Monday, May 28, 2012

Things I have bought for my kitten

I bought a hair dryer today. It is the first I have owned in more than twenty years, and it is for my kitten.

I have had Dashiell (after Dashiell Hammett, our tiny Tuppence Beresford having been gender re-assigned) for ten days, but he seems to have amassed an astonishing amount of paraphernalia. He even has his own plant, something called cat grass, and his own pink-handled cat nail clippers, though it proved better to use people clippers instead for his manicure.


Toileting supplies
A litter box with sides and an open top, per Jackson Galaxy
A stopgap plastic serving tray (because the litter box was too deep for him to get in and out of easily)
Two 4 lb containers of litter
Litter box liners
Litter box scoop
Pet wipes

Food supplies
Plastic mat for dishes
Two boxes dry kitten food
Case canned "babycat" food
Three cartons of kitten milk
Chicken-flavored treats
Pet fountain (as yet unused)

Fleece cat bed (though he has appropriated my favorite wool and velvet Pottery Barn throw instead)
Seagrass scratching post
Seagrass, carpet & fabric chaise lounge
Medium dog-sized pet carrier (because we worried the cat carrier wouldn't be big enough)

Three mice toys
A stuffed squeaky monkey
Three dangling toys, one with three interchangeable dangles
Blue plastic cat roulette wheel with corrugated cardboard center, designed to be impregnated with included catnip (very clever)
4 wicker balls with bells inside (biggest hit)

Health and beauty
Two allegedly dander-trapping mats
Allercat wash (brilliant)
Frontline (though he's too small)
$20 veterinary surgical deposit (he was too small)
Washcloths (frozen ones are supposed to be good for teething cats)
A watergun for training (so far just used once when he climbed on the dining room table)

Plus two plastic baskets to hold it all and a dedicated metal garbage can for the litter.

It has been mind-boggling demanding, having this kitten, but quite rewarding nonetheless. I am actually wishing I wasn't going to be away much of June, because he is so beguiling.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

O tempora! O mores!

When I was younger, I was obsessed with etiquette books. We had Amy Vanderbilt at home, but I also studied Emily Post and even Miss Manners and kept them out of the school and public library, respectively. Now, my go-to is the 1940s version of Vogue's Book of Etiquette and Good Manners, most recently used to tell a colleague how exactly to address a letter to the governor and his wife. Why was that such a predilection of my preteen self? Not out of a search for some yardstick to measure other's behavior and find it lacking, but because I was anxious about not causing any unintended offense to other people. That's a preoccupation that seems to have fallen by the wayside in modern life.

Sunday, we had our school baccalaureate. I have almost gotten used to people wearing jeans and other casualwear in church, but I was astonished that some twenty-something girls I considered quite well-brought-up were looking at, and typing on, their phones during the entire service.

But nothing has bothered me as much as the audience at last night's band concert. I got there early to get a good seat in the third row, but a man in front of me began capturing video (and exclusively of his son, I noticed, no other members of the percussion ensemble) by holding up his iPad directly in my line of sight. In the second row of the auditorium. And his wife was doing the same with her phone. Instead of enjoying their son's performance, they were obsessed with recording it. (My closely-related current number-one pet peeve is people in museum photographing art instead of looking at it. Buy a postcard, it will be better than your snaps. But that's a post for another day.)

Before the concert began, another family sat just behind me. The older man -- I'm assuming a grandfather -- was speaking very loudly and with quite salty language. When their student entered the stage, he started whistling, then complaining loudly that the child did not acknowledge his whistles. Things only deteriorated at the intermission. He started talking again and did not stop when the concert resumed. Given that he was raising his voice in competition with the musicians, I was barely able to make out the songs. Since the video-obsessed family had left (another pet peeve -- stay until the end! even if your child performs first!), I decided to move to their abandoned row. For one minute, I was gripped with anxiety about the potential rudeness of moving in the middle of the concert, and of letting those people behind me know they had driven me to it, but I went for it. And the man stopped talking. And two of my favorite former students came up to me after the concert ended. They had seen me stand up, they said, in the middle of that song. So score one for my own rudeness.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I have a kitten!

Thursday morning during the mid-morning break, one of my favorite ninth graders poked into the library to tell me there were kittens in the courtyard. I don't think I have ever moved so quickly. I saw the mama cat and two kittens and heard from the assembled crowd that there were five kittens sighted before I went to the principal's office. He kindly told me I could take all of them, but I knew the one I wanted: the orange stripey kitten that had been furthest from the bushes. Within five minutes, I had her (as verified by two biology teachers) in a cardboard box in the library office.

I haven't had a cat in years, because most of them trigger my allergies. Not this one yet, knock wood. Hundreds of dollars of kittens supplies later, I have a pet for the first time in my adult life. It's an absolutely adorable and perfectly well-behaved little thing. We haven't settled on a name, but are considering Tuppence, after Tuppence Beresford in the Agatha Christie books.

Two other rescued kitten spent much of the day in the library. They drew whole classes of students and teachers. If there is a tragedy in all of this, is the ugliness that came out when it came to adopting the other kittens. Everyone wanted them. Fortunately, another student's cat just had nine gray kittens, so I was able to re-direct many inquiries.

Librarian-and-cat jokes aside, it is nice to have something so cuddly and reassuring about. My husband says he doesn't see much dissertating getting done with the kitten on my shoulder, but there have been worse distractions.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What I've been up to...

Long time, no blogging...not that I haven't had anything to say.

School goes insanely long this year, into the week after Memorial Day, a first for me as a teacher. And just when I think things can't get any more intense at work, they somehow manage to do just that. I have more than a hundred seniors I have to shake down for books or fines, my least favorite part of my job. I am also in the middle of a very messy and probably inaccurate year-end inventory that I keep calling cursed because one thing after another seems to be going wrong. Worst of all, public education seems to be continue being demonized beyond belief by our state legislature.

Well, the charter schools bill looks dead, thank goodness. But the latest involves a super-late mandatory start date and a super-early mandatory stop date for public schools, practically eliminating our week-long fall break and maybe even a week-long spring break. Our governor actually vetoed the bill in favor of local boards setting their own calendars, but was overruled but the legislature, which also is not allowing systems like mine that already set a calendar to opt out. I've hear that students with existing travel plans during that week will be "forgiven," but what about teachers? I am torn between wanting to book tickets before our local board is forced to compress our school year and the realization that I don't want to be away from school for a week next fall, not when I have lots of small trips like the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (two personal days), the YALSA Lit Symposium (one professional leave day) and ALAN (two professional leave days, though it may be three if we lose the Wednesday before Thanksgiving).

I love to get away during fall and spring, when the crowds and international airfares tend to be less than over the summer.  The past few years, I've been so busy during with conferences and workshops  in June and July, it would be impossible to get away for an entire week. And quite frankly the idea of working pretty much non-stop through the academic year chills me to the bone. Some legislators are suggesting it's a move to increase tourism tax revenue over the summer, but the state Association of School Boards says that it has more to do with cheap labor provided by our students. Seasonal businesses don't want their employees skipping out to return to class before late August.

So I have one eye on the calendar, and one eye on my former students who seem to be marrying and graduating college in droves, with many of them becoming schoolteachers. Think about how long a first year in the classroom would be without any time to recoup and plan. It's going to be a long year for all of us.