Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Cee-ment Pond

The other day, my friend Jude came by to pick me up for a movie date.  As she strode up the driveway she announced that she had just had an argument with her husband.  He told her we had an in-ground swimming pool here in our yard, and (although she had been here many times since we purchased the place back in January) she was quite certain that we did not.
 "Sure we do", I said, and with a dramatic arm sweep toward the eastern edge of the yard and a laugh:  "Welcome to the jungle." 

It is there, although you would never know it looking in from the road, covered and hidden as it is by grape vines, bittersweet, wild roses and black raspberry cane.  It is standard size for a backyard pool, a rectangular shape surrounded by a rusted chain link fence which has been padlocked for years.  The liner has long since rotted away nearly completely; only thin shreds of turqouise vinyl hang from the sides in various places under the tattered remnants of a dark green cover.  Since we have lived here, there has been a foot or two of stagnant, muddy water in what used to be "the deep end". 

Upon first examining it on a walk through late last year, I was astonished to see that reeds and cattails had established themselves there.  Several frog species have taken up residence, and now a flotilla of  bright green algae floats on top as well.  It is a real "cee-ment pond" that would have made "The Beverly Hillbillies" proud.


Right now it is a mysterious, secret garden, full of birds, chipmunks and amphibians. I almost felt like I was in Costa Rica on a rainy Sunday a week or so ago as I took some of these pictures.

When the frost comes back, all the vines and vegetation will die off and expose the ugly pit and the rusty fence again which event I am not really looking forward to. It was a bit depressing last winter to be greeted by it each and every time I walked out the back door, and no help for it in sight ( as it is the last priority for us; so much else needs to be done here). It is a daunting reminder of all the overwhelming work and expense lying in wait for us in the years to come. Still, I have no will be so worth it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

More Upheaval

No sooner had I received word that my position was stable, than our manager announced she would be leaving.  She was taking another position with a different government agency, and a new manager for our office was being fast-tracked.  The following week, one of two remaining job counselors, and the only remaining woman except myself also gave her notice. 

Now just three short weeks later, the office has changed radically.  Since I started there in January of 2010, seven co-workers have either transferred, resigned or been let go and five of them were women.  I grew up with five brothers, and was, by anyone's standards, a tomboy.  I don't feel uncomfortable at all around men and I can hang with the best of them, but it is still a bit odd to go from such a diverse team (young, old, multi-racial, mixed gender) to what exists now (five middle-aged guys and me). 

The man chosen as the new manager started this past week.  His first order of business was removing lamps, artwork and all manner of decoration from his office.  His blinds remain closed all day, eliminating the panoramic view of the skyline and a nearby, wooded pond.  He keeps the light off in his office and sits in the dark except for the pale light of his computer monitor.  The ongoing discussion of team sports (boring to me) now fills the air for long periods each day.   Where my previous manager was a strong woman who treated me (almost) as her equal in the office, he assigns me secretarial tasks and says "Thank you, dear", (mildly irritating) when I complete them.  This is definitely going to be a major adjustment for me.

My former manager speaks very highly of him, having interviewed him herself for a different position some months ago.  It is way too early to tell what sort of manager he will turn out to be.  I will certainly reserve judgement for a month or two.   He asked to meet with me yesterday, and for a little bit under an hour, asked about my observations, ideas and concerns for the office, which I found promising.  Personally, he seems nice.  He appears to be generally serious and well-intentioned and I am reassured by that, as well as by the fact that he has a corporate background.  Hopefully he will run the office in a fair, no nonsense way.  We shall see.