Thursday, July 17, 2014
I am finding hard to believe that summer is about half over (according to my son’s school schedule anyway). It feels like only yesterday we were still shivering in the cold temperatures. But wait a minute – it did get down into the lower 40F degrees the other night. And, no I did not turn on the furnace!
Catching up with friends and family is common this time of the year. My hometown always holds a big 4th of July celebration, and reunions are typically planned around it. A cousin, his wife traveled from Arizona for their reunions, and brought their grandson along for the trip; my late best friend’s family was together, in front of the house they grew up in, for the 4th of July parade and we watched with them (had a couple moments close to tears, missing her so much); ran into many old friends and classmates walking around town after the parade; a former employee was visiting from Washington State and we were able to get together with three other former employees (from my days as a newspaper publisher) for a very long lunch; and next week Mike’s son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons (ages 1 & 3) will be staying with us for three days on their way back from Canada to Illinois. I am so looking forward to seeing those two little boys – their mom and dad too – and getting a chance to spoil them.
Me and the newspaper ladies. miss working with them - we had the best crew.
We are at our busiest time of the year at work. With so much of our research centered around “winter-hardiness” and what will survive in our zone as far as vegetables, fruit, wild rice and forestry, now is the time for planting. Our Animal Science program has welcomed 150 new Black Angus calves since early spring, and the agronomy department continues research on grasses and hay that benefit the health of the cattle. I am responsible for ordering supplies – anything from seeds up to a new John Deere tractor; updating our website and promotional material – including taking photos and design; doing accounting duties until the new accountant starts and is fully trained (which should be in early October); running the office; helping all departments in whatever they may need; and keeping the office up and running; planning staff social events; and helping to organize our annual Horticulture Day, which is an open house for the public to tour our gardens and learn more about our research in Horticulture; and many misc. duties. I love the variety and am happiest when busy. Last month my boss put in a request for a one-time (yearly) bonus and it was approved. Now he, my supervisor and I are filling out paper work to possible move me up in job classification, which would mean a raise. Not sure yet how big the raise would be. Keeping my fingers crossed!
Caught this cow trying to get into one of the research buildings. I wonder if she thought she could sneak in unnoticed!
Mamas taking care of their babies.
Flowers growing in our horticulture department.
What hasn’t kept me a happy camper is my roof situation. Last summer I agreed to let a co-worker replace the one-story portion of my roof. The two-story section of the house had a metal roof when I bought the house while the one-story was shingled and soon became apparent had been given a “band-aid” job in order to sell the house. In July, 2013 he finally made it over to measure, and I ordered the supplies he said I needed. Work didn’t start until November, and shortly after he rebuilt the roof eight feet back (due to rotting and the roof not being done right before) winter hit with a vengeance. He came over a few times throughout the winter and had it ready to install the metal and replace the fascia. We experienced water leaking in the entry way, hallway and bathroom when the snow melted, and then whenever rain fell. In late April and early May he finally installed most of metal, stopping most of the leaks. However, when we get a bad storm, water comes down the side of the chimney into my clothes closet. He hasn’t been over since mid-May and we have had many perfect roofing days. I had also asked him to finish a spot above the door that is open above the entry way ceiling (back in May) because I have had problems with hornets in the past. It wasn’t done and yesterday Mike called to inform me that a nest has been built somewhere above the ceiling. He and my youngest son took over the work and finished the installing the metal. When they got to the porch area, they noticed the hornets and couldn’t proceed there. They also discovered that he had me purchase over $400 in supplies that were not needed (special order sizes so they cannot be returned). To say that I am stressed over this would be quite the understatement. I anticipate a battle when he comes asking for money, making an uncomfortable working relationship. When asked over the last year why I have put up with all of this, I would answer “I have to work with him.” Now I am seeing things differently and saying that “he has to work with me.” Fortunately, we work together very little, but it still bothers me a lot.
I will be so happy when it is completed and we can move on to projects that needed to wait until the roof was done. My co-worker WILL NOT being doing any of that work!
Monday, June 23, 2014
The weather didn’t cooperate as well as I had hoped this past weekend, but it sure didn’t dampen the wonderful time I had. In fact, my youngest son and I embraced it and had a fun experience yesterday.
Mike, my son Troy and I spent a quiet Friday evening at home – light, easy dinner after work followed by a movie and early bedtime.
Mike had a meeting and then mowing at his mom’s, and Troy had to work until 3 p.m. on Saturday. I caught up with some friends via the phone, walked to the local antique mall to look around (amazingly didn’t buy anything), planted some newly purchased flowers and plants and re-painted the arbor that goes over my front sidewalk. Saturday evening we went to my sister’s house for a family gathering/birthday party. We had such a fun evening.
Yesterday Mike wanted to go visit his mom, who is recovering from surgery at a nursing facility in Duluth, so Troy and I went along. We dropped him off and spent a few hours by a chilly and foggy Lake Superior. Had we checked the weather, we would have known to dress warmer than we had to at home – 80 miles made a big difference in temperatures. The weather conditions didn’t keep us from enjoying our time. Troy skipped rocks on the lake – something he has done for most of his 16 years, while my trusty camera and me did our thing. We visited with Mike’s mom and a sister, went out for dinner and then headed back home.
Of course you know that pictures are coming next. Hope you enjoy them.
My great-niece, niece and two great-nephews (nephew's sons).
Most of the girls in my family (missing a nephew's girlfriend and my SIL). Niece, nephew's GF, sister, great-niece, my mom and me.
Troy skipping rocks at Lester River, where it enters into Lake Superior.
Me taking a picture of my reflection by the lake shore.
Seagulls resting on the rocky Lake Superior shore.
Aerial Lift Bridge barely visible through the fog.
Gulls along the Aerial Bridge canal.
"American Integrity" heading out to the lake.
A foggy Canal Park.
A tulip in Leif Erickson Park.
Friday, June 20, 2014
I almost hate to jinx things, but it finally feels like a little sanity may be coming my way. My phone rang at 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning (nearly two weeks ago). Mike was already up and came in to see what the call was about. It was the hospital calling to say my mom had been brought in by ambulance at 3:30 a.m. with another anxiety attack – she had gone in with one just two days before. He lay down beside me, and I told him that he was my sanity these days, but then I said “No, Sandy (a dear friend) is my sanity.” We both laughed, and I at least knew I still have my humor. Sandy of course thought it was hysterical!
Here is a synopsis of the past few weeks: Mom has had two attacks requiring rides in the ambulance, my sister and I have brought her to three psychologist, and one general practitioner appointments; Mike’s mom fell and it was thought she had another mild stroke – turned out to be a brain tumor (most of it was removed). She will be in rehab for a month and then will require radiation – not sure she will be able to return to her home (lots of family squabbles over this); a friend being re-diagnosed with cancer while another continues to wage her battle with the disease as well; I finally got a handle on the accounting at work and interviews are being held next week for an accountant; two dinner meetings I had to organize already this week, and a tour coming through Saturday; no internet at work today (yesterday) so playing catch up today; roof still not finished and had some water coming in during the excessive rain this past weekend; trying to keep up with chores at home. Sleeping has been off and on due to my mind being unable to shut off.
It is times like this that I am grateful for my sense of humor, and that those around me share in it. Laughter really can be the best medicine when times get tough. It also helps that I have some amazing people around me, and we can help each keep moving forward.
When we went to visit Mike’s mom in the hospital, we also did some shopping at a few thrift and antique stores, went out to dinner at a historic pub and took a quick pass by Lake Superior. It was pretty chilly so didn’t stay long at the lake. We took a new route to Duluth, and it was a beautiful drive.
Lake Superior on a chilly June day
Vietnam Memorial on the shores of Lake Superior.
I have been trying to get some gardening done between work, family issues rain and a zillion mosquitoes. Hopefully there will be some extra time this weekend to get more done outside. I love looking around and seeing flowers opening up and so much green. It has been many years since Northern Minnesota has been so lush. Driving around it sometimes feels like I am somewhere else, and then remember this is how it looked when I was younger. Everyone has been commenting about it.
Lilacs outside of my office building.
My cement duck and pond surrounded by lots of green.
Bleeding hearts in my front yard.
Tomorrow my family will be getting together to spend time with my niece and her daughter, who are visiting from Ohio for a few days. Her hubby couldn’t make it, but it will be great seeing the girls. Monday my brother and his new wife will be here, and I can finally give them the wedding photo album I put together for them. Hoping that having all this family around will boost my mom up. I talked to her last night and she does seem to be coming out of the anxiety fog she has been in the past five or so years. I think the new psychologist is going to make a big difference.
I sure hope the weather cooperates this weekend so I can get outside and do some more yard and garden work, and maybe take a long walk with Mike and the dogs. Also want to have a little mom and son time with my youngest.
May your weekend be full of fun and sunshine!
Friday, May 30, 2014
As a student I liked, and was good at math, but that certainly didn’t mean I was destined to become an accountant. I preferred art, photography and writing so I chose to pursue a career in Graphic Communications. After earning my degree, I was hired at a local photography studio to print graduation, wedding and other professional photos, waitressed for a few years, and then was hired as a graphic artist at my hometown newspaper. After three years, I became the editor and a year later the publishing editor, which did include accounting. It was the least enjoyable part of my remaining 10 years in the newspaper business. I hold so many wonderful memories of those days, and accounting is not one of them!
Two years ago I was hired by the University of Minnesota as the office support assistant at one of five research and outreach centers. I was told that I would back up the accountant on occasion, but it would be minimal. A few months into the job I was placing and receiving orders, doing requisition requests and purchase card reconciliations, expense and travel reports – nothing too terribly unpleasant. Even after a new accountant was hired in January 2013, I continued to do several of these tasks. A few weeks ago, the accountant took another position with the university in another city. This has meant much more accounting duties being thrown in my direction, along with learning that several bills hadn’t been paid, requisitions for payment not turned in, etc. Fortunately there was only one area I needed to be certified in, and that was being able to make deposits. I took the training and attempted to make my first deposit (entering information and scanning checks into the computer) only to learn that a university access form needed to be submitted first. My supervisor (who has only been here for five months) and I submitted the form and I set out to make the deposit. I was part way through the process when I found out that I needed to be given access by the bank. Another form, another submission and finally access was granted. So one would deduce that the deposit has been made. Not so. This 4-day work week has been so extremely busy with the duties I was hired to do, that accounting had to be put on hold until today. I paid bills that are due, wrestled with a very complicated expense report and have been trying to get a visiting scholar paid. People have been coming in and a worker finally completed my office reconfiguration late this morning. Deposit Monday? I sure hope so!
In conclusion: I know I was never destined to be an accountant and will be the happiest person here when a new one is hired.
I do still enjoy my job overall and can’t imagine working anywhere else at this time of my life.
Life outside of work continues to be busy with house and yard work. It has been so hot (the 80s are hot when it was about 45 degrees a week ago) and the mosquitoes so terrible, that working outdoors hasn’t been overly pleasant. But, I will most definitely take this over the awful winter we had. On my days off I tried to get out early and get a lot accomplished before the mid-day heat set in, and hoped to do the same this weekend. It sounds like Mother Nature has other ideas though, and we can expect rain through most of the weekend. So I will concentrate indoors where there is always work to be done.
This week also brought a tragic death. The younger brother of one my oldest son’s best friends was killed in a motorcycle accident over the Memorial Day weekend. He was only 21. His funeral was this morning and the church was standing-room only. My heart breaks for his parents, brothers and family.
On a brighter note, my love life continues to be so wonderful, my sons are doing well and overall the family is fine. My niece and her daughter will be coming home for a few days at the end of June and Mike’s son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons will be coming for a visit in July. I am anxious to see all of them.
I have also started re-reading The Spark book as a way to motivate myself back into better eating and exercising more. I have to quit kicking myself for falling off the wagon, wipe off the dust and move forward. I am also committed to becoming more active in my Sparking too. I have missed my friends here and am looking forward to connecting with them more often, and maybe even making a few more Spark Friends!
Have a wonderful and safe weekend. And, as the older brother said at the funeral, "Tell those you love that you love them everyday - you never know when the last day will come."
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