127 – mumblings from the mountains

Sitting looking at a smoke-hazed mountain outside my best friend’s back door. It’s beautiful, even in the fire-induced fog. The sun is trying to climb over it–she often doesn’t get actual sun on her house until upwards of 10 a.m. because it lies in the early morning shadow cast by that mountain.

Happy to be here, feeling a sense of accomplishment–a quilt that I worked on for almost a year has been given to the newlyweds, and the bride was my friend’s youngest daughter. The bride and groom are off now to Hawaii. Now a couple days just for us, the vacation we both sorely needed–and a quick visit with son John in Great Falls before we head back to super-heated but not-on-fire West Texas.

attic window quilt
attic window quilt

Got a nice, long visit with Kelsey and Brian and the kids the last week of July, got to know Miss Haley Leann a little bit better, and had tons of fun with Tyler.

Also took on a consulting job shortly before that, getting operations turned around at a restaurant in the 8000+ population town 45 minutes from the ranch. The same folks who own the ranch own the restaurant, and when their general manager asked if I’d take on the challenge, I couldn’t resist. That was July 17, and from there until we flew out to come up here for a week, I’ve been running with my ears laid back. It’s in much better shape now, with tons of help from Kels and Brian as well as Corey, who jumped in with the staff to do the massive cleaning that was the first step to getting the place back on track. It’s a 90-day contract, minus the time here in Montana, so as of October 16, I’ll be back to entrepreneuriality, if that’s a word. And November is NaNoWriMo.

Oh… and we bought a warehouse. 🙂


106 – year of changing my mind

I am ordinarily a… decisive person. That’s probably the charitable way to put it. I make decisions quickly, tend to rely on intuition, and only change my mind when the preponderance of evidence that I made the wrong decision is so strong that I simply can no longer deny it.  Don’t get me wrong, I really do try not to jump to decisions without thought, and especially those where there is major impact to my home and marriage. I talk everything over with Corey ad nauseam. If you ask our son, John, he’ll tell you we talk pretty much everything to death. And we do. He used to protect himself on long drives with headphones.

But, about four months ago, after seriously talking it over with Corey first, I took a job as a managing editor in Alpine, two hours away from the ranch.  Literally three weeks after I started, an old friend came hunting me down to work for him, giving me the ability to work part time and to work from home. By the end of August, I was back home at the ranch, working in the virtual world again.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

About six weeks ago now, we decided to purchase a building in a town about a half hour from the ranch, but we changed our mind.

At about the same time, I decided to start a new business, and pushed THAT off well into the new year, if not forever.  It was kind of tangled up in the business purchase, but was actually the first to be jettisoned.

We shot the idea of buying a building in the head just this last week. (Sorry, it’s hunting season in West Texas, and we live on a hunting ranch–the image was irresistible). So many reasons, none of which I’m going to go into because bluntly, they’re boring, and they matter only to us. But here’s the overall point.  I do not like this feeling that I’m being wishy-washy. I do not like it, Sam I am. I do not like it, nope, no ma’am.

That said – the decisions to revoke our previous decisions were all good decisions. There are a lot of reasons we didn’t need to take on that building, and I didn’t need to tackle starting my own company, and the obvious reasons why I wanted to be here at home with Corey.

Just not sure what’s provoking the initial, quite a bit more pie-in-the-sky decisions that calmer thought must then deny as a possibility.  *sigh* Time to declare a decision moratorium for a while. Except for a cup of tea. I’ve just decided I need another cup of hot tea.

104 – peaceful Sunday morning

Laundry in the washer and dryer is such a comforting sound… along the lines of “all’s right with the world.” As long as you’re doing your laundry in your house and not a laundromat. Then it’s leaning on the dryer watching all the weird and homeless people and hoping no one talks to you.

Whoops! Sorry, channeling my younger self.washerdryer

The windows are open throughout the house, as the temp outside and inside is about the same, mid-60s. I love fall.

So many things to be happy about, and not enough time to name them all… the ability to be this blissed-out begins and ends with the man in the bedroom who is playing a video game where he builds civilizations and wars with others.  My desk is a few steps from the bedroom door, and I’ve already brought him his second cup of coffee… The soundtrack of swords clashing, and men shouting is muted, but puts him squarely in the world he’s building.  It’s his form of relaxation. Don’t ask him if he’s winning. It’s not that kind of game, I gather.

In my own game of always and forever challenging myself to continuing to learn, I’ve been reading a lot of business articles off LinkedIn. It’s one of my favorite business-oriented places to hang out, and recently, I’ve started writing posts there, as well.

I’m feeling very pleased, as a recent post of mine got publicized by the editors there.  The post was about the public outcry around a statement by the current CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella. I took the contrarian view, that he wasn’t wrong for saying what he said. I’m not a contrarian, necessarily, but I continue to believe he wasn’t wrong. The happy part? As of this writing, nearly 13,000 people actually viewed the post, and 74 gave it a thumbs up. More than 40 commented on it, as well.

Thirteen thousand is more than have ever visited this blog, even if I line y’all up end-to-end. Which would just be weird anyway, and why should you sit still for it?  Plus, you’re all in different states, both geographically and states of mind; it would be like trying to herd cats.

I find myself taking positions like the one on Nadella’s statement because I’ve believed for so long that there is a  middle ground between feminism (and environmentalism, and most “isms”) and real life. If you’re that interested in my philosophy, it’s probably closest to humanism. And yes, I’m aware of the irony in endorsing an “ism” at this stage in this paragraph.

However, like so many of the others, there’s middle ground there, as I am less on the philanthropic side than the ethical substructure without regard to the transcendent. Which pretty well describes how I feel–if we can’t tell what’s right and wrong without referring to an instruction book, then we are hardly mature, now, are we?

Humanism’s drive for ad fontes, or “back to the source” for education is what drove my position with what Nadella said. If we don’t consider the source of the information and the intent, then we haven’t got a leg to stand on when we criticize. Most who took a position considered the official source–Nadella as CEO of Microsoft. That, to me, is not who Nadella is, it’s what he does. Nadella has spent most of his life being someone other than CEO of Microsoft – how could he be expected to channel Bill Gates that quickly?

Anyway, there’s the thoughtstream for the week. Hope you have a lovely and peaceful Sunday, if that’s what day you’re on, and a wonderful week…

103 – just got real

One of the more interesting things about getting older is getting to know yourself. I, apparently, have never met myself, and wouldn’t know me from Adam’s off ox.

So… if you’ve been reading the blog (and if not, why not, dang it?), you know that life has gone from real busy to bizZAY, from trying to keep myself occupied to trying to fit it all in… and I just had to offload one.  And as soon as I did, I felt totally unstressed again. It’s not the one you think, most likely.

Corey says life is never boring around me, and seems to feel that is a good thing.  So, for a quick recap of this non-boring life, over the last three months I’ve started two brand-new jobs, rented a place to live two hours away and then gave it back to them a month early, began talks with my current boss about starting a subsidiary or partnership, started my second novel, entered into an agreement to buy an office building with a shop, hiked through part of Big Bend National Park and this Wednesday, bought a van. The last three of course, with Corey. In a very real sense, actually, all of them were with Corey. None of this went undiscussed, I promise you.

I’ll also be available to sign “The Best of Critique Café” this Saturday at Fort Days in Fort Stockton, along with a number of the other writers included in the chapbook. One of my poems, “October Has Edges” is included in it, along with selections from all the other writers in the writing group that I also began attending again in September.

And, because there is a line where even good stress becomes too much, I had to stop SOMEthing.  And something more than one of the jobs, which I actually did leave in September.

So, I’m pushing off the idea of starting a subsidiary or partnership well into next year.   Lots of reasons, all making perfect sense. And the moment I talked to my boss about postponing that particular conversation with the lawyer, I felt as if a weight got lifted. I am back to unstressed, doop-de-do, dog-paddling around the pond again.

Why do I do it? Why do I load that one more thing on my plate until something has to give? Heck, I don’t know. If you figure it out, tell me please.  But I will say…

Life is never boring.

101 – life is an adventure

We’re doing the last walkthrough this morning before signing the contracts for a building in Sanderson, about a half hour south of where we live. The town doesn’t have any amenities, and the population is under a thousand people. There are a lot of reasons why it’s attractive to us as a place to buy, beginning with the fact that there is no zoning in a town this small.

And, when I say “building,” I mean it. We’re not looking at a house–but a building with three office suites, one of which is usable now, plus a 1300 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsquare foot space that would make a very nice apartment (and no zoning means we can if we choose). There’s also a 44 x 40 workshop, which you can’t see in the picture, as it’s directly behind the building. Guess which part Corey’s in love with? 🙂

So, basically we’re buying a strip mall with a garage. No tenants at the moment, or possibly ever.  We haven’t decided whether we want to try to turn it into an income property. There are good things and bad things about renting out space for anything.

We’ve always trusted our instincts–possibly more than we should, but considering our lot in life continues to improve, I think we’re right a little more often than not. And, along the way, we’ve paid a little bit (OK, a fair amount… OK, quite a bit) of what I call “stupid tax.” Most of it was before we met–but we did get into a one-year lease when we went up to Oregon, and on reflection, that was a mistake.  And we paid for it.

But we learn–when I went to Alpine to take on the managing editor job, I only signed a three-month lease, which turned out to be a really, really good idea in the end. Who knew that, less than a month after I started, I was going to be offered a job that paid twice the money for half the hours and that I can work from home? I couldn’t even think about turning it down. It effectively doubled my salary, because one of my two editor paychecks a month was going to the rent and utilities. Here at home, of course, that doesn’t apply.

There are other things in the offing–am in discussions about starting my own business as a subsidiary of the business I’m working for now. Don’t know if it will work out in the end, but it’s something to think about really hard.


Also looking at a van much like the one in the picture. We had to get rid of the big F350 truck once we got to the ranch, for a number of reasons, but it basically bought the little Chevy Cruze I’m running around in now.

But with a building to renovate, plus some post-retirement plans to RV around the country with a bumper pull trailer someday, a vehicle that’s a tad bigger than the Cruze will be necessary.  We’ve been looking for one for months now, as we knew we’d need one. Not intensely, just looking. And we may have found one yesterday. Looks a lot like the one in the picture, but it’s a 2003 with a 7.3l diesel engine. The year model means no computers to futz with, which means that Corey can pretty much fix anything that goes wrong with it, which is very reassuring.

It will tow pretty much any trailer out there, albeit with gas mileage that is pretty sucky, but then they all are.  The key for us is that with that roof rack and the internal space, it gives us the ability to haul any construction materials we need right now… And the price is good.

Thinking about all this is much like standing on the diving board at Balmorhea. Scary, but a good scary. And the chance that we’re going to turn around and walk away from the building are approximately zero at this point unless we see something like a portal to hell behind one of the doors in this morning’s walkthrough. Corey will be able to look at the engine in the van and drive it this week Tuesday.  And becoming my own business again? Well, that will come when it comes. Or not.

Every one of these things could fall through–or they could all come true. Or any combination thereof.  You know, life’s an adventure, peoples… and we continue to live it at our pace and no one else’s.

98 – specialization is for insects

For the long-suffering who are nearly to my hundredth post with me on this exploration of my narcissistic, navelicious exploration of my not-so-tortured psyche, you know that the ttaadd in the title of the blog stands for the deliberately tongue-in-cheek trials and tribulations of the adult attention deficit–look, squirrel! set…

But in my current insomniac iterative process, as I was going over the order of business for tomorrow morning, it occurred to me that it was less about attention deficit (deficit being defined as “the amount by which something is too small,“) than attention fracture. Admittedly, part of the attention issue is span–but I am honestly capable of moving into that state of “flow” characterized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as a form of hyperfocus. I’ve done it for hours at a time in both work-related and personally-oriented activities or projects over the years.

However, at the moment, I have both the time and space for my mind to bounce from one focus to another… and am in a position where I can actually track that. I’m working part-time from home, and part of that commitment is tracking my time by project. And, since it’s part-time, I have the luxury of also working on things that are personally interesting to me in between, as my commitment to my work is four out of approximately sixteen waking hours, and not at a particular time, but of my own choice.

So this morning, I began with my usual Internet flippage, popping around various things that interested me… then did some database cleanup for work. Then I revised a resume and cover letter for a friend-in-law. Then worked on an afghan that I’m finishing up. Then some work-work, going through a matrix submitted by a bid writer. Then getting an experiment set up in free-motion quilting. Then back to the afghan.

Then lunch.  Then submitting a bio and a poem for publication for the writers’ group I’m in, then more work-work, to get a qualifications spreadsheet set up… and I won’t bore you with the rest–you get the idea. Tomorrow, throw in making bread, writing a quick qualifications letter for submission with the spreadsheet, plus job descriptions, and running for an hour, as well as the rest, except the afghan, which is finished. But I’m working on another one already, so keep it in the list. And I’m back to actively writing again, as well, more than just the blog. It’s an itch that needed scratching.

It seems chaotic, no? So does my workroom, which at one point today had a laptop on the ironing board beside the quilt squares, and another laptop directly opposite on a TV tray, and there is still the free-motion piece in the sewing machine ready for the next experimental pattern…

And oh, glory, I’m happy. And as unstressed as I can remember being in my adult life.

The quote in the graphic below is from one of my favorite characters and one of my favorite authors. It’s something Corey and I have discussed a time or two–specialization in any species can be and often is the death knell for their existence on this planet. The omnivores (like us) and the raccoons and the coyotes–we thrive on almost anything.

Just a thought.


92 – insomnia, thou art heartless

Ah, lordie… I thought it was a hotel thing. Never been able to sleep well the first night in a strange hotel room.

zsApparently, it also works the same way even in a place where I lived. First night back… and sleep is elusive, here at 2 a.m. Listening to the train’s horn in the distance, as it blows through Alpine. There is no place in town where you can go and not hear it. Wasn’t what kept me awake, though. It’s just not… home.

Regarding why I’m here, training someone to do your job is a distinctly weird thing. Not a BAD thing. Just a weird thing. And this is the second time in a row where I’ve trained my successor.  It was near this time last year that we received the announcement that there were to be layoffs at Cisco. A sweaty and tense roller coaster of a month later, I got the news that I was one of those caught up in it… but still had 18 days left where I was expected to accomplish what Cisco politely terms “knowledge transfer.”

That was long ago and far away. But the knowledge I’m transferring now isn’t to some poor sod who got my job on top of her own, as it was with Cisco. The paper found a replacement who will be better at it than me. She’s got journalism chops far past my own, and more important, she lives here in Alpine.

It makes me feel as if there was more than the obvious reason for my presence here… I was apparently here to learn a few things–the top one being that I never again want to be far enough away from my husband that we actually have different weather.  Not for long periods of time anyway. A flying trip up to Montana for the annual ladies’ camp-out is one thing. Living a two-hour drive away and seeing him one or two nights a week is no longer on the table.

For the paper, perhaps the reason I was here was to simply be that interim presence to keep the paper printing for five weeks while they got the right person into the job. Or possibly, as 2:30 a.m. has come and gone, I’m just trying to justify my hasty arrival and departure.  Whatever the perception, the reality is unmistakably that the lady who will now be both publisher and editor will be great at the job–and I couldn’t be more glad.

Oh–and for an update on the whole running thing, I ran 4.5 miles yesterday without walking even once. Please note again that running may just be what it feels like inside my head, but it definitely ain’t walking. I can tell the difference, because I sweat a lot more. 🙂

Off to chase the elusive “Zs” and, since I don’t need to be in to the office until 8:30, I can get like five more hours of sleep.


It could happen.