Country Roads

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With the cooler weather, Jim and I have been walking a bit in the evening.  Yes, it’s a gravel road, but by the time we get out there, most everybody’s home. Less traffic means less dust.

The other evening–maybe Monday–a new sight astonished us. Speed limit signs. Someone had planted A 35 MPH sign at the corner of our gravel road–running north and south–and the chip-and-seal road– running east and west.

Well, we said to each other, people drive 50 or 60 MPH on that nice chip-and-seal. Sort of dangerous when a car is coming the other way. Can’t always see them over the hill. Although neither of us could imagine driving a mere 35.

But as we turned to head home, we noticed a speed limit sign on OUR gravel road.

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We thought about it for a bit, the question being, why 40 MPH on gravel with its potholes and skid-promoting surface, but 35 on smooth, easy to drive chip-and-seal?

The wisdom of the country commissioners? Asked tongue in cheek …

Now here’s the next question. Who will enforce these speed limits?  In almost 20 years here, I’ve never seen a police car lurking to ticket miscreants on our country roads.

Oh and that beagle in the middle of the road? Not my dog. He’s one of three following us when we go for walks.

 

 

Walking on Gravel Roads

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My husband tells me I complain too often about too much. And it’s true. About five years ago, my New Year’s Resolution was to complain more often, a promise that has expanded to unimagined heights.

In fact, I once complained about the number of clicks involved in an online shopping pay-you-back scheme, and the only response I got was from a young ‘un who said: “Old people. Always complaining.”

But here’s the thing. I like to walk. When I lived in town, I’d take a three mile walk in the morning before work and a three mile walk in the evening after work. Kept my stress levels under control. Gave me something to look forward to every day. Loved the endorphins.

Plus the chance to march through my neighborhood, waving to people I knew by sight, stopping to visit with friends.

But in 2000, we moved to the ‘country.’ And I thought, yippee, great place to walk.

I was so wrong. The exurbs do not come with sidewalks. Dogs–some friendly, some not–wander about. Walking on gravel is not pleasant. Easy to twist an ankle or foot. And the dust … Good heavens, either wear a mask or turn your back when a car or truck goes by.

Three years ago, maybe four, Jim got tired of hearing me complain. He went to the county commissioners and asked if our road could be treated with dust control, preferably a chip-and-seal.  That would’ve given us a smooth surface for walking and reduced the dust by about 80 percent.

Our commissioner promised everything and gave us nothing. So here I am, 18 years of walking–not very often–on gravel roads. And yes, I have a treadmill (boring), and those walk-in-your-house DVDs (irritating). I could drive six miles to walk around the lake, but then there’s the cost of gas and the hassle of taking the car …

I guess I do complain a lot.

Simplify Healthcare, End Greed

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The way folks talk about healthcare seems overly complicated to me. Maybe that’s because I worked in healthcare–sort of–for more years than I like to count.

The problem with healthcare in the US is profit. Too many middlemen have their fingers in the healthcare pie. And we let them.

Say you’re sick and go see the doctor. You have insurance that you’ve paid for in premiums. Your insurance tells you to pay the doctor a bit up front. Your doctor sees you, helps you, and then …

The provider bills the insurance that covers you for the premiums you’ve paid. Your doctor needs a special ‘insurance’ clerk, able to ‘work the system’ so that your insurance pays. Seem complicated? You’re right.

Why so complex? Simple answer. Insurance isn’t there to help you or your doctor. Insurance is there to make a profit.

How much simpler would it be to have single-payer healthcare? You show up with a health problem and the provider helps you. The doctor gets paid. And no one makes a profit.

Now before you start singing hallelujahs, single payer health isn’t free health. It’s paid for in taxes. But you and your employer will no longer pay the premiums, copays or deductibles that support insurance company profits.

When no one’s making a profit, healthcare gets cheaper, and people have a better chance of getting the help they need.

Oh, the flower? An African Violet hybrid called Bob Serbin.

Sunny Sunday

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How quickly plans can change! I tried taking a photo of THREE blooms, but one fell off during the ‘arrange to be prettier’ process.

I tried finishing up my outline board for my current work in progress. But first the printer stopped working and then I was hack-attacked. Two days later, and five hours remote chatting with experts, I’m finally back to square one.

No point in working now. I need to go for a walk.

The Dog Days of Summer

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I usually think of August as the Dog Days of Summer. Don’t you? But this year, the heat has moved in way early.  We’ve already had three heat advisories and it’s only mid-July.

And just in time to prove my point, here is Juno, hiding from the garden hose as I wander around, trying to make sure all the annuals and tender shrubs get enough water.

 

 

Let Go to Keep Going

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I went out back yesterday, and in addition to experiencing the ridiculous heat index of 100 plus degrees Fahrenheit, I experienced dismay at seeing cottonwood tree leaves. Yellow and on the ground. My six-year-old trees, stressed to the max, and it’s only mid-July. Darn.

Cottonwoods, native to the Midwest, typically lose leaves in late summer or early fall. Or when it’s  extremely dry or unusually hot. No, it’s not late summer. But the heat and lack of rain has caught up with the trees. They’ve shed about 10 percent of their leaves, which helps the tree survive. All the extension office websites I checked agree that the trees aren’t in danger. Yet.

Is there a lesson in that? For me? For you? For the country?

‘Nuff said.

Worst Boss Ever: And the Winner Is…

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Remember? I was looking for a boss who completed her sentences. The search was a little like buying a house based on the desire for a fireplace and a bay window, but ignoring everything else.  I did that once, too, and subsequently spent thousands of dollars on the foundation.

WBE was my boss for more than a decade before she left the company. A long, unrelenting, and never-to-be-forgotten decade. I still have flashbacks.

WBE started off by being more than two hours late for my job interview. I shoulda known, right? Why did I wait? I really wanted a boss who completed her sentences. What I didn’t pick up on–given her lovely verbosity–was the charming nature that spelled bully. She seemed so smart, so filled with precise vision, so nurturing, so much the perfect person to have as boss and mentor.

I should’ve guessed when she called me on the phone to tell me I ‘got the job’, “Listen,” she said, “either it’ll work or it won’t and you’ll be gone.” But yeah, I was desperate.

WBE loved to ambush people at staff meetings. She had one meeting and one target every week. That person who was ‘IT’ got a seemingly innocent question. Why did you do this? What happened to the stats on that? Are you prepared for this aspect of the site visit? Why is the call-wait time this many seconds.

And the issue at hand always related to a never-before-questioned problem. So, of course, IT wasn’t prepared. Lots of stammering and stuttering followed, leading to the WBE’s pay-off. The humiliating lecture. The unnecessary advice. The admonition to change. Or else.

I once sent her an email with the subject line: AMBUSHED! asking if she could please prepare the person who was IT.

Making me IT for several weeks thereafter.

WBE was also significantly late for every meeting everywhere about every subject. When she arrived–no matter how late and no matter whose meeting it was–everything had to start over. And in public venues–community meetings, sales meetings, conferences– she always introduced herself as Dr. So-and-so with her full business title. Embarrassing. And total insensitivity to social cues.

Did we complain to the CEO? You betcha. But for more than a decade, our complaints were ignored because, like bullies everywhere, it appeared as though WBE’s tactics brought strong financial and quality results.

In school and at work, experts tend to intervene with the victim instead of the bully. Here’s a shout-out for more bully-interventions. In the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, embracing this as another aspect of harassment seems only right.

 

Goodbye, Goodbye

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Jim and I moved to the acreage south of Louisburg in 2000, and back then, had long drives to work. Twenty miles one way for him. Thirty-five miles one way for me. One hundred ten miles per day (55×2), five days a week.  That’s a lot of gas.

Jim’s solution to the issue of keeping the cars filled with gas was to buy a 500 gallon gas tank, creating our own gas station.

You’d think we’d get a premium on the price of gas, but like the stock market, it turned out to be impossible to ‘time’ the price of gas. Over the fourteen years of buying gas in bulk, I’d estimate we paid about ten percent more than everyone else buying gas by the tank. And that doesn’t include such items as Sta-bil, an additive to keep the gas from going bad.

When I finally retired, we moved the tank to the ‘way-back’ acre and I tried to build a garden around it. The Garden of Rusty Things. Despite the clematis and daylilies, still ugly, and the garden was uproariously unsuccessful thanks to weed-creep.

And then one day, Jim up and sold the tank. Goodbye. Goodbye to red and ugly and rusty.  Although the convenience of having our own gas station could not be beat.

Was there a life lesson in all this? I don’t think so…