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…

 

Lesson in Persistence No. Two

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I’m at that point with my work in progress (WIP). Time to chalk it up as a bad experience, lessons learned, and move on. Maybe I’ll give up writing altogether–or so I tell my fabulous editor/coach.

No, no, no, she emails back. You’re closer than you think.

Okay. Maybe.

And while I’m cogitating, Jim asks me what I want to do with the ‘old tree out back’. This poor thing was a 40 foot cottonwood that has been here since before the acreage was divided and the house was  built some 30 years ago. It’s been dying a slow and painful death since we moved in. This spring, Jim cut the tree down and left the stump.

I thought we’d poly it and use it as a garden seat. I neglected to say the words out loud to Jim, and he left it be. As you see, the tree persists in being something. Not the cottonwood it was. Maybe a cottonwood bush. And surrounding the stump are little trees popping out of the grass. Like so.

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I have this notion that I should be able to write three or four novels a year.  And I have, but not different books. I’ve rewritten the same book, three times going on four.

Now here I am, at the start of the second year, deciding whether to persist. Have I learned to be more tree-like?

Worst Boss Ever: Second Runner Up

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This boss arrived after the departure of my worst boss ever. More about her next week.

At first, he was a breath of fresh air. Super positive guy. We’d had a tough time, but now he was here, things would be–well–wonderful. Yes, he knew nothing about our industry, having worked in some other industry for his entire work-life. But not to worry. He was a fast learner and–after all–he had us to help him.

My mother would have called him a cockeyed optimist. He always smiled. Every problem had a solution. Life was amazing. The team was the absolute best. Things just couldn’t get better.

Right until he called me on the carpet over a conflict with one of the sales people.

Long-story short, putting proposals together wasn’t in her wheelhouse and she wanted me to take on that part of her job. I said no.

Whatever it takes, my boss said. I don’t have time, I said back. What do you want me to give up? His reply to me was crystal clear. Give up nothing. Do it all.

The dark side to a perpetually positive person is that they rarely say ‘no’ to a request. And this guy never said no. As his ‘big project’ person, I was hit hardest. I have lots of fond memories. Working till midnight every night. Working every weekend for months. Spending 60 hours on more than one three-day holiday weekend to get a ginormous proposal written. Never getting comp time. Never taking a vacation. In fact, when I finally decided to retire, I had three years worth of vacation time owed me.

Did he get me more help? Eventually, although he explained that the need for extra staff was due to my failure to manage my time.

I think positive people are great to be around–unless their positivity makes them blind to reality and the constraints of the 24-hour day.

I still have nightmares…

Next Thursday, worst boss ever.