Sunday, August 31, 2008

Laundry Room Woes

One would think that people who were well-off enough to own a condo would behave in a civilized manner in the communal laundry room. Well, you would be wrong.

For a while, we had the renegade 'dryer opener', who would sneak in and open your dryer, leaving your clothes damp and sad.

Then, there are people who leave their items in the washer/ dryer for days, apparently unable to keep track of the time so conveniently displayed in glowy green numbers atop the machines.

Sometimes, those people leave angry notes if you take their clothes out of the machine, evidently feeling that a communal washer is the PERFECT place to store clothing... who needs dressers and wardrobes when you've got your clothes wadded up in a wet ball at the bottom of a washing machine?

Today was extra special. I am a conscientious laundry room user - I set an alarm so that I can get down to keep my laundry moving quickly, in case anyone else needs to do laundry. Today, I got down several minutes before the dryers were scheduled to be done, and all of my laundry was out of the dryer, and someone else's laundry was running on my quarter! Even worse, a bunch of my shirts were still damp. It irks me to no end! It's invasive: touching my undies without a good reason. It's rude and it's stealing: I put those quarters in there to dry MY clothes, not someone else's!

I left a polite yet FIRM note sharing my opinion on the situation. And yes, I signed it. I know just who did it, too. Grrrrr.

Well, thanks for letting me vent. I frequently think about having a washer/dryer installed, but I am very pressed for space, and anywhere appropriate to put a dryer is really far away from anywhere that it could vent to the outside. Plus, any time I think about putting a washer/dryer into the bathroom, I then start thinking about how crummy the ripped-up linoleum looks, and how much I hate my wobbly toilet and cheap-looking sink and shower.

Grumble grumble.

Friday, August 29, 2008

oooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooo....

I am making some mittens. For a long time now, I have been admiring stranded mittens of various styles... traditional Norwegian, Latvian, what have you. So finally, I went ahead and decided to make the Rosebord mittens; I got the pattern and the yarn from Nordic Fiber Arts. As an aside, Nordic Fiber Arts has excellent customer service... they had a question about my order, contacted me about it by telephone, and the package was waiting for me at my home less than 24 hours later! It does help that they are within a couple of hours' driving distance, I suppose... they do not have a physical store, much to the benefit of my credit card balance, I'm sure!

Anyway, back to the mittens. It took me maybe halfway through the mitten to kind of get my groove with the two color knitting; I was carrying the inactive yarns sort of tightly behind the knitted fabric. I carry both colors in my right hand... one on my index finger, and one on my middle finger. It works pretty well for me. I'd take a picture if I had three hands, but I do not, so I will not.

Here is the back of the hand... I just LOVE these flowers! I really do. I find them to be a bit more round and soft than some of the patterns that I've seen, maybe even a little art deco-ish?


Here is the palm - I love that the pattern on the palm is different, and even the pattern on the thumb is different!


Here are a couple of flower close-ups:




I will definitely not be losing steam on this project... I'm considering whether or not I'll line them, either with some sort of fabric, or with a second knitted layer... perhaps cashmere? Yummmm.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Relative Success!

So, yesterday was orientation day for the teachers in my building. Last Thursday afternoon, my boss asked me if I could put together some information to review with the teachers about Second Step (the violence prevention program that is used in our building), avoiding burnout, and child development. She then told me I had 25 minutes in which to do it. Um, 25 minutes??? They dedicate full year college courses to child development alone! *boggle*

So, I decided to cheat just a little and talk mainly about avoiding teacher burnout, while adding in a little splash of child development for good measure. So, the good news is that the teachers didn't scorn me out of the room, and some of them asked good questions, and showed lukewarm interest in the workshop series I'll be presenting. (hey, on orientation day, lukewarm is about as toasty as we get!) AND, both yesterday and today, several teachers approached me to talk a bit more about what I had presented, making comments and saying that they had thought more about what we had talked about. I was quite pleased!

So, the next steps are to finish organizing the workshops, and to try and schedule them on days/ times that the teachers would actually be able to attend. I guess we'll see what happens! One thing I'm more than a little worried about is one teacher who is quite excited to attend, but is disturbingly free of any concern around social appropriateness or social cues. She is also a serious blabbermouth. She will talk and talk and talk and talk and talk... even if you turn around and walk away and are not talking to her any more, (after the appropriate "okay, I have to go now, goodbye") she will continue to chase after you and keep talking. She has followed teachers into the bathroom. She has chased people out of the building to their cars. The thought of having to control her during a workshop is definitely daunting! I will have to try and establish some sort of stern, battleaxe persona with her prior to the workshops, so she is a little scared of me. Hmmmm.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back To School

Yep, mid-August means back to school for me... I've been back since Monday. Now, sure, it's a bit depressing to have to go back to work during the first week of rain-free weather we've had all summer, but... there are some positives, too.

No, really! Stop laughing and pointing!

Being the only social worker in a school like mine can be challenging for a whole bunch of reasons. We have students from all over the world, with varying backgrounds and histories, many of whom lug some pretty serious baggage along to school with them every day. As the only social worker, I'm the only person in the whole building who "speaks my language"... no one else has received the type of education and training I've gotten, particularly around issues of how trauma, learning disabilities, emotional issues and so on can affect a child's ability to cope and learn in a school environment.

Now that I've been where I am for a couple of years, I decided to make an effort to share what I know with the rest of the building. At the end of last year, I approached my school's principal with an outline for a series of workshops I wanted to run for the teachers. I'd cover topics like bullying, teacher burnout, managing aggressive students, dealing with resistant parents, the effects of emotional issues on a child's behavior/ ability to learn, and so on.

Well, it looks like it's all systems go. I cleared the idea with my principal, and also with the powers that be in the school department... it sounds like I'll be able to get participants some necessary 'professional development points', and will even get a small amount of compensation for the extra work/ hours. (Not a whole lot, but some!) The head honcho in the professional development office even commented that if this year goes well, I might want to consider teaching the workshops in the new teacher's academy!

Of course, I'm proud of myself for coming up with the idea, and for taking some initiative - it's definitely going above and beyond my basic job requirements. However, I'm also very nervous... will the teachers be interested? Willing to open their minds and look at things from a fresh (and totally different) perspective? Are they already too burned out to give me a chance? Will they say, "what do YOU know about teaching... you're not a teacher!" or, "you have only been in the schools for 6 years... get back to us when you've been here for 30 years... THEN you might be able to say you know something!"

Ahhhh, the what if's are killing me here! And to add a bit more pressure, my principal wants me to cover two of those topics (teacher burnout/ self care AND adolescent psychosocial development) in TWENTY FIVE minutes... ON MONDAY! WHaaaaaa? Entire college courses are taught on child development! I am going to go ahead and do my own thing... offer a teaser amount of info and try to drum up interest for the workshops.

Jeesh. That'll teach ME to show initiative.

Cross your fingers for me, will ya?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to the Grind... with bug bites!

Well, my summer is now over... I am back at school as of today. My coworkers who are back (administration only until next week) are all savagely tan (and wrinkly, ha ha on them), and we spent the first hour of the day sharing stories of what we did on our summer vacations.

It's all good, except for one thing: my feet feel like I am wearing bags of fire ants on them. A few days ago, my feet got eaten alive at an evening party, which was held outside under a tent. The bites have swollen into sausages covered in white welts with little blisters on top. Each step (or blow of the fan) is an exercise in itchy insanity! I somehow managed to put on some flip flops and hobble down the hallway to get to work, but ran back, and plastered the tops of my feet with bandages and medical tape. I also took an antihistamine, and I somehow made it to work. I will hopefully survive the day, and I am crossing my fingers that no one gives me a hard time about walking around barefoot.

The bites hurt too much for me to want to scratch them.

If you were here, I would whine a lot to you. Lucky for you that you are somewhere else.

In other news, I have finished a whole lot of knitting (and a little crocheting). I have finished the February Lady Sweater, Rusted Root (short sleeve sweater), a scarf, a neckwarmer, some slippers, and some hats. I will share pictures soon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I am a vampire.

Well, sort of.

I am a pretty fair skinned individual. Additionally, I burn really fast - I have been known to start burning within 10-15 minutes, actually. I really have to plan ahead when I might be caught outdoors for a while, because I have to put sunblock on BEFORE getting in the sun... after all, it takes 20 minutes for sunblock to soak in, which is already too late. Lobsterface.

Anyway, I do not like the beach, unless I can be in the shade... it's all hot, and trying to manage sunblock in between dips in the ocean, with some sand mixed in... without shade, it is just not bearable or enjoyable to me.

Case in point: not wanting to go all the way to the beach given my pasty disposition, I went to Walden Pond today. It was gorgeous out today - sunny, light breeze, perfect, really. I even found a shady spot in the sand, spread out my towel, and laid down.

Fifteen minutes later, the sun had shifted and I was in full on sun. There was nowhere else to move to, because it was quite crowded, so I tried to get comfortable. I shifted and squirmed, tried covering my face with a towel, flipped from front to side to back to other side, but it just wasn't working. I was caught in the sun, and was squirming like a vampire turning to dust... it burnsssss, it BURNNNSSSSSS!

I was proud of myself... I lasted an hour. I really enjoyed the shady moment, and I also enjoyed the Bomb Pop I got before I left. Mmmmm. Red flavor. White flavor. Blue flavor!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Handspun One Row Scarf

How is it that I never posted this entry? I wrote it on July 24! I have no idea if this is a repeat because I'm too lazy to check.

I finally knitted up the merino from the Tour de Fleece:




Yay, pretty! I love how the stripes are all random and stuff. I like that it is both ridgy and nubbly. Hooray! I didn't make it quite as long as I could have, though, because I wanted to save some of the yarn to pat and look at.

I used this One Row Scarf pattern by the Yarn Harlot. I used the size needles she suggested. I cast one four fewer stitches.

Ooh, also, I SPUN SOCK WEIGHT SOCK YARN! And, it is even SUPERWASH and there is actually enough of it to make a pair of socks with! I used fiber from Pigeonroofstudios, which can sometimes be hard to get, because people stalk her store and buy it as soon as it is listed! The braids of roving I've gotten have been all stealth and stalk-y. Even worse, she lives on the West Coast and is a bit of a night owl, so she frequently updates her shop at midnight her time, 3 AM my time! But it is lovely fiber. Looky!


I am quite pleased. there is more yardage than in lightweight Socks that rock, so there will be plenty of yarn for some sockies. I'm not sure what I'll do with this... maybe just simple k3,p1 ribbed socks. I like those. How to decide!
Too Cool!

So, I love Ravelry. I mean, don't we all, really? One of the features I find to be very fun is browsing patterns. One day, I might want to look at hundreds of sock patterns, the next day, perhaps I'm perusing crocheted caps. Another way to find beautiful patterns is to take a look at the projects that one's friends have favorited. If I remember correctly, that is how I came across this Hawaiian Flowers Lap Blanket: (Ravelry link)


It's bright and pretty and definitely a departure from the typical "Granny Square" blanket. However, the owner/ creator of this blanket made it a long time ago and has no idea where the pattern is.

Coincidentally, I also found another crocheter on Ravelry who has a blog; her name is Sarah London. She makes beautiful crocheted items, and just yesterday, she had a blog entry where she shared a cool design tip for one of her readers. So, on a whim, I left a comment giving her another challenge: to try and recreate the above blanket. Guess what - she took up the challenge! Check out her blog here - she's going for it! I'll be looking forward to the results.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Let's Get Some Shews!

In case you don't get the reference, you may wish to watch this video on youtube.

Anyway, as Kelly says, "these shews RULE!"

First up, some schmexy shoes from Franko Sarto in black and ivory:


And then some equally schmexy shoes from Anne Klein:


I was at Marshall's and tried on like 50 pairs of shoes, and these two pairs both scored the 'good shoes' trifecta: they were cute, reasonably comfortable (for heels), and were on sale. What more can a gal ask for, except, perhaps, for equally schmexy outfits to go with said shoes? The first pair will go nicely with this ivory lace blouse I have (and either black pants or black skirt), and I suppose the pewter ones would go with a pair of jeans and pretty much any top I wanted to put with it. Pewter is a neutral, right???

Anyway, feel free to invite me to an event where heels would be appropriate, particularly if there is no walking and very little standing involved.

That would be great.