elasait: (powersforgood)
2017-09-18 10:35 am

Why I wrote "Kay's Song"

It is odd, the things that can wander through your mind while you are doing an essentially mindless task such as cleaning the kitchen. Today's reflections led me to thinking about how I've always had a very good memory--for song lyrics, for events, for dates, for things I've read. The latter led me to an example.

At some point in the 1980s, John Steinbeck's "The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights" was published in kind of a big-deal edition. It was a trade paperback with a nice cover. We bought a copy, and I read it. I enjoyed it, but of course he left it unfinished, which caused it to be usatisfying to a large degree. I read it once, put it aside, and didn't think about it again for probably a decade or more.

Fast-forward to when I was Calontir's kingdom seneschal. While I can't remember precisely when, in that 2 1/2 year period, I did this, I believe it was probably the summer of 1998. I was a little more than halfway through my tenure at that time, and it was a "festive" summer...there was a particularly knotty problem going on which ultimately resulted in a Board sanction of a member of the kingdom, and which the Crown of the time were trying to use to hang a kingdom officer they didn't like, while seemingly avoiding assigning responsibility to the person who committed the offense. I was having to walk a very, very fine line, as the Crown harbored no terribly friendly feelings toward me, either, and appeared to resent the fact that the Society level had, in the time since they'd reigned before, had changed some of the procedures for offenses of this nature. Then another kingdom official, who was my ally in trying to keep the Crown from unjustly hanging someone, decided to go bleeding-heart on the actual offender...in short it was a mess, and I felt I was being compelled to act in a way that I knew was contrary to what the Board would expect. Not the most rewarding point in what was, overall, a very rewarding tenure.

During this time, something popped into my head from the Steinbeck book...one particular scene, not even a major scene, and I went looking for it in the book. I remember finding the book in our highly disorganized library, and standing in the library skimming for quite awhile until I found the scene. In this scene, two of Arthur's knights (Lancelot and maybe Gawaine, I don't remember the second one for sure) encounter Sir Kay as they are going on some sort of adventure. The three fall to talking, and Lancelot and the other knight basically ask Kay what has happened to him. The gist of the conversation has the other two saying, "You used to be one of the top knights of the round table, and now you don't do anything except petty bureaucratic things, why is that?" (Not by any means an exact quote here!) Kay replies that since becoming Arthur's seneschal, he's had to focus on those things, and that while they may seem petty, in fact he has to figure out how to pay for Arthur's quests, how to keep the kingdom running smoothly while his fellow knights go off on their adventures, et cetera.

Now, Kay is usually portrayed pretty unsympathetically in Arthuriana. He's seen as haughty, overbearing, vindictive...and little attention is paid to anything regarding his position as Arthur's seneschal. The above portrayal must have struck me when I first read it because it was so unusual, and when I needed to find it, it came back to me and rang very true. At some point after reading it, I started writing the poem that eventually became "Kay's Song", the only song I've ever actually written. It took me about three years to finish it, coming back to it every now and then. Erich wrote a tune and debuted it for Fernando and Andrixos when the four of us were sitting around at a Crystal Ball, singing together in a corner while the ball was going on (or maybe just after fighting was over, memory fails). When he sang it, Drx said, "That's a pelican song," and Fernando said, "That's a seneschal song." Both were right.

And that's where free association took me this morning.
elasait: (Pythagorean)
2015-11-07 05:16 pm

Klutzy Elasait is klutzy, and other stuff

Long time no post...

In the last couple of months, I have (mostly) gotten back my ankle function, we have been to northern England, we've joined a meal service called Blue Apron, I've tried to slice my finger along with an onion using a slicing device, and I've gotten my sewing/craft room/office more or less organized.

In reverse order:  After spending some time on this project the last three days, I am currently looking around at my space.  The quilting fabric is all sorted, except for a few fat quarters I found after that project (aren't there always a few more fat quarters?)  All the books are sorted by craft and in sub-categories.  The embroidery supplies, weaving supplies, etc. are all in places.  My jewelry supplies are organized in their own work corner.  My fabric bolts are all up on the shelf designed for them or the tops of the other shelves, organized by fabric type and color.  The only major thing not yet dealt with is the trim, which is currently occupying a set of plastic stacking bins.  It will go onto dowels as soon as I get my little PVC pipe pieces cut down to the right size to hold the trim rolls.

Which segues nicely into the klutz part, since doing that would require me to use a hacksaw.

Earlier this week I was trying to slice an onion.  I don't really like using knives to cut things, so I was trying to use a slicer-upper-thingy I own.  (Yes, that is a technical term.)  I tried to slice off a piece on the fingerprint side of my right forefinger.  Okay, I've done that sort of thing before, so with much cursing, I headed for the first aid supplies.  And tried to stop the bleeding.  Which, after 45 miinutes of trying to go about my business, had not stopped.  So, off to the urgent care center.  They put a big bandage on it right away rather than have me drip bodily fluids all over the waiting room.  Paid the $25 co-pay (I have no idea what I would be charged if I didn't have insurance).  Waited about 20 minutes.  Saw the doctor.  He instructed the nurse to soak it in that stuff they soak it in to cleanse such wounds; after another 20-25 minutes he put three or four stitches in it and wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic.  I am not convinced the antibiotic is necessary, but I am dutifully taking it.  The stitches were because of the blood thinners I'm on; he wanted to make sure it wouldn't start bleeding again.  I go back next Wednesday to get them out.

I was cutting the onion because my sister-in-law sent me a voucher for a free week of meals from something called Blue Apron.  On their two-person plan, they send you, every week, the exact ingredients necessary to cook a tasty meal for two.  The meals are about 600-700 calories--not bad for a main meal.  And they are really tasty.  All the ingredients are fresh, not processed, so there is a fair amount of prep.  But it is healthy eating, uses small suppliers, and is stuff I'd never, ever have tried on my own.  The recipes have very detailed instructions and lots of pictures, and if you go in at least 6 days ahead you get some choice on which meals you get.  You can also skip any week with 6 days notice--we cancelled the three delivery dates we were going to be in England.  It's just under $60 a week--yes, it's possible I could acquire the ingredients for less than that, but I've thrown out a lot of produce over the years due to having to buy in too-large amounts, and this way I don't have to plan or shop.  The only ingredients so far that we've had to supply ourselves have been olive oil (or, I use peanut oil for oriental-theme dishes), salt, and pepper.  And since it's only 3 meals a week, that gives us enough flexibility to do other things on other nights--eating out or cooking something else we want to eat.

And the trip to England was marvelous.  We spent a week in York (with a day-trip to Haworth), three days in Scarborough, three days in Sheffield (with a day-trip to Leeds for the armoury museum), and a weekend in Lancaster with Richard and Lena (SCA friends who lived in St. Louis for awhile several years back).  I got to do a short walk on the Haworth Moors--it was only about a mile and a quarter, but my ankle, which was still having some trouble on uneven ground, couldn't have handled much more.  We went to lots of pubs.  I got to go to the quilting museum in York, which sadly closed at the end of October.  And we walked all along the two bays in Scarborough, arriving at the country pub about a mile out of town that was our lunch destination just as it started raining fairly heavily.  We took that as a sign and remained there for a couple of hours, then walked back when the high tide was crashing against the seawall.  Generally speaking, the spousal unit's superpower of keeping the rain at bay during visits to the British Isles held--we only had two really rainy days.

And that's my life during late September through early November.
elasait: (responsible)
2015-06-10 12:10 pm

Tomorrow

Tomorrow I get the cast off and get a walking boot.  I am eager to find out what this will mean about my abilities and restrictions!  What I absolutely know is that I can once again shower, and I won't have to sleep with it on, and I can put moisturizer on my foot and leg (my exposed toes have very, very flaky dry skin, which I assume is a reaction to the cast and not having any water on them for the last six weeks).

 I'm hoping I can do stairs soon, so I can get back to work in my sewing room.  There is quilt fabric to organize and Pennsic sewing to be done, and the block-of-the-month quilt class I signed up for to be gotten busy on.  (Timing on that class was terrible--it started right when I'd packed all my sewing and craft stuff up for the remodel, and I hadn't gotten on track from that when I injured my ankle, so I am now five months behind, yikes!) But the instructor said she'd meet up individually with people, and as soon as I'm sure I can get to the fabric store on my own power, I'll call her and see what we can set up--I've missed three classes, and the May and June kits are still waiting for me to pick them up.

If we have to miss Lilies, it looks like this might be a good choice.  The theme and general plan for the war is great--better than in years--and that would have been lots of fun.  But there has been so much rain that the man-made lake on which the event is held is at its highest level in about 15 years--and higher than it's ever been at Lilies.  Some people's campsites are flooded, and there is mud everywhere.  And more rain expected almost every day next week--sometimes quite a bit of rain.  Ticks will be bad too, because of all the rain.  There are always ticks at Lilies--western Missouri in the summer, hello!--but they'll likely be worse this year.  I can give a miss to the physical environment.  Pennsic is more pleasant as a general rule--there aren't really ticks in the part of the site I'm generally on, nor mosquitoes, and it's usually not as hot as Lilies nor is there as much risk of bad storms.  Mind you, if I hadn't sprained my ankle we'd still be going to Lilies instead of Pennsic.  But I did, so we aren't.
elasait: (responsible)
2015-06-05 12:13 pm

Silver lining, thy name is Pennsic

When last seen, in an entry that went unseen by most because I forgot to re-set it from "private", Our Heroine had a badly sprained ankle and was going to be unable to go to Lilies or Pennsic.  However...apparently following doctor's orders about elevating the foot above the heart paid off, because I'm getting the cast off on June 11.  Lilies is still out of the question for several reasons:
1.  Himself had told his employer that he wouldn't be vacationing during June and would therefore be available to do a major equipment upgrade whenever it happened to happen this month.
2.  I will be in a walking boot, but I won't be able to just tromp around as if nothing had ever happened.
3.  I get the boot on the day we would normally leave for Lilies, and I still can't do any Lilies prep..

However, since I get the boot sooner than anticipated, I will get out of the boot sooner than anticipated--right before Pennsic starts.  Therefore we are going to Pennsic, instead.  Due to our England trip in October, Himself doesn't have enough vacation time to do quite the whole thing, but we will get there the first Wednesday, hopefully around noon.  As I have often said that Pennsic is my very favorite SCA event, this doesn't make me particularly sad--I will miss hanging out with my camp mates at Lilies, but I wouldn't be able to do anything other than hang out in camp for the most part, and by Pennsic I should be mobile enough to shop, take classes, and roam the Serengeti.  No rambles through the bog/lake area--oh wait, I haven't really done that in several years anyway.  And no waterbearing--theoretically I could just work the Calontir water point, but in practice that trick never works, especially at a foreign war.  At Pennsic we have to keep moving our base of operations around typically, and at some point I'd do things I probably won't be up for doing.  But that just means I can take more classes. :)

In other news, I can't go down the front steps on crutches anymore without Himself there to spot for me, as last Friday I fell and gouged my head on the corner of one of the steps.  I spent the afternoon at the emergency room, but I was very, very lucky.  No concussion, no excessive bleeding (though I was, in fact, covered with blood, it wasn't enough to need a transfusion).  Just some stitches.  And it's in my hairline, so the scar won't even show much.  But until I'm able to actually walk down steps again, I can only leave the house on my own by scooting down the steps on my butt.  Which is awkward outdoors, although now that I'm in a smallish cast instead of a huge splint, I can now put on a couple of pairs of jeans with wide legs.

The above is a restriction that was highly encouraged by the ER and by Himself, and since dying would not fit well with my life plans, I readily agreed to it.

The ankle continues to heal well; it feels close enough to right that I have to remind myself when getting up to go to the bathroom or kitchen that, no, I'm still supposed to be non-weight-bearing so I can't just go tromping off; I need to use the knee walker.  Almost the only pain I have is that the larger incision occasionally feels irritated.  Can't wait to be able to be on the third floor so I can start the pre-Pennsic sewing frenzy!
elasait: (appalled king)
2015-05-22 05:15 pm

Life is what happens when you're making other plans

I had a small case of life a few weeks ago...I was going down the stairs from the third floor to the second, and my foot slipped or something.  I slipped/fell down two steps to the landing, and landed really badly on my left ankle.  As it was a Sunday afternoon, off to the urgent care center we went.  (Well, it wasn't quite that simple.  I couldn't put weight on my left foot to speak of, and I'm way too heavy for Himself to carry me, so getting down the steps and out to the car was...interesting.)  It was already swelling a good bit; they X-rayed it and the doctor said he couldn't see anything on the X-rays but I'd obviously sprained it.  Ice and elevation.  They gave me an air cast for it, which I never was able to put on properly, and home we went.  There was a pair of crutches in the basement from about 20 years ago when I sprained my ankle and needed help walking for a few days, so I started using those to get around.

Overnight, my ankle swelled up like a balloon and developed blisters.  Then Tuesday, the urgent care center called.  When the radiologist looked at the X-rays, she saw a little chip out of the bone in the back of my ankle.  The treatment is no different than for the sprain, the nurse said, but you might want to see an orthopedist to make sure you don't have ongoing problems.

Two days later, after a visit to an orthopedist at the Center for Advanced Medicine (St. Louis has excellent doctors available, assuming of course you have insurance) and more X-rays, I learned that I had torn ligaments on both sides of my ankle and it would require surgery to repair them.  They had to wait for the swelling to go down, so the surgery was scheduled for Monday, May 12, a week and a half in the future.  Meanwhile they put a splint the size of Lake Michigan on my left leg/foot, and I rented a "knee walker" which really looks more like a scooter, and went home to be non-weight-bearing.

Have I ever mentioned that we have an extremely vertical house?  Three stories, plus several steps to get down to street level from the front door.  Because it is my left foot, I can still drive our automatic-transmission van just fine, assuming I can get to it.  I am not the best on crutches, but I've managed.

It's now about a week and a half after the surgery.  Because I spent the first week keeping my foot elevated above my heart like they said, the healing process is going well as far as I can tell.  I have a splint bigger than Lake Michigan--but next Tuesday I get the stitches out and a smaller plaster cast for the next 4 weeks.  However, my lovely 3rd-floor arranging has had to go completely by the wayside (I've been up there exactly twice, it is much harder to get from the 2nd to the 3rd floor than from the 1st to the 2nd).  Also--no Lilies for us this year.  I will still be non-weight-bearing, with a cast I can't get wet, and I can't figure out how I could possibly manage even if my doctors weren't telling me that a 4+-hour car trip is not a good idea for a person on blood thinners who has an immobilized left ankle.

We weren't planning on Pennsic anyway, because of lack of Himself's vacation time.  I briefly thought about it, since we're missing Lilies, but Pennsic happens just as I'll be transitioning from a walking boot to a regular shoe and starting physical therapy, so that doesn't sound great either.  The good news is that we should be able to take our trip to Yorkshire just fine--we hadn't booked anything yet so we're moving it a few weeks later to give me more time to get back to normal, but I should be able to do it.

I'm beginning to be able to get out and about a little now, which is a damned good thing, because yesterday I found myself watching the Starz Western channel for about 2 1/2 hours.  Himself has had to pick up a lot of the little household chores (I re-hired the housekeeper through at least July because I can't clean).  What I can do around the house is as follows:

1.  Make coffee
2.  Get trash or recycling on the first floor only to the kitchen bins.
3.  Clean the cat box on the first floor.  (I can't get to the ones on the 3rd floor.)
4.  Feed the cats (although they don't make this easy!)

And that's pretty much it.  The good news is that, eventually, I should have pretty much a full recovery.  It will just be measured in months rather than days or weeks.

And hopefully I will manage not to be quite such a klutz once I can climb stairs again.
elasait: (Pythagorean)
2015-03-21 05:52 pm

Third floor adventures

So, when last seen, Our Heroine was excited about the craft room taking shape, and said a lot of things about how it would be.  Some of which are actually true, but some have been modified as thiings have taken shape.

My room is shades of blue--lighter (but not too light) blue on the walls, a teal blue trim paint, and the floor is a sort of sage green that almost exactly matches the Rhododendron Leaf green of my Martha Steward craft furniture.  The second piece of which is being put together by Himself even as we speak...that one is a "corner craft desk" that will become my jewelry station.

Several adventures have happened:

1.  The sturdy wire shelf that was installed just above the windows for the width of the room (minus about a foot and a half on each end due to the "knee walls" which are about 5 feet high) collapsed under the weight of 43 bolts of linen and 21 bolts of wool.  I think it was the double stacking that did it.  Though when I called Dan the Contractor to report this mishap, he and his assistant Ron seemed to think that it should have held up regardless.  It has now been replaced, with even more bracing, and I didn't put quite so much fabric on it this time.  Getting my fabric out of storage and rolling it on bolts and making a list of what I have for an eventual database has caused me to realize that I do, in fact, have fabric I will never get to.  I'm planning to sell things I can bear to part with...I will probably charge around $5 a yard which is a good average--some I paid less for, most was that or more (though none was hugely expensive).

2.  Also Dan and Ron built a sort of bench at the windowsill that is just high enough to put most fabric bolts under--additional fabric storage.  It's a little high and a little skinny to be an entirely comfy seat, but once I put some cushions on it and maybe get a small footstool it will be fine.  And the cats will adore it.

3.  There will be no futon in this room.  It'll go into the dressing/storage room instead.  Along with the cedar chest.

4.  I had intended to use Himself's old computer desk for the time being, but then I happened into a resale/antique shop one day and found the most adorable, all-wood, high quality little secretary desk.  It's fine for my laptop, although I'm going to go shopping for some sort of small desk-height table or shelf to put next to it so I have enough real estate for my desk organizers.  It is full of the sorts of cubbies and compartments that bring joy to my little heart, including two small "secret" compartments. :)

5.  My new sewing table (see Martha Stewart, above) is awesome.  It's huge, it's counter height, it moves easily, and I love it.

6.  I have one filing cabinet up here (a second one will join it once we can move it out of the former office).  I spent some time the other day using one of the draweers and a bunch of hanging file folders to organize my many cross-stitch patterns, leaflets, and too-skinny-to-have-a-readable-spine booklets.  They are nice and tidy by subject or theme of the patterns, and I can find what I want easily without going through a whole shelf and pulling stuff out.  My craft books that are thick enough to have readable spines are slowly going onto the hanging bookcase Dan and Ron built me.  I still have a whole box of quilting books that hasn't come up yet, but there's a good deal of shelf space left for them.  I'll have to take my too-skinny quilting books and leaflets and use another drawer to do the same thing with them that I did with the cross stitch.  There aren't as many of them, so that should be a fairly quick job.  Though choosing the file categories might be more difficult.

7.  The beading table won't quite fit in the corner by the window, so it will go next to the closet instead.  One of my five new shelves will fit nicely into that corner.  I haven't done much with the shelves yet (read:  anything other than put remnants on one of them).  I have a bunch of fabric drawers, boxes, and so forth in which to organize things, as well as pegboards on the walls.

It's still a work in progress, but progress is being made.  I am happy with it.

Oh yeah, I told Himself that what he has is a study, and he was way cool with that--"I've always wanted a study!"  And he is a super sweetheart for putting my difficult-to-manage particle-board craft tables together.

 
elasait: (Knotwork kitty)
2015-02-13 04:24 pm

I can has craft room!

Been awhile since I posted.  I keep intending to, and then not doing it.

The big project of the last 4 weeks has been emptying the third floor (we have two good-sized rooms up there) so it can be remodeled.  One room is going to be Himself's man-cave, and the other room is going to be my woman-cave.  With the exception of a few pieces of furniture, everything that was up there is either in our storage unit or in the basement; Dan the contractor and his assistant have been up there all week.  They cut big holes in the walls so they could bring more electricity up through the rafters and install the necessary vents and drainage for a portable air conditioner in each room, then put in grounded outlets all over the place, brought up some sort of computer cable that Himself needed, and patched up the walls including the cracked plaster.  This weekend we pick paint colors.  They are going to repaint both rooms including the floors (the floors are wood but painted).

Currently the two rooms are painted all white, including the floors, and the trim is light blue.  I would love to have a word or two with the genius that thought white floors were a good idea.  But then, the only thing I approve of being done in white is ceilings sometimes.  White gets grimy too easily.

Himself has few ideas for his room, other than that it will contain a much larger computer-desk configuration than he currently has now, and a TV.  We'll buy a flat-screen TV for up there, and he'll also need a new leather chair and ottoman.  The one that was up there was so terribly dilapidated that I called the 1-800-GotJunk guys and had them haul it away.  He's going to try out deskage we already own and see how it works.  He needs shelves, but I can't get him to commit to actually having Dan and  helper build shelves.

I, on the other hand, will have the craft room of my dreams--or at least, as nearly as I'll ever achieve it.  I will have a counter-height sewing table out in the middle of the room, along with my foldable cutting table when needed.  I have a corner desk and hutch that will be near the windows, for my jewelry work.  There will be a sofa-style futon by the windows, as this will double as a guest room and I need a comfy place to sit and do stuff like embroidery and handwork anyway.  My "office" will be in another corner.  For now I'm going to use Himself's computer desk, but once we have a little money set aside I'm going to buy a new desk.  And there will be shelving everywhere.  I'm getting five 24-inch shelves that will be set up like library stacks along one wall, and possibly I'll put cork board on the exposed sides so I can use that as design boards/repositories for cute stuff.  I will have a large pegboard holding tools and odds and ends on one wall (not the whole wall, just the part up to the windows) and possibly a smaller pegboard by my jewelry station.  All this doesn't even allow for the fact that there is a small reach-in closet in the room, which I plan to fill with Clever Storage a la some of the things I've pinned on my craft room board on Pinterest.

Also, my Fitdesk will move up there--it folds up when not in use, and doesn't take up that much room when it is in use.

So March will be all about putting the 3rd floor back together...one day during the emptying process, my Fitbit said I'd climbed 100 flights of stairs that day, and I've lost 4-5 pounds since the first of the year largely due to the exercise!  Then in April we will empty the small room that is currently our office--a lot of stuff will leave that room to go to the 3rd floor where the offices are moving, anyway.  That room will become a dressing/storage room, and the front small bedroom that is currently allegedly th spare room (although I couldn't find the bed right now with a team of trained jungle explorers) will become a sunroom, as it has huge south-facing windows.  We'll install window shades and a ceiling fan for the hot part of the year, and we're going for a kind of Mediterranean illusion in there.

Finally, finally, slowly but surely, the house is coming under control!
elasait: (bah humbug)
2014-12-31 03:13 pm

Last day of 2014

Well, in about 9 hours (here) it will be 2015. We are actually party-hopping tonight, going first to a party at our friend Rhianwen's house, and then heading to the Thurman Grill for the owner's private NYE party.  We will go from about 25 minutes away to about 5 minutes away, and make the switch around 9:30 when the number of drunks out and about should still be minimal.  Social butterflies are us.

Looking back at the year:  well, I made a HUGE life change in retiring.  So far, so good.  I have yet to achieve the daily routine I still envision, but I am making headway.  The biggest thing is the cooking.  I now expect and plan that I will cook at least 3, and usually 4, dinners per week.  Considering that I had done nothing more than occasionally heating up something in the microwave for about two years, that's a big change!  My feeling about cooking is that I don't love it, so I will probably always be drawn to the make-it-simple type of recipe, but I don't hate it either, at least not when I have time to do it.

The exercise plan has been sporadic.  I was going great guns until the Ireland trip, and then had lots and lots of trouble getting back into the swing.  Today marks the third day in a row that I've done 300 calories on my Fitdesk (which is basically a small stationary bike designed to also have a platform for a laptop or whatever so you can exercise and web-surf or whatever at the same time).  I also have spent an hour or so on Wii Fit each of the last two days.  That might not happen today as I have to pick the spousal unit up from work--the temp this morning was a balmy 14 degrees Fahrenheit--and I've been doing Wii Fit in the late afternoons.

The voluteering has happened.  I work one morning a week at the cat shelter, and roughly one day a month at the miniature museum.  The substitute teaching will resume in the new year, most likely.  I'm not excited about getting out in the cold to go to work.  On the other hand, if I work 24 days between now and the end of school, my health insurance premiums for the  period of September 2014 to August 2015 will be more than covered!

The house stuff isn't progressing as fast as I'd like, for which I have only my procrastinating ways to blame.  I need to empty the third floor, and my goal of spending about 90 minutes a day up there hasn't been happening.  Also, I am not doing all the handicrafts or reading all the books.  So those three areas are definitely on the list for improvement in 2015.

I have taken a drawing class, as I said I would.  I'm going to take a knitting class next month, and probably some other classes.  I'm looking into finding a yoga or pilates class meant for old stiff fat people, as well.  Need to get busy with the French language software, too.

Life is good, I just waste too much time on the computer.
elasait: (bah humbug)
2014-12-14 08:12 pm

Random observations from the world of Elasait:

1.  Um, I know that it is culturally unacceptable to speak ill of the dead.  I refuse to be a hypocrite.  Everyone is a blend of good and bad, and even a stopped clock is right twice a day  However, not everyone who dies was good folks.  While I can't think of anyone I currently wish would die (I have wished various peope would die over my lifetime), i will not toast someone whose death I don't mourn.

2.  In retirement, I want ALL THE HANDICRAFTS!!  There are a couple of problems with this, to wit:  (a) I now have the illusion of unlimited time, and (b) I really should pick a single handicraft and stick to it until I actually finish a project.  My unfinished-projects bag would be a closet.

3.  I can has SCA grandbabies!  I have a protogee'  who just reproduced for the second time, and a proto-protogee' who is about to reproduce for the second time.  Both of them have two-year-old daughters  I have spent years trying to figure out how I could have grandchildren without having gone to the trouble and expense of actually rearing children.

4.  We have a new downstairs bathroom, a contractor we really like, and in a month or so he will do the rewiring (and adding ceiling fans) of the third floor, assuming I empty the third floor of its stuff.  That means I can have the sewing and craft room of my dreams, or some version thereof that fits into the roughly 12 by 10 space.  I have been pinning lots of stuff on Pinterest.  I need a number of areas:  office/computer, sewing/quilting, jewelry, needle felting, yarn storage, thread storage (embroidery), fabric storage...Lots of ideas.  The contractor can build shelves and cabinets too, if I decide to go that route; other alternatives are kitchen cabinetry or waiiting until IKEA opens here next fall, or using one of the closet companies (though they are more expensive).

5.  Bought a book at Half Price Books today.  It is about combining patchwork with embroidery (mostly cross stitch) on projects.  I LOVE this idea!  I want to do patchwork, and I've always enjoyed cross stitch, and I have a ton of cross stitch patterns and quilt patterns, and now I have lots of ideas for projects combining these two enthusiasms.

6. I have begun to cook.  I will never be a chef, because while as a person with time I don't hate cooking, neither do I love it..  The process of cooking is, to me, one of those things like making coffee, feeding the cats, etc.--it has to be done, and it's not obnoxious, but neither do I care to extend the process any more than necessary.  My favorite cookbooks are still of either the "30 minutes or less" variety, or--now that I have time to put them together at the appropriate time--crock-pot cookbooks..

7.  In general, retirement is awesome.
elasait: (too_old)
2014-08-17 03:08 pm

Exercise

So one of my goals now that I no longer work for a living is to become more physically fit, hopefully losing a good bit of poundage in the process.  In the interest of trying to find exercise I might actually do on a regular basis, I discovered something called a Fitdesk.  It's essentially a small stationary bike, but set up with a desk on it so you can put a laptop on it and exercise while you are on the computer.  Given that I am capable of spending hours a day on the computer, I read reviews (mostly very favorable) and told the spousal unit I was going to order one.

(Side note, they aren't exactly cheap although compared with a lot of home exercise equipment they aren't too bad.  I was able to locate an on-line discount coupon that acquired the thing for $270, free shipping.)

To my surprise, the man actually thought this was a good idea.  So I ordered it.  It arrived during the pre-Pennsic preparation fury, so I dragged it into the dining room where it would not be in the way of our staging area, and didn't bother opening it until this past week.  The spousal unit put it together Friday night and yesterday--it isn't simple, and beyond my technologically-declined skill, though he said it really wasn't difficult.  First obstacle--there's a little plastic drawer that goes under the desk surface, and one of its tracks was broken.  Okay, the reviews had said the company had great customer service, so I emailed them yesterday.  I got a personal reply within two hours--on a Saturday, no less--promising to send out not one, but two replacement drawers first thing Monday morning!  Why two, I'm not sure, but whatever...

Anyway, on the experience of two days' use, this just might work well for me.  I waste a lot of time on the computer, surfing the net and playing solitaire, and I've spent the last two days doing a fairly extended session on it.  I can work up a sweat and an elevated heart rate, and according to its calorie counter I burned 200 calories yesterday and 257 today.  This is time I would have burned maybe 10 calories normally, so this is all to the good.  It's quiet and while there is a strap to secure the laptop, it doesn't jiggle at all as far as I can see.  The only problem so far is the seat is not at all comfortable.  This may be partly a matter of acclimatization, but I'm not convinced that's all of it.  I tossed a sheepskin on top of it and that helped a little, but I bet I can acquire some kind of bicycle pad.  Good point:  once I'm on it, even when I'm tired, my tendency is to keep pedaling because it feels natural to do so!

It seems to be a good idea so far.  I'm not reliably walking in the park or using the Wii Fit (and when I do Wii Fit I tend to really like some of the balance games, which aren't nearly as calorie-burning as some of the other activities, so this might help.  And since I'm burning time on the stupid laptop anyway, this will utilize that time for something not completely unproductive.
elasait: (Hepburn)
2014-08-14 12:36 pm

Retirement so far

So, I retired at the end of the 2013-14 school year.  To replace me, they offered the job to an early childhood center teacher who is a central administration pet and has never taught gifted before.  She is working on certification.  This may or may not go well, long-term--in my experience you really have to have a true passion for working with this population in order to really succeed in the field.  My morning spent with her leaves me uncertain whether she actually has that or not--can't tell, insufficient evidence.  One thing is for sure, she will have to learn how to talk to 4th and 5th graders.  (Hint:  not the same way you talk to 4-year-olds.)

None of that, of course, is my problem now.  I have spent my time since June 3 doing what I normally do on summer vacation:  Getting ready for Lilies, going to Lilies, messing around not getting much accomplished for a couple of weeks, doing a frantic Pre-Pennsic sewing/fighter biscuit frenzy, going to Pennsic, getting home from Pennsic, and--this is where it diverges, as I am not returning to work.  Still, back when school started at a sensible time instead of less than halfway through freakin' August, I occasionally had as much as a week off between Pennsic and going back to work, so I imagine in another week or so I will feel well and truly retired.

My prediction on my pension was correct:  I got my first check July 31 (really an electronic deposit) and it is $103 more than I netted during the last school year.  Now, we have to put me on the spousal unit's health insurance effective September 1 which will cost about $220 (in pre-tax dollars), but I also let the housekeeper go, for a savings of $90 a week, and the spousal unit dropped his $54-a-month parking pass.  He usually rides his bike to work--as in, maybe 3 days in the last 2 months he hasn't--and if he can't ride due to weather, physical ailment, or distant doctor's appointment, I can drive him to work and pick him up.  So I expect our finances to work out just fine even without the planned reduction in eating-out bills (which has not materialized yet).

I am doing the housework now, though not as ambitiously as is my intent.  I've cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen on a semi-regular basis, and vacuumed once or twice.  Since I really, really like schedules, my theoretical schedule is one room/area a day, for up to 90 minutes, which takes me through the whole house in 9 weekdays and the 10th weekday is for doing whatever the hell I want.  (I am currently refusing to acknowledge the basement as part of the house.)  I am also occasionally exercising--that needs to become daily, and is likely to as soon as the spousal unit has time (this weekend) to put together a purchase I made.  It's called a Fitdesk and it is a modest stationary bike with a suitable platform to hold a laptop computer.  What this means is that when I'm wasting time on the computer I will also be exercising, and when I get too tired to further pedal I will get off the damned computer.

So far the coolest thing about retirement is being able to schedule appointments without regard to time of day.  I've always had to schedule non-summer appointments for as late in the afternoon as possible.  No more!

The other coolest thing is that I'm taking a drawing class at the community college (the continuing-ed type, not the for-credit type) for six weeks in late October and November from 9:30-noon on Tuesdays.  9:30 till noon.  On Tuesdays.  And I can do this!

I have also discovered the puzzle page of our daily newspaper, which I barely glanced at before this summer.  This week, so far, I have completed all the Sudoku puzzles--they rise in difficulty as the week progresses, and I'd never done past Tuesday before, but today is Thursday and I finished it as well as the others this week!  Tomorrow I'll see if I can do the Friday one.  They also have the kind of puzzles I used to call hinky-pinkies with the kids--two rhyming words with a clue.  A very simple example would be "overweight feline" which equals fat cat.

Things I want to accomplish most every weekday that I'm not either volunteering or subbing:

The day's allotted housework
Exercise--at least an hour
The Project of the Moment--currently, that is reorganizing/developing some playlists for my MP3 player, Horatio II, which I hadn't done anything with in ages.  The next Project of the Moment will be clearing stuff out of the craft room and then the other 3rd floor room, so we can get that floor rewired to support technology and portable air conditioners, and can then transfer our office up there to the new Man Cave and Woman Cave, respectively.
Reading for leisure--I have done more of that since June 3, I've finished about 4 books which is kind of a record for me recently.
An hour or more of working on a Handicraft.  Handicrafts are those things which I really enjoy doing but tend to snarl up in some incomprehensible way.  Most of them involve thread in some form or fashion.

I won't be subbing much.  First of all, I am only allowed to work 550 hours per school year for a system that pays into the Public School Retirement System.  That works out to be about 73 days per year.  Second of all, they won't call me nearly that much.  The district last year went on an automated system and got the bright idea that it would not allow teacher requests so that "everyone who signs up to sub gets called regularly".  Of course, some of the people who sign up to sub aren't worth jack, and don't deserve to get called regularly, but that's indicative of current administrative thinking, which is the single biggest reason I'm sitting here typing this at 12:35 PM instead of at school getting my program ready to roll.

And one benefit of retirement so far:  My stress level?  Almost nonexistent.  Every day is a good day!
elasait: (too_old)
2014-01-07 04:45 pm

I'll be damned...

The weather forecasters nailed Snowpocalypse for once.  It started several hours later than they originally predicted (which was okay since we had plans Saturday night for a gathering with friends which we were able to carry out, since the snow didn't start till after midnight), but we ended up getting major snow--at least for this area.  The official total at the airport was something like 10.8", and a National Weather Service employee measured 12.5" in the city park a block from my house.  Then the bottom fell out of the thermometer and it got down to something like 8 below zero (Fahrenheit, not Celsius) Sunday night, warmed to around minus one yesterday, and went back down to about minus four last night.  Right now, it's a balmy 23 degrees outside, and only supposed to drop a few degrees overnight.  Tomorrow it's supposed to almost reach freezing.

Yes, I realize that in some places this kind of weather is called "January".  But I don't live in those places.  The last time the high was below zero in St. Louis was 1989, and we rarely get a foot of snow all at once.  School was called off yesterday and today, though I fully expect we'll go back tomorrow.  Some of the districts that are more hilly and have buses might still close, but not the little mid-county ones.  Though the side streets here in the city are still awful.  Still, I was able to clear most of the snow off my van, get it out of its parking spot, drive around the block, and re-park without difficulty.  Here in the city, garages are rare--we have one but the garage door doesn't work--so lots of people park on the street.  The city says it will treat residential streets with chemicals now that it's warm enough for them to work, but won't plow the side streets because then people will be stuck again.

I'm okay with the snow days--it leaves me stuck, still, at 93 more contract days, but on the other hand I didn't have to try and get the car out in sub-zero weather.  Pretty much nobody seemed to be going anywhere yesterday--even the spousal unit got a snow day--but today most places that weren't schools seemed to be business as usual.  And the forecast claims that by Sunday, highs will be in the upper 40s and it won't go below freezing.  If you don't like Missouri weather, wait five minutes.

We had our two inservice days last week.  The "curriculum day" was used by everyone I talked to, including me, to get stuff ready for this (now shortened) week; the "technology day" was one of the bigger wastes of time I've experienced.  Its purpose was basically to (a) show us how to do things with Gmail, which the district is switching to as of July 1, and (b) sell people on various Google apps.  Since, coincidentally, my official first day of retirement is July 1, I had a reason not to be interested, but other teachers at my table also said they got little out of it.  For one thing, getting between 60 and 120 people in a single room trying to use a less-than-robust wireless network is kind of a recipe for disaster!

So, regular readers may remember that I rejoiced when Dr. Pointy-Hair, the former superintendent, retired and was replaced by the assistant superintendent, a reasonable-seeming man.  From what I am hearing, power has gone to his head and he is trying to be Dr. Pointy-Hair The Second.  Weird stuff is happening.  Most of it doesn't involve me, and that which sort of does or could I can pretty safely ignore at this point, but I am regretting my decision not at all now.

On the SCA front, it looks like we might be able to go to Pennsic this year for war week.  The spousal unit appears to have enough vacation time to cover that as well as his dad's 90th birthday, Lilies, and our two weeks in Ireland beginning at the end of September.  This makes me very happy...I loves me some Pennsic!
elasait: (grr)
2014-01-02 09:33 pm

And have a very cold New Year...

Holidays are over.  Shortest Christmas break in years, but I guess I won't worry too much about that since it's my last Christmas break.  We did get an extra hour--it snowed 3 inches or so overnight, and the superintendent emailed us last night and said instead of showing up at 8:00 today for curriculum planning, we could come in at 9:00.  I'd have been happier about that if I'd checked my email last night, as I intended to do, and so had known before the alarm went off at 5:15 that I could have slept an extra hour.  Oh well.  Oddly, nobody said anything about us having to make that hour up, at least not in my hearing.

It's going to be coooooooolllllllld for awhile here.  Tonight the low is supposed to be around 1.  That's Fahrenheit, not Celsius.  Then it's going to warm into the upper 30s/low 40s by Saturday afternoon, then snow Saturday night into Sunday--some forecasters are muttering about six inches or more.  Of course, I'll believe that when I see it--if I had a dollar for every time Snowpocalypse was supposed to happen here in the Greater Lou, and didn't, I could go out to a quite nice restaurant for dinner.  But then starting Sunday night, lows below zero and wiind chills way below zero.  I wonder if we'll have a wind chill day Monday or Tuesday?  We haven't had one of those in awhile.  But they say the last time it was officially below zero here was fifteen years ago.  I didn't realize it'd been that long, but then we don't usually get the super-deep freeze this far south.

I have been rereading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I finished the trilogy last night and started on the dreaded Appendices.  This time I want to read them all, every word of them, precious, and also the Silmarillion, which I've never actually read.  A combination of the Hobbit movies and going through the radio play with a fine-tooth comb for my fifth graders caused me to want to read the entire schmear.  (No, we haven't gotten to the 2nd Hobbit movie yet, so no spoilers, please and thank you.)

Today I composed the letters I will send to staff and to parents next Wednesday.  That is the day I'm at both schools, so I can also call all my kids in and tell them I'm retiring.  The Board of Ed got my letter at their Dec. 17 meeting.  I have had no response, but never having retired before I don't know if this is SOP or not.  Doesn't really matter, I suppose...Lincoln freed the slaves, and nobody can say I'm not giving proper notice.

Despite the fact that I KNOW they are somewhere in this house, I was unable to locate either our marriage license or the spousal unit's birth certificate, so I had to send for new ones. Were I not a good, loving wife who wants the spousal unit to have a survivor benefit in the statistically unlikely event that I should predecease him, these documents would not be necessary--only my own birth certificate, of which I have not one but two copies.  But I am a good, loving wife, so I will await the arrival of the missing documents.  Once they arrive I shall file my retirement application with PSRS.  Then there will be nothing left to do but wait for the end of April to roll over my retirement savings account to buy more of my Arkansas years.  It's currently looking like I can get about one and two-thirds from it, and the other question will be do I want to buy more with the "windfall" money I'll get or do I want to use that money to do house stuff?

Now we come to the bad part of the year.  I don't really like the dark time of year, but holiday lights get me through December.  January and February tend to be the pits.  I know what you're thinking:  "And you want to live in the British Isles?  Not just the sharpest tool in the shed, are you, honeybunch?"  Yeah well, in my dream world I would spend a couple of weeks someplace like the south of Spain every late January.  If we don't retire to Ireland, then I suppose a Caribbean island will do.

Enough--I must go read more of the Appendices before I lose sight of my goal.  Especially since my Amazon gift card has brought me several other things I want to read.
elasait: (boo)
2013-10-20 04:32 pm

October update

This weekend has been gorgeous--an example of the best fall weather Missouri can offer.  Most of the leaves aren't turning yet, but it's sunny and not too cold.  Today the spousal unit and I went walking in the Botanical Gardens--and finally located the brick I bought with Ellen Redlock's name on it.  It was a deal for a $500 donation, payable in installments of $25 a quarter, which seemed absolutely do-able to me a good 7-8 years ago when the gardens called and asked if I wanted to do it.  I wanted there to be something, somewhere, with her name on it, and now there is.  I think she would like the location.

Parent-teacher conferences are this Tuesday and a week from Monday.  These will be my second-to-the-last parent-teacher conferences ever, woohoo!  I have told the superintendent and the principals that I am retiring...unfortunately, it seems I still get an evaluation this year.  Well, fair enough, after talking to the superintendent about timing, I'm not turning in my letter to the Board of Education until December, and until I've done that, I haven't really resigned.   I do hope I can persuade them that making a portfolio is not high on my current priority list--the portfolio isn't due till February, and by then it will definitely be official--I'll have told my families and the rest of the staff at both schools in January, after we come back from winter break.  In any case, I have either 135 or 136 days left that the alarm clock will go off at 5:15.  This makes me happy.

The spousal unit this weekend expressed a desire to possibly fight in Crown next spring.  I had thought we were done with that.  I pointed out that, if he wants to do this, we need to up our activity level somewhat between now and March; he isn't sure he wants to do that, so it's still under discussion.  I'm pretty sure we would not be refused entry, given our historical activity level (and we did go to both Lilies and Pennsic this year), but I personally don't think we're really active enough right now to be going for Crown.

Baseball!  I'm a Cardinals fan, and we're going to the World Series!  Hopefully we will get revenge on Boston for 2004, when we last met them in the WS and they swept us.  It's amusing to read about how the Cardinals have become the team everyone loves to hate.  It's a successful organization that believes in fundamentals and teamwork, and a number of other managers have been quoted as saying that if you want to build a good baseball team, you should look at the way the Cardinals organization is run.  Part of that is that there are no grandstanders on the team--no A-Rods or Puigs.  The management won't stand for it.  I like living in Cardinal Nation, and the supposedly more modern and sophisticated fan bases can just deal.  Haters be hatin', and all that.

I'm delighted that my protegee' Ailith got a well-deserved Cross of Calontir at Gryphon's Fest at the end of September!  I gave her a medallion I had bought but didn't wear--it's amber, an inverted square with the cross of Calatrava carved on it.  I thought she would like it, and apparently I was right.  It's fun to see your kids make good. :)

I just developed a lapful of cat, so I think I'll stop typing now.
elasait: (Pythagorean)
2013-09-05 08:58 pm

Life in my last school year

So.  Yep, I've decided to do it.  This will be my last year teaching.  If I had any doubts originally, both the principal of That Other School and the assistant superintendent have managed, multiple times in the first three weeks of school, to remind me of why 28 years is enough.

That School has a new principal, and so far she seems okay--though I have to admit I haven't had a great deal of contact with her.  When she sent out the email today about making our appointments with her to discuss our Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP, commonly referred to as the Ippy-Dippy), she included the new evaluation the state is going to starting next year.  She said that, while we're not using it this year, we should probably be thinking in those terms.  I read through it and thought, man, I am really glad that this particular piece of educational gobbledy-gook has no relevance to my life. :)

I plan to email the superintendent's secretary tomorrow and ask her how I can set up an after-school appointment with him.  We started nearly a month ago; I think it's high time I shared my big news with him.  Besides, my goal for the year is incredibly clear and definite to me--but it does not translate into a politically correct Ippy-Dippy, so the sooner we stop pretending I care about that nonsense, the better.  The goal is this:  I plan on having as much fun as I can this year and spreading it to the kids as much as I possibly can.  I have a lot of great kids who are lots of fun when I let them be (with a couple of exceptions), and this is the year I have resolved not to sweat the small stuff.  And, frankly, Common Core standards, Next Generation Science Standards, the Seven Habits of Happy Kids, and all the other crap that the administration is emphasizing this year is just that:  small stuff.

I think it will be a great year.  By the way, I have 167 contract days left.
elasait: (Knotwork kitty)
2013-04-20 02:56 pm

The Ring of Beara, and a bit of the Ring of Kerry

More travelogue:

Ring of Beara and driving to Doolin )
Next installment:  Erich and Elasait's Excellent Seagoing Adventure
elasait: (Knotwork kitty)
2013-04-14 06:04 pm

Days three and four: Driving in Ireland and Glengarriff

To continue my travelogue of our Ireland trip:

Cut because I waxed long... )
On Wednesday we did the "Ring of Beara" which we have been assured is (a) every bit as gorgeous as the Ring of Kerry, and (b) definitely not filled with tour buses as they can't get down the roads.  I believe both of these statements to be true, but I'll write about the Ring of Beara later.
elasait: (Knotwork kitty)
2013-04-13 02:55 pm

Ireland, part one: Dublin

So, we traveled to Ireland on my spring break (March 23-April 1).  It was a fine, fine trip.  As with most first-time-in-a-country trips, there are things we learned that we will put to better use next time, but overall, it was most satisfactory.

We flew into Dublin on the morning of the 23rd.  Our flight arrived without incident, landing at the scheduled time of 8:50 in the morning.  Our hotel offered a free shuttle, which had to be booked in advance, to and from the airport, at two-hour intervals; being worried that either (a) the flight would be delayed, or (b) it would take awhile to get through Customs, I had booked the noon shuttle to the hotel.  Well--Dublin qualifies as an "easy international airport", or at least it does in late March.  We got through Customs in about 3 minutes, and it was a very short walk to get into the main area of the airport.  We could easily have caught the 10:00 shuttle.  But, oh well--instead we had a leisurely Irish breakfast, picked up some tourist guidebooks (free) for the parts of the country we were visiting, and took extensive advantage of their free Wi-fi.

The hotel, the Celtic Lodge, was a couple of blocks north of the Liffey, a 10- to 15-minute walk from things like Trinity College and the museums. When we got there, the lovely young lady at the desk told us our room wasn't quite ready, and suggested we go to the pub two doors down (also owned by the hotel) and get a drink and that it would be ready in about the time it took us to finish a pint.

The spousal unit laments that Ireland is a "beer wasteland".  He's not wrong, though the atmospheric pubs make up for it.  In your typical Irish pub, you will always find Guiness, and usually something like Smithwick's, but the Smithwick's isn't very good, really.  There is also an assortment of big-brew lagers.  Sometimes there will be another stout--Murphy's or Beamish.  Guinness in Ireland is only marginally better than Guinness in the U.S.--it's drinkable, but not exciting.  Spoiled as we are by the "real ale" scene in Britain and the amazing craft beer scene in St. Louis, it is true that this aspect of Ireland lags.  We did find a craft brewery in Dublin--the Porterhouse--that had one beer on cask and a nice assortment of their own stuff; we also found that one of the pubs in Doolin had a couple of craft brews, and there's a new, very nice brewery in Lisdoonvarna, about six miles from Doolin, with three of its own beers (it's housed in a pub that has been in existence since the 1850s).  I hear the beer scene in Cork is pretty good as well, but in the tiny village of Glengarriff, where we spent 3 nights and with which I'm in love, not so much.

That, however, is the only bad thing about Ireland, and it's an easy weekend trip to England, so I'm inclined to disregard it.  Besides, we wouldn't be retiring there for at least 7 years, and I know the scene here in St. Louis has changed dramatically in that time, so who knows?

We spent the weekend in Dublin--on Saturday, after settling into our room, we went to Trinity College to see the library.  Of course the Book of Kells--or the two pages of it on display--is a huge deal.  They have it well curated--there are backlit panels on the walls featuring enlarged illuminations from the BoK as well as lots of info on its production and the history surrounding Irish manuscripts, and a couple of other similar-but-less-famous pages are on display as well.  I quite enjoyed that, but then you go up the stairs into the Long Room.  The Long Room, for those unfamiliar with it, is home to 200,000 of Trinity College's oldest books.  No, I did not insert an extra zero.  200,000.  All in a single room (albeit you could fit most of my house into that room).  Smell of old leather and old paper all around.  Books upon books upon galleries of books.  This?  Is a bibliophile's wet dream.  I found myself almost in tears, I was so moved.  It's hard to explain the profound effect it had upon me.

Our first afternoon also included walking around a bit, with dinner in what was supposed to be a brewpub but wasn't really, although it had decent food and beer.  We discovered that the most common sport on Irish TV seems to be rugby, which I know little about but which was rather fun to watch.  Then we went back to our hotel room--there was live traditional music at the pub two doors down starting at 9:30, and we figured we needed a good nap in order to go for some of it.  We got a two-hour nap, very briefly considered not going out, but forced ourselves to do so--and were awfully glad we did.  There was a band from Galway doing mostly traditional music from 9:30-12:30.  They were quite good and, to our shock, we stayed for the entire show.  Then promptly at 12:30 they stopped playing, the pub workers called last call, the lights came up, and while you're allowed a half-hour to finish your last drink, they weren't encouraging lingering--as soon as a table was vacated, the staff swooped down on it, wiped it clean, and put up the stools on top of the table!  Kind of amusing, and we weren't really inclined to want to do anything else, being jetlagged and all that.  We bought the band's CD.  Disappointingly, it is mostly modern rather than traditional music.  Oh well.

On Sunday, it was bright (cloudy on Saturday but not rainy) but very cold.  In fact, it was cold during our entire trip--people kept telling us it hadn't been a cold winter, but that this cold was very unusual in late March.  Since we just missed the foot of snow that fell that Sunday in St. Louis, we reassured the Irish that it was okay, the weather at home was unseasonably wintry also.  In killing time until the National Museum opened (it's only open from 2:00-5:00 on Sundays) we went to Dublinia, which is sort of Dublin's version of Jorvik in York, only not quite as good.  Dublinia covers Viking and medieval Dublin.  We expected, and found, absolutely nothing there that we didn't already know--it's really geared for kids in a lot of ways--but walking into model houses and such is kind of cool.  There was a boy of about 10 years old, explaining to a woman, presumably his mother, about all the exhibits.  From what we heard, he was very knowledgeable and she was not--it was entertaining.  Also, there was one area, the medieval-village section, where about the time you read about the smells and hygiene habits of a medieval town, I noted that either the other family in the area hadn't showered recently, or (more likely) Dublinia was giving you a noses-on olfactory experience!

From Dublinia, we went to one of the Porterhouse's three brewpubs in Dublin, and had lunch with a tasty cask beverage.  Then we went to the National Museum of history and archaeology.  Three hours wasn't nearly long enough, of course, but there's lots of really, really excellent stuff there. An amazing collection of gold jewelry from pre-Christian Ireland, much Norse and medieval stuff, including some great amber necklaces--and the Shinrone Gown, which I almost missed!  I've thought about trying to make this gown a few times--I doubt I ever will, but seeing it in person was, of course, exciting, even though they were near closing time and I didn't get to spend much time looking at it.

We spent Sunday evening in a different Porterhouse brewpub.  At this one, we sat at the bar and had more of the same cask ale, then tried samplers of their other products.  The friendly barkeep told us they usually have two or three casks on, but St. Patrick's Day had wiped them out.  As we heard something similar in Doolin, we've concluded that the story sometimes perpetrated in the U.S. about St. Patrick's Day being mostly a religious holiday in Ireland is so much bunk.  It's quite likely that the American celebration traveled back across the pond as Irish returned from America, in the same way that I'm told music sessions spread to Ireland from Irish outposts in the diaspora, but it is a big deal there, too.

On Monday, we got up, had another excellent Irish breakfast served by the Celtic Lodge, and took their free shuttle back to the airport, where I'd reserved a rental car for the non-Dublin portion of the trip.  Yes, I know it's cheaper to rent outside of the airport, but that would have required navigating city streets in Dublin, and there are times when it's just easier to pay the premium.  As we decided, also, to upgrade to an automatic transmission and buy the full insurance, so we could have a worry-free trip.  We'd also already requested a GPS--the combination of these three factors, while making the car rental rather more expensive than I'd counted on, contributed to making it much easier for me to do my share of the driving in Ireland!

Will post next about Southwest Cork, where we spent the next three days and to which I plan to retire...
elasait: (teacher voice)
2013-03-19 09:56 pm

Not that I'm complaining, mind you...

...but when your four solid hours of parent-teacher conferences don't include any of the parents you really have things to say to, the entire evening becomes an attempt to find multiple ways to say "Your kid is freaking awesome."

Principal at School B and I disagree on the use of commas.  Must look up comma rules to see whether I'm right or not.  Just for my own satisfaction.  If she wants a comma, she gets a damn comma.

234 days (contract days, that is) until I'm a free woman.  Not that I'm counting.

In 72 hours we should be landing in Dulles.  Hopefully there are no delays as our between-flight time there is only an hour.

The weather here during spring break sounds miserable.  I'm glad--if it were going to be in the 70s I might have a tiny twinge of regret about spending the week in Ireland, where it won't top 50 until our last day there.   Only a tiny twinge, you understand, but still.

The idiots in the MO legislature have returned to their villages for legislative spring break.  I wish they would stay there.  The fun bills about teacher tenure, teacher retirement (one of the idiots wants to change it to a defined contribution program starting in 2014, which would pretty well wreck it for those of us who have paid into the defined-benefit program), and deciding that Missourah shouldn't be followin' Common Core 'cause, well, you know, federal control and communism and science and all that!  While I have my issues with Common Core (for those of you not in the know, which is probably anyone not teaching in the US, Common Core is proposed national standards, only they aren't national really because states have to opt into them, except something like 47 states have), I don't really think the Missouri State Legislature is qualified to make curriculum decisions for the state's public schools.  Hell, the Missouri State Legislature is not qualified to make decisions on when to go to the bathroom.

Oh yeah, the usual suspects have filed the usual bills that would require creationism to be taught as science.  The real indictment of public education in this state is how many incredible dumbasses keep getting elected to public office.

And on that cheery note, I'm going to finish my beer and go to bed.
elasait: (too_old)
2013-03-02 03:29 pm

Decision made...I think

I think I have pretty much decided next year will be my last year of teaching.  Like my userpic says, I'm getting too old and too tired of all the changes, and I'm not sure I care too much for the new administration.  Most importantly, unlike previous times in which I didn't have much choice, this is shit up with which I don't have to put.  I will wait it out another year, because (a) I'm honestly not quite ready to make that kind of life change on so little notice; (b) next year the year before my last raise drops out of my retirement calculus (your pension is based on your three highest salaries, normally your final three years); and (c) Insert School District Here is going for a tax increase in April.  One of two things will happen with the tax increase:  either it will pass, or it will fail.  If it passes (which I don't really expect) we will get raises, which helps the retirement calculus a bit.  If it fails (which I think is more likely) then I think it is better than even odds that some sort of retirement incentive will be offered next year.

The incentive I'd like (and the one most districts tend to offer) is a few years of paid health insurance.  But, having confirmed with the spousal unit's employer that, yes indeedy, if I retire I can get added to his insurance for a third of the cost of keeping my own--well, that improved the retirement calculus a good little bit.

In other news, it is only THREE!  WEEKS!  UNTIL!  we go to Ireland.  Actually a bit less as we will fly out that Friday night.  Our agenda is:  Fly into Dublin on Saturday morning; spend two nights in Dublin; rent a car on Monday and drive down to the village of Glengarriff, which is on the southwest coast near Bantry; three nights in Glengarriff and seeing the surrounding countryside; then drive to the village of Doolin, on the west coast, and spend three nights there, hopefully enjoying Irish traditional music as the village is known for its pub sessions.  On Easter Sunday we drive back to the airport, drop off the rental car, and spend our final night in an airport hotel which nonetheless seems to be within walking distance of a couple of pubs, according to Trip Advisor.  Since it's Easter Sunday I don't know if they will be open, but we would have needed to stay at the airport regardless, as our flight home is at 9 a.m. on Monday.

And once we get home from Ireland, I need to preregister us for Pennsic, to which I get to go this year!  The school calendar has come out for next year, and while it is as obnoxious as ever, teachers don't have to report until the Thursday after Pennsic ends, because of the earlier date this year.  And in 2014, I fancy it won't matter what the school calendar does...I can still go if I want to.  Or take a shoulder-season vacation with the spousal unit--something we've never been able to do, except for the early-shoulder-season spring break trips.  The possibilities are endless, and by that time I will net more money staying home and collecting retirement than I would working.