Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dinner by Bike

Today was awesome.

I did dishes in exchange for delicious wheat-flour pancakes with sliced bananas on top and a dribble of sugar-syrup liquid. Jamie cooked them in the pan with butter, so they had that wonderful buttery taste on the outside.

Our friend had plans to go to his parents' house for dinner again tonight, so Jamie and I decided to go on a bike ride. Our first stop was Office Depot, to say hi and pick up some index cards. I'm planning to use them to help me and maybe other coworkers memorize pre-trip details.

Then, we headed out looking for somewhere to eat. Jamie's dad gifted us with a little bit of housewarming money, and we found an inexpensive pizza place. We ordered waters with lemon and a big Greek salad to share. We ate all the salad and then one small slice each of a simple pizza topped with sun-dried tomatoes. The rest of the pizza serves as lunch tomorrow!

Then we took the Greenway trail nearly all the way home. Jamie showed me the waterfall that he had seen on his way to the drug test a few days ago. Isn't it pretty?

Waterfall, up close.

A really neat table we found. We'll have to come back for a picnic!

Pizza seems to be riding along just fine.

Just beautiful!

 The whole trip seems to be about 10 miles. I found out Jamie likes to go fast, and I was in higher gears than I'm used to, but not having any trouble keeping up. I'll have to remember to not be lazy when I'm by myself, I guess.

And, I just found a button here on Blogger that implies I can upload a video, so let me try...
Nope, error messages.

Previously I've tried uploading the apartment tour by Photobucket and Facebook. I wonder if something is wrong with my video. I'll keep working on it.
Facebook came through! See the tour HERE

Anyway, I got some work done on my new outfit- a light pink/peachy vest with a dark pink skirt with tiny white polkadots. It turns out that my vest pattern is NOT for Misses Petite, which I most definitely am. I found the waistline mark and took out the inch of pattern like I did with the rest. When I tried on the outer shell, I still had to take in a 1/2 inch of extra seam allowance at the the shoulders and sides. My pattern notes had adjustments in the back width and shoulders, but I think the petite shortening helped. We'll see how it turns out. The vest is much lower in front that I remembered, so I will have to wear a shirt underneath. I had been hoping it could be worn by itself. The skirt is the same pattern I used for the pieced-together brown corduroy one I made, only it won't have the flounce on the bottom. It should still end up being a modest length, but above-the-knee. I'll add inside pockets which open at the yoke line instead of having the outer pockets of the pattern.

Tomorrow is Monday, and I'll be riding my bike to meet my ride at the close terminal, to be driven to the far one. Next Monday will be my CDL testing! Jamie's position should be posted early next week and hopefully he can start before the end of the week too.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Getting Things Tidy

Well, my first week of training is done. The paperwork is out of the way now, and next week will be all outside working with the buses, learning to drive (or proving we can) and relearning how to pass a pre-trip examination. It always counts as relearning, because for a test you have to be very specific, touch bus parts as you talk about what exactly you are looking for, and usually you have to say things in a certain way. Each county or district or state can be slightly different than any other one you happened to work in, so it pays to just pretend like you have no idea what you're doing so your brain can keep the new script it needs to pass this time.

I've managed to make a new friend, and he is a very nice guy who lives in town. He has agreed to pick me up and drop me off on his way to and from the far terminal, and we have one other rider who has no car also. Jamie made the great suggestion that since I'm still itching for regular bike rides, that I see about riding to someplace to get picked up instead of just waiting at the apartment complex. It turns out that the other guy lives right near the West terminal, so everyone said it was fine if our chauffeur picks us both up there. That way I still get about a 3 mile ride. It is lovely in the morning and cool, and after staying outside all day practicing pre-trips or driving around I'm sure the afternoon heat won't bother me. I usually only get hot after I've stopped pedaling and making my own wind by moving forward.

I'm trying to tidy up the apartment for a tour video, because I really am not a slob and I don't want to look like one in a video. I successfully cleaned our bedroom this morning and organized my desk. My desk serves double-duty as computer station and crafting area, so I had to make sure it was easy to slip my laptop away and pull my sewing machine into use. I have a handy keyboard tray to be the laptop's home.

Today after organizing my desk, I promptly put it to use in fixing several things in my new clothes. My turquoise shirt-dress did not survive it's first wash in the apartment machines. The evil thing tried to rip off my collar ties. (The dryer tries to eat bra straps and drawstrings.) I had just about decided that I didn't like the bowtie collar anyway, but being half ripped-off was more of an emergency-fix situation. The ties didn't remain flat and liked to get all wonky. I don't have an iron to constantly fix them, so today the neckline of the dress became plain.
I removed the hem in my lovely brown pants as well. It turns out that even if you think your fabric was washed, if you have a doubt- wash it! My pants have shrunk slightly. I'm not certain if they are tight enough to be uncomfortable, but they are definitely too short! I only had 1" tucked under for a hem and I'm not certain if that will even be enough to reach the ground now. Pre-wash your fabric!
Lastly, I just had to add a pocket to my lime green jumper. I love having a dress, but I simply cannot go without a pocket for my cell phone. I refuse. Instead of exterior pockets like the turquoise dress has, I simply split the side seam and made an inside pocket that goes across the whole side-front section of the princess seam. Seems to have worked perfectly, though it was a pain to put it in there.

I think I'd like to review each pattern and share my thoughts on them in case anyone else would like to make clothes. I know my mom is interested in at least one, and so I've made sure to cut out my fabric by folding the tissue paper instead of just cutting along my size line. I'll post more pictures of each outfit too, because my phone didn't get a great photo to share with everyone, and I'm very happy with the start of my new home-made wardrobe.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Training Begins!

This week is the start of our 2 1/2 week training session with the school district. Is it too early to say yet again that I love my job?

This district is a cross between all the good things of my previous employers, it seems. It has structure and rules and paperwork like Durham and Flagler, but also perks to reward that paperwork. I found out that in this discipline system (very much like the one in Flagler with phone calls to parents being one of the first steps) I will have the authority to directly suspend students for misbehavior. Only for a few days, but I won't have to go through anyone else as long as I have documentation of the previous discipline steps. I can't tell you exactly why that ability pleases me so much, as I likely won't get to use it. I only remember having had to write up students when an injury was involved, because otherwise that phone call meant the end of whatever the issue was.

We'll start driving next week, but the buses appear to be mostly front-engine stub-nose types. I admit that I think I'll fall in love with them again. The placement of the cross-view mirrors on the hood in front of the driver like that is simply easier for me to see comfortably as a short person crammed beneath that steering wheel. On the flat buses I was pretty much unable to use those- which was fine as far as I was concerned because there is that huge clear windshield to see in front of the bus instead. These buses have a few different types of child-check alarms too. I'm certain I will set off at least two of them accidentally. We'll give it a month for that guess to prove true or false, and if residents in the area hear the completely obnoxious sound of a car alarm amplified through 40 feet of bus and echoing off the buses around it- that might be me. While I hate child check systems, it is unfortunately true that not every driver is as attentive to that duty as I currently am. I hope when I've been driving as long as some other employees that I'm still as religious in walking through and checking for sleeping kids. And lastly, the buses here also have automatic student lights that switch from yellow to reds when the service door opens. Hooray! I really like that feature too.

This district also has great people to work with. Our director (supervisor) loves frogs! We walked into his office for introductions and I was grinning like a fool. There are frogs all over the place: sculptures on the desk, stuffed frogs lounging on bookcases, pictures, all different colors sizes and poses. Our trainer is absolutely hilarious. We're having a good time getting through most of the material, though we get slogged down by the tedious details still. I simply love all the stories being told in vague details, but with such a personal flair from each person that I'm really getting a feel for what it is like to work here. These drivers and aids really love their kids. We have several previous drivers returning to the district, a bunch of aids training to be able to drive, and then the newbies like me transferring in. We even have at least one true newbie who hasn't driven before. I think there are about 13 of us total, but I haven't actually counted.

Overall, I'm very excited. Next week we will be done in the classroom and out driving around. Then the beginning of the week after that will be randomly assigned drive-testing. We determine seniority based on the order in which we get a copy of our licenses to the office after testing. I'd rather go first not just for the rank, but to get it over with too.

I'm excited because tomorrow I get to ride my bike. Our class is being held in the West terminal both Wednesdays, which is the one close to home.

(I haven't forgotten an apartment tour. I'm getting things cleaned up slowly and will be done tonight since my twin is visiting tomorrow, and so I'll get a walk-though filmed soon, I promise.)

Lastly, Jamie has a job now too! He will be part-time and continue going to school. What is really perfect about this is that the community college is literally across the street from the store. Both are less than 3 miles from the apartment. Hooray!

I have to go find a tree to rap my knuckles on, this seems too good to be true. Dare I hope?
Happy Tuesday!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pascal Goes East

He's not Fifel and he traveled the opposite direction, but I think this little lizard could star in his own movie.

Meet the cast: a Beagle with a nose for adventure named Grunt, a human Charlie to operate the vehicle going East under the guise of  helping his daughter, and the deaf old Jack Russel who distracts everyone with constant grumpy growling and therefore protects the adventurous Pacal.

Traffic was sometimes slow...

And the terrain was sometimes terrifying. Yes, that diagonal stripe is the road, and yes, Pascal is afraid of heights when they are THAT big.

Clinging to the window for dear life. Please oh please don't fall off the road.

Hassling the driver. Did we HAVE to go up that Wall of Death? Yes, we made it, but its a good thing I wasn't riding here when we were going up it. By the way, the smudge on the window... um... that's a bug you smushed. Wasn't me. 

What strange creatures live in the desert. Too hot for Pascal, no thanks. Onward!

This could be a nice place.

Yay for modern conveniences!


Hrm. I see the light! I want out!

Traveling is tiring. The grumpy dog makes a comfy bed if he falls asleep first. Shh.

Hanging out with the other driver. He seems like a fun guy too.

This place is too flat. And salty. I would call it the Salt Flats, I think. Anyone got a drink handy?

My turn to drive!

A pretty end to the day.

A lizard's vision isn't great, but can you make out the Morton Salt girl on the side of that building?

Pascal doesn't see well in the dark, but the rest of the trip was uneventful. He made it to Colorado, but perhaps we'll need to fill in the gap for an actual movie. For now he'll just make a scrapbook, perhaps.

Not An Itty-Bitty Living Space

Hello from my new Colorado apartment!

It took absolutely forever for paperwork to go through on this place, but we finally have a spot to call our own. My husband and I are splitting a two-bedroom two-bath second-story apartment with my husband’s best friend. The complex has two separate pools, a fitness room (which I haven’t seen yet) and even a small fenced area for dogs. I’ll be filming a short tour later on for family and friends, after I’ve cleaned up some of the mess of unpacking!

In the meantime, you might have noticed that my blog has been rather uneventful. Jamie set up his computer with our huge tv, and it hurts my eyes to try and use it for very long, and while my computer is a laptop, it felt like moving in to crack it open, so I left it alone. The boys have their video games and other things to occupy their time, but I was starting to get really bored with nothing to do but wait.

Mammy saved me. She is our friend’s mother, and it was her basement we were occupying. She has a wonderful garden occupying most of her back yard and a lot of the front, with delicious berries and other foods growing in them, and the occasional flower or two. She also is a crafty person, and one day she came out of a nook bearing a box of crafting supplies. She set me up with pre-cut pieces to make a flower-shaped pin cushion. My hand-sewing was rusty, but it didn’t take long for my stitching to straighten out and stop being an eyesore.

Now, I was stitching like crazy, but sewing by hand takes forever. Before I managed to complete the flower cushion Mammy brought out an armload of fabric. She gave it to me. There were two brown bottom-weight fabrics, a bunch of light yellow, light pink and dark pink with dots, a ton of turquoise, and some black with stripes of flowers and vines. Not only that, but she took me on a field trip out of the house to the quilt shop and a local fabric store called Hancock. There were so many beautiful quilting fabrics! We oohed and ahhhed over nearly everything in there, and looked at all kinds of creations hung up on the walls. We have similar tastes, Mammy and I.

I think the quilt shop spoiled us a bit, because it seemed like Hancock was much more plain after that. We did find some great things though, and Mammy insisted on treating me to fabric in order to make a dress that I had a pattern for. We chose a bright lime green fabric with a tight pattern of white swirls- very much a fun summertime fabric. It was perfect. While browsing she also bought me a remnant of gorgeous gauzy stuff that had animal print and purples and yellows in a very busy but very pretty effect. The different elements of the patterns and colors remind me of a calico cat. Then she found some tye-dye green fabric that was super-soft. I didn’t know that made it into the cart until we were at the cutting counter. Mammy found a white fabric with fun spots and dots in bright blue and red with lime green and I think purple, as well as several of her preferred batik fabrics. Those are kinds with a watercolor or soft tye-dye effect, and usually have a pattern in a different watercolory pattern or contrasting colors- it is hard to describe.

We brought home our treasures, and I have been happily sewing non-stop for days.

My first dress was the lime green jumper (which seems to just be a sleeveless dress). The collar facing was sort of skimpy, and refused to lie flat. It also touched me, so that I constantly felt it against my chest, and it was just weird. So, I used an embroidery stitch and tacked it down. I changed the hem to have that stitch also so it turned out rather pretty, though you might not notice it from far away.

Before the embroidery

Secondly, I discovered that the gauzy calico fabric looked perfect with one of the brown fabrics mammy had given me already. So I planned an outfit of shirt and pants, but I had no idea what to line the shirt with. While yellow and pink looked good with the gauze, the pattern washed out with a light color beneath it. Mammy magically appeared with the perfect dark purple to use! I mean this color is so perfect it’s like I went out and bought it on purpose. To keep the shirt’s fun feeling, I used a bright yellow zipper in the back. It just spoke to me, I had to do it.

I had my own buttons for the brown pants, but Mammy’s zipper collection helped them out too. I felt guilty using up her supplies, but she swears that is what it is for, and I know I would share the exact same way if my craft stores were not nearly non-existent. So, then I had a fun jumper and a pretty fun but sophisticated pants outfit.

Next, I wanted to do something with all that lovely turquoise fabric. There was so much of it, I knew I wanted a long dress. I had a button-up shirt pattern, so I decided to do a shirt dress and combine patterns with the longer version of the jumper. The shirt had a one-piece back while the jumper had princess seams, but I think it turned out wonderfully, and I’m wearing it right now as I type this tonight. I found out to my utter delight that the color matches my flip-flops just about perfectly too. Yay!! I still have fabric left over if I feel like making a regular shirt.

Mammy has tons of other claims on her time, including work, but she has sewn several new shirts too. One has nifty tabs and keyhole details on the sleeves. She does it all so effortlessly, without any pattern for the alterations, while I have pretty much stuck to what the pattern directions tell me to do. I blended the shirt and jumper pattern decently though, and added pockets. I’ve learned a bunch about garment construction along the way. The pants pattern was from the Simplicity Amazing Fit collection, and they really are just about perfect and extremely comfortable. That would be the entire point of sewing your own clothes! I will have to make sure to visit their house often for crafty social time- the thought of sewing more outfits from the fabric she gave me all by myself (well, you know- without a kindred crafter-spirit) in the new apartment is somewhat depressing.

We have most of our stuff moved in, but are still in the process of unpacking, and there some items still left in Mammy’s house that we need to get. She has donated a comfy couch to us, and I believe the kitchen table with two chairs will live with us here too. I’m scouring craigslist for a king-sized mattress. There are tons of postings for free stuff and I’ve seen two ads already that I missed out on, but it shouldn’t take long to find ourselves a bed for nothing but gas money.

Anyway, it’s getting late now. You’ll be happy to know that our internet is now set up, and you’ll be seeing much more frequent blog posts from me again. My job starts training classes next Monday, and I’m sure I’ll have bunches to talk about.