Sunday, December 01, 2013
...wasn't the best idea I've ever had.
I was a volunteer for almost 8 months last year, with no income during most of that time (although with extremely little in the way of expenses-- housing was provided and I had laid in a pretty impressive supply of non-perishable food before I started). Then I picked up a freelance job that was supposed to give me 15-20 hours a week at a fairly generous hourly rate. Since I could accomplish 15-20 hours on weekends and evenings, I went ahead and took a low-paying full-time job that came with low-cost housing.
Well, the 15-20 hours somehow grew to 40+ for most of the past month! While I am very grateful to have two full-time salaries, I have to say that 85-hour weeks are not particularly fun. And forget about exercise! I've held my weight steady by not eating much, but since I had gained a few pounds over the summer due to a broken toe or two, I need to do more than hold steady!
The good news is that my hours at the low-paying on-site job are changing so I'll be getting home an hour earlier and have time for a run before dark. The good/bad news is that the online work is going to dwindle soon as the project is almost finished. I'll miss the income, but not the hours. I haven't added it up yet, but I earned enough in the past month or so to make my bank account almost healthy-- but both jobs end at the beginning of Feb. and I don't have the next one lined up yet. I only have one application in, and it's for another low-paying one that doesn't start until May and that I'm not sure I would want, anyway, in a place I know nothing about.
So... Time for another job hunt. I haven't decided whether I want permanent or term/contract. I hate having to look for work every few months, but I do like having new things to learn and do, and I love knowing that if I don't like something about the job, it's going to end soon.
On an almost completely unrelated note, I'm doing my Thanksgiving tomorrow. Most people in the park worked the actual holiday, so there was a quick "park family" potluck hosted by one Ranger who gets Thursdays off. I went to the nearest city two weeks ago (500 mile round trip in one day; another not-best idea) and turkey was 47 cents a pound, so I bought one figuring even if I didn't do Thanksgiving, I could roast it for myself at some point and have protein for a month. But my parents made it down here from the frozen North last week, so they're coming over tomorrow. I'm going to do the turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and roasted cauliflower, and Mom will bring a cabbage dish she learned recently, and maybe a pie. It's a big meal that I don't really need, but it'll be relatively healthy. If they get here early enough and the turkey is done on time, we might go for a little hike afterwards; we'll see.
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
I am, as far as I know, furloughed until the government reopens. There's a slim chance that I could be declared "excepted" and forced to work without pay instead.
Fortunately, I think I'm going to have a fair amount of work from my online job, but it's still going to be a financial hit if it lasts very long.
And I at least still get to stay in my not-very-expensive National Park housing. The people really taking a hit are those who live and work in, but not for, the National Parks. People who run the restaurants, lodging, camp stores, gas stations, etc. have 48 hours to find someplace else to go and some way to get there. Many of these people make pretty close to minimum wage and some don't own cars. If they have to leave this park, it's over 100 miles to the nearest train station, almost 300 to the nearest bus line (in the US. If they sneak across the border into Mexico, there's a bus stop "only" 160 miles south.) If they have relatives they can stay with, it's still going to cost them several hundred dollars to get there, at a time when they've got no income.
Today I'm sitting and twiddling my thumbs while I wait to find out if I have to work tomorrow. If it goes on longer, I'll get out and hike, but that's going to be a limited amount of fun because there are no bathrooms and no trail patrol for safety. Honestly, it's the lack of bathrooms that will curtail us the most. We're also counting on it to discourage visitors from trying to sneak in. That's a big concern, actually. This park is the size of the state of Rhode Island and we're going to have 15 Rangers and 7 Border Patrol Agents watching the whole thing. No food, no gas, no bathrooms, no search plane, no Interpretive Rangers to give safety information, write permits, and know if someone has gone missing. Several people have died this summer, and several more have been rescued, and the main difference in most cases was whether a Ranger knew where they had gone.
Monday, September 23, 2013
I'm trying to blog at least once every other week, so here it is-- but nothing has changed since the last time! This is the slow part of the year here. Hopefully things will start picking up in another few weeks.
It's coming around to the end of summer; I'm going to start a little gardening this afternoon. I have a back yard, but the soil's not great and we can't compost because it attracts javelinas, coyotes, kangaroo rats, and vultures among other critters. I'm going to plant mostly annual herbs in pots, and some zucchini to try to transplant into the yard. Next week I'll try putting out some beets and sugar snap peas. The seeds were something like 14 cents a pack, so if they don't grow, I haven't really lost anything.
I did make some of the watermelon rind preserves. One batch was supposed to be a jam, but I think I overcooked it and made caramel. The other was chutney, which turned out very nice. I think you could make it with just about any veggie; I might try cactus chutney at some point.
I also have some prickly pear cactus fruit juice to use in jelly/jam. The pears I gathered were kind of disappointing; three pounds of fruit only yielded 2 cups of juice, and it's sort of opaque orange instead of clear ruby red like the commercial stuff. I'm going to combine it with some frozen raspberries and maybe a chili pepper for a bit of zip. And I still have watermelon rind left, so I'll make sweet pickles with that. And my Christmas "shopping" will be done!
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
So I've been a Park Ranger for three weeks now! My particular assignment is a little boring, but I'm working on getting extra stuff to do. I wear a uniform to work, which will be fun once I get my own. Because of the sequester (I assume), nobody gets a uniform allowance until Oct 1, so anybody who started in the summer had to make do with what was in the used uniform box. I did manage to borrow some shirts that are only two sizes too big, but the pants... I don't actually wear pants; I just stand inside them and hope they'll move when I do.
I really scored on the housing assignment. I'm in a brand-new duplex. It's set up to be shared, but because of the timing, I get it all to myself (but only have to pay half the rent.) It's bigger than the house I grew up in. This is the first time I've ever lived in a place with a full-size kitchen, and because of the isolation here, it has a walk-in pantry! Just the kitchen and dining area is bigger than the whole trailer I spent my summer in.
Today I took advantage of that huge kitchen. I made bread, two kinds of preserves, yogurt, banana bread, and mayonnaise, and I cut up a huge watermelon I bought last week. I saved the rind to make watermelon pickles, but I'm not sure I'll actually get that done.
One of the preserves I made is mesquite bean jelly. I thought it would be one of those things you try, say "eh. Interesting, I guess," and then let sit around the fridge for a year til you toss it.
IT'S GOOD! It's really yummy! I am actually going to get more jars and collect more beans and make a whole bunch. I can't describe the taste-- sort of like very mild cinnamon and honey, but with a very slightly sort of smoky or toasty undertone. It's great on bread, and I think it will be really nice with cheese. Since the beans are all over the place here and I basically have an unlimited supply, I might make a version with peppers to make that cream cheese dip you have to have at any potluck in Texas.
I have been really bad about exercising, though. It's too hot in the daytime, and at dusk or dawn it's too rattlesnakey. I saw one rattlesnake the whole year I lived in the center and west side of the park, but now that I'm on the east side, which is lower and hotter, I've seen four in three weeks. But I'm going to have to figure out something, because I haven't lost most of the weight I gained while I had the broken toe. Once the weather cools off, I'll probably at least start riding my bike the 3 miles to work, as a little start, but I need to get back to running and hiking.
Monday, August 19, 2013
I just found out that a childhood friend, the boy I had a crush on from the time I was 7 and he was 9, who was valedictorian of his high school class, prom king, youth Sunday School leader, and the kindest, most polite child in our school...
is IN JAIL.
Mortgage fraud. He was overvaluing houses to get people bigger loans.
The sad thing is, I'm willing to bet that he wasn't making a penny off of it. I can see it all-- I bet he was just trying to help nice people who needed a little break so they could have a safe home for their families in a good school district.
I also think it's a little stupid to put someone like that in jail. It costs how much to house a prisoner? A lot more than it would cost to put an ankle bracelet on him, take his license away, and publicize what he did so he's publicly humiliated (which is the real punishment for him, anyway. He has home confinement for another six months once he gets out.) Talk about a waste of taxpayer money. Oh, well, he'll probably run a literacy program for the other prisoners or something, so we'll recoup some of the expense.
Anyway, since I've just started a job where I handle government information assets, it's a good reminder to me to go by the book, no shortcuts and no favors.
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