Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This job

the 911 one...is whipping my tail.

I'm having to step aside from my subjective self and take a long, hard look at this situation objectively.

I don't like to fail, and that's pretty much the bottom line.

I've hit a wall in my training, and that wall will either give way, or I will. It's week seven, my fourth on the floor "live" on the phones, and I'm simply not making the grade, though I've survived up to this point. Either my learning curve will get a better pulse, or it will flatline.

In order to have made this opportunity possible, we've now taken on a used car and its subsequent expenses, since it's an hour away and no other "real jobs" have materialized closer. I'm feeling incredible pressure, mostly from my own expectations, but also due to the fact my "radio ear" is not very practiced, and I'm making so many mistakes.

Is it somehow a disadvantage that it's usually come easy to me academically and creatively to excel at things? I've multitasked, problem-solved, and been a facilitator for years now in so many areas, but those areas have never been organized into anything consistently income-producing. Now that something is actually NOT easy and is NOT being excelled at, I'm struggling with a lot of exasperation with myself, and disappointment, frustration, and determination.

At what point determination bows to performance has yet to be...well...determined.

My body's still not adjusted to the changing hours, shifts, and scheduling. I've not been here to the blog till just today, even after my recent resolution to just come here for 30 minutes and catch up with the long overdue blogroll, and etc.

Well, this is the short version. The clock shows my countdown to the next endurance run, and I still have meal, laundry, ironing and sleep to go before I get up and do it all again.

I'm really praying for some guidance in all this, and direction. And courage if I DO, in the end, come up on the short end of the stick as far as being able to do this job well. Courage not to see THAT failure as a personal failure.

If that's possible...

Low mood today, but determined to see this through the rough spot...to see what's on the other side. If I do fail, I'll have stuck it out to the last possible moment. Unlike the newly-released Harry Potter book, with THIS story there's no flipping to the last chapter to see what'll happen.

And so, for now, on to another page...

More updates later :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


At work, among all the fancy-schmancy hi tech computer thingies it takes to populate each three-screen 911 or dispatch terminal, there is something akin to an instant message that can be sent to anyone else's within the room. They're supposed to be strictly business, but since most of the operators are rooted to their chairs for hours on end of necessity, the digital message windows are used rather than trotting across the room to another station for things like clarifying the meanings of particular screens (like if you're me and you typo some necessary call detail and it appears in something closer to Klingon to the reader, who then needs to shoot you a message of "what the heck is that?") VERY important are the messages that read "I'm going to Chick-Fil-A for lunch, anyone want to place an order?" and so on. Everyone eats lunch at their stations, so only a couple escapees at a time fetch food beyond the pale of the call center.

As far as progress, I've been doing pretty well, I think. I'm on Day Four "on the floor" meaning answering REAL CALLS (Ack!!) with a trainer seated at the same terminal. Among all The Really Crucial Vital Life-Depends-On-It Info I'm being trained on and having to retain in my middleaged brain is the lesser skill of mastering the digital instant messages. A problem? Not so much. They pop up all the time with updates usually posted to everyone in the room, to keep abreast of developing events we need to be aware of, such as if there is a controlled burn in a particular area. Everyone receives a digital message to that effect so that if callers call in with concerns about fire in their area, we can respond keeping that in mind and not have duplicate calls being sent somewhere they're not needed. I have for weeks been privately amused that MOST of the messages bore the subject line bearing the word "Ack." After all, there are a lot of "Ack!" moments that happen throughout the day. Bolos (Be On Lookout For) for stolen vehicles, repos, the status of possible runaways, etc. They all usually come through under the title "Ack."

My learning curve stopped a tad short, as sometimes happens. It was not until a couple days ago that I had my Aha moment and realized that (ahem) the "Ack" in the subject line of the digital messages is not a exclamation, but rather a truncated form of the word "Acknowledged."

Mmmm hmmm.

Wheeee goes the learning curve, over the median and into oncoming traffic, ha!

Well, in THIS BLOG, the word Ack means "ACK!!" and is my benign expression of dismay for being SO behind and SO remiss in particular respects.

I'm SO short on time these days, that this blog's been less and less a record of what I'm learning about gardening and homesteading and more and more a brief rest stop between marathons beyond the walls of my home. It's all a part of the process, yes, but some things have been put on the shelf till there's time in the future to further research and delve. The blog's grown a bit dusty and more...summarizing. BUT I'm DETERMINED that there are a couple of things that WILL be updated as soon as I've finished tomorrow's 12 hour shift (and after I've gotten my beauty sleep...or any sleep at all :))

FIRSTLY, THE BLOGROLL SHALL SHALL SHALL BE UPDATED. I'm SO remiss in this respect, and there are some wonderful wonderful wonderful blogs that should be represented here on the sidebar as links...so my HUMBLE apologies to those of you who belong there, and anyone who'd like to be there whom I may not have discovered yet. I SHALL be updating it within the next few days!!!

SECONDLY, I'm very remiss in acknowledging an honor I was given in being nominated LONG AGO by a blog friend in the homestead world for the Thinking Blog award. Each time I began the reply and then tried to make a list of Thinking Blogs I love, the list grew and grew, I became worried I was leaving so many really deserving ones out, then I tried cutting it down, then I became more anxious at having to restrict myself to a particular number, and I know I'm typing a horridly run-on sentence but what the heck this is how stream of conciousness writing came into vogue, and into the Draft file went the entry for another day, but another day never came...and....well...ACK!!!

THIRDLY, I'm just not here many hours a week, but I want to include this very important time in my blog. Why? Because the "interruption" of going out and working an outside job in order to pay off debts that are roadblocking our actual move to a property where we'd be allowed to have animals and agriculture IS a REAL part of homesteading...at least for us. This blog is about that JOURNEY. I feel humbled when I read about and see pics of all the bloggers I so love out there who're gardening and shepherding up a storm and are so much farther along that path, while I'm here worrying about a few tomato plants and wondering if I'm abusing my handful of eggplants by not repotting them fast enough into larger containers. I feel like I'm the petri dish and so many others are the actual research center DOING THINGS. But what we're doing right now in other respects IS PART OF THE PROCESS. And, so.....time's limited to the doing of it rather than the "fun stuff"....but oh how I'll appreciate it so much more when I finally get to get my hands on the projects dancing around in my head for THAT time period! :) I began some things a few months ago like beginning to research the Pollinator Project, etc, all of which I intended to plug in here as I went. I've not derailed, but like the seasons, I'm running to step in time with the NOW and having to anticipate the LATER. Nuff said. But I often wish I were putting something with more depth here just now. I'm not all about fluff. I have a million questions marching around and around, but the head can only handle a few things at a time, and right now I'm in the midst of exam-taking and getting my sea legs at a whole new job.

ACK!! :)

Lessee how it goes. I'm giving it the ol' college try, for sure!

I'll be updating the blogroll hopefully in the new few, and definately making the rounds visiting all of you bloggers who are blogging away about your lives...that's my recreation and inspiration just now, especially when the brain is waterlogged and can't handle thinking One More Thing Today. THANK YOU for the friends here who regularly check in, encourage, and whose blogs I SO enjoy reading while relaxing. I so appreciate your individual voices and expertise, experiences, and humor. My batteries get recharged, and there are so many of you I wish were my neighbors truly just down the road. THANK YOU for sharing YOUR journeys...I'm learning so much :)

OK...off to sleep. 12 hours of work and 2 hours of commuting in one day, and I'm one tired puppy. I drank a supersized unsweet tea on the drive home, but no matter how much caffiene is coursing through my veins, it's no match for my ability to embrace my destiny of shower and clean sheets. Ahhhhhhhhh :)

More later.

Thank you to all of you who've commented on the organic pesticide question. I'll be checking out each of your suggestions more in depth on my next off days. Thank you so much!

Alright, I'm off to the land of Nod...

Image link from site: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.cs.miami.edu/~geoff/Seminars/HowToGiveATalk/Ack.JPG&imgrefurl=http://www.cs.miami.edu/~geoff/Seminars/HowToGiveATalk/Contents.html&h=1308&w=1879&sz=478&hl=en&start=2&tbnid=P-HodbA-DTlpkM:&tbnh=104&tbnw=150&prev=/images%3Fq%3DACK!%26gbv%3D2%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG

Monday, July 9, 2007

Are Organic Pesticides Safe?

I don't have much time here, but I do have a question for the organic gardening veterans out there. In trying to Google organic solutions to my tomato plants' stink bug invasion(besides squashing 'em with my hands), I ran across some pesticides touted as organic, which I'm assuming means they're from natural sources.

However, when reading the fine print, I could not deduce whether or not they kill pollinators, such as honey bees, and I also saw a couple of notes stating that they could pollute water sources.

I also saw some discussion about "Bt," which I'm unfamiliar with. I AM familiar with genetically modified seeds...is this the same thing, and therefore to be avoided like the plague?

Pardon my ignorance. The question here is to reap the cumulative wisdom from so many of you whom I appreciate, who are far far ahead of me in practical knowledge of these things from experience.

My hesitation to just go out and buy something labeled "organic" stems from two things:

1. I'm cheap. The purpose in doing the organic tomatoes was in part to raise good food economically, without each fruit becoming the proverbial "$60 tomato."
2. I'm cynical, or well let's just say cautious, about claims made by companies promoting pesticides. Even the "safe for animals and humans" sort I saw on my cursory Googling attempt had ingredients which on other sites were tagged with cautions about exposure.

Is there a time and a way to use such, or are trap crops and diversity plantings for the encouragement of beneficial insects, etc, the best way to go?

I did note on one site specific to stink bugs that they were not usually a widespread problem BEFORE the advent of genetically altered (perhaps this is the Bt that was mentioned??) crops, specifically cotton engineered to be more boll-weevil resistant in the Deep South. According to that article, the reduction of that particular "pest" led to a different balance and opened the door in different ways to the rise of stink bug infestations for a whole spectrum of soft fruits and soy beans, now difficult to counteract.

Any thoughts from the blogosphere on these things? Thanks to Phelan for her comments about this recent development. My garden's infestation is now beyond the squashability threshold...


Thanks in advance for advice!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Well, Foo...

(I wanted to use other expletives, hmmm)

As I've been putting in 8 and 12 hour days at work plus the two driving hours per day, it's been raining. I've been delighted for my little garden o' pots. The eggplants no longer look dainty, but bold and umbrella-like. The basil is a forest. The peppers are reaching for the sky. And the tomatoes are....

being devoured overnight by armies of stink bugs.


There are little aliens all over ALL my tomatoes, and give the fact that for the past few days I've peeked out the window and waved at the garden through the rain rather than been hands-on, the little opportunists have devastated what should be the fullness of the tomato bounty. There are big fat tomato-sucking adults and legions of swarming (ugh!!) junior wannabees. And they've set up deluxe condominiums amidst my nearly 5 foot plants. One or two, and I'd be flicking and pinching. THESE just grossed me out. They are ALL OVER.

Did I mention UGH?

The tomatoes are showing the stress and all the present fruits are ruined. I'm not sure what to do since they cover everything (the bugs do, that is). Not sure if I should sacrifice the vines and pull them out and bag them up (don't think we can do a burn right now) or if there is a sure fix I can mix up organically to apply at this advanced stage. I'm not even sure what lesson I'm supposed to learn from this, meaning I'm not sure if I did something wrong that invited them...or if it's just one of the vagaries of growing veggies in Florida.

Any advice is appreciated.

I keep thinking maybe if I had chickens, they'd appreciate the bugs, but then again, not sure if anything would ENJOY something with the first name Stink.

Looks like I'd better search out a good farmer's market ASAP if good salads are to continue.


:) (Still smiling, tho....this is all part of the learning process!)

Now it's time for bed (yep, it's 5:30 pm...I was up and at work at 3 AM for a 12 hour shift, so the old gray mare is retiring for the night...) whilst the rest of the world barbecues... and while the stink bugs continue their tomato glut buffet.

Blog closed for the next 24 ....shabbat shalom, all :)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Rain, Rain, Come Again!

Whew, what a difference some rain makes!

All of a sudden the lawn is a meadow, the tomatoes are more than half-hearted, and the eggplants have doubled in height. The basil needs pinching back...er, harvesting... and is beginning to look like an overgrown mint patch. The drainage ditches have enough run off to entice great white herons to walk on their stilt legs foraging for frogs, snakes and fish, and likely soon there will be flocks of ibis tiptoeing around making their little whirring noises while looking for moving snacks.

What doesnt kill us makes us strong, or so I've heard, and the exam cramming marathon I've been on in addition to the long work hours has taken its toll. Thankfully, the marks have been high (I THANK God since I definately feel like He's helping me in that category!) and though I'm green, I'm beginning to really enjoy certain elements of what we're doing. I now have two days off, and though I'll be cramming more for the upcoming tests (there are lots more), I'll be able to work in some SLEEP.

And it's soooooooooooooo nice sleeping while it's raining outside! We've had some storms, but now it's an every-so-often shower with nice thunder and maybe some lightning, but really GREAT soaking rains. That'll hopefully deter the occurence of brush fires in this area. And if there's one while I'm at work any given day, I'll be one of the first to be aware of it, at least...one of the perks of the job :)

I'm behind on so many things, and the house is looking quite neglected inside and out. Hopefully, the adjustment period will ease into some sort of normality and I'll hit my stride once there is a set schedule...but I'll have no set schedule till about November. The house will have to be dealt with long before then :) R starts her first day of nursing in the adult program tomorrow, handling a long commute by herself for the first time rather than being bused from here to there with a school group like she was in high school. She's making the arrangements herself, and I'm easing into the background since she's of age and wanting her independence in those areas. Her boyfriend is still in boot camp, and has mixed feelings about having signed up so hastily. He made uninformed choices with a lot of assumptions, and is not being very quick to just learn from it and face what's ahead of him with some backbone. He's trying to find a "way out," and I'm not happy that he's involving R from a distance in the emotion of it all.

But again...I am trying to allow her to live her own life, while being a resource if she wants to utilize my perspective. Ah, youth....

(With the exception of my waist size, I'm SO glad I'm not 18 again! ha)

She's spending time with his little brother, who's missing him a lot. While I'm typing this, she's cracked out her old electric guitar from the storage shed and has hooked up an amp and is testing it all so she can surprise the little brother with it as a gift. She went through her "guitar stage" at just about his same age, and she'd like to hand it on to him. That's on the docket for this afternoon, as well as our going over her first chapter in the nursing book together for review before tomorrow's class.

On the way home from work today, I drove by a couple properties we'd looked at in the past.

One of the properties we'd discussed bartering/trading with the owner has recently had a for sale by owner sign put back up. The contact info listed, among other things, a barter website. We never heard back from the owner about the likelihood of his being interested in such a thing, so it surprised me he's posted it on this site. Can't quite make sense of the site, but it seems it's geared towards businesses and asset trades and such. I'll be asking my hub if he knows anything about that, but since he wasnt too gung-ho about that particular house (we liked the property, but the house needed everything fixed) we may just leave it alone...we'll see.

I keep having the notion that in the right time, the right property will come along, and not until then. Come next week, I'll begin receiving my first paycheck...To Pay Off the Debt...a wonderful feeling!!

Now let's hope that I can keep up with the exams...the final has to be passed in one shot, or I'm out, even after training etc. Can we say Eeeek?? :)

I'm taking it one thing at a time.

For now, a shower, my PJs, clean sheets, and sleeping........while it rains......

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh........... :) bliss