High Summer

It’s late July, high summer season for garden  harvests, flowers and mosquitos.  It’s also the general timeline I gave myself to make a retirement decision.  I can busy myself picking green beans,  husking sweet corn and pruning flower beds to avoid difficult decisions.  It’s been a great year for green beans.  This is an early harvest.

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Plentiful rain results in beautiful flowers.

IMG_20180708_211918_073 The flowers are pretty even when shared with another of Mother Nature’s creatures.

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Tending to nature’s bounty is a peaceful way to consider options.  Time on the lake fishing is another kind of peace.  My pole’s in the water on a foggy morning.

Lin's fishing pole

This view and the cover photo are of Lake Oahe in South Dakota. http://sdmissouririver.com/follow-the-river/the-four-lakes-and-dams/lake-oahe/

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Water

Managing Without Plumbed Water

I’ve been writing this blog to help me think about how and when to retire.  My decision is made.  I’ll be parting from my employer at the end of November, but I’d change that date if I’d have known my rural well was about to fail. I would have worked for a few more months to put some money aside for this emergency.  

I’m including random water pictures in this piece, because I crave running water.

Wyoming stream

Late one evening about ten days ago, I planned to take a hot bath to relax before bed.  I turned on the faucet in the tub, and turned to look for some bubble bath.  An absence of sound drew my attention back to the tub.  The water stopped gushing from the faucet.

Colorado River

It was the beginning of a cold snap.  My first thought was that the cold air must have frozen the pump.  A friend checked the mechanics in the well pit the next morning.  His repair did not re-start the pump.  Next I called a well repair company  from a near-by town.  They brought a huge truck, and attempted to pull the old pump from the well to replace it with a new pump. 

The  well pit was completely rusted shut.  No amount of pressure over the course of two days budged the well.  I consulted with the company owner about how to proceed.  He recommended drilling a new well.  I choked over the projected costs, then told them to proceed.  That occurred on Friday. Nothing happened over the weekend.

Monday and Tuesday of the next week hovered in the teens and twenties.  The temps finally warmed to the forties on Wednesday. Drilling commenced.

Wednesday: Clay collapsed into the well pit.  Thursday: A steel liner is added to 80 feet.  Friday: The drill reaches 220 feet and finds water.  When the crew attempts to pull the drill out of the well, it hit a rock, and is stuck.

Another weekend and nothing will happen.  I’m now ten days without water.  I invited company for an early Thanksgiving on Sunday.  We will prevail, somehow and have a meal.  Eventually, there will be plumbed water.

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Seasons

There’s been a little snow here early this fall after weeks of wet cold, and now late October warm sunshine.  As the season progresses, I’m progressing toward retirement.  I selected a last workday, and turned in a letter to make the retirement official.  It is a really difficult decision to walk away from students and long-term coworkers.  I’m hopeful that it’s the right time to finish this  part of my life and move on to the next stage.

Today  was a good day to scurry around finishing fall chores.  My son built a horse feeder that will make it easy for me to feed the horses this winter.  He is also sawing and splitting enough wood for me to make it through the coldest part of winter.

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The summer garden produced potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, and turnips.  Tomato cages are cleaned and stacked in the garden shed.  I hauled dead tomato vines, pruned branches, and frosted pepper plants to a compost pile. The warm-season part of the garden is finished for the year.

However, the fall lettuce crop is doing great.  Chard keeps its brilliant color through cold nights. There are also volunteer cilantro and dill plants that survived the early snow.

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Harvesting fall veggies made all the summer work worthwhile.  I expect retirement to give me more days to play in the garden.  Gosh, maybe I’ll have time to start garden plants from seed next year. https://www.seedsavers.org/starting-seeds

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onions & potatoes

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carrots

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turnips

 

 

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Barn Swallows

The barn swallows are gone for this year.  They left sometime in September. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barn_Swallow/id

Image result for Pictures Flying Barn Swallows

I watch for their return Mid-May every year in Nebraska.  I know they will leave end of summer and think I’ll say good-bye this year. I look for them in the evenings, and find they are already gone like quicksilver.  One minute it’s there, the next second it slips through my fingers.  My reflexes aren’t fast enough to see.  Their migratory pattern is fixed in their DNA.  https://journeynorth.org/tm/swallow/News.html

I like to watch the swallows dip and dive on warm summer evenings at twilight.  I imagine it’s possible to see them snapping up mosquitos and flies, cleaning my backyard for human outdoor comfort, as they feed themselves and their young nesting in my barn.

These sleek blue-black birds left about the time I ordered a new black mobile briefcase to roll to new part-time self-employment.  Buying new supplies for  a new post-retirement career is easy and fun.  Writing the letter of resignation to leave my position after 39 years with the same employer is hard.

Over the years, and through many different administers, I worked to provide more and different kinds of  help to students.  Until the last few years, those administrations supported and encouraged my program’s efforts.  They believed in the concept of helping students through many obstacles, enhancing their graduation rates.  The current one doesn’t share that view.  This leader’s focus is public relations, and self-image.

The program I’m leaving has been reduced to near nonexistence. Theoretically, that should make it easier to retire, however leaving is bittersweet.  I’m hopeful the next person in this position will be more articulate, and able to make a case to recover lost services that benefit students.

I’ll build my own mud nest, ready to hatch and fledge a new direction.

See the source image

 

 

 

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Animal Friends

We make commitments to each other in our marriage vows, to our children when we decide to become parents, and to the animals that share our lives.   Dogs and cats sometimes live 15 years, but horses can live 25 or 30 years.  Marriages end through death or divorce, as mine did.  Commitment to my animal friends has been more enduring.

Today’s blog is about the horses that have “peopled” my life.  My husband loves horses. He was the driving force to buy our first horse.  The Appaloosa mare was pregnant.  She gave birth to a big spotted foal.  We provided a home for Jody and Cheyenne until they passed about twenty years later.

Our next horses were another mare for him named Rose, and an old gelding for me named Blue.  Blue was old when we bought him, but he was just right for me.  He was tough to catch, but very gentle to ride.  My kids and many friends enjoyed riding Blue. He lived until he was over thirty-years-old

Blue 1988a

Rose gave birth to six babies over the years; two fillies and four colts.  One of the foals died after a few weeks, but the rest grew into big beautiful mares and geldings.  The last addition to the group was an Appaloosa gelding for my son.  My son was 13 years-old, named his new horse Apache (even though the Appaloosa breed is associated with the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho, it seemed right to name him for a brave Native American nation) and broke him to ride.  https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/appaloosa_horse_breed/#.W46IqPZFyUk

Apache & Rose horses 2005

When my husband and I divorced, we divided the horses.  He took four and I kept three. Apache, one of those three, belonged to my son.  Apache was the “go-to-horse” for new and inexperienced riders.  Like Blue before him, Apache taught many people to ride.  In the drought year of 2012, grass was sparse and dry.  The horses pushed their noses under trees and bushes searching for fresh greens.  Apache punctured both eyes on sharp grasses or tree branches.  We treated his wounds as much as he would allow (a month in the barn alone,  inserting lotions in both eyes is a challenge when the horse patient doesn’t cooperate). We finally turned him back to pasture with the other horses.  He adapted wonderfully, even running blind across the hills with his mates.  He came to the feed bunk when I called him, walking carefully till he first touched the bunk with his nose.  [Apache is the mostly-white Appaloosa in the center of the photo below]

Apache & Jody 2013

This summer has been a tough one for Apache.  He lost weight, became  unsteady on his feet, and as Labor Day approached, went down and couldn’t labor to right himself.  The wonderful veterinarian (the same one that treated his eyes six years ago) said his heart was barely beating.  She gave him something to peacefully end his life .  We said goodbye to this faithful friend of twenty-five years this weekend and buried him on a grassy knoll.

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Hail Storm to Heat Wave

A severe thunderstorm with hail swept though eastern Nebraska  and into Iowa on Father’s Day.  I drove from a family reunion 70 miles west of my house, back toward home late afternoon.  It was sunny and 75 degrees at the family gathering.  As I drove east, the temperature dropped and a rain front became visible on the eastern horizon.  The storm was moving east.  I followed it, believing the edge of the front was far ahead, but as I neared the last turn east toward  home, I caught up with the storm.  There was heavy rain intermixed with hail, beating a tattoo on the car’s roof, hood and  trunk.  At times I could not see to drive and pulled to the side of the road until it cleared a bit.  There was no place to pull completely off the highway as there are no shoulders.  I was a bit shook up after the drive, but neither the car or me suffered any serious damage.

My dog was home alone. She hates thunder and was happy to see me return.

Cell phone May 2017 274 Pickles

A week later, another big storm swept the area, dropping five inches of rain in one day, but no hail this time. It’s a wet year here, but I am fortunate to live on a hill and don’t have to worry about floods, unlike many people who live along the swollen creeks and rivers that feed the Missouri.

The low pressure systems behind all the rain storms turned into a high pressure front that ushered in, and continues to bring, excessive heat and humidity.  I’m not a fan of this part of summer, but my plants and flowers are thriving as well as all the area crops.

As summer marches on, I’m taking steps toward the goal of retiring this fall, along with baby-steps toward beginning a part-time business.  It feels good to see the end of the road.

Road west 2017

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Vacation and back to school

A week exploring western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming ended with a visit to the Dignity statue in central South Dakota.  She is impressive from Interstate 90 as well as from this view at the rest stop where she resides.

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The back of her blanket is beautiful as well.

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It was a peaceful  and fitting finish to vacation to visit Dignity on the hill outside Chamberlain, SD as a storm approached. I’m returning to work for a few more months, coinciding with the beginning of a new school year.  I expect a lot of work-storms during that time period.

I’m planning a new venture for the months ahead after retiring from my current position.  Vacation helped me clarify plans for the future.  Putting a future option in place eases my discomfort with ending a long career just to face empty days as winter sets in.  I’ll write more about my plans in future blog entries.  Today’s entry appropriately ends with a photo of the Dignity’s dedication in 2016.20180806_182046

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