Working From Home

work to do - small

We never know what change is coming at us.

Two months after my last post, Hurricane Matthew looked like he was going to grind up the entire Florida coast as a Cat 4. I dashed away from my out-of-town gig to rush home and evacuate my parents. Two hours into my five hour drive south I got a call from my boss saying, sorry, but we’re going to have to replace you immediately. We’ll get you back in here ASAP once your family responsibilities are complete. I said, OK, no problem. This is life as a storm adjuster who also lives in a hurricane prone state.

Can’t be everywhere at once.

One hour later – still rushing south – phone rings again. Different company asking me if I am available to lead an in-office storm team – right in my own home town! Oh, yes! How’s that for timing? Maybe God is in control?

That gig didn’t last long but segued into another also in my home town. Whew. Good thing too because by then I needed to attend all parental medical appointments, etc. Working out of town is no longer an option.

Fast forward one year. Hurricane Irma is coming and another out-of-the-blue call – offering me to:

WORK FROM HOME! 

Woot!!! Woot!!! World’s Biggest Woot!

The hours were brutal but completely flexible – allowing me to work as much as 77 hours/week while still getting my parents to appointments and walking their new dog. (Hah, that’s another post).

But, after ten months of that pace, I’d had enough. I took the slower summer season as the chance to change my Day Job. We’d been praying that this opportunity would come and it did. Same industry, different role. Still work from home. Still completely flexible hours – just a lot less of them and less emotionally draining.

I LOVE my Day Job!

And, since work is slow right now, I am still catching up on all sorts of things that were neglected: INCLUDING MY NOVEL! (See my writing blog update HERE.)

FIRST DRAFT = DONE!

 It’s been two+ years of hard work and sudden changes. I am thankful for the grace of God which continues to strengthen me for each step and allows me to face the future with peace – having seen His hand so clearly at work in the past.

2019 is going to be challenging in endless ways but when I can make myself stop and remember His past blessings, I can face the next round of the whirlwind.

Early Bird Efforts

bfd60-2010-02-07_feeder_snow_144a

Mr. Grackle in snow –  Picture by: Lausanne Davis Carpenter

The best remedy for surviving a twelve-hour day in cubicle-land is to spend my early mornings on my own goals. I have posted on LDavisCarpenter about the challenges of writing historical fiction and am starting a Flash Memoir side-project while chipping away at my novel.
 

I am reasonably confident in my non-fiction abilities but creative writing is – whew. I know how long it takes to develop any new skill so I want to use my life experiences as material for word-crafting practice – before I am faced with final edits of my long fiction. Flash Memoir seems like a good choice for distilling memories into words that transport a reader to another’s time, place, thoughts and senses. I also think it will be fun to capture snippets of my own crazy life in this form.

 

Meanwhile, you can see last summer’s mural on the Marsh Hawk Studio blog. I still plan to do a process post showing the steps to creating it but those pictures are on my other laptop which an Office update recently corrupted and can no longer access the internet. (Yes, thank you very much.) I will soon update the Long Ago & Far Away blog with notes on Conn Iggulden’s Genghis Khan series.

 

If I can ever get my blogs up to date AND have a day off – I’ll be back to writing my novel.



***About Mr. Grackle – just a fellow at my feeder on a snowy morning back in VA. Those eyes look like I feel most mornings before tea.

Writing and Responsibility

desk and candle

There’s a certain martyr’s pride we risk when forcing ourselves out of bed in the wee hours to get our writing done.

I’m back to the Day Job – the traffic, the hours (the paycheck! old friends! new friends!) Thankfully, this time I have a shorter commute which is allowing me to find a few minutes in the morning to think about writing. So far I’ve managed to read some research material and scribble a couple of posts on my writing blog.

I could get up even earlier but, working six or seven long days every week, less sleep would reduce my ability to help the people who depend on me at the office. They depend on me for training in order to stay in their assignments as long as possible. But, my sense of responsibility goes beyond their urgent questions. My employer depends on me to keep our people in their roles because that’s the core of our business. Our client depends on our people to serve their customers well, in support of their brand. Those customers depend on our people to be professional and accurate during their time of need and sometimes great stress. And, my people have others in their lives depending on them to bring home a paycheck.

I owe them all seven hours of sleep every night.

Dickens-at-the-Blacking-Warehouse

Studio 3.0 – Mural Commission

Messy Studio

Messy Studio/Warehouse

In the midst of my personal madness, I got an email requesting a small-ish mural. As it happens, I think I can actually squeeze one in between the time I get the parents physically deposited here in Florida and when I will make myself available for adjusting work again. There is going to be a phase of getting the folks settled – finding doctors, learning the roads, etc. when I don’t want to be in a 12hrs x 7days work gig.

A mural could be just the right diversion.

However, in the last 18 months, my studio has turned into a warehouse. So, the first task was to clear it out and sweep up the leaves that blow under the door.

All Better

All better – the black splodge on the floor is a permanent spill of some mystery substance from before my time.

Client meeting went well. Proposal completed and passed. Next step is a detailed drawing.

Meanwhile, I drive to Virginia tomorrow to start the final phase of loading the folks’ furniture in containers, deep cleaning the house in preparation for the market and getting them and Sally-dog into the car.

Of course, it’s going to be in the 100s in Florida and the 90s in Virginia this week. All good fun.

I think that’s enough for now.

A Little Faux of My Own

I’m south again and was hoping to start painting my parents’ new interior, but the drywallers aren’t finished yet. So, faced with a glorious day, I decided to complete a little project of my own.

My husband built this storage barn last summer. For security reasons, we didn’t want windows, but we also didn’t want to be looking at bare-faced siding. So we planned some faux windows. Hubster framed them with Hardie board; my job was to complete the illusion.Faux Windows - BeforeFaux Windows - in progress

Start to finish took about two hours – including clean-up and a fresh coat of paint on my back steps. Mind you, it could still do with a bit of shadowing and the paint bled under the tape because of the surface texture. But it does the trick “at 40 feet on a galloping horse” as we used to say in the theatre.

Faux Windows - After

It was good to be on a ladder with a paintbrush in my hand again. Been too long. But I’ve got a whole house to deal with once that drywall is in and straight painting isn’t my favorite. The decorative stuff is much more fun.

I think I should paint the door the same color as the siding. What do you think?

 

Work in Progress: Never-ending Renovations:

Work In Progress

Work In Progress

Looking good, eh?

Six months delayed. Cost overruns. Losing buckets of $$$$$ because I quit my day gig too soon. The house was supposed to be ready early March – originally December, but I knew that was laughable – so I stopped working at the beginning of January in order to help my parents pack, move and settle in.

Is the end in sight?

The insulation isn’t even in yet, much less drywall and fixtures. My husband and I will have to DIY the flooring, cabinets and painting to save money.

The good news is: the wait has allowed me to write. Writing is portable while I’m trying to be in two places at once.

Meanwhile, I’m having serious cravings to paint – particularly with encaustic/wax processes. But painting isn’t very portable (not the way I paint anyway, and especially not with the encaustic set-up). So, I write.

Is there any wonder I’d rather just sit here and read?

porch1 medium 11 inches

Time Management and the Disordered Life

L Davis Carpenter - Writer

Down the Rabbit Hole Down the Rabbit Hole

Day job, family, (laundry, errands, bills, stray cats and trying to move aging parents to new home), news headlines, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, real life relationships – everything conspires against our creative arts. This past week, with 20x more discretionary hours available than usual, I lost focus. I meandered down every possible rabbit hole. A lot of it was good – I’ve learned about marketing, how to use Twitter, found new resources and finished some research – but I didn’t add one word to my manuscript. I floundered.

Today I’m packing to head north again and wishing I’d used this week at home more effectively.

My life goes from 95% externally structured (when on an adjusting gig) to negligible external structure (between gigs). I have been self-employed most of my life so I am adept at self-structure and motivation. But from time to time even I fizzle out.

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Tomato Soup with an Asian Twist

Tomato Soup with Asian Twist

Tomato Soup with Asian Twist

I’m back at home for the week. That means stacks of laundry, cleaning floors and putting away winter clothes. Yay!

Sudden rain made me think – SOUP!

I dug around in the pantry and freezer and this is what I came up with:

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red bell peppers – cubed
  • 1/2 cup green bell peppers – cubed
  • Lots of chopped garlic
  • 2 whole star anise seed pods (shhhhhh! This is the secret ingredient!)
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 1 small bullion cube
  • Whole lot of green onions – chopped

Method:

Saute first 5 items

Add tomatoes and simmer

Add broth & bullion cube

Simmer about 30 minutes

Remove anise

Add green onions and simmer another 5 minutes

Simple and surprisingly yummy.

Everybody IS a Story

Last Sunday James and I visited a small neighborhood church across town. We were greeted by a little old lady – gray-haired, long jean skirt, tidy blouse, and cardigan. I’d have guessed she was in her mid-80s.

Now, stop right there. What are you thinking? Have you made some assumptions about her already? Be honest.

I had.

I’m thinking – grandmother, great-grandmother, bakes apple pies, knits socks. Sweet. A pleasant two-dimensional cardboard cut-out.

She started telling us how they’d lost five of their congregation in the past year. Wow, I thought. That’s about 30%.

Then she said, “Yes, a family of three moved away – Navy, you know. Then Slim Whitman passed away.”

Slim Whitman?

“Oh, yes. This was his home church. He never wanted to move to Nashville and get involved in all that stuff.”

Well, whaddayaknow?

But here’s the good part:

She continued, “A few years ago my husband and I went with him on his farewell tour through Europe and the UK. We went with him so we could take care of his wife Jerry. She was sick and he was going to cancel his tour because he refused to leave her. So we volunteered to go and take care of her while he had to be on stage. We did 20 cities in 23 days. Road on the tour bus. Slim, he had to ride in a separate car or fly, but we road on the tour bus with the band. Learned all about the industry and took care of Jerry.”

She and her husband would have been in their 70s at the time.

I don’t mean that being someone’s grandmother is insufficient. But this was a fun reminder that if you’re willing to listen, everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is much richer than our cliches. What’s most special is the way they served their long-time friends, Slim and Jerry, by stepping in to take care of a loved one’s wife of 67 years –  even when it meant two months away from home, long days on tour buses and road food. They could have been home with their grandchildren, watching TV and knitting.

What I Did on My Summer Vacay

Front Range Viewed from Greeley, CO

Front Range Viewed from Greeley, CO

Summer is officially over if you consider Memorial Day and Labor Day the boundaries – rather than looking to celestial events. Neither work here in Florida – it feels very much like summer from April through October.

As for what I did: two months of Day Job in hot, dry Colorado. Then one month in hot, humid Tidewater, Virginia troubleshooting various challenges for my parents. I have now been back in my own home for three weeks.YAY! The laundry and housework are caught up, the new storage barn’s rafter tails are primed (note the evidence of oil primer in my hair) and tomorrow morning I start another round of Day Job.

This next assignment is a new role for which I am very thankful. The hours will be brutal, as always. However, I was able to complete a lot of research this summer so I hope to scrounge some minutes before work to convert story ideas in my head to scenes on digital paper.

I missed cross-posting a prior blog entry from Long Ago & Far Away to here so that will follow.