Monday, August 29, 2011

Schnauzers -- In My Opinion

I've been asked a couple of times about owning Schnauzers.

Here's the scoop:

  • They are sturdy which is why Hubby really likes them - but they are also fairly small. The normal miniature Schnauzer weighs in at about 22 pounds. But like terriers they are solid and strongly built. Of course the new trend is to breed smaller and smaller -- so now you can find some that weigh in at 10 to 12 pounds -- but normal size is around 22 - 24 pounds
  • They do not shed -- BUT and this is a big B U T -- they do require grooming. So if you don't want to mess with a poodle because of the poodle cut, you probably don't want a Schnauzer either. I pay $40 a piece ($80 a month) to groom my Schnauzers with a true Schnauzer cut. Now you can shave them down -- but if you do that, please, please do not cut off their lovely little beards. A bald Schnauzer is a terrible sight to behold, in my opinion.
  • They are not the most friendly of dogs. They bond closely with their family and then try like to shut others out. If you have a kid (or kids), they will like your child. They may not like other children. They are also pretty territorial -- so they make good watch dogs. We always figure no one is breaking into the car when the two Schnauzers are guarding it. Fritzy was a snippy Schnauzer -- he would bite if you made him angry. Milly, our first Schnauzer, also could display a temper. Wolfie, on the other paw, loved everybody. Gus and Luie are pretty friendly, too. Luie makes noise because he wants to first find out where you are standing and second see if he can tell if he knows you.
  • Schnauzers yip. A lot. They just make noise. They talk to their owners. They yap at other dogs. They greet the mail people. They kick up a storm when the pizza guy comes. You have to like noise to own a Schnauzer.
  • They love. Not like a lab or a setter. But you will find none more loyal to his family than a Schnauzer.
  • They rule. They dominate their owners, other dogs, and the entire household. However, they are also smart enough to know exactly who is alpha in a household. So, in our house, everyone knows that Hubby is the dominate figure. Fritzy used to try to usurp me and periodically I'd have to remind him that I was second in command. Gus and Luie are more laid back -- or smarter -- and though Luie would love to come third in the house rankings, he understands that neither Hubby or I will allow Gus to lose his standing now that Fritzy is gone. You can watch a Schnauzer to see how he sees himself in the household -- they will align with the alpha person. So Milly and Fritzy were Hubby's dogs. Wolfie adored me. Gus honestly doesn't care - he's a slut for love, whoever will give it. And Luie -- well, Luie is a dog unto himself. He loves. He plays. And he has a sense of humor. So Luie is in it for the laughs. Luie is a bit zealous in trying to be friendly - but being blind he's actually just trying to figure out if he should know you and where you've been.

Now if any of that seems to fit the dog you are think you could love -- find yourself a pound Schnauzer. Lots of rescue organizations are out there for them -- Luie came from a rescue in Oklahoma. However, Milly came from Wayside Waifs. Fritzy and Gus come from the pound in Ottawa, Kansas. Wolf was found half dead by a couple in Kearney, MO. All of them our guys have been rescues. And honestly, I think that makes for an even-tempered, loving, trainable best friend (or son or daughter, in our case).

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I forgot to add . . . .

To the little pieces of pleasure I just wrote about, I wanted to add that I was wickedly pleased to be proven right one more time about the Kansas City School District.

I have to admit -- and it's really horrible of me -- that I felt so vindicated in my constant iteration that the Kansas City School District simply is UNfixable. John Covington has resigned after only spending two years here in KC. The media has been in a whirl. Charges have been levied. Blame has been cast. But it's at the wrong source and to the wrong people.

I don't care why the man resigned -- new job or not -- he DID resign and once again the KCMOSD cannot keep a superintendent.

All the hew and cry goes on about what actually happened -- and civic leaders claim the city still needs to find a superintendent that can think outside the box -- BUT no one in the city looks around at the local districts that actually are succeeding with inner-city kids (think KCK) and how they managed to do it.

What has KCK and Blue Springs and surrounding districts done that was smart? They've hired internal candidates that have dedicated years to the district they now manage. They understand the districts they lead because they have worked within them. They know the problems. They know the staff. They know the parents and they know they kids. They know what is possible to get done. They know the state requirements. They don't have to go to other cities to find competent executive staff -- they know which people have already dedicated their lives to the district -- and they reward that dedication.

What have we got in KC? A school board president with no job who has illegal contacts with district contractors. School board members who have taken the district for millions in federal court cases. Old KCMO teachers who have been part of the failing system for years. Pawns and dupes of the money men of KC. And finally a superintendent with no ties and no built in support or love for the area.

And we wonder why the KCMSD fails?

We've been doing this since 1970. 25 superintendents in 40 years. It's not going to change folks. Not until the prime players change. And they don't -- and we don't do away with 'em.

But you watch -- KCMO will hire an outsider yet again.

Some things just don't change -- and the KCMSD is one of them. And don't tell me that they can until we do away with the corruption we have allowed to take root here.

Throw the bastards out -- if you honestly do think the kids deserve a chance. I'm not at all sure that we do think that in Kansas City. These are just minority kids, after all. Educate 'em and you actually might be forced to hire them in your businesses. Or they might move into your neighborhood in Johnson County -- and live next door to you.

It's time for the state to take over. It's beyond time.

Little pieces of pleasure

As August is winding down and school is winding up, here are some things that are making me feel happy:

A new pair of eye glasses for both Hubby and me. Though we had trouble getting just the right pair for him and had to return the first set each of us got (EyeMasters got nastier and nastier when Hubby explained he couldn't see out of the pair made for him), we both eventually ended up with better vision and good glasses frames. It took us finding a new shop and a fight with insurance but eventually we prevailed. Mine are Saks Fifth Avenue frames in a fun shade of rose and bordered with sparkles on the ear pieces. His are pretty similar to what he's always worn but fit him face much better than the old pair.

Dinner with friends during the first week of school. We were invited twice out for dinner. Once we had the best meatloaf ever and then we had a very comfort inducing meal of spaghetti and meat sauce. The food was great and we felt very beloved by our friends.

The prospect of the new Kaufman Music Hall opening in mid-September here in our city. Everyone is abuzz with concert plans and news of the performances scheduled for the fall concert season. Placido Domingo will be here for the initial concert and the opening three day concert extravaganza is already sold out. Hubby and I have tickets for at least four of the upcoming symphony events throughout the year. We are looking forward to actually having an acoustically correct symphony hall.

The prospect of fall weather approaching. We have had a terribly hot summer and the humidity has been beastly. Just the thought of crisp fall weather is invigorating.

The love of two sweet-faced, gentle hearted Schnauzers, especially little Gus who cuddles by my side every evening when I return from an exhausting day of teaching. Gus is the silver one -- Luie is the darker one and both are curled up on the clothing we had dumped in the back bedroom to sell on E-bay but instead just gave away to Goodwill.

My new HD DVR from Dish network -- that will record two shows at once and if I'm only recording one show, will let me watch any channel while it does the recording. Plus it holds 300 hours of regular TV and 30 hours of HD shows! The new features on this DVR are vastly improved and make TV watching a lot more fun.

The local HyVee grocery store which stocks excellent meat, high end gourmet products, and still manages to keep the prices low. Plus you almost never have to stand in line to make purchases and if you need assistance, they gladly offer it.

Dirty Potato Chips which I discovered in a grocery in Annapolis and thought I'd never find here at home. However, Hubby ran across them, not in my favorite HyVee store, but at a store even closer to home that sells gourmet products. Now I can have them every day for lunch. Also, those tuna sandwiches Hubby makes me for breakfast and lunch along with some grapes and apples mean I'm managing to get through work days with healthy eating.

The opening of school has been hard this year. I'm struggling to adjust and work with my collab partners. The gout has been on a real tear and I no sooner think I've licked it but it comes back worse than ever. I'm tired all the time and the heat exhausts me even more. The arthritis is very bad this year, especially when it rains. My case load is huge -- it's not been this big in the last five years. Also, the new students seem to bring with them deep emotional and behavioral issues. Being a mentor has not been the most pleasant experience, partly because I have to attend night meetings. The little things that add pleasure to my life mean a lot right now.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Answering the Request for New Material

This pretty much sums it all up for the moment. Give me another week and maybe I can talk about it all coherently.

Much love to my friends Debby and Lou who have given our family support and sustenance this past week and certainly helped me make it through.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Midnight Madness

Here's a little tip: if you have reflux and insomnia, do not take Class 2 drugs to fall asleep and then eat a fairly large snack of barbecued potato chips and onion dip. You will get a little bit of sleep -- but mostly, once you turn over on your stomach because you are so doped up you forget that you can not under any circumstances sleep on your stomach, the onset of the acid reflux will be so awful that you will be awake from midnight until it's time to arise (and try to shine -- but you can't because your still dopey from the lack of sleep and drugs).

That's the lesson for today, children.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

And so it begins . . .

Year 2011 - 2012. In teaching, it's my 28th year. In dog years . . . why I'd be dead.

Went to the school today, carried a load of stuff up to my room. It's in disarray but not as bad as I expected. I looked around, unloaded the crap I had brought over (summer magazines, a couple of new posters) and tried to decide how I felt about being "back." I didn't break down and cry. I didn't need to sit and compose myself. So I guess I felt, well, okay.

Downstairs on the first floor I mailed off my sealed transcript for my salary boost and felt, well, next to nothing. Talked with the registrar and tried to find out where this nice luncheon was that I had been invited to attend. Found out that it really wasn't a nice luncheon at all but a whole district affair with way too many people and was being held in our uncomfortable and inhospitable cafeteria.

In the cafeteria it was a zoo. Too many people and way too hot and noisy and loud. Finally found my school group, met my mentee (I'm her mentor), and with my principal's lead, we got in line for food. But they had just run out of food. Honestly. Can you believe that? They still had cookies and brownies which the new folks loaded up on, but in that heat I wasn't about to load up on sweet things.

All the new teachers hired by my principal are white. Jeez. The woman really does not have a clue. White. For a school with less than 10% white students. Everyone of us advised her at the end of the year to start putting some color into her staff composition -- but nope. Every single new hire is lily white.

Tried to decide how that made me feel and well, I felt tired. Not mad or upset. Just tired. Somethings just never change.

After our non-lunch I walked my mentee around the building and introduced her to the counselors, showed her where her room was located. We talked and talked. She's young. She seems to really want a job as a teacher -- she's been a paraprofessional for the last five years or so. She also seems a bit scared. She asked me four times if I was going to be at school on Monday to help her figure things out. "When will you get to school on Monday?" she asked twice.

Today I arrived at school at 11:30 and gratefully left at one. I departed very hot, very sweaty, and very tired. I had briefly met my two collab / co-teachers and each one seemed, well, okay. Even though I hadn't had lunch I wasn't hungry, though Hubby thoughtfully took me out and made sure I had something to eat.

I'm not sorry that school's starting, I guess. I'm certainly not thrilled, either. I'm, well, okay with it. And I'm still tired. Some things don't seem to change.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

An Early Celebration

School starts so soon (Mentor Lunch tomorrow, meet with sponsors on Friday, and first day back on Monday) -- but didn't want to miss celebrating this really wonderful event.

Love you little boy-o! You are a joy to both your papa and mama. Hugs and kisses!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


Last week Hubby and I did the optometrist. Both of us have cataracts but neither of us requires surgery -- yet. We did, however, need to get new prescriptions filled for new frames / lens so we could continue to see through our non-surgery-yet-eyeballs.

This week I've done both the physician and the dentist. Yesterday I met with my internist and got ALL the meds refilled. I'm now up to seven daily -- and honestly, I like all seven. My high blood pressure continues to be handled by the beta blocker -- but just barely. Stress has made both the wellness clinic and the internist look at me askance after taking the pressure reading. Celebrex is heavenly. You only need take it when the arthritis is really hurting -- and it doesn't affect the thinking or make you want to sleep. The gout medicine does make one want to sleep -- and I just learned I can't take it with the Celebrex -- but one only needs take it when the gout is flaring. The minute the gout stops, so do the pills. The other meds are just stuff to keep the body functioning and but nothing makes me feel bad or sad or loopy -- so it's all good.

Today, in the 109 degree heat, I ventured out to the new dentist. I finally decided it was time to move from the dental school -- and so I picked a dentist on the list for my insurance that was only a mile from my house. From his name I expected a middle aged white guy -- and white guy I got, but a young one with a sweet demeanor and a good dental assistant. All in all I was pleased with his technique -- especially since he didn't suggest any radical procedures, took the insurance without complaint -- and didn't charge me for the initial visit. Also he has really good office hours.

One of my goals this summer was to handle all my own medical issues and now that's been done. Guess I'm really for school for start on -- Thursday. Good grief! Thursday. Actually on Thursday I only have to attend a mentor luncheon. My principal assigned me the new SPED teacher on my floor -- she's new to the district but I googled her name and she looks to be pretty well grounded in all things educational, so I don't think I'll have to do much to mentor her. I get a small stipend for doing the mentoring -- about a thousand bucks but for that I have to attend a monthly meeting with the mentee and at least three dinners at the ed building. I'm not thrilled at the prospect but accepting the principal's appointment seemed politic so I reluctantly agree. Now all I've got to do is work up a positive attitude, something that, frankly, I really don't feel. Maybe if the weather will just cool down a little.