Tuesday, December 31, 2013


After a delightful Christmas, which I'll elaborate on later, I followed up with two of my annual holiday traditions - car repairs and illness!

I was planning on returning home today, but I came down with a nasty chest cold two days ago that's been a beast to shake.  I'm lucky enough, though, to be in a place with nice people who bring me juice and cough syrup and who don't mind a houseguest who sleeps all the time.

I also appreciate the timing of this - a lost voice and a wracking cough are not going to be options once school starts again.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Breather

Why, hello there, strangers!

My apologies for the long silence on this front.  As happens at this time of year, work exploded and I found myself with barely the time to breathe, let alone blog.  Happily, though, after far too many days packed so full that I fall asleep while eating a fast-food dinner three hours past my bedtime, the end of the term is in sight.

Today, for example, is a Teacher Work Day.  Even happier, it is a Teacher Work Day With No Scheduled Meetings.  This meant I got to wake up at the humane hour of 6:30, eat breakfast, wrap up a few projects at home, drive to school during daylight hours while admiring the trees in the canyon every one of which looks like it was perfectly dipped in white frosting, and tie up all kinds of end-of-the-semester loose ends.  I'm still at school, but I only have one recommendation letter to go before I run away for the rest of 2013.


As crazy as it's been, I do love accomplishing so many things.  Some of these accomplishments I can't show you yet, for they are Things To Be Revealed on Christmas.  I can tease you, though, with a sight like this project-in-process:

There's a treasure under those tomes!

Others I have been all too happy to document for your viewing delight.  Please to enjoy a partial list of accomplishments:

One - End of Term
As of yesterday, my classes are all finished and my grades are posted.  My speech class in particular this term bonded as a group.  They started referring to themselves as a "Speech Family" a few weeks ago and have bemoaned the end of the class since mid-November; so I made sure to plan time the last day for a proper "check out" session for them.  They shared many kind and generous words, a few tears, and a group hug.

Cute little buggers.

Two - Auditions
Despite all of nature and transportation conspiring against us, we managed to hold auditions and cast the musical!  After four years working together, Jesse, Rachel, and I have a pretty good system in place.  Each year Rachel prints out thumbnails of every auditioner's headshots and tabs of the roles so we can sort them visually as we discuss possible casting.

(No spoilers here - this is before we did any sorting)
With the biggest turnout yet, we wound up with an excellent cast.  We actually had choices for some of the leads roles!  I'm ecstatic to work with these kids on this play, and they're all psyched as well.

The snow-days put us three days behind schedule, so we only had time for two rehearsals before the break.  Last Thursday was slated for our first official read-through.  Sadly, Jesse and I also had a mandatory faculty meeting that afternoon.  We gave the materials to a couple of our seniors and asked them to keep everyone in the auditorium and under control until we got there.

Naturally, this was the faculty meet that ran 15 minutes longer than any other.  I was a bundle of anxiety by the time we were released, and as Jesse and I approached the back doors of the auditorium, we could hear the kids through the walls.

"That's not a good sign, is it?" I asked him.  He shook his head.  With visions of kids parkouring off the walls and balcony and running completely amok, we opened the doors and parted the curtains to find...

...the entire cast sitting in chairs in a circle on stage, sheet music propped up on music stands in front of them, singing along to the soundtrack for the show.

"You guys!" I exclaimed, dropping my bags and boxes in utter delight, "You're rehearsing?  Look at you!  You're rehearsing!  You are totally getting cupcakes for this!"

They cheered.  And so,

Three - Cupcakes
Mom talked me into getting knight-themed decorations at a darling cupcake shop near their office over Thanksgiving, assuring me that the students would deserve such a treat at some point during the show.  The cast earned them far sooner than I anticipated.  I spent Sunday afternoon making cupcakes for the cast for our last practice Monday.

They're pretty freakin' adorable, if I do say so myself:

They're also thematic.  Knight toppers for Spamalot, bones and red sprinkles for the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, "mud"  frosting for the scene with Dennis, and vanilla cake because England (and Mountain Town) is so white.

I thought about adding a bit of coconut as well, but I was worried about allergies.

They were greatly admired and quickly eaten.

Four - Field Trip

I took my Advanced Drama class downtown last week for a Day of Drama.  We started off with a workshop on stereotyping and bullying:

One group's tableaux

Then saw a matinee of Jackie and Me, a new play about Jackie Robinson.

The play was well-produced, if a bit fluffy.  My students loved it.  One of them is an avid baseball fan, and when he walked into the theater and saw the stage floor his jaw dropped.

The entire floor was painted with vintage baseball cards,
as you can see in this publicity still.
"You like it, Jeff?" I asked.

"I'm geeking out pretty hard, Waterhouse," he replied, without taking his eyes off the sight.

After a talk-back with the actors, we grabbed lunch on the 16th Street Mall, then headed back to the Theater Academy for a second workshop, this time about slapstick stage combat.

Playing Columbian Hypnosis

Practicing dying

I would have taken more photos of the combat itself, but the instructor pulled me in to partner with one of my students since we had an odd number.  Ryan took great delight in being taught how to punch, slap, and pull his teacher's hair and nose.

Five- Speech Meet

No photos this time, but we did go to another speech meet last Saturday.  At only 1.5 hours away from the school, it's the closest meet of the year.  Unfortunately, the meet itself ran long and it wound up being a solid 14 hour day.  Oy.  The kids did well, as usual, and we came home with quite a few awards.  Three meets to go!

Six - Friends and Food

The past few weeks have been a lot of work, but I did manage to squeeze in a little bit of fun along the way.  I babysat Jack and Sam one night at my house and introduced Jack to the joys of The Sword in the Stone (Remember this scene?  I certainly do!  I would say that I wish I could pack like that, but honestly, the chaos of it would drive me absolutely crazy in my pre-trip anal retentiveness.)

I also enjoyed a brunch with Cindy at Toast, a restaurant near me that I've always wanted to try.  Happily, they had good service and tasty food.  They also had a great accommodation for the indecisive-types like myself - the Pancake Flight that gave me four different pancake types!

Peach Crumble with fresh berries, Key Lime, Banana Chocolate Chip,
and up in the corner you can see the Sausage and Gravy Pancake.

Sure, I only ate, like, a third of the food, but it was delicious!

Last night I also escaped school early enough to run errands and then go out to dinner with Fara.  We went to Bonefish Grill for a tasty meal and excellent conversation.  As happens every time I see Fara, I came away with a fresh bibliography of books to read.  At least this time there's hope of reading them with a break nigh upon me!

And now I must turn back to my work.  One recommendation letter to go and then I'm off to finish a craft, wrap presents, and pack for Grand Junction.  See you on the other side of the mountain!

Friday, December 06, 2013


"Due to freezing temperatures and transportation issues, the district will be closed today, Friday, December 6th."

- Phone call this morning, 6:04 AM

Thursday, December 05, 2013

A Mess of Inconvenience

Several weeks into the last school year, we had a doozy of a weather forecast.  Two feet of snow, freezing temperatures, big ol' blizzard's a-comin', 100% chance of snow.  Following the lead of the surrounding districts, our superintendent called a snow day the night before the storm hit.

And then it didn't.

Oh, it snowed... an inch, maybe two.  Like everyone else, I thoroughly enjoyed having a snow day that I could run errands in without fear for my life on the roads.

The downside was that we spent the rest of the school year battling our way to school on days that absolutely should have been called off.  We didn't have a single other snow day the rest of the year, despite several occasions where we really should have.

This year has been weirdly mild.  Aside from one day of snow (which, naturally, was the day of my Advanced Drama class play), it's been weirdly warm and very dry.  And then came this week.

Monday was the informational workshop for the musical auditions (Have I mentioned yet what we're doing?  Monty Python's Spamalot. The amateur rights were just barely released, and it's going to be tremendous fun to produce), and Tuesday was a prep day/speech practice.  Tuesday is also when we all started laying bets on whether we'd have a snow day on Wednesday.  The forecasts all predicted a 100% chance of snow, 9-24 inches total, and frigid temperatures.  And, indeed, when I crossed the parking lot to the auditorium after school the flakes were already beginning to fall.

I slept restlessly, as I do when I anticipate a phone call at any moment.  To my surprise, when my alarm rang and I peeped outside and found that there was indeed a solid snow cover and flakes were still falling, I still hadn't gotten a call.

I got ready for the day and made my way slowly to school, anticipating a call at any moment.  Nope.  Not even a delayed start.

Most of the buses were late, and some students stayed home with "weather-related" listed as their parental excuses on the attendance roster.  I tried to keep my class focused on the task at hand, but they were angry about the lack of a snow day, nervous about the auditions that afternoon, and distracted by the worsening weather visible through my classroom windows.

The view when I first arrived.  There's a highway under that whiteness.

30 minutes into the school day, the superintendent emailed an apology to the entire district.  "It should have been a delayed start or a snow day," he said.  "No, duh," we collectively thought, even while I marveled at the fact that he issued an apology.

30 minutes after that, we got the word - they were sending everyone home early.  Halfway through second period we were collectively released into the storm.

I reassured the anxious students who came running to ask about auditions before leaving.  "It's fine," I said.  "We'll just move everything over a day.  No problem."

Rachel, meanwhile, was scrambling to find a babysitter.  Mom was supposed to fly out to Denver that morning to watch the grandchildren while Rachel came up for auditions and call-backs, but her flight was cancelled due to the weather.  I was glad - I had been worried about her traveling in any manner in this storm.

I stopped to make the copies I needed for 1st period,
and the parking lot completely emptied within those ten minutes.

I took advantage of the school's paved parking lot to put on chains and then drove slowly back to the condo.  There have been internet issues there all fall; so I quelled my panic over a day without any internet access by working on Christmas present project #5, which I had brought with me along with all of my Thanksgiving leftovers anticipating just such a predicament.

Wednesday afternoon I got a call - a delayed start for the next day.  Noting that it wasn't even dark yet, I figured the delayed start was another part of the superintendent's attempt to placate the community.  I didn't mind.  We could still hold auditions as planned, plus I'd get to sleep in an hour.  Works for me!

And then I got another call at 5:30 this morning - "Due to widespread power outages and low temperatures, school is cancelled for today, Thursday, December 5th."


I hung up the phone and blearily made my way into the bathroom, shaking my head at the superintendent's apparent overcompensation. That's when I discovered that I didn't have any water.

Crap encore.

I checked all of the pipes I knew of, and everything looked fine.  The furnace closet on the balcony was cold, but nothing looked out of sorts.  I moved the space heather from the bathroom into the furnace closet and set it to medium, then crawled back into bed to wait for dawn.

Still no water when the morning came.  I checked with the neighbors, and it looked like the entire building was in the same predicament.  With my mom's help (go, go long distance Google searches!) I did what I could to diagnose that it was a problem with pipes outside the building (as opposed to inside the building that could burst and flood the place while I was gone).  Reassured that I had done all I could, I packed up my car and made my way back to the land of internet and running water.  I'll be back up there Sunday afternoon to meet the internet repair guys anyway, so I'll check on the water again then.

As soon as I got back to my condo, I posted an entry on the musical's blog to reassure the students.  "It'll be fine," I wrote.  "We'll just push everything back a day."  Again.

It's really cold, but the roads aren't too bad down here, so I had a chance to do some grocery shopping and laundry and such.  I actually enjoyed being home for a while, since I haven't had the chance to do that for several days.  I baked cookies and got artsy, and then I got a phone call.

"Due to freezing temperatures, the district will be running on a delayed start tomorrow, Friday, December 6th."


Maybe we won't do auditions this week after all.