Thursday, December 24, 2015

Anxiety Anyone?

Right now my life is full.  It is good.  All is well.  For the past year that has not so much been the case.  Not blogging that crazy personal family shit is always for the best so just take my word for it.

On the other hand I have friends that take me out and make sure I get to do this:

My favorite gingerbread houses are the ones where some adult
clearly gave the kids a pile of  decorations and said "have at it."

Other friends who take the time to make me this awesomeness

And a successful steeking of the Monroe Sweater (Streymoy on Ravelry-so named after Monroe from Grimm).

That being said, the stress and anxiety continues and the good dr. who never prescribes anything stronger than benadryl for anxiety has declared that I need more and has offered some relief with "mother's little helper" for the next week just so my body can remember how to breathe and relax.  And you know the diagnosis is real when the only effect it has is to help me get up in the morning.

Go forth and be well blog readers and know that I am working hard to do the same.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Not plane or bird or even frog




It's just little old me, Underdog.


We all have our guilty pleasures.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

And everyone put your pencils down...

Because the Great 2015 Mitten Knitathon- I like to think of it as the Mittathon- has come to an end.


And ten really great helping friends at school can be frostbite free for the winter.


Also a gratuitous picture of our cat, Annabelle.



Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Saturday in November

For whatever reason, this is the first weekend in some time that hasn't felt like a dothisdothat weekend.

For that I am grateful. It has been a challenging year at school because of student behavior. I would hate to be a first year teacher with this crop.

Today cousin and I started the morning with a pancake breakfast for 'lil Raider football and cheerleaders.



A pancake breakfast as only southwestern PA can do them.

She was quick to point out that her tree looked much nicer than the one at the fairgrounds.


When I turned around to compare, I saw this-


And said why yes, yes it does. While my cousin may have some mental disabilities, it doesn't mean she doesn't have taste.

She had extra ornaments left over from the tree and I had a long distant Pinterest post in my head. When we finished shopping I used recently purchased fishing line and the ornaments and added this to the living room.


A garland of ornaments to adorn her mantlepiece. The rare Pinterest win that turned out exactly like they said it would. I have my eyes on you discounted January ornaments.

Edited to add- and then Bobterry came home and said "I told Shirley we'd take her clothes shopping for her son. We can go to lunch!" So much for a dothisdothat free weekend.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Also, this year it pays to be my helping/laughing friend at school.



Now we are fifty.

And here's what we did.






And then on Sunday there was a Christmas tree for cousin Sherri and a holiday dinner with Aunt Sippy.

I wish I had more better words for it all, funny quips and stories and such but today all I can manage is documentation.


Monday, November 02, 2015

When do we eat turkey?

That was the question posed to a class of kindergarteners this afternoon. Maybe it was a poorly asked question. I'll own that. But still.

Answers (even after some hints)

1. Valentine's Day.

2. Christmas.

3. At bedtime.

4. When mom tells us to come to dinner.

5. After we kill it.

When 10 out of 13 classes (multiple grades) have major discipline issues requiring multiple calls for assistance, it's a relief to have a laugh now and again. And by the end of the conversation, I wasn't 100% sure they weren't just messing with me.

Friday, October 30, 2015


Next week I will be 50.

I don't understand.

I'm waxing poetic in my head but the poetry is missing and mostly I'm just waxing. Which I guess is better than waning.

It's a month of celebrations because you can't fit celebrating 50 in one day.

I spent most of 2015 in my car traveling back and forth and being a grown up. Last week Bobterry took my car to the place and had it detailed. Essentially I got a new car for my birthday.

Last night I went to my first professional hockey game thanks to Bobterry and his casino hostess.


Unlike the baseball games, the seats were comfy, the temperature was perfect and the action was fast. Hockey is the opposite of baseball.

Also when you go to the hockey game you sometimes see knit night friends there. I wasn't making things up in my head when I thought I saw Allison on the jumbotron. Turns out she and knitnighttara were two sections over and 15 rows down.


If there is any question about Tara's mad baking skillz, she got those awesome seats in exchange for making Halloween cookies for a season ticket holder.

In further big city adventures, next week we will go see the movie West Side Story at the Benedum center while the Pittsburgh symphony orchestra plays the soundtrack. Awesome.

My birthday wish is that I keep getting to have adventures, because they are the best.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bloggity blog blog

I have no clever mental composition prepared but wanted to try to continue to keep track of life's busy-ness. It comes in handy when one feels unproductive.


First up- happy birthday knitnightdrjustine. I've made a Dr. Ewe for you.


Next-just when I was discouraged by the general state of public school affairs, my friend from the southern part of the state shared her most recent public school maintenance shaming. They painted lines on a gravel parking lot.


Next- we are closing on a house on Tuesday. It's a cute little house right in "downtown" burg. We will be moving daughter of Auntofsophanne here in October. She needs assistance with the little things in life and I will no longer be driving three hours every Saturday to assist.

Next week I try to get in 10,000 steps a day. I have some Fitbit friends who have been keeping me motivated of late.

And finally- there is no air conditioning (or air circulation- other than a small tower fan) in my windowless room next week and the temps are predicted to be in the 90's. Is it too much to hope that SuperHVACHoward came in and installed a new unit over the weekend?

I will be grateful that I've blogged now rather than later in the week when I have melted into oblivion.


Monday, August 17, 2015

How about those beginning of the year meetings, eh?

I know you've been wondering.

Last year after 20 years as our faculty senate president, I was replaced in a coup. Usually coups such as these are conducted to make meetings move more smoothly and more efficiently. To make things better. Not this one.

Just as I know I suck at keeping my house clean (and have plenty of negative attributes not worth mentioning here), I also know that I can run the hell out of a meeting.

Key phrases to keep things moving forward include...

Is there a motion to ...

Is this something we should table until we gather more information?

Would this be better discussed in a committee?

What I hear you saying is... What action do you feel needs to be taken?

That's a great idea, maybe you could lead a temporary committee to explore the possibilities.

Key actions include rounds of applause for short and/or no reports from committees and sincerely listening and thanking everyone who shares.

The coup was facilitated by the lunch talker (from many posts ago) who resented only getting her three minutes of discussion dominating per meeting. She nominated someone who likes to think of 30 teachers in a meeting as a party she's hosting. "So guys, what did you think of that new program we've been asked to try."

This style of leadership lends itself to the inevitable bitch session that turns 15 minutes into an hour.


In a room full of teachers that already feel three days behind the eight ball (did I mention terrible at metaphors?), you can count on the fact that everyone except three will put their heads down in silence and watch the valuable minutes tick by. Those last three will speak up when asked is there anything else for the good of the cause and air whatever has been in their mind for the last forty minutes.

E.g. "I think communication should be better."

The hilarity of this statement was that it came from a woman who rarely checks school email and doesn't read informational documents sent her way. It was all I could do to not raise my hand and say "I make a motion that everyone send (insert name here) two copies of every email and paper document on the outside chance that she'll actually read one of them."

When conversation and discussion stalled, I was nudging here, there and everywhere for people to make motions of one kind or another to move the meeting forward (not to get them to pass, just to get rid of the silent disdain everyone had at being there.)

And then I threw in the towel. I am not in charge. One teacher (who has a personality conflict with the current prez) wanted to nominate and return me to the post and I asked her not to because it would likely create hard feelings. If everyone prefers sitting with their thumbs up their asses in silence waiting for the torture to end then who am I to interfere?

More disturbing is that my obsessive mental monkey brain somehow thinks this is worth the time I've spent writing about it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Making the most of the last days.

I've been in a knitterly funk lately. I haven't felt very driven. When that happens I go for smaller projects. Awesome granddaughterLily is a Dr. Who fan so I've made this to send along in a tiny back to school package.


I've ordered some yarn for a giant candy corn pillow for awesomegrndaughtertallulah. She's a sweet eater from way back.

AwesomegrandsonLevi spent much of the time practicing slight of hand card tricks at the beach (much to the dismay of the poker players who discovered they were always a few cards short.) I'm on a search for something to encourage that pursuit.

And I was so happy with the mosaic I made earlier in the summer that I decided to go again. I was with a friend who mosaiced faster than I did , hence the larger pieces of glass, but I am pleased with the result. Once it dries and is grouted it will likely be gifted to Auntofsophanne, as she does love those scotties.


Tomorrow is more busy-ness business with lots of driving, notarizing and grocery shopping involved. The teachers go back to work on Monday. I have so much enjoyed this summer blogging and hope I am better able to make time for it this year. If not, see you next summer!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Did I say Stuff? I meant junk.

Or why it pays to hire someone to help you clean the attic.

Our first category of the day is-

Most Disgusting Find that Said Hired Help Threw Out Because I was Convulsing with Disgust.

One would think that the seven foot long snake skin would have won this category hands down. But alas, it's the five gallon water jug filled with pennies and rat carcasses for the win.

When first spotted from a distance I actually referred to this find as a win/win. Hired help could take a bonus in rolled pennies and I would use the jug as a drum in my classroom. Upon closer inspection (and can I just say that I have been blessed with someone who closer inspects much more quickly than I do) we found said twisted psychological experiment on rat curiosity. Maybe they were hiding from the snake.


In the category of Most Valuable Find (if you are a Star Trek geek who goes to conventions and are related to me.) is this-


Because of its condition (or lack thereof) and edition, it has no monetary value. Unless of course you are a regular attendee of the big Star Trek convention every year in Las Vegas. How cool will these two nieces look carrying THAT around?


Our next category is lovingly called "Varicose Vein Memorabilia"


This is a rather tattered and torn menu from Elby's Big Boy. Strawberry pie for $.50. Again, absolutey no monetary value but after sharing it on the Wheeling, WV Facebook page I've found that it means a lot to a handful of people. (75 likes and 20 comments- at last count- a personal record)

And finally my own personal Best In Show goes to this prize-


How, you might ask, could this dirty mismatched artifact become best in show? Plans, my friends, plans.

Picture if you will, the start of the school year. I'm sitting at the front of the room with my iPod touch sound effect on "traditional phone." It's hooked up to the Bluetooth speaker hiding near the phone. I push the button and make the phone ring. I point to a kid in the room and say "get that, would ya?" I've got to work on my poker face. Hilarity ensues.

If I can time it correctly I will also share this with my hapless but kind-hearted principal and more hapless but not so kind-hearted physed teacher.

Can anyone tell me why I think this is so funny?

I have also considered and imagined myself walking down the street with it in my hand and checking it the way "kids do these days."

And finally today's Good Samaritan Award goes to 17 yr old NeighborEthan who showed up just as we were slowing down and carried boxes and boxes of Reader's Digest Condensed Version Books collected over the past 40 years. Note to self and others- books are damn heavy. Magazines too.


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

They always come back

So after my first year of teaching junior high band ('87-88) I spent my summers doing three things.  I taught my junior high summer band, took courses for my Master's degree and taught at a high school band camp in Washington PA (Trinity H.S.)

I spent about 5 years working with the people at Trinity (well into the fall marching seasons) and ended up giving clarinet lessons to some of the high school students before rehearsals began.

Fast forward to knit night two weeks ago.

There were two errant knitters at a booth near our gathering.  Knitnightmarc invited them to join us.  They did and joyous knitterly bonding began.  All the while peppered with comments "You seem so familiar to me.  I don't know why."

Later in the week I was driving through Washington PA and saw the zip code posted on the post office.  This made me think of zip codes which made me think of the 1970's PBS show Zoom. (where they always sang the zip code when they gave the address for kids to write in "02134")

That evening newknitfriendHeather posted about that show on Facebook. What are the odds.  Again, this past Tuesday night we knew we were connected somehow but I figured it was a past life- not this current one.

Finally, today on Facebook, she posted a picture of "band camp at Trinity" 1988.  There it was.  Apparently I taught clarinet lessons to newknitfriendHeather AND she stayed at my apartment one spring for a WVU Honors band performance.  I can remember giving lessons and she and her friend Melissa looked vaguely familiar on their #tbt facebook photos but I can't believe they ever stayed at my house!  And yet, she remembered the name of my cat.

It's a funny funny world.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

40 Years of Stuff


Where are the American Pickers when you need them- a New Adventure Series.

So with Auntofsophanne relocated, there is still the matter of her home to attend to. It has always been immaculate and after looking around a little, I see how this happened. Aunt is clean, orderly, thrifty and always prepared. Uncle was a closet hoarder before being a hoarder was a thing. To maintain equilibrium he was assigned a small office and a large attic to store his "collectibles."

It's nice to have the permission to go through and begin clearing out his things with aunt still healthy and alive. Instead of grieving sentimentality, it's done with humor, incredulity, and aunt's blessing.

I am lucky to have found a partner in this adventure by way of an unemployed woman who loves this kind of work. Two working bodies are definitely more efficient than one but it's more than that. She is there to bear witness to the treasures to be discovered.

Our first trip together was this past Friday. On the way home we decided to create categories of findings to entertain ourselves and the July 31st winners follow. There are pictures missing for some items from this first series because I didn't know it was going to be a "thing" until after the fact.

Most Abundant Item- Drill Bit Sets- I stopped counting at ten.

Most Obscene item- as this is a PG-13 kind of blog, suffice it to say it's a wind up toy depicting certain "I did not have sex with that woman" acts.

Most Erudite Item- Snoopy in Latin

Item to get the most enthusiastic response from me- a stethoscope and sphignometer.

Grooviest piece of memorabilia-transistor radio

Collectible delusionally thought to be worth something- mechanical coca cola bank

Most disturbing item my co-worker kept- a pair of working handcuffs.

The next trip will likely occur at the end of next week- until then, make me an offer.  All proceeds go to the account of Aunt of Sophanne.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

I need a vacation vacation.

As this summer has been primarily full of busy busy-ness, I've had less life exploration time. (Which is really how I like to spend my summer). I've had to grab adventures where I can.

Adventure the One- With the help of many kind friends and strangers, Aunt of Sophanne is safe and healthy and in a place where there is a good likelihood of her remaining that way- all things being equal.

Adventure the Two- I placed my introverted self in harm's way and made it through a weeklong Smithsonian Folkways class. (YouTube link of me on TV) I reconnected with old friends and made some new ones. Go figure.

Adventure the Three- in between visits to the aunt I stopped at the local "make cool crafts place" and came backe with these-



Adventure the Four- While on vacay in NC I went to a Ghost Tour at an old Library near Moorehead City NC. We didn't see any ghosts but I will now and forever refer to elevators a "fear boxes" as instructed by our tour guide.

Fear Box Selfie- do we look terrified?

Adventure the Five- also while on vacay I took the plunge and got my first pedicure (be grateful there are no pictures). I will say only this And then they got out the cheese grater...

Adventure the Six- we had leftover apples from vacay and I found this on the pioneer woman's website And this is the picture of the one I made!


Adventure The Seven- tonight I make my first solo drive in the evening to the Big Burgh To see Randy Newman play with the Pittsburgh Symphony. I've seen him perform solo before and honestly, the man makes a grand piano sound like an orchestra so I can't wait to see what's in store tonight. I'll be meeting knitnightdrjustine for the evening but I'm not even nervous about getting there!



Somewhere between adventure the Two and Adventure the Six I upgraded my Mac to the latest OS, finally committed to the iCloud and opened up the 1.4 of the 2G of operating memory which was down to 768MB

All this has happened as we have been buying a cute little house for my cousin and making the many necessary arrangements for her to move here. I've also been working with an amazing woman who's helping me get the aunts house "curb ready"for when she's ready to let it go.

When you look at it in one big collection, no wonder I've had my fair share of panic attacks this summer! Going back to work may be just the vacation I need. At least it will give me a break from feeling like I'm flying blind!



Sunday, July 19, 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Not this time

The Wonderful Husband of mine has been busy since retiring from the railroad. He's been working with a local non-profit organization to spearhead the establishment of an Oxford House in the local Burg of Wayne. It has been a labor of love and serves as a safe place for recovering addicts (drugs or alcohol) to begin their lives anew when they decide to.

Unlike halfway houses and rehabs, the Oxford model is a self-sustaining, democratic environment. Anyone caught using (random drug tests and room inspections take place and can be held at the request of any resident) has 15 minutes to pack up and leave. There are high standards but also high success rates for those who are really ready to get away from the "people, places, and things" of their addiction. I am really proud of all he has done.

This house (which is filled to capacity with six residents) has been in operation for the last six months. It took a lot of fundraising and volunteer work to get it up and running. There has also been a steep learning curve. The young man featured in the news article linked above had everyone buffaloed and was removed days after the article appeared. (Those heroin addicts can be so wily.)

Today there was a July 4th picnic at the house to honor the residents and all of the people who volunteered and donated to make it possible. There was also some irony. Police came to the house across the street just before the picnic began and took away two presumed drug dealers/users in handcuffs. A few hours later, two police cruisers and two ambulances zoomed to this neighboring house in what appeared to be an overdose.

I've got to believe that under other circumstances, this commotion would have drawn all picnic goers to the scene to gawk and stare and wonder and gossip. Instead all guests were ambivalent in a sort of "been there, done that" kind of way. Each one likely remembering Fourth of July's gone by when they were in similar situations. Someone joked, "the police are here, it's officially a party." Only this time they weren't there for them.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015


The last six months have been spent on the skilled nursing, private care in-home nursing, assisted living roller coaster with the aunt that is mine. After many emergency trips to Steubenville (2 hours away) sometimes in raging snowstorms, Aunt Sippy is finally safe and happy in a beautiful assisted living home 25 minutes away. She had to give her dog to a loving caretaker but in return I'm guessing she gained at least another ten good years full of laughing.

Next up for bids on the Price is Right (also referred to as "dammit I have to be a grown up still") is finding a place for my cousin to live. Currently she resides in a HUD apartment (still two hours away) that is a refuge for prostitutes and meth heads. I am looking to change both the quality and location of her living conditions. Also it would make the weekly grocery store trips much easier, as she does not drive.

She's "on the list" at our housing authority with thirty or so ahead of her. There are a few local low income private housing options not directly associated with HUD that I have investigated.

Red flag number one: a bulletin board full of restraining/no trespassing orders.


Red flag number two: a bulletin board full of bed bug prevention tips.


In spite of all of the craziness of the last six months, I must say that things have worked out miraculously every time I've needed them to. A bending of the rules here and there at just the right time to keep things manageable. On New Years Eve last year I declared the "word of the year" to be "happy." The Gods laughed at my audacity in that self-declaration and instead have made it the year of "the kindness of strangers." I'm cool with that and am hoping my luck hasn't run out. The goal is to have my cousin closer by the time school starts. With a two week vacation at the shark shore approaching, I'm cutting the time line close!


In the meantime, I try to follow the "be sure to take care of yourself" advice everyone always gives. I found myself with a two hour chunk of free time between doctor and housing appointments (who plans for a doctors appointment being AHEAD of schedule?!) and paid a visit to the local pottery painting place.


I can't wait to see what this will look like once it's fired up!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Why is my hand like a lemon pie?

Because it has meringue on it.


Summer blogging seems to have commenced.

For anyone who wondered about Prince Charming and the dragon slaying post- last week we moved my aunt from Steubenville to Morgantown. This involved (and I won't explain why) about eight hours of driving a Penske truck over a two day period. The truck was the dragon. And with the help of a former student and his friends, no one was injured during the process.

That leads to the first official adventure of the summer. Aunt is well and happy in cruise-like surroundings. Her only disappointment is at dessert time when everyone else partakes in double scoops of ice cream and sugar laden desserts. Her diabetes goes to extremes and she has to be ever mindful to stay alive.

She mentioned missing lemon pie. I went to the internets and found a diabetic recipe. It was my first brush with meringue. 12 eggs later, it could have been worse. The thing about separating eggs- it's easy enough- but as soon as you begin to think that, you might as well go buy another dozen because yolks are going to break. As for the crust, I let Pillsbury take care of that.



I really have no business being left alone in the kitchen. The taste test is tomorrow. If nothing else it was a valiant effort and something to check off of the bucket list.

In addition to the folkways course, I have also upgraded my Mac to OS X Yosemite (holy beach ball batman) and read a book about Charles Manson. Bring it on, Summer!


Smithsonian Folkways Workshop

Last week I attended a Smothsonian Folkways Pedagogy Workshop. It featured West African, Brazilian, and Appalachian music. I also found my laughing joke of the summer

The culmination of the project was a presentation by participants using the collection at the site. I chose to do some research on the song Old Blue which is about a dog. Wikipedia lists about twenty different versions of it.

This led to a story from my new best friend Rachel. She said she once asked her grandpa why dogs sniff each other's butts and he told her:

A long time ago, the dogs had a meeting and they took their butts off. When the meeting was over and they put them back on they all got mixed up and now dogs go around sniffing trying to find their own butts."

The obviously funny part of the story is the why. But for me it was much more. I just imagined all the dogs dialing up their dog friends and saying "hey let's have a convention." Then Rachel and I began naming the sessions at this year's dog convention.

Domestication: is it all it's cracked up to be?

Leash Laws 101

Bathtime Dos and Don'ts

Cats and when to avoid them.

Mysterious Smells: when to investigate

For the Love of Catnip!

Who Let the Dogs Out??? (Pt 2 to Leash Laws

When you can no longer lift your leg.

What would YOU do for a Milkbone? (Sponsored session)

Drool::::: What is it good for?:: Absolutely nothing.

Buttsniffing: Debunking the Myth

Crack. Me. Up. Even when no one else is around.


Saturday, June 06, 2015

Fighting Dragons


Prince Charming did slay the dragon.


Sunday, March 08, 2015

The best kind of morning

In the spring, summer and fall, Liza Jane knows that if it is morning and I am home, the odds are ever in her favor that we will go walking when I get out of bed.  Last week when it was -4* and the sun was shining she was clearly disgruntled that the rule did not apply.

This morning I said few words and none of the "do you wanna go..." words.  I smiled and said "are you a good dog?  are you a happy dog?"  Her tail began wagging, she ran into my bedroom, grabbed my shoe and followed me around with clear intent.  It was hilarious.

The best part of a day like today is the Joy of Dog after a 2 mile walk and a bath.  Photo montage follows.