Friday, September 28, 2007

Bada Bing

Maybe I don’t get out enough. I got out tonight and it was enough.

I went to Biagetti’s in West Haven for drinks with my friends from school. When I arrived with one of the girls, two others had already beat us there. They’d left two open barstools for us. Being the kindhearted person that I am, I let C. take the stool closest to our friends, and I took the stool next to . . . um . . . let’s just call him Paulie Walnuts. He looked to be about mid-60ish and was sitting alone at the end of the bar near the wall, so I presented his only opportunity for conversation. We exchanged a few words when I first sat down, mainly me checking with him to be sure the seat wasn’t taken.

When the manager set out some amazing happy hour food right in front of us, we talked about the good looking tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil, with him encouraging me to “Eat, eat. It’s no good when it’s not really cold.” After talking to him for a few minutes, I had to keep looking around to assure myself that I was at a nice, normal restaurant bar, and not a New Jersey strip joint. I kept turning to the left toward my friends to join their conversation, but I felt like I was being rude to Paulie. And it didn’t seem like a good idea to be rude to Paulie.

Paulie (not his real name) (I should say that I don’t know his name) started to tell me how great a place Biagetti’s is. “The food is great. That kid can cook. You gotta get Clams DeMaio. There was this guy, DeMaio, who came in one time and didn’t know what to eat. The chef took some clams, took out the clams, put in a shrimp and a scallop, put the clam back in, and put bread crumbs on top. Then he baked ‘em. Man, they’re so good. They’re not on the menu, but people in the know can order them. Clams DeMaio.”

“So I can order Clams DeMaio if I come in for dinner?” I asked him.

“Sure you could. Sure you could. I mean if it’s busy, they ain’t gonna make ‘em for you, but if it’s not busy, sure they’ll make ‘em for you.”

Our conversation went on. During this time, a few more of the girls came in and had pulled up new bar stools behind the others. They were all yucking it up over my new friendship with Paulie. I spotted one of them holding up her cell phone to try to get a picture of us, but I leaned back just in time and I found out later that she was only able to snap a shot of C.’s boob.

Paulie continued singing the praises of Biagetti’s. “You can’t get a bad meal in here. The people are real nice. It’s a good place. People watch their mouths. Somebody comes in and causes trouble, they get ‘em right out.”

“That’s good to know,” I told him.

“Yeah, somebody comes in and causes big trouble, I just call my nephew. He’s a lieutenant in the . . . . “

You know I fully expected him to say MOB. Then I took a breath and thought, no, he’ll say West Haven Police Force or State Police. It’s okay.

“ . . . . Hell’s Angels.”

That, of course, led Paulie to start talking motorcycles. He said the weather turned out to be really beautiful today and too bad he was told it was gonna rain because he didn’t ride his motorcycle. It was then that I really got a good look at what he was wearing – a black long-sleeve button down shirt with a black leather vest over it.

“You ride?” he asked me.

“No, I don’t,” I answered.

“You should ride. There’s nothin’ better,” he told me.

I shared my concerns about the fact that there’s nothing between the rider and the road and that lots of car drivers don’t treat motorcycles as true moving vehicles and pull out in front of them and cut them off. Too scary.

Paulie said, “Ya gotta be a real safe driver. Every day that I ride I get cut off at least 4 or 5 times. I want to pull out my 38 and shoot their tires out. That’s why I don’t carry when I ride.”

Gulp. (That was me.)

“You didn’t ride your motorcycle today, right? Does that mean you’re carrying?” I think I kind of whispered. (Holy SH*T! My idea of carrying is bringing my purse.)

Chuckle. (That was him.)

“Nah, I ain’t carrying.”

Luckily, a short while later, the bartender asked him if he wanted another drink. “Better not,” Paulie said. “I gotta get home or she’ll cut my balls off.”

Paulie Walnuts gathered his money off the bar, took the last slug from his drink (I shouldn’t have said slug) and told all of us how nice it was to meet us.

Right back at ya.

The girls fell apart into fits of giggles after he left and I had to tell them all they had missed. J., the school social worker, tried to put the positive spin on my experience: It gave me an opportunity to practice my meet and greet skills so I can get back out there and start dating.

I think I’ll just stay home and knit.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On Lollipops, Old Men and Being Led Down a Dark Path

The other day, M. and I bought our first 2007 bag of Caramel Apple Lollipops. We both look forward to these lollies, since we only find them in the fall. They're green apple flavored lollipops dipped in caramel. They're so good, even though they stick to your teeth.

We sat on the couch, each enjoying our fresh-out-of-the-bag lollipops, until Emmie came in. Since she usually loves to eat anything we're eating, she took a great interest in seeing what we were oohing and ahhing over. Marty held out his pop and, well . . . she loves them now, too.

For nearly ten minutes, Emmie licked and licked and licked some more. M. got tired of holding the pop, so I took over and M. went to get himself a new one.

Emmie seemed to know when to say when. She stopped licking and took a serious bath. I saved her lollipop for her in a baggie.


This morning, I stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for coffee on my way to school. Nearly every time I go there, I see the old men. There's four of them. Each man sits at his own table - they never sit together. Each man sits facing toward the counter - they never face each other. They do, however, talk to each other. I love to eavesdrop on their conversations. Here's what I overheard this morning:

"The girl, Wendy, is 40. And the kid - he's only 34. "


"Yeah, the kid's only 34."

"Wendy is 40?"

"Yeah, Wendy is 40."

"Wendy or Windy?"



"No. Wendy."


"W-E-N-D-Y. Wendy."

"Not Windy?"

"No. Wendy"

"Not W-I-N-D-Y?"

"No. W-E-N-D-Y."


"Right. Wendy."

"But Windy would be a nice name."

I laughed all the way to school. I love those guys.


Yesterday in school, my students and I read an article called, "Fresh Start in Africa." It was about a boy named Brandon who grew up in a rough area of Baltimore. He was getting into a lot of fights and getting bad grades. Neither his mom nor his school could handle him. Brandon was put into a special program for troubled boys that sent him to a boarding school in Africa. After a tough start, he turned himself around and lived happily ever after. (Did you doubt this? We wouldn't have read it if it didn't end this way!) In the article, we read that Brandon learned that he couldn't be a "ringleader or a follower."

I asked my kids if they knew what it meant to be a ringleader. A hand went up, but the girl described the job of a ringmaster at the circus. (Good try!)

Me: Now think. He's a troubled boy - a boy who gets into trouble. A ringLEADER. What might a troubled boy try to LEAD others to do?

A boy: Ooh ooh! He would lead others to do bad things.

Me: You've got it.

A girl: A ringleader leads other people to do stuff.

Me: Ding ding ding ding!

(An adorable front-toothless boy raises his hand.)

Front-toothless boy: Could you also say that he leads others down a dark path?

(My jaw dropped.)

Me: Absolutely! That's a great way to put it. You have a way with words.

(Cute boy smiles and giggles.)

Me: I can tell that you're going to be a great writer in 3rd grade this year.

Front-toothless boy: Nah. That's from Star Wars.

(I love my job.)


I knit a little.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Things That Made Me Smile This Week

Since it seems that, completely against my will, I'm becoming a once-a-week blogger, I thought it would be nice to share some of the highlights of my week.
I'm smiling because . . .
. . . I've finally finished the last of my felted purses. They're in the washer felting as we speak. These two are for moms of two of my last year's students. They wanted to buy the purses at my school's Relay for Life table a few weeks ago, but others beat them to them.
Now that I've finished them, I can get on with other things. I actually picked up my mitered square blanket and started a new miter. What I really need to start knitting are baby sweaters and blankets. Quite a few of my teacher friends are having babies - again. We had a rush on babies last year, and now they're at it again.

. . . I love my new couch. As I'm heading out to my car at the end of the school day, I'm picturing the big, comfy cushions waiting for me. Emmie loves it, too.

. . . My DVR is working beautifully, recording more hours of television than I can possiblly watch. We've got, The View, Oprah, Dr. Phil, Survivor, Diagnosis X, LA Ink, Lil' Bush, Larry King Live, Prison Break, The Soup . . . the list goes on and on. The list will only get longer now that all of the new fall shows are starting. I love me some good TV!

. . . My boy is loving high school. He's pops out of bed every morning, goes to school happy, comes home happy, and looks forward to the next day. He's staying on top of his homework (so far) and he's keep his room neat and tidy. Okay, I lied about that last one. We won't talk about the macaroni and cheese bowl hidden in his desk drawer.

. . . I have a mad crush on M.'s Algebra II teacher. I went to Open House at the high school and went through M.'s schedule to each of his classes. I thought all of his teachers were great, but the math guy just really made an impression. Cute and fun. (When I told M. that I had a crush on his math teacher, he said, "Ma, he has 3 kids." "So what," I said. "I like kids.") What I didn't like so much was the cleavage on the Spanish teacher, and the large tattoo on her left boob that we could all see way too much of. Emmie has a plan to get to check out the teachers for herself:

. . . One of my little darling 3rd graders showed me that she really pays attention to what I say. When giving directions for our very first math test of the year, I asked the children, "When you finish the test, and you've written your last answer, what's the next thing you should do?" One of the teacher-pleasers raised his hand and said, "Check it over." That's what I was looking for. I made a big deal of writing on the white board: aCHECK IT OVER! After finishing her test, the above-mentioned little darling took out her blue magic marker and checked it over. Here's the first page:

Here's the 2nd page. Notice she's making her version of my "correct" marks:

Stick with me. It gets better. Here's Page 3, with some happy words:

And my all-time favorite kid-produced piece of work, the last page with some encouraging praise:
I almost cried when I read this. It was just too cute. Not only has she been listening to all of the confidence-boosting this I say to her, but she's been paying attention during the math lessons. She really did a fantastic job. Here's what I, the teacher, wrote on her test:

The final smile came on Friday, when I finally left school as the sun was setting. I stayed late to get organized and ready for next week. When I got in the car, I decided to take the scenic route home. I headed down the road that runs along the water - the road I avoid only because the traffic light at the end of it always keeps me sitting way too long. I figured I was in no great rush and I could enjoy the view.

And what a view it was.

That's Charles Island, out in Long Island Sound. It's rumored that Captain Kidd visited the island long ago and buried his treasure.

And here is the real smile-maker . . .

Pink sky over the water. This is the town in which I live and work. I'm so lucky. People go on vacations to places that look like this. I should take the long way home more often.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hi Honey - I'm Home!

Did you miss me? You've probably been crying yourself to sleep every night because I hadn't posted for more than 10 days. Dry your tears. I'm here.

I've been digging into the new school year and haven't had the time or the energy for my blog or for Ravelry. I'm happy about being back in school and focusing on my schoolwork, but I miss my knitting world.

Here are a few things I've managed to finish:

The purple one (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Blue Bonnet) is going to my Aunt Carol. She saw it in its pre-button state and like it, so it's hers. I'll mail it on Monday. The blue one below it (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Hyacinth) is in my bag right now. I don't love love love it, but it's okay. I made a fancy little crocheted flap on this one, but I don't like the way it came out. My basic recipe for this bag is best, in my opinion.

Since I had Thursday off, I had the energy to go to SnB. I missed it last week, so I was so happy to go. In my short history with SnB, there have been a few times when we've dared each other to wear different things we've knit to our Thursday night meet-up. The other Kelly and I agreed to wear things the same night - me, my first socks and her, a sweater she'd just finished. She was afraid she'd seem like a show-off if she wore it, but I insisted that that was what she was supposed to do. I told her I'd wear my socks if she wore the sweater. We both did. (Okay, I took the socks off shortly after I arrived. It was summer, after all, and I was wearing a skirt and Crocs and looked like the Queen of All Dorks. Kelly, I'm happy to say, kept her sweater on.)

Another time, Val finished a pair of what she called her "unmentionables" - old-fashioned pettipants to sleep in. I dared her, on her blog, to wear them to SnB and I'd give her 10 bucks. She declined. Sensible girl.

This week, Jen finished her first pair of socks - bright yellow slipper socks, which I'd named her Big Bird socks. She'd knit only one, and moved on to new socks - nice-looking striped socks. I strongly encouraged her to knit the 2nd Big Bird, telling her that she'd forever save them as her very first handknit socks. Being the good girl that she is (and I'm a 3rd grade teacher - I can talk anyone into finishing anything) she knit the twin and posted the picture on her blog. Of course, I had to double-dog dare her to wear them to SnB - again for 10 bucks - and she did it. I paid up. Now, you have to read her blog post:

She made me cry. I told you that knitters were good people!

And before I go, here's Emmy, wearing the beads that I got at the Relay for Life last week.

She loves the silver beads, but . . .

decided to throw on the blue beads, too, for some extra pizzzazz.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Shouldn't We Have Nap Time in 3rd Grade?

I need to put a note in the Suggestion Box. I could have plopped down on the linoleum tile floor of my classroom and taken a really good snooze today. The first day of school is e x h a u s t i n g! Within 15 minutes of arriving before school this morning, I was racing, frizzing, and yes . . . I was stinking. Yuck. Non-stop all day long. I think I might have sat down when I read a book to the class, but I don't really remember.

I have 19 really cute kids. They all wanted to know when they could have homework (?!) and when we'd learn cursive writing. Gotta love it. I'm happy to be back. It just takes the first day to hook me again and I love being there.

I have a kid-tracking system. It pre-dates GPS, but it works for me. I need to know where each student is at all times, and with 19 kids, it's so easy to send one to the nurse and one to the lav, and after 2 minutes realize that I have no idea who went out of the room and where they went. So here's my system:

Each child has a clothespin with his/her name on it. At the beginning of the day, the clothespins are clipped to the "I'm Not Here" sign. When the kids arrive, they clip their pins to the "I'm Here" sign, divided by boys and girls. I also have other signs for "I went to the Boys Lav," "I went to the Girls' Lav," "I'm at the Nurse or the Office," "I'm at my Reading Group," and "I'm on a mission for Ms. R." The mission sign is used when I send a student to be a messenger or go on an errand. Thought I was all set. Sounds like I covered everything, right? This afternoon, a dollfaced little girl asked me if she could go to get a drink of water. When I said yes, she asked, "Where do I put my clothespin?" Hmmm. Don't have an "I went to get a drink of water" sign. So I told her to clip it to the "I'm on a mission" sign and that she was on a mission to quench her thirst. She looked up at me and said, "You're fun." It's those little things that make the racing, frizzing and stinking completely worthwhile.

My boy started high school today. It was terribly painful for me. He was SO excited about school until we got in the car to drive there. When we pulled in to the parking lot, he wasn't sure which doors were the correct ones to enter. I saw kids being dropped off and going in a set of doors and pointed them out. M. thought the kids looked "like seniors" and that maybe he shouldn't go that way. Poor thing. I encouraged him to go, saying he just needed a door and a hallway and he'd get to his homeroom. He got out of the car and walked slowly, and stiffly, toward the building. He looked like he could have shattered into pieces if tapped on the shoulder. My stomach hurt. I was so thankful that I had a job that would keep me busy so I couldn't think about him all day. I thought about him, of course, but not in that teary-I'm-going-to-be-sick way. After school ended - an hour after M.'s school let out, I had to meet with a parent who had a lot to say. I didn't get to call him until 3:35. He was home. He was happy. He liked it. I took my first deep breath of the day (then I realized I had to pee because I hadn't gotten a chance to go all day, but I'm getting off track). He told me about his Math class - (in a low key way - not bragging, thank goodness) He's one of only 3 freshmen (he's a freshman!) in his Algebra II class. The rest of the class are juniors. I'm so proud of my boy.

Just a little funny that he said to me the other day when we were talking about school: "Mom, you could never be a high school teacher." "Why not?" "The kids are so tough. You couldn't handle it. You'd be emotionally distraught." (This from the same boy who once looked at my hair and asked if I'd thought about seeing a stylist.)

On a knitting note, look what came for me on Saturday:

"Hey there,frecklegirl has invited you to Ravelry! Here you go! Thanks for your interest in our little site."

Little site, my you-know-what. This place is amazing! I became an overnight Ravelry addict, putting in all my projects and finished objects, looking at all of the patterns I want to knit next, checking out everyone's beautiful knitting, entering my needle and hook inventory (so great!) and checking out some of the groups. Yarn Harlot is on Ravelry and she has a ton of beautiful projects she's done. It's fun to be able to see what everyone is doing. Several of the SnB girls are on Ravelry, and more are getting closer to their invitation. You'll love it!

Another thing related to nothing:
I was watching (oh, I so hate to admit this) "Scott Baio is 45 and Single" (gag now, please - get it over with). He went to a jewelry store with his friend to look at an engagement rings for his girlfriend. He said, "Why don't we just get the chromium zucchini and she'll never know the difference." Cubic Zirconium. I actually snorted.

Bed time.