Tuesday, June 29, 2010

In the middle of the night, I go walking in my sleep...Billy Joel

I don’t eat in the middle of the night. Maybe some of you do. It isn’t just that I don’t, but I can’t.

This is on my mind this morning because after getting good sleep two nights in a row, I bombed out again last night. I got up to take something for my baffling headache, which is a significant undertaking for me. Um, the taking something is the significant part.

I’m also reluctant to get out of bed in the middle of the night. I figure if I just stay put I will at least get rest and not inflict bright light on my eyes. Also, I hate taking medicine of any kind. I can take five pills at once, it isn’t the taking part, it’s the medicine part.

So there I was last night at 0130 wandering around the house turning lights on and off, opening child safety lids and running water. Just drinking water in the middle of the night is gag-worthy. How do people eat in the middle of the night? Completely foreign concept for me.

I got back in bed and turned on the nightstand lamp. I read until I got groggy. Then at 0430, I woke again to the sound of retching.

You cat humans know what I’m saying.

I don’t feel so great this morning. The headache is still present, making it almost a full 24 hours of objectionable mindnumbery and my stomach still hurts, making it almost a full four days of distasteful upsetstomachry.

Do you eat in the middle of the night? Why? How? I don’t understand and my stomachache is making the very idea of it more disgusting than usual to me.

If ya’ll aren’t careful here, I’m going to start whining at any moment.

There has been no further progress on the stick with ribbon at the property line. I’m so tempted to put ribbons on the fence post.

I've turned off the television set for good in the morning. No news is good news.

I forgot to tell you that we learned that all cows are born with horns. They are dehorned for the safety of the herd. We also learned that heifers and cows are the same thing except that a heifer becomes a cow once she has her first calf. Cows can’t go back and be heifers again. That ship sails once a lifetime, gals. And speaking of ships that only sail once, on the ISU farm all the cows are artificially inseminated and the boy babies are sold right away. Sorry to leave out such important factuals about the trip to the farm. You’ll feel better knowing now.

I made lunch on Monday for 32 people, mostly kids. They cleared it out. Three pounds of macaroni, uncooked. I didn’t weigh it once it was cooked, but I’m sure there’s a formula somewhere for that. The kids loved it. They were also hungry. Hunger makes the best sauce, so maybe I’m not a recipe genius.


I feel fortunate to have strung together a couple sentences and have some of them make sense. I'm going to arrange myself in a lifelike position at my desk now and hope the day passes quickly.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Following up

Last Friday, I took my niece to the Iowa State University Dairy Barns for their June Dairy Month Celebration. We learned some neat things about dairy cows. Especially that on a nice day they don't stink very much and that lactating cows get feed that smells very sweet. So sweet that it's all you smell in their barn. Of course, the curtains were up and the fans were on. Maybe that was for all the city folk!

Below is a photo from the previous weekend when we went to a dairy farm west of town. They are all being cows in this shot. The ladies in the background were all about to calve.
Mrs. Whackadoodle next door is up to something. This line appeared along the property divide and it is capped off with...
This stick by our gate. You can't see it very well, but at the bottom there's a festive ribbon attached to the stick. And it isn't even my birthday! Aw, shucks!

I'll let you know if the meaning of the stick is ever revealed. Maybe there's been a police report filed.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Othello in the park

Last night I went with friends to see Othello in the park behind the art museum in town. It was a lot of fun for a Shakespeare tragedy. We didn't realize until the very end that during the play they didn't swat mosquitos, which is really saying something after all the rain we've had.

I had never seen Othello, but Cindy brought us up to speed beforehand over a glass of wine and some snacks. The photo above has two dead people, one maimed and the other gravely wounded, but I don't know if Iago ever dies. He probably should, the miserable jerk. For my part, I can't help but wonder if really Othello is the villian in the story. Anyway, it's getting toward the end of the play and the dead are beginning to stack up.

Here's hoping nothing but good stacks up for us all today. I'm glad it's Friday. At midnight last night I was still wide awake and without sleep, I don't always make sense. I'll keep this short and hope for the best. This morning I am taking another niece to the Iowa State Dairy Barn for a celebration of Dairy Month.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Customer Service

Yesterday I met the most lovely Irish man: Dr. Mahoney. He wore a little shamrock on his lab coat. Nice guy.

I felt stupid in the exam room down at the Osteopathic University, but my doctor, who knows I am a medical mystery wrapped in a riddle and gets tired of not knowing what to do with me, sent me to a specialty foot and ankle clinic.

Thing is, four weeks ago I developed tendonitis in my right foot. Now I'm in the exam room with a PA and a 2nd year med student whose hands were shaking, poor thing.

I have just enough of my father in me to think it is cool to have a student learning on me, so we got along just fine. I chatted about my foot in answer to all their questions about problems and shoes. One thing my student may have learned is that just because I don't have a problem right now anymore doesn't mean I don't have an issue.

I know that's the lesson I learned since I felt so sheepish about being at a special clinic and all. Everyone in the waiting room was either on oxygen or hobbling on one foot, in a wheelchair or in a cast. Clearly I was the minority.

Dr. Mahoney came in and asked me questions. He fiddled with my feet, pinching bones and moving tendons around. He looked this way and that and watched me walk. Then, as he used his fingers to explain what my bones do when I walk, the light bulb over my head went off and I said, "Exactly!"

He smiled. He's a genius.

He said the mystery is truly why I haven't had tendonitis prior to this. I had said that I always think of my feet as weak and he agreed, but thought unstable is a better word. That's why when I put my foot down I have random stabbing pain. It's why my feet ache all the time and guess what? That's actually not normal!

So I was excited. Doubly so when he revealed he is a former runner and a current walker: He was totally on my side! His prescription was simple, too. Over the counter graphite arch support.

So wow for customer service and bedside manner, in a manner of speaking.

Then I went to the big running store here to get the insoles and they were rude. Don't carry them, apparently.

I ended up at $ports Authority because it is closest to home and office. They didn't have the brand he wrote down, but they had some things that looked right. The box didn't say graphite.

A girl came up and asked if she could help. I told her what I sought. She began reading boxes. I'd done that already. Then Kent came up and asked if he could help.

I hope Kent works on commission because he earned whatever he got. He asked what shoe I currently wear and got something similar. He dug out the sole and put the whole thing together in both shoes so I could try. He got an alternative so I could compare. He got out four pair of shoes and patiently repeated the entire process.

So Kent, my hat's off to you. I'll be leaving your manager a comment this morning. Girl Whose Name Escapes Me, you were great because I was frustrated and confused and you didn't make it worse. You let Kent take over, which was a strong decision on your part. Please stop doing that to your hair with the flat iron, dear. It doesn't become you.

Otherwise, you both deserve a big, fat raise!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture

Visit Michelle at the delightful Nature Notes Thursday to learn something fascinating.

I got my first delivery of vegetables today. It had broccoli, snow peas, green onions, lettuce, radishes and garlic scapes. I split most of it with a friend to share the wonderful loot in my box! I eat the broccoli and the snow peas on the way home. Not all of it, but a lot of it. The flavors are so amazing! I didn't offer to split the broccoli or the snow peas.

crunch, crunch

The produce is all organic and has been rinsed before delivery, so it's OK to nibble.

For information on a CSA near you, go to Local Harvest to get started.

Recruiting: It's what I do

I am a recruiter.

I have good moments and bad moments. A good moment is like what just happened. A friend from church, whom I placed at a big company downtown, referred to me a friend. I am not really going to be able to work with his friend because of his experience level, but I just spent 30 minutes giving him advice about his job search here in town (he is currently in NC).

A bad moment is on a Monday morning when someone who started a job last Monday sends me an email Subject: Resignation. Let’s just say I was not filled with compassion yesterday, but today is looking up.

When I first got out of college, I worked for Olsten Staffing Services. I sold temporary help. If you can’t imagine that, I will tell you that it was an icky job. Not cleaning gutters icky, though, just challenging. I made very good money and won a trip to Puerto Vallarta. They had a fabulous sales training program and then my boss sent me to Dale Carnegie sales training, which was also fabulous.

In Dale Carnegie sales training, you have to come up with a spiel you can get out of your mouth quickly (like as they push you out the door saying NO THANKS AND DON’T COME BACK) or while you are in an elevator and someone asks you what you do.

People hardly speak in elevators, even here in the super-friendly Midwest, but that’s what I was told to do so I did it.

“My name is Caron and I sell something that may not be exactly what you ordered. It may not show up on time, it may not be as promised and it may be dressed in flip flops and a mini-skirt.”

OK, that’s sort of a joke.

1. I don’t fully remember what I used to say
2. That was back in the day when people didn’t actually wear flip flops and mini-skirts to work.

I learned that you can do a whole bunch of cold calls (do salespeople do that anymore?) in the late afternoon to make your boss happy beat the competition, but the only thing that ever comes of it are impromptu job interviews.

And why are they interviewing you all of a sudden when you were happily minding your own business? Because you are a salesperson making cold calls, which most people hate doing. (again, does anyone do that these days? I’ve asked myself, but I have not asked anyone else. I confess I am curious about it.) Hey, I never got an order from a cold call, but it kept the boss quiet happy.

I sold temporary help for 3.5 painful years. It was painful because I had two bosses. I worked for two local offices as the sole sales person in the market. One was an area manager and one was a branch manager and they were both women: painful enough?

I doubled my salary by year two and I learned two things:

1. Commission is amazing
2. I wasn’t cut out for human resources

All the people I sold against here in town went on to human resource departments in big companies. I still know in my heart I am not an HR girl. If I lose my job and have to do it, I could, but I think I would lean more towards a commission job.

Did I mention that commission is amazing? I love it, but that’s not really why I’m here telling you about my job.

I am now in recruiting for a few reasons. The really pertinent one is that although I had another commission/sales job in between selling and recruiting for a fundraising company, I really enjoy helping people find jobs. I like giving them advice about their resumes and coaching them before an interview. I don’t mind telling someone their resume is awful, but I always tell them why it’s awful.

Everyone in the employment industry has stories. I remember a woman who got a job placement on Thursday and she was thrilled. Monday morning she didn’t show up. I left a message. She got back to me and said she didn’t go to work because she didn’t have any clean laundry.

There was a man 5 years ago who interviewed and accepted a job with a company here in town. He was from up in Minnesota somewhere. Everything was hunky-dory. He signed the paperwork and on the first day of the job, he was nowhere to be found. I called his cell phone and he accidentally answered it. So I listened to the open line for about 5 minutes. It was enough to learn that he was in Nashville at a Barnes and Noble with a woman.

A young man who was also from Minnesota scheduled an interview down here and then the morning of the interview called me to say that his tires were bald and he couldn’t make it down. At that point, my boss told me that historically they had very little success with people from Minnesota. “Once they get used to living up there, no one wants to leave,” he said.

I recently had a man interview for a job in Colorado. He had a lot of experience coding in a language that is very difficult to find. He agreed to the interview and then spent the bulk of the interview telling the hiring manager why their company is making a mistake using that language and not something newer and flashier and more powerful.

It was an insurance company: they don’t really do new and flashy very well. And hiring managers don’t enjoy arrogant job candidates.

That’s what I do and I like it, so there. Pffft*

*Did anybody get my lame Laugh-In reference? Anyone?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thinking Green: local food and bags and boxes

Last Saturday I drove the kids out to a farm about 10 miles away from home to buy milk. That doesn’t seem very “green” of course, but I wanted to buy milk and eggs from a local farm. I looked at the chickens, whose packages said they were pastured there, but they were really big chickens. Not one of them was less than 5.10 pounds.

I may be off base, I know. But I think chickens are generally not that big unless they’re victims of some not-so-kind practices. So although the price was good, I decided to skip the chicken until I can do some looking into it.

Can you imagine writing a check now for a summer’s worth of groceries? I am about to do just that for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that I used to belong to. She is letting me get started late because I completely forgot about signing up in advance. I get eight deliveries of farm-fresh and organic vegetables from a farm right here in Iowa.

They also sell chickens and they’re no more than four pounds each. Do you see what I mean? Again, maybe it's the breed and I'm all wet. Their chickens are more expensive, but I know they are pastured and they eat organic feed. So again, in July, I’ll be writing an huge check for a winter’s worth of chicken that will need to be cut up because there is no way I’m paying for someone else to cut up a chicken. It’s disgusting, but I know how to do it.

It’s like grinding my own hamburger. I’m absolutely revolted by it. But I’ve done it before and will do it again should the opportunity arise.

Like last night’s cherries, I love gifts of produce. I love giving away my rhubarb to people who actually like it and are glad to have it.

These are just some of the ways I’m Thinking Green. I also took my own bag to the farm on Saturday. I shoved steak, hamburger, milk and ice cream into my insulated bag and it’s a good thing. By the time we dipped into the ice cream, it was getting soupy around the edges!

Another thing I did last weekend that was sort of green: I bought pizzas from the pizzeria at the grocery store. They are the bake-at-home pizzas and they come in a tin, shrinkwrapped and placed into a cardboard box. Packaging much?

I bought three (should have bought 10, they were only $5 apiece) and told the teenager behind the counter to keep the boxes. He seemed surprised. I told him the pizzas were en route to their destiny and the boxes would only hit my recycling bin 20 minutes later. So he kept them and I put my pizzas in the freezer.

What have you done lately with local stuff?

Monday, June 21, 2010

I went for a walk this evening and got cherries

I have been walking a new route this month. I started doing a couple loops in order to stay close to home when my walking turned sort of painful a few weeks back. It's all good now, but since I am enjoying this new route, I've been walking it regularly to mix things up.

Every day I passed three cherries trees and every day they got more and more red until they began screaming, "Please pick me!" Each day the house looked deserted and the trees were still packed with cherries. It killed me to see them go to waste.

Tonight, I had walked just a couple blocks from home and there was a man standing at the trees with bags and boxes. He was picking cherries.

I'm so smooth. I said something about how beautiful the cherries look and how I pass them several times each day. He said they belong to his friend who owns the house, but he gets to pick them.

He said, "I'll have a bag for you when you come back."

So I walked the loop again and came back up to the trees. The last time I picked cherries was from my mom and dad's backyard in Tennessee, but I sort of enjoyed it.

The man lifted the grocery sack full of pounds of cherries and handed it to me! I was amazed and I said so. He spent all that time of his own picking cherries for me? I told him I would pick them, but he insisted and laughed, "Now is when the real work begins."

I laughed, too. Because last time I picked all those cherries, my sister-in-law pitted them. I just finished pitting them and it took me close to an hour. I have a two-quart pitcher full of pitted cherries now.

He talked about making jam and told me how. I'm a little freaked out about canning because I don't know what I'm doing and I don't want anything to explode or poison anyone.

I will handle them again tomorrow and probably freeze everything. What a nice surprise for my day!

Any ideas for using them up?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's been a long time

It's been a long time since I last posted. Those of you who know me in real life will be surprised to know why. Those of you who are fellow bloggers will also be surprised.

I got tired of talking about myself.

Everything I thought of to post was about my garden. I had some trouble with my knees, you see and not feeling tip-top made me feel sort of like I was in grave danger of whining. And then there's my! garden! as if no one else has ever gardened a day of their lives.

So I'm back with ... more about my garden.

But really it's about how good it is to be cheap frugal patient when you garden.

Last year I bought six lillies. I paid full price for them, brought them home and put them in the ground. The pet rabbits in the backyard promptly ate all the leaves. The stems and any leaves that remained slowly withered, then they turned yellow, then the entire plant went mushy and soft and really pretty gross.

But I'm cheap frugal patient, eh? I paid a lot of money for these dumb dead plants! I don't remember ever thinking they'd live, but last year I dug up all six plants and put them into my garden in little clumps. I paid, people, I paid money for these pricey things. Besides, other people can grow lillies without killing them. So there was that, too.

Jealousy, garden envy, you see?

You will never believe what happened this year.

Behold, seven lillies popped up and they look like this:

I got seven for the price of six and only had to wait a year! It's a bargain! It's like a 10-cent coupon! Heck, it's like double coupons!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wash day in the garden

I spent the evening in my garden tending to issues. I almost didn't do the insecticidal soap because it also kills beneficial insects and I wasn't sure I wanted to do that. I looked at the bottom of the rose leaves again and there weren't any bugs on them. But I put it together with Kirk's and a grater:

You know what? Grating the soap was really easy and it smells nice, too.
Into ye olde vintage avocado green Tupperware cannister, but I didn't make enough to keep it. I swished the grated bits in hot water, then put it on the leaves. I tried to be really careful, but there was a bug inside one of the flowers and I instinctively touched him to pull him out of the flower. With the soap, the oily, suffocating soap on my fingers.

Sad. I hate stuff like that. I should have just left well enough alone, but the plant can't do photosynthesis if it doesn't have leaves. Oh, shoot.

I took a photo of the rose bush, but it just looked the same as the other day. You couldn't tell. It wasn't worthy. So imagine a soapy rose bush, eh? Thanks.

I moved on and used what little soap I had left to wash up a few things in the backyard. Then I decided to finish cleaning up the peony bushes and I found that there were was a surprising number of good buds left on them. The majority of the flowers came off and now the plants are not so huge. I will spread the rest of the mulch over the old petals. In the past I would concern myself with all the peony petals on the ground, but now I just think of it as next year's soil.

Probably the most labor-intensive work I do all year in here.

In other news, I went to the doctor today to find out what I did to my foot when I got out of bed yesterday. She asked me about the two most recent injuries and pointed out that they both happened in the house and barefoot and she said, "No more barefoot in the house or anywhere else."

Killjoy. At least it isn't broken! I can keep walking on it!

And then at work today, right at the end of the day, I got a placement! A candidate I've worked with since 2006 got a job that he interviewed for earlier this week. I'm tickled pink.

It was a very, very good day.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Holes in my rose leaves: so far only one rose plant affected

I think they’re rose slugs, which some say are temporary and some say last all summer. I put the issue into my google machine, but it took a little digging, which I enjoy.

But then again, it is nice when the problem floats conveniently to the top with flags waving that announce: Here’s the answer to the problem!!

I don’t like the use of chemicals in my garden, but maybe even occassional Miracle Grow is a bad thing (note to self: google this). Way back when I was still a 20-year-old apartment-dwelling lass with no hope of a garden in my foreseeable future, my dad sent me Organic Gardening magazine and I read every issue. It was something he enjoyed and I guess, Euell Gibbons and wild asparagus joking aside, it rubbed off on me even when I was a kid.

So at least I try.

Not to lecture, but the way I think of it is that using lots of chemicals seems sort of lazy and maybe you shouldn’t be gardening. It doesn't have to be perfection. And if you’ve been reading this blog for more than 10 minutes, you know I do not consider myself much of a gardener.

I'm just saying.

However, my mom did mention recently that she thinks I have some of my great-grandma Kier in me and I think that is a wonderful compliment since they had a farm and all.

OK, so back to the holes in my leaves. It sounds like they are caused by rose slugs. They eat the leaves, but sometimes leave a paper-thin slice behind. That’s what looks like spots. They skeletize the leaves as well. Oops. Microsoft thinks that isn’t a word.

They should read rose forums online. That’s where I learned the word and it is a perfect description of what is left behind. I have found there is a lot Microsoft doesn’t know, but that’s another post for another day, eh?

So you make insecticidal soap, you see. That’s one teaspoon of real soap in one quart of water. Apparently, one teaspoon of real soap is one quarter of a bar. I need to dig out my bar of Kirk’s Castile, which I am never without one stashed away somewhere. I also have Kirk’s liquid soap and maybe that would make life easier. This mixture is a concentrate. You take that and mix one teaspoon of the original mixture into a new quart of water.

I’m thinking that’s a lot of insecticidal soap for one extremely small rose bush. Maybe I will cut the recipe in half or in quarters. An eighth of a bar?

Boogie Woogie.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nature Notes and Signs of the Season

Visit Michelle at the intelligent Nature Notes Thursday to learn something new.

It's springtime, all right. We had a heck of a thunderstorm yesterday evening and it rained all night. The temperatures are very cool and the humidity is low because a cold front came through. Maybe we should call it a cool front. My little rose bush has developed spots and holes in the leaves. Does anyone know what's wrong?

I got out in the garden after a short walk this evening. I trimmed some of the old peonies and worked on a new bird feeder. It is nice to be outside without wilting in the heat.

After I took the photo of the rose leaves, I turned the corner and saw that my tomato plant doubled in size since Monday! It must be the rain - thanks for spring rains!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What's on my radio these days

When I was in my twenties, I drove around listening to classical music on my car radio. I went, by myself, to downtown Chicago on Wednesday nights for inexpensive shows offered by the Chicago Symphony. This at a time when $5 meant a lot to me.

Sounds like a priority.

I once went to the Field Museum because a classical concert was being offered at no charge one evening. I had a great time although I was alone. There are some things I prefer to do alone rather than have to wonder if the person I’m with is having a good time. I also spent the money once to take a class offered through adult education as a distraction. I remember the teacher, a youngish man, spouting off about how we would not study Mozart because he was offended by the number of people (most of those in the class, I’ll bet) who were only interested in classical music because they’d seen the recent movie about Mozart.

What a short-sighted person and no true teacher, he.

I say who cares what brought them in? Start with Mozart and then introduce them to things from the same period. How many people he could have influenced! Instead he made classical music seem like a snotty club.

I like music in general and even when I was in high school, I thought it silly of those who claimed one type better than any others (although of course I have preferences, too). In elementary school, I took music classes every year studying folk music, mountain music, working music and (hooray!) classical music. I can still remember the classroom where I first listened to Pictures at an Exhibition.

I knew early on music evolves from one generation to the next. In high school I took a music appreciation class (Easy A!). In college, I took so many non-technical music classes that I became friends with the professor who taught them.

Some of the ones I took: general music history going back deep into time, a class that talked about the differences between Eastern and Western music and a History in Jazz class. Most of the classes involved tests in the chapel on campus. We had to sit and listen to short snips of music and identify each snippet. I always sailed through these.

Other assignments included going to musical performances on our own, so I scoured the papers looking for free performances. I wrote publicity for the university and when Mark O’Conner came to town, I wrote one of my favorite headlines: Mark O’Conner Fiddles Around at K-State.

I hope he wasn’t offended. But a couple papers picked up my press release and used my headline, so I was pleased.

You know those questions your friends ask when everyone is really bored, like what if your life had a soundtrack? If my life had a soundtrack it would be filled with classical music. I don’t really care much what. I can remember driving around Chicago listening to it and thinking about what it would be like to be a stay at home mom, for instance. In my mind, I had the baby in the back seat and classical music on the radio.

When I was in college, I remember walking into my advisor’s office and he was listening to classical music. I felt envy. I also remember standing in a hallway in another building waiting for a classroom to open up. A professor’s door stood open and classical music was pouring forth.

It was then I thought, “How lucky is he to have a job where he can listen to classical music all day?”

I still remember those tiny moments from years and decades ago.

When I was in the fifth grade in Ohio, Mrs. Williams took her class to a performance and I was one of the lucky ones. It was the Jupiter Symphony. I sat in the dark, mesmerized by the music and the motion on the stage: the instruments grouped together and moving in unison. All the violins at the same time, all the musicians turning pages at the same time, me in the back, in the dark, watching so many people as a unit made of only a few pieces. Percussion, winds, strings: I was fascinated.

I don’t remember if I talked about it much or showed a lot of excitement when I got home, but I was hooked for life. I still go to a performance and get as much pleasure watching as I do listening.

Over the years I have gone through stages of listening to a lot of classical music. Currently, with the rate of work being thrown my way and barely having time to move from one task to the other here in my office, I am listening to it exclusively.

How lucky am I?

Pretty lucky.