Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cue Spooky Music...

Welcome, Creatures Of The Night!! It is time for the Spook-tacular version of The Wednesday Night Bullet Post, brought to you by the witches, goblins, reapers, Spider Men, Shreks and all the other stuff that comes with Halloween! Gather your loved ones close, grab yourself a snack-sized Snickers bar and gaze in horror as The Sheep (appropriately clad in black) tries to make the mundane goings on in her life sound interesting:

*My prediction that none of the students in my class who partook of the Trick-or-Treating festivities in their community last night would bring me a peanut butter cup today was a little bit off. One lone student presented me with a shopping bag full of candy and offered me a piece of the loot.

*Unfortunately, this offer came at 8:30 in the morning and I wasn't really in the mood. By the time my chocolate cravings woke up, he'd pretty much demolished everything except the fruit-flavored candy and what is the point in that?????

*The comma isn't working well on my keyboard. I love commas and use them frequently, even when the sentence does not actually require it. This is a problem.

*It would be nice if I had a new computer. That would solve my comma issues quite handily. I do not have a new computer.

*I do, however, have the name of the second-in-command at the tech. department. Thus, even with the director on vacation and temporarily out of my reach, there is someone to whom I can direct my daily hate-filled emails which express my displeasure over my new laptop not having been delivered yet.

*Note: The fact that the computer has not actually been delivered has not deterred the school department from deducting my monthly payments from my meager wages every two weeks. I don't need commas to write hate-filled emails when my check is being tampered with and I have no new computer.

*I stood at the grocery store for ten full minutes in the candy aisle trying to decide on a treat for the kids who probably won't visit tonight. (if you don't buy candy, they come in droves) I had to find something that wouldn't tempt my sweet tooth but was acceptable enough to the little monsters that they wouldn't egg my car. Tricky...

*I went with Tootsie Rolls. If you told me right now that I could never, ever eat another Tootsie Roll, I could still die happy.

*This doesn't mean I still won't eat them tomorrow for breakfast.

*Look! Here are two of the coolest things ever!!! Maybe I should have said, "warmest..."



Handknit socks and Sheepie slippers!!!
*With the temperatures dropping at long last, it is time for the woolly footwear. These are the Socks Of Immense Proportions I knit waaay back in the summer of '06 when I was learning how to knit socks and had a few issues with gauge. But they are surely the finest of warm sleepin' socks I've ever had!!!
*The yarn came to me from April. As did the needles upon which they were knit.
*April used to have a blog. But then she got a horse. And a new career as a professional yarn fondler with fancy new friends. She probably goes to upscale yarn parties where everyone knits with golden needles and talks with an accent. I'm happy for April. But, I miss her.
*Even more than I miss commas...
*The Halloween '07 Zombie Watch Report: I haven't seen a single zombie in the southern Maine area this evening and my regular perusing of internet watch sites is also showing a dearth of the death walkers. Figures. The one night I'm not actually scared of zombies, they are all home watching TV or something.
*I'll still keep checking, though. I consider it a public service.
*Maybe they'll swing by later and take one or two of the Tootsie Rolls off my hands. I can only imagine how much a palate cleanser must be needed after weeks and weeks of nothing but human flesh. Without dessert, how do you know you are done?
And now, my favorite gremlins and ghoulies, I bid you good evening. Keep yourself safe from the creepies and crawlies that are out and about tonight! And don't forget to set aside a little candy for the zombies.
Just in case...
SA

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Waffling

Why I had waffles for dinner tonight:

1. It was one of those days where, as an educator, you have to realize that you have your limits. You need to accept that your influence is not so far-reaching that it can fix everything in a kid's life. All you can do is try to make it a little bit better.

2. I can't even get mad at the various agencies who are powerless to do anything about certain issues that make kids' lives miserable. I've worked from their side of things. I know what the limits are and there was nothing anyone else could have done that wasn't already attempted. We all have to work within the rules. The ball was not dropped. And believe me, I checked. And have been doing so for a while. Everyone did their respective jobs. It just isn't going to help matters this time.

3. I'd already eaten a peanut butter cup on a Tuesday and this is not a Designated Chocolate Eating Day. This was misbehavior of the highest order and could be the first few feet on a very slippery slope that ends with my eating peanut butter cups all day, every day.

4. I did not get my computer today. You remember...the one I ordered on September 26th? The one that I led me to "discussing" the matter with the head of the tech department since he did the ordering for those of us who purchased through the school? The tech. director who, when faced with my menopausal and utterly horrifying self, became scared? You remember him.

5. He is also the one who went on vacation this week. For the whole week.

6. That was the deal-breaker which led to Reason #3.

7. The fatigue and slight tickle in my throat is a very bad omen. I know this feeling. It is a Pre-Monkey Pox feeling. And what I call, "Monkey Pox" is bad. In medical circles it is commonly known as pneumonia. I do not care for pneumonia or Monkey Pox. We are crossing our fingers that this rather familiar feeling is merely seasonal and maybe due to a chocolate deficiency. Since I usually only get The Pox in the spring, I like to believe that I have every reason to be hopeful.

8. The community in which I teach does not celebrate Halloween. Instead, they have adopted Beggar's Night. This is a sort of alternative kind of holiday that some towns in the states like to toss into the mix on October 30th. The little ones don't even know when "real" Halloween is. The older ones that I teach do know and are willing to travel to other towns where holidays are celebrated in their proper order. And thus they will be trick or treating for two nights instead of one. They are, shall we say, "excited." And highly challenging to educate. They will probably not bring me any peanut butter cups either.


And this is why I had waffles for dinner. Four of them. They were of the whole wheat variety so I suppose there were one or two redeeming qualities. Frankly, I don't care if they had such qualities or not. I wanted waffles.

Meh...let's talk about knitting.

Kath and Debbie asked a question about my version of The Harlot Scarf and how I did the floofy crocheted thingies on the ends.


See those floofies?
They aren't a part of the original pattern. I got all "designer" on it. When I made the first of these scarves last year, I intended them to be gifts for women. But they looked a bit plain to me. Nothing wrong with that...but I needed more. At first, I put a fringe on. That looked nice and one of those fringed beauties went to a school secretary. But, I yearned for something even more. So, I dug deep and found my inner crocheter. I've since put this little bit of floofiness on several scarves and it always adds a nice touch. It is also very, very easy.
After casting off, I reattach the yarn and do a single crochet, chain three in the corner. I then attach that chain with a single crochet to any reasonable point. The Harlot pattern has these little ridges so that seemed logical place. I then chain three more and work to the end attaching the chains at evenly spaced intervals. At the edge, I chain five, turn and work back across, attaching the chains into the single crochets from the first row. I continue in this manner increasing by two chains at the end of the row. I fasten off with a slip stitch when I have enough floofies or can take no more.
The length of the chains and the amount by which they are increased each row is really determined by the yarn and the scarf. A finer yarn may look better with a longer starting chain. There is no real math involved. I just do what looks nice. Or, if not nice, then floofy. Floofy is what I'm going for.
And there you go! The Sheep's alternative to fringes: Floofies. Tah-dah!!!!!!!
And now I must be off. I have a great deal of self-pity and inner loathing in which to engage over the peanut butter cups and waffles. Then I will probably sublimate my guilt through the consumption of ice cream and head off to bed. I may even knit a little bit in between courses if time permits. And my energy level...
Waffles are really, really good for capping off an otherwise yucky day. But they really weigh you down. They are not floofy.
SA

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rah. Rah.

It's days like today that I wish I could find the love for sports. Any sport, really. But, today would probably have been a nice day to like baseball. There I was, all tired and bleary-eyed, wondering if I was going to make it through the day. And I was surrounded by lots of other tired and bleary-eyed people who differed from me in this one crucial way:


They looked happy about being tired and bleary-eyed.


It seems that the Red Sox (Maine's team by default) won something last night. I'm unclear on the details since, as I mentioned earlier, I am not a fan or even someone who follows sports in general. But it was apparently rather impressive and the kind of thing that goes on for hours and hours into the night. There were frequent comments throughout the course of the day that led me to believe they beat the entire World! And that they did it by taking on teams throughout the World one at a time...sort of in a Series or something. I dunno... It's all beyond me. I'm assuming that this big win involved curing some dreadful disease, racing across fire and juggling aggressive wombats. While traveling the world.


Which is, now that I think of it, rather impressive. I should probably start thinking about following baseball more closely. I'd really like to see how those wombats make out during the process...


I was not one of the lucky tired ones today. No. I was just a regular tired sort of person who wandered through the day in a fog. At one point, I thought it was a real fog, but then I realized that my glasses were dirty. Cleaning them was probably something of a judgement error as this allowed me to see more clearly and realize that I was, indeed, at work. And that one glance in the mirror at my lovely Monday Face was not a pretty thing to see through clear lenses.


The tiredness-that-was-not-the-happy-kind raged on and made this afternoon's workout rather horrible. On the plus side, I was able to knit a bit on the Chevron Scarf as I rode my little bike to nowhere and this cheered me considerably. Almost enough for me to stop seeing that boo-boo that is becoming more clear now that I've cleaned the glasses and all. Still, I think it's good enough and I'll just make sure that it goes to a non-knitter who can be easily convinced that this is how it was supposed to look. That thought perked me up considerably.


Maybe not as much as if I'd stayed up to watch that World Series Wombat Juggling...but still a perker-upper!



SA

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oh, You Brits!

I just love ya! Seriously. I want to scoot on over across the pond and give you a big hug. But, I have to go to work tomorrow morning pretty early and I have a feeling that Operation Hug-A-Brit might be a little time consuming. You'll just have to use your imaginations.

I mean, honestly. You are the best. You found a way to get past that whole tea in Boston Harbor thing. You don't get mad when we steal all your best television programs. Sure, you drive on the wrong side of the road, but I find that endearing. And you are pretty polite about it when you ask for a biscuit and I hand you a bread-like concoction slathered in butter. You don't make fun of our beer. And you should. You'd have every right. But you don't. At least not to our faces.

And today, you wonderful people, you gave me a full day of Hex. You like me. You really like me! There is nothing like a good, old-fashioned marathon to give a Sheep a way to spend the day. And a Hex marathon on BBC America is just about as good as it gets. Thank you so very, very much. From the bottom of my heart...I thank you, good people of Britain.
Marathon television is also quite good for keeping a Sheep close to the pasture and tending to matters of hearth and home. My Apple Amnesia Issues remain in evidence and must be dealt with. Despite having purchased many, many apples, I can't seem to remember that when I go to the store. Hence, I have more "many, many apples." For a while there we were making applesauce, but that got old pretty quickly. So we've been drying them. And drying them. And drying them. I figure that those I don't eat, I can package up in a pretty cellophane bags and hand out for Christmas. Plus, I get to use my apple peeler thingie and I sort of enjoy that part so the whole process is really a good thing all around.





It's just good, old-fashioned apple fun!!!

Then there's the knitting time. In an effort to avoid housework and possibly missing some part of Hex that will give me the key to understanding the whole thing, I needed to be on the couch and ready for plot twists. But, one cannot simply sit and stare at the People Who Are Cooler And Far Better Dressed Than I for extended periods without having a little project close to hand for those moments when the action (or my self-esteem) is lagging.


So I started a scarf.
The Lion Brand Magic Stripes that came home with me yesterday was quickly wound into cakes and ready for casting on. I bought this with the intention of knitting the Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. So it was intended, so it was done. There is one teeny little boo-boo in there. But not something that is going to make me do anything crazy like go back and fix it. It's fine. Now, LB isn't exactly known for it's soft and supple nature. Compared to the lovely fibers with which I've been working lately, this is quite harsh. But, I know I can soften it up with some washing and I love the way the striping is working out...sort of like magic, I suppose. I have three skeins of this yarn, so I'm hoping it will be long enough for a workable scarf. It's moving along quickly, thanks to my Hex Marathon and that is a nice way to round out the weekend.
After a long week that didn't always go quite as I'd planned, I like the idea of a well-rounded weekend. I had my knitting, the lovely scent of apples drying in the kitchen, one scarf off the needles and one cast on. Add to that a little of the BBC for five or six straight hours and all is well.
Of course, by tomorrow, I will most likely have affected an accent that is intended to be British... but probably won't even come close. That should make for an entertaining Monday.
SA

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Go Ahead. Ask Me.

Ever since last year's financial hiccup (the result of going a month without a paycheck) and still feeling the effects in December, I have been reminding myself to begin the Christmas shopping a bit earlier this year. I'm not a fanatic about the whole matter. Let's face it. I am not a practical being. But, I have been managing to pick up a thingie or two every now and again that I might tuck away for later gift-giving. The trick, of course, is going to be remembering these thingies and where I tucked them. But, that is a problem for December. Worrying about it now is only going to take up valuable brain space that could be better devoted to other things like when best to nap and which variety of ice cream I'd like this week.

I decided to head out this morning, run a few errands and maybe snag another little thingie or two in the process. It was not the best of mornings for doing this since the rains are falling and the fog is wafting about. It was also highly likely that I was going to end up purchasing things for myself that I will never, ever in this lifetime need. But, since I am now walking proof of the following:

1. It is possible to be Peri-menopausal, Really Menopausal, Pre-menstrual and Really Menstrual all at the same time

and

2. God is, undoubtedly, a man

I figured I could do whatever I want and heaven help anyone who gets in my way.

Note: At this point, I am sure that there are any number of medical professionals and would-be theologians who would like to differ with me. To them I say: I dare you. In fact, I double-dog dare you. Really. See what it gets you. Do it right now. I'm not a mess these days at all. Why are you backing away like that? I won't hurt you. Much. It'll be over in a jiffy. I love a good intellectual debate...

Wait. Where was I? I seem to have gotten a bit off track, here. Oh yes! Today's shopping trip. It was really a success, if I do say so myself! I found a picture frame at long last that would handsomely encase the print I purchased last month at the craft show:




35 tries to get a shot without an horrific glare on the glass...I'm improving with the photography!!!
I found a nice little thingie to give to Baby Brother Sheep on December 25th that is now tucked away with all the other thingies that I will be hunting for in a couple of months. There were some sweet little tea lights that found their way into my cart as they were a mere .99 cents a box and, thus, destined for a life in my home. There was also some Lion Brand Magic Stripes yarn to be had.
I know, I know. We all hate Lion Brand. We mock the Lion Brand. We are above the Lion Brand. But if you, like me, have one or two people in your life for whom you have enough affection that you might like to knit them something but don't really have enough confidence in the relationship to count on a ride home from the airport when you need it, then you learn to embrace the Lion Brand. Six skeins worth of the embracing was what came home with me today.
This is enough to make even a grumpy, hormonally challenged Sheep smile just the teeniest bit. There are actual holiday gifts and potential holiday gifts in my home right now! And, as if that weren't enough:

I finished a scarf!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you need oxygen or some water at this point, you may be excused to take care of this. Just please remember where you were seated and be respectful of those who chose to remain in the venue as you exit and enter.
This fine example of handknitting is The Harlot's One Row Homespun Scarf With Crocheted Floofy Stuff On The Ends. The "homespun" part was provided by me ('cuz I spun it) and Spunky Eclectic ('cuz she dyed it.) And now it, too, is tucked away with all the other thingies destined to be boxed, wrapped and gifted as needed. Such a good feeling...
And speaking of the good feelings, thanks to all for the commiseration on my current state of suspended animation in the Land Of Middle Age Life Transitions. I may be living in a hormonally charged, rage filled state much of the time and unable to discern just what the heck it is that my system is going to be doing at any given moment. But, it does my heart good to know that I am not alone and may even survive this even if those who have to live with or around me will not. Also good to know that one or two of you might be willing to testify on my behalf should The Change cause me to do something untoward.
I have, however, found one or two strategies for dealing with things. There is always the chocolate. I probably should have a prescription for the amount of the stuff I'm eating for Medicinal Purposes. But it works and no one has been harmed so I doubt that anyone is going to push the matter. I also found this little item on Thursday afternoon while I was picking up school supplies and more of the sweet stuff. It came with me to school yesterday, as a matter of fact. And it helped immensely.


SA


Thursday, October 25, 2007

When Sheep Attack

I generally don't like to go to the "it's my blog and I'll write what I want" place. I decided a long time ago that I'd rather have readers and maybe make some new friends more than I wanted to be known for my biting commentary. Sure, I have opinions. I even think Deep Thoughts every now and again. I have my darker moods. I can be a regular Bringer Of The Angst if I really put my mind to it.

But, given the choice, I choose to make light. I think that finding a giggle or two in the regular, day to day stuff that drives me crazy is pretty therapeutic. Life is conflict. The blog is my Happy Place. I like it to be comfortable. I hate the thought of making the guests wince.

But, there is really no way of explaining why my Cheerful Teaching Assistant felt the need to utter the words, "Seriously...if I don't get my computer delivered this week because of you I am going to kill you," without going into a little detail. I have no choice. I must venture into that dark and dangerous place known as The Magic and Mystery Of Woman. It will teeter on the edge of Too Much Information. You will wince. I'll do my very best to keep the veil of mystery in place. I'll really, really try. And I apologize in advance to those of you who choose to keep reading in spite of this warning but who would really rather have lived in happy ignorance with regard to the inner workings of The Sheep.

There are two things that you need to know. The first isn't so bad, really. It is this:

I have a quirky sense of humor.

Not a big deal and something you probably already figured out. To those who appreciate this sense of humor, I am nothing short of a sheer delight. I'll admit that it comes off better in print most of the time. I can usually edit that enough to suit most audiences. In person, though, you don't get a delete button on my verbal chuckle-makers. Mostly they work. Sometimes they don't.

The second thing is a bit more horrific. Stop now, if you haven't the inner fortitude or if you have to face me any time in the near future and think this might be a problem. Seriously. I say this because I care about our relationship. You are so very special to me and I don't want to sully our interactions with more understanding of the Glory That Is Me than you are ready for. Here is comes...are you ready? Last chance...you were warned.

I never really gave much thought to the changes that middle age might bring. When I did let my mind wander in that direction, I always sort of figured that I'd be at a stage of life where I'd be so full of the wisdom and inner peace that I'd make the transition from Maiden to Crone with grace. Sure, I knew there might be some tricky bits. But, I was really so enmeshed in my belief that I would one day grow up that I probably engaged in a bit of denial. Plus, it was always so far away that I knew I wouldn't have to worry about it any time soon. Yup. There was going to be grace. A long, long time from now, there was going to be a graceful transition.

It didn't quite work out that way.

Menopause has not been shaping up to be the grace-filled picnic I'd been planning. In fact, I've yet to see grace entering into the picture at any point. I've looked for it. I've even tried to fake it. But I'm graceless. Totally without grace.

To be fair about this, I didn't really get the time to prepare for the whole process. I was thrust into this mess at the tender age of 40 after being pretty sickly and sporting some disturbingly high fevers. Time to study up for this event is, as I see it, sort of key to surviving. I went from a normal lady who was maybe having a few peri-menopausal symptoms to The Change in a matter of a few months.

I've weathered most of it pretty well, actually. The supposed "losses" are really gains as far as I'm concerned. There were some struggles early on, but those were born more out of my not understanding what was happening than real discomfort. Mostly, I just hum along.

But, every once in a while, my body decides to try and work the way it is supposed to. You can't blame it for trying, really. It is always rather surprised when things don't go as planned. Instead of just giving up and getting a nice black and white cookie like any other sensible being might do, my body decides to "tweak the system" a bit and see if it can't make things function. It fiddles with the temperature controls just to see if that will help. It pushes buttons inside the brain and tries flooding it with a variety of chemicals thinking that something somewhere must be a quart low. This, of course, does little save cause a complete crash of the hard drive. It then resorts to pounding on things with a hammer which leads to various pains including the one that will ultimately live just behind my right eye and cause me to see lots of sparkly things.

None of this is particularly effective. But, you gotta give the body credit for giving it the old college try. All this really accomplishes, though, is emotional upheaval. Mostly this takes the form of rage. This doesn't happen often. But every few months, the beast within is released. And woe be to those who must cross my path. Or talk to me. Or avoid talking to me when I wish to express my rage. There is no winning with me at this stage of the process. It is best to just duck and cover.

There is no grace involved and any images I may have once had of myself as the wise older woman transitioning peacefully to the next stage of life, perhaps even bestowing the gift of her life's learning upon younger women, is pretty much lost in all the shrieking. That could also account for the headaches now that I think of it. It is also the reason why a great many people came much closer to death than they might have liked over the past week or so.

My rage knows no boundaries. It spans from the children in my class, to colleagues...even to complete strangers. There was, for example, The Philosopher. He, in his infinite wisdom, thought that it might be a good idea to ponder the meaning of life this afternoon in the cool comfort of the frozen food aisle. Lost in his exploration of the intricacies of the workings of the world, he did not stop to consider the implications of standing between me and the Weight Watchers Chocolate Ice Cream Bars. The planet came very close today to losing a great thinker. All because I once had a bad fever and needed low calorie ice cream in a way that transcended my belief in loving my fellow man.

Grace? None here. I've got my grump on and it comes with a side of hot flashes. That is going to be my testimony when I'm called upon to speak in my own defense at my trial. And I like to think that there will be one or two women on that jury who will nod sagely as I speak those words. Maybe even offer me an ice cream or a Valium. Or both.

Thus, it was probably not all that surprising to learn that my attempts at being witty the other day while discussing the problems the Director Of Technology has had getting the staff computer orders delivered did not go quite as I'd planned. I was, perhaps, not as charming as I'd thought. It is entirely possible that I might have given off a "vibe." I honestly don't remember doing or saying anything that might indicate displeasure on my part. I seem to recall thinking that I should be delicate with this discussion as I'd like my new laptop delivered sometime in the next year or so and that this guy could make it happen. I was going for witty...honest.

But, it seems that I scared him a little bit. At least that is what the computer teacher told me this morning. She thought it was rather funny as it is sometimes difficult to get his attention when she needs certain matters attended to. There was discussion of putting me on her personal payroll as I was so clearly skilled at commanding his undivided attention. Granted that attention comes with a "deer in the headlights" expression...but she feels that this is a good look for her supervisor.

I, on the other hand, can see any number of flaws in this plan. Not the least of which being that terrified people tend to drop things or avoid the source of their terror. My new computer did not come today. Or maybe it did and he is afraid to deliver it. I'll never know. My Cheerful Teaching Assistant, who does not fear me or my Change of Life Rage as any sane person would, is deeply concerned that she will be considered Persona Non Grata by association. She has also ordered a new laptop through the school's payroll dedication program and is planning on using her old computer to beat me vigorously about the head and shoulders should she become infected with my Menopause Cooties in the eyes of the poor, scared tech guy.

Thankfully, tomorrow is Friday. I will grit my teeth, take many, many ibuprofen and somehow make it though the day. It will take a great deal of chocolate, but I will somehow find the grace within those silvery wrappers. Then I will have the weekend and I can use the time to recover. Maybe knit a little bit on something simple and non-rage producing.

I will also probably need to write one or two notes of apology. And maybe bake some nice cookies for the tech guy...

SA

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Thought It Was Thursday...

And I'm not the only one. Several people commented to me throughout the course of this day that the whole thing had a "Thursday" feel to it. This is really going to throw me off tomorrow, I'm afraid. I'll probably never even make it to work on Friday what with it being my Saturday and all. This will not be well-received by the school board no matter how convincing my arguments regarding "Day Feelings."

But it is, in fact, Wednesday. So let's hit it hard with a Wednesday Night Bullet Post.

*I had the worst case of insomnia last night. Seriously...it was brutal. I normally sleep like the dead so finding myself awake until 3:00 in the morning was rather vexing. (especially since I rise at 5:00) I tried everything I could think of in the way of remedies, all to no avail.

*For the record, eating large amounts of peanut butter straight from the jar in the early morning hours does not induce drowsiness. It does, however, induce guilt. And a little bit of nausea...

*Come to think of it, this might have had something to do with my Day Of The Week Confusion.

*Best 6th Grade Retort Of The Day, uttered with a maddeningly broad grin and intended to disarm his teacher who was going on at length about how certain character flaws he possesses might be interfering somewhat with his success in the classroom:

"My Mom says I have Angry Short Man Syndrome."

*I have to admit, it was pretty disarming...

*The good thing about my ungodly long teaching day yesterday was that my principal felt a teeny bit of guilt over my predicament since he was partially responsible for it. He agreed to let me knock off an hour from my Designated Parent/Teacher Conference Time. This meant that I could leave school at 3:30 today.

*The teacher who asked to meet with me at 3:00 so I could teach him how to use the computer program for writing Individualized Education Plans and who was still nowhere to be found at 3:40 will pay for his actions. He will pay dearly and in a way that he will remember forever and ever and ever. The scars, both physical and emotional, will never completely heal. He will be a mere shell of a man, haunting the school hallways and moaning, "Why oh why did I toy with a sleep deprived Sheep?"

*I knit away upon my humble, homespun scarf last night and am rather pleased with my progress. There is hope, Dear Readers! Perhaps there will be a Christmas this year, after all!

*The Best Line Uttered By A 5th Grader Award goes to the young man who, upon being asked to recall a piece of information by his teacher, promptly clapped both hands to his temples, squeezed his eyes shut and assumed an expression that, to the untrained eye, would indicate that he was passing a stone roughly the circumference of Pluto and cried,

"Think, Head, THINK!!!"

*My Cheerful Teaching Assistant and I wrote that one on the board. We are thinking of having t-shirts and mugs made up.

*The Thinker later trounced me in ten straight games of Connect Four. I guess his head had hit its stride at that point.

*I'm so very, very late on this one. But, I really wanted to thank Emma for so kindly including Sheepish Annie in the latest edition of Yarnival. I sort of felt like the ugly duckling in an impressive knit-blogger group. But, you can't beat that sort of company and I was really so flattered to be counted amongst those talented knitters and writers. Thank you so much, Emma! And you did a heck of a job on that edition, BTW.

*Made me wonder if I should knit something, though. I mean, honestly...who out there isn't sick of looking at the same sad pictures in the sidebar at this point? Nothing like company coming to visit to make you realize what needs sprucing up around the old blog...

*I ordered a new computer through my school's payroll deduction program on September 26th. There have been "issues." I have been waiting patiently. Maybe it will come on Friday. The Technology Director assures those of us who ordered that all is well at this point and he is expecting things to start arriving from the nice people at the computer store soon.

*I sort of regret telling him that he was dead to me before he revealed that piece of information. Do you think this will delay his delivery of my new laptop?


I've run out of steam. I'm sure there is more randomy goodness in there somewhere. But I'm still dealing with the fact that it is not Thursday and the recovery from realizing what is my now-extended work week is taking up a great deal of energy. I do hope that your Not-Thursday was a good one and that your Is-Thursday is even better.

I'll see you tomorrow, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and with a solid 7 hours of sack time under my belt. I hope... God knows what day I'll think it is if sleep eludes me for another night. I'll probably make up my own new day or something.

I'll call it, "Think, Head, THINK" day and it will rain new laptops...

SA

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Retraction

OK. So maybe I was a little premature with the whole Apocalypse prediction thing. With temperatures dropping somewhat and weather conditions looking a bit more normal for late October in Maine, I am forced to admit that I might have jumped the gun. Sorry about that. My bad. You may now stop hoarding snack cakes and battery operated fans in anticipation of the rain of fire from Heaven On High. I hope I didn't cause you any trouble, there.

Boy, is my face red...

In my defense, though, you have to admit there were a few signs. I mean, it's not like I'm the sort to go all panicky at the drop of a hat or anything. I feel that donning a sandwich board sign that reads, "The End Is Near" is a perfectly reasonable reaction to eighty degree temperatures at this time of the year. Although I will admit that the mass emailings might have been something of an error in judgement. I have had several rather disgruntled responses and am quite shocked by the language, frankly. Who knew that my old elementary school teachers, (who should have known better than to have MySpace pages and easily accessible email addresses) were capable of such "creative" wording?

That's the thanks I get for trying to help. Hrumph.

There were even those who suggested that I should be punished for causing such an uproar. For what it's worth, I had a very long and tiring day today. That's kind of like being smote, right? In fact, I would rather have been smote than to have worked the schedule I was handed today. Eight and a half straight hours of teaching. No lunch. No preparatory periods. No bathroom breaks. Straight through. Anyone who was maybe a little irked by my misinterpretation of the signs should feel pretty darned good about the karmic response to my rumormongering.

Now that we are not to be consumed by the unholy fires, I find myself a bit concerned with the fact that I have not finished any of the knitting projects slated for Christmas. It's not like I haven't been knitting. I have...I really, really have! But everything is going slowly and I find myself having to accept the fact that I will not have finished knitted goodness for friends and family this year. At least not for everyone. There is still hope for my getting one or two things off the needles in time for a quick block 'n wrap. It is going to require some focus, though. I must push through the pain and make those needles fly. I will give up sleep and maybe even a meal or two. Unless I'm willing to purchase a few things, remove the tags and call them my own, that is. And, as the big day draws a bit closer, there is every likelihood that I might resort to such unsavory tactics. But, for now, I'm just going to have to make finishing things a priority.

I'm really starting to miss that Apocalypse...

SA

Monday, October 22, 2007

One Lone Voice

Well, the Apocalypse is continuing on its merry way, happily spreading mayhem and madness in its wake. With the October temperatures hovering around eighty degrees, I'm thinking that we are heading for an epic sort of Apocalypse like the one you see in the movies and stuff.

Ever vigilant and aware of my responsibilities as the resident Doom Crier in my school building, I took it upon myself to share this unhappy news with my coworkers. It is a heavy burden, but I had a sixth grader who was absent today so I had a little time to kill. Might as well spend it letting others know of The Apocalypse.

It didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped.

The prevailing opinion expressed by my capri-clad colleagues was that, if this was the Apocalypse, then they'd like more of the same with a side of sandals. There was a certain giddiness in the building that was reminiscent of the last few days of school, when the vacation draws nigh and visions of sleeping late dance in our heads. No one seemed all that concerned with the fact that we are closing in on November whilst wearing tube tops. The "Tube Top Sign" isn't necessarily mentioned specifically in the holy texts...but it is implied. I'm sure of this.

I couldn't raise a single soul to panic. By the final bell, there was a general stampede for the door in order that the teaching staff could head for the beach. They were gone before I knew it, leaving behind one lone flip-flop and a lingering scent of sunscreen.

This is not the proper way to conduct an Apocalypse.

But, I am out of options, frankly. I am the lone voice of reason in a world gone mad. There is no one left to whom I might turn. The Vatican is no longer taking my calls after I contacted them during a rather rainy spell looking for the original blueprints to The Ark and asking for some clarification with regard to my personal liability should I inadvertently load up two male ocelots. (Ocelots are rather modest creatures, after all and there is every reason to believe a mistake could be made.) I also needed a clear explanation of a "cubit" since Wikipedia was being a bit vague on the subject and it was my understanding that I'd need a working definition. I may have over-reacted a bit on that one, I suppose. But, they didn't have to yell at me like that...

There are one or two legal decisions still pending on that one. It doesn't matter. There is nothing worse than being "screened" by His High Holiness. It's just depressing.

But, I know what a "cubit"is now, so I suppose the whole thing wasn't a complete waste of time.

It seems rather foolish to keep knitting away on the holiday gifts if we are just going to be consumed in a rain of fire. If nothing else, no one is going to be all that appreciative of a hand knit scarf at that point. It will be very hot and might get caught on something whilst the recipient is trying to dodge fireballs and lightning bolts. And I don't know how to knit with asbestos so I'm really at a loss regarding how to proceed at this point.

I should probably just keep knitting. It keeps my mind off the Apocalypse and, given my track record of predictions, it is probably a good idea to have a back-up plan in place. If we aren't all crispy and cinder-like come December, I could look a little silly if I don't have any gifts.

And we wouldn't want to look silly, now would we?

SA

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Apple-ocalypse

As I was making my way home from my weekly tussle with the carts and other shoppers at the grocery store this morning, I was rather taken by the sight of four little girls. They were enjoying the morning sunshine, jumping on a trampoline in their backyard and were nothing short of a vision in their bright shorts and t-shirts. It was like something out of a story book or a really good insurance commercial. I half-expected the whole scene to go into slow motion and be accompanied by the lyric strains of a single violin.

Springtime in Maine...'tis truly a lovely thing.

Except it is not Spring. It is Fall. Late October, to be specific. And temperatures in the 70's for extended periods are not the norm. In fact, it is downright strange and smacks of that apocalypse I keep mentioning.

We are reaching the point where I am periodically gathering small groups of young whippersnappers around me, taking up The Talking Stick and telling of The Before Time when there were distinct and easily identified seasons. I tell of things like mittens and warm woolly socks. Their little whippersnapper eyes go wide when I speak of how, as a child, I used to walk to school uphill, (both ways) in the snow, year-round with nothing but the soup in my Bobby Sherman, glass insulated thermos between me and a frozen grave.

Note: The aforementioned Talking Stick is a Brittany, size 17 straight needle as I can't seem to find the other one and it seems a waste to not find a use for a Brittany size 17 straight needle. Those of us from The Before Time were forced to use all parts of the animal and were frugal in all things.

In an effort to remind myself of the season so that, when Fall returns for real, I won't be thrown into a shock so deep that there will be no recovering, I decided that I should do something Apple-Related. That is not only seasonal, but will help me in coping with my Apple Amnesia. This affliction is little known, barely researched and one for which there will be no telethons. The symptoms involve purchasing apples even though you already have apples. Then buying more apples. Soon, you have many, many apples. You think you will eat them. But they are apples. They are not cookies. I can eat more cookies than I can apples.

I have a lot of apples.

I broke out my new and very fun apple peeler/corer/slicer thingie and proceeded to empty out the produce drawer in the fridge. In short order, I had a whole bunch of the little buggers all ready for dehydrating. In not so short order, (dehydrating takes a while) I had this:




The fruits of my labors! (hee-hee!!)
I probably should have taken a picture before the now leathery fruits were subjected to further torment in the Food Sucker (aka The Vacuum Sealer Thingie). But, you get the idea. These will keep well in the dark cupboards and I have now bought myself a little time to decided what the heck I am going to do with them. Dried fresh apples are actually rather yummy so I suspect there will be a few smuggled out of the bag before too much longer, though. I may try to do a few more to make trail mixes as holiday gifts...we'll see.
Lest you think that it has been all apple-drying and force feeding groups of children stories about my long ago childhood days, I will tell you that there has been some knitting here. Like I said, the dehydrator takes a long time and it's not like I was going to just sit there and watch the apples age before my very eyes. The Invisibility Shawl is behaving beautifully now that I have come up with a better system for checking my work on previous rows. And the spinning wheel even came out of the corner to creak its way through some whirling of the wool. It was a big day here at the farm! (if you expand your definition of "farm" to include a small, second floor condo, grocery store apples and superwash wool roving, that is.) I'm feeling that rather smug sense that comes from preparing for the dark days of winter while the sun still shines.
And by "dark days of winter" I mean "that season that used to come after Autumn back before the apocalypse forced us all outside to our trampolines in shorts."
SA

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Help Not Wanted

Do Not Inquire Within. Proprietor Will Bite You. Seriously.


Friday culminated in my stating and following up with an email to several individuals (some of whom are my immediate supervisors) that I would be in my classroom for the remainder of the day. I further stated that I was not to be disturbed as it was my full intention to eat chocolate from that moment until the final bell. The principal was given fair warning with regard to his responsibilities around informing the staff. I was of the opinion at that point that approaching me might be dangerous. It was highly probable that I would interpret even the most friendly advance as an attempt to get between me and the chocolate. There was every reason to believe that I would bite someone before the day was out.

The fact that no one thought this weird or even funny at that point should serve as supporting evidence of the fact that it was not a good morning. Not good at all.

I have been suffering mightily of late under the not-so-welcome ministrations of the Resident Helper Elves in my school. All are incredibly well-intentioned and genuinely thought they were doing me a solid. However, the project on which I was working required that I have all information available and their tendency to make decisions on my behalf then not tell me was less than helpful. Much less. Most less. Most less-est.

But, if nothing else, my part of the equation was done right and the powers-that-be acknowledged this. All I asked was that, when the day of reckoning arrived, I not be left standing all by my lonesome holding the proverbial bag. I received many heartfelt and vigorous assurances on this matter. I would receive all the support a teacher could get and then some.

The average North American Sheep is a docile and trusting creature by nature. Look it up. We are quiet, generally pretty content and given to going where we are told to go. We may be a little stinky at times, but that isn't really our fault. Mostly we are pleasant. And we believe in our fellow man. Or Sheep...whatever.

For those of you not of the Sheepish persuasion, it probably comes as little surprise that when the Reckoning began yesterday (in the form of a parent meeting) there was a marked lack of "others" in the vicinity. The administrators were nowhere to be found. As they were the ones I specifically requested be there to make it all better, this made for some tension.

Fortunately, I have one or two People Skills. At the risk of sounding like I'm tooting my own horn, I can be rather charming when the need arises. Downright disarming, if things look like they are going to get ugly. In short and without going into details (which I can't because this is kid stuff and we are pretty respectful of kids' rights to live and learn without the whole world knowing the ups and downs of it all) I made it better. I had to make some decisions normally left to people with bigger salaries than I...but I fixed it.

When the whole mess was over, I proceeded to trap one of my superiors in a conference room by literally blocking the door and laughing at any feeble attempts he made at getting away. I then shattered every known stereotype of The Docile Sheep. The good thing about being in the right is that you can do this sort of thing and not get fired. You will even get an apology in both verbal and written form.

This did not stop one of the aforementioned Helper Elves from making one last-ditch attempt at independence and undoing one of the decisions I had to make while left alone to drown. But, since this particular Elf is one of the bosses of me, there isn't much I can do about it.

Except eat chocolate. Which I did. For two straight hours. By noon, my Cheerful Teaching Assistant noted that I was looking a little green around the gills and wondered aloud if I should, perhaps, consider eating an apple or a piece of nice, whole wheat bread. I did not bite her. She meant well. She was also all the way across the room and I wasn't really able to propel myself quite that far at that point in the festivities.

We are glad that it is the weekend. Very, very glad. We are locked in The Manse and doing whatever it takes to avoid human contact for a couple of days. We are doing those things that make us feel happy and somewhat in control of our existence.

For example, I purchased a nice, shiny, new binder for all my loose knitting patterns and even organized them into categories. There was labeling involved and the use of tabbed dividers. I even made a fancy title page in Lovely Olde Script:




I realize that it looks like, "Knitting Batterns." You do not need to point this out. That's just how they did it back in the days of Lovely Olde Script. I'm kicking it Olde School here...
I have also resigned myself to the fact that knitting The Invisibility Shawl requires the application of certain rules. It only works when I don't get all relaxed on the plain knit and purl rows. Instead, I must use those rows as a Self-Check. Thus, I will catch any mistakes before things progress to the point of no return. I'll miss those halcyon days where a plain knit row was like a vacation. But, if we are taking matters into our own hands and hooves, then we must bite the bullet. This strategy has resulted in a grand total of zero errors. You gotta walk the walk, talk the talk, and knit the...um, knit. (that sounds funny, but it fits the pattern so I'm going with it.)
It is helping. Sort of. If nothing else, I can now find my favorite sock patterns within mere seconds of being bitten by the sock bug and I will always know which binder holds my Batterns. This gives the illusion of control to some degree.
I'm not going to stop eating chocolate, though. Some things just go better with chocolate. Peanut butter goes nicely with it. As does caramel.
And following through with society's rules around not killing the Helper Elves. That definitely goes better with chocolate.
SA

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More On Winning And Losing.

I posted earlier about a battle lost against the mighty window blinds with which I had been clashing for years. Or did I win? I broke them so they are dead and that is like a victory, I suppose. But, now I have no working blinds and that has the ring of loserdom to it. There was another battle lost on Monday. This one was a war of words and a blow to my fragile dignity.

Time: Monday Morning, 8:45 a.m.
Place: The Hallway Outside Ms. Sheep's Classroom.
The Players: Ms. Sheep, Her Cheerful Teaching Assistant (whose cheer has been waning of late) and A Lady With A Mop.

Ms. Sheep: My goodness! There certainly seems to be a lot of water here in the hallway!

Lady With A Mop: (glowers)

MS: It looks like there's been quite a spill here...I'm so very glad that someone thought to bring the mop!

LWAM: (glowers and mutters something rather inappropriate for the setting)

Cheerful Teaching Assistant: I called her...there was a lot of water out here, you see.

MS: Why, how very, very quick-thinking of you, Cheerful Teaching Assistant! You are a treasure to have under my supervision. Thank you for being YOU!!

CTA: (grinning broadly) Yeah. I wouldn't want you to break a hip or anything.

MS: (glowers...she knows when she's been bested)


That one was a loss. No doubt about it. You don't come back from that any time soon. On the plus side, my Cheerful Teaching Assistant has never been more cheerful. She's been downright giddy all week long. Maniacally so...

Until today. Sometimes I get to win.

Time: Thursday, 2:30 p.m.
Place: Ms. Sheep's classroom.
The Players: Ms. Sheep, Her Cheerful Teaching Assistant And A Noncompliant Fifth Grader Who Has Been Arguing About Doing His Sustained Silent Reading For Twenty Minutes.

Ms. Sheep, being older, wiser, and, granted, more fragile of hip, has given up on this argument and is sitting it out at her desk. She knows that she holds his end of the day free time in her hands and that he will eventually catch on to this fact. The Cheerful Teaching Assistant, however, does not have Ms. Sheep's vast years of experience with Noncompliant Fifth Graders. She's feeling the need to impress her will upon him. She makes the decision to play the Encouragement Card.

Noncompliant Fifth Grader: I can't do it! I can't...and you can't make me!!!

Cheerful Teaching Assistant: You can do anything if you really, really try!

Ms. Sheep: (seeing that this strategy is about to incite further and more intense argumentative behavior, attempts a bold distraction) Mary Poppins has a point! All we must do is try!!! (voice rising to a fevered pitch) It's all in the trying! Let's all try together! The sun will shine, the birds will sing, all fifth graders will read silently for ten minutes and the world will be at peace!! Let's be happy and unified in the trying!!! (rises from her chair and risks her fragile hips to dance around the room spreading imaginary Happy Reading Dust while chanting loudly and robustly)

If you BELIEVE
You can ACHIEVE!!!!!

CTA: This is payback for the, "hip" comment, isn't it?

MS: Maybe just a little...

CTA: Well-played.

MS: My hip hurts...


Bonus Awesome Comment From Noncompliant Fifth Grader: Which part of Silent Reading is getting past you two?


I'm not sure that this constitutes a full victory, but we did manage to get our silent reading done and any potential arguments from the reader were lost in his horror at my little Happy "Trying" Dance. If not a victory, we can possibly call it a draw. That hip joke was pretty darned good considering it was early in the morning and all...

My Cheerful Teaching Assistant has an amazingly well-developed sense of humor in spite of her tendency to resort to being Little Miss Sunshine in times of stress. We work together well, as you can imagine. I do believe that there will be a rather hilarious come-back sometime over the next week. I look forward to it.

Victory or not, I think I may just reward myself with a little casting on tonight. I do believe I might be ready for the privilege of starting up a third project. I just got myself a fancy new scarf pattern and I'm feeling the urge to see what it will do. We shall ignore the fact that I have two unfinished projects on the needles that I have sworn to complete before anything else sees the light of day. This is different. This is a Victory Project. (or a Just Let Me Think I Won Project) That concept negates any and all previous contracts with the yarn. I looked it up.

And I'm pretty sure I can knit this one. Rumor has it, all I have to do is try...

SA

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wubba Nub Bubbah Puh!!!

Yeah!!!!!!!!!

(Translation: Wednesday Night Bullet Post. Yeah!!!! This is the version you get when you are dealing with a tired Sheepie.)


*My school is sort of unique in that it isn't a "school." It is a "schoolz" For reasons that make little or no sense most of the time, the fifth and sixth grades are actually two different schools housed in the same building. If you really look at some of the reasons, they make some sense. If you squint really hard and suspend disbelief to a degree that might cause a little bit of brain freeze or blindness, that is.

*But it is what it is. And it is also why I had to dismiss my fifth graders at noon today for Parent/Teacher Conferences, still teach sixth grade and why I will be doing the same thing in reverse next week. And a shorter session again the next week since the sixth grade is district wide as opposed to the fifth grade which is comprised of students from one town and much smaller.

*Am I making your head hurt yet?

*My school district staggers the conferences so that parents with kids in multiple buildings will stand a fighting chance at making all their conference appointments rather than racing from one end of town to another in one night. Thoughtful...unless you are me and have to do three conference nights.

*I may be the world's worst knitter, but I have mastered the art of sock knitting. With last night's frost, I have never been more grateful for this particular skill.

*I had no conferences scheduled tonight. I have none scheduled for next week either. But, since my Thanksgiving holiday time is considered partially to be compensation for the extra time spent on conferences, I sit there patiently for the designated hours. By 5:30, my eyes have glazed over if I am on schedule and shortly thereafter, I start inventing songs that include lyrics like:

"I'm so bored, Oh my dear Lord!
This is so dumb, Look! I have a thumb!!!"

*I grabbed the wrong bag this morning and ended up bringing the Invisibility Shawl as my project for the evening. If you think I knit imitation lace badly while in my home, you can only imagine how creative I can be with the yarnovers when I am in hour ten of my work day.

*The night custodians made the mistake of asking me why I wasn't joining the rest of the staff for the dinner so thoughtfully provided by the Parent-Teacher Organization for our enjoyment this evening.

*These are the same custodians were were privileged to be in the audience for my premiere performance in The Squeaky Chair Freak-Out, in which I displayed my impressive range of skills in the areas of arm-flapping, complaining and shrieking. I can only imagine how impressed they must have been with my twenty minute dissertation on Weird Issues I Have With Food And Why It Is Best That I Just Go Home For Dinner Later. (especially if the food is not that which was made by my own hands or that of Mommy Sheep) To say they were amazed beyond words would be an understatement.

*I can only imagine that I am the subject of many dinner conversations in the custodians' respective homes.

*I was dismayed this morning when I put on my favorite-always-treat-me-right-cargo-pants this morning and discovered that they are a bit on the snug side. I haven't worn them since last spring and I guess the two and a half pound weight loss wasn't enough to bring them back to my way of thinking.

*Sadly, they were the only thing I had that was unwrinkled this morning. This meant the donning of the Dreaded Thong. For those who are keeping score, I was working an extra long day knowing that I have to do it again next week, my knitting was a disaster, I was hungry and wearing a thong.

*My mood? Well, you can imagine...

*Home is a nice place to be. Flannel pajamas are the greatest invention known to man or Sheep. My simple scarf from my own homespun yarn is the most beautiful thing ever knit. Those little packages of cheese crackers are really rather filling when you are desperate for sustenance. Tomorrow, I'm wearing jeans.

*It's all in how you look at it, right?

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Here's hoping that your stitch count is right and your underwear is to your liking. The simple things make all the difference!

SA

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wish I Had More For You...

I'm wearing my Busy Sheepie hat tonight, folks. So this one is a quickie. Tomorrow night I will return, fresh from Parent/Teacher Conferences Part One, in which I cleverly demonstrate how to fill many, many hours that one has to be in attendance but for which one has no scheduled conferences. I do believe I'll be ready for a little Wednesday Night Bullet Post at that point.

Meanwhile, let me leave you with The Best Line Of The Day. Here's the set-up:

I was helping one of my students today while his class was enjoying their scheduled library time. He was having some difficulties with the shelving system and with figuring out out just what he wanted to read. After scanning the computerized card catalogue and discussing various options, he settled on an Animal Book. I agreeably escorted him to the appropriate section and we selected several titles. He was thrilled to find one book in particular.

Ms. Sheep, look!!! It's a book about guinea pigs!!!

Actually sweetheart, those aren't guinea pigs. Those are hamsters.

(Insert benevolent smile and teacherly glow here. Children are really such treasures, after all...)

After a pause and a lengthy gander at the cover art, he said:

Ohhhhh...so it was a hamster I stepped on that time!


My job is not an easy one and often interferes with my blogging time. But you do get the occasional giggle-worthy nugget. See you tomorrow!

SA

Monday, October 15, 2007

Win/Win? Lose/Lose?

There are a great many things in my life that do not work. Or, at the very least, they do not work well. In this, one can see quite clearly my somewhat self-defeating tendency towards believing that I Know Best. Not just Best...maybe even Better Than That. In fact, I am sometimes deluded into a smug sense that comes with thinking that I Know Everything.

I do not.

But that doesn't stop me from trying. Which is really a rather nice quality, if you think about it. I persevere. In the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, I will stubbornly forge ahead with my chosen course of action. The fact that I am really only engaging in one or more denial-based behaviors is happily ignored. If I just keep trying, my less than effective methods will eventually work. I just know it! This has netted me the following:

I believed I could fix the drain in my tub. It is now held open with a paper clip.

I believed that I could come up with a more efficient strategy for fixing my errors in the lace knitting. Ripping and tinking is for suckers. I now have a sort of "tilty" shawl.

I believed that if I just put enough air in my driver's side tire, it would magically heal itself and decide to stop going flat. I spent close to fifteen dollars in quarters at the air machine. (note: I eventually gave up on this strategy and accepted that the problem was beyond my ability to fix. I asked them to look at it the next time I brought the truck in for service and it turned out to be a faulty valve stem. Free repair. If you don't count all the quarters...)

I believed that I had come up with a foolproof new strategy for getting the bills paid in a timely fashion. I now have a notice informing me that I somehow managed to forget the car payment in September. (The car people don't seem to appreciate my forward thinking approach to trying new things. They lack vision, as far as I'm concerned.)

I have been stubbornly doing battle with the blinds in my living room, insisting that the mechanism which adjusts their alignment could be corrected with continued use and just the right pressure. It mattered not that simply replacing the defective blinds would cost me well under ten dollars. This was a matter of pride!

That last one has been a doozy. It has gone on for nigh on three years now. Three years of fiddling, tweaking, twisting, pushing, pulling and even adjusting each individual blind by hand. I was not to be defeated. Surely there was some way that I, The Sheep Who Knows All, could find a way to rig this simple piece of equipment to working order. All one needs to do is look at my sterling record of home improvement to date to see that I could not fail in this endeavor!

Today, the battle ended. In a final burst of "rightness," I forced the mechanism to its limits. By God, this thing was not going to rest on my watch! Those blinds were going to be opened at the angle to which I desired! I set my feet into a comfortable stance, braced my arms and proceeded to force the wand that turns the blinds in the direction that I felt it must go.

I know the battle is over. It can't continue once you've killed your foe. The mechanism snapped and left me standing in my living room at 6:00 in the morning with closed blinds and the handle that turned them snapped off it my hand. That is a cessation in the hostilities if ever I saw one. It may not be peace...there was way too much swearing for that. But, once your nemesis is gone, there is really no sense in continuing on as a super-hero.

What I don't know is if I won the battle and proved my prowess as the Maintainer Of All Things In My Home. Was I in The Right? Am I the victor? I'm pretty sure that once you've killed something, that you get to say you've won. But now I can't get the blinds open. At all. Not one little bit. I have a cool new plastic stick with which to play...but I really wanted it to stay attached to the blinds for use in opening and closing. I think I'm the winner...

But I feel like a loser. A loser who has to sit in the dark. With a snapped off piece of her mini-blinds at her side. And the realization that she is, perhaps, not so good with the home repair.

I took a picture of it to show you. I thought it would add a little extra zing to an otherwise sort of bland, non-knitting related post.

Here's where it would have been if Blogger were accepting my attempts at photo uploading.
Another battle lost, I suppose. That's OK. I'm sure that something else will break soon and I'll get to begin doing battle all over again. I can forget about my false victory with my window blinds and move on to bigger and better battles...maybe something involving electricity or fire.
Come to think of it, that paper clip on the drain was looking a little loose this morning. I have a great idea for how I could use duct tape and a stapler to rig that up even stronger!
SA

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Yeah...I watch cartoons and don't knit much.

It would probably be easy for onlookers to assume that I am not the most well-read of individuals. I do seem to spend a great deal of time watching cartoons or taking naps. But, I really do read. Honest. At least a book a week. Usually more. During a school vacation week, I can knock back five. I'll admit that I've never settled in with a tome like "War And Peace" in order that I might join a highbrow book club and discuss it intensely for days on end or anything. But, I'm a reader from waaaaay back.

So I was happy to be tagged with a little book meme that came to me courtesy of Cathy. It's rather fun to think a bit about my literary choices and even more fun to not have to come up with something knitterly to talk about today. For a fiber blog, that topic is certainly a bit underdeveloped these days. Best not to think about it...

Here's some bookish stuff that should serve nicely while I work on these never-ending projects of mine:



1. Hardcover or paperback, and why? Well, both have advantages and disadvantages. There is something so wonderfully solid about a hardcover. But they aren't as convenient for travel and when you fall asleep with them in the tub they get very wet. And bruise your spleen. Paperbacks are reasonably priced and super portable. But they are also more easily damaged. When you fall asleep with them in the tub, they also get very wet. But your spleen remains springy and unsullied.

2. If I were to own a book shop, I would call it... "Go Away! You Can't Have My Books! Seriously. I Will Not Hesitate To Call The Police If You Touch My Books, Miscreants!!!"

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) My "favorite" varies along with my moods or what I'm reading at the time. The one that's tickling me right now is from Dean Koontz's "Odd Thomas:"

"If you don't keep it light," Ozzie said, "I'll sit my four-hundred-pound ass on you, and that's not the way you want to die."

4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be... Stephen King? Terry Pratchett? Dean Koontz? Peter Straub? Dostoyevsky? There are so many!!! Choosing would make my head hurt...

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be… Too horrible to consider! But, if I must then I suppose any of Clive Barker's books would work nicely. That boy isn't content with accepting the "natural" ending point. He tells "the rest of the story." He tells it until it is well and truly done. And there is more to find each time you read one of them. Sometimes he will find that he has to do a sequel to a 600 page paperback because the story isn't quite done. That should keep me busy while I wait for the rescue planes.

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that… Automatically marks your page. Especially for those times when you've dropped the book. Maybe in the tub...

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of... The library. Not the newer, better equipped ones, but those wonderful small-town libraries. The places where the librarians know you by name and will remember to set aside a title that they know you'd like. Where they sometimes waive your overdue fees because they know you and your generally responsible ways. If you're really lucky, they have book sales to raise funds for the library and you can buy ten of these wonderfully aromatic books for a dollar.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be…Allie Sorensen from Katherine Eliska Kimbriel's "Night Calls" and "Kindred Rites." She is brave and talented, yet also knows her limits. She is eager to learn and willing to accept her responsibilities in life. And she can do cool things like light fires with her mind and see spirits. That could come in handy at times, I would think. If not Allie, then I suppose Stephanie Plum from the Evanovitch books would be a good choice. Because, well, you know...Ranger. If you've read the books, then you know what I mean.

9. The most overestimated book of all times is…. The value of a book is determined by the hands that are holding it. What makes for a great read in my mind is not so for another. Just read. Don't worry about whether or not what you are reading is estimable.

10. I hate it when a book… Tries too hard Books that use fashionable or awkward means for engaging the reader tend to bore me a bit. The best books are written in the author's voice with no pretensions. There are some writers whose work I can identify even if it is in a film or television script. When they try to hide it or use someone else's voice, it just doesn't work as well.


So there you go! My thoughts on the bookish stuff! As far as tagging goes, you know the drill: take it if you want it. It's a fun one and gives some surprising insights into your thoughts on literature in all forms.

In case you were worried about the knitting content, I am still stitching away on my two current projects. The Invisibility Shawl has given me a couple of bad moments but, as I am considering this a "getting to know the laceweight yarn" sort of project, I am not so daunted by it. I just keep adjusting the stitch count through any number of horrific and dishonest strategies and knit merrily on. I like a happy ending...

The Homespun Scarf has also grown a bit this weekend and is looking good for Christmas. I continue to be prideful of my spinning skills with this yarn to the point where I could use an intervention of sorts. No one should be this enamoured with their own abilities. It is just not healthy.

But, with the workweek upon me, things will slow down a bit. This is going to be a busy one with Parent/Teacher Conferences Part I on Wednesday, several meetings and a few changes in my caseload that promise to make for some interesting weeks ahead. I suspect I'll be more than ready when the next weekend rolls around. But, that's what pays for the yarn and the books so I suppose I should go forth and educate the masses with vigor and enthusiasm.

Have a good start to the week, everybody!

SA

Saturday, October 13, 2007

We Are Living In A Material World

And I am a Material Sheep.

I often think that I should maybe do something about getting my Zen on. I wonder if I should shun that which is material and start appreciating the intrinsic value of the simpler things. The beauty of a sunrise, the laughter of a child, the gentle whisper of the Autumnal winds as they send brightly colored leaves scuttling busily around the streets...these should be counted among my riches. How peaceful life would be were I to cast aside my role as a certified member of The Rat Race and just settle myself cross-legged in the middle of a field in order that I might meditate on the beauty of the dew seeping through the seat of my jeans. I'm pretty sure that I could get pizza delivery to a field if I worded the order right...

My commitment to the simpler life never lasts long. But this is in no way my fault. How is a Sheep with aspirations to non-materialism supposed to see it through when there is so much cool stuff to be had out there? It's not fair, really. In fact, it is downright depressing. So much so, that I must engage in retail therapy in order that I might recover. Who knows to what depths I might sink over this whole matter if I didn't throw a few dollars at my Acquisition Issues?

I'm all about good mental health, after all.

This is why it was so very, very important that I purchase some yarn from Wooly Wonka. It is money I would have had to pay to a therapist anyway. And, if you recall, none of this is my fault since all I wanted was to sit in a field in my soggy jeans while meditating on the beauty of the daisies. My motives were pure.





But it's alpaca in the Wasatch colorway...there really is no way one can avoid purchasing it.
And even if I were able to resist the beauty of a yarn dyed to match the beautiful Wasatch Mountains that my poor eyes haven't been privileged to see in many, many years now, there are other possessions that are fairly forced upon me. Possessions so perfectly suited to my tastes that they must be added to The Collection. You can see how my path to spiritual enlightenment is fairly littered with roadblocks! And, as if my own weaknesses were not enough, the cats have an uncanny way of knowing just whom the sender of certain items must be. The package was barely opened before they used their catly instincts to divine that Auntie April's hands had touched these things. Desdemona is particularly taken with goodies that make their way from April's side of the country to mine.

She investigates.

She lovingly caresses.


The whole sorry display ends with a show of kitty love that is really beneath her. But awfully cute...
I have to admit it: I love my stuff!!! My stuff defines me. (I mean, honestly...a Zombie Escape Plan notebook? It was meant to be mine!) I like to have all my stuff around me so I can look at it and revel in the fact that I snagged it before others could get the chance. Or that someone else thought of it and snagged it on my behalf. Or dyed something that reminds me of my favorite vacations. And, if the cats like it, so much the better. Then we have a sort of harmony going on that is kind of Zennish if you don't think about it too hard. (Or have a hard-core, working definition of "Zen.") Besides, the Zombie notebook is made from pages recycled from medical texts and the like. The planet did not suffer in its making. At least not to the degree that it will when the zombies rise up and begin to roam the streets in search of a nosh. But, you've already heard my thoughts on the matter so I won't take up your valuable time with that particular rant. Just know that I will be making my list and checking it twice in my new notebook. When the day comes, I will be ready. And I'll be doing it with responsible recycled paper.
I guess I'll just have to accept my materialistic ways. There is simply too much cool stuff out there for me to ignore. I'll do my best to keep it to a minimum. Just the stuff that makes sense and is within my budget.
Except that any good Zombie Escape Plan requires a large, armored vehicle with gun turrets and a mini fridge for snacks. That one may be a little hard to justify...
SA




Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thumpity-Thump!

"Twas the Every Other Month Visit To The Doctor today in order that I might be weighed, measured, queried as to my overall functioning, tagged for future study then released back into the wild. I usually make a day of it. If I have to go to the doctor where they keep the cold stethoscopes and long, scary cotton swabs, then I am also going to take a day off to watch TV and maybe do a little shopping. It's like a reward and one that makes the doctor visits almost something that I look forward to.

But, this one was cause for a little anxiety. No. I do not have some weird growth that looks like a turnip or a third eye growing in the middle of my earlobe or anything. But, in some ways, that might be preferable.

For, you see, I had a good summer. A very good summer. For the first time in years, I wasn't working at a second job and I took full advantage of the time to explore the joys of being Me In Summer. Basically this means that I spent a great deal of time lolling about on the couch looking for all the world like a modern day Cleopatra on history's most tattered and cat-hair festooned barge. I used that time to think about how great it was to have all the time in the world to do cool things.

I also seem to have eaten a great deal. Mostly black and white cookies. I love black and white cookies. I love them very, very much.

In fact, I love them so much that I kept a few around once the Summer Of Snacks was over. I gained 8 pounds. Over the period of a month, I gained 8 pounds. Maybe not a lot, in the grand scheme of things, but enough that it was going to take a little focus if I wished to shed them.

Hence, I was nervous when I stepped up on that scale this morning. I've been doing pretty well with the diet and exercise over the last month or so. But, I think we all know that pounds like to come to visit far more than they like to depart. And it's not like I haven't slipped once or twice. Or ten times... This was going to be either a great triumph for aerobically challenged Sheep everywhere or a disaster of epic proportions and one that would forever change the landscape of my jeans.

Well, it turned out to be neither. I've lost 2.5 pounds. Respectable, but nothing earth-shattering. Still, it was a relief to know that I am on the right track at this point. With the holidays right around the corner, this is not the time to find new poundage.

The level of my stress over this matter was made plain during the taking of the Sheepie pulse. 120 beats per minute. Not my personal record, by any stretch of the imagination. I beat that with beats to spare last winter when I had the Mole of Disturbing Dimensions removed. But, it still had the nurse in a bit of a tizzy. Fortunately, my doctor is a bit of a "chatter." She likes to hang out with her patients and visit a spell. This means that I have a good deal of wait-time in between the taking of the pulse and the seeing of the doctor. By the time she got in there, I had successfully managed to bring the racing pulse down to a more reasonable 88 beats per minute. My pulse rate runs high on any given day. I'd say I'm "excitable." But, I seem to spend a great deal of time lolling around on the couch so I'm not really sure just what is going on in cardiac land.

88 bpm was enough to get me out of there without a stress test, so no harm no foul. I give a great deal of the credit to my own sense of inner peace and amazing self control. Oh...and maybe a little to this:




A Humble Homespun Scarf
With socks on the back burner until the holidays are past, scarves are the traveling project of the season. I am in love with this one for the simple reason that it is probably the best yarn I have ever spun. I only wish that there were more knitters (or any knitters) at the doctor's office in order that I might have passed it around like a new puppy or one of those babies that people are always handing off to be admired. Nothing against puppies or babies. Both are delightful in their own unique ways. But a well-spun yarn is more cooperative about being passed around and will not leak any offensive fluids on you. Assuming you've done it right, that is...
With the doctor's visit over, a shiny new prescription in hand and a heart rate that was considered acceptable for the average driver, I was able to head out and run a few errands before heading home for my day of relaxation. I picked up some crackers, some salsa, a bag of bagels...and a carpet deep cleaner. I know, I know. The cleaning thing has gotten a bit out of hand. I'll work on it. After I deal with the carpets. There is kitty goo in there. It must be extracted. Kitty goo can easily migrate into the bathroom that I just spent two days cleaning and I simply won't have that. The living room was sprayed down, scrubbed and the grimy waters sucked back out in short order. Don't be too impressed, though. It's not like I moved any furniture or anything. I just worked around it. The gooey cats moved themselves once they realized my plan for the afternoon.
There was one other purchase made while I was out seeking grime-busting paraphernalia. I have an affection for zip-front, hooded sweatshirts that is deep and abiding. I have a vast collection of these garments and still feel that more would be perfectly reasonable acquisitions. Here's one I found today. Tell me...is this appropriate for a teacher to wear to school on a Friday when the already relaxed dress code becomes pretty much non-existent?

Or is it maybe too much?
I'm wearing it anyway. I just wondered what you think is all...
See you on Saturday!
SA

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It May Be A Short Work Week For The Sheep...

But it is still Wednesday. (even though it feels like Tuesday and, in some ways Friday) Let's hit it with the WNBPs!

*Long weekends are nice. Short work weeks are confusing. Also nice...but confusing.

*Thanks to all for your input on my "Why is cleaning so temporary????" dilemma. I am beyond devastated to learn that there is no escaping the fact that I am going to have to do more of this activity. You were able to come up with every shortcut in the free world that might fool me into thinking that I am not cleaning. And I really, really appreciated the effort.


*But it is still cleaning. And it is not fair. I already did it. I shouldn't have to do it again. I shall now proceed to pout.


*I think you might be surprised by how long I can hold a good pout. I believe that my record still stands in twenty four of the U.S. states and one Canadian province.


*I'll be pouting from home tomorrow. I have some changes coming up in my caseload at school that will require my presence. So I changed my doctor's appointment to tomorrow to keep me from having to be away from my classroom at an awkward time. This was responsible of me.

*But, I feel just a wee bit guilty for taking a day off on what is already a short week.


*For the record, I will get over this when I am settling in for a second cup of coffee tomorrow morning.



*I took my truck in to be serviced on Saturday. Routine sorts of stuff and things I should have done a while ago. But I was busy attending to the valve that exploded (literally) and which proceeded to suck up most of my spare dollars. There was still one repair pending: the rear wiper. A motor needed to be ordered. I paid for that motor and agreed to return the next weekend.



*Today I had to call the dealership and question whether they had, in fact, fixed the rear wiper for which I was planning that return visit. For reasons known only to itself, the wiper is suddenly working.



*The dealership assures me that they did not fix it. And that, contrary to what I might have observed, it is still not working.



*For future reference saying things like, "Well then this is just further evidence that my truck is actually possessed. I will be contacting an exorcist at the earliest opportunity and urge you to light a candle. You worked on Beelzebub's Weekend Vehicle and have been touched by the evil..." does nothing to improve your reputation at the dealership. Nothing whatsoever.



*I thought it was funny...



*On the way to work this morning, I passed a semi that was on fire. Real, actual fire. Someone was passing me and I had to drive right next to the flames. If I'd had a passenger, they could have stuck a stick out of the window and roasted marshmallows.



*But, I didn't have a passenger. Nor marshmallows, for that matter. So I didn't get to try it.



*I think that the experience of the flickering flames lapping at its paint job made my possessed truck feel right at home. I like to do nice things for my possessed possessions when I can.



*My school, like most, does its share of Safety Drills. We have fire drills, evacuation drills, and "code" drills where we practice how to hide in the face of danger. Every once in a while, a local police officer comes into the building in plain clothes to see if the staff will identify him as a "stranger" and escort him to the office. We do it all. And, for the most part, I take it pretty seriously. But, I have to admit, after the umpty-bazillionth time my class is interrupted by a shrieking bell or the need to herd the students into a corner not visible from the door, I get a bit irked. I question whether this is really educational on any level. It gets old...



*But, on a day where two little words (Code Blue) save a life or two, I suddenly get a bit more insight into the matter. I'll probably never have to evacuate to the middle school down the street. I hope that I don't need to keep twenty or so children from being visible or wonder if the kid that went to the bathroom knows to just stay there and hide.



*However, if I'm the one to whom you are going to entrust your children every day, I'd better be ready just in case. The worst can happen. But, I'm on it. To the best of my ability, I'm on it.



*My thoughts are with the staff, students and families in Cleveland. To say, "it could have been worse" seems callous. So I won't go there. But, I am so very relieved to know that so many were able to go home tonight.



SA