Tuesday, September 30, 2008

National Alpaca Farm Day

This last weekend was National Alpaca Farm Day and I spent Saturday in Westcliffe, CO at my friend Allie at her Eye Dazzler Alpaca Ranch. I had planned on it being a trip for my mom, my niece, and myself, but then my friend said she wanted to go (no problem) and then my dad invited himself (problem). My dad tends to be rude and has a short fuse with lots of things. It wasn’t until a few miles out of town I ad to roll my eyes and think “I should’ve driven in my car and had them follow.” It would’ve been different if it was just family, but my friend was with me.

I had been to Allie’s place before, but just for spinning. Every time we were at her house I wanted to see her Alpaca’s, but we and her were so busy that we never got around to it. Hailey was excited once we got out of the car. Of course the hour drive down there wasn’t too fun. She was so ready to pick out a pumpkin that sat outside the barnyard doors…even though it was about two-thirds her size.

Inside they had about a dozen alpacas in pens for people to see and if you had permission, to go inside and get to touch some of them. Since I knew the owners I was able to flag down Allie’s husband a he let us touch one of the painted baby alpacas. It was so soft! The momma was pretty cute too…just a touch of white on her nose.

While there they had dry and wet felting demonstrations. They also had an outside area where you could see a few alpacas and even get to have your picture taken with one. There was one black one that seemed to take a liking to Hailey. It seemed to be attracted to her. Hailey did not want to leave. Allie also had a big white dog that is a Polish something or another. My friend Debbie called him, Falkor, the white dragon from The Neverending Story.

Lunch was also provided. It was a Peruvian lunch. It was a chicken soup with red potatoes. I don’t know how to spell or pronounce the name of the soup, but it was good! We all ate on bails of hay while Hailey sat next to the barn cat. He was a pretty good behaved kitty. A total beggar of food though. He kept staring at Hailey, her bowl, and her tortilla.

There was also spinning demonstrations. Rosemary gave spindle demonstrations and Julie and Sharron did spinning wheel demonstrations. While there I kept telling myself “I should’ve brought my wheel and drove myself!!!” After lunch, I removed my shoes and tried out a new spinning wheel that Julie had left vacant. It was a double treadle, but I didn’t like it. I think it was a Majacraft. I liked the different speed settings but not the point where the fiber gets its twist and leads onto the bobbin. You could feel each turn in your hands and it was annoying. It was probably like this when spinning wheels had a actually spindle. Maybe I’m just spoiled with my wheel.

Even though I had bought about 8 ozs of alpaca roving the last time I had been at Allies for spinning I had to buy more. I bought some from my friend Luci and more for myself. Sharron mentioned that she had an alpaca blend that was machine safe and it would be good for making socks! Shame on you Sharron! (Other side of me is saying “Thank you Sharron!!!”) I think I will make a 3 ply on the spindle for the alpaca blend to make socks. Wouldn’t that feel awesome on your feet!?!

Well I better go. Got papers to grade. Are you sure it isn’t at least Nov?

I almost forgot! I got two new drop spindles!!! Aren't they purdy!?!?!

Middle School Horrors!

Towards the end of August I started my new teaching job at my first middle school. I do have 1.5 years of experience teaching, but at the high school level. I though that there was a need for a change and just went for it. Our first day was on a Tuesday, but I had to miss the first two days for a mandatory meeting on a new math class that I was going to teach. I thought that since I would miss the first two days I would go in early to get my room together. I went in and got my keys. I had been called a month in advance to be told that I was going to be placed in a science room, but when I walked into my room I found out it was still a science classroom. Nothing had been taken out. I had a loud and huge fish tank, my cabinets were still full of science books, and the back cabinets were still full lab equipment. I was totally upset! One of the new science teachers came in and helped me move out the science books and clear out the closet. By mid-afternoon my classroom was somewhat put together. I still had all of the lab equipment and the fish tank, but it was still a work in progress.

After my training, I had my first meeting with all of the staff members. Come to find out, the teacher who was in my classroom before still taught at the school!!! After the meeting I approached the principal with the fact that I had gone through her stuff. I was informed to collect everything of her’s and make it available. The bad thing is that I had thrown some of it away…thinking the teacher had left it there. The teacher…Mrs. S came into the office pissed off (understandably). I informed her that I wasn’t told the teacher hadn’t been moved out. She informed me “I wasn’t going to move my classroom in the summer.” I went and gathered all of her stuff together that I could and went to help my supervisor. When I came back she had torn down the bulletin board decorations above the chalk board and it looked terrible. The paper and boarders had been thrown in the trash. If she didn’t want the boarders all she had to do was leave it alone. Now I had to add something new to my list of things to be done. I was furious. This we coming from a woman that was close to twice my age! I understand she was pissed off at me, but I wasn’t informed that she hadn’t moved her stuff.

That afternoon my supervisor found an empty classroom and asked the principal if I could move my classroom to this new room. She agreed and so the next morning I spent the day moving my room including my stuff, math books, and the desks (with the help of the custodians). I didn’t like the two-seater desks that the classroom had. Remind you, this is on a Friday…before classes started the next Monday. It had been the 8th grade math classroom and it too had lots of stuff left in it from the teacher previous (and she wasn’t coming back). The desk was still full of stuff and all I could do was shake my head and curse under my breath as I put it everything in its place.

My new classroom is pretty big. I have a full wall of chalk boards but they are hard to get to with the cabinets that are installed beneath the boards. The other wall is full of bulletin boards that were covered in cartoonish material. That has been replaced with something nice and somewhat subtle. I’ve gotten complements on them a few times. The first couple weeks of class I had a class of 45 kids and without a good cooling system it get very warm. After the second week that class was reduced to 25. It was a nice change since they turned out to be one of my best classes behavior wise.

It is now week 6 and I am stressed out. I have been coving my a$! by making my phone calls home to inform parents of their kids grades. I am having problems getting the kids to turn in their work. There is also a lack of respect for their elders. They like to talk back and refuse to do what you ask them to do. I know that if were to do something like that and my dad heard about it, I would have gotten a spanking of a lifetime. These kids don’t care. There are older teachers and staff that tell me “When I taught this worked for me.” I don’t think they understand the difference between kids then and now. I’m going to stick with my phone calls. I know that I am getting a good response from parents when I do keep them informed….whether it be good or bad news. Lately it’s a lot of bad news. It’s their grade and behavior and not mine.

Is it Christmas yet?