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The sun and Snow Creek Wall put on one last show for me by way of goodbye.

The sun and Snow Creek Wall put on one last show for me by way of goodbye.

A rock spire on the side of Snow Creek Wall is lit by the slanting rays of the sun as I descend into the canyon.

A rock spire on the side of Snow Creek Wall is lit by the slanting rays of the sun as I descend into the canyon.

I rose with as much leisure as possible, and waited for the sun to dry everything out before I packed. It was another glorious day in The Enchantments, and I was so reluctant to leave. Finally I began the 4000 foot drop back down to civilization.

Every bit of the trail was as beautiful as it was on the way up. I took lots of breaks because my bad knee was complaining. I would sit on one of the many available granite boulders, and gaze in admiration at the world around me. I passed one point in the trail where rustling leaves caught my attention. I first took a photo, then realized what was so beautiful about the spot was the sound, and not the image. So then I took a video. A couple of hikers came up while I was filming. I held up a finger for them to stay back till I finished. They got very excited and looked intently up the hill to discover what wildlife I had discovered. Then I stopped the video and disappointed them when I explained, “No wildlife, just rustling Aspen leaves.”

It looks sort of pretty, but this photo does not convey the magical sound.

It looks sort of pretty, but this photo does not convey the magical sound.

Lots of people passed me on the way up, which was a mystery until I recalled that it was Friday, and guessed that Seattle people were likely getting an early start on weekend hiking. They asked me lots of questions about trail conditions, campsites, and goats. I tried to encourage them by telling them about the trail ahead in the best possible way. “You’re at least half way to the lake!”

A bracket fungus captured my attention while I was resting.

A bracket fungus captured my attention while I was resting.

At the bottom of the hill the parking lot was jammed, compared to the empty lot I had seen Tuesday morning. Yet another affirmation for hiking popular trails during the week. I dumped my dirty smelly pack into the back of the Jeep and grabbed some clean clothes to bring up front with me – for changing in the first bathroom I could find. I plugged in my phone, and it started beeping it’s little heart out as battery life and cell signal brought in all the texts and phone messages I had missed.

One key phone message was from human resources. Yes! I got a promotion. A new job, more accurately. Since it’s government, there is no such thing as promotion in that someone says “Hey Crystal, you’re doing well and we’ve decided to pay you more,” because that could be unfair. So, when a different position became available, I submitted my resume and supporting documents, went through an interview, and was selected for the position.

Pros: higher salary, completely new job within VA that I get to learn and thus will stay interested in work, good career move, good retirement move since my retirement pay will be based on my highest salary.

Cons: I have to change my schedule from compressed to five days a week, and commute to the office every day while I’m in training. Drive to work. Every day. Cuz…remember I live on Jupiter now. I’m out beyond public transportation, and I do not drive a fuel-efficient vehicle, and I’ll have to pay for parking smack downtown. Bluh. ….but it’s an investment in my future, right?

I get to bury myself ever more deeply into veterans disability claims and with this new position I will be able to help them more than ever before. That makes me really happy.

I was so eager to get home that I decided to make the 4 1/2 hour drive rather than find a hotel. I texted Tech Support, who was house-sitting, and let him know I was on my way. He texted back that the chickens had been loose during the week, but all was well at the moment (Someone must have told them they could fly. I was trying to keep that a secret.) He left the heat and lights on so when I arrived in the middle of the night, the place was so welcoming. 🙂

He also left me with this memento, taken from my place while I was gone:

The starry sky from Crystal's place. Photo credit: Tech Support, friend, chicken-catcher and house-sitter.

The starry sky from Crystal’s place. Photo credit: Tech Support, friend, chicken-catcher and house-sitter.

An apple from my tree.

An apple from my tree.

My piece of land is growing on me as she changes her clothes for the season. I have decided there simply aren’t enough colours out there for a proper Autumn view, and I will plant trees with this in mind, so I can enjoy them in future years. There are a few maples turning colours though, and I have been able to capture a few photos of them. It has begun raining again, and the creek level is rising. The pond is still too low and I’ve talked to a neighbor who has a pump and generator, who may be able to lend it to me to restore my little puddle to something more pond like. I’ve harvested apples from my two apple trees and made a pie. The deer eat what I haven’t had a chance to pick up off the ground. I feel more assured when I can walk around and take stock and see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same. I suppose I’m becoming more of a country girl with each day.

Creek level is rising again.

Creek level is rising again.

A new creek view, available due to some heavy pruning of this big cedar that was dropping branches to the water.

A new creek view, available due to some heavy pruning of this big cedar that was dropping branches to the water.

One of the few maples painting my land red.

One of the few maples painting my land red.

A view up toward the house from down where I'm building a bonfire pile.

A view up toward the house from down where I’m building a bonfire pile.

Distracted by a spider (but you can still see the red in the background). Isn't the colouring gorgeous?

Distracted by a spider (but you can still see the red in the background). Aren’t the patterns on the abdomen gorgeous?

I can't resist red. So yummy.

I can’t resist red. So yummy.

Cookie exploring her new home

We’ve got a new girl in the house.

My daughter had a cat at her dad’s, and a cat at our house. Her dad is moving to California and didn’t want to keep her cat, so we’ve agreed to take her in. Cookie has been here a week now, and is still not totally sure she likes living with Pumpkin. He is happy with the new roommate, and is practically beside himself waiting for her to relax so they can play. He chases her every chance he gets, which terrifies Cookie, and she spits and growls and speeds away in a cloud of black calico fluff. Pumpkin is usually hot on her tail, thinking it’s great fun, but then she hides under the bed and he loses interest.

Pumpkin feeling playful

We let her out this morning, and after a couple of hours she cried at the door to come back in, so that’s a good sign that we’ll be able to let her out.

In other news, my girlie graduated from the 5th grade yesterday. Today she will be at the coast all day with her Girl Scout Juniors troop, sharing the last time they’ll all be together in Scouts. Since their school only goes to 5th grade, a couple are going to a different school than the rest, and of course, my daughter is one of them. I picked her up from a sleepover, and took her to the house where all the scouts departed from, and said my goodbyes there.

She is moving to California with her dad, and will be there till the third week in July. Then I’ll go pick her up and bring her home for good. For good! I am so thrilled. My family will be all together again. She will still get to see him on her vacations from school, so it’s important that she gets a chance to go set up her space down there. They will be moving in with her dad’s girlfriend and daughter, so this period of adjustment will be important. They’ve all lived together before, so hopefully the transition will be ok.

My man quit his job Thursday! Woo hoo! It’s about time. He was in a poisonous environment. though he likes the work, he couldn’t work out his differences with his boss. My man tends to keep his mouth shut in all situations, and his boss tends to completely go ballistic at the slightest little problem. Between the two of them, communication just steadily broke down. Also, his boss felt that paychecks and reimbursement checks were a minor detail, and so the employees only got paid when they pestered him enough that he finally got fed up with them and paid them. It took him over a month to pay back $1130 in field expenses to my boyfriend, which he finally received on Thursday. It’s unacceptable, not to mention stressful.

Though we are now unsure about how we’ll pay the mortgage, it had finally reached the point where more damage was being done by him staying there than what will be done by not receiving a paycheck.

He’s got a good lead on another position, so my spiritual fingers are crossed for the gods to bless us with another employment opportunity soon. It would be with the company he left in Massachusetts, who just opened a Portland branch office last week.

My house in Mass still hasn’t sold. Got one offer and signed a contract and everything, but then the potential buyer backed out. I think three other people have looked at it in a month, but in general, it’s looking like it’ll be a thorn in my side for some time to come.

This is Pride Weekend. The Uncles are driving the square dancing and bowling floats again. I really want to go. I had so much fun last year. I’ll be thinking of Kevin though, and it will be an emotional day. Actually, that’s sort of the reason I need to go – to remember him. I hope my guy will go with me, and I hope it won’t be too hard on him.

I applied for a couple of jobs last week too. I LOVE my current job, but it has nothing at all to do with anthropology. If I can work in the field I was trained in, that would be a reason to leave the Oregon veterans. Otherwise, if I am not offered the position, it won’t be a big deal.

J and H invited me to a PetAid concert at the Edgefield yesterday. That was really fun. I got to see Nada Surf, Spoon, and Presidents of the USA. Being an old fogie, of course I most wanted to see the Presidents. I have to say, the best moment of the night was watching the crowd freak out to “Peaches.” Hundreds of ROCK ON hands and fists in the air, beating time like wild hardcore rock maniacs, shouting the lyrics, “I love peaches!” “Millions of peaches, peaches for me!” That kind of comedy knocks me out.

The McMennamins Edgefield
is a beautiful, beautiful place, and I’m dying to go back and explore it more. Lots of Grateful Dead paraphernalia around, so I really want my Deadhead boyfriend to go check it out too.

The sun is shining again, you know that makes my heart smile. Life is interesting…. but good.

Edith Green - Wendell Wyatt federal building

I have already mentioned that I applied for lots of jobs this summer. Responses to my applications are still rolling in. I interviewed for another VA job – a position with higher pay  ($8k more/year) and more responsibility. Last week I was offered the position! Yay! Instead of working on the 14th floor of the federal building, now I’m working on the 13th floor.

Well, actually, nothing is changing quite yet. I’m still in the training room down on the second floor, with 8 visiting VSRs from Philadelphia who are also in training. My new coach said I will finish up these three weeks of VSR training, then my three-week training to be an RVSR will begin on or around November 28.

I’m thinking I’ll finally see the inside of a cube and get to do my job around January. In the meantime: training, training, training. The fun part is that my GS-9 level pay raise begins today – up from GS-7. It’s all part of the slow, painful process to regain the status I was at four years ago: GS-11 Step 6.

Again, I can’t help but ask myself: Why did I just leave a $60K a year job to go $80K into debt and get a job that pays only $45K? Sigh.

It isn’t that simple. But man is life frustrating right now, even amidst my small successes.

One day, one day, I hope to be able to say with conviction that I am glad I went to school.

My sweetheart says that “when it rains it pours.”  Apparently, when one has been unemployed forever and then a job offer finally comes in…. everyone else in the Universe finally decides to give the girl a  chance and the job offers pour in.

Last week I had four requests for interviews! FOUR! In a week! And two came in last week. That’s crazy. I know it’s only because I already have a job. They are leftovers from all the applications I was dumping on this community last month.

I actually accepted two of them, and went to one interview Wednesday and one Thursday.

The interview Wednesday was for a promotion within the VA. Not a promotion based on my performance so far, of course, since I haven’t been there long enough. It’s just that I applied for this other position as well as the one I got hired for. If I can get hired on in a more advanced position, I’ll take it. I am the only one with a job at the moment, and I owe a million gazillion in mortgage, rent, student loans, and trying to eat on top of all that.

The Thursday interview is a chance to work a second job. It’s the Tryon Creek State Park inside Portland City limits. They need a part-time anthropologist to do a survey of residents’ habits and daily activities and land use practices, in order to get a sense of how they impact the watershed. I’m their girl!! Except that… I don’t know where I’ll have the time to squeeze it in. If they offer me the position, I’ll take it, and find a way to make it happen. If they don’t offer me the job, I’ll be relieved.

Work is exhausting for my head. Three straight weeks of training. Three straight weeks of not having a clue of what I’m doing. It does become stressful.

My lovely girl is in Eureka with her dad, visiting her “step-mom” and “step-sister.” I have really been missing her, because I felt like our visit last weekend was too short. I asked her dad if we can spend ALL of next weekend together, and he said it’s no problem as long as she hasn’t got other activities going on. I need to connect with her.

Wish me luck.

I’m am nervously checking the clock as I prepare to go to work on my first day there. Wouldn’t you know it, the power went out during the night, but living out of boxes served me well for once. My alarm clock is still packed, so I had to use my cell phone as an alarm clock. The power bump didn’t affect me in the least.

I haven’t had a full time job since May of 2003, when I left my last one to go to school. It makes today pretty momentous for me. I sort of want the first week to be done already. I want to know who I’m working with already. I want to know what I’m doing when I go in. I want to know where I can put my stuff, and where to sit, and … what to say when the phone rings, how to make myself a cup of coffee, and what the password is to log on to the network. I want to know the name of the security guy that will run me through metal detectors when I arrive, and I want to know where everybody goes for lunch. I want to know how often the #17 bus runs on time, and if I’ll have any trouble parking near the bus stop. I want to know if this is one of these offices that keeps the air cool and blowing all day long, so I have to keep a jacket there at all times.

Patience. We musn’t be so hasty, as Treebeard might say.

Off I go!

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