Category Archives: work

Paradise Farm

Because our green beans were hailed out in June, we went to the local farmers market to get some. Green beans from the garden are so good.

It was a busy day at the farmers market, as the local tomatoes are just now coming in, and there is lots of other produce. The high school marimba band was playing as a fundraiser, so it was even more festive than usual. I can’t imagine the amount of work that these local gardeners have to do to get their crops to market.

I find a lot of peace and satisfaction gardening. I wondered what life would be like if I gardened full time and became a market gardener.

Hard work, but fun. I certainly wouldn’t want to have to make a living doing it. In my garden fantasy I see us putting in a couple of acres of butternut squash and cantaloupes, harvesting lovely, pest free crops and selling them to happy, grateful consumers. A dream, I know, but nice to have when life gets hectic.

If you were a farmer, what would you want to grow and produce? What is some of your favorite marimba, xylophone, or vibraphone music and musicians?

A Lack Of Busyness

Today’s post comes from Ben

Pretty quiet around the farm this week. With me back at work, I need to schedule farm work around ‘work’ work. Oh, there’s a whole list of things I haven’t gotten done yet this summer, but if I got them all done it would mean I hadn’t scheduled enough, wouldn’t it.

Cooler temps and I like that, but the crops need those GDU’s to reach maturity. We are still 117 GDU above normal for our area. And crops are looking real good so far. Except the dang deer eating the tops off my soybeans.

Nice juicy tender leaves on the top. Man. I am not fond of deer. They like this field back in a corner. No one to bother them… and they must spend hours out there grazing.

Padawan was out one day and we burned a brush pile

we cleaned up and put away some machinery, he cut grass, and I mowed the newly planted CRP to keep the weeds down

(I cut it about 6” high) Plus he learned how to replace a toilet flapper. That may have been the highlight of his day. One thing I think he has learned is that a lot of things take more muscle than he thinks. My answer to most of his issues is “Yank/hit/pull/push it harder”. I had never thought of that before; some things just take a lot of effort. Life Lesson there.

The chickens were waiting not so patiently for Kelly to feed them the other day.



Predictable Me

I had to testify in court on Friday at a mental health commitment hearing. I typically dress very casually at work. In the summer I wear capri pants and cotton shirts. In the winter, you find me in corduroy slacks and sweaters. I like to be comfortable at work, and skirts and dresses just don’t work for me.

I dressed up for court in a silk skirt and coordinated, two piece top, with tights and low heeled pumps. I wanted to look like an authority, even though I have known the State’s attorney and judge and court reporter for 35 years, and we could probably all wear overhauls to court and have a successful hearing.

I went to work directly after the hearing, and the comment I again got from virtually everyone at work was “You must have been in court, Dr. B”. Predictable me.

I wrote last year about changing my clothing style at work to include some fun and funky pieces from a Swedish designer. I am still planning to do that, but I have to wear out my current clothes before I can start replacing them. Until then, I will be predictable Dr. B, and everyone will know when I have been to court.

How predictable are you? What would you wear to a court hearing if you were a witness? How well do (or did) your coworkers know you?

It’s Always Something

Today’s post comes from Ben.

It’s been a good busy week.

Last Friday we baled 337 small square bales of straw. Young Padawan stacked 150 in a wagon that will go to the neighboring strawberry farm.

The other 182 went to the pole barn. If you’re doing the math, that doesn’t quite add up. And that’s because we broke two bales and the first three bales out of the baler were hay from the previous baling.

Oh was Padawan in a mood that day. It was warm and there was a good breeze blowing, but he’s really not used to physical labor like this, and he was in a mood about it. I told him it builds character. He and my brother unloaded the bales into the barn.

The baler camera worked great! This photo does not really show much, but if you know how to see the strings, it’s helpful.

We go a nice rain on Saturday. And again yesterday.

Monday, I unhooked the baler and put the loader back on the tractor. As I unhooked the baler, I looked at the left wheel and wondered why it was sitting crooked. Discovered two of the four bolts that hold the axle on were missing. I put some jacks under the baler to take the pressure off the wheel and that became the number one item on the list for young Padawan‘s next visit.

I worked as an election judge on Tuesday. About 31% turn out in our township.

Wednesday, I started back at the college. ‘Work’ work. Classes don’t start until the 22nd and I use this time to check out all the equipment and get things going again. I picked up the choir risers that have been sitting on stage since April, and I still got to get back over to the sports center and get a couple of lights out of the rafters that have been hanging in there since commencement in May.

I feel like I’ve plateaued in my recovery at the moment. Although evidently, I still have a kidney stone. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s still showing up on tests. And if I don’t get that out on my own by the 24th, they’re going in after it. Every day is an adventure!

With me back at the college, and young Padawan starting school in September, I’m not sure how many more days I’ll have his help.

But he was out the other day, and since he worked so hard last week, we made it an easy day this time. The first thing we did was drive to Plainview to pick up some parts from the John Deere dealership. And we had lunch at Dairy Queen, then we went to check on a Township culvert replacement project and watched a skilled operator in an excavator. From there he got to experience some ditch cleanup by picking up a single size mattress and a very large flatscreen TV. Took those to the recycling center.

We fixed the tire assembly on the baler using impact wrenches and large Sockets with extension pipes for torque and he learned about working in uncomfortable positions.

He dumped a bag of chicken feed in the wall feeder, and then we got two chainsaws and it was time to cut up an oak tree that has been blocking a path since it came down in the December storms. I thought I’d be able to help more. But, it’s still tough for me to walk on uneven ground and with the branches and sticks around I didn’t do so we’ll. But he did great!

He got a basic course on chainsaw operation a few weeks ago. We expanded on that. And this was good practice since it was all on the ground and none of the pieces were too large. He got the saw stuck a few times and learned how to ‘read’ the tree and get the saw out BEFORE he wedges it in there. Eventually.

These rains are sure making the crops look good. Oats ended up at 61 bushels / acre which is decent, but nothing to brag about. I’ll blame the deer.

No corn photo this week; it hasn’t grown anymore since the tassle came out the top. Beans are looking real good! They’re waist high. I’m not seeing very much bug damage. Something is eating some leaves, but not enough to be a problem. Yet.



Thanks, I Think

Last Thursday was Psychologist Day as well as Bastille Day. I advised my coworkers to not be alarmed if I and our psychology resident stormed the barricades because we weren’t getting the guillotine out until next week. Only a couple of my coworkers knew what Bastille Day was or what I was talking about.

In honor of Psychologist Day, a Ukrainian coworker gave me a china plate emblazoned with pysanki. It was a lovely gift and much appreciated. I can use it. I am perplexed, though, about the gift from our psychometrist.

My Human Service Center and the Center in Bismarck, where Husband works share the services of a go-getting and spunky young woman who administers and scores our psychological tests. She is very efficient and works quickly. She is also very impulsive, and professes to know nothing about plants. In honor of Psychologist Day she bought large, potted fig trees for each of the four psychologists she works with. She hoped we could keep the trees in our offices. These trees need bright light. I am the only one with a window in my office. Husband brought our two trees home from Bismarck on Wednesday and they are sitting on our kitchen counter for the time being until I can get them to my office. There they will sit on a table by my window along with a large potted rosemary plant. I can’t use the table for much of anything now. It is covered in plants. I don’t want to crush the exuberance of our psychometrist, so I will do my best to keep these trees going. I know that when she drives out to my Center she will want to see how they are doing, so I don’t feel that I can give them away, either.

What is the oddest or most awkward gift you ever received? Who is the most impulsive person you ever worked with? Any advice on how to grow Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees?

A Need To Worry?

While I was gone in Minnesota earlier this month, my colleagues on the Youth and Family Team decided I needed a new lanyard for the electronic card that opens some of our office doors. They got me the one you see in the header photo.

It looks quite nice, and is quite comfortable to wear, but there is a slight problem with it. It poses a safety issue. The beads on the lanyard are set on a strong, thin wire, and there is no catch on it that will release if the lanyard is pulled hard enough. That means someone could strangle me with it. Being strangled is something one needs to prepare for when working in a mental health facility. All the lanyards issued by our administration have safety release catches on them just for that reason.

I am not worried my colleagues have it in for me, but I thought they would have been more safety aware. We have safety in-services quite regularly. I suppose this is one of those situations I could write about to an advice. columnist “Are my coworkers trying kill me?”

Have you ever written to an advice columnist? Which ones do you like to read? Have you ever felt someone had it in for you?

Jury Duty

Well, it has happened again. It seems that every other year I am called for jury duty, and I received another letter from the Clerk of Court while I was in Minnesota, telling me I am yet again in the pool of potential jurors for the Southwest District Court for the month of July.

I have never actually been seated on a jury panel. I haven’t even had to go to the court house while they choose jurors for cases, as the cases seem to be settled before the date of the hearing. I also can’t imagine any attorney would want me on a jury, especially if it is a criminal case. It is really hard in a small community to serve on a jury if one is a health care professional. If asked if I know a defendant, I have to say “I am prohibited by State and Federal law from answering that question unless ordered to do so by the court” if I know the person from the work at my agency. That statement is, of course, a tip off that I know them from my work, and everyone in town knows where I work, but that is what our legal department has told us to say.

I expect the same thing will happen this July, and I will wait for a letter from the Clerk of Court telling me that, yet again, I won’t be called for a jury panel in July and that I am still in the pool of potential jurors for the next round of cases if my name is picked at random. That is another problem living in a sparsely populated area-there really is a limited number of people to do things, so the chances of being picked for these typed of things are high.

Would you want to be a judge, a defense attorney, or a prosecutor? What are your favorite movies or books involving court hearings or lawyers?

Summer of Love

Today is the first day of “Summer of Love”.  Ten years ago, the owner of my company unveiled a summer employee appreciate program.  The main components are no dress code (seriously – the printed instructions say “if you can’t get arrested wearing it, it’s good”), 7 half Fridays off with pay, food trucks on Wednesdays and dogs allowed on Fridays.  There are usually three summer concerts as well on the big lawn of Building One, complete with snacks and beverages (of the alcoholic sorts).  Most years we’ve received t-shirts or hats.  It’s a lot of fun.

For opening day of Summer of Love I’m in shorts and one of my State Fair t-shirt collection.  YA actually went to the Memorial Day Mini State Fair yesterday.  Friends had gone the night before and said it was more robust than last year.  But in looking over the website, it didn’t look that much more robust to me, so I passed.  I don’t need any pretend state fairs… I can’t wait.  (I already have tickets for this year – bought them in January.)  YA has reported that the mini state fair was exactly that – mini.

And, of course, zories (flip flops).  To get ready for spring and Summer of Love, I got my zori bin out and straightened it up and re-organized it by color.  My current zori count is 45, although unbelievably enough I don’t have any red ones; the red ones bit the dust last summer.   Guess I’ll have to make a trip to Old Navy soon!

What are you looking forward to this summer?

The Presentation

Photo credit: Ben White

In the Events division at my job, the process of getting a travel program going is divided into lots of pie pieces.  We have the folks who source the hotels and write the programs, the folks who program the program websites, the folks who book the air, the folks who write and design the communications, the folks who manage the participants, the folks who go on site and run the program.  Then there’s what I do; from the time a program sells until the participants arrive at their destination, I oversee all the other pieces of pie, getting all the details wrapped up tight so the program runs successfully.

Over the years I’ve been corralled a few times into doing work in other departments; I’ve been successful but I don’t like it much.  A couple of months ago we got the opportunity to bid for a big piece of business with a client that I’ve worked with for 15 years – in fact I’ve done 46 trips for their various regions.  As you can imagine, this opportunity has taken on a life of its own – specs from the client, questions back to them, a preliminary presentation made.  The number of meetings has been alarming, especially since I really don’t have that much input.  Others involved are excited to be doing the work, love the corporate lingo and are happy to be jumping through all the necessary hoops.  I completely understand this work has to be done but it doesn’t ring my bell.  So I smile, answer any questions asked of me and multi-task.  It really makes me appreciate zoom meetings.

The notification that we made the initial cut and have a presentation date slated came down on Tuesday.   We had a meeting on Wednesday – I knew this would be the meeting in which decisions were made about who would be part of the presentation.  I’ve been dreading this prospect for weeks; while I certainly wouldn’t be tasked with heading up the presentation, I worried that with my overwhelming experience on the account, they would think I would be handy to have in the room.  Not my cup of tea and the idea of flying to the east coast for two days for this presentation doesn’t excite me at all.

They didn’t ask me.  I can’t tell anybody at work how relieved I am not to be part of the presentation team.  But I can tell you all – I am very happy to stay home.  I’m not even going to grouse about the fact that there are two “practice” meetings that I have been asked to attend, even though I’m not practicing.  Phew!

What topic could you give a 30-minute presentation on without any preparation?

Before / After

The next step in the front porch drama has concluded.  I’m sure you remember the photos of tim and me from sandblasting last summer.  So so dirty. 

What I didn’t say at the time was that what we uncovered when we got rid of the 3-4 layers of paint was horrific.   Completely uneven, a few long gouges and all the holes from when the house had been insulated back in the `80s.  My vision of painting the weekend after the sandblasting and being done were shattered.  tim walked me through plastering process but as the weeks went on, I knew I wasn’t up to it.  3 years into this project, I just needed a professional.

I found The Stucco Guy through my hardware store.  He came out, looked it over, took a few photos and the next day sent me a quote.  I accepted but by this time it was too chilly to do stucco work so we made a date for this spring.

They came last Tuesday morning and spent most of the day prepping.  Then on Wednesday they did the base coat.  It was a little disheartening because it is dark gray on application and it made the front porch seem quite gloomy.  They assured me it would lighten up over night and they would do the final coat the next day. 

On Thursday, I purposely stayed upstairs in my home office; I was so worried how it would turn out and if I would like it.  When he texted me at 4:30 that they were done and cleaning up, I was almost afraid to go downstairs.  It’s so beautiful that when I stepped out onto the porch, I teared up a little.  Best news?  He didn’t increase the price he had estimated for me last fall.  Very reasonable for 3 days of work (for 2 of them) and such a fabulous result.

There is some work to be done yet, but it’s the kind of work that YA and I are qualified for (little sanding, little painting) and hopefully will be done within the next month.  Only 3+ years to remodel a small front porch.  Gotta love these old houses!

When was the last time you gave in and called a professional?