Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Walking Walking Seems so Easy Now

It's been a busy week. I am fully aware that I have not been keeping up with the writing since I took the job on March 25. I'm having a hard time figuring out when to write. I can not reach Blogspot from my computer at work, so blogging for a few minutes during a break in the mania is not really an option.

hmm....that reminds me...I think there's a way to post via email. I should check into that.

There is not really anything I can say about work on the blog. Which is pretty sad because that's where the action is. But since my position is in Guidance, there is a lot of confidentiality involved and so that pretty much means I can't write about stuff there. I could maybe write about my interesting coworkers, but this community is so small that I'd worry that someone would find it.

I will tell you, however, about my first passive-aggressive act at the office.

We have a parking lot that is not large enough to accommodate every staff member. If everyone is there, the lot is full and some have to park in the driveway.

So when someone parked their brand new SUV in a space-and-a-third on Monday, I thought that was a little thoughtless. Since I was driving Mensa Boy's wearable car (buddy Tambri calls it my fashion accessory), I went ahead and parked in the little space that SUV left and was careful to leave enough room for everyone to maneuver.

However, when the same situation happened again yesterday, it seemed more like a deliberate act on the part of the other driver.

So I parked my little fashion accessory as close to the door of the SUV as I could.

Then I went on a stake-out. I was able to see the scenario from our suite and I hung around until 4, when most of the faculty leaves. I will here honestly admit I was hoping for some huge, fat woman. Although I couldn't think of any on the faculty.

Pretty soon an old, bald, limping man came out and squeezed himself in there.

I have to admit I felt a little guilty about that. But then this morning one of my coworkers told me the guy's limp was temporary. Caused by a car accident where he totaled his vehicle. Hence the new SUV.

Guilty no more.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Drinking Meeting

Interesting subject line.

drinkingmeeting
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Laundry Dreams

[darnit! I knew no one would take stuff out of the dryer. And here someone has left a kleenex in their pocket again. While I fluff the wrinkles out of these, I'll start a load of whites. For Pete's Sake! Why can't they shake the grass out of the socks before they put them in the basket? I guess I should just be glad they put them in the basket. Hey! Gimme that, you mangy cur! On second thought, here...let me open Taylor's door and you can deposit that pair of dirty underwear right on his bed. Hmm...I wonder if this shirt should be washed in hot? ach...what do I care? It's not mine.]

"Good morning and welcome to NPR news!"

stretttchhh. hmm...I wonder if I should start a load of laundry this morning? I don't think I need to. I think I'm all caught up.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Plan B

Yesterday was definitely a "Plan B" day. I started out here at my desk planning to do some benefit CDs for The Clevelands. But the internet service provider went down mid-way through my blog posting and never came back up all day.

So after wandering around aimlessly for a bit, I decided to do a little gardening. I'll get out there and shoot some photos this afternoon. I saw my neighbor digging around in hers and asked if she wanted to go plant shopping. She's always up for that! So we headed out to Pike's Nursery in Ballantyne.

What a gorgeous place! The plants are so well-cared for, too. I bought some Bee Balm, Japanese Anemone, Salvia, Summer Phlox, Spike Speedwell, a Dwarf Red Columbine, Lantana, and a plant called Jacob's Ladder. Those are all perennials. Then to get some color to look at now, I put in some annual Salvia and some Dianthus. The plants were about $30 all together, and then I bought a water wand for the hose. On Friday I'll go back for herbs for the herb pots. I've also decided to put in 3 or 4 tomato plants to supplement what I get from the farm and some chili pepper plants. I love dried chili peppers, and last year we really only got a handful from the farm. They are pretty plants too, so I'll put scatter them throughout the flower garden to add interest.

Every time I dig in this garden I'm so glad that I had my friend Steve prep it last fall. I don't even have to put soil conditioner in when I plant new stuff. And using a spade to dig the hole for the new plant is optional, too. It's so moist and loose I can pretty much just scoop out handfuls with my fingers.

The stuff I planted last summer is doing just okay. The Gardenias are really not coming up the way I'd like. Actually, most of them are not coming up. I think I planted something like a dozen of them, and I can only find 3. I had to excavate for those, too. The rest seem to just be gone. I'm having better luck with the Scabiosa and Coreopsis. I also had some Penstemin and Gaillardia, and I think I'm seeing some of that. The little Clematis I planted is doing really well and starting to climb the obelisk. But it needs a couple more to keep it company. I couldn't find any at the garden center yesterday. The stuff that really looks great is the Astilbe. Yesterday before planting the new stuff I "fluffed up" the entire garden and did a little gentle digging where I'd placed flags signifying new plants.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dog's Dinner

When Gordon Ramsay is criticizing a chef's dish on his show "Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares," he often will say "That looks like a dog's dinner."

Well, that's pretty much what we had last night. Actually, it was the dog's leftovers we had last night for supper.

Geriatric house guest Kelly still is suffering from some mild bowel upset, and not eating terribly well. I decided yesterday to make her a nice, easy-on-the-tummy meal of chicken and rice. Often I have chicken parts in the freezer..wings and necks that I drop into a gallon ziplock for making stock. But all of that was gone. So I went to the grocery store and picked up a $4 bird and simmered it up. After I made her a container of chicken and rice, I still had most of the bird, so made chicken and rice soup for the rest of us. Taylor was somewhat taken aback when I told him we were having Kelly's leftovers for supper!

Yesterday I also went to the school district office to become bona fide. Completed all the paperwork, waived all the insurance benefits and arranged for direct deposit. And finally found out what my salary is. It's pretty low for someone of my age and experience, but it's double what I've made the last couple of years as a freelancer and I'll only work 210 days a year. How can you beat that?

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Monday, April 07, 2008

it's all about poop

Not our dog this time. Sarah's. We are taking care of buddy Sarah's aged golden retriever, Kelly. She can not really go to the kennel anymore when they go out of town. The stress upsets her gastrointestinal tract and she ends up sick as a...well...you know...for several days. Sarah's husband Rick likened Kelly going to the kennel to taking your grandmother to the dorm. How appropriate!

Kelly's got an upset tummy this time anyway. She got into their puppy's food and the richness of it all caused her bowels to basically explode. She had been pretty clear by the time she arrived here yesterday morning, but she's not producing much solid waste...just small amounts of watery discharge. So I'm taking her out, then Bear out, then her out...feeding her, then Bear, etc. The gates are back up all over the house to make it easier to take care of them both. And we use them to separate the dogs so that she doesn't get into OUR puppy food!

She sleeps in Taylor's room. He let her up on the bed, he said, where she slept all night. But this morning when I went in to get her she was on the floor next to him. Kelly has quite a bit of hearing loss, so I had to turn lights on in the hallway, then open Taylor's door, to let her know I was there. I can see her startle sometimes when she's sleeping and I come around the corner or walk through a door. She's a very sweet dog.

Today I got a call from the school district. They are very sorry they have not contacted me before to take care of paperwork for the new job but apparently my file was in the pile of terminations! hmmmm

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Scholars Day

Yesterday we went to Erskine College for Scholars Day. I did not count how many students were there but it appeared be the entire class of incoming freshman.

We had a nice chance to hear from administration about life at Erskine while the students went to hear the same from current students. The administration made a point of assuring us that they will take care of our kids and give them individual attention. Class sizes are very small and the student:teacher ratio is 12:1. Total enrollment around 600. So it's easy to see how they are able to catch kids that are slumping.

Because the campus is out in the middle of nowhere, the campus has a ton of stuff for kids to do right there. Many of the students said they never lack for anything to do.

One thing the President said really stuck with me, and I hope it sticks with Nate when he hears it next fall at freshman orientation:

"You were a success in high school because you are bright. But at Erskine, everyone is bright. You will be a success here because you apply yourself."

Pretty cool. I sure hope he does!

I was impressed with the way Nate handled conversations with all the strangers. He maintained good eye contact (something I've not seen him do well before), and spoke politely and intelligently. Looking at him as he spoke to the music professor, I was impressed with his obvious engagement in the conversation and his open and interested body language. I was very proud. I'm also noticing that he's really a good looking kid! He's got a shy thing going on and those big brown eyes and the way he tilts his head down and looks up kind of through his bangs is simply adorable.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

"She's Daid!"

Yesterday I placed a call to a dead person.

Of course I didn't know until the gentleman who answered the phone told me. It's horrible to do that. All I could do was say "I'm sorry. I was calling about the scholarship offered by the Eastern Star."

Gulp. Couldn't I have left that second sentence out?

Anyway, I had to give the counselors a bit of grief for having me call a dead person. If this had happened Tuesday, I probably would have thought it was an initiation rite.

Today is the last day before Spring Break. The principal announced to the teachers that she would allow a dress down day (jeans) today. I'm wearing jeans, but I sure don't remember hearing an announcement or seeing an email telling us all we could. I can't imagine she'd let the faculty dress down and not the staff. We'll see.

Tomorrow Mensa Boy, Nate and I will go to Erskine College for Scholars Day. It's touted as being a day to recognize students for their academic achievements. You may remember that Erskine awarded Nate an $8,000 per year scholarship. I assume it's just the scholarship recipients that are invited. I'm looking forward to it, although we will be gone all day, so I imagine I'll be pretty tired tomorrow night.

A word about Erskine. And Winthrop University. And the University of South Carolina. Last week we saw the handwriting on the wall, telling us that Nate belongs at Erskine. It was handwriting we were very glad to see because it's Nate's first choice and MB and I loved what we saw of the institution last summer during our brief visit there.

The handwriting came in the form of financial aid letters from Erskine and Winthrop. Shortly after Nate received notice of his acceptance to Erskine, he got a letter telling him about the Garnet Scholarship. The day the letter came, I had just pushed the button to send the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). So they gave him this award without even seeing our financial situation. By the time all was said and done, Nate had an award letter worth $19,500 from Erskine, and only $3000 of it was a federal student loan. The rest is all free money (well, there's the work study).

We didn't hear from Winthrop until last week. They did not offer him any of their school money. They didn't offer him a federal work study program. All they put in the letter was the South Carolina HOPE scholarship and a bunch of federally-backed student loans. No grants.

Doing the math, it's actually going to be less expensive for Nate to attend Erskine, where the total bill will be almost $30k, than to go to Winthrop, where his bill would be about $20k.

USC? Nada. No letters.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Work, Shop, Sleep

That's about it. I get to the school at 7 a.m. to open the office. I work like a crazy woman all morning, and then go home to walk the dog, maybe eat lunch or maybe take it back to the office, work all afternoon, run some errands, cook supper, and then go to bed.

The body is very slow in adapting to the new lifestyle. Last week were a few painful days, paying the price of a sedentary, desk-bound job. But I've made a point to move around more. Probably the hardest part for me is forcing myself to get up and walk around when I have a pile of tasks on my desk. I tend to stick to something until it's done, not wanting to break off for fear I'll lose momentum. I think I'm figuring it out slowly now.

But I absolutely love the new job. It's great already knowing my coworker's names, and I'm learning students names every day. As a rule, they pretty respectful and very grateful when we are able to help them with transcripts and scholarship information, etc.

I have had a couple of funny incidents. Here is one of them that I wrote to my posse last week:

Three students came into my office and stood respectfully in front of my desk. I looked up and smiled.

"You ask her," one girl said.

"Are you Mrs. Paulson?" the middle girl said.

"Yup. That's me!" I replied.

"We were wondering when you are going to have cheerleading tryouts," she said.

"HUH?" I said.

"Cheerleading tryouts. The lady who had this job before was our cheerleading coach," the middle girl said.

Third student (guy) laughed nervously.

"Oh. I'm pretty sure I'm not your cheerleading coach," I told them. "Trust me. You DON'T want me cheerleading!"

The first girl turned to the others and said, "See? I told you that having a new person here wouldn't necessarily mean she'd do the coaching too!"

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