Tuesday, August 26, 2008

first day of school

When I was a kid, my mother took a picture every year, on the first day of school. It was always my brother and me, at the end of our driveway, ready to get on the school bus. Some years she actually got a picture of the moment we stepped onto the bus. New shoes, new clothes, new backpacks, you know the drill.

Here's mine for this year. Today was my first ever day of teaching graduate school. Imagine that. I'm afraid I still look like a student, but the actual students didn't ask to see my ID or anything, so I guess I fooled them.

I'm teaching a curriculum class for pre-service teachers in their first semester of a two-year master's degree. The class is about how to make the work we do in elementary classrooms more interesting, more fun, more holistic, better for kids. I'm hoping it's going to be fun, for me and the students.

Here's what I asked them today: Why are you here? What are schools for? What do we as a society hope to accomplish by setting up schools and classrooms? What do you hope to accomplish as a teacher?

Here's what I'm asking you: What do you think these pre-service teachers should know, about schools, about teaching, about kids, as they enter this profession?

Monday, August 25, 2008

in which we (attempt to) resume our previously scheduled life...

My identity theft problem is not over yet, but it feels contained. I still have plenty to do, but it has ceased to be an all-day-every-day crisis. I have thoughts about the whole process (advice! ruminations! wonderment!) but I'll save those for another day.

Today, it's all show and tell. Here is some yarn I spun:

Here is the yarn I'm currently spinning, along with the only spinning equipment I have at the moment:

I've sold my spinning wheel, to a friend who is delighted, and I've ordered a different wheel, which will delight me even more, with any luck. More on this later.

My spindle is sitting in an improvised lazy kate, otherwise known as a section of tree branch with a hole in it, carefully cut and drilled by Joe himself. It actually functions quite well. I use it to hold the spindle upright while I wind the single into a ball. I've been plying using the flowerpot method, in which each ply is in a ball with the end going through a hole in the bottom of a flowerpot. It works great, and doesn't require a tensioned lazy kate. The balls stop rolling around when you stop pulling on them. Low-tech, effective, love it.

Joe's also been working on this:
He's doing a way better job than he really has to be doing, but I can't complain. It's going to look great. I'm supposed to get out there and start painting, but I want all the sanding done first. Really, I'm so difficult, aren't I?

The garden blooms whether you notice it or not, this time of year:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

how I love my husband

Joe is really coming through in a crisis, folks. I always knew this about him, but it can be hard to remember when you are, well, between crises. The latest crisis is this identity fraud mess, and it has hit the Deluxe household like a ton of bricks. Or at least me, anyway. The kids are pretty much oblivious, but last week? Ugh, last week, my means of asking for help was to, uh, shout at Joe that I'm really upset, okay? And that telling me it's all going to work out is not helping, okay?

Over the weekend, I got a little perspective, realized that everyone I'm working with on this is just doing their job (including the scammer) and my job is to keep my cool and be as friendly and sweet to everyone as I possibly can. You know that saying, "Be nicer than you have to be, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle" ? That's been my mantra this week. It's helping, a lot.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about Joe.

Here's what he's done since I calmed down and got a clue.

1. He took yesterday off work to sit by me as I played phone jockey with credit card companies and credit reporting agencies.

2. If I needed a phone number, he found it.

3. If I needed to figure something out and/or make a decision, he looked at it, thought about it, and helped.

4. He accompanied me to the police station to pull a copy of my police report. (You don't know this about me, but the police make me nervous. Actually, I should say that the police used to make me nervous. Right about now they're looking like heroes. Along with my homeowner's insurance company's fraud experts. Go figure.)

5. He used his considerable people-finding expertise to track down the real name and police blotter history of the scammer who has chosen to take a dump in the middle of my life.

6. He made pizza on the grill, just because I expressed an idle curiosity about how that would taste.

I love him. Love love love him. I'm keeping him, forever.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

bikini manifesto

It has come to my attention that some people think that people my age shouldn't wear bikinis at the beach. As MadMad says, if you're over 35 and in a bikini, you're either showing off, or you don't look as good as you think you do. I regularly wear bikinis to the beach, and I plead guilty to all three charges: I am forty, I've had two kids and I'm not a triathlete, so I don't look as good as I did when I was 16, but I look pretty good (you know, for an old lady) and in my weaker moments, I have been proud of that fact.

I want to take back the bikinis from the 16-year-olds. MadMad says those of us on the shadier side of 35 should just accept reality and wear skirted tankinis. I don't wanna. I have a position, based on my decades of experience with bathing suits.

My position is this: bikinis are comfortable. They are more comfy than anything else I've ever worn to the beach. It is my belief that if everyone were blindfolded at the beach, and if therefore the way we looked didn't matter, then everyone--fat and thin, young and old--would be wearing bikinis. In other words, womens' reluctance to wear bikinis stems from a discomfort with how they are seen, rather than an internal experience of how they feel.

Bikinis are totally adjustable. If you're feeling a little bloated, you just tie it to fit. If you want to swim, you tie it a little tighter. On a hot day, they're the best: no extra fabric around your middle making you sweat. They don't ride up in the seat, because the top isn't attached so it can't pull it up. Brilliant.

At the end of the day, though, that's when a bikini really shines. Don't you hate that feeling of walking off the beach (and then going about whatever it is you have to do next) with your bathing suit under your clothes? With a bikini, you don't have to. Put your clothes on, untie the straps, and slip the bikini off. Easy, discreet, and done.

So why should the sweet young things with perfect bodies be the only ones who can wear bikinis at the beach? Why do any of us have to even aspire to that level of perfection to be, hello, comfortable?

I have to admit that I didn't always feel this way. It was a trip to Hawaii that really opened my eyes. My brother and his family live on the Big Island, and everyone, I mean everyone, wears bikinis there. If you see someone in a one-piece, you know she's a tourist. Doesn't matter if you're not feeling fit and pretty, it's just what is most comfortable. Even the old ladies. Even the extra large old ladies. I'm not kidding.

And if they can do it, so can I.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

learning all the time

I am having a wild and crazy time, my bloggie friends, and I don't mean that in a good way. I'm learning so much about myself.

1. I shouldn't tell people when I'll blog or what about, because I'm bound to rebel.

2. Caffeine is bad for me, and it's even worse when I'm quitting.

3. I don't need to take on any more cats, projects, children, teaching opportunities, or anything else. Particularly not when quitting caffeine.

4. It's pathetically easy for unscrupulous persons to steal important information for the purposes of credit card fraud, particularly when the victim is generally lazy and trusting about leaving one's mail in the mailbox for hours and even days, and careless about what sorts of papers she puts in her recycling.

5. Once said identity theft is discovered by the victim, she can expect a great deal of hassle, hours spent on the phone, and to feel generally paranoid about neighbors and strangers alike. It also bears mentioning that the sort of person who is lazy, careless, and trusting about mail and recycling is also likely to be the sort of person who will find it particularly challenging to spend hours on the phone with automated systems and credit reporting agencies.

6. The police can be helpful, friendly, thorough, and just as helpless as teachers are, in the context of a broken system.

7. A cat who poops on the floor is not the end of the world, even though it might have seemed that way a mere week ago.

8. None of this is any fun in the middle of quitting caffeine.

Have I mentioned that I'm quitting caffeine this week? I highly recommend it. It's great for your stress level, and will make just about everything else you try to do so much easier. Really, go ahead. Get off that caffeine, and then tell me all about it. Misery loves company.

Next week will be better, I'm sure of it.