Wednesday, September 28, 2005


One of my tasks, lately, is getting the paperwork filled out to apply for my teaching credential in Oregon. This has involved a number of Forms.
  1. Ordering transcripts for all post-secondary education.
  2. C-2, Program Completion Report - filled out at teacher education institution (for me, Mills College).
  3. Professional Experience Report (PEER) - filled out by Human Resources "Superintendent" at the school district where I am currently employed.
  4. Fingerprints (on a card, w/verification form from the print-roller).
  5. Actual application - to be filled out by me.
All of these except (5) need to be Filled Out, Signed, and Sealed In Their Own Official Envelopes with a Signature across the Seal, to be included in my now-quite-bulky application packet.

I have control over almost all of these items - The transcripts are no problem (and I always order 2 or 3 at a time, I know I'm going to need more in the future). I paid $20 last Saturday to have my fingerprints rolled by the same gentleman who rolled them last year when I was getting my name changed on my credential (and for that one I had to have the California-required Live Scan, which costs a lot more). I knew that the PEER one wasn't going to be too much trouble, because the people at Mills take care of business and are friendly and competent.


The Form for the district HR to complete. That one scared me.

Our district has a reputation for inefficiency, insolvency, and bloat. Amongst the school personnel in our district, the District Administration (referred to as "The District" or "Downtown") has a reputation for inefficiency, bloat, confusion, incompetence, neanderthalism, stupidity and cover-your-assedness as well as Pass the Buck, What Buck, We Don't Got No Buck, We Don't Got To Show You No Steeenkin Buck.

Oh, and since Dr. Randolph "I Don't Give A Damn About My Reputation" Ward took over as State Fuhrer, whoops, Administrator, they've been shuffling organization and departments and staffing downtownl like a poker deck, and every office is full of packing boxes, and I was really unsure about who the Head of HR du jour was going to be. Turns out that person is on vacation anyway.

So I was really worried about getting this Form back in time to mail it in with the rest of my packet. This is the District where one of the first things I learned was to photocopy ahead of time any Form you had to take Downtown, and to have whoever took your form time-stamp your copy as "received." So at least, when (not if) your Form was lost, you had copies of it, and you had Evidence for whoever it was that the Form was for that you had, in fact, dropped it off, and that it disappearing had nothing to do with you.

So I had my photocopies ready, as well as a cover letter to drop off with the Form with instructions to contact me when the Form was completed. And not a whole lot of hope that I would ever get my Form back. I left our staff meeting today early in order to get Downtown before closing (they close at 4pm and most schools don't get out until 3:15, what's the sense in that anyway? We have minimum days on Wednesdays, so it's actually possible to get there then). I found the right room (HR has moved, surprise, surprise) and by the sheerest STROKE OF GOOD LUCK, there was a friendly and somewhat weary man behind the front desk who apparently HAD THE AUTHORITY TO FILL OUT MY FORM ON THE SPOT!

But I'm jumping ahead, and I just gave away the end of the story. Damn that enthusiasm.

I signed in and got to listen to the concerns of the person who was in front of me in the queue. This was a young Former Teacher at the District who had not, apparently, learned the all-important lesson about the photocopies and the time stamps. He sounded quite irate that his Form had disappeared several times before and so now he was trying to get his Form in on a tight deadline. He commented several times about how Hard He Had Worked and how Badly He Had Been Treated and, incidentally, that's why he is teaching in Vallejo, now. And if he didn't get his Form in to them by October 1, they were going to put him lower on the pay scale than his experience warranted. The weary man took his Form and said he would do what he could. What was really good was that every time the Young Former Teacher said that Weary Man's office had LOST HIS FORM, Weary Man said a vague sort of, "Oh?" Eventually their business was completed, and YFT left the office (without his form).

My turn next. I've got this habit that I think I must have picked up from my mother where when I really want to get my way, I get all sweet and chatty. I was sweet and chatty with Weary Man, and I said, well I have this Form to be filled out, it's for my Oregon Credential, and I think it's a fairly simple Form - (At this point he looks up my data on the computer and finds my seniority date) - And I've been at the same school the entire time teaching the same subjects - (He starts filling out my Form) - And Oh! I would be ever so happy to be able to take it with me today, you see, it has to be sent in with the rest of my packet to be official.

Since I already gave it away, you know that I did, in fact, leave with my Form, Sealed in an Envelope and with a Signature Across the Seal. I LEFT WITH MY FORM. I HAVE IT. THE ONE THAT WAS GOING TO BE THE HEADACHE/ULCER CAUSING ONE, THAT I THOUGHT I WOULD NEVER GET BACK.

I'm a little excited about that. And smiling still, and my packet is almost complete.


I spent yesterday afternoon/evening making about 6 pints of picallili, because it seemed like a good idea since it has become cold enough now that the tomatoes left on the vines in the backyard are not really ripening anymore. About halfway through this process I realized (duh!) that picallili is a sweet relish. I don't like sweet relishes, never have. Fortunately, the rest of the family does, but it looks like I'm set for holiday presents. Picallili, anyone?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Almost there, almost

I've officially packed the first two boxes for the move to Eugene in June/July. They are of baby clothes, one box of stuff that Ruthie has grown out of and Grub will grow into in about a year, and one box of stuff that Kyle has grown out of, and some donations from friends, that Ruthie will grow into in about a year. Progress!

What's better than one kid in a box?

Two kids in a box, of course!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Don't mess with this woman

Thank you, Jenijen, for pointing towards this blog entry by Jenn, the Java Diva in Texas.

Potty Training

Number One Daughter is undergoing potty training. That is, she is being potty trained when her flaky parents remember to take her to the potty. This is all so difficult. The parenting books make it seem easier - Just get them to know that the potty is where that stuff goes, and you're set! Yeah, but there's the remembering to get there, too. She does OK when she doesn't have any diaper or pants on at all - Bare bottomed, she remembers most of the time to run to the potty. But as soon as we introduce the "big girl pants," she forgets - There's something covering her and so she just goes.

So when we're at home and remembering, we put her in the big girl pants and set the timer. Every 20 minutes, the bell rings and that's the signal to sit on the potty. Such a complicated process! Lift the lid, stand on the footstool, pull up the dress or shirt, pull down the big girl pants, sit down, pee, get toilet paper (no, not a yard!), wipe, stand up, pull up the big girl pants, get off the footstool, put the lid down, flush. Yes, she ought to be washing her hands, too, but if we did that every time, the 20 minutes would be over before we were done.

I am, however, worried about the Pavlovian implications of teaching my daughter to pee when a bell rings. What will she do in school?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

How to do it

Yesterday I went to a gathering of local urban gardeners, the Metro Garden Club, to meet some of what I hoped would be kindred spirits (sense the foreshadowing...). I've been on their e-mailing list for a while, and it doesn't get a lot of traffic. So I wasn't sure what to expect. I was so unprepared that I didn't have any plants, seeds, starts, or even food to bring to share. I ended up not bringing any plants, seeds, or starts home, either, partially because my ethics won't let me take when I haven't brought, but also because I didn't find anything that would fit my garden. Somebody had brought a bucket of apples, though, and I'm sorry that I didn't make off with some of them.

I was disappointed. First of all, I'm not great in social gatherings of more than, say, five people. I'm even worse when everybody else already seems to know one another. I attempted some conversations, but they didn't last. Everybody I talked to was an ornamental gardener, perhaps a casual vegetable gardener. I got into a conversation about tomatoes with one woman (these were all women, all older than I) but when I mentioned that I was canning mine she almost ran away from me. "I'm too lazy to can," she said.

As is totally obvious from what I've been blogging lately, I've really gotten into the canning thing this season, more than ever before. It is hard, but it's not that difficult once you get into the rhythm of it - As with any undertaking or hobby, no? And it is reading that inspires me. I've been asked several times in the past year, "How did you get to know so much about [gardening/canning/...]?" My reply is always the same - I read. I read about gardening for years before I had a decent sunny plot. I keep those books that I really love right by my spot at the breakfast table, and that is what I browse while I eat, wait for water to boil, drink my tea. They are reference books, about herbs, gardening, canning.

The more I read (and keep in mind that this is very casual reading) the more I get inspired. I had to look up the recipe for spiced vinegar in one book that called for it for the pickles I am making, and there on the same page was directions on making garlic rosemary vinegar - Hey, I can throw that together, too! I thumb through the pages and there's some recipes on dilly beans, so when The Husband asked me this morning what I needed at Trader Joe's, I tell him to pick up some dried beans and I'm going to try pickling them. Why not?

My favourite gardening book, by the way, is The Kitchen Garden by Sylvia Thompson. My copy is getting old and ratty and the toddler tore the cover yesterday. I love the way she writes and I aspire to being such a creative gardener.

See what I mean? I ran in and took this picture of the kitchen table, and this is exactly how it was.

(Oh, and if you ever want to make your house smell really divine, try boiling a couple of sprigs of rosemary in some white wine vinegar for a few minutes. Yum.)

Comforting moments

On Friday afternoon a group of former students who are now in high school came roving through campus after school. One of them stayed and chatted with me. He was really polite and asked about how my classes were and was eager to tell me about how much he was enjoying geometry this year. This is a student who really struggled in my class - He took algebra for the first time as a 7th grader and it just wasn't making sense to him. We would work in tutoring sessions and he would "get it" and be doing fine, but then the next day it would be gone again. I remember setting a test down in front of him and seeing him burst into tears because he felt overwhelmed (a low point for a teacher when you know how much that child has been trying). It was really great to have him stop by and share with me that he is doing much better now, and that he really does have fond memories of my class and that I didn't totally destroy his ability at mathematics!

And on the domestic side of life, Number One Daughter now has VERY SHORT hair, and I've got six pints of very colorful canned tomatoes that are a mixture of red, yellow, orange, and green varieties.

Friday, September 09, 2005

God Outdoes Terrorists Yet Again


Officials Uncertain Whether To Save Or Shoot Victims

Nation's Politicians Applaud Great Job They're Doing

Area Man Drives Food There His Goddamned Self

Bush: 'It Has Been Brought To My Attention That There Was Recently A Bad Storm'

Complete Coverage

An excerpt:

White Foragers Report Threat Of Black Looters

NEW ORLEANS—Throughout the Gulf Coast, Caucasian suburbanites attempting to gather food and drink in the shattered wreckage of shopping districts have reported seeing African­Americans "looting snacks and beer from damaged businesses." "I was in the abandoned Wal-Mart gathering an air mattress so I could float out the potato chips, beef jerky, and Budweiser I'd managed to find," said white survivor Lars Wrightson, who had carefully selected foodstuffs whose salt and alcohol content provide protection against contamination. "Then I look up, and I see a whole family of [African-Americans] going straight for the booze. Hell, you could see they had already looted a fortune in diapers." Radio stations still in operation are advising store owners and white people in the affected areas to locate firearms in sporting-goods stores in order to protect themselves against marauding blacks looting gun shops.
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