landscapingThe past 3 1/2 months have been sort of stressful at work. Besides a relentless upper respiratory infection that refuses to go away, insomnia and the inability to sleep more than 4 or 5 hours a day, working hoot owl with no change in sight, a new manager, and insanely complex projects where I am not only the senior team member but more than half of the team doesn’t know how to even spell “experience”, I just needed a day off. The problem is, vacation days, even though earned, are not approved until the team is up to par. “Par” is a vague word without any determined definition.

I enjoy my job and the challenge of figuring out how to deploy complicated tear-downs and re builds. However, working nights is draining.  And working with novices, no matter how dedicated and enthusiastic they are, is demanding. It is certainly more demanding than my pay-scale.

I put in for a vacation day – just one day, not an entire week, last week. My request languished with no feedback as to whether it would be approved or denied for over a week. Thankfully, it was approved last Thursday. That little thing reduced my stress level a hundred-fold. I hate mind-games.

Anyway, we grilled Friday evening. Organic beef and grilled veggies, and a relaxing night watching TV. Saturday we decided to work outside. Liz has an exhibition in NJ next month, so she packed 40 paintings to be shipped East. I tackled the back yard which was suffering from neglect. We acquired a box full of cactus clippings from our friend George Johnston. Cactus seems to be the only thing we can successfully grow.

I planted some Santa Rosa cactus, a crimson prickly pear variety; some stag-horn cholla; an Old Man of the Desert which is a barrel cactus from South America that is covered with white hairs as it matures; and other prickly pears and stick chollas.

Liz and I dropped off five huge boxes of paintings at Fed Ex for delivery, and then headed to Home depot to pick up supplies. Five bags of river stones for the new cactus garden.  We will have to add several dozen more bags of stones, but for now we had enough to cover the ground around the new transplants.

I spent an hour or so with the weed whacker. After the back yard was whacked into shape, we headed out front and planted more cactus cuttings. I hacked out the old dead growth from our two Blue Agaves.

Last fall, a freak hailstorm decimated the shades on the ramada in the back yard. Last week, the cat decided to shred and rip apart the screen window to the front bedroom. Since I was in home improvement mode, we picked up two new shades and screen repair materials. I rebuilt the screen – so once again we could open the bedroom window and allow fresh air in. The weather has been uncommonly mild, and we refuse to turn on the air conditioning until absolutely necessary. The ramada has two new shades to shield us from the afternoon sun.

Liz made fish tacos and fresh guacamole for dinner. We watched the final two episodes of Game of Thrones for this season – yes, John Snow is dead. I sipped dark rum and club soda over ice, with a fresh lime. It was a busy day, filled with hard work. Liz and I are now sporting dozens of cuts and pricks that are the result of working with cactus, and I was bit by any number of unknown insects.

Anyway, despite of, or maybe because of the hard work, yesterday was relaxing. I slept well, and woke up refreshed! And I am looking forward to my day off, this coming Thursday, when we will have dinner aboard the Steamboat Dolly on Canyon Lake. We have been wanting to do this since we have been in Apache Junction. Just knowing I have an extra day off this coming week is helping me approach my nigh job with a zen-like confidence.

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