Friday, May 31, 2013


Thanks for the comments on Another Day at the Office. Teachers not being in charge of what to teach has been a tradition in my state of employment (sadly, well before W, kmkat)
I write this post to let you know that all that we failed to accomplish last Friday will be revisited this coming Tuesday. Same cast of characters. Same lack of blueprints and knowledge. Only on Tuesday it goes from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. A "rebuilding" of sorts. I suppose we should all be grateful that the city planner is taking interest in our houses. But if you don't hear from me in the next few weeks, know that I loved my job while it lasted. Also we will see exactly how far I can go on a pair of knitted socks in 8 hours.

My Peeps

When it comes to knitting bridge panels, my peeps are awesome. The first photo is a collection from several people. The second is mostly knitnightjustine's and the third belongs to knitnighttara and knitnightalison.

I wish I could say I was responsible for one small piece of it but that is not the case. I did, however provide occasional reality checking by reciting our mantra, "it's a bridge people." Panels are 72" x 34" give or take a stitch and details about the Knit the Bridge project can be found here.





Friday, May 24, 2013

Another day at the office.

I think that part of our technology agreement with the school system prohibits me from sharing conversations that took place in our staff development today so what follows is what it might sound like if instead of teaching children we were building a house. Beware that it might feel a little Kafka/Gertrude Steinish.


Important person enters room and the dialogue begins...

Hello, welcome to the meeting today. We were to be talking about the new housing development but the director of the housing development quit his job yesterday. He did give me his presentation which I will present to you but I'm not terribly informed as to what it means for building houses, as I usually design cities.

What I can tell you is that we hope to have the blueprints by August. They will be in draft form. There may be a delay in blueprints. We will begin building whether we have them or not. One thing I can say for sure is that you WILL NOT be building houses like you did in the past. These new guidelines will change everything you'll ever do. However, we have some friends across town who are building office buildings and they will in general be working with the process of construction that you have used in the past as this process has proven effective and necessary.

Let me touch on a few points, though I'm not sure these will be relevant in a month. Feel free to ask questions as we go along.

Houses af the past are useless. Please discard any thoughts on previous constructions.

Will the houses need roofs?

These houses will be much better than houses with roofs but you might have to put a roof on them. Just not the same one. I can't believe that they haven't done away with roofs in the last 10 years.

Will we still be responsible for landscaping?

I'm glad you asked that. The bathrooms WILL have water we are not certain about the kitchen. Oh, that reminds me, the people working on the office buildings will be using your equipment in the daylight hours. I'm sure with as flexible and understanding as you are, that won't be a problem.

What about the housing inspector? Can we expect regular visits?

As you know, the position of housing inspector was done away with several years ago. The county genealogical society will be coming by periodically to make sure you are hydrated.

Now, I would like all of you to get into groups and make a plan of action for building the houses. I think it's valuable to have all the contractors and subcontractors here. Don't worry about not having the blueprints, just make sure you are doing something new.

(End scene 1. Move to small group scene 2)

(Contractors in italics, sub contractor in regular type.)

Well we've been give our mission, what shall we plan on doing?

We need to be proactive instead of retroactive. We need to make sure the banks are going to fund the project. We need to remind those who are building the office buildings that they will need houses to live in.

Me: what I wish I had said " A riot is an ungly thing... undt, I tink, that it is chust about time ve had vun ..." What I accidentally said and no one made the connection "WE NEED A RIOT" which made me sound a little bit like a crazy person. This means that in spite of my 26 years of experience in building houses, I will likely NOT be asked to be on the project review board. Damn. I think you have to be named Joel to do it anyway.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

And then

At the fiber festival it was also dye your poodle day. What you see below is not a tiger but a poodle.


While I have no use for it, I love the way this stuff looks.



I told myself I was not to get anything unless it jumped out of the vendors' hands and into mine.


Guess what happened?



What could I do? Especially when the vendor said it's a great way to use up leftover yarn......


Observations before the day begins.

This morning we woke up to a plastic burning bonfire smell wafting through our home. It did not emanate from our house, it was just passing through, like a paper mill on vacation. I called 911 (which you are supposed to do even though it seemed a little non dramatic for such a call).

About 30 minutes later a father and son team arrived in a pick up truck asking if they were in the right place. Yes, it was a toxic burning smell, no it didn't smell like natural gas, yes, it seems to have dissipated a bit since I made the call. Their response? "We'll look into it." It's why I didn't see a whole lot of reason to perform my civic duty by calling in the first place. I feel bad dragging a couple of volunteer firefighters out on a relaxing Saturday morning.

Wait a minute, back up to the question "did it smell like natural gas?" We live smack in the middle of the Marcellus shale seam. You can't walk your dog without running into trenches for pipeline, well digging trucks, pumping stations, tankers dumping non-potable chemically laden water into streams or otherwise. However, if it in fact WAS a burning natural gas smell, I'm pretty certain that a father/son team in a pick up truck with a flashing yellow light would be at most a casualty in an ensuing disaster.

(Insert Western PA accent as appropriate)

Yup, me and my boy here heard you had a stinky smell and we come to check 'er out...KABLOOM!"

I wonder how much Haliburton gives to the local volunteer fire departments. I'd like to respectfully suggest that they consider upping the ante a little.

End of morning observation one.

Today is deliver your big junky garbage to the city building and we' ll get rid of it day. We had some big junky garbage and fortunately have a friend with a truck who said, yea, I'll come by and take it there for you. (What a good friend, right?) when I got home from work yesterday, Mr. Sophanne was on a mission to clear out big junky garbage from our house. I am happy to get rid of big junky garbage. When it comes to carrying to to the big junky garbage pile, I'd really rather wait an hour or two after getting home from work to do it. I'm a big fan of slow transitioning from work to home life. (Read: I need my damn 4:00 nap time)

I asked the Mr. to wait an hour so that I might help carry big heavy junky garbage. He said, no, no, you worked all day, I'll take care of it. Today he is wearing a back brace, and occasionally grumbling in pain. This with the added sneezing discomfort of the morning's stinky smell will mean that it will take some extra effort to make it a good day.

Why do Mr.'s think they can move big heavy things without consequences?

End of morning observation number two.

Wildlife. This morning there were no less than three squirrels in our backyard munching on whirligigs from whichever kind of tree makes them. (Maple?) I let the good dog out and I thought her brain was going to explode. Also spotted last week was a giant bunny daring to nibble on the treats in our yard. Again, the dog was no match for big bunny speed, though I hope it's either a sterile girl bunny or maybe a boy bunny because that dog of mine loves her some baby bunnies (not for food, just for presents.)

I'm wondering if all this wildlife is coming around because they heard me vamping on Iz's Somewhere Over The Rainbow chords last night on the back porch and thought, hey, What a Wonderful World this backyard must be.

End of morning observation number three.

Today is the local Sheep and Fiber festival. I have had three major yarn adventures this year. A trip to Natural Stitches in October, a trip to the Pittsburg Knit and Crochet Festival in February, and a very BIG trip (as in it took nearly two months worth of allowance to cover) to the Mia Sofia yarn store closing in March. Add to that my participation in Stitchjones' Yarnageddon club which delivers two gorgeous skeins every quarter, and the truth is, my yarn basket, shelf, room runneth over. Today I hope to be tagging along, buying nothing, in it only for the post-festival apple dumpling and ice cream treat. Ladies, place your bets.

To be continued...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mr. Sophanne's new camera and a Mother's Day feast.

Mr. Sophanne bought a new camera. It's his camera. This is a great thing. I don't have sole responsibility of camera activities. He's been shooting the pets a lot and these two are my favorites.


If he decides to make this his hobby, I think he has an eye for it. It still takes him, 20 minutes to snap a shot but so it goes. Also I'll have to suggest he fix the time stamp on the camera, but maybe he hasn't gotten that far in the directions yet.

We went to a Mother's Day banquet buffet feast with aunt of Sophanne this weekend. She lives in the town where Dean Martin was born. There is more than one banquet hall that holds dinners such as these for various holidays. Part of Sundays entertainment was a singer a la Michael Bublé. He picked up the mic and said "I'll be entertaining you today." That made me laugh. Then he sang (he had a decent voice) and walked around the room while he was singing. Holy Crack me Up batman! I can't quite put my finger on why I thought it was so hilarious. As you can see below, Aunt loved it. I guess I've just never been that close to what I would consider a lounge singer. If it cracks you up and you figure out why, drop me note, mkay?



Thursday, May 09, 2013

A Vent

This year a new/old school was added to my schedule. I was completely demoralized. I had worked at this school 15 years earlier and was getting comfortable working in the same building with a classroom and equipment every day of the week. I tried to be positive. And in fact I met Newfrienddebbie who is a soul mate kind of good friend, so it wasn't completely horrible.

However, when this happened I was too angry to speak of it much. I knew that there would be no quelling the storm that was raging against the powers that be. Now that there are only a few more days left to teach at this school, it's time to loosen up a little.

The teachers "lounge" is actually a long narrow half of a stage. For the first six months, my official space (where I can leave my coat) was a desk underneath a dripping pipe. One would be sitting there during a planning period having been told that "the drip was fixed' only to discover otherwise with either a wet laptop, lunch, notebook or otherwise.

The stage curtain is all that separates this lounge/work area and elementary kids eating lunch. In late February, in the interest of safe schools a locksmith, appeared to fix the lock on the side door that leads to the stage. All I can figure is that there is some sort of defense shield in place that I don't know about between these two areas.

At one time I had some pictures to share of this area but they were too depressing to run into when I was looking at pictures of the Liza Jane

The principal at this school does a good job, but when it comes to National Teacher's Week, I would rather a short note of appreciation (NOT IN ALL CAPS AS THE NOTE INFORMING US OF OUR GIFT BAG WAS.)

These are the items in the gift bag. Insert appropriate and clever "plays on words" about having "drive" and being a real "gem" and being worth "a million bucks" not realizing that "worth your weight in gold" was a much better match with the waxy chocolate coins.

When traveling from room to room, I roll equipment on a cart when I feel like it. I carry in a ukulele and a Bose iPod dock when I don't. Because most classroom teachers do not give me enough room to actually bring the cart into the room, more often than not I go for the latter. In this particular room, my "place to be" is usually the table pictured below. This afternoon when I entered the room, the classroom teacher said, "I hope my strawberries don't get in your way."

And then later, while I was teaching, she dropped off another container of them. Apparently my "polite grunt of indifference" said to her "Please may I have another?"


The number of teachers coming in and out to work in this building exceeds the number of parking spaces available. These spaces are also tightly packed, at an angle, and a little tricky to maneuver. I have been asked to move my car over so that it was a centimeter within the one next to it so that someone else could have enough room to actually get out of their car.

Today as I was attempting to leave I was faced with this:


My car is the one trapped between the two cars. Fortunately, I am good friends with the woman who drives the car in front of me. I went to her room, borrowed her keys, double parked her car and while it was running, proceeded to move my car. Before I could put my car in gear someone pulled into the "spot" and tried to block me in again. She backed up and let me out. I informed her that there was another car that had been in that spot that had to be returned there.

She loudly and rudely announced to me that " I AM THE CROSSING GUARD AND I MUST HAVE A PLACE TO PARK! DO YOU EVEN WORK HERE?" (Nevermind that there was a parking place about 10 ft. away in a lot a little further from her crossing guard duties. Also nevermind that all kids had crossed, it was the end of the day and there was absolutely no guarding to do.) she did leave me enough space to slide my friends car back into its place. She was also out of there before I returned to my car.

I know it's small. I know it's petty but my head was ready to explode. I have three more visits to the school. One visit is during the big testing week, one visit is during a scheduled field day (why yes, some schools schedule field day on the music teachers day instead of the physed teacher....NOT) and a program that will be more a casual showcase of third graders rather than an official "thing."

This is a school year that I will not be sad to see pass. Did I mention that I'll be going on an Alaskan cruise this summer? Sometimes I am already there.


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Further evidence

that Western Pennsylvania and surrounding area (where I live and work)  might be classified as a foreign country.

On this morning's facebook feed:

It was not a joke.  And it was not from an unemployed person just in case you think I'm being heartless.