Monday, October 29, 2012

Swans on Grace Lake

I knew when I zoomed in on this pair of trumpeter swans with my iPhone camera, the results would not be that good. However, I kind of like the soft, artistic quality. A little PhotoShop might make it even better. If I had the time and inclination to mess with things.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tenth anniversaries

Ten years ago tomorrow, I received a call from my mom, probably late morning. "Did you hear the news? Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash."

At the time, I was living, and beginning the process of leaving, a temporary home, high on a ridge top overlooking the vineyards near Philo, California, in what is known as Anderson Valley, about a hundred miles north of the Bay Area. Vinny had just begun kindergarten, Nina had just turned three, and Joe was less than a year old.

We had moved there, four months earlier, when The Hermit took a job with a "green" company. It was supposed to be a new beginning, a remaking of our lives. But somehow I knew it from the start, we had not planned this well, I had not said enough, and the numbers were not adding up.

Some nights I sat awake, listening to the eerie human-like scream of the mountain lion. My only pleasures were the beach, and Hop Ottin' IPA from Anderson Valley Brewing Company, the local brewery. And my kids, and the white tailed kites that soared in the valley sometimes.

We had already conceded, and were on the edge of leaving, when I got the call from my mom. I had never known her to be politically outspoken, or to even express any view one way or another. My dad's family was very Republican-leaning; I had heard an uncle of his rant against "that liberal, Wellstone". But on that day, ten years ago, I could hear the sadness in her voice. I realized, somehow she identified with that goofball that rode around in a refurbished green school bus. She may have even voted for him. I did, once.

I didn't realize it at the time, but that phone call may have revealed more about my mother than anything else. We were a family that didn't talk much. I'm still getting over that.

A few days later, with all of our belongings packed up in two vehicles and two trailers, we were headed back east, to the cabin, the land that has been our home ever since. We passed through Lusk, Wyoming at dusk on October 31st, and grabbed some Halloween treats from a convenience store.

I still wonder how this world would have been different, if Wellstone had not died. I still wonder if his death, and the deaths of his wife, staffers, and pilots, were truly an accident. And I wonder, if we hadn't taken the chance out in Anderson Valley, how my life might be different. But, it works.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

I have been working for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Section of Fisheries for a total of nineteen years now. My career wasn't continuous; I was hired in November 1991, but there were a couple breaks when we moved out of state to follow The Hermit's career path. But I have been back working as a Fisheries Specialist since 2003.

I had pretty much resigned myself to working as a specialist at Hinckley for the rest of my career. I am pretty much stuck to this place, which limits my upward mobility. Not that I minded, because this is a pretty good place to be, and the job is pretty darn good considering the alternatives.

Ah, as a writer I annoy myself by using the word "pretty" four times in one paragraph!

Recently, however, I had a chance for moving up while staying in the same place. Our assistant area fisheries manager was offered a job as an area manager in Finland, MN, in a beautiful area of northeastern Minnesota. After much thoughtful consideration he accepted it, an as far as I know, has no regrets.

They posted the job vacancy right away. I applied. So did two of my coworkers, and a couple others from within the department. Interviews were scheduled. My first interview in what, twelve years or so?

The interview process was probably the most rigorous I'd ever gone through. It consisted of making an oral/Power Point presentation with 30 minutes prep time, six interview questions, and afterwards, a writing assignment. Whew. But all went well, I though, or at least as well as I could do. I had no worries about the writing part, since I'd been editing my coworkers' writing for years. But by the time I got to the writing part I was kind of in a crazy stress mode. The assignment involved a hypothetical invasive species situation. So I invented a new invasive species, the Icelandic Squid. I hope the interview committee got a laugh out of it!

Then the waiting, from Tuesday until Friday. The awkwardness of being with coworkers who were competing for the job. Then finally on Friday, my boss, going home early with a bad cold, saying: "I'm not supposed to say this, but you got the top score on the interview. You will be getting a call."

I got the call. I am now the Assistant Area Fisheries Manager! Wow! I guess I deserve this after nearly twenty years, but I never would have thought, when I started my career, that I would out-interview several people who were well qualified candidates. I love working for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, along with many great people, and I look forward to this new opportunity!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad