Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Defining "Luck"

Today is the last day of my summer vacation and to say that it didn't exactly go as planned would be an understatement.  I headed out early to take care of a few errands and it was on my way back home that a local police officer ran a very random plate check.  An old traffic ticket of mine, long since paid and forgotten, was still lingering in the system and causing no end of havoc.  Thus ended any plans I might have once made.

Now, don't get all flustered or anything.  It's not like they slapped the cuffs on me right there and then.  As the nice policeman put it:

1.  I could tell in less than a minute that this was gonna be one of those crazy, huge misunderstandings


2.  We've only got the one cell and there's kind of somebody in there right now.  I'm pretty sure you two wouldn't get along...

This was followed by a rather lively discussion between us regarding the fun one can have making new friends.  I find that, in these sorts of situations, it is best to be respectful, understanding and to retain a good sense of humor about the whole thing.  Humor, especially when it's not expected, can be appreciated.  It can also be rather disarming.  The officer and I were still chatting amicably when the tow truck arrived.  (hardened criminals such as myself cannot be trusted to drive until we prove ourselves worthy, you know...)  The tow guy was impressed.

This is an impound?  Really?  Usually by this time there's someone in the middle of the road giving me the finger and stuff...

Disarming.  That's the key, here.  I disarmed the heck out of this situation and in temperatures quickly rising to 90 degrees.  In the end, the nice policeman even gave me a ride home.  This, apparently, is frowned upon when dealing with the criminal element, but he felt really badly about the whole situation. Plus, I probably reminded him of his mom or something.

I mean...I had to ride in the back and everything, but that was OK.  If you're not actually in handcuffs, riding in the back of a police car is kind of cool.  My escort sort of ruined it by offering to let me have the window open.  I declined because that is not what edgy, wild women such as myself do.  We don't take charity from The Man ever!  He also didn't do that thing where the cop puts a hand over the perp's head when the enter and exit the vehicle like they do on TV.  That was kind of disappointing, but I wasn't really in a position to make demands at that point.  I thanked him for his consideration and shook his hand like Mommy Sheep taught me.

That was the end of my fun.  Once back home, I needed to begin Dealing With Matters.  The rest of the day was spent on the phone or waiting for people to call me back so I might know what to do next.  Or whom to call next.  It took a while, but I finally managed to convince The Establishment that I was worthy of driving privileges.  I retrieved my license and rescued my car from the impound people and if I had to walk around town in what was now 95 degree heat, well that's just the way things go sometimes.  It's also the way the day goes because, by then, the hour was growing late and summer vacation was basically done.

For all this, I am going to surprise you by saying that I feel like pretty much the luckiest person strolling the planet right now.  Truly.  Because if this same set of circumstances had happened in any other place or time...I probably would have been arrested.

Seriously.  It could have happened on the highway while I made my way to work.  It could have happened in front of the school where I teach.  This could easily have been a Cuff The Perp And Ask Questions Later kind of situation.  That was one of the things the nice policeman and I were chatting about while we waited for the tow truck.

Instead, the whole thing played out during a very small window where I had the time to deal with matters and while the right people were sitting at their desks to take my calls.  Oh, by the way...one other thing.  Until further notice, there are to be no words of ill will aimed at the Maine Department Of Motor Vehicles.  At least three of today's calls went to one extension there and I can honestly say that I have never before been treated so respectfully and kindly or with such understanding.  The woman who worked with me on this went so far above and beyond the call of duty that she was probably hovering above her cubicle for a time.  I'll likely change my mind regarding the status of this particular government office at some point but, for now, we praise the DMV.  Long and loud...

The day is done and I'm back to being a respectable member of the driving community.  I somehow managed to find the only people in the whole world who could untangle this situation enough to extricate me and it all happened so close to home that I barely had time to miss the place.  And I was not in handcuffs at any point during the festivities.  When I say this could have gone worse, I am so totally NOT kidding.

And school tomorrow?  Well...I still don't want to go.  I would much rather be on vacation for another decade or two.  Working for a living is a dull thing indeed when compared to being on vacation.  But, I gotta tellya...

I have never before been so utterly and straight-from-the-bottom-of-my-heart grateful to be able to go back to work tomorrow.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Very Small, Very Adult Victory

Back during the early days of this blog, my life was, shall we say, "interesting."  And you know how that old curse goes:  May you live in interesting times...

I was working in a school where I wasn't a particularly good fit, even though everyone was cheerfully ignoring that fact and trying to make it work.  My truck decided to do throw a tantrum or two, including what the service center referred to as some kind of "explosion" deep within its inner workings.  I was stricken with a case of pneumonia that kept me flat on my back for a week and left me limping and wheezing for over three months.  Some of these things, in addition to being interesting, came with a rather high price tag.

I don't care where you are in relation to me geographically or how well your ability to focus compares to my pathetic skills in that area...chances are you heard the sound of my finances crashing from time to time.  This was also very interesting, now that I think of it.  But not much fun.

Don't get me wrong.  It wasn't all doom and gloom.  It's not like I lost the farm.  I don't happen to have a farm and, if I did, I'm fairly certain I could have convinced the cows to increase milk production until the lean times passed.  I'm good with cows.  I think.

But my Farm Sense is neither here nor there.  The point is that I had my friends and my family.  The knitting and spinning were finally at the "Oh, I get it!" stage and I was meeting lots of cool new people through the blog.  Yes, there were challenges, but what are you gonna do?

The fact of the matter is that, while not everything was my fault, it was my responsibility.  And I could have made other choices along the way or planned ahead for a few things that might go wrong.  I'm an adult and that is part of the game.  You can complain about the unfairness of things but, in the end, you need to own your piece of it.  I put on my game face and dealt with matters as they came, including the dental situation.

That little turn of events also falls under the heading of Things I Should Have Seen Coming, but this didn't make it any less unpleasant.  I spent almost a year of my life going back and forth to the dentist to repair the things that I let go during my Period Of Dental Denial.  Insurance covered some of it, but not all.  Again, there wasn't much to be done for it.  I gritted my teeth and wrote the checks.

Well...I gritted my teeth metaphorically.  At that point, it was impossible to do it literally.  However, I did grit and I paid my bills like an adult.  That is how it is done.

Except that sometimes you're allowed a little bit of childish behavior.  Maybe even some barely justified smugness.  Say, for example, you've recently had three fillings done (the first in a while, thankfully) and written a check to cover what the dentist estimated insurance would not.  You might, perchance, go to the mailbox a few weeks later to find some correspondence from that not-so-hallowed office.  When you open it you might find...

A check for twenty dollars!!!!

It is a small amount and does not begin to compare to what I shelled out lo those many years ago.  But, in that moment, it did not matter.  The dentist was paying ME!!!  BWAH-HA-HA-HA!!!!  Victory is mine!!!

I couldn't even enter the bank to deposit the check.  I had to use the ATM because even days later I was still prone to fits of smug giggles.  When I went to visit with The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach today, I had to park waaaaay on the other side of the lot because the dentist is in the same shopping area as the salon and I didn't dare walk past his office.  I feared I might fling open the door, leap into the waiting room and scream, "How do you like me now, Suckahs?"

I am an adult.  Most of the time.  Honest.  I do all kinds of adult things and I like to think I do some of them well.  But a twenty dollar check from the dentist?  I'm sorry, but that is just too much temptation.  I think I was entitled to a little childish glee on that one.  Besides, it's not like I taunted them with their error.  I kept my little victory to myself, which is a very adult thing to do when all is said and done.

Let's hope I can keep up this attitude until my next six month cleaning.  Waving a deposit slip in the dentist's face while chanting "neener-neener" is probably not going to result in careful use of pointy instruments...


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

WNPB: This Time Next Week...

Greetings, Bloggy Buddies!  Another Wednesday is upon us and it is time for the weekly random firing of the bullet points.  I wonder what Sheepie has in store this week?

*I went to the farmer's market this morning.

*Running a bit behind schedule, but what the heck.  I'm still on vacation.

*This time next week, I will not be on vacation.

*I think it is kind of fitting that the last Wednesday Visit With The Veggies for 2010 happened during a torrential downpour.  

*I can still go to the farmer's market on Saturdays, but it's not the same.

*Going on Wednesday is like being a part of a super-secret club.  

*The people who see the world during daylight and who don't have to rush...

*It's OK if you're thinking, "Sheesh!  I wish she'd just go back to school and stop complaining about it already!  She had a whole summer off, for cryin' out loud!!!"

*I don't blame you.

*But last year was the worst year I've had in over twenty years of teaching and this coming version doesn't look to be any better.

*Retirement is very far away...

*I am knitting the sock-in-progress furiously because it seems like the sort of thing a person should be doing as they await the start of yet another school year and don't particularly find anything good about the whole sorry state of affairs.

*Or I could be completely mistaken and getting all worried about nothing.  Maybe it will be the bestest, most awesomest year EVER!

*That happens sometimes...

*I watched Zombies Of Mass Destruction this afternoon while I was waiting for the tomato sauce to finish simmering.

*Did I mention that I bought tomatoes and basil today?  I did.

*Today's Zombie Awareness Tip:  If you think the zombie situation is the result of a terrorist attack, you are already half-way to The Land Of Bad Decision Making and Rampant Blaming Of Others When You Should Be Paying More Attention To The Rotting Creature At The Door.

*Make a note of it.

*This one was part of the Eight Films To Die For series that pop up every year.

*And if you aren't sure about that, please refer to the five thousand minutes of promotional footage prior to the start of the main feature.

*Still, I consider it five bucks well spent.  Any training is good training when you are preparing for The Coming Zombie Apocalypse.

*Pheline Philosophy:

There is nothing finer in this world than a patch of sunlight and a dollar store cat cave.

*Don't be taken in by the cuteness.  The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty has decided to take mealtime matters into his own hands.

*Found him dipping his paw into the chili pot last night.  

*That's right.  You heard me.  Chili.  And it was clearly not his first attempt at sampling.

*I think we all slept rather lightly last night...

*I don't care what The Cat Whisperer says.  We need to get some crunchy kibble around here.

*She's pre-approved a prescription for it so I'm gonna order some just as soon as I remember to do it and am not doing something else.

*Like guarding my chili...

*I shudder to think what will be going on around here this time next week.

*He'll probably be ordering pizza and sending out for Chinese.

*I can see it now...

Wait...YES!  That's the delivery guy!  Do you have enough for the tip?

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  Enjoy the last few minutes of the mid-week experience and the anticipation of weekend days.  This time next week, I'll be doing the same!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Mostly Right With A Side Of Pox

I've been kind of stuffy/snotty/achy/logy for a couple of days now.  Mostly the whole thing smacks of allergies running wild, but it is a little difficult to keep the inner demons in check at times like this.  I awoke this morning with a bit of a pain in my right back and shoulder which was enough to set off the inevitable inner dialogue.

Hysterical Mind:  OH. MY. GOD.  It's "the pain!"  The PAIN, I tells ya!!  That's it.  We've got the pox.  The dreaded Monkey Pox is upon us once again and soon we will be struck down like something right out of the Bible and there is nothing we can do about it.  We should lie down immediately!

Rational Mind:  It's allergies.

HM:  The PAIN!!!  Ohhhh...the pain...we know this pain.  It is the same pain we got the second time we were stricken with the pox!

RM:  It's not the pox.  It was never the pox.  It was pneumonia and this is nothing like that.

HM:  Have I mentioned the pain?

RM:  Once or twice.  And it is also the pain we get when we sleep wrong.  Or when we lift things that women of our vintage should not be lifting.  Or if we move wrong.  We are old.  How come you never worry about that?

HM:  I'm busy.  I don't multi-task as well as I used to.  And now I've got this pain going on so don't be expecting me to start thinking about our rapidly aging cells because I don't have time for that at the moment.  I need to focus.

RM:  We don't have pneumonia.  We don't have any of our other usual symptoms.  Relax.  If you need to stress about something, why not worry about how we might break a hip or set the record for the longest perimenopause in history?  

HM:  I feel dizzy...

Add to this my usual start-of-the-school-year denial and it's really quite the show around here.  Every year at this time, I start making promises about how I'm going to go in earlier than usual and get the classroom set up so I won't have to worry about it.  I always seem to find an excuse to put it off and end up making the trip days and days after my self-imposed deadline.  It's like a ritual with me and the allergy bout/pulled shoulder was shaping up to be a darned good excuse for this year's Dance Of Denial.

Hence, I was as surprised as anyone when I actually got out of bed this morning at 5:30, showered and headed out like I said I was going to.  I was shocked, if you want the truth.  I managed to get gas in the car and arrive at school in a rather timely fashion and was soon putting up posters like I genuinely wanted to be doing this.  In fact, I stayed a bit longer than I originally planned just to make sure it was all done and even had time to meet with my director briefly.

(That ended up being something of a stress-maker since it appears they had yet another meeting without me last month and changed my caseload.  For the worse.  Again.  But, I don't want to think about that now.  I'd rather think about the pox, if you want the truth...)

Now I can sit back, secure in the knowledge that the classroom is ready to go and enjoy the rest of my dwindling summer vacation.  I cast on for a pair of socks yesterday since the Situationally Necessary Octagonal Thing (SNOT) was misbehaving and that should keep me entertained for a while.  Of course, I told myself that I was doing this because there is a teacher workshop coming up and that I like to have a sock in the works for this kind of thing.  The truth of the matter is that this is the third time I've set aside a project for bad behavior this summer and the pile of naughty knitting is getting kind of high.

But I went in and set up the classroom like I said I was going to even though I wasn't feeling well and also didn't strangle my director for telling me about the caseload change that I specifically told her I was not in agreement with.  (there was a witness...)  I think I deserve to knit whatever the heck I want right now.

Wait.  HM is saying something.  What's that?  Oh, I hadn't thought of that.  Interesting....

It seems that HM is thinking that we are too stricken with the pox to even consider starting school on the first of next month.  We will probably still be lying abed at that point.  She wonders if we should just start arranging for a substitute now and beat the rush.

I guess maybe I do feel a little "poxy" now that I think about it...


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Taking It In Stride

I honestly can't believe that I am staring down the gullet of the last full week of summer vacation, but it seems that I am.  Time certainly does fly when you're busy not doing other things...

There are a couple of different ways to approach this last week of freedom.  The first is to go into full-on Scamper Mode and frantically try to squeeze in all the things I said I was going to do back when the summer season seemed endless.  The second is to relax and just let it be what it will be while I sit back and appreciate the quiet.

The former is more tempting than it sounds, but not really all that practical in the end.  All that scampering never amounts to much more than a great deal of hand flapping and unfinished projects left for the next vacation.  (where they will probably also sit half done...)  The latter makes more sense in the long run.

The fact of the matter is that this coming week isn't really "vacation proper" anyway.  I will have to go in to school and set up the classroom.  The one good thing about being transferred to the middle school is that the upper grades tend to do far less in the way of decorating.  Simpler is better when it comes to the teenagers and most of us tend to focus more on getting the desks set up rather than on the creation of artful bulletin boards.  Middle school is really more about planning how best to foil escapes and other sneaky attempts to overthrow authority.  The less you have to distract you from what's going on behind the scenes, the better.  I'm pretty sure I can get things set up in a day if I put my mind to it.  I've been doing this long enough that I can whip up a good lookin' classroom in my sleep.

That should leave me with plenty of down time if I don't let myself get caught up in Time's Great Toilet Flush.  Nothing is going to stop that rush of water once the handle is pulled, right?  Besides, I've had a fairly productive summer.  I adopted a cat, visited with the dentist a couple of times and learned how to steam clean my kitchen floors.  I've canned enough produce to keep me going in the event of a short Zombie Apocalypse and could probably put a few more veggies aside should I put my mind to it during the autumn months.  I've read lots of books and even knit a few items, which is more than I can say for the ten months preceding this vacation.  The fact that the Situationally Necessary Octagonal Thing (SNOT) is now sitting on waste yarn until I can go back and pick up five million stitches is something we don't need to discuss at the moment.  I still say I got a lot done...

Heck, I even managed to make an appointment with my plastic surgeon, Dah-lings!  Frankly, I didn't even know that I had a plastic surgeon whose name could be preceded by a "my," but apparently I do.  How very up 'n coming of me!

Actually, I am a person who leans towards benign skin growths and we've come to removal season.  Most of the time, my own doc can zap or hack them but she won't touch anything on the face.  I had a cyst of sorts removed a few years back and Dr. NippenTucker's name is recorded in my file.  As a result, I have a plastic surgeon to call my own.  At least by my family physician's standards.  I guess that's something else I can add to the summer's List Of Accomplishments.  I now know I have my very own surgeon...

I don't even need to be stressed about that appointment, since the procedure isn't going to happen until October.  I can just sit back and let this coming week flow, secure in the knowledge that it's OK to relax a bit.  Even then, I still don't have to worry about facing the educational music until September 1st.

After that, all bets are off.  I'm pretty sure I'll start stressing out before the first bell rings and stay on High Alert until they let us go again next June.  But that's then and this is now.

It is still Summer Vacation, dag-nabbit!!!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WMBT: Some Days Even The Post Title Is Wrong

It has been one of those days.  Thankfully, "one of those days" also happens to be the night of the Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  The WNBP will save me from everything that has gone awry!

*Seriously.  Crazy amounts of "offness."

*I went to to several stores to purchase things on my list this morning.  

*Very important things go on lists.

*Which is why I find it unforgivable that many of the stores I visited today did not have the required merchandise.

*Stores today...no respect for lists, I tellya!!!

*I didn't bother going to the Farmer's Market today.  I figured my mere presence would cause the produce to develop malicious mites and festering mange.  

*I went to the grocery store, though.  I needed root beer.

*The grocery store had root beer.  But I had to work for it since they were stocking the shelves.

*They are always stocking the shelves.  Always.

*I am currently knitting a Situationally Necessary Octagonal Thing.

*I almost changed the title when I realized that the acronym was SNOT.

*Then I got to the point where I had about 25 stitches between the increases and my hands hurt.

*SNOT didn't seem so inappropriate at that point.

*Today I realized that my ability to maintain my attention is somewhere around "33 stitches between the increases."

*Rookie mistakes were made.

*Rather than tink back like a responsible knitter, I decided I could repair the boo-boo without such time-consuming nonsense.

*I am not a rookie.

*I have spent more time trying to fix the boo-boo than it would have taken to just tink.

*Two steps forward.  Thirty steps back.

*All stupid day.

*I'm tinking back.  I'm tinking back to the point where life makes sense again.

*As well as the forward progression of numbers....

*Went to lunch with the family today.  It's a monthly thing for most of the group.

*The ones who go regularly all have cards which entitle them to discounts.

*I have observed that at a certain age, one is bestowed with a plethora of cards.

*Cards which, when presented, cause people to shower the bearer with benefits.

*Or inform everyone present of the need for oxygen/hypodermic needles/electric shock paddles.

*Either way, the cards must make a person feel mighty special...

*I used to fear the day I qualified for cards.

*Now I look forward to them.  I yearn for cards.

*People with cards don't have to go back to teach school in a couple of weeks.  They get to go out to lunch on a week day like it's nothing.

*I think I would do well with a few of those cards.

*Except I'd have to stay at home sometimes with a SNOT that won't behave like a good SNOT should.

*There is no card for that.

*However, if you really start to get overworked about the whole thing, you can present one of your cards to the nice paramedics when they come for you.

*I think if I work back two or three more rounds on the SNOT, I might be somewhere in the vicinity of correctness.

*Or I will have ruined rows that were knitted perfection and have to throw myself out the window.

*Either way, the day will be over and I won't have to worry about it anymore.

*Of course, then I won't get any of those cool cards later on... 

Well, I must be off.  That SNOT isn't going to unknit itself, after all.  And we are rapidly approaching the Feline Feeding Hour, something that we don't like to miss around here.  Things get ugly when FFH is not observed and I don't think I want to tempt fate any more today, thank you very much.  Hope your Wednesday was smoother than mine and that the rest of your week is equally delightful.

I have to go to the doctor tomorrow.  I wonder how she will react to my telling her that I'm dealing with a nasty SNOT and that this required I have bacon on my sandwich today?


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Very Important Research

Yes, it's been a busy summer.  I've had lots and lots to do, but I still made time for a very important study.  This is the sort of research that can change lives.  I'm dedicated to the betterment of humanity, after all.

Having recently acquired a Very Complicated Kitty, I was presented with a unique opportunity to assess the one quality that most cats have to varying degrees, but which is often left unmeasured.  I am, of course, refering to Flumpability.

For those of you who do not happen to have cats, I shall explain.  Flumpability is a cat's willingness to be Flumped in a variety of locations and for differing purposes.  Flumping, as you probably already know, is the act of picking up the cat, transferring him to the desired spot and depositing him gently but never on his feet.  Flumping facilitates many daily activities ranging from belly rubbing, snuggling, making room for vacuuming and checking for fleas.  In my household, cats are flumped for napping.  I like to nap with a cat, but it's not worth it if the feline in question is not Flumpable.

As with any other measurable behavior, a rating scale must be used for recording.  This we refer to as the Flumpability Scale.  A 0 means that the cat is completely averse to being Flumped.  Don't go there.  A score of 10 reflects a cat who is quite skilled in the art of the Flump.  Cats will fall anywhere within this range.  Unless you are me and then you will make adjustments as needed because what's the point in making up scientific stuff if you can't play with it a little bit?

A non-Flumpable cat is not necessarily a bad thing.  Cats have many other qualities and it is guaranteed that their other strengths will more than make up for a lack of Flumpage.  However, it is good to know ahead of time where your cat stands of the F-scale.  It can save you a nasty bout of...repercussions.  A few weeks of diligent study and you can easily plan your life (and naps) around your cat's Flump Status.

For example, the Smaller, Less Fluffy Kitty was a -4 on the F-scale.  Flumping was beneath her.  She was very clear about this.  On the other hand, the Big, Fluffy Kitty was a 14.  She was a people pleaser and liked nothing better than to be Flumped at the whim of her humans.  In fact, I think that the majority of her travel throughout the manse was courtesy of random Flumping.

The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty is a 5.  He is Flumpable under certain circumstances, but is unlikely to stay where he's been Flumped.  Frankly, he's more of a Self-Flumper.  He likes to toddler over and Flump himself on my feet.  Sometimes I can Flump him for belly rubs but that is usually right before dinner time when he is humoring me.

I have been studying the VCK for several weeks now to determine where he falls on the F-scale.  This has required that I spend a great deal of time napping, but I'm willing to do my part for science.  We've been napping at different times of the day and retrieving the cat from a variety of locations for the purpose of Flumping to see how he responds to the Lift-Lug-Flump experience.  I believe that I now have enough data to assign him his official number.

The Very Complicated Kitty is a firm 8 on the F-scale.  He is generally quite open to being Flumped, however he is more likely to accept it when he has already been napping in the recliner.  Once transferred to the sofa and Flumped into place, he will remain in the Flumped state for the duration of the nap.  He does not care for Flumping during the hours when he is scheduled for play or eating.  Oddly, he is also not Flumpable at bed time.

This leads me to believe that he is spending the unsupervised night hours playing online poker, but I kind of hate to think about that for too long....

I'm pleased with his score, overall.  I have missed having a nappin' kitty and it's good to know that the VCK is so high on the F-scale.  Flumpability isn't everything when it comes to cats, but it's awfully nice when it's an option.

There are other benefits to cats who are well-versed in the Art Of The Flump.  Overall, they tend to be more open to indulging their humans.

For example, they will pose with a freshly knit dishcloth and hardly seem bothered by it at all.

When I tried this with the AGK, he attacked the hapless dishcloth.  After I snatched it away from his killer claws, he proceeded to merrily bat at the camera straps until I gave up in disgust.  Knitting is best photographed with cats who rate a bit higher on the F-scale.  That's another little bit of research I've tucked away for future reference.

To those who think I've spent my summer vacation days lazing about, I hope that you now realize this was not the case.  Not at all.  I've been doing careful and precise research and probably will be getting an award any day now for my sacrifices in the name of science.  Others might rest on their laurels after such an intellectual triumph.  Not I.

Next, I think I shall tackle the problem of eating ice cream in bed.  I think we all know how badly that can go.  This is an area fairly crying out for the intervention of a scientific mind!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bullet Points With Extra Spatter

I am trying mightily to get a handle on "days of the week."  This, I think, will be quite helpful in managing the coming work schedule.  Thankfully, I have the Wednesday Night Bullet Post to give me some guidance.  I always know when it's midweek.  And, if it isn't Wednesday, it might be a good idea to not tell me that.

*I didn't work out this morning.

*I think the mean Wii Fit Lady is mad at me.

*Maybe she heard all the stuff I've said about her.  I didn't think so, but...

*She sent in an different trainer to do the single leg extensions with me the other day.  

*I don't know what's creepier.

*The fact that I think she is mad at me.

*Or how Wii Fit can bring in a substitute like that...

*I didn't knit today.

*Still kind of mad at the scarf for being all "difficult."

*Plus, I had a "salsa situation" going on.

*I made salsa a while back and liked it.

*Makes it easy to forget how messy things can get when canning salsa.

*You seriously have no idea how much of a train wreck I create in the kitchen with this operation.

*I know what you're thinking.  I can practically hear you.

*Oh, Sheepie I have (children/small dogs/a tribe of wild trolls living in my basement/any other mess-makers you might want to insert here).  I think I know what a mess is.

*You don't.  Plus you have wild trolls in your basement and have yet to call an exterminator.  You are untrustworthy, IMHO.

*I canned three pints of salsa, though.  And had an extra pint to throw in the fridge for this weekend.

*Then I spent an hour and a half cleaning the kitchen.

*Sort of...

*I got tired.  Salsa making is exhausting.

*Plus you have to track down every little hot pepper seed that flew into the stratosphere so that none of the cats find it.

*Speaking of cats, can someone please explain to me why the Very Complicated Kitty feels the need to lick things?

*I'm not talking about the sorts of things you'd expect a cat to lick.  I mean other stuff.

*Like the window screens.

*And the living room carpet.

*Today I found him licking the sofa cushions.

*Questioning whether or not he is getting too high a dose of his happy pills...

*He looks pretty happy while he's licking stuff around the house.  Blissful, in fact.

*Now I'm thinking I should go back to the kitchen and reexamine for salsa spatter.

*The VCK might be cured of his licking fetish, but I don't think I want to explain this to the vet.

*Cat with burned tongue and dragon breath compete with actual fire.

*Could be awkward.

Yeah.  I should get on that.  I suppose it's time to call this edition of the WNBP a wrap.  If nothing else, I ate a goodly amount of salsa today and probably should have some ice cream to balance things out.  Happy Wednesday and may your kitchen be spatter free!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Timely Perceptions

One summer during my second or third year as a teacher, I vividly remember the day I decided to go to the beach.  I'd been putting it off what with having lots of other things to do and I've never been much of a "beach" person but I really meant to go before classes started.  It was August and I went in to school to get a few things done so I wouldn't have to worry about it while I was lazing on the sand.

Now, remember...this was a different time.  We didn't have all the technological advances we enjoy today. I drove a used buggy pulled by a three-legged horse and kept my appointments on parchment scrolls.  It was easy to forget stuff, especially when you couldn't catch a bird from whose feathers you might make functional quills.

Still, it was a bit of a shock when a colleague reminded me that I was due at Teacher Workshops the next day.  And that school itself would be starting the directly thereafter.  How did I miss that????

Suffice it to say, I didn't make it to the beach.

I've had a few similar moments of horrid First Day Realization after that, but none quite so dramatic.  Thankfully, we now have email and school websites to keep us in the loop so we don't have to bother ourselves reading all those pesky letters the administrators send us over the summer.  Now, I always know when school is starting, although I admit to a couple of calendar-confused moments over the years.

August makes me tense.  I feel like I have to get it all done and still practice getting up at 5:00 in the morning no matter how tired I am from arising at the crack of darkness.  This weekend was no exception.  I decided to try using the pressure canner to put up chicken. (and don't think that wasn't a stressful thing requiring that I go on fifty different cooperative extension sites to make sure I wasn't doing anything that would kill me later...)  I crocheted not one, but two, mop head covers for my new steam mop.  (This would have gone more quickly had I bothered to write down what I did on the first one, but let's not get into that...)  I then proceeded to knit two dishcloths, one of which actually came out right and might even be suitable for gift giving.  (The other one was good for washing out the pressure canner since it was a little bit on the chicken-y side...)

Today, I finally managed to get that stupid mini blind installed because you can only stare at a packaged mini blind for so long before you really can't take it any more.  (Three weeks seems to be my limit on that score.)  I vacuumed the carpets in preparation for one more steam cleaning later in the week once the temperatures go down a little bit.  I visited the grocery store where I stocked up on bagels because I will soon be eating breakfast on a more regular basis.  I checked in with the pet supply website to make sure that the Very Complicated Kitty's prescription food is in transit so I don't have to worry about that later.  (It's due to arrive tomorrow...)

I still don't feel like I did everything that needed doing.  I don't even feel close.  I had much bigger plans for this summer than it could realistically contain.  That's always the way, I guess.  I know going in that I won't get it all done, but I still can't help but remember that summer from years gone by when the whole thing ended before I made it to the beach.  Now, I get all...twitchy.  School is starting soon and it won't matter if I did it all or not.

And you know what the worst part is?  Even worse than giving up the days of leisure and not doing all the things I said I was going to do?

I don't even think I'll be missed when I'm gone every day....


Saturday, August 07, 2010

Using My Head

I started a new scarf project about a week ago.  Actually, I started it several times, but that is neither here nor there.  We don't need to focus on that part.  Let's just take up the tale after I managed to get into the groove of the k2togs and PSSOs.  I was moving along nicely.

Then things started to go awry.  Part of the problem was the horrific heat and humidity that settled in during the latter part of this week.  The yarn was sticking to my digits and my brain was too soggy to really process what I was doing.  Thankfully, I had the foresight to use a lifeline or two so ripping back and setting the project aside was not such a big deal.  Not like those first few (billion) attempts.

The other issue that may have distracted me was a looming dentist appointment involving two fillings.  Then there was the matter of finding out that it was actually three fillings, followed by a paralyzed face and the final discomfort once the painkillers eventually wore off.  It was really for the best that I put the scarf away.

I was still kind of itching to do something, though.  I needed a project that wasn't intended for holiday gifting and which would keep me entertained without giving off that "finish or feel like a miserable failure" vibe.

Not long ago, I stumbled across a good deal on a steam mop. (Shark Deluxe Steam Pocket Mop, S3501)  I really liked it in spite of its "reconditioned" status.  It does a nice job on the kitchen floors, something I appreciate more now that I have two sloppy boy kitties on canned food diets.  What I didn't like was the fact that the mop only came with one of each mop head cover.  I needed spares.  Did I mention that I have sloppy boy kitties who eat with great gusto and enthusiasm?  And over spray?

I decided to whip up a mop head.  How hard could it be, really?  I opted for crochet since that tends to go a little more quickly and would result in a thicker fabric.  I remembered how stretchy cotton can be, particularly when it gets wet, and accounted for that in the sizing.  I diligently examined the cover provided and worked out a way to stitch it up in one piece.  I crocheted like the wind.  I used everything I've ever learned about the art of looping yarn and making it fit things.  What I didn't know, I made up and pretended that this is how these sorts of things are done by those in the know.  I worked on it for a day.

And when I was done...

I had a perfectly fitted cover for my mop!

I was a little worried about how to fasten it in the back.  The original version uses hook and loop tape, but that was just going to be a sticky mess with the cotton.  I didn't want to use metal buttons because the steam gets really hot and that seemed like a burned finger or toe in the making.  And plastic might melt which would result in messy burns.  I finally decided to make my own buttons using the same yarn. That seemed sensible.  The problem was the need for "roundness."

I learned to crochet about fifteen years ago using a book.  At the time, the section on crocheting in the round sounded awfully complicated and I skipped it.  As a result, I sort of don't really know how to make things go 'round 'n 'round in crotchet.  But this is a mop head cover.  In the long run, does neatness count when something is going to be sloshing around the kitchen floor?

I submit that it does not.

I chained loops along the other side of the mop head cover to correspond with the lumpy buttons and they hold quite well.  I tested the whole thing out yesterday even though adding more steam to the air was probably an ill advised decision.  I couldn't wait, though.  Happily, it fit like a charm and held up well as the steam blasted through the fibers.  All in all, a very successful experiment.

Except for the part where I didn't write down a single thing I did during The Great Mop Head Experiment.  Nothing.  For some reason, I always seem to think that my mind will automatically recall the finer details of my genius even though that has never once proven to be the case.  Now I'm working on a second cover and diligently taking notes in the event that I am able to successfully recreate my most beloved of mop head covers.

We'll see if it all works out.  If it does, I'll have a pattern.  If it doesn't, I'll consider my mop head cover to be a one-of-a-kind art object and treasure it each time I cast mine eyes upon it.  I am rather good at working my mind around these kinds of incidents and finding a way to make it seem like that's what I meant to do all along.

Now I have to wonder if this is going to make mopping the kitchen floor clear of cat food crumbs any more pleasant...


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

WNBP: Admit It

I can barely see the keyboard through the haze of humidity, but I'm going for it anyway.  Blogging has been sparse this summer and I can't afford to miss an opportunity.  Hopefully, I won't electrocute myself what with all the perspiration dripping onto the keyboard.  It's not really so much about me as it is about my not wanting to admit to having injured another laptop this week.

Let's get to this week's Wednesday Night Bullet Post while I'm still moderately less soggy, shall we?

*In case you didn't catch the hint, it is hot today.

*And muggy.

*I'm all limp and wilt-i-fied.

*90 degrees and air so thick you can slice it like soggy bread.

*And I'm spending the day making tomato sauce.

Yes.  I admit it.  I'm an idiot.  But I had a lot of tomatoes...

*It amuses me to think that, a mere thirty minutes earlier, this was just a pile of tomatoes, onions and garlic.

*I'm a vegetable geek...

*It was crowded at the Farmer's Market this morning in spite of the heat.

*I had to fight for my onions.

*Still managed to get only the red ones which were most decidedly NOT what I wanted.

*The scarf finished blocking.

*Rose Trellis Lace Scarf pattern from Wooly Wonka.

*Yarn by Sheepie from back when she used to spin with more frequency and knew from silk/lambswool blends.

*One of my all-time favorite scarf patterns.


*Good thing it finished blocking a couple of days ago.

*Wouldn't ever dry if I blocked it today.

*Would actually be soggier after a day of blocking.

*It is hot.  I can't remember if I mentioned that.

*And humid.

*The Very Complicated Kitty says, "Thank you" for all the One Month Anniversary wishes.

*Actually, he didn't really say it.

*He's a cat.  Cats don't talk.

*I won't admit to hearing cats talk to me.

*He says it with his eyes.

*I'm just passing it on.

*I finally figured out how to get him to take his anti-anxiety medication in the morning with a minimum of feline fussing.

*And anxiety on both our parts.

*I make the meatball with the crushed pill just like The Cat Whisperer told me to.

*Then I feed it to him on a spoon.

*Slurps it right up.

*No muss, no fuss.

*Don't tell anyone that I am spoon feeding my cat a medicated meatball.

*I'll deny it.

*You'll just look foolish and people will laugh at you.

*And it's not like I feed him his whole breakfast like that.  Just the meatball.

*No one can prove that I spoon feed my VCK.

The only available witness is otherwise occupied.

Well, I made it through an entire blog post without melting or flooding the school laptop I'm borrowing for blogging purposes.  I am glad about that because it would be hard to come up with a good story for how that happened once school starts up in a few weeks.  Now I'm off to get myself some refreshing flavored water and see about feeding some cats.  It's the night feeding so no meatballs are involved in this operation.

Not that I have anything to be ashamed of where the meatballs are concerned, mind you...


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Marking The Day

A couple of years ago, I brought home an Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty.  He turned out to be a real firecracker and, while he didn't exactly get along with the Big Fluffy Kitty already in residence, I don't think I could have picked a better fluffy friend.

When he and I reached our one month anniversary, I decided to do a blog post in honor of that momentous occasion.  I wanted to bake a cake, but he was already gi-normous so that didn't exactly seem like the best idea.  I went in a different direction.  I like to think I marked the day well.

Now that a Very Complicated Kitty has joined the Sheepish Family, I wasn't going to let a little technological difficulty get in the way of doing the same for him.  I marched myself right over to the School Stuff and dug out the District Issued Laptop.  That machine used to be the second best computer in the house.  It is now elevated in status since, when I turn it on, it does something besides show me a black screen.  It won't let me install any cool software, but it will certainly make Blogging For My Boy Possible!

Once again, I have managed to find a rather large animal so cake baking is still out of the question.  But I can do what I did for his big brother.  I'd like to put out a little love for all the kitties who haven't yet managed to find a place to call home.  I think he'd like that.  Maybe not as much as cake, but still...

Long time readers are already aware of my feelings around animal adoption.  While I can't think of anything cuter than a kitten even if I try really hard and scrunch my forehead up tightly, I still maintain that adopting adult cats is a truly wonderful thing.  I don't begrudge anyone for deciding to bring home a kitten.  I've done it myself.  But not in a very long time.  Kittens always find homes.  Adult cats aren't quite so lucky, in spite of being amazing companions.

The benefits of adopting an adult cat are many.  I find that they tend to be more settled into their personalities and are often easier to transition.  They kind of know the ropes.  I've never once had difficulties training a mature adoptee to the litter box.  I can't say the same for the kitten I brought home.  Furthermore, adult cats have history and the shelter staff can give you a great deal of information in many cases.  What they share can be invaluable in making the best possible choice for your home and family.

Shelters are also often willing to make adopting an adult worth your while.  The cost is markedly lower when you bypass the kitten room at the facility I use.  There is no rush, you don't need to call ahead to make sure that there are animals available for adoption and the staff are more than happy to work with you as you peruse the aisles.  If you are thinking about bringing a special needs cat home, the price tag can drop even lower.  This, of course, is dependent upon the policies of the shelter you choose but it seemed to be a common theme when I compared the ones in my area.

If you are thinking about adoption and considering an adult cat, I can't claim to be an expert on the topic.  I can, however, make some suggestions based upon my own experience.  Make of it what you will and take away what you think makes sense.

First and foremost, be sure that you are truly in a position to adopt.  My Very Complicated Kitty was adopted once and then surrendered back to the shelter.  The reasons weren't clear and I am the sort of person who believes that people really do try to make the best possible choices, but it had to be hard on the poor fellow.  Sometimes things that seem like a good idea turn out to be...not so much.  Pets are an expense and require a time investment.  Even the grown up pets.  Be sure.

Once you've established your readiness, check out the shelter's adoption policies online.  Most will have everything you need, from paperwork to animal profiles.  Going in prepared can take a good deal of time off the adoption process.  My shelter uses a color coded personality system to help match people to animal types.  I went in with the forms in hand and a clear idea of what I was looking for.  They were impressed.  Given how crowded the shelter was that day, I think I saved myself a good half hour just by being prepared and also made time for someone else to adopt.

Part of that preparedness came from first talking to my vet.  I was very worried about how the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty was going to react to a new buddy and The Cat Whisperer's advice was invaluable.  Had I not talked to her, I would have gone in a very different direction.  I honestly believed a female would be a better choice and never once thought about getting another male.  Turns out male cats like hanging around with each other.  Who knew?

I also knew going in that there was a good chance I'd be looking at a cat with special dietary needs.  Having reviewed the profiles of available adoptees, it seemed pretty likely.  I spent a great deal of time reviewing pet supply sites and comparing the cost of food before I felt comfortable going in to visit with the kitties.  While the cost of prescription food isn't all that much more than good quality canned cat food, it is an investment.  I wanted to be sure I could afford it and that it would be safe for the AGK should he try to nibble upon it.  As it happened, the vendor used by my vet is the cheapest once you factor in reduced shipping costs.  She was able to approve his prescriptions before I even went online to set up an account.

It isn't always a smooth path, but sometimes it is.  Sure, it is an adjustment period.  You might find yourself having one or two "tense" moments.  And it all pales in comparison to the look on a happy kitty's face once he realizes that he is "home."

Trust me.  He's happy.  He's just thoughtful is all...

And then there's kitty toes.

I mean...my God!  Is there anything better than kitty toes?????

Introducing cats to one another doesn't always go smoothly except for when it does.  And then...well it warms the heart.  


It's a match made in heaven, the kind of thing that shouldn't happen but still does.  I like to think that being prepared was the key to this successful partnering, but I can't help but wonder if it was meant to be.  Yes, a kitten would have been cute.  But would it have been this?  There are all kinds of cute and I think that two big 'ol boys going all snuggle-cuddle-umpkins at least equals kitten cute.  Maybe even surpasses it.  And, at ages two and three respectively, Da Boyz have years and years ahead of them to enjoy each other's company.

So there you have it.  A Happy One Month Anniversary gift to my Androcles.  He is a Very Complicated Kitty, but worth every minute spent ordering his food, picking up his meds and devising crafty ways to administer it.  He's a love and was more than willing to give up his nap time in the recliner today to snuggle with me when I needed a rest from the computer woes.  That's love for you.

Maybe not quite as enthusiastic as his love for his big brother, but still...