Monday, March 31, 2008


Last summer, right after I began my vacation, I needed to go in for a round of X-rays and CT scans.  It was rather nerve-wracking and angst provoking and not really a pleasant way to pass the time.  But, I muddled through and all was well in the end.'s not one of those life experiences I would like to repeat.

But, I was afforded that opportunity several times courtesy of the hospital's billing department and what appears to be their on again/off again relationship with my insurance company.  I happen to have very, very good insurance.  I am fortunate.  So when the bills for these afternoons of fun with the rays came in, they were of the little variety.  Ten dollars here...twenty dollars there.  Nothing major.  But they certainly did seem to keep coming.  And what lovely reminders of that special time they were!

But, still they kept coming.  In fact, I began to notice a pattern with these bills and suspected that I was paying some of them multiple times.  Of course the whole thing has been a Killing The Sheep A Nickel At A Time sort of mess and one that has resulted in some of the bills going to collections while I tried to figure out just who on earth was sending their kid to an ivy league school on my repeated ten dollar donations.  

You know it's the end of civilization when the people at the collections company are nicer than the ones in the hospital's billing department.  We became quite close for a while there.  I'm probably invited to several christenings and the office holiday party at this point.

Time passed.  The bills became less frequent and I finally seemed to have come to the end of the letters with the hospital's logo embossed upon them.  Or at least that is what I thought.  There was another one waiting for me in the mailbox today.  To say that I ranted a bit would be an understatement.  I am still searching for the top of my head in the snowbanks around the mailbox, so forcefully did it blow off my noggin.

But, victory is mine, it seems.  Nestled within that envelope was not another bill.  Oh no, my friends.  It was a check!  A check made out to Sheepie!  A little restitution for my months of teeth gnashing and garment rending!  Sometimes, the little guy does win!

We are going to ignore the fact that the check is for eighteen dollars and thirty seven cents and that the hospital checked the box which states that I am being refunded this money because the insurance company forked over this princely sum, instead of admitting that they billed me repeatedly and with great gusto.  It is a check and it is in my name and it is from the hospital.  That doesn't happen very often in my world.  

I am going to celebrate with the purchasing of some gum.  Maybe a trashy magazine to go with.

I am also wondering if this might just be a little warning from the Karma Patrol.  Things have a way of balancing out in the universe and only so much good can come a person's way before a little of the bad creeps in to remind us that we are all mortal.  It's best to be cautious at this point.

To that end, I determined that it was in my best interest to take the advice of the Lifeline Advocacy and pop one of those bad boys in the Invisibility Shawl without delay.  Better safe than sorry.

Eighteen bucks and some new gum ain't gonna fix ten rows of bad knitting, now is it?


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Doing The Right Thing

After reading about Earth Hour on Geraldine's blog the other day, I felt compelled to turn out the lights.  I like the planet well enough.  You could even say I'm a fan.  Turning out the lights for an hour seemed like the least I could do to say, "Thanks for the gravity and stuff."

So, for an hour last night, the only light at Chez Sheepie was that of the gently flickering candles.  And the TV.  And the computer monitor.  And one time, there was an oven light for a minute.  It was like being a Pilgrim or something...

OK.  So maybe I wasn't entirely clear on the whole point of this exercise.  But baby steps are steps nonetheless, right?  I sat in the dark watching zombie movies, for heaven's sake!  I should get some credit for that!

With less of the light available, I opted to do the responsible thing and not knit on the Invisibility Shawl until artificial illumination was, once again, an option.  After all the difficulties I had with this pattern, it seemed wise to not tempt fate.  So, I waited.

And I was rewarded for my humble attitude towards my skills.  The shawl continued to behave beautifully once I was able to see again and remained a dutiful WIP even into today.  


**Important Warning-Type Statement**  In short order, there will be a number of intrepid and well-meaning individuals who will want to ask if I was using a lifeline.  The management of this blog requests that, for your own safety, you refrain from doing so.  We are not insured for sobbing Sheep roaming the country and toilet-papering the homes of good knitters who ask logical questions.

It was the photography what done me in, I think.  Any time I get a little cocky and say to myself, "hey, the rest of the world needs to see the stunning beauty created by mine own hands," is pretty much when things go completely haywire.  Somewhere along the line, and not too long after this picture was snapped, a stitch, perhaps a yarnover, managed to wander off for greener pastures.  Where it went, I have no clue.  But I do hope that it is happy and remembers me fondly.  I hate to think that its departure was somehow meant to hurt me or that it is out there laughing cruelly over the hour I spent tinking my way back to a place where the stitch count made some sort of sense.  That would hurt.

Hard to believe that, in broad daylight and on a pattern that contains a mere four rows and only two that require any sort of counting, I could make such an error.  But, it's certainly not the first time.  Nor will it be the last.  If I wasn't yelling at my knitting, I don't think the cat would recognize me.  It is sort of comforting in a weird way.  Still, I really should see if I can't avoid further boo-boos.  I need to get this project finished.

Doing the right thing feels good.  You may not always be rewarded for it.  But you have the self-satisfaction of knowing that you are at least trying to make a difference.  You should always do the right thing.  

Which begs the question: Why haven't I put in that lifeline yet?


Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Calm After The Storm

My commute to school yesterday was of an exciting nature and not one I'd like to repeat any time soon.  In fact, for the first time in I-dunno-how-long, I took the first opportunity to switch over to four-wheel drive somewhere around the three-quarter mark of the journey.  With this winter's repeated snow/ice events, most communities are down to about a cup a piece of salt and sand.  They are using the stuff judiciously.  To top things off, the whole thing was rather oddly timed and for much of the commute I was driving on roads that hadn't been even kissed by a plow at that early hour.

I arrived at school ever so grateful to our crack custodial staff for their efforts since my kissing the floor of the cafeteria would have been an unsanitary undertaking if not for them.  Even my principal, who is generally unfazed by anything that comes his way was sort of horrified by his journey to work.  

I entered the office to find the secretary disgustedly hanging up the phone after having spoken to her counterpart at the superintendent's office.  She reported that the big guy's round of phone calls to his various gurus and soothsayers had resulted in the belief that the whole thing would be over by noon.  By that time, the phones were ringing off the hook because one of the buses had gone off the road and the resulting extraction from the ditch was blocking commuter traffic.  

All in all, the mood was sort of foul around the place.  To be fair, this was a tough call.  The forecasts varied wildly from region to region and the path of the storm seemed to change every ten minutes.  I suppose that, if you have to give up a snow day, you might as well do it on a day when only one of your sixth graders shows up.  Since my fifth graders are all in regular classes for much of the time it was a pretty quiet day for my Cheerful (but rather sickly these days) Teaching Assistant and me.  

I'm assuming that we will be having some flooding issues later on so it's probably just as well that we have saved the snow day for ark building and whatnot.  

Friday is also the day I get to leave a little bit earlier as I put in more of the teaching hours than the rest of my kind during the other four days of the week.  I took advantage of the extra 45 minutes to do the marketing.  I had a feeling that I'd be more inclined to stay in today in spite of a more happy sort of weather report.  And, not surprisingly, this turned out to be true.  I have spent the day lazily knitting away on the Invisibility Shawl (which is going much better this time around, thank you very much) baking a little cornbread for no real reason and trying to find the carpet underneath that layer of wool 'n cat hair.  All in all, a much nicer way to wile away the hours than watching snow fall and wondering if the ride home will be as harrowing as the one what got you there.

I also got out the old polishing cloth.  The new boots, while still pretty darned shiny, inspired me to give a little of the love to the leather.  I remain hopelessly and embarrassingly smug about this purchase.  I've long sought a pair of brown ankle boots with enough of a heel to be cool but not so much as to make me teeter and fall down the stairs.  There is no boot cool enough to compensate for the geek factor which results from lying in a crumpled pile, arms and legs akimbo, in the stairwell.  I know these things.  I have done the research.

These should do the trick.  Not bad for twelve bucks!

And, as if the boot polishing and successful shawl knitting were not enough, the Sci Fi Channel has seen fit to grace me with a viewing of Resident Evil this afternoon.  Good stuff.  Very, very good stuff.  Corporate zombies are pretty scary.  However, I like to keep current on my research and shall resist all urges to cast mine eyes away.  

But, since this is my umpteeth viewing of this training film, I'm still not finding it as disturbing as yesterday's commute...


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Call Of Duty

I was much more perky during my second (and final) night of Parent/Teacher Conferences.  I still didn't have any visitors.  But, since the fifth grade was in session, I had a class to teach so an hour of the time was filled.  And it was such a nice, warm, sunny day!  Why, I even had the windows open in order that I might feel the fresh breezes wafting through the stale classroom!

Which is why this conversation befuddled me beyond all belief:

Fellow Teacher Who Doesn't Fully Appreciate My Obsession With The Weather:  My God, what a day!!!  And I'm totally wiped out after the conferences last night.  I guess I'm sort of hoping for tomorrow to be a snow day.

Ms. Sheep:  Oh, you silly billy!  I don't think we are going to call off school for two inches of snow.  You'll just have to find a way to muddle through.  Have you tried opening a window?  Or eating fewer onions?  It's worked wonders for my overall disposition!

FTWDFAMOWTW: might want to take another gander at the forecast.  There's been a little "change" over the last few hours.

MS:  (logging onto her favorite news channel's website and clicking the "weather" tab)  I'm sure that you are mistaken.  Let me just see here...oh fiddlesticks!!!!!!!

Well, that may not have been exactly what I said.  But it was close to that.  In my defense, I had all these fresh breezes blowing around me and was a little high on the scents of spring.  The idea of another 8 inches of snow would be enough to put anyone into a tailspin at that point.

But, you can't argue with Doppler Radar.  So, I bade a hasty farewell to my colleague, fortified myself with a Peanut Butter Cup from the secret teacher stash and set about my duties as the self-appointed Crier Of Doom.  I went from room to room, office to office and, wherever I found an unoccupied person, explained in sepulchral tones of the impending snow assault.  I also informed people who were maybe a little bit occupied and if you happened to try and call the school today but couldn't get through it's maybe because the secretary was busy checking the 37 weather widgets on her computer's desktop.  

That was her own choice.  I just report the news, I don't control what people do with it.

With my Weather Brain in full gear, I took my "dinner" break at a sensible hour (3:30) in order that I might hasten myself to a local purveyor of foodstuffs and stock up on frozen pepperoni pizza.  (My principal excused me for this, but was shaking his head sort of sadly when he did so.  I get the feeling that he worries about me being left to my own devices sometimes.  I probably shouldn't have told him that I was panicking about being out of frozen pizza...)  Since I teach on the Maine/New Hampshire border, this meant traveling across state lines and purchasing some of that exotic pizza from afar.  But, it was a risk I was willing to take to ensure that I remain fed during these hours of crisis.  I made it back to the school in time to make the Snow Alert Rounds for a second time and catch the people I missed earlier and who remained unaware of the peril in which we are living.  

This took up the remainder of my afternoon and, before I knew it, my six hours of conference time were up!  I was really quite exhausted.  It is not easy to be the one upon whom such responsibility falls.  Yet, I take my role in the school seriously.  I may not have any parents who come to conference with me.   But, I hold my head high knowing that I hold a special place in the hearts of my co-workers.  Without me, they might have gone home tonight without stopping to get their frozen New Hampshire pizza.  

Something occurred to me when I arrived home, though.  Sure, I had the pizza.  I also had some cat food and paper towels.  And cookies.  You can't have a snowstorm without cookies.  But it seems that, with all my rushing around sharing the snow news, I forgot to do any knitting.

Maybe I'll have a little extra time tomorrow.  Our district still has one more snow day we haven't used yet...


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

If Ever I Needed It...

That's what I like about the Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  It comes around right when I need it.  Night One of Parent/Teacher Conferences is behind me and only one more looms.  But, I'm pretty brain-dead at the moment so it's awfully nice to know that I can just blurt out some stuff tonight and not try to make it all sensible.  

*I am required to to twelve hours of conference time each time they roll around.  Six are now behind me.  

*From 12:30 to 6:30, I sat and waited for someone to come and listen to my pearls of wisdom.  Surely someone out there must be yearning to hear my thoughts on their child's educational progress.  

*There wasn't.  I sat.  I read a book and downloaded free knitting patterns.  

*Maine taxpayers who are helplessly watching their school districts being consolidated and their kids' teachers being laid off left 'n right may feel free to wail, weep, gnash their teeth and rend garments as they see fit.

*It's probably just as well I was left to my own devices.  Those stupid vegetables I bought the other day are wreaking havoc with my system.  It's not pretty.  I've created my own "atmosphere."

*Sheepie's poppin' floppies!

*Oh now that was just crude and uncalled for!  I apologize.  I don't know what came over me.

*But it would have been worse for any hapless parent who happened to wander in seeking educational enlightenment.  I blame the onion.  It had a "surly" look about it.  I thought I was imagining its unsavory nature at the grocery store and bought it anyway.  I got me a mean one.

*It's like I always say:  No good can come from vegetables.

*Which is why I was forced to break into the school secretary's snack stash that she keeps for the staff.  I'm hoping that the crunchy chips and caramel thingie that I scrounged up will fight the good fight in my digestive system and put things back in their natural order.

*Aren't you glad you stopped by this evening?  Such a highbrow sort of post...

*Lest you think it was all thumb twiddling and memos from my gastrointestinal system, I did manage to take time out of my busy evening to exchange witty banter with the custodian and rinse out the coffee pot.  I also played some Mancala on the computer.

*I remembered that I have a dentist appointment next week.  When I'm sitting there tomorrow night for another endless round of waiting, I should really pencil in some time to freak out.

*I spent a great deal of time looking at my feet today and forcing others to do the same.  I really like my new boots.  

*No shoe picture tonight, though.  Sorry.  I am tired.  I will get to it.  I promise.  I love nothing more than sharing new shoe pictures and want to do right by them.  

And now I must bid you all goodnight.  I am wiped out.  And I must rest up to do it again tomorrow.  I suspect that things will go a little better then.  You see, I was running a bit late this morning and forgot to bring one little thing along with me for Parent/Teacher conferences.

So I had no knitting.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

By The Bootstraps

In my neck of the woods, we have two vacation weeks after the December holidays.  One is in February and the next is in April.  There are eight weeks in between.

Now, before I go too much further, I should stop for a moment and recognize that there are those out there who go far longer between respites.  And they are no doubt thinking, "Eight weeks?  P'shaw!  I could do eight weeks standing on my head!"  I don't deny that it is a fine, fine thing to have the school vacation calendar and that I have ample time with which to fritter away the days.  Eight weeks isn't really all that long in real time.

Kid time is different.

You know how it is those last couple weeks of summer vacation?  You've already done all the family stuff that you said you were going to do back when your kids first came charging off the bus on that last day of school.  Or at least all the stuff that you could realistically stand doing.  You've run through every trick of the parenting trade, made caterpillars out of egg cartons and rented every single movie on the "Family" shelf at the local video place.  Now all you can do is count the hours until the children go back to school so you can get back to doing all the stuff that is hard to do with kids around.  God knows, you still love 'em.  You're pretty sure you'd still take a bullet for them and you haven't gotten around to canceling birthdays yet.  You're just kind of tired.

It's sort of like that.  I do love my job most of the time and the kids entertain me to a degree that you cannot even begin to imagine.  But, we've all been stuck together for a while now and it's hard not to wish for a change of scenery.  We've had the same arguments over work completion and fairness at least twice weekly.  We've seen each other's outfits in every imaginable configuration.  We've been swapping the same stupid cold back and forth for an eternity.  There is no end in sight either.  We have a ways to go.  The best anyone can hope for is a snow day to break things up a bit.  But we are at the point in the school year where too many more of those will result in someone having to step up and plan the school's Fourth of July picnic.  Make up days can be brutal.  So we persevere.  But we get cranky.

And, to add to the tension level, we are also beginning Parent/Teacher conferences this week.  Since I teach in both schools housed in this building, I will be doing double duty for two nights this week.  More time staring at those walls.  At least the kids get half days so that we can fit all the parent meetings in.  But the fifth and sixth grades have different conference days so I shall be teaching one grade or the other while my colleagues get to attend the parent sponsored luncheons provided for our dining pleasure.

You can see where it might get to the point where Ms. Sheep starts counting the days until April Vacation week.  But she doesn't want to do that just yet.  There are still many days to go and this could be disheartening.  And she wants to keep up her generally sunny demeanor for conferences as it is not the fault of the children nor of their parents that the school calendar runs this way.  Lunging forward, grabbing the lapels of some unsuspecting Dad and screaming, "Dear God in heaven, however shall I make it???  I just want five minutes to go to the that too much to ask?" then begging for prescriptions of any size, shape and dosage is generally frowned upon in my profession.

So you find happiness in the little things.  Like the fact that you haven't screwed up The Invisibility Shawl like you did last time because you thought it would be a good idea to knit a bit of it the day you had your cat put to sleep.  (For the record: don't do that.  Just trust me on this one.  You will not be pleased with the results of your needlework)  Or maybe you just happened to decide to wander into your favorite department store today to discover that they were having a sale to end all sales.  Maybe you even found that pair of brown leather ankle boots with the reasonable-but-still-sort-of-fetching heel that you've been looking for since forever and then some.  And maybe those boots were 80% off since the winter season is fast fading.  

Stuff like that will go a long way towards making the trek towards Spring Break seem like something I can do.  Of course, I make no promises.  There is still a chance that I will snap during my dinner break tomorrow night because the only thing left after the feeding frenzy in the teacher's room is the veggie platter.  I'm still holding up pretty well, however there are some variables over which I have no control.

But, should the crazy come to pass, I shall be carried out of the place in a pretty sweet pair of kicks!


Monday, March 24, 2008

An Apple A Day

My diet has been a little, shall we say, "unbalanced" of late.  I tried to recall the last time I ate a vegetable that wasn't in sauce form and sandwiched between pizza crust and a gooey layer of cheese.  I have a dim recollection of eating a can of corn one night but that could have been a dream.  Who eats a can of corn?  

Eating is a tricky prospect for me.  I am picky.  I like so few things and they fall into the following categories:

1.  Things that are bread or cake-like

2.  Things that are chocolate.  Especially when they are combined with something from the first category.

3.  Jelly Beans

You can see where balancing my diet might be more involved than it is for others.  I have to focus.  Otherwise, we end up right where I found myself today:  thinking I may have last eaten a recognizable vegetable out of a can and not really being too sure of even that.

But, when I thought about it further, I realized that my doo-dah has been seriously lacking in the zippity for the last couple of weeks and decided that I needed a fruit or a vegetable.  I hate the idea of having to go to the emergency room with scurvy.  That would just be embarrassing.  

This is also the designated week off from the workouts and maybe a carrot or two would help to keep me on the straight and narrow while I'm not burning the extra calories.  It all seemed like a very good idea.  I vowed that I would head out after school and find me something leafy, green or ground-grown.  

Right after school, I made my way to the local market where I selected a bag of apples, an onion and some tomatoes.  It was a little confusing and I wasn't sure if I was doing it correctly.  But, the lady at the checkout didn't laugh at me or look askance so I figured I'd managed to successfully remember how to purchase produce.  We had tense moment when she inquired as to the type of onion I had placed before her, but I went along with her suggestion of "yellow" and we got past that bump in the road without incident.

The only real disappointment was that I did not receive a round of applause following the transaction.  I sort of expected more in the way of acknowledgement.  The fruit and veggie eaters always seem so happy and self-satisfied.  I figured they knew something about the shopping process that I did not.

Once home, I dutifully sliced and diced and applied a liberal amount of tomato to my tuna sandwich.  The onions received less of the love, but I think onions are used to that by now.  Between the low-fat mayo and the homemade whole wheat bread, I assumed that I had done well with the balanced eating for this evening.

For dessert, I planned on consuming an apple.  Apples have a pretty good reputation.  I've heard good things.  I looked forward to the burst of energy that would no doubt come from its vitamin packed goodness.  But when faced with the apple, I couldn't quite figure out a way to get it down.  It needed something.  But, by gum, I was determined to find a way to get that nutrition into me no matter what.  I perused the cupboards for some Apple Assistance.

I found some peanut butter.  I figured I could put just a tiny bit on the apple to disguise its appleness.  That should do the trick!   On my way out of the cupboard, I also happened to notice a bag of chocolate chips.  If used in moderation, this wouldn't be too bad, I supposed.  And it was all in the name of apple eating so a little embellishment could be forgiven.

A "tiny bit" of peanut butter on the apple slices didn't really do it, though.  More was required to disguise the fruit.  And, more of the peanut butter required more of the chocolate chips as the whole thing looked rather "unbalanced" with just two or three chips dotting the top.

But it still didn't taste right.  I became concerned.  I thought I'd better test the peanut butter without the apple just to see if it had gone bad or something.  Several tastings later, I determined that it had not.  Maybe it was the chocolate chips...more testing required!  I am nothing if not a thorough examiner of my foodstuffs.

I have determined that the problem was with the apple.  The chocolate chips and peanut butter seemed to taste just fine without it.  

Now I'm a little sick to my stomach and the drawstring on my pajamas is cutting into my tummy.  And, tomorrow, I have to do it all over again.  Honestly, I don't know how you healthy eaters do it.  You must be made of sterner stuff than I...

If I can muster the strength to pick up the needles after all this fruit and veggie related nonsense, I shall continue work on the long abandoned Invisibility Shawl from Charmed Knits.  I figure I've let that one sit long enough.  It's time to get back to work on it and, at this rate, it is the only thing I'll have that fits anyway.

And it is green.  No one will be able to say I didn't get my greens today...


Sunday, March 23, 2008


A significantly larger number of people this year seemed curious as to what I was "doing" for Easter.  More than is usual, I think. Of course, I am always willing to discuss any aspect of my life, appropriate or not, that may come up.  I enjoy being the center of attention.

But, the Easter question stumped me.  As a single gal, I find it helpful with my overall image to cover the major holidays.  I've got Thanksgiving and Christmas taken care of.  I really should do a better job with New Year's Eve.  But, frankly, I am kind of tuckered out after the whole November/December run of festivities and I just don't have it in me to make plans for one more special day.  People seem to understand that.  I can also usually fudge my way through Arbor Day fairly well.

In general, it is a dicey prospect to be single and not have a clear cut plan of attack for a holiday.  Any hint of solitary confinement and you run the risk of falling squarely in the middle of a pity party.  People from near and far will gather to bemoan your sad state.  They will compete to be the first to offer a spare seat at the card table they've set up for the kids to ensure that you don't expire from sheer loneliness during whatever festive season is upon us.  First one to bag a sad single earns a free toaster and guaranteed good Karma!  This is actually an incredibly kind gesture and always well meant, though.  Sometimes I even take folks up on it.  I like the kiddie table.  It's where all the good stuff is going on.  And it's where they put the oddly shaped rolls which allows those of us banished to the low seating to play the "what does this look like to you?" game. 

But, Easter got past me.  As I don't really celebrate it, I am afraid I inadvertently fell into the behavior that so irks me when I encounter in others and simply assumed that no one else considers it a major gathering sort of day either.  Not only is this a rather self-absorbed way to be, but it was a strategic error in terms of my Surviving The Single Life Strategy.

Frankly, I'd forgotten all about Easter.  Finally I remembered that I'd written a post about the upcoming candy sales last week and thought to check the calendar.  But, by then it was too late.  I had no plan.  I also had no time to fake one.  When you are taken by surprise, you can't trot out the single folk's favorite fall-back plan which involves telling everyone you are working at a soup kitchen.  Serving meals to the less fortunate gives you automatic status and doesn't allow for any further questioning.

I panicked a little bit after The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach asked what I was doing for Easter.  Aside from the religious significance of the day (which is considerable) I couldn't think of a single thing I should be doing.  Hide some eggs, maybe?  What if I can't find them?  My whole house will stink!  Deliver baskets to random children while wearing bunny ears?  That's the kind of thing that gets middle aged people arrested and don't think I don't know it!  Go feed hungry bunnies?  Well...that wasn't a bad idea.  But I didn't know where the bunnies were and I was too tired from all the thinking about planning to really go look for any.

In the end, I did what felt right.  I blew off the grocery shopping since I couldn't remember if the store was going to be open today anyway.  I popped in my new-to-me and long desired copy of The Dead Next Door, (the greatest low-budget film ever shot on super-8 and designed to show what not to do in the event of an outbreak of the walking dead), cooked up a frozen pizza and did some knitting.  Maybe it wasn't a traditional sort of Easter, but it worked for me.  

I did sort of miss those funny-shaped rolls, though...

So I baked a little whole wheat bread to compensate.

I don't think there is any need to check your local listings for the "A Very Sheepie Easter" special.  It probably isn't going to be airing any time soon.  It's just an inkling...

Happy Easter!  See you at the half-priced candy sales tomorrow!  


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Forced Theme

I'm one of those pesky "daily bloggers."  OK.  So I take Fridays off.  But, otherwise, I'm up and running each evening.  I like to write and I'm told I do it passably well.  So, it's a rather enjoyable mental exercise, really.

But, every once in a while, the well runs dry.  I have things I can post, but no real way to connect them in a style that is anything other than a "What I Did Over My Summer Vacation" sort of format.  I'll go there if I have to.  But, I kind of like it when things flow rather than just listing where I've been and what I've done since I don't do this particularly well.   Failing that, I can always force them to flow.  Which is probably something less than flow-y.  It's more along the lines of force-y.  But, I am easily satisfied and even more easily distracted so I'll have no doubt forgotten the forcing by the time I've left the computer to go get my evening snack.

This morning as I was heading off bright and early for my designated follicular flogging with The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach, I stopped off at the Convenience Store Where They Call You Honey Or Dear And You Sort Of Like It for a Mountain Dew.  The budget has been tight of late and I've been suffering along with beverages of a more generic nature.  I felt that my fiscal responsibility deserved a little reward in the form of my favorite big, green bottle of happiness.  

The clerk who was manning the counter this morning is one of the Dear-ers.  Not the one who called me Honey Bunny that time...the other one.  This is a store full of the love and it can be hard to differentiate between the various flingers of endearments.  I try to make it easy for you to follow along.

The Not Honey Bunny clerk was wearing this truly amazing dress.  I'm not a wearer of the dresses.  I can't recall the last time I had one on me.  But, hers was striking enough for me to comment.  She thanked me and told me that it was the result of a particularly fruitful trip to North Conway, New Hampshire.  This was rather odd, because I have been thinking about that general area a great deal over the last few days.  

We chatted for a moment about the amazing shopping opportunities to be found there and the spectacular scenery.  I can remember one trip where I stood in a store parking lot and gave serious thought to just staying where I was and living in the car for the rest of my days.  She shared with me the story of a recent dog-sledding weekend she'd experienced in the area.  The whole conversation made me wonder why it's been so long since I've visited...

I was a little late to my appointment with The World's Greatest Stylist.  But, she is understanding about these things.  We're cool.

Last summer, I volunteered to do an on-line interview with one of my favorite bloggers and all-around nice people.  Beth is a pretty darned talented knitter and spinner and I was really rather flattered that she'd consider me a good subject for an interview on creativity.  As a Thank You for my participation, she sent me some very, very beautiful fiber.  It is another one of those things that has been sitting in the stash for a while, just waiting for the right time to be spun.  That time came a few days ago and, oh my goodness gracious and heavens to Betsy, is this the softest stuff I've fiddled with in recent memory.  It's got yer merino, it's got yer silk, it's got yer's got my heart 'n soul!  

And fiber from another state, one that is sort of far away always seems so darned exotic, doesn't it?  I wasn't familiar with the seller, though.  After a few hours of blissful spinning, I took a minute to check the card that came with.  This glorious ball of fluffy goodness is from The Woolen Rabbit.

In Conway, New Hampshire.

It is within driving distance.  The mind reels.  Where have I been?  Did I miss the memo on this one?  How is it that it takes a gift from afar to make me realize the bounty I have in my own backyard?????

So, today's post is, apparently, a salute to our friends in beautiful Conway, New Hampshire.  We love you guys!  And your delicious fibery goodness!

We just don't always remember to say it enough...

Probably because we are too busy with the spinning...


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sheepish Eclipse

I am back to knitting plain socks.  I realize that the sound I am currently hearing is the collective groan of the blogosphere as you all contemplate another endless run of photos displaying pair after pair of plain, stockinette socks.  But, I've worn through a few pair and I need some new ones.  And I've found myself in need of comfort knitting.  You will have to bear with me.

There are always any number of reasons why a person might resort to the plain sort of knitting.  A bad day at the school where you teach.  Rampant budget cuts in the school district which require all sorts of radical fiscal solutions.  The last few months of the school year which, in my line of work, entails many, many, many meetings.  Or the fact that your Big, Fluffy Kitty has a cold and can't just behave like a proper sickly animal and go hide.  No...she requires a great deal of comforting and cuddling.  She may even be mildly afraid of her own sneezes and perhaps fall down every once in a while when a particularly forceful one sneaks up on her.  You may be the target of at least ten snotty kitty sneezes in any given day because you have to carry the ailing clump of fur around for much of the time.

Or this could happen:

Time:  9:30 a.m.
Place:  The classroom of one Ms. Sheep, teacher to America's future.

We enter this scene just as Ms. Sheep is standing next to the Precious Gift Unto Which She Must Impart Knowledge.  Her Cheerful Teaching Assistant, who needed to leave the classroom for a moment, returns.  She casts her eyes about and looks alarmed.

Cheerful Teaching Assistant:  Oh no!  Where is the Precious Gift?  He was just here!

Precious Gift:  (peering around Ms. Sheep and waving merrily)  I'm right here!  Working on the rough draft of my Civic Oration like you told me to!

Ms. Sheep:  (softly)  Dear God.  I am now able to eclipse other living human beings...

CTA:  No, no!  I just didn't see him for a second there!  He's really quite visible.  I must need a check-up for the old eyes!  I blame myself!  (she's a sharp one and can sense danger pretty quickly)

MS:  (voice rising)  I am like a whole planet!  I had a donut for breakfast today!!!  One donut and I have inflated to the point where I can hide pre-teens behind my immense and horrific girth!!!!!!!!

CTA:  (sounding a little desperate)  I just came in at a bad angle...I'll try it again!  I'm sure I'll see him this time!

MS:  I lied.  It wasn't a donut.  It was a gigantic honey bun!  I ate it in the car and now it is kicking in!  Everyone should just stand back before I start to fill up the whole stupid room!!!

CTA: (backing away slightly with her hands held protectively in front of her)'re fine.  Honestly!

MS:  That was a lie, too!  I ate two of them.  Two gigantic honey buns!  In the car!  Don't look at me.  I'm hideous!!!  (begins to make not-so-subtle honking noises that are eventually identifiable as wailing)

Precious Gift:  Boy, you really set her off...

SA:  Leave me!  Save yourselves and leave me to bloat here like the beached whale that I am!

Other Student Working In The Classroom To The New Student Who Is Looking A Bit Alarmed At This Point:  She can be a little "dramatic" sometimes...

So I'm knitting plain socks.  Socks will fit even if you eat two gigantic honey buns for breakfast.  Or find that you are able to completely eclipse other human beings with your honey-enhanced buns.  I thank you for your understanding.

Besides, I've really been wanting to knit some plain socks.  Normally, I get jazzed about the knitting because I've got me some super nice new sock yarn.  This time, however, I wanted to knit them because I have some super nice new dpns.  Forever and then some, I have knit my socks using 56 stitches on size one needles.  Then I saw the light.  And some KnitPicks Harmony needles in a delicate size nada.  Ronni sent me a most thoughtful care package not too long ago and, nestled in there so sweetly, was a set of these things which I have coveted for longer than I care to admit.  So smooth.  So pointy.  So sturdy in spite of their delicate beauty.  It makes a honey bun stuffed Sheep want to set aside convention, cast on a few more stitches and knit up a plain sock just for the experience.  It makes everything better.

But, just in case this isn't enough, I picked up a new accessory today whilst perusing the aisles of the dollar store.  In theory, I was there to get a few things to add to the prize drawer for the well-behaved children at school.  But, I thought that a nice little piece of bling might come in handy for my own self in case the issue of my blocking the view comes up again.

When you are wearing a skull bracelet, no one notices that you are carrying one or two extra honey buns in less than flattering places.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WNBP: Because I Can

Yup.  It's Wednesday.  Let's all sit back and enjoy the opportunity to not make any real sense or adhere to rules of continuity.  Bullet points rule!!!

*For any other fans of Cornelia Funke, author of the popular Inkheart and Inkspell, may I make a recommendation?  I hadn't read any of her earlier stuff and happened to find a copy of The Thief Lord while I was perusing the shelves of the used bookstore during my monthly Treat The Sheep To New Books trip.  It's quite charming!

*Yes.  It snowed again today.  But only a little.  And then it rained.  This is a net loss of snow.  I'm on board with that.  

*Especially when it isn't the slippery kind of rain or snow that makes me all clenchy while I'm driving.  

*Rumors are flying all over my school to the effect that one of the teachers is being transferred to the Middle School next year.  I am enjoying the sense of panic that is filtering from classroom to classroom.  For those who missed it, that teacher is me.  I am disturbingly pleased by the sense of power that comes from knowing what others do not.  

*Budget cut years are rough.  You have to find your entertainment where you can.

*Wait until they find out that the middle school position may be of the part time variety.  There will be mass hyperventilation.  It would be in poor taste for me to find that entertaining, so I shall assume a somber sort of face and pass out paper bags for the hyperventilators.  

*Also for those who missed it, I volunteered to be the one to take the pay cut.  There are reasons for this.  That's another story for another day.  For now, I am something of a hero in the eyes of several administrative types who are not sleeping these days over the lack of incoming funds.  My sacrifice may not be needed.  But, if called, I shall serve.

*I have done something vile and unspeakable to my wrist.

*That is an exaggeration.  It is tingly and sort of clicky.  I kept thinking I had an extra pulse while I was doing bench presses during the workout.  It was really more of a twitch.

*This means that I get to wear the unnecessarily large and ostentatious wrist brace to school tomorrow and soak up all that sweet, sweet wrist sympathy!

*I am needy that way.  Just be glad you don't have to work with me.  You'd have to talk about my wrist all day.

*New fiber came today!  I'm all a-tingle and not just because of the weird wrist thing.  It's angora bunny fluff from Wooly Wonka!  Joining that exotic fibers club was just about the most fun thing I've ever done for myself!

*Gosh, angora bunnies are soft!  I should get a couple of those...

*The fiber came with the pattern for the Miriam Felton's Persephone Scarf.  The BFK is quite flattered by this.

*Her real name is Persephone.

*I am not knitting her a scarf.

*Don't tell her that.  She thinks that she is the daughter of a Greek goddess and that scarves are named for her on a regular basis.  Since we cut back on the Greenies portions, she has so little about which to be happy.  Let's give her this, OK?

*She is as soft as an angora bunny, but I don't think she would like to have one as a pet.  I may need to rethink the bunny plan, now that I think of it.

*I am going to knit this scarf, though.  Someday...

*The other thing I like about Wednesday is that it is the last workout day of the week.  I'm up to 75 minutes on the little exercise bike.  This is probably why my wrist hurts.

*Shut up.  It could, too, be why my wrist hurts.  The fact that I do not use my wrists at all when on my little fitness pedaler has nothing whatsoever to do with the potential for grievous wrist injury.  The body is a system.  It's all connected.  Sort of.

*Is anyone else counting the days until next week when the Easter candy goes on sale?  I have finished all my half-priced Valentine's Day candy and am in need of a sugar fix.  Is it just me?

Candy, books, budget cuts and fiber!  I do believe I've covered all that should be covered in a good, knitting-themed blog post.  I even included a little of the wrist clicking, just for good measure.  But, I'm tapped out now and ready for some prime time TV viewing.  Enjoy your Wednesday, your Thursday and any days after that of your choosing!  


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Low pressure gotta love 'em.  Yes, we are heading into our regularly scheduled Wednesday Winter Weather Event.  This has become something of a pattern this season.  And it is one with which I am rapidly losing patience.  This one should only dump between one and three inches of nice new snow on what was an optimistically melting amount.  Then it will (hopefully) turn to rain and make itself go away.  It's not enough for a snow day.  But enough to make for a potentially challenging commute either coming or going to school.  

It is also enough to cause a decline in the moods of children who are entrusted to me for seven hours or so per day in order that I might prepare them for life on the outside.  Kids always react to weird weather.  Apparently, adults do as well.  The only person in the room who was in even a remotely good mood today was the kid who is usually grumpy as all get-out.  And I suspect that his chipper attitude was due to his overall contrary nature and desire to drive me utterly, stark-raving mad. 

 No.  I am not paranoid.  Why do you ask?

But even he couldn't keep it up.  He fell asleep in his last class from the sheer exhaustion of smiling while the barometric pressure dropped like my jawline did back when I turned 40.

It made me question just why I was rushing to the store after an extended day at the Learning Factory to replenish the snack cupboard.  The children made it very clear today that I am an ogre who does not deserve their kindness.  They shall ever spurn my attempts at making nice.  I suspect that they will bat the pretzels and cereal bars right out of my claw-like hands as I try to lure them into learning with these paltry bribes.  

Then I came to my senses and remembered that well-fed children are children less likely to let the air out of my tires.  And that the reason we are low on snacks is because I ate all the pretzels.  

Nice, new yarn is always just the thing when a girl needs a little pick-me-up before the big storm hits.  (Or even a little one that isn't going to really amount to much but still gives you an excuse to show off the yarn you spun over the weekend.)  I'm particularly taken with this skein:

It's the mossy yarn that makes me think of summers at the lake!  

Back in the dark days of December when I was saying the long good-bye to my sick kitty and desperate for something to brighten things up a bit, Cathy mentioned that she had this neat blend she'd be willing to share.  Timing is everything, wouldn't you say?  The universe does jump in and give you just what you need every now and again.  This lovely fiber arrived within days of our discussion and I was stunned by how well Finn and Shetland could work together!  I had hoped for a thicker yarn but overestimated the "post spinning poof factor" I would achieve.  It actually came out much finer than I'd planned.  But, I think it will make for a nice pair of hard-wearing socks, perfect for those days I need to go rescue the truck from a snowbank.  And while my feet are toasted by the wool, my eyes will see mossy rocks at the sunny lake.  This will make for a Sheep who is warm of both foot and heart!  Alllllll good!!!  Thanks for this one, Cathy!  It's special beyond words.

Think I can have those socks finished by tomorrow?  I may need them...


Monday, March 17, 2008


I awoke this morning only a little bit later than I was supposed to.  And I managed to keep to the morning schedule almost to the point where it didn't put my timely arrival at work in dire jeopardy.  More importantly, I was careful to put on my newly knit socks.  This was the modern day equivalent of girding my loins.  The loins needed the girding.  Lots of girdagae.

For today, at 11:00 a.m., I was penciled in to meet with my director to discuss my job for next year.  Enrollment is down, budgets are being decimated and I enjoy making regular payments to the cable company.  After discussing the incoming fifth grade caseload with my counterpart at the primary school, it became apparent that I might just be experiencing a dearth of students come September.  Normally, I'm a gal who enjoys a little of the down-time.  But when it comes at taxpayer expense, I don't think that my coming in to sit around for seven or so hours per day is going to be a big hit with the administration.  I wanted a little clarification regarding just what I would be doing next year.

On the drive into work, I listened to the morning disc jockeys' usual "wacky banter" and was cheered enough by this to almost ignore the news report discussing the latest round of state budget cuts coming down on the schools.  I thought of happy dj's and new socks.  And well-girded loins.

I had it all broken down as follows:

Best case scenario, nothing would change and I'd stay in my current school with a caseload adjusted to include a more diverse population, thus accounting for the loss of the special ed. teacher whose job was cut.

A not-great, but livable scenario would involve being transferred to another school in the district and having to move all my stuff yet again.  I'm tired of moving my stuff.  I move my stuff a lot.  Usually, by choice.  But still...

Worst case scenario, I would be told that my services were no longer required given that the schools are now reduced to returning bottles for the deposit money and having the cafeteria ladies sell the leftover chili on weekends in order that they might have a working budget.  The Big, Fluffy Kitty and I could live in my truck and maybe scrounge some of the chili that didn't sell.

I suspected that the third possibility might really cut into the yarn budget.  Although that inconvenience pales in comparison to the thought of living in a truck with an old cat who is eating naught but leftover chili.

The happy news is that, at least for the time being, I remain employed.  I will, however, be packing up my stuff for another move.  I'm being reassigned to the middle school.  There is also a possibility that my position will be reduced to a 4/5ths version of the job.  That's fine.  I've done it before during budget cuts and said that I would take the reduced hours if it came to that.  Better me than someone with kids who needs the full time paycheck or who can't pick up something part time.  

Let's hear it for girded loins and the power of the socks!  They may not have given me exactly what I was hoping for, but we'll take a minor victory at this point.  

And speaking of victories, my latest dyeing experiment is dry and looking hot!  I sort of mean that literally:

Sorry about the burned retinas.  My bad...

This is 2 oz. of Corriedale that was part of the super-duper surprise goodie box that Susie sent me last spring.  I've been fiddling with all the different fibers that she sent my way and trying lots of different ways of making the pretty happen since it arrived.  This time, I wanted to try food coloring as a dye.  I know that I'm the last person in the free world to give this a shot.  What can I say?  I'm timid with the color.  But, I wanted some red and I don't have red dye so I had to work through my issues.  I love the color, although I have to say that this probably isn't the most cost-effective way to make it happen. gotta love a nice, vivid red!  Once your rods and cones have stopped sizzling from the sensory overload, that is.  I'm adding this one to the "Victory" column.

Maybe I'll make some new socks with this fiber.  You never know when the loins will need a little extra girding in these troubling financial times...


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Well, Color Me Surprised!

I've been feeling a little scattered lately.  Like I'm all over the map.  I suppose I haven't really gotten back into the swing of a full work schedule and the whole Daylight Savings Time thing was bound to take its toll.  I kept thinking I was running ten minutes behind where I should be.  Next thing I knew I was writing lots of blog posts that included distractions like snowplows, kitty treats and the good old zombies.  Misdirections were needed.

But, I think I may have maybe miscalculated just how much I could get done.  Or at least how much I had going that was close to the finish line.

Cathy's Shetland/silk blend finally stopped toying with me and agreed to dry.  I swear to you that that stuff hung around in the bathroom taunting me for ten years.  Or a day and a half.  Which is sort of like ten years when you are waiting for your yarn to finish drying after it's post-plying bath.

But it is finally ready for its Internet debut!

Now, I don't pretend that this is my finest work.  I pretty much just put it on the wheel and let 'er rip.  Overspun areas?  Whatever, that's fine.  Parts that barely twisted before being sucked up into the orifice?  That's nice.  Do what makes you happy, Mr. Wool.  Clumps that made for bulky singles living right next to cobweb fine spinning?  Hey, we'll just call that "texture" and say we did it on purpose.  Anything and everything was fine.

The whole idea behind spinning this was to try and lose some of the over-controlling tendencies I've developed after months of working towards fingering and laceweight yarn.  Frankly, it was almost harder to resist taking a firm hand and forcing the fiber to bend to my will.  I fought to relax...which is contradictory to say the least.  But it was a good transitional spin before starting the next batch of Shetland (actually a blend of Shetland and Finn also from the generous Cathy) and, while its not ever going to make The Spinner's Hall Of Fame, it has its own charm.  It's but a small skein thanks to my not exactly dividing the fiber evenly and there being an odd amount left on the second bobbin, but I think I can find a use for it.

And, as if one skein wasn't enough for a weekend's work, I have that next batch of which I spoke earlier dripping merrily away in my shower as of this very second.  Given the drying times here at The Sheepish House Of Humidity, I figure I shall have a picture for you sometime around next month.  We'll hope for a dry spell or something...

And, for the knitters out there who are looking for something in a compact project, I give you:

The Trek-king Socks!

The picture does not really do these justice, I'm afraid.  The colors are much richer when before real eyeballs.  This yarn came to me from the Trek collection.  Truth be told, it's not one I would have purchased had I seen it on a shelf.  But, Trek has good taste in the yarns so I trusted.  And I was rewarded for that trust, although not right away.  This yarn has been through a great deal of stupidity.  Lost needles, failed projects, endless rewinding that resulted in my completely losing track of the color sequences...all of it was experienced. 

 Finally, I settled on a nice, plain sock, let go of the idea of matchy-matchy stripes and that was the ticket.  Never before have I had so many people stop me to comment on a yarn.  I was rewarded with compliments a-plenty as I wandered about knitting away in the world.  It was a hit from the knitting group to the doctor's waiting room and every space in between.  I have been wearing the socks since I finished up with the knitting this afternoon, but should probably take them off as I really want to wear them to work tomorrow.  We do not want to sully the sock's debut with the stink waves.

There was also a little bit of dyeing this weekend but, much like the yarn, it is slow in the drying.  And how much more of the FOing could you be expected to take, really?  I'll save that for another day.  I shall also save the new yarn that is forming on the wheel.  I may need material later on this week.

You can't always count on surprise bursts of Finishing.  Dry spells lurk around every corner.  You need to be prepared, have a little something in the bank upon which to fall back.

Although a good dry spell might just help with all that soggy fiber living in my shower...


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Anyone Can Do It

I guess you just never can tell.  Maybe, even against all odds and with your own weird-wacky ways working against you, you can accomplish things.  Sometimes it seems unlikely, though.  Take, for example, this conversation from Friday morning.  As teachers who often have kids in the classroom for the full day, lunches and recesses included, we've gotten pretty good at having conversations while still maintaining decorum and upholding the standards of decency put forth by society.  The kids who are incarcerated with us are generally fairly amused.  Which is good because we don't like it when the general population gets disenfranchised.  It's a precarious balance sometimes.  A little bit of the levity is good.  

Ms. Sheep:  This situation with the kitty treats is getting completely out of hand!  The Big, Fluffy Kitty is crying for treats so I give her one, she eats it and then starts crying again because she can't find the treat anymore.  Then she looks at me all betrayed and it's awful!!!

Cheerful Teaching Assistant:  Mmm hmm....  

(She's heard this before.  Let's give her full credit for pretending it's the first time)

MS:  She's all, "Hey, where's my treat?  You said you'd give me a treat!"  And I'm all, "I just gave you already ate it.  Lick your lips!  You can probably still taste it, for crying out loud!"  Then she says, "This is a breach of contract!  You verbally promised me a treat and failed to follow through on that promise!  I want my lawyer.  Or a treat...whichever."  And then I get all mad and bring up the time she puked on the electric bill when I set it down on the floor for a second before putting it in my purse and it just gets ugly from there.  I don't know what I'm gonna do about this situation!  It's getting out of control.

Student Who Didn't Ask To Be Trapped With Us For Days On End But Is Making The Best Of It:  I love how you make it sound like the cat is really talking.  That's cool!

MS:  (looks puzzled)  Um...yeah.  The cat doesn't really talk.  Of course not.  That would be crazy.  (laughs unconvincingly)

I lost points there.  I know it.  Later, the Student Who Didn't Ask To Be Trapped With Us For Days On End But Is Making The Best Of It was subjected to a discussion on hair stylists.  This was during lunch time and he'd finished his chocolate milk so he had some time to kill.  We were being visited by our Favorite Substitute Teacher as she took a break from her first subbing gig in a while.  Catching up meant discussing the girly stuff.  The SWDATBTWUFDOEBIMTBOI had limited options for entertainment and must have figured this was better than nothing.

MS:  My stylist is a little overwhelming.  But it's for the best, really.  I have learned to just do what she says at this point in the relationship.  It's easier.  And the hair comes out better when I remember my place.  Frankly, she's become something of a Life Coach.

SWDATBTWUFDOEBIMTBOI:  What's a Life Coach?  Is that like a barber?

SA:  No, dear.  A Life Coach is someone who helps you work through stuff.  Someone you really trust and who can help you make good decisions.  It doesn't have to be your stylist.  It can be anyone, really.  I think everyone should have someone like that in their lives.

SWDATBTWUFDOEBIMTBOI:  But, I do.  I have you.

Let's all pause for a group "Awwwww!"  I think the circumstances demand it.  

We should all also make a note somewhere in our personal rule books about how sane behavior in the strictest sense of the word doesn't necessarily factor into the job description of Life Coaches.  Or spinners, for that matter.  

I finished up the Shetland lamb/silk blend and it is currently drying in random fits and starts.  It hasn't quite made up its mind with regard to how long this process is going to take and will periodically yell from the bathroom that it is all set.  But it's not all set.  It still has wet spots.  So I hang it back up in the shower and tell it the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf then go back to watching TV until it yells at me again.  

Cats aren't the only things that talk to me.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a skein of yarn to show you.  It's pretty.  But not all that trustworthy.

With the palate cleansing, practice yarn done, I was ready to tackle the next batch of fiber that come to me from the mind-numbingly beautiful stash at Cathy's house.  Having worked with commercially prepared rovings and tops for so long, I'm glad I took a minute to re-teach myself how to spin something in a closer to natural state.  Frankly, that's the only reason I was able to do this:

A Finn/Shetland blend that is making my heart swoon!

Love this!  Love it wholeheartedly and enough to have finished the first bobbin in a day.  The second will be started any minute now.  I would never in a million years have thought that these two fibers would work together.  But, I swear to you, they do!  It took me hours to figure out just what the colors were reminding me of.  I went through "grass," "seaweed," and "pine trees" (all things I love) before I hit on it.  Moss!  Cool, rich moss from the forest like the kind that I used to find at my grandmother's house when I was out exploring.  Back in the Before Time when I was a kid and it was OK that the cats were talking to me because that's what kids hear.  I like this yarn.  It is a stable and sane sort of yarn and makes me feel sane in turn.

It's not easy being a Life Coach.  There is pressure.  You need things that make you feel stable.  Otherwise, come June, I'll be turning loose kids who have been less than well-coached in life matters.  

And I'll probably get a lot of phone calls about that.  


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hello? Is This Thing On?

Sometime around the mid-way point in the day, my Cheerful Teaching Assistant suddenly perked up.  I could tell that she was all a-tingle with the joy of discovery.  She was the most alert looking person in the room.  The only one really awake, if you want the truth.  Two weeks of Maine Educational Assessments and the joy that is Daylight Savings Time have taken their toll.   If I weren't so utterly terrified of the imminent invasion of the walking dead, I'd say we looked like zombies.  

But, I won't say that because we weren't looking so good at that point.  I don't want to offend our future Zombie Overlords.

Where was I?  Oh, that's right.  The Cheerful Teaching Assistant.  Having reached some sort of epiphany, she was too excited to keep it to herself.  She was fair to bustin' with the need to let us know what she'd figured out.  She leaped from her chair and cried:

Ohmigod!!!  I know why I've been oversleeping and late to work all week!  And why my hair looks like this!  We set the clocks ahead this past weekend!  I've been getting up at the "old" time!  Can you believe it?  That's what it is, all right!

She sat down with an expectant sort of look on her face, just waiting for the room to erupt in applause or for us to at least all make some sort of "oh, now I see" kinds of noises.  I was too stunned to speak.

I have been complaining in one form or another about this very phenomenon for four days straight.  I have, in the most literal sense, whined non-stop about having to leave for work in the dark and how I don't know what time it is anymore.  I have blamed any and all government agencies for this clock-busting rule and even spent an hour of my life that I will never get back explaining how I spent a different hour of my life that I'll never get back trying to reset the clock in my truck.

How did she miss that?  How did anyone miss that?  People I see only in passing once every blue moon know about my feelings on this matter and what it is doing to my life.  My staff are with me all the time, for hours at a stretch.  This is inconceivable!

I think it is time to accept it.  They are starting to tune me out.  I have gone on and on.  And on.  And then on some more.  At some point, and I'm guessing it was several months ago, the "mute" button was pressed.  I am a big, talking head.  My mouth moves and only when it looks like I might be saying something teacherly and job related does anything register.  After hours and hours of listening to me blather on about my shoes, my thoughts on oranges and whether or not that weird mole on my neck is actually an infected spider bite, they've all taken to higher and quieter ground.

Which is a problem since I really wanted some input on that spider bite situation.  I heard about some girl who got bitten by a spider and it laid eggs in her nose and they hatched while she was at the prom.  And then she went insane.  

You can see where "tuning out" might become something of a self-defense mechanism for those in my world...

To salve my wounded ego and to celebrate the fact that time no longer has meaning, I have declared tonight, "Waffles For Dinner" night and whipped up a nice batch of crispy, waffly goodness in the Cinderella waffle iron.  I gave the Big, Fluffy Kitty a few extra treats for being such a good listener and will spend the remainder of the evening spinning the pretty Shetland/silk blend that I started last weekend.  This is good.  

And tomorrow, I plan to tell everyone alllllll about it.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When You Don't Have It In You To Be Coherent...

You do The Wednesday Night Bullet Post!  Here's your bullet points for this week:

*Noolie thinks I should do up a button for the WNBP.  Any thoughts on that?

*Last weekend, in the projected forecast, I was promised a storm-free week.  Promised.  I am still on prescription cough medication, but I still roused myself from the codeine-induced stupor long enough to do a little, lopsided sort of jig.

*It snowed pretty much all day today.  

*No accumulation, though.  And it's over now.  But, I still consider this a breach of promise and am consulting an attorney.  They can say they changed the forecast.  But, that will have no effect on a jury of my peers.  Especially if they are all from around here because my informal polls indicate that we are all sick of the white stuff.

*Sometimes and for a variety of reasons, a student on my caseload will require a change of program and will have to spend more time in my classroom than other kids.  Sometimes the definition of "more time" is something along the lines of:  Endless, mind-numbing hours during which I will be subjected to repeated pleas to be released back into the wild and non-stop promises to never again do whatever it was that got them sentenced to my tender, loving care in the first place.

*Which probably accounts for my having heard one student say to my latest full-time guest, " gotta be careful.  You and Ms. Sheep are actually starting to look alike!"

*Neither I nor my little inmate found that particularly flattering.  

*Does anyone out there happen to speak BFKish?  I really need someone to translate the following for the Big, Fluffy Kitty:  

My going into the kitchen does not mean that you are getting a treat.  Sometimes it's just that I realized I left the faucet running.  Or I need a treat for myself.  It's not all about you.  Stop looking at me like that!!!!  I am most certainly not starving you to death, you ingrate!  You just had a treat ten minutes ago!  Why, oh why did I ever buy those stupid Greenies in the first place?????  You put that phone down right this minute!  No one is going to believe that you are being denied sustenance!!!  

*Let me know if you can help me on this one.

*Today a student asked if I could make him a paper airplane.  I needed to get some paper to do this.  When I turned around with the paper in hand, I almost stepped on the three kids who were following me, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to watch me magically turn paper into aircraft.  I almost squished them and I'm not insured for that.  Frustrated, I cried out, "Good Lord!  You guys are worse than my cat!!!"

*My Cheerful Teaching Assistant, grinning broadly, said, "Maybe you should give them a Greenie?"

*I am close to finishing up the second of the Trek-king socks.  They don't exactly match.  But, I can live with that.

*I need some socks.  The weather people are liars and no one can count on Spring ever coming for real.  I'll probably be shoveling a path to the truck in July.  Socks will be needed lest I freeze to death at the Independence Day cook-out.

That's it.  That's all I've got.  It's the middle of the week, my students and I are starting to morph into twin-type beings and the Big, Fluffy Kitty is still standing in the kitchen staring at the treat bag and wondering if she should call in the authorities to discuss my denying her regular feedings at thirty second intervals.  Not much has changed.  I hope all is well in your version of mid-week and that your Thursday brings with it the promise of clear skies and green grass.  

Or new socks.