Sunday, November 29, 2009

Some Of It's Awesome...

Anyone reading my tweets from Friday knows that things got kind of "exciting" for a moment there. I had a couple of choices for blogging topics when I returned to the interwebs yesterday. Since I was all flush with triumph following my NANOWRIMO win, I opted to go with that. It was a nice, positive thing. Plus, as I said, I was flushed. You can't be flushed and not share.

I hear tell you'll explode with the flushiness. That could be messy.

Now, however, the flush has faded somewhat and it seems safe to tell the tale of Friday. It is a tale of intrigue, excitement and mystery. There was also a bit of grand theft and I'm pretty sure there was a bullet proof vest involved at one point. You'll like this one. It probably should have been my NANOWRIMO novel, now that I think of it...

With Thanksgiving behind me and lots of leftover turkey ahead, I was looking forward to Friday. There was no more baking to be done. Just a rainy and and the long anticipated viewing of the Deadliest Catch marathon. I still had to put in some writing time, but it would be at my leisure. I wasn't even deterred by the sudden need to make a grocery store run. It was all working out. Heck, I even got back to work on that sock I started last summer!

Around noon, I was settled in with a nice turkey/bagel sandwich and watching the crab fleet plow their way through a season long since past. Suddenly, there was a frantic pounding on the door! I set down my sandwich to investigate. I don't get much of the frantic door pounding so I figured it might be important. Otherwise, I never would have relinquished that sandwich. Ever.

I opened the door to find two police officers. This isn't all that unusual. They come here all the time to visit my next door neighbors. The neighbors are not exceptionally bad people...just lacking in good judgement sometimes.

And before you get all concerned about the quality of my neighborhood, relax. Most of the local crack dealers are former students and are fond of me. They like nothing better than to reminisce with dear old Ms. Sheep about those magical days of yore when all they had to take care of was the limited distribution of middle school weed. That was a happier time without all the stress of big business.

Before I could direct these two fine officers to the crack dealers and my neighbors door, the female half of the duo barked:

We've received a 911 call from this number ma'am and we're here to check on your well-being."

It was then I noticed their rather grim demeanors and questioned why they were wearing bullet proof vests in my nice, quiet hallway. I assured them that I had made no such call, that I had not touched the phones all day and that my being was as well as it ever had been. They seemed unconvinced. I said it again. Then repeated it.

A check in with dispatch revealed that the call had, indeed, come from my number. My phones have been wonky for a while now. Recently, they've gotten worse. But dialing 911? That's just too much!

I called the phone company:

Phone Dude: And what is the problem with your service, ma'am?

Sheepish Annie: I have multiple problems. Noise on the line. Dropped calls. But that is the least of my worries because now my phone is independently dialing 911. Two police officers just left and it would be a understatement to say that they are not amused.

PD: Seriously?

SA: Seriously.

PD: Are you calling from that number now?

SA: Are you kidding me? I'm on my cell. I don't dare to touch my stupid phones in case they decide to suddenly call the fire department or the navy!!!!

PD: (chuckling) Yeah. That would be bad.

SA: And then some.

PD: Let me run a check on the line. Can you hold a minute?

I could. I had nothing else to do. I sat there thinking about how nice it was that the police in my town responded so quickly to a damsel in distress and wondered if they would ever do so again in the future. Finally, Phone Dude came back.

Apparently, there are multiple problems on my line. All of which were written up on the repair ticket and most of which couldn't be addressed during a holiday weekend. I understood. It wasn't phone dude's fault. He can't make technicians appear out of thin air and I had the cell for emergencies. He promised to call back when things were taken care of and we agreed that I should disconnect my phones before Homeland Security showed up for leftover pie and stuffing.

(If anyone thinks I kid about the way these conversations go, rest assured I do not. I tend to go to an hysterical place when I'm stressed. I say things. Weird things...)

I hung up the cell and raced around unplugging phones. I also called the Police Department back to let them know that my phones were no longer functional and to disregard any calls that may have come in over the last fifteen minutes. They seemed confused by this, but were polite because that's what you do with crazy people. They are trained for this sort of thing.

When it was over, I sat down on the couch. I was exhausted. Then I remembered my nice turkey/bagel sandwich. I deserved that sandwich after all I'd been through. I reached for it...but it wasn't there.

That's when I happened to notice a certain Big Fluffy Kitty dragging something across the floor in what can only be described as a "furtive" manner. She had absconded with what was left of my lunch while I dealt with the police and the phones.

I gave up. That is the point where you have to acknowledge defeat. I took the sandwich away and trashed it. I emailed anyone who might try to call me and worry when they didn't get through. I ate pie for lunch. That is all you can do.

Fortunately for my mental health, I was watching the Discovery Channel all day. They've updated their signature ad and, somehow, it seemed they did it just for me. There are several versions, none quite as good as the original, but there are some very cool moments. And it does put things into perspective after twenty or so viewings.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Write Stuff

I was going to call this post, "Why I'm Living In Squalor" but I thought it might be a little off-putting to the readers. It's not that it is an untrue statement for I am, at the moment, living in squalor. I just didn't think it was such a good idea to call attention to it, is all...

I have always wanted to try participating in NANOWRIMO. It seems like such an "authorly" thing to do and what could be cooler than that? I never did it, though. The first stumbling block I always encountered was forgetfulness. I could never seem to remember when the event started. The second issue was sweet reason itself. The very idea of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days is madness. I was sure that there were professional writer-types who could pull it off. But that's their job. I have to do other stuff that involves commuting and telling myself that retirement is growing closer by the day. I don't have the kind of time it takes to write a zillion words that make sense.

But I still always thought it was a kind of keen idea, even if it wasn't for me...

This year, I actually had a bit of a heads up. One of my favorite knit bloggers/wordsmiths wrote a post about signing up for NANOWRIMO. I cheered for her, happy to know that I could at least be a part of it vicariously. And, secretly, I wished I'd done it myself.

However the month had begun, the writers were all busily pecking away at their keyboards and I had missed it again. So sad. Maybe next year...

Midway through the first week in November, I happened to think of a kind of cool sentence. That sentence sort of wandered into a paragraph and, together, they kept going. I thought I might jot it all down in case it wanted to grow up to become something. I also thought that it might have been nice had I come up with this before NANOWRIMO started. Then I could have played along except for the part about my not being able to write 50,000 words in a month.

By the end of the first weekend of November, I had 8000 words jotted down. The sentence had grown! I thought that it might be fun to participate in NANOWRIMO in a kind of unofficial way. You know...just to see how far I'd get. Of course I wasn't going to sign up, though. It was too late.

My goals were simple:

1. Write 50,000 words by the end of the month. (Even though that is impossible)

2. Finish the story by the 30th. (Sheepie has a tendency to over-write and to depend on narrative summary more than any human being ever should. Things start to get big, messy and bogged down when Sheepie writes for any length of time.)

3. Tell no one because 50,000 words ain't gonna happen and we like our failures to come with as few witnesses as possible.

I went to the site to see what the rules were so I could follow them from the safety of my own living room. There, I discovered that this was a rather forgiving lot and that first draft novel writing was considered more of a free writing process than anything else. Padding sentences to boost the word count was even encouraged! (editors may now gasp in horror) I was also surprised to see that my own word counts weren't all that far from that of the "official" participants.

Things got a little fuzzy after that and I may have blacked out for a second. All I know is that, when I came to my senses...I'd signed up for NANOWRIMO. On November 12th.

Let me remind everyone here of the situation: 50,000 words. In 30 days. Unless you sign up on the twelfth. Then you have less. "Impossible" was now "Stupid and Impossible"

So began my descent. In a frenzy of word mashing, I managed to catch up to where I was supposed to be word-wise in that first weekend. I dutifully uploaded new words every day and waited to see if the validator would agree with my word processor. It never did. It always cheated me out of fifty words and I had grumpily type more to satisfy it. This was the sum total of my existence.

The housework, what little I ever did of it, was left undone. I ate a lot of cereal. The cats were fed and sometimes I remembered to change the litter. If I had real children, they would currently be in state custody and I'd be sitting with a stern caseworker trying to explain how things went so wrong so fast. All I did was think, type, count words and remind myself that I was doing this for funsies so there was no reason to hate myself when I failed.

Today is the 28th. There are two more days left before the final bell tolls and I have two statements to make on the subject:

1. I have not finished the novel. I will probably not finish it by the 30th. Once again, I let things get a little bigger than I planned. However, it's not so bad as it's been in the past. In fact, I could probably wrap this thing up in four chapters if I put my mind to it. Ok...maybe five. Or six at the most.

2. At approximately 10:30 this morning, two days before the end of NANOWRIMO and having started well behind many others, I uploaded my text into the mighty validator. I waited with bated breath for it to digest them and pronounce judgement. The little circle whirled and whirled for what seemed an eternity and then...

The validator says it so it must be so!

Now I need to go find the carpet which I am certain lies under the crust of dirty socks, scrape a layer of cereal crumbs from the counter and check my blood pressure because there has been a great deal of coffee consumed over the past three weeks.

But first maybe I'll do just one more chapter...


Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Photo Is Recycled

The sentiment, however, is not. From my furry family to yours...

SA (and, of course, Prometheus and Persephone)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Baker's Dozen. And Then Some

Wednesday, right? I can't be certain, but I think that's the right day. Wait...let me check. Yup. The calendar says I'm right. I suppose that it's time for the good ol' Wednesday Night Bullet Post!

*I'm confused because I didn't go to work today.

*We get an extra day at Thanksgiving as comp. time for suffering through parent/teacher conference nights.

*I'm kidding. We don't really suffer when we meet with parents. We love touching base.

*It's just a long couple of days, is all.

*I only had a few kids show up for my classes yesterday.

*Very relaxing way to ease into the vacation days.

*The last of the rolls are rising in the kitchen.

*That may not seem like much to you, but it is a milestone.

*Here's what I baked before today:

*1 loaf of challa

*2 dozen rolls using the Super-Secret Family Recipe

*1 dozen experimental rolls just to see how they'd turn out.

*They are good, in case you were wondering.

*Here's what I had to bake today because I put off making the rest of the bread like an idiot:

*4 loaves of the beloved Cheesy Bread that I must bake lest I be disowned by half the family

*An extra dozen of the Super Secret Blah-Blah-Blah Rolls.

*The aforementioned rolls in the rising in the kitchen because I was afraid there wasn't enough "plain" bread.

*Should be at least a dozen, but I'll bet I can squeak two out of that dough.

*I did not reach my goal for Cheesy Bread baking.

*I quit when the cheese supply and my will to go on deserted me.

*I'll take the shame if it comes to that.

*I hate my oven right now.

*My order of chocolate popcorn came in yesterday.

*Kid selling it at school for scouts. What was I to do? You can't deny a scout, for heaven's sake.

*Chocolate popcorn for dinner.

*Corn is a vegetable.

*Shut up.

*I know.

*Did I mention all the bread?

*My wrists hurt from all the kneading.

*I knit for a little bit, but timers kept going off and I got all distracted.

*Plus my wrists hurt.

*And I have dough under my fingernails.

*I am also apparently now three years old and prone to whining.

*Another item to go in the Reasons To Eat Chocolate Popcorn For Dinner column.

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty was very "helpful" during the baking process.

*Note: The new definition of "helpful" is: lying right behind mommy in the kitchen so she will trip and spray flour all over the floor fifty million times in one day.

*It is odd to me that I am more tired after a day at home than I was after a day at school.

It's all worth it, though. Tomorrow, I shall lug my five hundred pounds of bread off to the Thanksgiving feast and be happy I soldiered through. And if I'm not, then an extra helping of stuffing should ease my pain. For those of you celebrating the holiday tomorrow, I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings and all the extra helpings you can handle.

Just don't forget to thank the cooks! Unless you are the chef and then you have the right to withhold stuffing until the proper gratitude is granted.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Grumpily, She Said...

I started a pair of mitts over the weekend. They did not go well. The yarn I chose was really much too thick for the pattern and the resulting cuff would have fit the average linebacker nicely. But not Sheepie.

I frogged and tried to finagle something of my own design since I'd already wound the yarn. The very idea of digging around for something else made my brain hurt. Yes. I am that fragile.

The second attempt was a bit on the small side, but not bad. However, the thumb gusset situation quickly got out of hand and I decided that I wasn't so fragile that I could live with great, gaping holes in my gussets. There was more in the way of frogging and a third attempt has been undertaken.

This frustrated me. "I should have something nearing the finish line by now," I said grumpily.

This was a puzzling reaction. I long ago came to accept my knitting cycles. Sometimes I knit like a madwoman and crank out projects on a weekly basis. Other times, I can go for months without anything to show for my sporadic string wrangling. It's not a big deal. Fiber is my hobby. I don't knit for a living. There have been no ransom notes delivered to my door demanding socks in exchange for hostages. I am not locked in a room and expected to spin straw into gold.

If any of these situations should ever come to pass, then woe be to (insert name of fiber-dependent person here). It won't end well. I am not what you could call a dependable sort of knitter.

Now I was frustrated and puzzled. The clinical term for this state is "Fruzzled," but I don't expect you to remember that. You have my word that the quiz at the end will be open book. Promise.

It wasn't until this morning that I figured it out. I stumbled around until it was time for the daily commute and left still not sure if I'd remembered everything I was supposed to have with me for school. I entered the building and was greeted by a colleague who I felt was exhibiting far too much cheer given where we were at that moment. I said grumpily:

We aren't supposed to be here. We are supposed to be in two days of workshops with snacks and knitting time like we've done every year up to this one.

And there it was. My reason for being Fruzzled. Normally, the two days before the Thanksgiving break are spent at the high school engrossed our district's annual Fall Forum. I always have a book on the ipod and a knitting project in the bag. I generally fail to finish the book, but usually make amazing progress on the knitting. This year? Not so much.

The Fall Forum is now The Winter Forum and will be held over the two days before the winter break. No knitting time for me this year, not in November. But the brain isn't quite done processing this.

I'm no longer Fruzzled, but still grumpy. Two days isn't a very long time to wait until vacation, but it seems like forever once you recall those happy days spent dozing in workshops. By the time I got home, I needed a long, hot bath.

I thought this might make things less grumpy because hot baths usually have that effect. However, I could hear suspicious sounds from the living room all during my soak and the cats were nowhere in my line of vision. I wasn't all that surprised when I emerged and found myself having to say grumpily:

OH MY GOD!! Which of you typed LLLLLLLLLLLLL into the search engine on the computer? Was it the same cat who changed my homepage and tried to shut down? And who pulled the 38,000+ word document out of the dock, deleted all my text and replaced it with another series of L's?

There were a few other things said but we don't need to dwell on them. It's enough to know that they were said grumpily and with a great deal of Fruzzle.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hysterically In Real Life

When I want to demonstrate my tendencies towards overly dramatic interpretations on the blog, it is a simple enough thing. I just bust out Hysterical Mind And Rational Mind. I first introduced them years ago when I was being tested for TB. I couldn't seem to stop thinking about having to wear black all the time and how much trouble it was going to be when I had to pack up and move into a drafty garret. I figured I could manage writing the angst-filled poetry but I wasn't sure I could make a living at it. In spite of every single rational fiber of my being screaming facts and figures to the contrary, I just kept going to the Dark Side.

I wrote a post about those two factions battling it out and the rest is history. Every time I need to share some ridiculous reaction I'm having, HM is the girl for the job. A typical conversation goes like this:

Hysterical Mind: I've decided to move us to a Clean Room. Here's a list of the stuff we need. I know how much you like organizing and packing stuff so why don't you handle that while I update our Facebook status, 'kay?

Rational Mind: I am not moving to a Clean Room. Why don't we just tidy up around here and call it a day?

HM: That is not enough! Tidying? In the face of the dreaded H1N1??? Are you mad, woman? This is the time of biblical plague and you are suggesting a once over with the dust mop?

RM: OK. I'll use the disinfectant spray. We'll be fine. We just need to wash our hands, keep up healthy habits and use a little common sense. You need to relax.

HM: Oh. My. God. Have we met? Do we need to have this conversation every single time a plague busts a move? We will NOT be fine. We have had no flu shot. We aren't going to get a flu shot. I'll say it slowly so you can understand.!!!

RM: I half think you enjoy this...

HM: That is beside the point.

That's how it looks on the blog. In real life, most people have no idea they are dealing with HM. They just think it's silly ol' Sheepie making a funny in a bad situation. That or they think they can use logic to talk me off the ledge. People are so innocent and sweet in their belief that crazy is something you read about in books or see on the news. It is all around us. At least it is if I happen to be in the room.

First Actual Hysterical Moment:

Sheepish Annie: Hello, Mrs. School Nurse.

Mrs. School Nurse: (sighing) Hello, Ms. Sheep. What now?

SA: Um...I just wanted to tell you something before you went in to do that flu shot clinic for the children. There was this kid out there in the hallway and he said I could have his flu shot. He was really nice about it. He said I was a gift to the school and that he thought I should be preserved for all time. And that he couldn't get his shot because he had a cold. And that it was against his religion. Yeah...religion. And a cold.

MSN: Really?

SA: Yes. It was a kid but I don't know his name. You'd recognize him. He has hair...and don't need to ask him about it. He was cool with my getting his shot.

MSN: You are getting better at this, you know.

SA: Thank you.

I did not get a flu shot. Mrs. School Nurse is a sharp one and not fooled for an instant by even the craftiest of ploys.

Second Actual Hysterical Moment:

(Ms. Sheep needs to ask Mr. Assistant Principal a question. He is in his office for the first time all week after being stricken by the flu. He is clearly still sick, but being a trouper about it)

Mr. Assistant Principal: Ms. Sheep? Come on in.

Ms. Sheep: (remaining in the doorway) I'm good right here, thanks.

(She asks her question, he answers it. As he is speaking, MS is mumbling to herself)

MS: please-don-t-be-contagious-please-don't-be-contagious...

MAP: What's that?

MS: Um...I said, "Please don't be contagious." Sorry. I'm a little freaked out by the flu.

MAP: I'm not contagious. I wouldn't be here if I was.

MS: Yes, you would.

MAP: No, I wouldn't.

MS: Yes, you would.

MAP: No, I wouldn't.

MS: Yes, you would.

MAP: OK. I would. But I'm not.

(Ms. Sheep flees the office and goes to find the school nurse to demand that she make Mr. Assistant Principal go home.)

There are many more examples. Just yesterday I was perusing the Maine CDC site and gathering all sorts of new information with which to entertain and educate my staff. I think they enjoy my weekly flu seminars.

Cheerful Teaching Assistant: You really should stop reading that stuff. You are just freaking yourself out.

Ms. Sheep: I'm being prepared! Knowledge is power! Plus, I thought you'd want to know...

CTA: I actually don't want to know. And I half think you enjoy all this.

MS: That is beside the point.

You do what you can. For myself, I'm washing my hands and only half serious about moving to a Clean Room. I've also found some nice yarn for a new pair of mitts. Last year's hand warmers have been retired after valiant service and part of staying healthy is keeping warm on cold winter days. I thought that the yarn I picked up at the craft show back in September might work nicely

Artsy shot I envisioned for the blog.

The feline-based reality in which I live.

I like to think that the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty was giving the yarn his stamp of approval. The fact that he logged into my Hulu account with that paw stamp is probably a coincidence. I think I need to believe that rather than the alternative.

HM would not do well if she knew she might get the flu and be stuck at home with a cat who controls the viewing options.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WNBP: Everyone Is Totally Random

Last week was building up to this. I saw it coming. Now it is this week and everyone has gone off the rails. People are acting all wonky. One person tells me something "very important" and then someone else informs me that they were told "something else very important" about the same thing and which totally contradicts what I was told in the first place.

It's madness...

However, this state of affairs does lend itself to the Wednesday Night Bullet Post. Random behavior has its place. How nice that it is useful. Here's today's bullets:

*Three of us who'd had "very important discussions" got together to have a meeting and clarify our individual concepts of what we were supposed to be doing.

*The boss and I thought one thing because that is what we talked about.

*The other person thought something else and had a memo to back it up.

*Fortunately, we are all reasonable people with a common goal and a general liking for one another.

*I looked out into the hallway at one point and saw three of my students running amok.

*I could have gone out there.

*I didn't. I just called the office because I was tired from trying to understand "very important and completely opposite directives" and didn't have the energy to chase teenagers around the hallways.

*There was mooning involved. You'd have done the same and you know it.

*My boss gave me a chocolate covered pretzel. It had caramel in there, too. And it was huge.

*She is a woman of keen insight.

*Mr. Assistant Principal is out sick.

*Very sick.

*Over the top sick.

*Can't be here to deal with mooning children sick.

*It is entirely possible that this is how he called it in, but I can't be sure.

*Baby Panda.

I find sleeping baby pandas very soothing. I am glad that he lives in the dashboard of my computer.

*The Hat That Is Never Going To Be Finished still isn't finished.

*But I'm starting to think that it might be.

*I'm finally back to riding the little exercise bike.

*Good knitting time.

*The Kid Who Doesn't Have An "Off" Switch came up from breakfast the other morning shaking his head sadly.

*Words to think on: "I've just been eating applesauce off a plastic tray and now I feel like a senior citizen."

*This is the same kid who told me earlier in the year, "I'm thinking of suing you so we can go to court and I can see you in your professional clothes."

*TKWDHAOS has a keen eye and a gift for voicing his observations.

*Just got a whiff of the catbox. Thinking I should do something about that...

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty has discovered the hallway of our building.

*It is now is mission to be in the hallway at all costs.

*I do not want him in the hallway because there is a door out there and the outside is beyond that door.

*AGKs who require regular nose rubs, an endless supply of crunchy foods and can't function without a dollar store kitty tunnel toy aren't going to fare well in the big, wide world.

*Now I have to enter my home through a crack in the door the width of a dime.

*And he sometimes still makes it through.

*Powerful shoulders and the will to succeed will move mountains and tired mommies coming home from a rough day at the School Of Opposing Directives And Random Mooning.

I'm going to rest now. I may have survived today, but tomorrow I have to go back and do it all over again. I am hoping that the children managed to only irritate a few people in their bare-bottomed travels and that half my class isn't suspended from school. Or maybe it would be better if they were, now that I think of it.

Failing that, I would like to get the Can't Deal With Mooning Children Flu...


Monday, November 16, 2009

S-Elfish Motivations

I did not blog yesterday. I thought about it. But, in the end, it didn't seem right to do so.

This is a knitting blog. Except when it is a spinning blog and I probably could have done a post had I spun. I did not spin. That left me with nothing. As much as I thought I should blog, I couldn't be true to the theme. So I blogged not.

Today, however, I knit. I knit three whole rounds on The Hat That Will Never Be Finished. I did not do this for the inherent "hat value." I don't wear hats. I did not do it so I could have the satisfaction of finishing something. It will probably never be finished. It didn't get its name for nuthin'! I also didn't do it so I'd have something to take my mind off the fact that I was riding the little exercise bike, although it did have that effect. It wasn't enough to make cardio less torturous, but I don't think it's fair to blame the knitting for that.

No. My motives were none of these. They were neither noble nor practical. I knit so I could justify blogging tonight and to be given a forum for two simple lines. This may seem like a great deal to go through just to jot down two sentences but, I assure you, it is more than worth it. Way more than...

This afternoon, as my class was settling in for their end of the day activities, The Great Debater decided to tell the tale of a childhood haircut. He hated that haircut for two reasons. First, his mother did it at home and we all know how that goes, don't we? Secondly, the cut revealed his ears which, at that time in his life, hadn't quite grown into their present, rounded shape.

And then he said them. The greatest lines I've heard in months. The kind of lines that probably don't translate well into print, but are worth knitting a hat so you can write them anyway. The two lines that I someday hope to have engraved in sterling silver and hung upon my wall for all to see. In their present digital form they are less impressive, but still beg to be written.

"When I was little, I thought I was an elf. I was really concerned for about a year."


Saturday, November 14, 2009

What It's Good For

Rainy days force us to make decisions. The options narrow down a bit because you can't do just any old thing when it is raining. Rainy Saturdays can sometimes cause even more in the way of decision-making because those are the days when most of us aren't working and have plans. The rain doesn't care if we had plans. It comes when it comes. You have to adjust.

Rainy days are not good for certain things. They are not conducive to long walks on the beach or afternoons spent frolicking amongst the fallen autumn leaves. You probably don't want to hang out the laundry to dry since it will take forever and never quite get that nice "outdoorsy" scent you were hoping for. I also don't suggest that you head out for a day of kite-flying unless you are a die-hard Ben Franklin fan and trying to reenact that famous key-on-a-string maneuver. Not that I don't see the appeal, mind you. That would be a once in a lifetime moment. Literally for some...

Rainy days mean looking carefully at your options. Days like that don't have much flexibility. In fact, I can only come up with a very short list of things that are good rainy day activities. First on that list is knitting.

If you can't go outside and the laundry is going to have to go in the dryer whether you like it or not, you might as well sit inside and knit. If it happens to rain all day, then you could probably knit a great deal. You could knit and knit and knit and still have time for a nap. You could take four coffee breaks, phone a friend, invent a new language and compose an epic poem but still have time to knit about forty feet of fabric. There is no excuse for not making progress on the knitting when it is a rainy Saturday and you are stuck inside.

Which is why I'm not offering one. Apparently, I am immune to the rainy day knitting syndrome. I didn't so much as pick up a needle today, much less whip out forty feet of scarf. It's almost like I didn't notice that it was raining or that the holidays are creeping ever closer. The day has gone from rainy and gray to rainy and dark. I've not knit a stitch.

I knit a little bit yesterday. We had a break while teaching the Safety Procedures course and I figured I'd work on The Simple Hat I'm Never Going To Finish. It's pretty much just a tube so it's not anything I have to concentrate on. I managed a couple of rounds before I had to get up and bore the class again with my lecture on how not to get bitten by grumpy students. That's something, I guess.

But it's not much. Not when you compare it to what a person could (and should) be able to knit on a rainy Saturday.

What can I say? The raindrops pattering on the windows were hypnotic and made the hours seep away before I could catch them. I lacked the motivation to move. Well...I had to go to the bathroom a lot, but that is inevitable when a waterfall is pouring from the gutters past your window. You can't help that. Otherwise, there was little in the way of activity over here today.

The list of Rainy Day Options is short and I couldn't even be bothered to take on the thing in the number one spot. I also didn't read or nap so I missed numbers two and three as well. About the only thing that seemed to hold my interest was number four. Everyone here at the manse did very well with that, I think.

Rainy Day Activity #4: Staring out the window at the raindrops


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Random Day Off

It's Veteran's Day and it just so happened that it fell on a Wednesday this year. What a coincidence! A random day of the week that doesn't involved going to work and the day when I do the Wednesday Night Bullet Post! It's a very random sort of day, indeed...

*First and foremost, I offer up a hearty and sincere Thank You to all those men and women who put themselves in harm's way to protect hearth and home!

*Having a Wednesday off is a very weird thing. You no sooner get used to the fact that you work for a living and suddenly you are drinking your coffee at home in your jammies.

*As I was walking into the school with a colleague yesterday, I told him that it was Tuesday/Friday.

*He thought about that and then said that it was really more like Tuesday/Saturday because it was the day before the day before we had to go back to work.

*I didn't like that perspective. First of all, it seemed to focus on the negative.

*Secondly, it failed to account for the fact that I wasn't at home watching cartoons.

*I had me some big plans for today.

*I promised myself a day of not leaving the house and doing all sorts of hearthy-homey stuff.

*Don't judge me. I know I'm lame. I'm also tired and living in squalor. The idea of staying in my jammies and puttering about the manse seemed very, very appealing to me.

*Note to self: Planning to shampoo the carpets only works if you store all the parts of the carpet cleaner thingie together.

*Another note to self: You have no one to blame but yourself if you don't put everything in one place when you are done and then can't find very important parts when it's time to clean the carpets.

*I didn't shampoo the carpets today.

*Nor did I bake the bread like I said I was going to.

*I spun, though.

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty has been very active of late.

*Does anyone think I'm being unreasonable for thinking that he should not open all the cupboards, swat spoons from the counters and tip over the trash can in the living room five billion times in one day?

*Let me know if you think I'm over the line, here. The AGK certainly seems to feel that way...

*How high does the mountain of dishes in the sink have to be before it can be classified as a national monument?

*No reason for asking. Just wondering.

*Another note to self: Emptying the dishwasher once the "finished" light comes on will make a huge difference in the amount of dishes teetering precariously in the sink later in the week.

*The school called me last night using their auto-dial feature.

*Reminder #1: We should wash our hands and not send our children to school if they have a fever. Using Tylenol to make the fever go down doesn't count and is not helpful in the least.

*Reminder #2: Fever or not, don't send your children to school on Wednesday because it is a holiday. If they get a fever on Wednesday, refer to reminder #1.

*The Cheerful Teaching Assistant has the flu.

*She came to work on Tuesday. For, like, five minutes.

*Then she had to go home because standing up was getting challenging.

*I bleached her desk.

*And her chair.

*And every other surface I could think of.

*Poor CTA. She was not cheerful. Not at all.

*We are crossing our fingers and thinking good thoughts for her recovery.

*The student absence list was, once again, 9 pages long yesterday.

*I'm torn between feeling badly for the afflicted and thinking maybe they should all go live on an island somewhere until they can prove to me that they are healthy.

*Still no flu shots.

*I don't care what shot they give me. It doesn't have to be "swine."

*It could be "Bird."

*It could be "Anteater" for all I care.

* We are open to all the possibilities at this point.

*I forgot to take pictures of the spinning today.

*I was distracted.


*Missing carpet cleaner thingie parts.

*Possible national monument in my kitchen

*Possible natural disaster caused by the cat in my kitchen.

*It was a full day...

It's back to work for this educator tomorrow. If I can survive that, I'll be in the home stretch. Just one more day and it's the weekend all over again. Not bad for a week with two Fridays. Or two Saturdays depending on your perspective...


Monday, November 09, 2009

In The Plague Years...

Sheepie is, once again, sitting in her classroom and waiting for parent conferences that may or may not happen. In fact, I do have one scheduled this time. But it's not until 5:30 and I've got a ways to go before anyone deigns to converse with me. On the plus side, this round of conferences only goes until 7:00. On the negative, that is still a long time to sit and wait for someone to tell me I can go home.

Frankly, home is where I'd rather be. I was awakened at 2:00 this morning by my tummy who wanted to let me know that it didn't appreciate all that 1/2 priced Halloween candy I ate over the weekend. It was most insistent that I read that memo. When I ignored it and tried to go back to sleep, the tummy ratcheted up the warning and forced me to listen.

I do not care for throwing up. I like it even less at 2:00 in the morning. In general, I am not a fan of the whole, sorry process.

Trouper that I am, though, I still got out of bed at 5:00 and readied myself for another school day. Given that it is parent/teacher conference night, I couldn't really take a sick day. Besides, my tummy was now satisfied that I'd heard its concerns and had settled down markedly.

When the first bell rang, I had no students. None. A few straggled in later, but it took a while and I never saw everyone I was supposed to see. When the attendance report was emailed, I figured out why.

It was nine pages long. Over a hundred kids out sick. Almost forty more were dismissed throughout the course of the day. Even if you don't factor in those who took advantage of the mass dismissals or who may have been the victim of a little panic-sickness, that's still a whole lot of kids who needed to be sent home. If the reports are correct, that was close to 30% of the school's student body.

Did I mention that I still don't have a flu shot? Great...

It was a pretty quiet day here at Education Central. When you run out of kids to teach, you have to be kind of creative with your time. When you develop a case of the sniffles before noon, it is even more important that you find something to do or else you will start thinking the worst. That helps no one.

So here I sit in my classroom or, as I like to call it, Ground Zero. The plague swirls all around me just waiting for an opportunity to pounce and there isn't a darned thing I can do about it. I've used the bleach wipes on every available surface and sanitized my hands so much that they are raw. It's in the hands of fate now.

If you are scheduled to meet with me tonight to conference about your child's progress, I should be fairly easy to locate. I'll be the one in the room reeking of bleach, knitting a hat and wearing a hazmat suit..


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Crazy Is Contextual

The Cheerful Teaching Assistant and I were reminiscing about last year's ice storm the other day. It was quite the event and left many people stranded without power for up to a week. There are lots of good stories to tell about those days.

Truth be told, however, this wasn't how the conversation started. It really began as she was expressing her concern over my need to put together an In Case I Get The Flu And Am Quarantined For God Knows How Long plan. This, of course, forced me to explain my theories around how planning for something ensures that it will never happen. The fact that I now have a packet of materials for the staff to use should I be stricken with the flu and still not sporting a flu shot is really something that should comfort, not cause panic. The plan's existence, I told her, ensures that I shall live forever.

We then got to talking about how prudent planning can easily cross the line into obsessive behavior requiring medication. Except when it works. I was pretty lucky last year when the ice rained down upon our heads. I only had to live without power for 24 hours. Others went for days. Still, the fact that I had a working TV, hot food and a relatively comfortable time of it was a bit of a triumph.

It was a little island of smug sanity in an otherwise sea full of crazy. The CTA suggested that my having planned for something that probably wouldn't happen but then did gave me the opportunity to experience even more of that righteous golden glow with the telling of the tale. I, however, maintain that it all still sounds a bit crazy. My one moment came when I was sitting down to a hot dinner while everyone else ate crackers. That will have to suffice.

Crazy is only crazy when it fits the context. The fact that I purchased my emergency supplies because, deep down, I worry that zombies will one day rise from their graves and wander around looking for hapless shoppers pretty much means that I am one step away from getting fitted for a tin foil hat. The day that Mother Nature decided to make a point and those same supplies came in handy I looked like a forward thinking genius. It's all in how you look at it.

Contextual Craziness has other applications, too. For example, when Sheepie makes her way to the checkout line at the dollar store carrying twelve collapsible cat tunnels she does not look sane. If Sheepie had any doubts about this, they could be put to rest by the look on the cashier's face as she counted them. Twice. Sheepie, not being one to suffer that look for long, will always feel the need to explain herself.

I know. There's twelve of them. But my Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty really loves these things and he plays with them until they are in tatters. You don't have them in stock very often so when they come in, I have to get a bunch. I figure he can have one per month and that should cover us for the next year. I'm not crazy. Honest. This makes total sense. The ones at the other stores are really expensive and he shreds them just as fast. Buying a year's worth of cat tunnels is perfectly logical if you look at it from a fiscal standpoint. No, really! I know I look like the Crazy Cat Lady here, but I'm really a very responsible and penny-wise pet owner! And I even left a couple for other people who might want them...

OK. So maybe this is one of those times where the explanation makes me look more crazy, but the further I got into it the more I felt I needed to explain. Before I knew it I was knee deep in elaboration and couldn't escape. I probably won't be going to the local dollar store again for a while.

I don't care. I have twelve cat tunnels and, crazy or not, I feel satisfied with my lot in life. The AGK loves them and I love the AGK. If he wants cat tunnels and if they make him happy, then cat tunnels he shall have! Besides, it's the only toy that works when I need to distract him so I can get out the door and go to work in the morning. The next time he destroys a tunnel, I shall have one at the ready!

I luvz my Kat Kaves! Don' luv that my mama hydz themz in the clawset, tho....

I fail to see the attraction. I'd rather sit here on the remote and change the channels. That is much more entertaining.

Different strokes for different folks. Or cats. I guess everyone has their weakness. I like planning for disasters that may never come to pass. The AGK likes to run around with a cheap, nylon tube over his head and smash into the furniture. The Big, Fluffy Kitty likes to control our television viewing. We all have our areas of expertise.

I wish I'd been as forward thinking with the knitting, though. With the holidays looming, I guess it's time to accept that this is going to be another year where I don't exactly make the cut with knitted gifting. I didn't plan very well. The clock was ticking and I missed the opportunity. Rather than go into a panic and try to knit 15 pairs of mittens before December 24th rolls around, I decided to just accept the situation. When life gives you lemons, you might as well see if you can still make yarn twist around and bend to your will. You can just knit up a squarish thing for the heck of it. It's fun and it takes your mind of things like natural disasters, the H1N1 virus and whether or not the zombies will make an appearance before you can get the marketing done.

Proof of cabling.

I'm sure I can find a use for a cool, cabled, squarish thingie. Who couldn't? Even if I can't, I'll still sleep well tonight knowing that I am all set should there be a world-wide shortage of Kat Kaves. Heck, I even made a grocery store run and finally remembered to get batteries for the camera! And half price Halloween candy that I didn't need but bought because I was afraid someone else would get it! And instant noodles that will keep in the cupboard forever in case the zombies come!

Sometimes I'm crazy in context. Other times, it's just a lifestyle...


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Running Hot And Cold

Wednesday is the middle of the week. It is the day after staff meetings happen at my school. This time, it is the day after an election, as well. I'm reasonably certain that it is also a night when there is something good on TV, but I'm not sure just what that something is. Lastly, it is also time for the Wednesday Night Bullet Post. In the grand scheme of things, that is a high point. Especially given my failure to identify satisfactory television fare.

*I was scheduled to attend a training at the high school today.

*I thought I was going to have to go very late and sneak in the back.

*Turns out, I was able to get out of school more easily than planned.

*And so it was that I was only a little bit late.

*Still had to sneak in the back, though.

*The heat in my classroom has been stuck in the "on" position for a month.

*It is hot in there.

*The heat at the Professional Development Center is stuck in the "off" position.

*It is very cold in there.

*It was like going from the desert to the arctic tundra in the space of fifteen minutes.

*That's a whole lotta traveling for a Wednesday!

*I finished up the very cool, cabled, squarish thingy last night.

*Just need to block 'er up!

*Let's see how long it takes me to get that task done.

*Casting off = finishing.

*Except for the part where you aren't quite done.

*Then there's weaving in the ends.

*It's like a never-ending process, this finishing thing!!!!!!

*Today's training was kind of like that.

*It should have and could have been done in two hours.

*But it wasn't. It just kept going.

*And going.

*And going...

*That's OK. The trainer was very nice and I still got to come home 45 minutes early.

*I had to blast the heat the whole way home, though.

*Arctic tundra.

*Maine was unable to successfully block the repeal of the law supporting Equality In Marriage.

*It was close...but that is cold comfort.

*I'm not in the mood for gloating right now, so please use caution when commenting tonight.

*I'm sure I can be more open-minded and perhaps even wicked articulate on the matter later in the week.

*For now, I'm just grumpy.

*Or still cold from a day in the arctic tundra.

*Either way, I'm sort of snappish.

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty is very happy these days.

*I've been closing the drapes early since the darkness falls by late afternoon.

*There is nothing an AGK loves more than jumping up on his kitty perch and rolling himself up in the drapes on a chilly autumn evening.

*I anticipate the bending and eventual snapping of the curtain rod within a week or so.

*I know this because it will be the second curtain rod I've replaced in a year.

*Sometimes he likes to climb the drapes. That will also bend the rod.

*But he only does this when he's tired of climbing the shower curtain liner and sliding down as it shreds under the massive weight of his gi-normousness.

*It's nice to have a cat who can keep himself entertained.

*We keep the drapery and shower curtain liner people in business, too.

*We do our part for the economy in these challenging times...

So ends another Wednesday here in Sheepie Land. I'm almost thawed out from my day in the arctic tundra and trying to figure out what to wear tomorrow when I return to the desert. There is also reason to believe that I will be blocking a cabled, squarish thingy tonight, too. But don't let's get our hopes up on that one. We don't want to rush the endless finishing of things, after all. Here's hoping that your Wednesday was delightful and that the perfect room temperature was yours to enjoy!


Monday, November 02, 2009

A Boy Of Few Words

Last Friday, the boy who is Gauged And Aerodynamic had a few things to say. This is noteworthy because, of all my students, he is the one with the least inclination to "share." Nor is he particularly enamoured of those who tend to share without reservation.

In fact, the few times he has spoken up, it has been to point out my tendency to gab. He is not a fan. I like to think that he is trying to be helpful and that he just doesn't always find the right words to most clearly express himself. I don't believe he truly thinks that I never shut up or that the sound of my voice is enough to put him to sleep just for the escape value.

He has gotten rather good at tuning me out most of the time. He turns those aerodynamic ears my way when there are directions to be heard, but isn't all that interested in my irrelevant chatter. I sometimes picture my words shooting right through those gi-normous holes he's managed to stretch into his lobes...

This is why I was so surprised when he inserted himself into a conversation I was having with the Cheerful Teaching Assistant regarding the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty and the effects of his new game. He likes to sit in the chair by the wall that I pass on my way to other parts of the manse. He particularly enjoys waiting until bedtime then reaching out and snagging my pajama bottoms as I make my way to bed. More than once, he has actually managed to rearrange my sleepwear in such a way as to render me indecent.

I didn't tell this part of the story at school, though. My students don't need that mental image and they are all too busy learning to take time out of the day for therapy. It would require lots of time on the couch for the average kid to erase the image of his teacher losing her drawers, right?

But the essence of the tale was G-rated so I told it without the gratuitous nudity. I bemoaned my situation with this poorly behaved feline and wondered how I would manage while I waited for the AGK to find another source of entertainment. That's when Gauged And Aerodynamic suddenly sprang to life:

GAA: He just wants some attention.

Ms. Sheep: Pardon?

GAA: Your cat. The one with the weird name.

MS: Prometheus.

GAA: Yeah. That's weird. And he just wants attention.

MS: He gets lots of attention.

GAA: Doesn't look like it to me.

MS: Well, he does! Plus, it's bedtime when he does this and that is not playtime for kitties.

GAA: Do you ever pat him on the head when you go by? Did you ever think he might just want a pat on the head?

MS: He bites. Really hard. He can lock his jaws like one of those pit bulls...

GAA: Or how about a little scratch under the chin? Is that too much to ask? He'd love that and it would only take a minute.

MS: I scratch his chin all the time! It's just that it's bedtime...

GAA: I'll bet you don't even tell him, "Good night." That poor cat is feeling like you don't even care!

MS: But...

GAA: (returns to his computer game, shaking his head disapprovingly)

It is always disconcerting to be chastised regarding how to give your cat snuggle-wuggums by a kid who's overall style would fit in better at a punk rock festival. It is worse when you feel that you have somehow disappointed him even if you know you are not neglecting your Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty. The fact that he feels secure enough to playfully yank down my jammie bottoms without fear of retribution should illustrated that rather well.

My cat is not lacking for attention. Of that I was certain. I thought it interesting that this was the longest speech I'd ever heard from GAA, but put no stock in his words. I figured he was either having me on or just tuned out all my other cat stories which involve me showering my fur babies with love and crunchy treats.

Then I came home to discover that the AGK had gotten ahold of a skein of cotton and flung it all over the living room.

As I was meandering around the manse, painstakingly following the trail of yarn in order that I might rewind it without having to actually move any furniture, I wondered if I might have been too blase about the matter. Could GAA have been right? Was I not paying enough attention to my poor boy? Were the words of the kid with holes in his ear an inch in diameter really pearls of wisdom? And had I cast them aside without giving them the consideration they deserved?

I resolved to bring the matter up again on Monday.

I didn't get to it until the end of the day today, but I finally cornered my new Kitty Guru to see if he had any further thoughts on how I might be a better parent to my furry son. I hoped that my taking the matter more seriously would give a boost to GAA. Surely he must have been agonizing over my inability to understand what he'd been trying to tell me only three short days ago. I explained to him at length how I came to my new realization of his genius and asked that he please tell me more about his theories on cat parenting.

He listened patiently then looked at me like I was insane. He had no memory of this conversation and told me so in five words or less. Then he went back to his computer game, the same one he was playing when this whole thing started.

And now I've missed my chance to find out how I can pay more attention to my cat and save my poor yarn from further abuse. I'll try the pat on the head thing tonight. Maybe that will work. I only need one hand to hold up my pajama bottoms, after all...


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Victim Of Battery

It is my belief that having an extra hour in the day should put a person is more on the alert end of the spectrum. If you should happen to wake up at 6:00 in the morning, the fact that the clocks were all set back to Standard Time the night before means that it is really 7:00. Why, a body should barely need coffee at that point!

Not so for me this morning. I woke up groggy, disoriented and out of sorts. The feeling persisted all through the daily routine.

Perhaps it was due to the fact that I had no trick-or-treaters last night and was literally forced to consume candy before it went bad. We hate to waste candy when there are so many who have none. Yet a sugar overload can make for a rumbly tummy.

Then there was the whole milk mozzarella I mentioned in an earlier tweet. I am not of an age where milk in it's entirety is a good idea. In fact, it is a very bad idea if the memos from my digestive tract were any indication. I swear to you that the gurgling was beginning to sound like actual words for a while there. And none of them were complimentary regarding my dietary choices last night...

I didn't sleep well and that could have been part of the problem. My neighbors, who are generally lovely people and who would certainly come to my aid should my hair ever catch fire, seem to have upgraded their kickin' sound system. They mean well and try hard to keep it turned down. However, their inability to understand that sound is a vibrational phenomenon or that bass coming from a speaker installed on a shared wall will be both heard and felt no matter what the volume is an ongoing concern of mine. They really do try, bless them. And they are so nice that it's hard to stay mad, especially when they confine their wall-rattling to the weekends. But it does not make for a restful night at home.

It could have been all or none of these things that made me so logy today. I was highly unfocused and that is never a good thing when a girl has a to-do list on her hands. My trip to the grocery store this morning was fraught with moments where I simply couldn't recall why I was there or what I needed. Finally, I found myself nearing the checkout with what I hoped were useful items in my basket and then I got hopelessly off track. They had cereal on sale for 88 cents. I'm not much of a cereal fan, but this stuff was frosted and who doesn't like things that are frosted for under a dollar??? Plus, the box promised me not one, but TWO Boxtops For Education coupons! I may be bad about sending those things to Trek on time in order that she might add them to her collection. But that doesn't mean I don't like to keep stockpiling them for the day when I actually remember to mail them.

Frosted cereal for less than a buck with double boxtops was just about the end of me. Between that and my bleary state, I'm surprised I ended up at the right house when all was said and done. The day continued in its ridiculous fashion. Finally, after a rather frustrating moment where I discovered a weird dangly yarn bit at the back of the cool, cabled squarish thingy I've been knitting, I decided to call it quits. I don't like to nap too much on a Sunday for fear I'll mess up my bed time routine, but this was an emergency. There may have been an extra hour of sleep on the books, but it had done me little good. I needed to crash on the couch before something truly horrific happened.

It wasn't until I awoke that I realized what I'd done. Or, more accurately, what I hadn't done. After writing an entire blog post about them, thinking about them non-stop for hours and planning this morning's whole grocery store trip around them, I really believed that I could manage to obtain them and put my life to rights again. But, apparently I couldn't.

Because I still don't have any AA batteries.

I'll probably have to call in sick to work tomorrow. It's not like I can function until I get batteries and I probably shouldn't be trusted with the care of children anyway.