doomed to ride the cable cars and eat Rice-a-Roni for her remaining days. Fortunately, she ran into April who knew just what to do. She packed her up with a little chocolate and sock yarn, then popped her in the post so that she could come live with me and the kitties. She was very good and only ate a little bit of the chocolate. I took care of the rest about an hour ago. I think Lambie looks pretty happy in her new digs, don't you?
Of course, she missed the whole "appointment" debate and has yet to meet RM and HM. She may be stowing away in the mail truck next week once she realizes with whom she now shares this space.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Cower before me, mortals!!!!! For I am untouchable! I am Teflon! I am anything else you can think of that is non-sticky and impervious to that which is yucky! I stride through the coughing, hacking masses without fear...

For. I. Am. Immortal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's right. Immortal. After forty years and change spending half of any given year swallowing antibiotics and vitamin C in the futile hope of chasing off whatever bug is plaguing the populace that season, I have caught a break! You'd kind of have to know me to realize what a big deal this is. I'm one of those annoying, "sickly" types. I'm the first one to catch the cold that's going around and nurture it into some sort of gooey, runny kind of upper respiratory infection. This probably wouldn't be such a huge deal if had any sense of grace or propriety about my illnesses. But, I do not. I am a complainer. I will buttonhole complete strangers to moan and groan about my symptoms at great length. My friends and co-workers quickly learn how to avoid me when I am sick. Or, at the very least feign interest while reciting the multiplication tables in their heads. I am a huge baby.

And knowing this does not change my behavior in the least.

But there is good news for The Sheep and all who know her. Did I mention that I am now immortal? Nothing can touch me. The fever and chills of Thursday night disappeared while I slept. I awoke with a few sneezes, but nothing serious. I was healed! It's taken a while for the whole immortality thing to kick in, but I gots my god-complex goin' on and I'm workin' it baby!

I don't know if getting a flu shot this year was the catalyst, but I'm going on record as saying that I am a fan of The Spike Of Protection. I know that the flu virus and the cold virus are two different beasts, but something is at work here. Maybe it was the holiday ham...

And it didn't stop there! I was most grateful to be operating at full power today. For this morning I really needed to gird my loins. Today was the day. I was gonna do it! Yes, that's right. Today was the day I was going to...make a suggestion to The World's Greatest Stylist!

Risky. Very Risky.

Normally, I just park my Sheepie butt in the chair and let her do what she wants. It's easier that way. But, after missing last month's appointment due to the planned removal of The Mole Of Disturbing Dimensions that didn't actually happen, my hair has grown out a bit. And I like it. I wanted to leave it a little longer. This was going to take some, "negotiating."

I arrived at the salon armed with two handknit scarves and the will to make compromises if necessary. I was nervous. I was shaking just a wee little bit. Hysterical Mind was coming to the fore. But, you know what? She agreed! The only compromise I needed to make was with regard to the bangs which she thought should be left longer and "swept" to the side. No problem. I just cut them myself when I got home. But that is our little secret, OK??? Please don't tell her!! Please! I may be immortal and all, but that doesn't mean I don't know fear!

The luck continued to flow my way throughout the appointment. The tresses were scorched back to their artificially natural blondish state via the chemicals and the hot, harsh winds of the dryer. The cut was completed. The final "tweaks" were going on before the blow dry and styling (which could also be called, "the scary poofing and backcombing.") when the whole place went dark. Yup. Power outage. My highlights and I made it to the finish line mere minutes before all work had to be halted. I'm bulletproof, I tellsya!!!

Last happy thing: Today is The World's Greatest Stylist's birthday! I brought her a gift on her birthday! I didn't even know it was her big day!! Someone patent my essence! A fortune can be made here!!

Despite all the immortality stuff going on around here, there has been minimal progress on sock #2. I'm past the heel stage (which I hate) and am decreasing for the gussets. Things have sort of slowed down what with my having to pencil in my afternoon nap and snacks. I'm a tiny bit concerned about having gone with a longer cuff on this pair and whether the yarn will hold out, but I'm taking the chance. When I don't, I always seem to end up with ample yarn left over and the bitter taste of regret. But, I'm thinking that I'm gonna make it. What else can I possibly think at this point?

Teflon, baby!


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Monkey On My Back!

It was such a lovely Spring day here in the great state of Maine...what? Oh, it's January. Well, excuse me! It's fifty degrees, for crying out loud! How am I supposed to keep track of the seasons when the warm breezes are a-blowin' and the grass is still green in places? Cut me some slack.

Where was I? Oh, yeah...the warmth. I couldn't quite seem to get a handle on why I was so darned chilly all day. I chalked it up to the watery blood of the aged and went merrily on with my routine.

My knees, hips, elbow and other assorted joints were a bit on the achy side. Well, again: I'm hobbling towards the golden years. And the workouts have been filled with great gusto of late, what with my holiday fudge guilt and all. Who wouldn't be a little sore?

And the headache? Hey, I teach, for goodness sake! Who wouldn't have a throbbing noggin after hearing for the umpty-gajillionth time that you are the most unfair person to ever walk this planet?

There was the itchy feeling in the throat, but that could easily be chalked up to some sort of fruit allergy. I've been eating fruit steadily for three days now as part of the salute to healthy eating. I am not set up for the fruit eating. I am clearly having some sort of reaction to it. That's all...

But wait! What was that? Did you hear that? There it was again! It''s...a sneeze!!!

Oh nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

I've been pretty lucky so far during this school year. I had one brush with the snufflies back in the early Fall, but that was it. Every other precursor to misery was quickly fought off by my ever alert squadron of white blood cells and the added defenses of my flu shot. I was feeling a little on the "invincible" side.

Bad call.

Thanks to a couple of student absences, I was able to leave the classroom in the capable hands of my staff and head home a bit early. Knowing that the last workout of the week was going to be a washout, I stocked up on flavored water and a nice, big turkey sub on the way home. Protein is your friend when you are feeling punk, you see. I was home while the sun still shone, wrapped in flannel p.j.'s and clenching a thermometer between my chattering teeth. Happily, the temp. was just under 100 which is workable for me. And it's dropped since then, so we are thinking this is not a return of the dreaded '06 Monkey Pox.

The whole "laying on the couch and seizing from fever" experience has left me with a paralyzing fear of sickness and the like. I'm probably a bit prone to the over-reacting at this point, I suppose. But, 5 months of Monkey Pox/pneumonia was memorable. And not in the scrapbooking kind of way. The kind that lets you see long-gone childhood pets gamboling in the light at the end of the tunnel and then affords you the opportunity to write many, many checks to doctors whom you never actually saw in person.

So, I'm taking it a bit on the easy side for the next couple of days. I'm planning on going in to work tomorrow, but will head home early. Other than a visit with The World's Greatest Stylist on Saturday morning to deal with the hair that wants to be twenty-something again, I'm planning on a quiet weekend. I'm guessing that there will also be some progress on sock #2. I'll have some time on my hands, after all.

Me 'n The Monkey will be in for the weekend.