Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Horror!!!

It's Halloween my darlings and a night when we all must face our deepest, darkest fears.  I know that it is unnerving, but we need to put on our grown up faces and stand firm in the face of terror.  Together, we can do it.  I know we can.  We are not going through this alone, you see.  Each of us is doing battle with our own personal demons and it is through sharing that we can find our common bond as well as the strength to conquer our nightmares.

To that end, I shall share with you the horrors I have faced of late.  These are the things that make Sheepie want to crawl into her bed and cower beneath the covers until it is all over.  Read on, if you dare!  It won't be pretty, but it will help to forge the steel in your spine.  I promise.

The Tale Of The String Slasher.

I continue to knit and crochet like a woman possessed.  I am not possessed.  That is another kind of horror story.  This one is scarier because it could happen to any of us and possession only seems to happen to people with the flexibility required to turn their heads a full 360 degrees.

I have discovered over the past few weeks that I am somewhat incapable of counting.  Or measuring.  Or noticing large holes before it is too late to do anything other than tear apart nearly finished objects.  I am known as the Frankenstein of the knitting world.  It's all just ripping and repairing.  Yarn cries out when it sees me.  

I've managed to finish a few things, of course.  But there are dismembered bits of garments and accessories all over my living room and I've no doubt that the authorities will be here at any moment.  I am not even bothering to clean up the crime scene.  I'll just go quietly when the time comes.  Then I'll sit in my cell and await the book offers.  I think that the screenplay will do very well, too.  I'll be just fine.

The yarn, however, must suffer.  

The Demonic Decorator.

Once there was a boy.  He had a name, but was generally known as The Boy For Whom All The World Is A Stage.  His teacher's name was Ms. Sheep and she was a remarkably tolerant woman.  She sometimes used part of the last period to beat her head against her desk, but mostly she presented herself quite professionally.

She had but one rule, this paragon of educators.  She did not wish for children to go into her office without permission, nor did she want little fingers touching the stuff she kept in that office.  If the darling children asked, they could enter.  Otherwise, they needed to keep the heck out of there.

But TBFWATWIAS could not seem to remember that rule.  He wandered into Ms. Sheep's office many times during the day.  Every day.  Sometimes he would sit at her desk.  Sometimes he would open her window and shout merry greetings to people in the parking lot.  He meant well.  But TBFWATWIAS wasn't much for long term memory.  Or short term memory.  Or microscopic measurements of memory.  He just kept forgetting.

Finally the day came when he realized that his teacher was going to kill him.  Not the fake kind of killing.  The real kind.  He could tell by the way the big veins in her forehead started to throb.  So TBFWATWIAS made a decision.  

He would create his own office.  Then he would have no need to mess with Ms. Sheep's stuff and he might live to see his own high school graduation.

The classroom was virtually shut down for two days while he selected his space and raided every corner of the school for supplies.  Chairs were tested for comfort and fabrics selected for his "Butt Support Pillow."  A spider plant was arranged next to his mostly unused notebooks and measurements were taken to ensure that he had space to set up his laptop.  Lastly, he went online to find a picture of his hero.  Once it was located and printed, Ms. Sheep was directed to the teacher's lounge where she was to laminate the picture, together with its decorative mat.  Once it was secured to a cardboard stand, the beatific smile of Oprah Winfrey could inspire his every academic endeavor.

When it was all finished, TBFWATWIAS stood back to admire his work.  It was perfection!  He went to find Ms. Sheep so that she could exclaim over its aesthetic charms.  She was nowhere in sight, though.  He searched and finally spied his teacher in her office.  Her head was thumping softly against her desk and she was muttering something about how she now knew why test scores kept dropping.  He wondered if he should go in and check on her but, in the end, decided against it.

He didn't feel the need to go into that lame office anymore...

Fang:  The Tale Of The Terrible Teeth.

The Very Complicated Kitty is bored.  And has dental problems.  I don't know if I ever mentioned that, but it is one of the complications.  Lately, he has decided to deal with both matters by chewing.  He likes to chew things.  Mostly, he likes to chew things that fight back a little bit.  He has gnawed on the plastic wand that supports the toy on the Automated Kitty Distractor.  He has nibbled on book covers.  I used to have leather ties on my slippers but they are gone and I'm pretty sure he ate them.  Sometimes I have to shoo him away from electrical appliances because I can tell he is thinking that the cords might provide a heck of a good chew.

That is pretty bad.  I don't want him eating electrical cords.  He is the light of my life, but I don't wish for him to actually glow.  That would be bad.  But this is not the truly horrifying thing.  No.  It is much worse than that.  It is the worstest thing ever.  Get ready for your blood to run cold, my friends.

Yesterday, he discovered the joy of chewing on circular needle cables.

I don't think I need to say anything else.  You are now probably cowering in a corner somewhere and your family is thumbing through the phone book looking for Professional Help.  I know I needed it when I discovered the tooth marks...

The Bowl Of Temptation.

I can hear the sounds of happy children running freely in the streets now.  They scream.  They laugh.  Some of them are quiet and they are the ones that scare me the most because it's the quiet ones who carry the most toilet paper on Halloween.  

But they don't scare me quite so much as that bowl in the kitchen.  It is white and used to be at my grandmother's house.  It is sitting on the counter.   It is filled to the brim with candy.  

And it speaks.

It says, "Sheeeeeepeeeeeee!  You know you aren't going to have any trick-or-treaters.  You almost never do.  You don't even want them to come because it means you can't put on your pajamas at noon on a Sunday.  You want them to stay outside where they belong.  But you bought candy anyway.  I wonder why that is?"

"Ah, yes!  I remember.  You tell everyone that you buy it for the children, but that is a lie.  You bought it so you could eat it after 8:00.  You pretend that you are a good-hearted woman who wishes to give treats to costumed kiddies.  That way everyone will think you are a good sport and filled with the spirit of Halloween.  But you know you are going to eat all of it.  You started last night.  You know you did."

"Oh, sure.  You can tell everyone that you were just testing it before handing it out to defenseless children.  We know the truth, though.  We know that you like candy.  And that you ate it for dinner last night.  We know that you are going to do it again tonight.  Why not just start now?  Why wait?  Why put off the inevitable?  You are weak.  You don't have the strength to resist.  Just do it."

"You know you want to..."

I hate that bowl.  I hate that it sits out there all smug and judgmental.  I hate that it thinks it knows me.  I hate that it wants to tempt me.  I hate that it thinks it has the right to do so.

Mostly, though, I just hate that it is right.

Yes, Halloween is very scary.  We just have to hang in there for a few more hours and it will all be over.  Light all the lamps, put on a sweetly sentimental Disney movie and think good thoughts.  Before you know it, this night will be nothing more than a distant memory.  We must be strong and then we will be victorious over the forces of Darkness.

Or will we?  Tomorrow is Monday, after all...


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WNBP: The Power Of Pants

Well here it is!  Wednesday night!  And we all know what that means.  It's time for the Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  I think I can come up with a tidbit or two for you all.  Wednesdays are typically good for that...

*It is October.

*More properly, it is the end of October.

*Sort of a fluke that I remembered to check the weather forecast last night.

*Good thing.  Otherwise I might have dressed in a seasonably appropriate fashion.

*Not for 70 balmy degrees.

*This year's crop of students includes a number of somewhat...fragrant boys.

*At least I wasn't wearing a turtleneck and was comfortable.  Small blessings...

*(the boy who is) Dark And Disturbed is quite the story teller.  He is also a budding cartoonist and shows some real talent.  His best work is, well...Dark And Disturbed.  But in the best possible way, if that makes any sense.

*I like Dark And Disturbed.  D&D is funny and very cool.  

*He has a way about him.

*Today, he decided to embellish his regular life by adding drama.  As in, "When I want breakfast, I head off into the deepest, darkest part of the forest with nothing but a knife and the will to sustain myself!"

*From there it went like this:

D&D:  I hunt until I find my meal!  Like a man!!!

Ms. Sheep:  That's nice, dear.

D&D:  And I wear one of those things.  You know what I mean.

MS:  (sensing where this is going because she has spent a great deal of time with D&D):  Fine.  I know what you mean.  Moving on, now.

Cheerful Teaching Assistant:  What?  What is he wearing when he goes out to hunt for his breakfast like a real man?

D&D:  One of those things.  Things!  You know...(helpfully flaps his hand around his midsection.)

MS:  Please.  I beg you.  Don't...

CTA:  I still don't get it.

D&D:  (finally finding the right word)  A loincloth!  That's what it is!  A loincloth!  I stalk my prey while wearing a loincloth!!!

MS:  Therapy.  I needz it.

*The rest of the day, D&D added, "while wearing a loincloth" to every single thing he said.  Everything.

*Sometimes he posed in a manly, hunter-type manner whilst saying the word, "loincloth."

*I anticipate at any moment that I will be appearing on one of those news specials that feature educators desperately trying to explain how they found themselves in such a delicate situation.  There will be lots of close ups of my stricken face and people calling in to hurl verbal abuse at me while I defend myself.

*The Boy For Whom All The World's A Stage entered the room today and announced:

Today is one of those days when I wasn't sure if I was wearing pants.  Seriously.  I had to check when I got off the bus.  It just doesn't feel like I'm wearing pants!

*I am going to be on the news.  I know it.  I might even be on one of those week long investigation specials.

*My name will go down in history and not in a good way.

*Why can't these kids think of themselves as wearing pants, for crying out loud?????

*At the very least, could they envision themselves fully clad while at school?  Is that too much to ask???

*It's actually too hot to knit.

*Or crochet.

*I have found myself in the mood to re-read old favorites, lately.

*This weekend, I picked up and finished Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Bright.

*She's not for everyone.  Sometimes not even for me.

*Dark stuff.  She doesn't pull any punches.  But kind of beautiful in its way.

*Now I'm revisiting Shadowland by Peter Straub.

*I've had this book for years.  It's one I've literally read to tatters.  Straub is one of the greats.  

*Think I'm going to dig up my copy of Mystery (Blue Rose Trilogy) next.  

*Feeling kind of badly for forgetting about good, old Peter for these past few years.

*I think it was running across The Hellfire Club on the bookshelf a while back that reminded me...

*I forgot to change Alpha Betta's water this past weekend.

*That's not true.  I remembered.  I just didn't feel like doing it and then I forgot.  

*I feel badly about it, but he seems to understand.

*At least I think he does.  He's a fish.  Who can tell?

*I'm not sick, but my left nostril was running all day.  

*Weird when it's a balmy, summer day in autumn.  

*Not sure why my nose was running.  It's not like I was chilled or anything.

*I was wearing pants, after all...

That's all I can think of for now.  I'll probably come up with all sorts of other stuff once I sign off, but that's the way these things go sometimes.  I really need to get off the couch and start getting ready for the teaching day tomorrow.   It's shaping up to be a busy one and I'll need to make sure the coffee maker is dripping at the earliest possible hour if I'm going to get enough of the go-juice in me to matter.  I also should pick out an outfit.

A complete outfit.  Top and bottom.  No loincloth.  That is the new dress code in my classroom.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hour By Hour, It Can All Unravel.

The day started off pretty well, actually.  I knew that the Cheerful Teaching Assistant was going to be out of the classroom as she'd arranged for a well-deserved day off.  That was all right.  The Organized Teaching Assistant came back from her long doctor-imposed absence on Monday so it's not like I'd be all alone. I'd even managed to get past the rather pointed commentary from my ipod regarding my taste in music.  I still think it was kind of snarky for it to erase everything after I went to bed on Sunday, but what can you do? Ipods apparently have something against the golden age that was the 80's.  I'd be more accepting of the judgement if I hadn't crashed my laptop a while back and had some way of restoring my music library, though...

Still, I was feeling pretty good overall.  I made it to school on time and was even able to attend the weekly meeting I've been missing during the staffing crisis of the past month. Then one of my students decided to use a zombie apocalypse scenario for his cartooning assignment in language arts class.  We had a very jolly time discussing how it might look should a group of survivors get stuck in a kiddie play facility.  The idea of a contagion lurking in one of those disgusting ball pits kept us going for almost the entire first period.

It started to fall apart right before lunch, though.  The kids couldn't maintain their jolly, zombie-loving demeanor for the entire morning.  The OTA got a call and had to leave to pick up her son before he infected the entire elementary school.  The paper airplane project we are doing for science turned into a free-for-all and the teacher who came up so I could check on the project she is doing for her class in behavior management was probably not impressed by my kid wrangling skills.  In fact, she may be dropping the class altogether after what she witnessed.  No one would want to admit to having a background in behavior management if it meant getting my job.  That's all it takes, really.  Just admitting that you have the background.  She'll probably go study accounting or something now.

By day's end, I wanted but two things.  The first was an unoccupied bathroom since I hadn't seen one of those since 9:30.  The other was the freedom to go to my car in order that I might drive and drive and drive.  In the opposite direction of my place of employment.  To a place where there are no children.  Just a couple of cats (who are generally glad to see me and sometimes listen to me) and a fish (who really doesn't much care whether I'm there or not but who is very, very quiet).

Instead, I had to stay for a meeting.  I was not the most delightful individual at that gathering.  One person announced her pregnancy and it took everything I had to not point out to her that being pregnant means having a baby which, in turn, means an eventual teenager.  It has come to my attention over the years that the pregnant people don't really want to hear about that.  It's a downer.

The day is done now, though.  If all goes according to plan, the CTA and OTA will be back in place tomorrow morning.  While I don't expect the students to be any better behaved, at least I can spread the wealth a bit.  Meanwhile, I'm planning on sitting very quietly tonight and knitting something.  I just finished some left over goulash and that was tasty.  I might even bake an apple later on just for the Comfort Food Factor.  It is going to be a nice evening here.  I am going to recover and rewind.

In case it all unravels again tomorrow...


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Exit Strategy

I awoke Friday morning feeling like the week had gone on far too long for its own good.  I was more than ready for it to be over.  By my internal calendar, it was already the following Wednesday.  That's how long the week ran.  This, I submit to you, is the reason for my commuter error.

I travel the same route five days a week, pretty much every week for ten months of the year.  I have done so for seven years.  I know where I am going.  I know how to get from point A to point B.  There is absolutely no reason for me to not reach point B in a timely fashion.  Unless, of course, it is a long week and I'm sick of it.  Then I am very likely to miss my exit off the Maine Turnpike.

I suppose I should admit that I've done it before.  Twice before, actually.  But that was a long time ago, back in the first few years I worked for this school district.  To have done it yesterday is simply ridiculous!  To further complicate matters, my exit is a key one.  Anyone who is familiar with this route knows that if you miss the Wells are in it for the long haul.  Fortunately for me, the traffic was light and having to take the scenic route only added about twenty minutes to the drive.  Still, twenty minutes is the difference between being able to visit the ladies room before the first teaching period starts and holding it for the foreseeable future.

I feel that this is a significant difference.  Maybe that's just me...

There really was no hope for the rest of the day.  I did my best to sneak through the cafeteria and avoid attracting attention to my lateness.  Sadly, a table filled with my students enjoying their breakfast was between me and anonymity.  The Boy With The Bass Booming Earbuds bellowed out for all the world to hear:


I returned his jaunty wave weakly and skulked my way to my classroom.  I managed to get set up for the day and took attendance.  Things took another disastrous turn when the bus failed to show up for the scheduled bowling field trip for the second week in a row.  Since this was a "make up" trip for the one we missed, I called the transportation office and pleaded that they send another bus.  I pointed out that I was going to have to change my name and live in Witness Protection if I had to tell my class that yet another trip was cancelled.  I said that I would probably end up on a farm or something and that I had no earthy idea how to milk a cow.  The nice man at the dispatch office thought that he might have to join me in the program and also feared that his milking skills might not be up to par.  I helpfully suggested that he Google it and get back to me.

We got the bus, but it was late.  The driver was apologetic, though so it was water under the bridge at that point.  I sent an email to the woman who schedules the field trips for us, letting her know that we had a little problem, but that I was able to solve it.  I thought the "cow" stuff was kind of funny and included that for a chuckle.  The missed trip last week was kind of a sore spot, and I wanted to make sure she knew there were no hard feelings.  It all worked out after all...

By day's end, The Field Trip Masters were irate on my behalf.  The fact that I did not need their ire didn't seem to matter.  They were determined to find the individual responsible for this disaster and identified a genuinely innocent individual as the culprit. (rather than identifying themselves...) The email that was cc'd to me as proof of their efforts on my behalf caused me to gasp and pale visibly.  Three students ran into my office asking after my welfare upon hearing my sudden, whooping intake of horrified air.  I needed to get my breath back quickly in order that I might make the trip down to the first floor to apologize to the poor woman who received that alarming email with all those sentences written entirely in capital letters.

Seriously...that cow part was funny.  It was!  The guy at the transportation office just about busted a gut over it.  Everyone else I used it on laughed, too.  Including the woman who got blamed for the thing she didn't do.  Maybe it just didn't work as well in email form...

There were about a million other things that didn't go as planned, but it was really par for the course by then.  Thankfully, the kids were all tuckered out after their horrific behavior earlier in the week and not really up to torturing me any further.  That or they could tell I was a woman on the edge.  Two of the boys who take later buses home rallied enough to make the dismissal process a nightmare, but I didn't much care.  I was too tired.  Besides, they were leaving and it was Friday and I was 99% sure I wouldn't miss my exit on the way home.

I fled the building before the exhaust of the departing buses cleared.

Today, I did not exit the manse.  I did not see the need.  I preferred to exit from the human race for a day instead.  I probably should have taken out that bag of trash by the door, but I wondered if it might be best to wait a day.  I could still be tainted by the Friday curse.  I patted the cats, I watched TV, I napped and I fiddled around with more of the Classified Yarn-Type Projects.  I also ate a few donuts because I think they have healing properties.  I don't want to hear differently if you think you know better.

I certainly understand if you are starting to doubt me on the whole yarn business. How often can you hear "Oh my yes!  I am most certain wielding the needles and hooks, I just can't prove it is all!" without questioning the assertion?  Here's a little sumpthin'-sumpthin' that might reassure you:

Proof Of Stitchery

It could be argued that this does not really represent anything that might ever be properly called "finished."  Given that I woefully underestimated the amount of yarn I was going to need to pull this off, that argument is a strong one.  But it is still yarn knotted artfully into something vaguely resembling a pattern so I think I'm coming from a position of strength here.  We'll see how it all comes together.

I like to think that missing my exit on Friday means that I will be more vigilant in the future and that I will have time to attend to my middle aged bladder before the teaching day begins.  I also like to think that I have learned a little something about The Field Trip Masters and their collective sense of humor (or lack thereof).  I probably won't bother mentioning missing buses again.  I'll just sit quietly and think about cows.  Mistakes are really just opportunities to learn, after all.

But I'm not ruling out the possibility of another Exit From Humanity Day in the future.  I still have to go back to school on Monday.  I also have to email to check on another scheduled field trip.

My strategy this time is to leave the cows out of it...


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WNBP: Responsible Life Choices

If it were not Wednesday, I would not be blogging tonight.  I would be sitting on the sofa, staring into space and trying to figure out how it is humanly possible for me to still be awake.  I would also possibly be setting up a website offering the use of my classroom to parents who would like their offspring to understand the importance of responsible dating behavior.

One day with my students and your kid would immediately scamper off to the nearest nunnery.  At least if it was a day like today...

But it is Wednesday and I get to do the Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  That one is easy.  I am hoping that some diligent blogging will keep me from spending any further time considering that new website.  In the long run, I don't really think it will be such a great idea.  There aren't that many nunneries, after all.

Here's your bullet points for this week!

*I do not wish to tell cute stories about the students today.

*There are no cute stories.

*Well...maybe a couple.  But I can't really focus on those now because the horrific behaviors they exhibited for the rest of the time overshadowed anything even remotely cute.

*The Cheerful Teaching Assistant finally went online to check the current phase of the moon and we are now bracing ourselves for further drama.

*Seems like the responsible thing to do under the circumstances.

*I finished a couple more knitted type thingies.

*Still can't prove it, though.  Super secret gift knitting.  There are security levels involved.

*Most of you are at the appropriate clearance level.

*Some of you are not.

*That is just the way it is, I'm afraid.  The system has to have rules or everything just falls apart.

*I am proud of me for the finishing of things.  I understand if you want to reserve your congratulatory back pats until I can show something more concrete.

*Is there anyone out there who has a suggestion for how to explain to the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty that donuts are bad for him?

*I didn't even remember that I had one donut left in the bag on the counter.

*Until I heard the thud and rustle of a plastic donut bag being dragged to the kitchen floor.

*I rescued the donut.  The cat looked chagrined.

*Chocolate donuts are bad for cats.  I'm pretty sure of this.

*They are also bad for me, but I am a responsible adult and can make choices for myself.

*I think I should eat the donut before he goes for it again.

*Reduce the temptation factor...

*Election day is right around the corner.  I am a registered voter, but not affiliated with either of the two major political parties.

*Hence, I am considered a "wild card," and I get a lot of phone calls.  

*One guy called me twice tonight.  

*I feel very popular right now...

*I vote regularly because that is what good citizens do.  

*I am not certain that answering five million phone calls was in any of the literature I got when I first registered to vote, though...

*I don't really remember if I got any "literature."  I probably didn't.  But I'm certain I studied this kind of thing in high school when they made us all take civics classes.

*Nothing about phone calls.  I'm sure of it.

*I am currently re-reading Lisey's Story: A Novel by Stephen King.

*Not his most smoothly written piece, but I've always loved the way he portrays the "secret" language of long time married couples in this book.  

*Almost poetic, really.  Except for the parts where people die horribly and whatnot.  

*I like those parts, too.  They just aren't quite so much with the poetry, is all...

*I can't read while I am answering phone calls like a responsible voter.

*Or recovering from a day spent with grumpy middle school students.

*Or thinking about donuts.

I am now looking down at the area around my feet and seeing four eyeballs looking back at me.  They are not on my feet, rather they belong to a pair of hungry felines.  I am guessing that the Greek chorus of meowing will soon begin and that signals the start of feeding time.  The fact that the AGK just tried to eat donuts is also something of a sign, I suppose.  Either way, I should be heading off to feed my brood like a responsible mother.  I happen to be the kind who doesn't have "real" children because she has spent enough time teaching other people's kids to know better.

Happy Mid-Week Everyone!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Very Complicated Distractions

It's tragic, really.  Here I am knitting up a storm, in possession of an honest-to-god knitting blog and I can't show any of it!  It's the curse of the gift knitting, I suppose.  But now I'm at a loss.  How do I distract the masses until I can prove that I actually knit things?  Hmmm...

I know!  I'll show the Very Complicated Kitty!  He's always a big hit and it's been a while since I've updated folks on how the newest fur baby is doing.  It's brilliant!!!

On Hero Worship:

The VCK was on his second shelter stay by the time I found him.  He'd managed to find a family a year earlier, but it didn't work out.  It's hard to imagine.  He's a great cat.  I just couldn't fathom it.  But, I think I might know why now.  Of course there were the obvious problems which likely included some urinating hither and yon due to an extreme case of struvite crystals.  More than that, though, I believe that the VCK is not the kind of cat who liked the solitary life.

He yearned for a brother.

He adores the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty.  He has since the moment he laid eyes upon him.  As I write this, the two of them are happily wrestling  and knocking over small pieces of furniture.  It's all good.  Except for the fact that the VCK tends to follow his big brother around and copy whatever he sees.  This can lead to some issues.  Toys are snagged.  Treats are confiscated.

Favorite chairs are commandeered.
It generally all works out, though.  Da Boyz are buddies and they are more than willing to share.  Mostly.

On Health, Hygiene And General Well Being:

When he landed at the manse, the VCK weighed in at a whopping 17 pounds.  That, in case you were wondering, is rather heavy for a siamese.  His tummy barely cleared the floor and swayed gently when he walked.  It was both comical and sad...

However, after a traumatic summer spent transitioning everyone over to a no-carb diet, I am pleased to report that the lad has slimmed down markedly.  He plays, he runs, he frolics and his belly jiggles far less than it used to.

The best news is that he is now able to attend to the cleaning of know.  His...Perpetual Pucker Point.  You know what I mean.  Don't make me say it.  He couldn't reach his backside for a long time and it was yucky.  Now it is not.

Clean as a whistle from this end!!!!

I imagine this is sort of what it's like when baby is finally out of diapers...

On The Mighty Wind (it's not what you think):

The first time I heard it was at the vet's office.  It was our first visit and I am certain that the VCK wasn't happy about this situation.  We were left alone for great lengths of time due to an emergency in the other exam room and the wait was lengthy.  We were both tense.  At last, the VCK gave me a look of resignation and settled on the table.  He did so with a huge, huffy sigh.

I was utterly charmed.  I thought it was the cutest thing I'd ever seen a cat do.  Sighing?  In a huffy kind of way?  ADORABLE!!!

This was taken after the sigh. But you can probably still sense the mood.

And this would be the VCK resolutely refusing to look at me.  Also indicative of his mood...

After a few months of listening to that sigh, I am less charmed.  In fact, I think he is maybe a little judgmental.  I hear that sigh a lot.  I hear it any time things aren't going quite the way he thinks things should be going.  He speaks volumes with that sigh.  The VCK could take gold in Olympic Sighing.

However, it is far preferable to the times he chooses to tell me about his thoughts.  Siamese are chatty.  They like to orate.  It makes me miss the mighty sigh.

On Better Living Through Pharmaceuticals:

The VCK is still taking his morning happy pills, but doing so with less drama.  In order to ensure that he got all the anti-anxiety medication required to maintain his jolly mood, the vet suggested I make a meatball, mix his crushed pill in it and have him eat that before getting the rest of his food.  The trick was making sure he finished it before his big brother swooped in for a taste.

I had to spoon feed it to him.  I began to wonder where my life took such a wrong turn that this was my lot.

Thankfully, he has decided to eat his Morning Meatball Of Mellow like a normal cat now.  This is good because I was starting to think maybe I should be partaking of his medications.  It was reaching the point where I was probably going to have to quit my job and become a full time nurse to the VCK!  Or at least go in later once the medicating was through.

And In Conclusion:

The Very Complicated Kitty is a job and a half.  He needs prescription food, daily medication to ensure that he remains stress free and he wants to talk about his feelings more than any male should.  But he's healthy, he's happy and even when he steals the good napping spot, is the apple of his big brother's eye.  Everything goes well with the new baby.

We can all rest easy now.

(Betchya even forgot all about the lack of knitting pix!)


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Center Stage

The Boy For Whom All The World's A Stage had a birthday on Friday.  Being as the Cheerful Teaching Assistant and I are masters at learning the truth, we were able to glean this information early.  All we had to do was pay attention to the countdown announcements broadcast to the entire classroom on a daily basis for the last three weeks.  It was really a simple matter of deduction.

As the day drew nigh, TBFWATWAS grew more and more excited.  His energy levels rose exponentially.  By Thursday, he was in high gear and experiencing rampant mood swings.  We'd discussed getting a cake for him because that seemed like the thing to do under the circumstances.  As a result, all education stopped in order that he might make lists of cake preferences.  He also used the class white board to demonstrate the proper way to make a Jell-o cake.  The CTA and I made the mistake of laughing.

Before we knew it, we were being informed that he did not want a cake from the likes of us.  We were not fit to bake for him, nor were we the sort of folk he would allow to enter a bakery on his behalf.  He turned his back on us in utter disdain.  I looked tiredly at the CTA and said softly, "But I want cake..."

TBFWATWAS whirled around with his hands clutched over his heart and beamed at us.  His eyes shone and he cried out:


He said all this in one breath and now stood gasping before us, still clutching his confection-loving heart.  What else could we do?  Cake it was.

The day did not go as well as we'd hoped.  The bowling trip we'd planned was suddenly cancelled without warning and the class was bitterly disappointed.  The CTA and I scrambled to find other activities to reward the good behavior everyone showed during the course of the week.  The rains poured down, preventing outside fun and no one could agree on what movie to watch.  Bitter arguments broke out and there were numerous references to everyone's mother.

From my standpoint, things were going about as well as we could expect.  I never get planning periods and probably shouldn't have believed that the kids would be out of the room for a few hours and happily bowling so I could finish the testing paperwork.  My playing referee and defending mothers I don't even know whilst getting further and further behind in my filing is par for the course.

However, the regular "It Is My Birthday And You All Have To Do What I Want" announcements were a new twist to the whole Friday schedule.  I suppose it's nice to have things shaken up every now and again...

By 11:00, we'd finally managed to get things settled down and most of the kids were watching a movie.  TBFWATWAS was pacing and staring out the window a lot, but we were pretty much used to his manic birthday ways by then.  He was just a background noise waiting for cake at that point.

I knit a sock.  The CTA broke out her new knitting loom and worked on a hat.  Nothing got done and I defy anyone to say one thing about it.  I'll fight you to the death over it, if it comes to that.  Birthday Angst is draining.  Even if it isn't yours.

We had cake after lunch.  It was good, but not as good as we'd been lead to believe it would be.  Somehow, that cake had been blown up into something of epic proportions over the last few days.  I honestly don't know how I managed to get caught up in the Birthday Hype.  But I did...

When the day was done and the little darlings were gathering their things to leave, the CTA and I exchanged a weary look.  I don't think either of us was really fully conscious by then.  But I think I heard her say something like, " least on Monday we won't have to hear the birthday countdown anymore, right?"

I was happy for a few seconds.  And then I had a dreadful thought.  If you are The Boy For Whom All The World's A Stage, are you really the type to exit stage left?  I think not.  I think that sort of boy might want to stick around for an encore or two.

Which means that Monday, he will probably start the birthday countdown again.  And it will be almost a whole year before it is over...


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WNBP: Now With Peanut Butter And 56% Less Hacking!

I have done very well with my calendar skills this week.  Even though we had a long weekend, I have still managed to figure out the exact day every day since returning to school and that, my friends, is an amazing feat.  I don't always do very well with that under the best of circumstances.  Frankly, I credit my stupid cold finally loosening its iron grip enough for me to function like a real human being.

Since I'm so totally on top of things here, let's see if we can't knock out a Wednesday Night Bullet Post?  I might even remember half of the things that happened to me today.

*The Cheerful Teaching Assistant didn't like the school lunch today.  So she went out for a sandwich.

*She brought me back a gi-normous peanut butter cup.  

*We have a thing for peanut butter cups...

*I have been knitting lots and lots lately.

*Motivation.  I haz it.  Finally!  It's a knitting blog, after all.

*Ironically, I cannot show anything I've knat.  

*The season of giving is almost upon me and everything is of the "stealth" variety.

*I'll toss up a bunch of stuff later for your viewing enjoyment.

*Here's a kitty picture.  That should tide you over.

Looks like a turtle, but it's really a cat...

*We are having a bit of a Dollar Store Kat Kave Krisis over here.

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty loooooves his Dollar Store Kat Kave.

*Turns out the Very Complicated Kitty likes them, too.

*He used to be scared of all the toys, but he takes medicine that makes him happy and now he loves all the toys.

*And steals all the toys.

*I had to put out another DSKK because the AGK looked so sad when he couldn't have his most favoritest thing.

*Maybe he needs the happy medicine...

*I had a meeting at the high school today.

*Had to go see if I could offer some sage words of wisdom that might help out with a freshman who isn't making the transition very well.

*That is an understatement.  It is going very, very badly.

*Had him in my class for three years.  I try to get away, but they just keep pulling me back in.

*It was a depressing meeting.  I think I maybe have issues with "letting go."

*Which is not helped by the fact that they keep pulling me in.

*Before I left to go to the meeting, The Boy For Whom All The World Is A Stage called me back to the classroom:

Ms. Sheep:  What?!  I'm late, for crying out loud!

BFWATWIAS: Do you have everything you need?  Did you bring a pen and something to write on?  Do you have notes for this meeting?  If you have notes, they should be in your bag.  How about water?  You've been coughing a lot so I think you should bring some water.

MS:  Um...yes.  I have all that.  I think...wait.  Yes!  I have all of that stuff.  Except the notes.  I don't need those.  I am really just going to listen and look wise.  I don't think I need notes for that.

BFWATWIAS:  Wear your glasses like this.  (pushes his own glasses down to the end of his nose)  That always makes you look smarter.

MS:  (mimicking his glasses maneuver)  I kind of can't see very well like this.  But I do feel smarter...

*My life is now being managed by an 8th grade boy with an overly developed need for attention.

*I was late to the meeting, but I looked wicked smart!

*Depressing meeting.  Very depressing.  I was all mushy and squishy and just the teeniest bit teary on the drive back to my own school.

*Not too bad...just a little bit girly over the whole thing.

*Which is why the Cheerful Teaching Assistant bought me a gi-normous peanut butter cup for lunch.

*My cold is much better.  Hardly coughing at all now.

*I credit the peanut butter cup.  

*Stopped at the school library today.  I hadn't eaten the peanut butter cup yet and was feeling needy.

*Picked up a copy of Poison Study.  Just started it, but am finding it engrossing.

*Bit intense for the average middle school reader, I think.  But good reading for kids (and adults) with a solid background in YA literature.  

*Not as good as a peanut butter cup, but still a nice thing to have around the house.  

We're gonna call this a wrap now.  I've reached the point where all I can think about is peanut butter cups and that never ends well.  Best for all concerned that I move on with my evening.  Maybe eat an apple or something, you know?  Meanwhile, I'll wish you all a pleasant Wednesday evening and my wish that you have all the chocolate treats you desire.  Or books.  Or Dollar Store Kat Kaves.

Whatever floats your boat...


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Subtle Signs

I pretty much hacked, wheezed and moaned my way through last week.  The cold that gripped me the weekend prior managed to morph its way out of my head and into my chest.  Truth be told, I sounded worse than I felt by then, but that isn't saying I felt like tap dancing at any given moment.

We had a half day teacher's workshop day on Friday and I took the opportunity to step out and pick up some lunch before tackling the assigned paperwork.  That's a rare little treat and I like to indulge myself when I can.  (Lunch wrapped by the hands of another, not the paperwork part...)  As I was heading out, I happened to see Mr. Assistant Principal.  We have not spoken once this week, but that didn't stop him from commenting:

Good gravy, Ms. Sheep!  You've been coughing all over us all week!

That was probably the first sign that I needed a long weekend.  When colleagues who have not set eyes upon you for five days but who can still hear you coughing from a full floor away start saying stuff, you kind of can't help but think.  The second sign came at the grocery store that afternoon.

I was standing in the produce section, blearily staring at the available greenery and really only conscious of the fact that I probably could use a fruit or a vegetable of some kind.  I finally registered that a conversation was happening not three feet from me.  The woman carrying on the bulk of the chatter sounded remarkably happy.

Well, I must say...since I left teaching, I feel so PRESENT!  I mean, you know how it is.  It's seven straight hours of focusing on the students and then another few hours of doing the paperwork.  You can't ever seem to do anything for YOURSELF!  Even during the summer, you spend the whole time trying to get everything done before you have to go back in September.  Now, I'm so much more RELAXED!  Why, just the other day I woke up and said to myself, "I'm going to the fair today!"  And I had a second cup of coffee before doing just that.  I swear to you, I feel ten years younger!  I've never felt BETTER!!

It is to my credit that I did not pick up a bag of mixed salad greens and just beat her about the head and shoulders right there in front of God and the tomatoes.  It is not to my credit that I even thought about it, though.  Or that the only thing really stopping me was my utter exhaustion.  This, I realized, was another thing that might indicate my need for a long weekend.

It is also a sign that I looked forward to working on the Situationally Necessary Octagonal Replacement Thingie (SNORT).  That little project has been the bane of my knitting existence for a month now.  It's not that it's hard.  It's just kind of boring, and, in shades of light orange, perhaps edging just a little too close to pink for the intended recipient.  Sometimes looking at it makes me wonder if I should just scrap the whole thing, but I'm in way too deep now.  You can't do five million rows of stockinette and then decide that little boys should probably conform to society's thoughts on color scheme.  You have to ignore that voice in the back of your head, right?  But it's a very loud voice and sometimes makes knitting this thing even harder.

Not so, this weekend.  I positively glowed at the thought of sitting and slogging through row after row of mindless, peachy stockinette.  It sounded like the most delightful thing a person could ever do in this life.  Now, I ask you.  Is that a sign or what???

The final sign came yesterday when, after a two hour nap, I found myself overwhelmed with the desire to send out engraved announcements.  Surely, the entire world would be as delighted as I over the amazing perfection of this nap.  Never before in the history of Saturday afternoons has two hours been better spent!  Let the universe ring with songs of praise for this most divine of blessings!!!

Yeah.  I think it was time for a three day weekend.  Thankfully, the government agreed with me on this matter and Monday is a day off.  I plan to make an early morning run to the pet store for much needed cat food and then it's right back home where I can nurse my cough-sore stomach muscles and bask in the steam of warm beverages.  Perhaps I'll even see if I can repeat my off-the-charts-amazing napping feat.  It's all good and extremely well timed.

I just hope I don't run into that retired teacher at the pet store.  After all that napping, my energy is back up a bit and I can't make any promises should I see her near the canned cat food...


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

WNBP: Because It's Not Thursday.

(The Boy Who Is) Dark And Disturbed spent most of today trying to convince me that it was Thursday.  No matter what I said or how many pieces of evidence I produced, he just couldn't seem to accept the actual date.  It got to the point where I felt like I was doing deep and permanent psychological damage to the poor lad.  He may be Dark And Disturbed, but he is also one of the funniest and basically kindest people I know so it seemed wrong to tamper with his overall nature.  I let it go.

But that doesn't mean I don't know it is Wednesday.  I'm going to do a Wednesday Night Bullet Post and D&D can just sit at home thinking he's closing in on the weekend.  It's up to his Mommy and Daddy now. Maybe if they let him spend more time online like good ol' Ms. Sheep instead of pursuing his artwork then he'd have a better grasp of time!

*It rained today.

*Let me rephrase that: The skies opened up and all the water ever created in this universe was whipped by the mighty winds for the sole purpose of making my life miserable.

*Other people are just saying that it rained, but I like to put a more personal spin on the whole situation.

*I'm still hacking and coughing all over the place.

*Everyone is so very pleased when I walk into a room.  They just light up at the sight of me.  

*That is not true.  Most of them flee.  The rest cower from a distance and try to give me supportive and encouraging looks from behind their bio hazard masks.

*We are also doing a massive round of state achievement testing this week so you can only imagine how much fun this whole day was...

*Spunky Girl has talked The Cheerful Teaching Assistant into teaching her how to quilt.  

*For what it's worth, Spunky Girl can now sew a straighter seam than I can.  She learned it in thirty seconds.  

*I don't want to talk about it...

*This looks awfully cute:

*He should be tired.  He and his brother managed to do a fair bit of "redecorating" while I was teaching the masses today.

*Low pressure systems...why must they create such havoc with the pets and the children?????

*The kids have a half day on Friday, the teachers have workshops and then it is a long weekend.

*I will be home coughing and knitting and ignoring the rest of the world for a few days.  

*Mr. Fix-It  (the 6th grader who has a knack for both breaking and repairing things) returned from lunch today looking rather exhausted.  He flopped into the one "comfy" chair in the room and heaved a mighty sigh.

*Then he said, "It's not easy being me today and I need a minute here."

*I felt badly about laughing (and coughing) but I hardly think it's my fault.

*Sometimes the little metal, spikey things you use to hold punched pages together are called "brads."

*Which is why it was funny when The Boy Who Thinks All The World's A Stage announced that he was going down to the office to get some "Angelinas."

*You either get it or you don't.  I died.  Literally died with the laughing. (and coughing...)

*I am re-reading some old favorites lately.

*The Hellfire Club by Peter Straub.  Forgot how deep and dark and utterly delightful that one was...

*American Gods: A Novel  by Neil Gaiman. of the few perfect books out there.

*I may visit my Favorite School Librarian before the weekend, though.  She ordered some new titles over the summer just because she thought I might like them.

*Yeah, yeah...she probably ordered some books for the actual children as well.  Don't panic.  They are all taken care of.  

*I like having the school library right next to my classroom.  It's so very handy.  And free.  And teachers can keep books for a very, very, very long time.

*But I don't because that isn't fair to the children for whom the library exists.

*Except for the books that are ordered just for me.  They are special.  

*But don't tell the children.  

*They can't be trusted.  Some of them actually think it is Thursday...

Well, that's it for me.  I need to go see about some of nighttime cough medicine.  I like that stuff.  I still cough, but I chuckle while I'm doing it.  I hope that your Wednesday was pleasant and that, wherever you are, the weather is dry.  Or, at the very least, everyone is on the same page date-wise.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Besting The Worrier? Priceless!!

After a weekend of miserable, booger-filled illness, I was not really ready to face Monday morning.  The fact that I would be spending that Monday in Safety Procedures training and having to do things like "pay attention," "demonstrate errorless crisis management techniques" and "pass the written exam" did nothing to make me feel any better.  Frankly, the only reason I got checked off on some of the competencies was because no one wanted me to demonstrate a physical restraint technique on them.  I was clearly a plague carrier.  It was easier to just pass me.

Oh, and did I mention that one cannot knit at these trainings?  It says so right in the handout.  You have to look like you are paying attention at all times.  Sheesh...

Things began looking up when I got home, though.  And not just because I knew there was a big bottle of Nighttime Cold Medicine waiting for me, either.  It was what I found in the mailbox that caused me to perk in an upward direction.  There were two delightful documents sitting there, just waiting for me to be well enough to make a stop at the mailbox!  I giggled at the very sight of them because I knew that I would soon be throwing them in the face of The Annoying And Pessimistic Person To Whom I Am Giving Lots Of Money In Order That He Might Worry On My Behalf.

Sometimes life hands us situations best passed off to Professional Worriers.  This is not a fun aspect of being an adult nor is it the sort of thing I recommend as a distraction if you happen to be bored.  Frankly, I'd avoid it if at all possible.   Sadly, I am currently in need of someone to do the worrying for me.  Hence, I am paying a Worrier.  My Worrier also moonlights as a Professional Pessimist And Overall Annoying Fellow.

Prior to my hiring this Worrier, I did my own worrying.  There was far less cost involved in self-worry and little in the way of effort.  Just a bit of research and thought.  Nothing major.  I was rather pleased with my Amateur Worrying efforts, but the Professional Worrier was skeptical.  Also Pessimistic. Annoyingly so.  Almost condescendingly so.

I believe his exact words were, "So what exactly did you think this was going to accomplish?"

I met with my Professional Worrier today and handed him many pieces of paper, among them the two documents which arrived yesterday.  He is now less Pessimistic.  In fact, he has swung all the way over to Optimistic.  He is still a little Annoying, but this has toned down considerably now that I have done literally 3/4ths of his job for him.  He can't afford to have me start thinking I might be able to charge him for Worrying, right?

He wasn't going to give it to me, not right away, though.  It took him a while.  He muttered about how circumstances were now changed and we went over a few things.  I smiled.  I answered all his Worrisome questions politely.  I did not point out the obvious.  One does not want to push a Professional Worrier too far.  Finally, though, he had no choice.  There was no way to continue the conversation without saying it.  He tossed my paperwork on the desk and said:

OK.  This isn't supposed to work like this.  You aren't supposed to just write a letter and get everything changed in a week.  That just doesn't happen.  You don't get a "do over" in these types of situations!

All I could do was smile and NOT say, "Apparently one can, Mr. Professional Worrier.  At least if one knows how to talk to people..."  I'm not stupid enough to think that the Worrier is going to charge me any less for his services even if I just made the job simpler.  In fact, he could easily decide to charge me more since the Worrying Contract isn't signed yet.  I'm lucky to be getting the Worrying Rate I'm getting right now and I don't want to trust my luck any further on this matter.  I don't speak The Worrier language well enough to do the rest of this.  He can go forth and do all that stuff on my behalf now.  By the end of our meeting, he was actually smiling and just the teeniest bit less annoying.

I wrote the check without a qualm.  It was worth it.  Every penny.  (almost...)  It's not every day an unskilled, amateur Worrier gets the last word, after all.


Sunday, October 03, 2010

I Am Tended.

I was tired all last week.  Straight through, day after day...just wiped out.  It makes sense, given this year's schedule but still seemed kind of extreme.  By Thursday, I could barely keep my head up to watch the last of the kidlets who take the last bus run.  I kind of had a feeling by then.

Friday clinched it for me.  The kids had earned a movie and I used the time to do paperwork and prep the Cheerful Teaching Assistant for my absence on Monday.  I like to think I did it all very well, but maybe I'm giving myself too much credit given the conversation the CTA and I had at day's end.

Ms. Sheep:  Um...I think I maybe don't feel so good.  Maybe...

Cheerful Teaching Assistant:  Gee, you think?  You've been coughing all day and have gotten so spacey.

She amended that last part upon seeing my face.  I suppose I was hoping I'd managed to hide my growing exhaustion and overall feelings of blech.  I stopped her half-way through her hasty No Offense Intended speech.  She was right.  I was sick and it showed.

By yesterday, I was in full-fledged illness mode.  I was sneezing like I was trying to expel demons and my nasal passages swelled shut by noon.  This was not fun, but delightful when compared to the cough. Coughing hurt.  I was a sight to behold and it seemed best that I refrain from forcing others to take part in that beholding.  I cancelled my appointment with The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach and stayed in for the day.

This morning, the cough had loosened up enough that I was no longer gasping very bad words each time I hacked. I was able to stumble out to the grocery store for OTC cold medications suitable for daytime administration and cough drops.  I also treated myself to some brand name tissues because this is no time to be pinching pennies.  I am unwell, for God's sake!

And if you are thinking that I might be the most overly dramatic person to ever face the common cold, you are not wrong.  I pity the poor people who were subjected to my Facebook feed yesterday...

It was not all gloom and snuffly doom, though.  I learned something new while I was moaning and groaning on the couch.  (I can moan and groan like nobody's business, thank you very much)  Apparently, there is a nurse living right here in the manse and I never so much as suspected it.

The Very Complicated Kitty came with a lengthy resume and it's possible that I missed his having completed a nursing degree what with all the other stuff in there.  I don't think so, though.  I believe he just failed to mention it.  Maybe he's modest or something.  Maybe he got teased by the other boys because male nurses are still something of a oddity even in this modern age.  Whatever the reason, he kept it to himself.

Neither the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty nor his brother are lap cats.  They are affectionate and good natured when it comes to being picked up or petted.  But they aren't the types to spontaneously go for the lap.  They just like hanging out with me.  Hence, you can imagine my surprise when the VCK suddenly became so attentive.  He's snuggled and cuddled and kept my feet warm for me all weekend.  Sometimes I kind of wished for a little more space or a free hand to knit with, but I didn't have the heart to tell him that.  Clearly, his training was taking over and I don't think he would have taken kindly to my resisting his ministrations.  Sometimes, you just need to lie still and let the medical professionals do their jobs.

I have consulted with him regarding returning to work tomorrow and he's giving it some consideration.  Frankly, I'm not so good with doctor's orders and am going anyway.  I have Safety Procedures training all day and it's not the sort of thing I can miss.  The fact that my sinuses hurt all the way down to my jaw and are given to spontaneous fluid emissions is something everyone is going to have to live with.  I gotta do this.

For tonight, though, I'll just sit still on the couch with a tissue wadded in my right nostril and a feline nurse monitoring the situation from my lap.  It's the best I can do.  I'm just grateful for having adopted a cat with such an advanced medical education.

Cant talks now. I iz on call.