Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 23, 2009

This past week, the person filling in for the staff member on leave for a year announced that I would be getting a call from a prospective employer for a reference check. We talked about it for a while. Great opportunity - $20,000 per year more than we at our NGO [Non Government Organization] can offer. Young, bright, ambitious, wanting to get married and have some kids. How can I object to that? How can I ruin the opportunity by not supporting them? That is just a lose-lose. No promotion and me working with an angry employee who deserves recognition and an opportunity to better fulfill life dreams! Here we go again!!

The reference check arrived right as scheduled and the formal offer for the job was made the next day! Good for them. Kind of sad for me as the working relationship was just beginning to gel more positively than before.

During the 1st week in November, I will be going to Oklahoma - a spiritual community for me; a church and seminary that I attended in the 1990s. I will lead the Sunday service there, my first ever, other than my seminary completion requirement; although I have done lots of public speaking. The Pulpit has not been my cup of tea. Two hour hell fire and brimstone diatribes during my upbringing and too much orthodoxy come to mind as possible reasons – but my experiences in Africa inspired me to offer to lead the service the only Sunday I will be there and the church leader accepted my offer. My topic is entitled: The Commandments Revisited. I will also do a session on my Africa trip as a work travelogue and description using the Internet based Picasa web album for my slide show. Then the next day, I will do a workshop-seminar on addiction entitled: Addiction: Unveiling the Tortured Soul of Humanity.

I have done a workshop in this community each year for the past 4 years and this year is a busy one with the three offerings during the week that I am there. My best friend there and one of the important the reasons I go to visit, is moving to North Carolina in part to be nearer to her daughter and grand daughter. Oh, we will see what the future brings.

Had another lovely hike last week – a great bright, sunny, cool, fall day – probably one of the last as the west coast monsoon seems poised to start on Tuesday with the predictable forecast beyond that date offering rain every day. Such is the season in Vancouver.

I am planning to go to Oaxaca Mexico for Christmas to join my Seattle brother and his wife (Remember from a long time ago I have seven brothers who live all over Canada and the US) who are studying Spanish there as of November 6 in preparation for working as English as a 2nd language teachers there soon. My NY- NJ brother will join us there. I will fly from Seattle and take Linden, my dependent niece with me. I booked the flights and paid for them on Wednesday so the die is cast! Haley, my older niece, will join from her work in Northern California as will my brother from Jersey City. That will be our third Christmas together in Mexico. Baja was first, followed by Buscerias, just north of Puerto Vallarta the second year.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I am back - after a few months of hiking...

It has been a long time since I have updated my blog! There are lots of reasons for that, of course.

The main one is that it was summer and my priority was on the out of doors, taking advantage of the beautiful place that I live and the mountainous splendour that is at my fingertips. The pictures of this entry are from a 4 day backpacking trip in early September, 2009, that I took with 5 friends about 90 minutes from home in Garibaldi Provincial Park. We hiked in for 4 hours with our tents and our food on our backs going steadily up for an altitude gain of about 3000 feet and and a distance of9 kilometres and than made camp on the edge of glacier fed Garibaldi Lake. We got much exercise, lots of clear sunny days, gained great appetities, met interesting and not-so-interesting people and enjoyed the flora and fauna!

In the following days we did more great hikes each going up another 2500 – 3000 feet and 10 -15 kilometres to Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge where you can see snow covered peaks at the end of summer in a 360 degree spectacle.
On the way up to Garibaldi, we encountered a medical emergency where someone had suffered a stroke on the steep climb to the lake and the campground. A helicopter ambulance was roaring above the 200 - 300 foot tall trees. There we lots of people there 'helping' and so we skirted the scene as there was nothing we could do except get in the way. Later we heard that the individual had died on the trail.

I initially thought, “How awful, going out for a hike and you never complete it! You leave on a stretcher.” But later, after some serious reflection, I changed my mind. It is a wonderful way to go to the next level. Doing what one loves, in a spectacularly glorious setting on a fresh and

bright day. We all will make a transition at some time. This one was fabulous and to be celebrated. Hiking and obviously in general good health. There was no pain and no lingering on a hospital bed for several years with cancer or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), no declining into oblivion with the dementia that steals one’s consciousness through the travesty of Alzheimer’s disease. Just a single step into the great divide, in chosen conditions and with chosen friends. Perfect!

In August, I went to a family reunion in Michigan and also spent restful time with my NY/NJ brother, visiting friends together in Toronto and lounging around the pool in Burlington, playing with Sammy, the golden lab on 30C days, looking after our youngest brother's home while he and his family are visiting family in Italy.

Work has been interesting, to say the least. Just when I think I have many things working the way I think they ought to be, as they say - "shit happens" - and I am back at the drawing board.

I have six staff members that report to me and after 2+ years at the helm, things seemed to have stabilized for me. But let’s not get too comfortable!!!
One of the long term staff announces that he is taking a year’s leave of absence for an extra $10,000 per year and a new experience. With long term staff that is to be expected and even encouraged in order for staff to stay fresh and motivated. And in a non profit Non Government Organization [NGO], the money is always low, so people building a career, deserve every opportunity to get ahead and get some reward. In the NGO setting those opportunities and increases in earning are rare, so go for it –we’ll manage. (More about the $$$ later.)

Scrambling to make alternate arrangement ensues, is successful, and all is well......Well, maybe.
Then another staff member, working in a totally different area, has to go on long term sick leave. Totally unexpected and unavoidable. This is some one who has taken no time off for illness in a dozen years – not a malingerer or goldbricker – for sure. Scramble some more. I hire some casuals to fill in and get some fast training done before the sick leave begins. All is well again. I am giving more supervision and given more opportunities for more hands on involvement (read more hours-on, on-the-job training, guiding and just doing it!) It is fun, although busy, I enjoy it and I learn a lot at the ground level where the front line action all is!

Stay tuned! The production is laying out the next episode as I type and that will be in the next blog entry.