Category Archives: work

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?

Chaos

Monday will be a day of reckoning at my work place. It is the day we move to our new building.  There are approximately 80 offices that need to be emptied and moved to the new building.  Over 300 boxes of patient records will be moved.  All the omens predict chaos.

The renovations at the new building are not complete. There still is no internet. Some offices don’t have electricity yet. The  new office and waiting room furniture will arrive on Monday just as the moving company will be moving in all our computers, boxes, filing cabinets, supplies, and everything else we are taking with us.  It will take all week for the new furniture to be installed. The cardboard boxes that we were provided with from Walmart are reluctant to let tape adhere, so I foresee bottoms crashing out of boxes as they are moved. Somehow, in the midst of this, we have to attend to our crisis and emergency clients, and see clients via telehealth from our homes.

I am responsible for four offices, including two offices in which we give people tests, my play therapy room, and my personal office. I filled 45 rather large boxes with books, test manuals, toys, office supplies, paper tests and test kits, four computers and their monitors, and our telephones for each office.  I also had to label each piece of furniture with the  number of the new offices to which they are to be delivered. We didn’t have the new office numbers until last Thursday, so I spent Thursday and Friday feverishly labeling my boxes and furniture. I am thankful that a psychometrist and another psychologist from the Bismarck office are coming on Wednesday to help me unpack and set up the testing offices.

The move has been a physical challenge for me.  The boxes are heavy. I removed bulletin boards that were screwed to the wall while standing on top of desks.  I had to disassemble a large room divider for one of the testing rooms.  Monday morning I have to go to the new building and remove two unnecessary desk peninsulas that are attached to the walls in the testing rooms so that there is room for the Psychology filing cabinets. The construction company says it isn’t in their contract to do so.  I better not lose my purse, since that is where I stored all the nuts and bolts and filing cabinet keys.

There is no one to blame for this.  Our regional director worked hard to get the movers, furniture delivery, internet installation, and building construction to align with the deadline from the college that owns our old building to be out by July 20.  It is hard to control the outcome with so many different working parts. I am hopeful that by the end of the week things will be back to normal.

What is the biggest project you have been involved with?  Do you plan or follow others’ plans?

Della Street

You all know I’m a big fan of Perry Mason, particularly the two tv series with Raymond Burr.  I’ve seen them all and YA will tell you I’ve seen them all repeatedly.  Mea culpa. 

With the big storm on Sunday/Monday, I spent the day inside, watching another of my favorite old shows – Columbo.  When watching episodes back to back, I noticed something in Columbo that I have always been bothered by in Perry Mason.  Secretaries are portrayed as a bad lot.  Either they are in love with their bosses and will lie (and kill) for them or they are sexpots either having affairs with their bosses or vying for those affairs, always with the aim of blackmail of some sort. 

Except Della Street, of course.  Intelligent, resourceful, extremely loyal, kind and completely devoted to her job.  Early mornings, late nights, weekends…. she is ALWAYS working.  She goes to nice restaurants with the boss, gala affairs on occasion, holiday weekends in Mexico, an overnight on a boat with the boss to check some bit of evidence.  She even goes to the boss’ house to take care of him when he is sick.  But no canoodling of any kind, although the later series does lean a little over the line in terms of their relationship.  (And we’re not going to discuss a movie made in the late 30s in which Perry and Della get married!)

I did secretarial work for my father’s law firm for a couple of summers and winter breaks in college and I never met another secretary that fit any of the secretarial visions that Hollywood has dreamed up – no killer gals in love with the boss, no sexpots aiming to entrap the boss and no Della Streets.  Not a one.

In your opinion, what else does Hollywood always mess up?

Under Lock and Key

I saw a young man by a white car in the college parking lot near my work the other day. His bicycle was propped up against the car, and he was evidently trying to get into the car with  a long wire inserted through the window frame on the driver’s side. Given it was broad daylight and that there is a low crime rate in our town, I knew that he was the owner of the vehicle and he had locked his keys in the car.  He was still there, with a friend, when I went home for lunch, and they were still at it.

We are preparing for my agency moving to a new building, and we are faced with clearing out decades of materials before the move. Storage space in the new building is limited, so we need to go through multiple filing cabinets to sort and toss what we don’t need. We have discovered full, locked filing cabinets in storage rooms. We have no idea where the keys are. What now? Do we try, like the young man in the parking lot,  to jimmy the locks? Do we toss the whole thing, hoping that what ever is in the cabinet is not useful? It is a hard decision to make. I am glad that it is not up to me. I have the keys for the four psychology filing cabinets in my purse, and there they will stay until the cabinets are in position in the new building. I just better not lose my purse.

What do you have under lock and key? Ever been locked out of anything?

Hilling Up the Potatoes

We decided to try something different in the garden this year, and are mounding dirt up to almost the top inches of the potato  plants. I don’t remember any of my relatives doing this, but we have seen others do it, and decided to give it a try.  It is supposed to increase your potato  yield. The guys in husband’s Friday morning Bible study were pretty skeptical when he told them about it, but just the other day I drove past a garden where someone had done it. I suppose it would be difficult  to do if you had a whole lot of potato plants, but we only have eight hills, so it is doable.

The garden is coming along pretty well, although it has been battered by the relentless southeast winds we had lately. We need rain.  There are a couple of errant bunnies who are leaving all the greens alone.  I keep my eye on them, as do the dogs who live in the  on three sides of our house.

Given all the recent weirdness, stress, and uproar in the world, I would rather stay home and  pull weeds all day instead of go to work. Gardening is a refuge right now

How is your garden coming along? How are you coping?

What’s Bred In The Bone

Since Monday I have received more than a dozen phone calls and at least twice as many texts from Daughter detailing her observations of her cats’ behaviors and interactions.  She is a really good observer of minute interactions,  and she  tells me about them in great detail. She has applied interventions for improving the acceptance of the kitten by the older cat based on her observations.  Our son is equally good at this. Husband and I do it for a living.  I think this is really weird.

There must be some genetic thing going on here. Two psychologists, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, and  Social Worker in one family?  I wish I knew what gene it was. The “Keen Observer” gene? The “I Can’t Abide Family Discord” gene? The “Human Behavior is Fascinating ” gene?  The “I’m Just Nosy” gene?

How are you similar and dissimilar to your family members? What runs in your family?

 

A Moving Experience

I have worked at my agency for 20 years.  The agency has been in the current building  for 50 years.   We are moving to a new building next month.  It will be quite a project.

Our current building is a six story college dorm on the campus of Dickinson State University.  The college is evicting us to make room for the Theodore Roosevelt Digital Presidential Library.  We are moving to a very new building that housed a civil engineering firm.  Our offices, which hardly anyone has seen, are said to be much smaller than our current offices, which are rather large, and which have windows.  Storage and windows in the new building will be minimal, if they even exist. We have been told to throw out everything we aren’t going to move.  Dumpsters and receptacles for shredding are being delivered on a regular basis.

For 50 years, people at my agency have been able to throw things in large cupboards and closets and forget about them.  Today I discovered that we have seven sets of Rorschach Inkblot Cards. We used to have five psychologists. Today I am the only one, and believe me, I don’t need seven sets of inkblots. The first Head of Psychology used to spend any extra money in the budget by purchasing tests, and Husband, when he was the Head of Psychology, did the same thing.  Today I threw out hundreds of out-of-date test forms.  I always knew they were there, but I chose to ignore them since we had the space to store them.  We also have a Christmas tree problem, since every floor had a waiting room that was decorated for the season, and now we are  going to have only two waiting rooms. We don’t need six Christmas trees.  Decisions will need to be made. Since we can’t just put the extra inkblots in the garbage for test security reasons, I think I will be having a Rorschach bonfire in our back yard to dispose of the oldest and grubbiest of the sets. You can’t have dirty or marked up Rorschach cards, you know.

Tell about some of your moving experiences.

 

The Plumber

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I finally broke down and called a plumber. It didn’t hurt my pride as much as I might have expected.

There were two things; The dripping sink in the mudroom and the kitchen faucet that had very low water pressure.

My ‘Vintage’ mudroom sink started dripping a few months ago and heck, I can change a washer. Except, when evidently, I can’t. I made it worse. A lot worse. Like it wouldn’t even shut off worse. I bought whole new valve bodies. Nope, didn’t help. But they came with replacement seats. Except this sink is so old I didn’t figure it even had replaceable seats. And even taking it apart 14 times and putting it back together didn’t help. So. I turned off the cold water to let it “Think about what it’s done” for a while. That didn’t appear to be helping. Then even the hot side started to drip. Because the mudroom is directly above the utility room and hot water heater, I get hot water real quick. I learned to rinse my toothbrush REALLY FAST.

And then the kitchen sink. It has had low water pressure for a few years. Like you’d put a pot under it to fill then “go do something else for 10 minutes” kinda slow. I know it wasn’t always that way. It’s one of those where you can pull the nozzle and hose out the end. I had cleaned the aerator multiple times, I had changed the Moen cartridge, I changed the supply lines, and I even tried snaking a wire up the hose. Nothing helped. Kelly thought the tub/shower diverter valve thingy wasn’t working well either, so we thought maybe it was the pressure coming from the well house. But I thought my bathroom pressure was OK. I checked the pressure in the water tank and turned up the regulator and water pressure and thought maybe it helped a tad? But really not much.

And that meant the only thing left was the shut off valves under the sink. And I bought some from Menards. And I left them sit on the counter for a few weeks. The plumbing elves didn’t show up. I really didn’t want to try putting them in. I used to do “plumbing” down in the barn. (Notice I used that word in quotes). Cutting threads on a piece of black pipe and spilling water in the barn is a whole lot different than messing up the kitchen sink.  I really didn’t want to try replacing those valves.

Hence, the plumber.

He started with the mudroom sink. Turns out the seats CAN be replaced! I thought it was too old for that but no, the plumber could do that!  Joy! He changed both and it doesn’t drip anymore!

Up to the kitchen sink. Turns out the valves I bought were the wrong ones. Whew! I’m already glad I didn’t start this project. He replaced the first valve, then pulled off the second and there’s all sorts of white gunk in the pipe. Hmmm, odd. Kinda looks like calcium but not sure what it is. Maybe it’s from a few years ago when the old water softener quit working. Using a hose and bucket we flush the lines out. He installs the valves, I turn the water back on, and we get a good burst and then back to nothing. Hmmm. OK, working his way up, he pulls out the Moen cartridge. Except getting the handle off first was a bit of an issue. I was right in there helping. “Helping”.  I sort of expected at some point he was going to add the “Homeowner ‘helps’ surcharge” but he was a nice guy and he let me hold the flashlight for him. I offered helpful advice for the times I’ve pulled the handle off. While telling him at the same time he was the professional and I wasn’t trying to tell him how to do his job. But I was really afraid he was going to break something! At one point I tentatively suggested if he broke it, he had to buy a new one. Thankfully it didn’t come to that.

He got the valve out, it looked clean so then he moved on to the hose and nozzle. Aha! The bottom end of the hose is plugged up with this same white crud that was in the pipe earlier! A few more tricks to get the hose apart and we took it out to the shed and used the air compressor to blow it clean. He hooked the hose back up but re-assembling the faucet handle was still an issue. He knew stuff I didn’t know, and he made the assembly a little easier.

Turned the water back on and WOWZER! WE HAVE WATER! It’s fun, for a few days we giggle every time we turn on the water. I would never have gotten this fixed on my own.

After he left, I found a can of pipe dope that he left behind. We had joked that I get to keep anything he left.

And he had put the handle back on sideways. But I knew how to fix that.

What do you avoid doing?

Got a favorite sink? Appliance?  

Brave Volunteers

I was happy and proud to read the other day that Minnesota has the second highest rate of volunteerism in the country, bested only by Utah.

North Dakota ranks 15th.  Husband decided that he has sufficient free time to volunteer at our local food pantry, and his first shift is next Thursday.  He will stock shelves. Our church donates the produce from our garden to the food pantry.  Suzy Kapelovitz, a nice Norwegian girl from Reeder, (a really small town in southwest ND), who married this Jewish guy who ran some sort of business in our town in ND, and who has spent her life here helping others, is the head of the food pantry.  She is in her 70’s. She confirmed his shift.  He is to stock shelves. I foresee volunteerism in our future,

Why do you think Minnesota has so many volunteers? What have you volunteered for?