Thursday, March 20, 2008

Change, change and more change, Vol 2

The TDA Community meeting last evening was interesting. Having worked with communities and TDA organizations in the past, I was pleased to see and hear this bunch "doing it right" (in my opinion, at least...) with the professionals providing information and giving some structure to the discussion, but the pace and direction being community led.

I had not been involved in this process from the beginning, as this is, but I have sat in on many community meetings in the past where this background had not been done, and learned from this procedure from other community organization groups. At this point, the meeting was to get community input about resources that are available and which the community might want to share with visitors as well as those they would not want to share. Mostly I just sat and listened, as I did not arrive early enough to meet and introduce myself, however the lady sitting next to me shared some comments and I kibbitzed back. She was one of the core community group that is working on this project. At one point, she mentioned that the local library was putting together a pictorial history of the community and I asked her if they had considered also doing it in new media, sharing my experience working on the DVD of the first 400 years of Williston, NC history. I mentioned what I did and she excitedly invited me to become a part of their committee... we will see...

There was serious weather projected for the evening and overnight and today as well and as the meeting broke up, we exited the city hall into falling snow. There was about an inch here overnight, mixed at times with sleet I think (from the sounds I heard on the east bedroom wall when I awoke in the evening.) and today we have had mixed precip off and on.

This kind of delayed my desired visit to Robin's farm. Robin is friends of the owner of the t-shirt silk screen company that I have been wanting to work for, and I really want to visit her before I make contact with him. First of the week, I guess...

I need to think about a celebration of the Vernal Equinox, and to complete the cleansing on this temporary quarters, and that kind of needs to follow a bit of cleaning as well. Fortunately that CAN happen, as we have got most of the necessary storage shuffle done and order is coming. Slowly. There are still boxes on the floor of the kitchen to be emptied and stuff put away if space can be found. If I was ever in a "kitchen for a non-cook" this would be one. Well, maybe that one apartment in the converted house in Spokane fits the bill too... but it was not really supposed to be a real kitchen. This is.

The kerosene heater has been unboxed, filled and lit, so that we can hopefully put the propane one on active reserve. The kerosene will be less likely to singe doggie hair, which has been an ongoing problem with the propane.

Office space is still in chaos, but I am beginning to work again and getting the personal stuff I must deal with from this space (financials, etc.) sorted out as well. The mail fiasco may well result in lost mail, so I am working on tracking down bills, etc to notify of the change.

The cats' room is decidedly more spacious since the last storage run, though they still have their crates there, where they like to lounge, and totes for a window seat. Since we will be part of a rotating Saturday supper group, it seems, we have been plotting a suitable low-tech table (we actually HAVE enough chairs! in storage at present, though...) for the dining room, and will move the two glider rockers to the cat room / soon to be tv room as well, unless I decide to take mine on into my Craft room.

THAT is in utter chaos, but is on the list for today.

I think that the next few days will be "stay at home" work days. I need them. I need to time to sit and think, lots of time to sit and think before beginning to plot again to move forward. Though I will not take too long... this trailer is not "home."

I have not been feeling very up or perky since I got here. I guess it's just the fact that I was sick at the end in NC and couldn't take the time to be sick and heal. And the fact that I ain't as young as I used to be and I loaded much of a 22' truck and unloaded much of the same. And the fact that I felt like I had to hit the ground running and last night was trying to get a sore throat (doesn't hurt today.) And that is a large part of why I have not felt like writing.

So I am going to stop and organize and clean.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Change, change and more change

I have not felt like writing of late. Felt her but not here, overwhelmed and unable to find the time and the energy to dig out.

To try to get a bit of coherence and a time line... Monday March 10 I started training at Microdyne, having been hounded and pushed into accepting a job much more quickly than I had intended. "Training" was to have been 2 weeks, and the first few days did not start off well... Our trainer was easily distracted and one of the trainees was even worse -- a disabled vet with as bad a case of ADD as I have ever seen. They attempted to teach us version 6 of the software we were to be supporting, which will soon be replaced by version 7 and it seems we hopped back and forth from one version to the next, with much time lost due to having to set up equipment to display the projection from which we were taught. The only time we were able to explore the program for ourselves was during brief moments when we were called to the projection system to repeat what we had been shown, kinda like in the MSF learn to ride classes where we got shown a maneuver 3 times and then got two tries to replicate it successfully, before moving on. Stress...

Eventually we got on to the tools we would be using to actually help the customers, which were allowed to log onto and explore... all except me. Seems they could not figure out now to get my name to work with a log-in... not on Wed (I tried the combination the told me) nor Thurs ... nor Fri... each day I tried repeatedly. By the end of the week I was getting MOST frustrated by the amount of time we spent sitting while the trainer fussed with equipment that "should have" been set up, chatted with friends, etc. When she projected the training schedule on screen to check off the subject covered, it was obvious she was not working from any sort of plan at all; each day from the beginning we were to have spent the last two hours listening to actual calls/resolutions. Instead she had us making up scenarios. Us, who had no knowledge before this of the software or the industry in which it was used.

When I left Friday afternoon, still without login, the training schedule was also in a turmoil. You see, most of the class are college students and they began class on Monday. The distractable Vet and I were not, so we were told to "be here at 8 on Monday." Since we were standing in the training room at the time, and no other instructions were given (though in the discussions as to how the rest of training would be conducted there had been discussion about "being on the floor" the second week it was not really settled) both the Vet and I assumed that was where we were to meet. However as we were waiting in the training room that second Monday, we were discovered by another trainer for another class and she searched down our trainer, who came down from the floor with a "You were supposed to be on the floor..." comment. Right...
Then I discovered from the team leader that "your logon has been active since Wednedsay..." and, yeah, of course, when I tried it THIS time, it worked... I knew there was no reason to bother to ask why it had not worked for me on Wed, Thurs, Fri on the multiple times I tried it.

So, I sat and watched and listened to an experienced tech, wondering about the confusion and lack of communication I had seen and been subjected to during the past week. It seemed like on every call he took something was done "to cover my a$$"... and when I went on break I was treated to overhearing a table full of other employees bitching amongst themselves over ways in which they had been jerked around for petty this and that and it confirmed a feeling that had been not so slowly growing, that there was way too much BS in this company for my liking, especially as it in no way involved raising bovines.

So Monday, at the end of my shift I handed in my badge and my training manual and explained to the HR employee who had hired me that it was not a good fit, that there was way too much confusion, mixed messages and lack of communication and that, even though I could do the job, I was leaving. The fact that there was NO RESPONSE to this.. no change in expression, not even a professional and superficial expression of regret confirmed that this was the right decision.

And the next day, running errands and thinking I still believed I was on the right path. The day before NOTHING felt right and on Tues, even though I was once again unemployed EVERYTHING did.

I needed a few "full stop days" to do what I should have done after we arrived. REST.

And in the mean time we have gotten the bifold doors installed and the cats released from their tiny bedroom holding cell (I felt that they and I were released from purgatory about the same time!) and the last couple of nights have been wonderful with cats on the bed and purring in my ear. Even Kindness, one of the two "ferals" we caught just before leaving, was on the foot of the bed thei morning, though her sister, Sherrie, AKA FuzzyButt, is as scarce as always.

And we have gotten a bunch of stuff shuffled from the storage building to the trailer and vice versa. I have almost found all the stuff I need to cook in basic kitchen mode, the majority of my winter clothes have been found, and the fridge and freezer are beginning to be stocked in a more normal way.

We have gotten our "land line" phone set up with Vonage and just today got US Cellular phones with a local number. Soon the cell number that I have been using for clients in NC will become a virtual line with Vonage and I can get business cards printed with the new cell number for use here. So even though things are not moving, they are.

I have determined that I need to visit a local friend prior to touching base again with the tshirt company that I wanted to work for (she and her husband are friends of the owner) and will be attending a tourism development meeting here in Milo this evening, to get a feel for the town, meet and greet and get to know the TDA folks here.

more later... time for TDA meeting

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

unexpected explorations

We have been quite pleased with the variety and selection in the local IGA store here in Milo. It is a small store, "grocery store" rather than "supermarket" but with many things that I have not even been used to seeing at the supermarkets in other places. Nice vegetables, reasonable prices too... two kinds of "natural" peanut butter (just peanuts and salt kind...) for example where most stores have only one, a name brand, if any.

But, as we began discovering the Monday night we moved in, they do tend to "roll up the sidewalks" a bit earlier than we are used to... On that night we found, at 5 till 7, that one of the two pizza joints in town was closing at 7 and would not serve us. Fortunately the other stays open later and had excellent pie! And, on Sunday eve, the IGA closes at 5. And last Sunday we needed potatoes and possibly cranberry sauce, as I was cooking the half-turkey, thawed and left over from Thanksgiving. When we discovered that none of the places remaining open that claimed to have "groceries" had any sort of instant potatoes at all, we decided to punt with rice, but on the way home followed our noses, exploring a road we had not been down. Eventually we ended up on a "good" road headed west, which seemed to be going somewhere, so we followed it. I guessed it would end up in Dover-Foxcroft, and I was right. And lo and behold, there on a Sunday eve in this fair town (of more size than Milo) there was a Save-A-Lot store within sight of where we entered town and it was OPEN! Not only did we find our instant 'taters and the cranberry sauce, we also found a wonderful Maine-made, refrigerated cranberry-apple cider and many other unexpected treats... Lemon curd being one... something K had searched for, high and low and unsuccessfully, in NC.

This evening, after a visit to the Bangor PO to get the forward turned off (and still wondering how much of my mail had been running back and forth between ME and NC over the week...) I opted to take my "old" route across town (to avoid congestion at the downtown onramp to I95) and in the process spotted a massage office and booked a session for Thurs late afternoon! WooHoo... I will be able to move soon!

But on the way back home, after getting back on the Interstate, I was wool-gathering and missed the exit to Milo. Once. I will NEVER do that again... for it is MILES and MILES (of bog, and wonderful trees but never the less a frustrating digression when you want to be headed HOME) to the nearest offramp.

This morning, on the way in to training, just as the sun was rising, I composed this poem:

Red birch twigs
Flame with the rising sun,
Stark against sky and sleeping earth.
I envision the sun-warmed bark
Calling forth renewed life;
Sap rising from underground slumber
As the season turns.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Settling in

We are beginning to settle in a bit, though we still do not have a fridge or the new steps that were promised. The step PARTS arrived while we were in the city recently though, and I expect the carpenters to follow come Monday. Weather is supposed to be cold and windy, but NOT WET and so I hope they will work.

We latched onto a good deal on Friday for a full size, stacked, washer and dryer but were in town with the car so we bought and hoped to pick it up on Saturday. It was "iffy" as we were predicted to have rain/sleet/ice during the day, but it held off until the end of the day and we were able to get them here and in. Then back out for more parts, as the trailer is set up for two appliances and the water (in and out) is on one side of a door and the electric and dryer vent on the other side. We needed to make a dryer extension cord, for starters and then found out we need more parts to install the washer, so that is where K is at present. He missed the local hardware store Sunday hours (MORNING, before noon!).

Weather has been warmish and wet, then a wee bit of snow pellets fell this morning, with a stiff cold wind now blowing. It is supposed to be colder this coming week but dry. Roads were clear, sometimes wet, and I am hoping that tomorrow early they are not too icy, as I must start training for my tech support job. Not what I really wanted, but they had openings and the pay, once training is over, is near what I was getting in NC. We will see how long I can take it, though from what I could see the place was pretty ok for a call center. Did not seem to be a lot of stress.. not like Seattle Filmworks...

I am enjoying looking out the window and seeing the trees blow, seeing the snow banks even though they are turning "spring brown" at present. It was funny to see the banks, piled up higher than the car roof by a long ways, with mailboxes protruding from the middle of the bank. I will try to get a picture, though with the melting that has happened, it will not be quite as dramatic.

K has been struggling to find an activity level that does not give him chest and other pains, but allows him to do more than just sit. sometimes he succeeds, but always fusses at not being able to "do more."

I am still very tired, days seem not nearly long enough and nights ditto. And I hurt, though not as much as a couple of days ago. I AM going to find a massage therapist in the next few days and get done and I am babying my left knee and elbow, both of which were giving me unhappy messages. In fact, walking around the stores yesterday, I spent much time leaning heavily on a cart as my left knee would NOT support me.

But we are in Maine, and shortly will begin again to look for "our place" and it is good...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The beginning of the first week

I am going to try to catch up with the news...

Thursday Feb 28 We picked up the truck and car trailer on Thursday afternoon and the follies began almost as soon as we got home. Plans to quickly unhitch the trailer and pull the truck into position so I could help K load the layout bench and/or my heavy desk before dressing and heading down to the Waterfowl Weekend event did not materialize. The trailer would not unhitch. After much frustration, a call to Penske got a promise of “road service”... in 60-90 min (from Jacksonville...) so I left a very frustrated K and headed down to photograph my event.

The shoot went well, despite my camera having sustained damage to the view screen when I dropped it a while back (new camera is on the list from the proceeds of the Park Service project...) and as always the food was great. The word had got around that I was heading to Maine and I had to explain why Maine, why now, many times.

I was very surprised when, before the speaker, I was presented a plaque by the Museum Board of Directors, thanking me for my many contributions over the last five years. The speaker was wonderful as well, and though I had intended to cut out early to load the truck I did enjoy hanging around to listen. I did manage to disappear quickly after he closed, to avoid the good byes, but in the process forgot the little decoys I was buying for gifts later.

Oh, well, I would need to return the carpet machine the next day and planned to pick them up at that time anyway...

Friday Feb 29 We did not get started loading until Friday, and got a late start at that. Nothing seemed to want to go smoothly... and then we discovered that the electric and water, which I had ordered cut off on Friday as I did not want them on in the unoccupied building over the weekend, got cut off EARLY... electric at 9 AM! Water shortly thereafter... so no cleaning was possible. I returned the unused carpet machine, picked up the decoys and got back to helping load. K was not feeling well... between the flu that hadn't quite left and his other health issues, he pushed hard but often had to rest. I kept going, being frustrated though as I like to have EVERYTHING packed a day or so before the truck arrives and in this move, there were many boxes of “whatever” loaded as we were loading the truck. I needed to be in two places at once and couldn't quite manage.

As we lost the light, and the truck was not even half loaded, we got a couple of propane lanterns and continued on... I packed truck and packed boxes until 4 am when I could not stagger any farther and caught a catnap on the couch, which we had not yet put on the curb.

Saturday March 1 Come dawn on Saturday, we were back at it... packing like mad fools to complete the job. It was a good thing we opted for the larger, 22 ft truck, as in the end it was stuffed, as was Artie on the trailer and the Subaru as well.

We finally headed out mid-afternoon Saturday, on little sleep. We drove as far as we could and then napped in the vehicles. Turns out my “power naps”were seriously at odds with K's system, as it took him almost as long to fall asleep as it took me to do a complete nap (which he didn't tell me until we got to Maine and were done) but he had said for me to set the pace, so I did....

Sunday March 2 Slowly (or so it seemed) on account of the slow acceleration on the diesel truck. Any time I had a grade or any sort, or had to slow for other traffic, it seems I dropped to 40 mph or less and it took a long time to regain speed. After much discussion and fussing, we decided to just follow 95, as I had on my vacation trip north, so we went through the Geo Washington bridge in NY – this time with no delay. The frost heaves in NY were something though... and on one of my hits of them, I almost lost the pickup. The device to secure the front tires in place on the trailer on one side had a tendency to come loose, so that required frequent attention through the rest of the trip.

We finally arrived at the pet friendly motel my friend had located for us near midnight Sunday night/Monday morning. By then, the plants had mostly frozen and all froze in the layover that night. We had an upstairs room and it was a chore to get the cats up for the night... small carriers were no problem but the larger ones hard and in the end we left the largest one in the truck and hand-carried the two tomcats up.

Monday March 3 We had a two-room suite and had left the bird cage in the closed off second bedroom, but during the night the cats breached the door and managed to kill one of the finches, as well as making a mess of dog food and dog water on the carpet. We did manage to get on the road again and out to Milo rolling into town just at 11 am when we were to meet with the landlord at the rental trailer that was to be out temporary digs.

As I was stopping in town to give him a call to ascertain where was the best spot to park the rig to unhitch the trailer, etc. the phone rang. It was Microdyne calling... yet again... wanting to know if I was in Maine yet. I mentally put them on the “call back later” list and proceeded with my plan.

A local friend, Forest Beekeeper, had shown up and was waiting at the trailer, so he came into town to lead me out to where we needed to be, to help unload, and I left him and K to deal with trailer and truck issues while I met with the Realtor/landlord and signed the rental agreement.

The trailer was a MESS... the a remodel job in progress... with the living room full of soaking wet pressure treated lumber for the steps that were to be rebuilt... the existing ones were (and as of this writing still are...) decaying badly, with one step only half a board and all of them, stoop and steps alike, covered with a dangerous layer to snow and ice.

Inside it wasn't all THAT bad, at least the walls were intact and the floors covered with new linoleum. Kitchen cabinets at one end of the single wide are dark wood, funky and dirty and though there was a propane stove, and a bit of gas, there is as of yet no fridge. We have been promised one as soon as the weather clears.

Tuesday March 4 We also had no water for the first night and though they got it working, they did not get the heat tape installed and it froze up at dawn the second day. I had asked about leaving it running and was told that keeping the cupboards open would be sufficient. Right... I left it running last night... We did manage to get the truck returned to Bangor and did a bit of shopping on Tuesday evening

Wednesday March 5 Meanwhile we are supposed to get Roadrunner installed today (or so I thought... turned out the appt was for Thursday, and a good thing as we had a major ice storm most of today) and I have begun cleaning the kitchen and putting some stuff away. It is a fine line between being able to function while we look for our real home and “moving in” here, which we do not intend to do. And despite having heard “no jobs...” as a litany on the Internet board, and having wanted at first through the end of the week... then after the disaster of a move and being ill and hurting as only an old woman who is NOT used to being a Teamster can hurt, having decided on an extra week or two before I began my job hunt, it appears I will have to begin work Monday, or at least begin training (at $8 an hour) for a tech support job with Microdyne. No, I am not really bitching... my interview Friday comes with the new moon and that is a good sign for me, but it does put a different spin on things.

But there are no regrets. We are in Maine, more or less hunkered down through the first storm of our residency here... a sleet/freezing rain event yesterday. I need a new coat (mine no longer zips) and K needs real boots. The skies, even here in town, are awesome and dark enough to show me many many constellations and background stars and the 7 sisters and such. Even in our little town, which really does roll up the sidewalks at 7 pm (one of the two pizza places closes, the IGA, etc.) we have found a wonderful old fashioned hardware store, and the IGA has a wonderful selection, so I am told... haven't been there yet...

My body is trying to get used to the dry climate... brushing fly-away hair and dry skin that needs lotion that I have not found yet.

With the storm and no net, yet I am behind on client stuff so that will be remedied today and I will run into Bangor to the library if necessary to upload while K babysits the trailer waiting for the cable guy. And I will eventually get back on a decent sleep schedule... I am waking after midnight and not being able to go back to sleep at this point... left over from the drive-nap-drive routine I think.

Hopefully the weather will be good this weekend so we can get into the storage unit, sort and shuffle... my hanging clothes ended up there, and stuff that we do not need ended up here. But I do have one dress for my interview tomorrow and my good shoes and hopefully they will get the water heater fixed so that we have HOT, not just warm water... otherwise I will heat up kettles on the stove for my first bath and continue to make do.

The list of things to do in Bangor continues to grow... discontinue to mail forward is #1, set up checking account for myself and for the business is #2 and 3, and getting the electric in my name is also on the list... but until the place is right, I am not pushing to do that. We did get a load of oil for the furnace and propane for cooking, so we are beginning to get settled.

And that's the report from the slow lane.