Category Archives: work

civic sacrament

About twenty years ago I signed up to be an election judge. I had switched from a full time schedule to working just three days a week, so I regularly had Tuesdays off. It seemed like a good time to step forward and help my community make its voice heard.

You meet all kinds of people in the polling place. I think the most memorable voter I ever met was a woman who called me over to discuss her voting dilemma, I think in 2004.  She said she was having trouble deciding who to cast her presidential vote for, because she didn’t really like any of the candidates. They all fell short of the standards she felt candidates should meet. “The people I would really like to see on the ballot are Paul Wellstone, Jesus, and Princess Diana,” she explained. I gently advised her that while those were not going to be realistic possibilities, since all three of them were dead, and only one of them had even been a U.S. citizen, she was quite free to write in any name she chose.

The other memorable thing about the woman was that she had large plastic bags on both hands, secured at the wrists by rubber bands. She was ahead of her time.

I will be staying home this election day, trying to keep myself safe, after voting early. I’ll miss watching this exercise of political power by ordinary citizens. Of all the unsettling changes that COVID-19 has brought, this may be the most unsettling for me. So far.

Any disruptions, major or minor, that have arisen for you lately due to COVID-19? (Or for any other reason, for that matter?)

Raison D’etre

Our tortie cat loves anything related to eggs or chicken. She was a hobby farm kitten before we got her, and we suspect she was exposed to eggs and poultry.  Any time she hears eggs being cracked in the kitchen or finds out that we are preparing a chicken dish, she is a constant pest. She steals eggshells out of the sink and bats them all over the house.  She fishes eggs out of bowls on the counter and rolls them on the floor.. Her favorite prank is to steal chunks of chicken off our plates or serving dishes. She rolls around provocatively on the counter in front of us whenever we have chicken out, in what we imagine to be an attempt to charm us into giving her some. We call it her chicken dance. Stealing chicken and being charming are her current reasons for existence.

Other of our animals have had definite life goals. Our terriers lived to have fun and investigate anything new. Our current grey cat lives to chase paper balls. I think my raison d’etre is still tied up in my work, but I am beginning to think about other things to live for.

What have your pets lived for?  What is your raison d’etre? How has it changed over the years?

Hats Off

Husband owns and wears what I consider to be a large number of caps. He usually stores them in a plastic tub in the entry way. He displayed them on the dining room table for me so I could take the photo.

The ones in the back row have team, club, or university affiliations. The middle ones are work caps, since they are older and soiled around the sweat bands. The ones in the front row are his special collection of blue caps. He said he started wearing caps after he got a Pioneer Seed Corn hat from my father when we were in graduate school.

Every time he leaves the house, he has to have just the right cap. It has to coordinate with what shirt he is wearing and what activity he is going to engage in. He rarely leaves the house without one.

I don’t understand the purpose of these caps. I think they would be hot to wear in the summer and insufficiently warm in the winter. He is about to take the cap tub into the basement for the winter and get up his stocking caps. (Oh, he also has a blue wool one with ear flaps that he sometimes wears in the winter.)

They are oddly important to him. He says wearing a cap helps him pass in the world of men who work outdoors.  He also likes them as they protect him from the wind.  I don’t think he needs to justify wearing a cap. I just would be irritated with something like that on my head all the time.

 What fashion trend would you like to see return? What fashion trend did or do you abhor?

 

Keeping Work At Work

I took October 5-9 off for a staycation at home.  I was getting too burned out to do a good job for my clients and colleagues.  I admit, however, that I took my work laptop and and a testing file home in the event I had some extra  time to finish an evaluation  report,  and so I could check my work emails.

I am proud to say that the evaluation report is unfinished.  I checked my emails a couple of times, but not obsessively, and I didn’t reply to any of them. It was hard to be a “participant-observer” watching what people were doing but not responding.

This week was spent resting, cooking, and cleaning.  I didn’t realize how tired I was, and I napped a lot. I could probably use another week off, but I need to get back.

What was your best vacation ever?  How hard has it been for you to leave work at work?

Concrete and Good Boundaries

Husband and I are pretty good gardeners.  We can grow vegetables, flowers, and shrubs, but we can’t grow grass.  We have struggled with our lawn since the day we moved into the house 30 years ago.  Over the years the garden beds have become larger and the square footage of grass has become smaller. The neighbor’s and our own trees have shaded large parts of the lawn where no grass would grow. Husband’s grill area was on a bare plot of dirt and weeds. He has grilled in the mud for years. All we ever had success with was putting down bags of mulch to mitigate the muck.

Three weeks ago,  one of the secretaries at my work stopped by and handed me a brochure for her and her husband’s new concrete and landscaping business.  Both are Hispanic. She is born in California; he is from Mexico. There also is a landscape architect as a co-owner.  This was really good news, since we have approached other local masonry and landscaping companies over the years and none were interested in taking us on. They were too busy and our job didn’t interest them, I guess.

I thought long and hard about getting involved in a business relationship with someone I worked with. She doesn’t work for me directly, but we are on the same floor and I see her all the time.  What if they did a lousy job?  What if there were legal problems? What if the cost was too expensive and we had to disappoint them?  How would this impact our personal boundaries at work?  We decided to take the risk. We were desperate. Our yard really needed some sprucing up.

Ruby, Fernando, and Lorenzo the landscape architect came over.  We explained our needs, they measured and gave us an idea what they could do.  The next day Ruby helped us pick out the color and pattern for the decorative concrete. They had a proposal in less than a week, it was very reasonably priced, and we signed a contract. They were to put in a large cement patio for the grilling area, put  a cement path in a shaded area on the south and west side of the house that would encircle the deck, and replace a smaller patio that bordered our deck. They also were to replace a wooden fence that was badly in need of repair.

They started work a couple of days later, and were just about finished last weekend. They will come next week to dye the edges of the concrete a dark grey to contrast with the slate colored cement that is patterned to look like stone. (The concrete has to cure for a week or two before they can apply the dye.)  We are very happy with the work.  Both Husband and I felt such a sense of calm walking on the new concrete. The flower beds look awful with all the construction workers trampling on them, but they will rebound next spring.

Have you ever been in a business or professional relationship with a coworker or friend?  Why or why not? How did it work out?  

Work Clothes

We were required to wear masks at work in April. Two weeks ago we were issued face shields to wear over our masks. Now we have the option of goggles. Instead of looking like welders we look like mad chemists.

I had to wear a uniform when I waitressed at Mr. Steak in Moorhead when I was in college. I have not worn a work uniform since. I like the goggles better than the shields,  but we all still look goofy. I am thankful we don’t have to wear paper gowns, but that may yet happen, since cases of COVID are increasing exponentially in our county.

What is the oddest or most uncomfortable clothing you ever had to wear?

Words To Live By

Husband stopped working  on the Reservation in March,  and he became increasingly agitated and scattered as the weeks passed as he adjusted to retirement.  He was running around doing all sorts of things at home and around town, and was so exhausted by noon he had to take a nap every day. He talked of getting a part time job at the local butcher shop.  It finally dawned on me that he thought that even though he was retired, he had to be as busy as I was working full time. When I mentioned to him that retirement meant he should be doing less than I was doing, he got quiet, sat down, thought for a long time, and then started writing.  He wrote:

When you are retired, how much you do matters far less than how well and how lovingly you do it.

I told him those were pretty good words for him  to live by right now.  He still is busy, but I don’t think he worries so much now about needing to work like he is still working full time.

What are your words to live by for right now?

Behavior Modification

Our son texted us earlier this week to tell us that our two year old grandson said  “Mommy, put on your listening ears and give me some goldfish crackers.”  Son wrote “He’s using our weapons against us!”

I thought it was pretty funny, and told our son it only meant that grandson was understanding what they were telling him and doing some pretty creative problem solving as well

What do you think are the most effective forms of discipline or behavior management? How have you tried to change others’ behavior, either at home or in the workplace?  Include pets.

Digging a Hole

I can get really dirty when I’m working in the yard and putting in a new fence post this week made for TWO seriously dirty days.

The fence was initially installed in the end of April 1991, right after I moved in, so I didn’t have to take the dogs out on leashes six or seven times a day so they could do their business.  One of the fence posts was replaced years ago and the others have slowly deteriorated over time.  I have a huge black steel fence post “holder” keeping one up and my handy man did a serious MacGyver on another one last November when the ground was already frozen.  YA and I decided to replace the saggiest one and see what lessons we learned before attempting the MacGyvered one.

All the online advice talks about how hard it is to get the previous concrete out and they weren’t kidding.  The hole was humungous because we couldn’t get any leverage in a smaller hole.  We finally got down to where we needed to be and we measured the post and I sawed it off to the right height.  Then on Day 2 we got an ugly surprise; the very corner where there post needed to go had an old remnant of the initial fence post.  Believe me when I tell you it doesn’t take thousands of years for old wood to calcify.  It took an hour, a saw, a drill with 2 different bits, one dandelion digger that didn’t survive the ordeal and a hammer to finally clear that corner.

So the post is in, I’ve taken another super serious shower and some ibuprofen for my sore shoulders.  YA and I had lunch after we had finished and we both agreed that we learned a lesson that we could apply to the gate post – that we were hiring someone else to do it!

Any projects that you’ve gotten dirty doing?

 

Gatherings

I got a letter from the city last month that prior to the re-surfacing project in Tangletown, they will be re-doing some of the curbs.  (I am technically part of the Tangletown neighborhood, but my street is actually a county road, so I am not affected by this.)  Every morning Guinevere and I have been seeing signs of the project; they dug up all the affected curbs first and then are going back to add the new concrete.

When we came around a corner yesterday, we were surprised by a group of ELEVEN construction workers, all in their neon yellow vests, standing around one of the holds where a curb had been.  While we watched, the concrete mixer started to whirr and soon there was concrete glopping into the hole.  Two of the eleven worked to control where the concrete was pouring and the other nine started smoothing out the mixture.  I’m not sure if they really needed nine guys to do this, but I’m sure it made the job go quickly.

As Guinevere and I continued on our walk, I said to her “well, now you’ve been to a concrete workers’ convention”.   She was more interested in the smells along the sidewalk than the convention.  I kept thinking about it and realized that except for two Stampin’Up annual conventions about 20 years ago, I haven’t been to any other conventions.  Trade shows yes, conventions no.  Full disclosure — I did drive a friend downtown to a Star Trek convention once and drove around the block several times while he ran in to buy a couple of t-shirts.  But I didn’t actually go inside so I’m not counting that!

Have you ever been to a convention?  Any good stories?