Waiting

It’s never been my strong suit. Think pancakes. Dad made us pancakes after church on Sunday. I hated waiting for the bubbles to burst on the first side to turn them over.

Then I went rogue and would only eat a crepe with jam inside and powdered sugar outside. As of last week I now make an organic whole wheat pancake with blueberries. My husband’s has pure maple syrup on it and mine had my mother’s favorite, Lyle’s Golden Syrup from Harrods, London.

Thinking longer term I create change and wait and watch and wait and keep pushing as it takes or does not take. ‘Tis a lonely life being an outsider and wondering if you’ll be paid next week.

The vision, the mission, they’ve even had a weekend seminar to get it, and they leave exuberant and go back to square one the next day. I could beat my head against the wall but this one gets better. This jerk became executive director and first thing demanded I get out and give him the key to the office. No problem.

The next day he called our office and said he needed to meet with me. OK. I went and he said he wanted everything in my brain plus a confidential feasibility study I’d done years before. I said if he wanted anything in my brain he should have thought of that yesterday when I was working for him, and as to confidential reports I’d have to be present at a Board meeting at which a majority agreed to release that confidential information which was aggregated.

I went to see a key board member right away. Jerk boy moved off attacking me and lasted an entire month on the job before the Board fired him.

Good things were done there, including Kids for Kids, which allowed families to go to a childrens’ performance free with a few juice boxes or kids clothing. That change is one of the best things in my life and I’ve recently framed the program that all the kids signed for me. It kicked off the kids educational program and performances and put us on the map with free PR in the local papers et al. That change had its pitfalls although it turned out great.

Change is difficult. I once volunteered for an effort I put six years into with limited success. Slander, spying, disinformation were involved on the other side, which was two men. There were thousands of us looking to do something positive for our parks. We won a few battles but in the end I had to move, and move on.

Some of my mentors are now interred at West Point and Annapolis. Yes, I’ve flown to funerals and consider these some of my best friends, who made change a word that may not exist in a military handbook. AJH took an old, decrepit naval vessel and turned it around in 48 hours. That he ended up commanding a fleet and doing secret maneuvers off Hanoi is a testament to change and leadership. He and his widow will always be in my heart.

I and my husband know what’s wrong albeit in our different fields, and how to fix the problems. The real challenge is for a client to allow them to be fixed. That’s the challenge with most companies and organizations and one with which we struggle daily.

Cheers! Dee

Commonalities

One is oneself, then when there is a connection to another that seems random or ill-fitting, you marry and figure it out.

My husband is educated as a physicist and works as a software engineer/consultant. I majored in soc/psych and worked for government and non-profits. He’s a genius in the field of science and technology. I’m smart but my talents go to literature, legislation and people skills.

Somehow we clicked, two weeks after 9/11 when Americans were talking to strangers about what happened. The next day he asked me out, opened the car door, took my hand and never let go.

We really didn’t have disparate backgrounds. He grew up on a dairy and I lived above one. The farm kids were our friends and we made hay forts and stepped, inadvertently, into cow patties. And they protected me from bullies on the school bus.

We shared a lot about ourselves before we married a little over a year after we met. We met the parents et al, then eloped because of my family, not his. After years of marriage things settle (believe me) and a wise person is wont to figure out why.

We’ve more in common than our differences in what he calls “hard skills” vs. “soft skills.” Traditional male/female roles. Over the past few years he’s learned soft skills and it’s not as easy as writing code that transforms trading systems.

Honesty, integrity, leadership skills, people skills, technical skills. We each bring our own to the table and they mesh. For years I’ve been a volunteer leader and mentor, creating projects and managing ten times what anyone else did.

We both have disdain for bosses who cannot lead or teach the job at hand and who can never admit to making a mistake. We believe in the servant leader relationship where one is only as good as one’s “team” however large and the ladder goes up, rather than down.

Know what you’re talking about. My husband was all business and tech. He lived in a man cave in the dark with a mattress, first dual-brained computer he built from scratch. He had a desk made from two file cabinets with plywood on top, a chair and a lounge chair and only a 72 oz Dr.Pepper and individual string cheese in the frig with wrappers going from frig to computer. And he used a Scooby Doo towel from the shower and had a clean/pile and dirty pile laundry “system.”

Yes, I have tamed the beast, so much that I’m beginning to regret some aspects of the transformation. Yes, we’re on a high floor with a great view and floor-to-ceiling windows. About ten years ago he learned how a grilled cheese sandwich was made but still prefers me to make them.

I have created a food snob. From string cheese and Monterey Jack to judging cheddar by age, I messed up. He now asks if he can help in the kitchen. Conveniently he always asks when I’m almost done or are prepping and ask him to get his ice and water and please take the dog out.

He has his library which includes Numerical Recipes. I’ve 150 cookbooks that give me references, memories and comfort. We’re both technicians, scientists and good, smart folks that make a difference. I got a crosswalk last year. People were getting killed, the city finally built it and now that the paint is fading I got the Mayor’s office to re-paint the lines as no-one stops for me and our old dog.

There’s another similarity. A year after we married we adopted a rescue dog, a sweetheart who needed her hips taken out and physical therapy as a pup. She’s 10.5 years old now and I’m the food wench and disciplinarian and he’s the fun guy.

When we wanted to take her to his parents 10 years ago they said they’d mow one of the goat pens and she could stay in there. I told my husband I wouldn’t go. He told his folks she’s a house dog and sleeps on our bed. His dad scrubbed a crate and placed in the room we’d be staying in. She now has full run of the house, jumps up on his Dad’s section of the sofa to see him coming in on the four-wheeler after feeding the cattle, sleeps on our bed. Now when we fly in and have someone stay with her at home, Mom says “what, she’s not coming?”

She has to do extra kitchen floor vacuuming and mopping when Zoe’s not there during our three-day Thansgiving cooking extravaganza where we unintentially drop crumbs. I used to bring one dish, now it’s six but there are 60 people at Nanny’s Thanksgiving. Ahh, you can’t even imagine the dessert table.

As to thanks I have to thank Nanny and my husband’s parents for raising a great man, one that I love, trust and is my best friend in the world. I’ve said this before but marry a geek. He’s smarter than the football quarterback and may be someone you’d like to have a breakfast chat with for the rest of your life. Similarities. Cheers, Dee

 

 

Letting Go

Whether it’s breaking up with a boyfriend in one’s teens of a dot-bomb layoff (that was before the current 2008 recession) it’s tough and one needs to let go.

I prefer a breakup to be going on to something better, I got a husband that way because I left a jerk, a doctoral jerk and probably CIA spook who stole my ID and wallet so I couldn’t leave but I did from another country home to the USA. Thank you, US Consulate!

As to job separations, they’ve all been amicable but it’s great to always have somewhere better to land. Pernicious fiends always make life awful on the job and tried to oust me. Why? Because I was a proponent of change. People who think they want change really do not want change. It is only when they see the effects of positive change that they realize the advantage of everything in their business, non-profit or life.

People who want change must have a commitment to it and to going through the steps needed to get to their goals, and first they need goals.

We are on a good path today as a negative influence is now gone from our lives and good influences and interesting times beckon. Great Teams, quality work, running for the lives of my team to break through barriers to succeed at the task, and servant leadership. That is my mission.

My husband I had very little in common when we met shortly after 9/11. We never thought our work had anything in common but if you’ve read above we have many things in common.

We hope for the best in people, try to be the best leaders we can be, lift up everyone to be the best for the cause, to meet and gain the goal. He calls it “servant leadership” and has been denigrated for doing so. My husband grew up on a farm with dairy cattle. He knows hard work and that some cows and calves may die.

I only had our family’s “job jar” every weekend with dishes, weeding, folding diapers, dusting, vacuuming, filling up the cars with gas (yes, we had our own tank), Ask Mom and Ask Dad. The latter two were the worst if received together but we learned how to play it.

There are jobs where people just treated me badly and I didn’t know why until now. I was smarter or had more power then them so they needed to bring me down. In elder wisdom, I know they never did bring me down. I always rose above them and vowed to treat others better so became a leader of volunteers, creating projects and temporarily leading teams until they could do so.

I’m an “atta girl” gal and prefer to instruct someone how to do something better instead of telling them what they’re doing wrong and scolding them. For that I have to thank my father. He was the one who said “hand me that screwdriver and go off and play” in Ask Dad when Mom had me weeding for four hours on a Saturday. Of course there was dirt on my face and sweat on my brow as I went to Ask Dad…….. Crayfish were waiting in the Creek! Cheers. Dee

Walking Out the Door

I’ve done it. I’ve held my dog and cat during and after euthanasia because they couldn’t make a life anymore. I’ve scattered their ashes and been at hospice before my mother died several years ago.

Jobs? I left gently for better opportunities but only openly quit once. Then I was stymied by a powerful woman who seduced me over a bagel at a hotel restaurant on Central Park. She only wanted me to work for her because I knew that thing, computers. Now my husband laughs as we have a division of labor and he takes care of all electronics. I take care of the dog and everything else.

Losing faith. I only walk out on a few of those who don’t want me or who feed me to the wolves. Some I fight for anyway because they need me.

Ideas, tenacity, a brain or two and walking out the door isn’t so bad. I see it as an opportunity. Although my husband is deathly allergic to cats (I’ll tell you a story) we are cats and always land on our feet.

Walking out the door. Today. HR conversation about when all benefits will end. COBRA is nearly $1K and “marketplace” is about $4,500 per month.

So much for walking away, and away we go. Dee

Job Description

Gap Director, VP of Gaperations, Fixer of Gaps, I write to you.

Aside from writing and caring for a needy husband and needier dog, I plug gaps. I try to anticipate where we’ll be, deal with where we are, and plan for the future.

Yes, sometimes there are tears involved as this is my family but I have spent half a lifetime helping others as well.

I know nothing of mortar or grout except in reaching out and being that substance emotionally for my husband and others.

Right now I can’t wear my wedding ring and it hurts me not to do so. It took months to get used to wearing it and washing dishes and clinking, but after many years it hurts me more to take it off to let this mosquito bite heal. The City told me they wouldn’t take care of mosquitoes until late summer when West Nile virus started sending people to the hospital. At least they were not gored by an angry cow at the sale barn.

The Gapmaster, Gapmeister, Gapster. When forces come in against a family if it was my choice alone I’d go elsewhere, go after their market, then go after their people and clients. But that’s just me.

Unfortunately for us, we’re honest people (I can’t vouch for Zoe the Dog as she’s an Opportunist) so I’ll keep grouting and mortaring souls. Here’s to my second fav dog Jake – he still loves his homemade treats by Aunt Dee and is limping along with bone cancer. Cheers, Dee

They Knock?

Opportunities, I mean. Do they really knock? I get a gut feeling when something is right and once I was right on the move and the money but wrong on the boss.

The rest of the time I had a good deal albeit with the usual suspects. That’s the trade-off. Good job, some bad folks try to mess it up.

I’m talking leglislatures, governments, charities. I’m retired so I can write about it. Perhaps even write a novel about it. It’s been a good life.

In the end I’ve never heard an opportunity knock. I’ve just used my gut and brain to know what to do and have mostly made the right decision. Please use your assets to ascertain your future. Cheers, Dee

 

Leftovers

I never said that as my husband will not eat them. He’d rather say “let’s go out.” But his mother doesn’t do that.

It is a matter of making leftovers different and tasty. You’ll never make what I did this evening because when I think we may be moving I make full use of frig and pantry and yours will not be the same.

No meat, I just made fettuccine Alfredo in a 2 tbsp measure of cream, butter and parm, and added the same amount of fresh chimichurri with parsley, lemon, garlic and jalapeno. Tyler Florence, gaucho steak + chimichurri at foodnetwork.com

Shopping at home is a necessity and a duty. My husband stocks us in paper goods so there is always an extra roll of toilet paper or paper towels, tissues as well. I stock us in food and always have a full pantry of pasta, flour, herbs and spices and baking stuff.

When the thought of moving or being without a job is pre-eminent I work through the frig and pantry. My family moved enough as a kid, and I learned to do it much better with a physicist husband. Uniform boxes, all the best equipment (I’m a whiz with a well-worn professional moving tape dispenser and box cutter) and the dog already has her 4″ orthopedic bed in the back of my SUV.

We do what we can with what we have. My frig has many possibilities but my pantry can expand it tenfold. I used to subscribe to a delivery service that gave us milk, juice, bacon, et al. I got the service for their apple juice and a $15 surprise package that would test my culinary skills seasonally.

Last week my dog received a wooden puzzle in which her owner places treats. There are six pegs and three sliding wooden pieces. She’s played it six times and can now do it in a minute. That’s like me and the surprise culinary package. It’s fun. Cooking for you and your family/friends should be fun. Dee

Claddagh

I went to see my canine friend who has bone cancer. He stood up when I arrived and went for a walk with his Aunt M. His Aunt Dee is impressed with this wonderful companion.

There’s another who is in good health and old and we see a few times and his name is Wurli. He and our dog Zoe are buddies.

This morning I saw Wurli’s owner’s ring and it had a blue cast then it changed. He said it was a mood ring, which I had in the early 70’s. He’s quite retro and an artist in the purest form.

I showed him my Claddagh ring with heart for love, hands for friendship and crown for loyalty. I initially wanted one for my wedding ring. Now I wear it on my right ring finger, heart pointed in as my heart is taken, forever.

There are so many things that go into a life, a marriage. One does not have a choice to be born, only to figure out what to do with one’s life. That’s a task that can take many years. Cheers! Dee

Limitations

As a little girl, I’d say to my mother that Debbie had invited a few of us girls for a sleepover. She’d say “why would she want YOU there?”

First jobs during college, picking weeds and resurfacing clay tennis courts at a summer resort. I wasn’t allowed to sit on the roller as that was a manly job, just do all the scut work.

After college, I finally got a good and interesting job but my boss was elevated from my job so I got to do all the organizing and writing but when it came to negotiations and deliberations I was not allowed at the party. Trust.

I left him abruptly to go be a lobbyist in NYC. My boss took my words and said “Go downtown, I’ll have your testimony before you have to go on.” Yes, she did, changing three or four words and commandeering a car to get her there usually about a minute before I spoke, thus I never got to see the changes.

When employers do not train their employees to do what is needed to get the job done, that does a disservice to both. When employees are asked to do certain things to make things right and do them, an employer must reconsider their status if they’ve been downgraded.

I’ve been a boss and have also created and managed many volunteer projects over the years. I find that honey, not vinegar, is the key. Discussion, sometimes “you could do this better, here’s how to do it and thanks for volunteering.”

One client had a board after events that was called Goods and Betters. It wasn’t what went right and wrong, it was what was good and what we’d need to do better, as in name tags weren’t at the table and had to be gotten from the car.

Teamwork, common goal, benchmarks, praise, trust tend to work better than what I’ve encountered throughout parts of my life. As to a mother telling a kid that no-one would want to play with them, I’m still at a loss and I can’t talk to her about it because she’s gone.

When I was young I allowed some limitations to get the best of me. It took until I was 30 to come into my own as a person. Now I see these young pro athletes and they’re young enough to at least be my sons, if not nearly grandkids. They don’t see limitations, they see opportunities and so do I. Cheers! Dee

Blame

My husband, dog and I live in a very nice apartment in a large tower with a great view. Yesterday we received a message from management that there are 96 packages downstairs and if you don’t come and pick them up, we’ll be forced to enter your home and deliver them to you.

We do not have a package downstairs. I hate this kind of message that blames all for the actions of a few. Of course, to my husband’s chagrin, I had to write back and address the issue. I said they have a new and improved package room and if they only placed a door on it, it could be used. Also that we had nary a package downstairs and didn’t want the blame to extend to everyone for a few folks who actually got to have a summer vacation.

Why? What happened in my childhood that made me hate to be made to be the bad guy when I wasn’t? We were going on a trip, and our family usually left early in the morning, like 4:30. We bathed and packed the night before so all we had to do was make our beds and get dressed and go sleep in the car. I was probably six or seven at the time.

My sister was always sucking her thumb and twirling her hair until it got into knots. Sometime during the night she got up, went to the kitchen, got a pair of dull scissors, cut off a knot in her hair and left the hair and scissors on the kitchen table.

Awakened at 4:00 a.m., we were summoned to the kitchen for a tribunal where my sister and I were told someone had to confess to this wrong or we weren’t going on our vacation. My sister had a shock of hair sticking straight up, and my hair was at least ten shades darker than hers. Nothing. After eons, I “fessed up” because I wanted to get to Virginia beach and it was a 14 hour drive. No. That didn’t work. I was now in trouble for lying and my sister still wouldn’t confess.

The minute she said she did it, the hair and scissors disappeared and we hopped in the car. During the inquisition, I wondered if my parents were just stupid. The culprit was there, plain as day, sucking her thumb and twirling her hair, but for an hour or so, I was made to feel guilty enough that I took the blame and got in trouble for that as well.

Teachers always played the blame game. Assign blame to the class when they know exactly who wrote that nasty phrase on the blackboard. I don’t like that style of management, teaching or parenting so I wrote back.

Management knows all of our email addresses, and they know to whom these packages are addressed. Write the owners of the 96 packages, don’t blame all of us. It was easier to send out a blanket email blaming thousands of residents than probably 40 who’ve been remiss in picking up their mail.

Shortly after receiving their missive and responding, I received an email saying we had drycleaning downstairs. Within ten minutes I picked it up. They even have a huge flat screen with our unit numbers and whether we have a package or drycleaning, a sign everyone (including non-residents) can see. I don’t want to get into the privacy implications of that but we have to electronically sign for packages/drycleaning then our names come off the Nazi (did I say that?) Board.

All I want is a modest home in the country with a garden and a Whole Foods Market 1/2 mile away, like that’s gonna happen. I’ll have to order food on Amazon Prime and herbs/spices at Penzeys. No Nazi Boards, no accusatory emails, a simple life where we can live in peace with a couple of goats and make cheese. Ah, well, we can dream. Dee