A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Friday, March 27, 2009

Journal Therapy.

Be forewarned.

The authors of a number of blogs that I read have decided that their blogs will be where they focus on the more positive things in their lives and they choose not to share out the negatives.

Their blog. Their choice.

I've always tried to be up front here. This blog is my journal, the only way I've ever been able to maintain a journal in my 57 years. Although I don't expect anyone to find my rantings even slightly worthy of their time, I am always grateful for the few who do because just imagining that I am sharing my life with someone keeps me here. Imagining that I am sharing my life with someone who cared enough to make the effort to drop by (even by accident) changes the way I perceive what's happening in my life.

Recently I read a post in a favorite blog where the author expressed that she would prefer not to get too deeply into a blogger's personal life. This caused her to re-evaluate what her blog meant to her, and she was contemplating changes to her approach. Because I respect her (and her blog) so much, I decided that when I'm going to use my online journal for journal therapy, I will put a warning at the spot where I move into the sometimes painful personal details of my mostly boring life so readers will be forewarned that they might want to skip an entry. That said...

The first thing I want to share is not painful at all. We picked up our new puppy last Friday, and he turned eight weeks old Wednesday.

We decided to keep the name that DS2 gave him, so I introduce Dodger Blue. My son says his pedigree name should be "Dodgers' Designated sHitter" but I don't think the AKC would go for that.

This is the sweetest animal I've ever owned, and I give the breeder tons of credit for the work she did with this litter. I chose the puppy after meeting his mama, a very sweet , mellow bitch (as opposed to the other bitch who had a litter a few days older. That dog was totally hyper and so were all four puppies.) Dodger is a love and a cuddler. His biggest challenge in life is deciding which toy to play with (he can only manage one at a time) although that giraffe thing at his feet seems to be the favorite of the moment. He was almost potty trained when we brought him home. All we had to do was make sure to walk him outside after his major life events (eating, waking up from naps) and he knew what to do. Now, all we have to do is make sure to leave the kitchen door open and he will get himself out in time. Next is to be able to leave the door closed (and train ourselves to pay enough attention to get it open when he "tells" us he needs to go out.) We crate him when we have to leave him alone and - knock on wood - so far he has not messed in the crate.

I have to say, I don't know who is cuter, the puppy or my 6'6" 27-year-old who has fallen in love with the puppy.

They're so sweet together. Dodger sleeps in the room with my son most nights, but if DS2 has a gig or has to go to work early the next day, he sleeps in the room with me. So far, he seems to need to go empty his bladder at about midnight and then again about 4, although the last couple of mornings that latter time has been between five and six. I think he'll be making it through the night soon.

In other good news, I'm almost finished with my Easter stitchery.

Taa Daah!

One more egg and one more blade of grass on the bottom, fluffy white bunny tails, an eye on the chocolate bunny and the word "yum" in the bite and the stitching will be done. I still haven't decided, though, how to finish it. One idea is to make a decorative pillow with the stitchery in the center. I have several pieces of Easter fabric in the Fabric Museum but none of it is appropriate for this. I tend to be attracted to fabrics with vibrant jewel tones and strong contrasts. This piece is more muted country and I don't know what is hiding in the stacks that might work for this. Another idea is to just get a square frame for it. I have this plan to buy a couple of nice frames and then make multiple seasonal pieces to pop in and out. For example, I completed the Spooky Row by Bent Creek.

I also have charts for a garden-themes row, snowmen and one called the Neighborhood Row

I should be able to get a frame made that will accommodate all of the rows (as long as I'm careful with the fabric) and should be able to pop the stitcheries in and out according to the season.

That's kind of what I'm thinking for this Easter piece, too. Maybe just get a frame (or have one made) to fit this piece, then go through my charts and find seasonal pieces that I can stitch up to fit the frame. Come to think of it, I have a Christmas piece already finished

that is almost exactly the same size and could pop into the same frame for the holidays. Of course, I made this one to be part of a pillow and didn't leave enough fabric for framing, but I think I could fix that.

Dang, this is what happens to me all the time. I get just so far into a project, then start obsessing about what to do with the finished piece and either 1) never finish it because I don't know what I want to do with it or 2) finish it and let it live with a stack of other finished pieces in a box. Which is where this piece has been since 1983. no wonder it's looking kind of icky. I'm going to have to try to wash it. I thought by wrapping these in acid free tissue it would keep them from discoloring, but some of these older pieces definitely have issues.

Which seems like a good piece to segue into depressing news, so...


The negative starts here so if you don't want to share my pain, stop reading.

I know we Californians are not alone in watching the horrific effects of our crumbling economy. But, as president of my teacher's union local, it's been a nightmare to watch it happen to my friends and colleagues. It has taken years - decades - generations - for our district to reach its current level of services and programs. It's is considered a good district. We have a strong SPED program, so strong that our SPED encroachment is crippling (almost 10% of the overall budget) because families with disabled students move to our town so that their kids can go to our schools. The middle school that I teach in has five special day classes, three resource classes and two county classes for the severely disabled.

Which is why I was so hopeful when I learned that California's portion of the latest stimulus package included significant funding to back fill the encroachment for the federally mandated special education requirements. This would have freed up money from the revenue limit (the unrestricted funds that are used to run the district) to save class-size reduction and JOBS! Instead, we're hearing that the state wants to apply the stimulus money (about $11 billion) toward our $53 billion deficit. So far the feds have not allowed states to use that money in that way (because the stimulus is to save jobs) but I'm not hopeful.

To prepare for the worst case scenario - which includes returning to K-3 class sizes of 30 instead of 20 - our district has "riffed" (given pink slips due to a reduction in positions) a total of 74 teachers. They were hopeful that they could rescind all but 27 notices (because we would be able to keep classes at 24 instead of having to go up to 30). But with the financial picture worsening by the day, and with class sizes pretty much contingent on passing all six tax-increases on the May 19 ballot, I am no longer hopeful. People don't tend to vote for tax increases when they're unemployed. I am having a hard time sleeping at night because I expect to see over 50 friends lose their jobs for next year.

As if things weren't bad enough, our school board has (as it always has) tried to turn the situation so that it will be the teachers' fault if class sizes go up and teachers lose their jobs. For many years, the teachers in our district have been the lowest compensated in our county. Now the Board has decided that we should take salary cuts in order to pay to keep smaller class sizes in K-3. We calculated it out and it would mean a salary cut of $8,000-10,000 per year per teacher. Our teachers just can't afford this. Teachers with families are already paying $1000 per month for their health insurance premiums (premiums that are paid for in neighboring districts.) And the cost of living in our pretty little town (an hour from downtown Los Angeles and ten minutes to the ocean) is among the highest in the state.

What a nightmare. And I know it's just going to get worse.


Stitcher S said...

Hi Debi,
Even though I keep my blog very light and fluffy, I love reading blogs that are full of 'meatier' topics, too.

I feel your pain... I'm a teacher, too. My daughter got 'riffed', and so did several teachers at the school where I teach. It's a nightmare, you're right. I dread what next year will bring.

Felicity said...

What a wee cutie! My Harry just turned one this weekend. His mate, Lucy will be two at the end of May. How well I remember the days of puupyhood with these two. It has been a wonderful two years, much thanks to these new loves now that our children have grown up and left home. Enjoy your dog as much as we have enjoyed ours.