Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gorillas And Monkeys And Frogs...Oh My!

So, I was looking at my Monkey Socks this morning. Kind of admiring the pattern, thinking ahead to how I was going to match the yarn up for the second know how it is. I then proceeded to finish the heel and get down to the business of building a foot.

And then it happened. I had me something of a realization. I looked at my sock. I looked at my foot. I looked back at the sock. I returned my gaze to my foot. There was something of a discrepancy, there. And it was then clear to me that I didn't have a Monkey on my needles.

I had a Gorilla.

There were a couple of things at work against me. The first was my choice of needle. Against my better judgement, I opted to go with a size 2 needle rather than a size 1. It seemed like the right choice gauge-wise. It wasn't. The second was my decision to follow the pattern's directions with regard to the heel rather than substituting the one that fits my tootsies a bit better. I have a narrow foot and the heel is no exception. Add to this the fact that I am something of a loosey-goosey knitter and you have one gi-normous sock taking over the knitting spot.

I was now faced with two choices. I could head into the kitchen, break out a canister of salt and consume it by the spoonful until my feet retained enough water to swell to the correct size. Or, I could frog them completely and try again. You'd probably be surprised to know just how long I considered option #1. But in the end, we all took a field trip to the frog pond. The deed is done, the lovely Lorna's Laces was given a nice hot bath and hung up to block a bit then a new yarn was brought forth.

And when I say, "new yarn" I mean really new. Like, it arrived yesterday. It seems that Trek re-routed some yarn my way that was originally a prize that she'd won in a blog contest. But she wondered if it might be happier living with me and the kitties so it extended its trip just a bit further north. The Trekking XXL didn't get much of a rest nor an opportunity to acclimate to its new surroundings. It was put to work before I even remembered to get a picture.

And, for your viewing pleasure, I include my new flames, skulls, 'n snakes sneakers. The universe can conspire to make me 42 years old. But it can't pick my shoes for me!
A very thoughtful idea, Trek! Thanks for the stash enhancement and for the second chance at my Monkey Socks. The Trekking is already on the needles and attempting to do a better job with the pattern. I'm just a bit past the ribbing at this point so it's rather early to make a judgement. But, so far things are looking more on the foot proportional side of things.
However, I've ordered some Gorilla Be Gone just in case...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

One Of "Those" Teacher Workshops...

"Reading Across The Curriculum." Sounds fascinating, right? Maybe you're wishing that you could have spent a sunny Thursday ensconced in the high school library participating in this scintillating discussion. If so, I would heartily suggest that you take some "me time" and review your priorities. You need to get out more. You are withering on the vine. Get a book...develop an interesting rash. Do anything!!!

This was one of those trainings where you just feel badly for the presenters. They had an audience who was present more by command than by actual interest and a tenth of the time they needed to impart what needed the impartin'. The result was a presentation fired at us with the speed of light which we weren't all that interested in catching after the first few sincere attempts at speed-listening. Some of us took the high road and at least pretended to take part. Others chatted merrily away, enjoying the time to catch up before we all began our summer vacations in earnest. (The past two weeks have been littered with trainings...) The Chatters were pretty much hated by The Fakers, but they didn't care because noticing that The Fakers were glaring at them would have meant disengaging from their off-topic ramblings.

There is always an up-side to these things, though. In deference to the ongoing high temperatures, the training was moved from my school's cafeteria (aka: The Oven) to the air conditioned library at the high school. It took us all a minute or two to find our bearings...the automated dialer that usually calls us with this type of scheduling information was on the blink last night and no one is checking their email these days. With the help of a few hand-lettered signs placed helpfully about the town, we were able to regroup and get to the correct location. It was certainly cooler there than anywhere else I'd thought of being today.

And, having completed Sock Of Summer The First last night, I was needing a little time to sit and knit a few inches of ribbing and plain stockinette in order that I might someday have a pair. There was more of the audience participation than I really wanted in this workshop, though. Just when I'd get a nice knitting rhythm going someone would decided that it was time for us to practice some sort of vocabulary development strategy. And, while I realize that this was the purpose behind my being there, it was something of an intrusion. Still, I made some pretty decent progress on Sock Of Summer The Second.

Lastly, they let us out over an hour early despite the arrival of the principal for the end of the training and the need for us to suddenly act more professional and teacherly than we were for the earlier part of the day. It gave me a little time to do some shopping on the way home. Which wasn't precisely necessary...but delightful given its unexpected nature. I didn't find much. But that wasn't the point, really.

And that does it for trainings! I'm done with the school type stuff for a while and can focus on enjoying the rest of my summer...and tending my still-unidentified-rash.

Thanks for the consolation and thoughts on this little dilemma. There are a million things that the doctor can rule out as the cause...and not a one that she can say is for sure what made it appear. I've had the stupid thing for a month now and we've looked at everything that we can think of but have yet to narrow down what's happening. The dermatologist is the best hope...but there are very few practicing in Maine. And they are booked fairly solidly. I was pretty frustrated at first. It was a little too easy to think of the "skin docs" as nothing more than high paid pimple poppers and forget that they deal with things like skin cancer. There are probably a few folks ahead of me in line with stuff more serious than a rash. And with the cooler temperatures moving in by tomorrow, things should be more bearable anyway.

I'll just be sitting by the phone, knitting a sock or two and hitting redial. I've got the rest of the summer off...just because I'm feeling more understanding of the Dermatologists' role in making the world a healthier place doesn't mean that I'm not going to snag that opening when little Billy decides to go to Band Camp and put off his eczema screening.

If he happens to get into some poison ivy while frolicking with his fellow campers, he is on his own.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

WNBP: Some Like It Hot...

And others...not so much. The current temperature in the Sheepie condo is 95 degrees Fahrenheit and I'm too hot to convert that over to Celsius for the rest of the world. Just think, "hot." You'll get the basic idea. So this week's Wednesday Night Bullet Post comes with a side of Bleh and a cold compress.

*Now, don't yell...none of us needs that in this ungodly heat. But, I may have been just the teeeeeensiest bit less than forthcoming regarding last week's little visit to the hospital for my CT scan. There were a few more concerns that I really wanted to think about, frankly. Sometimes I'm more ostrich than Sheep. But the reports came back today and things aren't looking quite as issue-laden as they did two weeks ago so Sheepie did a little dance of joy and promised herself a new camera in the near future.

*For those who questioned why I chose to do the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life while I wasn't feeling exceptionally well, I'm going to assume that things make a little more sense now.

*I wish I could say such nice things about the stupid rash that has been wandering over my left arm for the last month. Dr. J decided that she wanted to take another look at that since her initial thoughts regarding Benadryl and ice packs didn't really do much to solve the problem. She remains somewhat perplexed by the state of my reddened flesh and has referred me to a dermatologist. But she did come up with a diagnosis. I saw it. Right there on the chart...big as life.

*She wrote, and I kid you not: Weird Rash.

*That bears repeating. My doctor, who has been to medical school and knows big words like "myocardial infarction" or, "placebo" wrote the words, "Weird Rash" on my medical chart. Where I could see it. It's been a long couple of weeks, folks. That struck me as the funniest thing I've ever seen in my entire life. She said she wrote it to tweak the interest of the dermatologists and maybe speed up my appointment scheduling.

*It didn't work. The first opening is at the end of August. Meanwhile, I'm on prescription strength hydrocortisone and cold calling any dermatologist within a reasonable driving distance.

*The Big, Fluffy Kitty has a brown belly. She is not using a tanning lamp or developing a rash of her own. She simply wiped off the hairball goop that I'd smeared on her paw before she realized that she actually likes the stuff. It was too hot to wipe all of it off and my attempts to sit her in a position where she could see it and clean it off herself were not met with the enthusiasm I'd hoped for. She and I were both somewhat confused when the goop disappeared from her paw before our very eyes. She got over it. I did not.

*I have reached the conclusion that my cat is either the dumbest thing in the whole world or a comedic genius.

*Did I mention that it is hot in here? It really is. And I have a rash so I'm doubly miserable...

*I realized last night (while it was also very hot) that I have a very naughty Monkey on my hands. My sock in progress turned into something not very pretty that required an hour of painstaking tinking. I have everything under control now, though.

*But I have learned a very painful lesson with regard to blogging about the ease of any particular pattern. I believe that we have all covered my relationship with Karma.

*For any new readers or short term visitors: you should probably know that Karma hates me. A lot.

*So, to be on the safe side, I worked on my nice, simple Socks Of Summer for most of today. I may even have one finished tonight.

*And I'll start the second at tomorrow's day long training on Reading Across The Curriculum for 6th grade teachers.

*I will check to see if reading patterns counts. But I'm betting that it doesn't. I'm probably going to have to participate in the full 8 hour training.

Have a wonderful and blissfully cool Wednesday evening folks! Assuming I don't melt or my rash doesn't take over my entire body and turn me into some sort of mutant superhero who needs to spend all her time saving endangered mortals and hiding from the light of day, I'll see you all tomorrow!


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pros 'n Cons

There is an upside as well as a downside to having teacher trainings during this, the second week of my summer vacation. For example, these might be considered some of the nice things:

*The upgrades to the math program are really pretty good and I'm thrilled to see that the whole system has become more user-friendly.

*I was able to bring the Socks Of Summer along with me and make half a foot happen. (that's a "person" foot not a "ruler" foot...why would I need to knit 12 inches of sock, for heavens sake? Well....I suppose if they were knee highs or if my cousin was Big Foot, then I'd need to.)

*It was eight billion degrees outside today with 3 million percent humidity. No, I am not exaggerating and it doesn't matter whether you are using a Fahrenheit or Celsius system to measure the temperature. You get the is hot!!!! But, this was bearable because:

*Most Maine schools do not come with air conditioning. But a lot of the high schools do...and my training was in the cool comfort of the high school library. Ahhhhhhhh!

*The training, which was scheduled from 8:00-4:00 was put on the fast track and we were out by 11:00.

However, there were some drawbacks:

*I brought the Socks Of Summer with me and knit half a foot...but the Monkey Socks had to be left behind.

*It was eight billion degrees today with three million percent humidity.

*The training was let out early and I had to go forth into the blazing sun, leaving behind the sweet, sweet air conditioning that was keeping my hair in a non-flat state.

*There is no way on God's green earth that I am going to remember a single darned thing that was covered today regarding the fabulous new upgrades to the math program. I will return to school in September, stare at the new teachers manuals and demand to know why no one told us about all this stuff before we had to teach it.

But when you boil it all down to the basics (which isn't too hard to do when it is eight billion degrees outside) it really comes to this: I got to come home to my Monkey Socks.

And Sheepie likes her Monkeys!
Anyone who has read this blog for more than ten minutes has probably figured out that I am not exactly an accomplished knitter. You've been looking at pair after pair of stockinette socks and wondering, "Is that all there is? Thank heavens that her truck breaks down every now and again or she gets a bee in the house...that at least makes things interesting!" And the scarves? I honestly don't know how you all managed to contain your desire to just come strangle me with one of the foolish things. You are really just so nice! I feel like my foray into something a little different is as much for you as it is for me, really. I steeled myself for the challenge in order that you might be able to look at something that might represent a change of scenery.
Now either my skills have increased tenfold over the past few months (and I have about thirty projects that are unfinished and with irreparable errors in them that never saw the light of bloglines to prove differently) or this pattern is ridiculously easy. Nothing has gone wrong. Something has to give somewhere, I'm sure. Any day now, I will surely slink back to the blog and confess to you all that there has been some horrific incident involving my inability to count or successfully include a yarnover. But, I gotta tell ya...I'm on the fourth pattern repeat of the cuff and there has been no such tragedy. Not one. I just knit them. I didn't have to use any of the bad knitting words at all! Maybe it's the heat or something. Whatever. I'm not going to question it too thoroughly. I'm just going to enjoy it.
Because I have another training on Thursday. There will be no air conditioning. And it's one of those "mandatory" trainings for which they actually pay us. Thus, no early release time on this one. I'm going to need to stock up on the happy feelings.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Not What I Seem

I like to think that I present myself as a Sheep of high moral character. Perhaps even one that could be trusted with a secret or to keep watch over your muffin while you visit the ladies room. If it's a chocolate chip muffin, you may wonder if I'll pick off a chip or two while you're gone. That's just human nature and to be expected. But, I'm sure that you are really thinking that I'm merely checking your muffin and ensuring that it is of the high quality you deserve. You are, after all, a fine person who trusts me to guard your snack.

But it's not a trust that I have earned. I am, dear readers...(cue ominous music)

A fraud.

That's right. I'm nothing but a ne'er do well who will come to no good in the end. I'm rotten to the core, I tellya. I'm one bad apple. You shouldn't be trusting me with that muffin. I'll just pounce on it like a lion on a hapless gazelle and devour it while laughing at your naivete. You could leave me with your salad, for what it's worth. But not the muffin...

In an email to Trek today, I commented on how utterly bored I am with all my knitting projects. Nothing is even remotely piquing my interest at all. There is naught but miles of endless ribbing or stockinette. Bleh.

But, I sanctimoniously declared that it was my full intention to soldier on and finish these items before casting on another. I know me and my fickle ways. If I have too many things hanging off the needles, none will ever see the finish line. It is better to have no more than two things on my knitting radar at any given time. I stated that I would cast off these uninspiring items in a completed state before moving on. I even suggested that perhaps Trek might benefit from using my handy Index Cards Of Summer Organization system to help keep herself focused on project completion. Because, as you know, she only finishes a mere two or three projects per week. Clearly she needs the assistance of a Sheep who completes a project per month. It was my pleasure to lend a hand and it felt good to know that others were now aware of my commitment to finishing my current, if uninspiring, projects.

I lasted about an hour after that.

I couldn't help myself. The Lorna's Laces, now untangled from the ungodly mess into which it had contorted itself into a few days ago, was calling to me from the other room. I was weak. I wanted a challenge. I wanted something new, something exciting...something to make my Sheepie heart race. I resisted for a bit. I had a few moments of integrity.

But, like I said: I'm just no good. You should go find yourselves another Sheep who blogs about knitting and stuff. You deserve better than the likes of me. I'm sure to get my just desserts before too much longer. I'll end up outside one of those department stores with a sign that reads, "Will Work For Red Heart." I'll be picking through the trash outside the local Chinese restaurant looking for used chopsticks with which to knit. People will see me, shake their heads and whisper, "She used to have it all...then she developed Fickle Knitter Syndrome. Don't stare! Oh no! She's spotted us! Look away, look away!! Toss her that half-used skein of Caron's Simply Soft...maybe she'll go away."

I'm going to go knit on my Monkey Socks now. You are all free to talk amongst yourselves and decide if an intervention might be useful or if it is just too late for me. Maybe you want to do a refreshment list sign up for the event or something. If you do decided to go that route, just let me warn you ahead of time...

Extra muffins might be a good idea.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wasted Youth

This time of year always brings with it a little regret. Not much...I'm not all that big on regret, really. But, a little bit creeps in.

Karma is telling me clearly and in no uncertain terms that I should have taken French in high school. I'd like to speak French. It is a beautiful language, mellifluous and sort of classy. It'd be nice to be able to go into any of the finer restaurants and order myself a Mountain Dew like a lady.

But, for reasons that made sense at the time, I opted to take Spanish. This has not served me well at all. Sure, the class was kind of fun. We started a Spanish Club and I got to go to a car wash with the cute senior who sat in front of me. But, I don't find myself suddenly having to provide translation services on any given day.

Of course, I can't speak Spanish either. All I can do is ask politely for lemonade and directions to the restroom. Which is, I suppose, useful in its own way. I mean, if you are requesting the former then you are probably going to be needing the latter at some point. But, I don't think that my limited language skills would make for a good vacation in sunny Spain. Eventually, all that acidity from the lemons would have its way with me and I'd be all grumpy when I had to ask for the facilities.

But, that would come in handy this time of year. My little corner of the country is beach laden and a favorite destination for French speaking Canadians. These are among the most polite of peoples and I do love to listen to them conversing. But, my inability to communicate effectively with my friends from the north has made summer grocery shopping a bit trying. Hence, my yearly rending of metaphorical garments over my having wasted two years of public education in a Spanish class. Now I can't speak French. And I can't ask the nice people to kindly move aside before I expire from the need to get the last two black and white cookies that I so love and must, must, must have.

I grew up in a very Franco-American part of the country so I've certainly had my exposure to the language. But, I didn't pick up much. I can swear a little bit thanks to the grandmothers that lived or visited with my childhood friends. However, I am not 100% sure of my pronunciation on these little gems and swearing in a foreign language is one of things you really want to have a solid handle on before you let loose. And none of the situations really call for swearing to any degree. I mean, I got the cookies. No need to get hostile, right? The one thing I can say with the finest of French accents is, "Nomme de Plume!" I enjoy saying this very much and know that I sound completely authentic when I let 'er rip. And, while I will admit that I achieve the desired effect of parting the crowds that surround my beloved baked goods, I don't really think they are moving out of respect for my language mastery.

And, if the truth be known, I doubt that I'd really have the nerve to assert myself in the presence of the tourists. They are, to a person, far better dressed than I and have an air of sophistication to which I can only aspire. would be nice if I could speak French.

I decided to hold my mono-linguistic head high, though, and work on a few of the summer projects that I have promised to add to the "done" column in September. There is comfort in knowing that you will soon be checking things off the list. As I have two workshops this week that I suspect will be less than stimulating, I decided to push through the heel flap and gussets of the Socks Of Summer so that there would be naught but mindless stockinette to keep my hands occupied while I pretend great interest in the new reading and math programs.

This was yesterday...I'm much further along now!
And, ever the comforting presence when I am regretting my choice to not take French, The Big, Fluffy Kitty assisted me with a little spindling.

My wool basket is well guarded. Even from me...
Nothing finished, though. I'm thinking I might have something by Friday but hesitate to commit given the time I'm going to need to spend in classrooms this week. Those types of things often degenerate into work groups and "hands-on" demonstrations. You never know when you are going to get hit with a presenter who enjoys involving the class whether they like it or not. So, for the moment, nothing is crossed off the Summer Index Cards Of Organization, everything remains a work in progress and I still can't speak French.
Cest la vie...

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Ahhhh! Sheepie does love a good blog contest! Even if I don't win, I enjoy participating, wondering how I will fare, living the victorious life vicariously through the actual winner...

But I like winning even better. Sue me. Free stuff in the mailbox is good stuff. I do a Sheepie Happy Dance and annoy the mail carrier to the point of needing a restraining order. I declare myself the Queen Of The Random Number Generator and consider writing a book on the subject of winning blog contests so that others can benefit from my good fortune. (just not as much as I)

I am, in short, unpleasant in an endearing sort of way.

And such was my shameful behavior upon receiving my bountiful box of winnings from Trek's comment contest. I eagerly sifted through the contents, cackling gleefully all the while. I was especially taken with the sock book. So taken that I opened it immediately in order that I might begin the process of becoming a better sock knitter before I even picked up all the wayward packing peanuts. I swear to you that I only got up for a minute. Reading about sock knitting requires a nice glass of Mountain Dew after all...

And it was then that the Big, Fluffy Kitty decided to make a point regarding who is the true winner of all prizes in this house and to take me down a few notches back to "mere mortal" status.

She wasn't moving.

I humbly arranged my prizes around her and accepted things for what they are. Cat rules. Human drools. I finally did manage to get my book back. After an hour or so...

I really needed the time to check the box again, anyway. How did I manage to miss this on the first perusal?

A wee Sheepie for my key ring! Even better, a Sheepie that dispenses candy!!!

I'm so glad that I spotted this little fellow in amongst the packing material! Such a little cutie... Thanks so much, Trek! (and Neatnik!) This was a fun prize pack and one that will keep me highly entertained this summer. I just need to keep that book closer to hand to avoid future hostile kitty takeovers.

There was another little contest going on over the past month or so right here in this little corner of the blogosphere. On June 15th and 16th, I participated in the South Portland Relay For Life to benefit the American Cancer Society. In an effort to encourage donations to this worthy cause, I offered to do a prize drawing for those folks who sponsored me. Later, there were others who generously offered to add prizes to the pot so that more people could walk away as winners. I was so thrilled to be able to participate in the endeavor and happy to report that I reached my fundraising goal of $500.00. It was a very long night spent on that baseball field. The temperatures were low, the fog was damp and the ground was hard under my sleeping bag. But the company was good and the cause was right. I would do it again in a heartbeat. And now, chosen by random number generator, the winners of the prize drawing:

Goose Pond Pins: Annie W. and Priscilla N.

Stitch Markers designed by Mouse herself depicting a sheep and Chuck Taylors: Ronni

Over a pound of Jacob roving donated by Teri, The Knitting Libran: Heather (aka: missemilysmom)

And the winner of the $50.00 gift certificate to Goose Pond: Donna Lee!

Winners who have not already been contacted can email me at Ann_Duntley6ATmsn.COM to arrange shipping.

I only wish that I could send prizes to everyone who sponsored me in this event, but I sort of still need to keep feeding the cats. I do, however, offer my deepest thanks to all of you for helping. You are the best!

See? The Big, Fluffy Kitty has done her job and kept me all humble-like...


Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Life Purpose

Let me make one thing perfectly clear:

I love Lorna's Laces.

I love the colors. I love the way it feels when I knit with it. I love the way it looks when it is transformed into a finished garment. I love how that finished garment feels. Love the Laces. No question about it.

That said, I am going to make it my mission in life to find the person at the LL factory or workshop who is responsible for taking up most of my day. I will find the individual who who was asleep at the switch for that one brief second. I will hunt this nefarious stealer of precious time until my end of days. Mark my words, dear readers. I will find the person who is responsible for this:

Skein Winding 101 is not required reading for all Yarn Factory employees.
And when, at the end of this long and arduous search, I find that soulless person who made my day so "challenging," I'll....well, I'm gonna.....Oh, I'll probably just burst into tears and babble incoherently while waving a yarn clot in his or her face. The whole thing will probably degenerate into some sort of Caring Circle with me getting comforting hugs from all the yarn makers.
I talk big. But I'm really rather wimpy.
Now, I take some responsibility here. I had a bad feeling when I popped this skein on the swift. There were errant strands that didn't seem to want to follow the group. Rebel yarn, if you will. I diligently located these wayward wanderers and attempted to get them back in line. I carefully examined the placement...and I will admit to having an sense of foreboding overtake me. But, I couldn't really see where I had gone awry in trying to make sense of this poorly packaged yarn. I took a chance. I began to crank the ball-winder. How bad could it possibly be?
Needless to say, it could be pretty bad. There was a great explosion of lovely sock yarn, a rather ominous clunk from the ball-winder and several exclamations from The Sheep that do not bear repeating. What you see in the picture above is the carnage.
I began to rewind the yarn. Painstakingly. Slowly. With gritted teeth...
And I have still not managed to unsnarl this ungodly mess. I'm, perhaps, half-way through it. I let it go after two hours. It needed a little time to think about its behavior, frankly. And, since my eyes were already crossed from following the path of a single strand of yarn through a plethora of twists, knots and swirls, it only made sense to just play computer games for the afternoon.
I sort of lost track of time for a while there...I don't exactly know how long I was playing. But there seems to be something of a gap in my day between the hours of 2:30 and 6:00. (that was when I got hungry...) Odds are good that this pile of unrealized Monkey Socks will continue to sit for the remainder of the evening. I am holding out hopes that a band of merry fiber elves will sneak in during the night and untangle it for me. I've heard tell of such creatures. I'm leaving out some cookies and milk in the hopes of luring them in to turn what looks like blue intestines back into the lovely Lorna's Laces with which I so optimistically began this day.
It could happen...
Meanwhile, in happier news: I will be announcing the winners of my Relay For Life Sponsorship Contest on Saturday. I have used the random number generator to make the oh-so-difficult decisions regarding prize distribution for me. I will just let you all sit in suspense while I locate blog urls and the like. We here at Sheepie's House Of Relays And Yarn Mishaps like to do things by the book, after all. I am rather giddy at the prospect of giving away such fabulous prizes...
And I promise that no one will be getting a box full of mis-skeined and exploded yarn. I'm not even tempted. At all. Not one little bit....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What Day Is This?

It is highly likely that, during my summer hiatus, I will periodically forget which day of the week we are enduring. But, today is a good day for those of you who like the random. I am fully aware of the Wednesday-ness of this day and am ready to fire off a few of the bullets that make up the Wednesday Night Bullet Point Posts. Here's the first of the Summer WNBPs:

*I think I have come up with the best strategy for dealing with the yearly mammogram. It sort of hinges on living ten minutes from the mammography place, but you guys are clever. You'll figure out a way to tweak it to your individual situation if need be.

*The best way to get through a mammogram is to forget that you have one scheduled. Then, around 8:00 the night before said mammogram, remember it. Decided to stay up late anyway, because you are on vacation and are bound and determined to stay up late whenever you darned well please. You will do this despite having an 8:00 a.m. appointment. This will lead to some minor oversleeping on the day of the mammogram. You will be forced to go the lab after having thrown on a pair of dirty sweat pants and while still half asleep.

*Half asleep is truly the best way to experience a mammogram. Sure, you are going to find yourself waking up rather abruptly once the machinery starts doing its unholy work and that can be a little disorienting. But overall, sleepwalking is really the way to go on mammogram day.

*For the record, calling it a "Mambly-Grambly" doesn't do anything to make the experience any better despite the rather merry sound of the syllables.

*I think I may be getting the hang of this whole "summer vacation" thing. It is currently 7:00 in the evening and it just occurred to me that I have yet to shower today. And I am still in the unwashed sweat pants.

*Hey, guess what I did last night? I finished the scarf that I am now calling the Wonky Catena Scarf!

See those stupid beads? I literally hurt myself trying to get those on there. Tell me they look amazing. Tell me...tell me now!!!!! TELL ME!!!!!!!!!!

And here we see it in its entirety!

*The fiber came from Wooly Wonka Fibers. The heads-up on the opening of the Wooly Wonka shop came from Cathy, the queen of all things crochet. Hence, there was little debate over how I would work this spindle-spun yarn up! 'Twould be crochet!! And 'twas! Isn't it 'tweet?

*The scarf was also on my list of summer projects. The Index Cards (upon which I comprised this list and who have become almost a living and very judgemental entity in my eyes) were pleased with my having checked off one item having only had two days of vacation under my belt.

*The mammogram was on the list, too so I'm really kicking it on the summer to-do stuff. I think I may be just a little bit scared of the index cards...

*I am worried about me. I went on a rather lengthy rant last year over the Project Runway Season 3 finale and my sense that they were more flagrantly discriminating against the average sort of gal than they normally do. And yet, I spent a good chunk of today watching reruns of Season 2. I think I may be sucked in again...I am beginning to suspect that I may have a bit of a shallow side. Don't tell anyone, 'kay?

*The shelf that I put up yesterday hasn't fallen down yet. I guess Daddy Sheep was right about the whole "finding a stud to nail into thing." In my defense, I didn't know what a stud was for a long time so I wouldn't have been able to find one in the wall to save my soul.

*I thought a stud was something entirely different and would have felt badly hitting one with a hammer.

*I've had a lot of shelves fall down over the years. A lot...

And there you go! I'm finishing up my Wednesday Night Bullet Posts, nursing my sore fingers after shoving 45 pounds of yarn through a wee little bead for an hour and waiting for my squished, mammogramed chestal area to puff back out to its normal size.

And, um...watching Project Runway. Sorry.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Sheep Is On The Level.

Had you been an undetected visitor to The Sheep household last night, you would have been treated to the sight of a disheveled Sheep wandering from room to room muttering to herself:

What the heck has happened to all the levels around here?

I know I own a level...I distinctly remember buying one last summer when I lost the other one.

See??? Here's the package that it came in! Which isn't as helpful as actually having the level, but it shows that I'm not crazy, right? Right???

I also remember arguing with the level over the definition of "straight." I lost. I don't know what "straight" is.

I know! I could use a glass of water! Water shows a level line if it's straight! No...wait. I tried that last summer when I was putting up shelves. I seem to recall having to get a mop...better keep looking for the correct tool and not improvise.

Why am I still putting up shelves? How many shelves do I need around here? And why do they all have to be level?

OK!!! That does it! New rule: any cats who are in my path while I am looking for the stupid level so I can put up the stupid shelf on the stupid wall are responsible for their own stupid injuries. I don't want to hear about it.

For that matter, why aren't you helping me??? I need a level, for crying out loud! A little of the team spirit might be appreciated right now!

I never found the level. Not the first one. Not the one I bought last summer to replace the first one. They have gone to that dimension that houses socks, keys and all those other things that don't want to stay where we put them. Every once in a blue moon, this dimension sees fit to spit one of those objects back to us. This usually seems to coincide with the tidying of drawers or moving of sofas, but I don't think it is a related phenomenon. It is just one of those things we mere mortals weren't meant to understand.

Meanwhile, I had to go out and buy a new level. I am one of those pathetic individuals who is incapable of drawing, replicating or even imagining a straight line. The shelf to which I painstakingly applied four coats of tung oil was doomed to hang in a cock-eyed state for all eternity if I didn't use a level. I even got one of those fancy ones with the laser thingie in it so I could make a red line on the wall for reference then taunt the cats with the magic red dot on the carpet once my shelf-hanging was done.

And there she is: the shelf that was not on the Index Cards Of Summer Organization!
This whole shelf thing really took more time away from my "Summer Plan" than was allotted. I'm not sure just why I felt I needed a shelf. Frankly, I think I was rebelling against my own self and the plan I'd put together to structure my summer projects. I will be having a long talk with myself about this later. Meanwhile, to appease me and perhaps lessen the length of the lecture I will be delivering on the subject of index cards and their relative importance in my life, I worked on this:

Scarf crocheted in hand spun "Shire Blend"
More on this project later. I'm pretty much done with it...just need to slap a few baubles on her to make it all sparkly and girly. And this is one of the things I said I was going to do this summer and my finishing it in a mere two days will go a long way towards convincing me that I'm making progress on the knitting and spinning projects.
Wait...the spinning! I forgot about the spinning! I got so caught up in the shelf-hanging and crocheting that I forgot to spin today! Sheesh!
I'm never going to let me hear the end of this...

Monday, June 18, 2007


The first official day of Summer Vacation is always a little bit disorienting. Now, before I lose ten of my thirty readers to utter disgust over what they perceive to be my complaining about having a summer vacation, please understand that I am not fussing about it. I'm just explaining is all.

It doesn't really matter how much time I devote to counting down the days or marking the calendar. That first day always goes a little something like this:

Step one: Wake up sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 in the morning. (Yes. I am one of those disgusting Early Risers that you hear so much about). Think to self, "How nice that I can just lay here in bed for a bit longer! I think I'll just snuggle with the nearest kitty and plan my day..."

Step two: Begin to doubt. What if I've made a mistake? What if today was really the last day of school and I should have actually gotten up and been on my way by now? Can they fire me if I don't show up on the last day? Do I have some sort of medical claim here, what with my inability to read a calendar? Should I actually be on disability for this? If I did that, I could sleep in every day...

Step three: Painstakingly review the events of the last few days and confirm that this is, in fact, the first official day of summer vacation.

Step four: Suddenly realize that I have a whole day ahead of me and that I am slothfully lying abed rather than enjoying it.

Step five: Rocket from the bed leaving a plethora of startled kitties in my wake. I still don't have a clear plan or anything...but that isn't going to stop me from racing around trying to get ready for whatever the heck it is that I should be doing...

From there, I always sort of alternate between frantic activity of the cleaning and creating varieties then sitting whilst assuming a rather alarming vacant stare. Little gets done.

This year seemed worse, though. I know that I've been talking about this day for a while now, but I was really rather unprepared, it seems. I know that part of the problem here was that I left school last Friday in something of a hurry. I needed to grab a quick shower then leave for the Relay For Life event. That took some planning beforehand and resting afterhand. I didn't really have much time for thinking about Monday morning.

And the last day at school was somewhat overshadowed by a rather unfortunate comment made to me by a colleague once the students were gone. I'll preface this by saying that this individual is not really a bad guy...he means well most of the time. I honestly think he was trying to be witty. And, under other circumstances, it might have been a chuckle-maker. Had we been in a bar, the Playboy Mansion or a Crude Convention, it would have actually been highly appropriate.

It was not so appropriate at the staff luncheon. It was less appropriate given that it was said while the entire staff was standing in line to partake of the delightful cafeteria fare that was being laid out for our enjoyment. I made a good effort at responding in a snappy and equally witty manner. But, I was so taken aback, that I really didn't do a very good job. Once we had all retreated to our tables, my teaching assistant ( a very kind and gentle young man) said, "That was really uncomfortable for you, wasn't it? Doesn't he have daughters, for crying out loud?"

It was awkward...and it sort of cast a pall over the whole end of school thing for several people. Fortunately, this individual has transferred to another school for next year so I will be spared any further thoughts from him with regard to my...well, why don't we just leave it at that? God help me and the rest of the female half of the race because I honestly think he was trying to be complimentary. But it wasn't and it was the cause of a bit of angst as we all packed up our teacherly wares for the summer.

So, with all that going on, it took me a while to find my groove today as far as the whole Sheepie Of Leisure thing went. I did a little of the spinning, a wee bit of knitting and even started crocheting myself a scarf just in case the winter snows should return to this hemisphere in July. I also stained a shelf. That wasn't even on the list of things I wanted to get done this summer! I have no idea why I wanted to stain a shelf. It looks rather nice...but it isn't on the index cards. And the index cards are the things I said I would use as the guide for all projects this summer. I checked them several times. There were no shelf staining directives writ upon them anywhere.

It took me a while to get a handle on this whole vacation thing. I finally settled myself down to one project and made sure that it was one of which the index cards would approve. I relaxed and allowed myself to breathe normally for the first time all day. Summer is the time to relax and finish things at a reasonable pace. There is ample time to get a great deal done and no need to frantically flit from project to project trying to get it all finished. The school year is really over, tomorrow is yet another day of vacation and time is plentiful now. I actually felt the muscles in my neck creak as they relaxed into this new found knowledge.

I then realized that I was going to be late for a meeting at job #2...the pulse rate went back up, suitable shoes were located and I shot out the door, once again leaving startled kitties trembling behind me.

I'll get the hang of this eventually. I'm going to practice again tomorrow.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Can Explain...

Now, before you all start shaking your heads, assuming that knowing look and saying, "Oh, that Sheep..." just let me explain. I have a really good reason this time. Bunches of 'em! I can spend days and days justifying my behavior if need be. Ask Mommy Sheep...she's had 42 years of experience with listening to me rationalize decisions ranging from why I thought I could balance on that bouncy ball like those guys in the circus to my thoughts on why it may be somewhat frivolous to change the oil in the car every three thousand miles.

I'm good at this...

First of all, there is the simple fact that I am basically a good person. I don't spit on the sidewalk or cheat on my taxes. I have been known to give up my seat to someone who needs it more. I look away when a friend needs to adjust her bra strap. If someone reminds me, I can usually be counted upon to turn off the lights when I leave a room. I've never snuck into a movie without paying or used handicapped parking. I dutifully joined Mommy and Daddy Sheep today to celebrate Father's Day in the time honored tradition of gorging on an All-You-Can-Eat Chinese Food Buffet. I purchased a card and a gift and even went so far as to remember that I needed to bring it with me to successfully complete the gift-giving transaction.

I'm not nominating myself for sainthood or anything...that probably wouldn't come to much. I think you have to be Catholic. And not swear. In fact, the Sainthood Approval Committee might get a kick out of seeing my name on the list. It would no doubt break up their day a little bit. But, I don't think you'll be seeing me modeling for my Saint Sheepie statue any time soon.

Then there is all the fiber I've got in the condo right now. It needs to be dealt with! It's not going to spin itself. I don't have my own personal helper monkey or elf coming over to take care of it. I have to spin it. That takes tools.

And, for that matter, I didn't invent the concept of the Etsy Shop. That was Ms. Etsy. I don't know if that is her real name...she may use an alias for shopping purposes. But I can tell you that it wasn't me who put the whole thing up there. It is a very good idea, though and one that isn't going to be around for long if we don't use it. I am only doing my part to keep a fine Internet shopping tradition alive and well. (You may add this to the Isn't That Sheep A Fine, Fine Person list, if you'd like)

If none of that convinced you then there is this: When the price is right, then the price is right. You are nothing short of obligated to make the purchase. Who knows when the shopkeeper is going to need to slap some braces on their youngest or put their dog through obedience school? It is only fiscally responsible to purchase something for $15.00 or so dollars while it is available at that price. Life is unpredictable.

So, I am assuming that we are all on the same page at this point. We are in agreement. Some things were just meant to be. Others may not have been so intended but, with a little creative thinking, we can make it seem that way. Thank you for coming around to my way of thinking on this one.

I did, in fact, really need a new spindle.

For those of you keeping track, that would be a total of 4 amassed since February when I learned that I actually do know how to use one of these things. And, if you are keeping track, then you should probably move along now. There's nothing to see here...

I can stop any time I want.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Relay Remembered..sort of.

Your faithful Sheep returns from The South Portland Relay For Life a wee bit sunburned, a lot bit tired and with a whole new appreciation for survivors of both cancer and camping. Here's a little recap that is going to be done in the Wednesday tradition of Bullet Posting since even the Nap Of Champions that I took today has done little to completely restore me to a full and upright position. First up...


*You all helped me to meet my fundraising goal! You rock!!! I can't thank you enough...but I'll try! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Arrival At The Relay (Sheep Style):

*I landed at South Portland High School promptly at 5:30 pm. (no link to their site...they were my high school's arch rival and while I will walk their track for a good cause, I will not facilitate your getting there to visit via the internets. It is tradition...)

*I then wandered the fields for an hour and a half looking for my team. None of the tent sites were marked. I only knew two of my teammates. The nice people at the registration booth were trained in "nice" and not "helpful" Thank heavens that I was located while standing helplessly at home plate by Future Sister In Law Sheep (formerly known as New Girlfriend Sheep Who We Like and whose new title is more to my liking!!!!)...if not for her, I might still be there.

*I found a chair and sat for an hour. I was tired after all the site searching and dodging security after the site searching because I was starting to look at bit stalkerish after the first thirty minutes or so...

*Being tired before you start even walking laps is probably not a good sign. But, in this case, I was able to power through!

And, for your viewing pleasure, may I present...The Dreaded Track Of Endless Walking:

In the nice bright sunshine, it doesn't really look so tough...
The Weather:
*I was rather warm when I got there. I feared that I may have overdressed.
*By 7:00, it was clear that being overdressed was the least of my problems.
*It was cold. I'm not talking, "gee, I'd better throw on a fashionable sweater" cold. I'm talking "wear everything you packed and hope for the best" kind of cold. Sometime around midnight, I began to wonder how many of us would actually survive the night. Would we be found by rescuers in the morning having lost half of our numbers and getting ready to consume them for sustenance? Was I really hearing the hungry howl of a wolf in the wee hours of the morning? Or was that just the DJ announcing that it was time for the "Pajama Walk And Pizza Party?"
*Whomever may be the higher power you consider to be your personal go-to guy/gal, would you mind sending them a big shout out on behalf of Trek who sent me that Socks That Rock Yarn? Without it and the resulting socks, I would have lost at least a toe.
*It was so cold that you could tell who was partaking of the lukewarm cocoa and coffee that was being handed out. Their breath was visible. If you are like me and afraid of the Porta-Potties, then you couldn't have cocoa or coffee. Seriously, people...I didn't just learn how to pee standing up, I actually mastered the fine art of levitation!
*There was little in the way of knitting or spindling despite my having ample time in which to do it. I had to wear gloves. I wore them at all times. I slept in them. I wore them to the Porta-Potties. (I'll be burning them later, never fear!)
The Campsite:
*This year's theme was "Pirates!!"

I'd say that these speak for themselves, really...
Sheep Bling:
*One of the prizes that was donated to my sponsorship drawing was a set of stitch markers designed by the famous Mouse herself! I wore mine proudly throughout the Relay and told anyone and everyone from whence they came! They were much admired!

This was taken this morning when I got home. Be glad that recent technological advances do not include "Aroma Blogging." 'Nuff said...
Technical Difficulties:
*There wasn't much time for picture taking. But the Luminaria Lighting would have made for good shots. These are bags of sand that contain a candle. This simplest of things is used to make the most powerful of statements. Families and friends put out a bag in memory of one lost to or still fighting cancer. They line the track. For two hours, a list of names scrolls across the Jumbo Screen as we walk the track and look at these bags decorated with the names of those who are there in spirit only. For that time, they are the only light on the track.
*This was a bad time for my camera battery to give out. The campsite pictures were taken with my cell phone this morning once I remembered that I had it.
*But the camera held on long enough for this and this is really what mattered:


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Contest Update And Improved Mood

Tomorrow night, right at this very time...well, maybe not at the time you are reading this. What I mean is, "the same time as I am typing this..." If you get a mental picture of me sitting on my couch surrounded by hungry cats, piles of stuff that should have been put away three weeks ago and Mountain Dew caps, look at the clock in the background and see that it is something like 7:30 in the evening, then you will have a general idea of what I'm trying to say.

Are we all on the same page? Sort of? Even the teeniest little bit? Close enough. "this" time tomorrow night, I will be at the Relay For Life. Me, my rash and my rubber lung will be gearing up for a very, very long walk. This should be interesting, if nothing else, right? I'd like to take a minute to thank each and every one of you who made a donation to my sponsorship site. Your names have all been entered in a drawing to win one of a few very fabulous-type prizes. Trust me. It's the least I can do. I sort of got a little sidetracked with the whole Monkey Pox thing and and fundraising ground to a halt for a while there. If not for my blog-related fundraising, there would be naught but that which Mommy Sheep kicked in. And there is every possibility that Baby Brother Sheep would have raised more money than I. This is, in a word, "unthinkable!" Thanks to those of you who donated I have helped my walk-mates remain in the top five teams for fundraising, have raised a goodly amount of money for cancer research and, not that this is the most important thing by any stretch of the imagination, I have knocked Baby Brother Sheep out of the park. Metaphorically speaking...

I have one more prize to show before I go back to reviewing my Relay List Of Stuff That You Have To Pack Or Will Suffer Dire Consequences Like Freezing To Death Or Being Short On Rice Crispy Squares. This one comes to you courtesy of Teri. For you spinners out there, I give you:

The World's Most Giant Ball Of Jacob. (Big, Fluffy Kitty Added For Scale)
There is a kitty toy in the background there which you can also use for scale or as evidence of my having given up on picking up after the cats. This is a lovely, soft roving and there is over a pound of it! Don't let Persephone's apparent disinterest fool you. She was rather taken with this fiber...she is just playing hard to get in this shot.
Anyone who is interested in being entered in the drawing still has plenty of time to do so. And thank you again for your support be it monetary or just a good old-fashioned, "Go, Sheepie! You can do it. Walking in a circle for 18 hours is your thang! You will rock the track, girlfriend!!!" Or something like can make up your own cheer if you want. I'm not fussy. Just needy.
I'll be drawing for the prizes sometime next week. I am waiting until next week because, as I may have mentioned once, twice or a thousand times, I will be on school vacation next week. I will be on school vacation until September. I will not be working. I will be at home. I am officially handing everyone's children back to them for two months and change. It's not that it wasn't a good time and all. But it is over. They are yours as of noon tomorrow. Thanks for loaning them to me. I've enjoyed it. Honest. Please take them home now...
It has been quite a week here at Sheepie's House Of Creaking Lungs And Itchy Arms. The rash has responded somewhat to the Benadryl and I'm willing to live without sleep in order to get some relief from that. (antihistamines give me the jitters something wicked!!!) My allergies have gotten in the way of my really getting past the Monkey Pox, although the last x-rays showed improvement. Unfortunately, the last x-rays also showed one area that just doesn't seem to want to clear up completely and now I have to have a CT scan. With "contrast," thank you very much. Bleh. (not to worry, folks...this little spot is already on record and hasn't done much in the last ten years it has been in residence) School has been challenging, to put it mildly as the darling children are just as ready to see the last of their dear Ms. Sheep as she is to put them on their buses tomorrow.
Looooooong week...very long.
But happiness does tend to come my way thanks to the nice people at the post office. And Cathy. Look at what came for Sheepie today!

I opened this box and it all fairly leaped out at me! It was scary...but in a good way.
Look carefully. Do you see the wee, little onyx spindle in there? Is that not the dearest little thing you've ever seen? Don't let the size fool you, though. This little feller has some heft to it and wants to spin like the big boys. I'm still fiddling with it and seeing what it will do for me. And never has fiddling been such fun, let me tell you! In addition to a spindle from Cathy's very own collection there is Shetland, (a new favorite of mine!) Rambouillet, more Shetland, lots of yummy silk blended in there and did I mention the Shetland???? There are fibers ready for the spinning and fibers that want a little bit of flicking. (I like to do a little more processing of the fiber in the summertime. It just seems more appealing at that time of the year for some reason...) I'll update you as each fiber hits the various wheels and spindles and you can just gaze longingly at the bounty that is mine. This was such a generous gift, Cathy! Your taste in fiber is just exquisite and I hope I can do this lot justice. Thank you so very much for a timely gift box. There are many, many children who will have a better last-day-of-school tomorrow thanks to you. I fail to see how I can get cross with a single one of them when I'm all grinning and thinking of my fiber box.
And now, this Sheep must bid you all a fond farewell as she returns to organizing for tomorrow's big day. As is my custom, I will be away from the keyboard on Friday and will probably not have a chance to see you all on Saturday what with the walking and complaining about walking and all. Sunday will probably be your next update. Wish me luck!
Or wish my teammates luck. Or maybe my students. Or my co-workers. Any of the preceding will have to deal with me for rather lengthy periods of time tomorrow under circumstances that are not necessarily Sheep Friendly.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Random With A Side Of Whine

I'm feeling rather fussy tonight. You know, all grumpy and tired-like. And since there's nothing like a Wednesday Night Bullet post for listing all the ways in which the universe has done me wrong, let's have at it!

*Today was "Records Day" for the sixth grade teachers in my school. This does not mean that they try to build the world's biggest house of cards or have hot dog eating contests. It means that they hand over their students to teachers who don't have "regular" classrooms in order that they might finish up their paperwork for the year. Ignoring the fact that I have a self-contained class of fifth and sixth graders as well as students that I need to support in their regular education classes, the powers-that-be signed my staff and me up for babysitting duty. This meant cancelling all classes or support times for the fifth grade in order that we might assist in the running of games and activities for sixth graders. This is a very long day. Especially since the students on my caseload don't always have complete control over their behaviors under the best of circumstances. A wild and crazy day of fun with unfamiliar staff people is a recipe for disaster. I was still expected to supervise them while I was wrangling two groups of twenty five kids at their extra recess.

*It rained today. The extra recess that I mentioned and the one for which I was providing coverage needed to be of the "indoor" variety. It was grueling...and I had to do it for two hours. I shouldn't complain, really. My teaching assistants were signed up to supervise activities for five hours.

*While I was supervising the extra recesses and my staff were manning the volleyball courts, the fifth grade students were left to their regular classroom teachers. The regular classroom teachers have many, many students to which they must attend. Is it really such a surprise that one of my Sheepless charges allegedly decided to help himself to some ingredients from the science lab?

*For the record, the answer to the previous question is: Why no. It is not surprising at all. What is surprising is that they didn't steal your truck, your purse and the school's flagpole, Sheepie!

*For an added element of fun on this, the day of dubious blessings, I was informed that I will need to present myself for a CT scan to get a better picture of the Monkey Pox that lingers in my right lung. No worries...there is some old scarring in there and things tend to clump up around that general area. It's happened before. It's that or there are really monkey's in there. Either way, I'm going to have to have a CT scan with "contrast." Which is not how I wanted to spend an afternoon.

*I finally tracked down the school nurse and had her look at my icky rash. She became concerned about cellulitis. I've had cellulitis before. It is, for all intents and purposes, a super-sized infection. It requires a great deal of antibiotics. She sent me to Dr. Judy. Fast.

*I went to Dr. Judy. Fast. Then things slowed down a bit. My 4:45 appointment turned into an hour wait before making it into the examination room. It was another twenty minutes before she could see me. And it is not cellulitis. It is a reaction of some sort. Probably to the antibiotics. She wants me to take Benedryl. Benedryl keeps me awake at night. I have to drink coffee to counteract the effects of the antihistamine. It is a delicate balancing act. And I still may be up all night because I probably won't get the amounts right. Frankly, it's all better than having cellulitis. But I'm not looking forward to being up all night with the jitters.

*I am not looking forward to being up all night because tomorrow is Field Day at school. I haven't a clue what activities I will have to supervise for that, however I suspect they will all require at least three hours of sleep.

*But, all of the above can be negated by two simple things. Thing one: there was one black and white cookie left in the bakery section at the grocery store (if you don't count the broken one) and I got it! Thing two: When Susan sends out a gift order for you, she sends you a beautiful, signature chocolate with your receipt.

*I'd show you a picture of the chocolate, but I ate it. I ate it before I even put my bags down upon arriving home. I ate it before greeting the cats. I ate it with one hand while I tried to take my rain-soaked sweatshirt off with the other. Wanna make something of it????? I thought not...

So there you go: Whining in bullet-post form! It's an art, really. One I have taken to a level that most whiners only dream of. I'll probably be out of practice soon, though. I have but one more full day of school with which to cope then a half day that must be survived.

Summer vacation is right around the corner!!!! Check your whining at the door, Sheepie!!! And maybe consider posting about knitting or something...that's what you're here for, right?


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Well, I Could Just Dye!

I'm not ashamed to admit it: I don't always "get" color. Every once in a while, I go on a dyeing kick, though and this is usually a time for me to fight my urge to pretend that I have anything remotely resembling a clue. My best bet is to either go with one solid color and revel in the beauty of the values that can result. Or go the other way and pick random colors with a haphazardness that would make the professional dyers cringe.

Too much thought, too much analyzing, or any references whatsoever to a color wheel will result in disaster. I have the same problems with choosing coordinating yarns. It's not that I don't have a little education in color theory. Did anyone happen to notice that I managed to use the word "value" in the first paragraph? Didja? Didja???? See...I have the technical knowledge. I just don't have the "eye." Best to not think about it too much. Best to let Hysterical Mind take over the process, just dump a bunch of colors in the pot and hope to sidestep disaster.

There was a third roving that made it to the crock pot last weekend. Jeanne commented that I seem to have pretty good luck with color when I use the crock pot method. And I have to say that the results here were pretty good for the most part. The colors were rich and took like magnets on every single fiber right down to those little whispies lurking in the bottom of the pot. In all honesty, though, the crock pot is really more about the amount of fiber than it is about the technique. The color you get is the color you see once the fiber is saturated, albeit a tiny bit darker due to its being wet and all. The use of the crock pot is more about neatness and having small fiber amounts than it is about color. Had I been working with larger amounts, I would have gone with the gi-normous lobster pot.

Having had reasonably good luck doing single colors in the wee, little crock, I decided to try some rainbow dyeing with a bit of Corriedale X Columbia that came in the box of fibery fun that Susie sent me. I've rainbow dyed many, many times since it speaks to my need for instant gratification and tendency to forget that I have something "in process." You soak the fiber in water and vinegar, dump a bit of dye over random sections, push it down with a spoon and walk away. No thinking, no're done. Come back later and see how things turned out. And if you are using the crock pot, you don't even have to worry about how long it sits there...crock pots are born to just sit there.

I like that.

But, the crock pot didn't seem to like this methodology as much as I'd thought it might. In fact, its cramped quarters made the process something of a mess. Some parts took oodles of color, some were greedy and took more than one color, others rejected the dye out of hand without even giving it a chance. This wasn't really what I expected....

Tie Dye? Far out, man...
Oddly enough, I don't really hate it. In fact, I think it will spin up rather nicely. The thing about dyeing your own fiber is that you have to accept that it is only marginally within your control. Less so if you happen to be a Sheep with attentional issues who likes dumping dye on fiber then going off to watch cartoons or nap. If you happen to be this Sheep or one just like her, then you learn to live with things that are surprises. You call them "artistic" and "one of a kind." You embrace the flaws...
And, after repeating the process ten or twelve times in a row, you sometimes even learn a little something.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Of Roving, Tinfoil And Men On Trikes...

Any day that starts with a slice to the finger courtesy of some very wild and vicious tin foil then ends with not being able to make a left hand turn onto your street because you have to yield to a man on a tricycle would normally be considered "off." Leaving the house clutching a scrap of paper towel to your bleeding digit and hoping against hope that the breakfast enclosed in the offending tinfoil is unsullied is usually something of an omen. And, for that matter...

Grown men do not belong on tricycles. This is probably a law somewhere and I will be researching the matter tonight in great depth. It is distracting, causes one to pause on the gas and allows the tricyclist to position himself squarely in the middle of the street onto which I must turn. At that point, I will often lose my "turning window" and then have to wait for thirty-seven tourist filled mini vans to pass before I can get another foot closer to home. Grown men do not belong on tricycles. This bears repeating. There isn't much you can do about them. They are too stable to tip over and are moving slowly enough that there are sure to be one or two witnesses should you try. You just have to glare at them. Maybe mock them a bit.

They don't care. They just grab a Snapple Iced Tea out of their bike basket and ring their little bike bell at you.

But, despite all evidence to the contrary, it wasn't a bad day. It was the last Monday of the last week of the '06-'07 educational experience for the students in my school district. There is a great deal which can go horribly wrong at this point. Kids can become so emotionally overwrought by the thought of the upcoming freedom that they can make bad choices with regard to language and safety. Teachers can lose all control over their verbal ability and the thoughts that have been of the "inside your head voice" variety can suddenly become the "outside your head voice" sort of thing. Teachers have to keep a great deal inside. We need to keep our jobs if only for the insurance. The insurance pays for the therapy.

Today being Monday, I'm still able to use the This Time Next Week I'll Be... game to keep me on the straight and narrow. I know that if I can just hang on a bit longer that this time next week I'll still be asleep in bed. It really doesn't matter when you, the dear reader, is perusing this. Trust me...I'll still be asleep in bed. I'm pretty sure of this. I may sleep for a week.

Before I do that, though, remind me to put up a picture of the lovely, lovely, lovely Jacob roving that Teri sent for me to put up as a prize for my Relay For Life Sponsorship prize drawing. I'm trying to get a shot of it next to the Big, Fluffy Kitty for scale. It is over a pound! It is huuuuuuuge!!!! And soooooooft!!!!! That's the roving, I'm talking about...the kitty is, too, I'll grant you. But she's not in the prize drawing. You can possibly win the roving. But the Big, Fluffy Kitty stays here, 'kay? Thanks so much for donating this prize, Teri! It is taking every ounce of strength I have to not just hide it for my own spinning happiness!

But that would be wrong. And the universe punishes those who do wrong, I'm sure of it. There is a special place in the underworld for people who engage in such reprehensible behavior.

You have to wrestle with tin foil while riding a giant tricycle for all eternity. I'm pretty sure that's in the Bible...


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Stuck At Home.

It seems that summer allergies, when combined with the remnants of The Monkey Pox, make for a fairly miserable weekend. I wasn't brought to my knees. But I certainly can't say that I was at full power this weekend. I started running a low fever last night, not enough to cause Hysterical Mind to break out the Living Will or anything. But enough to make me just a bit uncomfortable. And enough to make me realize that I wasn't going to be making it to the Graduation party I was scheduled to attend today. Too bad, really. It has been a lovely day and I suspect it would have been an equally lovely time. But, with a full week looming and the possibility of taking any sort of sick time being less than nil, it made sense to lie low and see what I could do to get myself into fighting form.

So, I headed out to the grocery store for the weekly shopping, got everything put safely away and looked for something to keep me occupied while I was waiting out the pollen count. It didn't take long. I have lots and lots of very fluffy things around here. (and I don't mean the kitties!) Any of them were going to make for some low key fun that wouldn't interfere with potential naps.

For example, here's one that I actually finished earlier this week. Cathy sent me a fabulous sample kit with which to play and I decided to experiment a bit. I spindle spun some Shetland in a lumpy, bumpy, thick, 'n thin sorta way. I then plied it with some very thinly spun alpaca/silk blend. Here's what I got:

Very pretty!

And it was rather fun to not painstakingly draft for consistency. I just let 'er rip! I really enjoyed this!! I don't know what it wants to be when it grows hasn't told me yet. But, I'll let you know once it's made a decision.

Next, I had to go answer the door. Lori, angel that she is, offered up some of her quilting books to help Mommy Sheep with her new hobby and the package arrived Saturday afternoon. She also included a little something for Sheepie! A little Louet fiber brightens even a rainy Saturday. And continues to look good on a sunny Sunday! I included the handmade card in the shot as well...very, very lovely!!!

I see a you? It's merino and silk. Merino/silk hats are all the rage right now, I hear.

Then there was that fabulous goodie box from Susie that arrived last week! There is enough in there to keep a Sheep off the streets and out of trouble for the entire summer and then some! On Wednesday, I dyed some Shetland roving in the crock pot while I was at the doctor's office and being zapped with the x-rays:

This is an ounce. There is another ounce being spindled spun. Shetland likes the spindle! And Sheepie likes the Shetland!!!

I'm debating whether to ply this or use the singles. I suppose I have time for deep and thoughtful pondering on this matter. It's not like I'm going to finish this up tomorrow or anything. There are one or two other projects in the works at the moment, after all. But the considering is part of the fun on this one, you see.

Also tucked in the box of never-ending fiber were two ounces of Rambouillet top. This little beauty took a dip in the crock pot yesterday and spent today drying in the sun:

Dyed in a caramel color...looks good enough to eat!!

This is going to be some absolutely stunning yarn! I toyed with blending it...but I just can't do it. It was put on this earth to stand alone. It needs nothing else. The color took perfectly and every drop of dye went into the fiber. There was nothing left in the pot at the end of the process and the water ran clear from the the very first rinse. I'd like to tell you that I am a generous enough Sheep that this is going to be knit up into a gift for some deserving family member or donated to charity to warm the chilly and less fortunate.

I am not. Whatever this is in its future career, I can guarantee you that it will be mine!!!

The nice part of dyeing and spinning is that it can be low impact. While the wool sits, so does this Sheep. Spinning is a sit-down activity as well and one that can be left partially done should the urge to nap take over. Things are getting done, but the activity level is nice and sedate. The result? I actually feel a little better than I did this morning when I returned from the grocery store! I'm hoping that it will be enough down time to get me through this week of school.

Because this time next week it will be a whole new ballgame for this Sheep. All I have to do is get through four and a half days of antsy students, weary staff who are frantically trying to finish three weeks worth of paperwork, finishing my own backlogged paperwork, two field days and one or two awards ceremonies. This time next week, I will not be worried about surviving all that. I will not be planning lunches for the the week or making sure that I have an outfit that is somewhat ironed. This time next week...I will be on vacation for the summer!!!!!!

And that is worth taking a weekend off to rest. Trust me.


Saturday, June 09, 2007


Today started off not only as gray and drizzly, but also as one of those days that foretold of any number of things that were going to get my goat. It appeared to be fairly brimming with annoyances. Firstly, I seem to have developed some sort of rash on my upper left arm. I thought it was a sunburn back when I first spotted it well over a week ago and attributed the whole matter to sun sensitivity. That can happen with antibiotics... I took care to keep it well out of the sun. By the time I got to the doctor's on Wednesday, though, it was irritating enough to make me want to mention it.

Too bad I forgot all about it in our rousing discussion of what is the best Greek pastry.

This morning, Mr. Rash was itchy and sensitive to the touch. I quickly hastened to my local purveyor of pharmaceuticals for some of that sweet, sweet hydro-cortisone. That should hold me until I can get the school nurse to look at it.

Issue number two, my seasonal allergies, were rearing their ugly heads fairly forcefully by the time I got there, though. This made my tolerance for Ms. High Hair behind the counter somewhat low. Her decision to wander off to complain to a co-worker about "Susie" and her habit of leaving unsold cigarette packs atop the counters was ill-timed, as far as this Sheep was concerned as I was waiting to purchase my rash relief and couldn't have cared less about Suzie's poor housekeeping habits. Ms. High Hair went into great detail with regard to her complaints despite the fact that there were a number of us waiting to purchase life saving medications and breath mints.

She finally wrapped up her diatribe and returned to the cash register, but not before making her final statement on the subject of her nemesis: "I don't matter what you say to her...she just don't care!"

Irony at the drug store. Too bad I wasn't in the mood to appreciate that.

The next stop was the post office. The plan was to arrive at 9:00 and be one of the first in line to post my postals. And, thanks to Ms. High Hair and her delaying tactics, I was there at exactly 9:00. Too bad the post office is under its own set of rules with regard to punctuality and customer service. They view the whole operation as somewhat's not like they don't actually police themselves, really. Ten after nine is just as good as nine and if you don't like it you can write a letter. Just don't try to mail it at nine o'clock.

Then there was the cute little local gal who opted to use the exit lane to scoot ahead of me in line once things opened up and, being of the cute variety, got away with it. I, on the other hand, followed the rules and was not cute, having rolled out of bed, discovered my rash, been struck down by allergies and opted to not wash my hair so I could get these errands done. We, the rashy and unwashed do not get to cut in line. We have to follow the rules and hope that the Beautiful People cut us some slack.

I was rather fired up by the time I got to the counter. But, dang it all to heck, they are so nice at my post office that I just can't hold a grudge. I'm not being sarcastic here...they are all delightful to a fault. You can't stay mad. No matter what happens, you leave happy. It's only later that you remember the slights you suffered and by then it's too late. Besides, if you go back they may have decided to close early and you'll just have to wait for someone of the postal variety to wander back in to hear your complaint.

Yup...the universe was doing its very best to ruin my weekend. A Sheep has a choice at that point: lie down and take it or fight back. I chose the latter, girded my loins, took a hefty slug of decongestant and set to making things better. My weapons of choice were all of the fiber variety:

*I plied the teeny bit of rambouillet left on the bobbins, soaked it and blocked it.

*I went about getting the lamb/silk blend back on the wheel in order that I might go back to spinning that lovely yarn.

*I began spindle spinning some of the shetland that I dyed on Wednesday and spent a good portion of the afternoon declaring my love for all things shetland. There will be many, many rambling posts on the subject of my love for this fiber in the months to come, so you may want to prepare yourself for that.

*I knit on a little cottony something that may or may not remain on the needles...time will tell. But it is sort of pretty and entertained me for today, at any rate.

*I fired up the crock pot and tossed in two ounces of rambouillet top with a little caramel colored dye and am thinking that what emerges is going to be something rather yummy.

(I also had to do a wee bit of school-type work in between all this stuff, but I spaced it out enough so that it didn't take away from my happy-making. No need to discuss this little matter. It was the bitter pill that came with the sweet)

All that fiber therapy did wonders for Sheepie's outlook on the day. By the time The Big, Fluffy Kitty and I settled in for our little afternoon nap, there was a great deal more smiling happening. That could have been the allergy medication talking...but I like to think it was my self-prescribed day of knitting and spinning.

The Smaller, Less Fluffy Kitty (who is by far the more articulate of the household) has proposed writing a paper for The American Journal Of Medicine on the whole phenomenon. I'll let you know how that works out.