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Monday, July 30, 2012

Canada Geese Beach Party

We saw an unusual sight this past Saturday afternoon at Ouabache State Park. The few times we'd been there before, we had not seen even one Canada goose. That's unusual enough because they are very numerous around here.

On Saturday, though, there were at least a couple of dozen of them on the small lake at the park; and they had turned the lake into a sort of gigantic communal birdbath. They were slapping their wings against the water, diving, rolling, splashing, and flapping. The noise of it could be heard all the way around the lake. We don't know how long the activity had been underway before we arrived, but we watched it for about a half hour.

Then, as if by some signal, the geese all moved to the shore, where they spent another half hour or so pruning themselves. By the time they had finished that and moved onto the grassy area, where they rested or fed for the rest of the time that we were there, feathers were covering the surface of the lake.

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Must you point that camera at a fella when he's bathing?

Then this pair of ducks showed up.

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They seemed an unlikely pair, but they WERE a pair. Can you see the little white string that is dragging behind the white duck? It was stuck to him some way and seemed to be troubling him. But he wouldn't let me close enough to try to help him.

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ken

Ken Bowen, Linda, Pam, Sandy, Janet
Ken, Linda, Pam, Sandra, Janet - December, 1997

Writing that last post, about my 26-year career with the large truck manufacturing company, started me thinking back to those days; and I decided to introduce you to Ken. I worked for Ken longer than I worked for any other boss in all my working life.

Ken was my immediate supervisor for the last 14 years of his career with the company. He is pictured here, on the occasion of his retirement, with the four women who had worked for him at some point during those 14 years. I was the only one of the four who worked under his supervision for the entire 14 years, during which we developed a close working relationship and a deep respect for each other.

Ken, as my boss, is what made my job fun for so many years. Through all the changes implemented by the company during that time, Ken was the one constant. He always expressed the highest confidence and trust in me, and that made me want to live up to his expectations. I'm sure I was a better employee because of it.

Ken exemplified respect for people, even before that phrase was formally adopted as one of our company's values. I know there were many people, including me, who had faced a crisis of one sort or another only to find Ken standing by ready to help and encourage in any way he could. And he never seemed to be irritated by the many interruptions that came his way as people popped in and out of his office with questions or complaints or just a friendly greeting. He set an example of patience and consideration that anyone would do well to emulate.

I count myself blessed to have been able to work with Ken all those years, even though I never quite forgave him for retiring before I could.

Update: I had forgotten that Sandra had also done a blog post about Ken, back in June of 2008. For anyone who's interested in her take on him (she's much funnier than I am), click here.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Retirement Letters

Twelve years ago, after 26 years of employment with the same company, my job was eliminated. "Why am I telling you this now?", you might ask. Well, it's simple. I wasn't blogging twelve years ago.

I was 55 years old at the time, and my job had long since ceased to be fun or rewarding. More and more, the work I had done was being transferred to other company locations. Toward the end of my employment, I dreaded even going in to work. Often, there would be nothing to do on my job, leaving me to make the rounds of my co-workers, asking if they had any jobs I could do for them.

The company had announced that a major layoff was coming. The date of the layoffs, and even the number of jobs to be eliminated, was announced in advance. But the employees who were to be terminated were not given notice.

The tension was thick on the dreaded date. Each employee who was to be terminated would receive a telephone call to come, individually, to the conference room, where the news would be formally delivered by departmental management.

Every ear was tuned to the ringing telephones.

It came as no real surprise to me when my telephone rang. In the conference room, I met for the first time my supervisor's boss, who had come down from the company's Chicago-based headquarters to deliver the news that my services were no longer needed.

After that brief meeting, my supervisor escorted me to the staircase leading to a second-floor office, where each of the terminated employees was to have a mandatory meeting with a representative of an outplacement agency, who would help them find a new position if they so desired. It was a small office where these meetings were taking place, with no privacy if two employees happened to overlap.

Well, when I arrived upstairs, I found the outplacement lady busy with another employee, whose back was to me but who I instantly recognized.  Embarrassed at intruding on what should have been a private interview and not knowing what to do, I stood quietly at the back of the room for several minutes.  Finally, the lady, who had had a clear view of me the whole time, asked if she could help me.  I told her I had been sent up and asked if she'd like for me to step out onto the landing.  She said I could wait in one of the offices up there.  As she got up to show me into another office, I walked over and wordlessly extended my hand to the other employee.  As he took it, his eyes filled with tears; and he gripped my hand as if it were a lifeline.   

My appointment with the outplacement representative didn't take long because I wasn't interested in seeking another full-time job. As I left that second-floor office and descended the stairs, I saw my supervisor waiting for me at the bottom of the steps. It was his assignment to escort me out the door, presumably so that I couldn't steal anything or otherwise cause trouble.

Five weeks after the layoffs, apparently as an afterthought and perhaps in an attempt to make up for the abrupt ending of so many careers, a group retirement luncheon was held at a local eatery for those who had been eligible for retirement at the time of their layoff. My age and company service qualified me for inclusion in that group. Speeches were made and retirement plaques were presented.

As I said earlier, my job had ceased to be fun; and I had begun dreading even going to work. So I welcomed retirement. I confess that I didn't relish the way it was done, but I was glad to be out of that environment.

One of my co-workers was my best friend and fellow blogger, Sandra, from Add Humor and Faith...Mix Well. She survived the layoffs, and we continued to meet regularly for lunch. At some point, about a year and a half after the big layoff, I made a passing comment to Sandra that I hadn't really minded not having my own retirement party. I did, however, regret missing out on the tradition of the retiree's being presented with a book of letters from his fellow employees. Since the circumstances of my rather unorthodox retirement had prevented me from saying goodbye to friends in our local company offices or to contacts from other company locations, those letters would have been an especially nice memento.

A few weeks later, Doug and I had a date to go out for supper with Sandra and her Hubby. We arrived at their home during a heavy rain, so Doug and I sat in the car, waiting for them to come out. Then we saw Sandra waving to us to come into the house. Thinking they weren't quite ready yet and wanted us to wait inside, we grabbed an umbrella and made a run for the house.

As we entered, though, Sandra's Hubby was standing in the kitchen with a video camera pointed at us. Either they were really excited to see us and wanted to record the moment for posterity or something was up.

Well, Sandra had taken my passing remark about the retirement letters and turned it into a personal mission to collect letters from as many of my former co-workers as she could. She led us into the dining room for a little presentation ceremony, seated us in assigned places around the table, and began an on-camera interview with me about my career at the trucking company. Then she followed that up with a reading of excerpts from the letters she had collected.

What a friend, eh? Everyone should be so blessed.

I'm posting that video in its entirety. I couldn't get it to post in one video, so it's in two parts. The total length of the two segments is about 18 minutes. I realize that some of you won't have the time or inclination to watch the entire video. Don't feel badly about that. But there may be some who will find it fun.

Since our careers go back a ways, you will hear references to such things as shorthand tests, mag card typewriters, and keypunch operators.

You'll also get a glimpse of what a thoughtful, fun, and creative friend I have been blessed with in Sandra.




Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Good Bad Day

Saturday, we decided to go on a mini-vacation to Chain O' Lakes State Park. Before embarking on the hour's drive to the park, we stopped at Subway to get sandwiches for a picnic lunch later. After arriving at Chain O' Lakes, we spent about an hour driving through the park, trying unsuccessfully to find a suitable place to enjoy an afternoon of reading.

We finally gave up and decided to head for Ouabache State Park, about an hour away. When we arrived there, we found that a wedding party had reserved our favorite spot; and they were using every inch of it. We walked partway around the lake, looking for something else that would work. Nothing. Then we went back to another picnic area...one with no view of the lake...but we didn't really see what we were looking for there either. Lots of trees and big limbs were down in that area, damage suffered during a big storm a couple of weeks ago.

It was midafternoon by then, and we still hadn't eaten our Subway sandwiches. Neither of us was really hungry, so we just decided we'd save the sandwiches and consider them to be supper instead of lunch.

After leaving Ouabache State Park, we drove back to the nearby town of Bluffton and followed the River Greenway for awhile, thinking we might find the kind of place we were looking for along there...a place to enjoy our picnic or to sit and read or both. But we didn't find it there either.

So then we decided to go to one of our favorite eating establishments...the hospital cafeteria in another nearby town...and just get a bowl of soup. Then we'd have our Subways when we got home. But the soup at the hospital that day was cream of mushroom. That isn't a favorite for either of us, although the soups in that particular hospital cafeteria have never disappointed.

We decided to skip the soup and head for home, where we enjoyed our Subways in front of the television set.

Doug compared our experiences Saturday with the time we drove four hours to Houghton Lake only to turn around and come right back home. 

On the surface, one would think we'd had a bad day. But it was a GOOD bad day since it was a pretty day for a drive, and we were both having a good time in spite of our many disappointments.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Blast from the Past

Back in 1967, some 12 years before I became a Christian and 20 years before I was married, my best friend and I went to Phoenix on a little vacation. Being young and single, the vacation included participation in the nightclub scene.

One night spot in particular, Magoo's, had been highly recommended to us as having great live entertainment. I believe we went there more than once during our stay. And whoever it was who had steered us there was absolutely right about the great entertainment. Country group Ray Corbin and the Raymen put on an outstanding show.

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Ray Corbin and the Raymen at Magoo's in Phoenix
The band granted me their autographs, on request.

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Another highly popular club in the Phoenix area was JD's.

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You can see on the sign that Ray Corbin was performing at JD's, as were the Everly Brothers.

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On the night that we went to JD's, John Davidson and several of his friends were seated at a table near us. Ah, and if you don't remember John Davidson, I've seriously dated myself.

Around that time, I became a huge fan of country singer, Waylon Jennings. Ray Corbin and Waylon were friends and contemporaries. This was before Waylon grew to his ultimate fame in country music's "outlaw movement." Although Waylon performed regularly at JD's, I don't remember seeing him there. Ironically, it was back in my home state that I saw him in concert. It must have been 1968 or so when Waylon Jennings and the Waylors appeared in concert at Buck Lake Ranch in Angola, Indiana.

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Waylon Jennings and the Waylors at Buck Lake Ranch, Angola, Indiana
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Waylon Jennings and the Waylors at Buck Lake Ranch, Angola, Indiana
I still remain a fan of much of Waylon's music, although I confess that most of what I enjoy is from his earlier career...songs like "Love of the Common People," "The Chokin' Kind," and "Young Widow Brown." Much of the music created during his days in the outlaw movement is outside my comfort zone; but, no matter what he's singing, I never fail to marvel at that amazing voice of his.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Evolution of Hair...Mine, That Is




This is a picture of me as a little girl. The blond hair was natural. The curls were not. No eyeglasses; no contact lenses. Just half blind and no one knew.



This is my high school senior picture. The mousy brown hair color was natural. The waves were not. The glasses were stylish then. Trust me on that.






This was taken some time after high school. The straight hair was natural. The blond color was not. Glasses replaced by contact lenses.

This one was taken in 1986, when I was 42. That woman in the picture with me, with the thick dark hair with a tiny patch of gray in the front, was my great-aunt, who was almost 77 years old. The hair color was natural for both of us.




This one is from 1991, shortly before I began coloring my hair. I had thought I was okay with turning gray...until some thirty-something guy we met on a trail in the Smokies seemed to think I was old enough to be his mother. I was...but that's beside the point.

 



This was taken in 1997. Look, Ma...no gray!








This one was taken in 2002. The hair length was getting shorter, and I had stopped getting it permed.


This was my first profile picture for my blog, taken in 2010. Glasses are back. Contacts could no longer fully correct my vision.
And this is the latest photo of me. It was taken a few days ago. I decided in January that it was time to see what was under the hair color. It has taken several months to grow it out. It's still a shock to me when I walk past a department store mirror and see my reflection. Fortunately, I don't shop much.

Recently, Doug dropped me off at the door of a restaurant so I could go in and get a table while he parked the car. But then he couldn't find me when he came in. He didn't recognize me with my gray hair.


The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. (Prov. 16:31)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Some Memories Live On In The Wrong Minds


We took Doug's brother, Dennis, out for supper Saturday night, to celebrate his birthday. And he just had to remind me of an incident that I had tried to banish forever from my memory.

Many years ago, we had met a large group of friends, including Dennis, for dinner at a very nice restaurant prior to all of us going together to hear the Cathedral Quartet in concert. The restaurant featured a dessert buffet...a very long table filled with all kinds of tasty treats.

Being an avid chocoholic, I headed straight for the chocolate tort, beautifully displayed on a lovely pedestal cake stand.


Although the tort had already been cut into individual servings, no one had yet taken a piece. Undeterred by the prospect of being the first, I picked up the serving utensil lying next to it and, with that in my right hand and a dessert plate in my left, attempted to serve myself a piece of that tort.

I had barely touched the cake stand with the serving utensil when it collapsed, falling off the back side of the table with a clatter and the dull thud of chocolate tort hitting carpet.

Of course, everyone at my table was saying, "Did YOU do that?" And those at other tables were just staring and pointing and whispering to their companions. At the commotion, a man came running from the kitchen, looking from me to the mess at the dessert table.

Hesitantly, I asked, "Do you work here?"

He again looked from me to the disaster at the dessert table and said, "I USED to," as if he was about to lose his job because of me.

But, in the end, he was very nice about the whole thing. It turned out that the pedestal on that cake plate had been cracked. It broke in two at the first touch of the serving utensil, dumping the tort onto the floor and embarrassing me beyond words.

But my "friends," as well as my brother-in-law, have very long memories and are not at all shy about reminding me of the incident.

 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Clouds

I looked out the kitchen window this evening and saw this glorious white cloud above the cemetery across the road from our house.

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Above that beautiful white cloud was a menacing dark one.

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But, within a few minutes, both were gone...and with them, any hope of much-needed rain.

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