Wednesday, June 30, 2010

WNBP: First Of The Seasonal Veggie Editions!!!

It feels like it took forever but, at long last, it is here.  Summer vacation, baby!  Sure, school ended the week before last.  But that means nothing when you have to go in for four extra days of mandatory workshops.  Now it is really and truly summer vacation, complete with the traditional Wednesday Night Bullet Post!  OK...I guess I do one every week.  It's just that the ones I do in the summer are a little more light hearted and less with the heavy sighing.

Here's the first of this summer vacation's WNBPs:

*Guess who went to the Farmer's Market today?  Can ya guess?  Canya-canya??!!


*'Cuz that's what I do during summer vacation.

*Things are still a bit on the sparse side, but improving since the Odd Saturday That Was Not At All Comfortable Because It Was The Wrong Day Trip I made there a few weeks ago.  

Today's haul included fresh peas, potatoes, new garlic and beef.  Not shown: fresh basil.

*I do not like vegetables but, God help me, I'm like a kid on Christmas morning when the new garlic is here!

*I rhapsodized about it with The Farm Stand Lady.

*Seriously.  I actually rhapsodized.

*If you like garlic, live in the area but don't buy it from Snell Family Farm, then I just don't know what more can be done for you.  You are out of your mind.

*Big ol' garlic with the scapes still on 'em.  

*The young garlic is a bit milder and has such a fresh taste you won't be able to stand it.

*Tonight's dinner: Cubed, roasted potatoes liberally festooned with freshly ground sea salt and basil ribbons upon leaving the oven.

*Also opened a new bottle of ketchup because, let's face it.  I am who I am.

*For what it's worth, it was a new vintage with a bright bouquet.

*As an afterthought, I also rigged up a foil packet with some peas and an ice cube.  Green things are good for you and it makes me giggle when I cook the ice cube in the oven.

*Worth the trouble for both the giggle and the fresh peas.

*I do not put ketchup on peas.

*What am I, a savage?

*I am avoiding turning a heel right now.

*I suppose it is enough of a triumph that I knit a heel flap given my recent lack of knitting amazing-ness.

*Almost finished with Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, Book 7).  

*It's got a t-rex AND zombies...what's not to like?????

*I canned a pint of peas just to see how they'd look this afternoon.

*They look like canned peas.

*I don't like canned peas.

*Will henceforth freeze the peas and just hope that The Coming Zombie Apocalypse doesn't interrupt our power service.  

*I'll have to eat the peas before they defrost.

*I was going to roast some garlic with the potatoes tonight, but thought the better of it.

*Dentist appointment tomorrow.  I hate my dentist, but not enough torture the nice dental tech. with my fresh garlic breath.

*Hysterical Mind:  Wait.  What?  Did someone say, "Dentist???"

*Rational Mind:, no.  Not at all.  We are going out tomorrow to run some errands.  Maybe replace the ipod we broke last week.  That's all.  Just a few little errands...nothing to get excited about.

*Hysterical Mind:  Well...that's all right, then.

*Pretty sure I have a cavity, but let's just keep that to ourselves.  HM isn't going to be distracted by a new ipod for very long.

*Might have to get her an ipod upgrade.  And a balloon.  And a pony...

*Will be letting her eat 'taters with roasted garlic either way, though.

*Because it is summer vacation, by golly!!!

And that's Wednesday from my viewpoint.  I'm all full of potatoes and peas and that suits me just fine.  We'll worry about tomorrow's appointments and heels that need turning later.  It's allll good here!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Soothing Whisper

When the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty first came to live with me, he was a nice enough cat.  He was funny, playful and it was rather refreshing to have such a young feline capering about the manse.  However, he wasn't much more than a house guest for a while.  He seemed to think that it would be fun while it lasted but that getting overly attached would be a bad idea.  After a fashion, though, he decided that he loved me.  He wrapped himself around my feet and stayed firmly huddled.  

This was wonderful because I loved him, too.  But the new order came with a price.  The AGK does not love all willy-nilly.  If he was going to love me, then he would love no other.  And he was going to be painfully obvious about it.  Woe be to anyone who entered his happy home because there would be repercussions.  While the blogging world might see naught but a happy, goofy fellow,  I have been left with actual bruises following his panicked flights upon seeing other humans.

You can imagine how much I was dreading this year's appointment with the vet.  I didn't even go last year because I became so stressed out by the very thought of what he might do.  The Cat Whisperer is just a little mite of a thing and the AGK is a massive ball of human hater.  He could crush her and steal her wallet in the time it took her to realize she was in peril.

I couldn't put it off any longer, though.  I had to take him.  And today was that day.  I barely slept last night for the stress of it.  I couldn't eat this morning.  I opted to not take the knitting with me because I didn't think I could manage a heel flap while my killer cat tore apart victim after hapless victim.

As I sat with him in the exam room, the stress only intensified.  He was crying in such a piteous way that one might think he wanted comfort.  I knew better.  He was just trying to lure me over so he could remove one or both of my nostrils.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me...

The Cat Whisperer came in, greeted me and cooed at the beast.  I noticed that she was wearing no protective gear whatsoever.  "She doesn't get it," I thought.  "He'll be wearing her lab coat in under five minutes."  Weakly, I repeated the warning I'd been giving every staff member in the place since I first made the appointment.

The Cat Whisperer smiled at me and said softly, "This usually works well with the red-heads."  She then produced a glass vial.  I immediately assumed the fetal position and covered my face so that the soon-to-be-flying shards wouldn't hit my eyes.  I waited.

Then I heard the soft chuckling of the vet and her technician.  "Oh yeah...he likes it," The Cat Whisperer said.  I looked up to see my formerly panicked cat happily emerging from the carrier and trying to nuzzle the magical glass vial.  Then he did the same to the vet.  

She administered the flea treatment and he grinned like a fool.  She gave him not one, but two vaccinations and I don't think I've ever seen him look happier.  At that point, she took a short break because if I didn't know what was in that little glass tube I was going to lose my ever loving mind.  It was a botanical aromatherapy oil and clearly sent to her office by the Almighty Himself.  I purchased the vial right out of her hand.

She returned to her patient who was killing time by making goo-goo eyes at the vet tech.  She examined every inch of him, including the parts that required lifting his tail.  It took me months to be able to touch his tail, for crying out loud!  He squirmed happily and preened at any comment he thought might be remotely related to his amazing, gi-normous physique.  When invited to return to his carrier for the trip home, he politely declined and had to be coaxed back in with a treat and a few more whiffs of the magical stinky stuff.

Now, I know that vets are in their chosen careers because they have a way with animals.  They do what they do because they are good at it.  Animals aren't people and are pretty much always "in the moment."  They react to what is happening in the here and now.  While I give off a stress vibe, The Cat Whisperer will send out more soothing and authoritative non-verbal messages.  A little dab of essential oil isn't the whole story here.  I get that.

But was something of a miracle to mine eyes.  The reaction was sudden and so helpful in my particular situation.  I can't decided whether The Cat Whisperer is a genius or the Lord High Dark Wizard of the veterinary circle.  Either way, the appointment was a success.  (Unless you count the part where she gently pointed out the weight gain...)  The cat is home and happy.  The kitty mommy is relieved.

He spent the rest of the day in the predictable, post-vaccination stupor.  That's the one where he becomes a carpet speed bump.


And I just know he was dreaming of The Cat Whisperer.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Oh, Just Can It!

A few months ago, I decided that I would try my hand at canning this summer.  I'd done it before, but not to any real extent.  However, I've gotten pretty good about purchasing produce fresh from the Farmer's Market on a weekly basis during the summer months and I kind of liked the idea of preserving it.  The fact that we've had a couple of significant power outages over the past two winters where I wondered about the stuff in the freezer also contributed to this decision.

So I headed out for a book on the subject, a shiny new pressure canner and a few billion Mason Jars.  I was off and running!

Jellies.  Jams.  Pickles.  Relishes.  Veggies.  Fruits.  They all sounded good to me, at least in theory.  I don't much like vegetables, but it's kind of exciting to eat something you've worked for.  Yup.  Canning stuff for the winter months was going to work out just fine!

What I was not going to do was can meat.  That just sounded...crazy.  Meat in the cupboard is going to kill you and I don't care what the book says!  I'll stick to the jelly, thank you very much.

But the more I read, the more I thought that it might actually work.  It even sounded kind of appealing in a weird sort of way.  I wandered around the internet and checked out a few details just to be sure.  And I don't mean Billy Bob's Blog On Mountain Survival Where Everyone Knows That You Have To Hide Yourself From The Government Menace.  Billy Bob might know how to dress and cook up a deer, but I don't consider him an expert on food safety.  Billy Bob is the type who wants to kidnap me and make me his hill-billy bride.  Then I'll have to eat canned squirrel and hope the Mad Rodent Disease doesn't get me.  Billy Bob makes me nervous and I'm not taking his word for anything.

I relied, instead, on more professional sources of information like County Extension sites and canning suppliers manufacturer's guidelines.  They seemed a little more knowledgeable and less with the "kill the revenue man."

With my summer vacation upon me, time on my side and a new found confidence in the ability of the pressure canner to kill bad bacteria, I cooked up some chili con carne.  When it was all over, I had six pints of bubbling, well-sealed dinners.

But only four would fit in the artsty-fartsy picture without revealing the disastrous mess in my kitchen.

It worked.  I don't think I'm going to rely on those who would tell me this will keep for years and years.  Given that I don't have a basement for storing canned food, I'm probably not going to go more than six months.  But it worked.  I'm rather impressed.

You don't want to can anything like meat in a water bath canner.  It's not safe and I think this bears repeating.  You cannot can low acid foods like meat in anything other than a pressure canner.  Write it on your kitchen wall if you think you might forget that and blame me later.  But I do have one and there is chili in the Sheepish household today, my friends!

There is also some knitting and hope of a new sockling some time in the near future.  You have a great deal of down time when canning.  You have to sit and wait for your food to cease being a potential death threat and that is very good for knitting.  Further, I have scheduled about five thousand appointments for the next couple of weeks and all of them require that I sit and wait for people to tend to my needs.  There's not much that's better for knitting time as far as I can see.  

But I won't let all this get in the way of Wednesday's trip to the Farmer's Market.  Chili is all well and good, but it's not going to work without some side dishes.  I'm on a roll!

Except that I've run out of jars...


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Quasi-Vacationing WNBP

In the most technical sense, I am now on summer vacation.  The classrooms are all packed up, the kids are haunting the malls and the custodians can now do all the stuff that they can't do while we are in the way.  However, that sense of peaceful bliss is eluding me thanks to a week of mandatory training that the district has scheduled.  I've been doggedly making my way back to The Place I'm Supposed To Be Shut Of since Monday morning and this is not making for that vacation-y feeling.

It does help to define the week days, though.  I know it is Wednesday and that I need to throw out a Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  I suppose this is a a bit of a silver lining...

*Monday's workshop was horrible.

*Tuesday's workshop was actually a little bit interesting.

*And I knit several inches of sock cuff.

*Today's workshop didn't start off so well.

*No one knew where I was supposed to go because it was "department work time."

*I don't fit particularly well with any department.

*I finally found a place to be and actually got a significant amount of work done.

*I know.  I was kind of shocked myself...

*The tech guy shut off the internet filters because some of the people from the high school needed to access YouTube as part of a teaching unit.

*I don't think that my being able to upload pictures of me not working during workshop time onto Facebook was what they had in mind, but sometimes that's how these things work out.

*No knitting today.

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty is not particularly thrilled with my going to work in the summertime.

*He looks a little put out.

*This, of course, could also be due to the low fat/calorie diet he is currently not enjoying.

*I somehow have to get this jiggly ball of feline into shape before his appointment with the V-E-T on Monday.

*Seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

*Doesn't really matter, I guess.  She's not going to get him on the scale.  

*She won't be able to peel him off the ceiling.

*Or her face...

*I spent more time today wandering around the web than I really should have.

*Australian politics are kind of exciting right now.

*My ipod died on the way to work.

*This limited my opportunities for tuning out stuff.

*There is a fat cat sitting on my feet.

*The diet is not working.  I can't feel my big toes.

*It was hot and muggy today.

*This was not exactly what I read in the forecast, but I may have scanned it a little too quickly.

*Either way, I was overdressed.

*No.  The majority of Maine schools are not air conditioned.  

*This is probably also a good time to establish for the readers that my home is not air conditioned either.

*Yes.  I am aware that these devices exist.  I have lugged a couple up to the second floor and hoisted them into windows over the years.

*Don't see myself doing that again any time soon.

*It is much cooler now, though.  No grousing on this end.

*Expect soggy whining later in the summer, though.  My unwillingness to do bodily damage lifting heavy appliances does not seem to preclude my complaining about the heat when it does stop by.

*One more day of training to go and then I will no longer be on Quasi-Vacation.

*I will be on Real Vacation.

*I look forward to this.

*Even if they did turn off the filters so I can have YouTube and Facebook at school...

So that's the day that was.  It wasn't exactly a typical Wednesday, be it work time or vacation time, but it could have been worse.  I got some work done and still had ample time to fiddle around on the interwebs.  And besides, the science lab has really good circulation so it wasn't all that muggy in there.  I think I can do one more day.

But no more than that.  There is only so much Quasi-Vacationing a girl can take.


Monday, June 21, 2010

The Glow Fades

OK.  That's it.  My sunny attitude regarding this week's mandatory teacher workshops has officially clouded over.  No more shall I wax optimistically about the extra dollars in my next paycheck or be thankful that they are doing this in June rather than stealing my last precious vacation days in August. This was, without a doubt, the longest day of my entire life and I'm including that horrific day I spent getting a root canal without the benefit of working pain killers.  Seriously.  I would kill to go back to that delightful day in history.  I look back on it with fond and wistful nostalgia.

It all started when I fooled myself into thinking that having to be at school at 8:00 in the morning instead of at 7:00 would give me more time to enjoy the morning.  It doesn't.  Somehow, that extra hour evaporated faster than the morning dew and I ended up having to rush around like my usual manic self on a regular day.  I arrived in the cafeteria in a timely fashion but that was more luck than anything else.

It's not my fault, by the way.  Everyone told me that The Dresden Files would get better if I just stuck with it.  Not that the first few were bad, mind you.  They just weren't living up to the expectations I'd managed to set.  However, I offer up a sincere, "you weren't kidding" to those who spoke up for Harry.  I was utterly incapable of leaving the house until I'd finished Death Masks: A Novel of the Dresden Files (The Dresden Files, Book 5).  Then I accidentally started Blood Rites: A Novel of the Dresden Files and you can see how things would start to spiral out of control time-wise from there...

The agenda looked grueling, more so since they "adjusted" it over the weekend.  There were promises made for an early escape if we stayed on task, but even I knew that was just something presenters say to keep the masses from revolting around lunchtime.  We were in for the long haul and there was nothing to be done about it.

I managed to knit for a while.  That was nice.  But then I needed my hands free to hold the table steady in order that I might more effectively beat my head upon it and that was the end of that.

Tomorrow's presentation doesn't look to be any less exhausting, either.  To make matters worse, no one can really explain with any clarity just what the heck it is we are supposed to be doing on Wednesday and Thursday.  They don't even seem to agree on where we should be assembling.  And don't even get me started on the taunts coming from those who only have to attend two days of this exercise in mass torture.  We, the truly trapped and miserable, hate them with a passion that could ignite a thousand suns.

I find it highly unlikely that I will make it through the next few days without criminal charges being pressed.  That or I will find myself falling asleep and then I'll be nominated as team leader for one of the work groups.  Which, I suppose, is also a good way to end up wearing an orange jumpsuit.  It is going to end badly if someone doesn't release me unto the loving arms of my summer vacation soon.

On the other hand, maybe it's for the best that I'm not home this week.  When I dragged my weary self back to the manse I discovered not one, but two, work men dangling from the roof and hammering enthusiastically away at the facade.  It seems that the Intrusive But Trying To Be Considerate About It Guy brought his associate along today.  That would be the Guy Who Owns The Really Big Radio And Isn't Afraid To Use It.

It wasn't going to be quite the self-indulgent start to vacation I'd dreamed of either way.  While I'm certain that committing acts of aggression against those who seek to thwart me isn't going to end up well, I still can't help but wonder.

Would my cell be more conducive to the peaceful glow than life on the outside?


Saturday, June 19, 2010

The New View

Well, here it is!  The last bus pulled away yesterday and, as I watched from the third floor windows of the school building, I mentally began to prepare myself for the transition from Working Sheepie to Vacationing Sheepie.  It's a very different life, you know.  Ten months out of the year, I envy those people who get to experience exotic things like "lunch hours" and "water cooler banter."  Then I have those two months where I can smile and wave because my career comes with this amazing perk.

You may be wondering just what the view looks like from this angle.  It's fascinating, actually.  Like traveling abroad where everything is all new and fresh.  Here are a few of the things you might see from this vantage point:

1.  When you finally feel like summer vacation is upon you and start to relax just a bit, you can count on your principal to remind everyone at the staff luncheon that they are not on vacation.  He will smile benevolently and direct you to report to the school first thing Monday morning for mandatory training.  He will even go a step further and make sure that you know you are a part of the group that is attending four days instead of the two for which other people are scheduled.

2.  Gritting your teeth and mentally doing the math to figure out your per diem rate for four work days beyond your contract is a fabulous way to find your Happy Place in this sort of situation.  Free Chinese food and the prospect of going to school without children also helps.

3.  You get to leave school at 1:00 on the last day.  That is awesome.

4. don't so much "get" to leave as you "walk out because you know everyone who has power over you is too tired to try and stop you at this point."

5.  When you get home before 2:00 and are all giddy over this state of affairs, you can be assured that someone will be setting up scaffolding around your building so they can put up the new siding.  There is nothing like a strange face peering in your second floor window and hammering happily away to kick off the summer break season.

6.  It is probably not the best idea to set up your vehicle inspection and oil change for 8:00 on the morning after the last day of school.  You will be kind of tired and not really feeling like going off to do responsible things.

7.  It is a worse idea to not do the required state inspection in April when you were supposed to, though. So you have no one to blame but yourself...

8.  You should know that not everyone follows your Facebook status obsessively and hangs on your every word.  They don't.  You are delusional if you think the world is talking about the update you posted thirty minutes earlier about being in the service center.  They have lives.  Hence, it is very likely that they will misinterpret your comments about how quickly they pulled your car out of the bay.

9.  It is a miracle no one called my parents.  Seriously.

10.  Surprisingly, you won't forget how to knit even if you don't do it for weeks and weeks.  While you sit waiting for your car (which is most decidedly not sinking into the briny deep), your hands will just remember what to do and you will knit an inch of sock.

11.  It might be worth pondering if that same principle applies to those who are waiting for their cars to be pulled out of an actual bay...

12.  When you get home, the guy with the hammer will be back at it and dangling precariously from the roof.  Nothing says summer like a pair of dirty work boots waving in your windows!

13.  None of this matters.  Not a bit of it.  Because you just survived a school year and you did it without tearing out a clump of your own hair.  Or at least not in a spot where it is all that noticeable. It is summer vacation and even another week spent at the school is going isn't to take that feeling away.

The view from here is rather nice right now...


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Transitional WNBP

Not sure how the last few days blew past me, but blow they did.  Suddenly, it is Wednesday which is odd because I have been thinking it was Wednesday since last Thursday.  Weird...but I blame the end of the school year.  The schedule is so wonky I can't even figure out where it began, much less ends.

Let's get started with the Wednesday Night Bullet Points and see where we are within this endless time loop.  Maybe I'll find a reference point of some kind.

*I am fairly certain that the last thing most people want to hear is whining from someone who is about to get a whole summer vacation.

*I'm not so much complaining as I am pointing out one or two things that make these last few days feel like years.

*Did I mention how crazy the schedule is?

*It is crazy times ten.  No one knows what day it is.  The 8th graders are done as of tomorrow.  The 7th graders will be done on Friday.

*Some of my kids finished up a bit earlier for a variety of reasons.

*Some good.  Some not so much...

*The social worker who usually comes on Fridays came today to say his farewells to the 8th graders.  That messed me all up.

*He'll be back on "real" Friday and I'll probably have to be hospitalized from the weirdness...

*The 8th graders will all be gone on their big end-of-the-year-cruise-around-some-lake tomorrow.

*I think that's what they are doing.  I don't really know anymore...

*I'm losing a lot of kids to the high school as of tomorrow, some of whom I've worked with for a while.

*Let's bid a fond bloggy farewell to:

*The Great Debater (3 year veteran)

*The Kid Who Needs A Nicotine Patch By Noon (3 year veteran)

*And, last but not  least, The Stalker (A stunning 5 year run with Dear Old Ms. Sheep)

*It's good to see them moving up in the world, but weird to think that they will be leaving me.

*I don't really have vacation next week.

*Five days of mandatory workshops.

*This would be hard to take except that my per diem rate = a boatload of money.

*And I can knit a sock while I'm pretending great interest in said workshops.

*Did anyone else see Deadliest Catch last night?

*It was the last few minutes that got me.  Hard.

*Captain Phil and Jake?




*Seriously.  There was a big, crackling crunch right there in my chest.  So sad...

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty is sitting on my right foot.

*He would like me to start my vacation next week.

*He will have to wait.  Then he'll have me all to himself.

*What he doesn't know is that we are starting our vacation with a trip to the vet.

*I have warned them that this won't go well.  They do not seem to believe me.

*They suggested a house call if I am so concerned.

*Then we can all sit around watching TV while the AGK hides under the bed.

*And the vet stitches up my face.

*Don't tell him that we are going to the vet.  That is the sort of thing we should keep under all our respective hats, 'kay?

*I need to go find something to wear for the 8th grade Promotion Ceremony tomorrow night.

*Can't let the little darlings make the transition from middle to high school with a vision of Ms. Sheep in ratty jeans and flip flops, now can we?

OK.  That should just about cover it.  I'm in that weird state between Working Sheepie and Vacationing Sheepie.  It makes for some scattered thought processes.  I should probably go find some appropriate Promotion Ceremony Clothes and let you all go about your business.  Hopefully, I'll be able to get back aboard the blogging train more consistently once this pesky job thing gets taken care of.  In the meantime, just think of me standing in the middle of my packed up classroom helplessly trying to find the calendar so I can figure out what I am supposed to be doing for the next couple of unidentified days.

That image should tide you over during this time of transition.  Or at least amuse you until I can think of something more interesting with which to light up the interwebs...


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Undead Distractions

It is Sunday and I am gearing up to face the last week of the school year (if you don't count the week of mandatory trainings I have to go to the following week...and I don't).  I think you will all be very pleased to know that I am doing quite well sticking with my resolution to not knit until I am officially on vacation.

Frankly, this isn't that different from what I'd be doing had I not gone about all that resolving.  In fact, this state of affairs is remarkably similar to my refusing to face the three rows of shawl knitting that must be undone and hiding my head under a pillow to avoid looking at it.  I prefer thinking of myself as a proactive type who can stick to a schedule, though.  And that is how we are going to classify the situation.

With no knitting allowed, I must devise ways with which to distract myself.  Hence, I am sitting around thinking about zombies.  Again, not so different from what I do on a "regular" day.  I think about zombies a lot.  I check for them in the hallway every morning before going to work.  When I hear a noise outside in the dark of night I think, "Gosh, that might be a zombie.  I should go check on that..."  I don't associate with anyone who looks a little pasty and seems to have an unusual craving for protein.  It's just what I do.

I've put a great deal of thought into The Coming Zombie Apocalypse and have narrowed the possible scenarios down to two.  I think they are perfectly reasonable theories regarding this impending doomsday situation.

In the first, the undead will be Truly Deceased Individuals Who Respect The Basic Principles Of Biology.  As necrotic creatures experiencing the joys of rigor mortis, they will move about using the traditionally accepted shamble and perhaps moan pathetically for effect.  They will lurch around seeking only to fulfill their insatiable need for snacks of the warm-blooded variety.  The danger will be that they might seem stupid and slow and that people will fail to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.  Sure, one zombie stumbling around the yard might not seem like much.  But a hundred of them clawing at your door without respite won't be quite so easy to ignore.  Plus, they are going to be, shall we say, fragrant.

The second possibility involves the Sickly, Brain Dead, But Still Breathing Zombies.  As portrayed in any number of recent films, these insatiable cannibals will be scampering merrily about and nimbly skirting the chaos that their arrival will undoubtedly create.  The problem here is obvious.  A speedy zombie, even if it's not really dead, is just about the scariest thing out there.  A crowd of them can burst out of the local convenience store or roller rink and be noshing on your innards before you can say, "Bobby, get my twelve gauge!"  

It's got to be one or the other.  I don't see it going any other way.  Slow, stinky, creaky and dead.  Lively, infected and might-as-well-be-dead.  Those are the choices.

In spite of this long held conviction, I still find myself surprisingly thrilled with Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books).  The zombies are most certainly dead, yet quicker than their living counterparts in spite of it.  Even the ones that are starting to fall apart a bit.  This should bother me, but it doesn't.  I love this story!

Perhaps it's because the "rotters" aren't really the main focus of the book.  They are an obstacle, no doubt about it.  But they're just one of the many little irritants that surface when Seattle gets shaken apart in alternate history form and you have to expect that sort of thing.  It would be irresponsible to do anything else.

Boneshaker has proven to be a delightful distraction from the knitting during this time of self-denial.  I happen to be reading the digital version, but I hear tell the print edition is done in brown ink.  If anyone has seen it, I'd be curious to hear what you think of that.  It sounds kind of cool...

I should have it finished up in time to start my summer vacation and resume my course through The Dresden Files.  (I'm up to Blood Rites (The Dresden Files, Book 6))  And, of course, get back to that cursed shawl that so mocks me from the knitting basket just to my left.  (yes, I see you...)  Of course, I still need to get through this last week of wrangling middle school students before any of that can happen.

Frankly, it would be easier to out-maneuver a horde of scampering zombies...


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

WNBP: Tip Off And Countdown

Well, here we are again.  It's the middle of the week and time for another Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  As we grind our way towards the end of this lengthy school year, there must be something worthy of an entry on the midweek list 'o stuff.  Let's see what we can do...

*The next WNBP I write will be the last one of the '09-'10 school year.

*I wish that I was writing it now.

*Actually wish I'd already written it.

*I have decided that I will not knit until I am on summer vacation.

*I'm not really knitting either way.

*But this sounds more like self-determination and planning.

*The Great Debater arrived in the classroom today with big news.

*In a scenario too bizarre to be believed, he managed to bite off the end of his tongue last night.

*Actually, what he said was something along the lines of "I bit off the end of my thtupid tongue and it hurths tho bad I can't thtand it!!!"

*The piece that landed on the floor got bigger every time he told the tale, but the horror of it all was the same.

*I shall give you all a minute to shudder along with me.


*He can still debate pretty well.

*But it's hard to understand him and sometimes it's wicked funny...

*He calls me, "Mith Theep."

*I just finished reading Summer Knight: A Novel of the Dresden Files (The Dresden Files, Book 4).

*I'm taking a break now.

*Harry Dresden makes me a little sad sometimes.  

*He is the guy who is beaten, broken and blamed for everything even when circumstances force his hand.  He'll always do the right thing and almost never get so much as a nod of thanks. 

*And his optimism in the face of it all is both compelling and heartbreaking.

*Time for something lighter.  I'm going with Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books).

*Because there is nothing like some good, old fashioned, steam punk, apocalyptic zombie bashing, goggle-wearing fun to take your mind of an under appreciated wizard...

*Or maybe that's just me.

*Wii Fit had some issues with my taking last week off.

*Wii Fit thinks I should never take a week off from the workout routine.

*Wii Fit also suggested that I should not eat cake.

*Not in so many words, but the implication was clear.

*Wii Fit needs to lose the attitude.

*If the Great Debater did Wii Fit, he'd say things like, "Thtop telling me what to do or I'll thlap you thilly!!!"

*Did I mention that next week is the last week of school?

*I think it might be time for that...

When we reach the point where we want to eat cake in front of the electronics and are making fun of injured children, it is time to end it.  I think I'm just overwhelmed with all the missing bits of tongue and whatnot.  I'm going to go rest up and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow.  Of course, tomorrow will be Thursday.

And that always feels better no matter what else is going on.


Monday, June 07, 2010

She Catches On

The Stalker has been in my class for five years and through three schools.  He came to me in fourth grade.  He turned up again when I changed schools and I had him for fifth.  Then in sixth.  When I transferred to the middle school, I tried to put him with another case manager to see if he might be ready to leave the nest, but he wasn't.  It was a train wreck.  So I took him back for seventh grade and kept him for eighth.

We know each other well.  It is inevitable.  Five years is a long time.  We "get" each other even though we don't always want to and sometimes weep quietly in separate corners over this state of affairs.  There are moments, however, when it is kind of nice to have someone else in the room who can play along without really having to think about it too hard.  Like today, for instance.  The Cheerful Teaching Assistant, recently wed, was mulling over honeymoon possibilities and wondered aloud if a trip to Alaska might be a nice thing to do.

Cheerful Teaching Assistant:  I'm mulling here and wondering if Alaska might be a nice thing to do...

Ms. Sheep:  ALASKA???  Did you say ALASKA????

CTA:  Yes.  It came out of the mulling.

The Stalker:  Wait...did she say Alaska?  (breaks out in a grin that mirrors Ms. Sheep's)

CTA:  What?  What's so funny about Alaska?

MS:  Oh, c'mon!  You know.

TS:  Yeah.  You know.

CTA:  No I don't.

MS:  I can't believe you don't know.  You should know.  Do you never listen to me?

CTA:  I do.  It's just that you say so much...

TS:  (leans over conspiratorially and mutters) Alaskan crab.

CTA:  Huh?

MS:  The crab boats!!  The Deadliest Catch boats!!!  They are there and you can go see them ALL!!!!

CTA:  Why would I want to...

MS:  Why wouldn't you?

TS:  Yeah.  Why wouldn't you?  (Proceeds to list the boats in the order he feels they should be viewed)

CTA:  I don't think they are there all the time.  They probably go out and fish for stuff.  Plus, it's summer and they might not be...

MS:  NO!  It is fate!  You get to go see the crab boats!

CTA:  Well, I thought we might want to see some of the other sights.

TS:  That's just crazy.

MS:  Yeah.  Crazy.

Things sort of devolved from there.  Before you can say, "crab legs in butter,"  I'd invited myself along for the honeymoon and outlined a very cool scene where Mr. and Mrs. CTA get off the plane to see me waving happily at them and shouting incoherently about how we need to get a move on before the crowds get too thick around the crab boats.  The Stalker would leap out from behind me where he was hiding in order to enhance the Surprise Factor of the whole thing.

The CTA could only smile that sickly smile of one who can't be certain if she is being kidded and you could almost see the sudden desire to honeymoon in Africa washing over her.  But it's like The Stalker and I told her.  She's nice.  We have no problem taking advantage of that and are pretty sure she'd trudge along in our Crab Happy wake.

I'm not really going to go.  That would be wrong.  Of course, it would be nice to go visit the crab boats.  And I think that it would be educational for the CTA.  Besides, this whole business of spending five years with one student should entitle me to drag him along to Alaska, especially since he is the only other person in my world who understands the lure of the Bering Sea.

I should probably get knitting.  I'm going to need a hat or something...


Saturday, June 05, 2010

Soggy 'Snips

In spite of the gray skies, I decided to venture forth and investigate the  'ol farmer's market today.  I normally wait until my school closes for the year and go on Wednesdays when the crowds are thinner. But, I have a brand new pressure canner and one needs produce if one is going to practice the canning of things.

Besides, I am still really mad at that shawl I flung into the knitting basket last week and have not worked up the will to start tinking back in search of those two stupid dropped stitches.  A trip to the farmer's market on a Saturday morning, even if the storm clouds are gathering, is a mighty fine way to avoid such distasteful tasks...

I know what you are thinking.  "Sheepie," you want to say, "it is early June.  You live in Maine.  There isn't going to be anything at the market for a while.  At least not anything at which you won't turn up your dear little button nose..."

I added the part about the button nose.  I know that no one would ever say that to me.  It is a little condescending and my honker is not exactly button-y on the best of days. I guess I just sort of like the idea of having such a sniffer.

More to the point, though, you would be mistaken about the market.  There may not be much there, but parsnips can be found.  I sort of don't hate parsnips.  In fact, as a child, I liked them.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't wake up in the dead of winter thinking how awesome it would be to get my hands on a nice, fresh parsnip.  Mostly, I don't think of vegetables at all.  But, I figured I'd rather make my canning mistakes early as opposed to when the "good" produce is out of the ground.  And I can live with parsnips.

So I went out in search parsnips.  I did this in spite of the fact that the cloudy skies opened up into an outright deluge before I was even halfway to the market and that the rain only got more vicious as I perused the stands.  I finally decided to simply visit my Summer  Vegetable Boyfriend and be done with it.  It couldn't hurt to see how well our relationship has fared over the forced winter separation and he had a big basket of parsnips right out front.

For the record, he is as chatty and funny as ever and I might have thought everything was fine if he didn't have his son (or grandson...who can say for sure) with him.  I may need to rethink this relationship.  I don't know if I am ready to introduce children into my life and I surely don't feel like the vegetables are enough to make it work.  Sure, this farm also runs a few lobster boats and that might ease the pain of having an instant Summer Vegetable Family.  Or perhaps not...

I might have stayed and pondered this save for the eyeball searing flash of lightening which followed my parsnip transaction.  Before I even got my sight back, the loudest clap of thunder I have ever heard in my entire life exploded a foot or so over my head.  I took this as a sign from the Powers Of Produce that it might be a good idea to call it a day.  I went home, prepped my 'snips, canned them and nursed my minor steam burn.  Situational Summer Semi-Romances can be debated another day.

It was good practice with the pressure canner and got me excited about the weekly Visits With The Veggies that mark my summer vacation experience.  In spite of getting soaked, having to come to terms with my Summer Boyfriend's family situation and a near-death experience walking to my car, I believe it was worth the time and eight dollars spent.

Plus, I got to avoid that shawl so it's a win/win!


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

WNBP: Never Give Up!

This week, Wednesday really snuck up on me.  I mean, honestly!  If yesterday was Monday (which it wasn't but a three day weekend will cause that sort of confusion), then today is Tuesday.  But tomorrow is Thursday so I'm not going to complain.  I'm rolling with it.  Let the Wednesday Night Bullet Post commence!!!

*My bathroom is an interior room with no windows.  

*Hence, when the power went out after I emerged from the shower, it posed a bit of a...challenge.

*I had to do my hair and makeup in the dark.

*Much like our forefathers did...

*Also had to heat my bagel over a can of sterno.

*Again, like much like the pilgrims warmed their frozen bagels.

*Oddly, the Cheerful Teaching Assistant seemed to think my hair looked rather good today.

*It is so weird to see a wedding ring on her finger.

*She has given me permission to stare at it until I get used to the whole thing.

*Best conversation of the day:

Ms. Sheep: (having just returned from an epic stand off in the office) That's it.  I'm done.  I give up!

The Great Debater: (focused intently on the same computer game that has entranced him for a month) Now what kind of attitude is that?

MS:  It is my attitude.  I am giving up.

TGD:  You can't.  Do I give up when things go badly at work?  No.  I do not.  I figure it out.

MS:  You help part time as a roofer.  You can't give up.  You are on a roof.  That poses a unique challenge when it comes to giving up.  I, on the other hand...

TGD:  Nope.  You can't give up.  You gotta keep trying.  You are a role model.

MS:  Fine!  I don't give up.  Happy?

TGD:  Atta-girl.

*The knitting is still in the time out basket.  

*I'll deal with it over the weekend.

*Unless I work up the will to get my car inspected.  That is sort of overdue.

*The local law enforcement officials are not the "giving-up" types.  One assumes they will get me eventually.

*Came home from a full day of teaching and epic battles in the main office to find a very happy Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty.

*Also a rather impressive amount of destruction.

*Took me several minutes to locate the wireless router.

*And the stand that is supposed to keep it securely in place.

*For what it's worth, this is fairly standard AGK redecorating so I think he is feeling better about being an Only Cat.

*Don't ask what it was like before...

*He is still waking me up at 4:00 in the morning, though.

*I have twelve more days of school.

*Eleven and a half, actually.

*Not that I'm counting or anything.  I love my job.

*That is what I keep telling myself.  

*Anything else would seem like giving up...

That's all I can think of.  I'm certain there is more, but I'm not able to identify any other Wednesday tidbits that might entertain you.  I think I shall just let it go at this and get ready to feed the mighty beast before he wastes away to nothing.  He's had a busy day, after all.  Then I'm going to rest up for another fun-filled day at the Education Factory And Home Of The Epic Stand-Off.

The Great Debater is right.  I can't give up now!


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Sheepie's List

I spent today composing a mental list of things I would rather discuss instead of knitting.  Here it is:

1.  I am happy to tell you all about how sticky and humid it was today and how the rain did absolutely nothing to help with this situation.

2.  I could go on for hours about how the kids in my small class have reached the stage I like to call I Am Going To Get Suspended Because I Am Stupid Enough To Believe That This Is How I Can End My School Year Early And That No One Is Going To Consider Making Me Go To Summer School.

3.  I would enjoy nothing more than adding to #2 by telling you that I am currently planning the summer school programming for at least one student and gearing up to put together stuff for another one who thinks he is bullet proof.  I've had the latter in my class for five years now and see no reason whatsoever why I couldn't survive one more year with him should he decide to not attend school long enough to pass the 8th grade.

4.  I could wax philosophical over how I had to sneak the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty's pink blankie away from him so I could wash it.  I would then proceed to ponder why he is now perfectly happy with the green blankie at which he turned up his little nose not a month ago.  Suddenly, the green blankie is the finest blankie to ever grace a sofa and I have no earthly idea why such things play out in this manner.

5.  I find the idea of telling you all about canning maple-walnut sauce yesterday simply intoxicating.  The fact that it looks a little bit like brains in a jar in this photo does little to diminish that joy...

I just won't think about it too much because that would give me nightmares.  But I'm still finding it a preferable topic.

6.  I have no reservations when it comes to sharing that I spent all day yesterday (and a bit of the night before) watching a Deadliest Catch marathon and am still looking forward to watching tonight's new episode.  I don't feel even the least bit tired of my crab fishermen.  Not one little bit.

Yup.  There are lots and lots of things I'm willing to discuss.  Just not knitting.  Knitting is stupid and has a tendency to fling itself off the needles on a day when you have deliberately set aside lots of time to knit for miles and miles and miles.  Knitting likes to laugh in your face when you say things like, "This shawl has been going so well that I'll bet I can knit without even thinking about it and finish the whole thing before lunch!!!"  Knitting wants to know what you are going to do about those three little stitches that you didn't manage to get back on the needle because it doesn't think for a minute that you are going to spot them before it's too late.

Seriously.  I'll chat up a storm.  Just not about knitting.  That is going to sit in the basket until I work up the state of calm needed to tink alllllll the way back to a point where life (and the pattern) made sense.  Meanwhile, please feel free to enjoy the other topics.

It is the end of the school year.  It may be a while before I get to those three stupid little stitches...