Monday, January 30, 2006

You Asked For It

In response to a request from my blog-friend Neophyte, I now post a sketch that I did for my nephew Rob. I made this back in 2001, right after the Christmas when my sister Kathy, her husband Sam, and their two kids Rob and Beth made a music CD to give to their friends and family. They have their own recording studio, and they did a bunch of songs (some of their own, some written by other people) and when they made the CD cover, it said "Starscream Studios" on there somewhere. (Rob named the studio.) Listening to one song (can't remember the name of the song off the top of my head) I got this picture in my head and I just had to draw it. Later I framed it and gave it to Rob, but before I gave it to him I scanned it into my computer so I could remember what I did. So there it is! The "Screaming Star". I'm trying to remember if I entered this drawing in the Benton County Fair or not. I know I entered the drawing of our old family house in Mechanicsville, Iowa (no I didn't win) and maybe someday I'll post a picture of that.

I have to get going. I need to make supper.

Blue And Grey

I'm depressed. When last I posted, I said that Monday I was going back out on a serious job search. Well, it's Monday, and I did what I said: I called Iowa Workforce Development for help. But they didn't help. The woman I talked to referred me to their on-line job search which was next to useless. The way it works is, you check their listings, then telephone them to get information on various job reference numbers. I did this, and got two leads, neither of which panned out. I now have my "application on file". Big freakin' deal. So after this I went to a couple other places I'd been thinking about, but neither of them were hiring, either. So when I got back home I started searching some of the job web sites that I have, and found an interesting lead: a job as a customer support service assistant for a trucking firm, Monday - Friday 3pm to 8 pm. Not bad hourwise, but we'll see if they contact me. Meanwhile, I'll just keep searching.

And to top that off, it's a grey day - cloudy with an occasional flurry of snow, but no accumulation. That's depressing, because there's no color anywhere and we're not getting any substantial moisture from the clouds. And we need moisture. In two months the farmers will start the planting cycle, and we don't have near enough water in the soil for a good germination.

But I do have some good news (I think). First off, I was able to reschedule my appointment with my Kirkwood guidance counselor for Friday (long story) and I get to work at the high school Wednesday morning. I submitted an admittance application for Kirkwood on-line and already got a nice e-mail from their "adult admissions specialist". Cool! I didn't even know they had an adult admissions specialist. Guess I won't be the only geezer on campus.

I'm really looking forward to learning the ins-and-outs of architectural drafting. Sunday at church we had a Building Ministry meeting, and we discussed the new sound booth we're making for the Worship Ministry, and one guy brought up the need to contact the City for rules and guidelines. If only I had my certification, I'd know what the City demands! And I could draw up the design so that it meets their picky regulations! Ooh, I can't wait!

In the meantime, though, I think I'll just draw a sketch of Judah.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Decision

Well, after more research and a long discussion with Carl, I've decided to pursue the Architectural Technology option. I truly believe God is opening this door, and closing the ones toward Pet Grooming. I base this on the following information: the P.G. program is open to only ten people, and they already have those ten set to start this fall. Then there's a waiting list of ten more people who'd like to enter the program. They get first crack at the P.G. program that starts in 2007. Goodness knows when I'd be able to get in. However, the A.T. program is wide open right now. They take about 35 people, and if I act reasonably quickly I can start this fall. To that end, I called Iowa State University and had them send a transcript of my (abysmal) grades to Kirkwood. Monday I meet with the same guidance counselor that I met with before, and at that time I'll turn in my admissions application.

Now all I have to do is get some money. Therefore, I plan to call Iowa Workforce Development on Monday morning and get an appointment with the career counselor I met with last fall. I'm going to update her on my situation and ask her to please help me find some type of evening employment. I want around 20 - 30 hours per week. Hopefully by August I'll have enough money for books and supplies, at least. The A.T. program coordinator said it takes $500 - $600 for just books and supplies in the first semester. I kinda doubt that I'll have to spend that much, as I have both Carl's and Daddy's drafting tools at my disposal. I wonder if that'll freak out the instructor: using drafting squares and rulers that are from the 1950's.

So pray for me, and wish me luck. I must admit to being a little scared - I have a tendency to fall asleep over textbooks. But I take comfort in the knowledge that in my last semester at Iowa State, I got such good grades that I made the Dean's List. And I'm alot more mature now than I was then.

Well, sort of...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Now What? Part Two

Today I went to a "program conference" for the Architectural Technology program offered by Kirkwood Community College. It was very informative. The A.T. program is a two-year deal (includes one summer and an internship) and when I finish I could work as a drafter or a residential designer. This appeals to the artist in me. I love to draw, and have attempted drafting on a very rudimentary basis. I did the preliminary drawings for our church's bathroom and nursery remodels - a certified architect had to do the final drawings to be compliant with State regulations, but he was able to understand what we wanted from my drawings. I've also done drawings for our house. We'd like to add a porch eventually, so I did drawings of several different porches so we could figure out what we'd want. I also designed my brother's deck, but I can't remember if I made drawings of it or not. (Do you remember, Bob?)

So anyway. My options kinda fall out like this:

1) Pet grooming: a one-year course of study (if I can get in, there's a waiting list) that would allow me to either work part-time for an established groomer or start my own grooming business. Starting my own business would mean I could be home with my girls, and I can set my own schedule, but we'd have to find a place to move in the country so I would have room for a shop and a kennel. I'd have to comply with strict State regulations as to what kind of products (shampoo, flea dip, etc) I could sell retail, and I'd have to deal with the messes created by critters.

2) Architectural drafting: a two-year course of study that would allow me to work part-time (probably for the firm I'd intern with). After I had some experience I could work from home as a freelance residential designer, but I'd have to stay current with the law and also with the newest drafting software. Or I could work for a firm full-time once the girls are old enough to stay home alone. I could work for any of several types of companies doing HVAC, woodworking, kitchen or home remodel designs. I could even work for Rockwell-Collins as an electrical drafter, provided they hire part-time people. The A.T. program also has some hands-on construction training, and that appeals to me because I like to work with my hands. I'd love to learn how to do construction framing. And since I'm the Building Ministry co-chair (with Carl) at our church, any knowledge I gain about structural repair and remodeling would make life that much easier.

So now what? I need to spend time discussing this with Carl, and I have a guidance counselor appointment set for Monday. Plus I've gotten some wonderful feedback on my last posting, but any other comments anyone cares to make would be appreciated. Your prayers on my behalf would also be greatly appreciated, because if I do go back to school I need to figure out how to pay for it.

And then there's that "old geezer in class with a bunch of kids" thing...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Now What?

Well, I have researched the "local" market in pet grooming and am now even more confused. Please read on, because later you will be asked to register your opinion, and I want you to be informed.

First I went to Belle Plaine. You regular readers may remember my having mentioned Belle Plaine before: I went there to get some photos of turn-of-the-century architechture and had the snot scared out of me by a coal-hauling freight train. Anyway, I went to a place that was supposed to be a grooming establishment, only to find the place shut up tight and a realtor's sign in the yard. So I called the realtor on my cell phone and she told me the groomer was out of business. Oh well. After that, I got a sandwich at Subway and drove out of town, stopping at Countryside Veterinary Clinic on my way. The vet's assistant told me there was a huge demand for groomers, but the main problem is that people don't want to drive long distances to get to a groomer's. Hmph. Armed with that information, I then made my way across the county to Vinton, and Lucky Dog Groomers.

The lady at Lucky Dog was really nice, once she got over the shock of having unexpected company. She was clipping a tiny little curly-haired dog, and she spent some time talking to me. She said that, at least for her, grooming was a pretty seasonal business, with less traffic in the winter and more in the spring and summer. She only worked in her shop part-time: she also worked for a veterinarian in Center Point. I got the gist that her work was pretty steady. However, she did outline some of the drawbacks of the grooming business: cleaning up after pet waste, dealing with fleas, having to maintain a shop that met with government standards, licensing, and having nervous pets ralph on you. I think that she thought pet ralph was the worst part. Whatever. She told me that the veterinarians in Cedar Rapids were always looking to hire groomers, and so were the pet shops. Hmmm. More food for thought.

So now I'm wondering what avenue to take. Should I go into pet grooming? There seems to be a market for it, and I could probably work part time for a vet (there's a couple relatively near by) or I could start my own business. Or at least, I would be more willing to start my own business if I had more space, like a place out in the country. If I started my own shop, where would I put it on the property I currently have? Where would I kennel the animals that were waiting for their turn, or waiting for their owners? Remember, part of the idea here is to come up with a job that I can do and still be available for my daughters before and after school and also during the summer. By the time I'd finish Kirkwood's grooming program the girls will be old enough to be left alone at home for half a day, but I wouldn't want it to be any longer than that.

But I'm still considering architectural drafting. I love to draw, and I could work part-time for an architect or whomever. And working for an architect would be a steady paycheck, whereas owning my own business doesn't necessarily mean steady income. I'll know more about Kirkwood's drafting program after Thursday, but in the meantime I'd like your opinion as to what I should do. Should I pursue pet grooming? Or architectural drafting? Or neither? Should I try to find a job, or should I just be content to stay home? I must admit to being rather bored. I really need a challenge. What do you think? Go ahead and leave your advice in my comment box, especially those of you readers who happen to be my relatives. Yes, I mean you, Mom.

Thank you.

Monday, January 23, 2006


It's a grey day in Iowa. No big surprise there - I mean, it's January, we just had snow, and now it's starting to melt off a little bit and that creates fog. Not enough to delay the start of school (thus giving us girls all a chance to sleep in) but enough to be annoying. Plus, there's this story
that informs us, via complicated mathematics that I don't understand, that today is the gloomiest day of the year. Well, whoop-dee-doo. (note: heavy sarcasm)

Meanwhile, this looks like another full week. Tomorrow I plan to do some research into whether or not I should go back to school, and which program I should study. I'm going to go to a couple of pet grooming places and see how business is. One idea I have is to take small animal management/pet grooming courses and open my own business. However, by just looking in the phone book I can see that there's already a glut of groomers in the market, so I'm not sure if this is the route I want to take. My other idea is to take courses in architectural drafting. To that end, I intend to go to Kirkwood's Architectural Technology Program Conference to see what they're all about. I doubt that I can work from home as a drafter, but maybe I can work for someone part time. By the time I'd finish the program, the girls will be old enough to be left alone at home for part of a day without me worrying too much. The program conference is Thursday. Wednesday I have to work at the high school, and Friday's my shopping day, so it looks like a full week. Didn't I already say that? Sheesh!

Otherwise, it's really pretty boring around here. I'm caught up on my chores: folding laundry yesterday took longer than expected because I folded during the Broncos-Steelers game, and I'd throw wadded-up underwear at Jake Plummer every time he made a stupid mistake, which was frequently. Then I had to go retrieve the underwear before the dog got to it and shredded it, so it was a rather time-consuming chore. Fortunately, sorting socks with Hannah went faster because Matt Hasselbeck didn't screw up. So in case you haven't figured it out by now, I'm rooting for Seattle in the Super Bowl. Carl and I are in the process of figuring out who to invite over for the game. I really want to have a Super Bowl party, especially now that Carl's got his big TV and the girls have their chocolate fountain. Football and chocolate. The two just go together.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Problems Of My Own

I've been spending way too much time on the Internet lately. Going to other blogs, reading, posting comments, waiting for replies, posting again, and so forth, was eating up almost all of my day. As a result, things that I should have been doing around the house weren't getting done. Carl had previously expressed concern (in a very loving, kind way) that perhaps I was getting addicted to the Internet, and I finally came to the conclusion that he was right. So I've not been going to the blogs much, and I've only been reading ("blurking"). And now I'm back up to speed on things that need to be done around the house. I feel better. I only hope that the people I used to blog with aren't too mad at me for not being around so much.

And now I have to go. The washing machine stopped and I need to put stuff in the dryer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Introduction

Yesterday morning was pretty cold, so I put Aya in the basement and let Judah in the house. Poor dog - his ears were frozen! This morning it was pretty cold again, so Aya went back to the basement and Judah came in. Now, getting "banished" to the basement is not torture for the cat: his food, water and litterbox are down there, portions of the floor (like my shop) are carpeted, and we put a blanket on my workshop chair so the cat has a cushioned place to sleep. Judging from the amount of cat hair on the blanket, he sleeps there quite a bit.

But today, Aya was very insistently begging to be let out of the basement, so Judah and I went over to the door to "meet" with the cat. Now, before I go any further, I need to explain the layout: the foyer of our house is in the middle between the living room and dining room in the south half of the first floor. The breakfast nook is in the middle of the house between the kitchen and rec room in the north half of the first floor. The foyer and breakfast nook are connected by a short hallway, and in this hallway are two doors; one to the west that goes down to the basement, and one to the east that goes into the foyer's pocket bathroom. So Judah and I go into this short hallway, and I (whilst having a very firm grip on the dog's collar) open the door to the basement. There's Aya, sitting on the top stair. Immediately Aya's eyes get huge - you couldn't see any green at all. Judah doesn't realize at first that there's a cat there. Not until the cat moves does the dog react. He lets out a short "Woof!" and half-lunges for the cat, but he can't go anywhere because I have him by the collar. The cat reacts to the dog's lunge attempt by arching his back and hissing. I tell the dog to lay down, and he complies. Now Aya and Judah are about 12 inches apart (from the tip of Judah's paws to the tip of Aya's nose) and the stalemate begins. I sit down with my back against the hallway wall. Judah adjusts so that he's laying down with his front end in the foyer and his back end in the pocket bathroom, and Aya continues to sit on the top basement step. My legs are between the dog and cat, and they're about three feet apart. By this time Judah doesn't care if there's a cat around or not: he's snuggled up next to Mommy, getting his ears stroked, and that's all that matters. Aya's looking around, wondering if there's any way to get past the dog without being seen. At one point, Aya partially emerges from the basement - two front paws, head and shoulder come out. But then Aya concedes defeat, and slowly waddles back down the steps. I get up and shut the door. Judah gets up and begins to sniff around the bottom of the basement door and promptly gets his nose clawed by Aya, who stuck his paw under the door in a last defiant act.

Now, you may think this is cruel treatment of these animals, but it isn't. I want Judah to learn that cats live in houses and are to be gotten along with, and I want Aya to learn that Judah won't hurt him because I won't let the dog hurt him. I'd like to get to the point where the dog and cat can peacefully co-exist in the house because, after Aya goes back to Mom's, it's very possible that we'll be getting cats of our own. Mary's showing improvement in her maturity, and she really wants a cat, so maybe by Easter she'll have her wish.

Meanwhile, shortly after the cat went back downstairs, Judah began doing the poochie-potty dance, and out the door he went. It's warmer out now, and sunny, so he won't be cold. And Aya's upstairs, basking in the sunlight.

The cat won't come near me, though. I wonder why...

Monday, January 09, 2006

30 Minutes

I have thirty minutes before I have to leave for my job interview. I'm interviewing at the high school for a substitute teacher associate's position. That means I'd be working a part-time-part-time job, but that's better than nothing. Plus, it gets my foot in the door for a regular part-time teacher associate's job, so I figure I'd better go for it.

This has been an interesting morning so far. Hannah almost missed her bus. The driver was early, so as I was pulling up to the school (Hannah's bus stop is at the Atkins elementary school, and they bus the 5th and 6th graders to Norway [Iowa]) the bus was pulling away. My first reaction was, "Is that Hannah's bus?" My second reaction was to yell "Oh, no! That's your bus!" Hannah almost started crying, but I told her to calm down as I sprung into action. My foot went STOMP on the accelerator, and Candy went VROOM! The bus turned the corner to head south toward the highway, and I was right behind her. We were on a nasty, narrow little two lane road that has very few passing lanes, and these lanes are only long enough to allow a fast car to pass a slow-moving tractor. However, this is where having a 5.4L V-8 engine and a desire to race stock cars comes in handy. I passed the bus and high-tailed it to the highway, where there's a little mobile home park. I stopped in the entrance to the mobile home park, and as the bus came down the hill I waved to the driver. Hannah was climbing out of the back seat at the same time. The driver (bless her heart) stopped for us, and I apologized for missing her. She said she was early: she had jury duty in Vinton. So tomorrow Hannah's going to the bus stop early.

Fortunately, when I got home, Mary had finished her breakfast and was almost ready for school. All I had to do was cut the tags from her shirt (she hates shirt tags) and she got dressed the rest of the way, got out the door to her bus stop in plenty of time, and was off to school. I gave her a huge hug for being so helpful. She is such a good girl!

So now, after having had breakfast myself (orange/cranberry fat-free bagel bread toast with marmalade - YUM!) and having gotten my chores done and having gotten ready for my interview, I can relax a little and blog out my frustrations. I wonder how the morning routine will change if I get this job.

Should be a fun time! Oh, and I have fifteen minutes left before I have to leave. 'Bye!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Good Day Sunshine

Today, finally, we had a day of sunshine. When I checked mid-afternoon it was 42 degrees. Mary was bored, so she and I took Judah for a walk. I retrieved Mary's scooter from the basement, and after I put the walking collar and leash on Judah we were off. We went around the neighborhood once, then we went over to the Ampride for a treat. While we were out, Carl and Hannah worked on an "invention" for Hannah's TAG class. So we brought Hannah back a treat, too.

Meanwhile, in other news, my niece had her baby yesterday. For all the details scroll down to the bottom of my Links list and click on "The Funnelcake Conspiracy". This is my nephew-in-law's blog site. The pictures are very cute.

I wish you could see the cat right now. He's laying on his back on the floor in front of the television, and his eyes are closed like he's asleep. We're watching the New England Patriots play the Jacksonville Jaguars. Oops! Now Aya is up and laying next to me on the couch. I love having a laptop computer so I can watch football and blog at the same time. Ain't technology wonderful?

That's about all that's happening around here, folks. The girls are in bed, Carl's upstairs, and I'm down here with the cat blogging and watching football. Time to relax until bed.

Life is good.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Eyes Of Texas Are Upon You!

WARNING!! If you are a USC fan, do NOT read the first paragraph of this blog. It will not help your mood any, and as I'd like to keep all of my friendships intact, I'm telling you now not to read the first paragraph. I mean, the first paragraph after this paragraph.

OK - this is the first paragraph. USC fans - you have been warned. THE TEXAS LONGHORNS ARE THE NCAA NATIONAL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONS!!! YEEHAW!!! It's about time someone stuck a hole in USC's balloon, and who better to poke a hole than a Texas Longhorn! I hope all the idiots who voted Reggie Bush for Heisman are overwhelmingly embarrassed. The Texas defense shut him down. If it wasn't for LenDale White, USC wouldn't have had any rushing game at all. (Last night, every time they said "LenDale White" I kept expecting to hear "Lindale Mall". Go figure.) Anyway. It's a shame that the one Texas touchdown came as a result of really, really bad officiating. (HEY!! You guys in the replay booth! Wake up!) But I'm sure that Texas would've scored on that drive anyway, so its water over the dam now. But wasn't the fourth quarter great? I had to bandage my fingertips before I went to bed because I'd chewed my nails down to nothing. Carl and I had been watching the game downstairs, but he got tired so we went to bed and I watched the end of the game there. I don't know how Carl managed to doze off with me pounding on the mattress and screaming (softly screaming so as not to wake the girls) but he did. I wonder if my cousin Curt was going as nutso as I was. He lives in Texas and at least one of his stepsons went to school at Austin. I also wonder about Carl's brother Steve, who lives in Texas as well. But I'm not sure if Steve follows college football. He's more of a NFL type guy. I think.

USC fans: it's safe now. Still on the subject of football, sort of: wasn't Keith Jackson great as commentator in the booth last night? I'm glad he changed his mind about retirement. He's probably the best college football broadcaster on TV. And I like the way he says "Times out" instead of "Time outs". What a class act, Keith Jackson.

And now, for a cat update: Aya is fine, and is currently seated on my lap. The front end of his body is draped across my left arm, making typing difficult, but I'm managing. (obviously) He's not at all intimidated by Judah. In fact, Aya will sit in front of the French doors staring out into the backyard, and when Judah comes up, Aya just growls and slaps the door with his paw. He doesn't run. And when I open the back door a crack to give Judah a treat, Aya's right there, watching. Aya likes to go out on the front porch, and I've got his leash and harness all set up to accomodate him. I only wish the weather would be more accomodating. The cat won't stay out long when its misting and cold.

Speaking of the weather, accoring to a local meteorologist, we haven't had a sunny day since December 23rd. That's almost three weeks that it's been gloomy, hazy, foggy and mild. The temperatures have hovered between 32 and 40 degrees, and while this isn't bad, I'd like to see some sun. The snow's mostly melted, too, so if we did get some sun and a mild breeze we might actually hit 50 degrees. That would be nice! Especially for January. I could take Moose Mutt for a loooong walk. Maybe we'll go to Texas!

After all, I still have two times out left.

Monday, January 02, 2006

First Blatherskite of 2006

Aya is really warming up to living here. He forgave Carl and me for clipping his front claws, but he still tries to sharpen them where he shouldn't: the couch, my dresser, the stair-rail posts. But he's getting friendlier, and he's discovered that Carl and I have comfortable laps. He's still going back to Mom when she returns from Cincy, though.

In other news, we had a thunderstorm this morning around 2:30 AM. Really, no kidding, a thunderstorm on January 2nd in Iowa. It lasted for over an hour. I stayed awake for it, because as a weather spotter it's my obligation to watch storms for reportable phenomena. We didn't have anything reportable, but we did have a little hail, and at one point slush was falling from the sky. It was pounding against the French doors in the kitchen so hard that I thought it was hail. Fortunately it wasn't, but it was really freaky. Boo-Boo, of course, woke up scared, and Carl stayed with her in her room until the storm passed. He's such a good daddy.

We have all of our Christmas decorations down and put away, including our outdoor ones. It's always sad, putting the decorations away, but fortunately it goes pretty fast. And somehow, I always end up with more stuff than what I started out with. I don't know how that happens. Maybe when the decorations get out into the fresh air they multiply, kind of like those desert frogs that only come out and multiply when their area gets a rare rainstorm. Go figure.

Anyway. Tomorrow reality sets in: Carl goes back to work and the girls go back to school. We start the countdown to the 2006 holiday season, anticipating all the strange and wonderful things that will happen as the year progresses. Hopefully nothing bad, terrible or catastrophic will occur, and we'll find ourselves here in this same place a year from now: me blogging about the events of 2006, and you sitting there, reading this blog, hopefully being amused, informed and entertained.

Happy New Year!