Monday, May 30, 2011

A Favorite Spot

We are supposed to be removing our dilapidated wood deck and replacing it with a new brick patio.  We haven't had the heart to begin this big project yet, but I've pared down on some of my plantings in anticipation of this. I'm certainly not letting go of everything, and in the process of 'weeding out' have discovered that less-is-more is definitely working here. I got rid of an old fushia which has been shabby for the past few years and placed this collection of houseplants in its spot.

This simple pot of traditional houseplants has a special significance to me, as well as looking lovely.  In February of last year my brother Jeff died unexpectedly. This plant was given to me in sympathy by the wonderful people I work with. I think of my brother and my friends and coworkers when viewing this setting. 

Since I receive very little light in my condo, I've kept this arrangement outside, where it does well in our mild So. Cal. climate.  There was a pothos plant which was too bugridden to keep, but I love how the English ivy in the pot trails down.  The empty spot where I had to remove the pothos makes a good place for a little plaque to be added.  I like the juxtaposition of this lovely grouping, with my little napping angel at the base.  Behind the plantstand is a hanging my 5-year-old daughter picked out for me for Mothers Day a decade ago, it appropriately says 'friends forever'.  You can just see to the right side of it the handprint plaques my girls made a dozen years or so ago at a free kids clinic at Home Depot.

It hadn't occurred to me when I started this blog that this is the essence of today's holiday, a memorial for Memorial Day.  My brother is buried next to my parents in Missouri, so I cannot make it over to the graveyard to put out fresh flowers and bow my head in contemplation.  I am happy to have a constant rememberance of him in a quiet corner.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Renewing and Reviewing

Oh, the places you'll go!  Okay, I haven't felt like Dr. Seuss's philosophical book on entering the grown-up world need apply to me for a very long time. I do find myself reflecting on it as I prepare to within the next few months pack up my desk at the office I've worked at for almost 25 years and move..... down the hall to another office.  It turns out that instead of being laid off I will be transferred to another position, as a secretary.  This is a bittersweet move, as I will be displacing someone else, since I have more seniority in a similar position. I don't have a real choice in the matter, if I don't take the position offered I will be considered 'quitting' my employment and will be ineligible for unemployment benefits. So I am looking at it as the blessing it is. The position is very similar in rank and pay to my own, and I will be working with a really good group of people I am already familar with.

 Perhaps I'd been too long in my previous position, but when you work in very specialized fields, such as the Graphic Design position I'd held for my entire tenure at the agency, you tend to not move around, unless you move outside of your career path. It's not like we had other levels of art director or such, I was one of two designers who took care of all, or most, of the needs of our organization.  Times change, and more people were doing their own graphics on their desktop systems. When I first started, if you wanted a bold heading on an announcement, such as a job opening, you had to go through us.  People worked on typewriters, anything not done in pica or the occasional elite sizing (for the uninformed, typewriter lettering sizes) was specialized work. We were getting fewer and fewer jobs to do, and  I figured that when I left in the next few years they would not feel the need to replace me.  I didn't foresee being part of a massive downsizing.

So it's on to familiarize myself with new duties and routines. I have held numerous secretarial-type positions in the past, so it will be an area I feel comfortable stepping into. Not to be smug about it, I'm sure it will take some training to bring me up to speed on the exact duties of this position. I am looking forward to being part of a positive team of individuals and I am actually looking forward to renewing my skills. You never know but what I'll wonder why I didn't do a similar move sooner.

p.s., I wanted to share a picture of Irises I'd painted. Perhaps in the new frame of mind I can reapply myself to actually doing some more painting this summer as well.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day: Thoughts on Growth and Rebirth

I have been absent from the blogger boards for a few weeks for a number of reasons. My computer being at odds is a large part of it.  My husband  is still fussing over why the internet does not want to connect off our family computer. I'm typing this off my daughter's borrowed laptop.

Another part of my inattention has been my situation at work.  The city I have worked for almost 25 years is going through a massive reorganization and  has given six month notices of termination to 40% of its workforce, a move which resulted in national attention, especially when a young man committed suicide by jumping off the administration building on the day the layoff notices went out. I and my entire four-person division received notices, as well as 200 others. 

Six months is a very long period in order to prepare for our future, altho six weeks have gone by since then.  I'd been intending to retire in the next year or two anyway, my plan was to work till my last daughter finished high school next June, then retire in probably December 2012, and move to Tennessee in summer of 2012, possible work one more year to add to the pension. So you see that this just speeds up the process somewhat. As of September, I will no longer have to fight my way through 45 minutes of rush hour traffic to put in another day at the office. In fact, this will give me several months of full-time opportunity to get our home into tip-top condition for the spring real estate market.

So why am I so stressed over this?

Maybe it's the distraught attitude at work. People are shaken over the suicide, the political attitude of contempt for the employees, the prospect of being forced into one of the worst job markets in recent history.  I am very fortunate that I am able to walk away and file for retirement, not everyone has reached the qualifying age or years worked needed to apply for their pension, or do not have enough to retire with. On top of knowing that we are leaving in September, we are directed to ready the proposals for outside contractors to bid on your position. Kind of like being told you're being let go, but you have to hire the guy to replace you.

Perhaps it just the uncertainty of it all.  Leaving a year earlier means I'll get a bit less in my pension paycheck, so an untested budget will be just a bit tighter.  I had planned to work part-time in retirement, as a transitional thing, but one wants to feel they are financially secure when they head off to retirement.

Probably this is how I would have felt under any circumstances, making this large move.  I've worked full-time since I left high school, with a couple of breaks inbetween moves, so it will be an adjustment to not have that 40 hour a week commitment, with accompanying paycheck. Then there is the point of selling the family home, plus my mother-in-laws home, and moving everyone across the country. I am looking forward to this, but the mechanics of it is still rather scary.

So, I've been doing quite a bit of scheming and planning and wondering and nail biting.  Twenty more weeks to go at work, to finish up some training I'd been procrastinating on, redo a resume I might or might not send out, say goodbye to people I've worked with for decades, an office I've come in to for almost half my life.

On to the bright future.