Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Confession and Announcement (sorry - it's long)

It happened the day after my birthday. My contract position abruptly ended on March 18th. I shouldn't have been surprised - the contract never closed and I was bored beyond words.

I started on December 1st and was told after the first of the year, things would get crazy. January came and went with very little for me to do. When I asked the directors if there was anything I could help them with, my supervisor told me not to approach them. If they needed help, they would ask me. This style of working is totally opposite from what I've ever done before - I don't like to sit around and wait for somebody to come to me.

Then I was told February would be really busy. More of the same boredom that month. I was disillusioned and told the project manager. He gave me a little work but not enough to keep me busy.

By March I was looking for another job. Yes, this position met expenses, but barely. And I had partial health insurance, but no other benefits, and the commute ate a lot of gas. So..on with the search.

Then on March 18th they let me go. I had nothing in the works as far as assignments and didn't know what I was going to do. I went straight to the unemployment office and opened a new claim. Becuase I had been working for $10/hour for so long, that's what my benefits were based on. I would be drawing $156/week. Who in the H can live on that for gosh sake???

I also applied for food stamps at the suggestion of my daughter. Again - because I've been responsible and current on all my bills, etc. I would be granted $16/week. Why even bother???

I was facing losing my home, which certainly isn't the end of the world but not the way I want to leave here. And I wasn't going to abandon my animals no matter what. Gail came to my rescue and offered me a place to live in trade for labor, and I could take all my animals. Knowing that I had a place to go if it came to that, took a huge weight off my shoulders.

I called the bank and informed them I wouldn't be sending them any more house payments. They sent me a package for a loan modification, which I sat on for a couple of weeks.

Then I sent out an email with my resume attached to it asking for any leads. Some of my friends responded with connections and information. As it turns out, an old friend I used to work with ten years ago told me to take a look at his company's web site to see if there was anything I was interested in. At first, I didn't see anything but digging a little deeper I saw they had just posted for an Executive Assistant position, which I was qualified for.

I applied for it on line that night and emailed my friend. He responded the next morning to say that he had handed my resume directly to the CEO himself. A week later I was called in for a screening interview with the HR folks. Then bing, bang, boom I was called in the next day to meet with the big man himself. I got the offer that afternoon as the Executive Assistant to the CEO of Intuit Health. The offer was not too far below what I was earning when I was layed off over two years ago, and the benefits are fantastic. I just started this week and am still learning my way around the building.

I know everything happens for a reason, but I think I really hit the jackpot this time. I've got a lot to learn and feel like a kindergardener, but that will pass. The commute is fantastic and with gas prices, that's a plus by itself. It's still soaking in that I have a real job that's all mine and my life can get back to "normal". I can save money like crazy to try to make up for more than 2 1/2 years not contributing to a retirement plan or saving anything at all. I can move ahead with home repairs/improvements. And I won't have to worry every day about when this ordeal is ever going to end! It has ended and a new chapter has begun. It's been a very long time coming and as soon as I realize I'm not dreaming, I think I'm going to be just fine.

I've informed my friend that when I get my first paycheck, I'm taking him out for a steak lunch. Now that's significant for me to offer because he knows how I feel about people eating cows! He laughed...but accepted. Happy ending for me. Finally.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Not the Announcement I Had Planned

I hope you all had a nice Easter today. Mine was very busy, but nice.

I was going to tell a confession and follow up with an announcement, but I have something else to share.

Lily had twins early this morning! Yes, she went into labor last evening and I was a nervous wreck. I emailed Wendy of Beyond the Sidewalks and she reassured me. I tried staying in the barn all night, but I think I was making Lily more nervous so finally went to bed when she wasn't even dilating by 11:30 p.m.

Here she is in labor with faithful Lola at her side.

I got up early this morning and was out in the barn before 7 a.m. to find twin little babies - one girl and one boy. Their little cords were still very wet, but their fur was mostly dry so I'm guessing they were born between 4 - 6 a.m.

I've named the black and white one "Bindi", which is what Steve Corwin named his daughter who is carrying on his work. Bindi is an Aboriginal name that means small girl.

I've named the little buck "Fizz" (he's the white one). I was trying to think of a name that had some significance for Easter, or Sunday. I thought of the number 7, since Sunday is the 7th day, and then that made me think of 7 UP and fizzy drinks. Hence, Fizz.

Fizz (or little Fizz Man)...

These little babies are a mere 14" end to end and about 9" tall at the shoulders. I'm not sure how much they weigh, but they feel like about 3 pounds, if that. They are TINY! I asked Laura to hold my cell phone beside Fizz so I could show something of a size comparison. It's all I had, but maybe you'll get an idea of how small they are.

Lily did such a good job and is very protective and attentive - especially to little Fizz. Bindi seems to be quite independent and brave. Fizz sticks right by Mama's side at all times!

Laura and Alissa came this afternoon to see them. They have spent hours in the barn with the new arrivals.

Lola is no longer the baby and has been such a good girl today. She is already acting protective over her siblings when she hears them cry. She has left Lily and the babies alone all day and not bothered them, other than to check on them from time to time. Usually, she is right by Lily's side.

I felt so bad for Lily yesterday and last night. She was so huge and I'm sure she was quite uncomfortable. Her bloating has gone down considerably and she has been eating and drinking a lot of water. Both babies have been nursing and then taking long naps, so I think everybody is doing very well. I'm just glad it's over with and I'm sure Lily is too.

They are all tucked in for the night and I'm ready to hit the hay myself. I have a very important day tomorrow (a little tease)!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter

I hope you all have a nice Easter. I have a confession and an announcement coming soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Multiple Tornadoes Yesterday

We had been warned by the National Weather Service on Friday that Saturday was going to be a potentially very dangerous day, and brother did it turn out to be true.

The day started out with a lot of wind and heavy, gray clouds. The creepy kind of weather that can happen here from now till September. Tornado season is always worrisome.

My plan for the day was to go to the feed store and buy the chickens and goats food, and then go to Gail's to work for a couple of hours. Then I was going to stay inside and craft for the first time in ages. Well, so much for plans. While at the feed store, the owner told me I needed to go straight home and "batten down the hatches". So I called Gail and asked if she minded that I put off the work for another day, which was fine by her.

I came home and filled containers with water. If the power goes out, I can't get water from the well. Then I got my weather radio out and decided to clean the house. I spent a few hours dusting and cleaning and watching out the windows with no major change in the weather. I thought "I could have had my work for Gail finished by now", and decided to go outside and mow the lawn. I mean, it was very windy and gray but that was all - at that point. Then it started to rain and I went inside.

The television was on and there was a big notice that Sanford (my town) was under a tornado warning. Gail lives 20 minutes south of me and I called her to make sure they were aware. They were and she had put the animals in a safe room. We got disconnected and from that moment on, it got really intense.

I didn't lose power and was able to stay glued to the television and kept looking out the windows. I had things in the bathroom, ready to take the animals and myself in there, but couldn't stay away from the storm coverage. There were multiple tornadoes that hit one after another in a line. They went from Gail's area up through Raleigh and northeast to Virginia.

Because Laura was working in Raleigh, I knew she wasn't aware of the tracking so I called her. Long story short, she had left work, literally drove straight toward one of the big tornadoes and was pounded by quarter-sized hail. She turned around and went back to work, where she was safe. If she hadn't, she would have been right in the middle of one of the worst ones. She actually had seen it. So, she was safe.

I called Jeremy (Alissa's daddy) to see if they were ok, because Alissa was with him in another area. He was fine, but he had been to Lowes where I used to work just 10 minutes before it hit. Here is what Lowes looks like now.

I was able to get up with Gail and they had been spared. I was on the phone the rest of the afternoon and evening making and receiving calls to check on friends. There was a lot of damage left by the storms. The National Weather Service even said that these tornadoes were some of the worst ever to hit North Carolina. I mean, we get tornadoes, but not a series of long-lasting ones like yesterday.

I'm good in a crisis, but by the evening when I had time to think about it all, I could feel myself getting emotional about all the "what if's". I thank God that my family and friends are safe, and that I am too.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Little Vegetable Garden

This year, I am going to be serious about growing some of my own vegetables. Every year I plant a few tomato plants, only to have them eaten by my herd of deer. Well this year will be different. I love fresh vegetables but don't often drive to the farmer's market mostly because it's inconvenient. But the food we buy in the grocery stores is full of chemicals and I firmly believe that's why cancer is so prevalent. Even the "high quality" pet foods are full of bad stuff. Have you ever looked into what dog food really is and how it's made? But I'm getting off subject.

While helping Gail's husband clean up a rental property, I brought home some things that were headed for the landfill. You know me - always have an eye out for free stuff I can repurpose in one way or another. Well, there was the ugliest "light fixture" in the kitchen. When John took it down, I asked if I could have it. It was nothing more than a box built out of really thick pine wood surrounding some fluorescent bulbs. I immediately saw potential for a raised bed. So I dragged the thing to my car, brought it home and put it in place.

Now Gail and John are very generous folks, and they let their employees at the nursery take soil from their compost pile for free. This compost is actually high grade soil with fertilizer in it that they use for growing the plants they sell.

Now check out my little garden that Alissa and I planted today.

The frame was free, the soil was free, and I've basically worked off, or will work off the cost of the plants, so they're kind of free. I've put the frame next to my fence, which will be a perfect support for the climbing veggies I'm planting (some beans and cucumbers). There's plenty of room for tomato plants and some green peppers. I've even bought some varieties of lettuce. If nothing else, I can live on tomato sandwiches this summer. I'm also going to put some other vegetables in pots in the back yard where they will be safe from the deer. Zoe and Blair, on the other hand, are quite another story. I'll be taking precautions so they can't dig up all my plants.

Here is my little garden helper taking a break. She said she was digging for treasures in the driveway.

I am taking part in the Sustainable Living Project hosted by Jan at Thanks for Today. Please go visit her blog and read more about this project. While you're at it, hop over to Garden Girl's blog and read some very inspiring posts about sustainable living and the importance of growing our own food, or at least part of it. She has a lot of very important information.

You know me - ever the tree hugger. While I usually come at it from an animal right's perspective, it's all about respecting nature in all its forms and taking care of Mother Earth...not just taking. Change one little thing that you do. It will make a big difference to our planet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Is She Prego or What?

Lily has gotten so much wider since I took these pictures over the weekend. This morning it was a little difficult for her to get up. I'm expecting a baby any time now, or maybe two. She's really huge but it doesn't show in these pictures.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Silly Smudge

I am continuing to pare down my belongings and have sold some of my antiques. One particular piece is a very unusual grain bin, which has three sections inside it. It's full of Christmas decorations!

The minute I had it emptied, Smudge just had to get inside one of the sections. Now all my kitties like to get inside containers, but not like Smudge. He is so funny.

And I have to brag on him in particular. When I took all the cats to a rabies clinic last Saturday, the vets immediately remarked on how huge...and beautiful...Smudge is. He's such a special cat and really lucky to be alive. He can be contrary at times, but I love him a lot.