Sunday, April 15, 2012

One Frog in the Peas

But an otherwise unobstructed view.

Spring has sprung here in NC.  Which, of course, means that it's in the 70s and 80s during the day, and still occasionally drops to freezing temps at night.  Up here on the third floor, I haven't had to do much to protect my seedlings - I'm more worried about not watering them enough than seeing them perish to cold.

The boys and I went to Michigan for a week during spring break and, of course, had a marvelous time galavanting between the homes of various friends and family.  My tolerance for cold has all but evaporated,  but I must admit that unlike springs here in the south, spring in the ice box is much more a cause for celebration.  Here, greenery more or less pops into existence.  In Michigan, each new bud and bloom is revered and celebrated.

So, my patio is ready for a new garden season.  Pots are scrubbed and shelves are cleared, and I need to start thinking about what I'm planting.  There are a few plants still going, but most (even the perennials) managed to die because I forgot that, in the south, in the winter, on a patio, you must water all year round.  Oops.

The what-to-plant debate has been further complicated by the fact that I don't know what to do about my community garden spot.  The garden leader has decided to move me from last year's spot to a different one, and I object.  I put close to $100 worth of soil improvements in my plot last year, and to have to start from scratch this year would SUCK.  I've bemoaned the places' excessive rules and stupid policies before (and if the new plot the dude gives me is one that was overrun with mint last year, I'm really gonna be pissed).  I object to the enforced "community building" crap - I don't want to be social, thankyouverymuch, I just need some dirt.  And truth be told, my patio is plenty of work already.  But oh, the sunshine my plants get at the plot... it absolutely can't be rivaled here.

Quinn misses roses.  I can't do sunflowers properly on the patio.  Or peppers.  I should probably just suck it up, especially since I've already paid the $30 annual fee.  Don't worry, I'll talk myself back into yet.  But I think my irritation at losing last year's work is justified.

Tomorrow I think I'll be off to do some plant shopping and pick up some dirt.  But today, I'm enjoying a mostly unobstructed view from the patio, in perfect weather, with a hot cuppa and the pumpkin bread I made last night.  Life is good.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Well, that didn't last.

Wow, what a blip on the radar that was.  Two glorious months of working in a fun, creative organization and then *whack*... the ax fell.  I sort of saw it coming, but I'm still devastated.  I've never been fired before and I find the experience more than a little uncomfortable.

So, the full facts:  I accepted a full time position at a local community theatre as the marketing and development manager.  On the first day, when I thought we were going to hammer out the deal, I asked two things - that my schedule could be 7-3 and that I could have my son in with me for a few hours in the morning before I dropped him off at preschool.  The executive director agreed.

Then I started noticing some things.  First, the place has the highest turnover rate of any organization I've ever worked for.  Besides that part-time artistic director, who also works for a school, the most senior staff member worked there for less than a year.  All of the other staff seemed to be going through a revolving door.  Second, I discovered that the board (which is supposed to govern and support the funding efforts of a nonprofit) wasn't a governance board at all - it was a nose-in-the-details board.  

So, to make a long story short, first the board told me not have Quinn in there in the mornings.  They cited liability issues, which of course is crap.  (I worked in the office, not in the theatre.)  They said they were afraid he'd break things.  (Also crap - he's nearly 5, not an infant, and sat and watched movies on the iPad and colored for the two hours we were there alone in the morning.  Besides, if that they were that worried, I could have signed a waiver.)  But I wanted to keep my job, so I said whatever and asked my friend to watch him in the morning.  This was one month into my job.  It should be made clear at this point that a) my executive director (the one actually in the office) liked Quinn and didn't care if he was in the office, and b) I had never actually met the board members, with one exception.

Then, a month later, I get an e-mail when I'm on vacation that they have had it with my 7-3 schedule and want someone there 9-5.  

First, what the hell?!  I'm on vacation!  And they new about this BEFORE I went on vacation and let me spend the crazy amount of money it cost to go!  Was it a tactic to avoid confrontation?  Seriously, who doesn't explain the situation before someone blows $600 on a trip to Michigan?

Second, at this point, I feel the board is nothing but a bunch of bullies.  I stand my ground.  I say that's not the deal, that's why I chose the job whose pay is crappier and has no benefits over another job with better *everything* except hours, and I feel on principle I should be there when my kids get home from school.  

A week of torment later, I'm fired.

Good thing I've still been working for Jean this whole time.  She's positively delighted my hours for her are going up.  I'll go back to working at home, tending my gardens, and cooking more.  It's not financially sustainable in the long term, but it will save me the cost of finding summer time child care.  I'll start looking again near the end of summer, and make sure before I even go in the one the first day that my schedule is flexible, and I can be home by 4.

Monday, October 31, 2011

WARNING: Not about foliage!

Here we go, life full throttle... I've done it now!

I've accepted a new job.

A new, full-time, job.

And I'll still be doing work for my old one.


When we moved to NC, I had a plan.  Big boy is in second grade.  Little boy is in preschool.  I was going to stick it out as development director for my Michigan agency (delegating the face-to-face stuff to a newbie) for as long as they would have me (which I figured would be about a year).  I love my work for CTC and being able to pick up boys from school (the first at noon, the second at 3:30) and never have to worry about daycare or transportation or any of the unfortunate side effects of being a 9-5er.  I figured that even though my hours would drop, the increase in Matt's salary would make it up. 

First, we discovered that an extra ten grand for him didn't actually mean bigger paychecks.  Loss of teaching opportunities plus higher health care costs actually mean several hundred dollars a month LESS. Then, I got bored and lonely.  I started to make friends through fellow moms, but I was still stuck in my little apartment far too many hours of the day.  Even the delightful work I did for my agency lost its luster as the opressiveness of being stuck in isolation day after day worked its unhappy mojo on me.  I was bored, broke, and facing the prospect of not being able to go home for Christmas.

So, I started looking for a new job.  I wasn't really earnest about it.  I scanned craigslist, felt out the local nonprofit network, and updated my resume.  But when our savings ran out, we got in real trouble. Haven't-paid-my-student-loans-in-months, can't-replace-bald-tires-so-won't-pass-inspection, have-to-borrow-cash-from-mom sort of trouble.

I got really motivated:D

I applied to about 15 places which resulted in four outright rejections, three false "we'll get back to you"s, two pre-screens where I didn't make an interview, three actual interviews, and two second interviews.

Considering the economy, I considered this pretty good for a month's worth of effort.

Finally, an agonizing week after both second interviews, I got an offer!!!  (Frankly, I'm still expecting the other place to give me an offer, but I won't be sad to turn it away.)

The new place seems like my kind of environment.  I can't give details yet - I start Wednesday and I want to give the folks a chance to call the other candidates.  But it's flexible and fun and full of creative potential.  The pay is frankly kinda crappy, but I'll take crappy pay and high flexibility over awesome pay and long hours/zero flexibility any day.  Also, I'll still be able to work for CTC, so I'll supplement my income and keep the promise I made to myself to not leave them hanging.

But, now I have to work out the kinks. The transportation and child care and making sure all the little details come together.  Like, adding an extra day of preschool and making sure the mom who offered to watch him in the afternoons REALLY wants to do it.  But I imagine the sleep I'll lose over sorting out the details won't compare to the sleep I've lost over being negative in the budget every month.

Hurrah for progress!

Back to our regularly scheduled program next time, when I'll probably rip out most of my summer plants and pop in kale and spinach and daffodils:D

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's Cold!

I woke up yesterday, and suddenly my warm happy place had taken a turn for the chilly.  It was 60, and I wore a long black sweartshirty type skirt and a long-sleeve shirt - laughing at myself for adjusting too quickly to North Carolina's climate.  Christmas in Michigan, I thought, is going to suck!  We'll be those funny people dressed to the nines in sweaters, scarves, double layer socks.... oh wait, I was like that anyway as a native!

Then I woke up this morning, windows open, to a lovely 41 degree day. 

What the heck!  This is supposed to be the South!  The fact that it's supposed to hit 70 later today isn't much comfort.  It's autumn in the South.  The whole next week is supposed to be like this - 40s in the evenings/mornings and 70s in the day.  Once I dig out my wool socks, I'm sure I'll find it quite enjoyable;)

So, this means that I have to deal with the plants on the deck.  I have a number of semi-tropical plants out there, like Swedish Ivy and Kalanoche and Patchouli.  I suppose I should bring them all inside, but I already have lots of houseplants.  Guess I'll find room!

Another thing I'm not sure about is what plants are perennial in this climate.  I love my Datura plants, despite their toxicity.  (I keep them on the rail in the back, away from pets and kids.)  Are they perennial here?  Makes me not want to pull much out!  Guess some reasearch is in order:D

Anyway, off to do some work.  I have lots of photos from summer gardening adventures, but I haven't downloaded any since July.  Once I hunt down the SD cards, I'll upload and backdate them.  And for a parting shot - my lovely double-blossomed white Datura!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's Hot

My morning glories are wilting every afternoon like clockwork, no matter how much water they have.

I haven't visited either of the community gardens in days um, a week well, before hell came to visit Charlotte... wait, I when was the last time I watered Cook CG?  There has been some rain, but... shit.  I bet all my carefully cultivated stuff is dying. 

A craptastic side effect of being too much of a coward to leave the safety of air conditioning.  Even to save my tomatoes and pumpkins and beans and luffas.

I just can't go out there.

I haven't left the apartment in two days.

At least Assurance CG has automated sprinklers.  Now that's community for you!  Why doesn't Cook have them?!  Curse, mumble, groan, unfair rambling... (It's the heat.  I promise I don't mean it.)

My parrot window thermometer says it's 99 degrees right now.  I think I'm being lied to, or the thermometer is in denial. Wunderground's "Most Cloudy" thumbnail mocks me with his false predictions of protection from the soul-sucking sun and his orgasmic pleasure at frying my kids like tiny pink shrimp on urban parking lots and sidewalks.  "Sorry kiddo, we can't practice rollerblading today.  Mr. Sun is in his happy place."

On top of a heat advisory, we have an "air quality" advisory.  The air is poisonous?!?!  Oh wait, that's nothing new either.  If that annoyingly cheerful yellow exclamation hadn't popped up on my weather advisory every day since the summer started, I might have started paying attention to it.


Break out the gas masks and arm yourselves with inhalers and ice cubes... we're going to visit a museum!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Oasis (From the front and side, as of July 1st)

 Sometimes I see people stop and look gap-jawed upwards toward me.  The first time, I thought I'd accidentally wandered out into the sidewalk-line-of-sight part of the patio in my skanky summer night gown sans bra.  (I often hang out on my patio in skivvies, but usually am careful to stay out of random jogger's field of vision.)  But it didn't take me long to realize it wasn't me.  Or, perhaps, wasn't just my rolled-out-of-bed scariness.  Patio gardens like mine are actually pretty rare in this stark apartment community of mine.  Three floors up, The Oasis stands out as a lovely bit of greenery in a sea of white washed empty patios.  You'll occasionally see bikes hanging from racks, or an odd pot or two, but usually nary a vegetable or bird feeder is to be seen.

One day on my way back from somewhere, I decided to stop and gawk, putting myself in the shoes of tidy dog-walkers whose patios were are as barren as the Sahara.  (OK, so I was plotting exactly exactly where I could hang out less-than-kempt without being seen.)  I took some photos for good measure.  This was a couple weeks ago, and things have since grown and been moved, but you get the idea.

I wish more people would hop on the bandwagon.  That way I wouldn't risk getting gawked at in my garden-witch-just-rose skivvies, watering and drinking tea, when a random jogger happens by.

Or maybe they're just afraid of geting in trouble for putting holes in the wood.  Ooops.  I didn't think about that.  (No, really, I did.  I just don't care.  :D)