Thursday, December 31, 2009

Railroaded Resolutions

Greetings, Sheepie!

We hope that this New Year's Eve finds you well and that you have plenty of snacks to keep you occupied until the stroke of 12:00. We also trust that you are well stocked with decongestants and tissues as that seems to be something you are going through rather quickly today.

All is well down here in the knitting basket for the most part. We, the unfinished projects continue to sit here and wait for the day you take one of us up for a bit. In fact, we rather look forward to that. Many is the night we've all stayed up until the wee hours sharing our personal dreams of being cast off rather cast aside. Just the other day, the half-hat wrote a stirring ballad about the joys of blocking, causing one of the fingerless mitts to sob for an hour. I think she wants a mate, but who could tell with all that wailing and whatnot?

Please don't mistake that as any sort of pressure, though. We know how you get when you feel like you are being railroaded into doing something you don't want to do. Honestly, this is just a friendly little shout-out from your friends down in the knitting basket. We miss you and wanted to say hello.

We also know how you feel about New Year's Resolutions. Many is the time we've heard your rant on how they never seem to come to fruition and that they cause more pressure than they do encouragement. The sock without toes can almost repeat it verbatim. Really, it's quite well done. He does your voice almost perfectly. If you ever get the chance, you should stop by and listen to it sometime. The shawl you said you'd have done for Christmas laughs so hard she can barely hold onto her lifelines.

No. We are not here to suggest that you suddenly take up the making of resolutions. Far be it from us to tell you how to live your life. We merely want to remind you of our existence and of how much we miss you. It would be nice to spend some time with you again.

So, should you ever decided to make a resolution, we'd appreciate it if you'd give us a little consideration. We have been here in the knitting basket for a long time. We are patient, but it is still hurtful to be forgotten. No one is admitting anything, but it is possible that there are even a few things in here from 2007 and 2008. Some might even be older. It's hard to tell, though. You know how the handknits can be. They don't ever want to admit their true ages.

However, that thing trimmed in fun fur needs to accept reality. She's fooling no one.

Again, we absolutely do not want you to feel any pressure whatsoever. This missive is all about wishing you a very Happy New Year and good knitting in 2010. Hoist a glass of diet cola for us tonight, dear knitter! We join you in ringing in a glorious new 365!

And if you happen to resolve to finish a few knitted projects this year, we wouldn't object.

With Love,
The Gang Down In The Knitting Basket

I see their point. I really do. And, while I won't make an actual resolution, I suppose I could admit that it might be necessary to consider finishing some of that stuff. Not the fun fur, though. Some things are best left unfinished. Other items, however, really should be off the needles this year. If nothing else, it would clear out some space.

I can't make any promises, though. I've got another note from the spinning wheel and it doesn't look to be nearly as nicely worded. I may need to attend to that situation first...

Happy New Year, everyone!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last Bullets Of '09

Well, here we are. The final Wednesday Night Bullet Post Of The Year. My, how the time does fly! Let's get right down to it, shall we?

*I may or may not have a sinus infection.

*The doctor is out of the office and symptoms were discussed rather than demonstrated.

*Since I have a refill left on my last antibiotic, there was no real need for doctoral intervention.

*Just agreement.

*I forgot to fill the prescription when I went to the store today.

*These things happen...

*The Indoor Sweater is dead.

*And buried.


*Anticipated Blog Reaction: Oh no! Sheepie! All those hours...wasted! The horror!!!

*Sheepish Response: It's OK. Knitting is a hobby and something I enjoy. I like doing it, even when it doesn't work out. I learned a lot from this project and have no regrets.

*The sweater sleeps with the fishes.

*And the used kitty litter.

*In the trash can.

*Anticipated Blog Reaction: But, Sheepie! How could you? All those poor sheep gave their lives so that you could knit and then you so carelessly toss the yarn because it wouldn't bend to your will? For SHAME!!!

*Sheepish Response: Relax. No sheep were harmed in the making of this disaster. I hardly ever fail to finish sweaters with real wool. For obvious reasons...

*100% acrylic, baby.

*Anticipated Blog Reaction: Landfills, Sheepie! LANDFILLS!!!!!!!!

*Sheepish Response: You got me there.

*Still not going to go get it out from under the used kitty litter, though.

*I'll owe the planet a favor.

*I am excited to be on vacation this week.

*But I keep it at a reasonable level.

*And some of the thrill has worn off with the passing of time because I am a normal person.

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty remains giddy with joy over the whole business.

*His new Favorite Thing is to race between my feet when I am walking.

*He's come close to killing me at least three times today.

*By now, I should have devised a working Walking Plan.

*Mostly I have it all worked out.

*But sometimes I forget.

*That's when he does his best work.

*Should've given the sweater to the AGK.

*That would have been fitting.

*It's even worse when you are taking cold medications to drain the packed sinus cavities.

*Loopy Sheepie.

*Gamboling AGK.

*You do the math...

*Big plans for tomorrow night.

*Appetizers for dinner. Movie. Knitting.

*We live large over here at the manse.

Happy Last Wednesday Of 2009, everyone! If I survive the attentions of my cat, I look forward to the first WNBP of '10! Worst case scenario, I'll blog it from my hospital bed where I'll possibly be knitting a new sweater. Or not.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Not So Fair Isle

I remember the outside. A little bit, anyway.

In my mind's eye, it is a place filled with happy people, warm breezes and singing birdies. Sometimes I get a little carried away and start seeing streets paved with chocolate and fields of flowering shoe plants but that's only when I forget to breathe properly. Even in my more lucid moments, though, I can't really trust my cognitive skills. "Outside" is not something I can really recall with any clarity.

I haven't left the house all day.

That's not true. I took the trash out to The Dumpster Where The Zombies Live. That doesn't really count, though. I was rushing because of the mottled, gray hand I know is going to one day burst out of the refuse at me. I didn't really get to enjoy "outside," or even register that I was there.

It's that stupid sweater. Mel suggested that I probably offended the Knitting Gods when I dared to call it by its true name rather than referring to it as The Dishcloth like I usually do with this kind of knitting. He's probably right. However, most of the drama associated with this thing stems from mistakes I made (and forgot about) last summer. Since I was dutifully following the Blog Sweater Curse Rules back then, I'm at a loss to explain the whole matter.

Recent knitting hasn't gone badly at all. I even did something vaguely Fair Isle-ish-except-not-really-because-I-don't-think-using-only-two-colors-counts. I'm on the second neck decrease and have had few problems. I should be celebrating right now.

But, I'm not. Every time I work a round, I find some error from knitting days gone by. I've spent more time fudging little repairs than I have actually knitting. It's crazy! And keeping me inside which will probably result in my getting Rickets or something.

I know what you're thinking. I should probably just let it go. I accepted a long time ago that this is never going to be a garment that will be worn outside the house. Unless, of course, there is an eclipse. I'd wear it during a full eclipse of the sun unless there were other knitters around. For the most part, though, this is going to be an Indoor/Laundry Day Sweater.

Even if it is a wasted effort, I'm still going to finish it. Then I'm going to photograph it and post it on Ravelry just like it was what I meant to do all along. I'm just going to have to arrange it somewhat "artfully" so that no one sees the true horror of my Indoor Sweater. It is highly unlikely that there will be a full eclipse of the sun every time someone views my knitting nightmare.

I'm going to do all this just to say that I finished. I figure I'll also probably learn a few lessons along the way given that I've not done much in the way of color work before this. For example, I've already learned what the book means when it says to "keep the floats loose." My puckery Indoor Sweater has been quite the tutor on that matter. If only for that lesson, I suppose the time spent away from the sunshine has been worth it.

And yes. I do, in fact, see the irony of my Indoor Sweater being the thing that has kept me inside all day...


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Through Yarn Colored Glasses...

Remember the other day when I was struggling to get through the Christmas prep and I mentioned how the memory of that stress would vanish with time? It happens every year. I am up to my elbows in flour and half-wrapped gifts and swearing that next Yuletide, I'll use this misuse of my time as a reminder to be better prepared for this event. Never again will I put everything off until the last second! Never! I even give some thought to writing these words of wisdom down somewhere so I'll see it all year long.

Then the holiday comes. I am exhausted and it passes in a blur, but my memories of it are tinged with a warm, golden glow. The bad stuff just...vanishes.

The Sheep Family had a lovely holiday. There was a bit of an incident with the ham, I'm afraid. There was every reason to believe that the piggy might be unfit for human consumption. However, Mommy and Daddy Sheep are nothing if not paragons of Teamwork In Parenting and handled the situation deftly. If the worst you can say about Christmas is that you got yummy chicken instead of yummy (and perhaps a little deadly) ham, then you have nothing over which to fuss.

It's like the hours spent with the last minute baking and tape wrangling never happened. Now that all that business is behind me, I find myself facing a vacation. I am in need of something to do to fill the empty hours now that I am without my students and their eager pursuit of knowledge. Whatever is a girl to do? Fortunately, I have a few things around here with which to keep myself entertained. In fact, I thought of a little something that I could finish up from last summer!

I had this sweater that I was working on. Everything was going swimmingly until I got the the part where I wanted to do a little Fair Isle. Not much. Just a little. To keep things interesting, you see...

There were issues. Not big ones. Little ones. I was just a tad off when it came to the stitch count and I needed to tink back a few rows to adjust the pattern. No biggie. But it was hot and school was soon to start. I didn't really have the patience for that kind of thing just then. I vividly recall thinking to myself, "I should just set this aside until I can give it my full attention. The fixes are simple, but we want to make sure we are in the zone. Otherwise, we might make a mess of things! Gosh, I sure am an amazing person to have made such a responsible decision."

Apparently, the glitch in the brain that lets you remember holidays as made-for-TV-movies also applies to knitting projects. Who knew?

I pulled the sweater out today and dutifully tinked back to a point where I could re-knit the yoke. That's when I realized that there were more problems going on with this thing than I remembered. The stitch count isn't even close to what I wrote down when I stuffed the sweater in the bag back in August. There is a mysterious hole in one of the sleeves but no dropped stitch that I can see. There is, however, evidence that I performed an inelegant repair at that spot so clearly I was aware of this mistake at some point. There are two strands of yarn looping from one side of the sweater to the other that appear to have no purpose whatsoever but which are firmly attached to the fabric.

I don't know exactly what happened here. Nor do I want to. Sometimes knitting is like Christmas. It's better if you think of it as having gone perfectly and then just show the pictures where no one is glaring at anyone else or falling face first into the eggnog. I'm forging ahead with the sweater as if nothing horrific happened. I'll wear it at home. Or take it out once a year to look at it and remember the happy days of knitting represented in each stitch.

It's better that way.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Must Be Christmas Now!

I never quite got into the spirit of the holidays this year. I tried. I did all that stuff one does to prepare. I put on seasonal music. I trimmed a tree. Then I sort of fizzled out.

It just never felt like Christmas...

Now, though, I get it. It is Christmas Eve. I know this. I am very good at picking up on the little signals. And they are everywhere this night.

The kitchen is destroyed and covered in flour. I am still trying to make bread happen and ignoring the fact that I could have easily done all this days or even weeks ago. If I think about that too much, I will cry.

The living room is littered with bits of wrapping paper and gifts as yet unfestooned. The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty has thoroughly enjoyed this exercise in adhesives and bows. When he wasn't wrapping himself, he was hiding behind me and untying my shoelaces.

The Christmas cards that I never sent are mocking me from the table where I left them back when I believed I could actually pull off this holiday.

The Big, Fluffy Kitty hasn't been seen all day because she's lived here long enough to know that I'm going to begin chewing through the lights on the tree soon and she hates to see that. The sparking and sizzling is disconcerting to BFKs.

After I gave up wrapping presents and started sucking a candy cane into a fine point perfect for gouging out my own cold, cold heart, the AGK decided to go after the tree again. He has a new strategy for blending.

I makes mine eyeballs glow an' I lookes like lites! Mama didn't sees me at ALL!!!

Yup. It's Christmas. There is no doubt about it. And, while I'm feeling the pressure now, I'm sure I'll get it all done. I always do. Mostly. And what doesn't get done has never stopped the day from coming before. That's just how Christmas works. Then, when it's all over, I find myself remembering it as the best Christmas ever. I'll be thinking of it fondly come next December 24th and wishing things could be as easy as they were back then in those happy days of yore.

I am now off to finish wrapping, baking and chasing cats out of Christmas trees. I'll leave you with this lovely and traditional carol in order that you, too, might find the spirit of the season.

Merry Christmas To All And To All A Good Night!!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry WNBP!

The holiday clock is ticking down and panic can't be far behind. Tonight, however, I'm not feeling it. I'm basking in the glow of my first vacation day and saving the nervous tics for tomorrow. Here's your bullet points for the week:

*It was a good feeling to leave the store today with the holiday shopping done.

*I thought of a couple more things I'd like to get, but decided to be frugal and satisfied with what I had.

*I was proud.

*Gifts for all. And most purchased in October and November!

*Apparently I have some sort of syndrome that causes me to believe I purchased things I did not.

*Still missing one gift.

*Back out there tomorrow to make the holiday magic happen.

*There should be a telethon for people like me...

*I knit a whole cuff and half a heel flap during the past two days of teacher workshops.

*Couldn't even look at that sock today.

*Reminded me of being trapped in teacher workshops the week of Christmas.

*Preferable to being trapped with students, but still...

*Last workshop of the day: Getting To Know Our School Safety Plan.

*Also known as: How To Survived Being Trapped In The School With Your Students.

*I called it: The Art Of Tunnelling Out Of A Third Floor Classroom With A Protractor.

*Baked some bread today.

*Nine rolls aren't going to be enough for Christmas dinner.

*Need to focus here. Fo...CUS!!!

*Got distracted by the zombie killing game.

*Didn't blow up the mall this time. The world is safe.

*Wii controller went haywire after a while, though.

*Had to walk backwards all the way to the security office where everyone is hiding.

*And where I can save the dumb game so I don't have to deal with that stupid bomb in the mall again.

*Issues with competing electronics in my building, I think.

*That or the zombies are smarter than I thought.

Well, it's about that time. I should either bake some more rolls or see if the wii controller is ready to do my bidding again. It's going to be one of those. That or I'll watch TV until bedtime and then almost fall asleep before I remember the rolls...


Monday, December 21, 2009

Tickle Timing

There are lots of places where coughing is a bad idea. Tons of them.

For example, it is a bad idea to cough at an auction. One false move and suddenly you're the winning bidder. You are the proud owner of a cracked chamber pot that may or may not have once been used by George Washington and the possible evidence is still contained within. All because of a cough.

It is also a bad idea to cough if you are hiding. Or if you are defusing a bomb. Or at the movies because people just hate that. The list of places where you shouldn't cough is endless.

And now I can add one more. You should not cough at a workshop entitled Public Enemy #1: The Spanish Influenza of 1918.

I tried to fight it. When I felt that first little tickle at the back of my throat, I knew that I shouldn't cough. Frankly, I think it was that bit of insight that made things worse. There was too much pressure. Before I knew it, the first bark erupted.

"Well, that wasn't very good," I thought. "But at least it's over."

It wasn't. The tickle kept right on doing its thing. It wasn't a "sick" cough. It was a "tickle" cough. But any cough that can't be controlled is going to sound "sick" after a while. And the more you try to stop it, the more insistent it will be.

There are two kinds of people who sign up for a workshop on an historical pandemic. The first are the history teachers. They mostly want to develop relevant curriculum. The rest of us are all paranoid types who want to learn as much as possible about the history of disease because we are morbid and weird. It was that second group that worried me. They didn't care that I was One Of Them.

Finally, I had to leave to go find some water. The tickle wasn't giving up. In fact, the tickle was tickled pink by the situation as far as I could tell. Even the rational history buffs were starting to get a little nervous as I sputtered and hacked. It was only a matter of time before I was quarantined in a closet or burned at the stake.

The tickle wasn't easily beat back and still caused some problems upon my return to the workshop. By then, the discussion had turned to the more recent H1N1 outbreak and how it compared to that of 1918. I wasn't coughing as much. But even a little cough was an issue under those circumstances. Sidelong glances became the order of the day.

Once the workshop was done, the tickle went away. It didn't come back. I could have used it by the last session when an exit would have been welcome and I wouldn't have cared who thought I was a plague carrier. Stupid tickle...

On the bright side, I managed to knit up about four inches of sock cuff. Workshops are good for knitting time. You sit, you knit and you pretend to listen. Before you know it, you have a goodly amount of progress on The Sock That Is Disturbingly Sparkled.

Tomorrow promises to be a great knitting day. There are no "choice" workshops. Everything is assigned and involves "collaborative time." I'll probably knit a whole sock and have time to whip up a couple of dishcloths while I'm at it. Boring agenda? Oh yeah...

And you just know that the tickle won't cooperate.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's Not My Fault. It Was The Zombies.

Three Conversations That Explain Everything. Excuses In Three Parts.

Part The First:

Ms. Sheep: (picking up the phone) Hello? Ms. Sheep speaking. If this is the call she's been waiting for regarding her bid for early retirement, please speak slowly and clearly.

Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Front Desk: Nope. Just me.

MS: Oh. That's OK, too.

MSWSATFD: Guess what?

MS: No. I'm too tired.

MSWSATFD: Didn't figure you'd do it. Just had to try. Any-hoo...I brought you a Christmas Tree! Can I bring it up?

MS: Sure. That'll make things festive here in The Land The School District Forgot.

MSWSATFD: Wait'll you see it! It's little and has lights and I made special decorations for it!

MS: Do tell...

MSWSATFD: Zombies!!!! I printed out lots and lots of zombie pictures and pasted them to colorful papers! It's a Zombie Christmas Tree!!!

MS: You are the best Secretary Who Sits At The Front Desk EVER!!!!

Part The Second:

Cheerful Teaching Assistant: (looking up from her laptop) Can I ask you a question?

Ms. Sheep: Sure. As long as you aren't pinning your hopes on my having an answer.

CTA: If you were in the city and it was overrun by zombies, what's a good hiding place? Like a fortress?

MS: There's lots of places. I'd look for a school, though. Most schools are pretty well fortified and have multiple floors. They have kitchens, bathrooms and shower facilities. Lots of advantages.

CTA: I was thinking a bank might work.

MS: No.

CTA: Really? If the zombies got in, you could lock yourself in the vault...

MS: Where you'd die.

CTA: No, I think the zombies would give up after a while.

MS: Maybe. But how would you get out of the vault? Some are designed to open from the inside, but if the power is out you can't be sure. And what if it's airtight? Too many things we don't know. I'd find a school. Avoid the hospitals, police stations and fire stations. If you stumble across a deserted prison, that might work, too. Kind of risky, though.

CTA: Thanks. A school it is. (returns to her laptop and begins typing furiously)

Part The Third:

Ms. Sheep: Hi, Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Front Desk!

Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Front Desk: Well, hello Ms. Sheep! What can I do for you?

MS: Have you ever played that game? The one where the guy is in the mall and he has to fight off the zombies with lawn mowers and chainsaws and stuff?

MSWSATFD: Oh, yes! It's a hoot!

MS: Should I get it?

MSWSATFD: I have that game. Would you like to borrow it first? I have to go pick up the paychecks today and it would only take me a minute to stop at my house. I'd be happy to do it.

MS: I love you. Deeply. Truly. Passionately.

MSWSATFD: Is that a "yes?"

The Zombie Christmas Tree? I forgot to take a picture of it before taking it apart so MSWSATFD could return the tree to her daughter. I kept the ornaments, though and they are now dangling merrily from a plastic palm in my classroom. Maybe I'll get a picture of that at some point for you. Suffice it to say, though, it was awesome and got me thinking about zombies more than I usually do. Which is a lot...

The conversation on Urban Fortresses? That was the CTA's research for a very clever Christmas present. She made me an interchangeable Zombie Survival Form with laminated pictures that can be swapped out and held in place with hook and loop tape. She also gave me a desktop Whack-A-Zombie with a nice little book on the undead that I read to the students while they noshed on holiday cookies yesterday. A very wholesome, seasonal scene, if I do say so myself.

And the game? Well, that has taken up more of my life than I care to admit since I got home yesterday. Killing zombies in a mall is a time honored tradition, after all. You can't just set the controller down and go about your business while there are people trapped in the food court. That would be wrong!!!!

Which is my very lengthy way of explaining why The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach got a scarf for Christmas instead of the fingerless mitts I was knitting for her.

It wasn't my fault the mitts didn't get finished. I was really close. Honest. But other people thwarted me. They threw up all kinds of roadblocks. I was helpless to resist.

My stylist liked the scarf. Loved it, in fact. So did everyone else in the shop. There was a great deal of leaping from chairs and fondling of knitted fabric. It all worked out.

So let's not tell her about the mitts. Maybe next year, people won't toss all those zombies in my path. There could be mitts in 2010 if there are fewer distractions...


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weakly WNBP

It is Wednesday. I know this because my calendar, my computer and about fifty different staff people at my school told me this. Watching the days? Counting the hours? Not me! No, sirree-bob!

Let's take a look at today's bullet points!

*A situation blew up at school yesterday.

*The one I told people about.

*The one I have been dealing with for a long time and which I have repeatedly begged be addressed.

*Big blow up. Epic.

*People are still talking about it.

*I didn't say, "I told you so."

*I implied it.

*Didn't outright say it.

*Now everyone is scrambling to deal with the problem that I have been containing and warning people about.

*I had to have the Cheerful Teaching Assistant check my emails today before I sent them out.

*Snark Patrol.

*I'm not kidding. I came very close to sending an email that ended with the words:

"I seriously wish people would spend more time listening to me. I am wise and filled with pithy observations."

*She suggested that this might not be the "tone" I was going for.

*It was. But probably not a good idea to send it.

*The CTA is a very good Voice Of Reason.

*I brought the fingerless mitt with me today and even knit a little bit while the kids watched a movie.

*Week before vacation.

*Progress reports have to be done and ready to go out on Friday.

*We are racing the clock. And losing.

*Movies are like little gifts from heaven the week before the holiday break and three days before progress reports are due.

*Mine are done.

*3X done since the computer kept eating my grades.

*Still had time to knit for a bit today.

*Mental health.

*A key strategy when things blow up after you predict that they will and progress reports are being noshed upon.

*Just finished listening to The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaimon.

*Audio books in the car help me forget that I am going to work

*AKA: The Place Where Things Blow Up And No One Listens To Me.

*There are lots of good books.

*Not many perfect ones, though.

*Love this book.

*Read by the author.

*I want to be British.

*I don't want to live in a graveyard.

*Not because of zombies. Zombies can't climb out of graves.

*Except when they can, but you can hear them so you've got plenty of warning.

*It's the ones in the dumpster that worry me.

*I'm starting a new book tomorrow, but I forget what it is.

*I'll get back to you...

*The kids are on vacation next week.

*I have two days of teacher workshops.

*Which is grossly unfair, but preferable to being with teenagers who are sick of my face.

*And they might have snacks at the workshops unless the budget cuts have killed them.

*Either way, I'll have my little earbuds in and my audiobook playing in my ear.

And there we go! Wednesday in a nutshell! Two long days and then the weekend is upon me. Then I just have to survive two more days with my fellow educators and I'm done until 2010!

It's probably a good thing I didn't send that snarky email. Then my coworkers would also be sick of my face and that might make for a rough couple of days...


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In Praise Of The Noodle

My 8th graders were finishing up their final assessments on the health and nutrition unit we've been working on. It was grueling because we've only been covering this material for two months. I did the assessments with them as a group and made accommodations for their various reading and writing issues. Frankly, I can't believe I had the nerve to subject them to such horrors. One of the things they needed to do was come up with a five day meal plan including healthy foods in every menu.

In the course of any nutrition unit, the subject of Ramen Noodles is going to come up. How could it not? What discussion about the importance of good food choices isn't going to include the famous noodle? Ramen Noodles are the perfect food. They are noodly and, as such, fit into the food pyramid. I'm not exactly sure where the seasoning packet falls on the spectrum so I just left that out of the lesson plan.

I was craving Ramen Noodles tonight. Why? I guess that's just one of those mysteries we'll never solve. The label on my seasoning packed said, "chicken" so I think I can now safely say that those brown crystals are a protein. My students will be thrilled to have that piece of information.

I'll probably leave out the stories from my college days where a hot pot full of steaming noodles was the perfect cure after a night

I guess my obsession with getting me some .25 cent noodles was what put me off the knitting. I put the fingerless mitts I need to have for Saturday in my bag so I could work on them during the day today. But I forgot all about them until I reached into my purse for my debit card at the noodle store. Then I remembered, but it was too late because I had to go home and cook Ramen Noodles. It is complicated getting the water/noodle/seasoning ratio just right and you can't be fiddling with needles.

Next you have to eat the noodles. Then you have to savor the aftertaste. And you can't forget the part where you need to scrape out the pot because noodle scum turns to cement after thirty seconds. Ramen Noodles make for a busy evening.

Perhaps I'll have some time later tonight to do a little knitting. At the moment, I'm still digesting the lump of noodle sitting in my gut and that's making things difficult. The mitts are still in my purse and that's waaaay over in the other room. I can't quite get there until the noodle situation resolves itself. Soon, though. Any minute. I can feel it. The burning urge to get up and go retrieve that knitting is almost upon me!

Or maybe that's a nugget of unmixed seasoning dissolving into my stomach lining...


Sunday, December 13, 2009

It Couldn't Last

I truly did have my Holly Jolly on yesterday. I baked. I knit unto others. At one point, I swear to you that I was humming Jingle Bells and meaning it!

As darkness fell and day turned to night, I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself. Never before in the history of Noel As We Know It has there ever been such a fine example of holiday cheer. I half thought I might compose a carol for myself just to commemorate the occasion.

I felt justified in setting the knitting and baking aside for a while. A girl can only be a paragon of All Things Merry And Bright for so long. I settled myself in for some TV and computer games. Lockup was playing out before me and I was kicking pixels like a champion. Life was good.

And then the Christmas tree came to life.

First, I heard the jangle of precious, irreplaceable ornaments chiming frantically against one another. The rustle of genuine, imitation pine boughs was discernible as well. I looked up to see the mighty plastic pine shaking like a tree possessed.

This might have been frightening and a sure sign of Zombie Tree Syndrome were it not for the big orange tail sticking out from under the lower branches. Frankly, I'd rather have a possessed tree intent upon eating my brains. That I could handle. I've been preparing for this eventuality for years.

But a cat in my Christmas tree? That is a disaster for which no one can plan.

The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty has shown interest in the tree, but never anything that worried me. This is our second Christmas together and I never once thought that he might try to kill an imitation pine. But he was pretty fired up for most of yesterday and, rather than wind himself down, he got worse during the evening. There was running. There was skidding. There was prancing upon counter tops and the chasing of his sister. He'd stop and pant for a while then get right back to work.

But he stayed away from the tree. At least he stayed away until he'd run out of things to attack and I wasn't watching him. Then he made his move. He was deep inside the tree and heading north before his plan failed. He fell from his perch in a shower of ornaments and scampered from the room, leaving chaos in his wake.

I suppose the damage could have been worse. Take a look. It's not so bad, really.

See that branch at the bottom? The one that looks like it is bent into a gi-normous cat butt shape? And will never bend back into tree shape?

There is now a gaping hole in the tree where the branch doesn't quite fit and I've moved it to the back where it won't matter so much. The decorations on the bottom of the tree are all "decoy ornaments" and placed there specifically to distract kitties from the more fragile ones near the top. We are calling this a minor disaster rather than an outright catastrophe.

We are also armed with a squirt gun and spraying the beast every time he so much as looks at the stupid tree from now on. Hopefully, he'll have forgotten his need to conquer this interloper by tomorrow because I don't think I can call in sick to protect my tree.

Meanwhile, my holiday spirit has taken leave once more and I fear for the completion of that second fingerless mitt. I managed a few rounds today, but you can't knit a thumb gusset and still keep watch over the Christmas tree. You need a free hand to hold the squirt gun, after all.

The AGK is on notice. Santa is watching him. If he continues along this path of wickedness, he will leave Mr. Claus with no choice. And it won't be coal in his stocking. Nothing so nice as that. He will wish for coal.

Because bad kitties get puppies in their stockings.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dropping The Ball

The Scene: It is Thursday afternoon and Ms. Sheep is sitting slumped before her school laptop. She is thinking. She is supposed to be working since it is still technically "school time" but she is too tired. The kids have been taught all they are going to learn that day and have earned their afternoon free time. (sort of...sometimes you have to be flexible about these things)

Sitting next to Ms. Sheep is The Stalker Who Has Followed His Teacher Since Fourth Grade And Through Three Schools But Will Say That It Is She Who Is Stalking Him. The Stalker is happily playing a computer game and, finally, quiet.

If asked, Ms. Sheep would have said that she was thinking about practical things like her dentist appointment the following day and the plans she would need to leave for the class during her absence. She might also say that she was dwelling upon that one fingerless mitt she'd finished and how she needed to make another magically appear before the weekend. Christmas shopping might also come up, as that is a highly practical thing to be thinking about these days.

Were she to say these things, she would be lying. What she was really thinking was how much she wished the holidays were over and that she was just relaxing for the school vacation week. Christmas is stressful and forces her to bake and knit and flit hither and thither far more than she likes. Ms. Sheep is already tired of this holiday season.

She doesn't recall saying any of this aloud. Nor does she believe that she did so. But, somehow, The Stalker picks up on these thoughts. They've been together a long time, after all. It isn't out of the question for a teacher and student to become psychically linked after a billion years or so. He has his own thoughts on holiday trauma.

The Stalker: I can't watch that New Year's Eve show on TV anymore.

Ms. Sheep: Mmmm-hmmmm....

TS: It brings back horrible memories.

MS: Like that whole Y2K thing?

TS: Y2-what? Wasn't that from back in the olden days?

MS: Never mind. And I think you just failed math.

TS: Whatever. Anyway, that wasn't it. It's that ball dropping. You ever heard of that?

MS: Once or twice. It's been going on for a while now.

TS: Well, a few years ago, I was watching that on TV and that's when it happened.

MS: What?

TS: know what happens when the ball drops?

MS: New Year's Day?

TS: No. Well...yeah. That happens. But the other thing. You know?

MS: Music?

TS: No.

MS: Confetti? Silly hats?

TS: No! That thing! That the people do! I was watching TV and my mom was there and then...

MS: What? What happened???

TS: I can't say it.

MS: I'll be honest with you. I didn't much care when this whole conversation started. But now I have to know. What happened that made you scared of the ball dropping in Times Square?

TS: (taking a deep breath) I was there. My mom was there. My dad came in. The ball dropped. It was New Years. And know.

MS: This is getting ridiculous. And you are all red. Why are you all red?

TS: Please don't make me say it. That thing. That thing people do when the ball drops. That's what happened! If only my dad had stayed in the kitchen...

MS: Wait. You mean how people ki...

TS: Stop! I can't hear it!!!!

MS: I'm saying it.

TS: I beg you!

MS: Here it comes.

TS: (puts head on table and makes incoherent gurgling noises)

MS: They KISSED!!!! Your parents kissed each other! HA!!!!

TS: (raises head and mumbles) It was awful. I was just a kid. Sometimes I still see it when I close my eyes.

MS: You know, before you came along your parents used to date. They held hands and everything.

TS: You are not funny. You think you are. But you're not.

I suppose that the holidays bring stress to everyone at times. Even 14 year old boys are not immune. And if I added to that stress by making loud, juicy kissy noises for the rest of the afternoon, I'm not admitting to it. Or proud of it. Except for the part where I was kind of proud. If nothing else, it was nice to know I'm not alone in my Christmas Crisis. I even felt a little surge of holiday spirit flicker deep within my cold, hard heart.

That spark was enough to fuel the knitting of half a fingerless mitt and the baking of cupcakes today. It's not much and it still may be a case of Too Little, Too Late. But that's OK. It was just nice to have a little holiday spirit back in my life.

And there is still another week of school left before the kids go on break. On Monday, I'm bringing in some mistletoe. That should be good for another round of teen trauma and the will to knit up a scarf.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

WNBP: Sixes, Snow Days And Pickle Trees

Greetings from the windswept northeast! Today's storm took its predicted course almost to the minute and we are well past the snow portion of the festivities. Now we have rain. And some wind. Not nearly the wind that other people are getting, mind you. But enough that I can still call it a storm and be fully engaged in Preparatory Mode. I like P-Mode. It makes me feel powerful and in control of the situation.

An illusion, but fun nevertheless.

However, it wouldn't do for me to forget to post the Wednesday Night Bullets, now would it? So let's take a break from watching the skies and putting up water in case the stuff falling from the sky isn't enough and take a look at today's highlights:

*Got the call around 5:00 this morning.

*Snow Day!!!!!

*Which is really more of a Rain Day, but it was snowing at the time of the call so it still counts.

*Plus I didn't go to school so it's six of one, half a dozen of another...

*I knit some more on that mitt thingie I showed before.

*Then I got to the thumb and didn't feel I should go any further since it might distract me from P-Mode.

*Or I didn't feel like dealing with it. Whatever...

*I put up the Christmas tree, too.

*I have a plethora of green lights.

*There is a definite lack of symmetry going on with my lights.

*But they aren't blinking so that's OK.

*Waff-ooz for breakfast this morning!!!

*Snow Day tradition.


*Traditions are important.

*As is getting fruit in the diet.

*Syrup is not a fruit.

*Nor is butter.

*Juice is a fruit.

*I never drink juice.

*Just sayin' is all...

*I had big plans for this day. Lots would get done.

*Started strong.

*Faded fast.

*Spent most of the day playing on the computer.

*Found this in my daily WikiHow update.

*Thought it might be helpful in the event of a natural disaster and the destruction of all crochet hooks.

*It is not good for me to get a daily WikiHow update.

*I start thinking about making stuff that I have no business making.

*Made a camp stove last summer out of a coffee can.

*I don't camp.

*Did I mention that I put the whole tree up all by myself?

*It is mostly lit with green lights and a little bit crooked.

*But it's up.

*And twinkling like a big, festive pickle.

*The downside of a Snow Day is going back to school the next day.

*I have Friday off.


*Dentist appointment.


*Hate my dentist.

*Love having a Friday off.

*Six of one...

So there's a Snow Day/Wednesday for you in bullet point form! The day went quickly and wasn't nearly as fraught with winter emergencies as it could have been, but that's OK. I had a nice day anyway. And I only have to get through one more school day and an hour in the dentist's chair before the weekend is upon me! All in all, a nice wrap up to the week.

And I have that nice Kosher Dill Christmas Tree to enjoy as well!!


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Involuntary Clenching

OK. The first thing you should know is that it was cold this morning. Wicked cold! I had to scrape the ice from the windshield before I could drive. It is important that you know about the cold before you pass judgement.

I was all clenchy from the cold. That is what happens. You feel the chill and you tense up. I do not control the weather. I do not control involuntary muscle reactions. You should factor that in, too. It's science. You have to acknowledge it.

And is it my fault that cars take a while to warm up? Sure, I could have gone out earlier to start the car, but that is wasteful. And not good for the planet. Plus, I already get up at 5:00 and leave by 6:00. There isn't much "earlier." If I leave any sooner, I'd be into yesterday. That is time and space and the universe talking. I do not control any of that stuff either.

Are we clear on all this? Do we understand the incredible forces against which I was working this morning? I certainly hope so. Because otherwise, you might start tittering and giggling at my expense and that would hardly be fair under the circumstances.

There I was, all cold and clenched up from the shivering while driving from the manse out to the main road. I needed to take a right. That is also not my fault. It is just the direction in which I have to travel so I can get to work. I have to do lots of stuff like look both ways, turn the wheel and adjust the volume on the radio. It is a busy time. And that's when it happened.

I threw out my back. Turning the steering wheel of my car. But it is not my fault because I was clenchy and it is easy to tweak a back muscle when you are turning right from a clenched position while still maintaining a good radio volume and looking for other cars.

That muscle stayed firmly torqued throughout the whole 40 minute commute to school. It did not release me from its iron grasp until I got out of the car and stood. It's a good thing I am fully aware of the effects of clenching, shivering, volume control and safe driving. Otherwise, I might start thinking I am old and capable of hurting myself by sitting in a motor vehicle...

I should probably start warming up and stretching before driving to work. It is winter. There are many more opportunities for me to hurt myself doing absolutely nothing. It looks like another chance will present itself tomorrow. There's a whopper of a storm coming in. I'm 90% sure we will be having at least a delayed start to school. I'm 75% sure we won't be going at all, but I'm hedging my bets on that one. Should the former be the case, I have to teach the Safety Procedures class all day and it won't be a good time to have a clenchy back. I'm going to need to be limber.

Should the latter come to pass, I won't need to spend an hour or so getting out of chokeholds. I won't have to be quite so limber, but I'd hate to waste a snow day with a sore back. I have a Christmas tree to put up and some knitting to do.

Fingerless mitts. You can't have enough of 'em. They help ward off the cold and the clenching.

The cold weather is upon us. There is no denying it. Stretching out a bit seems like the wise course of action. You never know. I might hurt myself changing the channel or scratching my nose...


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Five Foot Radius

I am a rational and logical person whose very existence revolves around clear thinking and pooh-poohing superstition. I think in a linear fashion. I do not go flitting off on flights of fancy. I believe in things that are real, like science and accounting and zombies.

However, even I am forced to believe in supernatural forces every now and again. When faced with incontrovertible evidence, I will concede the point.

Thus, it is with so reservations whatsoever that I announce my having been cursed. Sure, I bumbled along for a while spouting some nonsense about coincidence but I'm over that now. Curses get mad when you fail to cower before them. In fact, they get downright nasty. Let me walk you down the path I've traversed over the past week or so:

*The Friday before last, the police showed up at my door in response to a 911 call that I did not make.

*That same Friday, the phone company discovered multiple problems on my line including a tendency to call law enforcement. I was advised to disconnect the phones until they could fix the problem.

*My Big, Fluffy Kitty stole my turkey sandwich during all the excitement. She was discovered dragging it across the living room and looking as happy as I've ever seen her.

*The phones remained off for a week. There were challenges. Among them was the fact that the phone company couldn't find where I lived or remember my cell number so they could call me for directions.

*The power went out at school twice. Buses were delayed. Alarms went off. Emergency personnel were dispatched. Many school phones were injured in the making of this disaster and some took a full day to recover.

*My cell phone froze, unable to deal with my data plan. Or the curse.

*My internet went in and out in response to the problems with my "real" phones.

*The heating controls in my classroom went haywire and we were subjected to temperatures more commonly enjoyed by camels.

*When I tried to take my mind off all this curse-related activity with a little movie watching, I discovered that my DVD player had died.

It all came to a head yesterday when the cashier at the grocery store dropped my 18-count box of eggs. She looked at me in horror, obviously realizing that she was dealing with someone who should not be out mingling with the regular folk. I should come with a warning label. Orange cones should be placed around me so that no one comes within five feet of me. Homeland Security should be issuing an alert of some kind. Had I left my phones on for much longer, I am certain that this would have happened. It was only a matter of time before the crazed devices called that particular agency...

Once you accept a curse, you sort of feel better, though. You start to take pleasure in the little things. Sure, you have to watch the ceiling to make sure it's not about to fall on your head. Otherwise, it's not so bad being stuck in the house and afraid of making contact with other humans. You can catch up on stuff like the ankle socks you started last summer but didn't finish. In fact, once the snow starts falling and the temperatures plummet, you are highly motivated to do just that.

You don't even care how weird ribbed socks look off the foot.

You may be saying, "Sheepie! Those socks look like you finished them, wore them to bed, still had them on today and only took them off long enough to take a picture! Why, I can even see a bit of lint from your flannel sheets there!!!"

You would be correct. I don't deny it. These babies have been warming my tootsies since last night and I don't care who knows it. I'll probably still have them on when I retire this very night because it is cold.

And when you are cursed, things like frostbite and the loss of toes aren't out of the question...


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Humor Me

I lost my internet connection last night. After having gone nearly a week without working phones and being told repeatedly that "someone will be there to take a look by 6:00, ma'am," this was adding insult to injury.

Worse, I couldn't do the Wednesday Night Bullet Post!!!!!! If you would be so kind as to indulge me, I'd like to rectify that situation right now. Let the bullets fly!!!

*There was a "spirited" discussion with the phone company today.

*The aforementioned discussion was conducted from my office while I consulted with students on their math worksheets.

*Dunno who was more disgruntled by the end of it, the students, the phone lady or myself...

*Phones were working when I got home.

*As was the internet.

*I have become obsessed with the Cirque du Freak series.

*Burning through a book a night at this point.

*Starts off all light and breezy in a dark and draughty sort of way.

*Then gets unbelievably grim.

*Good stuff...

*I have what can best be described as a "situation" going on in my sinuses.

*I won't go into detail because that would be unseemly.

*Gave birth through my left nostril today.

*'Nuff said.

*No more fever, though.

*I'm going to finish a sock this weekend.

*That will make a pair and then I will post a picture.

*FO in the future.

*Stock up on your smelling salts and fainting couches.

*It was a lovely spring day today.

*65 degrees and sunny once the torrential rains stopped falling.

*This would be heavenly were it not for the fact that it is December 3rd and that it was too hot to go Christmas shopping.

*My sinuses were confused. Maybe they think they have allergies?

*Did I mention how the heat controls near my classroom broke?

*Stuck on "Surface Of The Sun" setting.

*The Kid Who Doesn't Have An Off Switch has been rather clingy of late.

*Can't function unless Ms. Sheep is within four feet.

*Makes it hard to teach the rest of the class.

*Scene in the office this afternoon:

Ms. Sheep: Hello, Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Front Desk! I would like to report that the heat is on upstairs and that The Kid Who Doesn't Have An Off Switch found this hunk of electronics in the hallway.

Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Front Desk: What the heck is that?

MS: The control to the heating system in the hall.

MSWSATFD: Why was it on the floor?

MS: Zombies would be my first guess. Next, I'd suggest that one of the kids ripped it out of the wall. Again.

Kid Who Doesn't Have An Off Switch: (exiting the office) I don't feel so good. I'm gonna go down and see the nurse...

MS: (mumbling) You sure the umbilical cord will reach that far?

MSWSATFD: (collapses on the front desk in uncontrollable laughter because she has seen Ms. Sheep wandering around with TKWDHAOS in tow for weeks now)

*The heat was fixed.

*Then the power went out.

*And all the alarms went off.

*And the police came.

*With firetrucks.

*Which entertained TKWDHAOS endlessly.

Phew! I feel better now! All those bullets were getting backed up in my system and I was feeling a bit bloat-y. Now they are free and the only pressure is coming from my sinus cavities. That is a relief. Now all I have to do is survive one more day of fun and adventure in the public school system and then I can be a weekender.

With working phones. And internet. And decongestants.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Total Lack Of Communication

I am normally one who finds both comfort and giggles in the little things. The big stuff? It's just a part of life. Something goes deal. I'm pretty good at finding perspective.

That sock I'm knitting? And how it's almost done? That would keep me going for a week!

When Mr. Principal made us all wave lit flashlights in the air to prove that our emergency kits were still working before we left the staff meeting today? Well, that's freakin' adorable!!! All those lights shining brightly against the library ceiling were like little beacons of hope in a world where power can (and did just yesterday) go out.

Alas, my sense of humor has abandoned me at the moment. I'm certain it will return. Other people aren't even aware that it has left the building. I was the laugh-riot of the staff meeting today and no less than two people told me so. But, deep down, I know that I'm just phoning it in.

Or I would. If I had working phones.

Yesterday, I called the phone company to see how things were going with repairs. Here's how it went:

Phone Lady: And how may I assist you today?

Sheepish Annie: I'm calling to check on my phones? I miss having a phone. The smoke signals just aren't working out and I don't know Morse Code.

PL: Let's see...OK. I have the repair ticket right here. Noise on the line, right?

SA: Um, yeah. That's part of it. I honestly think the fact that my phones are independently calling 911 is more of an issue, but whatever gets the job done.

PL: Your phones are doing WHAT????

SA: You heard me.

PL: Well, you're on the list for sometime between now and 6:00 tonight. We'll get right on that!

SA: Bless you.

I called again today. From my cell phone. Which should give you some indication how things are going with my phones.

Other Phone Lady: And how may I assist you today?

Sheepish Annie: Phones. Not working. Now totally dead. So not cool.

OPL: Well, lets see here. I've got it. Static on the line right?

SA: Are you kidding me? Look. I don't want to tell you how to do your job but, if it were me, I'd put "phones dialing 911 without human assistance" at the top of that list. "Static on the line" doesn't lend the necessary air of urgency I'd like to see.

OPL: Your phones are doing WHAT???

It seems that the repair crews were unable to locate my home yesterday and that the number I left for a call-back wasn't recorded. I gave detailed directions to my home, was reassured that I would not need to be there for the repairs and hung up hoping that tomorrow will bring me a dial tone. I miss the outside world. And my cell phone is not working very well either. It's only a matter of time before I resort to carrier pigeons and I hear they are tough to maintain. I don't even know what to feed them.

Add to all this the beginnings of a nasty cold and I have lost my sense of humor. It's gone. As I said, it will return. Funny never goes far. When it wanders back, I will once again find joy in the things like flashlight beams dancing on the ceiling and whatnot.

Back when my funny bone was vibrating in time with the universe, I got a giggle out of people thinking the cats might have dialed 911 the other day. The very image of that is quite funny. However, the felines are innocent. There is only one phone they can reach and it was beside me in its cradle at the time of "the incident." Frankly, I would have preferred that it be a cat. That has less sinister overtones when compared to phones dialing for assistance independent of human hands.

No. The felines have other things to do. While I deal with such things as communication with the outside world, they remain locked in battle over the stupid box. I've tried to throw it away. They won't let me. They love this stupid box. They each hate that the other loves it equally. They do not care about the phones.

They just take turns staking out the box.

Yeah, that's right buddy. Just keep moving.