Monday, August 31, 2015

A Spring Cleaning Tip...On the Last Day of August

Using a dishwasher in Southern California is somewhat of a catch 22.   While the dishwasher can save a lot of time, due to our very hard water, it can also make extra work when washing dishes.  Often, the hard water leaves spots and rings on the dishes that end up having to be washed and/or dried again.  Most of the time, it is easier for me to wash and dry the used dishes as they're used and just put them away.  But there are weeks that I get busy and turn to the dishwasher.  The start of the new school year was one of those times, and I noticed that my dishes were coming out exceptionally grungier than before.  I was faced with not just spots or rings but also actual pieces of what looked to be soap or even chalky lime build up.  It didn't seem the Jet Dry was doing its job, and when I tried the Lemi-Shine which is supposed to clear up issues of hard water in the dishwasher AND on the dishes, nothing really changed.  I'm already in the market for a new washer and dryer as mine are on their last legs, so I wondered if a dishwasher would need to be added to the list of needed appliances.
While killing time at a meeting last week, I scrolled through the Holy Grail of Ideas my Pinterest account and decided to search my dishwasher issue.  Now that was eye opening!  So, apparently dishwashers have a filter.  I had no idea!  Now some have garbage disposals built in and others don't.  Mine doesn't, so this info is based on one without as I don't know if it applies to those with disposals. Anyhow, almost everything I read said that if dishes were coming up covered in grunge, cleaning the filter was the first step.  Having no idea where my dishwasher filter nor my dishwasher user manual were, I YouTubed it and found a good video.
This is not my Frigidaire, but it gave me the gist.  And it was THAT easy to find it.  Once I found it and pulled all the pieces out I WAS SHOCKED and had to pull on some rubber gloves to not touch the grossness inside.  I decided against taking any pictures because I didn't think about it it was just too gross - food, dust, dog hair, paper, who knows what, it was all inside my dishwasher filter!  According to my research, all of this debris can keep the water from cleaning off the dishes and therefore leaving gunk all over them.  After dumping out what I could of the above into the trash, the sink was filled up with hot water and dish soap, and all the pieces were left to soak overnight.
The next morning, after pulling the gloves back on, I grabbed my scrub brush and loosened all the nasty bits that were left in the pieces.  Once they were clean, I filled up the sink with water again and a cup of white vinegar and let them soak again for about 20 minutes.  The vinegar is supposed to deodorize the pieces.  I didn't smell them before or after, but figured that step couldn't hurt.
After watching the second part of the video, the pieces were successfully put back into place, the dishes loaded back into the dishwasher, and the cleaning cycle was started.
Even before the load finished I was already thrilled!  About 6 months ago a friend of mine came over and replaced the garbage disposal in my sink because it had stopped working.  The first time I ran the dishwasher after he left, water poured out of the air gap piece into the sink.  When I inquired, he told me that always happens.  Funnily enough, it wasn't happening BEFORE the disposal repair, but beggars can't be choosers.  So I resealed the sink to keep the water that was pouring out from pouring into the cupboard under my sink.
But I digress, absolutely NO WATER came out of the air gap piece during this first wash after cleaning the dishwasher filter.  Already a success!
The success continued when cleaning out the dishwasher after the cycle, things were as clean as a whistle.  There was still a spot or two, but nothing like I was getting over the last couple of months.  Truly a successful DIY!!!
I sent the info to my closest friends and family as a tip.  Each and every person responded with surprise.  No one else had ever heard of such a tip either.  Use as you wish!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Saturday 9

This week's Saturday 9 partners with one of my favorite bands, Coldplay.  The song is here, and while it's a good one, I prefer this one and this one and this one.  Happy Saturday!
1) The song refers to the singing of choirs. Have you ever been in a choir or a vocal group?  I have not.  Singing in the car is one thing,  but no one wants me in their choir. 
2) Chris Martin sings of when he "ruled the world." If you were in charge and had infinite power, what would you change right away? Oh, there are so many things!  I'd stop summer (and its over 100 degree heat) right this minute and make it fall.  When I'm driving, I want everyone else to get out of my way, and if I were in charge they'd have to.  Oh, and if people didn't use their turn signal when they should, their driver's license would be revoked!  And I'd have Donald Trump's mouth sewn shut and donate all his money to education.  And that's all just from barely thinking about it.  I could go on and on.  
3) Chris used to be married to actress Gwyneth Paltrow. USA Today, The Washington Post and The Daily Telegraph have all run articles about how Gwyneth seems to annoy so very many people. What celebrity gets on your nerves?  Ya know, I find it weird how much HATRED people have for her.  I guess people think she's out of touch, but what celebrity/public figure isn't, really?  I'm not a fan of celebrities who are celebrities for no reason.  The Kardashians, the Hiltons, whoever.  If you're only famous for being infamous, it shouldn't count.  
4) Coldplay's first big hit was, "Yellow." What color are you wearing right now?  black top/bright blue bottoms
5) Sam remembers when she used to hear this song everywhere and can't believe that was 7 years ago! When is the last time you had a similar "my, how time flies!" moment? All the FREAKING time.  Just today my grade level team and I were walking to lunch after school and occurred to us that this is my 4th year at my current school.  In some ways it feels like I've never been anywhere else, but it's also crazy to think that move was 4 years ago!!!
6) In 2008, when "Viva la Vida" was popular, John Grisham's latest legal thriller, The Appeal, was jumping off bookshelves. What have you read this summer?  Just Tuesday night I finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.  It was a wonderful book, but I cried and cried and cried at the ending.  Finishing just before 11PM, I was a mess afterwards and couldn't fall asleep.  I'd still highly recommend it, but maybe plan on finishing it during the day time, on the weekend.  I've also read a couple of Sarah Vowell and Liane Moriarty books.  The Goldfinch was started over summer break, but it's a lot to trudge through.  I've got to have it finished for October, so took a little break for The Storied Life...
7) Thinking of books: Let's say a biographer has taken the task of writing your biography. What would you title your life story?  Why Does She Have a Biography:  A Not so Exciting Story :)
8) 2008 is also the year Paul Newman died of cancer. Name a Newman movie.  Cool Hand Luke

9) Random question: Do you like garlic?  On a scale of 1-10 I rate garlic 100!  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Over the Counter...A Bit of a Complaint

It was no secret that I was a little bit crabby (alright, a lot crabby) last Friday after the first full week of school.  Looking back, I truly think it was the a/c, or lack there of, in my classroom that had completely exhausted me which made everything else turn into the straw that broke the camel's back, and let's just say I didn't like my job very much last week.
I came home from the movies Friday night (a night that I had planned and then wanted to cancel due said exhaustion), put on my jammies, and planned on staying in them ALL WEEKEND.  Saturday morning, I slept in a bit, did a few chores (still in my pjs by the way), painted a little bit, and about 3:00  I was nodding off in the desk chair.  I crawled back into bed and slept for 3 hours.  Naps are not my thing, so that says something.  I woke about 6:00 with what felt like something in my eye.  My eyelashes are always getting in the way, so I tried to ignore it.  About an hour later, the feeling subsided.  It was back to bed fairly early Saturday.  Washing up at the sink before hand I noticed the eye from earlier was quite red.  "Hmmmm," I thought.  Hopefully it was just irritated from the eyelash.
When I woke Sunday morning, that same eye was sealed shut with "gunk" (sorry that's gross, I know).  That's right, that very grueling week concluded with a bought of PINK EYE!  Talk about crabby!  Thankfully the eye didn't itch or hurt, it was just very red and "gunk"-filled.  As tired as I was, the last thing I wanted to do was go to the doctor.  But the more I thought about it, if it was worse Monday morning I'd have to call for sub and write sub plans, and I wasn't able to go to the doctor after work due to a meeting.  So I hauled myself out of bed and headed to urgent care.  I knew I just needed the antibiotic drops and it would clear up quickly.  Upon arriving at urgent care, it was 9:30.  There were 4 people in front of me, the first one went in and came back out in less than a minute.  After that, only 3 people!  So it was strange that I didn't leave urgent care until after 11:00 - over an hour and a half later.  The doctor, I must say, did spend an ample amount of time with me which I certainly appreciate because that is rare, but when all I wanted was the drops so I could go home and go back to bed, it wasn't that appreciated.  I walked out, prescription in hand, at 11:15 and still had to go get the prescription filled.  My regular pharmacist is closed on Sundays, so I had to go elsewhere where it took over AN HOUR to have the drops filled.  From door to door, my visit to the doctor to get some eyedrops took 4 hours.  Four freaking hours!
Which warrants me wondering, why are pinkeye remedies not sold over the counter?  Heck, you can get UTI pain meds over the counter now.  So why not pink eye? It's not like it's an infection that is so hard to diagnose...your eye is fine one minute and completely red and full of "gunk" the next.
While I am glad I got the medication yesterday, it made today a heck of a lot easier, it made me very frustrated that 4 hours of my Sunday napping time were interrupted just for eyedrops!  Over the counter eyedrops would have made me much less crabby!
On the plus side, it would seem (knock on wood of course) that "they" have figured out how to turn the temperature down on my classroom's new a/c.  Today it was quite crisp, even when 22 hot 2nd graders walked in from lunch time.  It was over 100 degrees outside today (and will be all week), but after school I was still in a good mood.  It's amazing what a few degrees and a normal eye can do for your attitude.  

Friday, August 21, 2015

Saturday 9

It's been a long first full week back to school and therefore a Saturday 9 is in order.  This week's song link is "Hello Dolly" by Louis Armstrong.
1. This song is about a woman returning to the town where she was happiest. How many towns have you lived in? I have lived in 6, 3 on the West Coast and 3 on the East Coast.  
2) Crazy Sam played Ernestina in her high school production of Hello, Dolly! and still remembers one of her lines: "Hey, you with the big ears! What are you doing after the show?" Tell us something that you memorized for school that is still rattling around in your brain.  My 7th grade history teacher taught us this rhyme/bit of wisdom on the first day of school, "Procrastination is a crime.  It only leads to sorrow.  I can stop at any time.  I think I will tomorrow."  I've never forgotten it, and it's kind of turned into my life's mantra.  Which is why I'm so tired this week. :) 
3) This week's featured artist, Louis Armstrong, got his start entertaining diners on riverboat dinner cruises. Have you ever taken a dinner cruise? Is a booze cruise the same thing?  If so, then yes.
4) Armstrong took his nickname, "Satchmo," from "Satchel Mouth" -- a slang term for someone with a wide mouth, which Louis believed was his most distinguishing feature. What do you think people notice first about you?  Hmmmm, I try particularly hard not to be noticed.  
5) In 1936, Louis became the first African American to get featured billing in a Hollywood movie. Have you seen any of this summer's big movies? I'm not usually a fan of the "big summer movie" genre (which translates into kids' movies, teen movies, and action movies).  I did see Trainwreck which was funny and dirty and cute all at the same time.  And I just saw "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." tonight.  It was SOOOOO much fun. I want to see it again!
6) When "Hello, Dolly" composer Jerry was growing up, he was close to an aunt named Belle who encouraged his love of music. Tell us about one of your aunts or uncles.  I have just one aunt - my dad's sister.  My uncle, her husband, passed away from a brain tumor about 20 years ago.  Just before he was diagnosed, the two of them took a three week European tour.  After my uncle died, my aunt began traveling a bit more extensively.  For someone who had barely left California, let alone the country for most of her life, she has now visited every country in Europe (some multiple times) and has been to all 7 continents. 
7) Though famous for composing the scores of Hello, Dolly!, Mame and La Cage Aux Folles, Jerry Herman can't read music. Can you?  I can not.  Languages are very difficult for me.  I can memorize vocabulary (or notes) but have never been able to put it together with any kind of fluency.
8) Now retired, Mr. Herman lives in Miami. This is Miami's "wet season," which lasts into October. When did it last rain where you are?  It hasn't rained here in ages.  Supposedly it is supposed to be a banner El Nino year, with flooding and devastation.  I'll believe it when I see it.
9) Random question: Have you suffered a sunburn this summer?  Nope.  Sunscreen is this girl's friend!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Out of the Mouths of Babes - Just a Quick One

In classrooms all around the US, maybe even the world, the first week or two of school is spent reviewing the previous year's standards, teaching classroom/behavior procedures, and assessing levels (one-on-one testing in the primary grades).  In between those three key areas we give the kids a break from all the teacher-talk and assign "fun" beginning of the year activities - mostly getting-to-know-you projects.  One question that is always explored during these activities is "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
The answers to that question are generally the same from year to year - I get a lot of police officers and teachers, a few nurses or doctors, one or two entertainers (singers/dancers) or athletes (mainly soccer players).  Because most of my students' families are not well educated (some don't read in their own language) and work in very low paying, manual labor type jobs, they are not emphasizing the college/career path like schools with middle-upper class populations would .  So often, I'll even get multiple answers like Jack and the Box workers and pizza delivery.
This year the answers were similar to the past, however I got a few that I haven't seen before...
Ninja (three students chose that one), someone who wants to be a video game player, and one who wants to be a "You-Tuber".  I think these might be my favorite answers ever.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Making Books

The last time I posted any art journal pages I had just finished making this journal.  Since then, it's been finished.  Here are a few pages...
And some pages from my working sketchbook...
It was time for a new journal, so this summer I made 3!  I found a couple of interesting old book covers at the Rose Bowl Flea Market last month.  One being a regular sized book and the other an oversized photo album.  Although both covers had a bit of wear, they both had some pretty detail.   For the third journal, scraps of patterned paper were sewn together to create a large enough cover to wrap around two cardboard pieces.
The three on the left are the new ones, and the two on the right are about half full.  From left to right - large visual journal, regular visual journal, pattern book, inspiration journal, small sketchbook.
Cover (outer and inner) details for the new books.
There has been an attempt made (a few days last week at least) to keep working in one each day, even now that I'm back to work.  School work tends to monopolize my time once we're back in session, but it is a goal this year to NOT let that happen.  The pretty new books will hopefully be motivating to put forth the effort.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Enough Said

Today wrapped up the first week of school.  I have nothing more to say on the subject because of this...
All of the energy that should have been put towards teaching was instead put towards trying not to burst into flames.  It was only a 3 day week with kids, but I am wiped.  All the errands and chores got done tonight.  I'm now sprawled out in front of the fan and am not moving until Monday morning. A cooling trend is supposed to arrive early next week.  I'll try to be back among the living by then.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Farewell

Thursday evening marked the end of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and having just watched (on DVR) the last show, I have to admit I'm a bit sad.  Every Monday-Thursday night for the last 16 years his show has done its very best to call out the hypocrisy and nonsense that comes out of the mainstream news media.  While the show began as a comedy show about the news, I believe it has become a news show and because of the exaggerated/corrupt/flash over facts nature of our current media the comedy happens to be built right in without trying very hard.  
While Stewart leans left on most issues, he didn't have blinders on to either side of the political spectrum.  No one was off-limits, not being "owned" by either party - unlike most of our so-called media outlets.  After Walter Cronkite died, Jon Stewart was chosen the most trusted newscaster in the US by Time magazine.  I think that trust comes from the compassion that he shows for us regular people at the mercy of those in power.
And even though his job was to point out the issues we face, he also got sh%& done - most notably his advocacy for a bill that provided health care for 9/11 first responders and over the health care delays Veterans dealt with after returning home from service. He was very critical over the V.A.'s handling of their cases under Obama's watch, and in response to his criticism the VA changed its rules doubling the number of Vets eligible for a program that would help expedite their care.
And now he's gone from the show.
I read a quote yesterday that summed up my feelings about this end-of-an-era perfectly..."It was never up to Jon to fix things, but now we don't even have that one beloved and trusted voice to point out the absurdity of the people pretending these things don't need fixing."  Exactly.
The last show on Thursday night was longer than the usual 30 minutes.  It started out with all the show's present and past "correspondents" (many who have gone on to big entertainment careers like Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Josh Gad, Olivia Munn) bidding farewell to a teary host.  Stewart then gave his goodbye with a commentary urging his audience not to accept misinformation as truth.  It was a cheer-worthy sermon, a good reminder.  The show ended with Bruce Springsteen signing "Land of Hopes and Dreams" and "Born to Run" (which, by the way, is when I got a bit emotional.)  This is a good edit of clips from it...
I'm not sure if I will watch the Daily Show when it returns in September with its new host.  I haven't warmed up to him as he doesn't seem as compassionate as Stewart is.  But I may give it a go and see what happens.  I will miss the show as I know it.  So long Jon Stewart!  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Ohhh, Thank Goodness

After a month of worrying about the next water bill, what a relief it was to open the mail today and have it be the exact same amount as the previous month.  It sure seemed like thousands of gallons covered my bathroom and kitchen floors.  Maybe being out of town for week helped even things out.  Regardless, Phew!