Humor Me

My mood is a bit black at the moment, and I just need to get this off my chest. If you would rather not hear me whine and complain, feel free to come back next week….

I finally heard back from a volunteer coordinator at the district next to mine, after not getting a response for a week and having to email a second time. Apparently, social studies teachers don’t really like having field experience students in their classrooms. Huh. I was unaware of that. Apparently they don’t like to share, or forgot what it’s like to be a pre-service teacher, or… are just jerks. I don’t know. This, of course, was after being ignored by my own district for over a week. No response from the head of the social studies department at all. Lovely. (That’s the second time I’ve been completely ignored by someone in that school – methinks maybe I should reconsider my desire to teach there.)

Why does this have to be so difficult? A willing pair of hands… no requirements on what I have to do in the room (I don’t have to teach, for instance), I just need to be there, and can do whatever is needed. I’ll friggin’ make photocopies if that’s what you want. For goodness sake. This is beyond frustrating. I’ve already checked and there aren’t any charter schools or alternative schools or private schools in my district that serve middle school students.

Were I not two classes away from student teaching, I would be tempted to look at a different career. However, I’m much too committed to this one (and, really, really want to do this) to change now. I’m thinking that elementary school librarian could have been fun (suggested by years ago), or maybe school counselor (couldn’t have taken more schooling than I’ve already put in). Too late for that. And really, were I of a different mindset, I’d just say forget the whole thing and let’s have lots of babies. After all, I am 32, and as people keep reminding me, it’s about time I get on that. Sorry, but I’d rather actually want to have children before popping one out. I think that would make me a better mother, quite frankly (wanting one’s children, that is). So since changing careers would be foolish, staying in my current job will eventually kill my soul, it seems as though I’ve run out of alternatives.

And so I am left, on a Friday afternoon, with several emails out there in ether, still looking for somewhere I can spend 40 hours, that fits the program requirements. And to think, I get to do this all again in the fall, only for high school. At least people responded to my emails at the high school (the one next to my house).

Oh, and now I’m the only person here to answer phones until the end of the day. Joy. I don’t think there’s a chocolate pastry large enough to fix this (though I’ll certainly give it a shot).

The opposite of a silver lining

Class last night was less than fun. If you don’t want to hear me complain about it, I totally understand. Come back in an hour or two and I’ll have a much more upbeat post (with pictures of pretty things) to entertain you.

I’m frequently mistaken as being younger than I am. About 7 years, consistently. The last two weeks in my Saturday class there’s been a discussion in my small group where the others can’t believe I’m not 25. I know when I’m 40, I’ll appreciate this more, because right now while I don’t necessarily think that I’m as old as I am, I do want to be given credit for the years of experience and knowledge I have.

When I was 25, a tow truck driver asked me what high school I went to. At my last church, during a mission trip one of the staff at the shelter consistently mistook one of the high school girls as the leader, and ignored me, even though I was the oldest one in the room. Several years ago, I was hit on by someone I would consider a child – it was icky.

So, it’s not all roses looking younger. has the same problem. She has the dream that one year, during parent teacher conferences, she won’t get asked if it’s her first year teaching. (She’s 30. She has two children and has been married for seven years. She’s definitely not 22.)

Well, last night I had one of those unpleasant experiences myself. And I wouldn’t even bring it up here, except that I’m still upset about it 12 hours later, and, well, isn’t that the benefit of having a blog? Getting to complain whenever you want to?

We usually spend most of my Thursday night class in small groups discussing (it’s a classroom management class). Last night I ended up with two ladies who are much older than myself. By “much older” I mean that they have children in high school or older. One of them has technically worked as a teacher before, but is not licensed (I think she was at a small private school). The other one, I’m not sure what her experience is, other than as a parent. That said, we’re all graduate students, and we’re all there for a reason (mainly that we need that class to get the licensure we all so desperately want).

It seems that my two group members were unable to recognize their status as student. They had strong opinions (we were discussing rules and routines), which is good, but the conversation quickly went from “this is the way I would do it” to “you need to….” The you was directed at me. Really? Because I’ve taken the literacy class, and while I understand the importance of literacy, I don’t think that I have to start every class period with a journal prompt, thankyouverymuch. I don’t have to do things your way. I’m sure those ways work fine for you, but they wouldn’t work for me. But they seemed to take it upon themselves to educate me in the vast superiority of their methods and experience. They treated me like I was about 20 years old with no experience at all, which was beyond patronizing. (Sidenote: I hate it when people are patronizing without even getting any background information first, offering to “help” before finding out if you need it, assuming that you need their expertise without asking what your experience is. Huge, major pet peeve of mine.) About a third of the way through, I stopped listening, and really stopped participating in the discussion too, since it became clear they weren’t going to listen to anything I had to say. I just smiled and nodded and hoped we’d be done soon.

I realize that I could have been much more… aggressive or confrontational with my opinions. But that’s not really my style, nor do I think it’s appropriate. Just because they were pushy doesn’t mean I need to be. That’s not how the discussion was supposed to be. Plus, they hadn’t even paid attention to the directions for the discussion (which remained up on the screen for reference), and obviously had their own bias and things they wanted to “discuss” (i.e. tell others how to do it). It was a total waste of time.

And now I have to find somewhere else to sit next week so that I’m not in a group with either of them, because I just don’t need that. We all have something to bring to the conversation. The conversation is supposed to be along the lines of “this is what I think” or “I would do this,” not “it has to be done this way, which just happens to be my way, because it’s the best, and really only, way.”

Thankfully, class was very short, and we got out an hour early. I had a headache by the time we left, and took some Advil and stopped off at JoAnn on my way home, so as to avoid spreading my bad mood around too much.

I feel like I should add that most of my classmates (throughout the program, not just this semester) have been lovely people. Very few of them seem to think that they know everything (a handful stand out, but that’s a pretty small percentage). Mostly everyone realizes that we’re all in this learning process together, and while we’re at different stages, it’s a journey and no one’s input is better or more important than anyone else’s. (The exception to this being, sometimes, the undergrad students, and then it’s more of a lack of perspective that we all have when we’re 20, thinking that we know everything and feeling the need to share our own importance with the world. I’ll forgive that, since we’ve all been there. But it’s pretty obvious when it’s a development/personal growth thing versus a whole personality thing.) And I enjoy that whole collaborative learning aspect. We all have things to learn from others, and in order for it to work, sometimes you have to listen, and sometimes you have to talk. I enjoy the listening part, but not nearly so much when I never get my turn to share.

Alright, I’ll put the issue to bed. Next up? Pictures of my grey dress and cream shawl, and a question about jewelry. Later? Easter green Dupioni silk thoughts. An interesting day, to be sure.

I don’t even want a do-over

Monday was just no good. To sum up, it was Monday, I had taken the previous work day off (so my inbox was full), things that were supposed to happen didn’t (to no one’s surprise), my elbow hurt, I had a headache, and I ended the day with a really crappy massage. (Seriously – bad enough that I think I have to call and complain. And I’ve never done that.)

So today was bound to be better. I had a dentist appointment at 8 am (always a lovely way to start the day). Three cavities, after a whole lot of poking at part of my gum that bleeds all the time (oh, by the way, THAT HURTS!). Thankfully, nothing is urgent, so we’re waiting until January because we’ve maxed out our flex spending for 2009.

I’m doing the PowerPoint part (as well as my own speaking part) of our presentation for class this Saturday, which means a whole lot of confusion and forcing my classmates to do their jobs. It is no fun. I’m pretty sure this is going to suck, big time. (Something that was not explained clearly, and that most people do not understand: all of the parts of the presentation are supposed to be Native-American focused or themed. All of them. Yes, that means you too, weather people. Serious boos to the professor who did not explain this, or many other aspects of class, clearly.)

I could complain more, but that wouldn’t be entertaining. (Plus, my blog is now linked on FB, along with Twitter and Flickr and my whole social networking world could collide with my real world at any point. So, let’s keep the complaining to a minimum.)

The home improvement projects from last week are almost wrapped up, and I will have pictures to share soon. The house is partially decorated for Christmas, and Christmas songs have been added to my iPhone.

We didn’t do any Black Friday shopping, though we did buy a freezer on Friday. It’s a beautiful Cadillac of a freezer, but we figure it should last forever. (If you were wondering, it’s an upright Frigidaire, with glass shelves that are fully adjustable and a drawer and lots of door space too. It’s nicer than our refrigerator, frankly.) came over on Saturday because she had some spare time and wanted to help us with any projects we had going on. C took her car over to ApplianceSmart to pick up the freezer (which fit perfectly in the back of her Subaru). The three of us managed to get the freezer into the basement and set up without any injuries. Sunday morning I filled it up and we can actually use the freezer part of our refrigerator now! (It’s ridiculously small, and awkward, and was limiting us on how many frozen pizzas we could own.)

and I got some other small projects done (or at least started), including picking out a few things to hang on the walls (though most of them are still bare) and starting to empty a closet in the family room. I did some demolition after she left – I’ll have to show pictures. (Just because my life is that exciting, I also cleaned the floor on Sunday. So glamorous.)

Tonight I’ve got tutoring at the Homework Hub. It’s also the deadline for applying to the UTP at Metro. And, today happens to be the anniversary of my moving to Minnesota. Eight years!

Sidenote: web-based calendars and email are so very handy! I was able to easily pull up the information I needed for documenting my field experience that I did in 2008, including days and specific hours, and contacts. Yay technology!

Ideas Wanted

So, um, yesterday Firefox was working fine. I swear. Today, however, I am required to sign in to every site. Even if I check the box to remember me, if I close my browser and re-open, I have to sign in again.

I’ve cleared my history (including cookies), because the Internet told me to. I disabled all of my plug-ins (yes, all of them). I upgraded to 3.5.4. Nothing has worked.

It is driving me crazy. Crazy, I tell you! (And I keep forgetting that I have this problem and continue to close my browser, even though I know just leaving it open for the rest of the day would “solve” this problem. Grr.)

Unforseen (is that a word?)

So last night, after mowing the lawn (which totally makes up for not going to the gym in the last few months – it was so hot, and the quantity of sweat and the length of time it took me to recover… who needs a gym membership?) and finally cooling down, I got back to work on my shower curtain. Tuesday I had sewn the two pieces of fabric together and pinked the edges, but that’s all I had time for. I’m doing French/Princess seams (can’t remember which is which at the moment), so there are no exposed raw edges (it was either that or fully line it, and that didn’t sound like fun), so I’m only halfway done with the one (and only) seam.

So I set to work last night to prep the seam for a second trip through my machine, ironing it appropriately and so forth. After three attempts to sew a plain, straight line with my [insert explicative here] machine, I gave up. Tension was off and my attempts to fix it were not working. Since I was dealing with $40 worth of fabric, I decided to give up on sewing for the moment, and that as soon as I had a chance (Sunday afternoon), I would drive down to Creative Sewing Center and start shopping for a new machine. Because it should not take that long, and should not be that hard, to sew a straight line.

Instead, I ironed the top hem down and then again for reinforcement where the grommets are going. That (trying to sew the seam, ripping out stiches, repeat ad nauseum, and then some ironing) took an hour and a half. So you can see why I might have been frustrated.

Then, this morning, as I was lamenting this situation, I realized the potential urgency of the situation. You see, there’s a mini quilt I need to make for a swap (due… July 10th – yikes!), and then the quilt project I haven’t had time to mention yet but am super excited for (more in a bit) that is due July 20th or so. Hrm. I am definitely not able to keep dragging my feet on picking out a new machine. That’s OK – motivation is good, right?

The cool quilting project that I haven’t had time to mention yet? Well, let’s just talk about the benefits of using Twitter (etc), shall we? I’m not a huge Twitterer, but (follow carefully now) I do use a Twitter plug-in on my iGoogle homepage to tweet each morning, which in turn updates my Facebook status. The iGoogle plug-in also shows me the recent posts of everyone I’m following (the other week I passed a surprising line – I have more followers than people I am following! how did that happen?), which includes a few business websites, including Sew Mama Sew [link removed] and Robert Kaufman Fabrics [link removed] (you should really follow those two if you’re a crafter and like free things, because they both announce giveaways frequently via Twitter and no where else; if you’re interested, I have several more crafty sites I follow on Twitter – just ask). RK happens to be the manufacturer of a good 1/3rd of my fabric stash, so apparently I’m a fan.

Last week, RK announced that they were looking for someone to test out a beginner quilt pattern for them. I contacted them and traded emails. They announced again on Monday that they were still looking for someone, so I assumed they did not love me enough, and that they wanted to pick someone by the 24th. Just before leaving work on Monday, I got an email telling me they had selected me! They will be sending me the fabric necessary to make the pattern, and of course the pattern. I will make the quilt and send them feedback about difficulties I had, and I get to keep the quilt, and get some additional fabric in return. How cool is that?

The really frustrating thing about this is that my machine is just so tempermental. Last weekend I got 38 9-patches sewn up for the quilt-along with absolutely no problems. Same thread, same type of fabric, and now for the shower curtain it’s completely incapable. That’s just not right. (It’s also not right that the tension dial must be turned up to the highest point in order to sew, and that the stitches have to be super-small in order to sew, and that I can’t use any of the decorative stitches on my machine because of the tension issues.)

So, Sunday afternoon, I’m driving to Apple Valley! (But not buying anything, because Sew Mama Sew told me to go do my shopping, evaluate my options, and then go home without making a purchase. Do some further thinking, and then you can spend the several hundred dollars on a machine. Good advice. A sewing machine should not be an impulse purchase. Nor should it be one on which you cheap out, as evidenced by my current machine woes.)

Today we will all be hiding indoors

(Due to the heat advisory, that is. Are heat advisories new? I don’t remember getting them before. Perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention.)

So I’ve had a fair amount of unpleasant bus experiences, as anyone who rides the bus frequently might. Last week, it was the woman who decided to spend six minutes (I checked my phone because it was so amazing) clipping her nails in the seat in front of me. When she was done, she brushed the clippings off her lap onto the floor. Apparently, she didn’t catch the glaring-in-disgust thing I had going on, because the next day she decided to sit next to me and compliment my embroidery.

Today’s going to be hot, which means that the bus ride home will probably smell like a locker room after the football game (but before any showers might be taken). I would have thought the ride to work would have been relatively safe, but someone hopped on who had incredible odor issues (not like he/she was sick, just… had been sweating for quite some time and needed to shower), at 7 am! And it wasn’t even all that hot yet (only 80-ish, I think). I felt kinda bad for him/her (I was unable to identify which passenger it was, since I wasn’t paying attention until the smell wafted over to where I was sitting), since I can only imagine, as the day goes on, that it will get worse. I hate it when I get all sweaty and think that I might offend others.

Last night, after a lovely [shared] birthday dinner out with friends (in which I received no gifts, oddly enough, though I’m not complaining – I don’t really need gifts), we had a generally unpleasant evening. Apparently when we installed the new programmable thermostat on Sunday (more on this in a bit), something went wrong and the air conditioning wasn’t running. Bummer – the house was 88 when I got home. had picked out a lovely flush-mount touch screen programmable thermostat (to replace the super old one that came with the house) at Home Depot on Saturday. Sunday night was spent cutting a hole in the plaster wall (no fun, though I only watched, and quite messy), after which we discovered there was a stud there (where there shouldn’t have been) which only added more work. As we were hooking up the wires (a complication in and of itself, since we had one more wire than any of the diagrams displayed), one of the screw heads broke off. We figured it wasn’t really a big deal, unless we needed to remove that wire for some reason.

Turns out that screw head was quite important, and was the reason we had no AC. The thermostat thought it was telling the AC to run, but it actually had no way to do that. And so it was hot. Also, in the process, several of the other wires became disconnected.

After had fixed everything, I washed the floor. The dust from the plaster removal had been tracked all over the main floor, and our lovely hardwood floors were looking quite bad (plus, a lot of it was footprints, not just a fine layer), and I knew that I wouldn’t have time to do it tonight (massage appointment), wouldn’t want to do it Wednesday (who wants to scrub the floor on their birthday?), and by Thursday the dust would have just spread further throughout the house. But, it was quite unpleasant to wash the floor in the 80+ degree house with absolutely no breeze, on my hands and knees, sponge in hand. I had to change the water twice; the floors were that dirty. Clearly, we need to buy a mop. (This is problemmatic, since I generally find all mops disgusting as one is unable to get it fully clean between washings.) Any suggestions for mops that cater to germ-o-phobes? Swiffer Wet is completely insufficient to cover more than 10 square feet, and doesn’t do any of it effectively, in my experience. Since we have approximately 1400 square feet of hardwood or linoleum flooring, we need a solution.

There was a trip to DQ that helped us cool down (and we spent the rest of the evening in the basement where it was much cooler). Unfortunately, I think I can no longer get my favorite Blizzard flavor, Georgia Mud Fudge, because I lay in bed awake for quite some time, unable to sleep. Update: I just checked DQ’s website and got the nutritional information, and there isn’t coffee flavoring in it like I thought, just lots of chocolate. Would lots of chocolate have enough caffeine to keep me awake? I’m getting mixed information from the internet on that.

Thankfully, we have a lovely ceiling fan in our bedroom (totally disproving all those home design shows that purport all ceiling fans are bad and need to be removed), so we could sleep. The house was freezing (or so it felt) when I woke up, so clearly all has been fixed. My office is very air conditioned, as usual, so we’re definitely beating the heat here. Now I just have to remember to check on our newly planted tomato plants when I get home, and make sure they’re not wilting or in need of water. That would be a shame. (It seems as though the bunny has not yet found the tomato plants, or our bunny doesn’t like them as much as the one at ‘s house, who ate three of her tomato plants before she got some protection for them.)

Memo

Effective immediately, all people deemed “not helpful” will be evicted from further conversation. If your comments make me say something that ends in, “What the h*ll?” that’s probably you.

Truth be told, about 90% of the response from others when I’ve told them that we’ve sold our house and are now house shopping has been incredibly positive. Not only are people excited that anyone’s house sold (because in this day and age, ever single home sale is exciting), but they’re excited for us and this new adventure. But some people feel the need to take a crap right in the middle of the parade route.

And that is seriously not helpful. It makes me frustrated and stressed, which makes me want to consume an ever-increasingly-large quantity of chocolate.

I have totally appreciated all the offers to help pack, move, watch pets, throw housewarming parties, advising on the US postal service change of address etc. (you know who you are). Not that I’ve told all that many people other than co-workers ( doesn’t even know yet, because I haven’t had time to call him, and won’t until Thursday after class). We’re kinda holding our breath until after the results of the inspection, which is taking place this very moment.

Last night was a mess of cleaning, fixing, laundry, and a bit of sewing, all with Angel (season 4) playing in the background. Tonight is house shopping, with a side of studying for a test throw in. Maybe tonight I can get to sleep before midnight. That’d be a treat.

Grumbling

The high school kids that ride my bus home from downtown make me feel like an old curmudgeon. I seem to find it really easy when I’m around them to forget that I actually like teenagers. They do most of the same things that all other annoying passengers do (talk loudly, jostle your seat, use their cell phones, recline the seat in front of me), but they do it in groups of 5, instead of just as individual annoying adults. Last night there were at least a dozen on the bus instead of the usual 5, and they were entirely obnoxious (and, as is always the case with annoying people, completely oblivious to the fact that there were other people in the world). It made me grumpy.

Unfair

In many aspects of life, you can over-expose yourself to something and build up a tolerance to it. It is apparently a good way to treat phobias, and the reason we need to lay off anti-biotics.

I think it’s totally unfair that allergies are the opposite of that. The more you expose yourself to something, the more aggravating it is.

I have a winter hat I made last year (it honestly took less than two hours, and I love it) out of some Lion Brand chunky yarn with a 25% wool content. Let’s preface this by saying that I’ve never been allergic to wool until recently. I have a 36+ year old wool sweater (yes, it’s older than me) that has never bothered me. My winter coat is wool, and there used to not be problems with that.

But, in the last… several months, I’ve noticed that wool makes me itchy. Well, the coat issue (a very small part of the neck is the only part unlined) is easily fixed with a scarf. The wool sweater can be combated with a turtleneck. But the hat? No solutions for that.

And the more I wear it, the more itchy it makes me. And a blotchy forehead. I’m working as fast as I can to knit a new one out of a non-wool yarn, but knitting aggravates my tendinitis, so there’s a limit to my speed.

I just think it’s totally unfair that I can’t build up a tolerance to what I’m allergic to, since the list seems to be growing all the time.

Pet Peeve Fix

One of my pet peeves is when manufacturers or retailers place stickers on items that aren’t easily (or ever) removed. Case in point. After months of searching (I’m very particular*), I finally settled on a 2009 planner and forked over money for it. When I got it home, I tried to remove the sticker from the back (because who wants to carry around a dark blue planner with a price tag clearly visible on it for 12 months?). This is what happened.

2009_planner_before
It wouldn't come off. After picking (and removing part of the fake leather, as you can see in the closeup below), I tried Goo Gone, which consequently removed only part of the sticker and some blue dye and left a nice blurry streak on the back. Ew.
2009_planner_sticker_closeup
This was now even more unacceptable than having the sticker on it in the first place. I was frustrated and annoyed. Why would you use some sort of adhesive on a sticker like this that was clearly going to be removed by the majority of people using the product? I don't understand.

I set the planner aside, since I didn’t need it for a few more weeks, so that I could figure out a solution. I think I came up with something that works and will make me smile (instead of frown) when I look at my planner for the whole year.

2009 Planner Jacket
A cover for my planner

I used scraps of denim (the spine) and two pink prints left over from my lap quilt (the pink on white floral and the pink jellybean print on the back), as well as part of a strip from a recent Jelly Roll purchase (the green). I also used a decorative stitch (in hot pink, no less!) on the pockets and along the top (I would have done it along the bottom, too, but I nearly ran out of thread – that’s the fourth spool of thread in the last month I’ve used up!). I love it, and can’t wait to start using it (classes start Wednesday).

*My guidelines: vertical weekly view with columns wide enough for a small Post-It note, times marked clearly reflecting days longer than 8-5 (preferably 8-8 or 8-9). You wouldn’t think it’d be asking too much, but it is.

I can’t be good at everything

I’m quite handy if you’re having a basic computer problem (why is your typing overwriting your existing text? Because overwrite/insert is on, and just hit that handy “insert” key to turn it off). I seem to pick up crafts easily with little or no instruction. Want to know if those green towels match the green in the bathroom – no, they don’t, but these do. Need a complete listing of the books in the New Testament? No problem.

However, not complaining about certain things seems to escape me. Or, spin it positively, I’m quite good at complaining.

I’ve really been trying not to, but to let this space be more positive. Call it a goal of mine, to be more positive-minded. I’m not very good at it. Plus, the universe is conspiring against me.

I itch. A lot. All over, in random places. A small spot on my left bicep. A slightly larger spot just above my hip. Both thighs and calves. My neck, on and off (which is good, because it’s entirely visible to the world and gets quite red and blotchy at the slightest provocation). My eyelids. My armpits (that’s an awkward one, for sure).

It’s as if my Zyrtec has been replaced by a placebo, and it’s driving me crazy. I don’t know what it is. My lotion, baby oil, and soap are all new, but also all on the approved list. Today I didn’t put lotion on, because I didn’t want to aggravate the situation if that was the cause, but now my skin is dry and therefore itchy. I can’t win.

So, if things get a little quiet, it’s because I’m over here, silently itching, trying to think of something more positive to post.

Complaints

There was another article today in the Strib, this time about Minnesota’s pension plans for state employees. Reading through the comments (42 of them, when I read the article), it became clear, yet again, that state employees are unloved and unappreciated. For the record, many of us (not all of us, just like every workplace) do enjoy our jobs and serving the public. [Editor’s note: yes, I complain about my job more than I should, mostly because this is not what I want to be doing with my life, but one of the things that makes this job bearable for 6+ years is that I know what I’m doing is making people’s lives better, however indirectly, and I need that, and the private sector cannot often guarantee that in any sort of non-superficial way.] We know that we’re generally unliked and that we can’t count on pay increases or even being considered “worthy” of the salaries we do make. Perhaps this is why unions are so important to us. Reading comments on articles like today’s made me feel like a telemarketer, or a SPAM emailer, or some other despised profession. All of the people I work with are fully aware that our salaries are funded by taxpayer dollars, as are the program dollars we administer. We’re not oblivious to that.

And, while I’m happy to be (someday) changing professions to one I will enjoy more (teaching), this article, like the last one, pointed out that teachers are, all too often, also unappreciated and despised. That makes me sadder than I can even articulate. Now, teachers are generally valued more than government employees, but the gap is narrowing all the time. I’m pretty sure that teachers are also aware that their salaries are paid by taxpayer dollars, and that a majority of them also enjoy their jobs and serving the public.

Need I remind people that you cannot get government services for free? Of course taxpayer dollars fund salaries and projects – no one would do them otherwise. And most government programs are considered necessary, either by law or by enough people speaking their mind to convince the legislature to continue funding them. Free public education, paved roads, water and sewer, helping persons with disabilities, food stamps to ensure that young children don’t go hungry, the list goes on.

I really wish people would stop hating on government employees. It makes it very hard to get up and go to work in the morning.

Also, I’d like to add that while perhaps I should be worried about my retirement account, I’m not. Retirement is over 30 years away, and hopefully by that time this current economic crisis will be a distant memory. I don’t even understand how it all works or how to maximize my savings or anything like that. There’s a class I can attend to help me understand planning for retirement, and I should really sign up, but I just haven’t found the time.

My last complaint was going to be about how very little sunlight we see these days. But, then I read Stefi’s post on fast-falling feathers about how little sunlight they’re getting up there in Finland right now, and I thought I had it good. Yesterday we had 9 hours of sunlight (from sunrise to sunset, according to weather.com), so that feels practically luxurious compared to 2 hours. Plus, yesterday was the first day of my new work schedule, where I get to leave at 4 instead of 4:30, so I actually saw sunlight briefly. On the downside, it’s 3* today here. Oh well, can’t win them all.

At last, a post with pictures!

I managed to take pictures this weekend of some of the craft projects I’ve done, even though the sun wasn’t shining and so these were all done in bad lighting in our kitchen, of all places.

My goal was to finish all 10 ornaments (the embroidery part, that is) for the swap by Friday. I finished the last one on Saturday night, so that was pretty good. I’ll only show a few pics here, because I’ll make up a nice mosaic when they’re all finally done (I still have to put felt on the backs and attach a hanger).

ornament_swap_prancer
Prancer
ornament_swap_vixen
Vixen
ornament_swap_donner
Donner

There are also two non-reindeer ones:

ornament_swap_bell
Bell with Holly
holiday_traditions_swap_ornament_snowflakes
Snowflakes

All were done using DMC perle cotton, which is much thicker than regular embroidery floss. I kept looking at it in the store thinking it was lovely, and I really wanted to stitch with it. Well, it is lovely, but terrible for doing detail work. I probably would have liked this project more if I had used the regular stuff. It’s OK, though, because all of these are leaving our house, and I’d like a set for myself, so next year I think I’ll make some up for us, using the regular stuff.

I also finished up the first towel for for Christmas. It turned out really well.

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Lots of little details
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including this cute buzzing bee

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and an extra little something on the other end.

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And Sunday, I made a pincushion for a swap on Craftster. The pattern was in Pretty Little Patchwork, and was not very nice in some aspects (my first attempt failed miserably), but after a modification, I made it through.

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For the pincushion swap

I finally got around to taking apart my first attempt last night – I’m not sure if the pieces for the star are salvageable or not, but they’re from the only charm square I have in that print, so I’m going to try. I’d like to make one for myself, only much shorter (the flowered band is 2″ tall, which is a bit big for me).

Also, though I don’t have photographic proof, I pieced together the “back” of ‘s quilt (which means that I put borders on the center panel, and then cut out and appliqued on the large G). Then I laid out all three layers and pin-basted. Hopefully tonight will help me draw out the grid pattern, and I can start quilting it. asked on Saturday, “how soon can it be done?” When I told her I had 10-20 hours left on it (because I have no idea how long it will take me to quilt it, and the only binding I’ve ever done has been on small projects which take 2-ish hours), she was shocked. Yes, darling, while this quilt isn’t terribly complicated or difficult, it still takes time to complete. I am pretty sure that she will love the end result, though, because the “back” (which, the more I look at it, is really the front) is quite darling, with the green plaid and the large G.

The new phone duty schedule at work was working really well until about 2:15 today. Yesterday morning (my turn), I answered the phone promptly and politely, knowing that it was only for the morning. Coworker B stopped by at 11:45 and said she was going to the gym, but would be back by 12:15 (when it was her turn). She answered the phone all afternoon and I barely had to think about it. (Coworker C was out sick, but she doesn’t have scheduled duty on Mondays, though she did have other tasks for a big event today that I had to complete.) This morning, Coworker C answered phones, and this afternoon Coworker B did (I don’t have to answer phones on Tuesdays or Thursdays – yay!). However, Coworker C came over at 2:15 and told me she wasn’t feeling well and was going to go home (fine, is gone and Coworker B is answering phones anyways), and did I want to take a break first. I declined, thinking it was odd that she even ask. A few minutes later, I walked over to where the other two have their cubes, and lo and behold, Coworker B has left for the day, without telling me. Seems she was allergic to her phone duty or something. So now I’m here, stuck without any backup, to answer phones for two hours when it’s not my turn. Boo on that.

But, on the bright side, tomorrow is the monthly meeting that I normally have to go to, and I’m not going, for the first time, because it’s no longer my responsibility! Hopefully things will go flawlessly, and I won’t have to deal with it any more. So that’s a big “yay!”

In the mean time, I’ll leave you with this reindeer, who’s doing what I’d like to be right now:

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Blitzen

le Sigh (that’s French for “sigh”)

I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed by stuff to do since the semester started. Don’t get me wrong, because I am totally enjoying my classes, and I know that I have also taken on some extra things like that quilting class, and our house is still clean and we eat dinner together regularly, so obviously it hasn’t all gone to heck. In fact, we still have date night on Thursdays, so that’s a homework-free zone (and computer-work-free, and crafting-away-from-your-loved-one-free).

But on the same path, I haven’t had a phone conversation lasting more than 90 seconds with anyone in weeks, haven’t seen my friends since… sometime in August maybe? Or was it (sadly) July? I don’t even know. I haven’t baked cookies in forever. Even if I was motivated to go to the gym, I don’t know when I’d go – I think I’d have to sacrifice sleep, and that is not the way I’m willing to go with that.

There has been a significant amount of homework this semester, mostly reading, some paper-writing, and the big parts aren’t even here yet. Looming on the horizon are 15 volunteer hours at a local school (thanks, RMS, for not responding to my email yet, 3 days later) by October 22, one individual 30-minute presentation, one group 55-minute presentation, and applying to the UTP program by December 1 (though that may just get pushed back to next semester, because there are classes I can take this spring without it, and it requires another 15 volunteer hours). Oh, and a trip out of town for a cousin’s wedding in October.

My already-packed weekend just got another 1/3rd of a book thrown onto it, because time is coming up fast for it to be read and it wasn’t in my planner yet. I started thinking yesterday that this was all just a bit too much, and not really my style (to be overbooked). And then I corrected myself, thinking about when I was in college (the first time around). Oh, yeah, most semesters I took a full or overfull courseload, worked 1-3 jobs, and volunteered with a youth group, as well as numerous other campus activities. But, that was a decade ago, and I could still pull all-nighters then, and had the relief of summer and Spring Break and a month at Christmastime. Not so with Metro State, where I had a weekend between Spring and Summer, and 10 whole days between Summer and Fall. I’m not looking up to see what my break between Fall and Spring is, because it might make me cry. (Have I mentioned I’m taking next summer off, because it’s just too much and I need a break?)

I seem to remember having a whole lot of fun in college, though, so… what’s with that? How did I manage to have fun and have such a full schedule? Especially that summer I worked in San Francisco, when I worked 18 hour days? How did that all go down?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not asking to relive those days. I’ll definitely take now to then. I just wish I felt like I had things a little more under control.

Boo

Since scorning caffeine late last week, kind of on a whim, I have sadly not visited Starbucks once. I have been to Caribou several times and gotten tea, and have been to the new Tea Garden in the Skyway most workdays (they have a punch card, you know). I’m totally loving their Chai, and it comes in lots of flavors (though I admit to only having tried a few), including decaf Vanilla. That’s what I’ve ordered the last several days, and they can never seem to rememer the decaf part. I’m not sure what’s wrong. It’s the only Chai available in decaf. I clear say it and the cashier says it back to me, clarifying, but then somehow it gets lost in translation to the “barista” (what is it that tea shops call their drink makers?).

Now, I’m not actually at the caffeine-free stage yet (goodness, I’m cranky and lethargic enough as it is), but it would definitely help as I cut back the caffeine if, when I order decaf, I actually get decaf. I’m just sayin’. I know that tea has less caffeine than coffee, so I’m still making net progress, just not as much as I’d like to be.

Needless to say, work is even less fun without caffeine. Apparently during the withdrawal process one gets cranky and lethargic (this in addition to mind-splitting headaches that I’ve mostly managed to avoid via medication), and it takes a few weeks. But, it takes a few months for one to actually feel more energized than they used to. Talk about a slow return on investment.