Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WNBP: I'm Not Sure How I Feel About This...

Ah, Ambivalence...welcome back, Old Friend!  Sometimes I get all black and white with my feelings and I need a dose of good old fashioned emotional see-sawing to get back to my usual, waffly self.

That, in a nutshell, kind of describes the state of things around here these days.  Here's more on that in Wednesday Night Bullet Post Format:

*Vacation was wonderful.

*But, as vacations tend to do, it ended all too soon.

*And Monday morning rolled around with all the cold harshness of a snowy day in February.

*Actually, the cold and the snowy stuff was the day before but I'm getting so immune to cold, snow and anything else in the Winter Weather Category that I hardly even notice it any more.

*I dreaded going back.  I really liked that whole Master Of My Own Schedule thing.

*I could use the restroom whenever the spirit moved me!

*Whether I needed to or not!

*But, as of Monday, I had to hold it because a room full of 6th and 7th graders isn't going to teach itself just because I need to answer the call of nature.

*Nor is it going to look anything remotely like I left it when I return.

* was kind of hard to not feel a bit of gratitude.  At least I had more than a week of work left to come back to.

*Which is more than 22 of my colleagues can say.

*Not to mention everyone who teaches in the gifted program and band.

*While the dust from the first round of layoffs was still hovering in the tear-laden air, they were informed that their respective programs will be ending in mid-May.

*I came back to a flurry of emails, all of which reflected the panic one feels when one's job, the one you thought you had locked in as of Wednesday, is suddenly yanked out from under you on Friday.

*It's a train wreck.  The teacher's union is blaming past and present superintendents.  Past superintendents had the good sense to retire last spring before all this came crashing down and present superintendents are blaming the teacher's union for not taking a vote of accepting furlough days within the time lines given.  Everyone else is evenly split in their accusations, but I'm trying to stay out of it.

*And enjoy my continued paycheck.

*Even if that means going back to work when vacation was really ever so much nicer.

*I was, however, looking forward to lunch.  I got myself a the cutest little pink lunch crock! 

*Follow the linky thingy if you'd like to see it: Crock-Pot SCCPLC200-PK 20-Ounce Lunch Crock Food Warmer, Pink)

*I just plug it in before I go out for recess duty and, by the time I'm finally able to sit down to eat lunch while I help kids during study hall...I have a hot meal!!

*I can't remember the last time I had a hot lunch at school...

*The weather forecast for today was nothing short of weird.  Most of the state was under a storm warning.

*Not me, though.  I live on the coast and we had nothing to worry about according to the weather prognosticators.

*But even 20 miles away, the story seemed different.

*And they kept changing the rain vs. snow line, not to mention when the whole thing was supposed to kick off.

*I finally settled on the harsh reality.  There would be no Wednesday Snow Day.  The timing was off.

*I figured we'd probably get sent home early or something and then I could experience the joys of driving on ice slicked roads in blinding snow.

*Until I got home, that is.  Home was in the Safe Zone.

*I put a lot of thought into this.  So much so that I barely slept a wink all night.

*Which was going to be a problem come 5:00 in the morning when I needed to arise and somehow find my way back to that paying job 'o mine.

*The call came at 5:00 this morning.  Shortly after I got to sleep.

*No school.

*As far as I can tell, there was  mostly rain during the morning hours in the area where I teach.  I can't fathom where the idea to cancel came from.

*Perhaps the superintendent is trying to cover his bases after the last time he tried to pull off a delayed start to school but neglected to announce it to anyone so they could plan accordingly.

*Frankly, I'm not entirely convinced this was the best use of our limited snow day time...

*On the other hand, I was too tired to care.  A certain sleep-deprived Sheepie decided to not look this particular gift horse in the mouth and pencil in an afternoon nap.

*Let's hope this mostly wraps up by tomorrow morning since I doubt we can get another snow day out of this one.

*This is supposed to be a loooooong storm.

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty is pretty much at the end of his rope with all this gray and gloomy weather.

Sometimes a guy just needs to bury his head and ignore the world...

*That used to be the pillow on my bed but I bought a new one during vacation and tossed that one on the loveseat until I could figure out what to do with it.

*Apparently, it is rather perfect for angst-filled face smashing so I suppose it will have to stay there.

*I kind of feel the same way, except for the part where I didn't have to drag my half-asleep self to school today.

*I seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time with The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach during my vacation.

*Hair cut on Saturday.

*Lunch and shopping on Monday.

*More with the lunching and shopping on Friday.

*Happily, we didn't set off any alarms this time.  The local police departments were pleased with us.

*However, we did have to put an entire store staff on alert when we got distracted by a discount rack and someone absconded with our cart.

*Note: When shopping for a frame to best set off your much loved and now deceased dog it is not a good idea to take the only copy of the photo along with you.

*Or leave it in the cart.

*Or get distracted long enough that some poor lady thinks the cart is abandoned and has to be apprehended by a wandering Sheepie.

*But we didn't set off any alarms this time so I still think we were ahead of the game on this trip.

*Having spent much of my available cash on all these shopping excursions, my book monies were limited.

*Fortunately, I got a heck of a deal on a six book set that looked at least a little promising.

*Actually, it has paid off rather nicely.

*Samantha Moon, Moon Dance (Vampire for Hire #1), is a delight and her story is actually far more compelling than I would have thought.

*To be brutally honest, there are one or two issues with editing and perhaps a few tweaks here and there to correct for the overuse of certain expressions might have made the experience even better.

*But it hasn't detracted at all from the book in the long run.  I just really like this character and the story in which she's embroiled.

*I'm only just starting book 2 so we'll see how it goes from here, but I have to say it was a good purchase.

*Much like my school vacation shopping, I always make sure to check that discount rack.  Even when it's in digital form!

*My ongoing mission to eat dinner before bedtime is moving along at a predictable pace.

*In other words, I am eating dinner sometime between 7:00 and 10:00.

*Don't judge.  I get all involved in other stuff.  Important stuff like TV and computer games.

*Or the blog, now that I think of it.  I just realized it's after 7:00 and I promised myself this would be wrapped up by 6:30 so I could at least come close to my goal.

*Plus I still have to dry my hair before bed so I don't think this is going to end well.

*And, as I said before, I also don't anticipate another snow day tomorrow so sleeping with wet hair isn't really a good idea.

*Now I don't know what to do first.

*And I still haven't wrapped up this blog post!!!!

OK.  That's what I'll do.  I'll finish the post, double check the links and do a cursory spell check.  Then it's off to either dry or cook.  One of those.

On the plus side, my lunch is still packed for today's aborted school day and I have clean clothes just awaiting tomorrow's morning routine.  I think that, with those things taken care of, I might just make my usual bedtime.

That's a good feeling.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WNBP: I Forgot To Mention...

It just struck me that I think I may have forgotten to tell you something important.  It's not an earth shattering revelation, but it is the kind of thing I generally mention once, twice or a billion times at certain points during the school year.

I am on vacation this week.

I know.  It's kind of crazy that I neglected to drop a hint or two.  I like vacations.  I like them a lot.  I'm not saying I chose my career based on time off or anything like that.  I honestly thought I might have an aptitude for educating America's Future.  I suppose the fact that I've stuck with it for a quarter century might bear that out.

But let's not completely discount the school vacation factor.  It might play a role.

Since I've had a few days of non-working bliss under my belt, why don't we explore the comings and goings of this non-work-a-day Sheepie in this week's Wednesday Night Bullet Post?

*Truth be told, I approached this vacation with a bit of the ambivalence.

*I like vacations.  Especially the February Break because it is the first vacation of the school year that doesn't require me to spend at least one day baking.

*Or wrapping.

*Or traveling.

*Or remaining awake well past nap time at least once during the course of the week.

*But this vacation didn't just kick off a few days of rest and relaxation.


*It was also Doomsday for some of the teaching assistants and clerical staff, not to mention some of the programs and services we've come to enjoy in the wonderful world of education.

*The recent curtailment order from the governor hit the schools hard.  Really hard.

*The Teacher's Association is doing its level best to try and get a vote in on teacher furlough days to see if we can absorb some of the impact to the support staff, but it's a process.

*And one they can't rush or circumvent.  I'm not a member, but even I get that.

*Frankly, I'm shocked they are even willing to consider it.  In the past they've been, how shall we say...

*"Scornful of the idea."  Loudly scornful and with heaping helpings of eye rolls.

*It's actually kind of a bad sign that they are willing to open up the contract to a vote on the matter.

*Nor is it going to be enough to fix the problem created by hundreds of thousands of dollars in promised state funding suddenly going bye-bye.

*Only to be replaced with public flogging of the educational system because apparently things like teacher retirement and fully staffed schools are luxuries to which we have all become too accustomed.

*Fifteen people were let go last Friday.  Most from Special Education, as far as I can tell.

*All support staff (including my teaching assistants) have had their hours firmly cut and the library will be closed and locked at 2:00.

*The After School Help Program is gone.  As is all staff development funding or continuing education reimbursement.

*The custodians have each lost an hour per day as well.

*We will be living in ignorance and wallowing in our own filth unless someone can figure out how to use that floor buffer thingie in the next couple of weeks.

*Each of the support staff was taken out of class for individual meetings with our special ed. director to discuss the matter.

*As my people were led out, my fingers went numb and I moved closer to the trash can in case I tossed my breakfast sandwich.

*We are safe for now.  We can breathe.

*For two weeks.  Then the second round of cuts kicks in and we get to do it all over again.

*I haven't slept a full night for weeks.  For some reason, it got even worse at the start of vacation.

*But yesterday I found a leftover dribble of the narcotic cough syrup I was taking last Fall and I got to take a four hour nap.

*I woke up long enough to eat and take care of a few other bodily functions (mine and the cats') then it was back to bed for another six hours.

*I have a stiff neck today, but I can live with it.

*I kicked off the week 'o bliss by joining The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach for a day of shopping dining and general revelry.

*We love TWGSALC and not just because she takes me to the Professionals Only Store where I can get volumizing gel at a ridiculous discount.

*I was restrained since I am trying to be a more responsible consumer.

*We dined out for lunch.  If you are a local and haven't discovered this place yet, Mainely Wraps is amazing.  Highly recommended by Sheepie!

*It all went very well, at least until we got back to her house and she inadvertently set off the alarm.

*And then tried to turn it off by hitting the first available button.

*They call that particular protrusion The Panic Button.

*And Mr. WGSALC got to see how quickly the nice people at the alarm company call him at work when his wife hits the panic button.

*They have decided to change the first contact number to the house phone as opposed to his cell since that might have saved everyone a lot of time, trouble and hearing impairment.

*It wasn't a total loss.  We got to meet a very nice policeman.

*And see Roxy The Wonder Dog in full on Protect Everyone From The Very Nice Policeman mode.

*In the back of my mind, I just kept thinking about how, even though I miss him dreadfully, it was good that Max The Best Dog In The Whole World passed a few months ago.

*Max was one of those wonderful, gigantic goldens who loves everyone and wants to sit in all laps in spite of his size.

*Until you threaten those he loves.

*Things would not have ended well.

*Yesterday I cleaned house.  The kind of cleaning that involves using vacuum cleaner attachments.

*As opposed to just accidentally knocking them off their little clip and swearing that I'm going to throw them in the garbage since no one ever uses those stupid things anyway.

*It was the cleaning that led to finding the cough syrup dribble.

*Cleaning is a good thing.  I should do it more often.

*Today I had to go back to the store where I went with TWGSALC so I could buy the 3-day emergency supply kit that was on the clearance rack.

*TWGSALC is awesome and makes sure I get out into the fresh air periodically.

*But she would neither understand nor appreciate my prepper need to have a 3-day kit.

*Or that finding the very one I wanted on the half price table made me giddy with joy.

*I may have picked up one or two other things while I was there.

*Nothing much.  All on clearance.

*Besides, as I chanted repeatedly in my head, I wasn't paying for lunch today.  I had a gift card from Mommy and Daddy Sheep!

*And I'm still telling myself that.

*Because my free lunch clearly balanced out the $71.00 worth of clearance merch I dragged back home with me.

*It came with cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies.

*Shut up.  Cookies do too make a difference.

*And the emergency kit came with energy bars so I won't starve now that my grocery budget is compromised.

*It's still kind of too bad since today, when I stopped in to pick up cat food, the clerk looked me up and down then said, "She's funny.  I like this one."

*I'm good with the banter if not the budget.

*I wish I had more to report on the reading front.  But I don't.

*I've mostly been re-reading some older stuff and trying to settle on something new.

*Between the school budget anxiety and resulting insomnia, my decision making ability has become as compromised as my grocery shopping monies.

*I ended up finishing my audiobook a few days before the end of the school week, which left me kind of at loose ends.

*But then I remembered that I still had some borrowed time left on Cat's Claw (A Calliope Reaper-Jones Novel).

*Not enough to finish it, mind you.  But it gave me something to listen to while I drove back and forth, trying to stay awake.

*Now I can't finish it because time ran out and someone else already had it on reserve.


*That's the chance you take with a library loan.  It's a race you sometimes don't win.

*Probably should put it back on reserve, but I'm sure I'll be into something else by the time it's available and then I'll have to choose between them.

*Which will add something else to my Lie Awake And Worry List...

*I'll never catch up on the lost sleep if that should come to pass.  There's only a couple good napping days left in this vacation.

*And the next one isn't until April.

*I suppose I should start hoping for those furlough days....

That about covers it, I guess.  Come Monday, I get to go back to a full staff who are working almost a full day and that is a good thing.  At least when you consider the alternatives.

Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy these next couple of days and see if I can catch a few more refreshing naps before it starts all over again.

On the "bright" side, most of the firings should be all done before April Vacation rolls around.  Then my head might be clear enough to remember to tell you about it in advance.

You know, so you can prepare for all the merriment, alarm bells and emergency supply sales.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WNBP: Drifting Thoughts And Not So Crazy Preps.

Oh dear!  Here it is, Wednesday once again, and me with nothing to talk about! seems to me there was a little something.  It's right on the tip of my tongue.  If only I could just recall what it was I wanted to tell you...


And then there was probably a bunch of other stuff.  Why don't we get right down to it and see where the Wednesday Night Bullet Post takes us?

*I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for last Friday.  I usually just take the day off for those kinds of things.  Why waste a perfectly good day by going back to work?

*And since there was every indication that a weather "event" was in the making, it seemed prudent.

*But I didn't want anyone to think I was wimping out since the snow wasn't supposed to start until later in the day so I went to the main office to discuss it with Mr. Principal.

*He heard me out.  Listened attentively to my concerns around making it to school just in time to be sent home early.  He nodded sagely as I outlined how my horrible, fiery death-by-car-wreck could be avoided by just not coming to work on Friday.

*He nodded, then said, "But how will the cats feel about you being home all day?"

*It is entirely possible that I have become a cliche.  But let's not dwell on that...

*The snow did not start later in the day.  I started, in point of fact, rather early in the day.

*Which made the trip to the doctor's office rather tricky.  Also the trip to the grocery store and the bank.

*That was OK, though.  Right before a storm, everyone is kind of jolly around these parts.  We peruse each other's carts and chuckle over the need to purchase medications for Very Complicated Kitties before things go from bad to worse.

*Even the lady at the bank thought my comment regarding getting my car payment in just ahead of Armageddon quite witty.

*Armageddon didn't seem too far from the truth at that point.  We were talking actual, honest to God blizzard conditions, multiple feet of snow and flooding over here at the coast.

*The lady at the bank didn't see fit to correct me, at any rate.

*At last, I bade farewell to all my new foul weather friends in the outside world and went home to weather the storm.

*And it snowed.

*And snowed.

*And snowed.

*Then, just for kicks, it snowed some more.

*It all got a bit dull in the middle.  Once you've finished your storm preps (putting light sources in all rooms, purchasing a new shovel and counting the canned goods) there really isn't a heck of a lot to do.

*But then Sunday rolled around and we were all jolly again because we got to see other humans and share shoveling duties.

*We were a little less jolly when we realized that the wind was still whipping around like crazy and that our survivalist smiles were now frozen in place, but I like to think my community rose above it in the end.

*Reports vary but, when all was said and done, it looks like my town got somewhere between 27 and 30 inches of the white stuff over a twenty four hour period.  Myself, I lean towards the lower end of that scale since I don't really want to have over 30 inches of snow outside my house.

*Other people have that.  I happily concede the contest.

*It was tricky to tell just how much we really got what with the wind.  It was really crazy.

*Actual "white-out" conditions.

Mama!  Call the cable man!  I no haz picture!!!!

*It was a fickle wind as well, giving and taking with neither rhyme nor reason.

*Here is a picture of my car on Sunday morning.  Once I slogged through the thigh-high snow blocking the driver's side door, it was really rather easy to clean it off.

The winds blew in my favor.  Thank you, Winds!!

*Oh, and that big white lump directly on the right of the photo?

*Yeah, that would be my neighbor's car.

*Not so much with the "easy clean up."

*And here's something else to think about:  Everyone thinks it's great sport to make fun of Crazy Prepper Girl while the sun shines.

*But in a blizzard when she's the only one in the building with a supply of coffee, even the little specialty cups that fit in a certain popular single cup coffee maker, no one thinks Crazy Prepper Girl is all that chuckle-worthy.

*CPG is the belle of the ball.

*And willing to dispense coffee to the so-called norms who don't prepare at all for Things That Will Probably Never Happen.

*It's all over now.  The sun came out and we all went back to work come Monday morning. We were still kind of jolly.

*But once we'd had the chance to tell our tales of harrowing snowbound horror and the routine reestablished itself, we went right back to our usual grumpy and not at all friendly at the grocery store selves.

*It's right around then that you realize you didn't do nearly as much around the house as you thought you would once trapped inside.

*Storms, the really big ones, don't inspire productivity.  You'd think they would since there isn't much else to do.

*But they don't.  I still had to scramble around on Sunday night to get lunches and matching shoes together.

*I got a little reading done, though.

*Thought it was high time I checked in on my favorite self-renounced angel.

*And A Hundred Words for Hate: A Remy Chandler Novel does not disappoint.  I think it's the best one in the series, thus far!

*I may have grumped my way back to work on Monday, but the commute wasn't the reason.

*One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 2) is a delight on audio.

*Even if the reader completely screwed up with the lead male character's voice.

*I mean, honestly!  He sounds like everyone's favorite vampire granny and not at all like the undead hottie he is supposed to be!!!

*Some things one just has to look past.

*Much as one does with giant snowbanks and the "Crazy" part of the prepper girl with coffee she's willing to share.

And that about covers it.  Or at least as much as my internet service provider is willing to cover.  My connection has been dicey since the middle of last week and I haven't gotten around to the service call yet.  I think I'd better try to post this and go see about dinner.  I still have a lot of canned ravioli left over from the storm and it's not going to reheat itself, after all.

Or I could tuck it away for the next big storm.  Right next to the surplus coffee and toilet paper.  I rather liked being popular around here.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

WNBP: Wednesday's Back!

Greetings, All!  I trust this Wednesday night finds you well and happy.  It's sometimes hard to believe how quickly midweek rolls around.  Why it feels like only a scant seven days ago, I was sitting right in this very spot and blathering on about whatever nonsense was occurring around me.

Funny thing, time...

Any-hoo, I guess it's time once again to run through the week's events in bullet point format.  Let's see where we end up on this particular W-day!

*I make no promises about blog length tonight.

*It's not so much lack of motivation or material as it is lack of chair stamina.

*Can't sit for too long.  Or lie down.  I can stand pretty darned good, but that gets kind of tiring after a few hours.

*My back hurts.  It started aching last week and I thought, "Oh, woe is me!  For I am surely the most pathetic and put upon creature in the world what with this aching back of mine!"

*Yesterday it felt better.  And I rejoiced for no one likes an aching back.

*And then, right there in front of the microwave, breakfast paraphernalia and various cats scattered about...

*I sneezed.

*I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone who has ever had lower back pain.

*Deeply and sincerely apologize.  I'll grovel and weep if you'd like.

*Because if I ever compared my occasional lower back pain to actual, honest-to-god Pain, I am now truly humbled.

*One sneeze.  That was all it took.  Suddenly, I was seized with a pain unlike anything I have ever experienced.

*Driving to work was fun.


*I moved the stupid seat into about fifty different positions before I found one that didn't make my back scream and my feet go numb.

*I was relieved when I took the last right turn towards my school.  Until I realized how one's body reacts to right turns in the car.

*It tries to use its core muscles to remain upright and not go sailing into the car window.

*Which hurts a lot if you've managed to tweak your back.

*And how did I tweak my back, you may ask?

*Picking up my cell phone.  Turning to the left and reaching for an item that weighs less than an apple.

*This will be funny someday.  Not now.  But someday...

*Back is markedly better today.  I know because I don't suddenly find myself wheezing, wincing and squealing every time I perform some mundane action that I never really thought about until my back got all old and dysfunctional.

*We've had several weird things happen at school this year.  The staff has taken to naming some of the bigger ones to save time should we need to reference those days.

*For example, the day of the gas leak is now referred to as Gasoline Friday.

*I've heard the day when the powers that be failed to notify people that the school was having a two hour delay due to the black ice as Bus-capades.

*Lots of late buses sliding about and trying to capture children who didn't know the day's school schedule.

*I hope that name catches on.  I rather like it...

*We don't have a name for last Friday, though.

*No one has the heart to make light of the meeting where we learned of the effects our governor's recent curtailment order will have on our staff and students.

*The governor is not a fan of public schools.  Not by a long shot.  Nor is he particularly tactful about it.

*Which is why no one was particularly surprised that the state's schools took a fairly hard hit when Daddy stopped handing out the allowance money he promised.

*Programs are shut down.  Positions are going unfilled and we anticipate around thirty or so layoffs within the next month to cover the monies we thought we were getting but aren't.

*I liken Mr. Governor's attitude towards school reform to the guy with the car that needs some work.

*Instead of performing routine maintenance and replacing the worn parts, he drains all but six drops of oil, lets the air out of three tires, dribbles water in the gas tank and keys his doors.

*Then he drives the car to its breaking point through the driest desert at high noon and, as a final measure of disdain, smashes it with a sledgehammer a few times.

*Finally, he points to the car and says, "See?  I told you it was a piece of crap.  I want a new one."

*Yeah.  It's kind of like that.

*I am a delightful person and a reasonably good conversationalist.  I have a basic understanding of table manners and I never once blew my nose on a tablecloth.

*I am not, however, anticipating an invitation to dinner at the governor's mansion any time soon.

*There's a snowstorm on the horizon.

*If it comes this way and does what they say it's going to do, we should be left with over a foot of snow.

*I wasn't particularly relishing the idea of driving in that.  Nor was my back since I anticipated a lot of tensing up and turning around to watch the cars going off the road all around me.

*But it seems I have a doctor's appointment on Friday so I might be able to work out a day off.

*A snow day isn't a guarantee here.  The timing could be tricky.  Best to take the sick day, assuming I can get coverage.

*The one down side to this upcoming lack of commute is that I started a new audio book today.

*I finished Undead and Unemployed (Undead/Queen Betsy) yesterday and the book I was wait listed for at the state library hadn't come through yet.

*Just when I was resigned to listening to Cat's Claw (A Calliope Reaper-Jones Novel), a miracle occurred in the form of a well-timed email!

*One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 2) was ready and waiting for download!!

*Not that a few days with Calliope would be a bad thing, mind you.  I just really wanted to hear the other one.

*Perhaps the library knew of my back issues and took pity on me...

*Now I'll miss a day of uninterrupted listening should I take time off for the doctor's appointment or snow day.

*Whichever comes first...

*But I'll find a way to live with it.

*I'm tough.  If I can survive Gasoline Friday and The Sneeze That Shook Me To My Very Core, I can get through this.

Well, that's it for me, I'm afraid.  The back is saying that it doesn't like the office chair anymore.  It wants to wander around the living room for a while, clenching and knotting and being generally disagreeable.  I don't think it's going to be patient for much longer regarding this demand.

I am currently being very kind and accommodating to my back.  One never knows when the next sneeze will roll around...