Bringing Organized Happiness…One Power Tool At a Time

Alison and I tore into the garage yesterday.

All in preparation for one of my almost annual garage sales. I have whittled away piece by piece and have so little left. I often wonder if this is my subconscious working on me to make a decision about where life is headed.

Well Deb, looks like you have one chair, a bed and a few odd side tables. Seems as if you have two choices- move out and on and get yourself some stuff, or; STFU, admit you will be here until you die, update this house out of it’s early 1990’s style and then get a job to pay off the costs. 

I don’t really need a little voice to give me these choices. I know I clearly have but two routes, and I am no closer to a decision now than I was when I admitted to needing to make a decision a few months ago. I sort of feel like if I have to keep asking myself

“Self, just how miserable are you?”

and because I keep asking then I must have some degree of miserable left to achieve and I don’t have to make a final, FINAL decision quite yet.

Anyway, the spouse was out all day so it was a perfect time to tackle the workbench area. I now have a neat pile of varied items to slap price stickers on, another bunch of items that are destined to be sold as well but must remain in place for now as moving them would be obvious and attract unwanted attention that I had actually been in the garage, a very small and organized section of ‘things we actually use and still need,’ and about five boxes of old hazardous household waste that is going to the landfill site to be disposed of in the proper manner on Thursday.

Alison kindly crawled under and around and pulled each item out from its dirt and spider-web encrusted home and I quickly directed each item into it’s appropriate pile: garbage, sell, keep, HHW (household hazardous waste) and the ‘moving on with Alison when she leaves’ pile.

She claimed some items that will come in handy when she needs to change the oil on her car. I never knew that we had three of those clamp things you use to help you remove your oil filter. She also claimed a nice cordless drill that hasn’t seen the light of day since we inherited it long before she was even born. It literally seems to be in mint condition having been stored inside it’s original case. So as long as the battery will charge up she has gotten a gem with that find. By the way, that drill was one of four we apparently own. One had a cord so frayed it was a fire hazard. One was the size of a KitchenAid mixer body, and the final one (which I kept for now) is rusty around it’s head but I think it will work if needed.

Need is the operative word with most of the items we hauled out. The spouse does not do projects and will not (I feel quite certain about this) begin to take up doing projects in the future. Needed work in, on, or around this house will be hired work. I would do the work, but physically that’s out of the question anymore. I’m not sure, but do you think four drills is a bit of overkill if no one is doing work?

We also uncovered two full gallon bottles of antifreeze, two partially full bottles of antifreeze and a half-full bottle of windshield washer fluid. I can claim ownership of the washer fluid, but four various bottles of antifreeze…who was expecting severe weather conditions so horrendous that we needed to build up a lifelong supply of antifreeze for our cars.

I could take you all item by item through our adventure, but I won’t. Let’s leave it with the knowledge that soon enough I will have conquered twenty-two years of accumulated crap.

I do have to mention the nails though. So. Many. Nails. Also so many screws. The top of our workbench, had it ever been organized, could have easily passed for the nail and screw aisle in a Lowe’s store. Again, most of this came by way of inheritance, because why would you ever say no thank you to ten rusty coffee cans of mixed nails and 6 inch spikes, or plastic bins that contain at least one of every screw ever made. Alison is slightly OCD when it comes to order. This particular area of the workbench was literally causing her anxiety and she very bravely, and rather excitedly, volunteered to organize can after can and drawer after drawer of fasteners. I simplified it quite easily by keeping the nails that I might have need of for things like picture hanging, and the rest…let’s just say they are anxiously waiting to be secretly disposed of. I may actually put a free sign on the cans at the garage sale (because free signs draw in the crowds) and let some handy-person take them away.

Addendum: I rethought the screw organization plan since saying no yesterday. I know that it would bring Alison joy to organize each of those little drawers, so maybe, while her dad is out again today, I’ll give her the thrill of that job. I bet we could get 40 bins down to 10 or less in no time and add to the free pile as well.

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Names Matter

We’d danced, made some art, and played at the park.

Lunch was finished.

It was quiet time and today that meant a movie to wind down with before Miss G took a nap.

She wanted Tangled, or as she calls it, Prepunzel. We couldn’t find the DVD anywhere.

She pulled out Despicable Me instead.

“Can you tell me what his name?” She was referring to the villian who looks like Uncle Fester from the Addams Family.

“I don’t know his name sweetie. Grandma’s never watched this movie before.”

“But what his name?”

I knew this conversation wasn’t going anywhere fast so I pulled out the almost empty bag of potato chips and distracted her with some of the crumbs left in the bag. Food works every time.

Later, when the nasty guy descends into his laboratory, Miss G asked me what the little yellow guys were called.

“Those are minions,” I said.

She looked at me like I was making up a word.

“No. What they called?”

“Minions.”

“What their name?”

We’d run out of potato chips so I mumbled something and pretended like I hadn’t heard her.

Later still, when the evil guy, disguised as a dentist, is adopting the three girls from Miss Hattie, he mentions his wife’s name was Debbie.

“Grandma, that’s your name. He said Grandma Debbie.”

“You’re right G, good job!”

Finally, a name that I knew.

Lines on Paper

I had lots of free time last week, and while words seem to be MIA, I did find myself creating some designs that I’m happy with.

This first picture is actually my name in Zentangle. It seems that there are as many ways to create a finished design as there are individual patterns themselves. One suggestion was to randomly pick a pattern for each letter of your name and create a complete design. Here I am, first and last name.

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Next in line are two with random themes.

On the left I used a water theme. Mixed into the design are patterns such as River, Riverstones, Lilypond and Tadpole. The design on the right was inspired by a pillow on my couch.

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The last two have no central plan to them at all. I do most of these designs on white tiles, which is what the squares are called. While good quality paper, they are not the original tiles used by the creators of this art form. Those tiles are pricey, and for now I limit my use of them. I did use one for the bottom design. I think you can see that the edges are not as neatly finished. They don’t look like they were stamped from a press machine like the less expensive version. They aren’t white, but a slightly creamy-yellow to tan color. They also have a rougher texture, which I like, and which picks up the ink nicely. The originals are also great for shading, which is a technique that is still challenging to me.

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A Day at the Museum

I finally got to Georgia O’Keeffe yesterday. The local art museum has had about 25 of her paintings as part of a Western art exhibit for over two months now and as the exhibit closes in one week, I figured I better get there. Who knew that going on Saturday, at noon, on Memorial Day weekend would mean encountering half of the cities senior population. I sort of thought that all those older folks would have packed up their RV’s and headed to some warmer outdoorsy spot in the REAL west, such as Arizona, or New Mexico, or Palm Springs.

It was jam-packed though, and trying to appreciate art isn’t easy when you are moving and standing among wandering hoards of art onlookers, just as puzzled as yourself over some of the pieces. Side conversations however, told me that a lot of these people knew a lot more than I did about Western art and the artists featured.

This was my first trip to the museum since they opened a new wing, which is large, and impressive and makes this small city museum seem now somehow a bit more grand, and citified. The O’Keeffe link above also provides access for you to glimpse a few of the pieces we found throughout the new space.

I have to be honest. Western art isn’t exactly my thing. There was a lot of oil on canvas depicting prairies, and mountains, and Native American tribes, and soldiers. There was quite a lot of bronze. Bison, and cowboys on horseback, and oddly enough a pair of squirrels. Alison was with me. We had our private comments of course. She is not terribly appreciative of contemporary or abstract art. She found that she could relate to the landscapes though, and actually came across a few of places that she has visited. As to the O’Keeffe pieces, I have mixed feelings. There were a few of the less suggestive floral paintings, and none of the landscapes that show deep, late day sun stroked mountain clefts, because this museum is decidedly conservative when it comes to any real or imagined erotically charged art. They played it pretty safe, which I suppose I should have expected. Her pieces were mixed into the gallery housing our northwest artists interpretations of Western art. This area is where I really lost Alison since their interpretations seem to be highly stylized.

We moved on, found ourselves to be starving and had every intention of having a late lunch in the museum cafe. It is small, and was packed with yet more of those seniors out for the day. I was all set for some Thai soup and a panini, but that wasn’t going to happen. Fortunately Alison suggested a small eatery close to her office. The city itself was deserted. I can honestly say that it was a pleasure to drive through those quiet streets that are normally loud and crowded.

So we ate at Happy Belly. They have almost as many smoothie and juice choices on their menu as food items. I think that we ended up quite happy, our bellies included, after a large cup of chai tea, roasted red pepper/kale soup, and a slightly spicy, creamy and veggie filled sandwich on toasted english muffin. Alison and I talked long about her job hunt. Some of it disappointing, like internal government jobs that she apparently CANNOT apply for, as well as her willingness to go back to her roots of archaeology**, or any science related field that would have her actually. We ventured into the area of college education benefits versus cost versus outcome and concluded that above all else, very few twenty-two year old people are realistically well prepared to begin a career, and that more doors seem to remain closed rather than swinging wide and welcoming.

I think that some of my angst and disappointment over her current search for a real job comes because it wasn’t all that difficult when I was searching for my very first job and I want it to be easy for her. My chosen profession at the time was very specific though. Time will tell in this case and life will go on, as it is destined to do.

**Dear feline friend Carol, if by chance you come across this post I mentioned LOUD mom some time ago to Alison, who would be very interested in any and all ideas LM might have on moving back to, and forward with, her original archaeology goals. Her trowels, brushes and picks stand ready.

The Search Is On

I am learning quite a bit about geology, and geology jobs, and what is involved in getting those jobs. I am not with Miss G this week so I have a lot of free time. I don’t typically spend my free time researching geology though.

Alison has been searching, and applying, but because she spends the majority of her days while still in this intern position either standing in a river collecting samples, or analyzing and documenting data, or doing whatever it is that geologists do after that, she hasn’t had a great deal of time to have a daily schedule of job hunting.

I have found that geologists seem to fall into three broad categories: those who are PhD’s and search for teaching jobs; those who have no qualms working for or around oil pipelines and petroleum companies; and those who simply want to do field work, document data and go on to the next project. This last category typically means a government job.

Alison is not at all interested in teaching. She has, in fact, nixed the idea of the geology MA. She knows that the push will be not a terminal degree but strong emphasis to go beyond. That is where the student money will lay and she is firm in knowing that she doesn’t seek out the title of doctor, or has any desire to be associated with published academic research. Signing her name to governmental data and research reports is fine. Forget the expectations associated with professorial positions.

Her principles take her far afield of helping big oil get bigger. Of course, those companies all hire geologists from ‘environmental groups’ whose sole job it is to monitor and direct the correct implementation of land use, and drilling, and waste water and such. I’m sure a geologist has been involved in issuing some of the 100+ fines that the Texas company, involved in the latest pipeline break/oil spill on the California coast, has routinely ignored forgotten to pay.  Personally, I am amazed at the number of jobs trying to recruit geologists for these positions. They make up the majority of geology jobs, and they are often disguised under the auspices of a title like Environmental Scientist or Geological Technician. I’ve found a few that work out of the Department of Ecology rather than the for-profit consulting companies that monopolize the job boards. Either way, it’s the same work.

So Alison is left with the sorts of jobs that she wants to do. Government jobs with advancing pay and responsibility levels. Benefits like healthcare and retirement. Field work. That one is the preeminent requirement for Alison. Those jobs are listed under many titles. Geologist I, II, III and beyond. Entry level, junior, or senior geologist. Most are simply listed as Geologist 1/2, 5/6, 11/12, etc. I’ve come to understand, knowing what I know about Alison’s work and experience that she is most likely a Geologist II, or high entry level-junior geologist, or a Geologist 6 to maybe a 9. I’ve also learned that full-time geology jobs with the government have pay ranges from $28,000 up to a whopping $160,000 for a Geologist 15, the highest level I’ve run across so far.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Bureaus of Land Management (BLM) often have geological job needs that offer geologists collaborative work with their own folks. I found a few of those that she might like. I’ve checked state government sites, and again found a few positions.

I have been directed to a few federal government job sites that have both recent graduate jobs and more career level positions. I got quite a list there. Surprising to me last evening, I ran across three or four archaeologist positions in the student section. Geological work was a plus in the requirements list for those jobs. Those positions were in Utah and Nevada and somewhere east. I was pretty excited to point those out to Alison, so I hope she applies. She literally met every requirement asked for. I think it would be rather ironic that her first planned career: archaeology could be an avenue to a geology job: her latest favorite career choice. Also, ironically again, she had once considered geoarchaeology so perhaps this is one of those karmic signs…

The US Geologic Survey (USGS), her current employer, had a number of jobs as well all scattered here and there, although most were for the experience and education levels that are just out of Alison’s reach. I suggested she try anyway. It can’t hurt and you never know. One of the last positions that I ran across, again so ironic, had just been posted four hours prior to my search. The aspect that caught my eye right away: the position is in her present office, doing exactly what she does now with the exception that they are looking for someone who has already taken leadership roles and been on the job a little longer. I think a nice way of saying it would be that they are looking for ‘maturity’ in the career field. I think the position was listed as a level 9-11. She was put in charge of a project when the original leader took some leave to be with his newborn, so that should count for something, right? I so hope that she is not intimidated and applies for the position anyway.

Now that you (and I) know more than we probably ever wanted to know about geology job hunting, the search is over for now. I don’t know where else to look and quite honestly I know that she is overwhelmed for the moment. I could see it in her face when she took me up on my original offer to help her search.

Fingers crossed, ask the universe to smile favorably on her, and then if we need to, we start all over again.

If Only…

I was on my way to do errands this morning (I have the week off as Miss G is on an extended vacation) and had the radio on in my car as usual.

The early morning DJ and staff always ask some sort of question of their audience for call-in responses. Sometimes the question refers to some social issue in the news. Other times the questions are just silly, or outlandish. Those always get turned into politically incorrect talk-show drivel that cracks up the radio staff, but sometimes verge on rude. Not Howard Stern rude and incorrect, but dicey and most commonly filled with sexual innuendo. This station plays songs from my teenage years so I overlook some of this crude airplay. While sexism rears its head at times, I can deal with it here.

Anyway, the question I heard this morning was fun. It got me to thinking about my answer and also about asking all of you what your answer would be, and why, after I share my response.

They asked, “If you could reboot any movie and star in it, what movie would it be and what character would you be?”

I knew my answer right away.

I would choose Jennifer Grey, who played Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman in “Dirty Dancing.”

Why?

I think that it would be amazing to play a teenager who grew up in the 1960’s. I was too little then, in my own real life to have any clue about what our society was like. I want to be one of those selfless, inspired youth who planned to change the world like Baby with her desire to serve in the Peace Corp. I want to do the right thing and stand up for my beliefs, no matter the price. Mostly, and here is where the true secret is revealed…

I have always wanted to dance.

Not bop around the barroom dance floor bump and grind crap from my youth. I know you remember those days and how your thigh, or your partners thigh for that matter, could fit oh so nicely in just the right spot… Not ballet, because strapping on ballet slippers with that pointy hard toe thing makes me think seriously of foot binding, and I’m also not too fond of tulle. Tap dancing is just silly and I could never move my feet that fast, and it does conjure up memories of Shirley Temple movies from my childhood, like the totally racist “Little Colonel” and Bill Robinson.

I want to dance like Baby and Johnny.

I want to learn to respect my partners dance space while feeling as if I am one with my partner. I want to jump into my partners arms and be lifted to the sky and not fear that he will drop me, or that I will look ridiculous as my chiffon dress lands over my head instead of modestly covering my legs. I want my feet to twirl while I dance on my toes in simple, but elegant dance shoes that match that chiffon dress. I want to toss my head the way Baby does, her curly hair perfect. I want to feel the electricity and the freedom and the body knowledge associated with graceful movement. I want to have the time of my life, just once, as a dancer.

What about you?

What movie would you choose and why. We have to know the why…