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.

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…

 

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.

Best Boss Ever

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Funny story.

I planned to write this blog after breakfast out with my daughter-in-law, Mati Lamb. Mati’s in process of changing careers, from retail manager to corporate middle manager. At breakfast, she–serendipitously–told me what she looks for in a good leader:

  1. Listen to your people well.
  2. Give people credit for their work, along with public recognition.
  3. Provide opportunities to advance the careers of your people.

While she talked, I thought about my Best Boss Ever and what made him so great. Honestly, I cried when forced to move to a different job in a different state. He was:

  1. Kind. He never failed to show interest and respect for his people.
  2. Honest. He never—no not ever–lied.
  3. Discreet. He never talked to one of his people about another.

If you’re a manager take heed. People stay in jobs (and leave them) because of managers.

As for the lily, it’s my favorite. Hope you enjoy the photo of this year’s bloom.

Next Thursday–third runner up for WORST BOSS EVER.

No Power

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The power went off about 12:30p yesterday and didn’t come back on until sometime around 4p. So no writing got done and everything’s delayed two days thanks to Father’s Day prep. Look for worst and best boss characteristics on or before Wednesday.

Meanwhile, it was SO hot outside, the dogs had to come in. They’ve been sleeping in the house at night and to facilitate our rest and theirs, we bought them new beds with zip-off covers for washing. But would they get in the new beds? They would not.

But yesterday seemed to be the tipping point. Here’s Loki comfy in his new bed.

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And here’s Juno, ditto. The cat in the back is Fat Boy, who thinks he’s a dog.

 

This Year’s First Daylily

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Ta-Da …

I went a little crazy last year and bought a gazillion different daylily hybrids. Honestly, I don’t remember how many different kinds.

When I planted them, I carefully made a label for each, using plastic markers and permanent ink. Sad to say, the ink disappeared and something ate most of the markers.

So I don’t know most of the names. It’s sad to think I’ll have to go through the summer, showing you all these great daylilies without identification.

Coming face-to-face with this glitch in my garden design seems to have made me remember my working days. I’ve been dreaming of my four most memorable bosses–and since I dream only nightmares, not in a good way.

Gotta get these four out of my head! So instead of flower names, I’ll say more in subsequent posts about my one stupendous and three dreadful bosses. No names, of course.

Unanticipated Consequences

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Back in the days when I thought gardening required nothing more than design, water, and weeding, I planned a red garden. Composed of red lilies and daylilies, red columbines, a couple different red clematis, and red geraniums, I looked forward–that first year–to brilliantly red blooms.

The joke was on me. The red lilies–as seen in the photo–bloomed an orange-red. The daylilies bloomed a wine-red. The columbine didn’t bloom at all. The clematis bloomed a rich purple-blue.

Only the geraniums were red.

Oddly enough, after five years, I like this garden better. It’s full of surprises. Not what I’d planned, but good.

 

Fall Over No More

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Found this pair in a junk store four years ago. Problem was, they kept falling over in the wind. Now they have no feet, but they are impervious to the Kansas wind.

Thanks, Jim!

Face Book still sends me birthday messages. Avner, Renae, and Janet–hope you see your HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the blog! Hope this is your best year ever.