Friday, May 29, 2009

A New Family Member

I had been eyeing the Roombas for a number of years, but the price of something so "experimental" was holding me back. I bought this little pal from about a month ago. He is reconditioned, so he was much cheaper. So far, I've been very pleased. I've treated him something like having a toddler around. At first I moved almost everything except dust so that he wouldn't get choked. I still have my doubts about using him to clean up a yarn mess or something, but small pieces of paper and things like that are picked up just fine and empty from his bin. This week, I closed doors as I left for school and let him loose to clean the kitchen on his own. He did a topnotch job and docked himself for recharging. Cleaning the roller and the brushes is a snap, not anything like the struggle with my big Hoover. Mopping was a very easy job afterward. If this product holds up to fairly regular use, I just may be in the market for a Scooba to take care of the mopping tasks as well.
The biggest problem I've encountered is that if I'm using him when I'm home, I'm always stopping to watch him. Because his pattern is so random, it's tempting to watch to see if he gets back to pick up the area he skipped. The answer is yes, at least so far. I do pull the kitchen chairs away from the table. Roomba fits between the chair legs just fine. There are three entrances to the kitchen, and I set virtual walls in two and close the door on the other one, and he goes to work. My entryway is much the same, but I only have to set the virtual walls there. He also works on my carpet with about a 3/4" nap. I am not sure how well he really deep cleans, but he will keep circling and working on a really dirty spot. If he had to do that a great deal, he might not finish a larger room in one battery charge. My living room is big, and I really don't plan to run him in there because of the yarn and fiber mess anyway. I am looking forward, though, to turning him loose in the bedrooms because he can do under the beds.
For what I paid for the refurbished product, I'm pleased with his performance so far. Now he needs a name, just like Matilda, my spinning wheel.
Knitting: OTN No-Purl Monkeys socks from Lorna's Laces Black Purl.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Today, Tomorrow, Friday, and the Saturday Morning Faculty Breakfast

NASA has launched with less excitement than I'm feeling this year. I am worse than the students at this point. Our normal end-of-school pattern has been so disrupted that I have been confused for a couple of weeks, but it will be over soon!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Life, Round 3: Remembrance of Things Past

My granddaughter had her end-of-year choir programs last week. I didn't get to go, but my daughter very kindly posted pictures. We seldom post pictures of the grandchildren on the web, but I think this one is safe. She's 5th from the right on the very back row. They're wearing construction hats and singing "He's Still Working on Me." (My first thought was "Y.M.C.A.")

I do not yet have a picture of yesterday's school awards program with my grandson. I did attend that one, since it was local. Not only was it local, but I was sitting in the same seats, looking at the same stage that I have looked at for most of my life. The auditorium was built in 1951 or 52, and it has been the site of every large community gathering since then. Every musical program, every fashion show, every traveling magician, every school assembly, and at least one funeral was held there until 1966, when the new high school got its own auditorium. Since then, smaller events, up to 400 or so, tend to be at the high school, but the old auditorium is still the site of everything younger or bigger.

There's something very reflective about watching your grandchild standing on the front of the stage looking out at the same seats that you looked at yourself for every school program, both high school and junior high graduations, two years of high school plays, and most other community events. Walking home from some community event in that auditorium down a dark, tree-sheltered sidewalk to our nearby home is a cherished, slightly scary memory of childhood. I could always sympathize with Scout Finch in that ham costume. I even remember being snatched as a preschooler from the audience to backstage in the days before the Heimlich maneuver when I had a piece of hard candy lodged in my airway. A couple of men in the play grabbed me and held me upside down and shook me and pounded me until it came out.

I also noticed that yesterday I had time to reflect. The truth is that reflection comes more easily to grandmothers. Both of our children played every band concert, crossed the stage for every elementary award, and graduated from high school and junior high on this same stage, but moms are much too nervous to feel reflective. Yesterday, though, it did not take much effort to populate the stage in my mind with my children's five-year-old faces and those of some of their friends.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ending on a High

This year we had a series of three assemblies recognizing the students who came to school and performed as they were supposed to perform. The entire student body attended the assemblies, but students eligible to participate were those who performed with at least a B average in the classroom, had good attendance, and had no disciplinary problems. Each student who met those criteria was recognized.

Today was the finale. When students entered the gymnasium, they saw this:

The music was LOUD, and it was music popular with the students. A student DJ provided an assortment that went from C & W and rock to hip-hop.

As the principal called the names of eligible students in each class, they received high fives from the faculty and a T-shirt:

After going through the shirt line, they could slide.

In between calling classes of students down for shirts, the principal announced the names of eligible students for door prizes ranging from gift cards and cash to an I-Pod and a minicomputer.
Before the class competition horse race, faculty members checked out the mounts to see if they came out of the gate properly.

There was also a big inflated pit with inflatable robot costumes in which students battled each other. I didn't get good pictures because I've never used this camera for anything but knitting, and I didn't know how to set my shutter speed for such fast vibrating action.
It's good to see the average student who comes to school and does what he is supposed to do have a chance to be recognized. I think everyone this year has benefited from these assemblies. I'm very glad the new principal brought in this idea.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's a Small Town

I live in a very small rural community, population roughly 3,000. This is my hometown, and I really love living here, most of the time. In fact, I returned here by choice after living away. However, there are the howevers, and yesterday had one. It's right before the end of the school year, an end that is more hectic than usual because many statewide events that should have happened a month or two weeks ago are just now happening due to swine flu postponements. This has delayed our end-of-school routine paperwork and tasks. If you're a teacher, you will understand what I'm talking about. I also have routine paperwork associated with life in general and with our family business. Well, last night was going to be a paperwork night, from the time I got home from school until "dark thirty." I announced to a couple of fellow teachers that I was not cooking--I was going to buy something and take it home. I tried, I really did! Burgers were out because I knew DH had one for lunch. A couple of the local choices are Mexican, but my stomach can only tolerate that cuisine a few times a week. (Our school food choices tend to be Mexican, even unintentionally. Jalapenos and chili powder just sneak in. The other day the cooked carrots were hot.) Our pizza place--the gas station, convenience store, sandwich shop, coffee spot, pizza place--does not deliver, so I would have just had to sit for them to cook the pizza, which sort of defeated the purpose of not cooking so that I would have more paperwork time. I actually drove up and parked at the Sonic, looked at the menu, and drove off. The local steakhouse--excellent food--is not open at night during the week. I just drove home. Supper? A can of soup and a banana. At least we saved money.

And yes, I do usually plan better than this. If it were winter, I would have had homemade chili or stew, but many of those crockpotty things are not appealing when the temperature is in the eighties. We used our good salad greens the day before. And, see above, plans are disrupted and disorganized until school is out.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Knitting Content at Last!

This is a Mason-Dixon Modular Log Cabin reading blanket for my grandson. His birthday is this next week, so I've been madly knitting garter stitch for a month. This is my third garter stitch project in a row, so I'm ready for something with some pattern! The yarn is a mixture. This is a toss around blanket for a 6-year-old, so washability is essential. I used a combo of Plymouth Encore, Wool-Ease, and Schachenmayer Nomatta from my stash, and Vanna's Choice in a lovely Sapphire color. I'm very pleased with the color combination. I could feel a big difference in the yarns as I knitted them, but after washing the blanket to block it, I can't feel much difference. I also completed a dishcloth, my in-the-car knitting project, but I didn't make a picture. I think the pattern won't show up well because the yarn is a very light mixture.

What else have I been doing? Well, I've been finishing up odds and ends for school. I've also read the first two books of the Twilight series--reviews in the sidebar--and rearranged my bathroom cabinet for towel storage since the carpenters are through in there. Today I hope to do a little bit of work toward getting my sewing/knitting room in order and some planning for the February Lady Sweater which is my next project for myself. I have also completed the first segment of one of four on-line computer classes that I'm taking as staff development for next year. And, ugh, I have to finish some bookkeeping for our business.

In October of 2008--I'm a little slow--I visited a spinning and weaving demonstration at a museum. I'm not sure that I want to be tied down to the stationary nature of a big floor loom or anything. I looked at the little Cricket and the Ashford Knitters Loom, but then I remembered the demo I had watched on the triangle loom. So I have ordered a kit on Etsy from Hideaway Homestead for a 30" plywood version. I'll have to fasten the ends together after I put in my own nails, but if there's anything a hardware store owner has, it's nails. This small purchase should let me find out if I would be interested in making or buying one of the big looms to do shawls on. All I need is a new fiber interest!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Economic Stimulus--April and May

When I went out of town to take the certification test, I spent roughly two months' economic stimulus money on bathmats from Target. I have not had mats for this bath for over a year, waiting for the repairs to be done. We have been making do with bath towels tossed down on the floor. I know there are more exclusive brands of mats out there, but I've found over the years that the ones from Target seem to have the best backing and to be more absorbent and more durable when repeatedly washed and dried than even the exclusive brands from the bed and bath shops, and of course, they are much better than the really cheap ones. I remember some bright orange fake fur bath mats I had in my first apartment in 1971. I bought a larger mat for in front of the vanity, a tiny mat that fits in front of the shower, and the contour mat for the toilet. These will make the cold tile floor much warmer and much less slick, as well as adding a note of pretty blue to the blue and beige scheme I have going in that bath. The ones I bought are from the Thomas O'Brien collection. I was going to include a link, but I'm not finding the exact ones on the Target site.

I have also posted a couple of new book reviews.

In the bathroom at the testing center: "Please do not put ANYTHING in the toilet. It does not flush well." The sign was computer-produced in a fancy font, with the ANYTHING in bright rainbow colors.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Excuses, excuses

I am knitting, and I am working. Last week was the state standardized testing--4 days of "active" monitoring, including the ones in the afternoon who didn't finish in the morning. Last Saturday, an out-of-town school meeting. This week, my APs take their examination, and I am also taking an exam for an extra certification. I have a senior class event all afternoon today. I am not posting more because anything I have to say would be grouchy. After this week, things should be back to normal.

Oh, and the people who are doing some remodeling for us last June--not a grammatical error--are coming tomorrow. After months of trying to be "ready" for them to show, I gave up, and now things are in the way. They'll have to live with it because I can only get done what I can get done! The good news is that this includes the windows for my "studio" area. Now I can get to work on that--last summer's project!