Tag Archives: work

No big update

Not a lot is happening around here. I have a couple of big projects at work that kept me busy during the requirements phase over the past few weeks and will keep me really busy in development in May and June. I’m also taking a some online classes, and the work for those has filled the rest of my time. Jay is trapped in the true project from Hell. It won’t end until the end of the summer — if then. I hope he lasts, because before this awful project, he really liked his job.

Blue and Guin are down in Olympia. Leslie, Blue’s trainer and soulmate, has taken him on a two-month trial. So far I think it’s working out. I hope! Guin is being boarded at Leslie’s. Guin can’t stay here by herself, because she’ll go through fences. If Leslie decides to keep Blue, then she’ll see about rehoming Guin — an iffy prospect, because she’s poorly built and really stiff in front. If she can’t rehome her, then she’ll continue to board her. If Leslie doesn’t keep Blue, then they’ll both come back here. I’m happy for Blue — Leslie really is the perfect home for him — but I miss my Guin girl. Still, if there’s a better home for her (and a first-refusal contract in place), I would let her go as well.

Pax and Pflouff are doing fine. Pax’s IBD had a mild flare up. That proves that the IBD wasn’t entirely due to the stress that Aslan put on him — but that it flares so rarely, it shows that Aslan exacerbated it. Pax’s breeder has a REALLY nice litter in whelp, and there’s part of me that’s tempted. Pflouff is still too young though. She’s 18 months old and maturing quickly, but she’s still a “Much.” Adding a puppy would be too (and two!) “Much,” and I don’t think we can handle “Much” more.

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March

I haven’t been terribly motivated to update recently. Nothing bad has happened — just don’t have anything to talk about.

My contract was extended at work, but I don’t know for how long. I was feeling pretty good about it until last week when they started laying off FTEs (including one of my best friends). It feels weird that I — a vendor — still have a job, but they’re laying off FTEs. Intellectually I know that they view FTEs and vendors entirely differently, and I know that although I’m expensive, I can do the work of more than one FTE because I’m able to focus solely on projects. Emotionally, though, it’s tough to fess up to someone who is 30 days from unemployment that I’ve been extended.

Let’s be clear, though — I’m not ungrateful, nor am I looking that gift horse in the mouth. Realistically, it’s just a matter of time before I join the ranks of the unemployed. Every day I’m still in my current position is an extra few dollars in our savings account to help us survive the inevitable lean times to come.

Speaking from a purely personal perspective, there has been a positive consequence to this bad economy. Jay and I made a very comfortable income… and we spent our very comfortable income. It wasn’t always irresponsible spending — I don’t, for example, regret any fence or drainage work — but it was spending, not saving. Now we’ve done a lot of re-evaluating of our expenses, and we’ve grown up a bit. We’re thinking long-term, and we’re making smarter choices about what we choose to spend in the short-term.

Other than the economy, there’s not a whole lot happening in our world. The dogs are fine; Pflouff is growing; everyone is getting along splendidly. I am concerned about what happens when Miss Pflouff goes into heat, but I guess we cross that bridge when we come to it. The horses are fine. Rowan is just about ready for her first ride, and Lesley will soon be ready for Mr. Blue. I need to get out of horses, but at the same time, I sure will miss them. With Rowan in training at Eden Farms, it’s actually peaceful and pleasant in our pasture.

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Catching up

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since mid-December! Sorry about that. Let’s see if I can’t get caught up.

Weather

We ultimately got 30″ of snow in that December storm, and it stuck around for a long time. In fact, there are still places where piled snow hasn’t completely melted. I am a skier (or used to be), and I’m a huge fan of snow in the mountains. I don’t live in the mountains, however, and I see no point to ever having snow below 1000 feet. Seriously. All it does is muck things up.

30 inches is too much. It brought down the roof on the old hay barn at the front of the property, and it collapsed the temporary shelter in the dry lot. It grounded the electric fence, so the horses were, more or less, contained by their good graces. Branches and trees came down, and at different times I had to wade out to fix a fence. Let me tell you, wading through thigh deep snow that sucks off your shoes is not fun!!

With the melting of (most of) the snow came the floods. I expect you saw the pictures on the news. We live up on a ridge, so we didn’t have the devastating flooding that the people in the lowlands had. When the water table saturates, however, our basement leaks, and it did so with a vegeance this time. There was a period of about 36 hours where we, armed with a sump pump and a shop vac, battled the water to protect everything we store down there. It made for one very long night, but we were succesful, and compared to what other people went through, it was little more than an annoyance.

Fortunately, January weather was a massive improvement on December, and February is typically one of our nicest months (oddly enough), so I think we’ll survive until March and April when the weather will get cold, snowy, rainy, and utterly miserable again. (This area has a visually beautiful spring. Very green. TONS of flowers and flowering trees. Unfortunately, the temps are very little different from our winter temps, and it rains constantly, so aside from occasional warm breaks, it doesn’t feel like spring until mid June. Or July.)

My opinion really hasn’t changed: overall Seattle weather sucks.

Critters

Pflouff is growing like a weed, and she’s adorable, sweet, and breathtakingly beautiful. Pax and Aslan still like her, and the stress-level in the house has returned to normal levels, just like I thought it would. I was hoping to show her this spring, but financially that just isn’t going to happen. Oh well, there are worse problems! I haven’t gotten her out to any classes since her puppy class anyway (which was interrupted by SNOW).

The biggest challenge with the dogs is SPACE. I’m constantly surrounded by dogs. Pax sleeps under my desk, so I have nowhere for my feet. Pflouff sleeps against the right side of my rolling desk chair, which means if I move, I roll over her and she screams. Aslan mostly gives me some space, but occasionally, just to be perverse, he curls up on the left side of my chair. He’s worse at night, when he tries to crowd into the bed with Pax. Two dogs and two (fat) adult humans do not fit comfortably. Thank God we haven’t let Pflouff on the bed at night!

Personal space, people! I need personal space. Just a foot or two would be nice. Even when I get up and move, I have the whole pack with me, under my feet. I can’t go to the bathroom unattended. Sigh.

Much has happened with the horses. We had to put Miss Princess down on Jan. 1. She was my favorite of my horses, so it really broke my heart to do it, but it was time, and she was ready. She truly was ready — I honestly think she was grateful — and so although I miss her, I was all right with the choice even the day it happened. Rain, by comparison, was not ready, and I’ve never felt good about euthanizing him.

Rowan is four now and has matured into a good-sized mare. She’s in training at Eden Farms this winter and spring, and I’m hoping we can find a forever home for her by summer. This is not a good market for rehoming a horse, but she’ll be a good age with a good start, and she’s put together fairly well and of good size, so I’m hoping her potential will get her a good home.

That means that right now only Blue and Guin are here at the house. It’s soooo much more peaceful with just the two of them! I’m hoping that Lesley, who is Blue’s true owner, will be in a position to take both of them later this spring — Blue to keep, and Guin to get into shape for sale.

Yep, you heard it here: I’m trying to get out of horses altogether. This winter has finally convinced me that I’m over the horses. Unfortunately, in this economy I may not be able to rehome or relocate ANY of them. Prayers, please, because they really will be better off in a place where they can be mentally enriched. They’re BORED here.

Work

Work is going well. I’m busy, and I like that. As is usual, work is gaining momentum for a busy Q2 and Q3. I, unfortunately, may not be able to help them with that though.

The company I work for, like everyone else, is feeling the pressure of the economy. They made a smart move though. They set up the vendor contracts to expire at the end of Q1. That means they can wait until then, evaluate the economy, and then choose whether or not to extend some (or any) of the vendors. If they don’t, they have saved themselves a bunch of money… and haven’t laid off a single person! Very smart business decision.

I, however, am a vendor, so my contract is up in the air. I am of two minds about that. As a vendor, I don’t get time off, so there’s part of me that really would like a BREAK. I’m tired!! But there’s another part of me that’s attached to the ability to pay my mortgage, so I’d like to stay employed.

It’s out of my hands. I know the company likes me very, very much. I know I’ve done really good work for them. But the people who know and like me and want to keep me are not the people who will make this decision. It won’t be personal if I’m let go, and I know, as SOON as my department can hire vendors again, they’ll call me.

Jay and I aren’t panicking, but we’re not putting our head in the sand either. We’re tightening our financial belts, reducing our spending, and saving extra cash. We’ve cut back, and if we need to, we can cut much further back. I’ve updated my resume, updated my LinkedIn profile, and already started figuring out to which agencies I’ll be submitting my resume. We’re going to be okay no matter what!

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September and October

I can’t believe I haven’t updated in two months!

Remodel news

We finally got the new dry lot built. Finally, finally, finally the horses have a non-muddy place to spend the winter.

We saved money for the job, but when it came time to do it, what we had saved was nowhere near enough money. Who knew gravel was so expensive? But Todd, our contractor, is beyond wonderful, and he researched and crunched numbers until we were at least able to do part of the work.

In the end, Todd…

  • cleared all of the brush, fallen limbs, blackberries, and dead trees along the road,
  • cleared a new, small pasture area between the dry lot and pasture one that has been christened “pasture zero,”
  • dug cisterns and laid French drains,
  • put down gravel in an area somewhat larger than the old dry lot,
  • built a new wooden fence like the one around the house along the north edge of the dry lot, and
  • installed a couple of new gates.

Building the lot required taking down a lot of the existing fence. We have rebuilt some of it and moved the electric fence charger to the barn. We haven’t completely closed off the dry lot from the other pastures or fenced and gated pasture zero yet, but the horses are secure.

We also haven’t replaced the fence in the front part of the property that torn down when we did the clearing along the road. That means that no dogs or horses are allowed to go out and play in the front area right now.

Due to the economic changes, we tightened up our budget. Before we did that, we were going to have the dry lot paid off within a few months. I think now it might take well into next year. The next step of the remodel is on hold until we pay off the dry lot completely AND save money for the next step. Although it’s no less of a priority, we could probably say the remodel is on hold for a while, because I’m betting it will take a while before we’re ready for the next step.

Horses

The beasties are doing fine, but I wanted to share one story. While Todd was building the new dry lot, the horses were stuck in pasture one 24/7. This isn’t such a bad thing — it’s big, and there are both trees and grazing space. The fences are electric tape, but we weren’t able to turn it on, because Todd had torn down some of the connecting fence. That concerned us, because if they decided to go through the fence, there was nothing keeping them on the property.

Everything went fine while Todd was working. He finished on a Wednesday, but Jay and I still had a lot of replacement fencing and electrical work to do before we could move the horses. Then, as you can probably predict, the horses decided they’d had enough. Through the fence and off they went! Let’s run up and down the road! Let’s go visit Donna’s garden and orchard! Let’s run through the mud and play tag with mom!

Bastards.

So Jay — who was home sick with the tail end of the flu –- went down to Donna’s and herded them back to me. I blocked their way up the road, and miracle of miracles, they headed into our property and ran into pasture two. Pasture 2, however, had to have several posts removed and couldn’t be closed. So I stood with ropes and chased them away from the big hole -– slipping and sliding in the mud the whole time –- while Jay worked like the devil to drive the posts and run wire, so we could close them in there.

We managed to get them contained, but nothing had changed. It was clear that they were testing the fence and planning to go through again. So I tossed hay in there to distract them for a while. (Great! Run away and be a general nuisance, and get fed as a reward!) Jay and I realized we had no choice but to do a fast fencing job and get the pastures -– all of them –- hot.

We got started. I walked the perimeter and fixed any issues the deer had caused. Jay drove posts and did clips. We took turns driving the new ground poles he had to have to ground the new electric fence.

And then God shared His delightful sense of humor: It started raining. No, not raining. Pouring. With lightning.

Not like we could call the game on account of rain, so we kept working. I ran lines, and Jay did the electrical work. We started to put water in the pasture the horses were in, but I decided that rather than tempting fate that they would blow out of their perceived-jail again, we would just get everything hot, put the water at the barn, and give them access to the whole horse area. That required cleaning up of posts we had out but hadn’t driven yet and some other potential hazards, but finally, about 2.5 hours after the horses decided to go walk-about, we were done.

Soaked doesn’t begin to cover it. It was 40 degrees outside, and I was wearing a t-shirt, fleece, and sweats. Even my UNDERWEAR was soaked. (How does that happen, exactly?)

I’m able to laugh about it now. Mostly. But at the time I was ready to eat the bloody creatures.

Work

I love my job. I always have to say that, because it just makes me so happy. I love my job, my team, my manager, my projects — everything.

I love what I do, and I love short deadlines, so I volunteered to do take on an extra project in September. Whoa!!! If I’d known what I was volunteering for, I might have rethought that. The overtime was what made the dry lot possible though, so I’m not complaining. My shortest week in September, I logged 60 hours. By the end of the month, I was more than ready for a break.

October has been blessedly low key. My manager has gone above and beyond to keep my workload light so I had a chance to recharge my batteries, and I sooooo much appreciate it. She is the best!!

We’ve brought on a lot of new people recently. That’s mostly good, though I worried about my job there for a while. See, I’m a vendor. I’m *intended* to be a temporary solution. The company has asked me to become a permanent employee, but I can’t do that right now, and that means that there will come a day when I don’t work at this fabulous, wonderful place. That time almost happened this fall, but someone they had intended to bring into our department had to decline at the last minute, leaving me as the only person with some specialized knowledge about one of our lines of business. Right now, unless the economy forces a change — which it could — I think I’m safe until mid 2009.

If it were up to me, I’d stay forever — at least as long as this team is stable. Nothing stays the same, though, so eventually managers will move on or we’ll get reorged, or the economy will change, and they won’t be able to keep me on. I’ll be sad, but I know it’s not personal. That’s just the way of life for a vendor.

The end of Q3 and the first 2/3 of Q4 are a less busy time for our department. This is good, because I’m planning to go down to half time for four weeks, beginning Nov. 15, because…

Dogs

…I’m getting a puppy! Yayyyyy!!!!

I’d fallen in love with a Newfie bitch owned by Rain’s breeder. This bitch, Rowan, was bred in August, with pups ready to come home in January. Unfortunately, that litter was not to be. X-rays showed she was carrying only one pup — and there was a problem with the placenta.

At the same time we were finding this out, I attended Bob Bailey’s retirement party in Sequim. (Bob is my mentor in animal training.) At his party, I met a Newfie breeder based in the Portland area. Her name is Jenni Lott, and she just happened to have a five week old litter on the ground — her first litter in five years! Hmmm. A Newfie breeder AND a Bob-Bailey-style clicker trainer? What more could I want? Excellent dogs, of course. I checked with Rain’s breeder, and she gave Jenni two thumbs up.

So Jenni and I struck up an e-mail relationship and hit it off. I’ve since been down to her place to visit the pups — three gorgeous black girls. They’re seven weeks old now. Jenni is going to do her conformation evaluations next week and make her final determination on who goes where. Last hurdle is the heart checks at 10 weeks — Nov. 13. If everything is clear, then our new girl comes home Nov. 15. I can’t wait.

No name yet. Not a final one, anyway. Her great grandmother — affectionately called Squiddy — died a couple of days before the pups were born, so Jenni would like the pups named after her. She knows that not everyone will want to name their dog after a slimy sea creature, but I’m going to try. Right now I’m leaning toward “Socorro’s Black Sea Kracken” with a call name of Tennyson — Ten or Ten Ten, for short. But that could change half a dozen times between now and then.

I’ll be blogging alllll about her and her training on the Menagerie page. I’m going to buy a new video camera, so hopefully I’ll have lots to show you.

No curly puppy yet. I really like the litter Dawn Fleming has in whelp right now, but the timing is bad. Also, I’ve been in touch with Gill Wise in New Zealand, and I’m thinking I’d really like to wait until she has the right pup for me. We’ll have to see though. I’m not going to wait forever for a curly pup, even though Jay thinks that four dogs is way too many.

Pax and Aslan will have some adjusting to do when the new baby comes home. I expect I’ll need to carefully manage everyone for a while. I think they’ll both be besotted with her before long though!

I probably shouldn’t post these, since I’m not positive which puppy I’m getting, but I *think* this is Tennyson. If not, it’s one of her siblings. I took the picture last Sunday, when they were six and a half weeks old.

Other random newsy stuff

In general life is going well here at the Alexander household. Jay and I were both sick for much of October. I just had an annoying cold, and since I work from home, it wasn’t that much of a bother.

Life is harder for my dear, dear friend Joene. She lost the love of her life, her husband Garry, unexpectedly in September. They had, a few months before, opened a new salon in Seattle, and his death really throws the business and their finances into turmoil. Please, please include my friend Joene in your prayers. She’s a wonderful person, but she has a very tough road in front of her.

Everything else is, I think, going okay. We’re just working hard and getting ready for the puppy.

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August update

Sorry I haven’t updated recently. You’d think that means that nothing has been going on, but nothing could be further from the truth. It has actually be a really busy month!

First, remodel news. We had our contractor, Todd, come in to install and attic fan. The plan was to install it in the crawl space above the hall in the original part of the house. Turns out there’s no access to that crawl space. We looked at it and determined there was zero reason to have that low ceiling there, so we took it out. Now the hall has the same angled, roof-level ceiling that the rest of the original part of the house has. The hall looks so much better too — it really opened it up!

The next project is the dry lot. We’re not sure exactly what we’re going to do. It all comes down to money (not surprisingly). The theory was to do it before the rains came back in mid-September, but since the rains came back in early August, I’m not thinking we made the deadline. (I’m hoping for some more sun and warm weather before fall officially hits, but it’s not looking promising.) We definitely will redo the footing and drainage in the most-traveled parts of the dry lot. Whether we can do the whole dry lot remains to be seen.

Next, work. I love my job. (Have I said that recently?) Let me say it again: I love my job. My friend Myella is working with me now, and I’m trying to get Debi (and Margot and Sharon) to come on board as well. They officially offered me an FTE position, and although I actually would love to be FTE at this company, I had to turn it down. With the remodel and puppies, I need money and flexibility.

September is going to be a work-heavy month. We’re projecting somewhere between 240 and 280 hours in this four week (normally 160 hour) month. I can do it, but I’m going to be swamped!

My contract is scheduled to end at the end of November. I’m not sure what happens then. I expect they’ll extend it into the new year, but that will depend on the year-end changes to the company’s vendor rules and on their headcount. I don’t think they’ll be able to fill their open headcount before the end of the year, but you never know. All I know for certain is that I want to keep working there!

Puppy update. Oy, where to begin? I want both a curly and a Newf, but I don’t want them at the same time. I think twins would kill me. I would prefer a curly first, but if I can’t get a curly in the reasonably near future, then I’ll get a Newf first. Rain’s breeder, Denise Castonguay, is expecting a fall litter out of a bitch I really, really like. Those pups would be ready to come home at Christmas. If I can get a curly, though, I’ll get a curly instead. Regardless, Jay and I are driving up to Canada in mid September to talk to Denise and see her dogs in person.

Curlies… I’m head over heels for a dog named Otzo in Finland. He’s out of an American dog named Charlie — frozen semen, because Charlie died many, many years ago. Charlie was the first curly in the US to get a Best in Show. Otzo’s breeder isn’t having a litter again in the near future — bummer. But I talked to Charlie’s breeder, Doris Hodges, and she has inseminated her bitch, Summer, with the last of Charlie’s frozen semen. She said she has waited fourteen years for a bitch worthy of that. Frozen semen often doesn’t catch, though, or results in a small litter, so Doris decided to cross-breed Summer with frozen semen from another dog, Thunder. Thunder was (he has also passed away) an amazing hunter and even did some field trials. I would be happy with a pup from either of those sires!

Doris is going to x-ray (ultrasound?) Summer on September 10 to see how many, if any puppies, there are. Summer is due a week later. If there’s a puppy in that litter for me, she will come home in the middle of November. That actually would be the perfect time, work-wise. It’s right near the end of my contract and at the beginning of the holiday season. I was probably going to have the month of December off regardless! Excellent, excellent timing.

If Summer isn’t pregnant, I’ve found out that there are a couple of other excellent litters planned. First, Dawn Fleming is breeding Chant this fall. That should be a high-drive, very birdie litter. Second, Cathy Lew (Pax’s breeder) is breeding Bouclee in the spring. I fell in love with Bouclee. I think my dream litter would be a Bouclee Otzo cross! And if we decide not to get a curly right now and get a Newf puppy from Denise instead, there are lots of summer curly litters, including a nice one in Finland.

Next topic… my mom! My mom is currently visiting. She arrived on Tuesday the 19th and is staying until Saturday the 30th. Nice! It has, unfortunately, been cold and rainy pretty much the entire time, and she was prepared for a SUMMER visit, not a fall one. I joked that we’re trying to freeze her to death. She’s sitting on my couch right now wearing a jacket and wrapped in a blanket. So sad.

We’ve done a few fun things, but most days have been quiet. We drove up to the Tulalip casino one day. We had a great dinner with our neighbors one night. We went to the dog show one day (but that was a disappointing bust). Yesterday was awesome though. The weather was unexpectedly sunny and warm with a great breeze. We drove to Tacoma and went to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, and then went to the glass museum. On the way home we stopped at Salish Lodge for a fantastic dinner looking over the falls. We’re supposed to go to the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe on Friday, but we may get rained out. Again.

And I think… that’s all. That’s enough for one month, don’t you think?

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