Sunday, October 27, 2013

Weaving my way.

Warps and Wefts.

There's a connection to things that we may not see right away. Last week I had planned to make the trip up to our farm but I pulled something in my back and so I decided not to go. The plan was to build a shelter for the well to protect it from freezing, prune some trees (an ongoing task), bring back the trailer loaded with wood, visit with my brother and his family,  and fetch some the apples from our little orchard for drying. These things didn't get done - obviously - and now the optimal time to do them has passed. I have moved on and there are holes in the fabric of my life where these events should have been woven.

There's nothing critical or life threatening and hopefully the renters are taking care of the well - they will have no water if it freezes - but it goes another winter without a permanent solution.

There is 60 acres of our young woodlot that needs to be tended. I can't hope to do this properly from 300 miles away but with every trip I make another dent and this all adds up. And missed opportunities are lost ground.

Our woodpile is made up of hard hardwood this year. It is nicely seasoned and since it is hard hardwood it burns hot but it is rather hard to start on these fall days when a little fire in the stove would take the chill off. The trailer at the farm is loaded with wood from the old barn (wood that has failed the test for re-usability) and ready for the trip.  This is mostly old hardwood and it makes wonderful kindling. Now I miss having it here. It will still be welcome when I finally do bring it down but it won't fit quite so well into the patchwork.

We are all starting to show the signs of age and a visit with my family right now would be timely. We can compare notes on our health and share our plans for the coming months. This is precious time together and it is fabric that becomes more delicate and rare with the passing time.

The winter apples on the old Big Ben tree are ripe for picking. The apples are their best after a couple light frosts but will not stand too many hard ones. I may have missed them already. Now that we have a fire in the stove I could be drying these apples for a winter treat.

This isn't the first time this has happened to me. I have canceled trips at the last minute before.  Most of these went unnoticed and were easily forgotten (and probably just as well not taken.) However every now and then, as now, I regret the missed trip.  There were reasons that I planned this trip. It was part of the pattern upon which my life is woven and not taking it has left holes that can never be mended - I can't go back and complete the weave.  No, these are not major holes, like some in my life have been. These are merely a dropped stitch here and there that nobody would probably notice except for me.

The fact that I feel this way leads me to believe that there is a pattern that my life tends to follow. Not predestined, I think, because I do (as illustrated here) have the power of choice - the final say. But perhaps it's more of a synchrony with another - something. It's more than a script. Deeper than that and more fundamental; more like a form of peer pressure. More like fitting in with another copy of the same fabric. Synching with another weaver, perhaps, who is weaving from an identical pattern.  Somehow I know what that 'other' fabric looks like. I know how it turned out - what it looks like without the flaws. I don't know how I know this, or how I can know this, but I do.

There is another side, now that I think about it. I'm not saying that the 'fabric' to which I am synchronized is perfect. I have 'seen' holes and flaws in this copy that are not matched in my life. Errors that I have not made. Stitches that were dropped in that other copy that I have not dropped in mine. For this I am allowed to take some sense of relief - some sense of pride. But I do not criticize or judge this other work nor do I mock the weaver. I feel empathy in the most fundamental way. Truly, there but for the grace of God, go I.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Give 'em an inch....

Give 'em an Inch 

Five years ago I retired. Three months ago I went back to work. Why?

Since retiring I have maintained some contacts on campus and the other day one of them asked if I would cover for him while he went on vacation. He is the IT guy for a small department and he takes a month off in the summer during the quite time. He hires a person for an hour a day to monitor the servers, network, and his email account - and provide emergency user support. I said; "Sure, what the heck. That sounds like fun." It's only for a month. I can spare that from my busy life.

The first day there I ran into one of the professors who was also the IT Director for the college. After briefly catching up he mentioned that another department was looking for an IT Guy and had been having some bad luck over the years trying to find someone. Would I be interested in talking to them? I said; "Sure, what the heck. That might be fun."

The next day I got an email from the department administrator (whom I knew because she used to be head of HR for the college when I worked there).  Could I stop in and talk about the position?

We scheduled a meeting.

Hiram Smith Hall
The first thing she said when I sat down was; "What can we do for you?" This floored me and while I thought of an answer she suggested we take a tour.  As we walked through the recently remodeled but still classic building, she described the position as well as she could. Her perspective was 'non-IT' but this was the best she could do because they were currently without any IT support and the last person to leave didn't do so 'happily'. But I recognized what the job was - both from experience and from what I'd heard from other people - and believed that I would have no trouble filling it. It was a new slant on my old job so it sounded like it might be fun.

It turned out that what they could do for me was to provide a nice office, very flexible schedule working half time (basically any hours I wanted), a promise of full backing and support (and adoration from - almost - all). The salary wouldn't be all that great but it wouldn't effect my pension or social security. Kind of like a job at Walmart, only much more fun.

So I was torn. If you know me, you know that I don't do well with decisions. I see too many sides and it's hard to settle on one - for good. On the one hand, I have enjoyed retirement. It has given me the time to work on, and become somewhat proficient in, woodworking (custom furniture design and construction), music, writing, and most important; forestry and forest management. But in the end the timing turned out to be right. They caught me during my annual let-down after an intense baseball season (I umpire for high school, legion, and little league) and before I settled into my woodworking, writing, and farming (foresting) routine. So I said; "What the heck, it might be fun."

I started the following Monday.

To be continued...