Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Biting My Tongue

A Degree of Understanding


In my front yard.

I was crouched down by the paint brushes, straightening when the wife of the well-dressed couple approached me.

"I apologize for my husband's behavior," she said.  "He shouldn't treat any human being like that."

She seemed like a nice person despite the condescending statement:  any human being, meaning, even though you are not as exalted, you deserve to be treated well.  All I could feel was pity for her, that she had to live with him.  He was not nice.  In fact, he'd deliberately challenged me with what he thought were his superior intellectual skills.  I, after all, was just a hourly worker.

I almost told her to tell him, in a quiet moment, that the woman at the paint counter he thought was stupid was actually an engineer. But I didn't, because that brought me to his level and really, my degree didn't matter and she was right. He should treat all fellow humans with respect.  For some people, money and educational degrees are not a way to better oneself, it is a way to feel superior to others, entitled even.  "I am paying you, so I get to act any way I want."

The funny thing is that I was able to best him in his picked argument and it didn't require an engineering degree.  We were discussing paint with and without primer.  I explained that the primer-containing paint dried twice as thick as the one without.

"How much wall space does each gallon cover?" he asked.

Up to four hundred square feet.  He began to bluster that if one paint went on thicker than the other, then mathematically that was impossible.  He began throwing out numbers.  I breathed deeply and tried to calm myself.  You might be right, I explained, mathematically if the paint went on differently, but chemically, the paints dry differently, leaving one thicker than the other.  I was taught this at work and on the Internet, not in engineering school.

"Well, you've got me there," he said.  It didn't improve his disposition.  It was a Friday night.  Had he been drinking?  As I saw on a sign, I'm not a proctologist, but I know an asshole when I see one.

But then, I turned his behavior around on myself.  Was I ever the person that was impatient or thought I was better than the person serving me.  I know I have been.  At first, I was a bit ashamed of not having a professional job, but now it is a way to see things from another perspective and analyze why I would feel that way.  Why would I think that degree makes me better than anyone?  Why should it validate me?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Modern Huck


William and I continue to read Huckleberry Finn, after finishing Tom Sawyer.  For days, Wm has asked if Huck will ever see Tom again.  We've finally reached the point in the book where Huck and Tom reunite.  Although it is difficult to discuss and read aloud the "N" word, the book has really captured Wm's interest and provided much discussion.

Continuing to find hands on ways to learn about the books, we attended the play "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" last week.  This week, we went down to the Ohio River to imagine what it might have looked like floating down a wide river on a raft.


William took off his shoes and threw out a line to get a better feel for river life.  The large dock was our "raft".  Fishing for bass because that's how his line equipment was set up, he got nary a bite.  Still, we were enjoying the peace and quiet.  

About that time, a woman from the next dock came over.  She and her boyfriend might be able to eat an ear of corn if they shared - their teeth that is.   I inwardly sighed.  Too soon to judge, I found out, for she and her boyfriend were the kindest and gentlest of people, talking to my son and giving him a different hook and "stink bait" to try for a catfish. He reeled in someone's abandoned fishing line, but was at least a little gratified to find a nice sinker on the line (along with a good amount of vegetation).  

There was plenty of work waiting for me at home, lots I "should" have been doing, but somehow, seeing a boy enjoying life on a river was much more important today.




Notes:
I LOVE my iPad, don't get me wrong, but I brought it and my Kindle, both gifts from my very generous Dad, to the river so I'd have something to do while son fished.  I found the bright sunshine made it really hard to see the iPad screen, and I quickly returned it to the car.  The Kindle, however, was easily read from my easy chair on the dock.  


What am I reading?


High Five

It's interesting the number of people that think my weekend job is "below me".  I laugh.  Give me a break:  I've been vomited on, pooped on, stepped on by a horse.  Besides, my mantra is "Jesus was a carpenter".  By comparison, the work is clean and easy, if only a bit frustrating at times for lack of support, training, feedback, rude customers....oh, I digress.

Or perhaps not.  This past Friday, I came to work to find that two of the computers that must communicate to match paint samples were not communicating.  I suggested counseling, but they wouldn't hear of it.  So, I set about using my trouble-shooting skills.  I pulled the tinter machine from the wall, replaced ethernet cords, checked connections and rebooted several times.  The computer continued to give an error message:  it was not pinging to the mainframe.

Without parts, I was stuck.  Frankly, I was not sure I was even allowed to get behind the machine.  Oooohhh.....it's all special and techie and there are cords and I could get shocked.  For goodness sakes, it is a computer.  At any rate, I called IT and requested service.

By Sunday, after an enlightening Saturday on the cash register, I was back in paint.  The computer was still failing to ping.  With no parts, I went about our daily tasks.  We had some extra time, and so I was cleaning a corner inside the employee "cage" when I came upon an AWESOME discovery - a spare black box thingy that I was sure was the culprit with my non-pinging computer (thingy is one of the most advanced tech words, I assure you).  It wasn't connected to anything, just hanging there!

Unscrewing it from the wall, I changed it out, rebooted both computers and voila!  PING.  I suppose the fist pumping and little dance I did wasn't very professional, (I made two customers smile) but it was so fun, so uplifting to have fixed the problem.  It was then that I realized the challenge was so energizing.  I called IT and told them to cancel our request for service, and given that it was a network issue, the tech on the other end said rather loudly, "HOW did you do THAT?"  Oh, we just figured it out, I said, spare parts found, etc.

It is most likely that I've seen too many Tom Peters videos back in the 80s, but I believe in employees taking action and control where it is safe to do so.  And perhaps if more hourly people could, they'd have the occasion to do a little dance and pump their fists.

Monday, October 24, 2011

video


It's bad enough I have to get after William for watching too much TV, now I have to chastise the cats!

Notes:
It was wonderful to have one daughter home for the weekend and looking forward to seeing the other later this week!  It has been mentioned by both that they miss the animals, and humans, too, of course.

I told a co-worker that I've a new hobby:  vermiculture.  He said he had one of those once but the wheels fell off.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Rumpelstiltskin

Attitude is everything, but there are moments I envision myself the princess in the Rumpelstiltskin story, working desperately around the clock at an impossible task.  Okay, a very elderly princess.  But this week, with a pile of hay and a few horses, I was able to make gold!

Mr. Richardson, an tall, slightly bent, elderly neighbor, came to my door one morning, and knocked, setting off all the dogs and creating a chaos in the middle of William's piano lesson.  He was asking for another load of composted horse manure.  Usually, he comes for several loads in the spring for his wife's garden and flowers. I asked him to come back in the afternoon.  

After loading his trailer, he asked, as he always does, how much he owed me.  As always, I said that he owed nothing, I was happy to be able to share.  But Mr. Richardson wanted to give in return, and asked if I wanted some eggs?  Well, we can easily go through six eggs a day and though our hens try really hard, they can't keep up with us.  

The next day, the doggy doorbell went off and there was Mr. Richardson with two dozen golden eggs and a jar of his golden honey.  


I asked if he'd made that honey and he replied that no, his bees did.




Tuesday, October 11, 2011


It's so pretty outside, cats are sprouting in my flower pots!

Yesterday at the ballpark, I smelled something rank as soon as I sat down.  Unmistakable smell of sewer.  Perhaps I was imagining it, but no, when dh showed up, he wrinkled his nose.  By about the second inning, an announcement was made, "Sorry for the inconvenience, folks, but the bathrooms are closed due to the sewer backing up."  The game proceeded anyway.

By the third inning, dh noticed water coming up behind the umpire along the fence. Every ball that passed by the catcher ending up in the muck, and it wasn't Texas gold bubbling up.  The ump held the ball gingerly with two fingers, and then tossed it in the grass.  A mom finally noticed and ran to tell the ballpark manager to see if something could be put out to cover the puddles forming, which evidently were coming from the broken sewer.  Wisely, he "called" the game, and we won in the third inning, the game not to be made up because it is "fall ball" and not so serious.  

The coach gathered the team around him after and said it was too bad the game was called because they had been playing very well.  

"Yeah," said dh, "That was a crappy way to end a game."

Monday, October 10, 2011



Homeschooling is at its best when real life activities enhance lessons.  We had finished Tom Sawyer and were moving on to Huckleberry Finn when the opportunity arose to ride on a steamboat.  The river and steamboats play a large role in Huck Finn's life, so the trip dovetailed nicely.  We'd just read about the wrecked passenger steamboat where Huck and Jim narrowly escaped looting murderers and were up to the part where Huck's and Jim's raft is run over by a steamboat in the night.  Huck had to dive 30 feet to avoid the above paddle wheel.   William looked over the railing, "I could just watch this all day!"


The hands-on lesson included methods of transportation, how the boat was powered, 
and a little bit of river history.


It was interesting to watch how the boat was parallel parked, using ropes and 
the various jobs on the boat.

Notes:
Aunt Mary, the bantam hen, finally figured out it was a golf ball and not an egg and has risen from her nest.

Jorgen, Gotland pony, is doing well and it is time for me to start working him again.  What beautiful weather to ride a horse!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Did I Ever Have It?

I had my friend going for awhile there.  Despite having just turned a year older, I still "have it" I told her:  a guy at work hit on me. Yep, he said if I wouldn't mind sharing my phone number, maybe we could go to a movie some time.  Really? she asked, looking slightly impressed.  I then asked if it diminished my story at all to admit that the gentleman asking was 81 years old?  After all, what's thirty years?


Self Reflection on my birthday

Notes:
"Aunt Mary", a black bantam hen, is broody.  Now why would she want a batch of chicks just as the weather is getting colder?  I know I don't, so I put a golf ball under her and take out any eggs donated by other hens.  See, other hens will come and lay in her nest.  She takes that opportunity to get up and go eat, knowing that the laying hen will keep her golf ball warm.  The laying hen will then get up, and let Aunt Mary have her egg, conserving the collective energy of the flock.  Using a golf ball, I know that all eggs are fresh and can be taken.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Crooked Path

Now that I have my red composting worm farm operational, I gathered books at the library and studied up to give William a nice science lesson on worms.  Trying to involve him, I asked him to dump the kitchen scraps in the worm bin.  He took the bag at arms length, and promptly began gagging.  He has, sadly, not learned much from my investment.  Perhaps, I thought, he could handle looking at a shiny, clean red worm under the microscope.  I planned that for today.

While he worked on math problems on the iPad, which has become his new obsession (the iPad, not math problems), I went outside to do my horse chores.  On the way back, I found a puffball and plucked it to show to William.




That's when my lesson plan went off the track.  "Can we go outside and go mushroom hunting?  Can we go down by the creek?"

First, I did some research as he diced the puffball into many little pieces.  (Cutting up things is a favorite pasttime.) Although it is edible, I'm not that hungry yet.  I'll save that knowledge for the end times.  It is of the genus Lycoperdon, I think. "The name comes from lycos meaning wolf and perdon meaning to break wind; thus the name literally means wolf-farts."  Why is it that all study of anything with little boys eventually leads to the word "fart"?

We went out into the yard and found more wolf-farts, and many more types of mushrooms and fungus in the woods and down by the creek.




This is a chicken mushroom or Laetiporus cincinnatus, but again, I'll not be serving this up at dinner even if it does taste like chicken (which I doubt).


On a log that's fallen across the creek


So our learning takes a crooked path and not the one planned.  We follow what lights him up and makes him want to learn.  If only we all could do that.

Notes:
I can feel the winter coming.  Draining the pool today.  :-(
Reading The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn to William, having finished Tom Sawyer.
My favorite treat right now (besides chocolate of course!):  Planters Five Alarm Chili Dry Roasted Peanuts

What is this found on an oak tree?  Answering my own question:  oak apple gall.   Good thing I don't believe in folklore because I found nothing inside it! (See link.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Today's Homeschool Lesson: Zip On!

Some things just can't be learned in a book.


...The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  - FDR

Most of the time, what we fear most never happens. 


If you listen well, follow instructions, prepare, ask questions,
and then, have faith in yourself....



...you can achieve things you never thought you could!

"Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement."  - FDR

video


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Nine Year Old's Dreams

William:  You woke me up in the middle of my best dream.....
Me:  What were you dreaming of?
William:  Eating.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Science Lessons


Red (or White?) Oak Borer


William declared this a smart spider.
She built her web by our front porch light,
where she catches lots of moths and other insects.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Trip to Louisville Stoneware


Clay in process


Watching a potter


Kilns are not fired up until they are full


Chose a bowl to decorate


Intense concentration

Monday, July 18, 2011

More Poly-Ticking


Sometimes, opinions are solicited about the budget crisis.  I wish I could say that it is about us, the people, or even about the budget.  Truthfully, I don't think it is about either.  Power plays and political moves have no one in mind but the narcissists who play the game.  Social Security checks and veterans be damned.  We've got to make sure which party looks bad to the American public.

In case you might think that such poly-ticking is confined to Washington, we have our own backyard brand of it right here in Podunk, Kentucky.  Although a local wildlife rescue and educational center is zoned agricultural and conservation, although the director cleared her plans with neighbors and zoning before moving into a subdivision, she is being cited for zoning and home owners association restrictions that the rescue organization says do not mention the rehabilitation of wildlife.  They think they are right and they aim to shut her down.  It is possible they know the right people to do so, and perhaps it all comes down to that. Not what makes this planet a better place and preserves a little more of our humanity, but who is right, dammit.


Days old baby squirrel

Who will we call when we find an injured or abandoned critter?  We can't legally keep it or rehab it.  Animal writhing on the street in pain?  Look the other way, for no one in the county will help. Tell your kids that.  Compassion for animals?  Out the window.  But let me tell you, I hope that the children who are NOT taught compassion for living things are the ones who change YOUR diaper and feed you, Mr. Zoning and Mr. Home Owners Association, when you are in the nursing home.

You see, how we treat the smallest of creatures helps us to learn to see the bigger picture.  My animals, they cost a lot to keep.  They take a lot of work.  But through our animals, my children have learned responsibility, compassion, perseverance, the pain of loss, both the need to let animals be true to their nature and loving yet letting go, of caring for those around us, of compromise.  All this so that when confronted with a bigger life changing event, they've already understood what this means on a smaller scale, have already learned they can deal with it and live through it.

This center, it can teach children how to understand the world and those that inhabit it.  The compassion for animals translates to compassion for humans.  If you think it doesn't, and you want to take that chance, well then, we'll see who's right in the end.

P.S.  I visited "Phyllis", the now named and recuperating groundhog.  She has finished her medication and is recovering nicely.  She declined to smile for the camera, and slept for most of my visit.  There are hopes for her eventual release.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Car Game

While I am most certain there are girls that like fast and amazing cars (two of my bestest friends are among them), boys most certainly can be counted on to make the study of cars an academic subject.  I have had to learn the names, makes and models, cost (a Mustang costs well over $40,000), how fast they go, the merits of having a car that goes 150 mph when you can never drive that fast anyway....

When this age was reached, I was woefully unprepared as I was not a car aficionado.   I drive a beige mini-van, for goodness sakes.  Finding myself often in the car with young boys who like cars and ask a lot of questions, none of which I know the answer to or for that matter, care to, I had to come up with an entertaining diversion.  Hence, the birth of "the car game".

The car game has grown, changed rules, and sometimes varies with the participants or length of a trip.  You can adapt it, if you like, to your own whims.  Here are the basics:

As you drive, you may choose a car you see that you would like to be driving.  You are now driving this car.  You must call out the name of the car you see, and that you call it.  You may change your car a total of five times in an average trip (30 minutes).

Other participants, however, may "give" you another car, usually the most beat up, ugliest, or funniest car they see.  This car supersedes your previous car.   You now drive it until you find a car worth giving up one change of car.  Each participant may only twice give a car to each person.

New rule thanks to a recent development by friend "A":  the car must BE a car, have an engine, and actually run.  You may not give your mother a Port-O-Let, just because it is on wheels, nor a garbage can.  The car you give someone must not be broken down along side of the road, thereby stranding the other player there forever.  Granted this is funny, but is against the rules!

We have managed to have participants driving garbage trucks, a truck with corn oil shaped like an ear of corn, a truck hauling an airplane wing, and in a brilliant move, a Brinks truck.  Of course, the "prize" is finding a Viper, something I'd never even heard of a year or two ago.  I'd settle for anything under 100,000 miles!

I think I've found the perfect car for me, but I'm guessing that I'm unlikely to see it driving down the road, so I won't be able to call it.  All fantasy, of course.

One day, my lovely sister gave me a heart attack at 8 o'clock in the morning.  (She is not an early riser normally).

"Are you listening to this on NPR?" she asks.

I am wondering if there's been a terrorist attack, someone famous killed, the second coming of Christ.....  My heartbeat races.   "What?"

She tells me that on NPR right now they are talking about longevity, and goes on to repeat "a subset of motor vehicles is simply unstoppable".  I begin to breathe again.  Apparently, if a car lasts beyond a certain number of miles, it is just as likely to keep going.  Forever.  Terrific.  I'll be 80 years old and still driving Eugene the Van.  No Batmobile for me.  I thanked her for the heart attack.  I may not make eighty with phone calls like that.  The good news is that I'm easily recognized by my friends.  Not many drive a beige minivan from the late 90s. "There goes Eugene!" I imagine them saying.

Overheard:  "The more I read, the more I like it." - William

Note:  I know that I should have photos on my blog, but it seems that my batteries are jumping out of my camera and finding their way to TV controllers, xBox controllers and the like. "Not Me", my invisible Chinese son, is blamed when I ask who took my batteries?  I bought another pack today, and I'm hiding them in an undisclosed location.

Next blog:  Assembly Not Required

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It is SO hot....

...that the plastic string in the weed eater was melting in the head of it, and breaking off.  I hadn't figured out what was happening until the rental guy told me two other people had had the same experience this morning.  The plastic was fusing inside the feeder, keeping it from feeding out when I "bumped" it.  Myself, I was so hot that water was running down my face and my safety glasses were fogging up.  And this was at 8 a.m.

You may wisely ask why on earth I was weed eating in this heat?  There was a stand of weeds at the end of our driveway, preventing drivers in cars to see any cars coming up a dip in the road before our driveway.  I envisioned someone hitting my girls or a visitor, and it was a safety issue.  Because I had rented it for the day, I used the weed eater to also clean up some other taller weeds.

Pleased with my efforts and it getting hot, I returned the weed eater to the rental company, exchanged pleasantries with the owner, and drove home.  It was then I saw the "mowing ahead" signs.  The county had chosen THIS day to mow along the road.  Had I waited ONE day, they would have mowed down those weeds and I would not have been out in the heat cussing red plastic string.  I did get other spots done, too, so I'll focus on that.  It's like cleaning out a closet.  You know, how after a large cleaning out, you have to go several times a day, stand in front of the closet and look at it?  Now, I have to go look out the window a few times a day at my tidy borders.

I filled out Lauren's gas chart, where she keeps track of gasoline she uses so that she can reimburse us.  "mom" I write out in the column for driver.  Purpose:  "weed" I abbreviate for weed eater, not all of it fitting in the box.  That doesn't look good, I erase and write smaller, "weed eater".  Never tried the stuff and not going to start now.

The heat takes its toll.  Our hen, Rosy, the oldest of our brood, died in the nest box last night, doing what she does best.  I hadn't noticed she was ailing yesterday, and feel badly about that.  She was still laying now and again.  I have a fan on the baby chicks and have let out everyone but one rooster.

I go mid-day to hose off the horses.  They don't appreciate it, of course, until they're back in their stalls in front of their fans.  I'm hoping for a big thunderstorm today to cool things off.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Groundhog News

First, "he" is a "she".  After I wrote my blog yesterday, I again contacted the animal rehabilitator who agreed to take the groundhog.  Finding out that it is illegal here to keep any sort of wildlife unless you are a certified rehabber, I drove it to her place 12 miles down the road.

What an experience!  You see, you never know where you'll be led to learn when you pick up a groundhog in the road.  This woman has a beautiful place on 14 acres, a barn that looks like a ski lodge and is nicer and bigger than my house, except it houses raccoons and opposums!  She was reluctant at first to take my groundhog because after building a new outdoor enclosure (all of hers are tasteful, painted and not at all a detraction to the property), a neighbor has seen fit to cause her legal trouble and they're trying to shut her down.  She's the only rehabber for mammals in our county, she regularly educates school kids about mammals, and is certified and all that.

She took extra time to tell William and me all about the playful baby raccoons and the sleeping baby opposums.  The opposums' mother was found drowned in a koi pond.  When a human pulled her out, the babies were still alive in her pouch!  Amazing.  It looks like a great deal of work to keep cages clean (raccoons are messy) and yet, it looks like a show place.  She told William about her pet skunk and explained de-scenting.

We transferred the groundhog to a large cage, and as the rehabber picked her up, the groundhog urinated with blood in it.   She thought the hindquarters did not look right, so I left with not much optimism for the outcome.

This morning I received this email:

I am so happy to report that the groundhog seems so much better today. Yesterday, she was given some IV fluids as well as a strong antibiotic injection which she'll continue for a few days. She seemed more alert and when she peed on me for the second time (ha!) the blood was much more diluted. I have high hopes of a full recovery. It actually brought tears to my eyes this morning that she ate as soon as I offered her some food. She picked out her favorites and is leaving the rest for later.  She is also receiving a pain killer and anti inflammatory. Thanks for saving her. I don't think she'd be here today if it weren't for you.


So, we learned a little, connected with someone I'd just read about in the newspapers, and now, I'll write to my magistrate to protest the trouble they are giving this woman who is doing work no one else will do on her own time.  Perhaps there was a reason for a groundhog to be in the road.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck....?

In my mind, I see my son traveling around in a golf cart with his grandpa on his farm, stopping to drop rocks down the woodchuck, aka groundhog or whistle pig, holes.  Groundhogs can be dangerous to farmers, creating large holes in pasture, not to mention crop damage.  Juxtaposed to that image is the one of the two groundhogs that live in our bank's backyard.  For years, my girls and I have paused to watch them after a bank trip, assured that it was now spring because the groundhogs were out.

My quick trip to Walmart this morning brought these memories forward.  I swerved to miss something in the road, as did the car in front of me, and in my rearview mirror, I saw an animal injured and trying to crawl to safety.  I didn't know if it was a dog or cat, but I couldn't leave it.  I turned around and got out, instructing William to stay put, which he did not, of course.  It was a groundhog, hit by a car and panting heavily.  I could not leave the poor thing to lay there in the heat on the asphalt, waiting for the car that didn't swerve.  

In my car, I had my Walmart reusable shopping bags, so I gingerly scooped it up in one.  A man walking with his three children stopped to look, all of us peering at it.  William worried about me, fearful I'd get bitten or attacked.  A valid fear, I told him.  I tied the handles and we got in the car.  What to do?  I pictured the thing recovering quickly, getting out of the bag and attacking!  But no, the bag moved only with his quick breaths.  I suggested we go to animal control to have it put down.   My child had other ideas.  Could I not at least try to find someone to help it?

I headed over to the Humane Society building, where I was surprised to find people there, today being a spay/neuter clinic - and they had no drugs to put it down.  I next visited our old vet, a kindly gentleman towering about 6'5".  He took the animal out and said although it seemed in shock and could have internal injuries, nothing was broken and it should recover.  It was a baby, only 6 - 8 weeks old.  He recommended returning it to the same general area and "letting nature take its course".  HE doesn't have to answer to a nine year old.

I called an animal rehabilitator, who currently cannot accept animals because her neighbor complained about her cages.  (I take note of this.)  She maybe can find me help if it makes it through the next few hours.  But I still have not made it to Walmart - and it is a very hot day.  Although William likes that our pool is green because it is like swimming in a Star Wars swamp, other mothers are not likely to be so delighted to have their kids in our green soup.  So, I grab ahold of the Walmart blue bag and walk in.  I only need one thing, right?  I stop at the garden cashier station.  

"This," I say, "is a groundhog.  It was injured.  I just have to get one thing and then take it home.  I don't want to open the bag."  Yet, I don't want to be accused of stealing and want her to see I am bringing something in.

She looks at me like I have three heads and leans back.  She says nothing, so I go on in.  The groundhog moves a bit and I hurry William along as he begs for swimming goggles.  Can't see in green water anyhow.
We get back to the car, and I drive home, abandoning other errands.  As I'm nearing home, the bag starts moving and I drive a little faster.  Ack!  I hope it doesn't recover and run screaming around my car.  Oh, the scream would be me.

Finally, I get the groundhog settled in a cage in my basement.  A little water by dropper and it sleeps.  Or, it's dying.  Either way, I've done all I could and it isn't dying in the heat on the road.   Check back to see if it makes it.  I'm sure this will be an interesting learning experience.

Overheard:
We received a shipment in Styrofoam.  William asks (the girls never asked this), "Can I destroy this?"
I say sure, but remember it makes little white balls everywhere, which YOU must clean up.  He pauses, "Nah, it isn't worth it."

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Through the Looking Glass

Most people that recognize me say, "I didn't know you work here..." and I shrug, replying that I have two in college.  I work weekends, mixing paint at a do-it-yourself store.  I won't write about the company, or much about the people where I work, but only my own learning experiences or perhaps a story or two.

Having been at one time, a lifetime ago, trained as a chemical engineer and now, dare I say reduced to, wiping the floor of a can of paint a careless customer dropped, I think perhaps I've hit a new low.  I repeat to myself, "Jesus was just a carpenter" and other adages that enforce that all work done well is worthy work.  I tamp down my tendencies to want to improve how things are done, and try to focus on learning the trade and doing what is expected.  There is much to learn, both practical and if I chose to, educational.

I fear becoming the Mr. Nigel-Murray of the paint desk.  From the more experienced employees I've learned how to prepare and stain a deck, which product to use, the difference between this brand of paint and that, how to strip wood or waterproof a concrete wall.  But that usually isn't enough for me.  At home, I Google that xylene is chemically ortho-, meta- and para- dimethyl benzene and toluene is better named methlybenzene.  I call the rep for a driveway sealer and ask why the supreme contains only one polymer and why the lesser formula contains co-polymers.  Bits of my former education come back to me.  

My co-workers vary and several have come and gone already.  I've come to enjoy the ones that have endured, and found strengths in each.  I find myself on the other side now, no longer management, and it shines a new light on the world of work.  Looking out from the other side of the mirror is an interesting experience. 

As for customers, most are patient, kind, and appreciative.   And a small number....aren't.  Remaining positive, we won't discuss the few, but I will only say that everyone should work retail and go out into a lot of a store and gather carts (something we must do periodically if not helping customers).   It has made me much more patient myself with store clerks, and I always return my cart to a carrel.  

A story:
A young Japanese couple inquired about eco-friendly paint.  The man spoke only broken English, though his wife was a bit more fluent.  She glanced at their only girl child, three or four years old, in the bascart.  
The man asked, "What paint you have that is eco-friendly?"
I show them our 0% VOC paint.
"What VOC?"
A quick explanation of volatile organic compounds gets their heads bobbing in unison.  Yes, this is what they want, glancing again at their offspring. 
"How much?"
When I tell them it is $50 to $60 a gallon, the man responds, "What other paint you got?"
It seems that being environmentally conscious only goes so far.  

Segue:
It became apparent that someone was switching labels from economy paintbrushes to our eco-friendly bamboo-handled paintbrushes, thereby paying considerably less for the "green" version.  I pictured a poor hippy who can't afford to protect the earth, so he steals the eco-friendly brush.  No, I am told by the paint manager - it is a better made brush.  

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Worse.....It Gets Better

I told Anna I didn't think things could get any worse.  God took this as a challenge to teach me a lesson in the depth and possibilities in the word "worse".  Tired already from a long day out of town the night before, I was driving to Anna's college orientation, trying to save the cost of a night in a hotel by getting up before the roosters crow.  It had begun to rain and it was very dark, almost like night despite being 8 a.m. in the morning nearing the campus.

We'd left an hour extra to get to the campus, but we were behind schedule due to the weather combined with the roads we knew to take closed for construction, and our GPS "Mildred" telling us in her proper British voice that she'd lost satellite reception. Trusting Mildred, I'd brought no map. About this time, Ernest T's (our Ford F150) windshield wipers locked together in a solid X in the middle of the windshield as the torrent continued.  I pulled over, got out with the umbrella, and found the passenger wiper completely bent and resembling a T-Rex claw.  I pushed it back to starting position, and repositioned the driver's wiper.  Back inside, I tried turning them on.  The passenger wiper thankfully stayed put, but the driver wiper now wiped from mid-point to off the windshield all together!  I could still see if I sat up and looked over it.

We drove the streets back and forth, finally locating a bad map Anna had brought.  Intersections and roadways had standing water, a foot or two in places, making me wonder if I should drive through it.  I plowed on.  Then, Anna began laughing.  Driving through one rather large puddle, I had caused a wall of water to engulf a young man (with an umbrella) standing near the road.  So intent was I to look out of the little clear patch on the windshield, I had not seen him.  Anna and I began laughing hard enough that I had to pull over - and of course check the map again.

Finally locating the parking lot and building, it began to rain harder if that was possible.  Knowing she had to be there by 9 a.m. when placement tests began, we decided to brave it.  Our umbrella turned inside out and the spokes broke.  By the time we got inside, we were soaked, shivering and dripping.   Anna hurriedly changed, having brought clothes for an overnight visit.  I, on the other hand, sat soggily through a full day of lectures meant to reassure parents that we'd made the right choice by sending our child to this university that was going to take every cent we have and will make in the future.

Every time I saw Anna that day, she would begin to smile, not only to be at this place that calls to her and feels like home, but also remembering the Hawaii-5-O wave I sent cascading on the unsuspecting pedestrian.  I didn't mean it, honestly.  The weather finally cleared, she enjoyed her overnight visit, and the next day dawned beautiful and sunny.  I managed to sit on a veranda under the trees with a coffee and pretend I was in Europe.

I am once again faced with the anxieties of sending off a daughter to college, but that's another blog post entirely

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dust in the Wind

It has been awhile, I've been reminded.  Many changes have been swirling around in my life, and it just seemed time to let a whole lot go.  This blog was one of those things.  Then, a daughter mentioned something (I had forgotten) that was documented in the blog, and a friend mentioned that I hadn't written in awhile, and someone else, who I didn't even know cared, said it was too bad I wasn't writing because he thought I wrote well.  Mainly, my mind thinks of things to share with you and then they disappear into the air, lost like dust in the wind.   Someday, I'll be gone and with me, all that I was to all but a few.  I should continue.

Enough maudlin.  I have a story to tell you.  We have a cat, a barn cat that decided he lives with us.  He is mean and nasty, but I feed him in exchange for a dead mouse now and again.  My children evidently pay more attention to him than I do, for I was told that said cat had multiple ticks on his rear orifice.  Somehow, this is my problem.  I suppose the region is as far from the expensive Frontline treatment on the shoulders as the ticks can get.

Later, I was asked if I'd removed them.  Of course.  How?  I just headlocked him, grabbed ahold of the ticks and pulled.  Then washed my hands for about an hour.  They were "poly-ticks" I told them.  Multiple or poly-tics, sometimes spelled "politics".  People that remove them are called "poly-ticians" (alternate spelling politicians).    You can draw your own conclusions about the meaning of the location of the poly-ticks.

Speaking of politicians, I hear Anthony Weiner's wife's pregnant.  If this is true, I have a boy name suggestion:  Oscar.  You can guess the middle name, but everyone would be in love with him.  And I'd pronounce my name with a long "I" sound if this were my unfortunate last name.

Okay, enough off color jokes - but it is good to be back.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Children's Museum - Indianapolis




We spent some time in the present, the past, and the future in one day.   In Indianapolis for a day, we had heard for many years that the Indianapolis Children's Museum was worth a visit.  What I hadn't taken into account, however, is that this is the almighty Spring Break week for much of the Midwest.  The museum was overrun, but we tried to be patient as it was our only opportunity to visit.  About half-way through the visit, we were informed that not only was it Spring Break, but that it also was the first Thursday of the month.  Which means...? That admission was FREE! from 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. (I'd already paid my admission fees) and they were expecting 6000 additional guests!  By 5 p.m., William and I decided we'd seen quite a bit, and headed upstream against a tide of new visitors.  I suppose my pre-visit information gathering was a bit lax this time.

William best liked the dinosaurs, which is where we spent the most time.  My favorite?


Despite my slight claustrophobia in crowds, I realized that my boy was growing up, that some of the displays were for kids much younger.  Still, he can be mesmerized and caught up in the joy of playing to learn.


I know it won't be much longer and he'll be all grown up.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Good Morning, Kentucky




No, I do not now have cows.  These bovines were in the pasture near a pet sitting job yesterday morning.  It was a beautiful, if windy, day.  Thunderstorms, wind, hail, rain, fire and brimstone is predicted for today, bringing a cold front.  Kentucky weather during spring can be remarkably unpredictable.

This past weekend, we counted that we were pet sitting for 36 animals at four locations!  Now that the weekend is past, I am down to 19 animals at two locations, one a barn full of cats.

Reading:  The Forever Queen (Historical fiction based on 11th century Queen Emma)

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