Tuesday, June 30, 2009

As I Suspected

It's not just me. I'd figured this was the case, but now I have confirmation. I feel very validated. In case you were unsure of the data, I have done the research and now know that 2 out of 3 knitters interviewed at Chicks With Sticks tonight agree that the weather is making us all stupid and sloth-like. Every third person was either in a coma or too busy wringing out their knitting to answer me when I raised the question.

People who have never napped for more than ten minutes at a time in their entire lives reported losing hours over the last weekend. The rain, which has plagued our little corner of the country for days and weeks at a time, was a topic we tried to avoid but we just kept coming back to it. It is a pervasive and oppressive kind of weather. The only thing you can do is sleep through it whether you want to or not.

And there doesn't seem to be much hope for a dry stretch at this point. Maybe the forecast will change, maybe the sun will forgive us for whatever we have done to deserve this gloomy situation. We can only hope...

Meanwhile, I'm determined to find the silver lining in this never-ending parade of clouds. If I can't have sun, I'll at least have socks. Going to knit night is always a surprising experience for me. With only two sessions of my Summer Of Compensatory Knitting Socialization (S.O.C.K.S) under my belt, I've completed almost a whole sock and this will make for a pair! There may be rain, but it has been good for staying in and knitting. It also doesn't hurt that my feet are so cold and crying out for warm coverings. Saying that in what will soon be the height of summer is just crazy...but it's true. I've been knitting like the wind!

I'd still like to see a little bit of sun, though. I'm worried about all those "third" knitters...


Monday, June 29, 2009

I Wanna Know, Have You Ever Seen The Rain?

OK. I get it. I don't need any more tutorials. I have figured this whole thing out and now the lessons can stop. Seriously.

I can prove it. Listen:

Rain is wet. It falls from the sky. It makes the flowers grow until there is too much and then it drowns them. If you don't close your windows, the rain will come inside and then you have to mop the floor and the cats. The sound of it is lovely for nodding off to sleep, but can also cause rampant peeing. Especially if it is a really hard rain that comes swooshing down the gutters like a waterfall. That is particularly inspiring to the middle aged bladder...

See? The rain can stop now. Weeks of rain is really enough for me to get the point. Any more and I fear I will become stupid and how is that going to help my rain knowledge base? I can already tell that my IQ has dropped a few points. I used to be able to do things like leave the house and interact with others. Now all I can do is sit around and wonder where my will to move went. I also wonder where my size 1 dpns went because I used to have five million of them and now I don't. I only have the one set of metal ones and that is nowhere near the five million wooden ones I had before the rain made me stupid.

On the other hand, sitting at home with no will to leave the couch has its good points. Even though I am now incredibly stupid and have a brain that needs to be periodically wrung out, I still seem to have figured out the secret to finishing knitting projects. Apparently, you have to actually knit. You need to do this for extended periods of time and suddenly...voila! You have made progress!! Within mere days of starting a sock, you are suddenly at the heel flap!

I suppose it also doesn't hurt that I can't find my size 1 dpns and am knitting this on 2s. That could account for some of the forward momentum...

Yes, it is the good ol' Broadripple pattern again. And yes, this also means I am randomly yelling out "Brrrrrripple!!!" every now and again because I simply cannot think of this pattern by its correct name. Bripple is just ever so much more fun to say and even more fun to shout from the couch when you can't really summon up the will to do anything else requiring energy.

Even with my recent insights into knitting greatness, I still think I have had enough with the rain. I don't think it is helping anything any more. The gardens should be in good shape for the foreseeable future and the rest of us could use some color. Not to mention what this is doing to our vitamin D situation. I probably have rickets by now...

When you look at all the data, I think that I am safe in saying that it can stop raining. I have learned all I can about precipitation, knitting and how the bellowing of the word, "Brrrrripple!" affects the average house cat. I'm good. And I can't help but worry about the loss of brain cells. I'd hate for my last intelligent thought to be about Bripple Socks, as much as I love them.

I would like to see some sun now. Please?


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ready, Set...???????

I have been struggling mightily today to do nothing. I have forced myself to just sit. I know that I said on Tuesday that I was doing a marvelous job of returning to my Summer Vacation Ways, but I'm finding today to be a trial.

No one is going to sympathize with me. I know this. But I've been consumed with trying to do nothing today so that is all I have to talk about right now. This is probably the sort of challenge that requires more gratitude on my part, now that I think about it...

For ten months straight, Sunday has been about getting ready for the week. I need to get the commuter breakfasts ready. I need to get the coffee maker ready. I need to get clothes ready. I need to get my brain ready.

Now I don't have to get ready. This is a good thing and I'm not complaining. I'm just kind of surprised to find myself struggling with the need for readiness. I suppose it didn't help matters that I had a plethora of appointments last week. It was busy even without the need to go teach children on a regular basis.

I made a calculated decision to not set the alarm clock last night and forced myself to stay in bed even though my brain was telling me that I needed to get up lest the day trickle away without my being ready. I made a trip to the grocery store to get stuff so I don't have to go out tomorrow. That sort of felt like getting ready. And yet it still didn't really seem like I was doing enough.

Everyone else around here seems to be getting into the swing of things. The Big, Fluffy Kitty is a flexible being who likes to live in the moment. She's good no matter what the schedule. The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty has some difficulties with this, though. Leaving the house generally involves my having to wave his favorite Dollar Store Cat Cave around until I have his attention. Once he begins to attack this little tube and is engrossed in play, then I can sneak out the door.

He doesn't deal with separation very well.

My being home last week was like a dream come true for the AGK, but I don't think he completely trusted the whole thing. He pretty much stuck to me like glue. Every step I took, he was right there. If I sat on the couch, he sat on my foot. If I went to the kitchen, he followed and stood directly behind me while I was there. I got good at shuffling. Should I happen to wander off while he was not paying attention, he cried piteously until I reemerged.

I used the restroom judiciously.

Today, though, he seemed to be able to let go. He finally left my side and explored other areas of the manse.

He returned to last summer's spot of choice: The recliner by the window.

He even slept there for most of the day.

I figured that, if he could do it, then I could as well. It is summer vacation and there is no need to get ready. I resolutely parked myself on the couch, ignored the urge to iron things or make a week's worth of lunches (that I never eat...) and picked up the needles. I did pretty well, if I do say so myself. I've knit up almost five inches of sock cuff which is, by my standards, quite impressive. More so if you consider the lack of FOs coming off the needles over the last few months. I even took a nap with the assistance of The Big, Fluffy Kitty.

Of course we are now coming into the evening portion of Sunday Night and I can't help but worry about the things that aren't ready. There is nothing that needs to be ready. I can't think of a single thing. But the urge remains.

And the AGK? I guess maybe he's having a few Sunday Night Qualms, too. About an hour ago, he suddenly awoke with a strangled cry and cast his eyes about the room until he saw me sitting on the sofa. He returned to my right foot and has been sitting there ever since.

Maybe we all need to work on this summer vacation thing a bit more...


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Clarification And Confirmation

I'd like to take this opportunity to address a few points. I run a tight ship here, after all. And since I know that everyone in the whole, wide world spends a great deal of time and energy wondering about the goings on in my life, I think it is helpful to answer some of the questions that certainly come up in Sheepish Conversation.

I'm nothing if not willing to help...

Question The First: Whatever Happened To The Knitting?

Valid, very valid. It is certainly fair to wonder if my little knitting blog has gone the way of so many others and just become a place to ponder. (not that there's anything wrong with that...) It's not like I've been cranking out the projects of late. Or even finished anything of note in recent memory, now that I think of it. I'll tell you the same thing I told my doctor on Wednesday when she gently pointed out that I'd gained some girth since last I stepped on her scale:

It's been a tough year.

When I took on The Bad Job At The Middle School That No One Else Would Take I knew it was going to suck up a great deal of time and energy. I wasn't particularly looking forward to this, but had little choice. My former position no longer had enough qualified students to make it viable and was being eliminated. With over twenty years of teaching experience under my belt and school districts losing funding on a daily basis, I am no longer a tempting candidate for hire. I cost too much. Hence, I was going to TBJATMSTNOEWT. Further, I was being sent there to clean up a colossal mess which came from the application of good intentions and poor planning on the part of the former director. In short, I had a train wreck on my hands and most everything else took a back seat. I taught, I contained the mess, I reworked the program and, when time permitted, I ate and slept. There were a myriad of issues, all of which sucked the very life out of me.

In the end, I managed to repair the damage and earn the thanks of a grateful school district. But the knitting? She suffered...

It's not that I haven't been knitting at all. It's just that I've found myself sort of haphazardly working on bits and pieces of things. Some were abandoned. Some were set aside half finished. Some were the victim of too many projects going on at the same time and were either forgotten or poorly executed due to lack of attention. I never do well when I have too many things going on at once, it seems.

Question The Second: Didn't You Just Say.....?

Yeah, yeah. I know what I said. I was there, wasn't I? And there is nothing in the world I like better than the sound of my own voice, after all.

But I still started another sock project today right after I finished up the gussets on The Pair That I've Been Working On Since There Was Snow On The Ground. I know that this sounds like a direct contradiction to Answer The First, but it isn't really.

I need a simple travel project, something I can take along to Knit Night or drag with me when I know I'll be sitting in a waiting room. I just can't do anything requiring counting or being aware of what row I'm on if I have to be thinking about something else. Even simple, repetitive patterns are just impossible for me when I'm also trying to have a conversation. Hence, I worked up TPTIBWOSTWSOTG sock right up the part where it's naught but mindless stockinette, popped it back in the sock bag and set it aside for the next road trip.

That left the day free to start something else. And, with the recent dearth of FOs around here, I don't think it is such a bad thing to have a new project on the needles. I could have spent some time with that thing that is not a sweater, but it is not finished with its time-out. As soon as I see that it is well and truly sorry for its poor behavior, then it can come out.

This should keep me occupied in the meantime.

I like to think that the start of summer vacation and the resulting decrease in the stress levels will result in a few knitted objects I can flash around. This is, after all, a knitting blog. (recent evidence to the contrary...)

Question The Third: How's Your Hair?

Oh, that's a good one! Although why it didn't occur to me that everyone has been wondering, perhaps even worrying, about my hair is beyond me. Of course this is how you spend your days. How else would you be filling the empty hours once the parade of poorly knit garments faded away?

My hair is fine, thank you for asking! Better than fine. It was tended by The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach today. I love her. Deeply and passionately. I would throw myself in front of a bus should I think it might so much as graze her elbow in passing. There are many reasons for this. I've listed several of them over the years. Here's another:

Reason #637 on the Why I Love My Stylist List

I didn't even have to tell her that it had been a challenging school year. I don't think I ever mentioned it. She somehow just knew that she should hand me a praline and tell me to go home, make a nice cup of coffee and enjoy my summer break.

She also tried to steal my new handbag again but that is her way of telling me that she admires it so we are OK with that. You can forgive someone for petty purse theft when they end up putting a cookie in the bag. That's the rule.

There you go! Answers to the questions that have surely been plaguing you for god-knows-how-long. I do hope that this allows you to rest easier. There is knitting a-plenty over here now that summer vacation is upon me and I am not wanting for pralines.

Well...maybe I am wanting for pralines a little bit. There was only the one. And it was goooood!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Filled With Dread

Today was a very nice day. The sun was out. The temperatures were mild. I had an errand to run in the morning, but the rest of the day was mine. In fact, I used the errand time to go get enough supplies to make sure that I don't have to go out at all tomorrow if I don't want to.

I ignored the not-sweater and knit upon sock #2. I handily turned the heel, shocked that I could even remember how, and picked up the stitches along the flap without incident. Gussets proceeded nicely.

I even spun for a while. At least until the creaking of the treadles drove me utterly mad. I've adjusted everything I can think of, greased, waxed and tweaked all to no avail. This is going to require more intensive inquiry, the kind that involves removing bits and pieces. We don't want to do that while we are in mid-spin. We'll wait and live with the creaking. I figured that I was so happy and relaxed after this fine day that I could do this with no problem.

I ventured into the kitchen and whipped up a batch of tortillas for sandwich wraps because I was such a Happy Harriet and had to believe that doing such a thing could only make the day better. And it really does in case you were wondering.

Unless you are the type who is overly invested in making round tortillas. I'm not. "Rustic" is fine by me 'cuz I'm so relaxed and all.

Yup. It was a real corker of a day. Just about perfect. But then, sometime around 2:00, the hammer fell. I had a realization. Not the good kind. I may have laid in supplies for another awesome summer vacation day tomorrow, but that doesn't mean I get to have it. I'd forgotten about something...

I have a dentist appointment tomorrow morning. Really early. And it's not just a regular appointment. It's a filling. The joy drained out of the day.

I happen to have the world's meanest dentist. I could tell all the tales of horror again for everyone, but most of you already know about him. I'm often asked why I don't just go find a nice dentist and this is a very good question. I find that a mean dentist is the kind that inspires you to floss regularly. Ever since the dental nightmare I went through a few years ago, (the one that was so bad my own doctor asked me to stop talking about it because it was giving her the heebie-jeebies,) I've been diligent with the dental care. I wasn't going to let that happen again.

But I guess I missed a spot. And now I have a cavity. So, tomorrow morning I will be sitting in the chair of doom and listening to the world's meanest dentist tell me all about his thoughts on how to make the world a better place. Suffice it to say, he is not the type to make the world better by handing out chocolates and petting bunny rabbits. Don't even ask about the time he was drilling away on my tooth and telling his assistant how ridiculous the idea of a woman president was. I'm pretty sure that was the same appointment where he hit my head with a drawer while I was tipped back in the chair...

Oh well. At least it's early in the day. The whole thing will be over with before most people are even getting their second cup of coffee and then all I have to do is wait for the numbness to wear off so I can enjoy my Friday Frozen Pizza. And I suppose it is a good thing to get it over with early in the summer vacation so it's not hanging over my head the whole time.

That'll give me the rest of the summer to work on that flossing.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

WNBP: Sticking To The Plan

It may be summer vacation here at the manse, but that doesn't mean we won't be enjoying our regularly scheduled Wednesday Night Bullet Post! It is important to stick to a routine during the summer months. Otherwise, I'm all bloated and slow-witted come September and that is no good for those of us who need to teach children. Hence, the bullets are ready to fly!

*I had the first appointment of the day at the doctor's this morning. That's always good. You don't have to wait as long.

*My doc is a chatty kind of gal. So am I. You can see how this might be a problem for the day's schedule.

*Anyone planning to go anywhere in the city of Saco, Maine in the near future should beware.

*The whole place is under construction. Every square inch.

*And every other road is closed.

* I barely made it in time to knit a few rows on my sock in the waiting room.

*Blood needed drawing. The nurse in charge of that duty today was...enthusiastic.

*I'll be bruised for the foreseeable future.

*They are using new band-aids over there now. Super sticky ones.

*Took off half my arm when removed.

*Should I ever find myself trapped on the wing of an airplane and in need of a means with which to better secure myself until landing, I know what I'd like to have in my pocket.

*Don't ask how I ended up on the wing of a plane. It's a long story...

*During the summer vacation weeks, Wednesday is not just WNBP day. It is also Visiting With The Vegetables day.

*After the doctor visit, I wandered through the raindrops to see what they had at the farmer's market.

*I don't like vegetables.

*It is a true commitment to Vegetable Visitation that I do this every week during the summer months.

*It's been raining for days and weeks here. It just won't stop.

*There were only three stands open at the farmer's market. And the pickings were slim.

*But I've said I will purchase fresh produce each week so I did what I could.

Lettuce, strawberries, 'taters and radishes.

*For the record, I did not want radishes. Not at all.

*But apparently, "them radishes wuz in th' ground just this mawnin' an' then we gut th' damn truck stuck in th' mud fer an 'ow-ah and ain't this rain just gawd-awful?"

*I bought the radishes. What else could I do?

*Tonight's dinner: Salad with radishes and fresh Parmesan, oven baked potatoes and homemade frozen yogurt for dessert.

*The Thing That Is Not A Sweater is in time out. I am not speaking to it because it was mean to me.

*I'll teach it to not have the right number of stitches when I need it to.

*It'll be sorry...

*I'll finish those socks that I've been not finishing for months now.

*Then I'll put them on and dance around smugly in front of the Not-Sweater.

*It'll probably cry and beg for my forgiveness. Then it will magically transform into something that divides evenly over the correct number.

*Hey, if I can survive that trip on the plane wing, anything can happen, right?

Hope your Wednesday was a pleasant one. Even with my bruised inner arm, the incessant rains and the presence of radishes in my home, mine was lovely. Summer vacation can do that for you...


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Seasonal Vocabulary

OK. I think it might be helpful if we all took a minute to reacquaint ourselves with the terminology of Summer Vacation. Up to now, we've been pretty well immersed in the world of middle school education and the angst that comes from being transferred over to The Bad Job At The Middle School Where I Was Sent Without Due Process Or Nuthin'. Summer Vacation blogs are different.

Frankly, I was rather surprised at how quickly I made the transition today. I'd thought I was going to need a week to really get into the swing of things, but I misjudged my ability to be a lady of leisure. Aside from getting up a bit earlier than I meant to, I pretty much picked up right where I left off last August. It seems I am good at this.

One of the things that comes with summer vacation is my ability to stay up later than I do during the school year. I can get out, do stuff...be a grownup. I've been stuck inside for months and now I need to spend some time learning how to be with "others." Hence, I have designed the Summer Of Compensatory Knitting Socialization (S.O.C.K.S) program to help me become a more integrated member of society.

As you may remember, the S.O.C.K.S curriculum requires that I leave my home every Tuesday night around 6:00 p.m. I must then travel by car down to York where I need to locate the parking area outside of The Yarn Sellar. I must exit my vehicle and proceed to the shop where I will sit and knit with other human beings for two hours.

I sit, I knit, I chat. Not only is this good for my social skills, but it is a rather handy way to complete a sock cuff that has been lingering on the needles since there was snow on the ground. This is a good thing since that stupid not-sweater is in time out and I would really like to knit something to prove I still know how.

I hope that this first review of Summer Vocabulary was helpful. I like to think that everyone using the same terminology will make communication ever so much easier. Please tune in tomorrow for our next installment: Visiting The Vegetables, A Wednesday Tradition.

It'll be fascinating!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Home: The Place I'm Needed Most Of All

There were many things that all happened in an unprecedented sequence over the last few weeks. I don't think this is the sort of thing that happens but once in a lifetime, really. I've been teaching for a long time now and I've never had it happen before. It was kind of like that perfect storm...

Some of these were good things, like 8th grade students getting promoted to 9th grade and not having to come on the last day of school. There was also that kid who was hanging by a thread last year, but who made enough of a comeback this year to be promoted with his class instead of remaining with me for another year. There were field trips scattered in there, too.

Other things were not so good and caused some students to leave me a bit earlier than planned. Some will be back. Some...maybe not.

With my class numbers dwindling rapidly, I found myself with more time on my hands than I usually have. I was able to get most of the classroom packed up with little in the way of interruptions. I was even able to wrangle a kid or two for some help. The paperwork was done during movie days and the last few meetings ended up being the kind that don't result in more paperwork at a time when you really don't need it.

It all just sort of fell together.

Today, I found myself sans children. There was nary a student in sight. For a variety of reasons, they were all out. It was just me and my teaching assistants. This is normally a good thing because, although the presence of students justifies our existence, they sometimes make us very tired. This is not what you want on the last day of school...

On the other hand, there was nothing left for us to do. I'd already done it all. Sure, I could find some busy-work, but there was really only enough for me and I didn't want to waste it. They decided to go get coffee and then find "people to bother." I muddled though my busy-work and then did the same.

I suppose I could have knit. But I left my "big bag" at home today because I didn't really need it what with everything being done and all. The sticks and string were sitting at home. I didn't even have that.

It was kind of a mixed blessing. I enjoyed the lack of stress, but I have to say that I felt a bit useless. It seemed a shame to be putting in time at school when I could have just gone home. By the time the buses pulled out and carried the other people's students away, I was ready to leave and start summer vacation.

But I couldn't. That wouldn't be professional. You have to at least make the last staff meeting, right? There was free food in there, for heaven's sake!

The fact that it was Chinese food didn't help matters, though. I was dozing off by 1:00 and good for nothing. I managed to scavenge a few textbooks for next year from the "discard" pile in the hallway and got a reimbursement check due me for student supplies I'd purchased. Mostly, though, I just hung around in the hallway with my Closing Day Check-Off Sheet waiting for an administrator to come by and sign it so I could be done for the school year. You can't leave until everyone signs off on all the stuff you are supposed to do...

I was probably a little aggressive with the assistant principal when I found him lurking in the hallways, but I got that last signature. With that, I decided to end my Day Of Doing Nothing, did my Good-bye For The Summer Tour through the building and exited at 1:45.

I was beginning to wonder if I had any purpose in this life whatsoever. Who am I? Why am I here? These were the questions whirling about in my Chinese food numbed noggin as I put my key in the door.

And, just like that, my world view changed. There, right in my kitchen, was my Life's Purpose.

The cabinet under the sink stood open and a variety of things normally stowed out of view were scattered all across my kitchen floor. Standing in the middle of this disaster was my Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty. He was chirping and trilling happily, clearly thrilled to the core with his day's work.

He's followed me around ever since I walked in the door. He rubbed and clucked while I cleaned up his attempt at redecorating. He sang to me while I took an afternoon nap. He has helped me to play computer games and cheered whenever he thought things were going particularly well for us. When I sit on the couch, he lays on my feet or puts his forepaws on my knee so he can howl for head rubs.

How he knew it was the last day of school is beyond me. But I think he did. He has been in full Celebratory Mode for hours now. Should I take my eyes off his handsome visage for so much as a second, he does something to bring the focus right back. The spinning wheel, a spider sitting innocently on the wall, his hapless sister, a dangling bit of yarn...all of it is fair game.

I am not useless just because my teaching duties ended early. My existence on this planet has meaning. I belong to an Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty. And he has plans for me this summer, I think.

I can haz my Mama home just for ME!!!

Let the summer vacation begin!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hang In There

My goodness, you guys have been troupers. Real stand-up folk. For weeks now, you have been patiently listening to me gripe about these last few weeks of school and been nothing but kind. Not once has anyone rolled an eye or pointed out that I am lucky to be in a job that affords me the summers off. At least no one has done it to my face.

And I've probably deserved it once or twice. Even I can't bear the topic anymore.

But now we are in the home stretch and soon we can move on to other things. All I have to do tomorrow is remember to get out of bed, put on something other than sweat pants, locate my school, participate in a half-day with the few students left to me, eat Chinese food with my colleagues, do some paperwork and then make my way home again once the clock says I have worked a full school day.

Or the administrators look the other way for a second. You'd be surprised how quickly a middle aged woman in flip flops can sprint when she is very, very motivated...

I'm a little worried about the getting out of bed part, though. Friday night's promotion ceremony sort of felt like the end and it is kind of an insult to have to go back again after that. But I'll set the alarm for Screeching Seagulls and that should do the trick. There is nothing like the sound of angry virtual gulls in your ear to convince you that getting up is the best choice.

Besides, I am motivated to start the day. The sooner it starts, the sooner it is done and then I can go back to focusing on important things. For example, I can pay attention to things that are not sweaters and which are in dire need of either finishing or burning, depending on my mood. I'm sure that my complaining about the weird situation with that thing that is not a sleeve will make for a nice change of pace.

Meanwhile, I still feel like I should do something nice for you all. You've really been so understanding in this, my time of trial. How about I share a recipe with you? You'll like this one.

For years, I've wanted to make brioche. I happen to love it and am not unskilled in the ways of bread making. Yet every recipe I ever found left me bored to tears by the fifth line. They all seemed so complicated.

Not that bread doesn't hold you hostage. It does. It's not hard to make, but it is time consuming. You spend a great deal of time waiting for things to happen so that you can do something else. But I'm pretty good at sitting around the house so I don't usually mind that. Still...the brioche seemed like a lot of the "doing" and less of the "sitting."

Then I found this recipe while I was surfing around and killing time until the 8th graders got back from their field trip on Friday. It is made in one bowl and requires only a decent stand mixer. Yes. It is time consuming. But not labor intensive. Not at all. And the final result?

Amazing. As good as any I've ever had.

I stayed true to the directions right up to the part where they tell you to refrigerate the dough over-night. I wanted to bring this with me to today's Father's Day gathering and we all know that brioche is ever so much better the next day. Hence, I was not going to wait until this morning to bake. I suppose I managed about 4 hours of chill time once the prep was done. I also baked it in what I have experienced as the more traditional style. Rather than arrange the dough in log shapes as the recipe suggested, I made little dough balls instead and baked them in a regular loaf pan. This allowed the loaf to be either sliced or used as rolls.

It doesn't rise up very high, but neither would you if you were carrying a three stick butter-load. You gotta be understanding about these things...

There. I hope that this small gesture will help to ease the pain of these last few weeks. Bake some brioche, make a nice cup of coffee and relax, secure in the knowledge that your journey is almost over. Just one more day and we can all go about our lives like normal people, free from middle school drama and Sheepie complaining about having to live through The World's Longest School Year.

Until September. But we won't think about that just now.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Flexible Notion Of Acceptable

Everyone will be pleased to hear that not all of that time spent standing with teenagers in a hallway while they complained about standing in the hallway was in vain. They managed to walk into the 8th grade promotion ceremony in a manner relatively close to what they'd been given as choreography. They stood when they were supposed to and didn't do much that might embarrass them later in life when the pictures get dragged out.

No one remembered to exit the gym in the manner rehearsed, however. It was sort of a free-for-all at that point. Frankly, no one cared anymore by then. It was eight million degrees in there and we all just wanted out. Having been in that building since 6:50 a.m. I suppose I wanted it more than anyone. I was, shall we say, "wilted." In body and in spirit. I arrived home at 8:00 (ish) and have never been so glad to see my own messy home.

This experience has helped me to be a bit more relaxed when it comes to things that may or may not be sleeves. If I were knitting a sleeve, I might have gotten all crazy when it didn't want to line up in the correct place on the part that might be a sweater. I might have even ripped it right off the needle in order to make it bend to my will and then dropped sixty gazillion stitches, all of which had to be recaptured and replaced. Some might not have been wrangled as well as they should have been.

Good thing I'm so open-minded about these things now that I've known true misery. Otherwise, I shudder to think what may have happened. I might have done some questionable things in terms of not-sleeve repair and maybe decided that the occasional hole in the knitting isn't such a bad thing. I may have imbued the knitwear with the foulest of emotions and probably cursed it even further than any not-sweater I've ever knit has been cursed. (and they all are...we know this) There may have been throwing of partially finished garments, something that is simply unbecoming in such a Zen-like being as myself.

I may have to stand with one shoulder to the wall every time I wear this not-sweater for the rest of my life in order that I might hide the effects of my temper tantrum. That is no way to live. Gosh, I'm so glad that I'm not that person...

Not a sweater. And most certainly not a messed-up sweater. I'm too enlightened for that.

Mama said some baaaaaad words. My brother and I will be in therapy for the next six months if you need us.

It's acrylic. Whatever. My goal at this point is to just finish the thing and be done with it. I could rip back and fix the mistakes, but that simply feels like too much effort. However, the effort put in thus far is what is keeping me from just tossing this accursed object and moving on to something else. Things That Are Not Sweaters are always cursed objects for me and I've learned to expect the occasional bump in the road. I'm also usually surprised to find that the mistakes aren't necessarily as glaring later on as I think them to be in the moment. The world has never once come to a screeching halt over the misknitting of a sleeve. Or that which is not a sleeve...

If nothing else, I know this will be finished during the calm, relaxing days of summer vacation. With the 8th graders well and truly promoted, I can no longer say that I teach 8th grade. Now, I only teach 7th grade and for a mere half day more at that.

Then I will be a full time knitter of lumpy not-sleeves. That will be nice. I guess maybe I'm a little more Zen about these things than I thought...


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Well...At Least The Effort Was Heroic.

There is really no way to tell the tale of this day. I can only share it as it happened to me: in a series of blurred, disconnected events. Events that simply define the end of a school year. Events that, while not tragic and sometimes even a little funny after the fact, just seem to suck the life out of you.

4:20 a.m.: Woke Up. Realized that I was awake. Did not find myself particularly amused by this fact.

4:30 a.m.: Accepted the fact that I was awake. Some things are just inevitable. I got up.

5:45 a.m.: Stood staring in horror at the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty while he sneezed all over the bedroom window. My suggestion that he go get a paper towel and clean up this impromptu snot art was not met with enthusiasm. I packed up my breakfast, grabbed my coffee and left for work early. This is one of those other things that falls under the heading of "inevitable."

6:30 a.m.: Arrived in my classroom thinking that I might as well get something done and make getting in so stupidly early worth it. However, the custodian was cleaning the room so it really wasn't feasible.

Custodian: Goodness! You are early today!

Ms. Sheep: Yeah. I must really love my job.

Custodian: Um...OK. It's probably something like that.

7:20 a.m.: High fived the guy who does morning bus duty with me. We've been counting down the weeks until our last scheduled day of this torture and are giddy with joy at hearing the bell signaling the start of the school day.

8:00 a.m.: Informed my class of the day's schedule:

In short, we will be sitting quietly until it is time to go do something. If we cannot find a quiet activity until then or if we bother Ms. Sheep in any way, shape or form then we will not get to go do that thing when it is time to go do it.

Note: The "things" varied by grade so it was best to be kind of general in my description of the itinerary.

9:00 a.m.: 7th graders left for their field trip to the water park, accompanied by my teaching assistants. 8th graders left for the gym for what I believed would be a brief and well-run Promotion Ceremony Rehearsal.

10:45 a.m.: Was still making kids stand in the hallway, walk in a line, sit in chairs, get up, go back to the hallway and do it all over again for the fifty millionth time. Was also struck by the realization that only one other teacher besides myself was getting up and doing this with them. The other teachers were all staying in the gym and critiquing the walking while the two of us tried to keep the peace in the hallway.

I announced: When I write the story of my life, this will be the part where I go to prison.

11:00 a.m.: Back in the hallway and surrounded by kids whose behaviors included sitting in a slumped heap and refusing to get up, punching each other playfully into unconsciousness and doing things which may or may not result in the birth of the next generation right there in the stupid hallway.

I announced: That gym had better be on fire because I can think of no other reason why they are leaving me out here in this hallway for what is left of my miserable life.

11:15 a.m.: We break for lunch. I was supposed to be outside eating with the kids, but I mutinied and hid in my classroom.

12:00 p.m.: Sent the 8th graders back down to the gym for more standing and sitting. I stared wistfully at the knitting in my bag, but knew that taking pointy sticks with me would be a bad idea.

12:45 p.m.: My teaching assistants entered the gym and sat next to me. I announced that I am the most put-upon person in the whole wide world because I have been doing this all-stupid-day.

12:50 p.m.: Exited the gym and headed to the office because my teaching assistants had informed me that the two students who I begged to be allowed on today's field trip and for whom I personally vouched had not done well. Not well at all. One was bleeding in the nurse's office. The other was pouting in the Principal's office.

1:00 p.m.: Returned to the gym and announced to my teaching assistants that I am the second most put-upon person in the whole wide world, allowing first place to be split evenly between them.

1:15 p.m.: Conceived of a brilliant and intricate plan for avoiding the 7th grade teachers who took my students on the field trip based on my personal recommendation. I will have to live under an assumed name in an undisclosed location for the next ten years, but I figure it's a small price to pay...

2:00 p.m.: Began dealing with the forty-seven million phone calls from the office that come from having poor judgement regarding vouching for students on field trips. Accepted that I vouch too much. I'm an over-voucher. People were understanding. They probably want me to vouch for them...

2:20 p.m.: Called the office to ask if they'd called the second bus run. They had. And it was long gone.

2:45 p.m.: Finally arranged transportation home for The Boy Who Builds Bridges But Who Can't Remember To Listen To Bus Announcements.

3:00 p.m.: With all students field tripped, disciplined, practiced and finally out of the building, I stood slumped in the office hallway. I was incapable of moving and thus trapped in conversation with whomever happened to be there. The Assistant Principal called out for the secretaries who had left for the day:

Assistant Principal: Hellooooo! Anyone out there?

Ms. Sheep: Define "anyone." Do I count?

AP: Of course you count, Ms. Sheep!

MS: What can I do for you?

AP: Careful what you ask, Ms. Sheep! (hearty chuckle)

MS: OK. How about this? What do you need from me that I will probably not do even if I say I will?

AP: There you go.

3:05 p.m.: We are joined by the Principal who says, for no apparent reason whatsoever, "We can be heroes...for just one day."

Ms. Sheep (who has been teaching for twenty one years and who no longer requires a conversation to make sense for her to chime in enthusiastically): Nah...Hero Pay after taxes isn't worth it for one day.

Mr. Principal: Now, Ms. Sheep. It's not about the money.

MS: No, it is about the tights.

MP: (snorts happily and goes about his business)

4:00 p.m.: Arrived home to find a big pile of cat puke on the carpet and to discover that I had not closed the freezer door when I extracted my veggie bacon for breakfast back when this day started.

4:01 p.m.: Began eating waffles. Also made muffins.

That is all I remember. I know there were things in between, but none of them seem relevant. All I know is that my class is now down to very few students after today's field trip, that 8th graders do not care for standing in hallways and that I can expect a big electric bill next month. I also know that I have to stay at school until 7:00 tomorrow so I can see if anyone remembers to do all the stuff they practiced today when they do it for real at the promotion ceremony.

One and a half more days of school to go. And I'm out of waffles. I think I need to channel my inner hero...


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WNBP: Survival Skill Waning

Oh, Wednesday! I was so worried. You seemed to take such a long time in coming and I feared you had decided to just let it be Tuesday forever. I am so glad to see you! You came and now I can do the Wednesday Night Bullet Post. This is good. I don't know as I have it in me to be anything other than totally random right now...

*I am now utterly incapable of coming up with activities to entertain the students in these last few days of school.

*They keep changing the schedules and I don't know how much time I have at any given point in the day with which to not entertain them.

*Sometimes I have forty seven gajillion kids telling me they are bored.

*Sometimes I have two kids telling me they are bored.

*Two can feel like forty seven gajillion when those two happen to be bored and blaming you for that fact...

*I walked into a meeting early this morning, sat down and assumed my most professional meeting-type expression.

*My director took one look at me and said, "Oh dear...it's OK. It's almost over."

*Things are worse than I thought. I have Waning Survival Skills Face.

*Here is something that is not a sleeve:

Soon it will be connected to something that is not a sweater.

*We have had sun for two days now. That's nice.

*But it is still chilly enough at night for me to have not removed the flannel sheets from my bed.

*Weird for late June. Very weird.

*I'm not complaining. Hot, humid weather when you are in the last days of The Longest School Year In Recorded History are not good.

*I'll live with the flannel sheets. I'm all set.

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty seems to suffer from seasonal allergies.

*This is something new I've learned.

*He likes to sleep on my feet when I sit on the sofa.

*Last night, he sneezed all over my feet.

*Absurdly Gi-normous Kitties do not know the current protocols for containing sneezes. They do not cover their mouths.

*Soggy Feet.

*Here's me telling that story at school today:

Ms. Sheep: ...and then my Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty sneezed right on my foot!!!

Kid Who Always Carries The Gi-normous Gym Bag: Hey! Remember that time when The Husky Redheaded Kid Who Reminds You Of Your Cat Sneezed on your foot? That was funny!!

HRKWRMOMC: (waves cheerily from across the room)

MS: Oh. My. God.

KWACTGGB: It's like he's in both places, dontcha think? You always have the HRKWRMOMC with you!

MS: Stop talking. Right now. I need a minute. I can't breathe...

*I tried to take a picture of him napping on my feet so you'd get the idea.

*Not the Husky Redheaded Kid. The cat.

*Sheesh. That's not even funny, you guys.

*Capturing the moment did not go well.

*Learn from my mistake.

Don't let the camera strap dangle. Not even a little bit. Even if you think he is all stuffy from the allergies and sleeping it off.

Just trust me on this. I know about this stuff.

She allows this behavior. It's shameful.

*She can't really be judgemental. When the Big, Fluffy Kitty gets her seasonal allergies, she sneezes right in my face.

*Every time.

*Two and a half more days of school to go. And I still can't come up with anything to entertain the masses.

*Nor do I have a better handle on the schedule than I did when I started this week.

*Maybe I'll catch Absurdly Gi-normous Seasonal Allergies...

The days do keep ticking by, though. I'll probably make it to Friday. And then all I have to do is survive a half day on Monday and it'll be like it never happened. Or that it did happen but I'll be given the summer to get over it. Either way, I will have demonstrated my ability to survive this most trying of times.

And I'll get to do it with kitty snot on my ankles. Which adds a whole new level of technical difficulty to the situation.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Survival Skills Continued

As I may have mentioned once or twice, it is the last full week of school. I have been rather close-mouthed on this issue since I don't like to complain. I'm really rather selfless and hate for others to be burdened with the minutiae of my life. I just sit back and suffer quietly.

One day they will write songs about me. The long kind that bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardhearted souls...

To add to the overall sturm and drang of the week, today was the day that both my staff were scheduled to be out. Actually, they were scheduled to be out tomorrow but both suddenly found themselves having to change their plans at the exact same time. I knew about this well in advance so I was deep into the denial phase by the time today rolled around. My staff and I don't get subs when we are out. We could. But it's more of a pain than a plan to have to teach someone how to teach these kids...so we don't. It was looking like a long day. It was also an "A" day on the schedule which meant that lunch and specials were coming late in the afternoon. This is an exercise in bladder control...

I was not completely without resources, though. The band was scheduled to perform first thing in the morning so that killed an hour. Then I broke out the new hot glue gun and some craft sticks because there is nothing they like more than searing things. To round out the morning, I broke out a brand new copy of Wall-E and everyone was suddenly transfixed.

It was like summer camp. Or as The Kid Who Has Worn The Same Hoodie Every Day Since September said, "All we're missing is the macaroni art..."

It occurred to me later that I probably could have been knitting while the kids were burning their fingers and dozing in front of the movie. I still have that sock in my bag. But, for some reason, I decided to do paperwork instead. I don't know what I was thinking.

Knitting or no, it was a really nice day with the kidlets. I treasure those days at this time of the year. By now, we are sort of like a family who has been on one of those horrifically long driving vacations that always seem like such a great idea when you start out. We are tired of each other and I, the mother figure of the brood, know that I should love them. But I don't any more and no amount of telling myself that a better person would still find them delightful will change that. Proximity can trump affection after a fashion. You know it's true.

Parents always have the same look when they drop their kids off at the school in September. It's an odd mixture of guilt and relief.

Three and a half more days, for those of you who are counting along. I'm sure that most of you aren't, though. You probably didn't even know it was that close. Like I said...

I'm really quite reserved on these matters.


Monday, June 15, 2009

You Gotta Have A Plan

OK. This is the time to get serious. Things could get ugly without a good plan in place. Sure, it would be easy to sit back and let the last full week of school cruise by with nary a firm scheduling thought in mind. I could let it slide and hope for the best. I could pretend I am an optimist.

But I'm not. I see danger around every corner. These are the times that try Sheep's souls. It could all go wrong and could do so in the time it takes to tell it. I need to be serious.

I'm not talking about planning for the teaching part of the week. That's a lost cause anyway. Grades have closed, report cards were printed today and all we can do is make sure the students don't find out about this. Once they know that little detail, we are done for. You can't plan for the last full week of school. You can only survive it.

What you can plan for is the emotional toll the week will take. And I think I have a handle on that, thank-you-very-much. I've been doing this for 21 years. I have a system.

I lost some time yesterday, what with the maybe-migraine. I didn't really give much thought to the plan. However, I have been pondering this situation since I first figured out that we would be in school until June 22nd and realized that it might get a bit dicey. Even with yesterday's down time, I still think I have it all under control Here's where we are with things:

*A full supply of Over The Counter remedies for anything that might befall me courtesy of the children this week has been assembled. I've got tummy medicine. I've got headache remedies. I couldn't convince my doctor to prescribe high-test antidepressants without my first coming in to discuss the matter so that didn't pan out. Otherwise, I think I've got it under control.

*The Not-Sleeve is within three inches of completion and will be ready for its union with The Thing That Is Most Certainly Not A Sweater by the time the final bell rings next Monday afternoon. I will have something to do once I have nothing to do.

*A sock awaits in the knitting bag. I will have something to do when I start up my Summer Of Compensatory Knitting Socialization sessions next Tuesday. S.O.C.K.S is a favorite part of being on summer vacation and I'd hate to be unprepared.

*The Index Cards Of Summer Organization have been located and are awaiting the doing of stuff. I have a new system for organizing the summer goals this year. More on that later. But the practice run during Spring Break went rather well and I think it will be a good year for Index Cards!

*Spinning skills were revisited. Yup. I still remember how. Now I know I will have yarn for summer knitting projects.

*A new Kitty Distracter has been procured. When the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty came to live with me last year, he very much enjoyed the battery operated feather on a string toy I had for the amusement of the resident felines. He enjoyed it so much he trashed it. Totally. I wasn't going to pony up the same amount of cash this time, but I did feel he would need something to keep him out from under foot this summer. I found a ten dollar version which, while not as fun as the expensive one, should hold his attention for a few minutes so I can walk without calamity.

Although I have to admit I felt like I was doing a favor for someone who didn't necessarily deserve it. He wasn't particularly sympathetic yesterday while I was dealing with my headache. In fact, I think he found my difficulties with light, sound and trying to see around that stupid halo thingie kind of amusing...

Hee-hee! I can haz face like Mama!!!! Iz funneez!!!!

*Cash has been collected and secreted away in the depths of the wallet for next Wednesday's trip to the farmer's market. Last summer I scheduled in a time each week to visit with the vegetables and rather enjoyed it. Although I still have no love for the veggies and will never be the type to get all excited at the arrival of summer produce, I felt rather sophisti-ma-cated shopping for my meals like a grown-up. I was this close to being almost European and whatnot. Maybe this year I will even manage to eat the stuff...

*Summer television schedules have been reviewed. I believe I know what I will be watching.

*Summer workout schedules have been determined. Maybe I'll even stick to them a little bit...

As you can see, I have been quite forward thinking. While I may have four and a half more days left of school, I think that the summer vacation waiting at the end of it is ready to go. This, and this alone, is what stands between me and a possible emotional break down. It is the thing which will give me hope while I try to convince middle school students that I still have some power over them and that they need to not burn me in effigy (or for reals) at the flag pole. I am only human and only capable of watching so many movies, attending assemblies and gathering field trip permission slips. There is a limit to my endurance. The planning helps.

Maybe not so much as the OTC pharmaceuticals, but still helpful...


Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's OK. You Can Say It.

Sometimes, I think I am rather brilliant. Other times, I realize that I'm not, but act like I know what I'm doing anyway. Then there are the times I am so stupid that even I can't come up with an excuse. It's a Free Day for anyone who wants to point out my flaws. I'll agree without reservation.

It's been raining a great deal over the past week. Low atmospheric pressure has been the order of the day. I've been grumpy, out of sorts and not feeling all that perky. To add to the festivities, I've had this stupid twitch in my left eye that cropped up every time one of my students did something "interesting."

I stayed in yesterday. But with all the grey skies, I've still been moving about between low-light and high-light environments depending upon the room and the amount of natural lighting. I've also been watching a great deal of TV and playing more computer games than is good for any human.

Oh, and then there was the problem with my glasses! Good gracious, they were dirty! At least the left lens. Why, I had to clean that one fifty times because there was obviously some sort of smear on it that was causing that weird "halo" effect over everything. It was making it hard to see the ants. I swear to you I saw little black dots on the carpet. But every time I went in for a closer look I couldn't find them! Stupid glasses!!!

(That breeze you just felt was all the Migraine People nodding in unison. They know where I am going with this. What they don't understand is how I, once again, managed to miss the direction in which things were heading.)

Today, the eye twitch was back. And when I looked in the mirror to admire the beauty that is Sheepie In The Early Morning, I noticed that my left eyebrow was just a fraction lower than the right and that it didn't quite raise in unison with its mate when ordered. So I did what any normal person would do and went about my day, running errands, chatting with my parents...stuff like that. I thought about taking some Ibuprofen. But I forgot.

(Oh dear. That was the sound of all the Hemiplegic Migraine People flapping their hands at their monitors in disgust and stalking away, unable to even be in virtual proximity to me. They also muttered a few vile things, none of which I can repeat, all of which were related to my overall intelligence and very much deserved...)

I have never been formally diagnosed with migraines. I don't have them very often (long spells of cloudy weather and rain seem to be a common factor) and forget about them by the time I am in the doctor's office. They also aren't really all that bad. I'm a bit queasy, I have a hard time focusing, but I don't always get the headache. If I do, it is generally of short duration and then I sleep for hours. They are almost always triggered by abrupt changes in lighting, something that doesn't happen all that often. You don't have to tell me how fortunate I am. I know many people who truly suffer with migraines and I don't even try to compare this to what they go through. I also don't really claim to have them since I am not a huge fan of self-diagnosers.

I can only tell you that I currently have a headache, a bit of a glow going on to my left and that I didn't much feel like chocolate chip cookies today. I remembered to take some OTC pain relievers after a fashion and believe I have managed to block the headache part pretty handily.

I'd hoped to get that not-sleeve finished today. Suffice it to say, I did not. I didn't do too badly, though. Even with one eye and no chocolate chips in my system, I still managed to round the total length up to about fifteen inches. That's not too bad and really only a little bit shy of the total. Of course, I'm counting the part under the turning ridge that is really just "hem stuff," but why wouldn't I? It's knitting. And I have a headache with a boo-boo belly so everyone has to be nice to me today.

Here is where the picture would be if I thought I could bear flash photography this afternoon. You would have liked it, I'm certain.

It will all be over with by tomorrow and I'll be fresh as a daisy for the last full week of school. I've also decided that I will forgo the weights this week and just ride the little exercise bike for my workouts. That is good for knitting. I think I can easily work up the rest of the not-sleeve and maybe even get it secured into it's new home before the week is out.

If not, then I do believe I have some time to do that in the near future. I may not be bright enough to recognize the time to take an preemptive aspirin, but I do know when summer vacation starts.

Feel free to doubt that level of Sheepish Intelligence today, though. I understand.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Knit In Hiding Day

I suppose that, had I known today was World Wide Knit In Public Day, I might have made more of an effort. Since I didn't and any possible actions I might have taken under differing circumstances are open to speculation, we can go with that theory. No one can prove otherwise...

As it was, though, I barely even made it into clean sweatpants, let alone "outside the house" clothing. In my defense, it was a long week. Not a day went by without some sort of scheduling snafu, staff or student drama and at least once I was plagued with zombie-induced insomnia. Friday afternoon could not come soon enough. Add to this the fact that I still have to go back to school and do this for another 5 and 1/2 days and I really didn't have it in me to face the world.

It is also entirely possible that knitting in public might reveal to the world just how badly I overestimated my progress on that Thing Which Is Not A Sleeve. Or that I blatantly fibbed about how far along I was, fully believing that I could make up for the lack of progress with some hard-core Saturday knitting. Yeah...it could have been partially due to something along those lines. Maybe.

Frankly, I don't begrudge myself a day spent on the sofa, staring at all the housework that I wasn't doing while I wasn't knitting all that much. Not that I didn't knit. I did. I also did one or two things that might be construed as housework if you really stretch the definition. But I'd be lying if I said I did much more than a few half-hearted rounds or that the housekeeping was the sort of stuff that doesn't make more of a mess than it solves. Still, I like to think that a long week deserves a long nap.

I kept my unwashed, comfortably clad and decidedly unmade-up self behind closed doors today and I believe that great tradition of knitting in public is all the better for that decision. I don't think I would have been a credit to the craft what with my constant demand for soft drinks and chocolate chip cookies. That would simply have been awkward to those who are trying to mainstream knitting and make us look good. My current project is also in full-on acrylic and I don't believe that this is a stereotype we want perpetuated after all those toilet tissue cozies that came out of the 70's.

I did you all a favor, really. It was a kindness, now that I think of it. Sometimes housebound is better.

Not everyone was happy about this state of affairs, though. As much as I like to think of my roommates as fellow homebodies, sometimes I guess everyone gets a hankering to put on their best bib and tucker and head out to show the world how it's done. I think my lazy day was a disappointment for those who were in that mind set on WWKIPD...

Iz all dressed up, haz noe places to goes.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tower Of Power

I write many posts about my classroom and the stuff that makes up the daily life of an educator. I do it very carefully, though. I rework things just a bit, tweak the settings, alter the timelines...anything to make sure that I don't cross the delicate line and lend an identity to a student. Today, I'm going to dance perilously close to that line. But the story is too good to not be told.

There is a student in my class who has a myriad of disabilities, many of which affect his ability to interact successfully with others. In addition to that, he also happens to be a genius. It's a tough mix and an even tougher teaching situation. He can out-think me. He is kind about this, but we all know it is true. Hence, when he comes up with a project that holds his interest and which he can prove has some educational value, I generally let him run with it. He'd do it anyway so it is in my best interest to support it.

A while back, he developed an interest in miniature boat building and I agreed to let him craft one for credit. However, I had some difficulties getting the material he wanted so I picked up some stuff to keep him occupied while I figured out how to meet his needs. What I handed him was a package of craft sticks, remarkably similar to those coffee-stirrers you find next to the Styrofoam cups when you are grabbing a java to go.

Boats went out the window. Bridges became the order of the day.

For weeks now, he has been constructing bridges out of these flimsy bits of wood then stress-testing them to see how much weight they can hold. The weight, in this case, was hardcover books of all shapes and sizes. The first bridge held perhaps 8 before collapsing, a feat I found impressive. He knew he could do better.

I have cleaned out the craft store of little sticks. As quickly as I could replenish the supply, he needed more. The classroom was redolent with the scent of hot glue searing cheap wood. Sometimes there was smoke. He examined each and every collapsed bridge and redesigned the next to shore up the areas that had failed to take the pressure.

Today, he was ready to test his design again. Books from all over the classroom were collected and he began stacking. Eventually, we ran out of hardcover books. He had no interest in paperbacks. The librarian was contacted for assistance and dictionaries were procured. I even snapped a picture with my phone to record the event. This bridge would not give in no matter what we did.

Finally, we resorted to human cargo. Several students and staff stood upon this little bridge. None could break it. Finally, one of my teaching assistants convinced him that we needed to travel down to the gym and ask to borrow the weight room. There, we could find metal plates which were clearly labeled and would give us a better idea of the amount of weight we were placing upon this miracle of modern architecture. My entire class headed down to watch.

Plate after plate was settled upon the little bridge. It never so much as creaked. Two students raced off to find the tech. ed. teacher ("shop," building trades" or "industrial arts" for those of us from an era gone by) It was felt that he would appreciate this. The Guidance department showed up to lend their support. One of my teaching assistants kept track of the weight being added and announced the total each time a new plate was set upon another. Finally, someone reminded me that this was the sort of thing I might want to photograph. I sped up the stairs to grab my phone. Sadly, by the time I got back down to the gym, the bridge had had enough. It had collapsed.

Anyone want to guess how much this wee, little bridge could support? Anyone?

630 pounds. 285.8 kilograms. All this being held up by coffee-stirrers and hot glue.

It was all my class could talk about. They all gazed in awe at the shy, awkward boy who doesn't really "get" people and the miracle he had wrought. He was a god.

But the builder had eyes only for his creation. He observed it with the same level of clinical interest as he had all the previous bridges. While the rest of us mourned its collapse, he took great pleasure in it because he knows that the lesson is really in finding the breaking point.

Plus it made a really cool keeerrrr-ACK sound when it finally gave up the ghost.

Maybe this isn't interesting to everyone. Maybe only a few people out there can be filled with a sense of wonder at the sight of a towering stack of metal plates being supported by the most fragile of materials. I'm sure there are those who are more fascinated by the science of it all than anything else. Some might even want to explain it to me in great detail.

I understand that. We all see the magic through our own lenses. But I might just feel a little bit sorry for them because it was all the more beautiful for my not understanding it completely.

A fourteen year old boy was able to build a bridge with naught but hot glue and sticks that would support well over three times his own body weight. (Yes...he is a big boy) He did this in less time than it took me to knit two sleeves that don't cover three times my body circumference.

Powerful magics...


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday: The Day When Bullet Points Rule

I do love my Wednesdays. The bullet point posts always seem so timely at mid-week, don't they? I have little left in the way of brain cells and "random" is the best I could do for you anyway. Here we go!

*I got home late tonight because I had to buy crafting supplies with which to entertain the students for a week and a half.

*The natives get restless towards the end of the school year.

*Another night goes by without a workout this week.

*No more complaining about how long I have to wait until the start of summer vacation. It is annoying to others and doesn't help matters one little bit anyway.

*I'm not going to fuss about it anymore. I shall be a brave little soldier and stolidly march through this most trying of times.


*I'm totally stolid.

*Stol. Id.

*Except for when I'm not.

*The Kid Who Always Carries The Gi-normous Gym Bag had a hard time with today's writing prompt.

*The topic was "Tell about a time when something unexpected happened."

*They could not tell about a time when something unexpected happened and the police came.

*They could not tell about a time when something unexpected happened in conjunction with a girl being in the vicinity.

*They could not tell about a time when something unexpected happened and an impromptu surgery had to be performed in the living room.

*The restrictions were tough on everyone, but they figured it out. TKWACTGGB finally decided to write about the time his parents gave him a GameBoy for his 9th birthday.

*Kids with difficulties in written expression often have to speak the story before they can write it.

*He did. The tale ended thusly:

I opened the box and discovered that my parents had given me a new PlayBoy!

*Dead silence.

*Followed by Ms. Sheep informing TKWACTGGB that, for the remainder of the day...no eye contact.

*Gratuitous Kitty Pix for your viewing pleasure:

There was a man walking a doggy outside. The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty is fascinated by doggies who walk outside with their people.

The Big Fluffy Kitty is less of a doggy fan. This sort of thing is not even worth waking up for.

*I am feeling good about my progress on that thing that is not a sleeve. I fully expect to finish it any minute now.

*I don't need to show you a picture. You can trust me. It's so, totally almost done.


*My teaching assistant and I were discussing how we were going to go about collecting the students' laptops so that we can inspect them and turn them back in to the Tech. department.

*She said we need to do this tomorrow. I said we need to do it Friday afternoon.

*She was emphatic. We need to do it tomorrow. I was also emphatic. We will do it Friday.

*Then it hit me. She thought today was Thursday.

*All I could do at that point was say sadly, "Oh...sweetie."

*She didn't talk much for the rest of the day. I didn't push her.

*Broken spirit there. Best to not make things worse.

I don't think Wednesday is such a bad thing. The bullet point posts are always a nice thing to do mid-week. I don't even dwell upon the fact that I have to be out the door early tomorrow to make it to morning bus duty on time. Or that I have to do this again next week because we will still be in school instead of on vacation like sane educators.

Maybe I'll just play with my GameBoy and watch the nice man walking his dog outside. Or work on that not-sleeve...