Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Is There Such Thing As A Funhouse Camera?

How do you know when your school pictures are bad? When the student delivering them comes through the door, walks around the room to your desk, and hands them to you with the package face down.


Uh huh. We’re not talking about student pictures here. We are talking about Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s packet of school pictures. Not that she bought them or anything. Not that she even gets them taken on a yearly basis. Before this year, I believe there had been a gap of six or seven years. Nobody wants to leave a class unattended to go wait in the gym to have a picture taken while perched on the three-inch ledge with a little backrest on a box that stands about 18 inches off the floor. And by nobody, I mean Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Yes, that bullet was dodged many a time. But this year, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s number came up. Every member of the faculty was commanded to have a picture snapped. I went before school. The photographer worked with Sir Talks a Lot for quite some time. Standing. Sitting. Turn your head. Tilt your chin. Take off your glasses. But when he came to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, he said, “Stand right there with your feet on the prints.” SNAP. One shot.

Maybe that photographer was trying to tell me something. Like, maybe, that there was nothing a camera could do for me. I must say the photos are not exactly flattering. The best description I can think of is: embarrassed dead Shar-Pei that has been left out in the sun for two days.

The Pony describes my picture as: “Um. NOT a Mexican Asian crossbreed? I really am struck speechless. I don’t know what else to say.”

Yeah. I’m starting to think that I’m not exactly photogenic. That I actually LOOK LIKE MY PICTURE.

I won’t be framing my school picture. And I might even try to bargain with the yearbook sponsor to see if an artist’s rendering done by a kindergartener could be substituted. 

HOWEVER, I must admit that this school picture makes me look like Princess Grace of Monaco (BEFORE her death) when compared to my driver's license photo.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Shame Shame Shame...Shame On Moi

Friday was the cut-off day for mid-quarter progress reports. And because that's when some teachers (not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, of course) are rushing around trying to come up with grades that they have not posted since the first week of school, and have them entered into the computer gradebook system by Monday morning at 8:00...somebody had the most scathingly brilliant idea to upgrade the computer gradebook program Friday at 4:30. It was expected to take considerable time.

Being an overachiever, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom not only had all of her grades done and input by 3:10, she also made a printout of her rosters and assignment scores JUST IN CASE. You never know.

This morning I fired up my laptop as usual. I signed in and opened the program for taking attendance and doing just about everything else except giving the stinkeye. WHAT'S THIS? A dialog box popped up telling me that I could install the new version of the computer gradebook program, or click to use the old version. Hmpf! I didn't really have time to deal with that. But I knew if I used the old version, I would not find the time during the day to install the new version, and why would we all get the new version if we could simply continue using the old version.

So I did it. I clicked to install the new program. There were five steps. I muddled along. It didn't really do what it said it was going to do. Then I saw that I had tried to finish by saving the program instead of running it. VOILA! My new computer gradebook program worked like a champ. Like a former champ resting on his laurels, because I'll be ding-dang-donged if I could see anything different besides a bit spiffier cosmetic appearance.

I set up my assignments for the day, so I could just commence to entering new scores as I got them graded. Then I checked the announcements to see if anything new had suddenly come up. Then I opened my email. WHOOPS! There was an all-call message to all faculty, forwarded from the tech guy through the superintendent, that teachers SHOULD NOT TRY TO INSTALL THE NEW UPDATED COMPUTER GRADEBOOK PROGRAM until notified by the technology department. That we should just click on the old version until further notice.

Sweet Gummi Mary! Ain't THAT a fine how-do-you-do? Shame, shame, shame...shame on me!

Right away I dashed off an email to the tech guy, apologizing for going against instructions, hoping nothing was amiss, but with the explanation that I always log onto the main doing-things program first, click on the gradebook-opening box, then go to sign in to email. And that, by the way, my gradebook program was operating just fine.

You can't tell me I'm the only one who did that!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hydration Libation

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has been off the 44 oz. Diet Cokes since her unfortunate hospitalization at the end of the school year. Cold turkey. No headache or anything. So she decided to give up that magical elixir for a while. Water has always been her go-to beverage anyway. But all water and no flavor make Mrs. Hillbilly Mom a dull gal. So every now and then she treats herself to a new vice: Hi C Poppin' Pink Lemonade.

Now don't go thinkin' Mrs. HM swills 44 oz. of that syrupy goodness. Laws, NO! M-O-O-N. That spells Mrs. HM has 52 oz. of the pink stuff...but the cup is full of crushed ice. So whatever pink lemonade goes in can only fill up the space between the ice chunks. Then that cup sits all day and marinates and hydrates Mrs. Hillbilly Mom with water from the melted ice, as well as the lemonade part.

I have looked high and low for Hi C Pink Lemonade in can or bottle form, so I can make it at home. The only place I can find a reasonable facsimile is Voice of the Village, where I can get a 20 oz. bottle of Minute Maid Pink Lemonade. What's the point of that? Because if I'm going to Voice of the Village, I might as well get the 52 oz. fountain Hi C Poppin' Pink Lemonade.

The Devil's Playground has the next best thing, which is powdered Country Time Pink Lemonade. It's almost as good, with a tiny dash of Sprite left over from The Pony. But yesterday, at Save A Lot, I found a giant jug of pink lemonade! The brand escapes me at the moment. Nothing I'd ever heard of before. I got two giant jugs. Heh, heh. I said two giant jugs!

Today I made my own drink with crushed ice from Frig. Thing is, the #1 son was home for the afternoon, and he saw me get out the jug of pink lemonade, and declared that he would like some. Let the record show that he was in the middle of cooking up a batch of photo developer on my stove at the time, and had just cautioned me that I did not want to be making my drink right there beside him on the counter, because that chemical was in powdered form, and was settling all around.

"Here. I'll make it on the cutting block."

"Can I have some of that?"

"Sure, but don't grab it by the lid, because your hands have chemicals on them."

"Duh. Like I don't know that." #1 walked around the cutting block and grabbed the jug of pink lemonade. By the cap. With his chemically hands. "I'm going to drink it right out of the bottle. My main purpose for coming home these days is just to set you off."

"You can drink it any way you like, because now you've touched the lid just like I told you not to, so that whole thing is yours. I don't want it back. I have another jug."

"Doh! I did, didn't I! Oh, well." He unscrewed the top and chugged some pink lemonade. "That's not very good."

"I know. But I'm adding some powdered Country Time, and a little spoon of sugar. That should do it."

"I'm going to add sugar, too!" #1 made a beeline for the sugar canister. He shook up his jug. Took another chug. "That's way better! I put TWO tablespoons in there!"

"I don't care. It's yours now."

That was just as well, because #1 had already told me he was kicking my pink lemonade out of Frig so he could set his gallon jug of film developer in there to cool off. He carried his new pink drink with him as he worked on various projects. As he gathered some things to take back, I asked if he was taking his lemonade.

"No. It's really not very good. I've been sipping on it all day."

Oh, well. At least he got some fluids. He's in the middle of a cold that has run rampant through the dorm. He probably couldn't even taste the lemonade.

The fun was in trying to sour me with his antics.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Flattery Will Get Him Nowhere But The Dog House

Farmer H has a unique bedside manner.

Oh, he's not a doctor. Doesn't even play one on TV. Doesn't even WATCH one on TV. Nope. I'm referring to his manner when I sat on the edge of the bed this morning, letting all my thin blood run back down into my feet before I tried to walk. Let the record show that Farmer H was stroking the hair on the back of my head during this exchange.

"You have such pretty hair."

"What? I've been wallowing on it all night. It's a mess!"

"It's like Juno's."

"Hey! She has been matted and dull since the middle of summer! How dare you say my hair is like Juno's."

"No. I meant...I mean...like her hair was before. All shiny and slick." The petting continued.

I turned my neck ever-so-slightly until I almost had Farmer H's eyes in focus to give him the stinkeye. "Are you crazy? You don't even LIKE Juno. Now you're trying to flatter me by saying my hair is beautiful like hers?" I guess when I turned my head ever-so-slightly, Farmer H saw the back of my lovely lady-mullet in silhouette against the sun trying to penetrate the clouds through the etched-glass french doors that open onto the back porch overlooking the pool.

"Uh. Your hair kind of DOES look like Juno's hair now..."

He's no Marcus Welby, MD.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mrs. HM Avoids The Banana Peel And The Petticoat, But Is Tripped Up By Freud

You know I'm a short-timer, right? That Mrs. Hillbilly Mom only has one year and 7/8 left of her teaching career? So you would think one so fortunate as Mrs. Hillbilly Mom might be all rainbows and unicorns over-the-moon nice to everybody she encounters throughout the day. Well. Except for that one grade level that shall remain nameless.

Most of the time, that scenario is true. I like my job. Enjoy it once I get there, even though I would rather be lolling around the house doing nothing. So I surprised myself at the teacher lunch table the other day. A Freudian slip, so Freudian that I was embarrassed for slipping, accidentally escaped my lips.

We were discussing a new student, one who has already had a couple of encounters with the Suspension brothers, In-School and Out-of-School. I've never had a direct problem with him. He's polite to me. Turns in his work most days. And after I told him not to draw on my desk with ink ever again, he hasn't.

Having at my fingertips a program which not only shows me a student's schedule, but also his parents, his birthday, his address, his lunch fees, and his allergies/illnesses...I make a point of using it at the beginning of the year. Just in case, you  know, somebody has a peanut allergy and carries an Epi Pen. Or is allergic to Germ-X. Or can't have his picture posted on school websites or published in the paper.

While fellow staff and I did everything but sing "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria" in an effort to determine how we may help this student be all that he can be...I shared with them my first-week-of-school discovery.

"You know he has ODD, right? Occupational Defiant Disorder?"

As they turned to look at me like I'd sprouted an extra head, or like they'd seen my driver's license photo, I stammered, "WAIT! I know that's not it! I meant Oppositional Defiant Disorder!"

Yeah. Occupational Defiant Disorder would be me. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Sometimes disgruntled schoolmarm.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

And They'd Better Stay Off My Lawn, Too!

My classroom supplies are taking a beating.

We've gone through a box and a half of Puffs With Lotion this week, and it's only Thursday. This morning, I set out a new giant bottle of Germ-X. I know there's a sickness going around. My own little Pony had the sniffles since Saturday. He's on the mend now. Hasn't needed tissues much since Tuesday.

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not one of those teachers who send home a supply list asking for a truckload of tissues, a 55-gallon drum of Germ-X, enough glue sticks to lay end-to-end from here to California, a banjo for my knee, an eye of newt, a dozen four-leaf clovers, and a partridge in a pear tree. Nope. Mrs. HM has no supply list. She spends her own cold hard cash on accouterments for her classroom.

I don't begrudge the kids a good nose-blow when they're sick. And Sweet Gummi Mary, let them cleanse their hands after doing so. I try not to make a big deal of consumption of consumables, as long as nobody is tossing tissues into the air as practice for juggling magician scarves, or cutting up a bundle to make confetti. I even held my tongue today when I saw a little gal grab roughly a third of the box of Puffs and stuff them into her purse, even though it was the last class period of the day.

I DID have a few words to share last week with the young man who used a generous dollop of Germ-X to clean the soles of his sneakers, polishing them with Puffs. He apologized much like George Costanza, to the effect that if he had known that was wrong, frowned upon, even, he would not have done that.

Imagine my surprise today when Shoe Boy and an accomplice were seen more that once at the Germ-X trough today, thoroughly giddy and giggling, as no student enjoying a science lesson should be. And yes, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom did unleash her pointy tongue to tell them, much in the vein of Julia Sugarbaker, that in the future, one must realize that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not look kindly upon people who fill their hands with Germ-X, fill them in a cup shape, to overflowing, and carry it back to their buddy, and somehow let it all drip onto the floor, where it lays in glistening globs, awaiting evaporation, so that in future days, it will collect every smidgen of dirt and grime that come within its magnetic pull, resulting in dirty spots across the industrial tile floor, which Sweet Gummi Mary only knows how and when will be cleaned, what with Cus no longer with us.

I think that tomorrow, I will put away such childish things as Germ-X and Puffs.

Let them eat cake!

No. Wait. I'm not giving them cake! Let them use see-through school toilet paper right off the roll, and give themselves a spit bath for cleanliness.

My name may not really be Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, but neither is it patsy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Upon Second Thought, I'd Rather Not Be Shot

Newmentia is holding a flu shot clinic for the faculty next week. I always get a flu shot. Ever since that time I had the flu, and missed a week of work while weak as a kitten, lost my voice and ten pounds, returned to work before I was completely recovered, and saw darkness and stars every time I coughed.

I am not sure I want to get a flu shot next week.

Sure, it's fun getting called out of class to have a needle poked in my arm, perhaps coming in at the time my next-door-neighbor is having her meltdown while being shot, tears and all. But it's not so much fun going through the rest of the day worrying if you're going to have side effects from the vaccine. Now that this blood-thinner is kicking my butt, I don't think I'll take the chance. I have a doctor's appointment the following week. I can get my flu shot there, after making sure it's safe while on this medicine.

Besides, last year we filled out the papers, and the pharmacy that sends the injectors who stab us charged our insurance the day before. What if somebody changes their mind on shot day? That's a fine kettle of fish. If they go somewhere else to get a shot later, the insurance will say they've already had one.

Yeah. I think I'm going to sit this one out. There's still plenty of flu season left.