One of Three Ways I Could Spend My Day

Generally speaking there are three different ways I could spend my work day.    I could:

  • Spend the day setting, servicing, and/or collecting what insect traps have collected and bringing them back for inspection by the scientists/professionals.
  • Spend the day collection, releasing and/or preparing for transfer biocontrol agents from one location to another location to attack invasive plants.
  • Spend the day counting grasshoppers and if the density warrants collecting grasshoppers to bring back to the office for inspection by the scientists/professionals.

Doing traps is one of the fun parts of the job.    You take off with a truck with a bunch of gypsy moth traps that were made earlier with a book with a bunch of sites and maps for the locations your traps to be set.    It takes some above average orienting and map reading skills to find your locations because you are setting traps out in counties you may have never explored before.   Even if you get your home county, I promise some of the location you will never even have knew a road existed there before.    You also have a limited number of super moth sites you have to set.   For those you pick the site and set up five different kinds of moth traps.   You might also have to set out traps for Emerald Ash Borer or at an airport for Japanese beetles. All of these sites are testing for other non-native potential insects that we would want to detect their presence Montana as early as possible because of their potential impact on ecosystems and agriculture.

If you look closely in that small pine tree you can see a bit of orange.   That was my first gypsy moth trap of my summer.

If you look closely in that small pine tree you can see a bit of orange. That was my first gypsy moth trap of my summer.

Each of the traps has lure, generally some kind of pheromones that would draw in the potential pest.  Some lures will last the whole season and others will only last about a month.   So each month we go out to the traps that need to have an updated lure, and pull the captured sample and bag it up, then put out a new lure and a new collection medium.

This was taken when I was setting up traps for a super site in May.   You can see all the different types of traps.   In the cooler I kept the lure that I put into the trap as I was putting it out.

This was taken when I was setting up traps for a super site in May. You can see all the different types of traps. In the cooler I kept the lure that I put into the trap as I was putting it out.

This was one of the things I did last week. I went back to the super sites I had worked with landowners to set up and serviced traps.  I also spent some time at one of Montana’s airports.   It was nice in that I knew where I was going and who I was going to work with.   I knew what to expect in roads, timing, motels and food. One of the  more interesting prospects for me was  that I was going back to sites I had been to about a month before.   Since that time we have had very little rain and abnormally high temperatures.  We have gone from lush green pastures, fields and rangeland to the land of curing vegetation.    I realized as I wrote this I did not take hardly any photos this week to show May and now the first week of July.   Something I will try to be more aware of to snap a few more pictures this week.

New Appreciation of Sacrifice of Time

My new job this summer has given me a new appreciation for the folks in the world who make the sacrifice of being away from home to support their family.    I have traveled before for jobs I have held previously.   In my most traveled position, I traveled only about 20% of the time.   This job puts me away from home three nights a week.    Being on the road this much has made me realize how much time so many people sacrifice to make it in life.

We have a friend who is a salesman for a company and covers everything west of the Mississippi.   He has spent about 30+ weeks on the road for as long as I have know him (nearly 30 years now).   He has two great adult children with families of their own.   He and his wife have the kind of marriage we try to have as well, where each is there for the other and figure out ways to be there when it is critical. (There have been some pretty critical life moments for this family).   I never before realized how amazing they were to make it all work with all his time away from home.  When you think about all the divorce rates and kids who turn out in something less than their potential and then blame their family life.   This family has weathered it all and not just survived, they have prospered.    Their love, support and values have made the time that took the father/husband away so much a contributing factor to what they achieved, not a detriment or excuse for what they did not achieve.

My brother was in the Navy.   He worked hard to be with his family as much as possible, but like the military people of past and present that isn’t always possible.  There are big and small moments missed that can never be gotten back.    I never thought about what it must be like to be a single parent for so long and then suddenly have someone show up and have the whole family dynamic change in a day.    One day you get to make almost all decisions unilaterally and then the next there is someone there who wants to be a part of it all.    One day the kids only deal with you and suddenly there is someone else who can say yes or no.  It is a complete adjustment for the family, and rules are shifted in the space of a few hours.   Yet the military people continue to make those sacrifices for their country and to support their family.

In both of these cases I have highlighted the person being away, but the trailing/at-home spouse and the kids make sacrifices as well.   They quickly learn that this is their normal.  That the parent is away because it is how must be for this family.   There is nothing that can be accomplished by wanting a parental presence that can not be.  They learn to appreciate the times they have and adjust with the changes that come with a moving set of how a family looks and functions.  The “keep the home fires burning” parent often has a job as well.   The only difference is that they get to sleep in their own bed at night.   They often have to juggle their job, children and home with no one their to help.   Kids may have to step up and grow up a little faster to help. It is a balancing act and a collaborative effort.

I had thought of this occasionally before.   This job has given me a new appreciation for what one misses out on when you are gone, how they adjust when you blow in to town and that they will adjust again when you hit the road again.   I know at the end of the summer my job will end, and I will be home every night again, but there are thousands of men and women that this is part of who they are and how they support their family.    My hat is off to you because most of us can never imagine what that job costs you and your family.   You are making under what can be very challenging conditions.

Jumping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Those of you who follow my blog, know I am at a crossroad, presently being unemployed.    During this time I have been  doing some contract work, and friends have called telling me about jobs out there they feel I would be a good fit for. I am so blessed for their support during this time.   Yet I feel that this situation would be wasted if I did not take time to really reflect on what should be next, instead of immediately  jumping back into what has been a sure thing and comfortable for the last 30 years.  It may be that one moment in time to really start something new or explore things I have always wanted to try, but fear held me back. The fear of the unknown.   The fear of failure.   Fear of how I’d feel not making a regular financial contribution to the household.

RangerSir and I have had many discussions about the idea of a temporary job during this time.   We have weighed the pros and cons.   The pros won.   Since that decision, I have spent time looking at the temporary and seasonal jobs out there.   I have been researching the positions, companies and interviewing.  The good news is I have secured a temporary seasonal job.   It means that this job will have a beginning and an end.   So there is no lock-in for this job if I hate it; I just have to last the season.   If I like it I have just added something to my resume.  It will use many of my skills I already have, but just as importantly it will require skills I don’t have.   This will feed my need for life long learning.  It is an entry-level, worker-bee job.   It means I have a job to do, and I will be responsible for me and my performance, that is it.   I can’t remember the last time this was true.  It feels very good. It is a four-tens, so I will still have three days a week to enjoy summer.    I will be on the road most of the time, again something I have not done for years, but exploring the back roads of Montana sounds fine for the summer.   Finally it will supply me with a regular paycheck, that I discover I need.

I admit the whole prospect of this summer job is almost frightening because it is so far out of my comfort zone.  It could be a colossal failure, in so many different ways.    Yet I find I am really excited to do something different and not to just wonder but actually know what something completely different will feel like. It will provide me with the time and space to really think about what next, while making a financial contribution to household.

Not everyone gets this chance.   Not everyone sees this chance when it happens to them.   I was lucky in that I got the chance and recognized it it.   Thanks to my friends, family and blog followers who have been there with words of encouragement during this time of great unrest.     Now on to the next great adventure.

What Next?

It is the question that I am constantly asked now that I have given my notice and I only have five days left with my employer of nearly seven years.    The honest answer is I am not sure.   I have some irons in the fire but want to make sure I make a good choice for my next job.  I have worked since my first summer job babysitting when I was just 14.    I have been a professional and had a career since I graduated in the mid 70’s.  I am driven and always find myself attracted to jobs that like an employee who is all in,  all the time.  It can be extremely rewarding to have that kind of a job, but it is  also extremely taxing personally and professionally.  For this reason the other day while driving to a meeting I debated the merit of taking the summer off and doing some temp work or possibly looking into  a summer seasonal job.  I have also considered a driving trip, taking the Lincoln Highway and exploring along the way back to the Midwest to see family.   I played with the idea of a genealogy trip to visit all the places I need to go to in person to fill in some missing holes in my family history.   I am at a sort of loose ends because for the first time I am not moving directly from one job to another. I  I am taking a chance, way outside my comfort zone.   I am looking not just where I would normally look, and not just at the jobs I would normally look at, but all the possibilities that there are out there.   Who knows what I will find, but I am taking that chance.

The Time is Right

I recently gave notice to my employer of nearly seven years that I was leaving the organization.    It was not a decision I entered into lightly or without nights of loss sleep.   The analytical side of my brain was calculating and recalculating the impacts on my life, personally, professionally and financially.   There were tons of pros and cons to my  decision that rolled over and over in my mind with no clear winner. For the first time I was leaving a job without a clear plan of what I was going to do next.   The only sure thing was that  I needed to close one door before I could move to the next phase of life.      Both RangerSir and I knew it was the right time and the right thing to do for me and for us.   We knew this was the time for me to stop procrastinating and see what could happen if I tried a few of those “what ifs”  and  explored some of those tucked away dreams.

I spent the last week in Great Falls, Montana working my last conference for the organization.   It was a great to be able to see my board of directors and many of the members of the organization one last time.   It was a full of questions from folks about what will you do next?  The honest answer was I don’t know yet.    It felt sort of lame when I said it out loud.   It was another moment of second guessing a carefully weighed decision.

I got home yesterday.   I was catching up  on all that had happened while I had been gone; reading the newspapers,stopping into my favorite local craft store for creative supplies and catching up with some of the women who I teach card classes to.   In just six days, two friends had lost their wives and another had lost a son-in-law who was only 43.   A beloved local doctor continues his fight against an aggressive cancer, and my dear aunt was once again hospitalized l fighting the same disease.   A friend who has been struggling with symptoms and was seeking a diagnosis finally got one, ALS.  It was a reminder that time can be short or long we don’t know.  When it is within our reach we should risk it and seek what is possible and not assume that there will  be plenty of time. Circumstances don’t always allow us to take the risk, but when the stars align and it is possible to do so.   Don’t let yourself be caught up in regrets, what if’s or die wondering. Time and health are both finite.   We have no idea how long with have of each, but the supply is not limitless, don’t waste it.  For me the time is right to take the risk and see what is possible.

Notice to Congress: I do my job. I expect you to do yours.

OMG time from another Capitol Hill hearing or investigation.    Time to pull together a bunch of like minded thinkers waste days asking questions to prove they are right.   Everything with the purpose to prove  folks who don’t think like them are evil, corrupt and need to go.  This process is happening in every group on the hill.  I don’t think that there is a person above that behavior at this time in Washington DC.

The whole point of this post is one of the most important things I think congress is charged with doing, is managing our money and making the law of the land.   Instead the thing I most often see and hear about is congress is setting up another hearing.   They will spend hours in front of the press puffing out their chests in self-importance.   Honestly what are they going to do, demand someone is fired.  They don’t have that power over John Smith working for the IRS, Hillary Clinton who has since left her job, or the person at the Justice Department who signed off invading the AP.   I am outraged and appalled by all of it, but congress is not going to fix it.   They can’t even reconcile the federal checkbook, let along put together a budget.   Instead they spend hours with a billion committees and subcommittees with everyone the head of at least one. No sense in leaving anyone out.  Do they ever ask themselves really what is my job here?

Anyone is believes their favorite Senator or Congressional Representative  are above this behavior, I think is wrong.   Their silence  is condoning this behavior, failure to say “This isn’t our job.  Lets do what we were sent here to do and go home.”   I akin it to bullying.  How many kids know it is wrong, but don’t speak up or do anything.   These adults are the same.   It takes real conviction to refuse a committee seat if really serves no purpose other than to belong or to build political capital you can cash in on in the future. We wonder why our kids don’t have backbone and conviction.   What kind of behavior are we modeling for them.   Go along with the crowd.  Pack up with only those who think like you do.    Bashing publicly those who you disagree with.

Those of us working know we have a job to do.   Our employer expects us to do our job.   I hired my Washington representatives and as their employer I say to them do your job,  socialize on your own time.  All those committees appear to me as social time, because you are not getting you job done.