Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Field Day or Sitting Day depending on who you are

So today was a field day picnic day at my school.  It was great.  I was in charge of calling for parent volunteers.  I hate the telephone.  (Oddly enough I was a telephone operator for a few summers.)  When I was getting ready to place the calls for request for help, I sort of felt like a really bad telemarketer.

Hi, this is sophanne from school, no there's no problem with your kid, I was wondering if you'd like to spend one of your last "kid-free" days running a station for our field day.  It will be hot outside and there will be many loud and over-stimulated kids there, what say?

After the first few calls, I realized that most parents like their kids, like seeing them have fun, and are more than happy to be called to help.  Some came that I hadn't even called because it's just what parents sometimes do.  I was overwhelmed and humbled by their willingness to be helpful.  It was great.  Go Awesome Parents!  You Rock!

And then... please tell me what kind of physed teacher comes to a field day, sets up his lawn chair and sits on his arse in the shade all day.  Because if you tell me (in words I can use), I'll tell him.  I may have to back off on the bantering with Chicken Bob because I am certain that that sort of bantering is unhealthy when you really mean it.

After getting everything set up in the morning, my duty was "face painting concierge"- making sure that everyone who wanted to got painted and didn't spend the day waiting in line.  What fun it was to watch the joy at the transformations!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

That Ann Budd...

Not only does she do all of the math for you, she sends you nice messages when you do one of her patterns- this is the second one I've gotten after posting one of her/my projects on ravelry.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In unblocked news...

The top green ones are in some alpaca purchased on San Juan Island several summers ago.  The patter, not shown clearly due to lack of blocking is José Gralike's Long Tall Chunky Cabled Mittens.  I love this pattern- no mods, great thumb directions.

The green on the left is another pair of Susie Roger's Susie's Reading Mitts done in some Knitpiks Capra.

The blue pair on the right  was made using Ann Budd's Basic Mitten Pattern and some Berrocco Alpaca.

Lately, when in doubt about what to knit, I generally try to reduce the stash and make mittens.  I've been tossing them aside for future give-away.  If I have enough by December maybe the family will get mittens instead of hats!


Why yes, this is a knitting blog- it just takes so long to get me to block things.

I have also been playing with photoshop which is why there is nothing to give you an idea of the size.  It's about 4 feet long.   It's Acadian Shawl by Melisa McCurley and is a free ravelry download. 

I used Elsbeth Lavold Silky wool- about 2 skeins. and did several extra pattern repeats for a longer scarf-like thing.  I was going to block it to stretch it to 5 or 6 feet (and probably could  have) but didn't have the space or the patience.  Given the nature of the yarn, I'm thinking that once the curling ends settle down after blocking (silky wool is good like that) I may block it again to stretch it out if it doesn't do so naturally. 

It's knit from end to end, increasing and decreasing on the ends and the only thing I would change if I were to do it again is to make a wider band of garter stitch to be sure that there weren't folding ends.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Save the rocks

Today some kids are going on a field trip to the Meadowcroft Rockshelter.  I visited the site and found that it's a historical field trip with many valuable attractions.  That did not stop me from imagining it as a sort of "wildlife sanctuary for wounded rocks," as in-

My rock has been hit by a bb gun, can you save it so it will fly again?


Each rock has its own living quarters with a comfortable cot and daily massages.


See that pile of rocks over there?  Those are the ones that didn't make it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blueberry and some sweetness

Last week Mr. Sophanne and I had a conversation about what to plant in the garden.  We agreed on cucumbers, tomatoes (regular and cherry), green peppers and maybe some beans.  Those are garden things that we will eat.  As we tried to figure out what else to plant, he said "How about blueberries?"  I told him that blueberries grew on bushes.

Today I had to stop at the local greenhouse to pick up a hanging basket and Lo and Be Whole, what was there but 3 year old blueberry bushes.

It's in a big biggish pot and will need a big biggish hole so I told Mr. Sophanne it was a present for him so that he would be the planter of blueberries.  The greenhouse lady said that shavings of Irish Spring keep the deer away but I'm thinking we might consider planting it within the walls of the garden.  

The sweetness part is a school story, shared here as much so that I'll remember as it is to entertain blogreaders.

4 fifth grade girls were in my room at recess today, choosing my space over outdoor recess.  They "played around" on instruments for a while.  I left them alone, knowing that it's to easy to interfere with my adult mind in the happy play of kids.

At some point they began to "play" concert.  All four lined up.  The entered the instrument area together and sat behind their instruments.  One stood in front as the conductor with a makeshift baton.  Then they played one of the xylophone pieces that they knew in canon.   Each time they did it they would become a little more professional.  One was scolded (by her peers) for speaking too soon at the end of the piece.  It's not over yet, don't talk in the show.  I could hear them in the walking in area saying This time it's the real time, right?  This time it's the really real time.  They took their bows at the end and quietly exited the instrument area.

I was in the room the whole time, again it was all I could do not to try to "add to" or "make better" their play.  At the end of recess they said, "Mrs. Sophanne, tomorrow can we do our show for you after we practice a few times?"  Then they remembered that tomorrow was field trip day and expressed their disappointment.  I assured them that I'd been watching all along.

I felt like I had been a observing guest in the "Secret Garden" of girls who are 10.  It felt so magical.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Don't skip the vegetables

I snapped this photo at almost 9:00 this evening- it stinks, I know it.  What you still might be able to see though is that the left side has been "picked" and the right side has been "massaged."  It's a new gardening technique that I'm all about.  O.k., not really but that's a little bit what it feels like.

Mr. Sophanne picked the whole area yesterday.  I spent some time breaking up the big chunks of dirt and removing the weeds.  Come to find it's really my favorite part of having the garden-the same was true last year.  Sitting on blanket, gloves in the dirt, counting worms, and massaging earth.  I am very tempted to save a corner of this little patch to just keep around to work at.  Maybe even in the middle.

The thing is- when I first sat down to do it I did so with great intention and plans for "success and completion."  I was going to get all of those green pieces that Mr. Sophanne laboriously dug up.  After a few minutes, I realized that wasn't going to happen and it didn't have to.  What a relief and then what a relaxing moment to just be sitting and playing in the dirt.  I highly recommend it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sheep and Fiber 2012

Things I haven't seen before

Making flowers with Nan.  She uses recycled wool, dyes it and makes these spectacular creations.  They aren't felted- but perhaps made of felt?

At first glance, this appears to be just a smiley lady winding yarn, but look closer.  Her ball winder is on her lap attached to a cutting board!  Holy pure genius batman!

Things that suck me in every time but I refrain

Alpaca Bears

What I actually came home with

Two skeins of sock yarn from two different vendors, a yarn bowl, a wallet and some peaches (from the nearby farmer's market)  I figure if the yarn bowl isn't the dream I imagine it to be, it will still hold fresh fruit.)  Bonus points for playing "spot the seltzer bottle"

Friday, May 18, 2012

Take me to the River.

because who doesn't love a good dog picture?

Speaking of rivers- o.k. this next thing has nothing to do with rivers except if I do a bad job, I could get sent up the river. You may remember a few years ago I shared the "head teacher crown" with a colleague. It didn't work out so well. The colleague was great but the principal (the person the head teacher replaces when s/he is absent) at the time suffered from chronic absenteeism. It made for high anxiety. I eventually resigned mid-year because I resented being taken advantage of. Upon receiving notification of and accepting my resignation, I received a note from the powers that be stating in no uncertain terms that I would no longer be eligible to serve as head teacher and receive the whopping $1000/year the job awards.

Fast forward to easy-going, likeable, former physed teacher principal who is at school more often than not. We had some principal school classes together. He knows my secret. I was once a mere portfolio, 3 credit hours and a standardized test away from being certified as a principal. I ended that project prematurely so that I could learn how to be married and because I came to my ever-loving senses.

As the current head teacher has retired, he has recommended me to once again serve as head teacher next year. Much to my dismay, the powers that be haven't remembered their former declaration. I grudgingly agreed to take the position. Things I've got going for me-the secretary and counselor said they'd be on my side and back me up and help me out when I had brain freeze- which I often do. There were several situations that I watched unfold this year where I sat and wondered "how the hell do you work THIS out." Also, this principal comes to school on a regular basis.

Today the counselor said to me "you always appear so calm and collected, even on days when I know you're stressed." It made me think. The odds of making the right decision and finding the perfect solution in unpredictable moments are about 50/50. But even a wrong decision goes down better with a calm and collected personality. If I do the best I can, keep my wits about me, and take little personally, the worst they can do is "fire" me as head teacher and then hire me back again.

p.s. happy 1000th post to me

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hannah Bantry...or where do YOU hide the wrappers?

Kids love conga drumming. Good music teachers know that the best way to make them successful is through familiar (or not so familiar) nursery rhymes. This nursery rhyme is the verse of choice in this week's drumming.

Hannah Bantry in the Pantry
Gnawing on a mutton bone.
How she Gnawed it, How she Clawed it,
when She found Herself Alone.

Getting the kids past the unfamiliar words and ideas so that they are comfortable using them to drum was once a challenge for me. Challenge no more.

I tell the story of the giant bag of mini-snicker bars in the refrigerator crisper. When it was a new bag, I could take as many as 3 or 4, devour them in a hiding place and believe that I went unnoticed. When there were fewer left, I could only take one. I used to tell this and it was the end of the story and all 3rd and 4th graders would grin and smile knowing that I was on to one of their secrets.

Today I took it a step further, pointing out the problem with my thievery. Where do you put the wrappers without getting caught? I don't really remember what I did- I'm going to guess they ended up in the corner of a ne'er cleaned closet.

They offered their solutions (which were much more interesting than what they were sneaking.)

1. Put the wrappers in Dad's lunch bucket so it looks like they are just leftover from his lunch.
2. Put the wrappers in Dad's clothing pockets so that Mom yells at him for sneaking lunch treats.
3. Put the wrappers in a sibling's garbage can and watch them cry when they get blamed for swiping candy.
4. Put the wrappers in the garbage can and then purposely spill a little Kool-Aid so you have to clean it up with paper towels to cover the evidence.
5. Put the wrappers in the school backpack and throw them away at school.

It's funny that in the past when I've asked, few have wanted to fess up to their act of sneaking. Once you ask about the cleverness of disposing of the evidence, they can't wait to tell you. 1830 or 2012, kids are kids are kids.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Temptations Abound

I survived the donuts only to come home and find this in the refrigerator.

It is an 8"Single Layer Split Fresh Strawberry Boston Creme

Mr. Sophanne justified the purchase by stating "It was a dollar off." Oy. I revealed the donuts here and managed to refrain. Perhaps by posting this one I will be able to do the same.

Update on the ugly pants post- re: the elephant pants- I was standing by a dinosaur statue at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Update on the kid who was smacked in the head with a mallet- upon further interrogation today, it was discovered that her friend smacked her in the jaw with the mallet but she didn't want to get her in trouble. We had the "if it was an accident and it just happened, or if it was on purpose, just tell the damn truth." I didn't say "damn."

Update on the picture above- as I typed, Mr. Sophanne just asked if I wanted a piece, I said no and he brought one to me AT THE DAMN COMPUTER (not hearing me say no thank you or just choosing to ignore it.) And when I say "a piece" I mean 1/4 of the thing because that's how he slices. I did not take it. I think I'm going to cry. The only thing I can think of to make me feel better is that I am saving all treats for the week for next Tuesday at what I'm going to call the "Ice Cream Buffet." I know it's frozen yogurt but I like the way ice cream sounds better.

Update on the caterpillar-licking kid- he lasted all of five minutes in today's class. I told him he had 2 chances then he would be sent out (he's a student who actually has an "out" where I can send him) Other students replaced them in their apparent deafness to instructions and inability to concentrate but there was no wildlife involved which I consider a "win."

As tomorrow is Thursday, I feel that I can think about the weekend. It's Waynesburg Sheep and Fiber Festival Weekend on Saturday and Sunday. I'm looking forward to possibly running into some friends and picking up a little sock yarn. I really have been doing a good job of knitting from the stash and would like to use restraint in yarn purchases as well but I'm actually a little low on sock yarn and that will come in handy this summer. We'll see how I do with those temptations. There's a potter who vends yearly that I like to support. Soon all of my "you're the best teacher" mugs will be replaced by beautiful handcrafted pottery adorned with little sheepies.

o.k. who am I kidding- with caterpillars and mallet whapping, I don't think I have to worry about too many "you're the best teacher" mugs!

Upon reflection I may need to rewrite the description of this blog- The food I'm not eating, the yarn I'm not buying, the kids I'm not teaching, and the knitting I'm not doing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Follow up

To notes previously submitted. The cure for such a day is to discover the concept of a

frozen yogurt buffet

Right. Next. To. Knit. Night. Tuesday night dinners have been redefined- although I was too overwhelmed to get anything other than a pre-made parfait tonight. Next week, my friends. Next week.

Some notes to kids on the last weeks of school

Hey 5th grader, time will not pass more quickly if you bring in one of those yellow and black striped centipedey/caterpillars and lick it in class. And after I tell you to put it in the garbage can, it is not I that am "killing an innocent bug." You did that when you brought him in. For the record, I don't think those caterpillars have the same properties as certain magical frogs.

Hey 5th grader crying crocodile tears claiming you got hit in the jaw with a mallet. Maybe you did but if you can't tell me who did it, there's not much I can do. Also, how does one get smacked in the face with a mallet and not know who did it? Also, since I was escorting all potential smackers personally (including the caterpillar licker), it's unlikely you're going to be able to find somebody to pin it on.

P.S. if anyone feels like this is breaking any sort of confidentiality rules, please advise. Sometimes they be gray areas.

P.P.S. there are 11 more days with students. Somehow I feel this has the potential to be a series of posts.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Janet's Ugly Pants

Janet at Dog Day Ramblings has been converting old slides into pictures and sharing them with us. I'm always delighted to see what will be next, the clothes they're wearing, the toys they're playing with, the furniture and decor in the house.

This week she posted herself in a pair of ugly pants and invited us to do the same.

I don't think you can beat giant red chess pieces on a pink background but I'm always one to play a good game. Both pictures are circa 1970.

The first is a pair of pink, yellow, and purple plaid "elephant pants" which were all the rage then. I loved those pants. Given how high up from the ground they fit, I'm guessing I would have been better suited in a pair of giraffe pants!

I have no memories of the second pair but I am wearing them in several other photos so they were either the only pants I had or maybe I looked particularly photogenic in them. I do remember the blue velour shirt, the Bozo gumball machine and the little niche in the wall to hold special secret things like jewelry boxes with spinning ballerinas. Occasional commenter and my mother Sunshine might be able to shed more light on the nature of these pants.

Got any pictures of funny pants? I'm asking for Janet... heh.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Helicopters, goats, and microphones

Hi blog. There are some of you reading who aren’t really my friends. With a dose of that knowledge, and while it really shouldn’t have, it took the wind out of my “isn’t blogland awesome” sails.

This blog has made for some very happy moments in the past so I’ll do what I can to forget the ugly and move on. No promises.

The best I can do after a month is a bullet point post but without the actual dots because I find them distracting and unnecessary in a blog that is best organized in bullet points to begin with. These are very much not in order of importance.

Since 11:00 last night, there has been a box of a dozen dunkin’ donuts in this house with no less than 4 apple fritter ones and 4 bavarian cream ones. So far I have managed to refrain from eating one. Like the alcoholic, I know that one donut might as well be the box when it comes to those light, sweet, fluffy carbs. In another 12 hours, they won’t even be as fresh as they were when they first arrived and I hope to remain successful.

The school where I work has 360 some students. The teacher in charge of a “Links of Love and Locks of Love” fundraiser ($1 a paper link to raise money for the American Cancer Society and of course the hair cuts) set a goal of $5000 for this year. We’ve met that goal in the past when the economy was better and when we had a business partner donation. This year, on the day before the assembly, we had about $2500. At the close of the end of the very next day, those kids brought in $5300 without any assistance from outside sources. The community just kept giving. Eight kids and one teacher gave up at least 8 inches of hair for Locks of Love. The classroom teacher with leukemia was on hand to both witness and cut the hair of the other teacher. She was as cool as a cucumber while the rest of the adults (o.k. maybe just me) were blubbering idiots. It was pretty amazing. There are some pictures on our web-site if you want to see more and beam with pride with me.

One knit-nighter (and I’m not saying who) has a desperate fear of goats. A fear like some people have of mice or spiders. She says- “I don’t like goats.” I say, “What about those cute little fainting ones.” She says, “If I was face to face with a fainting goat, we’d just take turns fainting.”

A friend of mine in med school (again not saying who) is starting a rotation in psychology this month. It’s the first time I wish you could bend the rules of the Hippocratic oath just a little bit. Not for the sake of knowing about her patients but definitely for understanding what it’s like to be a newbie doctor in that situation.

In first grade music, as we sing about farms and animals in the spring, I like to read the book Dooby Dooby Moo It’s about how Farmer Brown’s farm animals win a trampoline at the Talent Show at the County Fair. I use that lesson to introduce those kids to the microphone, what it feels like to talk into one, and how it works. We have our own “talent show” (without judges of course). They are intimidated by the mic at first and all I demand of each one is that they say their name into it. That usually breaks the ice. We go from that to telling some jokes and then they only get a turn if they sing a little tune in it.

This brings me to Joke-Telling by First Graders. It’s like a jazz improvisation session. As a rule,they don’t really get the underlying construction of a joke. They only really understand the surface format. One kid starts with an actual joke (maybe) and words get exchanged, rearranged, repeated, and rewound to make new “jokes.” It’s a little rough on the one or two kids who actually understand the concept of a joke but once they see me embracing the absurd and surreal, they can’t help but join in the laughter. I share with you my favorite joke to come out of these improvisations. And by joke, I really mean “anti-joke.”

Why did the pig cross the road?
I don’t know, why? (here we also learn the right way to hear a joke)
So he could ride in the helicopter.

Sadly I could find no images on the Google of that so you'll just have to envision your own.