What Happened…(NOT Hillary the Harpy’s book, and no blame!)

The week after Labor Day, Hubby and I drove to Montana for a Ricochet Meetup, attended by members from as far away as New York City. You can read my three-part trip report on the Ricochet Main Feed Here:




We returned to Everett the following Tuesday, and it was back to work on Wednesday.  I expected that when I got back to work I would have a brimming mailbox, and probably stacks of invoice issues and towers of kits ready to go out for assembly.  I had about 160 emails, but that was about all.  What I definitely did not expect, was to find out that while I was gone, my boss had given his notice, and the Friday would be his last day at the company.

I was devastated.  I had worked directly for him since November of 2014 (before that, I sort of worked for two groups and bosses, Production Control and Purchasing, and attended staff meetings for both groups; the Production Control supervisor had told me that he had too many direct reports, and was transferring me to the Purchasing department full time).  Since I knew that the Production Control supervisor had never really liked or appreciated me, that transfer was exactly what I had wanted to happen, and I was dancing around inside with joy.  When I went to the first Purchasing staff meeting after I was transferred, the manager told the entire group about it.  I just glowed, when everyone in the room clapped and cheered, and said how happy they were to have me as a full member of their group.

From the very first, I had a great relationship with my boss.  He was English, and I have always been a sucker for an English accent.  I knew that he appreciated all the work I did, and understood that I was doing work that wasn’t strictly in my job description.  One of the things that he required of all the buyers was a “weekly report”, describing all the projects we were working on, and any problems we might have been having.  I felt really a part of the group by writing that report every week.  And I knew that he read them all, since he would make a point of discussing issues with me soon after.

Every year, my husband and I have a holiday open house, where we make chili and invite our friends and coworkers over to share some cheer.  I invited my boss that first year, and I was totally blown away when he, his wife, and his son showed up!  They stayed for a while, and we had some excellent conversation.  They came the next year, too.

In 2015, our company went through a huge factory remodel, and for over a week the whole place was a construction zone.  We all had to come to work every day, and help out where we could, all decked out in our hard hats, safety vests, and steel-toed shoe covers.  The first morning, there was an “all-hands” meeting in an open area, where everybody stood around, waited for their department people to show up, and admire all the safety gear.  I walked in, and my boss happened to be standing right in the middle.  When he saw me, he beckoned me over, and gave me a hug.  Well, I just grinned like the Cheshire Cat, and he had made my day.

I’ve worked for a lot of people in my long working life, and I have to say that this boss was the best, most supportive person I’ve ever worked for.  He backed me up any time there was some conflict, and he would always sign my purchase orders that were over my dollar signature authority.  He really appreciated all the work I was taking off the senior buyers, which is more than I can say for my previous boss.

He’s been gone for three weeks now, and I really miss him a lot.  For now, our department lacks a supervisor, and the person who is supposed to be taking over has lots of loose ends to tie up at his current employer (a sister company in another state).  Going to work isn’t much fun any more, and employee morale in general is pretty bad.  Everyone in our department misses our old boss.  But we can all say that we loved working for him-I’m not the only one.

So that’s what happened.  Life goes on, and we retain our pleasant memories.

Seen through a window…at 60 miles per hour!

I have gotten pretty good at taking photos from the passenger-side windows of our car.  On our way to Montana and back, I shot these photos from the moving vehicle-I really wanted my friends to see what the air quality was, as a result of the wildfires in Montana and Eastern Washington.


This was just east of Spokane, on Interstate 90.


This was what we could see of Lake Coeur D’Alene.  Lake?  What lake?

On our way home, the air had cleared up a great deal.  These photos are my favorite basalt cliffs of the Columbia Gorge, on the east bank of the river, just outside East Wenatchee, Washington.

Basalt cliffs, Columbia Gorge

See the green at the base of this photo?  Those are vineyards.  Many orchardists around Wenatchee, the apple capital of the world, are pulling up their orchards and planting wine grapes.




The Road Trip From Hell

At least, that’s how I thought of it at the time, and for a long time thereafter.  The year was 1971.  I had just graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Psychology.  I had applied to graduate school, and had been accepted at the University of Minnesota.  So, how was I supposed to get from Seattle to Minneapolis for grad school?  We discussed it in the family.  I would need a car, but had almost no money.  I was offered my mother’s 1962 Chevy II, 4-door car, to drive myself to school.  Now, my mother never took the car anywhere but to the local stores and maybe downtown once in a while, so it got next to no highway driving.  And since it never got many miles, it never got much service either.  Oil changes and inspections were a rare occurrence, so needless to say it was a mess inside.  Here is a picture of what my transportation looked like.  The car was even this color (brown, so it wouldn’t show the dirt, according to mom).


Larry, my boyfriend, was a whiz at working on cars, so he spent a couple of weeks under and inside the car cleaning up and fixing everything he could think of that might go wrong.  He replaced all the belts and hoses, replenished all the fluids, and inspected all the working parts that he could.  There was not much he could do about the engine, which sometimes made funny noises that no one could trace.  I never felt confident driving it, expecting something to blow up or drop off.

I went down to the local AAA office, and had one of their people draw me up an itinerary, with all the highways and stopping points marked.  It seemed to me to be a pretty complicated plan, including lots of back roads and not many freeways.  But I did it their way with no complaints, because I didn’t know any better.  I applied for, and was granted my very first credit card, from Chevron, so I could buy gas on the trip.  I took a big sheaf of American Express Traveler’s Checks to pay for meals and motels on the trip.  I had no idea how and where I was going to live in Minneapolis once I arrived there.  My father had a distant relative who lived in a near suburb, so he contacted them, and they arranged to put me up at their house until I could find an apartment near school to rent.

So, in mid-August, I packed up all my worldly goods in the old car, and set out for Minnesota.  All by myself.  Knowing no one, never having driven a tenth that distance alone.  And in a car I hated, and feared that it might break down.

The first couple of days were uneventful.  It was midsummer, and hot, and the old car had no air-conditioning, so I was fairly uncomfortable.  Funny, but I made it to Montana before I had any sort of trouble.  I had spent the previous night in Great Falls, and was puttering down the two-lane highway when something went “BANG”, and the car simply stopped.  My greatest fear had been realized.  Here I was, in the wilds of rural Montana, with a car broken down.  Fortunately, it was early in the day, around 10AM.  Remember, this was before mobile phones were ubiquitous.  There was a farmhouse a short distance away, and I was getting ready to lock up the car and walk there to see if I could use their phone to call AAA.  Just then, a bright red Ford station wagon drove by, and slowed down.  The driver noticed me by the side of the road, and stopped to see.  It was a traveling salesman, and he did have one of those newfangled car phones.  He called AAA for me, and it turned out that the nearest town had a Chevy dealer, who had a tow truck. So we arranged to have the Stanford, Montana Chevy dealer tow my car into town.

I rode in the cab of the tow truck, and in speaking with the driver, it turned out that I had been really lucky.  They were about to take the tow truck out of service for its own maintenance, and I had called just before that was to happen.  When we got to town, there were lots of things to do and decisions to make.  While I waited, the car was put up on the rack, and they determined that my problem was a broken timing gear, which would require a new part.  The dealer did not have it in stock, so it would have to be ordered.  So I needed to find a place to stay while the car was being fixed, and money to pay for it.  I phoned home, and appealed to my parents for help.  Again, Dad to the rescue.  It turned out that the widow of an old Coast Guard buddy of his lived in Great Falls.  He called her and asked if she could put me up while the car was being repaired, and she said yes!  Her 18-year-old son was home for the summer, and he drove down and picked me up.

Well, he and his mother turned out to be interesting people.  They lived in a very nice home, which all I can remember of now is all the kitchen appliances were turquoise!  Oh, and they were never used, and mother and son ate out for all their meals.  I stayed there for the six days it took to fix my car, and then the son drove me back down to Stanford.  I charged the repairs on my Chevron card, and that was about my credit limit.  So I was on my way, with a repaired car, no air-conditioning, and a load of anxiety that I hadn’t had before.  One more thing.  My new schedule now put me right behind the Montana State Fair, so for the next couple of nights in Montana, the places I stopped for the night had few motel rooms available due to the fair (which moved from town to town).

The remainder of my trip was horrible, hot, and anxious.  One of the few good things I remember from then was the terrain in Judith Basin County, just south of Great Falls-I thought it was beautiful.  My car troubles weren’t over, since it needed a new thermostat, which was replaced in Gillette, Wyoming.  I drove across South Dakota next, and sweltered.  As I was coming into Sioux Falls, it started to rain.  With the outside temperature over 90, it was either roast with the windows up, or get wet while leaving them open.  I left the windows open and got wet.  In all this time, too, I hadn’t slept very much at all, so I was about as miserable as I could be, alone in a strange place, knowing no one, and worried that I was running out of money.  I was able to call home, and I spoke to Larry.  It was good to hear his voice and tell him my troubles.  He told me that I was having an anxiety attack, but had no words of wisdom about how to cure it.

I crossed into Minnesota, and drove north toward Minneapolis.  The last town on my route was Mankato, and as I drove through town, I realized that I was driving in the middle of a parade!  Just what I needed, to hit town in the middle of their annual Corn on the Curb Festival, celebrating the town’s most important product-corn!  Indeed, many people were sitting on the curb, eating corn on the cob.

I made it to Minneapolis, and managed to find the home of my father’s distant relatives.  They lived in Saint Louis Park, and their house was nice.  However, they were not.  I discovered very early on that they really didn’t want to host me, and they made every effort they could to kick me out as soon as possible (which didn’t help my mental state one bit).  I then went apartment-hunting in the city, and managed to find a tiny basement studio apartment only a few blocks from campus.  I moved my stuff in there, and tried to find out how to cure my anxiety which had not abated at all.  Since school was not yet in session, I couldn’t use the school medical facilities.  What cured me?  Finding a friend!  I struck up a conversation with a young man who lived in the same building, and the next night I got my first good night’s sleep in weeks.  I considered that the end of the Road Trip From Hell.

Note:  In the mid-1980s, Larry (now my husband) and I took a driving trip through Montana.  We made a point to stop in the tiny town of Stanford, and visit the Chevy dealer.  It turned out that the dealership was now run by the son of the owner when I passed through, and he was pleased to hear that I had remembered them.


A New Photo Challenge: Layered

Hubby and I spent the week after Labor Day in Bigfork, Montana, at a Ricochet meet up that had been planned for over a year.  There was no way we could have predicted that most of Washington, Idaho, and Montana would be shrouded in smoke from multiple wildfires in Eastern Washington and Montana.  When we were loading up our car, there was actually ash on the car!  And we were in that smoky environment all the way from Everett to Bigfork!  We literally did not see the sky for nearly a week.  However, all that smoke did create a very layered view.

This is the view from the back deck of the house we were renting for the week.  This is the shore of Flathead Lake, and there are actually trees, mountains, and a lake out there!

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A little closer to us was a large Ponderosa Pine tree.  I have always been fascinated by the thick, multi-layered bark of these trees.  That bark, with all its layers is sometimes over two inches thick.   And its color is beautiful, too.  Its thick bark protects it from fire.

Ponderosa Pine tree
Ponderosa pine tree, Bigfork ,MT


On This Labor Day…Proudly Working and Supporting Myself at Age 68

On This Labor Day…Proudly Working and Supporting Myself at Age 68

Today is a holiday for me.  At age 68 (two years past my full retirement age of 66), I am working full-time (actually, more than full-time with all the overtime I put in), at a job I love, and with a side interest for my professional association.  As a Planner/Buyer for an aerospace company, my job is vitally important to the smooth functioning of my company, and I never worry about becoming irrelevant or being laid off. Yes, even at my advanced age, I make a difference every single day.  There have been layoffs large and small since 2008 when I was hired, but after I survived the bloodbath at the height of the financial crisis, I think I’m pretty safe.

There used to be three people with  my job title at the company, and over the years the other two left the company, and I took on their work.  So I am literally doing the work of three people; very competently, I might add.  One of the principal values I live by is being a productive member of society.  I made a mid-life career change (from hospital pharmacy technician), and I feel like I’m just hitting my stride, with many productive years ahead of me.  I don’t feel old, and people tell me I don’t look my age <grin>.  My boss appreciates my work, which is gratifying.  And I can guarantee that my coworkers and other internal customers will miss me while I’m on vacation next week.  As of today, I have no intention of retiring any time soon.

Since 1999, I have been the Business Survey Chairman of ISM-Western Washington, the association of purchasing managers.   Putting out the Survey every month keeps my finger on the pulse of the local economy, and provides excellent economic information to the local and national press and economic community.  I get enormous satisfaction out of this work, and I intend to keep on doing it, even if I retire from full-time employment

So, on this Labor Day, give a wave and thanks to those who keep the world turning around, food on the table, and planes in the sky.