Sunday, September 30, 2012


Once you start stenciling...

(Thanks for the idea, Lisa!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pockets of Yellow

My commute has turned spectacular. Here's just a sliver of it:

There are bursts of bright gold aspens all along the river that I follow up and down the mountain; and just in case I don't love this transition to autumn enough, there's a good and proper thunderstorm happening outside as I type.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Minty Memories

I ran to the grocery store yesterday so I could satisfy something I've been craving since I got sick last weekend:

Yes, weirdly, all I've wanted all week is leaves and hot water.

And now I'm sipping mint tea while blogging and coughing and sniffling.

I'm also being silently condemned for having a laptop in my lap instead of a cat, so if you'll excuse me...

Field Trip - The Three Musketeers

Friday afternoon I took my Advanced Drama class and a few extra theater-fond students to the Denver Center Theater Company to do an acting workshop and to see The Three Musketeers.

As I was setting up the workshop, the education department asked what topic I'd like them to cover.  "We could do fencing," they offered.  "Swashbuckling, you know?  In honor of the show?"

Oh, heck yeah.

The kids were ecstatic to try it, and behaved wonderfully.  They had a blast learned the moves (cut, parry, slash, and a few jump stunts), even if they used pool noodles instead of "real" swords.

The DCTC education staff always does a terrific job, and I especially love how well they know kids.  They treat them respectfully - never talking down when it comes to acting theory or script analysis - and yet they also know what the kids need after an hour of being very, very good with pool noodle swords:

One minute to "go nuts.  Just don't aim for the face."

After the workshop we walked up to the 16th Street Mall and found some dinner.  The rest of the group joined us (some of the kids had to miss the workshop for sports practice after school), and we walked back to the theater to see the show:

The show was nothing special, although the students in the group who had never been there before (about 3/4 of the group) were thoroughly impressed by the traps in the floor.  It was one of those times for me when a mediocre show was much improved by seeing it through the eyes of students who have never seen professional theater before.  They loved it, and I'm looking forward to discussing it with them in class tomorrow.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Please Wake Teacher for Conference

This is what I'm supposed to look like:

Photo Source

But this is more realistic:

Except with a redder nose, surrounded by tissues, and on a desk instead of a bed.
Photo source

This is not a fun cold.  This is the kind of cold that makes people who talk to me tsk-tsk with sympathy while slowly backing away. 

I had a glorious drug-induced nine hours of sleep last night after the first round of conferences, and I have three conferences to go before I get another glorious drug-induced nine hours of sleep.  Then just one more day of teaching and one field trip to get through before I can spend Saturday looking like this:

Photo Source

But in my imagination, I'll look like this:

Photo Source

Although, with the NyQuil, it may be more like this:

Photo Source

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


My Moroccan Shopping Buddy posted a comment requesting to see the rest of my purchases put to use. I didn't originally post pictures of my bedroom because I'm still undecided about the new colors:

I think the oranges and purples might be too warm, especially for a sleeping environment.  

If I do keep the pillows and spread, I definitely need new sheets since the blue you can see peeking out here just doesn't coordinate at all: 

But see that new carpet? See that lush carpet that's darker than I expected but still makes me go "Ahh..." every time I step on it?  That's good stuff.

This New House

This is not a fun cold, but I am still getting things done.  After making my traditional sick-day rice pudding with coconut milk and dried cranberries, I bundled and put away 20 packing boxes, swept, dusted, vacuumed, ran a few loads of laundry, and decided to take advantage of being home during daylight hours to take a few pictures of my remolded home.

(If you're interested, here is the blog entry showing my home as it was pre-flood.)

(My mom has a carpet-buying habit that none of us are inclined to intervene with,
especially when it results in her loaning me one of her extras....)
Living Room
Dining Room
Dining Room - Rug Focus
Bookcase in Dining Room
Other Dining Room Bookcases
(I'm torn on the giant Eric Carle book - I'm not that much of a fan to dedicate an entire shelf to it, but it is a really big book.)
Bookcase Near Entryway
The Music Room
The Music Room (now with giant tassel and Moroccan stencil!)

The New Dishwasher (Thanks, Parents!)
Trio of Angels with Stencil #2 on the Fireplace
Office Accent Wall in Desperate Need of Desk
(hence the remaining boxes) 

Some of you may be wondering why it took me so long to unpack.  I figured this was the chance to get organized again.  I'm talking sorting items into labeled plastic bins...
Christmas and Craft Storage

arranging food by type and by expiration date in now-walk-in-able pantry....
spending 20 minutes dividing nails and screws and such into mason jars...
Man, I love Mason jars!
... kind of organized. Aside from that one corner of my office and my garage (Poor garage!  You were going to be the cleaning project of the summer, but you got lost in the shuffle again!  Perhaps next year), I'm declaring my home done and ready for visitors.

I'm also declaring myself done and ready for a nap.  Stupid cold.

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's That Time of Year Again!

Illness has been creeping around behind the wallpaper lately.  Between the sniffly students and my contagious/drooling nephew and sister (only the former applies to the latter there), my two cold sores evoked little surprise on their arrival last week.  The cold proper hit me yesterday afternoon, but I was not sure whether the prolonged pre-sickness symptoms meant an easier illness or a brutal one.

Then during 2nd period I started running a fever, sniffling, sneezing, coughing... nope, not an easy cold this time.  I turned in the paperwork for a sub tomorrow, made plans, and hunkered down for the rest of the day with loads of hand sanitizer between the youth of America and myself.

Once released, I stocked up on juice, soup, and popsicles at the grocery store before heading home to change into my sick fleece ("sick" as in the giant shirt I save in my bottom drawer just for these illnesses, not "sick" as in awesome) (although it is, indeed, awesome).

I've got a little bit of work to do tomorrow, but mostly I plan on sleeping, paying attention to the cat, and prepping for three days of late nights at work.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reason Why I'm Single #37

Last week during one of our carpooling sessions Tiffany bragged, "I changed the lightbulb in my closet yesterday."

Now, I have learned a lot about Tiffany from these carpooling sessions.  John and I are not morning people; neither of us are terrific at conversing at 6 AM.  Tiffany does a great job keeping up a running monologue for the drive up the mountain while John snores in the backseat and I only need to contribute the occasional question or "Mmm...."  It works well, even if the minutia of her recaps sometimes amaze me.  This time, though, she had a point.

"I didn't wait for my dad or my boyfriend to do it," she said.  "I changed it all on my own.  And it was high up there.  I had to balance the stepladder on two chairs!"

Ah.  I was worried for a moment that she thought just changing a bulb on her own was an accomplishment.  Then again, I've never been good at being the "get the boyfriend to do it for me" type of girl.  This week alone I've repaired and reinstalled a washing machine, fixed a toilet, dealt with an overactive fire alarm, cleaned out and reassembled a robotic litter box, and stenciled two small walls, all without breaking a nail.  I congratulated her on the achievement, even while I was recalling my own choice of tactics for reaching too-high objects.

Shortly afterwards we passed a car with a flat tire on the side of the road.  "That's why I have AAA!" Tiffany proclaimed.  "I've never had to change a flat tire in my life."

"Huh," I said.  "I just change them myself.  It's not too hard."

She looked a little defeated.  "The bolts are hard to loosen," she said.

"I once got a flat on a date," I said.  "The guy stayed in the car while I changed it."

"Now that right there's a sign," she proclaimed.  On that point I had to agree.

Monday, September 10, 2012

On My Way Home

My "day off" was marvelously productive.  I stayed up until midnight Thursday cutting mats to fit under my rugs and opening all of the boxes that were sitting in my office.  I then got up promptly at 8 on Friday and dove in headfirst.  By 11 PM I had sorted, alphabetized, and shelved 18 boxes of books; stenciled a Moroccan pattern; talked with my insurance people, home mortgage people, and my bank people; run to the grocery store; repaired my washing machine; and generally tidied up.  Saturday was the Speech Coaches' Conference, which was fine but unremarkable.  Since it was out in the Ikea neck of the woods I swung by to look at desks (mine was broken in the cleanup) and coffee tables (my old one does not suit the new rug).  No buys, but I took a few photos of options to consider before running to Cafe Rio (also in that neck of the woods) and then heading home to stencil another part of the house.  Sunday was church (They only offended me twice!  Not bad!), framing pictures, and cleaning up a bit more.

Unbelievably, it's not done yet.  It's much, much closer; and yes, it probably would be done if I wouldn't spend so much time alphabetizing and rubber banding and sorting into plastic bins with labels and such.  But, oh, it's so satisfying to be completely organized!

So, despite some of your kind requests, no finished photos yet.  I still have a kitchen to sort out and a desk to find.  If you're interested, though, here are the stenciled bits:

In the music room.
Above the fireplace mantle. 
This one's trickier to shoot since A) the paint's lighter and B) I'm trying to shoot it at night.

Thursday, September 06, 2012


I haven't been sleeping well this month. I'm either up late working on my house or I'm lying in bed awake thinking of what I need to be doing for my house.  I haven't taken any sleeping pills for this for fear of the all-too-easy-to-miss 4:45 wake up, so instead I'm getting more and more stressed over less and less sleep.

Thus last night I was lying awake sweating (my AC is still broken) and stressing about all of the boxes I need to unpack, the phone calls I need to make, the bills I need to pay, and I was feeling pretty resentful of my job.  To be eleven years into a profession and to still make less than the majority of graduate degree level starting salaries... well, it's insulting.  It's likewise annoying that I can't pick up a second job to supplement my income during this time of need because of the crazy hours my primary job demands.  I couldn't even figure out when I was going to unpack my home because I have an all-day coaching conference Saturday and speech practices every afternoon starting Monday.  I want to be a teacher, but it just doesn't feel like a sustainable profession.

But then I thought of what I do have - I have 15 days of leave saved up, I have classes that are on autopilot with student-run projects through Monday, and I have a principal who announced on our first day back that we were going to a results-based work environment.  "Do a good job, make sure your students are learning, and that's all I care about," he said.  "Keep up the good results and do what will make you happy.  It might not be school-related, but if it makes you happy and it doesn't interfere with your results, do it. Take care of yourself."

I looked around my bedroom.  Even in the darkness I could see the stacks of boxes surrounding my bed; my work literally and figuratively looming over me as I tried to sleep.  What I need, I decided, is to have a home again.  I need a day to unpack, to fix my washing machine, to clean everything, to make phone calls during business hours, to gather documents and get them notarized, to sleep until I am done sleeping.  I need a day to get things done.

And so I'm taking one.  I submitted the request for a substitute.  I had my explanation all ready, my tale of flooding woe and the subsequent repairs on the tip of my tongue to offer when the secretary or the principal questioned my reasons for taking a day off when I was clearly not dying of the plague.  Except they didn't even ask.  They don't even care.  They trust me and treat me like a grown-up.  Go figure.

I had to skip lunch to get everything ready for a sub tomorrow, but oh, it's worth it.  Tomorrow I am going to clean and organize and put things away and make phone calls and do so many things that would otherwise take me a few weeks to cram into my schedule.

But first I am going to take a sleeping pill.

In Which Natasha Gradually Makes Her Way Out of the Closet

As of 7:30 last night, the workmen are officially finished!

The lockbox on my door is gone, the cans of paint and sheets of plastic are gone, the bottles of Gatorade and boxes of pizza in my fridge are gone, the need for me to find places to be other than home so they can do their work is gone, the white dust covering everything is... not gone.

But it will be soon! 

Monday, September 03, 2012

A Fiscal Diet

I am always much more inclined to set new goals in September than I am in January.  The resetting of a school year is just more befitting a time for experimenting and improvement than the beginning of a calendar year.

Often the goals center around finding a healthier balance, but they are not always school or work related.  For example, I went vegetarian for the month of September while I was in college, mostly because I wanted to see if I could do it.

As I write out checks for what I sincerely hope are the last payments for this whole flood fiasco and, consequently, see my bank accounts drained to nothing; I decided to give myself a new challenge for this September.  Could I go the entire month without spending money on anything other than food, household bills, and gas for my car?

Naturally, this is immediately put to the test when the soap dispenser in my bathroom broke upon my arrival home today.  Rather than running to Target for a replacement or to a hardware store to try to fix the broken spring I told myself sternly "Make do or do without!"

And so I shall.

A Short Trip

As soon as school let out on Friday I ran out to Grand Junction for the long weekend. Fully immersed in grandparenting, Mom and Dad tended Jack while Rachel and Ben were in San Francisco celebrating their 10th anniversary. The weekend was not exactly quiet with a two-year-old around who is fond of giggling, banging on the piano, and pointing out every single "truck!" but it was uneventful. Mom and I tried to put a dent in the fruit harvest by canning peaches and plums and by making jam. We went to church, we swam, we grilled, and I indulged further in my recent case of book bulimia (just finished #11 in the last 12 days).

This morning I packed up my suitcase, my cat, and several jars of fruit and made the trek back over the mountains. There was a bit of holiday traffic, but not nearly as much as I was dreading so I was only held up for about 45 minutes. I arrived home to find one of the painters still hard at work, his buddy home sick for the day. Eric told me that it will all be wrapped up tomorrow night. They're planning on putting the last coats of paint on tomorrow afternoon so they will be here when I get home from work. They will then move all of my furniture under my direction (although I did assure them that I would put the books back myself. They looked relieved at that) and clean the floors one last time.

Natasha's hiding out in my closet in the meantime. She's a bit freaked out, as you might imagine. Once the workmen are finished, though, I'll have the rest of the evenings this week to unpack and put my home back in order, so perhaps by next Friday she'll venture out.