Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WNBP: In Lieu Of A Schedule....

I am having a hard time settling into this summer vacation.  As problems go, this is pretty minor.  It is nothing when compared to, say, war or ingrown toenails.  But I still can't help but feel as if I should be on some sort of a schedule now that I'm fully immersed in Week Two.  I just can't seem to get a foothold.

Maybe the Wednesday Night Bullet Post will help.  Sometimes indulging in a little stream of consciousness allows one to see a pattern.  A nugget of normalcy will show up as one pans through the crazy.

Of course, it could also result in my confirming that I've gone full-on crazy pants, but I'm hoping for the former.  Let's see how it goes...

*It's the insomnia that is getting to me, I think.

*New meds have led to some "interesting" moments here at the manse.

*I'm either a brain dead zombie or a chattering monkey girl on caffeinated bananas and neither one is lending itself to establishing a summer routine.

*It has gotten markedly better as the days go by, but true sleep still eludes me.

*Getting in a few extra Zs in the morning would make things ever so much better, but that isn't going to happen.

*I'm sure you can guess why.

They lurk in the darkness and pounce without warning.  

*And no.  Shutting them out of the bedroom isn't going to help.

*Shutting them out of the bedroom only results in furry bodies slamming themselves against said closed door until someone gets up and makes it be open again.

*And that is the Least Creepy Version.  In the Very Creepy Version,  The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty gets his paws wrapped around the doorknob and starts rattling it like a serial killer.

*I don't care for that.  Nor can I sleep through it.  That's the thing with cats and serial killers...

*Fortunately, insomnia is a temporary thing.  Eventually, I will sleep.

*Even better, I see something of a pattern!

*The cats are getting me up at the crack of omigod every morning without fail!

*Would you believe I started this post almost an hour ago?

*And that I've lost it three times?

*That is also a kind of consistency, but not the good kind.

*Let's hope things go better from here because I'm not entirely sure my addled, sleep deprived brain can stick with a task as complex as rambling on in print for anything longer than an hour.

*Have you ever wanted to go running through the streets shouting, "The new garlic is here!  The new garlic is here!"?

*I have.  I wanted to do that today.

*Went to the Farmers Market and the new garlic was there.

*I actually made a cooing noise and petted it.

*I am fond of new garlic with all its mild flavor and intoxicating aroma.

*Not as effective against vampires, but very tasty.

*Also got some potatoes.

*Have you ever knit something so unbearably cute, so tiny and sweet, so itty-bitty and darling that you just wanted to give in and have a baby of your own?

*Yeah.  Me either.  But I have been knitting a few baby items of late and I find them unbelievably adorable in all their wee sweetness.

*Niece Sheep is having a girl child.

*First baby of that flavor to wander into our sphere in a while so I'm taking advantage of the opportunity to do things all girly.

*This is cute, too.

*But don't try to put a little pink hat on him because that will not end well even if you just want to see if it will fit him and how it looks when worn.

*Cats don't wear hats.  Unless they are on the internet and then only if it's YouTube.

*Another constant.

*I am not going to have a baby even if he/she would consent to wearing a hat because I'm pretty sure I can find a small melon or something that would work just as well and not demand to be put through college.

*The up side to not sleeping as much is that I've had ample time in which to read.

*I finally figured out why I was so mad at Queen Victoria while I was reading that other book a while back.

*I knew there was a reason, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

*Then I remembered.  It wasn't that book that made me hate the queen.  That book had a nice queen.

*It was The Affinity Bridge (Newbury & Hobbes Investigations) that made me hate that mean old Victoria!!

*And she doesn't get any better in the next two books either.

*I thought I was going crazy hating on the queen like that.  Turns out I was right.  Sort of.  If the real Queen Victoria was scheming, half-dead, barely human what with all the clockwork machinery keeping her alive and bitter beyond all belief anyway...

*At long last, I finally indulged in the book I've been waiting for.

*It was something I wanted to read during summer vacation because it was last summer when I read the first two.

*Since I was awake and had nothing better to do at 2:00 in the morning, I figured I might as well go for it.

*Blackout (The Newsflesh Trilogy)

*This trilogy has a surprisingly complex plot and I probably should have gone back to read the first two books before starting this one, but I couldn't wait.

*I'm catching up with stuff pretty well.  It almost doesn't feel like it's been a year since last I checked in on poor George and Shaun...

*Here's the thing you should know about these books:  The first one is amazing.  The second one is crazy good.  The third one is very, very good.  In that order.

*And the third one has a zombie bear in it.  Seriously.  He's sort of offstage, but still.  It's a ZOMBIE BEAR, PEOPLE!!!!

*I'm not quite finished, but it appears there are far fewer of the dead things in this book than the others.  It isn't really about the zombies at this point.  It's about the live humans and the nasty stuff they do in a world gone utterly mad.

*I think some people might get turned off because of the Walking Dead angle, but don't be a hater.  I think this series will appeal to more readers than one might think given the breadth of the conflicts and the brilliant writing.  The characters are some of the best developed I've seen in a long time.

Well, I don't know as I've really managed to come up with enough of a pattern to develop a summer routine, but I guess I didn't expect I would.  I'm tired.  I almost left the house in my slippers this morning.  Really high level thinking is beyond me these days, but I don't feel too badly.  There were glimmers of something in all that rambling.

Of course might be the glimmer of a tin foil hat, but let's see if I can get a little sleep tonight before I start down that path...


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WNBP: Postcards From The Manse

When last we left our intrepid Sheepie, she had managed to muddle through the last two days of poor student behavior, the emotional departure of the Cheerful Teaching Assistant and the packing up of her classroom for yet another summer break.  All that was left to her at that point was two days of teacher workshops, a Saturday dinner to celebrate Father's Day with various family members and the knowledge that she could stay up an extra hour on Sunday night if she could somehow keep her eyes open during the day.

I feel like I let people down with my summer vacation plans.  I'm often asked what I'm going to do during my months of downtime and I rarely have a good answer.  I'm a putterer.  I'm not a world traveler.  I hang around the manse and periodically do stuff that may or may not make my habitation here more tolerable.  That's about it, except for the rampant appointments I seem to schedule during my vacation.  But those are unavoidable if I wish to remain healthy and able to drive my car without warning lights flashing at me in an alarming fashion.

As boring as it may be, it is what I have to offer in this week's Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  Let's see if I can make it all sound a bit more glamorous...

*It has been a very mild spring here.  Even chilly enough for the electric blanket on several nights.

*That is over.  The weather has taken a turn for the Triple H.




*It all just came crashing down on us today.  I, however, keep remembering the searing temperatures of last year and keep it all in perspective.

*Tomorrow promises to bring more of the same, although I hear tell a sea breeze might make things more bearable.

*I am using much of my newly acquired vacation time to catch up with Coronation Street episodes.

*I was running about six months behind, but recently decided to skip ahead a bit.

*It's not like I haven't been cheating and reading story lines on the website anyway...

*I was not, however, going to take the trip forward in time before seeing Becky bring down that horrible, no-good Tracy at her sham of a wedding to good-hearted, but seemingly stupid Steve!!!

*It seems that the good people at ITV were not particularly open to my viewing this.  Apparently they suddenly got all picky about copyrights and whatnot.

*Which is so totally unfair because it is not my fault that my ancestors decided to wander over to this continent all those years ago, thus rendering me incapable of watching certain programming without the help of YouTube.

*Thankfully, there are kindly people across the pond who don't hold my citizenship against me and found a way to post that episode.  It took some searching, but it was WORTH IT!!!!!

*Now I can fast forward without regret or the feeling that I'm missing something wicked awesome.

*I hate to violate copyrights.  But it isn't my fault.  Plus I've linked to them.  I'm sharing. This should ease my pangs of guilt...

*I sat through two very long days of teacher workshops last week.  Very long.

*I knit a hat.  A very tiny pinkish hat that I cannot photograph at the moment.

*It is cute.  Trust me.  There is fuzziness and something that isn't quite a bow involved.

*One of the "getting to know you" activities at the workshop was that game where you tell two truths and a lie.  Then you see if people can guess the lie.

*My lie was that I am getting married next month.

*You'd be surprised how many people believed that.

*Wee, little hat might have confused matters...

*I wonder if they will throw me a shower of some sort once school reopens.

*If so, I hope it is a wedding shower and not the other kind.  I could use a new toaster and some napkin rings.

*Diaper Genie...not so much.

*I gave myself two days off before starting in with all the appointments I try to get out of the way during summer vacation.

*I napped a lot and canned some chicken.

*I'd show you a picture of the chicken, but there is nothing more disgusting that looking at a jar of chicken.

*It tastes really good.  Very tender.  And it keeps for a long time.

*Which is great when the weather is nasty and you can't go shopping.

*Or the zombie apocalypse finally happens like I've been saying it will for years now.

*No one will be laughing at my home canned chicken during the apocalypse.

*They might gag a bit, but they won't laugh.

*Today I went to see Doctor Judy for a med review.

*Meds need changing.  Sheepie has developed a tolerance for her current prescription.

*Now instead of my nice time release pill, I have to take two.

*Probably better to adjust to that schedule during the summer instead of trying to remember to take a pill at school.

*I can be like the kids and go see the nurse at lunchtime for meds.  That would be fun.

*Standing in line then having her check to make sure I took it...

*It's not really like that.  There aren't that many kids on medications, contrary to popular media myths.

*It's just the image of it that makes me think I need to practice taking a pill two times per day.

*Today was my first trip to The Farmer's Market and the Weekly Visit With The Vegetables.

*There weren't many vegetables.  I found some strawberries since those came into season early this year due to all the rain.

*Then I bought a basil plant.  Then I bought a rosemary plant.

*Need something to entertain my new grow light.

*By the time I got to the guy who actually had a few veggies, I was out of cash and too hot to keep standing in the sun anyway.

*July is the better month for most veggies here.

*Also better to go before it is almost closing time at the market.

*Next week I will be more organized and won't' have a doctor's appointment in the middle of it all.

*The strawberries are delightful and I will probably eat them all before I get around to making something with them.

*I'm OK with that.

*I happen to have some caramel sauce.  It all worked out.

*More time to read these days.  I decided to go back and visit with my friends over at the Twenty Palaces Society. (Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel)

*You kind of have to be in the mood for these books.  A few of the characters are a little off-putting.

*And my heart bleeds for the narrator, at least in the first book.  He is just so...put upon!

*Take heart.  Things get better for him!

*Then I discovered that The Janus Affair: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel was out and, while Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel wasn't my absolute favorite book in the whole wide world, I didn't hate it.

*Of course, I'd forgotten more about the first book that I realized and was confusing it mightily with at least two other series, but I eventually got the hang of it all.

*Worth the download and certainly good for summer reading!

*I wouldn't say that reading steam punk on such a steamy day is wise, but it only gets bad if you start thinking about it too much...

It is really just too hot to type anymore so I'm stopping there.  I think I've managed to prove my point regarding my vacation aspirations.  What can I say? There is a marked lack of conga lines in my version of summer break.  It is the best I can do.  I'd like to tell you that things will get better, but they probably won't.

Tomorrow I'm going in for an oil change.  Maybe next week I'll get that giant crack in my windshield fixed.  Then there is the summer bone density testing to look forward to...


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

WNBP: You Gotta Laugh...

Yesterday was the last day of school for the students.  The remainder of this week is to be devoted to teacher workshops and packing, allowing us to get the massive task of moving half the building and finishing up the end-of-year paperwork in relative peace.  Not having the kids around certainly makes for a less stressful atmosphere, but I still woke up this morning with a sick feeling in my stomach.

As half the staff prepares to move out of the building and longstanding working relationships are severed, there is a great deal of emotional baggage being scattered around the hallways along with the boxes.  That, I can avoid since I'm fairly good at navigating rough terrain when I need to, but there was one piece of the Middle School Long Goodbye I was going to have to face.  I've been avoiding it for weeks.  I've put off dealing with it.  But there really wasn't any time left for that, I realized as the alarm blatted away at me this morning.  I had to come to terms with it.

Today was The Cheerful Teaching Assistant's last day.

We've been separated once before.  It happened a few years ago and was a circumstantial thing, something over which we had no control.  This time, however, it was very much by design.  It came out of a great deal of consideration and painful decision making.

We had two choices before us.  The CTA could carry on as my awesome teacher's assistant as she has for many years now.  She is held in high regard by all and would be a welcome member of the new staff dynamic.  On the other hand, she could take the position at the high school where, hopefully, a few more doors might open up for her and that shiny new teaching certificate she recently earned can be put to use.

The first option would be great for me.  The latter would be better for her and, ultimately, the students she will someday have in her English classes.  It was really a no-brainer when all was said and done.

The CTA and I have worked together a long time.  We know each other well.  We enjoy the same sense of humor and have shared more than a few belly laughs over the things kids say.  We even got in the habit of jotting them down as the years went by so we wouldn't forget.  She also knows that I am not one for big, mushy displays so we kept our farewell scene to the absolute minimum.  It's best to remember the good times and be grateful for having had someone of a similar mind set with which to share them.

She also knew that the more appropriate way to give me a card that might cause me to make all kinds of wet, blubbery, snuffing sounds would be to slip it into my bag where I'd find it later rather than give it to me right in the middle of the classroom.  It is best we not discuss that lest I dribble all over my keyboard.  But we can spend some time sharing the little book of student quotes she put together for me.  Some of them are sort of situational and probably wouldn't make a lick of sense to you, but others can certainly stand alone.  In fact, they make for perfect bullet post fodder.

So, tonight's WNBP comes to you straight from the Cheerful Teaching Assistant and several years worth of student commentary.  And maybe a few from good old Ms. Sheep as well...

*"Muscles jiggle anyway.  Haven't you ever seen a bear run?"

*"It's not gory.  It's just the fast paced cutting off of limbs."

*(From Ms. Sheep, after a day where it seemed that everyone was dumping on her) "There is a chain of poop.  Not everyone can poop on me.  I have to have someone to poop on, too!  POOP IS A CHAIN!"

*"These are better than girls!  I'd give up girls for these cookies."

*(Older student to Younger Student) Be gone annoying child.  Hello nothing in that chair."

*(Student singing about the gigantic bag he carries to school) "I like big bags and I cannot lie!"

*"We used to be able to just make paper mache ducks and now we have to plan for the future!!"

"I can run a 10 minute jog in 5 minutes!!!"

*"Do you think I can be in a men's shampoo commercial? (hair flip) ELEGANCE! (hair flip) MANLINESS...what?  I have manly hair!

*(Said to Ms. Sheep after she groaned loudly in frustration) "I didn't know you spoke whale!"

*"Um...I'm stuck in a box.  Help.  Please."

*"I'm gonna start my own school and it's gonna have blackjack and field trips and chicken pot pie!"

*"My mother's a Scorpio and my grandmother's an Aries.  So you can see how that worked out."

*"I think there's a little Japanese man inside of all of us..."

*(Said by Ms. Sheep)  "Don't tie yourself up anymore, please."

*"I know she smells better than Mrs. X and Mrs. X smells like the finest bathroom spray in all of Britain!"

*"I don't carry this big black cloud over me all the time.  I'm a victim of circumstance."

*"Usually you listen to my stories, nod your head, praise what I do and I feel happy."

*"I swear to God I feel like I have no pants on today."

Good stuff.  And it doesn't even include the "inside jokes" that wouldn't really make sense unless you were there.  Maybe even if you were there...

 These are the things that make me chuckle and that is a nice thing to be able to do when emotional goodbyes have overshadowed the day.  It is nice to say that you worked with someone who understood the importance of laughter in a tough working situation.  It is even better to have a few inside jokes to keep things light when the going gets tough.  Maybe no one else will fully appreciate my final words to the CTA, the ones I shouted through the raindrops and across the puddly parking lot, but it cracked us up pretty good.

"I will be your cupcake monkey!!!"


Wednesday, June 06, 2012

WNBP: In Other Words..."Done."

There is an interesting little psychological process known as "termination." This occurs when a person is involved in the ending of some sort of relationship, usually a significant one. It isn't a big deal. Or it is, depending upon the depth of the relationship, but it is perfectly normal and super-duper healthy if you do it right.

I happen to be in the midst of a gi-normous flood of termination these days.  Normally, it is just the 8th graders who are bidding us a fond farewell.  This usually takes the form of more-than-the-usual-level of crying girls and a whole bunch of kids roaming the halls because they have finally figured out that we can't really do much about it given the time we have left.

This year, however, is different.  With the massive restructuring going on in my school district (a generally positive thing but massive nonetheless) every single human in the building is going through some kind of termination process.  Even the staff, over half of which are moving up to the high school leaving the other half to deal with new colleagues and schedules.  We have four days left and all of a sudden the whole place has gone into emotional overload.

I am wrung dry and capable of nothing less than bullet points now.  It is a very good thing that today is Wednesday...

*Another word for termination is "done."

*I am very much done with this school year no matter what the calendar says.

*Termination can also mean "fired."

*Something I have begged for but cannot seem to achieve.

*In the words of Mr. Assistant Principal, "I don't care.  Your contract says you have to come back tomorrow."

*This was shouted at me through his office window yesterday as I staggered to the parking lot and while Mr. Principal called from behind him something about how I might feel better if I baked something and brought it into work tomorrow.

*Little Einstein was feeling a bit frisky yesterday and somehow managed to get up high enough to start removing ceiling tiles.

*Today I had two staff meetings.  One for my department.  Another full staff meeting.

*In case no one thought to remind me beforehand, it was mentioned several times that these were the last staff meetings for this particular "staff."

*The first one had donuts.

*The latter did not and it was after school.

*There was a great deal of emoting at both.

*I am not terminating right now.  Please do not think less of me.  I do, in fact, have a heart.  And a soul.

*But I move around a lot in this district.  I don't form the kinds of relationships like the middle school staff has.

*Seriously.  This group is tighter than any I've ever seen.  Ever.  We are talking decades of bonding here.

*Fishing trips.  Parties.  Please-won't-you-be-my-maid-of-honor type relationships.

*I am sensitive to that.  I am respectful of that.  I actually am kind of in awe of that.

*But the open mic policy afforded today's afternoon staff meeting was a little over the top.

*There was a great deal of "sharing."  Really emotional sharing.

*Then the human resources lady came to answer health insurance questions.

*Yeah...the human resources lady wasn't exactly well-placed in the agenda...

*Once it became clear how this meeting was going to go, someone leaned over to me and whispered, "I'll bet you wish you brought your knitting now, don't you?"

*This year, I am saying my final farewells to the last group of kids with whom I have a ridiculous amount of history.

*Some I've had in my class since they were in kindergarten.

*The Future Farmer.

*Spunky Girl.

*The Phuture Physicist.

*All are taller than me now.

*All are moving on.

*That is weird...

*I used to be able to pick them up.

*Now they help me lift the heavy things I can't quite manage.

*Cue the sappy music...

*The Boy Who Likes To Shout Toot Toot somehow ended up standing in a drinking fountain yesterday.

*He was making a point.

*I still don't know what it was...

*I was too busy trying to keep Little Einstein from squirming into a heating duct to ponder it too much.

*If I survive all this termination business, I'll be able to read more.

*I was delighted to find that Cursed (Alex Verus) was available.

*A quick read and a really nicely put together story.

*Evil Dark: An Occult Crime Unit Investigation is an inexpensive digital download but absolutely worth looking into.

*I read the first one a while back and, although I'd forgotten quite a bit of the story line, I picked it back up fairly quickly.

*Sort of like Dragnet in the supernatural world.

*I'm not done with that one yet.  Should be soon.

*Why is my ankle hot?  My ankle has been hot all day and I have no idea why.

*Not hurt.  Hot.  Warmish, really.  Maybe a little more than warm, but not so much that it burns.

*Hot.  Weird.  And I'd kind of like it to stop just because I worry that it might be a rare zombie-type infection and that would irritate me greatly right before summer vacation.

*Tomorrow is Thursday.  I have to go back to school where everyone is really emotional and the kids roam the hallways looking for things to climb.

*This really needs to end soon...

I'm calling this post "done."  I think there are a couple of cats who would like to see the start of dinner preparations and who don't much care about Mommy needing to discuss termination issues.  I'm OK with that.  This is something I can actually fix.

Unlike kids scaling drinking fountains and colleagues who spontaneously burst into emotional bouts of "do you remember the time..."  I'm just not built for this.