Posted by / Monday, July 30, 2018 / No comments /

Seasons come and go

The seasons come and go and I reinvent myself, finding innovative ways to stay here deep in the forest where there are few jobs and slow, sporadic internet connections.  In the cold winter I build fires in the cabin now.  I had a metal liner and flu put in the twenty-four foot high rock chimney as I had to remove the trusty wood stove that melted.  Don't ask.  It's not as efficient, but it's pretty to have it open, though truly, looking through the window of the stove was surprisingly rewarding when it comes to the pleasure of gazing into a fire.  As comforting as the ritual is, presuming there is time for it before nightfall, it seemed as though the winter would never ever ever end.  It was brutally cold at times as well. 



Hannah and I made a safari to the beach while it was still chilly, but at least there was sunshine.

So when Spring finally came, with the first buds, I felt as though I was budding right along with it.  It was a long rainy Spring, with brief heat spells that caused flowering before the bees were out and successive bites of cold that stole the blossoms that might have been pollinated by hook or crook.  Still, it was lovely and again I fell under the spell of the cherry blossoms the apple blossoms, the pear blossoms, the blueberry blossoms and even a few peach and almond blossoms, wandering around with shovel and trowel, planting everything imaginable.  

Blueberry blossoms

Apple blossoms


Made the annual trip down to the Spirit of the Suwanee and camped and danced with good friends at Wanee festival.

Not sure.  Maybe I was feeling like Godzilla?

Hanging out with Luke at Three Notched (celebrating Mother's Day, how lucky am I?) next to the Art Park in Charlottesville when a storm blew in before the show:  Rising Appalachia.  A lot of friends showed up and it was an excellent time.

Charlottesville is a sweet town.

The kids came out and helped with a fence to keep the rabbits and groundhogs out at least.  As I write this, I am cringing from this morning's discovery that someone ate the beautiful squash I had placed on a wood block (aka china platter for some lucky sucker) to keep it form the ground insects and microorganisms.  Although the plants are lush and spreading, I may have to relinquish my hopes of squash again this year and just trot on in to the Farmers' Market and latch up enough organic acorn and butternut squashes for the winter.  They generally keep well.

So on the subject of reinvention.  It is so different than the working climate I grew up in, a steel town where employees were expected to remain at the mill until retirement.  And then they came back at the noon whistle with their lunch boxes and ate with their working buddies.  Except for a few niches, it is necessary now to have diverse skill sets.  Fine by me; I was never one to stay put anyway.

For most of the Spring, I also had three jobs.  I took a seasonal part-time job at a garden center just because I wanted to.  For starters, I've always wanted to work at Lowe's.  I like the idea of tapping into the specialized knowledge bases of the respective departments.  There are so many things I know little or nothing about that I would like to know about, if not master.  How did they decide what to put in the hardware aisle?  What exactly are the rules for mixing paint?  I took a certain pride in being referred to as The Plant Lady not long after assuming my position in the garden center.  My co-workers routinely referred customers with wonderful questions to me.

And manning the phone for indoor seasonal while its staff was at lunch always promised the unexpected as I spent little time in there, only watering the indoor flowers and leading customers to hoses or grass seed.  But the critical hour my colleague relaxed frequently brought my knowledge of lawn mowers, grills and chain saws to the test.  Because I know little of any of these products, I approached it as a treasure hunt for knowledge and that was often all it took.

I found a lot of cool lawn tools and other do-hickies in there that I did not know existed, like a little knob you can out on your John Deere mower wheel to make turning easier.  That might be the next fifteen bucks I spend.

The call to expand horizons could depended on the route selected to get back to home base outside in the lawn and garden center.  Electrical was right outside the bathroom door and a danger to all employees as we had a ten foot rule, meaning we HAD to ask a nearby customer if we could help them.  More than once I found myself gazing into the eyes of someone speaking Greek to me as he held two gizmos and repeatedly thrust them together. Was he thinking that if he did this enough times I would  reach into a bin and pull out the part that would solve his problem?  I found this amusing.  I would good-naturedly explore the problem to its conclusion, which in Electrical usually meant finding the person who manned that department, though occasionally it was a problem I had solved once in my personal life.  Plumbing was a good deal of fun.  A couple women were sent into the garden center by their husbands who told them the part they needed to repair their broken pond pump system was right inside the door by the cash registers.  In fact, the basic offering by the registers did not have parts for motors or a standard fits-all irrigation piping as they were led to believe, and so we journeyed together to the plumbing section and discussed the possibility of different sizes and just using clamps, which was my back-up solution for all plumbing connections.  I have no idea how many of my suggestions were in fact useful, but generally we parted ways satisfied.

As for the garden center itself, well the flowers were awfully pretty but it was bloody hot and humid as summer wore on.  Loading bag after bag of lumpy, heavy gravel and leaking rain-drenched mulch and then opening the door to the gates of hell, which was the impression one had when opening the heavy doors of the straw trailer, getting slammed in the face with a roil of heat that you had to then crawl into and pull down bales of straw so tightly tied that the twine would cut through your hand if you could manage to slither a finger under it.  And the itchy straw would stick to your muddy legs and arms while some large bloke would be waiting below for you to load it into his pickup.  I’m not complaining.  I took the job, but the fact is that I am a tiny old lady.  Where were the big guys they hired to load you might ask, as I frequently did.  Well, they have disappeared into the cool shadows in the back of the store, removed from the customers and the plants.

Inside the garden center.

Front of the garden center

I only signed up for a seasonal job, which I scheduled to end the day before a tendon surgery…and while I was mildly tempted to stay in another department like fashion bath, the truth is that it is almost impossible not to sustain a physical injury there and I just don’t want to risk it.  I may go back next Spring when the flowers come in again though.

I have another part-time job as a job coach for disabled adults which I like a good deal.  It is impossible to describe what it involves because I never know from one day to the next, even when it’s the same person in the same situation.  I have refrained from accepting any of the responsible tasks like finding the right job, though I have got involved as early as accompanying a client to an interview.  I pretty much pinch-hit for other vocational counselors when they are overbooked and this was one of those situations when I drove out of my territory and into a neighborhood where I knocked on the door of the scariest house, unsure if it was even the right one because the dusty weathered mail spilling out of the overstuffed box on the porch did not include any names I recognized.  Well, when I was at last able to coax the heavily perfumed young man into my car – he was wearing name brand sportswear more expensive than the net worth of his home – I had a hard time getting him to do much more than grunt.  In prepping him for questions he might get asked during his interview, I asked hopefully, “So what will you say when you are asked why you want this job?”  “I don’t,” he said.  I did not slam on the brakes and turn around, but inquired a little further to determine whether I had heard him correctly.  I did.  Again I was faced with a dilemma.  The choice is his.  But maybe fear was just getting the better of him?  So I told him since his counselor told me he wanted the job, if he changed his mind he could tell her so after they offered it to him.  That seemed like a fair compromise.  So when we were waiting for the swinging doors in front of us to open and issue forth the interviewer, I asked him again.  “So what are you going to say when he asks you why you want this job?”  He again replied, “I don’t want the job.”  I re-explained to him that he might want the job after it was offered and he kind of sort of agreed that he would answer that he wanted it because it was close to his home and he always wanted to work there.  So when the guy with the fuzzy reindeer antlers affixed to his baseball cap took us into the dismal windowless concrete room and asked why he wanted the job and then looked shocked when my client said that he did not want the job, I was ready and talked loud and fast. Indicating that my client was simply nervous and he lived nearby so he would have no problem getting there regularly and on time and that he always wanted to work there.  The interviewer was relieved with this explanation and hired him. 

Something else I forgot to mention is that we almost did not even make it to the interview because I lost my client.  Literally lost him, though he is a big guy and appeared even bigger in his oversized shiny sports shorts and shirt and the name brand socks, all f this get-up highlighting his hairy legs the size of tree trunks.  Still, I lost him.  Having driven two hours after two cups of coffee, I had to pee like a banshee and thrust my notebook with all of the work access passwords I did not know into his hands and asked him to wait right there while I sprinted to the bathroom.  When I came out three minutes later, he had vanished.  I scanned he parking lot wondering if he could have escaped that quickly.  I called his regular counselor who thankfully did not answer as I felt rather remiss losing him.  Then I paged him, though I wasn’t even certain of his first name, something odd that started with a T or maybe a P.  At any rate, the page worked and he reappeared.  I think he had been admiring himself in front of the mirror near the dressing rooms as he knew where it was on our way out and stood in front of it for quite a while smiling at himself until I was at last able to get his attention and take him back home.

He quit the job before he started because he could in fact not work the hours he applied to work.

That is just one example of one day, but I have to say I never regret the experiences because there is always something that makes me wonder and smile, if not giggle.  The downside generally always involves the caretakers who, in my experience have no regard for the fact that the job involves an income for me and if I do not know in advance my client is not going to show up, this limits my opportunities to find an alternative income to fill the gap.  I find this inconsideration quite frustrating when they either know well in advance when the client is not going to be at work or whimsically decide it’s not convenient for them.  In the past month, the mother of a client failed to provide advance notice three times, for interludes of one day, two weeks and another week, respectively.  Add that lost income up for a month.  Perhaps she thinks I work for a government program rather than a private company and get paid anyway; more likely she doesn’t think of me at all.  Each time it was my client who delivered the news that he was going to the doctor’s or to camp.  And how was I to know if it was true?  He also told me that he has ducks in his sock that squish like mustard and that he had a poor night’s sleep because Curious George the monkey was chewing on his toenails all night.

Still, oddly each time my schedule has opened up something cool has filled in its place, so it’s not even fair to complain.

The third job I have I absolutely love too.  I am part of the editorial team of, an environmental blog.  I am assigned specific articles weekly.  I have learned so much about the world around me researching these topics.  Things I should have known and had no idea about.  Like the fact that we use a trillion plastic bags annually and hardly any are recycled.  That our oceans have hundreds of thousands of square miles of toxic garbage floating in five large patches and the toxins are magnified as they pass up the food chain from plankton to our dinner plates.  I knew a good deal about air pollution from working for the environmental engineering firm in Los Angeles years ago, but I did not know the number and severity of health problems it is presently causing, especially in developing countries and how the thinning of the ozone layer is endangering so many species, having already caused the extinction of many.  I did not know how easy it might be for me to get off the grid entirely.  I will find links to some of the articles I have written recently.  I write cautiously and conservatively about things that absolutely blow my mind.

On a brighter note, I grow organically and life is beautiful.


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