31 March 2011

Suncast Horizontal Utility Shed


I've been looking for something to put excess 'stuff' into. Our closets are small and overflowing .... odds and ends we don't use all the time but have need of with easy access. Outside yard tools, water hoses, buckets, potting soil, etc. What ever I did get had to be an outside utility type storage container with locking capabilities. I need it to withstand the excessive heat and weather here in Arizona too, something that won't decompose in a short time. I didn't want a shed ... well, I do someday but ... we live in a rental and I'm looking for things (portable) we can take with us if/when we move on in the future, a concern of Curmudge's as well.

I'd prefer shopping family owned, but in this case I needed the variety of selection family owned doesn't provide. I went on line to one of the big box stores to shop. I found prices ranging from $200.00 to over $600.00. Well, so be it, I need the item or items. Capacity was a concern. Small, medium, or large. I wasn't sure but I know what needs to go into it, so I had a beginning. The 'Rubbermaid Outdoor Storage' container looked to be about the right size, if I didn't want to keep my yard tools in it. At 18 cubic feet, I'd need to get something else to store tools in. It was made of a durable resin compound, good enough to withstand the weather. Easily assembled, the advertising said, no tools needed. It had locking capability, top lift top and two front doors. It was also under 50 pounds empty. Bulky but not excessively heavy. The price was very reasonable, but it wasn't available in the store and would have to be ordered on line and shipped to the store for pickup.

The 'Suncast Horizontal Utility Shed' is larger that the Rubbermaid product (38 cubic feet). Much larger outside dimensions, too. The same type of durable resin compound. The same easy assembly, no tools needed. Locking capibility, less likely to grow feet and take a walk loaded or empty with double the weight of the smaller conatiner. I should be able to put shelves into it and still have room for outside yard tools, too. I could see the assembled porduct in the store, too. The price was also reasonable and with tax less costly than the smaller containter I would have had to order on line and pay shipping.

Curmudge and I talked about it again this morning and decided we needed to get the larger container sooner rather than later. An hour later, we had it home and I was upacking it to put it together. I had it put together in about forty-five minutes.

28 March 2011

some things we keep....

Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Granddad smoking his pipe by the fire, Nana in an apron with a dishtowel in her hand, my Dad pushing the lawn mower, Uncle Jim tinkering in the garage, Mum changing my little brother, aunt Betty stirring a pot at the stove. Family.

It was a way of life. Nothing was wasted. It was a time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, the oven door, a hem on a dress. Things we keep. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more. Waste meant affluence. We weren't affluent, we were the average middle class family.

But then, Granddady passed suddenly, and on that clear cold spring morning, in the warmth of Nana's kitchen, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't anymore. Sometimes what we care about most gets all used up and goes away .... never to return. So, while we have it, it's best we love it, care for it, and when it's broken fix it ....and heal it when it's sick.

Some things we keep. This is true for marriage ... old cars ... children with bad report cards ... dogs and cats with bad hips ... aging siblings, parents and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it.

There are just some things that make life important... like people we know who are special, like a best friend who moved away or a classmate we grew up with. Some things we keep. Good friends are like stars ... you don't always see them, but you know they are there.....

I received this from some one who thinks I'm a keeper.

25 March 2011

TMI

Uncomfortable, gassy and bloated feeling... bummer. I woke up this way this morning. Been this way for more days than I can count. How am I dealing? I've been eliminating foods that mght cause the problem, some leafy green vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, beans ( any kind of beans), caffeine, whole milk, etc.

Trouble is, I like my leafy green vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, and beans. They're calcium rich naturally and everyone needs calcuim in their diets. Now the whole milk might just be the trigger. I seem to suffer the most ill effects after I've consumed it. I've been drinking 2% milk a number of years without an issue, but just recently I started drinking whole milk again. It's probalby the culprit, though I'll have to ask the doctor if I'm not becoming lactose intolerant, too.

My doctors recommended I cut back on caffeine early on. Now I do like my coffee with milk in it, no sugar. I like iced tea, too. Nothing in that, no milk, no sugar, no lemon. I'm not a soda drinker (pepsi, coke, etc.) so soda is not an issue. I've cut back on the caffeine, without relief I might add.

When I first started having this problem, I'd just been released from the hospital after surgery. I didn't think anything of it until it didn't go away, and I'd never had this issue before the surgery.

Doctor sent me for some tests to try and discover what was causing the problem. Well, I had some gastric issues, but nothing serious .... he prescribed Ranitidine 150 twice a day, which is the generic of Zantac 150 which you can also get over the counter.

Smoking will exacerbate the gastric issues, too. I'm a smoker. Lord knows I've been trying to quit a long time. I've cut back, but not enough to be able give it up completely ... Soon, I hope.

I've had some relief from the Ranitidine, but not enough that I don't wake up in the wee hours when I should still be sleeping .... Well, back to the drawing board.

24 March 2011

Mountains out of molehills?

'An unexpected visit from a gloomy or depressed person might have you feeling a little disconcerted, Virgo. Don't try to be too cheerful. It's more important to be a good listener. You might also be a bit on edge and jump at sudden noises. Take care not to read too much into it. This oversensitivity is only temporary and should pass within a few days.' Astrocenter horoscopes 3.24.2011

I think I'm that gloomy (or) depressed person? Yup, I might be correct about that. You see, I'm trying to go back to work full time maybe(??) as an over the road truck driver....

I worry too much, too. I have been under a doctors care since January 2010 for what has been repeatedly touted as an 'unspecified blood disorder'. (More on this in a minute)

Okay, so many, many tests later, a year has passed, lot of things have happened including spending time in the hospital having a splenectomy. Nothing, and I mean nothing has ever been said about Leukemia! (I'll get back to this, too.)

So, let me explain... I was visiting the site of a large trucking company (I was considering)... I read some 'orientation' information which would require me (if hired) to furnish a document explaining if I had been under a doctors care anytime in the last five years. I'm assuming something along the lines of 'return to work'.

Being the up front/honest sort of person that I am ... I thought .... I should have this little wrinkle covered just in case of. So I wrote letters to my doctors (two of them) requesting a letter in return (generic of course, to whom it may concern kind of thing) stating I'd been under their care and have recovered sufficiently to return to work without limitations in my duties.

I didn't figure it was going to be any big deal as the last visit to each of these doctors resulted in a question concerning this very issue. 'Returning to work full time.' At the time I didn't think I would be considering going over the road again, so when the question came up I said I would call or write if the document became necessary as a condition of employment. Each doctor made the necessary notations in my file.

Okay, so the letters written, a call from the doctors office asking a couple of questions which I didn't think unsual, they're pretty good about asking questions, and the letter would be in the mail to me the first part of the week. I received it yesterday, the letter that is.....

I get that it's a form letter, I didn't expect anything different, but what did floor me was the diagnosis (which by the way is optional) Leukemia! The word jumped off the page at me! What? Huh? When did the diagnosis become Leukemia? Was I asleep or something? Did I miss something in all the doctors reports, test/lab results and medical records?

In all the months, all the doctors visits; primary, oncologist, hematology specialist, testing everything.... the word has never been used, always been clearly notated as 'unspecified blood disorder'. Polyclonal Hypergammaglobulinemia maybe? But not Leukemia! There has never been a clear diagnosis.

Someone hasn't realized (or doesn't realize) what I do for work is drive a 'big rig', an eighteen wheeler! The average person doesn't understand when somone like me says... I hold a Class A Commercial Drivers License (CDL A) ... what having that license entails. They kind of look at you with that 'deer in the headlights look', and nod their heads as if they understand.

Over the road, local, regional it doesn't matter what kind of driving I'm going to do. I'm required by law (by Federal Motor Carrier Regulations) to be medically reviewed every two years. In this instance, this was information I read on a company website requiring ... a medical release (or explanation of illness or something) if under a doctors care anytime in the last five years.

I was already having an issue getting hired at an over the road company (but that's another post). A diagnosis of Leukemia will effectively put a stop to driving over the road, locally or regionally! I could loose my CDL over this kind of thing. This, this (sputter, sputter, I'm without words here...) WOW! This puts a whole new twist on everything ...

Do I or do I not have Leukemia? When were you going to tell me? I'm the patient here! I don't have Alzheimer's and I'm proactive/involved when it comes to my health care issues and options. I'll bet someone made a mistake. Yup thats what it is ... someone looked up the incorrect info. (optimistic) I'd really like to think that, but ... I have my doubts (pessimistic). Doctors don't make mistakes, do they? Of course they do, but that's not the issue here. I'll get it squared away in a few days ... one way or the other.

23 March 2011

Something in the Wind

Meg didn't sleep well. She'd been running hard to the point of exhaustion and rarely slept more than four or five hours. Through the sleepless nights the last few weeks, she'd been wrestling with the idea of retiring from the road. But what would she do? Getting off the road was daunting to think about.

In any case, she needed a break and she was going to get that break as soon as she got this load off in Sacramento. It was time to change the way she lived. What would she do next? She had money to do whatever she wanted to do, however she wanted to do it. The chance lottery ticket she'd picked up in Missouri five months before had cememnted her retirement portfolio, though not her immediate plans. She'd wanted to keep working after the windfall.

Willow Creek Ranch is the largest ranch in northern Nevada spanning more than five hundred thousand acres of woodland, open range and mountain vistas. It's scenic vistas bring hundreds of visitors each spring and fall for spectacular photo opportunities. It is home to the largest herd of 'protected' wild mustangs in the southwestern United States. Willow Creek boasts three annual cattle drives, a sanctioned rodeo event, and an excellent veterinary program.

Judd Carson, owner of Willow Creek Ranch, has extended an invitation through Josh Stovers for Meg to visit Willow Creek. It's been some years since the incident on US 50 between Fernely and Fallon. Meg and Josh had been there during that incident. She'd only met Judd Carson the one time and knew of him only by reputation. They had met breifly that rainy night when he'd approached her to trailer his horses safely home to the ranch for him. Meg had wondered why Judd would extend an invitation after all this time......

Nathan McKenzie, Parker Bennett, Jake Richardson, Josh Stovers, Matthew Carson, Julia Carson, Jillian Calhoun and others interact with Meg as she struggles to decide.

20 March 2011

Bumble Bee

I learned yesterday the aggregate hauler I've been working for since May 2010 has closed it's doors. It wasn't a big company, 10 trucks. Four trucks are being refitted for hauling water, two are being retained because they have the necessary equipment for side dump operations, and the final four are being transported to Las Vegas to the auction. Bumble Bee is one of the four going to the auction.

I had an opportunity to drive Bumble Bee. The guys tagged it with this 'handle' because of it's odd colors. It was definitely a unique piece of equipment. A six speed, oddly patterned transmission for hauling 80, 000 pounds? You definitely needed to use the clutch to shift it. I scratched my head over that one.

There was no getting around not using the clutch, something I'm not used to doing anymore. I learned a long time ago how to shift by listening to the engine rpm's. I fought the shifter for two fourteen hours shifts, and I still didn't get it down so I wouldn't go home in pain, with a sore shoulder, neck and back. Fortunately, the clutch was air driven over hydraulic, way easy on the leg, and a far better clutch system than some rigs I've driven in the last four or five years.

Once I had Bumble Bee up and rolling, it was a piece of cake. It had the power to get down the road with forty tons of material. It just wouldn't go uphill. Was that because the user couldn't get a handle on down shifting? Yup, I'll go there. But even if I did get the downshift where I wanted it, it crept up the hill, screeched, and groaned all the way to the top.

I'm sorry Bumble Bee is going to the auction. But I wouldn't wish it on a rookie driver either. I'm sorry, too, this tiny 'family owned' aggregate hauling company has had to close it's doors due to the slow recovery of the economy and diesel fuel costs.

16 March 2011

Horoscopes (powered by Atrocenter)

I find these good morning things on my homepage....
Todays' reads as follows:
"August 23-September 22
Fabulous career break could come your way today, Virgo. It could be a raise, promotion, or even a new job in a new field. It could also involve a completely different location. The work you will be doing may be unlike anything you've ever done before, and that's a challenge. Don't worry. Change is necessary if you're to reach your maximim potential. go with the flow."

A career change? Job in a brand new field? Hmmmm Do I believe? Should I?

Were something like this to happen to me .... It would be awesome!
I could use something positive happening right now!

On the flip side .... I won't hold my breath.

Moving America

The one industry I thought would never let me down ... trucking. Sixteen years ago I went to truck driving school. At this school, 'we' (the class) were assured trucking would always be a solid alternative to fall back on. Everything moves by truck.

I believed that. I worked hard, I passed the licensing requirements and was issued a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). Did that make me a truck driver? No, what it did was give me the basic skills to move forward, learn, refine the skills I'd learned and become a professional.

To keep this precious license there are requirements and standards to be met by law. Every two years, a medical review. Another written test to retain a Hazardous Materials Endorsement. New skills to learn and refine. Hours of Service Regulations to follow and keep track of to prevent tickets and citations issued by law enforcement agencies. Long hours of moving the rig down the road, short time at home, and pay that didn't always pay the bills. I did what it took to become a professional driver.

"Work hard those first couple of years, and you can go home, get that regional or local job and be home weekly or every day/night." I remember being told that. The creme jobs are the regional and local driver jobs. Used to be you could land a job like that after a winter over the road, minimally a year. Getting the over the road experience is the price paid (earned, if you will) for those coveted jobs.

By the late 1990's, things were beginning to change. There were subtle warnings .... drivers would find it more difficult to secure jobs in the coming years. I wouldn't have believed that for a minute back then. The need for qualified drivers was great, companies advertising for drivers ... even recent grads from truck driving schools, truck driving schools overloaded with new recruits. The industry boomed.

2001, everything changed. New laws, new regulations, new criteria to be met just to retain that precious license to keep doing a job that was (and is) overworked, underpaid and lonely. The life of a truck driver is not an easy one. It's a choice we (professionals) make to keep America moving.

Hazardous materials now requires a background check to retain the endorsement. TWIC, a program that requires port workers and drivers to meet criteria and secure a background check to enter seaports around the nation. Drivers Hours of Service changed in 2005 (for the better, I think). CSA2010, another new program (and law) designed to make employers (and drivers) more accountable for equipment and safety regulation violations.

So, is trucking regulated? No and yes. Not regulated from the standpoint of companies growth or how business is conducted. But yes, regulated by driver regulations and compliance. Are professional truck drivers a dime a dozen? Depends on who's point of view you're talking about and listening to.

In 1999, I got off the road for that coveted regional job and ultimately landed in a dispatcher's chair. The company moved out of state and I stayed behind. Driving again, regional went to local, then regional again, then casual and temp jobs. Was I searching for something elusive? Perhaps. I found what I wanted in aggregate hauling. It was fun, it was easy to learn the necessary skills. The hours were just as irregular as over the road and regional trucking had been, but I was home daily.

The economy tanked in 2007. Jobs locally and regionally were getting toughter to get. Companies went belly up (or down) and trucking as an industry took a hit. In an industry I thought would always provide me an income, I've recently discovered hiring criteria has changed immeasurably.

Due to the sagging economy and lack of local aggregate hauling trucking jobs... I wanted to go back over the road for awhile. This was not a decision I made lightly. I have many years of experience. Experience over the road, experience regionally, experience locally. I figured with all this experience .... I'd earned the right to be choosy (at least a little bit) about who I went to work for. So, I started looking for potential employers who might meet my expectations and offer me what I needed to make a living again. Decent equipment, a decent pay package, benefits (medical dental, and vision), paid vacation, and that all important home time. Any other perks for qualified drivers are icing.

I hit a block wall. A driver doesn't just get hired anymore. Not current? What does that mean? I'm a driver and I have experience. What do you mean I need three months of experience 'over the road' in the last two years? A hazardous materials endorsement (that may or may not be required). Medical releases from doctors, if I've been under care anytime in the last five years? Why do I have a medical review every two years then? Perhaps a previous employer has said something damaging in reference to why I left my last job? Not qualified? What do you mean? Is this about the insurance company that writes your carrier insurance?

Wait a minute, here, I've been doing this job fifteen years... I'm scratching my head. Have I blithely been doing the job unawares? I don't think so. Where do I go to get answers? What do I need to do to get current and qualfied again? To keep truckng. Or do I have a Commerical Drivers License that has become useless?

I know I can do the job. I'll do it again. America moves because of people like me.

12 March 2011

Earthquake! Tsunami!

I didn't sleep well the night before last. I woke up very early. The eerie sense of something unusual happening, the oddest feeling, the way the animals were acting.

I wouldn't know until a few minutes later, when I booted up my computer ... saw the breaking headline news stories in bold red banners across my screen .... that something catastrophic had happened, was happening in Japan, more than half a world away.

What was happening might likely have been the cause of my own shortened rest. The birds, the dogs, the cats, the horses ... their actions, my own unrest and edginess .... so often taken for granted and unnoticed, was noticed in a big way. I sensed rather than felt and so did the animals.

The pictures and videos were graphic. Japan. The catastrophic events brought into my home in 'real time' via social media and today's lightening fast technology. Devastation, damage and a nuclear reactor that may or may not be leaking radioactive material.

A Tsunami! A seventeen foot wave slams the northeast coast of Japan not far from the epicenter of the quake causing enormous damage.

Tsunami warnings issued for the entire Pacific Ocean including Hawaii and the western coast of North America (Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska). An unseen wave that moves at the speed of a jetliner. We wait.

A large whirlpool forms off the coast of Japan, perhaps caused by a large fissure in the Earth's surface sucking water into the void.

My kitty's and the other animals were acting strangely. Perhaps, they sensed the catsatrophic events which occurred in Japan .. though hundreds of thousands of miles away. They were clingy and edgy ... either wanted to be in my lap, sitting right next to me, or outside away from the house. The domestic birds in the cage next to my temporary desk were eerily silent. I didn't see birds outside either, and none were singing.

My kitty's would continue to huddle on the bed with me last night. I know they weren't cold, it's been in the 80's here. Today, my kitty's have settled down. They're having a day of watching the little birds in the tree outside the bedroom window or cat napping. The birds in the cage are singing. The dogs have settled down and aren't so edgy. Outside, the birds have returned to forage and sing in the trees. The horses are doing what they do best .... graze and sleep in the shade of the trees along the driveway, and I have noticed ... everything seems to have returned to normal.

10 March 2011

Happy, happy day to you ....

Today is Curmudge's birthday. He turns 68 years young. He's been really ill these last months, but is on the road to recovery. I am pleased with the progress he's made since he was released from the nursing facility he was in after the stay in the hospital.

He is able to get out and about, drive to do errands, and cook his own food. I have to admit, though, he's not a housekeeper. I've had to visit at least three times a week to do his dishes and clean up the kitchen after he cooks. I am so afraid he will get sick again if he doesn't keep after it.

In any case, I've wished him happy birthday and spent some time with him today.

08 March 2011

Creative Writing

Years ago, I thought I wanted to be a writer, so I decided to take some college level classes. One of the first classes I took was creative writing. A required class to move forward toward an associates or bachelors degree. I didn't know if I'd ever get that far in my studies, but this class would get me out of the house three hours a week. Boy, did I struggle with it, too.

I remember an assignment... the teacher asked class to find unusual words in the dictionary. We were to bring five words to each class for three weeks. We were instructed to use the word in a sentence. I've retained only a few of those unusual words.

Another assignment, I remember, was to describe a paper clip in 250 words. As I recall, I didn't do well with this exercise and I don't recall the teachers comments. Imagination? No, I suppose I didn't have any. I was consumed being a stay at home mom, having a toddler, and with the daily things a wife and mother does. I could have easily written about those things, I suppose. But to describe a paper clip? Yup, I struggled and received just short of average grades for the effort.

Sure, I'd learned the basics in junior high and high school prior to that. I did write better than average term papers and essays, but creativity and imagination? Shoot, I didn't have a clue. I could create paragraphs that were connected in thought and carry that thought to the next. But, apparently, creativity and imagination weren't in my arsenal and I don't know that I could manage that teacher's assigmnents today, forty years later. Some days, I'm still as befuddled as I was then.

Challenged? Yeah, probably... Creative? I can't judge that for myself, I'd have to let someone else decide that.... Imaginative? Hmmmmm, maybe, maybe not....

A James Cameron (Avatar) or James Michener (Carribean, Alaska, Hawaii) I'm not.

07 March 2011

Ramblings...

Oh bother! Everyone knows who Eeyore is, right? I need a paying job. Yup, and I'm a worry-wart, too.... lately have strong resmemblance for Eeyore's attitude, too.

I'm out of printer ink and going to lose my internet connection for non-payment. Flip a coin one or the other but not both....choose.

I haven't been staying at Curmudge's, but I'm considering asking if I can take my computer to his place to have internet access...quandry. If I do that then I won't have it where I can work from it. (mine's a desktop PC not a laptop)

On the flip side, if I buy more printer ink... I can write a bunch of posts, print them off... then head to the library (I suppose) or over to Curmudge's to post them. Urgh! using a laptop, I don't like at all....

Today's job leads? Trucking. A refresher commercial driver thing....southwest regional, something I looked into late last fall. I was asked to call back in March. Well, it's March! I need to find out more. I don't even know if I'll be accepted into the program. But I need to wait until the end of the month.

You see.... I'm committed to house sitting and caring for animals March 26-April 4. I'll be taking care of a myraid of animals including my horse, my three cats, six dogs, five other horses, three more cats and two birds....Okay, I've been doing a lot of 'barter' work the last three months and more....it's been paying the bills.

I really don't relish the thought of going back 'over the road' trucking... though, (wistful and wishful) it might be semi-lucrative (for the summer months when freight runs excellently), have me home every week (and/or maybe three weekends out of four). I just can't seem to make up my mind, and I know I have to find a job sooner rather than later... Bottom line .. this equals steady work and steady paycheck.

Would need a 'caregiver' for Gibby, Nilly, and Puzzle ... I asked Curmudge the other day and he said he would and could cover me on that. Thank you Curmudge. I could live with that for the time being until I can get some $$$$ put back, decide what to do next... Yeah, yeah, I know I worry too much about those kitty's, too.

Lord knows, I 'm weary of packing, repacking, shuffling, and being generally undecided about what to do next... I need to make up my mind for me, my kitty's and the horse, and soon.

I sit here... bored,uninterested ... wishing I could do a 'bewitched' thingy, wiggle my nose and have it done yesterday, a month ago? six months ago? last year? when ever! Wouldn't life be grand if we could wiggle our noses and get exactly what we wanted? Better than three wishes from the genie in the bottle? Hmmmmm.

I still feel pretty much like Eeyore these days....

04 March 2011

Wistful memories....

I grew up in an area of the country that has four distinct seasons; spring summer, fall and winter. What was that rhyme we used to say when we were kids? March comes in like a bear and goes out like a lamb? And April showers bring May flowers....

When I was a kid, I remember the snow starting to go away in March, and it got muddy. What fun the mud was! Mum hated it, though. We played marbles. March was a windy month, too. Dad would get us kites to fly or make them for us out of newspaper. He knew just how to make them right so they would fly. Crocus's would poke their tiny heads through the snow and remind us of what was to come.

April was a rainy month, but it was also time to get our forts and tree houses in order. Easter break from school was always a train ride into Boston to stay with the grandparents. Tulips and flowers were abundant in gardens along our street. All the neighbors would band together and yards would be raked, debris would be piled onto a trailer for a trip to the dump. Dad would seed the lawn, turn over the remnants of the the last years' garden, and Mum would let us help with the planting.

By May, the trees would be getting their leaves, tiny buds at first but growing bigger and stronger with each passing day. We could go out to play without jackets now. Mum washed and packed them away.

June was always a nice month if memory serves me. The only thing I truly remember about June was the anticipation of getting out of school. There was sandlot baseball and kick the can to play. We could stay outside until just after dark now, and the days were long.

July and August brought summer thunderstorms. The days were humid and steamy. Dad called them 'the dogs days of summer'. We could bicycle to the beach or go swimming in the brook. Try to stay cool however we could. There was no AC in the house.

We were back in school right after Labor Day and the weather seemed to change mysteriously. There seemed a dryness to the air, cooler mornings, and Indian summer came for a week or two. The Indian summer would be short lived, the winds would blow ushering in cooler temps. Jackets were brought out, shaken out, and tried on for size. The trees began their annual change to brilliant colors heralding the end of the season. What vivid reds, oranges, and yellows there were.

By October and November the leaves were gone from the trees, the rains and snow would come. Just before Thanksgiving, a dusting of snow and Dad would bring down the skis. He would spend some time every night resurfacing them in the basement. Our skis weren't the sleek fast skis of today, they were wooden heavy and fiberglass coated.

By Christmas everything was frozen and covered in snow, again. Ski passes for Gunstock Mountain Ski Area and the Gilford Ski Club came with Christmas. We would take lessons and ski every weekend and day off from school through February.

The change of seasons and equinox tells us (via the calender, too) when it's spring, summer, fall and winter. Have my eyes missed winter this year? Was there one? This is the desert. It's early March and it's 80+. This is winter? I think not. The early predecessor of things to come? Yup, hot, hot, and hotter?

Seriously, I really thought I'd adjust to having two seasons in the desert (comfy and hot). Apparently I haven't .... even after fifteen years.

03 March 2011

I'm considering going back 'over the road'...

Trucking ... In this economy, it's an option for someone looking for steady work/income in spite of the long hours and being away from home/family. I've been off the road (as an over the road driver) for a number of years, but I have memories and I still use that 'road' experience hauling aggregates locally.

Yes, there's lots of freight, plenty of produce to move, ocean containers coming into ports. Trucks move the commodities we use in our homes.

Trucking isn't for everyone. It's hard work and long hours. Being a professional commercial truck driver requires commitment. The realization that one could be away from home and family for extended periods.

It takes a certain type of individual to want to drive big rigs. With this Commercial Drivers License comes a huge responsibility, the responsibility to be professional and to be the best of the best at what you do .... maneuver a big rig along the highways, byways, and roadways of the United States.

Haven't driven in a while? Or left the industry for whatever reason? Want to get back to it? The longer you're unemployed (and/or been away from trucking, no recent/current experience, in other words), you are less likely to get the job. Don't get discouraged though. There are companies who will refresh your driving career and there is criteria to be met. I've been searching websites to find companies that have 'refresher program's' for Commercial Truck Drivers, and I've found a few.

Employers want to see recent experience, and steady previous employment (whether or not it's been in trucking). Recent/current 'trucking' experience seems to be an insurance issue, not whether or not you can/can't do the job at hand. This is a fact of life, though not an insurmountable fact. Steady previous employment shows you have a desire to keep working. A motor carrier who hires you will expect that commitment from you.

Personally the choice of who you go to work for is up to you. Everyone has different needs when it comes to time off/home time, health insurance, and pay. Do you want to be away from home 28 days? Do you want to be home weekly for one or two days? Do you want to be home every day? Tough choices. Choices that also come with the amount of experience you have. Some companies will not hire from certain regions because of the lack of freight going in/out of the area. This creates an issue getting you home for time off.

Pulled from my personal experience and memory bank of information...

Nothing was guaranteed when it came to getting home for that much needed time off. Over the road trucking (48 states) used to require 21 days out, 7 for your dispatcher/driver manager to get you home (28 days/4 days off). Regional trucking, (6-10 states) can get you home in a more timely manner. Generally, 14 days out, 7 to get you home (two or three days off). Short-haul regional (1-5 states) could have you home to your family every day/night or every other day/night (days off during the week or weekends off). Local/daily will have you home every day/night.

(Authors note: These are my personal observations and memories. Questions and comments are welcome. For more information on CDL driver 'refresher programs' I've located, contact me at pegfife@gmail.com.

02 March 2011

This first hour .... and the second

I really like to get up early. I like the solitude, the quiet, the peacefulness. I have the first hour all to myself. There's no TV. The coffee pot gurgles and there's the anticipation of that first cup of wake up.

My kitty's are looking for their breakfast. They're not patient this time of day. If I don't feed them right away, they're under foot, sitting on the counter in my face, or sitting on my desk to get my attention. They get fed first thing.

Over the first cup of coffee, I boot up my trusty computer. I check email (if there's anything new), new blog posts from friends and others. There's a quick visit to Facebook to see what's happening and may be interesting. Then there's the news pages, a must to keep up with current events. Oh yes, have to visit the jobs boards. I'll check these pages more than once today, you can bet on that. You see ... I'm still looking for a full time job.

Then there's the little girl I get off to school Monday through Friday. She's tough to get moving. The shower goes well. I need to keep after her to get dressed in a timely manner, hair brushed, maybe a little bowl of cereal, a glass of juice or milk or something to munch before she goes out the door.

Pour another cup of coffee. Rescue the bird cage from my kitty's, they have this fascination with it. Check on the little girl who's supposed to be getting ready for school. She rides the school bus. Thankfully, the bus stops at the end of the driveway, she doesn't have far to go.

Little dogs off the bed and out to do their business. 2 little dogs back in. It appears the third one has decided to go for a run this morning. Lord only knows when he'll return.

It's Wednesday. There's a newspaper sitting at the end of the driveway. A very thin secion of classified jobs ads, a sign of the times I suppose, and this week's grocery ads. At the grocery I where shop regularly, the first Wednesday of each month seniors get an extra 10% discount on all their purchased groceries. Today is seniors day. I fit in this category.

The horses are snickering at me as I walk out to get the paper. They know it's time to eat, their internal clocks are telling them so, and it's barely daylight. I can see enough now to check the damage from forgetting to the shut off the water last night. It overflowed the barrel in the mini's pen, flooded their pen and the one next to it. A soggy mess, but none the worse for the forgetfulness. I throw hay for all six horses and make sure they all have enough water for the day. It takes just a few minutes. I have it down to a routine.

What's the rest of my day look like? Nothing set in stone, but I know it will be a busy one. I'd like to think I'm organized, but it's more like chaos. A little bit done here and a little bit done there.

It's going to be another beautiful day.