Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fallen Tree

I am in the woods with the goats near the newly fallen sweetgum tree.  The tree is about seventy feet long without any branches in its first forty feet. it broke about fifteen feet from the roots and fell between the branches of another tree.  It goes for quite awhile before the trunk of the tree dips and touches the ground.

The tree fell on a quiet night which followed several days of rain. The rain deprivation has weakened and killed quite a few trees on our property. This tree had a flaw in its trunk, was top heavy and rain soaked with the bottom of the tree leaning one way and the top another.
It was growing beside a creek and a ravine and all of its massive root system has been exposed for years and yet that part of the tree still stands.
Carl C and I heard it fall during the night and the next day the goats and I went on expedition to find it. It didn't take long.

The goats love these leaves which are ordinarily so far from their reach. I've been bringing them to browse here for almost a week. 

I awoke this morning with thank you on my lips. Thank you for my husband, our sons, daughter-in-laws, grandchildren. Thank you for my mother, for goats, chickens, dogs and cats. Thank you for our land, for friends and relatives. Thank you for beautiful days and peaceful nights.

Artemis nuzzles and nibbles me and butts my shepherds hook. Her nervous energy is connected with the dogs' high spirits. I pull a dogwood branch down for her pleasure. She attacks the branch with a nervous intensity. 

The dogs sit close and attentively. Mosquitoes  and the attentions of Artie chase me from me from my post by a delicious oak limb. I move to the far end of the fallen sweetgum tree and a bit farther up the slope. 

The further from the creek, the less buzzing insects. With a woodpecker setting up a loud chatter, Artemis moves down to the sweetgum.
This fallen tree's life is celebrated in the quiet gratitude I feel in its presence. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Endless Striving

Just as the Dublin VA hospital is laid out on an amazing grid which competes with Hogwarts in its complexity; the requirements to receive VA medical benefits consist of  convoluted mazes of doctors, departments, committee meetings, changing (and confusing) laws, frustrated veterans and VA employees. Veterans are faced with situations where it is difficult to know what entitlements they have earned. If they are tenacious enough to find out, then following the path to attain these benefits can take years and a single minded persistence.

Last week at the Dublin VA, Carl C had a 10:00 dental appointment and an appointment in the Pain and Rehab Department at 1:30. He took the intervening time to roll into the Patient Advocate's office to research his August 2010 perscription/referral for a three wheel hand cycle. The mobility device will allow this wheelchair bound veteran to get around in rougher terrain than the world of sidewalks offers.  The sidewalk offers long gazes into the woods and excursions into depression and PTSD while the off road world offers nature, state parks, rides with grandchildren, fresh air tingling in a man's face who has not felt the exhilaration of running in 42 years.

Heart doctors to determine good health, EKGs, paper shuffling, bouncing from Primary Care Manager to the Rehab Department to Prosthetics and over a year later and this claim has yet to become a reality. He is eligible to get it, but making it through the bureaucracy to produce this freedom-giving mobility device as a reality is taking immense commitment and focus - as has every benefit he has petitioned for in recent years. He paid in blood for these services and yet his attempts to collect are met with resistance and sometimes hostility. 

Paperwork does not just land in the appropriate place at the VA institutions. The veterans and/or their service advocate must keep in constant contact with their applications or they languish in one department or another without ever being manifested.

VA employees have been mandated to spend less and less money. Frequent policy changes make for nightmarish working conditions. For the veteran, committee meetings to appeal for earned benefits resemble being on trial in a courtroom. Resounding no's come from the major medical inquisitorial teams and battered veterans roll, creep, and drag from the meeting room defeated by the system they fought for.

Laying blame becomes ridiculous. The United States of America is in trouble and drowning on sound bites. Large sections of our population revel in the creation of heartless laws which shrink our government and reduce access to services for our veterans.

If our wounded combat veterans are not entitled to RECEIVE their benefits, then who is?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Reinventing Myself

Creating a timeline of what I've done to make money over the last thirty one years is an insightful exercise, especially in these economic times. When I entered the job market, a person was expected to find a job, settle with it and keep until they retired and yet it took me over a decade to begin learning a skill which I now consider my career.

In 1980 my BA degree in Anthropology from the University of Georgia rendered me a laughing stock for any jobs available in my area.  I had no basic job skills; I couldn't even type. I went to an employment agency to find job. They found me one picking up and delivering crown and bridge work all around Central Georgia. If I could have stayed in just this one job I got right out of college at the Dental Lab, I'd be retired and rich. I would have learned to work a trade, had a fabulous 401K or whatever those retirement accounts are called.  I don't know because I don't have one.

I left the dental laboratory. But before I did that I got married and had a child. My husband and I went out drinking with the boss on a regular basis. The boss began hitting on me. I refused him. My marriage sucked. The baby was sick all the time. I was completely suckered punched by life and I quit the job, two days before the money vested in me would have become mine. This revelation from my boss came later after I could not claim the money. Quitting was a bad life choice if I wanted to have a settled and prosperous life making crown and bridge work  -except it wouldn't or couldn't have worked out - not with a boss hitting on me, a sick child and a bad marriage. I left this job and went straight to work at a dentist office cleaning children's teeth and there I battled a huge pelvic infection and was fired six weeks into the job. I went home with my year and a half old son and licked my wounds for about six months. Then I went back to work.

I got lucky this time, getting employment from a woman psychologist. I was hired because I told her I could type a little bit and she didn't realize how much typing the job entailed. She regretted her decision for awhile, but she allowed me to learn to type on the job and I also learned to file insurance and medicaid and typeset psychological reports. Soon enough, I became reliable and competent. While working there  I read the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual from cover to cover and self diagnosed myself on several fronts and grew savvy at diagnosing others too. Like my husband's secretary who was histrionic and bi-polar, not to mention mean as a snake to me while she cozied up to my lawyer husband and all his cronies.

There were three businesses in the building where I worked and before I knew it, I was copying specs for the architects across the hall, and working afternoons in a land and timber company. In 1985, I got pregnant again and left a few weeks before my second son was born.

That's just my first five years in the work force. I've traveled a long distance in the intervening years. My varied job history is what is expected from young people now. They stay at a job long enough to learn a skill and move on for more experience. I was ahead of my time.

As I look at my timeline; the most impressive trend I see about myself is that I have reinvented myself time and time again. One of the more important innovations was in the early nineties when I began getting jobs to train myself in graphic design.  I went from job to job collecting many different skills.

Now I wonder, is it time to reinvent myself again?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Career Graph

A blog post on design got me thinking about new ways to represent my career in graphics. Information design has been a speciality of mine for years, and here is a new way and personal way to express it. What would your career graph look like? I realizing there are many ways to express mine visually. More to come.