Wednesday, April 25, 2018

playing Wednesday's Words catch-up

I have been lacking in the creativity department for most of this month. Stressed by this never-ending winter and work issues.
​This meme was started by Delores at Mumblings and now Words for Wednesdayhas grown feet which travel month-to-month to other bloggers for the words. This month, the prompts
were provided by Elephant's Child.
The goal is to encourage us to think, write, and create.  Each week a choice of prompts
are presented: words, phrases, music or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us. All or some of the prompts can be used to create a short story, prose, a song, a poem. Or you can choose to ignore them and just go off on your own.
To read the magic these words created this month, follow [this link to Elephant's Child]. Some of the magic is posted as comments under the words each week, while others will post on their own blogs and comment with a link.
If you do visit a blog post, or enjoy a commented post, please please please acknowledge the writer's efforts with a kudo or two.
Since I am playing catch-up for three weeks of words, rather than listing them here as I usually do, I will put them in ALL CAPS and underline them as they are used.

The sheer curtains blew in from the open window like a GHOUL on Halloween, gliding through a cemetery. For a moment, the medium was caught by the AMBIGUOUS implication of her thoughts and actually believing that such spirits really existed. She knew that her palm-reading, fortune-telling, spirit-calling business was nothing more than a fraud. A FORGERY of emotions designed to only BENEFIT her bank account, and not the grieving innocents that sat across the table from her.

"Do you think he was having an AFFAIR?"

The question brought her back to the present grieving widow sitting in the uncomfortable wooden chair she had purposely selected to make customers figit as they sat watching her intently turn cards and interpret their meaning.

"I only ask because before we married, he used to PARADE a young woman's photo around as the childhood love of his life and take DELIGHT in my insecurity."

A WHISPER behind her caused the medium to turn suddenly and peer into the darkness of the drawing room. It was lit only by artificial flickering candles in empty wine BOTTLES. They were controlled by a switch she could tap to instantly extinguish the light and turn them back on again as if to indicate the presence of a spirit.

"Did you hear that?" she asked the widow.

"Was it him? Do you think he is here?"

"Would you like me to call him, to see if we can raise his spirit?"

"No. I don't think that would be wise. He may be angry with me, and he could be a little HOMICIDAL when he got angry."

"Well, then what would you like to know? Simply whether or not he was cheating on you?"

The breeze coming in from the window picked up, and a swirl of SAWDUST from repairs done recently to a leak in the ceiling made a small dust devil that lifted off the ground and made a CIRCLE on the floor around the women.

"No. I want to know if he knew that I found out who she was."

Now the wind coming in the window began to howl like a man in agony, and the table between the two women shuddered. The Grandfather clock standing against the wall suddenly stopped its comforting TICK tock. The FRESH black roses she had placed in a vase on the drawing board where she kept her cards began to die as if they were weeks only instead of hours.

A single DROPLET of something a MAGNIFICENT color of blood red fell from the ceiling onto the back of the card the medium was about to turn over.

"Please tell me that is nothing more than tomato JUICE" the widow whispered.

The medium looked up to the ceiling from where it had fallen as if to APPEAL to the god she thought had abandoned her years ago for a CLUE about what was happening. She slowly shook her head no as she met the widow's eyes.

"Perhaps we should CANCEL the rest of this session?" the medium asked as she began to smell the scent of a man's CHEAP cologne.

Nodding yes, the widow's face began to turn a light shade of PURPLE as she realized she was unable to draw a deep breath. Something was pressing against her chest, pressing the small silver WHALE pendant she wore under her blouse deep into her skin. She had found it in the pants pocket of the man she once was deeply in LOVE with, and she knew it hadn't been meant as a gift for her.

She had taken it from his pocket before she tossed the pants into the washing machine, the last straw of many in their marriage.  Another sign of his emotional infidelity that he would flaunt in her face.

The widow let out a THIN, FRIGHTENED gasp of air and SCRATCHED at where the whale was now digging deep into her flesh, a line of blood now showing on her blouse.  Her voice, barely a whisper, as she leaned forward towards the medium.

"He was everything I wanted.  WEALTHY and generous with his FLOWERY compliments.  But I wasn't enough for him after a while and he became SULKY.  All the hours I spent slaving over a hot STOVE, trying to please him,   Wrestling with his UNWIELDY piles of dirty clothes and dishes as he  turned me into a simpering slave to his demands.  But it made no difference.  Nothing I did was good enough for him.  All he wanted was you."

The medium gasped and leaned back in her chair as the blowing curtain behind the widow revealed a face in the folds.  The man she had loved since childhood.  A man she thought she would never see again once their parents found out about their love for each other and put them in boarding schools on opposite sides of the country.

"You were FEARLESS in your love for him, he told me.  Defiant.  Breathtaking.  He swore he would find you one day and when he did, it would be over between us.  I couldn't let that happen.  I'd been trapped like a monkey in a ZOO doing tricks for the PRICE of his affection for me.  But he never gave me his heart.  It was always yours.  I wish his search for you had been given up years ago, but his INQUISITIVE mind wouldn't let him quit.  I had to kill him.  I had no choice.  Once I found the whale pendant, I knew he'd found you."

Tears ran down the medium's face.  She reached subconsciously to her left wrist where she wore a watch on a leather band engraved with humpback whales.  She'd seen it on vacation once, whale watching in Alaska, and it reminded her of the last time they were together.  They had snuck away to Baja, Mexico on Spring Break to watch the whales.  He had asked her to marry him, and given her a small silver ring with a mother of pearl whale on it.  She still wore it.

His image in the curtains sighed and she could feel his sadness wash over her.

The widow continued whispering.  "It took me a little time, but I found you too.  I came here to see what you looked like, and to tell you that I killed him and you will never be able to take him from me."

The pressure around her chest tightened, and her breathing became more labored.

"I came here to kill you."

Standing so quickly that her chair fell backwards, the medium stepped away from the table as the widow pulled a gun from her purse and pointed it at her.  The wind in the room roared with anger, and the candles turned off as the medium tried to get away.  In the darkness, she couldn't see anything other than the flash of the gun as the widow fired wildly to the left and right of her.  She heard the widow scream, then nothing.

The candles flickered back on.  Lying on her back on the floor with her eyes and mouth wide open, the widow was dead.

Moving slowly, without a breeze through the window now, the curtain again revealed the face of her true love.  He sighed.

"I will never leave you again."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I'm no expert ...

Some of the applications I've been filling out ask to rate my skills or knowledge on subjects.  Usually the choices range from "I know nothing at all about rocket science and brain surgery" to "I'm an expert at losing socks in the laundry."  

Fortunately for my sock drawer, I never claim to be an expert in anything.  The closest I'll claim is that I have the knowledge and experience to do the job without someone standing over my shoulder and watching my every move, however, I know my limitations and don't have any shame in asking for guidance.

I do it deliberately because I honestly feel that there is always room for me to learn something new.  Software upgrades and changes every few months.  A country's borders can move and new governments rename them.  Pluto got reclassified into something less than a planet.  Dinosaurs are renamed as archeologists learn more about them.

Ten years ago, a project manager hired me away from a company that I had a lot of history with on the promise of a guaranteed five year government contract that offered me more growth (learning) and promotion opportunities.  During the interview, he repeatedly asked me what I knew about Microsoft Access.  I told him that I was familiar with it, but would not claim I was an expert or even proficient.  I knew the basics, and had toyed around with it on my home computer, but hadn't spent a great deal of time with it because at the time, there were other database software programs I preferred.

Eight months later, a government program manager on whose contract I was working under asked me to do a task in MS Access that even with my limited knowledge I knew couldn't be done.  It was a task that he had put before several other contractor companies.  They had not been able to perform to his satisfaction so when contract review came up, they were replaced.

Now it was placed before me, the company I was working for, and when he told me what he wanted done, I told him it couldn't be done.  The look on his face told me that it wasn't what he wanted to hear.  He'd been told I was an expert at Microsoft Access.  It was why the company I was working for had been given the contract.

I politely explained to him that I never claimed to be an expert, and if he had been told I was by the project manager, he had been misinformed.  I also explained that what he wanted done couldn't be done because of the limitations of the software itself.  Reports can be created to run at the touch of a button, but they have to be programmed behind the scenes.  Parameters have to be set that tell the software where to gather the information from.

What he wanted was for the database to be able to produce a report generated by any one of the 50 division and department heads on the base for their specific requirements, which could include any of 1 to 100 or more different variables.  He wanted it to be instantly available to whomever was requesting the report with as much or as little information as they needed.

I told him that if I knew what information each division or department head wanted to see, I could build a report for them, but for that many users, it would take time and once the report was built, it couldn't be altered without another report being created for them.

For example, if they wanted a report of how many employees had been Lean Six Sigma trained the previous week for a specific command whose Division Head was Peter Piper, and whose date of hire was after June 1st but before November 15th, that could be written into a report available on demand.

But if Department Head Mary Mary Quite Contrary wanted a report showing her employees whose last name started with A through M, and who had been with the company for less than 5 years, but more than 1 year, who had completed their annual ethics training, and whose Division Head was Tiny Tim, new report parameters would need to be written.

Two months later my project manager told me that he had mislead me in order to woo me away from my previous company because they needed my skills to gain the overall contract for the company.  There was no "guaranteed" contract beyond the first year.  It simply had four more "options," and the option to renew the contract I was working under was not taken.  Within six months the project manager's option was also not renewed, and within a year the company lost the overall contract to a competitor.

The lessons learned there were many.  Honesty is always the best policy, especially when interviewing.  The grass might have looked greener on the other side of the bay with the new company, but it was certainly growing over a septic tank of deceit and dishonesty.

It is possible that in the past ten years the MS Access has been upgraded to do the task that he wanted.  I'd like to find out, and expand my knowledge.  In the meantime, I'm sticking to my one and only expertise ... of picking up the pieces and recreating myself.

Friday, April 13, 2018

thought provoking questions

I interviewed this week for a position in a Spring(ier) part of the country. I hadn't had any coffee before I called into the panel, and was trying to wake up with a mug of hot tea which wasn't nearly the same potency. I'm sure more than once I sounded like a babbling idiot as I tried to get my thoughts together for questions.

As much as I try to prepare beforehand, there is always one or two that catch me off guard and make me think long after the interview is over.
"Tell us about a decision you made that you regretted and what you did to correct it."
Hmmm ... forgetting that there was a season called Winter in the North?

In truth, however, I try not to think about decisions I wish I'd made differently. Somedays they would simply overwhelm me if I gave them thought. Instead, I try to focus on the lesson to be learned from the decision, or what I gained because of that decision.

If I said I regretted moving (to California, away from California, to Georgia, away from Georgia back to Florida, to Texas, away from Texas back to Florida, away from Florida to the North ... you get the idea), then I would have to own the regret for people I've met, places I've seen, and pets I now own.

I don't (can't, won't) regret those.

If I said I regretted marrying whomever, then I would have to own the regret for the extended family I gained, places we went, and pets we got.

I don't (can't, won't) regret those.

Regret is a negative that will eat you up from the inside and destroy your peace of mind if you let it. It isn't something that can be changed because it is past. Over. Done with. Gone.

The only way to "correct" a decision made in error is to learn from it, move on, and not dwell on it forever. Count the blessings you gained from it. When you continue to let a regret consume your thoughts, you can't grow from it and eventually just wither away into a bitter, negative person. Why continue to give someone/something that much control over your life when obviously they were a mistake, to begin with? Sometimes the best "revenge" for regret is to stop thinking about it as a mistake and look at it as a lesson you learned from.

"Where ​do you see yourself in five years, and how do you feel this position will help you get there?"
​Hopefully somewhere warm, with green grass, brightly colored flowers, leaves on the trees, birds singing and making nests, and no mention of snow WHATSOEVER.

I want to be grounded in a house of our own, with family and friends coming to visit for the holidays or weekends. Planting gardens, chasing chickens, and sneaking yet another cat or dog in that I can explain to the hubs with a "But it followed me home, what was I supposed to do?" Maybe even getting a miniature Highland coo because we're twins after all (short, wide, with red hair that gets in our eyes).

Getting that position puts me X number of hours closer to it becoming a reality than XX number of hours. It puts me along a parallel on the globe closer to where I want to be. Closer to Spring.

Yes, I know there will be heat and humidity and bugs. There is humid heat up here too (one or two weeks in August or September). There are mosquitoes and black flies also, in fact, cluster flies that appear and swarm INSIDE the house from WHOKNOWSWHERE!

But with humidity comes softer skin, not quite as dry and cracked as it can be for 9 months a year here. If you've ever had a crack on the corner of your thumb or finger, right by the nail, that seems to go all the way down to every single nerve ending in your body, you know the pain. They appear overnight and you don't know they are there until you hit them, and trust me, you will hit them with everything, every single time you use your hands. (Buy a case in super glue before winter, it will save your sanity!)

I am hopeful for change. A change of seasons and a change of address.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

"It started as a game..."

This meme was started by Delores at Mumblings and now Words for Wednesday has grown feet which travel month-to-month to other bloggers for the words. This month, the prompts are provided by Elephant's Child.
Essentially the goal is to encourage us to think, write, and create.
​Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us. All or some of the prompts can be used to create a short story, prose, a song, a poem. Or you can choose to ignore them and just go off on your own.
To read the magic these words create this month, follow [this link to Elephant's Child]. Some of the magic is posted as comments under the words each week, while others will post on their own blogs and comment with a link. This week's prompts are: game, bag, torch, queen, fit, pardon and/or beach, shadow, orb, chilly, collision, desperate.

It started as a game of seek-and-find.

Each of them took a canvas bag and set off into the woods at dusk with only a small torch to light the way when daylight finally faded away. They were to capture a queen, however, none of them stopped to ask what she was a queen of, or whether or not she would even fit into their bags. If it had been a bee or wasp queen, that would have been one thing, although none of them had any idea how to do that without getting stung. If it was a fairy queen that might have been even more of a challenge, they would have to beg her pardon for stuffing her into a bag in the first place and hope that she didn't turn them all into toads before they could disarm her.

Walking in the dark, with their torch lights looking like fireflies bobbing through the trees, they were surprised to find themselves on the beach of a lake so vast they couldn't see the opposite side of it since their torches faded into shadow across the water. Standing there, wondering whether to find a way around or go back the way they came, they realized that an orb of light was dancing towards them across what they could only assume was water.

Whispering amongst themselves, they realized the temperature of the air had suddenly turned chilly and the orb seemed to grow larger and faster as it approached. In a panic now, several of them turned to run, dropping their torches which immediately extinguished, leaving them in the cold and dark. The sounds of several of them meeting in a collision only made each of them more desperate to escape whatever was coming.

When dawn broke over the forest and its hidden lake, voices could be heard calling out their names. Empty bags littered the forest floor, and the children were seen no more.