Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lost Weekend, Invisible Knitting And Missing Pictures

Due to the dentist and booster shot appointments on Friday, I actually ended up with a three day weekend. Since sleep has been lacking of late, this was a welcome situation. Three whole days of weekend-y bliss and all the time in the world to do whatever my Sheepy little heart might desire. Can one ask for more, really?

However the addition of a codeine-based cough medication to the mix, sort of took a three day weekend and turned it into something of a montage. There is a series of images imprinted upon my addled brain that seems to indicate activity. But I have no real idea of such crucial things as "sequence" or "real time." It's all lost to the breezy, happy feeling brought about by prescription cough medicine. My weekend is now reduced to a slide show. Not unlike the 80's...

I know that I visited with The World's Greatest Stylist because I am now a blonde and I seem to recall that, on Friday, I had something of a punk rock, reverse-skunk thing going on with my hair. See how I pick up on those little clues? I'm a regular Sherlock Holmes!

I do believe that I had the beginnings of a shawl for a brief period there. But, then it went away. Now, on this snapshot of The Lost Weekend, I seem to have a bit more recall. It would be hard to forget coming to the row where you have to do a couple of yarnovers and stuff, knitting that row, tinking it and re-knitting it forty or fifty times. The shawl is comprised of only four repeating rows and two of those are the ones where you do some simple, fiddly little things in order to make the magic happen. And every bloody one of them was knit at least twice. Clearly, I was doing something wrong... It took me the better part of a day to catch on, but there was this one yarnover that was pretty forgettable. And forget it, I did. Many, many times. By last night, the constant tinking had resulted in a few dropped stitches. The next thing I knew, the Invisibility Shawl was invisible for real. Nothing remained but a few bitter memories and a desire for more cough syrup.

Suddenly, though, it is back. This shawl is, after all, from Charmed Knits and one should expect magical sorts of behavior from a Harry Potter inspired pattern. This time it is the smaller version so that any tinking will require less of a journey back to the starting point. But, as of this writing, things have gone more smoothly. At least I think it has. One can't really be sure what with all the fading in and out. But, I haven't found it lying in a yarn puddle across the room from my knitting spot during any of my more lucid moments and this is usually a pretty good sign.

I also seem to have a couple of new stitch markers. It seems that I became rather crafty whilst under the influence and fulfilled my need for a two slightly larger markers. They are really rather pretty. So much so that I even took a picture in order that the blogging world might also bask in their beauty.

Here is where that picture would be if Blogger was accepting imagery at the moment. Apparently it is also taking narcotic cough medication and unable to function on all cylinders this weekend.
Blogger is usually quite good about pictures, at least as far as I'm concerned. I'm not going to go all Blogger Hater on it. We all have off-days, right? Maybe tomorrow I can impress you with my mad beading skills.
Basically, the last few days seem to have been almost, maybe, sort of productive. Although I can't, for the life of me, describe any of it in any real detail. This is not so much like the 80's where my tag line seemed to be, "Well, I certainly remember everything I did, I just can't tell you why on earth I did some of it..." You can't really recapture your lost youth, I suppose.
However, I have to say that having a few days wandering about in the EtherWorld and sleeping for hours upon hours at a time has been amazing. The cough, the last lingering remnant from my Fall Cold, is just about gone. I feel pretty darned good for the first time in a two weeks. Despite the fact that it feels like I lost a weekend, I am thinking that it was all for the good.
And besides...if I'm reading the calendar right, I've got another three day weekend coming up! I do love me a do-over!!!
It's the yarnovers I don't like. I think...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

This Is How We Do It

I know that not everyone appreciates protocols. But I am one who is generally pretty tickled with them. Sure, they can complicate a simple task. But I am comforted by the image of a bunch of people who know more about something than I coming up with some sort of system for handling matters in order that I not spontaneously combust or end up on the first page of the local paper.

Sometimes protocols are a pain and you will often see a bit of the misplaced anger when they are activated. For example, the lady at the pharmacy yesterday, who was less than pleased by having to go to the counter to access her favorite decongestant, decided that a lengthy harangue directed at the hapless pharmacy tech was the way to deal with matters. The fact that the medication was misused by any number of nefarious types for the manufacturing of illegal substances and that the average pharmacist was not consulted with regard to the removal of the medication from the easily accessed shelves was pretty much lost on her. Given her rage, it did not seem like a good idea to suggest that she go take her ire out on the local purveyors of speed. But that's really who we should be mad at, if you want my opinion.

I'll admit that I have had the occasional snit over a protocol. But, if I really look deep into my innermost self, I know that my anger is really more about my not being able to do what I want when I want. The rules are good and just...they simply do not need to apply to one so moral as I.

Overall, though, I enjoy a protocol. There is a feeling of "safety" when there is a system in place and this appeals to my "let others do the thinkin'" nature.

Yesterday was a day simply fraught with protocols. Everywhere I turned, there was some sort of agency or authority ready to step in with measures that would keep me on the straight and narrow. Never before have I felt so darned nurtured! For example, when I stumbled, half-awake and maybe a quarter groomed, into the dentist's office at 8:00 in the morning I was pleased to learn that the Dental Powers That Be have decided that those of us with minor heart murmurs no longer need to bother with that pesky antibiotic before appointments. Since my dentist favors the meds that often give me a bit of the tummy upset, I was almost happy to the point of forgetting that I was in the clutches of my mean and scary dentist! In addition, the updated office protocol includes the use of a new sonic scaler (which is delightful and not nearly as likely to induce cringing on my part as the metal scrapers) and handing the spit-sucker off to the patient in order that they might tend to their own drool when needed. It's almost like Santa got my letters early!

I left the office cavity-free, in possession of a fine new toothbrush and with a song in my heart!

Upon arrival at the doctor's office for my Tetnus/Pertussis/Diptheria booster shot, I took a moment to review what I knew were going to be some Potential Protocol Problems. As I'd left my non-drowsy decongestant in my desk drawer at school, I was operating without any sort of sinus control. Since it is protocol at the dentist's office to hang their patients upside down for half an hour or so, there was a little of the post nasal drip going on, similar to what I was experiencing when I tried to lie down and sleep at night. I cautioned myself that I was not, under any circumstances, to allow this to make me cough. Coughing is bad. Coughing indicates illness and this may violate booster-shot-giving-protocols. I popped a hard candy in my mouth to ease the throat and headed in.

I tried. I really, really tried. As I waited in the examination room, I attempted every form of cough control known to mankind. There was lip pursing, extra-swallowing, burying my head in my arm and the power of positive thinking. It was all for naught. The very act of trying to hold in the coughs made them all the worse when they finally forced their way to the surface. It was everything I could do to remain in my seat.

This, of course, brought the nurse. With a look of concern that darn near brought a tear to my already watering eyes, she asked if that was yours truly who was expelling a lung. You could tell that she was restraining herself from calling me, "honey" with all the will she could muster. I had to confess. This, predictably, resulted in her having to wait to give me the booster shot until the doctor could see me and give the whole procedure the thumbs up. It's protocol.

Dr. Judy arrived with what I might describe as a s**t-eating grin on her face were this not the high brow and sophisticated blog that it be. Said grin was maintained as she said, "Oh, you are sooooo busted!" Dr. Judy loves nothing more than catching me faking health. She lives for these sorts of moments. She settled in and began taking notes in my file.

At this point in the protocol-laden proceedings, I sort of forgot myself. I am not a stupid woman. In fact, in some circles you may actually hear things along the lines of, "Boy that Sheepie, she is one sharp cookie!" But, having not slept a night through for a week or so due to coughing and spending the previous day teaching in a school with no electricity or working toilets, I was sort of tuckered out. These events had taken their toll on my ability to remember that protocols often require a certain amount of finesse. I launched into a recitation of how fate was out to get me, complete with hand flapping and eye-rolling. I shared how hard I had tried to not cough and showed my Not Coughing Face. I explained how it was not my fault that the dentist made me hang upside down and forced all the nasal drippings to go to the wrong places. Finally, I expressed my feelings with regard to the utter unfairness of my getting my Fall Cold right after being exposed to Whooping Cough and now being made to get a booster shot.

It was at this point, that I realized Dr. Judy was no longer writing. She was, in fact, looking at me with an expression that said we had a little problem on our hands now. With all my ranting and flailing about, I had successfully managed to brush up against one of those sensitive little trip wires that are often lurking about and will launch a protocol faster than you can say, "Center For Disease Control."

Whoops...I swear to God that I told them this was why I was getting the booster. I guess it didn't make it into the file.

Dr. Judy was now in something of a pickle because, despite minimal exposure, I was symptomatic. The fact that Whooping Cough in adults looks an awful lot like a cold is something of a bad coincidence for someone who gets a Fall Cold every year. While even Hysterical Mind now realizes that this is nothing more than the usual progression of our colds, we were in a tricky position. Thankfully, I have a doctor who is blessed with common sense and a willingness to work with me on these sorts of things. The actual protocol requires a five day removal from school and what was described as an "unpleasant" nasal swab. We were able to avoid this and I'm willingly taking my antibiotics in gratitude. As an added bonus, I was allowed to have some of my favorite narcotic cough syrup to make it alllllll better.

But, even while under the influence of the soothing, golden glow of the cough syrup, I can appreciate the irony of how protocols meant the difference between a bad dentist appointment and a not-so-bad one. Or how they took a five minute stop at the doctor's office and turned it into an hour long diagnostic session.

Still, I do love a good protocol. Here's one of mine: When the stupid lace knitting project goes wrong for the fifty millionth time, then you must heave it across the room like you usually do at that point. Then, instead of retrieving it, you cast on for the Invisibility Shawl from "Charmed Knits."

Protocols are for the good of all. This is going to make things much more bearable for society as a whole.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It Happened Like This:

7:00 a.m. I arrive at school to discover that yesterday's heat and humidity have not really dissipated in the town where I teach. This dismays me.

7:05 a.m. I am further dismayed to discover that even more of the heat and humidity was left trapped in the building overnight and that it is like a sauna in there. But, I am nothing if not an optimist. This is why fans were invented, right?

8:00 a.m. My first student of the day is not handling the sudden drop in atmospheric pressure well. He prowls around the room with his papers in hand, tracing a path around the tables while I gamely carry on the math lesson. To his credit, he actually manages to finish his work in this manner. Outside, the sky darkens and the occasional rumble of thunder can be heard.

9:00 a.m. My Cheerful Teaching Assistant arrives to take my student to his next class. I proceed to tend to the paperwork that has a tendency to pile up after the previous day has been spent complaining about the heat rather than typing and filing. A breeze has sprung up and I open the windows wide in order that I might feel its cooling freshness. The window directly behind my desk is in the perfect position to catch the great gusts! Ahhhhh....

9:45 a.m. So entranced am I with these breezes that I neglect to take note of the now driving rain. Thankfully, my Cheerful Teaching Assistant arrives in time to take note for me. How I missed the fact that my back was soaked with raindrops is beyond me. I guess I'm just a "focused" sort of worker...and now the custodians don't have to mop the area behind my desk.

10:15 a.m. After a series of rather alarming thunderclaps, the lights flicker a few times then die. The power has gone out, taking with it a few of the little necessities that we educators like to have on hand for teaching: light, telephones, computers, working coffee makers...and running water.

10:16 a.m. Every single student in the building decides that they must use the bathroom. Immediately. It is a dire emergency and the fact that the toilets cannot be flushed is not really a problem as far as they are concerned.

11:10 a.m. After finishing classes with the 6th grade, my Cheerful Teaching Assistant returns to the room and gleefully announces that, if we can just get through the lunch periods, then we can go home. Ever hopeful, I ask where she came by this information. When she responds by saying that this is just common sense, I am forced to burst her bubble with the following Public Service Announcement:

While it certainly makes sense to close a school with no running water or electricity, it is not going to happen. An Early Release Day can only work if all schools in the district close together. Given that it is doubtful the power outages are spread across the three towns that make up this district, we will be here for the duration. The problem is around transportation. The state requires that we keep the children for X number of hours before we can call it a full day and not have to bring them back for a make-up day. If we dismiss one school early, the buses will not be able to get them all home in time to return to the other schools for regular dismissal. This problem is further compounded by the fact that we have two schools in one building and two different dismissal times. Even if we could get the 6th graders home, there is no way on earth that the 5th grade bus runs could be made without the primary schools having their buses delayed by at least an hour. This does not make the average kindergartner happy. They like to go home before dark. Having been through this sort of situation before in this district, I predict that there will be porta-potties on site within the hour.

11:30 a.m. My Formerly Cheerful Teaching Assistant gives me a pitying look that indicates I am nothing short of crazy. It is dark, hot, humid and we are surrounded by unflushed toilets. The government will not stand for this!

12:04 p.m. The porta-potties arrive and are conveniently installed below my classroom windows. I opt to not gloat as this isn't really a "winning situation" for anyone.

1:00 p.m. I teach Social Studies in what might be considered "primitive conditions." People are peeing outside my window and I am bartering bottles of water for finished work. Society has broken down.

1:45 p.m. Perhaps predictably, the classroom discussion begins to center on how we would fare if this wasn't just a power outage, but a zombie invasion. We determine that we are actually pretty well set up...2nd floor classroom, fridge, radio and assorted snacks. We're looking pretty good. We begin to craft a working government of sorts that could be implemented in a pinch and start thinking of who we are going to invite into our little kingdom. The 6th grader working in the room at this time is an enthusiastic participant and promises to help us find minions.

1:47 p.m. It is discovered that the little classroom fridge has defrosted all over the Secret Teacher Stash Of Peanut Butter Cups. A frantic rescue mission is launched and I am pleased to report that all cups are safe and accounted for. We test them just to be sure.

(I normally don't give the children chocolate until Friday. It's sort of a rule. But when my poor little sixth grader looked at me imploringly all I could say was, "Oh, had to go outside and pee in a plastic box today. You may have two!")

2:00 p.m. The decision was made to dismiss twenty minutes early as we'd had all we could take. Rumor has it that the Middle School (also without power) is ready to turn the students loose into the wild and just be done with it.

2:30 p.m. I patiently explain to a parent why we couldn't call her to tell her that we were dismissing twenty minutes early (no phones) and why we couldn't prop the doors open to help with the heat (school security policy). This analogy seemed to help:

It was sort of like "Survivor" except that, no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn't vote me off the island.

2:36 p.m. The parent leaves chuckling and with, perhaps, a greater appreciation for the lengths we will go to educate her children.

2:45 p.m. With no power and my only 5th grade student having departed early, I am left with plenty to do and no way to do it. Computer=dead. Phone=dead. Plus I am hot and the school smells kind of...well, you can imagine. I pack up my stuff and discuss plans with my Not So Cheerful Teaching Assistant for tomorrow's classes.

3:00 p.m. As I exit the building, the power comes back on. I just keep walking. I know when I'm beat.

So, to recap: I spent my day trapped in a building with no power, no working phones, no running water, and with porta potties in clear view. I did this on a Thursday in high heat and humidity. Trapped with me were 200 children, all of whom blamed the adults in the building for their raging thirst.

And this, Dear Readers, is how a Sheep doesn't have to think about her dreaded dentist appointment tomorrow morning. Isn't fate just a hoot?


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Coming To You From The Surface Of The Sun...

It's the Wednesday Night Bullet Post! Let's hear it for life in shorthand form! There is no air here, so it's all I could have done anyway.

*I'm no meteorologist. But I know from weather. I've lived on Planet Earth for over four decades now and I have what I consider to be a working knowledge of how things are supposed to function in my corner of the big, blue marble. I know what the calendar says and I know it is Fall because I have my Fall Cold. I know what Fall looks like, sounds like, smells like and feels like. I'm a very educated consumer of weather.

*I, therefore, consider it to be nothing less than a breach of contract to be experiencing temperatures hovering around ninety degrees today (on the Fahrenheit scale, that is) and humidity that has taken my hair to new lows. This is an unconscionable act on the part of Weather and Weather will be hearing from my lawyer.

*Fall Cold Update: Things are improving. I still have a miserable cough and have to periodically stop all activities in order that I might expel large amounts of unwanted matter from my nostrils. I may have to resort to an antibiotic if things don't cease and desist sometime soon. But I'll take any of this over the Fall Cold Symptoms Proper. The sinuses don't ache and the eyeballs have stopped itching. I'm fine with a cough. I'd be better if it came with that cool raspy voice that I had last week, but you can't have everything.

*I played a truly awe-inspiring game of Jenga today. It was a pitched battle of skill 'n will that raged for the better part of twenty-five minutes. There was much gasping and lurching back from the table as the precariously balanced tower of wooden blocks swayed with each successive turn. The game was so intense and my opponent and I so fully engaged in this clash of the Titans, that we refused to stop despite the fact that we were supposed to be starting math class. It is with great pride that I claim victory. I clasp my hands (my steady, steady hands) above my head in the universal sign of The Champion!!!!!

That's my challenger's elbow in the picture, there. The fact that he is not quite twelve does not diminish my savoring the sweet, sweet taste of victory in the least.
*Did I mention the heat? And the humidity? Those wooden blocks were all swollen and trying to stick together...yeah, that's right. I play Extreme Jenga!!!!
*When Ravelry decided that I was worthy enough to enter its hallowed halls, (I think they got wind of my Jenga skills) I made the decision to upgrade my Flickr account to a Pro version. I've been using it more and more for storing photos and the cost isn't so bad, really. Plus, you get ten free mini Moo Cards! I got mine today!! They're just about the cutest little things, ever! I may order a bunch to use as gift tags...
*There was also some yarn in that there mail box! To say that The Loopy Ewe ships efficiently would be an understatement. I think I placed this order on Sunday... was I to resist?????
*Yes, Noolie. I bought yarn. I do that sometimes...honest!!
*Also in my mailbox today was my brand new Teaching Certificate. You remember...the one for which I put off finishing the application and only managed to get everything into the state mere days before the deadline that they give you after you miss the "real" deadline? No sweat.
*That breeze you just felt was Mommy Sheep breathing a sigh of relief at learning that I am now officially certifiable and will remain employed. I probably shouldn't have mentioned to her how lax I'd been in this endeavor. I am a trial to that poor woman. She honest to goodness deserves better...
*Tomorrow promises cooler temperatures. Which is good because I have a dentist appointment on Friday as well as my Pertussis booster shot. I'm going to be sweating enough without having all that heat and humidity going on.
Happiest of Wednesdays to you all! May your day be filled with sunny skies, mailboxes overflowing with yarn, Moo Cards and the promise of a continued career. And may your air to moisture ratio be bearable. That one is very, very important.
If you don't believe me, just take a look at my hair...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I get tagged every now and again for the odd meme. I'm a sport about the whole thing, especially on a night when I'm a bit short on topics. Sometimes, though, I forget about them. I mean well when the "you're it" signal is made. I generally intend to follow through on the very next post. But then I finish a particularly fine example of the knitting genre known as, "Garter Stitch Scarf In Acrylic" and must share it with my fellow stitchers. Or my truck flashes some sort of red light at me, clearly indicating that it is possessed by gremlins and I feel that I have a moral obligation to let the readers know of the situation. Or I get a cold...

In short, I get distracted.

But, when I was tagged by Susie on my last post I decided that I would make a concerted effort to play along in a timely manner. I was a little worried that I might pull a Sheepie and suddenly feel the urge to write about my love of sticky notes and how I dream of someday papering an entire wall with them. However, when I read her post, I knew that this would not happen. For she has put up a picture of her new coffee mug. It is a beautiful mug and one that she put great effort into obtaining. For reasons that will soon become apparent, I heard a chorus of angels singing a heavenly tune that sounded suspiciously like the jingle I heard on the radio this morning advertising my favorite brand of java. There would be no forgetting...

So here we go, another round of Stuff About The Sheep. Here's the way it goes:

1. Link to your tagger and post rules

2. Share 7 facts about yourself, some random and some weird

3. Tag 7 people at the end of post and list their names

4. Let them know they were tagged by a comment on their blog

Everybody clear? OK, let's make the magic happen!

1. I am a fool for the "right" coffee mug. I have many. Some were found at the dollar store, others were displayed at craft fairs and some were in rather upscale shops. No matter the price, if it is the "right" mug, I must have it. I once found a mug that bore all the qualities I seek in a coffee receptacle peeking at me from a display case at a pastry shop in Salt Lake City, Utah. I paid a hefty price and dragged it almost the full width of this country.

2. We are all aware of my fear and loathing of zombies. I firmly believe that there will someday be an invasion and that my suspicion of them will be proven accurate. I also have a weird kind of affection for them. During my junior year in college, I drew zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. (I fancied myself quite the arteeeest back then) I made up little zombie stories about them. I would then cue up my cassette player to belt out The Hooter's "All You Zombies" and invite people in to look at my Zombie Art. I think people appreciated it. What can I say? It was the 80's and we all had that big hair that messed with our equilibrium and overall cognitive functioning.

3. I play a mean game of Jenga. I am seriously good at it. I am also very competitive about this tower building game...very, very competitive. When I was doing my Practicum in Counseling, it was gently suggested by my clinical supervisor that I stop using this game for Therapeutic Play Sessions. The kids always seemed a bit tense afterwards.

4. I used to secretly chuckle at people who owned sound machines. You know what I mean...those devices that play bird songs or rainstorms so you can relax? Then I got one. Now I cannot go to sleep unless the sound of a simulated ocean is swishing around in the background.

5. I am almost a vegetarian. I know that doesn't count. But it represents a supreme effort on my part so I like to think it counts for something. I refer to myself as a Conscious Eater Of Flesh. That sounds better than One Who Cannot Balance The Diet Enough To Keep From Getting Sick When She Doesn't Eat Meat.

6. I have developed a strange need to buy laceweight yarn. This makes little sense given that my lace knitting has not gone particularly well of late. But, I just love the way it feels when I'm knitting it and how "floaty" the fabric feels when it's done. I just ordered more of the stuff over the weekend. Not knitting lace is looking to be a fairly expensive hobby at this point.

7. I sing songs to the cats when I feed them. There is a different song for each type of canned food upon which they dine each evening. For example, should their 8:00 repast be "Chicken Hearts And Livers," then the musical accompaniment is a little ditty I like to call, "Chicken Farts (boom, boom, boom) They Will Make You Smart (boom, boom, boom) The "boom" part is punctuated with a little hip wiggle on my part that I think really adds a nice effect to the whole presentation. The cats seem only mildly amused but, to be fair, they have to wait for the song to finish before they are allowed to eat and this might be cause for some exasperation.

There you go! Another fascinating glimpse into the life and times of This Old Sheep. I only hope that people are able to sleep soundly after this little reveal. Sorry for any nightmares or hours spent pondering the whole "boom, boom, boom" thing. I've done this meme once or twice before and I like to use fresh material each time. It's because I care about you, Dear Readers. I want only that which is new and interesting to be viewed by your eyes.

As far as the tagging goes, we shall stick with my tried and true plan for letting you all just run with it should your little hearts desire or if you are short on blog fodder. I do love the "weird" and "random" little tidbits about people. We really are all pretty interesting folks, when it comes right down to it.

And maybe it makes me feel a little better about my own "quirks" when others admit theirs...


Monday, September 24, 2007

"The Tell-Tale Chair" or "Why I Can't Knit Lace"

There has been a little drama going on of late, one that I have kept from you. I had hoped that I might be able to keep this portion of my life a secret and perhaps remain as one for whom you have great respect. Or even a little respect. Failing that, I would settle for you considering me to be someone worthy of being told that I have toilet paper clinging to my shoe.

That all ends today. I know this. But, having discovered that the reason behind my inability to knit lace is that I am quite mad, I feel that I have a responsibility to the blogging community. I have complained enough to you about this project that you deserve to know the truth. I am not sane. Not even a little bit.

I will start by telling you that I now have a new nickname at school. It is not a nickname that befits a teacher of my great status and record of accomplishment. It is, at best, cute. At worse, it is...well cute, but in a demeaning sort of way. Yet it is a name I have earned.

Since the start of school, I have been having great difficulty with my desk chair. It is, in most aspects, a fine chair. It swivels, rolls and can be adjusted to any number of heights or angles. Most would consider themselves lucky to be in possession of such a chair. It had but one flaw.

It squeaked.

Now, I'm not so petty as to let a little squeak get in the way of my educating the masses. I like to think I am above that. But this was not just a sweet little chair peep. No. It was a veritable cackle. Sometimes even a squawk. And this sound would increase in volume as the day progressed, as if the ongoing pressure of this Sheep's fanny from hour to hour grew more unbearable with each sweep of the clock's hand. Again, I do not wish you to think me overly sensitive. This squeak was epic. It could be heard each time I moved or adjusted my hindquarters. By noon, I was able to observe passers-by in the hallway jump should I reach over to grab a pencil.

I approached our custodian, a fine and rather courtly gentleman who has assisted me in extricating myself from any number of difficulties ranging from broken window shades to a stick stuck in my truck tire. I described The Squeak to him in detail, compared it to the clucking of an outraged chicken and did my best imitation of the sound. He promptly oiled my chair and we thought the problem solved.

Not so. The Squeak resumed it's protests the very next day. Once again, the custodian was summoned. He promptly removed the offending seat and gave me his own. The Squeak was taken down to the place where all bad chairs go for further examination and oiling. It was returned to me the next day and the replacement seat rolled back to the custodian's office. An observer was heard to say, "Gosh, he just keeps dragging that chair back and forth...what's going on with that?"

I said nothing.

Last Friday was not one of my better days. I was lacking sleep, my teaching assistant was out for the day and I had my Fall Cold with which to contend. You can see how I might be a little short on good humor. At the time, I did not realize the degree to which The Squeak had come to factor into my life. I still thought myself a normal and sane human being. I couldn't seem to knit lace...but that was OK. Life was not so bad, really.

Until the The Squeak came back.

I don't really know what happened after that. All I can tell you is that I found myself barring the way to the custodian's office and informing anyone who wished to enter that, "unless this about me, we don't want to hear it right now." The three assembled custodians looked on with what can only be described as kindly suppressed hilarity while I proceeded to describe in great detail the ways in which The Squeak had come to take over my life. I shall spare you the specifics of my performance, but will tell you that there were sound effects involved as well as some pantomiming of daily desk related activities which might cause squeaking. They held back as long as was humanly possible and I really don't blame them for the laughter. I suppose that, to the sane people, this sort of thing might look a bit funny.

Once again, my favorite custodian brought forth his chair and we proceeded back upstairs to my classroom for an exchange in order that mine might be re-examined for Squeak control. As our odd little chair parade passed the principal, (the man who is my supervisor and whom I would like to think has a high opinion of me), he said: that the chicken chair?

I don't think I did myself proud by replying that it was, in fact, the chicken chair and that we are henceforth paying the custodian to only tend to this matter until it is resolved. My principal hasn't made any sort of eye contact since. You'd think that over the weekend he might have gotten past it...

I arrived this morning to find my chair back in its rightful place. Tentatively, I placed my cheeks upon it. The seat, which had rocked slightly before, was now solidly bolted in place. I wriggled a bit, grabbed a few pencils and gesticulated in the manner of a teacher providing some sort of instruction...silence. The Squeak was gone! And it remained gone for the entire day. Blessed silence reigned in my classroom once more! Perhaps now, with The Cursed Squeak gone from my life, I could resume those activities I'd once loved. I could put those precious brain cells to use on other sorts of things like remembering where I put my keys or which row of the lace repeat I was working... It was all good.

Except for this one thing. Now the custodian greets me with a hearty grin, a jaunty wave and the words,

Hiya, Squeak!


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Highest Highs, Lowest Lows...

This sunny Sunday began on a note so high it could only be heard by particularly large-eared canines. It had "promise." Great big buckets-full of gooey, squishy, delightful promise!

I awoke to find that my Fall Cold symptoms had dwindled markedly during the overnight hours, leaving behind a minor bit of the snufflies and some coughing. Also gone was the super-cool raspy voice and I rather mourned my short-lived career as The Gal With The Come Hither Voice. But it was a good trade-off since there is little benefit to having a Come Hither Voice if all anyone sees when they get to Hither is a red-nosed, drippy, whiny Sheep.

As I proceeded into the kitchen, I checked the dehydrator. Having been running for twenty-four hours and emitting more heat into the atmosphere of the Sheepie Condo than I really needed, it was ready to relinquish its bounty:

For the record, I have never liked raisins and always made it my personal mission to pick the wrinkly little interlopers out of any foodstuff into which they had made a nest. Then I made my own. Turns out, I do like raisins! I just like them all plump and fresh rather than out of a cardboard box. Life is an adventure, isn't it?
With raisins in hand, one and a half nostrils open and able to take in air, and an attitude as bright as a solar flare, I headed out to the grocery store to do the weekly marketing. There, another happy moment awaited.
I made it to the second aisle before my shopping endeavors were blocked. Despite there only being ten people in the store at that hour, it did not surprise me to find an obstacle early in the game. My roadblock was a gentleman perusing the cereal box labels. He had strategically arranged his body and his cart in such a clever fashion as to make further travel on my part impossible. This is not anything new for me at the supermarket. I give off an aura that tends to stupefy shoppers and cause them to suddenly stop abruptly in mid-shop for up to sixty seconds. I do not know if they remember this once they return to consciousness for I have never really had the nerve to ask. I just accept the phenomenon and practice patience. Mr. Cereal, however, must have been made of sterner mental stuff. He perceived me almost immediately and fairly leaped to correct the situation. Further, he apologized heartily and with such sincerity that I feared I might actually weep right there next to the instant oatmeal.
Our time together was so very brief, Mr. Cereal...but I will think of you often and with fondness. ::sniff::
There was even a good selection of black and white cookies to be had now that the tourist season here at the beach is over! The whole morning was nothing but clear sinuses, raisins and wide open aisles! You can see how I might get a little full of the optimism, can't you? It isn't too much of a leap to think that I might decided to try a little lace knitting free from the cold medications that allowed me to ignore any mistakes and plunge onward, letting fate take over the process. This seems logical, does it not?
Thank heavens I came to my senses last night after I finished the first repeat and put in that lifeline, that's all I can say. I know I was all mocking and devil-may-care about the whole thing while flush with the Nyquil. But, in the cold light of sober day, it seemed prudent to take one or two precautions. The lace is back in the basket for the time being and we will not discuss it for a few days. That should be enough time for that twitch in my eye to settle down somewhat...
Spinning seemed like a better idea. I know this doesn't look all that different from the last time I put up a picture, but it is. I swear it.

There is more now. I know this because I put it there.
This is the kind of stuff that spinners dream of when they close their little eyes for sleepy-time. It is a smooth, soft superwash merino from the magical dye pot over at Susie's place. The length of time it is taking me to finish this sock yarn is really more of a declaration of my love rather than a desire to avoid it. Spinning a fine single that can be plied into a reasonable sock yarn is almost unavoidable. It just wants to be that way. I tend to spin only when the urge is powerful as I find that's the best way to get the yarn I really want. When I spin because I feel I have to "get it done," it shows in the finished product. Every time. I'm a little disappointed that this wasn't done before the summer vacation ran out as I'd planned, but am almost happy to have it for the spinning now. I need its soft, well-behaved comfort after my knitting managed to go so horribly awry this morning. If it knits up as well as it has spun for me then I believe the resulting socks will give me the power of flight or x-ray vision.
It will not, I suspect, empower me to successfully complete a 24 row lace repeat without excessive drama. That would take a miracle. And, since I already experienced the parting of the carts in the cereal aisle, I daresay I've reached my quota for a while.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sofa, So Good!!

Why is it that, when you are feeling under the weather, the couch seems like the place to sleep? I know that some people do it to spare their partners the sound of them snuffling and hacking in the dark of night or to keep them safe from harmful germs 'n such. But, I am unencumbered by domestic partnerships of any kind so that couldn't be the reason.

Some people don't want to sully their nice, fresh sheets with all their gooey nasal drippage. I suppose that makes some sort of sense, but I can't see the logic in letting the sneezes fly all over the sofa. And besides, my housekeeping isn't exactly up to four star standards. Sure, I give the sheets a change now and again. But, I'm not all compulsive about it...or given to doing it on what most people would consider a regular schedule.

A couple of years ago, during the Great Monkey Pox Event, I had to sleep on the couch because the bed was too big. I was in some pain (read here: a great deal of excruciating pain that was something of a surprise because no one ever told me that pneumonia hurt...) and the couch was the only sleeping surface that I could be certain of rolling off successfully should I need to take some medicine or get a Popsicle. But, I don't have Monkey Pox right now. I have my Fall Cold. There's no pain involved save that which anyone who has to be around me for more than five minutes these days feels in their neck.

I'll admit that I am not exactly delightful company at the moment. I mean, honestly! You could cut off my left leg with a rusty butter knife and I'd make less of a fuss than I do over a simple cold. I just hate having a cold!!! You guys are pretty darned decent to come by for a read. Thanks for that...dunno what I'd do without ya!

I honestly can't think of a single reason why having the Fall Cold should result in my having to sleep on the couch like a genuinely sick person. But, that is what I seemed to think was right and appropriate last night. This was cause for some confusion on the part of my feline roommates as they weren't sure if it was bedtime or just naptime. We all somehow found a way to adjust, though. And this was clearly a good choice for me. With the exception of a brief period of activity during the wee hours of the morning, I didn't see the light of day until 9:30 a.m. This is unheard of here at The Sheepish House Of Convalescence. I'm not normally one to lie about in the morning. I guess sofa-sleeping just has that sort of effect on a girl. Either way, I suppose it did me some good to sleep so soundly. That, combined with an ungodly amount of cold medications, has made for a pretty good day. Plus, I still have that cool raspy voice that started up yesterday so I sound kind of like a jazz singer. A tone deaf jazz singer, I'll grant you. But it's still kind of cool.

With a full load of NyQuil coursing through my system, it seemed like just the time to revisit that lace project that was hurled across the room a week ago, called a number of vile names, stomped on a bit then consigned to the depths of the knitting basket until it could count to five correctly. Why not? Sober knitting was only bringing me heartbreak. It was rather freeing, actually. If I had an extra stitch left over when I reached the garter stitch border, I just decreased by one. If I was short a stitch, I increased. Over-the-counter-cold medications are quite handy when one needs to sink into the depths of Knitting Denial.

That harsh sound you just heard, by the way, was the collective gasping of the Real Knitters as they process this piece of information. I'm not even going to tell them that I said out loud for all the world to hear: ...and I'm not using a lifeline either, you stupid knitting. What do you think of that, you misbehaving pile of string???

Being off by one or two stitches sort of matters in lace patterns, I should think. This is not the way one should be going about creating a piece of filmy, fluttery beauty. But, I've reached the point in the process where my understanding of this fact is overwhelmed by my need to see this project move forward. It will have boo-boos. I will learn to live with them. I just cannot go on knitting the same row over and over with no real ground gained. It's a coping strategy.

Three weeks worth of knitting. And tinking. And outright ripping. Then more knitting...
Once I've gotten the first repeat under my belt, I'm hoping that things go more smoothly. And yes, I will put in a lifeline before I go too much further. I promise. The golden glow of the cold medicine has to wear off at some point and the true horror of what I have gone and done will sink in. I'll probably start putting in lifelines every other row, just to be safe and all.
In the meantime, though, I fully intend to enjoy the haze brought about by sofa sleeping and NyQuil. If you're looking for me, I'm that large, immobile lump with the poorly executed lace who's making snuffly sounds from the couch...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sheepie Cold Watch '07

It has been suggested by several commenters that, if I expect a full and genuine showering of internet sympathy as I suffer through the horror that is My Annual Fall Cold, I should break my self-imposed ban on Friday blogging. This will allow everyone to work pitying me into their busy schedules and decrease the likelihood that anyone will forget about my Cold. (as if you could...) I'm on it. If it gets me a few "awwww's" or "poor little thing's" then I'm all for the rule-breaking. Here are the highlights as of this writing:

*Fall Cold '07 remained in full force this morning, complete with the drippy nose, sinus pressure and frenzied sneezing.

*Also influencing behavioral patterns today was the lack of sleep I managed to experience last night. This added to the loveliness of my overall presentation this morning as I arrived at school.

*As the day progressed, the Fall Cold moved to points south. It abandoned its stronghold in my head and moved into my throat and chest. Nose blowing was still observed, though. The good thing about the chest cold is that, while you don't feel quite as hideous as you do with the sinus stuff going on, you sound worse. By noon, my voice was all husky and broke sort of pathetically when I tried to hit a high note. This happened often because I was whining about my Fall Cold all day and this requires a certain amount of keening. Raspy voice was the cause of a great deal of sympathy for the Sheep. Everyone had to be nice to me. Even the mean people. It was awesome.

*By day's end the school nurse became involved in the proceedings. All who expressed concern about my possible Pertussis exposure can rest easy. There was more discussion around this problem and its possible connection to my coughing than I'd expected, but it seems that my exposure to the Dreaded Whooping Cough was little, if any.

*They're still making me get a booster shot, though. Like most people my age, the last time I had a vaccination against Pertussis was at the tender age of 7. Now they have one for grown-ups to account for the decline in protection after a Sheep lives on the planet for a million or so years. Fear not, though. The issue is more that I work with lots of kids, not that Pertussis is a real threat to adults, even those who have a history of pneumonia and are being made to go get booster shots that will probably hurt.

*Dr. Judy was giddy at the thought of getting to do another procedure on me. I tend to avoid all but the most basic of medical care and whenever she has an opportunity to poke me with something sharp, she leaps in with a syringe in both hands.

*Hysterical Mind has not fully processed the fact that we will be getting a shot, going to the dentist and taking the truck in for an inspection all on the same day. Rational Mind, after slipping horribly the other day with regard to mentioning the possible threat of exposure to bad germs, is sensibly keeping quiet at this point.

*I am taking lots and lots of NyQuil and snuggling under the Berber fleece blankie that I picked up at the craft show a couple of weeks ago. All in all, this is not such a bad way to spend The Annual Fall Cold. I even picked up some nice chocolate/chocolate chip muffins on the way home as a little treat.

*But they are sugar-free and this is not what a sick person should be eating. In fact, I suspect it might make me even sicker to not have the sugary goodness coursing through my system.

*There's no booster shot for that. Not yet anyway...

*I have knit nothing. Not one stitch. Tracking the progress of The Annual Fall Cold is rather time consuming, you know.

*Let the sympathy and general cooing over my condition begin.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Center Of My Own Universe

You gotta hand it to my Young, Cheerful Teaching Assistant. She hangs in there. I call her my Young, Cheerful Teaching Assistant because she was only hired last spring. She hasn't yet had the opportunity to spend much "quality" time with me. I get a lot of Cheerful Teaching Assistants. They come to me as bright and shiny as pretty new pennies. By Christmas, they are a bit more jaded. Their cheerful demeanor has dwindled a bit. Sure, they are still rather pleasant and always respectful. But it is somewhat wearing to be around me for great lengths of time. I know this and don't hold their lack of cheer against them come the New Year. They are doing their best. This year, I'm off to another stellar start with regard to breaking the spirit of my newest Cheerful acquisition. The poor thing entered the classroom this morning to be greeted by her supervisor (me) saying:

You are going to have a very bad day tomorrow.

To her credit, she did not allow this to dampen her general cheeriness too much. She'd stopped for a nice tea and pastry on the way to school and this always helps matters. Thus, she was able to muster up a Good Morning despite my less than appropriate greeting. She even took the risk and asked why, perchance, her day might be less than delightful tomorrow.

I assumed a solemn expression (as befit the subject matter) and spake in sepulchral tones in order that the full gravity of the situation be appreciated:

I have a cold. And, while today is clearly fraught with cold symptoms, tomorrow is promising to be worse. This is not just any cold, mind you. That we might be able to deal with. No. This is my Fall Cold. My Fall Cold is not just a regular cold. It is a cold of epic proportions which demands that we cease discussing any and all other topics. We must focus only upon my well-being and the status of my cold. This is a very, very serious thing. I have taken the liberty of putting together a little folder of material that you can peruse this morning so that we will all be on the same page with regard to my Fall Cold and the emotional treatment thereof. I would ask that you pay particular attention to the third tabbed section marked, "How to react authentically to The Sheep's recitation of current cold symptoms and needs that she would like met immediately."

Bless her little heart, she never flinched. While even I could tell that her eyes were glazing over about ten minutes into the whole recitation, she really did maintain an air of interest. By then I was fully involved in a dramatic display of how I could make my nose drip by merely leaning forward slightly. A lesser Cheerful Teaching Assistant might have made for the hills at that point. Not mine, though. She even managed to nod thoughtfully when I pointed out the relationship between the severity of my cold symptoms and the tendency of my hair to go sort of flat. I lose a great deal of follicular body and bounce when I have a cold. It is a rather telling sign and one that those who are charged with monitoring my viral status should be aware of.

When I paused to take a breath, she took advantage of the opportunity. She said:

Well, that is so very, very sad. But, I won't really have such a bad day tomorrow. I won't be here. Remember? I'm out tomorrow. We discussed this. Many, many times. But, I'm really very sorry that you aren't feeling well. Gosh, I sure hope you feel better soon. It would be just super-swell if you were feeling all perky and happy for the weekend!

Isn't she darling? So innocent. So just hate to crush her. But, it must be done. She won't last the year with me, the neediest of all human beings, if she doesn't toughen up a bit. I thought about her words and reflected upon their meaning for me. No Cheerful Teaching Assistant tomorrow? To whom will I relay the progression of my cold symptoms? Where will I turn if I need to make that high-pitched whining sound in the back of my throat? Not the kids. Most of them have been with me for a few years now and their cheeriness has been missing-in-action for longer than I can remember. This could be serious. So I asked:

Do you have a cell phone?

I find it odd that, in this day and age, a young person doesn't have a cell phone or even know someone from whom she could borrow one. I mean, really! I have yet to see anyone under the age of thirty without one of those darned things glued to their ear. I guess that beeping sound that sometimes comes from her purse is an alarm of some sort. Maybe something to remind her to take her Happy Pills...

It's that or my Cheerful Teaching Assistant is not going to make it to the Christmas holidays with her Cheer intact. Another one bites the dust...

My Fall Cold is quite the annual event. It's not like my winter or spring illnesses where I have little to no warning. The Fall Cold makes its arrival known well in advance. There are the headaches, sneezes and other assorted aches 'n pains. I'm tired and have minimal energy. I have to conserve what little "oomph" I have in order that I might think about my Fall Cold and how horrible it is going to be.

There is no avoiding the Fall Cold. I get it every year right after the start of school. It's like clockwork. There are no over-the-counter or folk remedies that have successfully gotten me out of the Fall Cold. Much like taxes, you simply have to pay. Fighting it will do you no good. The last gasp of summer comes with certain types of pollen that don't like me so much. And the kids have missed me during their summer vacation. They like to show their delight in seeing me again through fond embraces and borrowing my pencils then walking around with them clamped in their teeth. I'm a cold waiting to happen.

The Fall Cold. It's a yearly event. And it is upon us. I say, "us" because there is no way I am going to suffer in silence with this. It is just my way. And, without the buffer of the Cheerful Teaching Assistant, there is every reason to believe I will be casting my net rather wide tomorrow looking for sympathetic ears.

It also looks like I'll be in for the weekend. The fact that I had to sit down while watching my dinner cook on the sandwich grill is not a good sign. I'm hoping to break out the purple scarf that I showed last weekend since it is a nice, simple project and one that I hope to have done for the holidays. Those of you who guessed that this was my own handspun were dead on! This is really just about the best yarn I have ever spun and, through the dulling glaze of the cold medications, you can detect just the littlest glow from my pride. The singles are even, but it's the plying that makes me want to run through the streets with this yarn and declare my genius. It is tight and consistent, with all the sproingy-ness that I could desire. I love this yarn and have decided that I am not going to beat myself up over the fact that I am using it for such a humble scarf. That could also be a side-effect of the cold medications but, if it means that I can get a Christmas gift done before the holidays roll around then I'm fine with better living through pharmaceuticals. I need the scarf.

My Cheerful Teaching Assistant is going to need some sort of gift if I plan on her staying through until summer. This is just my first cold of the season, after all.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


If I had the energy to drop down to my creaky knees and be assured of my future ability to someday arise again, I would be giving all sorts of thanks for the fact that it is Wednesday. I have come to love Wednesday. Wednesday is a beautiful day. For all its mid-week, nowhere near the weekend, but not so full of the beginning of the week hopefulness, it is also the night of the Wednesday Night Bullet Post. I love the WNBP...minimal thinking required.

This is a good thing on a Wednesday. Very, very good.

*The door to my classroom won't stay open. It has a door stop thingie. But it won't hold the door open. I am cut off from the rest of the school by my big, metal door. There's a little window through which I can peek out every now and again. But it's not the same as seeing everyone in their full teacherly glory.

*This morning, as I was straining to hear sounds of life through the big metal door, I caught the rumble of the school buses.

*I then heard a fellow educator shout with an intensity normally reserved for the imminent arrival of invading Huns or Census Takers, "They're coming!!!"

*That entertained me mightily. Too bad I was trapped in my classroom by my vindictive closed door and couldn't share the merriment with my peers.

*Note: I have nothing against Huns nor Census Takers. Please do not leave nasty comments accusing me of discrimination against any of my Hunnish or Census Employed readers. I was merely trying to come up with an analogy that would give the other readers a sense of the urgency with which the warning of impending students was bellowed.

*Hysterical Mind has calmed down considerably with regard to our possible exposure to Whooping Cough. We have no way of knowing just who the lucky plague carrier in our lives might be nor how close the contact was. We are trusting in our mighty immune system to keep us safe. After all, we have been so darned healthy in the past, right?

*The mighty immune system does not, however, keep us from getting colds and the Autumnal version is creeping upon us steadily.

*But no one yelled, "It's coming!!!" So I am less amused by this arrival. I plan on being rather grumpy and whiny when the whole thing settles in for the Fall Festival Of The Snotty Sheep.

*In spite of any oncoming colds, I have had to step up my weekly workout sessions from three to four. I had a really good summer, people. It's the first time in years that I took the whole darned thing off and just lazed about in the manner to which I would like to become accustomed. They say travel is broadening.

*But it is not as broadening as staying at home, watching cartoons, eating black and white cookies and napping. Trust me on this one.

*Even the Big, Fluffy Kitty, who is not exactly slender these days, is watching me attempt to button my pants with a smirk on her face most mornings. Big, Fluffy Kitties don't wear trousers, otherwise I'd have a few things to say to her, let me tell you!

*I have a dentist appointment on the 28th. Long time readers will understand the significance of this. Newer readers will have to imagine the level of planning that goes into scheduling my panic attacks at this point. I hate my dentist. He is a very, very mean dentist who hurts me whenever he gets the chance.

*My hygienist, on the other hand, is a sweetie. She's the reason I still go there. But if, as I suspect, there is a cavity lurking in my teeth, I expect lots and lots of bloggy sympathy and cooing. This may seem presumptuous and, for that, I apologize. But there are times when a Sheep needs to be direct about her upcoming requirements. When your day comes, I will happily do the same for you. Pinky swear!

*And I do not joke about the dentist. Ever.

*If I get Whooping Cough, do I have to go to the dentist?

*A big huge, Thank You to everyone who "friended" me on Ravelry! You guys are so darned sweet! I hated the thought of not having anyone to play with, but am just not good with the approaching of others. You made a Sheep feel so welcome!!! And, as promised, I friended each and every one of you right back! You don't even have to invite me over or make me lasagna. Your willingness to include a Shy Sheep is enough!

*Plus most of you told me that you were going to heat up frozen lasagna. I really like frozen lasagna, but it would probably be a little silly to travel across the country for something that I could just make myself. was awfully sweet of you to offer! If you decide to make frozen pizza, please let me know!

Have a great Wednesday, everyone! Here's to looking at the end of the workweek and the chance to nap as the mood (or my sniffles) dictates!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's That Time Again

There seems to be a little activity this evening from Hysterical Mind and Rational Mind, the two halves that make up The Whole Sheep. Let's see what's going on, shall we? We enter the scene as the two stumble, bickering, into The Sheep abode. Hysterical Mind is carrying a large shopping bag filled with disinfectants, tissues and hand sanitizer.

Rational Mind: You are being ridiculous!

Hysterical Mind: I am being perfectly rational, to use your favorite term. There is nothing ridiculous about this situation and my response is, in fact, a great deal less than what I suspect may be needed. Someone in our circle has Pertussis! Do you hear me??? We have been exposed to Pertussis! It was in an email. An email, for God's sake!!!!

RM: I will say it again. We do not, I repeat, do not have Whooping Cough. We are fine and you have, once again, overreacted to a simple piece of information that was circulated for our edification.. Nothing more.

HM: Emails are serious. You don't get more serious than putting something up on the internet. There is Whooping Cough in our immediate vicinity and we have been exposed. And weren't we saying just last night that we were feeling a little achy and snuffly? Then there was the sneezing! We sneezed 7 times!!! That is an odd number! We don't sneeze in odd numbers...always even! Oh, this does not bode well, I tell you!

RM: And I tell you ( for the umpty-bazillionth time) that we always get a cold or allergies in September or October. Always. Since we first began teaching. Every year for twenty years we have gotten a cold in the fall. We might, and I stress the "might" part, have a cold. You need to settle down.

HM: Are you kidding me???? The Center For Disease Control is involved! Did you hear that part? Were you listening when they mentioned the CDC???

RM: I'll admit that that part was a little bit alarming at first. But, if you think about it, it's really their job to keep track of diseases and there's been a little upswing in the Pertussis of late. All they are doing is tracking it. We're fine. They probably don't care about our maybe, possibly having a cold.

HM: Wait!!! Listen...did you hear that? Was that a "whoop???" I'm pretty sure that was a, "whoop!" Oh dear Lord in Heaven, we are "whooping!" "Whooping!" Somebody call a doctor!!!

RM: It's Whooping Cough. Without the cough, it's just a whoop. And it sounds very silly, frankly. I'd like you to stop. Now.

HM: I could cough. I could cough right now. Listen...

RM: Well, anyone can cough, for crying out loud! Coughing is easy. You are inventing symptoms to go with the disease and making yourself crazy. Just stop thinking about it. Try thinking about something pleasant like chocolate or tax refunds. You'll feel better in no time.

HM does not respond. She assumes a thoughtful expression as she proceeds to pump large glops of hand sanitizer into her palms. She remains pensive as the smears the goo onto her hands, forearms, biceps and shoulders. She then waves her hand, redolent with the heady scent of alcohol, in front of her face and inhales deeply. She grabs a can of air sanitizer and heads into the living room.

RM: Where are you going?

HM: (mumbling) ...just gonna go check the email.

RM: Oh no you don't! I know you! You're going to log onto the World Health Organization website again. Next thing you know, we will have another incident like the one where you emailed them that you were certain you had Mad Cow Disease because you got angry at your steak the night before. I'm not going through that again! Those court-ordered counseling sessions took a big chunk out of our day. Just step away from that computer, young lady.

HM: Five minutes! Just five minutes...I'll check a few symptoms and be done with it. I promise! It's just to ease my mind a little bit, that's all!

RM: I've had enough! If we were exposed, then there's nothing we can do about it. It's contagious and it's not like we have the power to stop a contagion. We'll just have to...oh no. No, no, no! I misspoke! We have a cold!! We're fine! And even if we were exposed, there is still a window where we can get a booster shot...not that we need one! It was a slip of the tongue!'re looking a little red in the face, there. Are you OK? Why are you looking at me like that? You're scaring me a little...

Why don't we just step away now? HM's response isn't anything I could print for you fine, gentle people. As far as I'm concerned, RM deserves whatever she gets for opening up that particular can of worms. I'm going to let HM whomp her for a bit longer before I intercede and give everyone a Popsicle. Me, I'm looking at the whole thing like this: If I have Whooping Cough and get quarantined, then maybe I'll have time to finish up that sock yarn that's been sitting on the wheel for a month or more.



Monday, September 17, 2007


Over the weekend, my neighbor's teenaged son snagged me at the door as I was on my way back to the comforts of my own abode. He was in the mood for a little chat. Since I happen to be a fan of the younger set and their views on the world, I thought I'd oblige. I am one who is keenly aware of my worldly air and the responsibilities that we worldly types have with regard to molding the futures of the young 'uns. I'm a Giver. It's just what I do.

His purpose for the discussion, among others, was to question me with regard to my tendency to keep to myself. "We never come you never talk to us?" I was able to successfully put him off with some blather about how I work so very many hours and am often quite weary what with being so darned worldly all the time and the incessant need for molding youthful futures. I then asked him who did the taping on the flames he'd recently had painted on his car (knowing full well that he did it himself) and we were off onto happier topics. Seventeen is still well withing the "highly distractable" age range. He didn't really need to hear the truth of the matter.

Frankly, I find that chatting with extraneous persons accomplishes little save keeping me from doing what I want when I want. And what I want is my nice, little Life Rut. I like it when things stay the same. I like knowing where things are and when events are going to happen. The Rut makes life happily manageable. I'm not saying that all systems at work here are good ones. In fact, many of them make little to no sense whatsoever. But, change does not please me. Change means running around the kitchen in the morning yelling, "Where are my keys? Who took my keys? They are supposed to be on top of the coffee they are gone! What fiendish powers be at work here in my cursed home?"

This is what you get for changing things all around and putting the keys on that hook shaped like a key by the door. That's where you hang the tangled necklaces that you will someday get around to unknotting...

With this commitment to sameness, you can imagine the drama that has been caused by my changing pharmacies this week. The whole plan makes sense on the surface. Back when I could get my prescriptions through internet orders or via the doctor calling them in, it didn't matter quite so much. But since my pill bottles now come filled with what the government considers a controlled substance, I have to present myself, my prescription and my honest face in person. Using the pharmacy at the grocery store, where I shop at least weekly, will allow for more efficient drug procurement. As much as I like my little pharmacy down the street, it's a bit out of the way and they charge more for a bottle of Mountain Dew. Yes, using the grocery store pharmacy makes perfect sense.

I put it all off until the last possible second, though. Going to the strange counter was a little scary for one who loves the sameness. In fact, I waited long enough that I ended up having to break out the "old" drugs that I'd never gotten around to taking and which are of the wrong dosage. But, when those ran out, I was forced to move forward. And yesterday, I did just that. What I didn't count on was the insurance company suddenly having to go offline yesterday and being faced with shelling out a couple hundred dollars for a month of pretty pills or waiting until today to get them. This meant two trips to the strange counter. With the strange pharmacy techs. And having to go through all the privacy paperwork...again. But, I struggled though it and left the store with my little white bag in hand, proud of my having braved this new frontier. I brought the bag into my house proudly and even gave a hearty wave to a neighbor as I was entering the building. Maybe this is the start of a whole new Sheepie! Maybe I'll take new risks! Maybe that lace project that I have now ripped back five times (the last after realizing that I'd been knitting on a needle two sizes too small all along) is within my grasp! I'm going to wear red with purple and take up swing dancing!

Then I looked at the new pill bottle with the new logo and the exotic new literature that comes with. Panic ensued. The child safety cap is different. Instead of "push down and twist" as I have been doing since time immemorial, I must now execute some complicated thumb pressure while twisting and I'm still not sure if I'm supposed to be pushing down at the same time. This is madness!!!! Madness, I say! "Vive le Difference" my fanny!!!

This is also is something of a setback with regard to the New Swing Dancing Sheep plan. Maybe I'll just settle for putting the keys on the hook...that's enough of a change for one day.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ravelry Reverie

I have to admit that my inclusion in the party that is Ravelry has changed a few things around here at the manse. Most noticeable is the new subject matter influencing the "conversations." The topics still include the yarn and the knitting...there are just some new directions.

Note: I put the word, "conversations" in quotes because I live alone and I'm pretty much just talking to myself or the cats most of the time. I find that there is a big difference between not expecting an answer and being surprised when you don't get one. It is, in fact a clinically significant difference. I am nothing if not ever-alert to the status of my own mental health.

Here are a few examples of the types of chatter going on these days:

(while updating my projects) I'm supposed to know when I finished these socks??? Omigod!! I have no idea... I'm going to have to fake it. Will anyone know? What if they find out that I threw a metaphorical dart at the calendar? Will my invitation be revoked?

(while cruising around seeing what others had in their notebooks) Yeah, right. I'm going to catalogue my stash. Sure. Right after I organize the spice cabinet. Or get a spice cabinet. Look. Here's some poor fool that got suckered into photographing all her yarn. That's just ridic...wait. This is actually sort of helpful. I should do this. I could change the lives of yarn purchasers everywhere just by posting my stash. I am an influencer of trends, here! Where's my camera??? Where's my stash??? Who left all the yarn just laying around all willy-nilly? Heads are going to roll!!

(upon seeing that I had a new friend) I dunno ya...but you're my friend!!! Welcome to my world! Can I come to your house? Will you make me lasagna? You seem like a nice new friend!

Now this next one is my personal favorite. You'll have to imagine the high-pitched, sing-song voice that fairly drips with creepiness:

(while forlornly checking my message box waiting to see if anyone has picked me for their friend) Whyyyyyyy wontchoo be my fweeeeeeeeeeend? Pweeeeeeez be my fweeeeeeeend! I wanna be oo fweeeeeeeeeeend! Hellooooooooooooo....fweeeeeeend?

That one sent the cats scampering to parts unknown and they are normally fans of my high pitched cooing voice. In my defense, it was late and things had gotten a bit silly. It is also entirely possible that my eyes were spinning a little bit as well.

My basic strategy with the friend-making is this: Since pretty much anyone who ended up in my inbox was there in response to my pathetic plea for pals, if you "friend" me, then I'll "friend" you right back. It's the least I can do. When you are blatantly begging for people to make sure that you're not left watching the coats and purses at the party, you show a little of the gratitude when they rescue you from your solitude. Plus there are some wicked cool people there!

I'm not really finding the whole experience to be the time-sucking black hole of diversion that many people are reporting. I'm not one for seeing a job through in one sitting if it can be avoided. If you are ever in need of brain surgery and you happen to see me scrubbing in, you may want to contact your insurance provider and see if there are other facilities they would consider for this procedure. It is highly likely that I will drill down to your frontal lobe then suddenly feel the need for a snack.

So what I'm really doing is fiddling around for a bit, uploading pictures, entering books or whatever, then wandering off to do something else for a while. It's ten minutes here, twenty minutes has probably added up to a great deal of fiddlin' time, I suppose. But I've certainly made time for the activities of real life. I've eaten, shopped and talked on the phone. I petted and fed the kitties. I even slept. And I'm not missing an episode of Doctor Who or Torchwood for any website, no matter how long I was on the waiting list.

As proof of this, I remind you of my declaration last Thursday. I stated that I would, come rain or Ravelry, knit or spin this weekend. Further, I would post a picture. I didn't spin. That poor sock yarn that is so close to being finished can be heard sobbing from loneliness in the dark of night. But I've found that if you spin when you're not really "feeling it, " you don't really get the yarn you want. Best to not spin.

But, by gum, there was knitting!
Gotta have something to put up on Ravelry, after all.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Komputer Karma

When I was in high school we were all living in a pretty low tech sort of time. Despite this, my school did manage to procure a few of the latest and greatest in computers. They were cumbersome, clunky things that really did very little except glow menacingly and make us all wonder if we were looking at our future overlords. These weren't your fancy-schmancy laptops of today that bring us our daily dose of email and "enhancement" offers. Still, we were pretty lucky to have them given the day and age.

We were also pretty lucky to have this new and amazing thing called a photocopier. No more were teachers rushing off to class carrying a stack of mimeographed pages and a smeared master in their purple tinged fingers. Elementary schools were a bit late in getting this particular equipment update, though. We were still using mimeograph machines when I was student teaching. One day someone in my dorm pointed out that I had somehow managed to get the ink on my tongue. To this day, I can't tell you how I managed to do that, but my tongue remained purple for almost twenty four hours and was the subject of much speculation, most of which cannot be discussed on this, a family style sort of blog.

One of the classes I took in high school required that we spend some time doing simple programming with the behemoths that represented the height of technology back then. It wasn't anything fancy. We just needed to be able to get the computer to solve for "x" as in a simple algebraic equation. I don't remember much about algebra, but I surely do remember my fascination with the concept of an "if/then" command. All you had to do was use the right series of words and symbols to get the computer to understand what to do if certain circumstances were in play. If. Then. Simple and to the point. I wasn't so good at math. But I got the idea behind: "if" this is happening, "then" do this.

If/Then has a few real-life applications even today. We see it all the time. To use a recent example from the Life And Times Of The Sheep:

If it looks like rain...

Then you should close the windows.

Nice!!! If, that is, you happen to remember to close the windows. If not, then it goes something like this:

If you forget to close the windows when it looks like rain...

Then you will have very wet carpets.

Not so nice. But, it really supports the If/Then principle.

Here's another one:

If you publicly declare your hatred for your knitting and your intention to abandon it and henceforth work only in Popsicle stick sculptures...

Then Frecklegirl will send an email to tell you that Ravelry has decided it cannot live without you.

Figures. I am SheepishAnnie. Please, I beg of you, consider being my friend. I am not going to be the best of Ravelers what with my Popsicle stick commitment and general tendency towards disorganization. My notebook is not exactly the place you will be going for great project ideas and insights on how to become a better knitter. But I'm there after languishing on the waiting list since July and am determined to enjoy the experience. I don't need to be the most popular girl at the dance. But, my self-esteem will suffer greatly if I don't make a friend in there somewhere. Think of it this way:

If Sheepie thinks that people are looking at her stuff on Ravelry...

Then she will feel guilty enough to keep the place looking nice enough for company.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

As Promised...

I'm too tired to be really creative with the titles, here. I promised you some random, bullet-type posting and, by gum, I'm gonna do it for ya! Quickly, before I doze off...

*Open House night at school is always a long one. And, when you are a special ed. teacher with a small caseload, the likelihood is that you will have little to do and no one with whom to play.

*When your small caseload has dropped markedly over the summer and you are still waiting for the influx of new kiddies, there is even less of the doables and playmates. I did my best to stay in the hallways and try to look like I was available to direct people to classrooms and stuff. But, after the first 45 minutes, I gave up. Apparently, I do not have the general air of one who can get you where you need to be on Open House Night.

*I played Mancala on my computer for a while before a kindly custodian took pity on me and pretended to be an interested parent who was fascinated by my thoughts on education and the wonders of our particular school.

*The computer is really, really good at Mancala. It is also very good at checkers, chess and connect four. My self-esteem suffered...

*I have decided that I am going to knit or spin this weekend, no matter what. It has to be done. I am going to knit or spin and I am going to post pictures of whatever it is. I suspect that there will be a great deal of gasping and fainting from the shock out there in the blogosphere...but I'm going for it anyway.

*My furniture and carpets have all dried out nicely from the soaking they took the other day when I mistakenly left the windows open during the driving rains. I prefer to think of the whole process as "cleaning the furniture and carpets." This sounds better than admitting that I forgot to close the windows.

*Does anyone else remember when the Fall TV Season started just after Labor Day? Maybe I'm crazy...I also seem to remember when the number of pennies required to purchase a postage stamp was in the single digits. And dinosaurs. I remember those, too.

*There is nothing on TV. I need TV. TV makes me happy and helps me to discern what day of the week it is.

*The kitties were super glad to see me when I finally managed to make it home tonight. I have decided to pretend that it was more than their just wanting to see their food bowls filled.

*Is tomorrow Friday? I'm not sure. The TV viewing is all messed up... I would very, very much like for it to be Friday.

*If it is not Friday tomorrow, then I'd like to ask you all to consider lying to me about the whole thing. It is for the best, really. Why shatter a Sheep's illusions of a weekend to come after she's had a long day at school?

I'm off to watch some oddly scheduled and somewhat repetitive television, then turn in for the evening. With Open House Night behind me, dry furniture, fed kitties and a few losses to the Mancala game guru that is my computer, I feel like I have earned a good night's rest!


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

You Should Always Do Your Homework

And, today, mine is due. Thus, instead of the usual Wednesday Night Bullet Post, we will be having a little book report instead. Those of you who were looking forward to my weekly salute to random blogging, fear not. Tomorrow is Open House night at my school and a late night will most certainly be involved. I promise that there will be all sorts of off-the-wall meanderings come tomorrow.

Meanwhile, let's discuss a book, shall we?

Some of you may already know that I occasionally like to hop on board the blog tours sponsored by the nice folks at Mother-Talk. Every once in a while, I volunteer to read a book and do a little review on the blog so that others (Moms for the most part, I suppose) can travel the internets and learn more about it. All my reviews come from the perspective of a veteran educator and counselor and most focus on youth literature as that is a passion of mine. The book I was given to review for this installment was an interesting one:

The Dark DreamWeaver

David is a pretty normal eleven year old boy...except, that is, for the dark and disturbing dreams. But, since this seems to be a common problem in the world these days, this really doesn't make him all that special. All this changes when he collects some caterpillars in order to watch them go through the cycle that will turn them into monarch butterflies. One of those little creatures is a bit more than he seems. Suddenly, David is faced with the knowledge that wizards are real and that his new little friend is one of them, although cursed to live as a caterpillar until someone can help break him free from the evil spell that left him in this condition.

David soon embarks on an exciting journey to the land of Remin, a world full of both wonder and rather terrible things. It is also a world with a powerful connection to ours and David must not only find a way to save his new friend, but use his emerging magical powers to save both Remin and his own reality.

The Dark Dreamweaver is the first in a series that will feature the land of Remin and the characters who inhabit it. It is a quickly paced and entertaining read that will surely capture the minds of children who enjoy the fantasy genre. David is a gentle and highly intelligent main character who exhibits qualities such as bravery, thoughtfulness and creativity within the context of the story.

Young readers are likely to become engaged in the story line which moves along at a logical and comfortable pace. At times, it can feel like the author sacrifices the story in the interest of being "instructional," but this is not necessarily a distraction. Madeline L'Engle and C.S. Lewis are both authors who did little to mask their beliefs with regard to "life and how to live it" in their writings and I think it is safe to say that this works rather well in their books.

I often hesitate to give reading levels on books because I feel strongly that young readers are so highly individualized. I do it here more to give parents a general idea of the content in order that they might make good decisions when purchasing books for their children. As parents, you know your children and where they are on the reading spectrum. That said, I would expect to see this book in the hands of third through sixth graders, allowing for some variation in individual ability. The text is not overly challenging, but does include some specialized language that is used only in the land of Remin or when referring to certain characters. I don't anticipate children having much difficulty with decoding these particular words, though. The author does not rely on heavy use of the vernacular or slang terms, instead using more standard English. Children who enjoy novels that employ less formalized language, may find this a bit stilted, however, I strongly feel that the story line works best with this style of prose.

There is some drama, danger and tension involved in the book, but it is handled quite gently. I did not feel that most children would find it overly frightening. If you are familiar with The Magic Treehouse series, then you will have a sense of what I mean. This sort of book is ideal for children who might be a bit sensitive with regard to the rise and fall of action in novels but would like to attempt something that is popular with their peers. The more tension-filled moments are quickly and happily resolved and the questions over how certain characters fare at these times are answered easily.

The artwork in this book is rather lovely as well. As young readers move from children's books to more involved novels, they often miss the illustrations. They provide not only visual entertainment, but assist with overall comprehension as the story unfolds in some cases. Sue Concannon uses detailed pencil drawings to accompany and enhance the story beautifully.

Lastly, I received a note from the publisher with my review copy of this book letting me know that this series is also being made available in a variety of formats geared towards readers who are challenged visually or neurologically. Thus, this novel and those that follow, will be accessible by children who can't process print in the traditional manner. I have not followed up on this yet, but believe that this book has already been transferred to other media for this purpose. If anyone is interested, please leave a comment and I will try to see what I can find out for you. As a Special Educator, I was very pleased to see that the author and publisher considered the audience who might not be able to read a book, but who would love to be able to experience it. Books are, after all, for everyone!

If you'd like to learn more about the Nick Ruth, the author of this story, you can access his website here.

Well, there you go! A new book to add to the kids' library! That should make up for the lack of the WNBP...I hope. If not, then just hang in there. Tomorrow I'll make it all up to you and maybe even discuss knitting a little bit.



Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Note To Self

To: The Sheep

From: Management

Re: Adult-type Behavior And The Importance Thereof

We hope this memo finds you well and enjoying the start of the Fall season. We here in Management have a few little items that we'd like to mention. It is our intention that you use this information to increase productivity at Sheep Headquarters and to decrease incidents of mishap and mayhem. We care.

Firstly, we are pleased with your recent endeavors in the areas of responsibility and accountability. Your remembering to follow through with the repairs and registration of the truck before things either exploded or expired was especially appreciated. We have also noted the efforts you have made to remove yourself from the bed in the morning upon hearing the various alarms you have set to encourage this behavior. This, in turn, has led to an improved record of attendance at work as well as more regular and thorough bathing. You have even managed to renew your acquaintance with the knitting over the last few days and seem to be past the little temper tantrum that led you to throw it in a basket while sticking out your tongue. You have been quite mature about the knitting. We look forward to seeing more of this behavior. Please do give yourself numerous and hearty pats upon the back!

There is, however, one matter that we would like to see addressed. If you have not already done so, we would like to ask that you take a moment and review the condition of your furniture and carpets in the area around the windows. As you can clearly determine, these areas are wet. In some cases, the areas have exceeded "wet" and moved into "soaked" status.

You may or may not be aware of several advances in the area of Dry Home Maintenance. There are certain steps that one might take to avoid this state of affairs. They range from the simple to the more technical, but we believe that all are well within your abilities. First, let us discuss the simpler measures you might take.

1. Visual Scanning. The sky comes in a variety of colors. In the event that you happen to see a sky exhibiting shades of gray, you may safely anticipate some form of precipitation.

2. Window Adjustment. The big holes in the walls are actually temporary if you choose to make them so. Simply reach up to the top of the lower pane and gently push downward until the bottom is flush with the lower sill. This action will prevent the outside from coming inside. There are bad things outside like bugs and wind. And rain.

There are also many amazing devices which you may wish to consult in order that you might divine future weather conditions and take appropriate action. They include, but are not limited to:

1. Radio
2. Newspapers
3. Television
4. The Internet

All of these employ fine men and women called Meteorologists. These are the people who spend their whole lives studying the weather and helping us to make good decisions about how to dress, when to travel and whether or not to do that window thing we were discussing earlier. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of their services. They are available to you at little or no cost. Water damage is more expensive. We know this. We looked it up. On the Internet.

Thankfully, today's lack of planning with regard to the weather and the tendency of water to fall from the sky every now and again did no real damage. However, we cannot always guarantee that this sort of good fortune will befall us. We, therefore, demand that you review the measures we have discussed and take more appropriate action the next time rain is predicted. A closed window is like the guardian of our happy home. Please keep our home happy and well-guarded.

We thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter and look forward to any thoughts you may have with regard to other ways in which we can continue to keep our carpets safe from the invading waters. There is no need to email or fax said thoughts.

We all live in the same head, here.