It’s better than screaming and throwing things.

Life has been crazy and weird here on the High Plains. We have had relatively few cases of COVID-19 in ND, but two weeks out from our Governor opening our state back up, our numbers are exploding. Yesterday we had 102 new cases reported, and today there were 134.

I called my Mom to talk about what’s going on with Younger Nephew’s graduation ceremony, which we won’t be able to attend, and she let me know she and Dad were on the way out to take her to get tested for the virus.

In ND, unless they are mass testing particular populations of people, you can’t get tested unless you have any of the symptoms. I’m hoping she just has a cold.

More on that later.

In other news, I’ve had a lot of time off being partially furloughed. I managed to get my kitchen painted a nice shade of blue, swapped out the old fridge for a new one, and got some projects done in my yard. I have a whole truckload of projects on deck, but now I’ve been told I am going back to work full time next week. Yay!

It’s going to be kind of rocky, as a condition of our return is that we are going to have to fill in for others who either can’t, or won’t, come back to work. Some tasks I’m qualified for, and some I’m not. I’ve had to push back on being asked to do some things that I just know I’m not qualified for. Sometimes you just have to put your foot down for what you believe in.

Today I worked a few hours, and I will work a few more tomorrow. This will be my last opportunity to get any of my projects done. No more weekends as I’ll be working Sundays going forward. That’s ok. Sundays are good, quiet days to get a lot of work done, for the office at least.

It’s been stressful, and weird, and I don’t like any of this. Sometimes I get so wound up about all of this crap, I find myself crying over stupid things. I’m guessing that I get just too full up with the stress of all of this, and it has to leak out somewhere. I guess it’s better than screaming and throwing things.

The other day I went out to mow my lawn, and I noticed all of the dandelions in the neighboring lot.

The site of all of these happy little flowers made me take a deep breath and just relax, even if it was for a few minutes.

It’s good to stop and notice the flowers. Take a walk outside and get some fresh air. Open your windows and get some fresh air in. Do something that makes you happy. Just make sure to do something for you. Little things matter. Mental health matters. You matter.

Here’s hoping that this note finds you all well and thriving. Remember to take care of yourself. Blessings all!

When the $&@/ hits the fan…

Faithful Readers, the stuff has hit the fan. At least, partially.

Yesterday, we were notified that my whole team has been partially furloughed. This means I will be working only two days a week going forward. I think the business I work for hoped that would be at least enough to cover our benefits, while we collect unemployment.

I’m not sure I we will qualify for unemployment, but I will apply anyway. I don’t want to, because there’s a weird stigma in my family about that. I was taught that you get up, go to work every day, you pay your bills like every other responsible citizen, and hope you have enough left over for savings. If there’s not enough money at one job, then you get another one.

Thank goodness I have a little put away in savings. It’s not much, but it will help.

I know I am not alone in this, and the weird shame I feel about applying for unemployment is irrational, but that’s the tape playing in my head. I feel pretty certain that I will feel compelled to look for another job, even though I know there are none to be had in my small community, that pay me what I make now.

I hope this crisis won’t last that long. I love my job, and my team, and I don’t want to leave it. Fingers crossed.

Something struck me today when I looked at my little herb garden. I know for a fact that it accidentally got salted this winter. I told The Flirt not to shovel the salted snow on the back step that direction, but I’m fairly sure he did it anyway, forgetting that you can’t put salt on earth you want to grow things in. I’ve been watching it to see if anything comes up, or if the salt did everything in, and I have been pleasantly surprised.

I see my chives are popping up nicely, but nothing else is growing except some grass and a little weed I spied in the back. It gives me hope that we will also spring up after our earth has been salted and a whole bunch of our friends and family have died. We are losing jobs, and will lose a lot more in the coming days.

It won’t last forever, but we are going to feel the hurt, and carry the scars from this, for a very long time. Life will look a lot different after this is done, but we will survive and get through this.

Here’s hoping this note finds you all well, and surviving nicely. Blessings all!

A good beer, an emergency, and a new job…oh my!

Well, it certainly has been an eventful autumn, and I’ve had a nasty case of writer’s block. Tonight, I decided to venture out to see if I could find a way to articulate what’s been rolling around my brain pan. 

In September, Older Son moved out of this house and in with some friends. It was time. He will be 25 soon, and it’s long past time for him to get out into life and live it. He just recently he adopted a cat, and seems to be settled and content with life. It was a little strange becoming an empty nester, but it’s good. I am slowly going through things and getting rid of everything I don’t use. Once I get done thinning out, I will be going forward with a project to turn the basement Man Cave into a Girl Cave. It will be nice to have a space to put up my sewing machine, and have a space to do projects in.  More to come on that as things progress. 

In November, Younger Son came home for Thanksgiving. It was the first proper Thanksgiving we’d had in quite a few years, and a good time was had by all. 

As sometimes happens, work got really strange over the Summer and Fall, and it got pretty awful. Everything was on fire all the time and was so stressful, I decided to get a new job. So, I applied for a new job within my company and got it. I miss the people in my old department, but I don’t miss the constant fire stomping or the politics. My new department is bright and happy, I have good people to work with,  and good work to do. A person can’t ask for much more. 

Well, except for good health. Especially when it comes to your loved ones. 

My Mom has experienced some memory issues in recent years, and I wasn’t sure if the medication she’d been taking was causing it, or if she was having onset of dementia. In the middle of December I got a text from my Dad in the middle of the day letting me know that Mom was in the ER after having a stroke. 

Mom had a stroke…. !

I quickly finished up what I was doing  at work and rushed to the ER. She was awake and alert, and luckily it was a small stroke. The bad news is that it affected her dominant side. Long story short, she was admitted to the hospital for several days, then to rehab to get therapy for her affected limbs so she would be able to come home. She is home now, and after three weeks of being home, she is still having trouble with the one hand and foot, but her speech is cleared up, and she uses the walker less. I am really grateful that she is doing better, because that could have been a whole lot worse. 

All that transpired between the time she went in and the time she came home was quite a ride, and I’ll write more about that later. 

At this moment, I’m curled up in my awesome bed, in between its smooth warm sheets, and I’m sipping a beer. Yes, it’s a strange place to be imbibing in such a beverage, but I just didn’t feel like hanging out anywhere else in the house late at night.  If you like dark beer, especially beer that has been aged in bourbon barrels, you will love Founders Backwoods Bastard. It’s rich, and has a good deep flavor. It’s got my stamp of approval! 

Here’s wishing you all good work, healthy families, and amazing beverages! Blessing all!

A Two Year Plan

Greetings to my Faithful Readers. It’s been one heck of a year so far, and I am astonished that we are now in the fall of 2015, and I’ve not blogged since January.

Wow, it has been a ride!

Taking on a new job, which is waaay out of my knowledge zone has been quite a challenge, but is paying the bills, and I’m starting to catch on. Having said that, it’s really not my calling. I get to know way more about people than I ever wanted to, and there’s a lot of bad office politics happening. I have really great people to work with, and I will hang onto this job for a while, but it’s going to be just a stepping stone for the next good thing to come along.

In other news, I finally redid Younger Son’s room. It took me all Winter and most of this Spring to get up the gumption to make the change, but it was worth while now that it’s done. Now it is my friend place my friends can come and stay when they are in town. It’s not done all the way, but it’s functional.

I will be getting a new kitchen soon, and will make sure to post pictures of the demolition of the old, and installation of the new. It’s a big, expensive, stress inducing, joyful, exciting project. Did I mention expensive? That’s ok. I’ll get all of that back when I sell the house. I’m keeping my eye on the prize, which is to move away. To Grand Forks. Hopefully within the next two years.

At the very least, I’d like to feel like I am ready to go in the next couple of years. If I can feel like I am ready to go, that is most of the struggle. As long as I can sell my happy little fixer upper, I can go.

Part of getting ready to go is to also do some landscaping and curb appeal projects. I was forced to do some updates to my back yard and my shed this year due to skunk infestation. That’s right…skunks. IMG_5345

IMG_5370Cute little buggers,but vermin nonetheless. Luckily I got some amazing help to live trap all 7 of the babies living under my shed, and my Dad and my Flirt helped me to get rid of the extra brush around the shed that was sheltering them. It was a large adventure, and I’m glad to be able to check that off the Bucket List and move on!

This summer, I did a lot of running and I don’t regret a bit of it. I wished I’d got to spend more time with my Parents, but that’s something I need to get my life reorganized around. My change in job took me farther away from their house, and it’s something I want to fix. I miss them.

I got to see some amazing concerts, one of which was Aerosmith. My Flirt took me to a small town rodeo, and it was one of the loveliest evenings I’ve had in a long time.

Boots on the groundJust for fun, I took this picture of us sitting on the hillside watching the rodeo, and it is one of my favorite pictures ever.

We did a lot of walking, a lot of just hanging out, and a little bit of traveling. It was a good summer, and I’m happy to say my Flirt and I are getting along well, and seem to be happy with things as they are.

We’ve been talking about moving in together, but before that happens, my cat needs to go to another home. He is deathly allergic to cats, and as a result he doesn’t come over to my house much. The good news is that my cat will be going to live with an old friend, and I have no doubts that he will be much happier there. I don’t believe in spoiling my pets, and I certainly don’t believe in allowing cats to get on kitchen counters or anywhere else food is prepared. I think that the house where he is going to live will find him very spoiled and allowed to do all sorts of things he is not allowed to do here. It’s a win for both he and I.Harley Napping I’ll sure miss him, but part of my two-year plan is to rearrange my life so I can travel light. Part of that is no more pets. I raised my kids, and have had numerous fuzzy creatures in the house. Now it’s time to take care of me, and not have to worry about having someone at home to always have to be home for. It sounds selfish, but I promise you I’ve done my bit for family raising and now it’s time for me.

My new work schedule is going to allow me to blog a little more, so I am hoping to make that part of my daily routine. I’m amused by some of the pre-election shenanigans, like Trump running for the Republican ticket. More to come on that. I’m appalled by this whole thing going on with Kim Davis, and I’ll have a few things to say about that too.

Until then, I wish you all a lovely Sunday evening, and hope that the weather where you are is as awesome as it is here in the High Plains.

Where is Barbara Eden when you need her?

Holy cow…life has taken be for quite a ride these last two weeks. The end of the school year, combined with everything else that’s going on has left me with my head spinning and my house is a complete disaster. Here it is, Friday already this week, and I have company coming this weekend. Uff da.

I woke up today thinking how lovely it would be if I could have mad skills like Barbara Eden’s Jeannie. I would love it if I could clean my whole house with just a sharp bob of my head.  In my youth, when I spouted off about how I wished something could be different, my Dad would ask me if I had a pile of wish in one and a cow patty in another, what do you get when you rub your hands together? Better to get your hands dirty with work than to rub them together wishing things were different. Well, I’m unhappy to report that Dad was right. Wishing doesn’t quite fix the problem, so I guess I’ll stay up a little later tonight and get everything in order.

In other news, we’ve had a few gloriously sunshiny days. We deserved this nice weather, and I even got a little bit of a sunburn at the garage sale last weekend. Today we have 100% chance of rain, but I’m hoping that things will dry out enough this coming week that we’ll be able to put the garden in.

In North Dakota, we have a LOT of different Seasons, all of which overlap each other. For example, right now it is Spring, but it is also the beginning of Road Construction and Home Improvement Seasons. We have a lot of pot holes in the streets after a long hard Winter…axle-busting pot holes…and it could very well take most of the Spring and Summer for them all to get repaired. Home Improvement Season will be long too. There’s just no end to the work of art in progress that is my home. Thank goodness for my Dad, who has a handle on all things that have to do with home improvement.

Last year I had the roof replaced, the bathroom gutted and redone, and all of my windows were changed out. This will be the Summer of Small Projects. Lots of paint, lots of organizing and much getting rid of stuff that I don’t need anymore. I’m looking at doing some different things with my garden this year too, but more on that later.

Today it will rain and wash away the dust and dirt that covers everything, and make the air smell good. I have lunch with my Sister by Choice today, and work should be light….at least at the Cube Farm. It’s going to be a good day.

The Best Birthday Ever: Part 1 – The Good

Today is my birthday. Usually I don’t say anything about my birthday, but this year it was the best one ever. It’s also been a bit bad, but I’ll elaborate on that in my next post. First, the  good.

I worked at The Big Box Story this morning from 8-Noon, and then went to lunch with Mom & Dad and the boys. When I met up with them, Older Son let me know that one of my oldest best friends called to let me know that she was coming to town, just for my birthday. Mind you, she lives four hours away. She just decided to get up and make the trip with her three boys. We’ll call her Kay. I had a super big amount of stuff to do today, and so I kind of dropped everything to make sure I could spend some time with her since she made the trip. At 2:30, we met at a local bar owned by another friend. We’ll call her Dee. We were sitting here having a nice chat, when ANOTHER old friend came in. We’ll call him Jay.

Kay apparently texted Jay to let him know she was in town and why, and invited him along for the afternoon. We all sat together, reminiscing about old stuff, and talking about new stuff. Topics discussed were all over the map and ranged from alternative views on the Bible to what’s up with our kids. We sat there from 2:30 to about 6:45, and it was a fabulous afternoon.

What struck me was no matter how much time had gone by, and how much things had changed, things still stay the same. I was always the odd duck of the group, and I never could figure out why they would ever hang out with me, but they did, and I’m glad. Jay was always the bawdy one…quick with a naughty joke, but then always had something deep to say later on. Kay was always the one who knew everyone in a tri-state area. She can’t go anywhere without running into several people she knows. Dee, who owns the bar, was her usual sweet self and was a joy to hang around. People really don’t change at their core…not really. Habits can come and go, but people have a kernel of their true selves that never changes. This can be good, and bad. I’ll get to the bad in the next post. And the scary.

For now, since I blew off all the work around the house I needed to do today, I need to get going on that. I have company coming tomorrow for a few hours, and haven’t had the time to get the house “company ready”. Uff-da…too much to do before I go to bed tonight, but it was worth it. I’d definitely do it again. Spending time with these people for four hours was definitely worth it.  There were a few people missing who I’d have liked to visit with, but still – It was truly the Best Birthday Ever! I am reminded again, that work and home is not all there to life.

How old am I, you wonder? I’m 42, and not shy about admitting it. I’ll revel in it, and think I’ll do like my Granny does. She’s officially 87, but insists that she’s 79 and holding. 😉

A close call at The Cube Farm

I am one of those American’s with two jobs. I have a regular day job, and then I work at The Big Box Store on evenings and weekends. Where do I work during the day? Let’s call it The Cube Farm. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a Cube Farm is a really big building with a crap load of people working in an endless field of cubicles.

It just so happens that I work at a Multinational Cube Farm Operation, which is going through a phase of restructuring. We got an announcement this morning that a part of the restructuring would cause 400 people in the US to lose their jobs, and another 200 open positions would be eliminated…everyone who was affected would be notified by the end of the day.

It just so happens that my position, and that of my partner, were some of those that were done away with. We got lucky, though. There were open positions that needed filling, so they just moved us to those jobs. She and I won’t work together anymore after the 1st of the year, and that makes me sad. We only got to work together for five months, but it has been grand. I sure will miss my new boss too. Where I’m going, they are hiring for a new supervisor, so I don’t know who I’m working for just yet. Keep your fingers crossed for me that it is someone as great as my last two supervisors have been.

As much as I hate that I have been shuffled around and stuck in a job that I never wanted, there is a lot of good news here:

1. My kids will continue to get fed.

2. I didn’t have to take a pay cut, like some people I know at The Cube Farm who did.

3. I still have my benefits.

4. If I really hate my new job, I can start looking around The Cube Farm for something more interesting after a year.

5. I can take my time and look outside of The Cube Farm if I choose to, and I’m giving that some thought. I’m seriously giving it some thought.

The people I feel bad for tonight are those 400 people who got let go. Yes, they got a severance, but they still have to try to find a job.  In this economic climate that’s not easy, especially this time of year.

It’s time for me to hit the rack, and I’m going to go to sleep tonight thanking my lucky stars that I will wake up tomorrow employed. One more reason to feel blessed.


High Strangeness at The Big Box Store

I worked all day at my second job, which will henceforth be known here as Big Box Store.

As Big Box Store is big and full of everything you’d ever need, I expected it to be a hectic place to work. I didn’t expect it to be quite so disorganized, but I’ll get into that in a later post.  What I also didn’t expect was the violent behavior of the customers. I know it takes all kinds to make this world go ’round, but I think some need a shot of Thorazine to help keep the crazy down.

I was working along, organizing and answering questions, when I hear shouting and whapping. Yeah…that’s right…whapping. This father and daughter team were hitting each other with some Nerf swords that had been on display. Our standing operating orders are to do nothing, as long as nobody’s getting hurt. As it happens, this kid took an umbrella after her dad and connected with him. When he took it away from her, she grabbed a bike tire pump and hit him, hard…laughing the whole time. She couldn’t have been any more than 12-14 or so, age-wise. It all happened so fast that there wasn’t much I could do about it, and I was just getting ready to call for Security when they quit and left my department.

It makes me wonder what kind of strange relationship between father and child allows for that kind of behavior, especially in public.  They were gleefully destroying the department until she took after him with the hard stuff, and he still never said much to her in the way of corrective parenting. High strangeness to be sure. The scary thing is that this guy frequents my department. I’m hoping after today he’ll give it a rest for a while.

On the upside, I’m getting a fabulous workout! Working at Big Box Store has given me access to lots of walking, and very much lifting and bending. My butt feels like I’ve been running a marathon. I wish it had shrunk accordingly, but it’s only been two weeks, so I guess I should be patient. This curvaceous body wasn’t built in a day, and whittling it down to a less curvaceous form won’t take any less time.

And now, supper is almost ready. I have a movie from Netflix ready to watch called Ondine, and I’ll be sure to post a review all about it. Night all!

I’m doubly gainfully employed!

So yesterday the final appointment was made. They called me to come in for orientation. I’ll be working my first day at my new 2nd job on Saturday. That’s right…I’m now doubly employed, and it’s about time.

I’ve been meaning to get another job for quite a while, and just never mustered the guts to get up and do it. Why? I suppose I was afraid that I wouldn’t be viewed as employable, which is dumb. I’m a pretty plain-Jane, vanilla, stable kind of girl…just right for a big box store that’s desperately hiring people as fast as possible.  I suppose it’s just a matter of facing change. This is something I’ve never done before, and it will surely be an adventure.

So where will I be working? I’ll not actually say the name, but it’s a giant store chain that is well-known all over the country, and after a while it won’t take you long to figure out what it is. They hired me to work in the toy department, which will be just perfect. I’m told that it’s a lot of picking up after little kids. Wow…nobody’s paid me to pick up after little kids before!  I’m hoping to get in about 20 hours a week, which will be just right. The money will go toward buying a car for my kids to use, and for fixing up the house some more so I can get it refinanced. I’m hoping that by spring I’ll have all the little stuff taken care of.

Well, that’s all the news that’s fit to print here today. Gotta get the kids prodded along in their morning routines so we can get the heck out of the house and on with our day. More soon!

Digging deep…this morning’s blessings

With Autumn approaching, I find that I’m feeling hum drum, and just down in general. Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year with the beauty of the changing trees, the Autumn smells in the air, and just the fresh crisp feel of the season. It’s a beautiful time of year, and yet I find the specter of the coming Winter overshadows it to the point of making me feel some dread. I’ve been told that we should expect 2 1/2 degrees colder temps on average, as well as 4 more total inches of snow this winter. We had a hard time finding places to put it all last year, and I can’t imagine trying to store more of the stuff. Uff-da….

Anyway, in the effort to drag my attitude out of the basement and into the light, I’m digging deep, with my trusty snow shovel,  for whatever blessings come to mind this morning, and they are as follows:

1. When the ground freezes and the snow falls, there will be no chance that I will get leakage in my basement from a severe thunderstorm.

2. I am fortunate enough to have two strong sons to help me shovel out. I also have some extra cash I’m going to pay my neighbor with the Bobcat to clear my driveway when the snow is so deep it would take us hours to clear by hand.

3. I have a have a nice warm winter jacket, which I affectionately call the Big Brown Bear suit. It’s never failed me, except that the pockets have holes that need sewing up. After 12 years, if that’s the only malfunction that happens, no big deal. I have a needle and thread.

4. Snow really is pretty. There’s nothing more peaceful than when the land has a fresh coat of snow on it. Not only is it peaceful to see, but it lends an extra measure of quiet to everything that is like nothing else.

5. While Christmas, in all its commercial glory, is not my favorite holiday, I love how everything is covered with lights at Christmas time. When everything is so dark that we hardly get to see the sunshine, it’s nice to have those little lights twinkling in the darkness. Sometimes I take the long way to where I’m going just so I can take in some more of the holiday decorations.

6. I like holiday food. Some of the best traditional holiday food is only made in the Winter. Lefse is a good example. I learned how to make lefse last year, and I  plan on making homemade lefse for Thanksgiving and Christmas. No promises about Easter, it’s just too darned busy that time of year.

7. Speaking of holiday food, Thanksgiving is coming up. Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite holiday. I live for roasting turkey, and making the whole dinner with all the trimmings. I love to have people over and make a big day of it. I can’t wait!

Well, I supposed that will have to be enough for now. It’s time to get the boys off to school, and me to work. I hope you all have a blessing-filled day.

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