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. 🙂


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.

89 – does life ever stay the same?

Well, the answer to the title above is… no.

A month ago today, I did not have a job.  Right now I have two. When I interviewed for the job at the paper, I knew it would mean relocating to a small town two hours away from my husband. When I took the second one, I knew it would mean I could go back home. And, no small wonder, the paper took me up on my offer of being a virtual editor for the time being, while they search for a replacement. It is genuinely the first time I ever left a job and they said, “No, don’t leave.” It’s flattering, to say the least.

Luckily, the new company has me on a part-time contract. For now. So, if things work out and FedEx delivers what they’re supposed to, when they’re supposed to deliver it, I will be headed home today. I have to get a dual office set up and running in time to put a paper out next week and start a new job next Thursday.

There are a lot of things I will miss about living in Alpine.  There is nothing that I will miss about being alone. Home is always where Corey is–and I knew that before, but never tested it this hard. It is very nice to know that, should push come to shove, I can live without him. It is, however, starkly apparent that I do not want to do so ever again.

And because life is seldom without reminders, on my way home, I will be doing a stopover in Fort Davis, one of the most beautifully situated towns in West Texas, to take pictures of their football team and interview their coach. For the paper.

88 – counting my blessings saturday (CMBS)

OK, I was wrong, I can write both places. :0) Early on a Saturday morning, I am counting up the things that make me blissful… blessings, if you will:

  1. Just heard from son John yesterday that his next assignment is going to be to Malmstrom AFB, Montana–only a few hours from my best friend, Barb, who lives in Columbia Falls. John has been at Ramstein AFB, Germany, with a short six-month deployment to Kuwait, since 2012. We haven’t seen him since we put him on the plane for basic training two years ago. Barb’s son Ray is also stationed at Malmstrom with his wife and two kids, and oddly enough was also stationed at Ramstein, but he and Johnny have yet to meet.  Barb will be making sure to check in on our baby boy, though he may not know that yet.
  2. Daughter/soldier Kelsey’s leg surgery went well, which I can tell because she is posting pictures on Facebook of the stitched-up incision with commentary and exclamation points. This makes me very happy.
  3. TexasHannonsJohn AND Kelsey, along with favorite grandchild, one Mr. Tyler James, will be home for Thanksgiving, if the good Lord’s willing and the creeks don’t rise. Also planning to be there right now are our whole extended Texas family, Corey’s brother Patrick, wife Bobbi (my sister from another mister), daughter Savannah with grandchild Olivia, whom we have yet to meet, and daughter Sara, and they’re all coming from Kingsville. Meeting them at the ranch for Thanksgiving will be their soldier/daughter, our niece Hailé Hannon, who’s driving in from Fort Huachuca, Arizona. You can see all of us in the picture here, taken in 2011. John and Kels are at far left and far right respectively, and Tyler was, at that time, Kelsey’s baby bump.  The back row left to right is Patrick, Hailé, and Sara, with her arm around Kels. Savannah and I are in the center, and Corey and Bobbi are up front. Can’t wait to see ’em!
  4. More on the “me” side than the “us” side, I had an amazing first week at my new job as managing editor of the Alpine Avalanche. All the training and mentorship from my old boss, Hank Hargrave, who now owns and publishes The Normangee Star in central Texas, came back with a rush.  Absolutely love my new boss who, unfortunately, is interim publisher–when they hire a new publisher, she will go back to headquarters and her real life, and that will be a sad day for us–she and I make a great management team, and the new publisher will have some big shoes to fill. She’s already been here 11 weeks, with at least a few more to go, and I know she’s ready to go home.
  5. Last, but certainly not least, I get to see my gorgeous husband today for the first time in a week. It’s an interesting arrangement….I think everyone but me knew that I was going to have to get a job and get off the ranch more. But, if you had told me a year ago that I’d be living two hours away from my husband and only seeing him on weekends, I’d have asked you what you were smoking. Oddly enough, though, I think it just might work.  He and I, we’re working people. It’s who we are, more than what we do. And with us apart during the week, we can fully commit to working our jobs, not worry if I’m getting up early and not seeing him in the morning, or he’s working late and not seeing me until 7 or 8 at night. Don’t get me wrong… I miss him a lot.  But there are benefits to living apart–I kept my eating under control this week, 1300 calories or less a day, every day this week. (living with a foodie has its hazards.) I went after work and ran laps around the park three different days. I went out to one of the Viva Big Bend festival venues last night and took pictures without worrying about whether Corey was missing me… It’s like having all the benefits of being single and career-focused, but you’ve got a permanent date every weekend and somebody to kiss on New Year’s Eve.

Life is good, my chickens. Hope yours is too…


87 – and… pause here to begin there

I’m going to take a breath and put a pause on this blog in order avalancheonfbto focus the next few weeks and months on my new job (see post 86). Focus is important–and not that I’m all that and a bag of chips, but focus is why and how I excel at the things I do.

If you miss me (and you know you will!), please feel free to go over to the Alpine Avalanche, on our Facebook page, or the website. You can “like” the Facebook page, and at the bottom of the web page, you can even sign up to get Avalanche e-mails. I will be writing the editorials, as far as I know right now, which is seriously one of my favorite things to do in the world.

My ambition is that, if you do follow us, you will be seeing community journalism done well. To me, that means that the newspaper serves as the venue for the community’s voice, both online and off–and even though the printed issue is a weekly, the website/Facebook/Twitter feed is 24/7.  It’s a huge responsibility–and I take it quite seriously, which means I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Wish me luck! I have a feeling I may need it in the weeks to come. 😀

86 – beginnings and circles

Writing this in the Days Inn in Junction, Texas, early on a Thursday morning. Once I get my pooky together, I’m headed over near Austin for a web conference… for my new job.  I was hired on the spot at an interview Tuesday morning as managing editor of the Alpine Avalanche. It’s a weekly newspaper owned by Granite Publications. And, to add substance to the notion that what goes around comes around, I worked for them in 1999 and 2000 as managing editor at a different paper, The Madisonville Meteor. I also wrote opinion articles for more than a year and a half for another one of their papers, The Fort Stockton Pioneer in 2009-2010.avalanche

Part of the reason they hired me on the spot is because my amazing publisher and boss while at The Meteor, Hank Hargrave, and the also amazing Pam Bouray, publisher of The Pioneer, gave great references for me, which leaves me both flattered and humbled. Hank is now the owner/publisher of his own newspaper, The Normangee Star, in central Texas (and a new grandpa!). Pam I met when she was the new managing editor for The Pioneer, through Leadership Fort Stockton.  It’s an outstanding business leadership program run by the Chamber of Commerce in Fort Stockton that gets future leaders into one space, takes them through the infrastructure of the town on a three-month, weekly process, then to a retreat in the Hill Country to cement relationships with each other and the Chamber leaders.

Looking at that fast exposition of 15 years of my life–and yeah, I left out a lot–a lot of people might look at it and say that it means I’ve made no progress at all. I mean, it is a closed circle from managing editor back to managing editor, right? But here’s the actual completion of the circle–exactly 15 years ago yesterday, while I was the ME at The Madisonville Meteor, my mother died. I don’t celebrate death-a-versaries, and find those who do a little spooky, but when we lost Mama, the next couple years were honestly the darkest of my life. They set a pattern for me of running that I didn’t really break until I left my first marriage nine years later. All this is 20-20 hindsight, of course… but that I would be back in Texas, working for the same company, on my way to learn more about my new job and the future of that company’s efforts to combine print and web in ways that make sense…

I usually find the term “closure,” as used by shrinks and their ilk, annoying–but that may be because I never actually saw it before.  Do I know how all this is going to turn out? No. If I could tell the future, I’d be buying lottery tickets. Am I excited? Yep, I love beginnings, and always have.  It’s one of the many, many reasons I loved community newspaper work before–there is always something new. Is it all going to be sunshine and roses? No, there are hazards to anything, but at least this time, I’m walking in with my eyes wide open. Keep a good thought for me–if I have a dream where this is concerned, I would like Granite to be the last company I work for before I retire some decades down the road. It’s a small dream, but mine own.

For now… it’s time to get in the shower and get on the road, my chickens; I’ve got places to go, people to see!

67 – endings, beginnings, truths, hard and otherwise

For the last two weeks, I’ve been girding my loins to jump back into the corporate world… searching the jobs boards, poking around various companies for the next big corporate thing. April 18th will be 6 months out of the corporate world. Saturday I started feeling like crap. Sunday night, I went down like a felled tree. Monday was miserable, fretful, whiny, and possibly my lowest moment in the last six months.  I questioned EVERYthing that I’d been thinking.  And out of that unforgivably self-centered, possibly delusional, certainly depressed (and bluntly, annoying) moment came a battering ram of a realization. I don’t want to do that any more. 

♦ The fact that you are good at something does not mean that you want to do it for the rest of your life. ♦

I just finished three paragraphs on the last six years of my corporate employment. I was good at both jobs. Hell, I got bonuses, awards, stock, promotions, kudos, backpats… But I read those three paragraphs back, and the biggest point out of the whole self-serving diatribe is this one: You cannot tell the truth in a corporate job without being fired, or at least threatened. (And you’re welcome for the deletion–it was pretty tedious.)

That’s as bald as it gets.  I’ll spare you the details. but both times, I told the truth. The first time it was in public. The second time it was (I thought) in private. It did not matter whether I respected my boss or not–the lady I worked for more than three years ago is, and was, one of the best people I’ve ever known. My last boss was not. My old boss was just laid off from her job. My more recent boss is, to my knowledge, still at hers.

♦ Being a good person is not only not a guarantee of corporate success, it may well be a detriment to your future. ♦

So, with that in mind, I talked to Corey. Because that’s what we do. We talk. We tell the truths that we don’t necessarily feel we can share elsewhere. And I told him my truth. I don’t want to go back.

He said more than a few things to make me feel better, but the gist is… “OK. So don’t.”

All I can hear this morning (between the lingering hacking of the allergy attack that brought on my mini-piphany) is the chorus from the Wizard of Oz, “Ding-dong, the witch is dead…” I know he’s said it before–but some things I have to hear more than once.

I don’t have to be anybody’s corporate… okay, let’s go with “witch,” shall we? That’s enough. What’s the future? I don’t know, do you? I have my suspicions… but I’ve got time. For now, I’m engrossed in stripping my corporate persona off the Internet.  No resumes on the boards, no Linked-In marketing blah-blah, right groups, right recommendations, right words for a picture that is me, but not the real me… it will take a while to disassemble all the hype. It’s kinda funny that, to take the next step, I first have to erase the last 30 years of my life–pretty much the same number of journals that were destroyed in a flooded hold on the way to Texas. All the self-absorbed blah-blah of the last 30 years, wiped away. Independent confirmation, one might say, if one were to lean that way.

Caveat emptor, baby.  Not sure the world is ready for the truth… as Jack Nicholson might say. But I do feel like I can finally discard that niggling suspicion that I’ve been fudging the truth to myself, as well as everyone else. I’ll let you know how it works out.