Pros and Cons of Being a Substitute Teacher

As many people know, finding an ideal job is, well, tough, even under the best circumstances. The key really is NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK. And what do you do when most of your working life has been spent overseas, and not in the small community to which you decide to move?

You NETWORK! And network I did, then was fortunate to be called in as a substitute teacher at a local high-school.

Now, all the searches out there turn up posts about how rough it is, how un-wonderful. But there are a lot of great things about being a sub.

Pros

    I am getting enough work at just one school, so I don’t find myself all over the place
    I have taught there enough to get to know many of the students
    The school is close to home, so I don’t need to battle traffic or crappy roads;
    I do not work long hours at all – basically, a full day would be 8:30-ish to 3:45-ish
    I don’t need to pay much on gas at all – heck, I can jog to the school if I wanted to.
    I don’t have to pay for parking
    I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the regular teachers – who are all friendly and nice

Cons

    I work “on call” – so, I can never really make plans ahead of time
    I only get paid for when I work, and for how much I work on a given day
    There is NO job security; they don’t even have to fire me – they can simply decide to stop calling
    I, of course, get no benefits (no medical, no vacation time)

So, there you have it – the pros do outweigh the cons! I honestly can’t complain, especially in this frigid weather, when commuting sucks, and getting home after dark sucks!

New Year, 2014!

And a New Year begins!

I passed a fairly quiet New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. This suited me, as my car is still in bad shape with the bumper and tail-light hanging off, and the weather has been abominable! Seriously – we had a deep DEEP freeze of temperatures not getting about minus 20 Celsius. Cars wouldn’t start all around the Ottawa-Gatineau area; mine did start, but only because I park in my indoor garage, which, though not heated, is above freezing.

So, that was my New Year …

Dexter – Ready for Christmas

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Christmas, a set on Flickr.

I got Dexter dressed up a bit in preparation for Christmas. He didn’t really like the antlers at all, and so I was lucky to even get one photo where he wasn’t pulling them off his head :)

I then used the photos to make cards in Photoshop Elements, following a tutorial from Digital Scrapper!

Merry Christmas!

It’s still early on Christmas morning – and it’s going to be a cold but sunny day! It’s only minus 22 right now, and is supposed to warm up to minus 18 I heard. That’s ok – we’re warm and have a cozy home to stay in. Later today my mother, Dexter and I are going to my brother’s for Christmas dinner.

In the meantime – I’m already enjoying the holiday morning, as are Dexter and Nox :)

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Rear-Ended. And F’d Over!

While driving a friend to her hair dresser appointment on Saturday past (December 21st), I got rear-ended as I was waiting to merge onto a busy street. The other guy was 100% at fault. He knew it, and gave me his business card. Turns out he owns an auto body shop. Said he’d fix it right up, just call him on Monday.

So – we forewent insurance and police report. More fool me. The old man (yes, he’s a geezer), is willing to fix the car, but only at his garage way the hell far away from me, and no, of course he won’t give me a loaner car while mine is being repaired. I asked him how I can get home then, well, that, apparently, is my problem.

I called my insurance company, and especially because I have only 1-way coverage, I am screwed. The agent told me that the man is only responsible to fix the car. It sucks that he’s not being more accomodating, but unless he refuses to repair the car, there is nothing I can do.

So – I’ll have to find someone to drive behind me and bring me home, then repeat the process to pick up the car. Or have to ride several buses for 2 hours. And I will miss at least one, probably more, days of work. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid – so this accident, which is not my fault at all, is costing me quite a lot in the end.

I have one word for the geezer – A**H***e!

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Deep Freeze…missing my runs :(

It is not really even winter yet. Not officially, anyway, since the solstice is on the 21st of this month. And yet Рboy, does it ever feel like winter!

Here’s my local forecast (in Celsius):

Weather for Gatineau, Dec. 14, 2013

Weather for Gatineau, Dec. 14, 2013

As you can see – it is a real deep freeze out there. I had to park outside last night, since I’m dog-sitting for a friend who does not have a garage or indoor parking. And, naturally, my car didn’t start this morning.

I am not a big fan of running on the icy roads, or through deep snow, or in the freaking cold! And so it is with a gentle yearning that I look back on this photo of a nice trail that I was running on in late November…

My running trail, only dusted with snow

My running trail, only dusted with snow

November Snowfall

Last week, on November 26th and 27th, we had our first real snowfall of the 2013/2014 season. We ended up getting about 25cm of snow. Which I suppose isn’t that much, but it’s certainly enough. Especially since I decided not to hire a plow service for my drive way this year, and have to shovel it myself!

Dexter, though, has no complaints about the snow – he loves it!

Going for a neighborhood walk

Going for a neighborhood walk

Playing in the yard

Playing in the yard

Back to Basics: A Paper Agenda!

I have tried to go fully digital, using Google Calendar and Toodle Do to help me organize my days, my weeks, my life. Especially these days, as an independent contractor, I am working different jobs on different days, organization is important. Not only to remember where I should be, but also to remember where I was, and to make sure I get paid!

Anyway, for years I’ve tried digital. I am a techno-geek, after all, so going digital makes sense. But actually – I found navigating to the calendar on my phone, tapping the Add Event button, typing in the times, etc… very clumsy and time consuming. Not smooth at all. Then, when it came time to assess my hours and issue invoices, I was fumbling through the calendar on my pc, clicking back and forth between it and Excel… Really really just a tedious and clumsy way to be “organized” for me. I emphasize the “for me” part – I know many people prefer to use their apps, and are much more graceful about it. But at heart, I am an old fashioned paper and pen kind of person!

Which is why I am thrilled to now be using an 8.5 x 11 spiral bound agenda that I picked up on liquidation at Target last week. This agenda is from July through June, so I’ll need another one next summer – but for $3.99, it is even worth twice the price. I’ve been using it regularly, with ease, to note my work hours, my appointments, my weight gain/loss, my workouts, EVERYTHING.

This is one techno-geek who is super happy to be back to basics :)

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Today’s Lunch – Thai Green Curry

Another day of not working, and again I stayed productive and healthy. I prepared this green Thai curry in the morning, before heading out for a little 7km run.

I had to use that Thai Kitchen curry paste, which I really didn’t care for, but could not find my favourite Mae Ploy paste recently. I will be heading into Ottawa’s Chinatown to hunt down some of my faves on a nice day for sure.

Anyhoo – I bought some nam pla (fish sauce), which really did give my curry some added body that it had been missing. Served over some nice Jasmin rice, this was one of the nicest lunches I’ve had in a while.

Again, though – nobody to share it with, so that does diminish it somewhat!

Almost done!

Almost done!

Preparations

Preparations

Glorious Coconut Oil!

I read Dr. Mercola’s articles almost daily when they arrive in my inbox – one of the few ‘newsletters’ that I subscribe to, and probably the only one that I read regularly. And when I read today’s article about the many uses of coconut oil, I was more excited than usual. Though I have recognized for some time the health benefits of consuming coconut oil in lieu of other oils (it’s natural, satisfying, does not go rancid, etc), I had not really considered its many other uses.

Other uses include, but are not limited to: moisturizer, shaving cream, lip balm, toothpaste… and, according to the above article, coconut oil can alleviate conditions such as bug bites, vaginal dryness, and bloody noses. It can be used as household cleaner, too…really, the uses are endless. (see the above mentioned article!)

Considering that I’ve had a large jar of the stuff sitting in my pantry for over a year, I was excited today – since I had a rare day off – to put the oil (and my time) to good use. I had an empty jar from some expensive L’Oreal moisturizer, so I used that and crammed it full of coconut oil. This will take care of my moisturizing requirements!

I also followed this recipe from The Liberated Kitchen to make lip balm!

I bought a piece of bees wax and some organic peppermint oil from my local health food store (Sol on rue Principal), and already had (of course) coconut oil and olive oil on hand. I doubled the recipe used by The Liberated Kitchen…

The recipe:
4 tsp bees wax (grated)
3 tsp coconut oil
3 tsp olive oil
4 drops of organic peppermint oil

The ingredients: coconut oil, olive oil, bees wax, peppermint oil and an empty jar!

The ingredients: coconut oil, olive oil, bees wax, peppermint oil and an empty jar!

I heated the oils and wax up in a small pot – enough to melt and blend, but not to boil! I then added the peppermint and stirred prior to filling up my container.

My recipe made this 15ml container, and there was enough left to almost fill a second one (if I’d had a second one).

My home-made lip balm!

My home-made lip balm!

The verdict: Awesome!

What I’d do differently: Add more peppermint oil next time!