Nobody’s been to our yard all week. I’m not sure what they’re waiting for, but this is what we’re stuck with in the meantime:
On Thursday, I went to see my friend Kim Fahner read her poetry at the Open Studio Showcase. Along with Kim were all three of Sudbury’s Poet Laureates, past and present (Roger Nash, Daniel Aubin, and Tom Leduc). Richard Van Camp was MC and storyteller for the evening.
A couple of people signed up for the open mic and added some much needed estrogen to the line up 🙂
The theme of the evening was Identity.
Today, I took a trip out to our Chapter’s to visit with Mat Del Papa and Lisa Coleman-Brown, who were selling and signing copies of Creepy Capreol. While there, I met with fellow Sudbury Writers’ Guild members Renny De Groot, Scott Overton, and Irene Golas.
I an odd turn of events, a gentleman asked the table to watch his collie, fittingly named Lassie, while he dodged over to Kelsey’s for lunch.
. . .
In destruction construction news, the blasting is over, the rubble is cleared, and they’ve torn up all the old paving on our driveway.
I think they need to move the storm drain and reconstruct the curb before they get the retaining wall started. The hold up with the driveway appears to be the mass of clay around the water shut off valves, which must, of course, be excavated and replaced with proper fill (otherwise, they’ll just have to redo things next year when the frost heaves all that clay again).
Nu is doing well. Phil and I are getting used to the VetPen, but I won’t have further news until Nu has her next glucose curve on the 30th.
And that’s all the news that’s fit to print, people.
See you all on Tipsday!
On Monday, Union Gas retrenched the gas line, as promised. Plus, we got a lovely new meter out of it. We’d just had our meter upgraded last year, but this one’s even nicer 😉
Tuesday passed without much activity, but a huge chunk of a cliff fell onto Regent Street the week previous and we figured the crew was occupied elsewhere. A jumbo (rock drill) appeared in the driveway, however.
Wednesday, the foreman dropped by to talk to my mom (she lives right beside us). He was going to talk to Phil and me after work.
By the time we got home, the front steps had been relocated beside the house, and our rosebushes and honeysuckle torn out.
The foreman came by, as promised, and advised that they would be drilling holes in the rock to prepare for blasting on Friday. We took him down to see the piece of the rock that was in our basement, and he advised us to take down anything fragile or valuable. While his aim was not to damage anything, they would be blasting.
They were drilling tonnes of holes and packing smaller amounts of explosive into each to break up the rock, but not carry the damage to the foundation.
Thursday was Nuala’s next glucose curve. We dropped her off and discovered that while she looks to be in much better physical shape, she’d actually lost a half kilogram from last week. We think she’s rebuilding muscle.
When we went back to pick Nuala up at 6:30, we learned that she’d been a clinic dog for the day. After two hours in the kennel, she wouldn’t stop pawing at the bars. The vet, remembering her Houdini of last week, said, “She’s not staying in there. Might as well let her out.”
Nu spent most of the day in the vet’s office, or wandering the back room.
Her sugars were still too high, so we were advised to up her insulin dose by another unit and come back in three weeks for another curve.
We’re using the VetPen now and it’s supposed to be better with respect to ensuring a consistent dosage of insulin, but we still feel more confident in our ability to draw a proper syringe. Maybe it will just take a little getting used to.
The drilling was done on Thursday evening.
On Friday, I was home sick, but the blasting started, as scheduled.
The City Engineer came by and I signed off on the plans. He explained that there might be further delays as the person completing their retaining walls was behind by a few weeks. The plans for a full height retaining wall with railing are still going forward, however.
They’re even selecting a railing colour to harmonize with our house, either in a sand, or dark brown.
Our driveway will be fully repaved, with proper substrate, and the two water shut-off pipes will be repaired.
The foreman came by before every blast and asked if I wouldn’t be more comfortable outside the house. I assured him I would be fine. And I was, but the actual shockwave from the blast was something else. I felt the whole house do the wave 🙂
So this is how things look now. As you can see, the rock is all nicely broken up and they left the blast mats in place to keep things more or less tidy until they come back to clear things out on Tuesday.
And that’s where we are.
Phil and I are going to enjoy our Thanksgiving long weekend.
Tonight is Doctor Who night 🙂
I will try to keep this a snippet, but there’s a lot happening these days.
The uncertainty continues.
My former manager is continuing in her acting position as senior manager until December 31. In the meantime, one acting manager has yielded to another, this time, a colleague, talented and deserving.
Two other friends from the consultant pool have been appointed to training coordinator, the position I held as an acting consultant for sixteen months. One of my friends will be handling coordination for my business line and the other for another business line. I’m very happy for them. The position will teach them a lot.
The new training is well underway. I delivered the Sudbury session the second and third weeks in September. Then I mentored a couple of acting advisors on our team to help them learn the way we monitor our new agents, post-training.
I’ll be doing a little more mentoring, and taking on the supervision of an agent returning to work.
Then I’ll be getting ready for the next round of training in November. After that, I’m not really sure what’s going to happen.
I got my projects from the summer done, but beyond that, I don’t know if anything more will come of them.
With all the major players in acting roles, we can’t really do more than react.
Phil’s got his own burden at work, but it’s not my story to tell, so I’ll have to leave it at that.
Usually, when things are going well for me at work, they go poorly for him, and vice versa. Now we both seem to be in a bit of a jam.
The city engineer stopped by my mom’s last week. Apparently, Union Gas will be by to bury the gas line properly again on Monday.
Then, the rock will be blasted out. As you can see, the blasting mats are already in place.
Then, they’ll be tearing up the driveway and repaving and, I suppose, getting the retaining wall up.
The engineer is supposed to be coming by with the work order for Phil to sign off on. He says he has a lovely railing for the top of the retaining wall.
You know about Nuala’s troubles from last week’s post. She’s making headway, but after the first glucose curve, the vet increased her dosage of insulin. Her sugars were too high. We’re in a holding pattern there until this Thursday, when we’ll take Nu in for her next glucose curve.
Phil and I are growing accustomed to our new schedule, but between that, the gloomy weather we’ve been having, and work uncertainty, we’re both exhausted.
At least, I’ll have my normal salary to look forward to for the next six months or so. We have some hefty vet bills to pay off.
As you may have guessed from my Next Chapter post, I’m trying to focus my energies on my writing. It’s what keeps me sane.
Unfortunately, trying to cram everything in tends to wear me out. I know this, and still, I do it.
When a writing friend came to town last month, I’d intended to meet her. She was reading at my mom’s church on the Sunday and then at the Public Library on the Thursday.
On Sunday, I was feeling poorly and decided not to go. I’m not big into church these days anyway. The week of her visit was also one of two weeks of training I was delivering. When Thursday arrived, I got home from work and essentially collapsed. It wasn’t until after nine that I realized I had missed her presentation.
More recently, I wanted to get out to the launch of an art show another friend was having, but events conspired against me and I couldn’t get away.
It really is true that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.
I have a number of friends going through tough times.
They say news, whether bad or good, is supposed to come in threes, but it’s been far more than that, and since I’m such a hermit these days, I often don’t know what’s happened until after the fact.
I can only give them my moral support in most situations and wish them well.
I sincerely hope all of this misfortune comes to an end soon and that life resumes a better balance for everyone.
And that’s where I’ll leave you, with my very best wishes for a speedy recovery, a soothing of grief, a securing of contentment, if not happiness, and a world of ease to all your troubles. This, too, shall pass.
The warmest of hugs to you all.
I mentioned a couple of (a few?) weeks ago that I’d be posting about the uncertainty in my life these days. Then I went away to When Words Collide and all bets were off. The literary festival was great, but the pace was intense.
So I figured I’d give you this piece before I got on with transcribing session notes from WWC. That will start next weekend.
The uncertainty at work
This is a multi-layered situation.
- Massive hiring requiring massive training.
Last December, a first group of internal hires came through my office to be trained. I trained them, was briefly given an acting assignment (all of three weeks in length), and when I returned to the training team, I was given a special project, and thus largely excused from the burdens of training and/or monitoring the 50 additional internal and new hires that started in January.
In March, I piloted the training that was the result of the special project and then cofacilitated two sessions of Business Writing to help a colleague achieve her certification (good news there – she got it!).
As the new fiscal started in April, the second round of training and monitoring began. Once more, I trained the local group and it soon became apparent that while my manager wanted me to continue to work on special projects (three this time), that this would not be possible.
I dove into monitoring, and then into advice and guidance, which, having been ignored to give priority to the monitoring, was backlogged by several weeks. Our mandate is to respond to these requests within 48 hours. Yeah.
Starting in September, there will be another wave of new hires to be trained and monitored followed by a third in November, which I may or may not have to assist with because the position they are being hired for is outside my expertise.
I’m steeling myself for several weeks out of town in September, and further training in late November.
- We may be losing our manager.
This is a mixed blessing, because my manager is younger than I am, she has a lot of potential for mobility, and, more importantly, she has the skill set to take her fairly high in the corporate hierarchy. Our manager is a driving force for our team, though. She fights for us, and ensures that we have what we need to succeed in our jobs and careers, and what we need to achieve work/life balance.
About the time I was assigned the second set of special projects, she received and accepted the offer of an acting senior manager. For a few weeks, she attempted to manage both teams. This soon became untenable, and the training team received an acting manager.
This was supposed to be a temporary situation, until the assessment process for the senior manager’s position was concluded and a permanent senior manager moved into the position. The thing is, my manager’s in that process. If she’s offered the position, she will likely accept. Or she should, because it’s an excellent opportunity for her.
In the meantime, we have a very capable acting manager, but one who is unfamiliar with our business line, and the responsibilities of the team. We’ve been there before. When I started with the training team back in 2009, we were without an actual manager for years, and the team had been for years previous to that. It does not make for a good situation. Most acting positions last a day short of four months, and with that many changes in leadership, the team was foundering.
Plus, there have been several retirements among the executives in the last year or so, and as gaps appear, they must be filled, generally from levels below.
I anticipate we’ll be in a very reactionary mode for some time while the corporate structure stabilizes.
- I’m on the verge of giving up ever moving beyond my current circumstances.
The last pool I was in, for consultant, expired Dec 31st, 2013. Since then, I’ve applied for no less that five other positions. I’ve been screened out of all but one. That one is also for consultant, and I was almost screened out of it, but managed to squeak by. At the interview, most, if not all of the candidates must have failed the written portion, because they had a second written test. We were supposed to know the results of the assessment by the end of June. I think the board members must be on holiday.
I’m coming up against a geographical brick wall. Our regional headquarters is in Toronto and our national headquarters is in Ottawa. I live in neither city, nor am I willing to move. This is the reason I’ve been screened out of several of the assessment processes. Even though our work environment is virtual (I currently work on a virtual team) someone in the hierarchy wants to consolidate skilled workers in our respective HQs. I get that, but still feel the patent inequity of the situation. I have skills. Mad ones even. While I’m content in my current position, the coming overload of training and monitoring and the potential lack of, or frequent change in, management makes me much less content in the day job.
I’m getting to the point, though, where I want to give up the fight. Even if I make it into the next consultant pool, I’m not likely to get anything more than an acting position, precisely because I’m anchored in Sudbury. There’s no indication that the situation will change any time soon.
Always hovering on the edge of my mind is the possibility of leaving the day job early in order to pursue my writing. Do I want to persist in a losing battle for the remaining years of my career?
Also, Phil may be looking at reducing his hours, transitioning to a subsistence job, or retiring in a few years (which option depends on the uncertainty at home – see below). Since he works for a charity, and I work for a larger employer, I’ve always made more money that he has. Even when I make an agreement for a self-funded leave, that basically takes us to a rough parity. But I still make more. I won’t take the risk of sinking us below the poverty line so I can write full time. Though if I can write full time, there’s a much better chance that I will be able to make a reasonable income within a few years. What will we do for those critical years, however?
Quandries, quandries . . .
- My satisfaction with my writing life is quickly outstripping my satisfaction with my day job.
Yeah. So. That’s pretty self-explanatory, but my last point, above, is a concern. A big one. I have no answers.
The uncertainty at home
This year, the city has been working on Regent Street, right outside my house. This process has involved the tearing up on my front yard and driveway. A retaining wall is going to be constructed once our gas line is rerouted and the rock in our front yard (which is the same rock in our basement) is hacked away. Our driveway has to be sloped properly and will be resurfaced afterward. There’s no estimated time on when this will happen, but they can’t leave things the way they are for the winter.
There has been talk of developing our little street and of extending it through to the other side of the block for years. And I mean YEARS.
I’ll be clear: this is not happening now.
We’ve been told that it is happening, though. At some vague point in the future. Officially, no one can confirm anything.
In order for this to happen, Marttila Drive has to conform to the dimensions of the cross street. They’ve already made the opposite side of our street conform with Bouchard, which has narrowed the street considerably. On our side, there is a huge rock to deal with, and our house.
Apparently, there will likely be a new turning lane when the street is expanded. This will cut into both the side and the front of our yard. The proposed retaining wall is already at our front step. Our easement is effectively gone.
This means expropriation.
Really, it’s not a bad thing.
If we had to sell our house, we’d have to invest tens of thousands of dollars to do so, and we probably wouldn’t get the investment back. The value in our property is in the fact that our zoning is commercial/residential, and the property is deep. Yes, it’s mostly Pre-Cambrian Shield, but that’s not unusual in a city like Sudbury. Most developers anticipate blasting.
Plus, it’s not the best place to live with the constant traffic, which includes transports, and the continual noise, which includes inebriated patrons walking home from the bar down Regent.
We’ve been led to believe that the city will make a reasonable offer for the property based on the assessed value. We’re good with that.
My mother lives next door to us (yes, two Marttila’s living on Marttila Drive – it was my grandfather’s property and I’m so over the notion of always having a Marttila live on Marttila Drive, thank you very much) and she will likely opt to sell, if her property is not also expropriated, and we’ll work on some mutually satisfactory solution. My mom’s pretty cool, and Phil and I have already discussed the option of a granny suite, or a duplex, or some other, at this time unnamed, solution.
But we don’t know when any of this will happen.
Last year, one of our neighbours went to an information session and he was told that the development would occur in three to four years. But plans change, and this is why no one Phil has spoken to has been able to tell us anything. It’s so aggravating.
Though our mortgage is paid off, we still have a sizable debt on our line of credit, and a car loan.
This is why I’ve been so reluctant to take any kind of chance on my writing.
I’m still working steadily toward the publication of at least one of my novels, and this year, I’ll have two short stories published in paying markets and I just won a prize for another piece of short fiction (yay!). This still amounts to less than $500 income from my writing. I’m not comfortable with leaving a $60K a year job for that, as wonderful as the publication credits are.
So that’s the deal.
The only stable things in my life right now are my relationship with Phil/my family/my friends, and my writing. It’s enough, and I can still claim contentment, but the rest just makes my head ache.
Thanks for letting me vent.
I’ve tried my best not to descend to the whiny, self-pitying voice in this post. I’ve tried to stick to stating facts, but I know my irritation has likely leaked through. Honestly, these are all first world problems. No one will die, or even go hungry, as a result of any of the above.
Unless I break completely and decide to quit. We might go hungry, then.
I keep this in mind as I wake up each day and I hug my contentment tightly to myself, take a deep breath, and move forward.
I have absolutely no control of all the uncertainty in my life. I can only control my own reaction to it and how much I let it affect my life. Frankly (Frankl-ly?) I don’t feel like giving it that much power.
I’ve bound it in words now. Writing is potent magic 😉
Wishing lots of that for you, my friends!
Break a pencil!