Another Sign of Spring

We just celebrated another sign of spring.   Our baby chicks are three weeks old and we moved them from living in my studio space to the shed outside Sunday.    It can never happen early enough for me and this year was the same.    I counted the days until they were mostly feathered out, because birds can control their body heat better with feathers  than when covered in down.   It finally happened this week.  My birds  were finally mostly feathered out.   I set up two heat lamps in the shed;  their target ambient temperature is 80-75 degrees.  I set up some shields to help their area to be as draft free as a corner in a shed can be.   Quite a challenge in an uninsulated shed, with a sliding barn door.   But by the afternoon I was sure we  could take them out and do right by them.

Last night’s low was 19 degrees, and we got 4 inches of snow.    This morning we found our birds setting under the heat lamps none the worst for wear.   It looks like tonight will be more of the same.    Spring in Montana what more can I say.


Long Days, Quiet Nights

Today folks are working more hours and getting away from work less and less.   They are plugged in and connected in ways we never dreamed of ten or even five years ago.   Folks check in at work after hours and when they are on vacation.   Either they are checking in or someone is calling them.  They are becoming stressed out because they are always on.  Always on call.   Always at least mentally at work.

I am getting ready for another week on the road.   Ramping up for all that I have to be prepared for when working away from the office is intense.  My daily pedometer has been logging less than 1,000 steps daily.   That tells you how tied to my desk I have been.    There is the juggling of my regular workday along with all the extras of preparing for presentations, meetings, collections of fees and more.    It always seems like folks know that if they don’t call me now they will be sunk for a week.   The interruptions are constant and my stream of concentration be broken over and over.    In spite of it all I plugged on working long days, most more than ten hours, to be prepared for this road trip.  Yet I did manage to find some way to create balance and limits while work was attempting to take over my life each day, I fought back with quiet nights.

When I worked, I worked, and when I was done I was done.    That meant at the end of the night  I closed the office door in the lower level of my house where I work.   The phone was no longer answered, the cell phone was turned off, and the work pc was turned off.  No calls. No text.  No email.   I might have worked long hours, but when I called it quits there was no going back until the following morning.  No one died.   No irreparable harm came to my employer.   Nothing happened that waiting for 12 hours caused the end of the world.

Each night RangerSir and I  ate a real dinner together.   It often meant we were eating at 8pm, but it was a meal, not something out of a box nuked.  Together RangerSir and I made dinner talking about our workday and catching up with all that brought us to this point in the day.   Once our meal was plated everything changed.   No work talk, not woe is me, or additional rehash of the trials of work.   We ate some nights in companionable silence other nights we talked about projects for the house or trips we wanted to take, news we had heard on the radio, or  a new playlist one of us was think of putting on our iPod.  Things of trivial nature, but definitely not work.

After dinner RangerSir spent some time with his favorite unwind the TV, and I with a book.    It did not make either of us any less tired, nor take away from the stress of our jobs the next day, but it did give us time to refresh our souls and enjoy a quiet night.

Chick Time

My one week old mixed flock of chicks for the year.

My one week old mixed flock of chicks for the year.

NOT as in babes, but as in the feathered kind.   Though it was not as planned I did end up purchasing chicks this year at the local ranch supply.   I bought a total of 15 baby chicks this year.   I was a test of my resolve to be a little less demanding of life.    I was not going to get exactly what I wanted because I refused to disrupt my life  to drive 100 miles one way one day and then 100 another the next day, during the work week none the less.    Instead I got part of my flock from the local store and a few days later I was out of town on business and picked up a few more birds of other varieties to round out my flock.  I picked what I though was the best of what was available.   No extraordinary measures this year to get the “perfect” flock.

As we were looking at the bill for our flock this year RangerSir commented as he does every year, “We don’t do this to save money.”  Oh so true.   Chicks don’t start laying for 16 weeks if you are lucky and I have had some go as long as 26 weeks before I saw that first egg.   That means all they are is eating and pooping machines while they mature.   Some of them will make their way to our dinner table, others will hang around awhile laying eggs for us and our friends.   There is a sort of satisfaction in growing your own food that we get that makes us go back each year and do this all over again.

For now they reside in the dog crate under the heat lamp in my studio space growing larger every day, while I count the weeks… until they can go outside and then start to lay

Time to Learn More

I have a 7am physical therapy appointment twice a week in town and until last week my shoulder was immobilized.  It meant I needed a chauffeur with all the wicked weather and nasty road conditions we have had as of late.     It mean RangerSir and I  I have been spending lots of time in the car together.      Road time  is often spent by couples listening to the radio, talking about friends or family and sharing the trials of the job.

Since I don’t enjoy driving RangerSir and I developed a different road routine long ago.  We did this partly because driving long distances can become monotonous and memorizing.    Many of the places we have traveled have no radio coverage over the years, so all we have are one another. We ask “What if?”  It is a game of sorts where you ask questions.    It has allowed us to keep in touch with one another’s wishes, dreams, thoughts and evolving opinions.   We have asked  everything  you can imagine.   In nearly 38 years some of our answers have stayed the same while others have evolved with our lives.    It never gets old and the questions never quit coming.    Some of the things that we have asked over the years.

  • You won the lottery and have to travel abroad where would you go?
  • Money no option where would you retire?
  • Who was your best boss ever?
  • In our present reality where would you like to retire?
  • Which relative of your spouse do you most enjoy chatting with?
  • Who would you invite to dinner who is dead?
  • Worst president since you have been alive?
  • If you could give me any gift what would you give me?
  • What place have you visited that I haven’t, do you want to take me to?
  • Which house/condo/apartment we living in had the best neighborhood?  (Since we have been together we have lived in nine places)
  • Who did you vote for you wished you didn’t in retrospect?
  • What would be your perfect meal?
  • What food did not not expect to like but do?
  • What is your perfect vehicle?
  • Worst US city you have visited?
  • What is your favorite book?
  • Best stupid gadget.

You get my drift.   It is a most amazing insight to a person you have lived with and think you know.  One would think not much would surprise me after all the years and all the questions.    In many ways it has helped us to stay in touch and on the same plane as we evolved.  When it came time to transfer with the Forest Service, we both knew it was coming and where we wanted to go and why.    When we bought vehicles we were on the same page, no discussion.   It made it possible to each of us to buy a house sight unseen for the spouse.    When I changed jobs, RangerSir knew it was coming long before I talked about it.    It makes gift buying much more insightful and personal, but makes it possible to find that perfect quirky gift.

Yet occasionally there are still surprise answers to questions.   I asked RangerSir last week, what secret goal are you likely to not achieve?     He told me it  was to go into space.   That was a “Boy Howdy” moment.   I knew my husband was fascinated with space, and he considered the walking on the moon a pivotal moment in his life.   He has been a sci-fi, the space kind, TV and book junkie all his life.   But I would never have guessed that like old Walter Cronkite he had aspirations to travel into space.   I am not sure that there is anything I can do to support that dream, but it just go to show that there are some dreams we hold on to nearly forever.   It also reminds me that when you have a committed relationship you always need to be listening to your partner.   You never know what you don’t now and there is always time to learn more.

Enjoying My Time Here

I have always been a type “A” personality with a little bit of Lutheran guilt thrown in.   That has always made an outstanding employee, devoted, hardworking and driven.   Unfortunately those traits also make it hard for me to balance work and home life.

Lately I have been reading a collection of spiritual books. They have been really challenging me to realign my way of thinking more importantly the way I live.   I read a book published by Pope Francis, when he was still a Cardinal, another by the Dalai Lama on happiness, a book on  wisdom and compassion with a Buddhism bent, and couple on woman’s empowerment.   They have given me so much to think about.   It has been lots of fun, challenging my point of view,  and full of many of moments of reflection.  I am not sure where this will all end up but   I have created lists of ideas I want to revisit.  Quotes that really hit home and provided inspiration.

I have been looking at my lists everyday;  reorganizing them, deleting some of the items, and  moving others to the top with a high priority.   Some days I move an idea from one list to another.   I don’t know what all this means with these lists, but I am starting to see some changes.   I am starting to recognize some of my short comings and what I might want to move toward.

All this reading  exploring different points of view and ways of looking at life and the world has  reminded me that I want to enjoy my time here on earth.    Enjoyment comes from so many sources, but most of all it comes from being true to yourself, and being a giving member of the human race.  Being  comfortable in your skin is not easy to achieve but letting going of things that you can not change or control and embracing those you can move you toward that inner peace.      Setting limits, so that you don’t get lost in that desire to satisfy others at your expense will give you the time and energy to work on those things you have never found time for before .    These books were full of things  I have heard and read so many times before, but like so many of you I said yeah, yeah tell me something I don’t already know.    What is difference this time is I am actually trying some of this out now….today… not waiting for tomorrow.  Hold on to your hats as I actually try to embrace life find my true self more often.

What the heck is quality time?

I have been thinking about this alot lately.   This whole concept of quality time.   You hear people talking about wanting to spend quality time with the kids, their spouse, their parents.   People near and dear to our heart + time = quality time.

When does quality time happen?   Is quality time a certain hour on the clock?    Does it only occur on even days?   Maybe quality time only occurs on the Sabbath.   Maybe quality time only happens when you are good or do good.    Possibly it only happens when you are in the company of loved ones.   May be you can only experience quality time if you are right with  your spiritual higher being, God.

I think that the concept of quality time is an euphemism for not wasting your time on this earth.   Time is neither good nor bad.   It has no value of quality.   What we do with our time is what makes a difference.

Much of our time is taken up with things that are part of your survival.   You sleep away about 20% of your life.  Maybe you sleep a little more or a little less, but sleep is nonnegotiable. You spend about 40 or so hours a week at work so you can have the basic necessities of  shelter and food. If you are lucky your job is not too much of a drag, and you don’t spend your hours at work in misery.  Most of us enjoy some portion of our work day, and other parts just drag on.    Our ancestors spent part of their days as hunter gathers and that was their job.   Our jobs may not seem so directly related to life’s necessities, but it in may ways is not so different than our ancestors, we seek to have food in our belly and not be out in the elements.    Jobs make that possible.

Once you take out the hours you sleep and work, you are left with discretionary time.   Just like any money you have left over after your bills are paid, you get to choose how you will spend it.    This is the time people often call  quality time.   It is not of any more quality than the hours we have spent at work and sleeping.   Often we waste our  quality time.  We choose to fritter the quality time away like we do that the pocket change and small bills in our wallet or purse.     We wasted minutes that turn into hours, the same way spend a dollar here and there that turns into $50 or $100 .     We choose to use that quality time in ways that don’t bring any enjoyment or make a difference.     It isn’t quality at all.      We need to decide that  we will  enjoy our free time in the company of others, doing things that we have always wanted to do, spending it alone in  reflection or making the difference we want to do so.  We need to resolve to  use our free time to improve the quality of our life.